DAILY DIGEST, weekend edition: After the Kings River breaks its banks, now it’s the San Joaquin River that might flood; State water chief steps down; Flood plan boosts floodplain; EPA plans to buy out more than 1200 employees this summer; and more …

Elk Slough, North Delta

In California water news this weekend, Mandatory evacuations ordered after two levee breaches along the Kings River; After the Kings River busts its banks, now it’s the San Joaquin River that might flood; State water chief, the face of the Oroville spillway crisis, steps down; Flood plan boosts floodplain; Wet winter ups the ante for hikers on popular US trail; EPA plans to buy out more than 1200 employees this summer; Hamilton City: Flood-prone town protects itself against waters while letting a river roam; 12 billion gallons of water pour into Lake Tahoe amid this week’s heat wave; Algae in Bay Area lakes: Is it safe to swim?; Lawsuit filed over San Jose flood control project; Orange County water agency asks Governor Brown to prioritize water pollution cleanup; San Diego County Water Authority must repay millions; and more …

In the news this weekend …

Mandatory evacuations ordered after two levee breaches along the Kings River:  “Levee breaches late Friday and early Saturday along the Kings River prompted mandatory evacuations and flooded the Kings River Golf and Country Club, the Kingsburg Gun Club and seven structures.  The gun club’s annual trapshooting competition, which had attracted hundreds of shooters throughout California and out of state, was postponed because the trap houses were underwater. ... ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Mandatory evacuations ordered after two levee breaches along the Kings River

After the Kings River breaks its banks, now it’s the San Joaquin River that might flood:  “Hot weather that’s melting a heavy winter snowfall and filling reservoirs has prompted the National Weather Service to issue a flood advisory for portions of the central San Joaquin Valley until Sunday.  The weather service said water releases at Friant Dam have been increased due to snow melt.  Locations along the San Joaquin River from Friant to Mendota are the most likely places to experience minor flooding, as river levels are expected to rise over the next several days. ... ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  After the Kings River breaks its banks, now it’s the San Joaquin River that might flood

State water chief, the face of the Oroville spillway crisis, steps down: “Bill Croyle, who took over as chief of the California Department of Water Resources on the eve of February’s near-catastrophe at Oroville Dam, is retiring from the agency after six months on the job.  Gov. Jerry Brown appointed Croyle to fill the director’s job on an acting basis following the retirement of Mark Cowin in December. In his decade at DWR, Croyle had served as the agency’s emergency operations manager and flood operations chief. … ”  Read more from KQED here:  State water chief, the face of the Oroville spillway crisis, steps down

Flood plan boosts floodplain:  “When the Central Valley Flood Protection Board adopts the 2017 Update to its Flood Protection Plan later this summer it be another twist in the serpentine evolution of California’s approach to flood management. While the primary goal of the plan is to improve flood risk management, it emphasizes the integration of ecosystem functions and native habitats into the flood management system, as well as promoting multi-benefit projects.  “It’s an exciting time to be in flood control,” says Diana Jacobs of the Sacramento River Trust, who has worked in the field since Governor Jerry Brown’s first administration. ... ”  Read more from Estuary News here:  Flood plan boosts floodplain

Wet winter ups the ante for hikers on popular US trail:  “Anya Sellsted had scaled scary snow-covered passes and forded frightening rivers during her solo hike from Mexico to Canada when the hazards of California’s gargantuan winter finally caught up to her.  While crossing a partly submerged log in Yosemite National Park, Sellsted was sucked under the tree and down the rushing creek. She gasped for air as the weight of her 55-pound (25-kilogram) backpack pushed her under the frigid water.  No one was within miles as she was battered and scraped on rocks before grasping branches and saving herself. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Wet winter ups the ante for hikers on popular US trail

EPA plans to buy out more than 1200 employees this summer:  “The Environmental Protection Agency plans on shedding more than 1,200 employees by early September through buyouts and early retirements, as part of a broader push by the Trump administration to shrink a government entity the president once promised to eliminate “in almost every form.”  The departures would amount to about 8 percent of the current 15,000-person workforce of the EPA, where a hiring freeze also remains in effect. The Trump administration has proposed a 31 percent cut to its budget, the largest percentage reduction of any agency and one that could mean several thousand job losses. ... ”  Read more from the Washington Post here:  EPA plans to buy out more than 1200 employees this summer

In commentary this weekend …

Delta politicians disagree with Governor Brown on Delta tunnels:  The Fairfield Daily Republic writes,  “It’s hard to find much bipartisan support in politics these days but Gov. Jerry Brown has managed to find some resistance even among his own party locally when it comes to his twin tunnel proposal for the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.  The Legislative Delta Caucus, co-chaired by local Assemblyman Jim Frazier, D-Solano, and State Senator Bill Dodd, D-Solano, sent a letter to the governor last week voicing their concerns for the current proposal. This time the concern is that the project violates key parts of the Delta Reform Act of 2009 and has the state Department of Water Resources abdicating its responsibilities by turning over management of the project to water agencies. ... ”  Continue reading at The Reporter here:  Delta politicians disagree with Governor Brown on Delta tunnels

In regional news and commentary this weekend …

Hamilton City: Flood-prone town protects itself against waters while letting a river roam:  “Sometimes better flood protection comes from giving a river some space to roam. Hamilton City, 85 miles north of Sacramento, learned that lesson from a new levee project that both protects against flooding and restores wildlife habitat.  The levee will be set back from the Sacramento River for most of its 7 miles, allowing the river to spill over its banks and creating 1,400 acres of riparian forest and grassland. A model for flood-threatened areas nationwide, this project was the first designed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to benefit both people and the environment. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Flood-prone town protects itself against waters while letting a river roam

Without levee work now, Yuba City will be at the mercy of weather, says Supervisor Dan Flores:  He writes, “Clearly, anyone willing to come out in the heat of summer to fight for resources to prevent flooding already understands what is at stake, so I’m going to address my remarks to the governor and those in Sacramento who control the budget process.  As a county supervisor who represents a community that would be devastated by the failure of a Feather River levee, I want to say we cannot afford patience. The risk posed to Yuba City is the greatest risk to an urban area in the entire Central Valley.  As a father, I want to say it is unnecessary for our families to face the further threat of evacuation or drowning or financial ruin. As many as 75,000 lives are at stake. But we know what is wrong with the segment of levee at Yuba City and we know how to fix it – this year before the rainy season. ... ”  Read more from the Appeal Democrat here:  Without levee work now, Yuba City will be at the mercy of weather

12 billion gallons of water pour into Lake Tahoe amid this week’s heat wave:  “The process of the Sierra Nevada spring snow melt sped up this week as a heat wave brought triple-digit temperatures to parts of the Western United States.  A thawing snowpack that’s massive after a brutal winter fed rivers and reservoirs with high-flowing runoff.  One place that saw a stunning impact from all the runoff is Lake Tahoe.  … ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  12 billion gallons of water pour into Lake Tahoe amid this week’s heat wave

With recent heat wave, Lake Tahoe reaches maximum level:  “The combination of the West Coast heat wave and spring’s snowfall in the Sierra has Lake Tahoe close to filling for the first time in over a decade.  An influx of more than 12 billion gallons of water has poured into the lake this past week, leading to a four-inch rise in the water level since June 16, the San Francisco Chronicle reported on Friday.  The lake’s water level, which has a maximum legal limit of 6,299.1 feet, was measured at 6,228.84 feet Friday morning. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  With recent heat wave, Lake Tahoe reaches maximum level

Algae in Bay Area lakes: Is it safe to swim?  “Before taking their children to an iconic East Bay swim lake, a group of parents last week called ahead to make sure the Lake Temescal water wasn’t toxic.  It was safe and the reservoir was open, unlike long stretches last year when blue-green algae called cyanobacteria caused swimming to be banned at Lake Temescal and 22 other California lakes or waterways.  “We definitely checked before coming,” Erin King, an Oakland mother, said as she relaxed on the sandy beach at the lake in hills near the Caldecott Tunnel. “When we’re told the water is okay, I’m not concerned. But we are paying attention.” ... ”  Read more from the Vallejo Times Herald here:  Algae in Bay Area lakes: Is it safe to swim?

Lawsuit filed over San Jose flood control project:  “Citing the lessons learned from the Coyote Creek flood that caused $100 million damage in San Jose four months ago, the Santa Clara Valley Water District has filed a lawsuit against state officials, claiming they are threatening the completion of a flood control project nearby with too much bureaucracy.  The $35 million project is designed to provide 100-year flood protection to 2.2 miles of Upper Berryessa Creek between North San Jose and Milpitas, reducing flood risk to 624 properties and Santa Clara County’s first BART station: the new Milpitas station scheduled to open in December. ... ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  Lawsuit filed over San Jose flood control project

Pine Flat: Over capacity but not over the wall:  “Thanks to the rapidly melting snowpack, Pine Flat Reservoir on the Kings River east of Fresno is now expected to exceed 100% of its capacity. But water managers aren’t too worried.  Due in part to the extreme heat, estimates of the snowmelt flowing into the Pine Flat Lake were off by about 200,000 acre feet. As of Friday afternoon, the reservoir is just a few inches away from being completely full.  But with more water coming in from the High Sierra, dam engineers have a backup plan. ... ”  Read more from Valley Public Radio here:  Pine Flat: Over capacity but not over the wall

Owens Valley:  LADWP offers update on runoff management:  “The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) continues to work proactively to handle the massive runoff water resulting from this year’s near record snowpack in the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains.  These efforts are in partnership with Inyo County, the Inyo Sheriff’s Department, Bishop Police Department, Cal-Trans, Southern California Edison and others, as a member of the Inyo County Interagency Emergency Preparation team.  Work to prepare for the anticipated high water flows began in late February. The efforts have been assisted by an Emergency Declaration from the Mayor of the City of Los Angeles to allow LADWP to take immediate steps to protect infrastructure and aid in managing flood waters while also protecting public safety. Inyo County issued a similar declaration. ... ”  Continue reading at the Sierra Wave here:  LADWP offers update on runoff management

Los Angeles drainage goes native:  “Citydwellers are accustomed to rain water being whisked down a drain and out of sight. While those who live on the edges of concrete flood control channels may have marveled at an occasional torrent in winter, or dreamed of skateboarding down these dry riverine chutes in summer, the general idea of getting the water away from the people prevails. Esther Feldman thinks otherwise.  “We’re so rich in water-moving infrastructure in our cities and so poor at tapping it where it could do the most good,” says Feldman, director of a nonprofit called Community Conservation Solutions.  This summer, Feldman’s organization is piloting a new analytical tool that not only taps an untapped local water supply –the 969 miles of metropolitan storm drains in Los Angeles — but also has the metrics to earn carbon credits for doing so. … ”  Read more from Estuary News here:  Los Angeles drainage goes native

Orange County water agency asks Governor Brown to prioritize water pollution cleanup:  “Officials with the Orange County Water District this week urged California Gov. Jerry Brown to place an underground plume of pollution threatening the local water supply on a list of national priorities.  Being added to the list, overseen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, would force the polluters to fund the cleanup under the EPA’s supervision, according to a letter sent to Brown from the regional office of the EPA. Additional costs not covered by manufacturers would partially be covered by the state of California if Brown approves the designation. ... ”  Read more from the OC Register here:  Orange County water agency asks Governor Brown to prioritize water pollution cleanup

San Diego County Water Authority must repay millions:  “A California appeals court dealt San Diego’s water provider a major blow on Friday after it ruled a lower court erred in awarding millions in damages due to a series of apparent overcharges.  The California First District Court of Appeal found that the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which supplies water to most Southern California residents, abided by regulations in charging the San Diego County Water Authority for water it delivered to the agency from the Colorado River. ... ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service here:  San Diego County Water Authority must repay millions

Court ruling throws a wrench in two big upcoming water decisions:  “The San Diego County Water Authority – and San Diego ratepayers – were dealt a major legal loss this week that could leave local water customers back on the hook for billions of dollars over the next several decades.  For years, San Diego water officials have argued the region’s major supplier of water – the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California – charges too much to deliver water to San Diego from the Colorado River. … ”  Read more from the Voice of San Diego here:  Court ruling throws a wrench in two big upcoming water decisions

California far from solutions as Salton Sea crisis looms:  “The Salton Sea is a disaster in slow motion.  For more than a century, California’s largest lake has been sustained by Colorado River water, which irrigates Imperial Valley farms and drains into the lake. But the Salton Sea will start shrinking rapidly at the end of this year, when increasing amounts of river water will be diverted from farms to cities. As the lake’s shorelines retreat, thousands of tons of lung-damaging dust are expected to blow from the exposed lakebed, polluting the Imperial Valley’s already-dirty air. ... ”  Read more from the Desert Sun here:  California far from solutions as Salton Sea crisis looms

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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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