DAILY DIGEST, weekend edition: LA city councilman wants Metropolitan to call off Delta tunnels vote; Water officials seek to improve forecasting of major storms; Why was the 2015-16 El Nino event so dry?; and more …

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In California water news this weekend, LA city councilman wants Metropolitan to call off Delta tunnels vote; Water officials seek to improve forecasting of major storms; Research highlight: Why was the 2015-16 El Nino event so dry?; New water year begins; State Water Resources Control Board requests public input on Bay Delta Plan Phase II; Westside farmer who puts his fields underwater is named the Agriculturist of the Year; Vintage photos taken by the EPA reveal what America looked like before pollution was regulated; and more …

In the news this weekend …

LA city councilman wants Metropolitan to call off Delta tunnels vote:  “A Los Angeles city councilman is calling on the council and Mayor Eric Garcetti to oppose a crucial vote by a Southern California water board on a $17-billion project that would be funded in part by Los Angeles ratepayers.  Councilman Paul Koretz introduced a resolution Friday that asks the city and Garcetti to formally object to a vote by the board of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California on the project, known as California WaterFix.  The 38-member board is scheduled to vote Tuesday on whether to commit $4.3 billion in MWD funds to the project. ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  LA city councilman wants Metropolitan to call off Delta tunnels vote

Water officials seek to improve forecasting of major storms:  “With the coming water year shrouded in uncertainty, California officials want to improve their ability to track “atmospheric river” megastorms and plan for them before they arrive.  But whether that would lead to faster decisions on water allocations for agriculture is itself uncertain.  The state Department of Water Resources is working with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography to improve sub-seasonal and seasonal forecasting. ... ”  Read more from the Capital Press here:  Water officials seek to improve forecasting of major storms

Research highlight: Why was the 2015-16 El Nino event so dry? Most long-range forecast models predicted a potentially drought-ending deluge in California from the climate pattern known as El Niño in winter 2015-16, but the actual precipitation was far less than expected.  A National Science Foundation-supported study led by climate scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego offers an explanation why.  “Comparing this El Niño to previous strong El Niños, we found big differences in the atmospheric response across the globe, including California,” said Nick Siler, lead author of the study that was published in the Journal of Climate, and a postdoctoral scholar in the research group of co-author Shang-Ping Xie at Scripps. “We found that these differences weren’t all random, but rather were caused by tropical sea-surface temperature anomalies unrelated to El Niño.” … ”  Read more from Scripps Institute of Oceanography here:  Research highlight: Why was the 2015-16 El Nino event so dry? 

New water year begins:  “October marks the official beginning of a new water year. And it marks the ending of Northern California’s wettest year on record. Now, with winter  approaching, local officials say they are uncertain about what to expect.  The 2017 water year – Oct. 1, 2016 to Sept. 30, 2017 – saw above-average rainfall across the state, and was the second-wettest year in terms of runoff. Northern California has never received so much precipitation (in recorded history), with the Northern Sierra Mountains receiving approximately 94.7 inches – or 190 percent of its average. The second highest year in that region was in 1983, when the Northern Sierra’s saw 88.5 inches of precipitation. … ” Read more from the Appeal-Democrat here:  New water year begins

State Water Resources Control Board requests public input on Bay Delta Plan Phase II:  “The State Water Resources Control Board has posted a request for public input pertaining to its Phase II update of the Water Quality Control Plan for the San Francisco Bay/Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Estuary. Phase II addresses issues in the Sacramento River and its tributaries, the Delta, and the Mokelumne, Calaveras, and Cosumnes rivers (Delta eastside tributaries), including river flow, cold water habitat, Delta outflows, and water project operations. … ”  Read more from ACWA’s Water News here:  State Water Resources Control Board requests public input on Bay Delta Plan Phase II

Westside farmer who puts his fields underwater is named the Agriculturist of the Year:  “An innovative west Fresno County farmer, who has become a leader in replenishing groundwater supplies, has been named the Fresno Chamber of Commerce’s Agriculturist of the Year.  Don Cameron of Terranova Ranch in Helm is one of the region’s more diversified growers, producing almonds, wine grapes, processing tomatoes, pistachios, walnuts, carrots, onions and lettuce seed on about 7,500 acres. ... ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Westside farmer who puts his fields underwater is named the Agriculturist of the Year

Vintage photos taken by the EPA reveal what America looked like before pollution was regulated:  “The Trump administration plans to try to repeal the Clean Power Plan, the Obama administration’s main initiative to fight climate change by lowering emissions, according to news reports.  At the same time, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has reportedly spent much of his term meeting with executives and lobbyists from companies and industries regulated by the EPA. Many reports also suggest that Pruitt’s primary aim is to eliminate environmental protections and dismantle much of the regulatory agency. … ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  Vintage photos taken by the EPA reveal what America looked like before pollution was regulated

In commentary this weekend …

Southern California needs the water; stop waffling and dig, says the LA Times:  “Twentieth century Southern California quenched its thirst with a series of ingenious projects, from the aqueducts that bring snowmelt from the Eastern Sierra to Los Angeles, and the dams along the Colorado River that impound water from the Rockies, to the State Water Project that directs the flow of the distant Feather River through the Sacramento River, the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, down the California Aqueduct and over the Tehachapis. These engineering feats brought us water and wealth — and bred waste, although for decades Southern Californians were blissfully unaware of just how foolish it was to keep front yards emerald green in August or to turn five gallons of the world’s most pristine water into sewage with every flush of the toilet. ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Southern California needs the water; stop waffling and dig

Implement Cal Water Fix for the San Gabriel Valley, says Ed Chavez:  He writes, “Precarious environmental conditions in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, coupled with the aging delivery infrastructure of the State Water Project, along with restrictive pumping regulations, threaten our ability to replenish the San Gabriel Valley’s vital groundwater basin.  A declining Delta ecosystem and non-secure levees vulnerable to earthquakes, saltwater intrusion and climate change pose serious challenges for us all.  Because a significant portion of our water comes from the abundant and clean mountain resources of the Sierra Nevada snowpack, the safety and secure future of the San Gabriel Valley’s water supply is at risk when that supply is threatened. ... ”  Read more from the San Gabriel Valley Tribune here:  Implement Cal Water Fix for the San Gabriel Valley

Blocked by old contracts and modern-day infighting, California’s big water project staggers to its deathbed, says Michael Hiltzik:  He writes, “No one should have been surprised when the giant Westlands Water District voted Sept. 19 against joining the state’s equally imposing $17-billion water infrastructure project.  After all, the Central Valley district — at 600,000 acres the largest agricultural water district in the nation — had been signaling its uneasiness about the California WaterFix for months. The district accepted that the reliability and volume of the water supply for Southern and Central California could be enhanced by the plan to build two 30-mile, four-story-high tunnels to carry water under the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. But questions were mounting about how much more reliable and how much larger the supply would be, and whether the gain was worth the price. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Blocked by old contracts and modern-day infighting, California’s big water project staggers to its deathbed

In regional news and commentary this weekend …

Eel River salmon face becoming stranded after sediment dump:  “The heavy winter rains in 2016 that gave Eel River salmon their first reprieve after years of drought, disease and struggle are a double-edged sword, according to a local monitoring group.  While the high flows opened up new spawning territory in the upper reaches of the river, they also caused a large amount of sediment to fill in critical holding pools on the lower river near Fortuna and Fernbridge, Eel River Recovery Project Executive Director Patrick Higgins said. … ”  Read more from the Eureka Times-Standard here:  Eel River salmon face becoming stranded after sediment dump

Monterey water forum:  Listening to global answers that might work locally:  “Researchers, policymakers, innovators, and members of the public gathered at the Embassy Suites Hotel on Friday to discuss what is likely the most pressing issue for the Central Coast: water.  The event was the annual Greater Vision forum, a collaborative project between CSU Monterey Bay and the Grower-Shipper Association Foundation. This year’s forum discussed the current and future states of water in the Central Coast as well as innovative solutions from around the world to address the local dilemma. “The goal of the forum is to explore and discuss new vistas in water management for residential, agricultural, and industrial needs for California’s Central Coast,” said Shyam Kamath, Dean of CSUMB’s College of Business, in a press release. ... ”  Read more from the Monterey County Herald here:  Monterey water forum:  Listening to global answers that might work locally

Drone’s eye view of project to bring water from Modesto to Del Puerto Canyon water district: Here’s a drone’s-eye view of the North Valley Regional Recycled Water Program Project, which will bring treated recycled water from the cities of Modesto and Turlock to the Del Puerto Water District in Patterson. Drone video shows the construction of a pump station at the City of Modesto’s Jennings Wastewater Treatment Plant and a pipeline that will deliver the water to the Delta-Mendota Canal. It’s there that the water district can draw water for irrigation of fodder and feed crops, according to William Wong, the City of Modesto’s acting utilities director. Most of the work will be done by December with the entire projected completed by February, Wong said.”  Click here to view.

Along the Colorado River …

Why a Colorado River reunion with the sea isn’t a guarantee:  “On Sept. 27, representatives from the U.S. and Mexico approved an update to the 1944 treaty that governs how the two nations manage the Colorado River. The new pact builds upon a 2012 agreement that expires this year.  For many people, the 2014 “pulse flow,” a large release of water from Morelos Dam, on the U.S.-Mexico border, was the defining feature of the 2012 agreement. The agreement also addressed drought, reservoir storage and environmental restoration in the Colorado River Delta. The 2014 release reunited the Colorado River with the Gulf of California for the first time since the late 1990s; it was both a scientific and symbolic success as communities along the Colorado River saw its dry channel once again fill with water. But the pulse flow also showed that a single release of water may not be the most efficient way to revitalize the Delta. So while the new agreement, called Minute 323, includes environmental water releases, it doesn’t specifically call for another pulse flow. … ” Read more from High Country News here:  Why a Colorado River reunion with the sea isn’t a guarantee

Mojave County fighting CAP proposal to buy and move water to Tucson and Phoenix suburbs:  “The agency that operates the CAP wants to spend $34 million on farmland and water rights from a rural slice of northwestern Arizona along the Colorado River to slake the thirst of the growing Tucson and Phoenix suburban areas.  The Central Arizona Project’s governing board voted overwhelmingly Thursday to take the first key step toward importing the river water into the state’s midsection. But the agency is meeting fierce resistance from officials where the water would come from — rural Mohave County, although it’s supported by home builders who want the water moved to central and southern Arizona for future growth. ... ”  Read more from the Arizona Daily Star here:  Mojave County fighting CAP proposal to buy and move water to Tucson and Phoenix suburbs

Rights for a river? An effort to undermine democracy, says Rob Natelson:  He writes, “An environmental organization is asking a court to grant a river status as a “person” with the rights of personhood, thereby launching an attack on judicial fairness, the rule of law, and democracy.  The group is Deep Green Resistance, and it argues the Colorado River should have rights. On what reasonable basis Deep Green purports to know better than others what the river needs is anyone’s guess.  How a judge would know better what the river needs than local users, lawmakers, and residents is another mystery. But observe this significant fact: The river has not actually filed the suit. Deep Green is doing the legal work. … ”  Read more from the Gazette here:  Rights for a river? An effort to undermine democracy

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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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