DAILY DIGEST, weekend edition: California water use back to pre-drought levels as conservation wanes; Stormy weather pattern expected this week; Bug breeding in floodplains meant to help salmon food supply; and more …

In California water news this weekend, California water use back to pre-drought levels as conservation wanes; California to settle into a stormy pattern this week; Bug breeding in floodplains meant to help salmon food supply; Another drought year promises to test the Klamath Basin; and more …

In the news this weekend …

California water use back to pre-drought levels as conservation wanes:  “California’s water conservation habits, refined and improved over five years of drought, are quickly evaporating.  For the seventh time in the last eight months, the amount of water saved by urban Californians has declined, according to new data from the State Water Resources Control Board. In other words, lawn sprinklers are back on, showers are getting longer and overall, California’s water use, after five years of conserving, is now back to where it was before the drought began. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  California water use back to pre-drought levels as conservation wanes

California to settle into a stormy pattern this week:  “California and part of the southwestern United States will likely turn stormy and wet for an extended period for the middle of March.  A weather pattern favoring rounds of rain and mountain snow is forecast to begin during the middle of the week.  While much of the winter brought many days of sunshine to the region, a siege of cloudy skies and wet conditions is brewing. … ”  Read more from AccuWeather here:  California to settle into a stormy pattern this week

Bug breeding in floodplains meant to help salmon food supply:  “An effort is underway to beef up California’s salmon.  A group of UC Davis scientists is partnering with the conservation group California Trout to grow bugs in floodplains to feed salmon.  The scientists say rivers in California don’t provide much food for salmon, which they say are already on the brink of extinction. ... ”  Read more from CBS Sacramento here:  Bug breeding in floodplains meant to help salmon food supply

Study indicated climate change will wreak havoc on California agriculture:  “The California we know is the breadbasket of the nation, producing more than two-thirds of the country’s fruits and nuts, including almonds, pistachios, oranges, apricots, nectarines and prunes, and more than a third of its vegetables, including artichokes, broccoli, spinach and carrots. It’s all valued at more than $50 billion a year.  That’s the assessment of a recent paper by a University of California team led by Tapan Pathak of UC Merced. But the researchers focused on a different aspect of California agriculture: You can kiss much of it goodbye because of climate change. … ” Read more from the LA Times here:  Study indicated climate change will wreak havoc on California agriculture

In commentary this weekend …

Mike Dunbar: State water board knows it can’t justify the water grab, but it won’t matter:  He writes, “There’s no doubt members of the State Water Resources Control Board don’t want to hear another word about their water grab from farmers, elected leaders, economists, irrigation districts or especially newspaper columnists.  But how about some of the state’s most respected scientists? How about the “Delta Watermaster”? How about people who have been shoulder-deep studying our rivers for decades? … ”  Continue reading at the Modesto Bee here:  State water board knows it can’t justify the water grab, but it won’t matter

Sandra Postel: As water shortages loom, how to keep western rivers flowing:  She writes, “The drought now gripping the southwestern United States feels scarily familiar. In a recent public opinion survey of western voters, 82 percent listed low river levels as their top concern when it came to water.  In five of the last seven years the snowpack in the Upper Colorado River Basin on March 1 has registered below the long-term average. It has been nearly two decades since Lakes Powell and Mead, the giant reservoirs on the Colorado River that supply water to some 40 million people and 5 million acres of farmland, were full. Currently, their capacities stand at 55 percent and 41 percent respectively, and with much of the Colorado River Basin now in severe or extreme drought, those lake levels will not rise significantly any time soon. … ”  Read more from The Hill here:  As water shortages loom, how to keep western rivers flowing

San Jose Mercury News editorial: Prop 68 water, parks bond deserves Californian’s support:  “One of the easiest decisions for California voters on the June 5 ballot should be Proposition 68. Vote yes on the $4.1 billion bond plan to fund parks and water projects throughout the state.  The ballot measure is the first statewide parks and water bond to appear before voters since 2006, when the $5.4 billion Proposition 84 was approved by 54 percent of voters. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  San Jose Mercury News editorial: Prop 68 water, parks bond deserves Californian’s support

In regional news and commentary this weekend …

Another drought year promises to test the Klamath Basin:  “Shavon Haynes tromps into a small, quiet clearing in the woods on Mount Ashland. He drops a black pack into the knee-deep snow. He pulls out a snow sampler, two lengths of worn metal pipe and screws them together. … This late-season snow near the Oregon-California border will feed the Klamath Basin. It’s been welcome, but the snowpack is still less than half of what an average winter brings. And that’s no good for the region. ... ”  Read more from OPB here:  Another drought year promises to test the Klamath Basin

Siskiyou County on the wrong path on groundwater, says Felice Pace:  “Groundwater planning is getting underway in Siskiyou County. Mandated by the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), the planning should result in local adoption of groundwater management plans for the Scott, Shasta, Butte Valley and Tule Lake Groundwater Basins by 2024. While the plans are locally controlled, they must conform to criteria set out in SGMA and its implementing regulations. State agencies will review the plans and, if local plans do not meet state-wide criteria, they are supposed to step in and create groundwater management plans which achieve sustainability. ... ”  Read more from the Siskiyou Daily News here:  Siskiyou County on the wrong path on groundwater, says Felice Pace

Marin Municipal Water District faces $129,250 fine for spill that killed fish:  “The Marin Municipal Water District is facing a $129,250 fine by a regional water agency for releasing 105,000 gallons of chlorinated water into San Anselmo Creek in Fairfax, which resulted in a fish kill.  The incident occurred July 16, 2016 when a blow-off valve failed on a 6-inch steel water main that was installed in 1962. The fish kill mainly involved sculpin and California roach. At least one rainbow trout or steelhead also was killed. An exact tally was never determined. … ”  Read more from the Marin Independent Journal here:  Marin Municipal Water District faces $129,250 fine for spill that killed fish

San Miguel water rates could rise 200%:  “San Miguel residents could see their water and sewer rates double or even triple this summer.  This packet shows the findings of a water rate study that’s been underway for the past year or so in San Miguel. It says without a rate increase, the San Miguel Community Services District will have zero funds by 2020.  “Doubling a water bill in a community like this… we are a workforce housing and workforce people. You are looking at a big mistake,” said Michael Sanders of San Miguel. … ”  Read more from KSBY here:  San Miguel water rates could rise 200%

Malibu: Coastal Commission OKs Rindge Dam removal plan; still a long way to go: The California Coastal Commission Friday gave a green light to a plan that would eventually see the removal of the Rindge Dam in Malibu Creek begin in 2025—despite a lack of data on increased flood risk, sediment flow, truck traffic procedures and other issues raised by residents.  The plan, put forth by the Army Corps of Engineers in partnership with California State Parks, is still a long way from commencement, which the army corps and coastal commission staff say means any potential problems can be solved long before construction begins. … ”  Read more from the Malibu Times here:  Coastal Commission OKs Rindge Dam removal plan; still a long way to go

Progress report: After 25 years of cleaning contaminated water in the San Gabriel Valley, here’s how it’s coming along:  “Just a few years after the 1979 discovery that contaminants had spread throughout the massive San Gabriel Valley underground aquifer, I asked U.S. Environmental Protection Agency project manager of the Superfund Program, Wayne Praskins, what it was going to take to rid the basin of all contaminants.  His answer: $800 million over 30 years. … ”  Read more from the Pasadena Star News here:  Progress report: After 25 years of cleaning contaminated water in the San Gabriel Valley, here’s how it’s coming along

‘Eye-popping’ number of hypodermic needles, pounds of waste cleared from Orange County riverbed homeless encampment: “Crews from the Orange County Public Works department have collected nearly 14,000 hypodermic needles and cleared more than 5,000 pounds of hazardous waste — including human waste — from the vast homeless encampment along the Santa Ana River trail.  The numbers, released last week, represent cleanup work done from Jan. 22 to March 3 along a two-mile stretch of trail spanning the 5 Freeway in Orange to Ball Road in Anaheim. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union Tribune here:  ‘Eye-popping’ number of hypodermic needles, pounds of waste cleared from Orange County riverbed homeless encampment

Along the Colorado River …

Could Las Vegas’ thirst one day be quenched with ocean water?  “Southern Nevada’s population could grow to about 3.6 million in 50 years, sparking talks of the possibility of a water desalination plant on the shores of the Pacific Ocean, said John Entsminger, general manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority.  The region now has an estimated population of about 2.1 million, according to the UNLV Center for Business and Economic Research. A population jump to 3.6 million people would be big but not unprecedented, Entsminger said recently on Nevada Newsmakers. ... ”  Read more from the Las Vegas Sun here:  Could Las Vegas’ thirst one day be quenched with ocean water?

Precipitation watch …

Also on Maven’s Notebook this weekend …

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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.

Maven’s Notebook
where California water news never goes home for the weekend

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