DAILY DIGEST: For some, the Delta tunnels are a waste of money; for others, they could be a lifesaver; Why California’s nitrate problem will take decades to fix; On the Colorado River, there’s success in money-for-water programs, but for how long?; and more …

In California water news today, For some, the Delta tunnels are a waste of money; for others, they could be a lifesaver; Unknown river town fears untold devastation from Jerry Brown’s twin tunnels; Water agency says Oroville Dam ‘green spot’ poses no threat; Why California’s nitrate problem will take decades to fix; California legislative leaders pitch big money for water and park improvements on 2018 ballot; Ninth Circuit tries to unravel Western water fight; On the Colorado River, there’s success in money-for-water programs, but for how long?; How storm scientists are change the words they use to warn Americans; and more …

In the news today …

For some, the Delta tunnels are a waste of money; for others, they could be a lifesaver:  “The controversial Delta water tunnels are the key part of something called the California Water Fix– giant tunnels that will carry water from the Sacramento River down to Southern California.  The idea is to improve both the quantity and quality of the water flowing to farms and homes throughout the state, but there’s a catch: the tunnels will likely add to the cost of our monthly water bills.  That was the main issue discussed by the LA City Council’s Energy Committee yesterday. KPCC’s Sharon McNary was there, and she’s been following the Delta tunnel story. McNary sat down with Take Two host A Martinez to discuss the meeting, and how the things appear to be shaping up for the committee’s vote on September 19.”  Listen to the radio segment from KPCC here (note: about 5 minutes, the real meat starts around 2:30):  For some, the Delta tunnels are a waste of money; for others, they could be a lifesaver

Unknown river town fears untold devastation from Jerry Brown’s twin tunnels:  “A cannon-shaped sea drone plunges through the darkness. On the waves above, Nicky Suard steadies herself in a speed boat as she monitors its video feed. The drone’s tiny propellers keep it surging through the depths, diving further into the heart of the Sacramento River. Its floodlights send back murky images of bubbles and silt. There’s no sign of what Suard’s looking for.  Submerging, the trekker bounces on the current like a disoriented droid. The gadget’s glass face slowly pivots toward a structure looming over it, a fortified wall of steel rising 40 feet above the water. This is the Freeport Regional Water Authority Intake, among the greatest mechanized eyesores found on the state’s largest river. It’s also a harbinger of things to come. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Unknown river town fears untold devastation from Jerry Brown’s twin tunnels

Water agency says Oroville Dam ‘green spot’ poses no threat:  “The state Department of Water Resources has released a report on the Oroville Dam’s “green spot,” declaring the extensive area of persistent moisture on the face of the dam is due to seasonally trapped rainfall and poses no threat to the dam’s integrity.  The department produced the report amid intense public speculation — and a UC Berkeley-affiliated study — about the source of the green spot and whether it signaled a serious structural flaw in the 770-foot-high dam that allows water to flow through the structure from the reservoir behind it. … ”  Read more from KQED here:  Water agency says Oroville Dam ‘green spot’ poses no threat

State says wet spots on the front of Oroville Dam don’t signal danger:  “State dam operators have issued a new report that refutes troubling allegations raised by a catastrophic engineering expert who contends Oroville Dam may be dangerously leaking.  On Wednesday, the Department of Water Resources reiterated what state dam managers have insisted for months: that the public is in no risk from the persistent green wet spots near the top left abutment of the nearly 770-foot-tall earthen dam. The report says they’re nothing more than natural vegetation growth caused by rainfall that becomes “temporarily trapped” inside the dam’s outer-most layer and then seeps out.  The spots are currently brown because of the lack of rain. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  State says wet spots on the front of Oroville Dam don’t signal danger

Why California’s nitrate problem will take decades to fix:  “When folks talk about “black gold” in California’s Central Valley, it’s usually a reference to oil – unless you’re in the dairy business. No state in the country produces more milk than California, thanks to its 1.7 million cows. Those cows also produce a lot of manure – 120 pounds per cow per day. But manure isn’t a problem; it’s an opportunity, says Ryan Flaherty, director of business partnerships at the San Francisco-based Sustainable Conservation, a nonprofit that works with diverse stakeholders to help clean water, air and land.  Many farmers use this waste as a resource, spreading the manure on fields that will be used to grow crops to feed the animals – a virtuous circle of sorts.  There’s just one problem: crops don’t absorb all the nitrogen in the manure, and the excess runs off into surface water, where it can cause algae blooms, or percolates down into aquifers as nitrates. … ” Read more from Water Deeply here:  Why California’s nitrate problem will take decades to fix

California legislative leaders pitch big money for water and park improvements on 2018 ballot:  “Top lawmakers promised Wednesday to put a bond measure on the 2018 statewide ballot to fund parks and water improvements.  “More parks is not just a wish, it’s not just a dream, it’s not just an ideal, it is a real need,” Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount) said at a rally outside the Capitol. “We see that all over the state.” … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  California legislative leaders pitch big money for water and park improvements on 2018 ballot

After housing, California lawmakers eye parks and water bond:  “Besides an affordable housing deal, some California lawmakers also want a bond to fund billions of dollars in new parks and water projects.  What will go into the final package is still being negotiated, but Governor Jerry Brown has signaled he wants it to be no more than $4 billion. That’s about half the size of a couple of ballot initiatives put forward by outside groups. ... ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here:  After housing, California lawmakers eye parks and water bond

How storm scientists are change the words they use to warn Americans:  ““It’s hard to wrap your mind around this,” CNN’s Anderson Cooper said in his first live report from a flooded neighborhood in Houston. He’s right. The scale of Hurricane Harvey’s destructive power is hard to fathom, and even harder to describe in words.  Reporters weren’t the only ones searching for the right words. For The National Weather Service, words also matter and can mean the difference between life and death. On Sunday, August 27, a tweet from the NWS Weather Prediction Center put it bluntly: “Local rainfall amounts of 50 inches would exceed any previous Texas rainfall record. The breadth and intensity of this rainfall are beyond anything experienced before. Catastrophic flooding is now underway and expected to continue for days.” … ”  Read more from Forbes Magazine here:  How storm scientists are change the words they use to warn Americans

In regional news and commentary today …

Yuba-Sutter: Rice farmers expect ‘crazy harvest’:  “Rice growers and researchers came together Wednesday in Biggs for the annual Rice Field Day, where they learned about the latest trends in the industry and varieties being grown.  But despite all of the focus on the latest and the greatest technology, one of the biggest stories remains how this year’s harvest will turn out.  Due to wet weather, most rice farmers had to plant later than usual.  … ”  Read more from the Appeal-Democrat here:  Rice farmers expect ‘crazy harvest’

How deep could your home flood? See Sacramento’s ultimate flood map:  “Sacramento’s network of levees and bypasses keep almost all of the city outside FEMA’s 100-year flood zone. That protection means that mortgage holders aren’t required to buy flood insurance, and residents who do purchase policies can get much lower rates.  But what if those levees weren’t there? Most of the city would be inundated in a 100-year flood, and flood waters could reach 10 feet or more in many areas. Because of the potential for levee failure, flood insurance is recommended in the shaded areas on this map. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  How deep could your home flood? See Sacramento’s ultimate flood map

Porterville: Life is good, better with city water piped to East Porterville homes:  “It took a devastating five-year drought that turned areas in Tulare and Santa Barbara counties into Ground Zero and forced hundreds of families to become resourceful when their water wells dried up before officials stepped in.  For Rocío Rodríguez, it meant sharing water with two other homes for a year through a garden hose across her Page Street house to her sister Ramona Acevedo and also their niece Xóchitl Aguilera. Her relatives’ homes shared the same water well.  That was, until four months ago when the Rodríguez well dried up.  The water sharing ran like clockwork. … ”  Read more from Vida en la Valle here:  Life is good, better with city water piped to East Porterville homes

Proposed Lake Elsinore hydroelectric project generates antipathy from supervisors:  “Local and regional officials appear intent on driving a stake through the heart of a plan to build a hydroelectric power system with components in the Santa Ana Mountains, Lakeland Village and Lake Elsinore.  The Riverside County Board of Supervisors this week joined the city of Lake Elsinore and the Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District in condemning the resurrection of the Vista-based firm Nevada Hydro‘s application for the Lake Elsinore Advanced Pumped Storage project with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. ... ”  Read more from the Riverside Press-Enterprise here:  Proposed Lake Elsinore hydroelectric project generates antipathy from supervisors

Cadiz project: Environmentalist seeks to rally support for bill blocking water transfer:  “As yellow jackets and bees darted above, an environmentalist asked those interested in preserving the eastern Mojave to call elected officials in support of a bill that would block a controversial plan to sell groundwater.  “This is a way for Californians to say they are not going to allow the Trump Administration to force destructive projects on the state without environmental review,” Chris Clarke, California Desert program manager of the National Parks Conservation Association, told 35 people gathered Tuesday night near the front porch of the Pioneertown Mountains Preserve Ranger Station. … ”  Read more from the San Bernardino Sun here:  Environmentalist seeks to rally support for bill blocking water transfer

San Diego: Call it the anti-drought: Water officials hope to drive up water usage: In a jarring contrast to conditions during the drought, the San Diego County Water Authority is actually trying to drive up demand for its water.  As recently as the first months of this year, Californians were asked to conserve water. Well, they did. And they still are. Now, that’s a problem.  Demand for water is low. In San Diego, it’s so low that drinking water is just sitting in the main pipeline that delivers water from hundreds of miles away to the southern half of the county. Typically demand for water is highest during the summer.  When water sits around, particularly in the summer heat, it stagnates and can become undrinkable. … ” Read more from the Voice of San Diego here:  Call it the anti-drought: Water officials hope to drive up water usage

Along the Colorado River and elsewhere in the West …

Ninth Circuit tries to unravel Western water fight:  “The Ninth Circuit needs to sort out who governs water pumping in western Nevada after hearing three hours of arguments in three cases Wednesday, involving arcane but important issues of Western water law.  The three cases regard how to allocate water resources in the Walker River Basin in western Nevada, which provides water for communities in Nevada and California.  Nevada’s state engineer in early 2015 curtailed the amount of water to be allocated to local farmers and others. And the U.S. Board of Water Commissioners wants to create its own set of water rules, an attorney told the panel. … ”  Read more from Courthouse News Service here:  Ninth Circuit tries to unravel Western water fight

On the Colorado River, there’s success in money-for-water programs, but for how long?  “When Freddie Botur, 45, whose ranch spans 72,000 acres outside of Pinedale, Wyoming, first heard about a program that was paying ranchers to let water run down the river instead of irrigating with it, he was skeptical. But Nick Walrath, a project coordinator for Trout Unlimited, told him he’d receive about $200 for every acre-foot of water saved by not watering hay on his Cottonwood Ranch.   For Botur, it would mean over $240,00 for fallowing just over 1,700 acres of hay fields for the latter half of the summer of 2015, letting 1,202 acre-feet of water run past his headgate on Cottonwood and Muddy Creeks, tributaries of the Green River, instead of to his fields.   “Oh my god,” he thought, “this is insane.”  … ”  Read more from High Country News here: There’s success in money-for-water programs, but for how long?

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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