DAILY DIGEST: Metropolitan backs away from plan to finance both Delta tunnels; Sierra snowpack still skimpy after March storms; Deep water in deep trouble: Can we save CA’s drying aquifers?; Trump Administration moves on two fronts to challenge CA enviro protections; and more …

In California water news today, Metropolitan backs away from plan to finance both Delta tunnels; Sierra snowpack still skimpy after March storms; Deep water in deep trouble: Can we save CA’s drying aquifers?; Trump Administration moves on two fronts to challenge CA environmental protections; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • The State Water Resources Control Board meets at 9:30 am. Agenda items include an update on hydrologic conditions, an update on urban water conservation, and an update on the State Water Board’s resolution on a comprehensive response to climate change.  Click here for full agendaClick here to watch on webcast.
  • The Delta Independent Science Board meets from 10:30 to 12:30pm.  Agenda items include a discussion of the review of the Delta Plan Ecosystem Amendment Synthesis Papers and a discussion of the Water Supply Reliability Review.  Click here for full agenda.

In the news today …

Metropolitan Water District backs away from plan to finance both Delta tunnels:  “The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is dropping plans to push ahead with a two-tunnel proposal to revamp the state’s water delivery system, opting to pursue a scaled-back version instead.  In a memo to the agency’s board on Monday, MWD officials said the decision followed discussions with major agricultural districts that remain unwilling to make any financing commitments for the project, known as California WaterFix.  Rather than fund much of the full project on its own, the staff will ask the board to vote next week to approve $5.3 billion in funding for a smaller capacity, one-tunnel version. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Metropolitan Water District backs away from plan to finance both Delta tunnels

Sierra snowpack still skimpy after March storms:  “The fifth most productive March on record for snow wasn’t enough to make up for disappointing precipitation throughout the key months of December, January and February.  Heading into the April measurement of the Sierra Nevada snowpack, water content stood at more than 40 percent below normal. It’s just 57 percent of the long-term average.  A system lining up in the Pacific could bring in a late-season bonus of snowfall later this week, but at this point there’s little that could save this from being a dry water year. … ” Read more from KQED here:  Sierra snowpack still skimpy after March storms

Sierra snowpack is heftier than it was a month ago, but still less than average:  “The storms of March may not have rained glory on the state, but they dropped enough snow on the Sierra to greatly improve the drought situation and, with another storm rolling in this week, water resources officials believe thirsty California will make it through the year.  The Sierra snowpack, known to water resources officials as the state’s frozen water supply, is 52 percent of average for this time of year — not great, but a lot better than it was in January and February, according to the California Department of Water Resources. … ”  Read more from SF Gate here: Sierra snowpack is heftier than it was a month ago, but still less than average

California’s rainy season was pretty dry.  Here’s what this means to you:  “We’re at the end of California’s rainy season. So, how did we do?  State water officials are set to make the annual trek on Monday across frigid fields in the mountains near Lake Tahoe to manually check the level of snow. Typically by now the snowpack levels in the Sierras have reached their highest point. Automated sensors already show us that the snowpack is below average. That’s a problem for our state, which is just one year removed from one of the worst droughts in its recorded history.  So, how much water do we have? And what does that mean for the average person? … ”  Read more from KPCC here:  California’s rainy season was pretty dry.  Here’s what this means to you

Deep water in deep trouble: Can we save California’s drying aquifers?  “It may not be a true meteorological “March Miracle,” but it’s close enough for government work, as government workers are wont to say. The series of storms that have battered California in recent weeks have pumped up the snowpack in the Sierra and swelled streams at lower elevations. And it looks like we could be in for a last wet gasp from the Pacific, with a fairly robust front poised to dump rain and snow mid-week. For a state that still teeters on drought despite last year’s extraordinarily wet rainy season, that’s good news. … ”  Read more from California Magazine here:  Deep water in deep trouble: Can we save California’s drying aquifers? 

Trump Administration moves on two fronts to challenge California environmental protections:  “The Trump administration openly threatened one of the cornerstones of California’s environmental protections Monday, saying that it may revoke the state’s ability under the Clean Air Act to impose stricter standards than the federal government sets for vehicle emissions.  The announcement came as the administration confirmed it is tearing up landmark fuel economy rules that formed a key part of the effort by the Obama administration and California officials to combat global warming — and as the Justice Department sued to block a state law that limits the federal government’s ability to sell any of the 46 million acres it controls in California. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Trump Administration moves on two fronts to challenge California environmental protections

In regional news and commentary today …

Yurok Tribe appeals dismissal of fishing rights lawsuit:  “A decades-old dispute over fishing rights in the lower Klamath River between the Yurok Tribe and its smaller neighbor, the Resighini Rancheria, is now going before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.  The Yurok Tribe had filed a federal lawsuit against the Resighini Rancheria and rancheria Secretary Gary Dowd in May 2016, claiming rancheria members illegally fished the mouth of the Klamath River several times without permission of the tribe or state between 1994 and 2014. … ”  Read more from the Eureka Times-Standard here:  Yurok Tribe appeals dismissal of fishing rights lawsuit

After deadly wildfires, a new problem for Santa Rosa: Contaminated water:  “When a wildfire leveled a whole neighborhood in Santa Rosa, California, in October, it was just the first disaster for this Wine Country city. A second disaster is now unfolding after chemical contamination was detected in the city’s drinking water following the fire.  The Tubbs Fire, part of a trio of fires known as the Central LNU Complex, destroyed more than 5,600 structures and killed 23 people. The first neighborhood it hit was Fountaingrove, an enclave of expensive homes strung along scenic ridgetops. More than 300 homes in the neighborhood burned to the ground.  Soon afterward, some Santa Rosa residents began to smell chemicals in their drinking water. … ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  After deadly wildfires, a new problem for Santa Rosa: Contaminated water

Napa County: Watershed and woodlands protection or attack on agriculture:  “After years of trying to save the oak trees he loves in Napa County, Jim Wilson may be about to realize his dream. He’s part of the team behind Napa’s Measure C, an initiative on the June ballot with the twin goals of preserving oak woodlands and protecting water.  “Our hillsides are beautiful and also filter rain, keeping water clean as it replenishes aquifers,” said Wilson, a retired Anheuser-Busch chemist who lives on a fifth-generation cattle ranch in Napa. “Ninety-five percent of oaks on the valley floor are gone and we want to do a better job reducing deforestation on hills.” ... ”  Read more from the Bay Area Monitor here:  Watershed and woodlands protection or attack on agriculture

El Dorado County: Work on Forebay Dam resumes in April:  “The El Dorado Irrigation District plans to resume work on the El Dorado Forebay Dam Modification Project this week according to a notice sent to residents in Pollock Pines.  The project is being carried out to bring the dam into compliance with current California dam safety requirements.  The work includes constructing an earthen stability buttress on the dry side of the dam, raising the dam 10 vertical feet and upgrading the surrounding facilities. … ”  Read more from the Mountain Democrat here:  Work on Forebay Dam resumes in April

Report: Most seats on Valley water boards go uncontested:  “A new report from the Visalia-based Community Water Center indicates that over 500 local water board seats have gone uncontested in recent elections. In the southern San Joaquin Valley, the report finds that 87 percent of seats on public water agency boards went uncontested. When only one candidate is seeking a seat, the election for that seat is canceled. The report looked at water agencies that serve residential and industrial customers as well as irrigation districts that serve farmers. The groups calls for a move to recruit and train possible candidates for these offices and better public understanding of the role these districts play in California’s water system. To learn more about the issue we spoke with the report’s author Charloette Weiner who explains in many cases it’s hard to recruit people for these important – but unpaid – positions.”  Read more from Valley Public Radio here:  Report: Most seats on Valley water boards go uncontested

San Diego officials: New testing ensures future accuracy of water meters:  “San Diego city officials on Monday unveiled newly acquired equipment for testing the accuracy of residential and commercial water meters.  The effort is part of a broader campaign to address ongoing concerns about water bills that have jumped by hundreds, sometimes thousands, of dollars in recent months. ... ”  Read more from the San Diego Union Tribune here:  San Diego officials: New testing ensures future accuracy of water meters

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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