DAILY DIGEST, weekend edition: Oroville Dam: Six months after disaster, a race to repair; In San Francisco, a forgotten wetland resurfaces in new art installation; In court battle over groundwater rights, Agua Caliente’s leader demands water treatment; and more …

Cuyama Valley

In California water news this weekend, Oroville Dam: Six months after disaster, a race to repair; Levee repairs underway as many more are needed; PG&E wants people to stay off of its flumes; San Francisco: Beneath the pavement: A forgotten wetland resurfaces in new art installation; Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority's Technical Advisory Committee prioritizes studies to import water to IWV; Indian Wells Valley Water 101: Grab a notepad because this will be on the test, says the Ridgecrest Independent; Orange County: Agencies develop plan to take advantage of snow levels and refill OC Basin; Metropolitan Water District has paid almost $88 million to get out of risky swap deals; In court battle over groundwater rights, tribe's leader demands water treatment; Studying dust around the Salton Sea, scientists find initial answers; Pacific Ocean still reeling from several rough years; and are markets an easy solution for groundwater problems? Michael Kiparsky and Nell Green Nylen weigh in.

In the news this weekend …

Oroville Dam: Six months after disaster, a race to repair:  “Six months ago, relentless winter storms dumped nearly 13 inches of rain in four days on the Sierra Foothills, tearing an enormous hole in the spillway at Oroville Dam, the nation’s highest, and leading to an unprecedented emergency that prompted the evacuation of 188,000 people from nearby towns.  Today, what could have been ground zero for America’s worst dam disaster is now a hotbed of construction activity. Hundreds of construction workers are laboring 20 hours a day, six days a week with huge dump trucks, cranes, excavators, bulldozers, concrete pumps and other equipment to demolish and rebuild the 3,000-foot-long main spillway — a massive chute as wide as 15 lanes of freeway– by Nov. 1, before the next winter rain season begins anew. … ”  Read more from the East Bay Times here:  Oroville Dam: Six months after disaster, a race to repair

Levee repairs underway as many more are needed:  “Crews are racing this summer to complete several high-priority levee repairs while California lawmakers and others scramble to find funding for many more that are needed.  Local, state and federal dignitaries gathered Aug. 3 to highlight a $28.5 million effort to put in 2.9 miles of slurry wall to shore up a levee along the Feather River. The project aims to protect about 75,000 residents from flooding.  A few miles downriver, work is proceeding on a $12 million project to refurbish a one-mile stretch of levee protecting agricultural land that needed emergency repairs last winter, said Mike Inamine, executive director of the Sutter Butte Flood Control Agency. … ”  Read more from the Capital Press here:  Levee repairs underway as many more are needed

PG&E wants people to stay off of its flumes:  “Summer is a particularly popular time for fishermen, swimmers and hikers to migrate to the West Branch of the Feather River, in search of cool snowmelt water for recreation.  While the river itself is public, getting to most of the swimming holes requires passing through property owned by PG&E. With thousands of people crossing the utility’s property knowingly or unknowingly each year, trespassing restrictions appear not to be enforced.  Until now. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  PG&E wants people to stay off of its flumes

San Francisco: Beneath the pavement: A forgotten wetland resurfaces in new art installation:  “The corner of 17th Street and Folsom is a magnet for water when it rains. Perhaps the water remembers where it belongs.  More than 100 years ago, the area now known as San Francisco’s Mission District was a vast marsh where frogs splashed and croaked, tules swished in the winds and ducks peacefully floated. The headwaters of Mission Creek met with a tidal inlet, forming a pool whose center was right where 17th and Folsom cross today. For many who walk these streets daily, what’s underneath has been long forgotten. But there are some in the Mission District community who have advocated for years to turn the empty lot into reminder of what the city looked like in its past. … ”  Read more from KQED here:  Beneath the pavement: A forgotten wetland resurfaces in new art installation

Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority's Technical Advisory Committee prioritizes studies to import water to IWV:  “In its first meeting, the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority’s (IWVGA) Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) spent most of the meeting discussing which technical projects ought to be at the top of their priorities as IWVGA moves forward with its goal of bringing sustainability to the IWV groundwater basin, which currently has a water level that’s dropping at 0.5 to 1.5 feet per year.  Their consensus: the top priority needs to be a study on the feasibility of importing water to the IWV. They are not yet sure where to import water from, what the system will look like, or how much it will cost. But TAC member consensus was that importing water, so far, appears to be the best option for bringing the IWV to groundwater sustainability. … ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here:  Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority’s Technical Advisory Committee prioritizes studies to import water to IWV

Indian Wells Valley Water 101:  Grab a notepad because this will be on the testThe Ridgecrest Independent writes,The IWVGA’s PAC and TAC have begun work on the GSA’s GSP, as per SGMA.  If you think that sentence makes no sense, you may want to cut out this article and keep it on the refrigerator with a magnet. In the near future, these groups are going to begin having a major impact on your life as a resident of Indian Wells Valley.  IWVGA stands for Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority, which is a new government agency responsible for creating and enforcing a plan that will give us long term water sustainability in this desert community. … ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here:  Indian Wells Valley Water 101:  Grab a notepad because this will be on the test

Orange County: Agencies develop plan to take advantage of snow levels and refill OC Basin:  “The Municipal Water District of Orange County (MWDOC) is facilitating a water agreement that will bring surplus snowmelt and storm runoff from Northern California to Orange County and give the Groundwater Basin a chance to rebound from historic lows after the drought.  Known as a cyclic storage agreement, the arrangement between MWDOC, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) and Orange County Water District (OCWD) will recharge the Basin to its highest level since 2007 and ensure the Orange County Basin is healthy enough to stave off another drought. Up to 100,000 acre-feet of imported water is available for purchase by OCWD customers in lieu of pumping water out of the Basin, which is managed by OCWD. … ” Read more from the OC Breeze here:  Agencies develop plan to take advantage of snow levels and refill OC Basin

Metropolitan Water District has paid almost $88 million to get out of risky swap deals:  “The agency that supplies water to most of Southern California has paid tens of millions of dollars since 2008 to exit risky and complex financial deals it made before the Great Recession hit.  The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California entered two dozen interest-rate swap deals, which, in a convoluted way, aimed to stabilize debt interest rates, but amount to bets on the way interest rates will go. If interest rates move one direction, the swap becomes an asset. If they move the other direction, it becomes a liability. ... ”  Read more from the Voice of San Diego here:  Metropolitan Water District has paid almost $88 million to get out of risky swap deals

In court battle over groundwater rights, tribe's leader demands water treatment:  “The U.S. Supreme Court has yet to decide whether it will hear an appeal from water agencies and rule in the precedent-setting legal fight over whether the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians holds rights to groundwater in the California desert.  But Chairman Jeff Grubbe said his tribe is already looking ahead to the next phases of the case, including a federal court’s eventual decision – if the tribe prevails before the Supreme Court – on how much groundwater the tribe is entitled to.   … ”  Read more from The Desert Sun here:  In court battle over groundwater rights, tribe’s leader demands water treatment

Studying dust around the Salton Sea, scientists find initial answers:  “Anyone who lives along the shore of the Salton Sea will tell you how the winds can rake across stretches of exposed lakebed and send dust floating through their neighborhoods. But until recently, no one had real estimates of how much dust from the lakebed is in the air around the lake on any given day.  Now scientists from the University of California, Riverside, have looked into that question, and they have an initial answer.  ... ”  Read more from the Desert Sun here:  Studying dust around the Salton Sea, scientists find initial answers

Pacific Ocean still reeling from several rough years:  “Not long into a survey cruise off the Oregon Coast in June, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration fisheries biologist Jen Zamon began to wonder, “Where are all the birds?”  Two seabird species in particular make up the vast majority of the birds she expects to see on these near shore research trips: common murres, a diving bird related to puffins, and sooty shearwaters, a relative of the albatross that migrates from New Zealand.  But now long stretches of time would pass between sightings.  “This seems really weird,” she thought. “Is it just me?” ... ”  Read more from the Chinook Observer here:  Pacific Ocean still reeling from several rough years

In commentary this weekend …

Are markets an easy solution for groundwater problems?  Michael Kiparsky and Nell Green Nylen write,It has become popular to lament how slowly California is embracing water markets. Proponents’ rhetoric can paint markets as an unambiguously better, or even as the only, solution to California’s water challenges. But faith in market efficiency needs to be tempered with a firm grasp of the greater physical and institutional context for water. Markets may be part of the solution, but only where implemented carefully.  Take groundwater. In many areas, decades of unfettered pumping have depleted aquifers, resulting in dry wells, deteriorating water quality, depleted streams, and infrastructure damage. The situation was so dire during the recent drought that the Legislature passed the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), the first statewide mandate for managing groundwater resources. ... ”  Read more from the Bakersfield Californian here:  Are markets an easy solution for groundwater problems?

Also on Maven’s Notebook this weekend …

Recap of last week’s posts …

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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.

Maven’s Notebook
where California water news never goes home for the weekend

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