DAILY DIGEST: New dams for California? A dozen projects seek $2.7 billion; Settlement reached in Duarte Clean Water Act lawsuit; Why California may force all its schools to test their water; US: Zero chance of Colorado River water shortage in 2018; and more …

In California water news today, New dams for California? A dozen projects seek $2.7 billion; Settlement reached in Duarte Clean Water Act lawsuit; $1.1 million settlement in field plowing case; Drinking lead – why California may force all its schools to test their water; Billionaire helping to get funds for Valley clean water; Farming activity contaminates water despite best practices; For parts of the world, perpetual drought is a possibility; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • The State Water Board will hold a Public Workshop at 9:30am on the proposed draft amendment to the Policy on Supplemental Environmental Projects. Click here for more informationClick here to watch on webcast.
  • The California Water Commission meets this morning at 9:30am at the Bay Model in Sausalito.   Agenda items include a panel on the Delta that will cover the historic ecology, the condition of native fish, and the emerging strategies for restoration of the Delta ecosystem, as well as the complex framework for water rights, water quality, and endangered species laws, as well as an update on the Water Storage Investment Program.  Click here for the agendaClick here for the webcast link.
  • The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board will hold a public workshop in Fresno at 1pm on the Joint Triennial Review of the Water Quality Control Plans for the Sacramento River and San Joaquin River Basins and the Tulare Lake Basin.  This is the first of two public workshops to receive comments on basin plan elements that may need amendment. The purpose of the triennial review is to identify high priority basin planning issues that the Central Valley Water Board will direct basin planning efforts over the next three years.  (The second meeting will be in Sacramento on the 23rd).  Additional information regarding the triennial review is available in PDF format from the Central Valley Water Board’s Internet website at:  http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/centralvalley/water_issues/basin_plans/triennialreviews.shtml

In the news today …

New dams for California? A dozen projects seek $2.7 billion:  “During the drought, Californians often asked why the state wasn’t building more reservoirs. On Tuesday, the state finally began taking a major step toward that goal, unveiling a list of 12 huge new water projects — from massive new dams in the north to expanded groundwater banks in the south — that will compete for $2.7 billion in state bond funding for new water storage projects.  The money comes from Proposition 1, a $7.5 billion water bond overwhelmingly passed by voters in November 2014 during the depths of the state’s historic 2011-2016 drought.  Monday was the deadline for water agencies to submit applications for storage projects to the California Water Commission, an agency in Sacramento run by a nine-member board appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  New dams for California? A dozen projects seek $2.7 billion

Settlement reached in Duarte Clean Water Act lawsuit:  “Farmer John Duarte has reached a $1.1 million settlement with the federal government just as a trial to determine the penalty in the Clean Water Act lawsuit against him was set to begin.  Under the agreement, Duarte would admit no liability, pay the government $330,000 in civil penalties, purchase $770,000 worth of vernal pool mitigation credits, and do additional work on his property in Tehama County, his attorneys said.  The U.S. District Court will hold a hearing in about 45 days to approve the settlement, according to the Pacific Legal Foundation, which was representing Duarte. ... ”  Read more from the Capital Press here:  Settlement reached in Duarte Clean Water Act lawsuit

$1.1 million settlement in field plowing case:  “Minutes before the start of the penalty phase of his trial, a farmer facing nearly $3 million in fines for plowing a Tehama County field agreed to settle his case Tuesday in federal court.  The settlement brings to a close a five-year court battle between the federal government and John Duarte, who faced $2.8 million in fines after regulators said he illegally “ripped” wetlands in a field south of Red Bluff.  Duarte, who owns a nursery near Modesto, agreed to pay $1.1 million in civil penalties and repair 22 acres of disturbed streams and wetlands on the 450 acres, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which prosecuted the case in civil court. … ”  Read more from the Record Searchlight here:  $1.1 million settlement in field plowing case

Drinking lead – why California may force all its schools to test their water:  “When a therapy dog refused to drink at a San Diego grade school, it was the first clue that something was wrong with the water.  Tests revealed why the pup turned up its nose—the presence of polyvinyl chloride, the polymer in PVC pipes that degrade over time. But further analysis found something else that had gone undetected by the dog, the teachers and students of the San Diego Cooperative Charter School, and the school district: elevated levels of lead.  Nor is this an isolated situation. Tests have turned up harmful levels of lead in water fountains and taps at other schools in San Diego and Los Angeles, where the district long ago decided to identify, flush and fix or seal hundreds of contaminated fountains.  ... ”  Read more from Cal Matters here:  Drinking lead – why California may force all its schools to test their water

Billionaire helping to get funds for Valley clean water:  “Tom Steyer, the San Francisco billionaire and environmentalist, promised his support Tuesday for a proposed safe and affordable drinking water fund to help communities with contaminated water in the San Joaquin Valley.  “It’s unjust for a million Californians to be exposed to unsafe water on a daily basis,” Steyer said. “That just can’t be right and we’ve got to find the money to solve it.”  Steyer met with about a dozen water advocates at the nonprofit Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability in downtown Fresno who urged him to throw his clout behind Senate Bill 623. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Billionaire helping to get funds for Valley clean water

Farming activity contaminates water despite best practices“Lynda Cochart did not realize her water was contaminated with coliform bacteria until she contracted MRSA, an antibiotic-resistant skin infection. She believed it came from the water in her well in Casco, Wisconsin. “There’s no other way I could have gotten it,” she said.  A year later, U.S. Department of Agriculture microbiologist Mark Borchardt tested her well while testing others in Kewaunee County. He found total coliform bacteria at levels too dangerous to drink. Cochart lives between two dairy farms with over 1,000 cows each. None of the bacteria Borchardt found came from human feces, she said, so the methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus most likely came from cow manure. Borchardt told her to immediately stop drinking the water. … ”  Read more from The Californian here:  Farming activity contaminates water despite best practices

For parts of the world, perpetual drought is a possibility:  “Last year's record-shattering drought may finally be over for Californians, but a new study suggests that in some parts of the world, drought could become the new normal.  The analysis, published Thursday in the journal Nature, found that during the 20th century, droughts took progressively longer for ecosystems to recover from – a grim trend that is predicted to worsen. The 19-person research team was led by Christopher Schwalm, a scientist at the Woods Hole Research Center in Falmouth, Mass., and received funding from the National Science Foundation and NASA. ... ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  For parts of the world, perpetual drought is a possibility

In commentary today …

Courts are our best hope against the tunnels, says the Chico Enterprise-Record:  They write, “The state wants to build two huge tunnels to reroute much of the Sacramento River under the delta to points south. Trust us, the state says. There will be no environmental damage, the state says. In fact, it’ll help, the state says.  We all saw how well it worked the last time the state told us not to worry, that everything will be fine. After concerns were raised 15 years ago that the emergency spillway at Lake Oroville was inadequate, the state ignored those concerns. It would have been too expensive to do it right, so the state simply said there was no cause for alarm. Now look at the damage.  That’s why we’re glad Butte County plans to file a lawsuit over Gov. Jerry Brown’s effort to ramrod the twin tunnels down the north state’s throat. A judge is the only hope we have of getting a fair hearing up here. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Courts are our best hope against the tunnels

In regional news and commentary today …

PG&E says low water at McCloud River is part of a plan:  “Speculation has been swirling in McCloud coffee houses and on Facebook about the cause of low water levels this summer at McCloud Reservoir, and the situation has raised concerns about the adverse effects it has on tourism.  PG&E spokesperson Paul Moreno said the cause is not a leak or valve damage – as has been speculated – but an intentional lowering of the water level so they can dredge up a sandbar and get the powerhouse back in operation. ... ”  Read more from the Mt. Shasta News here:  PG&E says low water at McCloud River is part of a plan

Bay Area: Condominium owners continue to fight Shell over contaminated soil, water:  “A condominium complex built on the site of a former fuel distribution terminal has lost part of its case against Shell Oil. An appellate court found Shell not guilty of negligence but the question of Shell’s failure to remove all its petroleum products from the soil and water at the site, thus creating a continuing nuisance, remain to be settled by the lower court.  The Estuary Owners Association v. Shell Oil Company originally was filed in the Alameda County Superior Court. The Estuary Owners case and two cases brought by condominium owners were consolidated into one case, in which Shell was accused of contaminating the soil and groundwater at the site where the condominiums were built. … ”  Read more from the Northern California Record here:  Bay Area: Condominium owners continue to fight Shell over contaminated soil, water

Lois Henry: Yes we have water in the Kern River for now – but the fight for that water goes on:  “With a river running through the heart of Bakersfield even on the cusp of fall, it may be hard to remember but the fight to keep that water flowing continues.  I’m talking about the “forfeited water,” still out there, still forfeited.  For background, it had long been thought that all the Kern River’s waters were spoken for by various municipal and agricultural interests.  So, even in average water years, the river through town was dry. ... ”  Read more from the Bakersfield Californian here:  Lois Henry: Yes we have water in the Kern River for now – but the fight for that water goes on

Lake Mead skirts shortage for another year:  “The snow has melted and the forecast is in: Lake Mead is safe from shortage for another year.  According to projections released Tuesday by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the reservoir east of Las Vegas will have enough water in it on Jan. 1 to stave off a first-ever federal shortage declaration — and the mandatory water cuts for Nevada and Arizona that would come with it.  The lake is also on track to avoid a shortage in 2019, thanks to decreased demand downstream on the Colorado River and a larger-than-usual influx of water from Lake Powell upstream. … ”  Read more from the Las Vegas Review-Journal here:  Lake Mead skirts shortage for another year

US: Zero chance of Colorado River water shortage in 2018:  “Heavy winter snows in the Rocky Mountains have rescued the thirsty Western U.S. for another year.  U.S. water managers said Tuesday there will be no water cutbacks in 2018 for millions of residents and farmers served by the Lake Mead reservoir on the Colorado River that lies behind the Hoover Dam.  “The projection indicates there is no chance of shortage in 2018,” said Rose Davis, spokeswoman for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. “Zero.” … ”  Read more from WTOP here:  US: Zero chance of Colorado River water shortage in 2018

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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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