DAILY DIGEST: MWD’s mega tunnel project: What could go wrong? and more Cal Water Fix news and commentary; Republican gubernatorial candidate Travis Allen champions farmers’ need for more water; Federal judge hears Klamath Basin tribes, irrigators arguments on dam water releases; and more …

In California water news today, MWD’s mega tunnel project: What could go wrong? and more Cal Water Fix news and commentary; New bill proposes changing dam oversight; Republican gubernatorial candidate Travis Allen champions farmers’ need for more water; Conservation group highlights Western rivers facing imminent threats; Federal judge hears Klamath Basin tribes, irrigators arguments on dam water releases; Siskiyou County septic standards update deadline approaching; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • A webinar on Safe Harbor: Water and California’s Vulnerable Populations from 1:00pm to 2:00pm.  Click here to register.
  • Butte County Sustainable Groundwater Management Act Update – Challenges and Uncertainties, from 5:30pm to 8:30pm.  Click here to register.
  • Michael Anderson: Climate, Atmospheric Rivers, and Change, from 5:30pm to 7:00pm.  This event has been rescheduled to April 26. Register here.

In Cal Water Fix news and commentary today …

California’s Delta tunnels project just took a massive step forward.  Here’s what you need to know:  “A powerful Southern California water agency voted Tuesday to cover two-thirds of the cost of building the controversial Delta tunnels, in one of the most significant California water actions in decades.  If you’re confused about what’s going on, or maybe just need a refresher course, here are some answers to your questions about the $16.7 billion project on Sacramento’s doorstep that just took a giant step closer to reality. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  California’s Delta tunnels project just took a massive step forward.  Here’s what you need to know

MWD’s mega tunnel project: What could go wrong?  “The big vote is over.  The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California said yes this week to funding the lion’s share of a $17 billion project to divert water under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in Northern California. Officials at the nation’s largest water agency say the project is necessary to provide a steady supply of imported water to thirsty, growing Southern California.  Though the vote was months in the making, it might have been the easy part.  What’s next? … ” Continue reading at KPCC here:  MWD’s mega tunnel project: What could go wrong?

Tunnel vision: What the big water vote means:  “Last fall, after years of study, the state’s largest water agency voted to spend $4 billion on a new project to bring water south from Northern California’s rivers. Other water agencies were supposed to help pay, but most backed out.  On Tuesday, after a few weeks of scrambling, Metropolitan decided the project was worth nearly any price. Its board voted to spend $11 billion to save the project. For the extra billions of dollars, there’s no guarantee of more water. … Here’s how it happened and what it means for California’s water supply and San Diego ratepayers. … ”  Read more from the Voice of San Diego here:  Tunnel vision: What the big water vote means

The delta tunnels plan is costly, risky and unfair to L.A. It’s also the right thing to do, says the LA Times:  “In voting Tuesday to pay two-thirds of the cost of building two tunnels to divert river water around the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and direct it southward, the Southern California Metropolitan Water District’s board bought into a plan that’s costly, risky, uncertain and unfair. And it is taking its ratepayers with it, because they will have to shoulder the costs on their water bills.  But it was the right move nevertheless — for the ratepayers as well as for the agency. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: The delta tunnels plan is costly, risky and unfair to L.A. It’s also the right thing to do, says the LA Times

Stop the madness! Californians deserve Delta tunnel vote, says the San Jose Mercury News:  “It’s time to stop the madness. California voters should demand the right to have a say on the future of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the lynchpin of the state’s water system.  Los Angeles’ water district opposes the proposed $16 billion Delta twin-tunnels project. So does San Diego’s. Central Valley farmers don’t think it pencils out. Many leading candidates in the race for governor are against it. And nearly all of Northern California’s water agencies are opposed because it threatens the Delta’s fragile ecosystem and risks ratepayers holding the bag for cost overruns.  But a handful of small water districts and the Municipal Water District of Orange County on Tuesday overrode LA and San Diego’s concerns. … ”  Continue reading at the San Jose Mercury News here: Editorial: Stop the madness! Californians deserve Delta tunnel vote

Twin tunnels avoid voters but not the courts, says the Chico Enterprise-Record:  They write: “Money talks. So do votes. An abundance of both reside in Southern California, which is why a horrible idea like twin tunnels under the delta still has hope of becoming reality one day.  This, despite the fact that, geographically speaking, more than half the state opposes it. If water users in Southern California and rich corporate farms in the San Joaquin Valley want it, our governor seems dead set on making sure it gets done.  Gov. Jerry Brown’s twin tunnels, which his administration euphemistically refers to as “California WaterFix,” die more often than a cheap car battery. But they keep springing back to life, with south of the delta money interests supplying the jumper cables. … ”  Continue reading from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Twin tunnels avoid voters but not the courts

Assemblyman Frazier: Met’s dishonesty threatens to destroy the Delta:  “Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D-Discovery Bay) issued the following statement today after the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s Board of Directors voted to finance the majority of the proposed Delta twin tunnels plan:  “Californians deserve comprehensive 21st century water management solutions in light of climate change and more frequent and devastating droughts, not a decades old plan that creates no benefit and picks the pockets of hard-working people. … ”  Read more from the East Bay Express here:  Assemblyman Frazier: Met’s dishonesty threatens to destroy the Delta

LA supports turning the Delta into Owens Lake 2.0, says Dennis Wyatt:  He writes, “Los Angeles water pirates like referring to the myopic Twin Tunnels as the Delta Water Fix.  Their basic argument is the Golden State has unreliable plumbing so let’s fix it.  But before you sign on the dotted line or get out your checkbook you need to ask yourself a question or two.  If you were hiring a plumber to make sure you could count on your pipes to keep the water flowing and they told you that you needed new specialty pipes and that it might cost $18 billion wouldn’t you want to see some visual proof besides conjecture from their in-house plumber expert who is an estimator and also has a stake in how much you spend given he works on commission? At the very least wouldn’t you want another plumber to take a look at it and see if there really is a problem or if there a more cost effective solution? … ”  Read more from the Manteca Bulletin here:  LA supports turning the Delta into Owens Lake 2.0

In other statewide news today …

New bill proposes changing dam oversight:  “A new bill, if passed, may soon remove the Department of Water Resources from supervising the state’s dams and reservoirs. Assembly Bill 3045 is the second piece of legislation introduced by Assembly Member James Gallagher and co-authored by Senator Jim Nielsen focused on dam safety.  Currently, the DWR is responsible for the state’s more than 1,500 dams and reservoirs, as well as operations and maintenance of the California State Water Project, which supplies water to more than 26 million Californians.  But that may soon change. … ”  Read more from Action New Now here:  New bill proposes changing dam oversight

Republican gubernatorial candidate Travis Allen champions farmers’ need for more water:  “It’s not surprising that Republican candidate for governor Travis Allen has earned the support of farmers in the central San Joaquin Valley.  His words are music to their ears.  “We need to flood the Central Valley with water,” Allen said Wednesday during a stop in Fresno. “When I drive up and down I-5 I want to see green fields, not a bunch of dirt.” … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee’s Political Notebook here:  Republican governor candidate Travis Allen champions farmers’ need for more water

Conservation group highlights Western rivers facing imminent threats:  “Every year since 1984, the advocacy organization American Rivers has compiled a list of the 10 most endangered rivers in the U.S. – a distinction that is awarded, in part, based on a major decision that is looming for those rivers in the coming months.  “The report is not a list of the nation’s ‘worst’ or most polluted rivers, but rather it highlights rivers confronted by critical decisions that will determine their future,” the report explains. “The report presents alternatives to proposals that would damage rivers, identifies those who make the crucial decisions and points out opportunities for the public to take action on behalf of each listed river.” … ”  Read more from Water Deeply here: Conservation group highlights Western rivers facing imminent threats

In commentary today …

For farmers, being creative with water is a way of life, says Mike Curry:  He writes, “Within California’s almond industry, the sufficiency of water and its efficient use is a constant area of focus. After all, almond trees are permanent crops which cannot survive without water year to year, a fact exacerbated in periods of drought.  It comes down to two choices: go nuts, if you will, worrying over water or do something creative to improve water efficiency.  Almond farmers have chosen the efficiency path. Central Valley farmers produce 80 to 85 percent of the world’s favorite nut, thanks to the perfect climate and growing conditions. But groundwater shortages, lack of water storage and highly regulated water use have increased the challenges over the past couple of decades. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  For farmers, being creative with water is a way of life

Voter intent on Proposition 1 was clear as water, but the state’s bogged down in mud, says the Pasadena Star News:  They write, “Nearly four years ago, in the midst of the worst drought in recent memory, California voters approved a $7.5 billion water bond measure that allocated $2.7 billion for water storage — dams and reservoirs, for example.  Yet the funding for projects has been held up. The staff of the California Water Commission doesn’t think the projects submitted provide “public benefits” of sufficient value to justify their cost. File this under “Only in California,” and not in a good way. … ”  Read more from the Pasadena Star-News here:  Voter intent on Proposition 1 was clear as water, but the state’s bogged down in mud

Floating new water bonds on 2018’s ballots:  The OC Register writes,Busy as they are with their lives, California citizens can probably only be asked to concentrate on one part of the state’s prismatic double-rainbow of water issues at a time. … But there’s another twin tunnel of California water issues bearing down on California voters, about which little has so far been said: Not just one but two separate bond issues coming our way on the June and November ballots. … ”  Read more from the OC Register here: Floating new water bonds on 2018’s ballots

In regional news and commentary today …

Federal judge hears Klamath Basin tribes, irrigators arguments on dam water releases: “A federal judge heard arguments from attorneys representing Klamath Basin tribes, irrigators and government agencies on Wednesday in a case that is challenging the need for dam water releases meant to protect threatened fish species on the Klamath River from deadly parasitic outbreaks like those that occurred in 2014 and 2015.  The same judge that ordered two federal agencies to make the yearly dam water releases in 2017 — Judge William H. Orrick — also presided over Wednesday afternoon’s hearing at the U.S. District Court of Northern California. ... ”  Read more from the Eureka Times-Standard here:  Federal judge hears Klamath Basin tribes, irrigators arguments on dam water releases

Siskiyou County septic standards update deadline approaching: “What will be done with Siskiyou County’s septic tank sludge was not the only effluent issue on the table at Tuesday’s meeting of the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors, as the board was also tasked with discussing an upcoming deadline for reforming rules related to septic tank installation.  Specifically, the county is staring down a May 13 deadline to develop its own Local Area Management Plan per California’s Assembly Bill 885, which was signed into law in 2000. … ”  Read more from the Siskiyou Daily News here: Siskiyou County septic standards update deadline approaching

Spring rains replenish reservoirs in Sonoma and Mendocino counties:  “Two spring storms that soaked Sonoma County have helped fill huge reservoirs and small farm ponds, and even more is precipitation expected over the next two months, erasing the anxiety from a bone-dry February. Santa Rosa had received 23.83 inches of rain by Wednesday for the season beginning Oct. 1, reaching 72 percent of average precipitation for the period, with a chance of showers Thursday and again on Sunday and Monday, the National Weather Service said. ... ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here:  Spring rains replenish reservoirs in Sonoma and Mendocino counties

San Francisco Bay wetlands restoration takes off:  Dave Pine writes, “Thanks to the wisdom and generosity of Bay Area voters, the restoration of San Francisco Bay for people and wildlife is about to accelerate. Earlier this week, the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority committed $17.9 million to restore tidal marshes along the shoreline from funds approved by Bay Area voters in 2016 under Measure AA, which is expected to raise $500 million over 20 years. ... ”  Continue reading at the San Francisco Chronicle here:  San Francisco Bay wetlands restoration takes off

Vacaville: Recycled water master plan praised by city council:  “Vacaville’s draft plan for recycled water from the Easterly Wastewater Treatment Plant was applauded Tuesday by the Vacaville City Council.  As an engineer, Mayor Len Augustine was enthused about the prospect of grey water.  When Vacaville had to conserve 32 percent of its water during the drought, they would have been in a better place if they had this source of water, he said.  Councilman Curtis Hunt called it a “fantastic plan.” … ” Read more from The Reporter here:  Vacaville: Recycled water master plan praised by city council

NID begins tests to find ways to reduce toxic pesticide use:  “Nevada Irrigation District (NID) is beginning a testing study to find less toxic methods for its program to keep weeds, grass and problematic vegetation at bay along its canals.  When vegetation restricts water flows, there can be many impacts, including reduced water quality, compromised deliveries to customers and added costs. In addition, impeded water flow can become a public health issue with increased algae blooms and a breeding ground for mosquitoes. … ”  Read more from the Colfax Record here:  NID begins tests to find ways to reduce toxic pesticide use

Ridgecrest: Water fee workshop: Agriculture in the desert: 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.  “I’m a new landowner and a new well owner, so I don’t have a lot of the background that all of you have so I’d appreciate you saving the stones for outside the building where no one else will get hurt,” said Doug Price during public comment.  He continued, “As my understanding goes, and it’s a very simple understanding because I’m a simple man, but the base uses about a third of the water, the people of the valley use a third of the water, and the growers, the people with farms, use another third of the water.” … ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here:  Water fee workshop: Agriculture in the desert

What role should the LA River play in a future Los Angeles? A thriving river, teeming with wildlife.  A future in which the city meets its own water needs without importing extra from elsewhere.  Can Los Angeles have both?  That’s the challenge facing a city that aspires to live within its environmental means.  If local agencies follow through on their most ambitious plans to capture more stormwater and reuse treated wastewater, the 51-mile-long Los Angeles River will probably dry up for a few months of the year, according to research from UCLA. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: What role should the LA River play in a future Los Angeles?

San Diego: Ramona Municipal Water District Directors raise recycled water rates to reflect costs:  “Ramona Municipal Water District directors approved to raise its recycled water rate from $35 per acre foot to $1,245 per acre foot on April 3.  The vote was 4-0 with Director Thomas Ace recusing himself due to a conflict of interest as he lives in San Diego Country Estates, which is affected by the new recycled water rate.  The district reported it received 18 written protests to the rate increase out of 4,738 affected parcels within the district. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union Tribune here:  Ramona Municipal Water District Directors raise recycled water rates to reflect costs

Along the Colorado River …

Lifeblood of the desert: Can technology solve Yuma’s water woes? In Yuma, Arizona, the Colorado River is not what it was. For thousands of years, its raging water deposited rich soil in the delta, creating one of the most verdant agricultural areas in the world. Today, the river flow is 1 percent of what it was a century ago, but agriculture continues to thrive even as the water needed to maintain it dwindles due to over-allocation and drought. How does the area’s No. 1 user of Colorado River water survive in the face of a vanishing water supply? The answer: technology. ... ”  Read more from Arizona Public Media here:  Lifeblood of the desert: Can technology solve Yuma’s water woes?

Farmers in Central Arizona prepare for a future with less water:  “Dan Thelander thinks about water a lot.  “Because we’re in a desert,” he said. “And if we don’t have enough water, we’re not going to be able to farm.”  A second-generation farmer, Thelander works alongside his son and nephew. Their fields of alfalfa, cotton and corn are located just south of the town of Maricopa in the heart of Pinal County’s agricultural center. There are irrigated fields in every direction. Just like his neighbors, Thelander gets his water from the Maricopa-Stanfield Irrigation district, and it’s from a mix of sources.  “Traditionally, about half has come from [Central Arizona Project water] and half has come from groundwater.” ... ”  Read more from Arizona Public Media here:  Farmers in Central Arizona prepare for a future with less water

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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