DAILY DIGEST: Delta tunnels: It’s time to fish or cut bait; Millions of Californians on hook for Delta tunnels; What CA can learn from the recent catastrophic floods; Californians must change thinking to meet the challenge of rising seas, says author; and more …

In California water news today, Delta tunnels: It’s time to fish or cut bait; Millions of Californians on hook for Delta tunnels; What California and the West can learn from the recent catastrophic floods; Californians must change thinking to meet the challenge of rising seas, says author; Critical long-term conservation bills held in the legislature; Oroville Dam: Here’s what the spillway looks like now; Whistlesblowers uncover illegal federal payments to water contractors; Warm waters off of West Coast has lingering effects on salmon; and more …

In the news today …

DELTA TUNNELS

Delta tunnels: It’s time to fish or cut bait:  “Eleven years of talk is about to turn into action.  Over the next several weeks, water districts flung across hundreds of miles of California — from the sprawling almond orchards of the San Joaquin Valley, to the second biggest city in the nation in Los Angeles — will give a thumbs-up or thumbs-down to Gov. Jerry Brown’s Delta tunnels.  While the tunnels are not subject to a vote of the general public, they must be approved by the water agencies that are supposed to pay for them. So for months, opponents have doggedly sought to sow seeds of doubt among the elected officials representing these agencies, raising questions about the $17 billion cost, the amount of water that the tunnels will provide and whether the money might be better spent on smaller, regional projects. ... ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here:  Delta tunnels: It’s time to fish or cut bait

Millions of Californians on hook for Delta tunnels“Water districts and households across California could be compelled to help pay for Gov. Jerry Brown’s plans to build two giant tunnels to ferry water to cities and farms mainly in central and Southern California, under newly disclosed plans to shore up funding for the struggling $16 billion project.  The tougher state funding demands pivot from longstanding state and federal assurances that only local water districts that actively seek to take part in the mega-project would have to pay for the twin tunnels, the most ambitious re-engineering of California’s complex north-to-south water system in more than a half-century. ... ”  Read more from the AP via the Sun Herald here:  Millions of Californians on hook for Delta tunnels

Will the Southland wind up holding much of the $17-billion bill for Delta water tunnels?  “Some of the state’s biggest water districts are about to make their opening moves in a financial chess game that ultimately could saddle the Southland with much of the bill for re-engineering the failing heart of California’s water system.  In coming weeks, the districts are expected to decide if they want to sign on to California WaterFix — a long-planned proposal to construct two massive tunnels that would change the way water supplies move through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Will the Southland wind up holding much of the $17-billion bill for Delta water tunnels?

FLOOD MANAGEMENT

What California and the West can learn from the recent catastrophic floods:  “In the wake of hurricanes Harvey and Irma, large sections of southeast Texas and southern Florida were underwater. The massive flooding has claimed the lives of more than 100 people, and AccuWeather predicts that the economic cost of the two storms will be almost $300 billion.  Right now, California may be dealing with more fire than flood, but there are still important lessons that the state can learn from Harvey and Irma, says Nicholas Pinter, the associate director of the Center for Watershed Sciences at the University of California, Davis. In fact, says Pinter, there are lessons that the Western United States should learn from flood management around the country, and the world.  Water Deeply spoke with Pinter about lessons that he has learned from his work on flood management in other states and countries, how it can apply to California and his concerns about the future of the National Flood Insurance Program. … ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  What California and the West can learn from the recent catastrophic floods

SEA LEVEL RISE

Californians must change thinking to meet the challenge of rising seas, says author:  “The repeated scenes of flooded streets and half-submerged homes this month have literally brought the issue of rising seas home to millions of people along the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts. The threat is no less real here on the West Coast, as  marine scientist Gary Griggs points out in his new book, “Coasts in Crisis: A Global Challenge.”  Griggs, who for 26 years, headed the UC Santa Cruz Institute of Marine Sciences, has advised state and local governments in California to plan for 6 inches of sea rise by 2030, 12 inches by 2050, and 36 inches (3 feet) by 2100.  Griggs  spoke with KQED Science Editor Craig Miller. … ”  Read more from KQED here: Californians must change thinking to meet the challenge of rising seas

‘Fingerprinting’ the ocean to predict devastating sea level rise:  “Scientists are “fingerprinting” sea level rise around the world in an effort to identify coastal areas most at risk from devastating storm surge, as hurricanes grow increasingly destructive.  Warming ocean temperatures due to climate change can fuel more powerful storms. Hurricane-force winds push water onto land, putting lives and property at risk while rising sea levels in coastal areas have magnified the impact of such storm surge. Now a new study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters verifies the accuracy of a satellite-based monitoring tool called “sea level fingerprinting.” The technology detects varying patterns in regional sea levels, which can be used for predicting how climate change will affect future storm surge in flood-prone coastal areas. ... ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  ‘Fingerprinting’ the ocean to predict devastating sea level rise

OROVILLE DAM

Oroville Dam: What exactly will be done by October 1st?  “Repairs to the Oroville Dam spillway are on track for the Nov. 1 deadline, state Department of Water Resources representatives say, but work will be far from over then.  The November deadline was set in the hopes of beating the start of the area’s typical rainy season. The spillway will be functional by then, able to pass flows of 100,000 cubic-feet per second, or cfs, according to DWR’s plans, but the structure will have a higher capacity when the redesign is complete. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  Oroville Dam: What exactly will be done by October 1st? 

Oroville Dam: Here’s what the spillway looks like now:  “Hundreds of construction workers from Kiewit Corp., of Omaha, Nebraska, the lead contractor on the job, are working around the clock with huge dump trucks, cranes, excavators, bulldozers, concrete pumps and other equipment to demolish and rebuild the 3,000-foot-long main spillway, and shore up the emergency spillway.  The goal of the $500 million project to rebuild enough of the main spillway — which is as wide as 15 lanes of freeway — by Nov. 1 so that it can be ready for heavy rains this winter. The entire job is scheduled to be finished in 2018. ... ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  Oroville Dam: Here’s what the spillway looks like now

SALMON

Tribe calling for spring-run chinook salmon to be listed as endangered species:  “Scientists at U.C. Davis have found a genetic distinction between Chinook salmon that migrate in spring and fall. That has a Northern California tribe calling to make spring Chinook an endangered species. But some farmers are skeptical.  The new research suggests if dwindling populations of spring Chinook disappear, healthier fall runs of salmon can’t replace them.  ... ”  Read more from Capital Radio here:  Tribe calling for spring-run chinook salmon to be listed as endangered species

Warm waters off of West Coast has lingering effects on salmon:  “The mass of warm water known as “the blob” that heated up the North Pacific Ocean has dissipated, but scientists are still seeing the lingering effects of those unusually warm sea surface temperatures on Pacific Northwest salmon and steelhead.  Federal research surveys this summer caught among the lowest numbers of juvenile coho and Chinook salmon in 20 years, suggesting that many fish did not survive their first months at sea. Scientists warn that salmon fisheries may face hard times in the next few years. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Warm waters off of West Coast has lingering effects on salmon

STATE LEGISLATION

Critical long-term conservation bills held in the legislature:  “After months of intense advocacy by ACWA, its members, and other stakeholders, two key long-term conservation bills – AB 1668 (Friedman) and SB 606 (Hertzberg/Skinner/Friedman) – were held in the Legislature late Friday, making the measures two-year bills. … ”  Read more from ACWA’s Water News here:  Critical long-term conservation bills held in the legislature

FEDERAL AUDIT OF TUNNELS

Whistlesblowers uncover illegal federal payments to water contractors:  “Californians were shocked last week by the revelation that some several of the state’s water districts secretly received over $100 million dollars in federal funds to pay for their share of the environmental review of the Bay-Delta tunnels project. The misappropriation of taxpayer money was uncovered by employees of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and others. State officials, including Governor Jerry Brown, have for years insisted that the entire funding of the tunnels project, known as California Water Fix, would come from water contractors and not the general public. KPFA’s Vic Bedoian looks at the possibly illegal transaction through the eyes of whistleblowers who brought the story to light.”  Listen to the story at KPFA here:  Whistlesblowers uncover illegal federal payments to water contractors

In regional news and commentary today …

Butte County told to stop sediment flow from dirt roads into waterways:  “Hundreds of miles of road in Butte County are maintained by public works, but a problematic 8-mile stretch above Magalia has become a priority for repair after the California Regional Water Quality Control Board sent a letter saying deterioration was causing water flows to discharge sediment into Little Butte Creek.  A few residences branch off of Powellton Road as it changes from gravel to dirt, however most of the property in the area belongs to lumber producer Sierra Pacific Industries.  “When they built roads back in the day, they weren’t up to modern standards,” said Dennis Schmidt, Butte County director of public works. … ”  Read more from the Oroville Mercury Register here:  Butte County told to stop sediment flow from dirt roads into waterways

Big Basin’s dangerous drinking water and Santa Cruz contaminants:  “Many of Santa Cruz County’s water systems have cancer-causing contaminants at levels above the public health guidelines, a fact that some local water leaders say is misleading due to the guidelines’ extremely conservative nature.  The key is the difference between public health guidelines — which consider only health and are not enforceable by law — and legal limits, which are significantly higher, and consider economic and other tradeoffs, say leaders. … ”  Read more from the Santa Cruz Sentinel here:  Big Basin’s dangerous drinking water and Santa Cruz contaminants

USGS scientist reports to Malibu City Council about storms, rising sea level:  “A federal geologist predicted that global sea rise could cause devastating destruction on Point Dume, swamp Pacific Coast Highway and overrun Malibu beaches with surges comparable to what the world saw this week in Florida.  The latest consensus is that ocean levels will increase 40 to 66 inches in the Santa Monica Bay over the next 82 years, said Juliette Finze Hart, a USGS scientist speaking at Monday’s city council meeting.  And when a serious storm arrives with the higher levels anticipated in the year 2100, an estimated 1,916 buildings — most of them houses — would be underwater in Malibu.  The problem, she said, will be storm surges on top of higher ocean levels, and “we unfortunately have a very powerful image of this right now on the East Coast of the U.S.” … ”  Read more from the Malibu Times here:  USGS scientist reports to Malibu City Council about storms, rising sea level

Water managers seeking certainty in the Colorado River basin:  “Bringing more certainty to an unruly and unpredictable Colorado River system was a common theme among water managers speaking at the Colorado River District’s annual seminar on Friday, Sept. 15­­.  Although the drought that has gripped much of the Colorado River basin for the past 16 years has eased up a bit, population growth and the long dry spell have pushed the river’s supplies to the limit, with every drop of water in the system now accounted for. Meanwhile, the effects of climate change on the Colorado’s future flows are still a big question mark, and it could mean wide variability in the years to come, with periods of punishing drought followed by a sudden record-setting wet year, as California recently experienced. … ”  Read more from Vail News here:  Water managers seeking certainty in the Colorado River basin

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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