DAILY DIGEST: You could fill Shasta seven times with groundwater loss during state drought; River cleanup highlights CA’s water troubles; Oroville Dam spillway shutting down for summer repairs; and more …

In California water news today, You could fill Shasta Lake seven times with farm groundwater loss during state drought; River cleanup highlights California's water troubles; Oroville Dam spillway shutting down for summer repairs; New webcam shows damaged main Oroville Spillway at work; How the Oroville Dam crisis played out in social media; Additional funding needed for drought relief; Little fish in big trouble: The longfin smelt; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • The California Water Commission meets this morning beginning at 9:30am. Agenda items include an update on Oroville Dam and consideration of ex parte communication policy.  Click here for the full agenda.
  • The Delta Protection Commission meets this evening in Isleton at 5:30pm.  Agenda items include a report from the Delta Conservancy, a report and presentation from the 2017 Delta Leadership Class, and an update on the marketing campaign for the Delta.  Click here for the full agenda and meeting materials.

In the news today …

You could fill Shasta Lake seven times with farm groundwater loss during state drought:  “Central Valley farmers created a groundwater deficit large enough to fill an empty Shasta Lake seven times in order to keep their profitable orchards alive during California’s epic five-year drought.  The massive scale of California’s groundwater pumping is outlined in a study released Wednesday by researchers at UCLA and the University of Houston. The researchers conclude that California’s pending groundwater regulations remain woefully behind what is necessary to bring the state’s groundwater levels back into balance. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  You could fill Shasta Lake seven times with farm groundwater loss during state drought

River cleanup highlights California's water troubles:  “Traversing through the snowcapped Sierra Nevada, the American River gushes downstream over 100 miles before draining into the Sacramento River – one of the nation’s longest. Renowned as the site of California’s Gold Rush, the American is a critical component of the Golden State’s most vital but dwindling resource: water.  The American and a host of other rivers are largely responsible for quenching the thirst of nearly 40 million Californians and the health of the most fertile and lucrative agricultural region in the United States. But the river systems and groundwater supplies have borne the brunt of California’s exponential growth over the last several decades. ... ”  Read more from Courthouse News Service here:  River cleanup highlights California’s water troubles

Oroville Dam spillway shutting down for summer repairs:  “Water will stop flowing from Oroville Dam’s badly damaged spillway on Friday, in the hopes it’s the last time it will be used before the next rainy season.  Even with a heavy snowpack waiting to melt in the mountains above Lake Oroville, state officials say they’ve drained the reservoir down to the point where they can manage its level through the dam’s primary powerplant outlet. The lake was at 74 percent of its total capacity Wednesday. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Oroville Dam spillway shutting down for summer repairs

New webcam shows damaged main Oroville Spillway at work:  “A live video feed of the Oroville Dam spillway had been added to the State Parks website. A link is available through the Department of Water Resources website as well.  The webcam appears to have been placed across the Diversion Pool. Currently it shows the damaged spillway on the left, and the water gushing down the new channel it dug across the center, with the dam in the background right. Trucks and heavy equipment can be seen moving about the scene. ... ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  New webcam shows damaged main Oroville Spillway at work

How the Oroville Dam crisis played out in social media: 100 days, 100 reactions: How everyone talked about the Oroville Dam crisis:  A storify by the Chico Enterprise Record.

Additional funding needed for drought relief:  “Local advocates are calling on Gov. Jerry Brown to make funding available and address the need for clean drinking water in the San Joaquin Valley.  Laurel Firestone, co-executive director of Community Water Center, and Tom Collishaw, Self-Help Enterprise CEO, said Central Valley residents are in need of clean water. According to the State Water Resource Control Board, there are California communities not able to finance long-overdue drinking water solutions.  In some communities, according to the resource board, water has high levels of arsenic for more than 10 years. ... ”  Read more from the Visalia Times-Delta here:  Additional funding needed for drought relief

Little fish in big trouble: The longfin smelt:  “Heavy rain brought relief to the people, plants and animals of California this past winter. The earth is soggy, farmers are looking at plentiful summer irrigation supplies, and rivers are full and flowing.  The recent rains also may have given the longfin smelt a reprieve from extinction… at least for a while.  The longfin smelt, Spirinchus thaleichthys, is among the many natives to the San Francisco Bay-Delta ecosystem that have been edging closer and closer to the brink of oblivion each year for a decade or two. The longfin is less famous, and a bit less imperiled, than its cousin the Delta smelt—that little fish that has unwittingly become a loaded political symbol in the fight over river water between farmers and environmentalists. … ”  Read more from KCET here:  Little fish in big trouble: The longfin smelt

In commentary today …

Sacramento Bee editorial: Lobbyist for big ag gets ready to regulate his past clients:  They write, “As the revolving door swings in Washington, D.C., David L. Bernhardt is an understandable choice to be second in command in the Trump administration’s Interior Department, a post with a direct hand in California water.  Bernhardt is, according to those who know him, highly intelligent and a skilled lawyer. Given his pedigree in and out of government, Bernhardt certainly understands the complexities of California water policy and politics. But because of his clients, Bernhardt is hardly the ideal choice for this state. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Lobbyist for big ag gets ready to regulate his past clients

In regional news and commentary today …

Wet winter likely to delay Tahoe area fire season:  “With snowpack 200 to 300 percent of normal, the Tahoe area fire season will likely be delayed this year. Grass is the primary fuel for wildfires. It probably won't be drying out until July and August.  “Sometimes we'll have things dry out as early as May and June,” says Edan Weishahn with the National Weather Service office in Reno.  “The one thing that we know for sure, just because of the amount of water and the amount of snow and the amount of flooded locations, is that the fire season will just be a bit more delayed than it would be typically.” … ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here:  Wet winter likely to delay Tahoe area fire season

Woodland wades into countywide groundwater agency:  “With plenty of time to spare, Woodland’s City Council has elected to join the Yolo Subbasin Groundwater Agency in order to allocate the limited amount of water lying beneath our feet.  The council voted 5-0 Tuesday night to link up with water agencies countywide as part of the 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act to provide sustainability in California’s groundwater basins by local public agencies and newly formed Groundwater Sustainability Agencies. ... ”  Read more from the Daily Democrat here:  Woodland wades into countywide groundwater agency

Monterey: California regulators decry Cemex's sand grab:  “Eyeing the last remaining coastal sand-mining operation, California regulators have sent a letter to the owner demanding it come into compliance with environmental regulators or stop operations.  The California State Public Lands Commission sent a letter to Mexico-based cement company Cemex, saying the Lapis Plant in Marina, California, must immediately obtain permits and pay California royalties per a 1964 agreement – or close its doors.  The letter is the latest front in a battle between residents of the Monterey Bay, who say the plant’s operations is leading to the rapid erosion of regional beaches, and the plant operators who argue mining sand from the site predates the Coastal Act and other regulations the state is attempting to apply. … ” Read more from Courthouse News here:  Monterey: California regulators decry Cemex’s sand grab

Stockton: Stood for years, dismantled in moments: CalWater tower comes down:  “The water tower stood over south Stockton for 75 years, but it took less than 9 minutes on Wednesday for construction workers to bring it down.  A towering crane lifted off the top of the 100-foot-tall tank just after 9 a.m. and lowered it gently to the ground while passers-by on El Dorado Street south of the Crosstown Freeway watched with interest. … ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here:  Stockton: Stood for years, dismantled in moments: CalWater tower comes down

Some Fresno residents couldn't believe what was in their water.  Now they are suing:  “A second group of northeast Fresno residents are suing the city over water problems – including lead and discoloration – that they say lasted for years before officials took concerted action to solve the concerns.  Brian Kabateck, an attorney from Los Angeles, is leading the team representing homeowners Jackie Flannery, Guadalupe Meza, Ronda Rafidi, Shann Conner, Marirose Larkin, Patricia Wallace-Rixman, Harry Rixman and Kelly Unruh in the potential class-action suit filed Wednesday in Fresno County Superior Court. ... ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Some Fresno residents couldn’t believe what was in their water.  Now they are suing

Santa Clarita: Water districts' $14 million savings – what does this mean?  Curtis Woods writes, “Imagine what $14 million in savings can do for Santa Clarita Valley residents.  This amount is the projected savings achieved by creating a new water district from the existing Castaic Lake Water Agency (CLWA) and Newhall County Water District (NCWD). If it sounds like a lot, it is.  In fact, it is $1 million more than Newhall County Water District’s annual budget!  So what can these savings do for us, customers of NCWD or CLWA’s Santa Clarita Water Division? ... ”  Read more from the Santa Clarita Signal here:  Santa Clarita: Water districts’ $14 million savings – what does this mean?

Los Angeles: Working to recycle wastewater into drinking water:  “In advance of the VerdeXchange Summer Water Workshop, TPR sat down with Traci Minamide, Chief Operating Officer of LA Sanitation, to discuss the organization¹s progress on harnessing recycled water to achieve Mayor Eric Garcetti¹s goals for water resilience and the revitalization of the LA River.  Q: Addressing VerdeXchange 2017 in January, you chronicled wastewater reuse strategies in Los Angeles. Update our readers on LA Sanitation’s progress on wastewater and water management in the city.  Answer:  It is very important to LA Sanitation to look at the water that we treat in our wastewater system as a resource—not as waste. We’ve been striving to move toward recycled water. … ”  Continue reading at The Planning Report here:  Los Angeles: Working to recycle wastewater into drinking water

Official says rate reductions possible if Apple Valley takes over water system:  “The town recently placed a percentage on the amount residential water bills can be reduced under municipal ownership of Liberty Utilities’ water system, a move that’s contrary to a scathing analysis that questioned the financial viability of the ongoing acquisition effort.  During an April 25 presentation to the Town Council, Assistant Town Manager Marc Puckett said rates could be lowered by $178 per person if the town were to pay $100 million for Liberty Utilities’ water system at an interest rate between 4 and 4.4 percent.  “That … amounts to a reduction of 15 percent … above the cost of acquisition,” Puckett said. “It’s kind of shocking when you actually look at the resources … available today within the existing (water) rates.” ... ”  Read more from the Victorville Press here:  Official says rate reductions possible if Apple Valley takes over water system

San Diego: Attorney demands end to ‘secret' water board meetings: A prominent open government attorney has sent a letter to the San Diego County Water Authority demanding the agency open up meetings previously held outside the public’s view.  Attorney Cory Briggs on Tuesday called on the water authority to remedy “a pattern of violations” of California’s open meeting law, which limits the scope and frequency of unnoticed, unrecorded meetings. The idea is to prevent officials from conducting government business outside the view of the public. ... ”  Read more from the U-T San Diego here:  Attorney demands end to ‘secret’ water board meetings

Along the Colorado River …

Reckoning ahead for Arizona as water imbalance grows on the Colorado River:  “In Arizona, water scarcity is like the background hum of conversation in a popular restaurant: unrelenting. But even in this desert state, the ever-present strain on water supplies could soon be felt more acutely.  As soon as 2019, the water level in Lake Mead on the Colorado River could drop below an elevation of 1,075 feet. That will trigger mandatory cutbacks in water diversions from the reservoir under an agreement negotiated between the federal government and three lower-basin states that rely on the river: Arizona, California and Nevada. … ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  Reckoning ahead for Arizona as water imbalance grows on the Colorado River

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

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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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