DAILY DIGEST: One of the largest dam removals in California history inches forward; Toxic waste from pot farms alarms experts; A decades-long public land battle continues in the California desert; and more …

In California water news today, One of the largest dam removals in California history inches forward; Toxic waste from pot farms alarms experts; California duck population down after historic drought; $1 billion worth of claims for Oroville Dam damages filed with the State of California; From spectacular vistas to the pits: A decades-long public land battle continues in the California desert; The science of desert water; Q&A with Leon Szeptycki: Climate change and water in the West; Second garbage patch the size of Texas discovered in the Pacific Ocean; and more …

In the news today …

One of the largest dam removals in California history inches forward:  “Nestled in the mountains of the quiet California town of Ojai is Matilija Dam, which has become a poster child of the national dam removal movement. At 168ft high, the dam towers above Matilija Creek. Since the dam’s construction in 1947, an estimated 8 million cubic yards of sediment have clogged Matilija reservoir, rendering it useless for water storage and flood control, while trapping sediment that would have flowed into the Ventura River and then fed Ventura’s coastline nearly 16 miles downstream.  “It doesn’t have any purpose anymore,” said Peter Sheydayi, the design and construction deputy director of the Ventura County Watershed Protection District (VCWPD), the government agency that owns the dam. … ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  One of the largest dam removals in California history inches forward

Toxic waste from pot farms alarms experts:  “Pollution from illegal marijuana farms deep in California’s national forests is far worse than previously thought, and has turned thousands of acres into waste dumps so toxic that simply touching plants has landed law enforcement officers in the hospital.  The volume of banned or restricted pesticides and illegally applied fertilizers in the woods dwarfs estimates by the U.S. Forest Service in 2014, when a top enforcement official testified that the pollution was threatening forest land in California and other states. … ”  Read more from Reuters here:  Toxic waste from pot farms alarms experts

California duck population down after historic drought:  “California’s duck population is down this year, and the five-year drought the state is now out of plays a role in that.  Regina Stafford with the California Waterfowl Association — or Cal Waterfowl — said water is good for ducks, but there’s usually about a year lag in population after a drought is finally over.  “The actual hatch this year, you know, what we’ve been seeing in the field is lots of baby ducklings and lots of good-sized broods, but that doesn’t necessarily reflect the breeding duck count,” she said. … ”  Read more from ABC 10 here:  California duck population down after historic drought

$1 billion worth of claims for Oroville Dam damages filed with the State of California:  “One week before the deadline to formally seek payment from the state of California for damages stemming from the Oroville Dam’s spillway failure this year, the state has received 93 claims worth a combined $1.1 billion.  That includes a $1 billion claim from a Yolo County farmer named Kent Lang. His lawyer, James Nolan, says that claim is paving the way for a class action lawsuit on behalf of anyone harmed by the dam emergency. … ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here:  $1 billion worth of claims for Oroville Dam damages filed with the State of California

From spectacular vistas to the pits: A decades-long public land battle continues in the California desert:  “Just beyond the southeast corner of Joshua Tree National Park, rows of boarded-up houses, gouged mountainsides and concrete ruins are an ugly reminder of the never-ending battle over the West’s public lands.  This scarred piece of California desert is what’s left of one of the country’s largest open-pit mining operations and the little company town that Kaiser Steel Corp. built after World War II. More than three decades after the Eagle Mountain iron mine closed, it still haunts the park that borders it on three sides.  Plans to turn the site into a huge landfill and dump as much as 20,000 tons a day of Southland garbage into the gaping mine pits died in 2013 after years of court battles. Now, a private company wants to use the pits for a $2-billion hydropower project. ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  From spectacular vistas to the pits: A decades-long public land battle continues in the California desert

The science of desert water:  “To explain why she authored a bill to protect water in the Mojave Desert, Assemblywoman Laura Friedman goes back to her childhood. Growing up in Plantation, Florida, on the edge of the Everglades, the 50-year-old Glendale Democrat had a “front-row seat” to the destruction of the swamps, sloughs, and mangrove forests that spread across most of South Florida.  “I saw the devastation that was wrought from not caring about that resource,” Friedman says. South Florida’s water is less protected now, and its coastline is more vulnerable to the sea-level rise that accompanies the changing climate. “I watched the economic and environmental toll it took,” Friedman says. “I don’t want to see the same thing happen to my home in California.”  The Mojave is Friedman’s parallel to the Everglades. … ” Read more from Capitol and Main here:  The science of desert water

Q&A with Leon Szeptycki: Climate change and water in the West:  “The American West has always been a region of water extremes – from droughts that parch the landscape one year to extreme wet weather and flooding the next – but scientists warn the climate of California and the American West is becoming even more extreme.  … Water scarcity, groundwater depletion and frequent flooding threaten both the environment and society, and as those problems become more extreme so too will the conflicts between groups who want access to the water. In an attempt to resolve these problems, Stanford’s Water in the West program is integrating science and policy to find solutions for water users, resource managers and other stakeholders.  Leon Szeptycki, executive director of Water in the West and an environmental lawyer, discussed the challenges and opportunities facing the West and its water and explained why he’s optimistic about the future. ... ”  Read more from Stanford News here:  Q&A with Leon Szeptycki: Climate change and water in the West

Second garbage patch the size of Texas discovered in the Pacific Ocean:  “Scientists on a recent six-month expedition have discovered the presence of a second garbage patch in the South Pacific, and are saying that the plastic vortex could be bigger than the state of Texas.  Charles Moore set sail with a group of volunteer researchers in November 2016 to look at plastic pollution off the coast of Chile. It was during their research that the team discovered the large amount of plastic floating in the South Pacific, measuring an estimated million square kilometers, or 1.5 times the size of Texas. … ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  Second garbage patch the size of Texas discovered in the Pacific Ocean

In regional news today …

Oroville Dam licensing board has quorum again:  “The board with the responsibility for relicensing Oroville Dam finally has a quorum again.  The five-member Federal Energy Regulatory Commission was down to a single member after two resignations earlier this year, but the Senate Thursday confirmed two of President Donald Trump’ nominees: Neil Chatterjee and Robert Powelson.  Chatterjee is an aide to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, and Powelson is a Pennsylvania utilities regulator. … ”  Read more from the Oroville Mercury Register here:  Oroville Dam licensing board has quorum again

Yuba City: Construction begins on emergency project to repair critical flood protection levee:  “Construction began Thursday on an emergency project to repair a critical flood protection levee adjacent to downtown Yuba City.  The nearly three-mile stretch protects an estimated 75,000 people from Feather River flood waters.  The levee was heavily damaged earlier this year when the Feather River had higher than normal flows. … ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here:  Construction begins on emergency project to repair critical flood protection levee

Is your Sacramento drinking water tasting strange? You’re not imagining it:  “You’re not crazy. The water in Sacramento really does taste like dirt right now.  The culprit is a compound called geosim in the Sacramento and American rivers. It’s produced by blue-green algae blooms somewhere upstream, according to Sacramento Utilities spokeswoman Ellen Martin. The water system’s treatment process removes the algae, which makes the water safe to drink, but it leaves behind geosim, which make the water taste strange, she said. And while it is unpleasant to drink, it’s not harmful. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Is your Sacramento drinking water tasting strange? You’re not imagining it

More news and commentary in the weekend edition …

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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