DAILY DIGEST: California’s groundwater legislation could mean opportunities, not penalties; DWR says Oroville Dam main spillway won’t be used this week; Northern California divers battle to save abalone – with a giant sea urchin vacuum; and more …

In California water news today, California’s groundwater legislation could mean opportunities, not penalties; DWR says Oroville Dam main spillway won’t be used this week; Northern California divers battle to save abalone – with a giant sea urchin vacuum; California mobilizes to save invaluable kelp – will efforts be in vain?; Arctic melting could worsen California droughts; The North Bay fires were six month’s ago. What’s actually changed?; and more …

In the news today …

California’s groundwater legislation could mean opportunities, not penalties:  “Communities across California are struggling to comply with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), the state’s first comprehensive attempt to rein in wanton groundwater depletion.  Through the formation of so-called groundwater sustainability agencies, some areas plan to set quotas on water extraction and fine property owners who pump too much (in most areas, farms are the biggest groundwater users). Although the law does not require these agencies to actually achieve groundwater sustainability until 2040 at the earliest, the focus in some groundwater basins is clearly a punitive one.  One agency taking a slightly different approach is the Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District, located near Bakersfield in the southern San Joaquin Valley. … ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  California’s groundwater rule could mean opportunities, not penalties

DWR says Oroville Dam main spillway won’t be used this week:  “Yosemite National Park reopened Sunday after flooding that washed out roads during a strong Pacific storm, park officials said.  Forecasters said up to 6 inches (15 centimeters) of rain fell over two days as rivers swelled in Northern California. Roads within Yosemite Valley were swamped by up to 4 feet (1.2 meters) of water that affected electrical and water systems. Most facilities reopened at midday, but officials warned that traffic could be slow as cleanup work continues. … ”  Read more from CBS Sacramento here:  DWR says Oroville Dam main spillway won’t be used this week

Northern California divers battle to save abalone – with a giant sea urchin vacuum:  “Usually, the first weekend of April is when abalone divers pack up their wetsuits and fins and head off to campsites along the Sonoma and Mendocino coast. However, this year’s recreational abalone season is closed due to a population on the brink of collapse, so the diving community has rechanneled its efforts in a seemingly mad scheme to save the abalone, involving underwater vacuums, hookahs and purple sea urchins.  The urchins are an overpopulated species that has laid waste to the struggling kelp forests that abalone and other marine wildlife need for food. In response, fans of recreational abalone diving are paying professional divers to literally vacuum up the spiny creatures — which have little commercial value — from the sea floor with a fiberglass pipe that empties into a big net. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  Northern California divers battle to save abalone – with a giant sea urchin vacuum

California mobilizes to save invaluable kelp – will efforts be in vain? On California’s north coast, marine biologists, divers and fishery managers are preparing for battle against an army of sea urchins – but it isn’t clear that they stand a fighting chance.   Lush forests of bull kelp grew here just several years ago, providing refuge for many fish and food for red abalone, a coveted sea snail. Today, purple sea urchins – and not much else – cover the rocky bottom over a seemingly endless area of seafloor. Ravenous grazers, the urchins proliferated about four years ago after a mysterious epidemic wiped out their main predator, the sunflower sea star. At about the same time, a temporary spike in sea surface temperatures – the result of the warm-water mass scientists called the blob – caused large groves of kelp to perish along the west coast. The urchins mowed down what remained, leaving a seafloor almost completely devoid of vegetation. … ”  Read more from Oceans Deeply here:  California mobilizes to save invaluable kelp – will efforts be in vain? 

Arctic melting could worsen California droughts:  “Melting ice in the Arctic might seem a world away from California’s farms and aquifers. But droughts in the state could get worse as the Arctic melts.  Summers in the Arctic Ocean are expected to be ice-free within a few decades. When that happens, the precipitation California receives could decrease as much as 15 percent.  Cvijanovic: “We see quite clearly sea ice shaping how much rainfall California receives.” ... ”  Read more from Climate Central here:  Arctic melting could worsen California droughts

The North Bay fires were six month’s ago.  What’s actually changed? Six months after California’s deadliest fires, officials at all levels of government are working to make changes to prevent the next fire from being so catastrophic.  Among those developments: Changes to 911 scripts, emergency alert systems and electrical shutdown procedures. Additionally, a host of other potential improvements are winding their way through local governments, regulatory agencies and the state Legislature. … ”  Read more from KQED here:  The North Bay fires were six month’s ago.  What’s actually changed? 

More news and commentary in the weekend edition …

In commentary today …

If the tunnels are built, we are the biggest losers, says the Modesto Bee:  They write, “A million people live in the Northern San Joaquin Valley. If Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to siphon water to Los Angeles is completed, all of us are going to suffer.  In building two tunnels under Brown’s California WaterFix, the state will be forced to confiscate ever more of the Tuolumne, Merced and Stanislaus rivers. We are resolutely opposed to this plan and have been since it was first hatched.  That position now puts us in direct opposition to our big-sister newspaper, The Sacramento Bee. In an editorial published Sunday, The Sacramento Bee endorsed – albeit, tepidly – the WaterFix, saying one of its centerpiece twin tunnels beneath the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta would be a “welcome” part of the solution. ... ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  If the tunnels are built, we are the biggest losers

Water reliability for Southern California is right in front of us with the California Water Fix, says Charles Wilson:  He writes, “Modernizing the state’s water delivery system through the California WaterFix is necessary for our survival in Southern California. Based upon the facts as proven by more than a decade of science, research and expert analysis, it’s as certain as the Earth is round. Opinions to the contrary are nothing more than political hot air.  During the past several months, project stakeholders — representing all of us who depend on water every day — have been blazing the path forward on WaterFix because we know our future depends on it. Public water agencies have been doing their due diligence and carefully considering their water supply needs and what they are currently able to fund. … ”  Read more from the Daily Breeze here:  Water reliability for Southern California is right in front of us with the California Water Fix

Popeye character’s bad credit a model for California’s spending, says Jon Coupal:  He writes, ““I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.” That was the catchphrase of J. Wellington Wimpy, simply known as just “Wimpy” on the “Popeye” cartoon show. For good reason, the proprietor of the diner rejected Wimpy’s request because of his reputation for not paying on Tuesday.  The inability to repay one’s debts can come with severe consequences, as anyone who has borrowed money from a loan shark can attest. California, despite record revenue coming into the state treasury, has a real problem with debt. ... ”  Read more from the OC Register here:  Popeye character’s bad credit a model for California’s spending

Raising Shasta Dam benefits both fish and people, says Jon Rubin:  He writes, “In law school, first-year students are introduced to the term ipse dixit, a Latin phrase meaning a statement that, while unsupported and unproven, may carry some weight based solely on the authority or standing of the person who made it.  I was frequently reminded of this term reading numerous articles concerning efforts to include in the just-enacted omnibus appropriations legislation funds to enlarge Shasta Dam.  Fortunately for all Californians, Congress rejected the ipse dixit espoused by opponents of enlarging Shasta Dam and included in the omnibus appropriations legislation funds for the Shasta Dam enlargement project. This project will benefit both salmon that spawn below Shasta Dam and people who depend on water provided by Shasta Lake. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Raising Shasta Dam benefits both fish and people

Storm tests Oroville spillway assumptions, says the Chico Enterprise-Record:  They write, “In these parts, we have conflicted feelings when we consider the operations of Oroville Dam and the level of water in Lake Oroville.  In one sense, the dam is worthless to us unless the lake is full. We get no power from it and very little water. But when it’s full people bring their boats and camping rigs here. They shop in Oroville, maybe visit some restaurants or wineries, tour the museums — basically spend some money and juice the economy. … ”  Read more from the Oroville Mercury-Register here:  Storm tests Oroville spillway assumptions

Everything changed at Oroville; nothing changed at DWR, says David Little:  He writes, “Lake Oroville is rising, it appears a partially rebuilt spillway will be tested this week, and downstream residents are biting their fingernails over that prospect.  The flow over the spillway is expected to be nothing like the deluge that crumbled the old neglected spillway last year — maybe 10,000 cubic feet per second compared to last year’s 100,000 cfs — but it’s still a cause for alarm.  Why? Because the same agency is in charge, offering the same assurances that things are just fine.  If you believe that, you probably work for the state Department of Water Resources. … ”  Read more from the Oroville Mercury Register here:  Everything changed at Oroville; nothing changed at DWR

Along the Colorado River …

For Nevada’s snowpack (and it’s water supply), March was miracle-ish:  “When it comes to water, Mother Nature is picking favorites in the North-South rivalry.  Nevada water managers have closely watched the snow for months to determine how much water would be available as runoff for drinking and farming in a dry year for much of the lower Western states. For most of the season, the snowpack, from Tahoe to the Rockies, the source of almost all of Las Vegas’ water, was well below average. Since snowpack typically peaks around April, the dynamic set up March as a make-or-break month for water supply. … ”  Read more from the Nevada Independent here:  For Nevada’s snowpack (and it’s water supply), March was miracle-ish

Does Arizona have enough water?  Why that’s a tough question to answer:  Robert Glennon writes, “Maricopa County is the fastest growing in the nation. The allure of the Southwest remains strong, and demographers predict that the state’s population will climb from 6.8 million in 2017 to 8.2 million by 2030.  Finding enough water will challenge water managers. ... ”  Read more from Arizona Central here:  Does Arizona have enough water?  Why that’s a tough question to answer

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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