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DAILY DIGEST: California farmer tries new strategy in fight with federal government over $2.8 million plowing fine; Speculation about Oroville Dam’s green spot grows; Vending machine brings clean water to tiny California town; and more …

In California water news today, California farmer tries new strategy in fight with federal government over $2.8 million plowing fine; Speculation about Oroville Dam’s green spot grows; Gold in them hills! Drought sparks modern day gold rush; What happens to birds when wildlife refuges dry up?; One million acres of almonds; Vending machine brings clean water to tiny California town; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • The Delta Conservancy will hold a board meeting from 9am to 1pm.  The agenda includes a request for approval of the 2017/2018 Proposition 1 Grant Guidelines and a request for approval of the Conservancy’s 2017-2022 Strategic Plan. Click here for full agenda and meeting materials.

In the news today …

California farmer tries new strategy in fight with federal government over $2.8 million plowing fine: “Northern California farmer John Duarte, facing millions of dollars in fines for plowing a Sacramento Valley wheat field, previously sought help from President Donald Trump’s attorney general and EPA chief to get the government off his back.  Now Duarte is making an 11th-hour bid for a dismissal of the federal government’s high-profile case against him.  In papers filed over the weekend, Duarte’s lawyers said the case should be tossed out because they say the Army Corps of Engineers didn’t have the authority to sue him in the first place. Only the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency can bring such a case, and the EPA chose not to do so, the lawyers said. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  California farmer tries new strategy in fight with federal government over $2.8 million plowing fine

Speculation about Oroville Dam’s green spot grows:  “A new report from a UC Berkeley group researching what caused the Lake Oroville spillway to fail in February is concerned that a green spot on the nation’s tallest dam might mean it is leaking.  This is not the first time the “green spot” on the southern end of Oroville Dam has been brought up. It has been asked and answered at community meetings, where state Department of Water Resources officials have said it is caused by rain or is a natural spring. … ”  Read more from the Oroville Mercury Register here:  Speculation about Oroville Dam’s green spot grows

Gold in them hills!  Drought sparks modern day gold rush:  “It’s been drought or deluge for California so far this year, with either major flood emergencies, or ongoing dry conditions that have fueled wildfires forcing thousands from their homes.  However, the back-and-forth might have an unexpected benefit, at least for the enterprising: It’s sparked a new gold rush in northern parts of the state.  In February, record amounts of rain, along with snow at higher elevations promising enhanced runoff, caused a major crisis, particularly in areas around the Oroville Dam. ... ”  Read more from The Weather Channel here:  Gold in them hills!  Drought sparks modern day gold rush

What happens to birds when wildlife refuges dry up? A line of binoculars point upwards at a ridge on the edge of Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge. There’s an owl’s nest in a small cave about 150 feet up, and Charlotte Kisling has her scope trained.  “That’s a male barn owl in the scope,” she says to the group standing on the edge of the two-lane road.  “How do you know?”  “Females are tawny,” Kisling replies.  She knows a lot about birds and isn’t shy about sharing.  “Oh, I thought it was winking.”  It takes a pregnant moment for this comedic bit to land, but Kevin Spencer gets some appreciative chuckles from his fellow birders. … ”  Read more from OPB News here:  What happens to birds when wildlife refuges dry up? 

One million acres of almonds:  “The final forecast for California’s record-breaking almond crop this year wasn’t as big as expected.  It was bigger.  More than 2.2 billion pounds of the crunchy nuts will be harvested this year, federal officials say, slightly exceeding an earlier forecast this spring.  The latest report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture also confirms that for the first time, almond orchards are spread across 1 million acres in California, an area larger than the size of Rhode Island. And that doesn’t count another 300,000 acres of almond orchards that have been planted but are not yet bearing fruit. ... ” Read more from the Stockton Record here:  One million acres of almonds

Vending machine brings clean water to tiny California town:  “It took several years longer than expected, but residents of the tiny California town of Tecopa now have their own local source of clean drinking water.  A filtered water vending machine went online Tuesday in the community 80 miles west of Las Vegas, where there is no central water system and what comes out of the area wells is tainted by pollutants.  The new machine will save the roughly 150 full-time residents from having to install home filtration systems or drive 40 miles each way to Pahrump, the closest town with a grocery store, to fill jugs or stock up on bottled water. … “  Read more from the Las Vegas Review Journal here:  Vending machine brings clean water to tiny California town

In commentary today …

Bureaucratic bungling on Oroville Dam bodes ill for future projects:  “Slowly – but surely – we are learning that the near-catastrophic failure of Oroville Dam’s main spillway wasn’t truly caused by weather, even though the state claims that in seeking federal aid for repairs.  Rather, it resulted from poor engineering and construction when the nation’s highest dam was rising more than a half-century ago as the centerpiece of the State Water Project, and poor maintenance since its completion.  The latest evidence is a huge report by a team of engineering experts, headed by Robert Bea and Tony Johnson of the University of California’s Center for Catastrophic Risk Management. … ”  Read more from Cal Matters here:  Bureaucratic bungling on Oroville Dam bodes ill for future projects

In regional news and commentary today …

Humboldt County: Fight for Felta:  “A Humboldt County businessman appears poised to get the green light from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) to log most of a forested 160-acre Healdsburg parcel crossed by Felta Creek.  Felta Creek is a tributary of the Russian River and one of a dwindling number of regional creeks where endangered wild coho salmon spawn.  Ken Bareilles’ timber harvest plan (THP) has gone through two rounds of review at Cal Fire and awaits a proposed July 28 sign-off from the Santa Rosa regional office of the agency now reviewing public comments. Then it heads to Cal Fire director Ken Pimlott or his representative for a final approval, according to an online Cal Fire explainer detailing the THP process. Cal Fire forestry official Anthony Lukacic has been the agency’s point-person through the process. … ”  Read more from the North Bay Bohemian here:  Humboldt County: Fight for Felta

A Bay Area town, criticized for building a water park during the drought, did not back down: “Chlorine. It’s the smell of summer, and it hit me squarely in the nose when I walked into a new water park in Dublin, Calif., early Tuesday morning.  A few women did laps in the indoor pool, under a translucent roof. Outside, in another large pool, teenage swim team members practiced under the gaze of their slightly older coaches.  Next to the water slides, the park director was instructing three new hires — young women who will monitor the slides — on how to communicate using hand signals. ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  A Bay Area town, criticized for building a water park during the drought, did not back down

The drought is over, but Sacramento wants you to reduce lawn watering permanently:  “The drought is over, but Sacramento water officials want to make permanent some of the region’s most restrictive lawn watering rules.  The Department of Utilities wants to change the city code to allow sprinkler system watering two days a week during the summer, down from three in typical rainfall years. It will also increase the fines for a second violation of the rules from $25 to $50.  Sacramento has kept its twice-weekly drought restrictions in place while other cities have eased rules. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  The drought is over, but Sacramento wants you to reduce lawn watering permanently

Pasadena: City Committee agrees Pasadena should dive into the California Water Fix:  “Despite some initial concerns over cost and value by some members, the Municipal Services Committee unanimously agreed to adopt a resolution in support of the California WaterFix project and California Eco Restore.  Mayor Terry Tornek, a member of the committee, questioned representatives of the Metropolitan Water District as to whether or not alternative plans such as water conservation, saving rain water and similar plans, might decrease the demand for the plan, but was told that while local conservation efforts have been successful, the demand for water continues to increase.  Pasadena resident Ken Kules also spoke in favor of the resolution, telling the Committee that should it not approve the resolution, and decide years later that the projects should be supported, “It will cost a lot more.” … ”  Read more from Pasadena Now here:  Pasadena: City Committee agrees Pasadena should dive into the California Water Fix

Altadenans again show show they know water is worth fighting for, says Larry Wilson:  He writes, “Since water’s for fighting here in the Golden State, Altadenans are doing a very good job of holding up their part of the California bargain.  As an unincorporated area with a strong local identity but just an advisory-only Town Council to elect — along with a Los Angeles County supervisor with 2 million other constituents — Altadenans have always been good at shows of self-governance that involve simply showing up. That’s why it shouldn’t have been a surprise that an overflow crowd of something over 100 locals turned up at the Community Center Thursday night for a forum about a county sediment-removal project and a proposed pipeline, issues that elsewhere might draw nothing like a large group of passionate, informed citizens. … ”  Read more from Pasadena Star News here:  Altadenans again show show they know water is worth fighting for

Costa Mesa: Local history on display in new wraps surrounding pump stations:  “The Costa Mesa Sanitary District is using historical measures to beautify some of its pump stations.  Electrical enclosures at eight pump stations, which help move wastewater through the sewer system, are adorned with images showcasing parts of Costa Mesa’s past. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Costa Mesa: Local history on display in new wraps surrounding pump stations

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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