DAILY DIGEST: A remote tribe fights for its river and its children; Oroville Dam spillway to go offline until fall, allowing for repairs; California growers, researchers preparing for next drought; Fish rain down on Oroville elementary school; and more …

In California water news today, A remote tribe fights for its river and its children; Oroville Dam spillway to go offline until fall, allowing for repairs; California growers, researchers preparing for next drought; California farmers used enough groundwater during the drought to fill Lake Mead; Public to EPA on cutting regulations: ‘No!'; Trump picked this ex-lobbyist for key Interior position; Trump Interior Department nominee tells Senate panel he can avoid conflicts of interest; and more news, and lastly … Fish rain down from clouds on Oroville elementary school

On the calendar today …

In the news today …

A remote tribe fights for its river and its children:  “The Yurok people live in a stark land of salmon runs and steep, misty mountains, where giant salamanders hide under rotting logs and Bigfoot is said to prey after dusk.Deep in California’s coastal woods near the Oregon border, the reservation straddles the mighty Klamath River, the tribe’s lifeblood for centuries.  But over the last 50 years, the yearly migration of salmon from the Pacific dwindled, and poverty, addiction and lawlessness gripped the reservation.  Last year, a rash of suicides had pushed the tribe, California’s largest and one of its poorest, into an existential crisis. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  A remote tribe fights for its river and its children

Oroville Dam spillway to go offline until fall, allowing for repairs:  “State officials plan to stop releasing water down the mangled main spillway at Oroville Dam on Friday, allowing workers to begin months of round-the-clock repairs to the chute and to an emergency spillway that is also badly damaged.  The main spillway’s gates will begin closing at 9 a.m. on Friday and slowly pinch off the outflow from the reservoir until they are fully shut at 1 p.m., said the California Department of Water Resources.  Bill Croyle, the acting director of the department, said he is confident the reservoir is low enough to handle snowmelt this spring and summer with no further use of the spillway. … ” Read more from SF Gate here:  Oroville Dam spillway to go offline until fall, allowing for repairs

California growers, researchers preparing for next drought:  “The five-year drought that shook California agriculture to its core may be over in most places, but the sense of urgency it created continues to grow.  In university laboratories and farm fields around the state, growers and researchers are working feverishly to find ways for the state’s orchards, vineyards and row crops to get by with as little water as possible — before the next big drought.  For Fritz Durst, a grain grower in western Yolo County, Calif., that means taking part in University of California research into subsurface drip irrigation, which applies a trickle of water to the crop at its roots and prevents evaporation. … ”  Read more from the Capital Press here:  California growers, researchers preparing for next drought

California farmers used enough groundwater during the drought to fill Lake Mead:  “California farmers in the Central Valley pumped enough water out of the ground to fill Lake Mead, which can store the entire average flow of the Colorado River for two years. It’s enough to drown the state of Pennsylvania in a foot of water.  A new study from UCLA and the University of Houston shows that’s how much groundwater was used during the most recent drought in one of the nation’s largest agricultural hubs.  The study also found the rate of groundwater withdrawal per year in the most recent drought was double that of the drought of 2007 to 2009, even though there was less land to irrigate.  … ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here:  California farmers used enough groundwater during the drought to fill Lake Mead

Public to EPA on cutting regulations: ‘No!' As part of President Trump's executive order to review “job-killing regulations,” the Environmental Protection Agency last month asked for the public's input on what to streamline or cut. It held a series of open-mic meetings, and set up a website that has now received more than 28,000 comments, many of which urge the agency not to roll back environmental protections.  “The EPA saves lives,” wrote Benjamin Kraushaar, who described himself as a hydrologist, hunter and flyfisherman. He wrote that environmental regulations “ensure safe air and water for our future generations. This should not be even up for debate.” ... ”  Read more from NPR here:  Public to EPA on cutting regulations: ‘No!’

Trump picked this ex-lobbyist for key Interior position:  “A lawyer and former lobbyist for California’s politically active Westlands Water District and other special interests pledged at a sometimes testy Senate hearing Thursday to recuse himself from issues related to his former clients if confirmed as deputy Interior Department secretary.  David Bernhardt, a well-compensated lobbyist registered on Westlands’ behalf between 2011 and late 2016, told Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee members that his one-year recusal agreements should satisfy all concerns.  “I take ethics incredibly seriously,” Bernhardt said, adding that “I have signed the exact same (recusal) agreements as my predecessors have.” … ”  Read more from McClatchy DC here:  Trump picked this ex-lobbyist for key Interior position

Trump Interior Department nominee tells Senate panel he can avoid conflicts of interest:  “President Trump’s nominee for the No. 2 position in the U.S. Department of the Interior found himself caught in a partisan, California-focused crossfire at his Senate confirmation committee hearing Thursday.  Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, chair of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, praised David Bernhardt as an “excellent choice” for the deputy secretary position, while the committee’s top Democrat, Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington, grilled the lawyer and lobbyist on the potential for conflicts of interest in light of his firm’s extensive client list. … ”  Read more from LA Times here:  Trump Interior Department nominee tells Senate panel he can avoid conflicts of interest

In regional news and commentary today …

Oroville town hall over DWR settlement agreement on Monday:  “Residents will have a chance to voice their opinions at a town hall Monday regarding the city’s relationship with the state Department of Water Resources and the supplemental benefits fund.  The meeting will take place 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the State Theatre in downtown Oroville. Prior to the town hall, residents will be able to ask city staff questions, find printed information and fill out comment cards in the theatre’s foyer from 4:30-5:30 p.m. … ”  Read more from the Oroville Mercury Register here:  Oroville town hall over DWR settlement agreement on Monday

Sutter County: $300 million of levee work almost done:  “The Sutter Butte Flood Control Agency is close to finishing the nearly $300 million levee improvement project on the west bank of the Feather River, officials said during the agency’s annual levee meeting Wednesday.  The main topic of discussion was the Feather River West Levee Project – a $297 million project to improve and reinforce about 45 miles of levee from the Thermalito Afterbay to south Sutter County.  Mike Inamine, executive director of SBFCA, said the agency is expecting to complete repairs to 36 miles of the project over the next few months, which will provide 200-year flood protection from the Thermalito Afterbay to the Star Bend area in Yuba City. ... ”  Read more from the Appeal-Democrat here:  Sutter County: $300 million of levee work almost done

Researchers say climate change affecting Lake Tahoe's clarity during the summer:  “Climate change is affecting Lake Tahoe's clarity during the summer months, according to researchers at U.C. Davis.  A study released Thursday shows an earlier spring and warmer temperatures last year spurred the growth of algae, that dramatically reduced clarity readings from June through September.  Scientists with the U.C. Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center believe this will be a long-term problem. ... ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here:  Researchers say climate change affecting Lake Tahoe’s clarity during the summer

Irrigation enhancement project helps farmers regulate usage:  “A new irrigation enhancement project has seen positive results for farmers in the San Joaquin Valley.  The project, which took three years to be designed and funded, and only months to be built, cuts down on water usage from the South San Joaquin Valley Irrigation District that backs up in the Stanislaus River.  “This grew out of an idea I had,” said Sam Bologna, Engineering Department manager of the South San Joaquin Valley Irrigation District and developer of the project, who was recently in Monterey attending an Association of California Water Agencies conference. “We needed to find a way to serve farmers and also conserve water.” ... ”  Read more from the Register-Pajaronian here:  Irrigation enhancement project helps farmers regulate usage

Inyo Supervisors discuss Owens River water trail:  “The Owens River Water Trail generates impressive community support, opens up a stretch of river for recreation and water quality improvements, provides a unique and soothing experience but also comes with challenges.  Those challenges were addressed at Tuesday’s Inyo County Board of Supervisors’ meeting. By the end of the hour-long discussion, the Board voted unanimously to sign the agreement with the Natural Resources Agency for the $500,000 River Parkways grant awarded last summer, opening up the possibility that the water trail may actually happen. … ”  Read more from the Sierra Wave here:  Inyo Supervisors discuss Owens River water trail

San Luis Obispo County becomes groundwater agency for Paso and Santa Maria basins:  “On May 16, the SLO County Board of Supervisors approved resolutions to become Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) for large swaths of the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin and fringes of the Santa Maria Valley Groundwater Basin under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).  The aquifers are just two of six local basins that the county is assuming some management and financial responsibility for, to the tune of $2 million in the next fiscal year, according to the county’s recommended 2017-18 budget.  Passed by the state in 2014, SGMA requires that users of stressed groundwater basins across the state form GSAs by June 30, and write sustainability plans by 2020. … ”  Read more from New Times SLO here:  San Luis Obispo County becomes groundwater agency for Paso and Santa Maria basins

Santa Barbara desal plant prepares for activation as talks with Montecito stall:  “After months of delays, Santa Barbara is preparing to flip the switch on its revamped Charles E. Meyer Desalination Plant and send potable water from the facility into the city’s distribution system.  The plant will provide 3,125 acre-feet of water a year — or about a third of the city’s water supply needs — with the potential to eventually expand up to 10,000 acre-feet. … “It’s so close — it could be any day,” said Kelley Dyer, the city’s water supply manager.  … ”  Read more from Noozhawk here:  Santa Barbara desal plant prepares for activation as talks with Montecito stall

Oprah all wet in Montecito water wells:  “The wonky issue of groundwater overdraft got juicier this week after media reports of Jeff Bridges’s wife, Susan Geston, raised pointed questions about the amount of water Oprah Winfrey was using on her three adjoining Montecito properties.  Geston told the Hollywood Reporter she would “love to find out what’s going on up there,” referring to Winfrey’s $29 million acreage she bought last year. The Today Show picked up the story and reported that Winfrey’s reps claimed the billionaire uses less water than the previous owner and installed drought-resistant turf. For now, the celebrity dispute appears to be more hype than substance. … ”  Read more from the Santa Barbara Independent here:  Oprah all wet in Montecito water wells

Rising sea levels could mean twice as much flood risk in Los Angeles and other coastal cities:  “The effects of rising oceans on coastal flooding may be even worse than we thought. Scientists have found that a mere 10 to 20 centimeters of sea-level rise — which is expected by 2050 — will more than double the frequency of serious flooding events in many parts of the globe, including along the California coastline.  The findings, described in Scientific Reports, highlight the environmental and economic impacts of sea-level rise on coastal areas, and the need to properly predict and prepare for these effects. … ” Read more from the LA Times here:  Rising sea levels could mean twice as much flood risk in Los Angeles and other coastal cities

And lastly …

Fish rain down from clouds on Oroville elementary school:  “An Oroville elementary school was hit with one of the most interesting weather phenomenon we’ve ever seen!  According to school officials, overnight Tuesday, Stanford Elementary in Oroville was hit with a wave of weird weather… it rained fish!  School officials said the school was covered in tiny fish as a storm cloud passed over the elementary school. … ”  Read more from Action News Now here:  Fish rain down from clouds on Oroville elementary school

See also Sacramento Bee story: Did it really rain fish in Oroville this week?

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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