DAILY DIGEST: Plans for new dams, reservoirs hit big hurdle; Study: Farmer input critical in creating groundwater plans; Toxic pollutants in California mudslide present cleanup challenges; Biggest storm of winter could bring 2 feet of snow to the Sierra; and more …

In California water news today, Plans for new dams, reservoirs hit big hurdle; Study: Farmer input critical in creating groundwater plans; Toxic pollutants in California mudslide present cleanup challenges; Biggest storm of winter could bring 2 feet of snow to the Sierra; and more …

On the calendar today …

In the news today …

Plans for new dams, reservoirs hit big hurdle:  “Signaling trouble for nearly a dozen landmark water storage projects to help California cope with its next drought, state water officials on Thursday announced none of the proposals — including raising Contra Costa County’s Los Vaqueros Dam and building a new Santa Clara County dam near Pacheco Pass — provide the public benefits that their supporters claim, potentially putting their state funding at risk.  The announcement sent waves of anxiety and concern through California’s water world, and could be a major stumbling block in the efforts to expand the state’s water supply. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  Plans for new dams, reservoirs hit big hurdle

Study: Farmer input critical in creating groundwater plans:  “As newly assembled local agencies prepare to implement California’s new groundwater law, now is the time for farmers and their advocacy organizations to get involved.  So advises a researcher who co-authored a report stating that officials should work harder to gauge the impact on agriculture as they prepare plans required by the 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.  University of Vermont Food Systems Program assistant professor Meredith Niles and doctoral student Courtney Hammond Wagner held focus groups with 20 farmers in Yolo County, Calif., whose groundwater basin had been given a high or medium priority. … ”  Read more from the Capital Press here:  Study: Farmer input critical in creating groundwater plans

Buying and selling the future: Diamond Valley’s proposed water market looks beyond prior appropriation:  “The Diamond Valley of central Nevada has been over-appropriated since the 1960s. In 2014, a rancher with the most senior rights holder in the valley initiated legal action to halt pumping for junior irrigators. Alfalfa farmers, who use about two hundred irrigator systems to produce 120,000 tons of hay every year, have responded with furor over the suit—and have even been blamed for illicit cattle killings at the ranch. In 2015, water right wrangling culminated in the state engineer declaring the basin a Critical Management Area, requiring water-rights holders to develop a groundwater management plan or face the mandatory curtailment of pumping.  In response, researchers from Duke University Nicholas School of Environment and Eureka County officials have developed a novel water market scheme in which traditional water rights will be divided up into shares for barter. Researchers said they imported many of their proposed ideas for Diamond Valley from Australia. … ”  Continue reading at the University of Denver Law Review here:  Buying and selling the future: Diamond Valley’s proposed water market looks beyond prior appropriation

RELATED CONTENT:  I wrote about this concept here: SGMA IMPLEMENTATION: Sharing Groundwater: A Robust Framework and Implementation Roadmap for Sustainable Groundwater Management in California

Toxic pollutants in California mudslide present cleanup challenges:  “A potential environmental emergency is looming as cleanup continues from California’s deadly mudslide: pollution from toxic mud and sludge, some of which is being dumped on local beaches.  “When the mud is 10 feet high on a telephone pole on Danielson Road [in Montecito] and people are still missing, maybe buried in mud … we have only a few options,” said Tom Fayram, deputy director of public works for Santa Barbara County, responding to concerns about the dumping from a local environmental group. ... ”  Read more from Bloomberg News here:  Toxic pollutants in California mudslide present cleanup challenges

Restore the Delta criticizes potentially bigger water draw from Delta:  “Restore the Delta (RTD) has voiced criticism of the Federal Bureau of Reclamation’s announcements that it is considering pumping more water from the Delta to increase deliveries to south Central Valley farmers.  It is poor timing, said the organization, which is based in Stockton, and represents the interests of Delta farmers, commercial and sport fishers, and others in their local economy.  A trawl by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife last fall found only two delta smelt, one of the endangered species that prompted a judge a few years ago to restrict water agencies from pumping from the Delta at certain times that are critical to fish spawning. ... ”  Read more from the Livermore Independent here:  Restore the Delta criticizes potentially bigger water draw from Delta

Biggest storm of winter could bring 2 feet of snow to the Sierra:  “The biggest storm so far this winter is headed for the Sierra Nevada, with up to 2 feet (0.6 meters) of snow possible in the mountains by early Friday and winds potentially gusting in excess of 100 mph (161 kph) over the ridgetops.  On Wednesday, the National Weather Service upgraded a winter storm watch to a winter storm warning in effect from 4 p.m. Thursday to 4 p.m. Friday for the greater Lake Tahoe area stretching north of Reno to Susanville, California. ... ”  Read more from the AP here:  Biggest storm of winter could bring 2 feet of snow to the Sierra

In commentary today …

A single tunnel might make sense for California, says the Santa Rosa Press Democrat:  They write, “Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to drill two enormous tunnels to divert water to the Central Valley and Southern California should have been buried a long time ago.  The $17 billion price is too high, as is the risk of an out-and-out water grab at the expense of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the largest estuary on the West Coast.  But the governor stubbornly resisted alternatives to his California WaterFix — until now.  A memo posted last week on a state website for contractors said the Brown administration is considering a single tunnel, with a second one postponed until an unspecified date in the future. … ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here:  A single tunnel might make sense for California

In regional news and commentary today …

Proposed Napa County watershed measure qualifies for June ballot:  “County Registrar of Voters John Tuteur said on Thursday that a proposed “Watershed and Oak Woodland Protection Initiative” has enough petition signatures to qualify for the June 5 ballot.  Also, Tuteur said proposed ballot measures to ban new personal-use heliports and to allow Blakeley Construction to continue operating near Calistoga also have enough petition signatures to qualify for the June 5 ballot. Each petition needed at least 3,792 signatures from registered, local voters. ... ”  Read more from the Napa Register here:  Proposed Napa County watershed measure qualifies for June ballot

Residents will gain access to spillway ramp, road over Oroville Dam, DWR says:  “The spillway boat launch ramp and access road across the top of Oroville Dam will reopen after construction is over, the state Department of Water Resources promised Thursday.  The department announced the news in a press release issued in the morning.  “DWR understands the importance of access to these areas by residents in Oroville and around the region,” the release states. ... ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Residents will gain access to spillway ramp, road over Oroville Dam, DWR says

Rainy winters reduce invasive species in San Francisco Bay:  “Diver Todd Florey, who spends three or four days a week cleaning yachts in San Francisco Bay, has noticed a different mix of marine creatures gumming up the bottoms of boats since the end of the drought. He sees more mussels, for example, and fewer sea squirts.  Florey’s 45-minute plunges into the murky water, aided by a 150-foot air line, put him in a unique position to dwell on the bay’s dark underworld. But scientists say he’s observing part of a far-reaching shakeup in the 550-square-mile estuary.  A recent study by researchers in Tiburon suggests that the diverse array of plants and animals that cling to boats and docks in San Francisco Bay, often referred to as the fouling community, is reshaped by blasts of fresh water surging toward the ocean in wet times — like those that busted the five-year dry spell last winter. … ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  Rainy winters reduce invasive species in San Francisco Bay

What’s up with the gigantic jellyfish washing up on Central Coast beaches:  “Earlier this month, a handful of large jellyfish lay scattered across the dog beach that stretches from Morro Bay to Cayucos.  The large, round masses were Aurelia aurita, or moon jellies — a transparent jellyfish common on the surface of the open waters along the California coast.  They were likely tumbled by the sea onto the beach during the strong storm. ... ”  Read more from the San Luis Obispo Tribune here:  What’s up with the gigantic jellyfish washing up on Central Coast beaches

Bringing water to rural Tulare County:  “Water systems in rural parts of the county suffer from low pressure, contaminates and the sheer cost of drilling a well to get water.  But, after five years of drought, a small community near Tulare can turn on their taps with confidence.  “Water pressure is much better,” said Jose Rodriguez, who lives in Soults Tract. “The water is clean. The water is perfect.”  He couldn’t have said that a month ago. … ”  Read more from the Visalia Times-Delta here:  Bringing water to rural Tulare County

Southern California to face low mudslide risk as heaviest rain stays north next week:  “With only a few periods of showery weather in store for Southern California this coming week, the threat of additional mudslides will remain low.  The recent streak of dry weather may be broken on Friday, but any showers are unlikely to hinder recovery and cleanup efforts or trigger any mudslides.  Any precipitation would fall as very light rain, totaling less than 0.05 of an inch. Given these anticipated rainfall amounts, additional debris flows are not expected. … ”  Read more from Accu-Weather here:  Southern California to face low mudslide risk as heaviest rain stays north next week

L.A. breaks ground on North Hollywood West groundwater treatment project:Los Angeles officials on Jan. 17 broke ground on the North Hollywood West Groundwater Treatment Project, a $92 million project to clean up and restore the use of groundwater as a high-quality source of drinking water in the San Fernando Valley. L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti was joined at the groundbreaking by Councilmembers Nury Martinez and Paul Krekorian and officials from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and the California State Water Resources Control Board. … ”  Read more from EP Magazine here:  L.A. breaks ground on North Hollywood West groundwater treatment project

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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