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DAILY DIGEST: Weekend storm to deliver welcome rain; Podcast: Protecting spring-run chinook salmon in NorCal; SLO County refuses to relinquish control to new North County water district; Infighting delays Lake Mead drought plan as water ‘bankers’ protect control; and more …

In California water news today, Weekend storm to deliver welcome rain to drought-stricken California; Why this year’s low snowpack doesn’t mean a drought; Water reuse approved by State Water Board; Habitat work shows benefits for protected salmon; Podcast: Tricia Parker and Jim Smith, USFWS: Protecting spring-run chinook salmon in Northern California; How dangerous is raw water?; Community Water Center leaders get award; Federal court will hold first-ever hearing on climate change science; San Luis Obispo County refuses to relinquish control to new North County water district; Infighting delays Lake Mead drought plan as water ‘bankers’ protect control; and more …

On the calendar today …

In the news today …

Weekend storm to deliver welcome rain to drought-stricken California:  “Following a storm system set to bring drenching rain and mountain snow to the Pacific Northwest late this week, another system will track into Southern California this weekend.  The latest U.S. drought monitor from March 1 showed that nearly 20 percent of California remains in severe drought, with moderate drought gripping about 50 percent of the state.  Areas from central to Southern California are being gripped by the worst of the drought, including the cities of Fresno, Los Angeles and San Diego. … ”  Read more from Accu-Weather here:  Weekend storm to deliver welcome rain to drought-stricken California

Why this year’s low snowpack doesn’t mean a drought:  “Despite the fierce winter storm that brought an avalanche of snow to the Sierra Nevada last week, water officials say the state’s snowpack is far behind its desired level. Before the storm, comparisons were being made to record-breaking dry years.  So why isn’t there more panic about a potential drought?  The state’s reservoir levels and drinking water supply are in good shape, largely because last year was exceptionally wet, said Dave Rizzardo, of the California Department of Water Resources. ... ”  Read more from the New York Times here:  Why this year’s low snowpack doesn’t mean a drought

Water reuse approved by State Water Board:  “California’s water regulator paved the way for the increased use of recycled water on the same day it instituted new pesticide thresholds for a river on the central coast.  The State Water Resources Control Board unanimously passed regulations that hold local water agencies accountable for the amount of pesticides that flow from agricultural operations into the Salinas River.  “I understand the benefits of pyrethroid pesticide use as it makes food production possible at this time,” said water control board member Steven Moore.  Pyrethroid pesticides describe a class of effective insect killers often applied by commercial farm operations large and small and are available for household use as well. … ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service here:  Water reuse approved by State Water Board

Habitat work shows benefits for protected salmon:  “Moving discussions on water and protected species from the courtroom into the field, collaborative projects to benefit salmon are proving helpful in recovering fish, according to participants in the projects.  Farmers, researchers, agencies and organizations that have come together as partners in salmon and species habitat recovery programs report positive results from ecosystem improvements that address passage and habitat challenges to salmon at various life stages.  That’s encouraging in several respects, California Farm Bureau Federation Senior Counsel Jack Rice said, noting that for the past several decades, environmental groups have often “perpetuated conflict by filing lawsuits that lead to regulations that lead to more lawsuits.” None of that has much helped salmon or other species, he said. … ”  Read more from Ag Alert here: Habitat work shows benefits for protected salmon

Podcast: Tricia Parker and Jim Smith, USFWS: Protecting spring-run chinook salmon in Northern California:  “Join in as Tricia and Jim talk about the role that USFWS plays in monitoring the health of our streams. Learn about the different interests various stakeholders and local governments have in the different projects the agency oversees. Hear the different challenges that USFWS has, in particular since they are not the regulatory agency for anadromous fish, and have to rely on partnerships with NOAA.  Also hear about different projects that have been accomplished, such as replacing a fish ladder from the 1940s, and projects that are in the pipeline. Much of these projects are a result of the Central Valley Project Improvement Act (CVPIA) which came about due to Spring Run Chinook Salmon becoming listed on the Endangered Species Act. Jim and Tricia discuss the challenges of determining which strategies are helping salmon populations, due to the cyclical nature of their populations. ...”  Listen to podcast from the Barbless here:  Podcast: Tricia Parker and Jim Smith, USFWS: Protecting spring-run chinook salmon in Northern California

How dangerous is raw water? Camping out, sleeping under the stars and waking up to fill your canteen from a beautiful mountain stream. That’s part of the appeal of raw water, which has become the latest trend du jour. It seems like the most natural thing in the world. As the Live Water company puts it, it is “naturally probiotic” and “perfected by nature.”  True believers claim that fresh, unadulterated water is chock full of beneficial minerals that you may not get from the tap. ... ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  How dangerous is raw water?

Community Water Center leaders get award:  “Helping communities get clean and affordable water is their mission.  The James Irwin Foundation recognized Susana De Anda and Laurel Firestone Feb. 28 for their work with the Community Water Center.  De Anda and Firestone received the Irvine Leadership Award which came with $200,000 to go toward the work the CWC does.  De Anda and Firestone founded the CWC in 2006, and its home base is in Visalia. The CWC works with communities in Fresno, Tulare, Kern and Kings counties. … ”  Read more from the Hanford Sentinel here:  Community Water Center leaders get award

Federal court will hold first-ever hearing on climate change science:  “A federal judge in San Francisco has ordered parties in a landmark global warming lawsuit to hold what could be the first-ever U.S. court hearing on the science of climate change.  The proceeding, scheduled for March 21 by U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup, will feature lawyers for Exxon, BP, Chevron and other oil companies pitted against those for San Francisco and Oakland — California cities that have accused fossil fuel interests of covering up their role in contributing to global warming. … ”  Read more from McClatchy DC here:  Federal court will hold first-ever hearing on climate change science

In commentary today …

California’s water hole:  The Wall Street Journal writes,Storms like the one that have doused arid California in recent days are cause for celebration, but also for better conservation. The Sierra Nevada mountains received nearly six feet of snow, which was especially welcome in a dry winter. Snowpack in the Sierras had measured a quarter of its historical average.  But precipitation that falls fast and furious is often wasted. Reservoirs in the north can’t store the excess runoff, which flows too rapidly into the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to pump to the Central Valley and southern California. Regulatory protections for smelt and salmon also limit pumping. Hundreds of billions of gallons get flushed out to the ocean—rinse and repeat each winter. ... ”  Read more from the Wall Street Journal here: California’s water hole

Steve Lopez column:  Conflict of interest in Coastal Commission lawsuit leaves lots of questions:  “Six years after the death of the man who wrote California’s landmark coastal protection act, his most famous quote keeps echoing:  “The coast is never saved. It’s always being saved.”  What did Peter Douglas, the first executive director of the California Coastal Commission, mean by that?  He meant the job would never be done because he understood the economic and political forces that conspire to bushwhack the goals of protection and public access to California’s 1,100-mile coastal wonder. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Conflict of interest in Coastal Commission lawsuit leaves lots of questions

In regional news and commentary today …

Klamath communities begin a revolution in forest management:  “In the wake of one of California’s worst wildfire seasons in history, the Karuk Tribe, Six Rivers National Forest, and local watershed groups have just announced plans to implement a new approach to forest management in the heart of the Klamath Basin. The groups recently released the Somes Bar Integrated Fire Management Project Draft Environmental Assessment (Somes Bar Project) signaling the beginning of a new era of fire and forest management projects on public lands. The Somes Bar Project was developed through collaborative efforts, like the Western Klamath Restoration Partnership (WKRP). … ”  Read more from YubaNet here:  Klamath communities begin a revolution in forest management

Butte County groundwater levels need more wet years:  “Last year’s wet winter raised groundwater levels in Butte County an average of 5 feet by last spring.  Unfortunately we need several wet winters in a row to recover from previous declines.  That news was delivered to the county Board of Supervisors last week. In a report on the 2016-17 water year prepared by the county Department of Water and Resource Conservation, Christina Buck, the district’s assistant director, called the increase “a very welcome bump in groundwater conditions.” She said it would be helpful going into what looks like another dry year. ... ”  Read more from the Oroville Mercury Register here:  Butte County groundwater levels need more wet years

Paradise water district may make pitch for PG&E’s Centerville Project:  “In response to Pacific Gas and Electric’s recent listing of the DeSabla-Centerville hydroelectric project, Paradise Irrigation District has cautiously expressed its interest in the project.  “The project is no longer in our economic interest,” PG&E spokesperson Paul Moreno said. “It might be a good fit for another utility, or another water conveyer, so we’ve got it up for sale.” ... ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Paradise water district may make pitch for PG&E’s Centerville Project

Santa Cruz County aerial coastal survey highlights water supply dangers:  “Results of a survey designed to forecast the creep of seawater’s advance toward inland Mid-County freshwater aquifers show a looming threat, Soquel Creek Water District leaders heard Tuesday.  “Our investigation reveals how close seawater intrusion is to the aquifers on shore. That’s in the areas that aren’t already impacted. Some areas are impacted, by our monitoring wells,” Soquel Creek Water District General Manager Ron Duncan said. “I will share the investigation reveals that the seawater intrusion is very close, offshore, along all areas of the coast and that we’re, I would say, on the right track, in tending additional water supplies to prevent further seawater intrusion from ruining our existing groundwater aquifers.” … ”  Read more from the Santa Cruz Sentinel here:  Santa Cruz County aerial coastal survey highlights water supply dangers

Monterey: Experience and economics show Cal Am takeover by Public Water Now would be disastrous, says David Sosa:  He writes, “California American Water Company supplies drinking water to Monterey and neighboring communities on the Peninsula. The community group Public Water Now is advocating that a government entity take ownership of the Cal Am water system serving these communities. As an economist with more than 25 years of experience in public utilities I can say unequivocally that PWN’s claim that government ownership will lead to lower water rates is false and misleading. Government takeover of the local water system would be disastrous for Monterey-area residents. Both economic principles and actual experiences tell us that such a takeover would cause residential rates to increase and lead to greater insecurity of water supply and quality. … ”  Read more from the Monterey County Herald here:  Experience and economics show Cal Am takeover by Public Water Now would be disastrous

Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority committee talks importing water: “The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority’s Technical Advisory Committee met on Thursday afternoon for their monthly committee meeting.  Items on the agenda included administrative items such as approving minutes and making sure all the volunteer members of the relatively new committee had finished their ethics training and filed their financial disclosure forms. Other items on the TAC’s agenda got to the very core of what the IWVGA’s mission is in this valley. The TAC had discussions on opportunities for recycled and imported water, and began talking in earnest about how those opportunities might take shape. … ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here: Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority committee talks importing water

San Luis Obispo County refuses to relinquish control to new North County water district:  “The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday refused to relinquish control as the groundwater sustainability agency to landowners who formed their own district in the Paso Robles Basin, a controversial issue that has pitted neighbor against neighbor.  Members of the newly formed Estrella-El Pomar-Creston Water District, who are some of the largest water users in that area, say they want a say in how groundwater is managed in their area and they have a right to their choice of representation. They asked the county to relinquish control as the groundwater sustainability agency over their private property within the newly-formed district. … ”  Read more from the San Luis Obispo Tribune here:  San Luis Obispo County refuses to relinquish control to new North County water district

Santa Clarita water officials want consultants to design recycling projects:  “Water officials are expected to hire consultants to design plans to bring water to Vista Canyon residential development in Canyon Country.  The Water Factory being planned is a recycled water plant, which is an integral part of the development’s conservation strategy.  Vista Canyon, which is being proposed by Valencia-based JSB Development Inc., is a mixed-use housing project that calls for more than 1,000 homes to be built and almost a 1 million square feet of commercial space on 185 acres across the Santa Clara River from Canyon Country Park. It would be located between Sand Canyon and Lost Canyon roads. … ”  Read more from the Santa Clarita Signal here:  Santa Clarita water officials want consultants to design recycling projects

Border Patrol agents say Tijuana River pollution is making them sick, and officials want it fixed:  “With health complaints continuing from Border Patrol agents who work the polluted areas of the Tijuana River Valley, the federal Customs and Border Protection agency is quietly trying to solve some of the problems of toxic sewage flows from Mexico — on its own.  The agency posted a notice on a federal contracting website last week seeking ideas from private industry on how to get a handle on cross-border sewage and hazardous materials, to which Border Patrol agents are routinely exposed. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Border Patrol agents say Tijuana River pollution is making them sick, and officials want it fixed

Border patrol turns to private sector to solve some sewage problems affecting agents on the beat:  “With health complaints continuing from Border Patrol agents who work the polluted areas of the Tijuana River Valley, the federal Customs and Border Protection agency is quietly trying to solve some of the problems of toxic sewage flows from Mexico — on its own.  The agency posted a notice on a federal contracting website last week seeking ideas from private industry on how to get a handle on cross-border sewage and hazardous materials that flow through the area, and which Border Patrol agents are routinely exposed to. ... ”  Read more from the San Diego Union Tribune here:  Border patrol turns to private sector to solve some sewage problems affecting agents on the beat

Along the Colorado River and elsewhere …

Infighting delays Lake Mead drought plan as water ‘bankers’ protect control:  “Lake Mead is unsustainable. The Southwest U.S. needs a plan. On this, everyone agrees. But a fix is hard because water agencies exist to protect their own interests — and while the depth of the reservoir is a piece of that puzzle, so is making sure they get their share of the water. That’s a difficult balance to strike, and it’s led to political tension in Arizona, California and potentially in the U.S. Senate.  Nevada is ready to sign off on a drought plan for Lake Mead.  But nothing is that easy on the Colorado River. … ”  Read more from the Nevada Independent here:  Infighting delays Lake Mead drought plan as water ‘bankers’ protect control

Recycled wastewater at your tap?  It could soon be in ArizonaMost Americans are familiar by now with the concept of recycled wastewater. We all may not be completely comfortable with the concept of reusing treated sewage, but most of us have at least heard about it, and in some communities we know that it helps parks and street landscaping thrive.  A handful of communities practice what is known as indirect potable reuse, which means using highly refined treated wastewater to recharge groundwater or a reservoir. This water is processed again in a conventional drinking water treatment plant before being delivered to customers. … ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  Recycled wastewater at your tap?  It could soon be in Arizona

Kansas farmers cut Ogallala water use – and still make money:  “Five years ago, a band of farmers in northwest Kansas decided that pumping prodigious volumes of water from the Ogallala Aquifer was a path to ruin.  The vast Ogallala, an underground reserve stretching from South Dakota to Texas, was shrinking. If Sheridan County farmers kept pumping, their piece of the aquifer might effectively be tapped before their heirs had a chance to work land that families revered.  So the farmers decided to use less. Taking advantage of a new state law, they agreed to cut water withdrawals by 20 percent per year through 2017. The self-restraint was a test of farming skills they thought they could pass. ... ”  Read more from the Circle of Blue here: Kansas farmers cut Ogallala water use – and still make money

Precipitation watch …

From the National Weather Service:Odds are increasing that the unsettled weather pattern will continue through at least mid-March across California. Are we in for a Miracle March?

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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