DAILY DIGEST, weekend edition: State’s Delta tunnels project got improper subsidies, audit says; 53 days remain until Oroville Dam deadline; How oceans impact Western reservoirs and rivers; and more …

In California water news this weekend, State's Delta tunnels project got improper subsidies, audit says; 53 days remain until Oroville Dam deadline; How oceans impact Western reservoirs and rivers; Water planning moves to Plumas County planning department; Stockton: The port's big sand hassle; Ridgecrest: Groundwater Authority technical committee plans groundwater database; and more …

In the news this weekend …

State's Delta tunnels project got improper subsidies, audit says:  “The federal government improperly subsidized planning for California’s delta tunnels project with $50 million that should have been paid by water contractors who stand to benefit from the undertaking, a U.S. Interior Department audit concluded Friday.  The $17.1 billion project, proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown, would build giant 35-mile tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to carry Sacramento River water to farms and cities in Central and Southern California. The costs are to be paid by water users and not by taxpayers. … ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  State’s Delta tunnels project got improper subsidies, audit says

Taxpayer money misused on Delta tunnels project:  (AP Story) “The U.S. Interior Department improperly contributed tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer money to help California and politically powerful state water districts plan the massive Delta tunnels to ship water from north to south, a new federal audit said Friday.  Federal officials contributed $85 million to help finance the water districts’ plan, backed by Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown, to build two 40-foot-wide tunnels to re-engineer the state’s water system, according to the audit by the inspector general’s office of the U.S. Interior Department.  ... ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here:  Audit: Taxpayer money misused on Delta tunnels project

Interior faulted for subsidy to firm once tied to David Bernhardt, now the deputy secretary:  “An Interior Department agency responsible for managing water in the western United States improperly provided millions of dollars in subsidies to contractors in California, according to an inspector general's report, including to a major water district once represented by a lobbyist who is now Interior’s second highest-ranking official.  The Bureau of Reclamation, the Interior Department's top watchdog concluded, didn't fully disclose to Congress and others the $84 million cost of its Bay Delta Conservation Plan in California. It also said the bureau couldn't provide paperwork for why the water contractors didn't have to pay back $50 million in federal funding. … ” Read more from the Washington Post here:  Interior faulted for subsidy to firm once tied to David Bernhardt, now the deputy secretary

RELATED:  Click here to read the report from the Office of Inspector General.

53 days remain until Oroville Dam deadline:  “With 53 days until construction crews must finish the initial repairs to the Lake Oroville spillway – to avoid the start of the next flood season – officials with the Department of Water Resources said there is still a lot of work to be done.  The goal is that by Nov. 1 it completes reconstruction of 2,270 feet of the main spillway. Once construction is finished, officials say there will be a spillway able to handle up to 100,000 cubic feet per second.Currently, crews are pouring concrete, placing underdrains in certain areas and doing some temporary repairs on the area of the spillway closest to the radial gates, which release water from the reservoir.  … ”  Read more from the Appeal-Democrat here:  53 days remain until Oroville Dam deadline

How oceans impact Western reservoirs and rivers:  “As Houston cleans up after Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma barrels through the Caribbean toward Florida, this year’s Atlantic hurricane season offers a stark reminder of the power of oceans over weather. But ocean influences aren’t limited to the Atlantic. Last winter, rain and snow drenched California, much of it the result of “atmospheric rivers,” storms that channeled water from the Pacific straight to the Sierra and across the West. Torrents of rain flooded cities and damaged dams, but also helped end five years of drought in the Golden State. … ”  Read more from the High Country News here:  How oceans impact Western reservoirs and rivers

In commentary this weekend …

Delta tunnel Water Fix vote now?  Santa Clara should say no way, says the Mercury News:  They write, “Gov. Jerry Brown is trying to force California water agencies, including the Santa Clara Valley Water District, to vote in the next month on whether they will pay for building his $17 billion “WaterFix” Delta tunnels project.  It is an arbitrary, outrageous and irresponsible deadline. There is no formal agreement on how the project will be financed, how it will be governed or how the water will be allocated: none of the information a responsible water board needs to know for an informed decision. ... ”  Read more from the Mercury News here:  Delta tunnel Water Fix vote now?  Santa Clara should say no way

California Water Fix is bad for Santa Clara County, won't fix anything, says Helen Hutchison:  She writes, “The League of Women Voters of California opposes the WaterFix—twin tunnels the Department of Water Resources proposes to bore under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to move water for urban and agricultural uses in other regions.  Better options exist to address California’s water needs. The Santa Clara Valley has the innovative capacity to develop those options.  The Pacific Institute and the Natural Resources Defense Council have shown that although Californians annually use at least 6 million acre feet more water than the state’s rivers and aquifers can sustainably provide, water-saving practices could save up to 14 million acre feet each year. ... ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  California Water Fix is bad for Santa Clara County, won’t fix anything

Nature isn't on a rampage.  That would be us, says Cynthia Barnett:  She writes, “In 1927, as the muddy waters of the Mississippi River began to recede from what was then the deadliest storm-related flood in American history, blues musicians wailed their sorrow and rage. Blind Lemon Jefferson recorded his “Rising High Water Blues” that May:  Children stand there screamin: Mama we ain’t got no home, Awww, Mama we ain’t got no home, Papa says to the children, ‘Backwater left us all alone.' The gut-wrenching disaster, and others that swept through the Mississippi’s fast-populating basin in the early 20th century, led to more blues devoted to rain and flood than any other natural event. But Papa was wrong: It wasn’t the water that left families homeless and alone. … ”  Continue reading at the LA Times here: Nature isn’t on a rampage.  That would be us

Welcome urgency from Sacramento on the Salton Sea:  The Desert Sun writes,There was another sign that Sacramento is feeling increasing urgency when it comes to solving the problem that is the Salton Sea. And that’s a very good thing.  Democratic Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia of Coachella said last week there is strong support for two bond measures that would allocate $280 million for projects in a 10-year state plan to mitigate devastating effects of the lake’s projected demise have strong support.  “The bills are now being merged and there’s one more vote to be taken,” Garcia told The Desert Sun’s Ian James. “There is a commitment of both the Assembly and the Senate to fully fund the management plan.” … ”  Read more from The Desert Sun here:  Welcome urgency from Sacramento on the Salton Sea

Invest in safe and affordable drinking water with SB 623, says Sarah Mraz:  She writes, “When I turn on the faucet at my home in Alpaugh, what comes out is dangerous to drink. The water is contaminated with unsafe levels of arsenic. Since I found out about the arsenic, I haven’t been cooking or drinking with Alpaugh water. It’s expensive to pay a water bill and also have to buy bottled water for cooking and drinking, but I don’t want to get sick.  Arsenic-contaminated water can cause rashes and vomiting in the short term, but what’s even more alarming is that it can cause cancer. ... ” Read more from the Hanford Sentinel here:  Invest in safe and affordable drinking water with SB 623

In regional news and commentary this weekend …

Water planning moves to Plumas County planning department:  ““Basic water and sewage infrastructure is necessary for the economic development of the county,” said Randy Wilson, director of the county planning department.  The Plumas County Board of Supervisors made the decision Aug. 29 to relieve the Plumas County Flood Control & Water Conservation District of all water planning responsibilities.  The planning department will assume responsibilities for applications for water-related grants, management of those grants and working with the Upper Feather River Regional Water Management Group and Integrated Regional Water Management Plan. … ”  Read more from the Plumas County News here:  Water planning moves to Plumas County planning department

Stockton: The port's big sand hassle:  “Forget the dunes of north Africa: You could almost film the next “Star Wars” desert planet scene at the Port of Stockton, where about 15 acres of open land has suddenly disappeared beneath a pile of sand up to two stories high.  Not only is it a sight to behold, but the sand heap is one of the more interesting untold stories from last winter’s floods.  Rivers upstream of Stockton were running so fast and furious that they tore away at the shoreline, bringing massive amounts of sediment into the San Joaquin River and the Delta, where slower currents allowed the dirt to drop to the bottom of the channel and form “shoals” or hidden sandbars. … ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here:  Stockton: The port’s big sand hassle

Ridgecrest: Groundwater Authority technical committee plans groundwater database:  “The IWV Groundwater Authority’s Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) held its second ever meeting on Thursday afternoon at the IWV Water District.  The meeting’s agenda included updating the new committee on administrative issues, hearing reviews of tasks assigned at the previous meeting, and discussion of potential projects they will likely have to use their technical prowess to tackle in the future. ... ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here:  Ridgecrest: Groundwater Authority technical committee plans groundwater database

Precipitation watch …

2017 hottest summer in California history; Cutoff low may bring widespread thunderstorms:  “2017 brought extraordinary summer heat to California. While record-breaking early-season heatwaves largely spared the immediate coastal areas (but brought endless weeks of searing triple-digit heat to interior areas), extreme temperatures extended all the way to the beaches over the past couple of weeks.  The late summer and early autumn months are traditionally warmest of the year in coastal California, as the marine layer tends to become suppressed and offshore winds occasionally allow hotter air to encroach from the east. But the late August and early September heatwave that California just endured was on an entirely different level than those historically experienced–breaking (and, in many cases, shattering) temperature records of all kinds. … ”  Read more from Weather West here:  2017 hottest summer in California history; Cutoff low may bring widespread thunderstorms

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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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