DAILY DIGEST: Don’t force us to pay for Delta tunnels, farmers say; Legal or not, cannabis takes a toll on NorCal watersheds; Friant-Kern canal continues to sink; price tag could rise; Deploying drones to follow the water; Interior to revise ESA listing rules; and more …
In California water news today, Don’t force us to pay for Delta tunnels, farmers say; Legal or not, cannabis takes a toll on Northern California watersheds; Lawmakers, pot growers say California’s marijuana cultivation rules favor big corporate farms; Is the dry start to the rainy season pushing California reservoirs back towards drought?; Friant-Kern canal continues to sink; price tag could rise; Deploying drones to follow the water; Interior to revise ESA listing rules; and more …
On the calendar today …
The State Water Resources Control Board meets beginning at 9:30 am. Agenda items include consideration of a proposed Resolution to amend the Proposition 1 Groundwater Grant Program guidelines and consideration of adoption of an order amending the General Permit for Storm Water Discharges from Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems. Click here for the full agenda. Click here to watch on webcast.
Don’t force us to pay for Delta tunnels, farmers say: “Already short of funding, Gov. Jerry Brown’s Delta tunnels project is being challenged in court by a bloc of San Joaquin Valley farmers insisting they shouldn’t be forced to help foot the $17.1billion price tag. The valley farmers, located mainly in Kern and Kings counties, voiced their objections in a Sacramento court filing opposing the Brown administration’s plan to issue bonds to pay for the tunnels. The court filing presents another obstacle for the massive infrastructure project, known officially as California WaterFix. It has been struggling to gain financial support from the water agencies south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta that the state was relying on to help. … ” Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: Don’t force us to pay for Delta tunnels, farmers say
Legal or not, cannabis takes a toll on Northern California watersheds: “Ben Durkee is a true Trinity local. He’s lived and worked in the Northern California county his entire life. “I grew up on a little creek on Ransom Road in Weaverville,” he says. “We always called the creek the ‘wrong creek’ because it was near a two-house little dirt road that was labeled ‘The Wrong Road.’” He remembers swimming there, splashing around with his friends and watching his neighbors tend to their bountiful fruit and vegetable garden with water from the creek. But Durkee says, for the past decade, things on ‘wrong creek’ haven’t been quite right. ... ” Read more from KALW here: Legal or not, cannabis takes a toll on Northern California watersheds
Lawmakers, pot growers say California’s marijuana cultivation rules favor big corporate farms: “California’s new rules allowing marijuana cultivation favor large corporate farms despite a promise in Proposition 64 that small growers would be protected, according to a group of state lawmakers and marijuana industry leaders who called Monday for the policy to be changed. The California Department of Food and Agriculture issued emergency rules last month that allow for small and medium-sized farms of up to a quarter acre and one acre, respectively, to get licenses for the first five years. That five-year head start for small farms was promised in Proposition 64, the initiative approved last year by voters that legalized growing and selling marijuana for recreational use. ... ” Read more from the LA Times here: Lawmakers, pot growers say California’s marijuana cultivation rules favor big corporate farms
Is the dry start to the rainy season pushing California reservoirs back towards drought? “After a series of powerful atmospheric rivers brought the wettest rainy season on record to Northern California, brimming reservoirs became a symbol of the state’s plentiful water reserves and the end of a five-year drought. Now that this year’s season has started with below average precipitation and the northern part of the state has seen very little rain in December (only .02 inches in S.F. and .18 in Shasta County), you might be wondering how the reservoir water levels are looking. SFGATE tracked down images of some of the state’s largest and most important reservoirs and the good news is that they’re still swollen with water. ... ” Read more from SF Gate here: Is the dry start to the rainy season pushing California reservoirs back towards drought?
Friant-Kern canal continues to sink; price tag could rise: “A 20-mile portion of one of the Valley’s largest waterways is sinking. It’s getting worse each month and while the water levels drop, the price tag rises. Earlier this year, the Friant Water Authority reported measurements that showed a nearly 3-foot drop in the Friant-Kern Canal’s elevation in some places. This summer, a second measurement showed an additional 5-inch drop since April — meaning the subsidence occurred at a rate of one inch per month. … ” Read more from the Visalia Times Delta here: Friant-Kern canal continues to sink; price tag could rise
Deploying drones to follow the water: “Drones will play a key role in assessing the impact of highly variable water resources around the state thanks to a new $2.2 million grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. The grant to the UC Natural Reserve System will enable scientists at UC Berkeley and throughout the UC system to use a high-tech toolkit of drones, sensors and specialized cameras to look at the impact of heat waves, rainstorms and drought on vegetation over large regions. … ” Read more from UC Berkeley here: Deploying drones to follow the water
Interior to revise ESA listing rules: “The Interior Department is working on possible Endangered Species Act changes, in a move that alarms environmentalists but could gratify Westerners and others unhappy with the current law. While the details and timing remain under wraps, Interior officials made public their general intentions as part of the Trump administration’s Unified Agenda issued Thursday. The changes potentially could reach deep into the 1973 law and how it works. “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will revise the regulations … for listing endangered and threatened species and for designation of critical habitat,” the department stated. … ” Read more from E&E News here: Interior to revise ESA listing rules
In commentary today …
A water right for the environment in California: Brian Gray, Leon Szeptycki, and Barton “Buzz” Thompson write, “California’s management of water is not working for anyone. Environmental advocates argue that state and federal regulators have set water-quality and flow standards that do not adequately protect fish and wildlife, and have not enforced these requirements when they are most needed. Farm and urban interests claim that these regulations have been ineffective and cause unnecessary economic harm. These water users may incur additional cutbacks in their water supplies if regulators conclude that more water is needed to support struggling fish populations, making planning for producers difficult. Amid this tension, native fish populations in the state have continued to plummet. ... ” Read more from Water Deeply here: A water right for the environment in California
The way Congress funds firefighting is a disaster California lawmakers should fix, say David Edelson and Tim Quinn: They write, “California continues to experience the worst wildfires in its history, with tragic loss of life and devastation to communities, a disaster for our state by any definition. Congress has an opportunity to act now to reduce the risk of future such disasters. California’s representatives in Congress – especially House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi – should make sure that it does. ... ” Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: The way Congress funds firefighting is a disaster California lawmakers should fix
In regional news and commentary today …
Dry December in Napa stirs drought memories: “Napa County’s latest rain season looks a lot like the ‘D’ word and, unlike last year, that word isn’t “deluge.” Napa State Hospital as of Monday had received .03 inches of rain for the month, a mere spit of water. December usually is among the rainiest months of the year with an average of 5 inches. National Weather Service Meteorologist Steve Anderson predicted a Wednesday morning storm might bring a quarter-inch of rain, with dry weather following through the end of the month. That means the city of Napa could end up receiving less than an inch during December. … ” Read more from the Napa Register here: Dry December in Napa stirs drought memories
Sonoma’s Valley of the Moon Water District grapples with taxpayer revolt: “Valley of the Moon Water District customers opened their recent statement to find notice of a proposed rate increase for the lowest-tier users – and a rate decrease for the highest consumers. It’s all due to a new formula for charging water use that the district says is a necessary response to legal challenges to water rates across the state. The new rate system, according to Valley of the Moon Water District General Manager Daniel Muelrath, is part of the public water district’s efforts both to encourage water consumers to keep their usage low, and to comply with the 2015 court ruling in a San Juan Capistrano case that makes such tiered rates more difficult to impose. … ” Read more from the Sonoma Index-Tribune here: Sonoma’s Valley of the Moon Water District grapples with taxpayer revolt
National expert panel gives Soquel Creek water recycled water plan thumbs up: “Soquel Creek Water District’s proposal to purify wastewater and inject it underground to replenish overtaxed aquifers is “plausible, feasible and protective of public health,” according to a third-party review. The comment was included in a detailed report issued by an independent advisory panel convened by the nonprofit National Water Research Institute to study the “Pure Water Soquel” project on Sept. 20. … ” Read more from the Santa Cruz Sentinel here: National expert panel gives Soquel Creek water recycled water plan thumbs up
Column: Behind Fresno’s under-the-radar approach to water: George Hotstetter writes, “I had a chat last week with Tommy Esqueda, director of Fresno’s Department of Public Utilities. We talked about patterns in the local weather. I now sense that Esqueda and the entire town will soon be chatting about patterns in your water bill. First up – the state Sustainable Groundwater Management Act and Fresno’s newest effort to comply. The act requires us to begin replenishing our aquifer. You’ve got to have water to do that. We like to consume water. Plentiful rains don’t always come. … ” Read more from the Central Valley Observer here: Behind Fresno’s under-the-radar approach to water
Owens Valley: Technical group comes to standoff over W385 pump test: “Friday morning’s Technical Group discussion of the two-month test on Five Bridges’ Well 385 drew a standing-room-only crowd. Back on November 28, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s Board of Commissioners had approved the Initial Study/Negative Declaration with staff plans to flip the switch on the test the following Friday. The next week, the Inyo Board of Supervisors filed suit and framed a restraining order against the test. The Tech Group meeting was a little like the showdown at OK Corral with a twist. The group made up of LADWP and Inyo Water Department staff requires a consensus to take action. If one of the two votes no, nothing happens. … ” Read more from the Sierra Wave here: Owens Valley: Technical group comes to standoff over W385 pump test
Some Valley community groups want limited clean-up of Santa Susana Field Lab. Here’s why: “Some San Fernando Valley groups are calling for a minimally invasive clean-up of the contaminated soil and water at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory, saying that anything more would negatively impact the environment and their neighborhoods. The preferences from the West Valley and Chatsworth neighborhood councils among other groups were included in letters earlier this month to the state’s Department of Toxic Substance Control or DTSC, urging them to consider an alternative to the way the historic Santa Susana Field Lab should be decontaminated. In September, the DTSC released a long awaited draft program environmental impact report, or PEIR, and draft program management plan to allow members of the public, community groups and lawmakers a chance to provide input. Public comments were collected until Thursday, Dec. 14. … ” Read more from the LA Daily News here: Some Valley community groups want limited clean-up of Santa Susana Field Lab. Here’s why
Is Southern California heading into a drought? “If you live in Southern California and can’t remember the last good-soaking downpour, it may be because it has been one of the driest times ever in the region. Bill Patzert, a climatologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said the Los Angeles area is only at 4 percent of normal rainfall. “In the last 10 months in downtown Los Angeles, we’ve had less than an inch of rain. It has been one of the driest 10 months in Southern California history,” he said. … ” Read more from KABC Channel 7 here: Is Southern California heading into a drought?
San Diego County Water Authority extends controversial deal by a decade: “The San Diego County Water Authority extended by 10 years a multibillion-dollar deal it has to buy water from the Imperial Irrigation District. That deal remains the largest water purchase of its kind in the United States. The Water Authority began talking about the deal in 1995, shortly after a major drought hit the state. The Water Authority pays Imperial County farmers to stop using some of the Colorado River water they have rights to and, in turn, San Diego gets long-term access to enough water for roughly 1.6 million city folk. … ” Read more from the Voice of San Diego here: San Diego County Water Authority extends controversial deal by a decade
Along the Colorado River …
Radio show: What do Western states have to say about the drought contingency plan? “A drought contingency plan continues to play a vital role in determining the short- and, potentially, long-term future of the Colorado River and how much of its water several western states, including Arizona, will be eligible to use. Last week, the Colorado River Users Association wraps up its annual conference in Las Vegas. Ry Rivard, water and energy reporter with the Voice of San Diego, covered the conference and is with me.” Listen to the show from KJZZ here: What do Western states have to say about the drought contingency plan?
Precipitation watch …
Light rain to sprinkle Northern California on Tuesday: “After weeks of dry fall weather, the Sacramento region is finally expected to receive a little relief from the heavens beginning Tuesday night. Up to a quarter-inch of rain is predicted throughout the Sacramento Valley along with a half-inch to an inch in Grass Valley, according to the National Weather Service. Mountain passes are expected to see 2 to 8 inches of snow, mostly in Wednesday morning’s early hours, and cold temperatures will help produce snow as low as 3,500 feet. ... ” Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: Light rain to sprinkle Northern California on Tuesday
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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.