DAILY DIGEST: Bill requiring well-drilling information sparks debate; The challenge of measuring groundwater in the Central Valley; Oroville spillway tracture likely caused by multiple factors; and more …

In California water news today, California bill requiring well-drilling information sparks debate: ‘Who could be against transparency?’; The challenge of measuring groundwater in the Central Valley; Oroville Dam update: Fracture likely caused by multiple factors; Oroville Dam: Probe of spillway crisis to include DWR’s organization, staff; Experts: Lack of warning at Oroville Dam raises alarm; Oroville Dam spillway model may provide answers; Scientists recommend ‘reconciliation ecology’ for wild fish; Coastal estuaries rising to the challenge of sea level rise; Warming could push earth’s rains northward; and more …

In the news today …

California bill requiring well-drilling information sparks debate: ‘Who could be against transparency?’:  “California farmers have long been able to get permits to drill new wells in areas where groundwater levels are falling without publicly saying how much water they intend to pump. That would change under a bill approved this week by the California Senate.   The legislation would require those drilling new wells in groundwater basins that are in “critical overdraft” to notify neighbors they’re applying for a well-drilling permit and provide information about the proposed well to the local agency in charge of approving the permit.  … ”  Read more from the Desert Sun here:  California bill requiring well-drilling information sparks debate: ‘Who could be against transparency?

The challenge of measuring groundwater in the Central Valley:  “During droughts, groundwater pumping is increased to make up for losses from surface water. This is especially true in California’s Central Valley, which stretches roughly 400 miles from Redding to just south of Bakersfield, and is the heart of the state’s $47 billion-a-year agricultural industry.  For decades, many parts of the Central Valley aquifer have been overdrafted, but recent work by scientists from the University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of Houston have attempted to put a more precise number on how much water is being pumped. … ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  The challenge of measuring groundwater in the Central Valley

Oroville Dam update: Fracture likely caused by multiple factors:  “If you’re expecting a quick and easy answer on what caused the spillway failure at Oroville Dam, think again.  The leader of the independent forensics team studying the Oroville crisis said Thursday that the crack in the dam’s main flood-control spillway likely was caused by a combination of problems.  “We do anticipate there will be multiple contributory factors, no single factor,” said dam safety consultant John France in a conference call with reporters. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Oroville Dam update: Fracture likely caused by multiple factors

Oroville Dam: Probe of spillway crisis to include DWR’s organization, staff:  “Not just concrete and rebar, but “human and organizational” factors that could have contributed to the emergency at the Oroville Dam spillway will be included in the investigation currently underway by an independent team of experts assembled by two national dam associations. That’s exactly what retired UC Berkeley instructor and risk management expert Robert Bea urged when addressing the state Assembly Committee on Water, Parks and Wildlife Accountability on May 11. ... ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  Oroville Dam: Probe of spillway crisis to include DWR’s organization, staff

Experts: Lack of warning at Oroville Dam raises alarm:  “The sudden collapse of spillways at the nation’s highest dam has raised alarm among those building, running and regulating big dams around the world because it seemed to come with little warning the spillways were on the verge of failing, dam experts investigating the crisis at California’s Oroville Dam said Thursday.  February’s breakup of the main spillway and then the backup spillway at the 770-foot-high (230 meters) Oroville Dam stands as an “extremely significant” event among dam disasters and near-disasters in modern U.S. history, said John France, an engineer leading the investigation by two national trade associations representing dam-safety and dam-engineering professionals. … ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here:  Experts: Lack of warning at Oroville Dam raises alarm

Oroville Dam spillway model may provide answers:  “Over 700 miles away from the Oroville Dam spillway sits its sort of little sister — a tennis-court sized replica at Utah State University, which is being tested by engineers.  The 15 member group has conducted over 50 tests so far and is now in the process of building a model of the repairs planned by the state Department of Water Resources, which commissioned the project at the university. That should be ready in a few weeks for further testing, said Michael Johnson, a research professor with the Utah Water Resource Laboratory. The scale is 1/50th at 100 feet long and 60 feet wide. … ”  Read more from the Oroville Mercury-Register here:  Oroville Dam spillway model may provide answers

Scientists recommend ‘reconciliation ecology’ for wild fish:  “A new California science study endorses a management technique for wild fish called “reconciliation ecology.”  The study cites as an example a Central Valley initiative, the Yolo Bypass experiment, which manages rice fields to mimic natural floodplains.  The approach “creates substantial growth benefits for juvenile salmon,” according to a new analysis by UC Davis and California Trout, S.O.S. II, Fish in Hot Water.  Reconciliation ecology takes into account that most ecosystems, such as salmonids, are altered extensively by human work and activity. ... ”  Read more from the Mad River Union here:  Scientists recommend ‘reconciliation ecology’ for wild fish

Coastal estuaries rising to the challenge of sea level rise: Many California cities are planning for the future effects of climate change. Sea level rise and increases in storm flooding pose real challenges to life as usual along the coast. Scientists and municipal staff are working behind the scenes to identify risks and propose actions to address future vulnerabilities to our communities. In addition to minimizing impacts on roads, homes and businesses, there is also interest in identifying actions to aid natural habitat’s ability to respond to threats of sea level rise.  Estuaries exist as boundaries between land and sea. Their presence is defined by and reliant on the tidal shifts between wet and dry. Because these systems are so interconnected with ocean elevation, even small increases in sea level due to climate change can greatly alter their condition. Estuarine plants selectively grow in tidal bands demarcated by the relative time they are exposed to flooding, spanning from sub-tidal to terrestrial. … ”  Read more from the Monterey County Herald here:  Coastal estuaries rising to the challenge of sea level rise

Warming could push earth’s rains northward:  “The Earth’s rising temperature is expected to knock the global water cycle out of whack, but exactly how it will change is uncertain. Scientists, though, can look for clues as to what the future might bring in the major climate swings that have happened in the past.   A new study that does just that suggests that Earth’s rain belts could be pushed northward as the Northern Hemisphere heats up faster than the Southern Hemisphere. That shift would happen in concert with the longstanding expectation for already wet areas to see more rain and for dry ones to become more arid.  The study, detailed Wednesday in the journal Science Advances, “adds to the large body of evidence that climate change is going to mess with the large-scale motions of air and water in the atmosphere. And this matters, because those patterns largely determine where it’s rainy or arid, broadly speaking,” NASA climate scientist Kate Marvel, who wasn’t involved with the study, said in an email. ... ”  Read more from Climate Central here:  Warming could push earth’s rains northward

In commentary today …

Desalination will not solve California’s water woes, say Leon Szeptycki and Newsha Ajami:  They write, “In the wake of the recent drought, desalination of ocean water continues to be a central topic in California water debates.  Some coastal communities were particularly hard hit by the drought, including a large swath of the central coast that is among the last regions in the state still suffering from drought conditions. Desalination seems to hold the potential for limitless, drought-proof supplies, but the reality is far more complex. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  Desalination will not solve California’s water woes

Oroville spillway redactions need checks and balances:  “Blacked-out documents about the Oroville spillway disaster have led to criticism of the state Department of Water Resources, which is withholding the information.  The state agency has a three-part response: We haven’t redacted very much. We’ll release some things eventually. As for the things we won’t release, well, trust us.  That last part isn’t an acceptable answer from any public agency. (Imagine a Sheriff’s Office, for example, saying, “Things are fine in the county jail. You don’t need to look. Trust us.”) But it’s even a more questionable answer coming from DWR, an agency with a well-documented history of secrecy. ... ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Oroville spillway redactions need checks and balances

In regional news and commentary today …

Trump Administration suspends citizen advisory group meetings:  “Federal officials won’t be hearing from a group of North State residents, businesses and environmentalists about work going on in the Trinity River for the next several months.  Meetings of the group, called the Trinity Adaptive Management Working Group, have been canceled, along with meetings of dozens of other citizen advisory panels across the country.  The U.S. Department of the Interior, overseeing salmon and trout habitat restoration work in the Trinity River, has suspended activities of its advisory groups while the agency evaluates their effectiveness. … ”  Read more from the Redding Record Searchlight here:  Trump Administration suspends citizen advisory group meetings

San Benito: The importance of imported water:  “When the Sierra Nevada snowpack begins to melt in the spring, it flows into reservoirs, creeks and rivers, and eventually the Delta, where the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers meet. The Delta provides approximately one-third of California’s water, serving over 25 million residents and wildlife, and is transported through the Delta throughout the state by the federally managed Central Valley Project (CVP) and the State Water Project.  San Benito County receives its share of imported water through the Central Valley Project. This water is stored at San Luis Reservoir. From there it is pumped through the Pacheco Pass and into our county through a section of pipe called the San Felipe Project. Locally, this water is referred to as “federal” water or “blue valve water” since the pipes at the turnouts where farmers can access this water are painted blue. … ”  Read more from Benitolink here:  San Benito: The importance of imported water

Senator Feinstein visits the Central Valley to talk water and ag:  “Senator Dianne Feinstein made a trip to the Valley Thursday to talk Ag and water.  She started her day at Terranova Ranch, where she met local farmer Don Cameron.  When heavy rain finally hit the drought stricken Valley, they stored the flood water to recharge the farm’s aquifers.  “We’re actually flooding our vineyards, our almond orchards, and our olive orchards to bring groundwater to a higher level,” said Don Cameron, General Manager. … ”  Read more from Your Central Valley here:  Senator Feinstein visits the Central Valley to talk water and ag

Turlock Groundwater Basin Association seeks public input:  “Implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act in Turlock and surrounding communities is well under way, and the Turlock Groundwater Basin Association hosted two workshops Wednesday to update local community members about the process and how much progress has been made.  Under the SGMA, which was passed in 2014, all high and medium priority groundwater basins are required to form one or multiple groundwater sustainability agencies by June 30 as well as develop one or more groundwater sustainability plans within three to five years, depending on the condition of their basins. … ”  Read more from the Turlock Journal here:  Turlock Groundwater Basin Association seeks public input

Snow melt causing Friant to increase water release:  “First it was rain causing concern of rising water levels, now it’s snow melt.  The Bureau of Reclamation just increased water release from Friant Dam to the San Joaquin River, Tuesday, May 30.  Fire officials went around mobile home parks along the river, advising residents about the increase.  Although, it’s a big concern for residents, those we spoke with said they enjoy having the river as their backyard.  “One of the main reasons for us moving here was because we’re so close to the river,” said James Conder, a soon-to-be resident at Woodward Bluffs. ... ” Read more from Your Central Valley here:  Snow melt causing Friant to increase water release

Santa Ana:  Agencies are urged to work together to protect region’s water supply:  “As California’s rainfall continues to vary widely from lengthy droughts to periods of heavy rains and flooding, water agencies in Fontana, the Inland Empire and Orange County must work together to protect the region’s water supply.  That was the recurring theme for nearly 300 water industry professionals from throughout the state who attended a conference on the future of the Santa Ana River Watershed at the Ontario Convention Center on May 25.  Participants heard about the importance of the watershed — which provides water for six million people from the San Bernardino Mountains to Newport Beach — and how integrated water management among various local, regional, state and federal agencies can help improve and protect the quality and reliability of this local water supply. … ”  Read more from the Herald and News here:  Santa Ana:  Agencies are urged to work together to protect region’s water supply

Debate continues over proposed Huntington Beach desalination plant amid latest environmental report:  “The long debate over Poseidon Water’s proposed ocean desalination plant in Huntington Beach continued this week as the California State Lands Commission released a draft of a supplemental environmental impact report analyzing planned additions to the facility that are meant to reduce potential harm to marine life and increase the plant’s efficiency.  The supplement to a 2010 EIR addresses the possible environmental effects of a screen and diffuser added to the intake and outflow pipes, respectively, that would be used by the $1-billion desalination facility proposed at Newland Street and Pacific Coast Highway. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Debate continues over proposed Huntington Beach desalination plant amid latest environmental report

San Diego: Water wars likely to add to rising customer costs:  “The Otay Water District, which provides water, sewage, and recycled water to communities in southeastern San Diego County including portions of Chula Vista, Spring Valley, Otay Mesa, Jamul, and others, is suing the city of San Diego for breach of contract, increased recycled water rates, and a lack of transparency. District officials are asking that a judge rescind the January 2016 rate increases and pay the district back the money it unfairly collected.  The lawsuit is yet another example of the region’s growing concerns for water and rising rates. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Reader here:  San Diego: Water wars likely to add to rising customer costs

Precipitation watch …

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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