DAILY DIGEST, weekend edition: ‘Twin tunnels’ plan in Delta not quite dead yet; California water project could cramp Colorado River plan; Cow feces and an E. coli scare: How a troubled water district points to a big California problem; and more …

In California water news this weekend, ‘Twin tunnels’ plan in Delta not quite dead yet; California water project could cramp Colorado River plan; Cow feces and an E. coli scare: How a troubled water district points to a big California problem; 1741 districts violated drinking water standards in 2016. Did you drink their water?; Out of the woods? Rethinking drought and water, part one; Calibrating for change: Rethinking drought and water, part two; UCD report urges ‘extreme caution’ over feds plan to aid salmon run; and more …

In the news this weekend …

‘Twin tunnels’ plan in Delta not quite dead yet:  “The decision Tuesday by the largest irrigation district in the state to not participate in the project to put two tunnels underneath the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta has been hailed by opponents of the project as a sign the project is dead.  But the financing of the project has been so fluid it may not be a fatal blow.  The pullout of the Westlands Water District seems to put a $3 billion hole in the $16 billion funding necessary for the “twin tunnels.”  But the project funding was always a bit “vague,” according to Butte County Counsel Bruce Alpert, with the state and federal partners pursuing separate tacks to pay for their part. ... ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  ‘Twin tunnels’ plan in Delta not quite dead yet

California water project could cramp Colorado River plan:  “Earlier this week, California’s Westlands Water District, the largest agricultural water district in the U.S., voted not to participate in an ambitious, long-planned project to re-engineer the way water is shuttled across the Golden State.   The Westlands decision is a setback for the project, a plan to route tunnels beneath the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, but California state officials aren’t giving up on it just yet. Still, the ‘no’ vote from Westlands — the district says the plan “is not financially viable” — puts the future of the $17 billion project in doubt. That could have big implications for California’s water system. And, thanks to how water is ferried and used across the West, the effects of California’s decisions will ripple across the other states in the Colorado River basin, too. If Southern California can’t rely on a steady supply of water from the Delta, farms and cities will be more dependent upon another major source: the Colorado River. … ”  Read more from High Country News here:  California water project could cramp Colorado River plan

Cow feces and an E. coli scare: How a troubled water district points to a big California problem:  “Greg Loe didn’t have to look hard to figure out how E. coli probably got into this small town’s drinking water supply.  In late May, a routine E. coli test came back positive. Loe, a Chico drinking water technician hired by the Butte City water district, raced to the Glenn County town to warn residents and investigate the cause. What he found, as described in court documents, could be a case study in how poor management can endanger the lives of those drinking tap water from any one of the 2,100 small water districts scattered across California. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Cow feces and an E. coli scare: How a troubled water district points to a big California problem

1741 districts violated drinking water standards in 2016.  Did you drink their water?  “Public drinking water systems in California violated state and federal regulations more than 4,700 times in 2016. This database contains every violation from that year.  Most of the violations occurred at small systems serving fewer than 300 people, but you might consume their water even if the district doesn’t serve your home. Many of the smallest systems serve non-residential users at schools, workplaces, campgrounds, parks or ski resorts. The violations are tracked by the California State Water Resources Control Board.  The most serious violations involve the “total coliform rule.” … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  1741 districts violated drinking water standards in 2016.  Did you drink their water?

Out of the woods?  Rethinking drought and water, part one:  “Nearly six months ago, on April 7, 2017, California Governor Jerry Brown declared an end to the drought that had ravaged the state for five years.  While keeping in place bans on wasteful water usage (watering lawns during rainstorms, for example, or hosing off sidewalks) the governor strongly urged Californians to adopt conservation as a way of life. “The next drought,” he warned, “could be around the corner.”  No doubt, we will face prolonged shortages again. But research indicates the nature of California droughts is changing. ... ”  Read more from the San Diego Union Tribune here:  Out of the woods?  Rethinking drought and water, part one

Calibrating for change: Rethinking drought and water, part 2:  “In part one of our report on rethinking drought and water,” (“Out of the woods?” Sept. 23, 2017) California State Climatologist Michael Anderson and University of California Riverside Professor of Environmental Economics and Policy Kurt Schwabe discussed the changing nature of drought in our region.  But to merely focus on droughts may be shortsighted.  According to both experts, the key to navigating the next drought will likely lie in how well we plan for change. ... ”  Read more from the San Diego Union Tribune here:  Calibrating for change: Rethinking drought and water, part 2

UCD report urges ‘extreme caution’ over feds plan to aid salmon run:  “The life cycle of salmon has long captured the public’s attention and collective imagination, with the fish, historically, born in rivers, then swim to sea to live out their relatively short lives before finding their way back to their freshwater spawning ground, where they reproduce before dying.  But dams and other barriers to spawning grounds have upset that natural cycle, requiring fisheries managers to seek solutions as they try to help support salmon populations. Over the years, it has become fairly common to transport salmon to and from spawning grounds by truck, boat, and, perhaps not widely known, even helicopter. … ”  Read more from The Reporter here:  UCD report urges ‘extreme caution’ over feds plan to aid salmon run

In commentary this weekend …

Dan Walters: A half-century later, Delta water bypass is still just a notion:  He writes, “I first heard the term “peripheral canal” more than 40 years ago, during a forum of state water officials in Stockton.  It came from the lips of William Gianelli, who had returned to his birthplace to tout a canal to carry Sacramento River water around the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to the head of the state’s new aqueduct near Tracy.  Gianelli, then-Gov. Ronald Reagan’s top water official, and other managers of the State Water Project believed that bypassing the Delta was the essential final link in the massive system to carry water from the state’s northernmost reaches to San Joaquin Valley farmers and fast-growing Southern California cities. … ”  Read more from Cal Matters here:  Dan Walters: A half-century later, Delta water bypass is still just a notion

Twin tunnel plan not dead yet, says the Chico Enterprise-Record:  They write, “Anyone who thinks the “twin tunnels” plan to divert north state water under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to points south is dead just hasn’t been paying attention.  Yet when the Westlands Water District board voted against participating in the federal part of the financing for the project, that was sure the impression a lot of people had.  Westlands’ share of the estimated $16 billion cost was about $3 billion, which would have been split between the 600 or 700 farms in the district. That would have raised the cost of water to the point it would have been more expensive than the value of crops that could be grown with it. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Twin tunnel plan not dead yet

Don’t count on demise of tunnels to stop state’s water grab, says the Modesto Bee:  They write, “We’re glad Westlands Water District voted against funding Gov. Jerry Brown’s twin tunnels. They don’t deserve to be built.  Yes, the Delta desperately needs fixing. Yes, salmon are losing ground in Northern California – a calamity tied to both climate change and how we all use the state’s limited water supplies.  But it would have been impossible for the governor to have kept all the promises he made in trying to sell his California WaterFix. And that is why Westlands’ directors voted 7-1 not to spend $4 billion to build Brown’s peripheral tunnels. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  Don’t count on demise of tunnels to stop state’s water grab

We’ll all pay price for California’s tunnel vision on water policy, says Susan Shelley:  She writes, “One of civilization’s greatest accomplishments, really a wonder of the world, is the water infrastructure built during the 20th century in the state of California.  The historic challenge was described in a 2008 U.S. government study of water in the West: “Hydrologic conditions in California vary greatly from year to year, season to season and place to place. Wet years bring the threat of floods, and drought years put pressure on available water supplies. The majority of the state’s precipitation occurs in the northern third of the state during the winter, while much of the water is used in the central and southern portions of the state during the spring and summer.” … ”  Read more from the Daily Breeze here:  We’ll all pay price for California’s tunnel vision on water policy, says Susan Shelley

In regional news and commentary this weekend …

Siskiyou County Planning Commission weighs input on Crystal Geyser project:  “On Wednesday, the Siskiyou County Planning Commission took up the task of deciding whether or not Crystal Geyser will be allowed to move forward with its planned bottling plant in the Mount Shasta area – but the meeting will overflow to next week.  According to documents associated with the project, the facility at issue started life as a bottling plant for Dannon, which started its water bottling operation in 2001 and continued until 2010, when then-owner Coca-Cola shut the plant down.  Crystal Geyser purchased the property and facilities in 2013, with plans to ultimately produce bottled water, juices, and teas. … ”  Read more from the Siskiyou Daily News here:  Siskiyou County Planning Commission weighs input on Crystal Geyser project

Jones Valley residents hit with $24,000 in penalties:  “More than a third of the Shasta County water customers in Jones Valley exceeded their daily use limit of 225 gallons this summer, resulting in the water agency issuing $24,100 in overuse penalties.  The county issued penalties to 169 customers in the Jones Valley Community Service Area, with 161 of those $100 fines and another eight $1,000 fines, said Pat Minturn, the county’s public works director.  “The intent was simply to discourage use beyond the 225 gallons a day,” Minturn said, referring to the emergency ordinance the board passed in June restricting customers to 225 gallons of water a day. … ”  Read more from the Redding Record Searchlight here:  Jones Valley residents hit with $24,000 in penalties

Oroville: Fish come full cycle at salmon festival:  “The 23rd annual Oroville Salmon Festival Saturday drew thousands to downtown and the Feather River Fish Hatchery, though the count of chinook salmon ready to spawn was down significantly from the year before.  At the hatchery, Jana Dawson Frazier, a Department of Water Resources guide, led a short tour for people to peek through the windows at the spawning process where milk and eggs are taken from the chinook salmon. … ” Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Fish come full cycle at salmon festival

San Joaquin Valley:  Wet winter made for busy delivery season:  “State water providers and local irrigation districts report 2017 was a good year.  Douglas DeFlitch, Friant Water Authority COO, said his agency has delivered 1.2 million acre-feet of water this year, making it the most in at least five years.  “It has been a great year,” he said. “It’s a large amount when compared to previous years.”  The wet winter also allowed for underground water recharge, De Flitch said. ... ”  Read more from the Visalia Times-Delta here:  Wet winter made for busy delivery season

Lemoore: It’s the perfect surfer wave, out in the middle of nowhere and 100 miles from the ocean:  “In the middle of alfalfa fields more than 100 miles from the Pacific Ocean, the world’s best surfers will be honing their craft.  They will be surfing a wave created by a state-of-the-art machine that produces the perfect surfing wave each and every time on a 2,000-foot-long pond.  Known as Surf Ranch, the facility held its first professional event Tuesday when 18 of the world’s best surfers – holding 17 world championship titles among them – descended on the remote location to ride an 8-foot wave and shoot the barrel. ... ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  It’s the perfect surfer wave, out in the middle of nowhere and 100 miles from the ocean

How mountain spring water became big business in old Los Angeles:  “In the late 19th century, decades before anybody figured out how to slice an entire loaf of bread at a time, industrious Southern Californians did something just as exciting: They discovered how to tap into one of our many natural resources and bring it to the masses.  It may sound silly now because of how widespread this “product” has become, but in 1894 when a company named Puritas started bottling (distilled) water, it would change our drinking habits for 123 years to come.  Puritas (named so from the Latin for “purity,” in a hat tip to the unmolested riches of the San Bernardino Mountains) would later be acquired by a water company we still know today: Arrowhead. … ”  Read more from KCET here:  How mountain spring water became big business in old Los Angeles

Along the Colorado River …

Water bailout?  Colorado River tribes propose statewide leasing idea:  Think of it as a water bailout, easing Arizona’s Colorado River woes and the legal-environmental water conflicts plaguing many rural communities.  Think of it as a boon for Indian tribes looking to make better and more lucrative use of their river water.  Or, think of it as an enabler of growth and sprawl from Sierra Vista to Prescott and points beyond.  All these descriptions could apply to a complex plan to send tribal water from the Colorado River into Arizona’s heartland to support existing residents and future development. … ”  Read more from the Arizona Daily Star here:  Water bailout?  Colorado River tribes propose statewide leasing idea

The state of Colorado is being sued by … the Colorado River?  “The Colorado River is about to have its day in court – and not as the subject of a lawsuit, but as the plaintiff.  In a first-of-its-kind lawsuit in the United States, the state of Colorado is being sued by the Colorado River in an attempt to establish “personhood” for the river and its rights to exist, flourish and regenerate.  That’s according to representing civil rights attorney Jason Flores-Williams, a familiar figure for Westword readers as we’ve followed his clashes with the establishment in both Denver and D.C. ... ”  Continue reading at Westword here:  The state of Colorado is being sued by … the Colorado River?

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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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