DAILY DIGEST: Big storm raising flooding fears across Northern California; Feather River flows increase to make room in Lake Oroville; Interior Department proposal could end protections for threatened species; and more …

In California water news today, Big storm raising flooding fears across Northern California; Feather River flows increase to make room in Lake Oroville; Nothing’s been done to protect 100 miles of Southern California creeks and rivers, group claims in lawsuit against Trump Administration; New report on climate change in the Sierra Nevada shows need for human adaptation; Interior Department proposal could end protections for threatened species; Leaked memo: Pruitt has authority over Clean Water Act;  and more …

On the calendar today …

In the news today …

Big storm raising flooding fears across Northern California:  “Flash floods, rising rivers and mudslides are possible across Northern California as a storm that’s more January than April barrels in from the Pacific, the National Weather Service warns.  “This is not the time of year when we see these big precipitation events,” said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at UCLA. “This storm will be comparable to some of the big storms we’ve seen over the past couple of years.” … ”  Read more from SF Chronicle here:  Big storm raising flooding fears across Northern California

Heavy rain to enhance flood, mudslide risk through Saturday:  “Residents of California are being put on alert for a renewed risk of flooding, mudslides and travel disruptions through the first part of the weekend.  A plume of moisture from the tropical regions of the Pacific Ocean, also known as an atmospheric river, will take aim at Northern and central California through Saturday.  “This atmospheric river will bring periods of heavy rain to Northern and central California through the first half of the weekend,” said AccuWeather Meteorologist Brett Rathbun. ... ”  Read more from AccuWeather here:  Heavy rain to enhance flood, mudslide risk through Saturday

Feather River flows increase to make room in Lake Oroville:  “Water releases into the Feather River increased Wednesday as the Department of Water Resources made room in Lake Oroville for water expected to flow in due to the oncoming storms.  Flow though the Hyatt Powerhouse at the base of Oroville Dam was increased from 9,500 cubic feet per second to 11,500 cfs at noon, and boosted again to 13,000 cfs at 1 p.m.  The flow increases caused a visible rise of the water level at Riverbend Park, according to photographer Bill Husa. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Feather River flows increase to make room in Lake Oroville

Nothing’s been done to protect 100 miles of Southern California creeks and rivers, group claims in lawsuit against Trump Administration:  “More than nine years after Congress declared 100 miles of waterways in Southern California as wild and scenic, the federal agencies managing those resources have done nothing to protect them, according to a lawsuit filed last week in federal court in Los Angeles.  The Center For Biological Diversity is suing the Trump Administration for violating the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, which requires the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service to draw up comprehensive plans for designated creeks and rivers that won’t impede water flows, protects plants and animals from harm and provides recreational opportunities.  These waterways are in remote, inland regions of Inyo, Ventura, San Bernardino and Riverside counties. … ”  Read more from the Los Angeles Daily News here:  Nothing’s been done to protect 100 miles of Southern California creeks and rivers, group claims in lawsuit against Trump Administration

New report on climate change in the Sierra Nevada shows need for human adaptation:  “The Sierra Nevada mountain range looms over California, stretching 400 miles from Oregon to Tehachapi Pass in Kern County. The range contains the highest point in the continental United States, Mount Whitney, and is home to both the oldest and largest trees in the world — as well as diverse wildlife, from mountain lions to mosquitos.  The range also looms large in the lives of California’s 40 million residents. The food we grow and water we drink depends on the mountains and their effects on climate. That’s why researchers in UCLA’s Center for Climate Science spent the past three years projecting how climate change will affect the Sierra Nevada. On April 2, the final report was released. … ”  Read more from UCLA News here:  New report on climate change in the Sierra Nevada shows need for human adaptation

Interior Department proposal could end protections for threatened species:  “The U.S. Department of the Interior proposed a rule to the White House this week that would effectively rescind most protections for hundreds of species of wildlife listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.  Protections to be eliminated include the 40-year-old rule, 4(d) in the Act, which offers the same special protections for threatened species as those categorized as endangered.  “The Trump administration just issued a death sentence to nearly 300 threatened species,” Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement. … ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service here: Interior Department proposal could end protections for threatened species

Leaked memo: Pruitt has authority over Clean Water Act:  “Key provisions in the Clean Water Act are now under the control of one person at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency — Administrator Scott Pruitt, according to a leaked memo obtained by CNN.  In the new directive, Pruitt states he will make final critical decisions about preservation of streams, ponds and wetlands.  Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility provided CNN with a copy of the memo dated March 30, 2018. In the memo calling for “regulatory certainty,” Pruitt directed EPA regional offices to “cede their Clean Water Act determinations” to him, said Kyla Bennett, the New England director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. … ”  Read more from KEYT here:  Leaked memo: Pruitt has authority over Clean Water Act

In commentary today …

Sure fish need water; but they also go bug wild for farm food, say Roger Cornwell and Jacob Katz:  They write, “California’s water future feels increasingly uncertain with precipitation patterns swinging from deluge to drought and back again.  As policymakers scramble to adjust to this new normal and attempt to update our state’s complex approach to water management in this era of climate change, it would be easy to expect stakeholders to retreat to their various corners.  Thankfully, when it comes to making plans for our uncertain water future here in California’s Central Valley, that’s not what’s happening. Instead, farmers, conservationists, water districts and government agencies are working together to under the auspices of the Sacramento Valley Salmon Restoration Program. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here: Sure fish need water; but they also go bug wild for farm food

I killed the Colorado River – and so did you, says Ryan Sabalow:  He writes, “There’s a small shell on my desk at work. It’s not much, this freshwater clam about an inch across.  But this shell has quickly become an important symbol for me as I ponder the future of my reporting on environmental issues.  While on a recent fellowship with the Institute for Journalism and Natural Resources, my fingernails dug this little clamshell out of a dry bed of sand where the Colorado River once flowed through the Mexicali Valley south of the border from Yuma, Arizona. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  I killed the Colorado River – and so did you

In regional news and commentary today …

Merkley gets input from irrigators, Tribes:  “U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley met separately with a group of Upper Basin and Klamath Project irrigators and then with members of the Klamath Tribes at Oregon Tech in Klamath Falls on Tuesday; some of the closed-door meetings held by the senator during his visit through the area.  Merkley also held an open-to-the public town hall in Oregon Tech later Tuesday morning that drew roughly 120 people to the university to hear his thoughts on the drought, gun control and solving the student debt crisis. … ”  Read more from the Herald & News here:  Merkley gets input from irrigators, Tribes

Lake Shastina requests inclusion in Shasta Valley Basin boundary:  “In a 5-0 vote on Wednesday, March 28, the Lake Shastina Community Services District directors requested the Shasta Valley Basin Groundwater Services Agency consider extending the basin boundary to include their District inside the Shasta Valley Basin boundary line.  The decision came after nearly an hour of questions and comments between the Board, staff, residents and representatives from the GSA. ... ”  Read more from the Mt. Shasta News here:  Lake Shastina requests inclusion in Shasta Valley Basin boundary

Drenching rain on the way turns focus to Sonoma County burn scars:  “A drenching, late-season rainstorm expected to batter the North Coast over the next several days could cause localized flooding and is expected to present the stiffest test so far to burn scars left by October’s wildfires.  An atmospheric river funneling subtropical moisture from Hawaii is set to begin pelting Sonoma County with rain late Thursday, dumping up to 3 inches of rainfall across Santa Rosa and southern Sonoma County by Saturday, up to 6 inches in the county’s western and northern regions, and even higher levels in coastal hills, according to the National Weather Service. … ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here:  Drenching rain on the way turns focus to Sonoma County burn scars

Napa River headed for another tipping point, says Patrick Higgins:  He writes, “In June, Napa County voters will be asked to consider Measure C — the Watershed and Oak Woodland Protection Initiative. This measure will protect some of the last intact uplands from development for viewshed considerations, increased recreational access, and protection of biodiversity and clean drinking water sources.  I am a consulting fisheries and watershed scientist, and I offer my perspective on the benefits, if Measure C passes, and a note of caution about potentially irreversible impacts to domestic water supplies, should Measure C fail. … ”  Read more from the Napa Register here:  Napa River headed for another tipping point

Napa transportation leaders endorse efforts to save threatened Highway 37:  “Napa County transportation leaders have endorsed a Highway 37 plan that offers options to address congestion and predicted sea level rise without dictating the ultimate solution.  It’s just one step in a process that could place segments of Highway 37 on a causeway or embankment, cost $1.5 billion to $4.5 billion and take 10 years to 20 years or longer to complete, with smaller improvements in the interim.  The 21-mile highway runs amid wetlands to link Vallejo and Novato. Public transportation agencies from Napa, Solano, Marin and Sonoma counties are exploring ways to improve an already-congested highway predicted to go partly under tidal waters by mid-century. ... ”  Read more from the American Canyon Eagle here:  Napa transportation leaders endorse efforts to save threatened Highway 37

Tony San Francisco enclave drenched its greenery on the city’s dime for over a century:  “Homeowners who live in San Francisco’s gated Presidio Terrace have been using up to 1 million gallons of city water a year to maintain the picture-perfect trees, walkways and flower beds along their private street — and the city has been paying the bill.  In fact, San Francisco water officials said they have no record of ever having sent a bill to the Presidio Terrace Homeowners Association for water service to the private compound’s common areas for the entire 113 years of its existence. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  Tony San Francisco enclave drenched its greenery on the city’s dime for over a century

San Mateo: Fish funds could help revive watershed:  “The San Mateo County Resource Conservation District has been awarded $3.1 million in grants to restore the habitat of coho salmon and steelhead trout in the San Gregorio Creek and Pescadero Creek watersheds.  “We know we can make these watersheds their home,” RCD Executive Director Kellyx Nelson said.  Once abundant, the fish populations suffered in the face of drought and flooding. Protected under the Endangered Species Act, local partners are charged with protecting, conserving and recovering species by addressing the threats they face. ... ”  Read more from the Half Moon Bay review here:  Fish funds could help revive watershed

Ground broken on new Isabella Dam improvement project:  “Federal and local leaders turned out Tuesday morning above Isabella Lake in the Kern River Valley for the groundbreaking ceremony for new improvements to the dam.  Among the dignataries were Congressman and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and First District Supervisor Mick Gleason, as well as representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the U.S. Fore Service.  McCarthy and Gleason both remarked on the progress importance the improvements will provide. … ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here:  Ground broken on new Isabella Dam improvement project

USGS maps changes to beach, seafloor Montecito mudslides:  “Driving northbound on the 101 Freeway from Ventura is a far different experience now than it was prior to Jan. 9, when a storm rolled through, mud slid from the hillsides, and 21 lives were lost. The days following the event forced closure of the freeway, and images of the path of destruction that tore through Montecito and parts of Santa Barbara County made international headlines. The damage can still be seen as residents continue working to return to normal.  Now, the U.S. Geological Survey is mapping changes to the beach and seafloor adjacent to the Montecito mudslides, including in their survey an area that stretches from Goleta to the beach at Mandalay Bay in Oxnard, in an effort to better understand long-term coastal changes. With these data, both Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties can better plan for future coastal living. … ”  Read more from the VC Reporter here:  USGS maps changes to beach, seafloor Montecito mudslides

Along the Colorado River …

Hopes for ‘miracle’ snowpack fade; Colorado headed for 6th driest year:  “The Colorado River Basin is likely to see one of its driest spring runoff seasons on record this year, according to federal forecasters.  Scientists at the Salt Lake City-based Colorado Basin River Forecast Center say current snowpack conditions are set to yield the sixth-lowest recorded runoff into Lake Powell since the lake was filled more than 50 years ago.  The April forecast projects inflow to Lake Powell, the first major reservoir that impounds the river’s water as it flows from the Rocky Mountains to Mexico, to be 43 percent of average. … ”  Read more from the Las Vegas Review-Journal here:  Hopes for ‘miracle’ snowpack fade; Colorado headed for 6th driest year

Arizona’s aquifers threatened; lawmakers push to cut groundwater rules:  “Almost 40 percent of Arizona’s water supply comes from an ancient source — aquifers deep underground that collected water over millions of years.  Those aquifers aren’t considered a renewable source by water-policy experts given they formed during prehistoric times and are almost always sucked down more quickly than they’re refilled.  In several Arizona communities, that finite source of water is in danger of being overtapped. Water experts and environmentalists say that’s why the state needs tighter groundwater restrictions. … ”  Read more from Arizona Central here:  Arizona’s aquifers threatened; lawmakers push to cut groundwater rules

Precipitation watch …

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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