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DAILY DIGEST: No more delay on tunnel hearings; Feds unsure about paying for for Oroville Dam spillway repairs; Sites Authority has work to do in its pitch for Prop 1 funding; CA among the states challenging Trump delay of the Clean Water Rule; and more …

In California water news today, No more delay on tunnel hearings; Federal government unsure whether it will pay for Oroville Dam spillway repairs; Sites Authority has work to do in its pitch for Prop 1 funding; After 60 years, Chinook salmon spawn in the San Joaquin River; Lessons learned from the devastating North State fires; California among the states challenging Trump delay of the Clean Water Rule; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • The State Water Resources Control Board meets at 9:30am. The Board will consider the adoption of a proposed Order on Own Motion review of Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board Order No. R5-2012-0116, Waste Discharge Requirements General Order for Growers within the Eastern San Joaquin River Watershed that are members of a third-party Group (SWRCB/OCC Files A-2239(a)-(c)).  Click here for the full agenda.  Click here to watch on webcast
  • CSUS Renaissance Program:  David Abelson on the California Delta from 12:30 to 2:00pm at the Franklin Community Library in Elk Grove.  No registration required; simply drop in.  Click here for more information.

In the news today …

No more delay on tunnel hearings:  “State officials declined late Tuesday to further delay key hearings on the proposed Delta tunnels, overriding opponents’ arguments that illegal meetings have taken place and that the project soon may be altered anyway.  The State Water Resources Control Board found that the meetings were legal.  And the fact that the state may initially build just one tunnel, rather than two, isn’t reason enough to stop the hearing process that began in the summer of 2016, the board found. After all, the project hasn’t yet been formally changed. ... ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here:  No more delay on tunnel hearings

Federal government unsure whether it will pay for Oroville Dam spillway repairs:  “While it has been assumed the federal government will pay 75 percent of the now-$870 million cost for repairing the Oroville Dam spillways, the agency that actually would allocate the money has been hedging on whether that is the case, according to two north state congressmen.  A joint press release from Doug LaMalfa, R-Richvale, and John Garamendi, D-Fairfield, said the Federal Emergency Management Agency has been telling Congress it’s uncertain whether FEMA has the authority to pay for the types of repairs being made.  FEMA has stated it can’t fund a project where the agency determines there was a “lack of maintenance,” and can only provide reimbursements for work to bring facilities back to their “pre-disaster design,” according to the release. ... ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Federal government unsure whether it will pay for Oroville Dam spillway repairs

Sites Authority has work to do in its pitch for Prop 1 funding:  “The initial scoring is out, and those pushing for Sites Reservoir have some work to do if they expect to receive a chunk of the $2.7 billion in available Proposition 1 funding for water storage projects.  The California Water Commission is responsible for determining the public benefits of each of the projects competing for funding. Using a scoring system, the commission is essentially looking at whether or not every dollar invested on a particular project will come back to the state in the form of a public benefit of equal value.  Some projects were determined to have no public benefits. Others had some form of public benefit, but not enough to justify funding just yet. ... ”  Read more from the Appeal-Democrat here:  Sites Authority has work to do in its pitch for Prop 1 funding

After 60 years, Chinook salmon spawn in the San Joaquin River:  “Spring-run Chinook salmon have successfully spawned in the San Joaquin River for the first time in over 60 years due to a multiagency effort by the San Joaquin River Restoration Program.  The San Joaquin is a heavily altered river. An assortment of canals, diversion dams and other structures funnel water from the river to farms, cities and industry. While it was once home to the largest population of spring-run Chinook in the state, with the construction of Friant Dam in 1942, the prime spawning habitat for the spring-run was cutoff. The result, in combination with other factors, was the species disappearing from the river. ... ”  Read more from the Bureau of Reclamation here:  After 60 years, Chinook salmon spawn in the San Joaquin River

Lessons learned from the devastating North State fires:  “Lessons learned from the severe North Bay wildfires last fall could help other regions prepare for and respond to disasters, according to farmers and county officials in Sonoma County.  Nearly four months after the Pocket, Tubbs and Nuns fires raced through the region, the State Board of Food and Agriculture visited Sonoma County last week to discuss the aftermath of the fires and the status of recovery efforts. The board toured affected farms prior to meeting at Iron Horse Vineyards in Sebastopol. ... ”  Read more from Ag Alert here:  Lessons learned from the devastating North State fires

California among the states challenging Trump delay of the Clean Water Rule:  “California is once again suing the Trump Administration, joining New York and eight other states in a case about water. The states filed the lawsuit Tuesday just hours after federal agencies announced a new delay in the federal Clean Water Rule.  The Obama-era rule expands what water bodies must comply with federal standards, including streams that do not flow year-round. … ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here:  California among the states challenging Trump delay of the Clean Water Rule

Attorneys general sue Trump administration over Clean Water Rule:  “Eleven Democratic state attorneys general on Tuesday sued President Donald Trump’s administration over its decision to delay implementation of an Obama-era rule that would have expanded the number of wetlands and small waterways protected by the Clean Water Act.  New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said last week’s decision by the Republican administration to postpone implementation of the 2015 Clean Water Rule for two years is an assault on public health.  “We will fight back against this reckless rollback and the Trump administration’s continued assault on our nation’s core public health and environmental protections,” Schneiderman said in a statement. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  Attorneys general sue Trump administration over Clean Water Rule

Running out of water: Cape Town, the US, and drought:  “The recent news that Cape Town, South Africa—a modern city of nearly 4 million residents (plus over 1.5 million tourists yearly)—was on the brink of running out of water, the taps about to run dry, put water back into the headlines. After years of drought in several American states, could this happen closer to home? In the Q&A that follows, water law expert Buzz Thompson (who has spent time in South Africa, including teaching “South African Water Policy” at the Stanford program in Cape Town in 2015, right as the drought was starting) discusses our most important resource—water.  Experts are now predicting that Cape Town will run out of water in May. How did it get into this situation? ... ”  Read more from Stanford News here:  Running out of water: Cape Town, the US, and drought

In commentary today …

Time to get rid of two outdated water words: ‘Drought’ and ‘Normal”, says Tom Philp:  He writes:  “Water policy is becoming a prisoner of its own limited vocabulary, particularly when it comes to the weather. Here is a case that “drought” and “normal” belong in the dustbin of history, for their overuse can lead to the wrong conversation. These words are not so sinister as to be banned from the dictionary. But they tend to miss the mark as to what seems to be happening with our weather this century.  First, the case against “drought.” ... ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  Time to get rid of two outdated water words: ‘Drought’ and ‘Normal”

In regional news and commentary today …

Chico: Two local agencies save water at 10 times statewide average:  “Two local water agencies reported water savings in December that were 10 times better than the statewide average.  Still, statewide water conservation numbers were just 2.9 percent compared to December 2013, the benchmark pre-drought year, according to the California Water Resources Control Board.  The Del Oro Water Co. reported savings of 31.4 percent in December, 14th best among the 374 water deliverers that reported. The Oroville District of the California Water Service Co. saved 30.7 percent, good enough for 16th. The Chico District of Cal Water wasn’t far behind at 25.1 percent. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Chico: Two local agencies save water at 10 times statewide average

Report calls for added protections for parts of the Mokelumne:  “A portion of the Mokelumne River upstream from Lodi could be designated wild and scenic.  The California Natural Resources Agency released a report last week that strengthens the case for protecting the river.  If approved by the CNRA, 37 miles of the Mokelumne River from below Salt Springs Dam in Amador and Calaveras counties to the Pardee Reservoir’s flood surcharge pool near Jackson would be added to the California Wild and Scenic River System. … ”  Read more from the Lodi News-Sentinel here:  Report calls for added protections for parts of the Mokelumne

State water grab will cause economic calamity, DeMartini says:  “Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jim DeMartini breezed through a “State of the County” speech Tuesday until he reached the section on water.  That’s when the fourth-term supervisor reverted to a characteristic blunt tone of voice.  The chairman blasted the State Water Resources Control Board for proposals to divert an “ever increasing percentage of water” from the Tuolumne, Stanislaus and Merced rivers, which are key sources of water for farms and cities in the Northern San Joaquin Valley. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  State water grab will cause economic calamity, DeMartini says

Water Replenishment District christens brackish desalination plant:  “At a time when droughts occur more frequently and winters can be hot and bone dry, Southern California water agencies are scrambling for new water sources.  When the Water Replenishment District of Southern California located a 30-year supply trapped between the ocean and an aquifer, it was like a prospector finding gold.  About 650,000 acre-feet (one acre-foot equals 325,000 gallons or the amount a family of four uses in two years) of salty, undrinkable water lying in the Silverado Aquifer in the South Bay for decades waited to be tapped. A pilot project that began in 2002 proved new technology could turn brackish water into drinking water. … ”  Read more from the Whittier Daily News here:  Southern California water district christens desalting plant that treats salty water trapped in aquifer

Along the Colorado River …

For a few weeks, the Colorado River reached the ocean.  Will it happen again? In 2014, the Colorado River did something it hadn’t done in decades. For a few short weeks that spring, the overdrawn, overallocated river reached the Pacific Ocean.  Instead of diverting the river’s last bit of water toward farm fields, the final dam on the Colorado River at the Mexican border lifted, and water inundated nearly 100 miles of the dry riverbed. It was called the pulse flow, meant to mimic a spring flood. … ”  Read more from KUNC here:  For a few weeks, the Colorado River reached the ocean.  Will it happen again? 

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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