DAILY DIGEST: Oroville Dam repair is huge, but so is residents’ mistrust; Oroville may stick it out w/DWR settlement agreement for another year; Wet winters and wildfires; Tamarisk beetles chewing through trees; and more …

In California water news today, Oroville Dam repair is huge, but so is residents’ mistrust; Some say Oroville Dam crisis trashed the Feather River.  Is the state responsible?; Dam safety records should be made public, says the SF Chronicle; DWR settlement agreement: Oroville may stick it out for another year; What a wet winter means for wildfire season; North Coast: Sea level experts urge more science; State legislators listen to Valley residents affected by contaminated water; Malibu Lagoon analyzed 4 years after $6.6 million restoration; and more …

In news and commentary today …

Oroville Dam repair is huge, but so is residents’ mistrust:  “The rush of workers and heavy machinery to the shore of Lake Oroville is so vast and unfamiliar it’s fanning rumors across this rural region that the ruckus couldn’t just be for a historic dam repair.  Some say the around-the-clock clamor high above town must be a secret effort to mine undiscovered metal from the once-booming Gold Country outpost. Others suspect a missile silo is taking shape, not a new spillway to send water down the Feather River.  At the least, many residents are skeptical that the unprecedented, deadline-driven project will restore their shaken faith in the nation’s tallest dam. ... ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  Oroville Dam repair is huge, but so is residents’ mistrust

Some say Oroville Dam crisis trashed the Feather River.  Is the state responsible?  “Sutter fishing guide James Stone watched with rising frustration this rainy season as the operators of the troubled Oroville Dam repeatedly raised and lowered the flows on the Feather River.  River levels seesawed over the course of four shutoffs of the dam’s battered spillway. Mile after mile of riverbanks crumbled near Live Oak and Yuba City. After one particularly abrupt change in flows, thousands of fish were unable to follow the rapidly receding water back into the main channel and became stranded in shallow pools along the flood plain. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Some say Oroville Dam crisis trashed the Feather River.  Is the state responsible?

DWR settlement agreement: Oroville may stick it out for another year:  “The City Council may decide Tuesday whether it wishes to extend the settlement agreement with the state Department of Water Resources until summer 2018.  Over the past several months, several city councilors and residents have expressed interest in exiting or renegotiating the $61 million agreement for recreational improvements to the greater Oroville area, which the city along with over 50 other signatories went into with DWR about 10 years ago. The total release of funds is contingent upon the relicensing for DWR to manage the Oroville Dam being issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC. ... ”  Continue reading at the Oroville Mercury-Register here:  DWR settlement agreement: Oroville may stick it out for another year

What a wet winter means for wildfire season:  “Every spring firefighters throughout the West approach the summer season with a proverbial prediction: If the winter was dry, all those parched trees will burn like torches; if it was a wet winter, all those new grasses will fuel quick fire starts and hot, runaway flames.  After a winter that left record piles of snow in the mountains and drenched most of California’s valleys, it’s no surprise that it is grass fires that are fueling a fast start to the state’s 2017 fire season. More than 16,000 acres had burned by June 3 in 1,229 blazes, most of them in central and Southern California. … ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  What a wet winter means for wildfire season

Preventing water wars in the West could come down to the free market:  “There was no electricity when Vickie Buchanan’s family came to Diamond Valley in 1958. Nor were there many crops. But there was water, and as early settlers, Vickie’s parents were given priority access under a rule fundamental to Western water law: “first in time, first in right.”  A steady flow of farmers followed, planting alfalfa and timothy hay grass in the high-desert soil of the central Nevada valley. As fields started producing, demand for water skyrocketed, and the state awarded more and more water rights. These rights became the farmers’ property, and they could be passed down in perpetuity. ... ”  Read more from the Las Vegas Sun here:  Preventing water wars in the West could come down to the free market

In commentary today …

Dam safety records should be made public, says the SF Chronicle:  They write, “Since the tallest dam in the United States threatened California with catastrophe last winter, state officials have responded with policies to stanch the flow not just of water but of information.  The latest example is the Legislature’s vote to exempt a whole class of crucial information about dams from the state’s public-records law. A provision in the recesses of a lengthy budget-related bill requested by the governor and passed by both houses last week could prevent public and press access to plans for responding to dam emergencies. … ”  Read more from the SF Chronicle here:  Dam safety records should be made public, says the SF Chronicle

There’s a strong local element with Bullard’s Bar, says the Appeal Democrat:  They write, “There’s a good deal of distrust and some animosity these days for the Department of Water Resources and those in charge of inspecting and maintaining Oroville Dam. It’s mostly a state operation.  On the other hand, you don’t find too many people around here worried about the New Bullards Bar Dam or the Yuba River Project managed by the local Yuba County Water Agency.  It’s altogether a different set of circumstances, we suppose, but it still seems like the local angle might make a big difference. … ”  Read more from the Appeal Democrat here:  There’s a strong local element with Bullard’s Bar

In regional news today …

North Coast: Sea level experts urge more science:  “Local sea rise experts have alerted the California Coastal Commission that the state’s pending update of sea level science findings overlooks two crucial studies of the North Coast’s vulnerabilities.  At a commission hearing June 7 at Humboldt State University, veteran environmental planner Aldaron Laird of Trinity Associates, Arcata, testified that it is imperative that the state’s synthesis of the latest sea rise science include research by Cascadia Geoscience and Northern Hydrology & Engineering, both of McKinleyville. ... ”  Read more from the Mad River Union here:  North Coast: Sea level experts urge more science

State legislators listen to Valley residents affected by contaminated water:  “On Friday, two state legislators met with residents of Valley communities plagued by water contamination problems.  It was a bipartisan tour, and the first stop was at Bertha Diaz’s home in East Orosi.  Due to contamination from surrounding agricultural operations, the water at her home has unsafe levels of nitrates. ... ”  Read more from KFSN here:  State legislators listen to Valley residents affected by contaminated water

Malibu Lagoon analyzed 4 years after $6.6 million restoration:  “From 2012-13, the Malibu Lagoon underwent a nine-month-long restoration process initiated by California State Parks. Twelve acres of wetland near the mouth of Malibu Creek were drained, wildlife was trapped and relocated, heavy equipment scooped out a thousand tons of trash and fill, channels and bridges were removed, banks were reshaped and native vegetation was replanted. The reconfigured lagoon netted two additional acres of wetlands.  Today, four years later, nonprofit The Bay Foundation is preparing to publish the fourth annual Malibu Lagoon Monitoring Report in July (a little late this year because heavy winter rain hampered testing activities). The monitoring will continue until next year, for a total of five years, when the project’s overall success will be assessed.  ... ”  Read more from The Malibu Times here:  Malibu Lagoon analyzed 4 years after $6.6 million restoration

Chula Vista: Multi-million dollar desalination expansion means millions of gallons of water for South Bay:  “A multi-million-dollar expansion means millions of more gallons of clean drinking water for San Diego’s South Bay.  The Sweetwater Authority dedicated the expansion of its Richard A. Reynolds Groundwater Desalination Facility Thursday.  The $42 million expansion doubles the plant’s output to 10 million gallons of water a day.  Sweetwater Authority had to dig five new wells for the desal plant, which is located in Chula Vista.  “It’s a day to celebrate,” said Sweetwater’s Director of Engineering Ron Mosher. … ”  Read more from ABC 10 News here:  Chula Vista: Multi-million dollar desalination expansion means millions of gallons of water for South Bay

Along the Colorado River …

Lake Mead forecast drops sharply; may trigger CAP water shortage:  “A federal forecast of water levels at troubled Lake Mead took a big turn for the worse this week — a 20-foot drop in the lake’s expected January 2019 elevation.  The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s monthly prediction for Colorado River reservoir levels says the lake could drop to 1,076.53 feet by the end of 2018 or Jan. 1, 2019. That would be a foot and a half above where a Central Arizona Project water shortage would be declared. Last month, the forecast for the end of the year was 1,096.77 feet. … ”  Read more from the Arizona Daily Star here:  Lake Mead forecast drops sharply; may trigger CAP water shortage

Column: What’s driving Arizona’s next big water fight? This is different.  For decades, the way to decide who gets how much water from the Colorado River involved big, protracted fights in Congress and the courts.  Now, the Lower Basin states of Arizona, California and Nevada are voluntarily working on a drought contingency plan to cut the water each state gets from Lake Mead once a shortage is declared.  California would agree for the first time to take cuts, which is definitely better than the current agreement that forces Arizona to take the bulk of the cuts while California escapes with none. Arizona and Nevada also would agree to take more cuts, propping up Lake Mead levels in hopes of avoiding more drastic cuts later on. … ”  Read more at the Arizona Republic here:  Column: What’s driving Arizona’s next big water fight?

Tamarisk leaf beetle chews through exotic trees into imperiled bird territory:  “Exotic beetles released by the U.S. government to kill exotic trees along the upper Colorado River have munched a destructive path into central Arizona, officials have confirmed, proving to be more mobile and resilient than predicted.  The tamarisk leaf beetle now threatens the endangered southwestern willow flycatcher and other birds that have adapted to the non-native tamarisk that grows so thick along some of the region’s rivers. The beetles can strip a tree of its leaves, ruining it as a home for the birds. … ”  Read more from the Arizona Republic here:  Tamarisk leaf beetle chews through exotic trees into imperiled bird territory

And lastly …

Shipping containers turned into swimming pools:  “An Abbotsford couple is making a big splash in the world of outdoor recreation by converting shipping containers into backyard pools.  Paul and Denise Rathnam launched Modpools at the B.C. Home + Garden Show in Vancouver earlier this year. Since then, the idea has taken off, with orders mostly from California, Nevada, Texas and Florida.  Paul Rathnam said people like the idea of repurposing shipping containers.  “People like to get behind it,” he said. “The traditional pool is a symbol of excess and waste. This is a little more modern, more modest. We’re repurposing something rather than recycling. This pool can be resold, and you can take it with you if you move.” … ”  Read more from the Vancouver Sun here:  Shipping containers turned into swimming pools

More news and commentary in the weekend edition …

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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