DAILY DIGEST, weekend edition: Milestones and miscues at Oroville Dam; Floating solar farms crop up in California; The next crisis for California may be the affordability of water; and more …

In California water news this weekend, Milestones and miscues at Oroville Dam; Kiewit grants the Chico-Enterprise a tour of Oroville Dam site; Floating solar farms crop up in California; Column: The next crisis for California may be the affordability of water; Senate Committee to hear water conservation bills on July 11; Dam safety bill advances; Climate change could disrupt tribes’ religious practices; Putting a price tag on nature; and more …

In the news this weekend …

Milestones and miscues at Oroville Dam:  “Milestones have been reached and mistakes have been made over the past few months of repairs to the damaged spillway at Oroville Dam, but officials with the agencies responsible for the work maintain that critical infrastructure will be in place by the start of the next rainy season.  By Nov. 1, the goal is to have a functioning spillway capable of conveying 100,000 cubic feet per second. Jeanne Kuttel, chief of engineering for the Department of Water Resources, said construction is on target to meet that deadline.  “We will have systems in place by Nov. 1 so we can pass through the winter storms,” Kuttel said. … ”  Read more from the Appeal-Democrat here:  Milestones and miscues at Oroville Dam

Kiewit grants the Chico-Enterprise a tour of Oroville Dam site:  “Nearly 80 days after winning the bid to fix the disastrous Oroville Dam spillways, the contractor Kiewit offered the Chico Enterprise-Record and Oroville Mercury-Register Friday a close-up view of construction efforts.  The best way to describe the site is perhaps “organized chaos,” with over 400 employees and equipment like 60-ton trucks zipping about. There were massive projects ongoing in each direction, as the contractor is racing to reconstruct the bulk of the structure by a Nov. 1 deadline. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Kiewit grants the Chico-Enterprise a tour of Oroville Dam site

Floating solar farms crop up in California:  “In Sonoma, California, the most important renewable resource will always be grapes. Sonoma’s vineyards, framed by picturesque rolling green hills, produce some of the best wines on the planet; tourists flock to the region to sample the latest pinots and admire the scenery. “People like the rolling, grassy hills,” said local resident Dale Roberts. But as principal engineer at the Sonoma County Water Agency, Roberts is focused on another homegrown renewable: clean energy. So behind the scenes in Sonoma, he’s been busy “juicing” the landscape in a way that’s quite different from the neighboring vintners’ activities. … ”  Read more from Eco Watch here:  Floating solar farms crop up in California

Column: The next crisis for California may be the affordability of water Michael Hiltzik writes,The price of almost everything is on the rise, but we tend to shrug off inflation in goods and services we can cut back or do without. Not water, the rising cost of which is looming as a defining economic problem in coming years.  In California and across the nation, concern about water affordability has been spreading, with good reason. Few basic commodities are under as much cost pressure.  “The water infrastructure is aging, there’s more water contamination and our standards for cleanliness keep rising, and climate change is making our supplies less reliable,” says Laura Feinstein of the Pacific Institute, an Oakland-based environmental think tank. “At some point the bill comes due” — but because water demand is stable or even dropping, water agencies can find revenue to cover the bill only by raising rates on consumption. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Column: The next crisis for California may be the affordability of water

Senate Committee to hear water conservation bills on July 11:  “Several recently amended bills on long-term conservation and drought planning are set for hearing July 11 in the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee.  ACWA actively supports AB 1654 (Rubio) and opposes AB 1668 (Friedman) in its current form. Both bills address urban water management planning. ... ”  Continue reading from ACWA’s Water News here:  Senate Committee to hear water conservation bills on July 11

Dam safety bill advances:  “A bill that requires two state agencies to re-evaluate dam inspection reports and sets new rules for the reports unanimously passed in the Senate Natural Resources Committee. Assembly Bill 270 was proposed by Assemblyman James Gallagher, R-Yuba City, in response to the Oroville Dam crisis in February. … ” Read more from the Appeal-Democrat here:  Dam safety bill advances

Climate change could disrupt tribes’ religious practices:  “The Colorado River, one of the longest rivers in the United States, is gradually shrinking. This is partly a result of overuse by municipalities and seasonal drought. The other reason is global warming.  The decline in the river reservoir will have serious implications for large U.S. cities, such as Los Angeles, that depend on the Colorado River as their water source. In addition, this will also have an impact on the Native American tribes who view the Colorado River as sacred to their religions. … ”  Read more from High Country News here:  Climate change could disrupt tribes’ religious practices

Putting a price tag on nature:  “Money may not grow on trees, but trees themselves and all that they provide have a dollar value nonetheless.  At least, that’s the view of those seeking to quantify the myriad ways humankind benefits from nature’s ecosystem services: clean air and water, food, even paper from trees. But it’s complicated.  What financial value should be ascribed to, say, plants that improve water quality or wetlands that reduce flooding and property damage from storms? Many ecology and conservation organizations advocate for making such determinations in the interest of land management. Conservation biologists, meanwhile, argue that putting a price tag on nature could weaken the protection of threatened species that have a lower dollar value. … ”  Read more from UC News here:  Putting a price tag on nature

In commentary this weekend …

With healthcare reform stalled, Trump and Pruitt want to repeal the Clean Water Rule:  The LA Times writes, “Another bid by President Trump to “repeal and replace” a major Obama administration achievement recently got a boost when the Environmental Protection Agency, now led by anti-environmentalist Scott Pruitt, moved to repeal a 2015 clean water rule. That’s a shame.  The Waters of the United States rule was meant to protect the drinking water supply for more than 100 million Americans by clarifying which waterways are covered by the landmark Clean Water Act of 1972, which limits the chemicals and other pollutants that can be discharged into “navigable” U.S. waters. The interpretation of previous rules was muddied by a pair of U.S. Supreme Court decisions, and the 2015 rule brought a good measure of clarity. ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  With healthcare reform stalled, Trump and Pruitt want to repeal the Clean Water Rule

Flint and California: A painfully parallel water-quality universe:  “Flint, Michigan, and its 100,000 citizens exist in one universe; California’s Central Valley and its population of nearly a million cling to survival in another. Both have economic woes. Both suffer a deadly water supply made toxic with lead. Beyond that, all comparison ends.  First, there’s Flint. Rightly, consider the tragedy that befell that broadly poor and disadvantaged Michigan community just three years ago. As reported recently, “In April 2014, to save money, the Michigan city decided to take its water from the [Flint] river instead of Lake Huron and created a still-ongoing hell that affected its entire population of 100,000.” … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Flint and California: A painfully parallel water-quality universe

In regional news and commentary this weekend …

Plant upgrades needed for purple pipe system in Ukiah:  “As the city steadily makes progress on a proposed recycled water delivery system, the Ukiah City Council recently approved spending $2.28 million more on necessary upgrades to the existing Ukiah Valley Wastewater Treatment Plant.  “This item is essentially two things,” Director of Water and Sewer Utilities Sean White told the Ukiah City Council when asking it to approve paying Carollo Engineers an additional $2.28 million for project management and engineering services. “One of the aspects is engineering services during construction, and the second is about $400,000 for supplemental engineering.” … ”  Read more from the Ukiah Daily Journal here:  Plant upgrades needed for purple pipe system in Ukiah

$4.4 million dredging project planned for Bodega Bay Harbor:  “Safe harbor has been a relative term of late for many of the hundreds of boats that tie up in Bodega Bay to seek refuge from pounding North Coast swells.  Navigation channels used by boats to enter and leave the small port — one of the few available to ocean-going fishermen and pleasure boats north of the Golden Gate — have gradually accumulated wave-washed sediment and runoff over the years. Storms this winter added more mud and debris to the mix as a massive plume of sediment spread south from the mouth of the rain-swollen Russian River. … ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here:  $4.4 million dredging project planned for Bodega Bay Harbor

Russian River beach to remain closed for bacteria testing:  “Monte Rio Beach, which lies along Russian River in Sonoma County, will remain closed over the weekend until at least Monday, when its next water test results are processed.  As the Santa Rosa Press Democrat reported Friday, the water’s total coliform concentrations were “slightly elevated, compared with state standards,” meaning that the water isn’t yet suitable for swimmers. … ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here:  Russian River beach to remain closed for bacteria testing

As others seek expanded water supplies, Marin set until 2040:  “While water agencies in the East Bay are scrambling to expand water supplies, Marin’s primary water utility is in good shape until 2040 and won’t pursue plans for projects like a pipeline over the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge.  Working to expand water supplies for California’s next drought, a coalition of Bay Area water agencies took a significant step earlier this week toward an $800 million expansion of one of the largest reservoirs in the Bay Area — Los Vaqueros Reservoir in the rolling hills near the Alameda-Contra Costa county line. ... ”  Read more from the Marin Independent Journal here:  As others seek expanded water supplies, Marin set until 2040

EBMUD seeks 19% rate hike on Tuesday as customers balk:  “Danville resident Jim Mossop said he understands why the East Bay’s largest water supplier imposed temporary water surcharges during the drought, but he is fuming about a proposed permanent 19 percent increase up for a vote Tuesday.  It’s the latest insult, he said, after the East Bay Municipal Utility District nearly doubled rates over the past 10 years, raising them an average of 7.1 percent annually for a decade.  “It’s ridiculous. Costs are out of control at an agency that is a monopoly,” said Mossop, a retired oral surgeon who has lived in Danville for 30 years. “We saved water in the drought, and now we are being penalized. Why can’t they bring down their costs?” … ”  Read more from the East Bay Times here:  EBMUD seeks 19% rate hike on Tuesday as customers balk

Nipomo sees minor increase in groundwater level despite winter storms:  “While many places in California are no longer in a drought, the Nipomo Community Services District says its groundwater levels are still severely lacking.  After the heavy winter rains, water providers anticipated a much fuller groundwater basin, but they say it barely increased and they don’t know why. Now, geohydrologists are investigating.  ... ”  Read more from KSBY here:  Nipomo sees minor increase in groundwater level despite winter storms

LA River rehab just got a $100 million boost.  Here’s how it will help:  “Soccer fields, picnic areas and hiking paths could be coming to disadvantaged communities along the 51-mile Los Angeles River, thanks in part to $100 million in bond money earmarked for river projects in the recently approved state budget.  A pair of public agencies will oversee and distribute the funds through a grant program, with half of the money flowing to the upper part of the river, and the other half to the lower portion. … ”  Read more from the LA Daily News here:  LA River rehab just got a $100 million boost.  Here’s how it will help

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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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