DAILY DIGEST: Biologists watch steelhead return after historic dam removal; Lack of technology left officials in the dark during dam crisis; Agreement could hold state accountable for shrinking Salton Sea; Banned pesticides from illegal pot farms seep into CA water; and more …

In California water news today, Biologists watch steelhead return after historic dam removal; Lack of technology left officials in the dark during dam crisis; Agreement could hold state accountable for completing projects on shrinking Salton Sea; Banned pesticides from illegal pot farms seep into California water; Federal policy change criticized for giving ‘free pass' to controversial water project; Has climate change intensified 2017's western wildfires?; Is climate change wreaking weather havoc? Evolving science seeks answers; and more …

In the news today …

Biologists watch steelhead return after historic dam removal:  “Tommy Williams rips through an Alka Seltzer packet, dropping the antacids into a bucket of water teeming with juvenile steelhead trout. He has several minutes to work before the anesthetizing effect wears off and the fish wake up. During that brief interval, the NOAA fisheries biologist and his team will measure, weigh and mark the steelhead before sliding them back into the Carmel River.  “A beautiful one!” Williams exclaims, as a slippery silver steelhead spasms off the measuring table and slaps into this reporter’s leg before writhing in the sand. “Look at those pinks and grays,” he says, scooping up the fish and placing it on a measuring board. … ”  Read more from KQED here:  Biologists watch steelhead return after historic dam removal

Lack of technology left officials in the dark during dam crisis:  “A towering spillway at the nation's tallest dam was crumbling, and tens of thousands of people were fleeing for their lives. But as darkness fell, state officials realized dealing with the unfolding crisis in Northern California was about to get even worse: They couldn't see.  For years, federal regulators urged state officials in charge of the Oroville Dam to consider installing cameras, lights and more sensors and monitors to help alert managers to potential structural problems and, in a crisis, ensure there would be time to evacuate towns downstream. But on Feb. 12, as murky floodwaters washed away the second of two failing spillways, nightfall left officials struggling to figure out what was happening. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Lack of technology left officials in the dark during dam crisis

Agreement could hold state accountable for completing projects on shrinking Salton Sea:  “A tentative agreement with state officials that would hold California accountable for completing projects detailed in the 10-year Salton Sea management plan will be discussed at a meeting Thursday in Sacramento.  The Salton Sea is the state's largest lake and is located in Imperial and Riverside counties. The lake is shrinking and thus exposing playa or lakebed, which becomes airborne dust when the wind blows. The sea will shrink more rapidly in the future because mitigation water that was being put in the sea as part of a water transfer agreement will end at the end of the year. … ”  More from KPBS here: Agreement could hold state accountable for completing projects on shrinking Salton Sea

Banned pesticides from illegal pot farms seep into California water:  “Toxic chemicals from illegal marijuana farms hidden deep in California’s forests are showing up in rivers and streams that feed the state’s water supply, prompting fears that humans and animals may be at risk, data reviewed by Reuters show.  The presence of potentially deadly pollutants in eight Northern and Central California watersheds is the latest sign of damage to the environment from thousands of illegal cannabis plantations, many of them run by drug cartels serving customers in other states, according to law enforcement. … ”  Read more from Reuters here:  Banned pesticides from illegal pot farms seep into California water

Federal policy change criticized for giving ‘free pass' to controversial water project:  “In 2015, the federal government issued a decision that temporarily blocked Cadiz Inc.’s plan to sell groundwater from the Mojave Desert, ruling the company would need a permit to build a water pipeline alongside a railroad. That decision by the federal Bureau of Land Management, however, was based on a 2011 legal opinion that railroads could only authorize other types of uses “that derive from or further a railroad purpose.” ... ”  Read more from The Desert Sun here:  Federal policy change criticized for giving ‘free pass’ to controversial water project

Has climate change intensified 2017's western wildfires? This wasn’t supposed to be a bad year for Western wildfires.  Last winter, a weak La Niña bloomed across the Pacific. It sent flume after flume of rain to North America and irrigated half the continent. Water penetrated deep into the soil of Western forests, and mammoth snowdrifts stacked up across the Sierra Nevadas. California’s drought ended in the washout.  Yet fires are now raging across the West. More than two dozen named fires currently burn across Washington and Oregon. More than one million acres have burned in Montana, an area larger than Rhode Island, in the Treasure State’s third-worst fire season on record. And the largest brushfire in the history of Los Angeles currently threatens hundreds of homes in Burbank. ... ”  Read more from The Atlantic here:  Has climate change intensified 2017’s western wildfires? 

Is climate change wreaking weather havoc? Evolving science seeks answers:  “When San Francisco hit 103 degrees in June 2000, a new high after more than a century of record-keeping, the forces of global warming were likely at work. But scientists weren’t ready to go there.  Climate change had barely become a household term, and teasing out its complex role in single events that are largely at the mercy of natural weather variability was unthinkable.  Seventeen years later, as the Bay Area recovers from another round of record heat that pushed San Francisco to a new pinnacle of 106 degrees — and as a deadly lineup of storms pounds the southern United States and the Caribbean — climate researchers are making these critical but elusive connections. … ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  Is climate change wreaking weather havoc? Evolving science seeks answers

In regional news and commentary today …

Siskiyou County: Residents seek answers in Big Springs Ranch dam removal decision:  “A group of local landowners gathered on Wednesday morning in the Big Springs area looking for answers about the fate of The Nature Conservancy’s Big Springs Ranch – and the impacts of prior management decisions.  The gathering was a response to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s plans to remove two diversion dams on TNC’s property, according to area landowner Tim Louie.  Louie told the Siskiyou Daily News that the group was hoping to show its opposition and possibly get CDFW to not remove the dams on Wednesday, but it appeared that the agency had decided to hold off on the decision before the crowd had gathered. … ”  Read more from the Siskiyou Daily News here:  Siskiyou County: Residents seek answers in Big Springs Ranch dam removal decision

Stockton: ‘Shot in the arm' for water district:  “A water-starved agricultural area in north San Joaquin County finally got some good news recently with the proposed awarding of $4 million in state and federal grants.  The money will allow farmers on about 6,000 acres east of Lodi to finally take advantage of a water right on the Mokelumne River that they haven’t been able to use even during last year’s floods because their crumbling infrastructure is half a century old. ... ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here:  Stockton: ‘Shot in the arm’ for water district

Monterey: Three beaches placed under advisory status:  “Three Monterey County beaches have been placed under an advisory status after samples taken from the beaches on Wednesday indicated higher than normal levels of bacteria in the ocean water, according to the county's Health Department.  The three beaches placed under an advisory as of Thursday morning are Stillwater Cove, Pebble Beach and Monterey Municipal Beach. All three beaches will remain open but under the advisory status, warning signs are posted to warn beachgoers about higher levels of bacteria in the water. ... ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  Monterey: Three beaches placed under advisory status

Meet the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority's new water resources manager:  “At its Aug. 17 board meeting, the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority (IWVGA) announced that it was bringing on Stetson Engineers Inc.7 as the IWVGA’s water resources manager (WRM). Stetson will generally be represented at IWVGA meetings by Steve Johnson, Stetson Engineers’ president and CEO.  Johnson sat down with the Daily Independent on Thursday afternoon to introduce himself, his background, and the role of Stetson Engineers as IWVGA’s WRM.  “It’s all water resources and water supply. That’s all we do,” Johnson said of his company. ... ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here:  Meet the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority’s new water resources manager

Groundwater agency for the Santa Clarita Valley to be approved:  “As the senate bill promising to create one new all-encompassing water agency for the SCV moves steadily along a historic path, a separate new agency assembled this year to manage SCV groundwater remains on the fast track to making local history.  In less than a week, state officials are expected to officially recognize the Santa Clarita Valley Groundwater Sustainability Agency as the exclusive group mandated to manage local groundwater.  “This agency is vital to the Santa Clarita Valley because everyone will benefit from effective groundwater management and monitoring,” Mitch Glaser, assistant administrator for the Los Angeles County Department of Regional Planning told The Signal Wednesday. … ”  Read more from The Signal here:  Groundwater agency for the Santa Clarita Valley to be approved

Friday flight over Oroville …

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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