DAILY DIGEST: Why your water provider is fighting California’s ban on watering sidewalks; March storms have raised Lake Oroville 13 feet; Big improvement in predicting atmospheric rivers; LaMalfa says Shasta Dam raise not a top priority; and more …

In California water news today, Why your water provider is fighting California’s ban on watering sidewalks; March storms have raised Lake Oroville 13 feet; Big improvement in predicting drought-busting atmospheric rivers; GOP pushing rider for Shasta Dam raise; Although restricted, there will be a 2018 salmon season; Rain, heavy mountain snow to stream across California into Saturday; New Sierra snow storm bringing up to 5 feet of powder, but it’s not a “March Miracle” yet; EPA: Pruitt is expected to restrict science. Here’s what it means; and more …

In the news today …

Why your water provider is fighting California’s ban on watering sidewalks:  “It seemed like the sort of thing any drought-wary Californian could support.  The state’s water cops were poised last month to pass a set of rules prohibiting what most everyone agrees are wasteful water uses –like letting water from a hose without a nozzle flow into a storm drain.  But no change in California water policy ever comes easily. The State Water Resources Control Board’s proposal to impose permanent conservation rules – such as prohibiting hosing down driveways, watering lawns less than two days after it rains and washing a car without attaching a shut-off nozzle to the hose – ran into a cascade of opposition. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Why your water provider is fighting California’s ban on watering sidewalks

March storms have raised Lake Oroville 13 feet:  “State Parks workers were pulling cable up a launch ramp at Bidwell Marina Thursday because the water level in Lake Oroville is on the rise.  March’s storms have brought the lake level up almost 13 feet since the start of the month, according to the Department of Water Resources website. As of 2 p.m. Thursday the surface was just over 738 feet above sea level, up almost 3 feet in the previous 24 hours. ... ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  March storms have raised Lake Oroville 13 feet

Big improvement in predicting drought-busting atmospheric rivers:  “Atmospheric rivers are vital to western water supplies, yet until very recently they were poorly understood: difficult to predict and measure, and very hard for scientists to estimate where they would make landfall.  These are often erroneously called “pineapple express” storms, a term that applies to only a subset of atmospheric river events that originate near Hawaii. Most atmospheric river storms begin in the more distant tropical ocean and develop into a narrow band of strong winds that funnel huge quantities of moisture toward the West Coast of the United States. These storms are so wet that just a handful can account for half of California’s total winter precipitation. … ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  Big improvement in predicting drought-busting atmospheric rivers

GOP pushing rider for Shasta Dam raise:  “House Republicans are seeking to add a provision to must-pass spending legislation that would facilitate a massive water infrastructure project in California, even though the state has said it doesn’t want it.  Congress is rushing to pass a funding measure to keep the government open by next Friday. A rider backed by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) would allow the federal government to pay for the early phases of raising Shasta Dam in Northern California.  “If we’ve learned nothing else from the past years of catastrophic drought in our state,” McCarthy said in a statement, “perhaps we now all agree that increasing storage capacity to capture water during wet years for use in dry years is absolutely critical. That is why I strongly support expanding the Shasta Reservoir.” … ”  Continue reading at E&E News here:  GOP pushing rider for major California dam project

LaMalfa says Shasta Dam raise not a top priority:  “While one federal agency wants to go forward with plans to raise the height of Shasta Dam, the congressman whose district includes the dam called it a “rumor that is going around all the time,” and said it is not his top priority for water projects in Northern California.  A U.S. Bureau of Reclamation spokeswoman said Wednesday that the agency has asked Congress for $20 million to begin design and pre-construction work on the dam as part of the 2019 budget. … ”  Read more from the Record Searchlight here:  LaMalfa says Shasta Dam raise not a top priority

Although restricted, there will be a 2018 salmon season:  “For those of us hankering to pursue the finest of seafoods, the figurative glass contains half the water it could. That is, some fishermen are relieved by the season options newly proposed by fishery managers, while others are dearly disappointed.  The agreement settled upon Wednesday by the Pacific Fishery Management Council, which convened in Rohnert Park, promises we will be fishing in California, and in the Bay Area we could be allowed on the water as early as June 9. There are three options on the table, each of which allows fishing through October. The council will meet again and make a decision on which plan will be the one implemented on April 11. … ”  Read more from the Marin Independent Journal here:  Although restricted, there will be a 2018 salmon season

Rain, heavy mountain snow to stream across California into Saturday:  “The unsettled pattern that has brought needed rain and mountain snow to California this week will persist into the start of the weekend.  Much of the rainfall so far this week has been beneficial for the drought-stricken state, falling at rates below the threshold for triggering mudslides and debris flows.  Earlier this week, mandatory evacuations were issued for areas in Santa Barbara County near the Thomas, Sherpa and Whittier burn scars, but have since been canceled. … ”  Read more from Accu-Weather here: Rain, heavy mountain snow to stream across California into Saturday

New Sierra snow storm bringing up to 5 feet of powder, but it’s not a “March Miracle” yet: Ski resorts are crowing over a major snowstorm that began pounding the Sierra Nevada late Thursday, with forecasters warning of white-out conditions, road closures and up to five feet of new snow at the highest elevations by Saturday morning.  After a dismally dry start to California’s winter, some observers have even gone so far as to tout this month’s bounty of storms as reminiscent of the “March Miracle,” the famous, stormy March 1991 that launched the beginning of the end of the state’s stubborn 1987-1992 drought. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  New Sierra snow storm bringing up to 5 feet of powder, but it’s not a “March Miracle” yet

EPA: Pruitt is expected to restrict science.  Here’s what it means:  “U.S. EPA chief Scott Pruitt is expected to roll out plans soon to restrict the agency’s use of science in rulemakings, pitting him against critics who say it would threaten public health and environmental protections.  In a closed-door meeting at the Heritage Foundation on Monday, Pruitt told a group of conservatives that he has plans for additional science reform at the agency, according to multiple attendees. EPA hasn’t formally shared details of the plan, but it’s widely expected to resemble an effort that Republican lawmakers and conservative groups have been pushing for years. It’s been met with staunch resistance from Democrats and many scientists. ... ” Read more from E&E News here:  EPA: Pruitt is expected to restrict science.  Here’s what it means

FEMA drops ‘climate change’ from its strategic plan“The Federal Emergency Management Agency, the federal government’s first responder to floods, hurricanes and other natural disasters, has eliminated references to climate change from its strategic planning document for the next four years.  That document, released by FEMA on Thursday, outlines plans for building preparedness and reducing the complexity of the agency. … ”  Read more from NPR here:  FEMA drops ‘climate change’ from its strategic plan

In commentary today …

California cities risk being sunk by unnecessary stormwater cleanup costs, says the OC Register:  They write, “Local governments in California risk being sunk by the cost of projects to clean up stormwater runoff, but a new report by the state auditor says those costs are not always “necessary and appropriate.”  The report recommends that the Legislature amend state law to direct the State Water Board to assess whether a study is justified to evaluate the safe level of a pollutant in a specific body of water. As an example, it cited a study of the Los Angeles River that found that a higher limit of a pollutant was safe, saving over a billion dollars. ... ”  Read more from the OC Register here:  California cities risk being sunk by unnecessary stormwater cleanup costs

In regional news and commentary today …

BOB and MARI will monitor water chemistry in the San Francisco Bay:  “Scientists have had nagging questions about how ocean acidification might be affecting the waters of the San Francisco Bay. But if you can’t trust BOB and MARI with your research questions, who can you trust?  That’s BOB, the Bay Ocean Buoy and MARI, BOB’s companion mooring for Marine Acidification Research Inquiry, of course.  BOB and MARI are a bright yellow, five-foot tall buoy and its companion mooring, respectively. … ”  Read more from Environmental Monitor here:  BOB and MARI will monitor water chemistry in the San Francisco Bay

Antioch to create desalination plant with $10 million grant:  “Antioch will create a desalination plant with a $10 million grant from the state of California, the city announced on Wednesday.  Antioch is among only three cities or water agencies to receive the large grant, according to the Antioch city manager’s office. … ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  Antioch to create desalination plant with $10 million grant

Saltwater intrusion threat increases near Capitola area:  “The Santa Cruz Mid-County Groundwater Agency has taken a major step to ensure sustainable management of groundwater, the primary source of water for the entire mid-county region. Thursday at a meeting at the Simpkins Family Swim Center, the agency released results of a yearlong hydrological airborne investigation assessing the condition of underground water resources.  “The study identified the missing piece of the puzzle,” said Ron Duncan, general manager of the Soquel Creek Water District. “It determined just how close seawater is to the aquifers onshore and thus impacting our community water supply.” On-shore monitoring wells previously detected saltwater intrusion at Pleasure Point, Seascape, and La Selva Beach but the new study now shows that seawater intrusion is very close to shore in areas where it was previously unknown between those locations. ... ”  Read more from the Santa Cruz Sentinel here:  Saltwater intrusion threat increases near Capitola area

Patterson: Water flows so food can grow: “Officials from Del Puerto Water District, the City of Modesto and other entities involved in the North Valley Regional Recycled Water Program (NVRRWP) gathered for a ribbon cutting at the outflow on the Delta Mendota Canal Tuesday morning, marking the completion of the first phase of the project, which allows water from the City of Modesto’s wastewater treatment plant to flow into the Delta Mendota Canal. … ”  Read more from the Patterson Irrigator here:  Water flows so food can grow

Owens Valley: Inyo CAO Carunchio livens up already lively Technical Group meeting:  “The first few hours of Wednesday’s Technical Group meeting continued the verbal wrestling match between Inyo County and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power over a proposed two-month pumping test on Five Bridges’ W385. Then came the question of the department providing water to three landfill sites as a new enhancement/mitigation project. Inyo has begun condemnation proceedings on the sites, an action that drew a lawsuit from the City. The condemnation includes water rights. LADWP raised the possibility of the new E/M project at the last Tech Group meeting, a suggestion that wasn’t immediately embraced by Inyo’s Water Department. … ”  Read more from the Sierra Wave here:  Owens Valley: Inyo CAO Carunchio livens up already lively Technical Group meeting

Santa Barbara County says it will move material from mudflows for 2 to 5 years:  “Santa Barbara County will be removing debris from the Montecito mudflows for the next two to five years, according to a staff report presented at the Board of Supervisors’ regular meeting on March 13.  Assistant county CEO Matthew Pontes told the supervisors that even though 30,000 cubic yards of material had been removed from roads and cleared from bridges and drainages, there was still much work to be done.  Permanent restoration projects needed include multiple culvert repairs, bridge rail reconstruction, and three complete bridge replacements. … ”  Read more from the Santa Maria Sun here:  Santa Barbara County says it will move material from mudflows for 2 to 5 years

Olivenhain Municipal Water District receives $650,000 in grant funding:  “Olivenhain Municipal Water District received notice yesterday that it has been awarded $650,000 in grant funding from California’s Department of Water Resources to continue exploring the feasibility of brackish groundwater desalination in the San Dieguito Valley.  In an effort to boost water supply in the wake of the state’s historic, five-year drought, DWR awarded Proposition 1 funding to eight projects throughout California. OMWD’s award will facilitate the design and construction of a test well and field testing of treatment technologies for its San Dieguito Valley Brackish Groundwater Desalination Design Pilot. … ”  Read more from the Del Mar Times here:  Olivenhain Municipal Water District receives $650,000 in grant funding

Along the Colorado River …

More shortages on tap for the Colorado River?  “The Southwest could experience another water shortage from the Colorado River as drought conditions continue.  That message from Dr. Paul Brown, biometeorology specialist with the University Arizona Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science, includes about half the normal spring inflows into Lake Powell, on the Arizona-Utah border. … ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press here:  More shortages on tap for the Colorado River?

Precipitation watch …

From the National Weather Service:Moderate to heavy snow showers are possible today into early Saturday. Snow levels range from around 2500 feet in the Shasta mountains and 3000 to 4000 feet over the Coastal Range and mountains of Western Plumas county and Northern Sierra Nevada.  Afternoon thunderstorms are possible in the Central Valley and Foothills, which may produce small hail.

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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