DAILY DIGEST: Metropolitan votes to fund construction of two Delta tunnels; Low water supplies leave farmers in a bind; Can agriculture and wildlife co-exist? Rice farmers think so; and more …

In California water news today, Southern California water agency votes to fund construction of two Delta tunnels; Low water supplies leave farmers in a bind; Can agriculture and wildlife co-exist? Rice farmers think so; Sea level poses huge threat to California, heightening urgency of liability cases; California oil firms had nearly 400 violations in 3 years; Understanding what the ‘new normal’ means for water in the west; Zinke goes west, then what?; and more …

On the calendar today …

In the news today …

California’s 2-tunnel Delta project back on track with SoCal water district’s vote:  “The largest water district in California agreed Tuesday to fork over nearly $11 billion to build two tunnels that will siphon water south from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, a major boost for Gov. Jerry Brown’s pet project.  The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California threw its considerable weight behind the massive water distribution plan, called California WaterFix, after a nearly four-hour debate.  The Metropolitan board was asked to decide on spending $5.2 billion for a single tunnel or $10.8 billion to help finance construction of both tunnels. Brown urged the board to approve the two-tunnel plan. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  California’s 2-tunnel Delta project back on track with SoCal water district’s vote

Southern California water agency votes to fund construction of two Delta tunnels:  “Southern California’s biggest water agency voted Tuesday to shoulder most of the cost of replumbing the troubled center of the state’s vast waterworks, committing nearly $11 billion to the construction of two massive water tunnels.  The approval pushes ahead a controversial infrastructure project that has dominated discussions of how to halt the steep ecological decline of the Sacramento-San Joaquin delta — a decline that has threatened water deliveries to the state’s most populous region.  A top priority of Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration, the tunnels project has been in the planning stages for more than a decade. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Southern California water agency votes to fund construction of two Delta tunnels

In historic vote, SoCal agency picks up most of $17 billion water project:  “Southern California’s largest water wholesaler decided Tuesday to commit nearly $11 billion to build two tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to divert water south to Los Angeles and neighboring counties.  The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s vote was a landmark decision following a decade of study and debate. The decision was a victory for water forces in Ventura and Orange counties that are more dependent on imported water, and it left the city of Los Angeles on the outs after its representatives on the board asked to delay the vote. … ”  Read more from KPCC here:  In historic vote, SoCal agency picks up most of $17 billion water project

Low water supplies leave farmers in a bind:  “With reservoirs at or above average storage levels and the Sierra Nevada snowpack improved by storms in March and early April, farmers await word from federal and state water agencies about whether water allocations might improve.  During a winter in which the snowpack reached only about half of average levels, both the federal Central Valley Project and the State Water Project told most of their agricultural customers to expect 20 percent water allocations this year. … ”  Read more from Ag Alert here:  Low water supplies leave farmers in a bind

Can agriculture and wildlife co-exist?  Rice farmers think so:  “Before the Gold Rush, the Central Valley in California was like a bathtub. Rivers filled with water which then slowly spread out through natural wetlands. This created a rich feeding ground for migrating species: salmon going to and from the ocean, birds flying from Alaska and Argentina. But with the development of farms, dams, houses and roads over the course of the 20th century, California lost more than 90 percent of  its natural wetlands and that in turn threatened the wildlife.  Now, the northern part of the Central Valley—the Sacramento Valley—looks like a quilt of perfectly level rice fields, a vastly productive area that has made the state second only to the Mississippi Delta in rice production. ... ”  Read more from the Food & Environment Network here:  Can agriculture and wildlife co-exist?  Rice farmers think so

Sea level poses huge threat to California, heightening urgency of liability cases:  “As fossil fuel companies try to fend off climate liability lawsuits from coastal California communities, a recent study revealed some alarming flood projections for the San Francisco Bay Area, bolstering the communities’ argument that rising seas pose imminent harm.  The study looked at land subsidence, or land that is sinking, which exacerbates flooding risk as sea levels rise. Previous flood hazard maps underestimated the land area at risk by up to 90 percent, researchers found, because they were based only on sea level rise projections. … ”  Read more from Climate Liability News here:  Sea level poses huge threat to California, heightening urgency of liability cases

California oil firms had nearly 400 violations in 3 years:  “Oil and gas companies drilling in state waters off Southern California violated regulations nearly 400 times in the past three years, according to a report being released Wednesday by an environmental group.  Records compiled by the Center for Biological Diversity and obtained by The Associated Press show state violations ranging from severe corrosion to failed and missing tests required to gauge the strength of wells. No civil penalties were issued for any of the violations, according to a spokesman for the state agency responsible for overseeing oil operations. ... ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  California oil firms had nearly 400 violations in 3 years

Understanding what the ‘new normal’ means for water in the west:  “April is often a time of abundance in the mountains of the American West, when snowpack is at or near its peak, and forecasters work to determine how much runoff will course through our rivers and fill reservoirs later in the season.  This year, across much of the West, particularly the Southwest, there’s little in the way of abundance. At Lake Powell, the second-largest reservoir in the West, runoff is predicted to be only 43 percent of average. Arizona is looking at one of its lowest runoff years in history. And in New Mexico, stretches of the Rio Grande have already run dry, months ahead of normal. … ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  Understanding what the ‘new normal’ means for water in the west

Zinke goes west, then what?  “Too many decisions about the West get made in Washington, D.C. At least, that’s what the Secretary of the Interior thinks. Ryan Zinke plans to move thousands of the department’s employees out west to manage water, public lands and energy from there. How might this seemingly dull, bureaucratic plan affect the West in interesting ways? Here’s how people with a vested interest responded–starting in Wyoming. … ”  Read more from KUNC here:  Zinke goes west, then what?

In people news today …

Pilot killed in fatal plane crash near Petaluma was water agency consultant:  “A pilot who died in a plane crash on Sonoma Mountain near Petaluma on Friday has been identified 75-year-old Carl Morrison, of Fallbrook in San Diego County.  Morrison was an environmental consultant with the Sonoma County Water Agency for nearly two decades, the agency’s spokesman Brad Sherwood said Monday morning. … ”   RIP, Carl Morrison.  Continue reading from CBS Bay Area here:  Pilot killed in fatal plane crash near Petaluma was water agency consultant

In regional news and commentary today …

Klamath farmers ask federal judge to kickstart irrigation season:  “Farmers, fish advocates, tribes and government officials are headed to federal court in California on Wednesday to argue who will get water — and when — in the Klamath Basin.  Federal dam operators are asking to open the irrigation season next week in lieu of holding back water to benefit fish.  In recent years, salmon in the Klamath River have suffered from high rates of disease. Warm water and low flows on the dam-controlled river helped a parasite ravage juvenile fish at rates far higher than federal protections allow. … ”  Read more from KLCC here:  Klamath farmers ask federal judge to kickstart irrigation season

Siskiyou County still looking for septage facility:  “Approximately five years after the closure of its septage facility, Siskiyou County is still on the hunt for a way to open a new facility within its borders.  The issue was back on the table for the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors on April 3, with Siskiyou County Environmental Health Director Rick Dean leading the discussion.  Dean stated that the county had operated its septage facility for approximately 40 years before it was closed down at the behest of the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board in 2013. … ”  Read more from the Siskiyou Daily News here:  Siskiyou County still looking for septage facility

In Napa, watersheds clash with wineries:  “After years of trying to save the oak trees he loves in Napa County, California, 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 KQED here: In Napa, watersheds clash with wineries

Colusa awarded $1 million grant for groundwater sustainability plan:  “The Department of Water Resources announced last week it will award the Colusa Groundwater Authority $1 million in support of the county Subbasin Groundwater Sustainability Plan.  Over $85 million grants were implemented throughout the state, including $1 million for the Colusa Groundwater Authority and $999,980 for Glenn County, $956, 814 for Sutter County Development Services, and $893,948 to Yuba County Water Agency, DWR said.  DWR Director Karla Nemeth said the funds direct resources to disadvantaged communities. … ”  Read more from the Appeal Democrat here:  Colusa awarded $1 million grant for groundwater sustainability plan

Delta: Another lost year for Lost Isle:  Michael Fitzgerald writes, “This spring marks the 10th anniversary of the closure of Lost Isle, a stinging loss for Delta tourism, and a monumental bummer for boaters craving too much fun.  The long-awaited reopening this year of the thatched-roof party resort on Acker Island looked like a done deal. Owner Dave Wheeler thought so — until his near-death experience.  “That just really messed things up,” said Wheeler, a San Diego businessman. ... ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here:  Delta: Another lost year for Lost Isle

Marin, other bay wetlands restoration projects get boost:  “The first wave — nearly $18 million — of voter-approved money for wetlands restoration, flood control and wildlife projects around San Francisco Bay is about to be put to use.  In June 2016, Bay Area voters approved Measure AA to raise $500 million. On Wednesday, the board overseeing the money will vote on projects in six counties totaling $17.9 million. In Marin, areas of Novato and San Rafael will get cash to work toward boosting baylands. ... ”  Read more from the Marin Independent Journal here:  Marin, other bay wetlands restoration projects get boost

Disparities in coastal stream restoration in Central California:  “Stream restoration efforts along the coast of Central California are unevenly distributed, with activity more likely to occur in areas that are more highly populated and dominated by residents who are “whiter, wealthier, and more educated,” according to an analysis by researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz.  In addition, coastal stream restoration is heavily concentrated in Santa Cruz, Morro Bay, and southern Santa Barbara County, creating “restoration deserts” with virtually no activity, said lead author Bronwen Stanford, a doctoral candidate in environmental studies. ... ”  Read more from EurekAlert here:  Disparities in coastal stream restoration in Central California

Solvang Council agrees to join state water plan:  “The Solvang City Council at its meeting Monday night approved a memorandum of understanding to participate in the countywide Integrated Regional Water Management Plan, which is used by state agencies such as the Department of Water Resources to distribute grant funding.  The city pays $4,000 a year to participate in the water management program. … ”  Read more from the Santa Ynez Valley News here:  Solvang Council agrees to join state water plan

Radio show: Westlands growers hope late season storms boost water allocation:  “It wasn’t a “Miracle March” but last month’s spring storms helped turn around what might have been a devastating year for California’s water supplies into one that is merely depressing. But was it too late for many valley farmers? We spoke with Johnny Amaral, deputy general manager for external affairs for Westlands Water District on Valley Edition. He joined us to talk about how this year is shaping up for valley growers, and also about some other issues in the news. We explored Westlands growers’ opposition to the governor’s twin tunnels project, their on-going efforts to get congressional approval for a drainage settlement, and the effort to build new water storage under the Prop 1A water bond.”  Listen to the show from Valley Public Radio here:  Radio show: Westlands growers hope late season storms boost water allocation

McCarthy calls Isabella Dam a priority:  “The long-awaited Isabella Dam Safety Modification Project got underway last week with the ceremonial tossing of dirt by representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Forest Service, Congressional and local Supervisorial districts.  The groundbreaking ceremony held April 3 marked the beginning of phase two of the massive project that will fix safety deficiencies at both the main and auxiliary dams that were identified by the Army Corps of Engineers 12 years ago.  Congressman Kevin McCarthy, called the groundbreaking of the Isabella Dam Safety Modification a major event, one that has been a priority for him since he first came into office. … ”  Read more from the Kern Valley Sun here:  McCarthy calls Isabella Dam a priority

Ridgecrest: Measuring the pumping fee:  “The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority (IWVGA) held a public workshop on Thursday, April 5 to hear public feedback and to hold public discussion amongst the IWVGA itself on its proposed water pumping fee.  At the moment, IWVGA has proposed to base the fee on a volumetric scale. In other words, the amount of the fee one pays is based on the amount of water one uses. If the numbers stay the same, the impact to the average citizen may be only a couple of bucks extra a month. The impact to the farmers is far more significant.  Paul Nugent, of Nugent Ranch, said that the fee is excessive. ... ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here:  Ridgecrest: Measuring the pumping fee

A plan to pipe reclaimed urban wastewater from Tijuana to the Guadalupe Valley:  “A plan to pipe treated wastewater from Tijuana to the Guadalupe Valley is being championed by authorities who say the project not only would support the state’s wine-growing region, but also solve another problem: reducing the flow to the overburdened San Antonio de los Buenos coastal sewage treatment plant.  The vision revolves around the treated effluent from Tijuana’s La Morita and Arturo Herrera plants that currently flows down the Tijuana River channel. “The idea is that we take the water that we are treating here in Tijuana and send it to the Guadalupe Valley,” said Roberto Ramírez de la Parra, Mexico’s top water official, during a visit to Tijuana last week. ... ”  Read more from the San Diego Union Tribune here:  A plan to pipe reclaimed urban wastewater from Tijuana to the Guadalupe Valley

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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