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DAILY DIGEST: Design plans approved for Lake Oroville spillway; Why is state withholding asbestos records at Oroville Dam?; Endless winter: 8’ of snow still on the ground in June; CA hones drinking water affordability plan; and more …

In California water news today, Design plans approved for Lake Oroville spillway; Why is state withholding asbestos records at Oroville Dam?; California’s endless winter: 8 feet of snow still on the ground in June; California hones drinking water affordability plan; Plenty of fish in the creek: Spawning chinook salmon return to Deer Creek for first time in nearly a decade; SMUD preparing for next drought with cloud-seeding project; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board will begin the first of a two-day meeting beginning at 9am.  Click here for the agenda and webcast link.
  • Golf Courses, the Environment and Water Conservation: The New Reality presented by the Commonwealth Club this evening in San Francisco at 5:30 pm.  Click here to buy tickets.

In the news today …

Design plans approved for Lake Oroville spillway:  “The California Department of Water Resources said work on the Lake Oroville Spillway has reached a milestone.  The project’s independent Board of Consultants approved design plans for a newly built structure.  The Department also announced Wednesday the spillway is shut down for the summer, and will not open again until needed during the next rainy season. … ” Read more from Capital Public Radio here:  Design plans approved for Lake Oroville spillway

Why is state withholding asbestos records at Oroville Dam?  “In the latest skirmish over transparency at the troubled Oroville Dam, a Northern California activist group has sued state officials alleging they’re illegally withholding information about potentially toxic asbestos.  AquAlliance, a Chico-based advocacy group focused on Sacramento Valley water issues, filed a lawsuit in Sacramento Superior Court on Tuesday alleging the Department of Water Resources broke state records laws when it denied the group’s request for emails containing information about the asbestos at the dam. The state did release nine documents, the group said, but not the relevant emails. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Why is state withholding asbestos records at Oroville Dam?

California’s endless winter: 8 feet of snow still on the ground in June:  “It’s an endless winter in the West.  Snow from the barrage of storms that pounded the western mountains over the winter is still on the ground. Many mountains in the Rockies, Sierra and Cascades are packed with at least 8 feet of snow, the National Weather Service said, creating a dream summer for skiers and snowboarders. … ”  Read more from USA Today here:  California’s endless winter: 8 feet of snow still on the ground in June

California hones drinking water affordability plan:  “Nearly five years ago, the California Legislature declared that the state’s residents have a right to “safe, clean, affordable, and accessible water.” Passage of the landmark law provoked a practical question that has always dogged the noble ideals of the right-to-water movement: how does a state government or municipal utility ensure clean and affordable water for all?  The need in California appears urgent. Water bills are a large and growing burden on the state’s poor. The price of water in San Francisco increased by double digits in six of the last seven years, according to the latest national assessment by Circle of Blue. In Fresno, the state’s most destitute big city, water rates rose 15 percent in the last year. San Diego water users paid more than 6 percent more for water in 2017 than the year before, a price increase much larger than the rate of inflation. … ”  Read more from Circle of Blue here:  California hones drinking water affordability plan

In commentary today …

Here’s the right strategy for the next drought, say Ellen Hanak and David Mitchell:  They write,The recent drought brought record high temperatures and record low precipitation, pushed numerous native fish species to the brink of extinction and led to unusually large drops in groundwater levels. But the biggest milestone for urban areas was the state’s unprecedented order to cut water use by an average of 25 percent.  By some measures, the conservation mandate was a great success. From June 2015 to February 2016, Californians reduced water use by 24 percent compared to the same months in 2013 – more than double the savings achieved under a voluntary program in 2014. And the urban economy still grew faster than the national average. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Here’s the right strategy for the next drought

Infrastructure investments must prioritize the Colorado River, one of the hardest working rivers in the world, say Mike Connor and Lynn Scarlett:  They write, “With the Trump administration focused on infrastructure this week, the Walton Family Foundation released a white paper to help guide a plan for one of the nation’s most critical infrastructure needs. The paper, “Colorado River Critical Infrastructure Needs,” highlights 15 projects across the basin that are essential for securing one of the most important – and overtapped – waterways in the country.  In Cadillac Desert, Mark Reisner’s 1986 seminal work on water in the West, he noted that “[t]he Colorado River’s modern notoriety, stems not from the fact that it is the most legislated, most debated, and most litigated river in the entire world. It also has more people, more industry, and a more significant economy dependent on it than any other comparable river in the world.” … ”  Read more from the Washington Examiner here:  Infrastructure investments must prioritize the Colorado River, one of the hardest working rivers in the world

In regional news and commentary today …

Plenty of fish in the creek: Spawning chinook salmon return to Deer Creek for first time in nearly a decade:  “In order for spawning Chinook salmon to return to Deer Creek this autumn, they first had to swim against the stream from the San Joaquin River to the Mokelumne River, east of Rio Vista. Then, the determined fish had to make their way up to where the Mokelumne meets the Cosumnes River, and finally, migrate several miles more to get to the shady shores of Deer Creek. They found that respite thanks to a multi-year environmental restoration project from the Sacramento Valley Conservancy in coalition with Teichert Construction. … ”  Read more from Comstock’s here:  Plenty of fish in the creek: Spawning chinook salmon return to Deer Creek for first time in nearly a decade

SMUD preparing for next drought with cloud-seeding project:  “As California dries out from its historic wet winter, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District is already planning for the next drought, with plans to use new ground-to-air cloud-seeding devices called flare trees.  SMUD wants to increase the amount of water that will flow into its reservoirs when the next California drought hits. The utility wants to double the size of its cloud seeding operation. … ”  Read more from CBS Sacramento here:  SMUD preparing for next drought with cloud-seeding project  RELATEDLearn more about cloud seeding from the Water Management Toolbox by clicking here.

Peninsula water authority and Marina officials in talks over Cal Am desal project:  “Talks have been under way for months between Monterey Peninsula mayors water authority representatives and Marina Coast Water District and Marina city officials over a potential resolution regarding the coastal community’s concerns about potential negative groundwater impacts from the proposed California American Water desalination project.  According to a water authority staff report prepared for Thursday’s authority board meeting, the discussions are being conducted at the “staff level” and are aimed at “an effort to resolve (Marina Coast) concerns to the extent possible, consistent with the needs of Peninsula water users.” … ”  Read more from the Monterey Herald here:  Peninsula water authority and Marina officials in talks over Cal Am desal project

Corcoran: Officials: Prisons should pay for levee work:  “So who’s going to pick up the estimated $11 million tab for the Corcoran levee-raising project?  Local officials overseeing the expensive project, which started in March and was done to protect Corcoran from a flood that hasn’t happened, revealed part of their strategy Tuesday at a Kings County Board of Supervisors public hearing.  To relieve farmers and Corcoran homeowners of the burden of having to pay the full bill, officials at the Cross Creek Flood Control District want the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to pay about 60 percent, or $6.6 million, of the total cost. ... ”  Read more from the Hanford Sentinel here:  Officials: Prisons should pay for levee work

Irrigation District starts sandbagging Lake Success Spillway after Corps approves request: “After months of consideration, officials with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have granted a request from a South Valley water district, asking for Lake Success’ spillway to be sandbagged, to prevent flooding and store water for irrigation purposes.  The lake is less than one foot away from being full, and water is moving closer to the spillway seal. … ”  Read more from KFSN here:  Irrigation District starts sandbagging Lake Success Spillway after Corps approves request

Owen’s Valley: The 2017 spring runoff has ‘officially begun’:  “The anticipated heavy spring runoff has officially begun in the Owens Valley. Creeks and streams have already been flowing at high capacities and the Owens River is running full and extremely fast.  Due to debris and fast moving water, officials warn that river floating should be avoided, and instead residents and visitors seeking to cool off should enjoy calmer waterways such as Diaz Lake, Klondike Lake, and Millpond. … ”  Read more from Sierra Wave here:  Owen’s Valley: The 2017 spring runoff has ‘officially begun’

End of drought could mean beginning of a busy wildfire season for Southern California:  “The end of a five-year drought won’t necessarily be good news for firefighters.  While the plentiful rains of this past winter have colored the mountains and foothills a verdant green, left standing are those red alerts predicting high fire danger this summer and fall, according to local fire departments.  “Whatever brush didn’t burn in last year’s fire season is still there but it is dead because of the five-year drought,” said Inspector Gustavo Medina of the Los Angeles County Fire Department. “So you still have vegetation underneath that is brown plus new growth that is ready to burn.” ... ”  Read more from the San Gabriel Valley Tribune here:  End of drought could mean beginning of a busy wildfire season for Southern California

Coachella Valley: Tribe’s landmark water case will proceed while agencies appeal to the Supreme Court:  “The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians’ 4-year-old legal fight to assert rights to groundwater took a step forward on Wednesday as a federal judge agreed to let the lawsuit proceed while water agencies appeal an earlier ruling to the Supreme Court.  The decision by District Court Judge Jesus Bernal triggers the start of a second phase in the case, which will set an important precedent for tribes across the country by clarifying their rights to groundwater beneath their reservations. ... ” Read more from the Desert Sun here:  Coachella Valley: Tribe’s landmark water case will proceed while agencies appeal to the Supreme Court

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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