DAILY DIGEST: Dry, hot winter closes ski resorts, stalls wildflower blooms and revives drought fears; Drought restrictions on wasteful water habits could be coming back permanently; Drones and wireless sensors take CA water research to new level; Trump budget seeks 23% cut at EPA; and more …

In California water news today, Dry, hot California winter closes ski resorts, stalls wildflower blooms and revives drought fears; A hot dry winter in California. Could it be drought again?; California’s drought restrictions on wasteful water habits could be coming back — this time they’ll be permanent; Drones and wireless sensors take California water research to new level; Gallagher’s dam safety bill goes to governor on evacuation anniversary; Oroville-inspired dam inspection bill heads to Jerry Brown; Trump budget seeks 23% cut at EPA, eliminating dozens of programs; Satellites show warming is accelerating sea level rise; Amid Political Quarrels over Cape Town Crisis, Engineers Prepare Dams for Day Zero; and more …

On the calendar today …

In the news today …

Dry, hot California winter closes ski resorts, stalls wildflower blooms and revives drought fears:  “In the Sierra Nevada, snowpack levels are running below even the darkest days of the drought, with cross-country ski resorts closed and mountain biking becoming the sport of choice until the snow returns.  In the Bay Area, cities like San Francisco, San Jose and Santa Rosa are experiencing the hottest starts to a year on record.  And Southern California remains in the grip of unprecedented dry and hot conditions, despite a weak storm that moved in Monday.  February is historically a wet month, but not this year. And the long-term forecast offers little hope for relief. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Dry, hot California winter closes ski resorts, stalls wildflower blooms and revives drought fears

A hot dry winter in California.  Could it be drought again?  “Atmospheric conditions that helped create the recent multiyear California drought have returned, leaving the state dry and exceptionally warm this winter and its residents wondering if another long dry spell is on the way.  A ridge of high-pressure air off the West Coast has persisted for much of the past three months, blocking many Pacific storms from reaching California and weakening others that do get through. Normally such ridges tend to come and go, but they also lingered during the 2012-16 drought, the worst in the state’s history. … ”  Read more from the New York Times here:  A hot dry winter in California.  Could it be drought again?

California’s drought restrictions on wasteful water habits could be coming back — this time they’ll be permanent:  “Anyone caught wasting water in California may be fined as much as $500 under new rules being considered by the state water board, officials said Monday.  The State Water Resources Control Board is expected to adopt regulation coming before the board on Feb. 20 that would make it a crime to commit any of seven wasteful water practices — from lawn over watering to street median irrigation. Those rules would take effect April 1.  “These are permanent prohibitions on wasteful water uses,” said Max Gomberg, a climate and conservation manager for the state board. The ruling would formally make the rules part of the state code. … ”  Read more from the San Gabriel Valley Tribune here:  California’s drought restrictions on wasteful water habits could be coming back — this time they’ll be permanent

Drones and wireless sensors take California water research to new level:  “California is about to learn a whole lot more about how water moves through its many diverse landscapes.  The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation has awarded a $2.2 million grant to the University of California to use remote sensors and drones to monitor hydrology across various landscapes. The subject areas will be the U.C.’s Natural Reserve System, a network of protected lands covering more than 750,000 acres and representing many habitat types in the state. ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  Drones and wireless sensors take California water research to new level

Gallagher’s dam safety bill goes to governor on evacuation anniversary:  “The California Legislature unanimously passed Assemblyman James Gallagher’s bill requiring high hazard dams be inspected annually on Monday – the one-year anniversary of the Oroville Dam spillway evacuation.  The bill also sets standards for those inspections and requires consultation with independent experts to update dam safety practices every 10 years, a periodic review of original design and construction records and that inspection records be made public, with sensitive information redacted when necessary. It is an urgency bill, meaning it will immediately go into effect if signed by Gov. Jerry Brown. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enteprise-Record here:  Gallagher’s dam safety bill goes to governor on evacuation anniversary

Oroville-inspired dam inspection bill heads to Jerry Brown:  “On the anniversary of evacuations prompted by the near disaster at Oroville Dam, California lawmakers on Monday sent Gov. Jerry Brown a measure to tighten dam inspection standards.  The Assembly unanimously approved Assemblyman James Gallagher’s bill, which will require the California Department of Water Resources to annually inspect the vast majority of the 1,249 dams it oversees. Dams with low hazard potential would need to evaluated at least every other year under Assembly Bill 1270, which Gallagher, R-Yuba City, introduced last February after the evacuation of 188,000 downstream residents. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Oroville-inspired dam inspection bill heads to Jerry Brown

Trump budget seeks 23% cut at EPA, eliminating dozens of programs:  “The White House is seeking to cut more than $2.5 billion from the annual budget of the Environmental Protection Agency — an overall reduction of more than 23 percent.  The fiscal 2019 proposal released Monday marks the Trump administration’s latest attempt to shrink the reach of an agency the president once promised to reduce to “little tidbits.” The EPA already has lost hundreds of employees to buyouts and retirements over the past year, and its staffing is now at Reagan-era levels. … ”  Read more from the Washington Post here:  Trump budget seeks 23% cut at EPA, eliminating dozens of programs

Satellites show warming is accelerating sea level rise:  “Melting ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica are speeding up the already fast pace of sea level rise, new satellite research shows.  At the current rate, the world’s oceans on average will be at least 2 feet (61 centimeters) higher by the end of the century compared to today, according to researchers who published in Monday’s Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences.  Sea level rise is caused by warming of the ocean and melting from glaciers and ice sheets. The research, based on 25 years of satellite data, shows that pace has quickened, mainly from the melting of massive ice sheets. It confirms scientists’ computer simulations and is in line with predictions from the United Nations, which releases regular climate change reports. ... ”  Read more from the Victorville Press here:  Satellites show warming is accelerating sea level rise

Amid Political Quarrels over Cape Town Crisis, Engineers Prepare Dams for Day Zero:Squabbles between South Africa’s politicians over who is to blame for Cape Town’s water emergency reached such a pitch in recent weeks that leaders, in an attempt to soften the debate, invoked the country’s icon of peace and resolve.  “Now as Cape Town and the province of the Western Cape confront a devastating water crisis, we are once again called upon to unite in common struggle against a formidable enemy,” Cyril Ramaphosa, president of the African National Congress, said at an event in Cape Town on February 11 that marked the 28th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s release from prison. … ” Read more from Circle of Blue here: Amid Political Quarrels over Cape Town Crisis, Engineers Prepare Dams for Day Zero

In regional news and commentary today …

Klamath Basin irrigators, fish face dry year, officials say:  “Anticipating a poor water year in California’s and Oregon’s Klamath River Basin, the federal government is seeking to find a way to balance its obligations to protect fish species while also ensuring Klamath Basin irrigators and water districts have access to water.  The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is now taking public comments on a proposal that would allow irrigators and water districts in the basin to use its Klamath Basin Project infrastructure, such as canals, to transport their private water should the project’s water supplies be constrained. … ”  Read more from the Eureka Times-Standard here:  Klamath Basin irrigators, fish face dry year, officials say

Petition drive to to delay relicensing of Oroville Dam at 6,000 signatures:  “On the one year anniversary of the evacuation of 188,000 residents after the Oroville Dam’s emergency spillway failure, a petition drive to delay the re-licensing of Oroville Dam between the Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the Federal Regulatory Energy Commission (FERC) has garnered 6,000 signatures.  An independent analysis by dam experts found the DWR primarily responsible for the spillway’s failure. … ”  Read more from KRCR here:  Petition drive to to delay relicensing of Oroville Dam at 6,000 signatures

Barriers to stop post-fire debris at Milliken dam, protect Napa water supplies:  “Additions coming to one of Napa’s two city dams are meant to keep the city’s water pure, reducing contamination risks from debris washed into reservoirs after the October wildfires that blackened huge swaths of local woodlands.  The containment system will be installed at Milliken Reservoir northeast of the city, the smaller of Napa’s two local water supplies after its larger source at Lake Hennessey. The U.S. Department of Agriculture will cover three-fourths of the estimated $336,000 cost and Napa the rest, under the federal disaster declaration Napa County received shortly after the Oct. 8 eruption of three major fires that consumed tens of thousands of acres and killed 44 people across the North Bay. ... ”  Read more from the Napa Register here:  Barriers to stop post-fire debris at Milliken dam, protect Napa water supplies

SF residents support big bond to fix seawall, poll finds: “Nearly three-quarters of San Francisco voters would support a bond measure of up to $500 million to improve the city’s disintegrating seawall, a piece of infrastructure that is largely unseen but that experts say is of vital importance in protecting the city against major earthquakes as well as sea level rise.  A citywide voter survey, conducted in mid-January for the Port of San Francisco, found that 73 percent of voters would vote yes on a seawall improvement general obligation bond, which is headed to the ballot in November. … ”  Read more from the SF Chronicle here:  SF residents support big bond to fix seawall, poll finds

Yosemite National Park’s ‘Firefall’ may not appear due to drought:  “The spectacle of the setting sun in late February that transforms a waterfall in Yosemite National Park into a glowing “firefall” may not happen this year due to a worsening drought in California.  Yosemite National Park said on its website that Horsetail Fall located on the eastern edge of El Capitan is dry as of Feb. 6, and there is no precipitation in the forecast.  … ”  Read more from Fox News here:  Yosemite National Park’s ‘Firefall’ may not appear due to drought

Latest system brings little rain to Southern California:  “It looked and felt like winter on Monday as clouds filled the sky and temperatures cooled in Southern California, but just about the only thing that fell was expectation for much rain in the drought-stricken region.  There were scattered sprinkles and a fleeting frosting of snow in the mountains but the low-pressure system proved to be weaker than predicted and rainfall forecasts were lowered to under a tenth of an inch (0.25 centimeter) in most areas to a quarter inch (0.64 centimeter) in the foothills and mountains. … ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  Latest system brings little rain to Southern California

San Diego pursues drought-proof water supply:  “The desert-like grounds around the San Diego County Water Authority offices are dressed in a water-wise xeriscape of cacti and aloe. The sky is a monotone blue and — even though it’s January — the temperature is in the 80s.  Dennis Cushman, assistant general manager for the Water Authority, doesn’t look very comfortable in this setting in his dark wool suit. But when asked about the county’s water supply, he said he is actually feeling pretty good, because San Diego has plenty of water for 2018. … ”  Read more from KPBS here:  San Diego pursues drought-proof water supply

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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