DAILY DIGEST: Kings agencies slam one storage project and hail another; Restoration work in the Delta could be key to addressing state’s water and climate challenges; Is California headed back into drought?; Test results: Oro Loma horizontal levee; and more …

In California water news today, Kings agencies slam one storage project and hail another; Restoration work in the Delta could be key to addressing state’s water and climate challenges; Is California headed back into drought?; Dry December in California stirs all too recent drought memories; Trump says his regulatory rollback already is the most ‘far reaching’; and more …

On the calendar today …

In the news today …

Kings agencies slam one storage project and hail another:  “Kings River water agencies, local leaders, Valley counties and area farmers all slammed Semitropic Water Storage District’s plan to divert Kings River water this week at a key hearing in front of the California Water Commission. An overwhelming majority of comment letters strongly opposed funding the project while the much larger Temperance Flat reservoir, competing for the same pot of money, got strong support.  The commission is considering funding requests from advocates for 12 water projects including Temperance Flat and from Kern-based Semitropic for its proposed reservoir near Kettleman City. … ”  Read more from the Hanford Sentinel here:  Kings agencies slam one storage project and hail another

When the levee breaks: Restoration work in the Delta could be key to addressing state’s water and climate challenges:  “From this vantage point, the deck of a cargo ship skims by above, beyond the fragile levee wall that holds back the mighty San Joaquin River. It passes effortlessly through the wide flat river that, due to the levee and the perspective, is completely out of view on a crisp winter morning. With the ship’s submerged propeller probably somewhere around forehead-level, this perspective would normally require immersion in the relevant body of water — no place for a few wetland engineers and scientists like us.  A few centuries ago, standing in this same spot on the edge of Twitchell Island in California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin River, we would have been covered in ten or twenty feet of peat: dark, pungent, carbon-rich soil — the muck of thousands of years of decomposing plant matter and bacterial corpses.  … ”  Read more from Earth Island Journal here:  Restoration work in the California Delta could be key to addressing state’s water and climate challenges

Is California headed back into drought?  “Californians are beginning to wonder: Is the state heading back into a drought?  While experts say it’s still too early in the winter rainy season to say for sure, the evidence is accumulating, and the rain is definitely not.  La Niña conditions in the Pacific Ocean — the cooling of ocean waters near the equator that have historically increased the chances of dry winters in California — are strengthening and should last through the spring, federal scientists said Thursday. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  Is California headed back into drought?

Dry December in California stirs all too recent drought memories:  “Memories of perpetual blue sky and months on end without rain faded quickly after last winter’s drought-busting storms. But with a bone-dry December and a good chance of sunshine well into the New Year, many Californians are getting flashbacks.  While it may be too soon to start talking drought again, water managers are frustrated to see the first month of the state’s peak rain season slip by with little precipitation. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  Dry December in California stirs all too recent drought memories

California comeback: Wine Country rebuilds after wildfires:  “Karissa Kruse has seen the devastating impact of the October wine country wildfires at both a personal and professional level.  The Sonoma County Winegrowers president was asleep at about 2:30 a.m. on Oct. 9 when a neighbor knocked on her door to warn her a wildfire was rapidly approaching. The wind was blowing so hard she didn’t hear the knocking at first, she said.  She grabbed her purse, a laptop computer, two photos, a family heirloom watch and her pets and got out the door. Her home in Santa Rosa’s lush Fountaingrove neighborhood was destroyed minutes later. ... ”  Read more from the Capital Press here:  California comeback: Wine Country rebuilds after wildfires

Trump says his regulatory rollback already is the most ‘far reaching’:  “President Trump said on Thursday that his administration was answering “a call to action” by rolling back regulations on environmental protections, health care, financial services and other industries as he made a push to showcase his accomplishments near the end of his first year in office.  The remarks highlighted an area where Mr. Trump has perhaps done more to change the policies of his predecessor than any other, with regulatory shifts that have affected wide sections of the economy.  “We are just getting started,” Mr. Trump said, speaking from the Roosevelt Room of the White House. He described progress so far as the “most far-reaching regulatory reform” in United States history, a claim he did not back up. … ”  Read more from the New York Times here:  Trump says his regulatory rollback already is the most ‘far reaching’

In commentary today …

We shouldn’t have forgotten drought’s lessons, says the Chico Enterprise-Record:  They write, “The latest water conservation numbers released by the state indicate the water-saving habits we learned during the drought are fading from memory. We might have to relearn them right quick.  The “D-word” is beginning to creep back into climate conversations for California.  We’re 2 1/2 months into the rainy season that officially started Oct. 1, and rainfall has been below average two of those months. November was wetter than usual, but we’ve dropped back below average as December stays dry. The snowpack, which provides a third of California’s water, is withering. … ”  Read more from the Oroville Mercury Register here:  We shouldn’t have forgotten drought’s lessons

Governor Brown, consider a Salton Sea reprieve, says Robert Terry:  “At midnight on Dec. 31, 2017, the State of California together with various water agencies and municipalities intends to pull the plug on the lifeline to the Salton Sea.  That action heralds the death of the local environment, dependent wildlife and thousands of people who can not afford to relocate. This despite a 2003 agreement whereby the state declared it would do all necessary to avoid such a reality.  We don’t hold the state to blame for this situation; it has been 100 years in the making.  Nonsustainable farming practices, combined with 3 crops-a-year growing, in a desert which requires an overabundance of soil amendments, combined with a cheap and easy flushing of said chemicals, has led us to this point. … ”  Read more from The Desert Sun here:  Governor Brown, consider a Salton Sea reprieve, says Robert Terry

How investors are evaluating water risks in California businesses:  Kirsten James writes, “California’s five-year drought was a serious wake-up call to the reality of water risk and the imperative to manage water resources more effectively. Around the globe we are seeing a similar awakening around water risks – be they floods, droughts or water contamination.  The drought disrupted farmers’ harvests, companies’ operations and households’ habits. Likewise, in places as far flung as India, Brazil, large swaths of Africa and the U.S. Midwest, drought has influenced decisions and fortunes in recent years. Meanwhile, elsewhere around the globe, hurricanes and floods have literally obliterated fields, factories and neighborhoods. ... ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  How investors are evaluating water risks in California businesses

In regional news and commentary today …

City of Weed: A timber town’s water fight:  “Last year we published a story about a small city in Northern California battling a lumber company over access to water. The article focused on the city of Weed, a faded mill town of 2,700 residents in the foothills of Mt. Shasta. For over a century, Weed’s tap water has come from a natural spring on land owned by the timber company, Roseburg Forest Products. Roseburg last year told the city to find another water source, angering residents who said the water was always intended for municipal use, not to be given to the highest bidder.  That’s where we left off.  … ”  Read more from the New York Times here:  A timber town’s water fight

State holds marijuana workshop in Redding:  “With the legalization of commercial marijuana growing in California just a few weeks away, officials were in Redding on Wednesday to make sure growers knew how to obtain permits and comply with state regulations.  In the workshop, California Water Resources Control Board explained regulations governing how marijuana growers can comply with state laws on water use, how to legally set up a grow and control waste and irrigation runoff. ... ”  Read more from the Record Searchlight here:  State holds marijuana workshop in Redding

Tiburon research shows bay invaders flail in fresh water:  “Last winter’s drought-busting wet weather was a boon for reservoirs and parched landscapes, but not so much for some invasive species in San Francisco Bay, according to a long-term study by Tiburon-based researchers.  All that fresh water that poured into the bay was bad news for certain invaders, which have turned up in droves in recent decades from around the world, often in ships’ ballast water. … ”  Read more from the Marin Independent Journal here:  Tiburon research shows bay invaders flail in fresh water

Test results: Oro Loma horizontal levee: ““Miraculous” isn’t a term that comes easily to the lips of scientists and engineers. But the word, along with a quickly quelled gulp of incredulity, cropped up more than once in interviews concerning the preliminary results of the horizontal levee experiment on the San Lorenzo shore – including off the charts levels of removal of nitrogen and pharmaceuticals from wastewater passed through the system and growth of willows, cattails, and wet meadows.  This pilot sea level rise adaptation project, led by the Oro Loma Sanitary District, combines precision engineering, native plants, irrigation via treated household wastewater, and a hump of bay mud, sand, and gravel. The idea is to test which ingredients –liquid, solid, vegetable –in what doses and combinations make the levee bulk up and leaf out fastest, and best “polish” (clean) the wastewater. ... ”  Read more from Estuary News here:  Test results: Oro Loma horizontal levee

Coyote Creek’s cache of intermittent riches:  “Robert Leidy and Stephanie Carlson show the way along the stony bed of Coyote Creek. Even after last winter’s record-setting rains, much of it is bone-dry in late September. The main waterway in Morgan Hill’s 87,000-acre Henry W. Coe State Park has been reduced to a series of rapidly drying pools.  But as Leidy, an Environmental Protection Agency ecologist, and Carlson, a UC Berkeley professor and fish ecologist, have learned through research along a 2.5-mile stretch of Coyote Creek over the last four summers, the protected waterway’s extreme annual swings above Coyote Dam — from flood to fragmentation and back — also make it a bastion of native biodiversity. “It’s almost a reference state,” Leidy says of the creek’s undisturbed condition. … ”  Read more from Estuary News here:  Coyote Creek’s cache of intermittent riches

After years in court, Monterey County Water Resources Agency prevails:  “When you think of clean water, maybe crystal-clear bubbling brooks come to mind. Or maybe you think of stacks and stacks of paper, reports documenting various water quality metrics.  It’s the latter that’s been at issue in court for seven years when it comes to the Monterey County Water Resources Agency, which has long argued it’s not required to file reports with the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board. In 2010, Monterey Coastkeeper sued MCWRA, alleging the agency violated the Porter-Cologne Act – California’s version of the Clean Water Act – for failures to report agricultural pollutants that are discharged into the Blanco Drain and Reclamation Ditch, both of which eventually empty into the sea. … ”  Read more from Monterey Weekly here:  After years in court, Monterey County Water Resources Agency prevails

Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority prepares to transition leadership to Ridgecrest:  “The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority held its last meeting of the year on Wednesday morning. The relatively brief meeting got off to a festive start with Ridgecrest City Hall decked with green and red Christmas decorations, and with the meeting starting with a holiday song sung by Technical Advisory Committee chairperson Adam Bingham, whom the IWVGA board referred to through the rest of the meeting as Frank Sinatra.  Though the meeting was short and festive, it also got significant work done. The IWVGA board heard reports from its policy and technical committee, approved the acceptance of a $500,000 advance from the IWV Water District, discussed a proposed 2018 budget, and ended with preparation to shift leadership to the City of Ridgecrest in 2018. ... ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here:  Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority prepares to transition leadership to Ridgecrest

Imperial Beach:  California city with water on three sides faces grim future:  “Serge Dedina, the mayor of this town just north of the U.S.-Mexico border, rose just after dawn on a winter morning and headed to the beach, knowing a potential disaster waited offshore.  A mass of warm water, dubbed “The Blob,” had raised the level of the Pacific Ocean. It came as a high tide of 7.3 feet crept toward the town. Together, they created a pounding surf.  Around 8:30 a.m. on that day three years ago, the ocean crashed into the southern end of the city. Seawater gushed over sand berms at the edge of the beach, cascaded down a hillside and flowed into the street. Condominiums and vacation rentals line the row, with vehicles parked in open carports and on the street. … ” Read more from E&E News here:  Imperial Beach:  California city with water on three sides faces grim future

Along the Colorado River …

Fight Over Water Rights Pits Mohave Valley Against Central Arizona:  “Although he works on Arizona’s water supply, Dennis Rule grew up in Tennessee, where flooding is a big concern. In an interview, he recalled a conversation he had with a hometown friend. He told him Arizonans had fights over effluent, or sewage.  “And he was just flabbergasted,” Rule said. “Like, ‘you fight over sewage?’ And I said ‘yes, it’s an important water supply.’”  Almost every drop in Arizona is an important water supply. And water, they say, is for fighting over. A recent land deal in Northwest Arizona is yet another example of that. ... ”  Read more from KJZZ here:  Fight Over Water Rights Pits Mohave Valley Against Central Arizona

Governor’s water proposals don’t protect Arizona’s rivers and streams, say Tricia Gerrodette, Sandy Bahr, and Gary Beverly:  They write, “At a time of prolonged drought, the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) has just released an overview of the Governor’s Water Solutions Conversation. The discussions, which came from a series of summer meetings, have the potential to transform the state’s water laws and influence negotiations about the future of the Colorado River basin for generations. But important issues are being left out of the discussion.  These discussions focus on two issues – protecting Arizona’s Colorado River allocation and changing existing groundwater laws. Protecting Arizona’s allocation involves negotiating with other lower Colorado River basin states over a Drought Contingency Plan, which would trigger cuts in water allocations if Lake Mead slips below a critical elevation level; and the Drought Contingency Plan Plus, in which interests within Arizona are working on how best to distribute the impact of those cuts. … ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  Governor’s water proposals don’t protect Arizona’s rivers and streams

Drought plan for Colorado River states not yet ready:  “The people who guide how much water from the Colorado River each state gets typically make a big announcement at their annual meeting in Las Vegas, which is being held this week.  But it doesn’t appear to be going that way this year.  Luke Runyon, who covers the Colorado River for KUNC, a National Public Radio affiliate in northern Colorado, said there were hopes that an updated Drought Contingency Plan would be signed this week. ... ”  Read more from NPR here:  Drought plan for Colorado River states not yet ready

And lastly …

Resprout: A photo essay:  View 25 intimate photos of life in the burn zone.  View photos from Estuary News here:  Resprout

Here Come The Penitent Penguins: The Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards Are Back:  Penitent penguins. A seal aghast. A turbocharged wigeon, a vain gnu and a kickboxing kangaroo.  The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards are back.  More from NPR here:  Here Come The Penitent Penguins: The Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards Are Back

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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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