DAILY DIGEST: Farmers seek damages over Oroville Dam spillway failure; State proposing new regulations for legal pot farming; CA’s biggest drought success story came with a high cost; and more …

In California water news today, Farmers seek damages over Oroville Dam spillway failure; Oroville Dam: Farm claims Oroville Dam crisis cost it $15 million; State proposing new regulations for legal pot farming; California’s biggest drought success story came with a high cost; Citizen scientists pick up tons of ocean trash – and a lot of data; and more …

In the news today …

Farmers seek damages over Oroville Dam spillway failure:  “Lawyers filed a $15 million government claim on Tuesday on behalf of walnut farmers who say they lost more than two dozen acres of land along the Feather River when the Oroville Dam spillway failed in February, causing massive flooding and destructive erosion in the area below.  The claim is a precursor to a lawsuit. It alleges that the state Department of Water Resources and the Division of Safety of Dams failed to protect the property of landowners downstream of Lake Oroville. State officials did not respond to a late request for comment on the claim.  The claim was filed on behalf of JEM Farms and Chandon Ranch, which operate a total of 2,000 acres of walnuts on both sides of the Feather River in Butte County. The landowners say they lost about 27 acres of land, and the $15 million claim includes production losses and cleanup costs. ... ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  Farmers seek damages over Oroville Dam spillway failure

Oroville Dam: Farm claims Oroville Dam crisis cost it $15 million:  “A Butte County farmer Wednesday filed a $15 million claim with the state over the crisis at Oroville Dam, saying water rushing down the Feather River wiped out part of a walnut orchard.  The claim was filed by JEM Farms and Chandon Ranch, which run a 2,000-acre walnut farm downstream of the dam.  Farmers along the Feather complained earlier this year that dramatic fluctuations in water flows from the dam in the aftermath of the February crisis caused damage to properties as riverbanks caved in. The claim by JEM and Chandon said water releases from Oroville led to “lost acreage, lost production and cleanup/remediation costs.” … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Oroville Dam: Farm claims Oroville Dam crisis cost it $15 million

State proposing new regulations for legal pot farming:  “The State Water Resources Control Board has begun the public review period for proposed regulations to protect surface and groundwater supplies from pollution generated by legal cannabis farming.  “We have anecdotal stories and evidence of just buckets of stuff just being dumped into streams killing fish, poisoning the water”, says Felicia Marcus with the SWRCB, “the illegal cannabis issue has been a huge one that our enforcement efforts have grown on, and now as cannabis is legalized with more people coming into the fold the expectation is they are going to meet the same rules or even stricter rules.” ... ”  Read more from KEYT here:  State proposing new regulations for legal pot farming

California’s biggest drought success story came with a high cost:  “When her well went dry in 2014, Yolanda Serrato had just begun the fight of her life against breast cancer. Her world had already been turned upside down – then it went sideways.  Through chemotherapy and radiation, she often carried buckets of water from a 300-gallon tank outside so she could cook food for her family. She heated water on the stove for sponge baths. She even needed a bucket of water to use the toilet.  “I thought it was the end for me – it was exhausting,” says Serrato, 58, who has lived in an East Porterville house in California’s San Joaquin Valley for 23 years with her husband and three children, two of whom are grown. “You want to know what it’s like to live without water? Turn off your water for a week. That’s the only way you will know.” ... ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  California’s biggest drought success story came with a high cost

Dairy farm manages water and manure with simple techniques:  “Earlier this week we visited the orchards of Torrey and Lucy Olson on a Climate Smart Agriculture tour, to learn about soil management techniques and the challenges of farming as the climate warms. Today we visit a local dairy farm with an eye to learning about manure and water, and how effective management can benefit both farmers and the environment. Our visit was organized by the California Climate and Agriculture Network.”  Listen to the radio show from North Bay Public Radio here:  Dairy farm manages water and manure with simple techniques

Citizen scientists pick up tons of ocean trash – and a lot of data:  “Each year millions of people living near the ocean flock to local beaches to take part international cleanups to help fight ocean plastic pollution. Often, they do so through organizations focused not only on cleaning up the trash but also on collecting data they share with government policymakers. But like beaches inundated with plastic garbage, the government is now awash in data on that refuse and is grappling with how to navigate that sea of information to create policies to reduce marine pollution. “Suddenly we’ve become a large repository of beach cleanup data as more people participate,” said Keith Cialino, Northeast regional coordinator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Marine Debris Program. “But there are challenges with ensuring the quality of the data and also deciding how to use it.” … ”  Read more from Oceans Deeply here:  Citizen scientists pick up tons of ocean trash – and a lot of data

In commentary today …

Legislature, don’t mess with California’s water umpire, says the LA Times:  They write, “As California water becomes an increasingly precious and contentious resource, the state needs an umpire with the power to enforce laws against illegal diversions and protect the rights of the public and others with enforceable claims to state water. That decisionmaker must be both muscular and fair.  There is indeed such a water umpire in California. It has the rather cumbersome title of State Water Resources Control Board, and although for many years it was quite lax in its approach to enforcement, the long drought has roused it from its slumber and it has begun to show its potential. That’s a welcome development for most of the state’s water users and rights holders. ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Legislature, don’t mess with California’s water umpire, says the LA Times

Why San Diego should stay the course in water agency litigation:  Bill Wells, Matt Hall, Ron Morrison and Steve Vaus write: “The San Diego County Water Authority in June won substantial victories in a state Court of Appeals decision on rates set by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) that will affect how much everyone in this region pays for water. These victories are potentially worth more than $1 billion for San Diego ratepayers.  While that seems like a lot of money — and no doubt it is — there are still billions more at stake, which is why the water authority must continue to pursue this litigation on behalf of San Diego County ratepayers. To do otherwise would be akin to dropping out of a marathon after 22 miles. … ”  Continue reading at the San Diego Union Tribune here:  Why San Diego should stay the course in water agency litigation

Ratepayers lose when water districts choose courts over collaboration: Randy Record writes, “After seven years and about $40 million in legal costs stemming from lawsuits filed by the San Diego County Water Authority, no ruling to date will noticeably change local water bills or address a single important regional water challenge. All ratepayers lose the longer the Water Authority’s fighting drags on.  The court process is not entirely over for these initial cases brought against the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and the system that provides about 80 percent of San Diego County’s water supply. The First District Court of Appeal has rejected the Water Authority’s request for a rehearing of cases decided largely in favor of Metropolitan just over a month ago. A Supreme Court appeal would be the Water Authority’s last resort, yet the agency’s leaders somehow declared a recent victory. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune here:  Ratepayers lose when water districts choose courts over collaboration

In regional news and commentary today …

Redding: River gauges to get an upgrade – to 1940s technology:  “Just across the Sacramento River from the Woodson River RV Park there stands a nondescript structure set up near the water.  It may not look like much to most people, but to Gini Whitney the corrugated metal pipe — and the equipment inside it — tell her when disaster is headed her way down the river.  Whitney owns the RV park near the river and subject to flooding. During the winter she regularly checks online how much water is flowing down the river.  “We need to know the water levels because we need to know whether we need to evacuate or not,” Whitney said. ... ”  Read more from the Redding Record Searchlight here:  River gauges to get an upgrade – to 1940s technology

San Francisco Bay: Neutralizing nutrient pollution:  “Nutrients — such as nitrogen — are essential to life, but an overabundance can mean trouble for waterways. Take Chesapeake Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, which are infamous for “dead zones” where closely-packed bodies of fish float to the surface or wash ashore by the thousands. These dead zones are caused by nutrient pollution, which makes algae grow too fast. The resulting algal blooms ultimately kill fish and other aquatic creatures by using up the oxygen they breathe.  Nitrogen is high in the San Francisco Bay as well, but so far it has escaped the catastrophic effects of nutrient pollution. That may be about to change, however.  “Nutrients are one of the more substantial problems the San Francisco Bay may face over the long-term,” said the San Francisco Estuary Institute’s David Senn, lead scientist for the Bay Area Nutrient Management Program. … ”  Read more from the Bay Area Monitor here:  Neutralizing nutrient pollution

More beaches close at Lake Wildwood as E. coli reports continue:  “Tests performed at five Lake Wildwood beaches confirmed the presence of high levels of E. coli bacteria in shallow water at three of the tested locations, the Nevada County Environmental Health Department reported Wednesday.  The department plans to continue testing the water twice-weekly. A health advisory will remain in effect, warning residents and their guests at the gated community not to swim in the lake, until bacteria levels drop. … ”  Read more from The Union here:  More beaches close at Lake Wildwood as E. coli reports continue

Endangered fish halts construction of bridge over San Joaquin River:  “A construction project on the Lanes bridge that crosses the San Joaquin River is now on temporary hold. Two endangered fish are the reason for the delay.  The Lanes bridge gets people over the river and into Woodward Bluffs mobile home park daily. But construction is now on hold because of two endangered fish; the Central Valley Steelhead and Chinook Salmon. Locals can’t believe work stopped due to two fish but construction continues down the river on high speed rail. ... ”  Read more from KMPH 26 here:  Endangered fish halts construction of bridge over San Joaquin River

Kings River bed needs to be cleared, says Buddy Mendes:  “Many questions that have been asked and answered recently as to what caused flooding of the Kings River in Fresno, Kings and Tulare Counties. A recent article in the Fresno Bee and in an opinion published by the Editorial Board addressed some of those issues and concerns.  What we know as fact is that the Kings River overflowed its banks in several areas from the point of origin Pine Flat Dam into Tulare County. Higher than normal snow pack in the winter combined with extreme temperatures in June created a snow-pack run off which rapidly filled the Pine Flat Reservoir. ... ”  Read more from the Kingsburg Recorder here:  Kings River bed needs to be cleared, says Buddy Mendes

And lastly …

Burning Man gets BLM permit, officially not canceled:  It will be Burning Man, not Floating Man this year:  “It’s official: That behemoth pilgrimage of hippies, hipsters, ravers and a few real Burners is coming back to our backyard this year.   Burning Man received its 2017 permit on Sunday from the Bureau of Land Management, the federal agency that oversees the health, safety and security operations at the 68,000-person arts hoopla in the Black Rock Desert just two hours north of Reno.  … ”  Read more from the Reno Gazette Journal here:  Burning Man gets BLM permit, officially not canceled

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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