DAILY DIGEST, weekend edition: ‘Lethal arrogance’? Oroville Dam crisis sprang from Pat Brown’s towering ambition; Oroville Dam could be built on shaky ground; Who will pay for spillway repairs?; Rains brought super bloom – and toxic invaders; and more …

In California water news this weekend, ‘Lethal arrogance’? Oroville Dam crisis sprang from Pat Brown’s towering ambition; Oroville Dam could be built on shaky ground; Who will pay for spillway repairs?; Rains brought super bloom – and toxic invaders; Record Sierra runoff churns hope in rafting community; Water flows again, but it’s deadly; No more Sierra snow?  Think again; Will the wet winter change Russian River’s summer flows?; Delta Independent Science Board holds community meeting in Ryde; Major shark die-off in San Francisco Bay; Padre Dam gets project OK and $116 million from state; Senate subcommittee holds hearing on infrastructure funding; and Science is clear: the tunnels will hurt the Delta, says the East Bay Times

In the news this weekend …

‘Lethal arrogance’? Oroville Dam crisis sprang from Pat Brown’s towering ambition:  “America’s tallest dam was built from earth, stone and concrete – and the towering ambition of Gov. Pat Brown.  Sixty years before a crisis at Oroville Dam sent thousands fleeing for their lives in February, the late governor brought an almost evangelical zeal to erecting the structure that would hold back the Feather River to deliver water to the parched southern half of the state.  Hundreds of pages of state archives, oral history interviews and other documents reveal a portrait of a man hell-bent on building Oroville and the rest of the State Water Project. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  ‘Lethal arrogance’? Oroville Dam crisis sprang from Pat Brown’s towering ambition

Oroville Dam could be built on shaky ground:  “Engineers at Oroville Dam in northern California are about to start rebuilding two giant spillways that collapsed after heavy rains in February. State water officials also promise a full “forensic review” of the near-catastrophic failures, which forced mass evacuations.  As Craig Miller (@voxterra) of Here & Now contributor KQED explains, that includes a hard look at the geology underlying the spillways, something that appears to have gotten short shrift when the dam was built 50 years ago.”  Listen to the radio show from NPR via Valley Public Radio here:  Oroville Dam could be built on shaky ground

Who will pay for spillway repairs?  “In the wake of the Oroville Dam crisis, issues with evacuation routes and safety planning have been at the forefront these past few months for the residents and communities downstream of Lake Oroville. But discussion is warming up on another issue: Who pays for repair costs?  Some residents say the Department of Water Resources should pay for it, since the state department is responsible for maintaining and operating Lake Oroville as part of the State Water Project. State officials are hoping the federal government provides financial relief.  However, both DWR and state officials said at a joint Assembly committee hearing on Thursday that if the federal government doesn’t foot the bill, state water contractors will — and that could potentially mean increased costs for Yuba City Public Works customers. … ”  Read more from the Appeal Democrat here:  Who will pay for spillway repairs?

Rains brought super bloom – and toxic invaders:  “As horseback riders, hikers and dog walkers passed on trails among rolling patches of purple, yellow and green wildflowers at the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area on a recent Saturday morning, a team of volunteers was ready for battle.  The enemy was a long green weed with tiny flowers known as carnation spurge – a toxic relative of the holiday poinsettia plant and one of the “evil 25” nonnative species officials have identified as plaguing the Santa Monica Mountains by posing a threat to wildlife and a fire hazard to the park.  “They displace our native species,” said Joey Algiers, restoration ecologist with the National Park Service, which manages the park. ... ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Rains brought super bloom – and toxic invaders

Record Sierra runoff churns hope in rafting community:  “The roar of the river snaking west from Yosemite deep into Merced Canyon grew faint in recent years, quieting rapids that once earned fearful monikers like Nightmare Island and the Percolator.  But last week, as rafting guide Maggie Crocker stood at the bottom of a gorge, the scent of pine trees ripe with spring, her voice was barely audible above the thunder of the current.  “If you can’t hear what I’m saying, just keep paddling,” she told her crew before launching a boat from a rocky shore into the Merced River, which was beginning to flood upstream. “The water is pretty big right now, and we’re going to have to work effectively as a team.” … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  Record Sierra runoff churns hope in rafting community

Water flows again, but it’s deadly:  “While the snow and rain storms that lifted large swaths of California out of drought have brought celebration, they’ve also brought new danger – and already claimed lives.  From Redding to Bakersfield at least 14 people have died this year — six in Tulare County alone — in rivers and rain-swollen creeks. Each of Tulare County’s victims were under 23.  “People are just unaccustomed to water levels like this because of drought conditions,” said Eric LaPrice, U.S. Forest Service district park ranger. “In their adult life, they haven’t experienced water like this before.” … ”  Read more from the Visalia Times-Delta here:  Water flows again, but it’s deadly

No more Sierra snow?  Think again:  “Winter isn’t quite ready to release its snowy grip on the Sierra – even after record-breaking precipitation.  Tuesday, a cold storm is expected to blow in and drop snow levels to as low as 5,500 feet.  While only a few inches of snow may fall, the shift from pleasant spring weather “may catch travelers off guard,” said Idamis Del Valle, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sacramento. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  No more Sierra snow?  Think again

Will the wet winter change Russian River’s summer flows?  “In recent years, lower summertime flows in the Russian River have been necessary for water conservation as well as the benefit of young salmon preparing to head out to sea. But this year, with ample water available, the calculus may be different. … ”  Read more and listen to the radio show here:  Will the wet winter change Russian River’s summer flows?

Delta Independent Science Board holds community meeting in Ryde:  “The DISB’s May meeting was a two-day event, held at the Ryde Hotel, consisting of a community presentation on the board’s review of existing research on the Delta as an evolving place. … ”  Read more from the Delta Confluence here:  Delta Independent Science Board holds community meeting in Ryde

Major shark die-off in San Francisco Bay:  “A ghoulish mystery is playing out along the shores of San Francisco Bay, where at least 80 leopard sharks — docile spotted animals that don’t eat people — have washed up dead in recent weeks.  Scientists suspect the sharks are being killed by a fatal brain infection linked to a fungus that may have been spread around by the huge amounts of rain California received this year. The historic storms also reduced the bay’s salinity in ways that could have weakened the sharks, some researchers say. ... ” Read more at the East Bay Times here:  Major shark die-off in San Francisco Bay

Padre Dam gets project OK and $116 million from state:  “Padre Dam Municipal Water District has gotten approval from the state to continue its water purification project and a $116 million grant.  The state grant is part of the money made available by Proposition 1, which passed in 2014. The bill authorizes $7.5 billion in bonds for water projects, including $625 million for recycled water projects.  Padre Dam’s facility opened in 2015 at the Ray Stoyer Water Reclamation Facility at Santee Lakes to demonstrate free chlorine capabilities to state regulators. Conceptual approval by the California Water Resources Control Board was announced this week. … ”  Read more from the U-T San Diego here:  Padre Dam gets project OK and $116 million from state

Senate subcommittee holds hearing on infrastructure funding:  “A Senate subcommittee, on Tuesday, held a hearing to examine the role of the public and private sectors in the development of water infrastructure. The hearing featured testimony from officials representing the Army Corps of Engineers as well as public officials from Oregon, Oklahoma, Maryland, and Alabama. … ”  Read more from ACWA’s Water News here:  Senate subcommittee holds hearing on infrastructure funding

In commentary this weekend …

Science is clear: the tunnels will hurt the Delta, says the East Bay Times:  They write, “Gov. Jerry Brown is never more convincing than when he is blasting President Donald Trump for his failure to make policy decisions based on the best science available.  It’s too bad the governor doesn’t see the hypocrisy of his approach to the Delta Tunnels project, which has clearly stated, coequal goals of  ecosystem restoration and water supply reliability.  Brown told the Sacramento Bee in December that “the best scientific thinking says California needs the project.”  It is a Trumpian fallacy. … ”  Read more from the East Bay Times here:  Science is clear: the tunnels will hurt the Delta

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About the Daily Digest: The Daily Digest is a collection of selected news articles, commentaries and editorials appearing in the mainstream press. Items are generally selected to follow the focus of the Notebook blog. The Daily Digest is published every weekday with a weekend edition posting on Sundays.

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