DAILY DIGEST, weekend edition: Rains wet NorCal, bring snow to the Sierra, but not an end to fire season just yet; Hoopa Valley tribe, Huffman decry Westlands settlement bill; Painful experience helps to chart the future of groundwater in Ventura County; and more …

Mammoth Lakes

In California water news this weekend, Rains wet Northern California, reduce fire danger, bring snow to the Sierra; Rain and snow don’t mean an end to fire season just yet; Hoopa Valley tribe, Huffman decry Westlands Water District settlement; Oroville Dam work enters second phase; Painful experience helps to chart the future of groundwater in Ventura County; Winter storm brings new concerns to fire ravaged areas; Climate change sucks moisture from the West, adding to drought, fires, study says; and more …

In the news this weekend …

Rains wet Northern California, reduce fire danger, bring snow to the Sierra:  “The rains that swept into Northern California this weekend from the Gulf of Alaska didn’t turn out to be as extensive as forecasters had expected. But along with slick roads and soggy children’s soccer games, they brought some good news.  There were no reports of mudslides or other major problems in Napa and Sonoma counties, where tens of thousands of acres of bare ground from last month’s fires raised concerns about significant erosion. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  Rains wet Northern California, reduce fire danger, bring snow to the Sierra

Rain and snow don’t mean an end to fire season just yet:  “Rain and snowfall that swept over Northern California on Saturday morning hold the promise of relief from the deadly fire season that ravaged the state this year, but fire officials say it is far too early to believe the danger of more wildfires has passed.  “It just continues on,” Cal Fire spokesman Scott McLean said of the possibility of more fires in the coming months, despite the start of the fall rains. “Let’s see what the rains bring. Definitely, it will slow things down, but it will not stop.”  So far this year, Cal Fire says it has battled 6,405 blazes that consumed more than 556,090 acres, more than double the acreage that burned through the same time last year. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Rain and snow don’t mean an end to fire season just yet

Hoopa Valley tribe, Huffman decry Westlands Water District settlement:  “Tribes, fishermen and a North Coast congressman are decrying an effort by Congress to pass a settlement agreement that they say would give away Trinity River water to Central Valley water suppliers without considering local environmental effects.  H.R. 1769, known as the San Luis Drainage Settlement Act, would approve the Westlands Drainage Settlement that was struck by the U.S. Department of Justice and Westlands Water District in September 2015. The agreement would relieve the government from financial obligations and liability for draining agricultural lands in the water district’s service area, according to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. … ”  Read more from the Eureka Times-Standard here:  Hoopa Valley tribe, Huffman decry Westlands Water District settlement

Oroville Dam work enters second phase:  “With the first phase of the Oroville Dam reconstruction completed by their self-imposed Nov. 1 deadline, California officials are turning their attention to the massive amount of work that remains.  Construction crews will focus on dry finishing concrete, sealing concrete slab joints, completing drain lines behind the walls and general cleanup, said Niki Woodard, a Department of Water Resources spokeswoman.  Meanwhile, crews are about halfway done with an underground cut-off wall downhill from the emergency spillway that is scheduled to be built by the end of January, officials said. … ”  Read more from the Capital Press here:  Oroville Dam work enters second phase

Painful experience helps to chart the future of groundwater in Ventura County:  “The fraught statewide conditions that led to passage of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act in 2014 afflicted Ventura decades earlier. What can we learn from their experience?  The formal birth of new agencies to keep California’s groundwater basins sustainable took place all over the state this summer. Like infants anywhere, dozens of new groundwater sustainability agencies present a range of appearances. Some are placid, some squall. Some have everything they need in order to develop. Some don’t.  How will they develop? That depends on how well pumpers, who rely on groundwater, accept the inevitable restrictions needed under the law requiring sustainable management. Some, particularly farmers, will lose automatic access to the water they want. One water manager said their path to accepting new limits echoes the psychiatrist Elizabeth Kübler Ross’ five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and, finally, acceptance. ... ”  Read more from Stanford’s Bill Lane Center here:  Painful experience helps to chart the future of groundwater in Ventura County

Winter storm brings new concerns to fire ravaged areas:  “Rain, normally welcome this time of year, is a challenge in the North Bay burn areas. Twin threats of erosion and water pollution have officials scrambling.  “The steeper areas of the watershed are shown to have the most risk of landslide,” observed Rita Miller, Environmental Director for Santa Rosa Water.  Miller and other members of a newly formed Watershed Task Force are getting their first reports on the extent of fire damage, and future risk due to fire-scorched slopes and streams. … ” Read more from KTVU TV here:  Winter storm brings new concerns to fire ravaged areas

Climate change sucks moisture from the West, adding to drought, fires, study says:  “The Trump administration released a sweeping report Friday that pegged man-made climate change to droughts and wildfires in California and the West, but for reasons you may not expect.  Scientists have uncovered little evidence that climate change is a driver of reduced rainfall and snowfall in the region, including during the drought of 2001-2015. But studies have found strong links that higher temperatures, caused by climate change, have reduced soil moisture in California and other states. That in turn has affected farm operations and dried out vegetation, creating fuel for wildfires. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Climate change sucks moisture from the West, adding to drought, fires, study says

In commentary this weekend …

California water board must protect wetlands, says Jennifer Clary:  She writes, “Americans care about clean water. Public opinion polls consistently show that protecting our water from contamination is a high priority. Yet water quality problems continue throughout California. For instance, we know that every year 1 million Californians receive drinking water in their homes that does not meet safe drinking water standards. So you’d expect federal leaders would listen to their constituents — and their consciences — and step up efforts to protect public health and the ecosystems that filter and protect our water supplies.  Unfortunately, the reverse is true; a major attack on clean water is in progress in Washington, D.C. ... ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  California water board must protect wetlands

Consider ratepayer as Water Fix costs mount, says the OC Register:  They write, “The drip-drip-drip of bad news continues for Gov. Jerry Brown’s twin-tunnels project, the $17 billion plan to move water under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in 40-foot-wide tunnels up to 150 feet underground.  U.S. Interior Department spokesman Russell Newell dashed hopes for federal assistance, saying the department “does not expect to participate in the construction or funding” of the project known as California WaterFix.  The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation had already informed districts with contracts for water from the federal Central Valley Project that they could opt out of paying for the 35-mile-long tunnels, which are not an official Reclamation project. ... ”  Continue reading at the OC Register here:  Consider ratepayer as Water Fix costs mount

In regional news and commentary this weekend …

Nevada Irrigation District, SYRCL dispute ‘facts’ about Centennial Dam:  “The Nevada Irrigation District estimates the proposed Centennial Reservoir project on the Bear River would cost $362 million, but the South Yuba River Citizens League disputes that claim, saying the project would likely cost over a billion dollars.  Nick Wilcox, president of NID’s board of directors, hashed out the need for the project Thursday night during a panel discussion at Lake Wildwood with representatives from SYRCL, who argued the proposed reservoir is an expensive boondoggle. … ”  Read more from The Union here:  Nevada Irrigation District, SYRCL dispute ‘facts’ about Centennial Dam

Indian Wells Valley: Tech committee talks process of creating a groundwater sustainability plan:  “At its monthly meeting on Thursday, the IWV Groundwater Authority’s (IWVGA) Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) approved action to request a more detailed plan of action from the IWVGA board of directors.  Numerous times at various IWVGA meetings, members of the public have asked why there’s so much talk about lawyers, staff, and grant applications but so little talk about groundwater sustainability, which is the primary purpose California state has tasked to IWVGA and other Groundwater Sustainability Agencies across the state. They question is how IWVGA will be able to regulate sustainable groundwater here in the desert. … ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here:  Indian Wells Valley: Tech committee talks process of creating a groundwater sustainability plan

San Diego: Third time was the charm for Lake Poway:  Mary Shephardson writes, “For most Powegians it’s hard to imagine our town without Lake Poway. The beautiful lake provides ample storage of imported water for our needs and is a major focus of recreational activities ranging from fishing to hiking, biking and horseback riding.  Getting it constructed, though, was no easy task.  When Poway first got a public water supply in 1954, it was a great relief to farmers and homeowners who were running out of water from wells. It also opened the door for explosive growth in the number of both farms and residences. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune here:  San Diego: Third time was the charm for Lake Poway

Precipitation watch …

From the National Weather Service:  “The unsettled weather pattern continues for Northern California! A weak weather system has begun to move through the region, and may bring a few showers today and through early Monday from Interstate 80 northward. A stronger system then arrives toward the middle of the upcoming week, and is currently projected to bring more rain than we saw the last few days.”

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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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