DAILY DIGEST, weekend edition: Break the law, or let your cattle die? A Los Banos dairy farmer had to make that choice; Firefighting at Christmas may become the new normal; Recycling more water could reduce the amount flowing to the Salton Sea; and more …

In California water news this weekend, Break the law, or let your cattle die? A Los Banos dairy farmer had to make that choice; Firefighting at Christmas may become the new normal; Southern California is burning. Is climate change to blame?; Dan Walters: The ironic cause of our greenhouse gas decline; Eel River Recovery Project: Salmon run expected to be as large as last year; Santa Bernardino: Wastewater pact ends lawsuits, promises $8 million saved annually; and more …

In the news this weekend …

Break the law, or let your cattle die?  A Los Banos dairy farmer had to make that choice:  “Los Banos dairy farmer Dennis Areias said he was looking at two options when rain waters flooded his farm and sickened his cattle: follow the law and witness the deaths of dozens of heifers, or break some rules and save his cows while mending the damage as much as possible.  “I’m not going to let them die out there,” Areias said. … ”  Read more from the Los Banos Enterprise here:  Break the law, or let your cattle die?  A Los Banos dairy farmer had to make that choice

Firefighting at Christmas may become the new normal:  “A week of destructive fires in Southern California is ending but danger still looms.  Well into what’s considered the wet season, there’s been nary a drop of rain. That’s good for sun-seeking tourists, but could spell more disaster for a region that emerged this spring from a yearslong drought and now has firefighters on edge because of parched conditions and no end in sight to the typical fire season.  “This is the new normal,” Gov. Jerry Brown warned Saturday after surveying damage from the deadly Ventura County fire that has caused the most destruction and continued burning out of control. “We’re about ready to have firefighting at Christmas. This is very odd and unusual.” ... ”  Read more from the Appeal-Democrat here:  Firefighting at Christmas may become the new normal

Southern California is burning.  Is climate change to blame? It’s official: 2017 is the deadliest and most destructive year on record for wildfires in California. Dry conditions, high temperatures, roaring winds and bone-dry trees and brush are all factors responsible for the devastation. But one underlying question is how much of a roll has climate change played?  “There is no singular cause for any real significant event,” said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at UCLA. “It’s usually a confluence of factors that are important. And in a lot of cases, global warming definitely plays a role and is one of those factors.” … ”  Read more from KPCC here:  Southern California is burning.  Is climate change to blame?

In commentary this weekend …

Dan Walters: The ironic cause of our greenhouse gas decline:  “Gov. Jerry Brown hopped around Europe for two weeks last month, telling the world that to avoid a climate change Armageddon, it should emulate what California is doing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.As Brown was crusading in Europe, his Air Resources Board issued a report hailing California’s nearly 5 percent reduction in emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases in 2016 by companies governed by the state’s “cap-and-trade” system.  It appeared to underscore the efficacy of the system, whose extension was one of Brown’s proudest achievements this year and one he forcefully touted in Europe.  Appearances, however, can be deceiving. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  The ironic cause of our greenhouse gas decline

How California farmers can conserve water and combat climate change: Rich Collins writes,In January and February, no less than 125 million gallons of rain fell upon my 200-acre farm, located off Highway 80 between Dixon and Davis.  Our soil, blanketed with an annual winter cover crop of mixed grass and legumes, absorbed all of those 24 inches of rain. Not one single gallon left our property.  Where did all that water go? Some was used by the cover crop and a small amount evaporated. But most sank down to be stored in the soil and to recharge groundwater. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  How California farmers can conserve water and combat climate change

Exporting Kings River floodwater doesn’t serve needy cities, says Ernest ‘Buddy’ Mendes and Steve Haugen:  They write, “At the height of our state’s historic drought in 2014, more than two thirds of California voters cast their ballots in favor of Proposition 1, a $7.5 billion water bond to fund water quality, supply, treatment and storage projects.  Three years later, the drought has ended – at least for now. But in the central San Joaquin Valley, we know that our region still very much needs to develop additional surface-water storage to capture runoff in above-average water years.  The California Water Commission is currently considering 11 proposed projects that are competing for $2.7 billion of the Prop. 1 funds set aside for storage, many of which are worthy proposals. ... ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Exporting Kings River floodwater doesn’t serve needy cities

Locals need to keep the heat on in Oroville spillway aftermath, says the Chico Enterprise-Record:  They write, “The state agency in charge of the Lake Oroville project found out this week that the community is still angry and frustrated, 10 months after the spillway collapse.  That’s good in a way. While it’s upsetting that the state Department of Water Resources hasn’t taken the necessary steps to win back the community’s trust, it’s encouraging that community members, north state politicians, newspaper editorial boards and other public watchdogs are keeping the heat on. It’s the only way we have a chance to get necessary answers. ... ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Locals need to keep the heat on in Oroville spillway aftermath

In regional news and commentary this weekend …

Eel River Recovery Project: Salmon run expected to be as large as last year:  “The Eel River Recovery Project has released its 2016-17 fall season Chinook Salmon Assessment report which estimates a “robust” run of 15,000 to 30,000 fish, double the previous year’s run according to information made available by Managing Director Patrick Higgins.  According to a report summary prepared by the organization which has a local office at the Willits Hub 630 South Main Street, ERRP began Chinook monitoring in 2012 and salmon runs have varied between 10,000 and 50,000 fish annually, which is comparable to population levels measured by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the mid 1950s. The agency’s current survey is indication of another strong run this year, but it’s only the midpoint. … ”  Read more from Willits News here:  Eel River Recovery Project: Salmon run expected to be as large as last year

Workshop to review new cannabis water diversion, quality rules:  “The California State Water Resources Control Board is set to hold a public workshop Friday in Eureka to provide information on new cannabis cultivation and water diversion rules that it adopted in October.  The rules seek to reduce the impacts of waste pollution and water diversions. … ”  Read more from the Eureka Times-Herald here:  Workshop to review new cannabis water diversion, quality rules

Excavation begins at Success Lake:  “Excavation work began Tuesday at Success Lake to remove silt and sand that has been deposited by the Tule River over the last 50 years, and the end result will be a return to its original storage capacity, and more depth and space for recreation.  Calvin Foster, Southern Operations Area manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, describes the work as a maintenance project that has been years in the making.  “This week we will see some material moved, something that we’ve been looking at and considering for a number of years,” he said. “It’s a project that does a couple of things. Not only will it protect space in the reservoir, it will provide a very valuable material that’s needed for construction in this area.” ... ”  Read more from the Porterville Recorder here:  Excavation begins at Success Lake

Santa Barbara still in drought, but has water supplies through 2020:  “If it doesn’t rain, Santa Barbara has enough water to last through 2020.  The odds of the drought ending don’t look favorable. The National Oceanic at Atmospheric Administration is predicting a 30-percent chance of a drier than average winter season.  “As we are all too aware, we are still in a drought,” said Rebecca Bjork, Santa Barbara’s public works director. “Our water supply situation remains very bad.” ... ”  Read more from Noozhawk here:  Santa Barbara still in drought, but has water supplies through 2020

Santa Bernardino: 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

Recycling more water could reduce the amount flowing to the Salton Sea, environmentalists warn:  “The Coachella Valley’s biggest water district recycles wastewater at three of its six sewage treatment plants, churning out water to irrigate golf courses, parks and lawns at housing developments. Now it’s proposing to reuse more water by converting a sewage plant in Thermal to a water-recycling plant.  Environmentalists are objecting to the Coachella Valley Water District’s proposal, saying it would reduce the flow of water into the Salton Sea and eliminate an important source for wetlands that are planned to be built on the north shore of the shrinking lake. … ”  Read more from the Desert Sun here:  Recycling more water could reduce the amount flowing to the Salton Sea, environmentalists warn

And lastly …

Bay Area photographer’s helicopter photos showcase San Francisco’s beauty from above:  “As anyone who’s flown in or out of SFO knows, San Francisco takes on a special allure from the air. Way up high, the bay’s natural beauty is even more striking, accentuated on two sides by the region’s signature bridges.  It’s a beauty that local photographer Michael Shainblum knows well, as evidenced by his recent collection of aerial photographs over the city.  Shainblum, who specializes in timelapse, aerial and Milky Way photography, first shot SF from a chopper in 2014, when he split a ride with two friends. Since that first helicopter ride, he’s had the opportunity to take flights over the Rockies, Kauai and Los Angeles. ... ”  See pictures and read more from SF Gate here:  Bay Area photographer’s helicopter photos showcase San Francisco’s beauty from above

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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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