DAILY DIGEST: Climate change is messing with your dinner; CA needs a cure for its unhealthy forests; Supreme Court case tests weight of old Native American treaties in 21st century; ‘A lot on the line’ in Klamath water hearing; Commentaries on ‘dreaded’ tunnels and ‘vampire’ dams; and more …

In California water news today, Climate change is messing with your dinner; California needs a cure for its unhealthy forests; Supreme Court case tests weight of old Native American treaties in 21st century; ‘A lot on the line’ in water hearing: Irrigators wait on Klamath River court decision; Monterey Peninsula, Marina clash over Cal Am desal water rights; Mono Supervisors take up cause of water-less grazing leases; Will the Southwest run short of water in 2019?; and more …

On the calendar …

In the news today …

Climate change is messing with your dinner“The world’s dinner tables are seeing the impact of climate change.  As cold regions become warmer, and warm places hotter still, farming and fishing are shifting. An evolving climate means big changes for people who grow, catch and rear for a living, and everyone else who buys and eats what they produce.  There are winners and losers. There are rich-world problems (less cod, more lobster) and poor (drought and pestilence). There are threats to the quality of the world’s basic staples including wheat and corn, as well as such nation-defining luxuries as Bordeaux wine and Java coffee. And whether through dearth or deluge, supply shocks can shake up prices. ... ”  Read more from Bloomberg here: Climate change is messing with your dinner

California needs a cure for its unhealthy forests:  “Dave Kinateder has a keen eye for trees. But when Kinateder, a fire ecologist in the Plumas National Forest, surveys a hillside lush with pines, he doesn’t see abundance or the glory of nature’s bounty.  He sees a disaster in waiting.  “It’s a ticking time bomb,” he said, gazing across the dense, green carpet of trees near Quincy.  Last year’s wildfires, the worst in modern California history, have put a microscope on the forests that cover a third of the state — in particular, on managing these wooded lands in ways that would reduce the frequency and intensity of such blazes. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here: California needs a cure for its unhealthy forests

Supreme Court case tests weight of old Native American treaties in 21st century: “On April 18, the United States Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Washington v. United States, which pits the state of Washington against the United States and 21 Indian tribes. The main question in the case is narrow – whether the state must quickly replace hundreds of culverts that allow the flow of water under roads but also block salmon migration. Yet the underlying issue is far broader.  At stake in the case is the Supreme Court’s ongoing role as the nation’s highest arbiter of justice. Despite immense changes, that role remains grounded in a 229-year-old Constitution premised on the supremacy of federal treaties and individual rights. … ”  Read more from The Conversation here:  Supreme Court case tests weight of old Native American treaties in 21st century

In commentary today …

Moving forward in the Delta with shades of history:  Jeffrey Kightlinger writes, “The path to modernizing the water system in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is finally taking shape. In the last several months, there have been more zigs and zags than a basketball coach would dare to draw on a play chart. But nothing about the history of planning in the Delta or the challenges we face going forward suggested that this was ever going to be easy.  Our board of directors, representing a healthy variety of perspectives on the issue, has spoken. Through our democratic voting process, Metropolitan is willing to be the primary investor in the full California WaterFix project, with three new intakes in the northern Delta and twin tunnels to deliver the supply to the existing aqueduct system. This action provides the direction California needs. And it gives California WaterFix a clear path on how to move forward. ... ”  Continue reading at H2Outlook here: Moving forward in the Delta with shades of history

Keep fighting the Delta tunnels, says the San Francisco Chronicle:  They write, “The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California voted Tuesday to take on nearly $11 billion of the projected $17 billion construction costs of the governor’s twin delta tunnels to move Sacramento River water south of the delta to cities and farms. We had hoped this wasteful, divisive and environmentally damaging project was dead. It should be.  Instead, the issue is more divisive than ever and it will fall to the next governor.  Now there are three political battles — no tunnels, one tunnel or two tunnels to move water 35 miles around the delta and deliver it to the state water system pumps. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  Keep fighting the Delta tunnels

Give us a chance to vote on the tunnels, says the Modesto Bee:  They write, “Dino Cortopassi saw this coming in 2016, but too few voters believed him.  The businessman, farmer and founder of Modesto’s Stanislaus Food Products, knew that Gov. Jerry Brown and the Metropolitan Water District would eventually try again to re-route the Sacramento River south to Southern California. Their first attempt, during Brown’s first stint as governor in 1982, ended when voters profoundly rejected the Peripheral Canal (voting 9-to-1 against it in some districts). … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  Give us a chance to vote on the tunnels

Dreaded tunnels start looking real, says Michael Fitzgerald:  He writes, “L.A.’s mammoth water district voted Tuesday to rescue the twin tunnels from oblivion. Which could mean condemning the San Joaquin Delta and our regional economy.  So, are these damn tunnels going to get built? Realistically, what permitting and legal hurdles stand in the way? And what is the Metropolitan Water Board of Southern California thinking to pony up almost $11 billion for this dubious project?  “I’ve been trolled all day by the vice mayor of Beverly Hills,” Barbara Barrigan-Parilla of Restore the Delta said. “They think this is a big victory.” ... ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here:  Dreaded tunnels start looking real

Two vampire dams could suck up all the water bond money you voted for during the droughtJacques Leslie writes,Spurned dam projects are called vampires because they so often rise from the dead. The term perfectly fits two hoary, misguided proposals under consideration in California as a result of passage of Proposition 1, the 2014 bond measure that set aside $2.7 billion for new water storage.  In May, the California Water Commission will begin to choose among 11 projects that have applied for the funding, including the undead dams. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Two vampire dams could suck up all the water bond money you voted for during the drought

Day Zero … for California?  Congressmember Jeff Denham writes,In a few short months, the city of Cape Town, South Africa is scheduled to run out of water. Taps will shut off, and people are scared. It’s being called “Day Zero.” Save for a miracle, this will be the first time in modern history a major city runs out of water.  With so many pressing issues facing our country – like immigration reform and national security – building new water storage reservoirs and dams doesn’t exactly grab anyone’s attention. But Californians need to pay very close attention, because the crisis in South Africa draws striking parallels to Central Valley communities that could be left without our most precious resource the next time a major drought hits the area. It takes years to plan and execute large-scale water infrastructure projects; if we wait until “Day Zero” is upon us, it’s too late. ... ”  Read more from the Patterson Irrigator here:  Day Zero … for California?

In regional news and commentary today …

‘A lot on the line’ in water hearing:  Irrigators wait on Klamath River court decision: “Jerry Johnson, owner of Monte Johnson Insurance with offices in Klamath Falls and Tulelake, was among dozens of Klamath Basin residents in a San Francisco courtroom Wednesday as U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick listened to arguments in a hearing that, pending a decision, will directly impact irrigators on the Bureau of Reclamation’s Klamath Project.  Orrick did not rule Wednesday on the roughly two-hour hearing held at the Phillip Burton Federal Court Building. ... ”  Read more from the Herald & News here: ‘A lot on the line’ in water hearing:  Irrigators wait on Klamath River court decision

Klamath River salmon season set to reopen in May; other regions face restrictions:  “After facing closures for up to two years because of low salmon returns, Klamath River salmon fishermen and tribes are gearing up for a chance to make up for some of their losses in 2018.  But the Klamath River season appears to be the only silver lining in California’s salmon season, according to fishery officials, with fishermen further south facing a potentially meager season as a result of low returns of Sacramento salmon. … ”  Read more from the Eureka Times-Herald here:  Klamath River salmon season set to reopen in May; other regions face restrictions

East Bay: Trust merger to protect farmland:  “A recent merger between two land trusts focused on farmland protection has garnered support and hope from East County farmers.  When Kathryn Lyddan, former executive director of Brentwood Agricultural Land Trust (BALT), left her seat to accept a position with the State Department of Conservation, the BALT board decided it was time to merge with Central Valley Farmland Trust (CVFT). According to Tom Bloomfield, owner of Bloomfield Cherries, the merger courtship transpired over the last two years and was finalized in December. The trust’s new name is California Farmland Trust. ... ”  Read more from The Press here:  East Bay: Trust merger to protect farmland

Monterey Peninsula, Marina clash over Cal Am desal water rights:  “Monterey Peninsula officials and business interests and Marina city and water district officials are locked in a high-stakes state-level debate over water rights and the potential impact on the coastal community’s water supply from the proposed California American Water desalination project.  In filings with the state Public Utilities Commission, the city of Marina and the Marina Coast Water District called for the commission to seek guidance on the Cal Am project’s water rights from the state water board before considering project approval. The Peninsula mayors water authority, meanwhile, argued such a move would delay the project and should only occur if Marina promised not to sue. Cal Am argued any water rights determination would be premature. ... ”  Read more from the Monterey Herald here:  Monterey Peninsula, Marina clash over Cal Am desal water rights

Family farmers coax sweet strawberries from small plots in Sacramento County:  “Fam Lee and her husband, Nathan, farm a three-acre plot of land along Bond Road in Elk Grove. They pick the strawberries each morning and sell them from a brightly-painted stand next to the field where Fam’s uncle grew strawberries before them.  The Lees are part of Sacramento’s lu Mien community, an ethnic group from Laos that came to California as refugees after the Vietnam War. Fam Lee’s parents were subsistence farmers in the highlands of Laos. When they came to California, they used their farming know-how to grow food for their families in their own backyards. Some community members branched out into strawberry farming in Sacramento County. … ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here:  Family farmers coax sweet strawberries from small plots in Sacramento County

Mono Supervisors take up cause of water-less grazing leases:  “Ranchers, environmental groups, public agencies all showed up at Tuesday’s Mono County Board of Supervisors meeting looking for help in keeping 6,000 acres of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power grazing leases irrigated.  The lands in Long and Little Round valleys have been irrigated for 150 years, before LADWP set foot in the Eastern Sierra. Mark Lacey, with leases in Long Valley, told the board the ranchers may stay through the five-year term of the new leases to see if they can make it work. He wasn’t optimistic it ever would. … ”  Read more from the Sierra Wave here:  Mono Supervisors take up cause of water-less grazing leases

Ridgecrest: Water pumping fee workshop: Finding solutions for water:  “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.  The proposed fee could be around $45 to $80 per acre-foot of water used per month. The purpose of this fee is to patch up IWVGA’s budget so they can complete their Groundwater Sustainability Plan for the IWV groundwater basin by the state-mandated deadline of early 2020.  Once the fee has patched the budget up, it will end. However, it will likely be replaced by other fees as IWVGA moves beyond making the plan and into enforcing the plan. ... ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here:  Water pumping fee workshop: Finding solutions for water

In drought-stricken Central California, Harvard hopes to turn water into wine:  “Few people choose to live in Cuyama Valley.  With a population of less than 1,000 residents, according to the 2010 U.S. Census, the 300-square mile area is home to large, empty expanses of ranch and agricultural land. Less than a foot of water graces the parched earth of Cuyama each year, making the region one of the driest regions of Central California.  Beneath the arid ground, though, there exists great agricultural potential. Cuyama— the Chumash word for “clam”— is an apt analogy for the region. Hardened and seemingly intractable on the outside, it is full of untapped riches underneath. Ever since the region’s oil reserves declined, crops have been king. … ”  Read more from the Harvard Crimson here:  In drought-stricken Central California, Harvard hopes to turn water into wine

Drought causes water company to drill new well in Oxnard:  “The prolonged drought has made one of Oxnard’s wells run dry, so a small water district is planning to drill deeper.  With the City Council approval on Tuesday, the Rio Manor Mutual Water Co. will drill a new well in the Rio Lindo neighborhood to serve its roughly 500 customers. The water company is one of four small water districts that combine to serve about 2 percent of Oxnard residents. The rest are served by the city’s water district. … ”  Read more from the Ventura County Star here:  Drought causes water company to drill new well in Oxnard

Along the Colorado River …

A dam fine mess: Advocates of Decommissioning Glen Canyon Need to Reckon with the All-Mighty Law of the River:  “Over the past few years, voices calling for the removal of one of the West’s biggest reservoirs have gotten louder. And while proponents—including scientists, activists, journalists, and government officials—have cited everything from ecology to economics in their quest to decommission Glen Canyon Dam in northern Arizona and restore that part of the Colorado River, very little has been said about the impacts such an action would have on the house-of-cards-like network of compacts, agreements, and obligations comprising the “The Law of the River.  While many of the arguments made by proponents are worth discussion in this era of changing climates and changing values, if they want to make any progress turning this dream into a reality, they will first have to solve the Gordian knot of legal issues revolving around the Colorado Compact. … ”  Read more from the University of Denver Law Review here:  A Dam Fine Mess: Advocates of Decommissioning Glen Canyon Need to Reckon with the All-Mighty Law of the River

Will the Southwest run short of water in 2019?As the world watches the impending water-shortage crisis in Cape Town, South Africa — which could become the world’s first major city to run out of water as early as this July — water wonks and customers alike are concerned that a similar situation may be approaching in the American Southwest as soon as 2019.  Experts say the Southwest is veering toward a dangerous intersection caused by a “structural deficit” of the long-term drought and a continuingly increasing population. As the region continues to use more water than can be replaced by rain and snow, the day that supply no longer meets demand could leave cities like Phoenix, the largest city in the nation’s fastest-growing county, high and dry, with water being as severely rationed as Cape Town is currently forced to do. … ”  Read more from The Revelator here: Will the Southwest run short of water in 2019?

Colorado bill aims to protect water near mining operations:  “Colorado’s recently appointed District 26 Representative Dylan Roberts, D-Eagle, has introduced a bill he says will help make sure maintaining water quality is a priority, even after hard-rock mines shut down.  Colorado House Bill 18-1301 aims to protect water quality from the adverse impacts of mining by requiring reclamation plans to set an end date for water quality treatment to comply with water quality standards.  The bill would also require mine operators to prove they have enough financial backing to protect water quality and they could not use self-bonding as a financial assurance. … ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  Colorado bill aims to protect water near mining operations

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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