DAILY DIGEST: The wait may soon be over on the Delta tunnels; State orders more than 50 dams assessed after Oroville crisis; How the Bay Area is restoring nature’s delicate balance; First of it’s kind water market launches; and more …

In California water news today, Why years of waiting may be over on the Delta tunnels; State orders in-depth assessment of more than 50 dams after Oroville Dam crisis; How the Bay Area is restoring nature’s delicate balance; First of it’s kind water market launches; Sites Reservoir proponents make their case; Oroville Dam incident explained: What happened, why, and what’s next; Some anti-drought programs face cuts; Plastic voyage reveals depth of plastic pollution crisis; and more …

In the news today …

Why years of waiting may be over on the Delta tunnels:  “Love it or hate it, the Delta tunnels project is reaching a decision point.  The state’s most powerful water agencies have set a September goal to decide whether they’re going pay for the biggest and most controversial water project California has undertaken since the 1960s: overhauling the plumbing system that pumps billions of gallons of water through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to the Bay Area, Southern California and one of the nation’s most productive farm belts. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Why years of waiting may be over on the Delta tunnels

State orders in-depth assessment of more than 50 dams after Oroville Dam crisis:  “In light of the crisis at Oroville Dam earlier this year, state regulators have begun ordering up-close inspections of aging dams throughout California.  In a letter received by the San Luis Obispo County’s Public Works department on June 12, the chief of California’s Division of Safety of Dams ordered the county’s flood-control district to complete a “comprehensive condition assessment” of the Lopez Dam’s spillway.  “We completed a reconnaissance-level assessment of the spillway at Lopez Dam and have noted that structure may have potential geologic, structural, or performance issues that could jeopardize its ability to safely pass a flood event,” the letter stated. ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  State orders in-depth assessment of more than 50 dams after Oroville Dam crisis

How the Bay Area is restoring nature’s delicate balance:  “As I fly home over the San Francisco Bay, the familiar shape, curving in a graceful C, suddenly appears beneath the clouds, holding out the promise of vibrant life below. Its back arches toward the Pacific Ocean. Its upper arm stretches inland to the delta that links it to two great rivers that carve out California’s Central Valley before they rush on to the sea. The bay’s lower arm, also freshened by the rivers, stays shallow enough to walk across as it curls south.  There is a beauty in the way the whole natural system fits together, keyed to times and tides, seasons and cycles. The millions of us clustered around the bay may not know we owe the sweet scent of the wind, the call of the birds, and the platefuls of local salmon and crab to this elegant connectedness. ... ”  Read more from National Geographic here:  How the Bay Area is restoring nature’s delicate balance

First of it’s kind water market launches:  “California’s first formal, centralized market for individual landowners to buy and sell groundwater has been launched on the Oxnard Plain, and the United States Department of Agriculture has awarded a $1.9 million grant to expand the pilot project later this year.  California Lutheran University faculty members Matthew Fienup, executive director of the university’s Center for Economic Research and Forecasting (CERF), and Edgar Terry, who is also president of Terry Farms, spent more than a year guiding about 50 farmers, city representatives and environmental stewards in the development of recommendations for the market-based remedy for groundwater depletion. … ”  Read more from California Lutheran University here:  First-of-it’s-kind water market launches

Sites Reservoir proponents make their case:  “In the middle of a severe drought in November 2014, California voters approved Proposition 1, a $7.5 billion water bond that set aside $2.7 billion for the public benefits of new water storage projects. Now, project proponents have less than two months to finalize applications for bond funds, which can be used for attributes such as ecosystem improvements, water quality improvements, flood control, emergency response and recreation.  Among the projects competing for bond funding is the proposed Sites Reservoir, an offstream storage project that has been studied for close to 40 years. To be located west of Maxwell in Colusa and Glenn counties, Sites would provide a storage capacity of 1.8 million acre-feet of water and an annual yield of 500,000 acre-feet—additional surface water for cities, farms and the environment that proponents say would also help relieve pressure on groundwater. It carries an estimated construction cost of $4.4 billion. ... ”  Read more from Ag Alert here:  Sites Reservoir proponents make their case  More: Online extra: Questions and answers about Sites Reservoir

Oroville Dam incident explained: What happened, why, and what’s next:  “In February, damage to the spillway of the dam on Lake Oroville in Butte County, California, and erosion under the dam’s emergency spillway threatened to send billions of gallons of water cascading through dozens of California communities.  The dam did not collapse, but the damage to the spillway and the emergency spillway was enormous. The incident, and the political aftermath, have sparked tensions and concerns that the problems that led to the Oroville incident may be part of larger institutional issues.  To catch up on what happened at Oroville, and what has happened since, here’s a brief overview. ... ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  Oroville Dam incident explained: What happened, why, and what’s next

Growers still assessing orchard damage from floods, storms:  “Growers in California are still assessing damage to their orchards from this winter’s floods and heavy storms — and the crisis may not be over yet.  Releases from New Melones Lake near Sonora and other full-to-the-brim reservoirs may ramp up in the coming days as the state endures its first expected heat wave, sending more water to walnut and other orchards that are in the floodplain.  “The next seven or eight days are going to make for really interesting times,” Stanislaus County Farm Bureau government affairs director Tom Orvis said on June 13, noting that triple-digit temperatures are expected to linger for the first time this season. … ”  Read more from Capital Press here:  Growers still assessing orchard damage from floods, storms

Some anti-drought programs face cuts:  “For the past 5 years, parched Californians suffered through the state’s worst drought. Wildfires, reduced crop production, environmental damage, cities running dry – all were part of the misery.  But with the drought now broken by an unprecedented wet season and snow pack, it’s possible to look back and see the positives develop, especially when it comes to the state budget. … ” Read more from Capitol Weekly here:  Some anti-drought programs face cuts

Plastic voyage reveals depth of plastic pollution crisis:  “I’m sitting on the back of an old steel sailboat called the SY Christianshavn that is cruising through the middle of the eastern Pacific Ocean, 1,000 miles (1,600km) from land in any given direction, when I spot my first piece of ocean plastic.  It’s a large chunk of an orange laundry basket, and I snap a few photos of it as it floats by the starboard side of the ship. Soon after, I spot a large orange fishing buoy, a few fist-sized plastic flakes, a pink dustpan and a green condiment bottle colonized by barnacles. And then – nothing. The sapphire blue water around the ship appears clean and clear until another pile of plastic debris – a huge tangle of nets and rope, a hunk of Styrofoam and a fishing trap – materializes about 20 minutes later. … ” Read more from Oceans Deeply here:  Plastic voyage reveals depth of plastic pollution crisis

In regional news and commentary today …

Sonoma County questions Sweetwater Spring’s rights to Russian River water during drought:  “Guerneville water faucets could run dry if drought conditions reduce the Russian River’s flow to critical levels seen in recent years, according to a controversial opinion from the Sonoma County Water Agency.  The possibility of local water rights drying up is one impact of the Water Agency’s “Fish Flow Project” that would reduce the amount of water released into the river every summer from upstream dams, according to Sweetwater Springs Water District General Manager Steve Mack. … ”  Read more from Sonoma West here:  County questions Sweetwater Spring’s rights to Russian River water during drought

Cancer-causing contaminants rise sharply in East Bay drinking water:  “Cancer-causing compounds in East Bay drinking water have increased sharply over the past several years, and water in some areas is close to violating a federal public health standard, the East Bay Municipal Utility District reported Tuesday.  Water-quality managers said the drought is at least partly to blame for the increase in contaminants called trihalomethanes or THMs,  a byproduct of chlorine used to kill germs reacting with natural organic matter in water.  The low flows and hot temperatures in the drought led to more impurities in water, and sped up their formation into harmful byproducts. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  Cancer-causing contaminants rise sharply in East Bay drinking water

Salinas Valley replacement water expected to cost farmers $1 million in first year:  “It’s expected to cost area agri-businesses about $1 million to provide bottled water to lower-income Salinas Valley residents whose water supply has been contaminated by nitrates in the first year of a pilot program.  Salinas Basin Agricultural Stewardship Group representative Brett Harrell told the Monterey County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday that’s what a coalition of 50 or so agri-businesses will pay for the program aimed at providing a replacement water supply for 35 water systems and about 850 people in the area. That includes the cost of bottled water, fees and advocacy, to avoid immediate state water board enforcement action as part of an effort to move toward a longer-term solution for nitrate contamination in the agriculture-rich valley. ... ”  Read more from the Monterey Herald here:  Salinas Valley replacement water expected to cost farmers $1 million in first year

Orange County:  Polluted water case against BP and Shell revived:  “No longer protected by its deals with California prosecutors, BP and Shell must face another lawsuit alleging that its underground storage tanks continue to pollute Orange County’s groundwater with a toxic gasoline additive.  The British and Dutch oil giants were named among the dozens of fossil-fuel companies in hundreds of lawsuits over the chemical methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE). ... ”  Read more from Courthouse News Service here:  Orange County:  Polluted water case against BP and Shell revived

And lastly …

Bizarre glowing sea creatures bloom in the Pacific:  “After three years of unprecedented warm water along the U.S. West Coast, sea temperatures in 2017 had finally cooled. Fat shrimplike krill had returned and again were providing rich meals for salmon. Sea lions and other marine mammals were no longer washing ashore shriveled and starving. Things appeared to be getting back to normal.  Then they showed up. ... ”  Read more from National Geographic here:  Bizarre glowing sea creatures bloom in the Pacific

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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