DAILY DIGEST: ‘Under the radar’ hearings grind on for Delta tunnels; Vanishing salmon could doom tribe’s culture; Expansion of Los Vaqueros Reservoir wins regional backing; Trump administration moves to shrink marine sanctuaries, repeal Clean Water Rule; and more …

In California water news today, ‘Under the radar’ hearings grind on for Delta tunnels; What Delta tunnel project approval means to opposition; Vanishing salmon could doom tribe’s culture; Expansion of Los Vaqueros Reservoir wins regional backing; Jellied sea creatures confound scientists, fishermen on US Pacific Coast; Reclamation veteran Brenda W. Burman Nominated as Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation; Trump order that could shrink California and Pacific Ocean marine sanctuaries moves forward; Trump Administration Moves to Withdraw Clean-Water Rule; and more …

On the calendar today …

In the news today …

‘Under the radar’ hearings grind on for Delta tunnels:  “The controversial water diversion tunnels proposed in California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta may be the biggest waterworks up for review anywhere in the world. And this $17 billion project requires a variety of permits and approvals before construction can begin.  Gov. Jerry Brown hopes to start building in 2018, but there are many steps ahead before a single bucket of dirt can be shifted. There are environmental impact studies, federal and state endangered species permits, federal dredging permits and an eminent domain process to acquire land – all still in the works.  One of the most important is a state permit to divert water at three new locations on the Sacramento River. It sounds pretty basic, but in reality, this is one of the most complicated steps. … ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  ‘Under the radar’ hearings grind on for Delta tunnels

What Delta tunnel project approval means to the opposition:  “California cleared its first major hurdle toward a new $15 billion water delivery system, but a grassroots campaign is still working to stop the Delta tunnels.  U.S. wildlife agencies have given first approval to Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to build two massive tunnels to ship water from Northern California south. … KCRA spoke with Restore the Delta Executive Director Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, about the approval. The organization is opposed to the tunnel project and vows to take their fight to court if needed. ... ”  Read more from KCRA here:  What Delta tunnel project approval means to opposition

Vanishing salmon could doom tribe’s culture:  “Under a purple pre-dawn sky, a small group of Northern Californian Indians ventured out onto the wet sand where the mighty Klamath River meets the Pacific Ocean. They had come to honor and fight for the salmon that have sustained their ancient culture for generations.  … The salmon runs performed by the Yurok, Karuk and other Northern California tribes have long spread the joyous news from village to village that the fish were returning from the ocean. This year, however, the event also brought bad news. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Vanishing salmon could doom tribe’s culture

Expansion of Los Vaqueros Reservoir wins regional backing:  “Additional flexibility for the water-supply system, water to benefit urban customers in the Bay Area, water for wetlands as well as for farmers and other water users south of the delta: Those are the reasons a dozen partners have joined in support of a proposed expansion of Los Vaqueros Reservoir.  The Contra Costa Water District, which has proposed the $800 million project, says it would store additional water for 500,000 customers in the district’s service area. It would also hold transfer water for south-of-delta contractors, including agricultural districts and Central Valley wildlife refuges.  Long studied by the CCWD and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the project is among those competing for a portion of $2.7 billion in storage funding available through the voter-approved Proposition 1 water bond. … ”  Read more from Ag Alert here:  Expansion of Los Vaqueros Reservoir wins regional backing  See also: Questions and answers about Los Vaqueros

Jellied sea creatures confound scientists, fishermen on US Pacific Coast:  “Drifting throngs of jelly-like, glowing organisms native to tropical seas far from shore have invaded Pacific coastal waters from Southern California to the Gulf of Alaska this year, baffling researchers and frustrating fishing crews.  Known as pyrosomes, they are tubular colonies of hundreds or thousands of tiny individual creatures called zooids, enmeshed together in a gelatinous tunic roughly the consistency of gummy bear candy.  No relation to jellyfish, they resemble bumpy, opaque pickles in the water, typically a few centimeters or inches long, though some grow 1 or 2 feet (30cm or 60cm) in length. ... ”  Read more from WHTC here:  Jellied sea creatures confound scientists, fishermen on US Pacific Coast

Reclamation veteran Brenda W. Burman Nominated as Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation:  “Yesterday, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke praised President Donald Trump’s intent to nominate veteran Bureau of Reclamation official Brenda W. Burman as the Commissioner of the Bureau, which is the largest wholesale water supplier in the United States and the nation’s second largest producer of hydroelectric power. If confirmed, Burman would be first ever female to lead the Bureau. From 2006 to 2008, she served as Reclamation’s Deputy Commissioner for External and Intergovernmental Affairs and the Deputy Assistant Secretary.  “Brenda’s depth of knowledge of Western water issues is impressive,” said Secretary Zinke. “Her background includes working with large Western water agencies, non-governmental organizations and Congress. She will be a valuable addition to the Interior team.” … “  Read more from the Department of the Interior here:  Reclamation veteran Brenda W. Burman Nominated as Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation

Trump order that could shrink California and Pacific Ocean marine sanctuaries moves forward:  “Eleven national marine sanctuaries and monuments — from Monterey Bay to New England to the South Pacific — could lose protections under new details of a Trump Administration plan released Monday that seeks to expand offshore oil and gas drilling.  The areas total 425 million acres of coral reefs, sandy beaches, and habitat for whales, dolphins, turtles, birds and fish — equal in size to roughly one-fifth of the Lower 48 states.  As the specifics of the proposal were made public on Monday, environmentalists blasted the plan and urged the public to fight it. … ”  Read more from the Mercury News here:  Trump order that could shrink California and Pacific Ocean marine sanctuaries moves forward

Trump Administration Moves to Withdraw Clean-Water Rule: “The Trump administration moved Tuesday to roll back an Obama administration policy that protected more than half the nation’s streams from pollution but drew attacks from farmers, fossil fuel companies and property-rights groups as federal overreach.  The 2015 regulation sought to settle a debate over which waterways are covered under the Clean Water Act, which has dragged on for years and remained murky despite two Supreme Court rulings. President Donald Trump issued an executive order in February instructing the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to rescind or revise the Obama rule, which environmentalists say is essential to protecting water for human consumption and wildlife. … ”  Read more from KQED here:  Trump Administration Moves to Withdraw Clean-Water Rule

Trump, EPA move to rescind Obama Administration’s Clean Water Rule:  “President Donald Trump’s administration is moving ahead with plans to dismantle another piece of the Obama administration’s environmental legacy, the rule that sought to protect clean drinking water by expanding Washington’s power to regulate major rivers and lakes as well as smaller streams and wetlands.  The Environmental Protection Agency, Department of the Army and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are proposing a new rule that would rescind the Obama administration’s Waters of the United States, or WOTUS, rule and “recodify the regulatory text” that existed before its adoption in 2015, according to a press release obtained by The Wall Street Journal that will be sent out Tuesday afternoon. … ”  Read more from the Wall Street Journal here:  Trump, EPA move to rescind Obama Administration’s Clean Water Rule

In commentary today …

Water bond funds must focus on surface storage, says Danny Merkley:  He writes, “Passage of the water bond, Proposition 1, marked an important step in upgrading California’s outdated water infrastructure—and we’re about to reach a milestone in the process of investing the money voters approved in 2014.  In about six weeks, proponents of water storage projects face the application deadline for the portion of the bond devoted to new storage. The Ag Alert® Storing for the Future series has profiled several of those projects.  Of the $7.545 billion contained in the water bond, $2.7 billion will be invested for public benefits associated with new water storage projects that improve the operation of our state’s water system and improve ecosystems and water quality. Though the bond represents merely a down payment, it marks the first significant investment in California’s aging water infrastructure in nearly a half century. … ”  Read more from Ag Alert here:  Water bond funds must focus on surface storage

In regional news and commentary today …

Natural disaster expert presents plan to make Oroville Dam safe: At a Butte County Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday, U.C. Berkeley Professor Robert G. Bea presented his thoughts on the Oroville Dam spillway.  The natural disaster expert said he has a plan for what’s needed to make the dam safe for the next 50 years.  “We’re going to do it right and we ain’t leaving here until it’s done right,” Bea exclaimed to the group.  His solution lies in five ‘C’s: culture, cognizance, capabilities, commitment, and counting. Bea said the Department of Water Resources has failed massively at all five. “And that’s what makes me afraid,” he added. … ” Read more from KRCR here:  Natural disaster expert presents plan to make Oroville Dam safe

Tioga Pass set to open this week – latest opening in decades:  “Tioga Road in the Sierra should see its latest summer opening in decades due to a combination of a huge winter snowpack, flooding from snowmelt and various repairs, Yosemite National Park officials said Tuesday.  The road, which sits at an elevation of 10,000 feet and has been buried under snow that has weathered the spring and beginning of summer, was projected by park authorities to open Thursday — weather permitting. It offers the sole entrance to the park and to Tuolumne Meadows from the east.  If the pass does open Thursday, it will narrowly avert eclipsing a record dating back 20 years for being closed this late in the summer, according to park data. … ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  Tioga Pass set to open this week – latest opening in decades

Rising sea levels need action in the Bay Area, UC Davis study finds:  “Most San Francisco Bay Area policymakers understand that sea-level rise is a serious threat to the region, agree that preparing for it should be a priority, and have a basic understanding of solutions that would help the region adapt to sea-level rise, such as wetlands, living shorelines, seawalls and levees.  However, they do not agree on who should lead a coordinated planning effort to address it. A visioning task force could help move the process forward, according to a report from UC Davis, which analyzes this governance gap, the challenges to overcoming it and suggests steps forward. … ”  Read more from the Daily Democrat here:  Rising sea levels need action in the Bay Area, UC Davis study finds

Lake Temescal in Oakland closed again due to toxic algae:  “Anyone who wants to jump in cool water and splash about at Lake Temescal is out of luck.  For the fourth year in a row, the East Bay Regional Park District on Tuesday closed the popular lake off Broadway in Oakland because of a toxic algae bloom, which can cause nausea and vomiting in humans and even kill dogs. … ”  Read more from KTVU here:  Lake Temescal in Oakland closed again due to toxic algae

State reaches deal to shut down sand mine in Monterey Bay:  “California regulators reached an agreement with a Mexican company to shut down the last coastal sand mine in the United States and avoid a legal battle over a dredging operation that experts say has caused devastating erosion in Monterey Bay, officials said Monday.  The California Coastal Commission, which began investigating sand mining by Cemex USA in 2010, is expected to vote July 13 on a deal that would require the company to halt extraction at its Lapis Sand Plant, an 8-acre operation on a remote beach in the Monterey County town of Marina. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  State reaches deal to shut down sand mine in Monterey Bay

Excess water from Kings River bringing old waterways back to life:  “In Kings County, south of Kingsburg, water is flowing where it hasn’t in years. It has turned Buel Gustafson’s small almond farm into somewhat of an island.  “It’s great, the more water that comes through, the better it is.” Last year his well hit sand about 120 feet down, so he had to build a new one and dig deeper– just like most of his neighbors.  “A lot of the guys around here lost wells; I have a friend of mine– has seven wells on his acreage and lost five of ’em.” … ”  Read more from KFSN here:  Excess water from Kings River bringing old waterways back to life

And lastly …

When the elephant in the room is a dead whale:  “What happens when the world’s largest mammal washes up dead on your local beach? Residents of Bolinas, California were faced with this question in May, when a 79-foot blue whale turned up ashore on nearby Agate Beach. According to biologists present, the necropsy (an autopsy for animals) revealed that the whale had collided with a ship and died of blunt force trauma. But after the cause of death is named, and the parts of interest taken back to the lab for research, there comes the more general conundrum of what to do with the tens of thousands of pounds of foul smelling, decomposing flesh. ... ”  (Hint: Don’t blow it up!)  Continue reading at California Magazine here:  When the elephant in the room is a dead whale

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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