DAILY DIGEST: Legislators question DWR about forensic report; Governor appoints new chief at troubled agency; California is preparing to defend its waters from Trump order; Storm causes major damage to Montecito water system, South Coast Conduit; and more …

In California water news today, Oroville Dam: Local leaders question DWR about forensic report; After Oroville disclosures, embattled California water agency names new director; Department of Water Resources’ chief ousted after report blames Oroville dam crisis on lax safety culture; Governor appoints new chief at troubled agency; Governor releases proposed 2018-2019 budget with funding for key water projects; Storm causes major damage to Montecito water system, South Coast Conduit; and more …

In the news today …

Oroville Dam: Local leaders question DWR about forensic report:  “Local politicians were full of questions for state Department of Water Resources officials at a legislative oversight hearing Wednesday after the recent release of the forensic report.  John France, head of the forensic team, along with DWR leaders testified at the State Capitol before the Assembly Committee on Water, Parks and Wildlife about the forensic report which came out Jan. 5. ... ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Oroville Dam: Local leaders question DWR about forensic report

After Oroville disclosures, embattled California water agency names new director“The California Department of Water Resources underwent a management shakeup Wednesday, less than a week after investigators released a scathing report on last February’s crisis at Oroville Dam and how the department handled it.  Grant Davis resigned as DWR’s director barely seven months after taking over the embattled department, which has been heavily criticized following the near-catastrophe at the dam’s two flood-control spillways. Davis will go back to his old job as general manager of the Sonoma County Water Agency. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  After Oroville disclosures, embattled California water agency names new director

Department of Water Resources’ chief ousted after report blames Oroville dam crisis on lax safety culture:  “Grant Davis, director of the California Water Resources Department, was replaced Wednesday just days after an independent investigation of the Oroville dam spillway incident last year found that a flawed safety culture contributed to the disaster.  The agency said Gov. Jerry Brown replaced Davis with Karla Nemeth, who has been deputy secretary and senior advisor for water policy at the California Natural Resources Agency since 2014. The announcement was made by Natural Resources Secretary John Laird, who oversees the water department. ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Department of Water Resources’ chief ousted after report blames Oroville dam crisis on lax safety culture

Governor appoints new chief at troubled agency:  “Gov. Jerry Brown named a senior state water official to head California’s troubled water agency Wednesday, just days after the department was blasted in an independent report for having a culture of complacency and incompetence that contributed to last year’s near-disaster at Oroville Dam.  Karla Nemeth, a deputy secretary and senior adviser at the California Natural Resources Agency, is poised to take over the Department of Water Resources as it confronts criticism of how it manages a massive network of reservoirs and canals. Her appointment is subject to Senate confirmation. ... ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  Governor appoints new chief at troubled agency

New state water director appointed:  “Karla Nemeth, a veteran water official and a ranking member of the Brown administration, was named the new director of the state Department of Water Resources, part of a major shakeup at the agency,  officials said Tuesday.  The change follows a turbulent period at the Water Resources Department, which included the dramatic failure last year of the emergency spillway at the department’s Oroville Dam — an event that an independent report said was due in part to human error. That failure, in turn, followed years of severe drought in California. … ”  Read more from Capitol Weekly here:  New state water director appointed

Grant Davis returns to top job at Sonoma County Water Agency after 5 months in state post:  “Grant Davis is returning to his job as general manager of the Sonoma County Water Agency after five months in charge of the much larger state Department of Water Resources, state and local officials said Wednesday.  Davis, who had led the local water agency since 2010, was tapped in July by Gov. Jerry Brown to head the state agency that provides water to 25 million residents, farms and businesses.  He took a large pay cut with the step up in responsibilities as head of the state water department with nearly 3,300 employees and an operating budget of $3.2 billion. His state salary was $194,600. … ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here:  Grant Davis returns to top job at Sonoma County Water Agency after 5 months in state post

California is preparing to defend its waters from Trump order:  “In its first act to shield California from the Trump administration’s repeal of regulations, the state’s water board has prepared its own rules protecting wetlands and other waters.  The proposed new rules, scheduled for a vote by the board this summer, could insulate the state from President Donald Trump’s executive order to roll back the reach of the Clean Water Act. That rollback would strip federal protection from seasonal streambeds, isolated pools and other transitory wetlands, exposing them to damage, pollution or destruction from housing developments, energy companies and farms. ... ”  Read more from the Center for Investigative Reporting here:  California is preparing to defend its waters from Trump order

Governor releases proposed 2018-2019 budget with funding for key water projects:  “Gov. Jerry Brown today released a proposed $190.3 billion spending plan that includes funding for several key water-related issues. Below are some highlights. … ”  Read more from ACWA’s Water News here:  Governor releases proposed 2018-2019 budget with funding for key water projects

In his final California budget, Governor Brown boosts education, rainy day funds:  “California Gov. Jerry Brown released his final proposed state budget Wednesday. Here’s a look at some of the major points and at the budget summary itself ... ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here:  In his final California budget, Governor Brown boosts education, rainy day funds

Project to study climate effects on California water systems from headwaters to groundwater:  “To address future climate change effects on water resources, scientists at five UC campuses, and Lawrence Livermore and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories will study California’s water systems, from the headwaters in the Sierra Nevada, through rivers, reservoirs and groundwater in the Central Valley.  The goal is to provide information to optimize water storage, quality and groundwater sustainability.  The “Headwaters to groundwater resources in a changing climate” project recently received a 2018 Collaborative Research and Training Award from the UC Laboratory Fees Research Program. ... ”  Read more from the Livermore Independent here:  Project to study climate effects on California water systems from headwaters to groundwater.

Mudslides, wildfires, and drought – California’s deadly weather explained: “First came the drought. Then came the fire, and then the flood.  Mudslides plowed through southern California in early January, killing more than a dozen people as coursing rivers of mud drowned the landscape. The fatalities could increase as hundreds more are still in danger and awaiting rescue.  But what triggered these devastating landslides? And while extreme cold has gripped the East Coast, what’s happening in California this winter? … ”  Read more from National Geographic here: Mudslides, wildfires, and drought – California’s deadly weather explained

How much has ‘climate change’ been scrubbed from federal websites?  A lot:  “Nearly a year into the Trump administration, mentions of climate change have been systematically removed, altered or played down on websites across the federal government, according to a report made public Wednesday.  The findings of the report, by the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative, an international coalition of researchers and activist groups, are in keeping with the policies of a president who has proudly pursued an agenda of repealing environmental regulationsopening protected lands and waters to oil and gas drilling, withdrawing the United States from the Paris climate accordshrinking the boundaries of federal monuments, and appointing top officials who have questioned or denied the established science of human-caused climate change. ... ”  Read more from the New York Times here:  How much has ‘climate change’ been scrubbed from federal websites?  A lot

In commentary today …

David Nahai: Strengthening California’s water protections to fend off DC rollbacks:  “Those who believe Trump has accomplished little in his first year are dead wrong.  Certainly, when it comes to the environment, his servants at the United States Environmental Protection Agency are executing the Trump agenda with terrifying efficiency. According to the New York Times, 53 environmental regulations have been rescinded or are on the chopping block. The Trump regime’s actions to rescind the Obama-era Clean Water Rule provide just one example of its determination to roll back water quality protections for the benefit of polluters.  California must step up to blunt Trump’s destructive agenda on water as we have on climate change. … ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  David Nahai: Strengthening California’s water protections to fend off DC rollbacks

Trump plan would turn Yosemite into a refuge for the wealthy, says Alfonso Orozco:  He writes, “Growing up in the Bay Area, wilderness didn’t play a big role in my family life. We got outside in local and regional parks. There is no better feeling than hanging out with the whole familia on a hot summer day grilling carne asada, eating juicy watermelon with lime and playing soccer until it gets too dark to see the ball anymore.  But, while those experiences will be forever cherished, there was something missing. After working in national parks across the country, the word that comes to mind is grandeur. ... ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  Trump plan would turn Yosemite into a refuge for the wealthy

In regional news and commentary today …

Lake Oroville rising, rivers running high as 2018 starts out wet:  “The storms of January have the north state’s rivers and streams running high, and have raised the level of Lake Oroville 5 feet since the start of the year.  As of 3 p.m. Wednesday, the water surface at the lake was right about 702 feet above sea level.  That’s still almost 200 feet below the lip of the emergency spillway, and more than 110 feet below the gates that could let the water into the repaired main spillway. It’s also well below the 750-foot level that would trigger increased releases through the Hyatt Powerhouse under the flood operations plan in place for this year. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Lake Oroville rising, rivers running high as 2018 starts out wet

Study focuses on restoring Yuba River with $97M worth of proposals identified:  “Hydraulic mining and development in the watershed contributed greatly to degradation in the lower Yuba River. A federal agency studied what could be done to restore that ecosystem and came up with nearly $97 million worth of proposals.  Following a request by the Yuba County Water Agency, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers initiated the Yuba River Ecosystem Restoration Feasibility Study in 2015. The corps released its interim report and environmental assessment last week identifying current problems in the lower Yuba River, how they came about and alternatives for ecosystem restoration. … ”  Read more from The Union here:  Study focuses on restoring Yuba River with $97M worth of proposals identified

Salesforce dives headfirst into water recycling with new headquarters:  “The new Salesforce Tower, which opened to employees this week in San Francisco, isn’t just the tallest one gracing the skyline of the City by the Bay. The structure sets a new bar for reducing water consumption in commercial office buildings.  By the end of the year, the 1.4 million-square foot, 61-story skyscraper will boast the largest commercial “blackwater” recycling system in the United States — and the first such installation in California. Salesforce eventually will occupy 36 floors, or about 881,762 square feet of the property.   … ”  Read more from Green Biz here:  Salesforce dives headfirst into water recycling with new headquarters

Inyo County files legal challenge on LADWP CEQA:  “On January 5, the County of Inyo filed litigation challenging the legality of a “negative declaration” adopted by the City of Los Angeles’ Department of Water and Power (LADWP) pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) in November when it approved a two-month pump test of Well 385R, claiming that prior mitigation measures prohibiting the well’s operation no longer applied. … ”  Read more from the Sierra Wave here:  Inyo County files legal challenge on LADWP CEQA

Indian Wells Valley Water District receives ‘clean’ rating from annual audit:  “Monday evening’s Indian Wells Valley Water District’s monthly board of directors meeting began with a presentation from Chris Brown of Fedak & Brown, LLC on the Water District’s 2016 – 2017 audit report. The audit came out with an opinion that the Water Districts financial statements are clean.  In addition to the audit, the Water District board of directors also discussed a draft of white pages that essentially lay out a general roadmap to groundwater sustainability in the Indian Wells Valley. The papers were a collaborative effort from many groundwater stakeholders in the valley, and were written in order to help prepare the valley for changes that need to be made to accommodate California State’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014. … ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here:  Indian Wells Valley Water District receives ‘clean’ rating from annual audit

Bakersfield accepts $53M settlement, money to pay off bond:  “If you’re a Cal Water customer you won’t have to pay as big of a rate hike as expected.  The reason? A $53 million settlement over contaminated water.   Cal Water and the city of Bakersfield sued Dow Chemical to recover costs to upgrade 35 city wells to protect against contamination. ... ”  Read more from Kern Golden Empire here:  Bakersfield accepts $53M settlement, money to pay off bond

Storm causes major damage to Montecito water system, South Coast Conduit:  “The deadly storm that hammered southern Santa Barbara County early Tuesday damaged the Montecito Water District’s distribution system and drained its storage reservoirs, while compromising the South Coast Conduit that connects the area to Lake Cachuma.  The district serves about 4,500 customers in Montecito and Summerland and many of them had no water service as of Wednesday, and the district had very minimal supplies for those who do, said Nick Turner, general manager of the Montecito Water District. ... ”  Read more from Noozhawk here:  Storm causes major damage to Montecito water system, South Coast Conduit

Sun is coming out in Southern California, but mudslides, floods remain a threat when more rains come:  “The rains finally came, quick but irate.  After a parched three months, the first storm of the rainy season tore through Southern California this week, flooding streets, causing deadly mudslides in fire-charred areas and slickening roadways.  But, forecasters say, it probably wasn’t a harbinger of things to come. More likely, it was a brief tempest in the land of perpetual summer. ... ”  Read more from the Long Beach Press-Telegram here:  Sun is coming out in Southern California, but mudslides, floods remain a threat when more rains come

Along the Colorado River …

CAP: Lake Mead low, but don’t expect a shortage this year:  “For years now, Lake Mead’s so-called “bathtub ring” has been a sign of less water flowing into the reservoir. Arizona, California, Nevada and Mexico rely on Lake Mead for their allotments from the Colorado River. While the lake is at less than half capacity, Central Arizona Project’s Chuck Cullom said conservation efforts from more than a dozen entities will prevent a shortage along the river in 2018.”  Listen to the radio show from Arizona 360 here:  CAP: Lake Mead low, but don’t expect a shortage this year

Understanding water challenges for agricultural communities:  “For years now, Lake Mead’s so-called “bathtub ring” has been a sign of less water flowing into the reservoir. Arizona, California, Nevada and Mexico rely on Lake Mead for their allotments from the Colorado River.  If a shortage is declared, federal guidelines dictate that Arizona take the biggest reductions in the lower basin. University of Arizona Professor George Frisvold explains the immediate challenges a shortage would create for Arizona’s agricultural communities.”  Listen to the radio show from Arizona 360 here: Understanding water challenges for agricultural communities

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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