DAILY DIGEST: Cal Water Fix faces critical MWD vote today in LA; A landmark California plan puts floodplains back in business; CA tribe wants to bring their salmon home from New Zealand River; The soft underbelly of the SGMA; and more …

In California water news today, $17 billion Delta water tunnels project faces critical MWD vote today in LA; What's at stake for Southern Californians in upcoming tunnels vote; Water wholesaler poised to vote on Delta tunnels; A landmark California plan puts floodplains back in business; Water group funding research on Delta smelt; California tribe wants to bring their salmon home from New Zealand River; The soft underbelly of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act; and more …

On the calendar today …

In the news today …

$17 billion Delta water tunnels project faces critical MWD vote today in LA:  “After 11 years of planning, a massive tunnels project touted as a solution to the state’s vulnerable water supply faces its biggest test Tuesday.  The 38-member board of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California — the largest supplier of treated water in the United States delivering water to agencies serving 19 million people — is scheduled to vote on the $17 billion California WaterFix.  Metropolitan’s staff has waged a campaign in favor of the project for years and is recommending its board ratify the environmental review and also pay 26 percent of the cost, amounting to $4.3 billion. MWD’s wholesale water rates charged to 26 Southern California retail water districts and cities would rise 4.5 percent annually during the 18-year construction period, but the agency says WaterFix only accounts for 1 percent of the increase, with inflation accounting for the rest. … ”  Read more from the LA Daily News here:  $17 billion Delta water tunnels project faces critical MWD vote Tuesday in LA

What's at stake for Southern Californians in upcoming tunnels vote:  “The fate of a project that could cost Southern California water consumers billions of dollars hangs on a vote Tuesday at the Metropolitan Water District.  It’s the California Water Fix. A $17-billion plan championed by Gov. Jerry Brown to build giant water tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. It would change how Northern California water is conveyed to the southern part of the state. ... ”  Read more from KPCC here:  What’s at stake for Southern Californians in upcoming tunnels vote

Water wholesaler poised to vote on Delta tunnels:  “The Metropolitan Water District Board in Los Angeles is scheduled to take a crucial vote Tuesday on whether to support a plan to build two massive tunnels underneath the Sacramento Delta.  The $17 billion project promises to help maintain the flow of water from the state water project by easing pressure on endangered fish populations in the delta.  Three new water intakes on the Sacramento River north of the delta would work in conjunction with the existing pump at the southern end of the delta. … ”  Read more from KPBS here:  Water wholesaler poised to vote on Delta tunnels

A landmark California plan puts floodplains back in business:  “Something monumental happened on August 25 in California water management that received almost no media attention: It became official policy to reconnect the state’s major rivers with their floodplains.  The action by the Central Valley Flood Protection Board, an obscure panel appointed by the governor, clears the way for the state to embrace projects that allow floods to recharge groundwater. This could include projects like breaching levees, building setback levees and creating flood bypass structures so rivers can inundate historic floodplains for the first time in a century. … ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  A landmark California plan puts floodplains back in business

Water group funding research on Delta smelt: “State Water Contractors, a nonprofit association of 27 public water agencies throughout California, is helping to support habitat studies in the Delta this fall.  The studies are being coordinated by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to better understand the habitat needs of the endangered Delta smelt and the effects of water delivery operations on the species.  SWC has invested $380,000 to fund a collaboration between fish agencies, researchers and other water agency partners. The research is expected to better inform fish and water management actions that have the potential to improve water supply, while protecting the fish and Delta ecosystem. … ”  Read more from the Lodi News-Sentinel here: Water group funding research on Delta smelt

California tribe wants to bring their salmon home from New Zealand River:  “With dark late September clouds roiling above, about 20 Winnemem Wintu tribe members paddled dugout cedar canoes through stiff winds and three-foot crests on the Shasta reservoir in far northern California.  Many of the paddlers capsized or drifted to shore. But the hardship served as a meaningful metaphor on this 20-mile leg of the 300-mile Run4Salmon, a two-week event in September. During Run4Salmon, described by the tribe as a “prayerful journey,” participants ran, biked, paddled, and horse rode the path Chinook salmon once traveled from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta up the Sacramento River to the McCloud River, the Winnemem Wintu’s ancestral watershed. ... ”  Read more from Yes Magazine here:  California tribe wants to bring their salmon home from New Zealand River

The soft underbelly of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act:  “Winston Churchill once used the phrase the “soft underbelly of Europe” to attempt to coax the Allies into invading Europe to force Germany to split its resources. The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) also has a “soft underbelly” that seems to have escaped many commentators. We are, after all, talking about groundwater rights and thus we have to be mindful of the oft-quoted saying by Mark Twain, “Whiskey is for drinking, water is for fighting.” Unfortunately, SGMA is constructed in a way that offers individuals or entities an opportunity for mischief to hold other water rights holders hostage, which could derail dealing appropriately with groundwater extractions. This “soft underbelly” deals with water quality, which is often ignored in a water rights fight. The concept of water quality and water rights being twins is, at first blush, viewed in the same way as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito were in the movie Twins. Alas, with water this is no laughing matter. Indeed they are twins, and in dealing with SGMA their DNA should not be separated. ... ”  Read more from JD Supra here:  The soft underbelly of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act

In commentary today …

Southern California needs water.  The Delta tunnels need time.  LA Controller Ron Galperin writes,Tomorrow, the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) will decide whether Angelenos will help fund the $17.1 billion California WaterFix, the most expensive water project in California history. We need a reliable way to secure water for our region, but this high-priced “fix” comes with a troubling lack of transparency.  The California WaterFix project would build two tunnels underneath the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Proponents say the tunnels will reliably move water from Northern California to the rest of the state without disturbing endangered fish species. However, there are serious concerns that this solution may not be the most cost-effective method way for our region to meet its water supply needs, and has not been compared against other options. … ”  Read more from Medium here:  Southern California needs water.  The Delta tunnels need time. 

Sorry, my fellow environmentalists, we have to build the tunnels, says Emily Green:  She writes, “Environmentalists are adamant in their objections to moving water from Northern California south. They took a stand against the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta peripheral canal project in 1982, and they are against the delta tunnels project (the California WaterFix) now. I count myself an environmentalist but my position has long been less a stand than a crouch. I think the tunnels (or some form of them) are necessary but for years have preferred to let the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California take the heat for promoting them.  The problem with the crouch is that it’s become clear MWD, whose board votes on the project Tuesday, might fail. If it does, future planning for a third of Southern California’s water supply will be hard to distinguish from a disaster recovery strategy. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Sorry, my fellow environmentalists, we have to build the tunnels

Will Mayor Garcetti protect Angelenos from paying for the Delta tunnels?  Adam Scow and Brenna Norton write,Los Angeles residents could soon be burdened with higher water bills and property taxes to pay for a controversial project that won’t bring them any more water.  On October 10, the Metropolitan Water District is scheduled to vote on whether to finance the proposed 35-mile twin tunnels that would alter the way water is exported from the San Francisco Bay Delta.  Estimated to cost from $17 to over $50 billion, Angelenos would be forced to pay higher taxes and water bills for tunnels that would deliver the same amount of Delta water that they already receive. … ”  Read more from the LA Daily News here:  Will Mayor Garcetti protect Angelenos from paying for the Delta tunnels? 

In regional news and commentary today …

San Jose flood risk: Water district considers lowering reservoir levels heading into winter:  “Hoping to limit the risk of another major flood in downtown San Jose this winter, the Santa Clara Valley Water District is considering a plan to substantially reduce the water level at Anderson and Coyote reservoirs — the two reservoirs that sit on Coyote Creek upstream from San Jose — in the next two months.  Under the proposal, the combined amount of water stored in the two reservoirs would be about 33 percent less by Dec. 1 than the reservoirs held a year ago, on Dec. 1, 2016.  Combined they would hold no more than 33,000 acre feet of water by the start of December, or about 29 percent of their total combined storage capacity, with the level allowed to gradually rise through the winter. ... ” Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  San Jose flood risk: Water district considers lowering reservoir levels heading into winter

Report from first meeting of Owens Valley groundwater authority:  “The nine representatives from Inyo and Mono county public entities eligible to form Groundwater Sustainability Agencies all had one thing in common: they knew they were treading new ground and the meeting of Owens Valley Groundwater Authority held Thursday was the first step.  The meeting was held at the Bishop Volunteer Fire Department’s training center on East Line; the attendance was close to standing-room-only.  The nine reps weren’t exactly dragged to the meeting kicking and screaming, but almost. ... ”  Read more from the Sierra Wave here:  Report from first meeting of Owens Valley groundwater authority

Padre Dam continues work on new water supply:  “The next phase of work for recycled pure drinking water by the Padre Dam Municipal Water District is moving along.  Last month, the water district’s Board of Directors unanimously approved a contract for the next phase of work on the East County Advanced Water Purification Program.  The board approved a $3.6 million contract with Kennedy/Jenks Consultants to continue engineering planning, research, outreach and other projects to treat wastewater to a level that it can be used for drinking water. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union Tribune here:  Padre Dam continues work on new water supply

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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