DAILY DIGEST: Cold but no rain in the immediate forecast. Is California having a dry winter?; Sound water data is essential to California water resource management; Oroville spillway report delayed; coming soon; Pioneering practice could help California reverse groundwater depletion; and more …

In California water news today, Cold but no rain in the immediate forecast. Is California having a dry winter?; Sound water data is essential to California water resource management; Oroville series, part one: DWR says it’s ready for winter rains; Oroville spillway report delayed; coming soon; Pioneering practice could help California reverse groundwater depletion; How rice farmers restore endangered fish populations; Water Deeply Talks: Water risks to what we eat and drink; Radio show: Westlands drainage deal still awaiting congressional action;  and more …

On the calendar today …

  • WEBINAR: Adaptive capacity: the linchpin for understanding and addressing species’ vulnerability to climate change from 11am to 12pm.  Presented by the California Landscape Conservation Cooperative.  Click here to register.

In the news today …

Cold but no rain in the immediate forecast.  Is California having a dry winter?  “What happened to the rain?  Less than a year after the drought was declared over, precipitation has been relatively scarce in the Sacramento area and Northern California so far this season. This week’s cold snap is accompanied by a round of dry weather that’s expected to last at least another 10 days.  It’s too soon to panic about a prolonged dry spell, however. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Cold but no rain in the immediate forecast.  Is California having a dry winter?

Sound water data is essential to California water resource management:  “Experts from California’s water resource community gathered Wednesday at the Berkeley International House to exchange ideas on how best to meet the need for open and transparent water data in California. Nearly 100 attendees from more than 60 organizations representing government, industry, water districts, universities, national laboratories, and the state legislature were in attendance.  While achieving a sustainable water future is critical for California’s economy and quality of life, ensuring sustainability in the context of a decreasing snowpack and a growing population is a challenge. California industries, such as agriculture, energy, and tourism, are inextricably linked to water. More than 85 percent of Californians live in cities, making the nation’s most populous state an example for how to maintain quality urban water supplies amidst the rapid urbanization taking place across the planet. ... ”  Read more from Berkeley Lab here:  Sound water data is essential to California water resource management

Oroville series, part one:  DWR says it’s ready for winter rains:  “It might be another year or so until reconstruction of the main spillway at Lake Oroville is officially complete, but Department of Water Resources officials say the structure is ready for whatever this winter can throw at it, even if there are a few cracks here and there.  Since the main spillway was damaged in early February, DWR and its hired hands – crews with Kiewit Infrastructure West Co. – have filled in the two gigantic scour holes that formed and rebuilt the chute in preparation of the upcoming winter rains.   “The new spillway can handle 100,000 cubic feet of water per second or more for the upcoming wet season,” said Erin Mellon, assistant director of Public Affairs for DWR. “Also, construction crews used erosion mitigation on the surrounding hillside to prepare the site in the event of heavy rain.” … ” Read more from the Appeal-Democrat here:  Oroville series, part one:  DWR says it’s ready for winter rains

Pioneering practice could help California reverse groundwater depletion:  “Groundwater overdraft in the San Joaquin Valley – producer of half the state’s agricultural output – has averaged roughly 1.8 million acre-feet annually since the mid-1980s. Even before the start of the most recent drought in 2011, a few San Joaquin farmers recognized the dire need for sustainable water management and started individually pioneering a groundwater recharge practice that has since gained statewide traction.  On-farm groundwater recharge involves intentionally diverting surface or stormwater to agricultural fields for percolation into the aquifer during times of excess. The practice holds tremendous potential for increasing water storage and offsetting groundwater overdraft, but to scale efforts, some serious obstacles will need to be overcome. ... ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  Pioneering practice could help California reverse groundwater depletion

How rice farmers restore endangered fish populations:  “The Sacramento region’s floodplain was once a rich food source for the state’s thriving native fish population.  The essential food is still there. The problem is, for decades, fish have been blocked from accessing the vital floodplain due to flood control.  “There was once 2 million salmon that came back to the valley. What allowed that abundance is the incredible productivity of these wetlands,” Jacob Katz, with Cal Trout, said. “Now, we have about 5 percent of historical wetlands; which means we have a small percentage of the food that was once produced. Why are we surprised that we have only 5 percent of salmon and other native fish?” … ”  Read more from KCRA here:  How rice farmers restore endangered fish populations

Water Deeply Talks: Water risks to what we eat and drink:  “In this episode of “Deeply Talks,” Tara Lohan, managing editor of Water Deeply, and a panel of experts discuss water use in industries in the West that grow and produce food and beverages. Tara is joined by Kirsten James, the director of California policy and partnerships at Ceres, Lindsay Bass, the head of the World Wildlife Fund’s Corporate Water Stewardship Initiative and Marco Ugarte, the sustainability manager at MillerCoors. ... ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  Water Deeply Talks: Water risks to what we eat and drink

Radio show:  Westlands drainage deal still awaiting congressional action:  “Growers in the Westlands Water District hope congressional approval of a deal with the federal government could resolve a long-standing problem on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley – drainage. However final approval of the deal reached in 2015 remains both elusive and controversial. … As Emily Benson of High Country News reports, the legislation was almost included in the recent defense authorization bill that passed Congress last month. She joined us to talk about the agreement, and why it remains controversial.”  Listen at Valley Public Radio here:  Radio show:  Westlands drainage deal still awaiting congressional action

Oroville spillway report delayed; coming soon:  “An independent forensic team has “essentially completed” its investigation into what caused the Oroville Dam spillway to collapse in February and its findings are expected to be made public sometime in the next few weeks.  The forensic team’s final report was expected by the end of November, but as that deadline passed, the United States Society of Dams issued a short press release Tuesday explaining the vast amount of information to sift through and interviews to be conducted took longer than anticipated.  The team issued an initial report in May that listed 24 factors that could have caused a gaping hole to appear in the spillway in February, and triggered a string of events that ended up with 180,000 people being ordered to flee their homes on Feb. 12. ... ”  Read more from the Oroville Mercury Register here:  Oroville spillway report delayed; coming soon

Brown’s environmental mixed bag:  “In recent years, Gov. Jerry Brown has signed groundbreaking legislation establishing the most ambitious greenhouse gas emission reduction targets in North America, and he has been praised globally for his environmentalism and his efforts to curb global warming.  But at home – and elsewhere — he faces opposition to some of his environmental policies.  During the U.S. Climate Action Pavilion in Bonn, Germany, on Nov. 11, Gov. Brown presented America’s Pledge report detailing how U.S. cities, states and businesses will take action on climate targets it set forth in the Paris Agreement. … ”  Read more from Capitol Weekly here:  Brown’s environmental mixed bag

In commentary today …

California isn’t accounting for this major emitter, says Gary Wockner:  He writes, “California Gov. Jerry Brown made international news when he vowed to fight President Donald Trump’s attempts to cut America’s climate change research and rescind the nation’s commitment to the Paris Agreement. Brown’s commitment to fighting climate change seems real, and under his leadership, his state has engaged in numerous greenhouse-gas reduction plans. But there are caveats to his commitment, including the continued growth in fossil fuel extraction in California and the state’s near-explosive population growth, both of which drive emissions up, not down. … ”  Read more from High Country News here:  California isn’t accounting for this major emitter

In regional news and commentary today …

Feds’ move to end Trinity River watchdog group scrutinized:  “Was it politics or paperwork that led to the Trump administration’s decision last month to disband a public watchdog group tasked with overseeing a multi-million dollar, publicly-funded Trinity River restoration project last month?  The U.S. Interior Department’s Press Secretary Heather Swift told the Times-Standard last week that it disbanded the watchdog group, known as the Trinity River Adaptive Management Working Group, because the group did not submit a short justification memo on why the department should continue funding its $100,000 annual budget.  But the group’s chairman said to the Times-Standard on Monday that he was told on multiple times this year by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials that the paperwork had been filed. ... ”  Read more from the Eureka Times-Standard here:  Feds’ move to end Trinity River watchdog group scrutinized

Project to add fluoride to East San Jose drinking water gains approval:  “In the latest step toward the effort by dentists and health officials to end San Jose’s status as the largest city in America without fluoride in its drinking water, Santa Clara County has contributed $1 million to add fluoride for the first time to drinking water from wells operated by the San Jose Water Company.  On Tuesday, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 to spend $1,027,713 from the county general fund to help install fluoridation equipment on six new wells being constructed by San Jose Water Company for customers of East San Jose.  “We wanted to start in East San Jose where the need is greatest because those residents and children have the least access to dental care and there are issues of rampant tooth decay,” said Supervisor Cindy Chavez. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  Project to add fluoride to East San Jose drinking water gains approval

New study shows growing threat of rising sea levels in Santa Cruz:  “With the fear of rising sea levels threatening coastal properties, on Tuesday the city of Santa Cruz revealed a plan to take on raging storms, floods and erosion in what could be a losing battle with Mother Nature.  While there is a definite allure to a life lived on the water’s edge, even on a bright, cloudless day, one can sense the gathering storm that threatens communities up and down California’s coast.  “The low-lying areas are subject to flooding. The coastal cliffs are all eroding,” said UC Santa Cruz Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences Gary Griggs, who specializes in environmental studies. … ”  Read more from the Santa Cruz Sentinel here:  New study shows growing threat of rising sea levels in Santa Cruz

Lively exchanges on San Joaquin Valley water imbalance, global wine production:  “Some lively exchanges punctuated a Fresno, Calif. meeting of wine industry leaders that opened with a look at the challenges posed by drought and the prospects for on-farm water recharge and closed with a pep talk from a sports legend.  In between, attendees heard from outspoken industry leader Fred Franzia, chief executive officer of Bronco Wine, and Nat DiBuduo, president and chief executive officer of Allied Grape Growers who announced Allied this year signed its first contract with Bronco since 1982. … ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press here:  Lively exchanges on SJV water imbalance, global wine production

Ventura: Some fire hydrants didn’t work because of power outages, firefighters say:  “As firefighters battled a destructive wildfire that swept through neighborhoods in Ventura, they were stymied by some fire hydrants that didn’t work.  Officials said power outages caused by the fire and heavy winds left some water pumping stations inoperable, meaning water couldn’t reach the fire hydrants. … ” Read more from the LA Times here:  Ventura: Some fire hydrants didn’t work because of power outages, firefighters say

Wastewater pact ends lawsuits, promises $8 million saved annually:  “Lawsuits have evaporated and San Bernardino Valley water providers say they are approaching future wastewater treatment plans in a cooperative, not competitive, spirit.  Put to rest are two lawsuits the city of San Bernardino filed in an effort to block a large wastewater treatment plant proposed by Highland-based East Valley Water District. The divisiveness led the state to pass over East Valley’s application for $15 million in recycling funding, said John Mura, the agency’s general manager/CEO. ... ” Read more from the San Bernardino Sun here:  Wastewater pact ends lawsuits, promises $8 million saved annually

Wildfires raging in Southern California cap most destructive season in state history.  Here’s why it so bad:  “Fanned by cold, fierce Santa Ana winds and fueled by dead trees and dry brush, wildfires raced across Southern California communities Tuesday, burning through thousands of acres from Ventura to San Bernardino counties and likely destroying far more than 200 homes.  The fires forced mass evacuations that clogged area freeways from the north and south, east and west, and the conditions are expected to remain dangerous through Thursday.  California once again was under siege in a now all-too-familiar 2017 battle with walls of flames. … ”  Read more from the OC Register here:  Wildfires raging in Southern California cap most destructive season in state history.  Here’s why it so bad

Group ends quest seeking personhood for Colorado River:  “The gushing voice of the Colorado River will not be heard in court any time in the near future, after a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit Monday aimed at establishing personhood and constitutional rights for the ecosystem.  Filed in September with environmental group Deep Green Resistance listed as one of the river’s next friends, the lawsuit against the state of Colorado sought to give the Colorado River ecosystem the same constitutional protections offered to ships, ecclesiastic corporations and standard commercial corporations. ... ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service here:  Group ends quest seeking personhood for Colorado River

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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