DAILY DIGEST: Can new water storage projects win state funding?; Oroville crisis drives harder look at aging US dams; San Francisco moves to build water system to fight fires; Santa Barbara authorities on edge with light rain expected across SoCal; and more …

In California water news today, Can new California water storage projects win state funding?; Oroville crisis drives harder look at aging US dams; One year later, Oroville dam crisis weighs on residents’ minds; Minute by minute: What if Oroville Dam’s spillway had failed one year ago?; Vallejo officials work to clean up water system after sediment found; San Francisco moves to build water system to fight fires when the worst hits; ‘Crucial’ vote for north San Joaquin farmers; Santa Barbara authorities on edge with light rain expected across Southern California; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • Webinar: Fixing our Broken Water Cycle: A Conversation with Authors Sandra Postel and Abbie Landis, from 10am to 11am.  Click here to register.

In the news today …

Can new California water storage projects win state funding?  “If California taxpayers are going to spend $2.7 billion on new water storage projects, the projects had better come with many more environmental benefits.  That was the message sent by the California Water Commission, which on February 2 released its first analysis of 11 projects vying for a share of the riches. The money will come from Proposition 1, a ballot measure approved by voters in 2014, which empowered the state to issue nearly $2.7 billion in bonds for water storage, whether new reservoirs, groundwater recharge or some form of hybrid. … ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  Can new California water storage projects win state funding?

Oroville crisis drives harder look at aging US dams:  “One year after the worst structural failures at a major U.S. dam in a generation, federal regulators who oversee California’s half-century-old, towering Oroville Dam say they are looking hard at how they overlooked its built-in weaknesses for decades.  The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is telling owners of the 1,700 other hydroelectric dams it regulates nationally that it expects them to look equally hard at their own organizations and aging dams, in the wake of the sudden collapse of much of first one, then both spillways last February at the 770-foot-tall (235-meter-tall) Oroville Dam, the nation’s tallest. … ”  Read more from the Union Democrat here:  Oroville crisis drives harder look at aging US dams

One year later, Oroville dam crisis weighs on residents’ minds:  “A year after a failure at a spillway at the nation’s highest dam forced nearly 200,000 to flee the threat of a potential catastrophe, the effects of the near-disaster still weigh on many residents’ minds.  Life has somewhat returned to normal in Oroville, a town of around 8,000 that draws tourists to California’s Gold Country. But businesses say tourism is down, and some say they’ve been left in the dark.  “It was just panic. People were running in the streets. Cars were speeding through town,” Oroville resident Genoa Widener recalled this week of the day when the evacuation order was given last year. She said residents were told a 30-foot wall of water could be headed their way. ... ”  Read more from the NBC Bay Area here:  One year later, Oroville dam crisis weighs on residents’ minds

Minute by minute: What if Oroville Dam’s spillway had failed one year ago?At 4:42 p.m. on Feb. 12, 2017, one year ago today, the California Department of Water Resources issued a tweet: “EMERGENCY EVACUATION: Auxiliary spillway at Oroville Dam predicted to fail within the next hour. Oroville residents evacuate northward.”  An estimated 188,000 residents were ordered to evacuate. In the end, the emergency spillway did not fail. Months later, forensic investigators couldn’t say for sure how close the structure came to breaking apart.  But what if had? … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Minute by minute: What if Oroville Dam’s spillway had failed one year ago?

Now that the blob is over, scientists are eager to assess its impact:  “Over the last year, warm water temperatures in the Gulf of Alaska, infamously known as the blob, have dissipated. Warmer water temps are thought to have a hand in massive bird die-offs and a decline in Pacific cod stocks. Now that the three-year period of summer-like marine conditions is over, scientists and fishery managers are eager to assess the full impact of the blob.  The blob first showed up back in the winter of 2013-14 after a high pressure system anchored itself off the West Coast. That led to fewer blasts of cold arctic air from the jet stream, and National Weather Service Climatologist Rick Thoman said that also meant fewer storms in the Gulf of Alaska. … ”  Read more from KBBI here:  Now that the blob is over, scientists are eager to assess its impact

From drugged oysters to birds full of plastic, oceans are feeling the burden of pollution:  “Traces of life on land are increasingly showing up in oceans and in ocean life. Scientists are finding a growing presence of pharmaceuticals, small pieces of plastic and household chemicals in the bodies of Pacific razor clams, Pacific oysters and remote seabirds.  Researchers from Portland State University and the University of Alaska Fairbanks are presenting some of their findings at the 2018 Ocean Sciences Meeting in Portland. … ”  Read more from KQED here:  From drugged oysters to birds full of plastic, oceans are feeling the burden of pollution

More news and commentary in the weekend edition …

In commentary today …

George Skelton: Californians voted to spend billions on more water storage. But state government keeps sitting on the cash: He writes, “We could be headed into another drought. There’s little Sierra snow and valleys are dry. Is California ready this time?  Not really.   Good signs: There’s still a lot of water stashed in reservoirs from last year’s abnormally wet winter. And we’ve become better at using less water in our homes and yards.  One very bad sign: We haven’t increased our water storage capacity. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Californians voted to spend billions on more water storage. But state government keeps sitting on the cash

On Oroville relicensing, don’t just delay; start over, says the Oroville Mercury Register:  They write, “One year after the Oroville spillway disaster, one enormous question remains: What now?  The answer is simple: Start over.  Politicians, government agencies, businesses and other interested parties have said the federal government needs to hit the pause button on relicensing the Lake Oroville project. We think the rewind button would be better.  Tear up the settlement agreement signed by 51 groups and start over. ... ”  Read more from the Oroville Mercury-Register here:  Editorial: On Oroville relicensing, don’t just delay; start over

In regional news and commentary today …

Klamath Irrigation District delays project irrigation season:  “A drought year similar to 2015’s dry conditions are anticipated by the Klamath Irrigation District, and without the financial resources available in 2015, as well as at least a week delay in water delivery to Klamath Project irrigators in April, according to Ty Kliewer, board president, on Friday.  With snow pack levels at approximately 33 percent of normal for the year and a projected drought yet to be declared in Klamath County, the A Canal headgates will be opened April 16 — normally they are opened April 1. Water delivery normally begins April 15, and that will be delayed until April 23 this season. ... ”  Read more from Herald and News here:  Klamath Irrigation District delays project irrigation season

Vallejo officials work to clean up water system after sediment found:  “City crews are continuing to work to remove sediment that got into the water lines from Vallejo’s Swanzy Reservoir, affecting about 1,000 households, city officials said.  While the water supply is safe, residents should eliminate water use as much as possible to reduce the amount of sediment and dirt entering their pipelines, according to city officials.  Workers are pumping in clean water and flushing the impacted area, city officials said. The problem was discovered early this morning and crews were dispatched immediately. ... ”  Read more from KGO here:  Vallejo officials work to clean up water system after sediment found

San Francisco moves to build water system to fight fires when the worst hits:  “San Francisco officials have reached an important milestone in a long-running effort to build a high-pressure water network needed to bring vital firefighting capabilities to the Richmond and Sunset districts — two neighborhoods that have historically lacked direct access to such a system.  After years of planning and deliberations, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission and the city’s Fire Department have finally picked a design for a new auxiliary water supply system that can supply firefighters with large volumes of high-pressure water needed to put out rampant blazes that could result from earthquakes or other major emergencies. … ”  Read more from San Francisco Chronicle here:  San Francisco moves to build water system to fight fires when the worst hits

‘Crucial’ vote for north San Joaquin farmers:  “For years, farmers along the south bank of the Mokelumne River east of Lodi could only watch as all that cold and frothy snowmelt washed past them toward the Delta and the ocean.  The farmers had a legal right, on paper, to divert some. But they’ve never been able to take full advantage of it because their water delivery system is crumbling.  Instead, they’ve sucked up groundwater at unsustainable rates. The groundwater is now sinking about a foot each year, making it costlier to pump to the surface and depleting what is supposed to be a kind of reserve “savings account.” ... ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here:  ‘Crucial’ vote for north San Joaquin farmers

Santa Barbara authorities on edge with light rain expected across Southern California:  “Still recovering from January’s deadly mudslides, Santa Barbara County authorities are monitoring a storm system that is expected to dump light rain beginning Monday over the barren hills charred by last year’s Thomas Fire.  Only about half an inch of rain is expected to fall between Monday and Wednesday, nothing like the heavy rainfall that triggered the massive and deadly debris flows in Montecito last month, according to the National Weather Service. ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Santa Barbara authorities on edge with light rain expected across Southern California

Goleta: Skin irritants in the water:  “For the past few years from roughly August to December, the Goleta Water District has faced concentrations of trihalomethanes, or THMs, above federal regulations within the water distribution network. The effects of THMs include skin, lung, and eye irritation as well as increased cancer risks. High concentrations have been observed in parts of, not all, of the water distribution network, with some concentrations twice as high as the federal standard. Although the link has not been confirmed, persons connected to the water supply have issued complaints to the water district due to skin, eye, and lung irritation attributable to contact with the water. Where are the THMs in our water coming from, what are the current/future community health risks, and what is the Goleta Water District doing about them? … ”  Read more from the Santa Barbara Independent here:  Goleta: Skin irritants in the water

Rain returns to Southern California; enough to end the drought? After a prolonged dry spell, rain is finally on track to return to Southern California and the Desert Southwest. But with the winter rainfall deficit already tipping most of the region into moderate to severe drought, how much help is on the way this week?  … ” Read more from the Weather Network here:  Rain returns to Southern California; enough to end the drought?

Along the Colorado River …

Historically dry winter means Lake Mead may be closer to shortfall then some think:  “In case you hadn’t noticed, we’ve had some beautiful warm, sunny, dry days of late.  And weeks. And months. The entire Southwest, in fact, has experienced one of the warmest, driest winters on record. For golfing and hiking and living the outdoor lifestyle, that’s great, of course. But, alas, there is an unsettling flip side to all this fair weather.  That dark flip side is the possibility of an unprecedented lack of snowpack runoff in the Colorado River system. Forecasts are calling for a continuation of the dry weather into the fast-approaching spring. ... ”  Read more from Arizona Department of Water Resources here:  Historically dry winter means Lake Mead may be closer to shortfall then some think

Arizona legislative proposal affecting two rivers causes a stir:  “The Colorado and the San Pedro rivers’ futures are on the line at the Legislature due to a controversial water bill.  The bill, whose architect is Sen. Gail Griffin of Sierra Vista, would loosen requirements for an adequate water supply for new homes in rural counties.  Approval would most likely clear the way for a 7,000-home development in that city near the fragile San Pedro, the Southwest’s last free-flowing desert stream of any consequence. The development has been tied up in court by a federal lawsuit saying the state improperly found that the project has adequate water. ... ”  Read more from the Arizona Daily Star here:  Arizona legislative proposal affecting two rivers causes a stir

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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