DAILY DIGEST: Key Delta hearing delayed; Oroville dam lawsuit: Racism, sexual harassment, theft at state water agency; One year in, Trump’s environmental agenda is already taking a measurable toll; and more … 

In California water news today, Key Delta hearing delayed; Oroville dam lawsuit: Racism, sexual harassment, theft at state water agency; City of Oroville sues DWR over corrupt culture, crisis; Water sourcerers; Save the snowpack, save the water supply; One year in, Trump’s environmental agenda is already taking a measurable toll; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • The California Water Commission meets at 9:30 am.  Agenda items include election of a chair and vice-chair, overview of SWP review, and an update on the Water Storage Investment Program.  Click here for the full agenda and webcast link.
  • The Delta Protection Commission meets in Pittsburgh from 5:30pm to 7:30pm.  Agenda items include presentation on Delta Socioeconomic Indicators project by Dr. Catherine Brinkley, UC Davis Center for Regional Change, and an update on the ecosystem chapter of the Delta Stewardship Council’s Delta Plan.  Click here for the full agenda.

In the news today …

Key Delta hearing delayed:  “A lengthy Delta tunnels hearing that was set to begin Thursday instead has been delayed for two weeks as state officials consider claims that illegal meetings took place between tunnels proponents and the agency that is supposed to independently judge the project.  The State Water Resources Control Board announced Wednesday that the hearing now is scheduled to begin Feb. 2.  A pair of “hearing officers” — governor-appointed water board members who preside over the hearing like judges — will use the time to review complaints that have been filed by Delta-area groups including the city of Stockton and San Joaquin County. … ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here:  Key Delta hearing delayed

Oroville dam lawsuit: Racism, sexual harassment, theft at state water agency: “A lawsuit filed Wednesday against the state water agency in charge of the Oroville Dam not only alleges mismanagement and disregard for the public’s safety, but also a toxic work environment rife with racism, sexual harassment and theft.  Top officials at the Department of Water Resources are at times referred to as the “water mafia” in a suit filed by the city of Oroville, which is demanding millions of dollars for infrastructure damage and costs associated with dam spillover and the evacuation of 188,000 in February 2017. … ”  Read more from the SF Gate here:  Oroville dam lawsuit: Racism, sexual harassment, theft at state water agency

City of Oroville sues DWR over corrupt culture, crisis:  “The city of Oroville filed a lawsuit against the state Department of Water Resources Wednesday which alleges fabricated maintenance reports, racial discrimination and decades of mismanagement led to the Oroville Dam spillway failure last February.  Attorney Joseph Cotchett of Cotchett, Pitre and McCarthy, LLP said the complaint was compiled through many off-the-record interviews, including with industry experts and former and current DWR employees. Attorneys representing the city held a press conference Wednesday afternoon and a copy of the lawsuit was made public. ... ”  Read more from the Appeal-Democrat here:  City of Oroville sues DWR over corrupt culture, crisis

‘Culture of corruption’ cited as Oroville sues state over spillway crisis:  “The city of Oroville sued the California Department of Water Resources on Wednesday over the Oroville Dam crisis, accusing the state agency of mismanaging the dam and knowingly performing inadequate maintenance on its main flood-control spillway.  In a blistering lawsuit filed in Butte County Superior Court, the city said DWR encouraged a “culture of corruption” in which supervisors let underlings get away with shoddy maintenance. In addition, African American employees were subjected to a hostile work environment, including the placing of a noose in a conference room, all of which “undermined the maintenance and safety of the dam,” the suit maintains. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  ‘Culture of corruption’ cited as Oroville sues state over spillway crisis

Water sourcerers:  “In an age when freshwater supplies are under pressure from a growing human population, the alchemic act of turning seawater into drinking water is enormously appealing.  Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed two giant tunnels, each wide enough to contain most of the Sacramento River, to alleviate California’s chronic water woes and reduce tension between San Joaquin Valley farmers and salmon advocates. This controversial project, billed “California WaterFix,” is little more than a modern application of irrigation technology developed by the Roman Empire.  Scientists at an East Bay laboratory, meanwhile, are also trying to address water shortages, but to do so, they’re delving into uncharted realms of science and technology. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento News and Review here:  Water sourcerers

Save the snowpack, save the water supply:  “Between droughts and floods, the last decade has offered water managers in the southwest a preview of how climate change could impact a supply largely dependent on winter snow. This year’s disappointing snowpack has them worried again.  “Water and climate change are joined at the hip,” said Brad Udall, a researcher at Colorado State University who published a paper earlier this year showing how climate change has reduced flows in the Colorado River. “One of the primary impacts of a warming atmosphere are changes to our water cycle.” ... ”  Read more from Bloomberg here:  Save the snowpack, save the water supply

One year in, Trump’s environmental agenda is already taking a measurable toll:  “A massive coal ash spill near Knoxville, Tenn., in 2008 forever changed life for Janie Clark’s family and left her husband with crippling health problems. So Clark was astounded late last year when she heard what the Environmental Protection Agency had done.  In September, at the behest of power companies, the agency shelved a requirement that coal plants remove some of the most toxic chemicals from their wastewater. The infamous Kingston power plant that released millions of cubic yards of toxic coal ash into area rivers was among some 50 plants given a reprieve. ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  One year in, Trump’s environmental agenda is already taking a measurable toll

In commentary today …

California needs smart solutions to dead trees, says Daniel Barad:Last month the U.S. Forest Service released astonishing estimates that the number of trees killed by drought and pine beetles in California has risen to 129 million in the past five years.  Rather than respond in a way driven by science, ecological values and common sense, state and local agencies continue to seek ways to remove dead trees. The first option they turn to is to burn dead trees in dirty incinerators. The logging industry is chomping at the bit for new land in remote areas. ... ” Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  California needs smart solutions to dead trees

Information gaps hinder progress on safe drinking water: Jelena Jezdimirovic, Caitrin Chappelle, and Ellen Hanak write, “The short answer to the question, “How many Californians lack access to safe drinking water?” is “Too many.” Everyone deserves to have ready access to clean water. But understanding the extent of the problem is less straightforward. Some recent strides have been made in compiling data on communities with drinking water violations, but more work is needed to help scope solutions, prioritize actions and track progress. … ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  Information gaps hinder progress on safe drinking water

In regional news and commentary today …

Oroville farmer named California Farm Bureau president:  “As darkness begins to flood the horizon, Jamie Johansson can often be found driving his three children around the family’s orchard. They grab flashlights and search for wildlife—raccoons, skunks, deer—appreciating what surrounds them.  Johansson, a former vice mayor of Oroville and owner of Lodestar Farms, which is known for its olive oil, was named California Farm Bureau Federation president last month. In his new role at the nonprofit, Johansson will speak to farmers across California and lobby for policies that benefit, protect and promote farms and ranches. … ” Read more from the Chico News & Review here:  Oroville farmer named California Farm Bureau president

Why is Montecito cleanup taking so long?  They are preparing for the next storm:  “Officials still can’t say when people who were evacuated from their homes in Montecito will be able to return, or when the part of the 101 that was buried with mud, rocks, and debris will be reopened.  But even as those recovery efforts continue, officials are already preparing for whenever the next storm hits.  At a local basin, the Cold Springs Debris Basin, crews are working around the clock to remove large boulders and mud before it rains again. ... ” Read more from KPCC here:  Why is Montecito cleanup taking so long?  They are preparing for the next storm

Along the Colorado River …

‘Historically bad start’ to winter not reflected in Lake Mead projections:  “Winter is off to an alarmingly dry start across the Colorado River Basin, but you wouldn’t know it from the latest federal projections for Lake Mead.  A monthly report by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation offers a slightly sunnier outlook for the reservoir than the agency had predicted in December, though both projections say the lake east of Las Vegas will finish the year about 5 feet lower than it is now.  So what gives? … ”  Read more from the Las Vegas Review-Journal here:  ‘Historically bad start’ to winter not reflected in Lake Mead projections

Precipitation watch …

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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