DAILY DIGEST, weekend edition: State releases new benefit assessments of water storage proposals; Reclamation boosts CVP allocations to 100% in the north; 40% in the south; DWR prepares for rebuild phase 2; Pruitt and ‘secret science’; and more …

Spring in the Salinas Valley

In California water news this weekend, State releases new benefit assessments of water storage proposals; Reclamation boosts CVP allocations to 100% in the north; 40% in the south; DWR prepares for rebuild phase 2; Pruitt and ‘secret science’; 2021 new target to remove Klamath Dams; Salinas Valley seawater intrusion continues advancing; and more …

In the news this weekend …

WATER STORAGE PROJECT SCORES

California announces tentative funding for new giant dams:  “California officials said Friday that eight major water projects qualify for a share of billions in state drought funds, an announcement that breathes new life into plans for two reservoir expansions in the Bay Area and two new massive dams in the Central Valley.  Bids to enlarge the East Bay’s Los Vaqueros Reservoir and Santa Clara County’s Pacheco Reservoir were deemed eligible for the highly sought Proposition 1 money. So were proposals for a new, 13-mile-long reservoir in Sites (Colusa County) and a new, 18-mile-long reservoir known as Temperance Flat near Fresno. … ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  California announces tentative funding for new giant dams

Voters Ok’d billions for new reservoirs in 2014.  California is about to start spending:  “California took a big step Friday toward launching a new multibillion-dollar wave of reservoir construction.  After being accused of being overly tightfisted with taxpayer dollars, the California Water Commission released updated plans for allocating nearly $2.6 billion in bond funds approved by voters during the depths of the drought. The money will help fund eight reservoirs and other water-storage projects, including the sprawling Sites Reservoir in the Sacramento Valley and a small groundwater “bank” in south Sacramento County. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Voters Ok’d billions for new reservoirs in 2014.  California is about to start spending

State releases new benefit assessment of Sites, other water storage proposals:  “Another step was taken Friday toward spending water storage bond money, when updated public benefit assessments were released by the State Water Commission for Sites Reservoir and the other nine projects still seeking the funds.  The money — $2.7 billion — was included in the Proposition 1 bond measure approved by voters in November 2014.  The money cannot pay to just increase the amount of water stored. Instead, the language of Proposition 1 limits the money’s use to achieve five public benefits: ecosystem benefits, water quality, flood control, emergency response and recreation. … ” Read more from the Oroville Mercury-Register here:  State releases new benefit assessment of Sites, other water storage proposals

State Water Commission may give $300M more for Sites Reservoir:  “It’s still about a half a billion dollars less than requested, but Sites Reservoir proponents learned Friday that the project got quite an increase in proposed funding via the state Water Commission.  The Commission released a report and chart re-appraising the value of water storage and conservation projects proposed for funding through Proposition 1, a 2014 voter-approved bond issue. The Commission was tasked with scoring proposals based on their value to the public. The Commission earlier found that project proposals weren’t eligible for the funding they requested and invited proponents to appeal and bolster their cases. ... ”  Read more from the Appeal Democrat here:  State Water Commission may give $300M more for Sites Reservoir

Strike 2: In new try, dam project near Fresno gets little support from the state:  “The proposed Temperance Flat Reservoir project near Fresno was dealt another blow by the California Water Commission on Friday after a new assessment recommended providing a fraction of the bond funding needed for the project.  The water commission staff recommends the project receive $171.3 million of Proposition 1 dollars. The total cost of the project is estimated to be $2.7 billion, and the Temperance application sought $1 billion from Proposition 1.  Plans call for a structure that would be 655 feet high and hold back almost 1.3 million acre-feet of water. That’s about three times more than Millerton Lake east of Friant, which is downstream from the Temperance location. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Strike 2: In new try, dam project near Fresno gets little support from the state

A second major blow for Temperance Flat Dam:  “Water users, counties, and cities across much of the San Joaquin Valley have again found that the California Water Commission staff unbending over efforts led by the San Joaquin Valley Water Infrastructure Authority (SJVWIA) to develop Temperance Flat Dam and create badly-needed additional San Joaquin River water storage in a major new Central California reservoir.  The Water Commission staff today reacted to the SJVWIA appeal in February of an earlier very low public benefit ratio score by assigning only a token improvement in point totals. Temperance Flat’s public benefit ratio was increased from 0.10 to 0.38. A score of 1.0 has been generally considered a minimum for an application to advance, reflecting the bond measure’s emphasis on benefits stressing the environment and flood protection. … ”  Read more from Cal Ag Today here: A second major blow for Temperance Flat Dam

Is Temperance Flat down to its last strike?  “A proposed dam at Temperance Flat on the San Joaquin River above Friant is eligible for $171.3 million in funding, California officials announced today.  But while that’s a lot of money, it’s well short of what’s needed — along with federal and local financing — to make the $2.6 billion, 1.26 million acre-foot project a reality.  “We’re not done, but we’re damn close. We’ve got one more shot” to increase the state funding, said Mario Santoya, executive director of the San Joaquin Valley Water Infrastructure Authority. ... ”  Read more from Greenwire here:  Is Temperance Flat down to its last strike?

OTHER NEWS

Reclamation boosts CVP allocations to 100% in the north; 40% in the south:  “Late-season storms allowed the Bureau of Reclamation to boost federal water allocations to some in California, doubling what south-of-the-Delta water contractors were earlier told to expect.  The allocation of 40 percent for Central Valley Project water users south of the Delta was expected for Los Banos-area farmer Joe DelBosque, who was optimistic that the full allocations elsewhere in the state could make water sales easier to find at relatively reasonable prices. … ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press here: Reclamation boosts CVP allocations to 100% in the north; 40% in the south

DWR prepares for rebuild phase 2:  “Reconstruction efforts to the main spillway at Lake Oroville could start to ramp up as early as this week if federal officials sign off on the Department of Water Resources’ operational plans for 2018.  DWR officials submitted the updated plans to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the California Division of Safety of Dams for approval on Tuesday, requesting that crews be allowed to start the final phase of reconstruction as soon as possible. … ”  Read more from the Appeal Democrat here:  DWR prepares for rebuild phase 2

EPA sends ‘secret science’ plan to White House:  “EPA yesterday sent a proposed rule to the White House Office of Management and Budget with the announced purpose of “strengthening transparency and validity in regulatory science,” according to the RegInfo.gov site.  The proposal appears to be a concrete step toward restricting the types of scientific research that EPA officials can use in crafting new regulations. The proposal was not listed on EPA’s latest semiannual regulatory agenda, and agency press aides did not respond to an emailed request for more information this morning. … ”  Read more from E&E News here:  EPA sends ‘secret science’ plan to White House  See also:  Smith pitched Pruitt on ‘secret science’.  Now it’s happening

In commentary this weekend …

The Delta Stewardship Council, a shill for tunnels, is no longer useful, says Assemblyman Jim Frazier:  He writes, “Over many generations, the Delta has been overtapped and bureaucratically manhandled to provide stability to California’s water delivery system. Roughly a decade ago, the state began the difficult process of trying to develop a credible plan for the future.  In 2009, the Delta Stewardship Council was created to achieve the co-equal goals of providing a more reliable water supply and restoring the Delta’s ecosystem to protect its unique cultural, recreational, natural resource and agricultural assets.  However, the council has neglected most of its mandate. In recent years, it has behaved more like the “Tunnels Stewardship Council,” becoming little more than a shill for the proposed tunnels project that threatens to destroy the Delta as we know it. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  The Delta Stewardship Council, a shill for tunnels, is no longer useful

In regional news and commentary this weekend …

Siskiyou County: Locals pursue Public Utilities District for Klamath Dams:  “As the process to remove four dams on the Klamath River moves forward, one local group is attempting to set in motion a completely different outcome – a takeover of the dams to be operated by a Public Utility District.  A local steering committee has placed a number of petitions locally in an effort to gather enough signatures to get an initiative on a ballot this year – likely the November ballot – to let voters decide whether or not a PUD would be formed in the county. … ”  Read more from the Siskiyou Daily News here: Locals pursue Public Utilities District for Klamath Dams

2021 new target to remove Klamath Dams:  “The Klamath River Renewal Corporation, created for the sole purpose of removing four Klamath dams that block fish passage and impair river water quality, has been holding meetings in small towns across the basin this week. Two main announcements stand out: the dam removal target date is now 2021; and contractors get your pens ready, request for proposals for dam removal and restoration-related work will be coming out in the next few months.  … ”  Read more from the Del Norte Triplicate here:  2021 new target to remove Klamath Dams

Meeting Thursday on Butte County groundwater plans:  “A workshop on managing the groundwater underneath northern Butte County is planned Thursday in Chico.  The meeting on what’s being done to implement the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act is 6-8 p.m. at the Masonic Family Center, 1110 W. East Ave.  The law passed in 2014 requires plans to be developed to maintain groundwater levels and quality in the various basins around the state. … ” Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Meeting Thursday on Butte County groundwater plans

Michael Fitzgerald: The Delta’s ‘Armageddon critter’ arrives:  “Crank up the war machine: Nutria have reached the Delta.  Myocastor coypus, a rapidly breeding, super-destructive Argentinean swamp rat that grows as big as a medium-sized dog, was found days ago on Roberts Island.  “This discovery throws us for a loop,” said Peter Tira, a spokesman for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. … ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here:  Michael Fitzgerald: The Delta’s ‘Armageddon critter’ arrives

Sacramento: E. coli levels drop at popular beach:  “New tests taken at one of Sacramento’s most popular public beaches recorded the lowest levels of E. coli in the water all year. The bacteria is typically found in fecal matter and can enter local waterways through domestic or wild animal waste, sewage overflows, illegal trash dumping and storm water systems. Most strains don’t pose a threat to humans, but high levels of E. coli found in Sacramento’s rivers and streams have concerned officials enough to warn swimmers about potential health risks. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Sacramento: E. coli levels drop at popular beach

Salinas Valley seawater intrusion continues advancing; action plan proposed:  “With seawater continuing to seep deeper in the Salinas Valley groundwater basin and threaten a deeper aquifer that helps feed municipal and agricultural uses, Monterey County officials are poised to consider a formal plan of action including a proposed moratorium on new wells in the area after months of discussions.  On Tuesday, a joint meeting of the Board of Supervisors and the county Water Resources Agency board are set to consider new groundwater maps showing seawater intrusion is continuing its “vertical migration,” and a final report and recommendations from a working group on how to respond to the worsening situation. … ”  Read more from the Monterey County Herald here:  Salinas Valley seawater intrusion continues advancing; action plan proposed

SSJID could help with groundwater use by adding more farmland & city deliveries: “The South San Joaquin Irrigation District could prove critical to the South County’s ability to meet state mandates regarding groundwater management by annexing farmland to the north and providing more surface water to cities.  They are among possible groundwater solutions being explored as SSJID undertakes a water master plan study aimed at solidifying, protecting, and building on 109 years of the district securing senior pre-1914 water rights and developing them for the benefit of South County farmers and residents. … ”  Read more from the Manteca Bulletin here: SSJID could help with groundwater use by adding more farmland & city deliveries

Mono Supervisors gird for ‘toe to toe’ with DWP:  “The Mono County Board of Supervisors took its first step to protect area cattlemen and 6,000 acres of grazing leases.  During a special session Thursday, the Board signed off on a letter to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti outlining the impacts of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s intent to pull water from grazing leases. The meeting started with a closed session, initiation of litigation. KSRW confirmed both agenda items were related. … ”  Read more from the Sierra Wave here:  Mono Supervisors gird for ‘toe to toe’ with DWP

Ridgecrest: Groundwater management discussion stirs a storm:  “The presentation was controversial before it even began.  Item 5 on Thursday’s IWV Groundwater Authority board meeting agenda read, “Discussion on issues and options for groundwater management in the Indian Wells Valley under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.”  This vaguely worded agenda item referred to a presentation that would be given by Anthony Brown of Aquilogic. The presentation covered a “Discussion Paper,” which one can find in the meeting’s agenda packet available at IWVGA.org. … ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here:  Groundwater management discussion stirs a storm

Bonanza Springs new ground zero in battle over Cadiz water:  “Bonanza Springs, a wildlife water source once of interest mostly to animals and desert hikers, has become the focus of a fight over the future of the Cadiz water project.  A study published this month in the Journal of Environmental Forensics asserts Cadiz Inc.’s plan to pump water from beneath the Mojave Desert would drain water from Bonanza Springs.  The springs burble up in a canyon on public land in the new Mojave Trails National Monument, about 11 miles away from the Cadiz project. … ”  Read more from the Hi Desert Star here:  Bonanza Springs new ground zero in battle over Cadiz water

As the election approaches, so does Salton Sea’s tipping point, Gavin Newsom says: Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom visited the Salton Sea on Thursday to witness up close the environmental and public health perils facing the communities surrounding the sea’s shrinking shoreline.  As the gubernatorial candidate walked up to the boat dock that no longer sits anywhere near the water at Red Hill Marina Park, he witnessed firsthand the playa’s toxic dust being swept up into the air, which residents say has caused the rampant respiratory illnesses endemic to the region.  “I humbly submit — and it’s not an indictment — that [the Salton Sea] hasn’t been the priority in Sacramento that it can be and should be,” Newsom told environmental activists and area residents who had gathered to meet with him.  … ”  Read more from The Desert Sun here:  As the election approaches, so does Salton Sea’s tipping point, Gavin Newsom says

Along the Colorado River …

Driest winter ever recorded for Arizona’s mountain watersheds:  “A winter like no other for the state’s watersheds.  Winter 2017-2018 was the driest on record for the Grand Canyon State, according to the Arizona Department of Water Resources. Between January and March, the Salt and Verde reservoir systems recorded their lowest runoff averages. Record keeping for these reservoirs started back in 1913. ... ”  Read more from KVOA here:  Driest winter ever recorded for Arizona’s mountain watersheds

Five things to know about the latest Colorado River dustup:  “A quiet, rising tension over water in the southwest has burst into the public square.  Agencies that manage and dole out the Colorado River’s water in Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and New Mexico are attempting to publicly shame an increasingly isolated water agency in Arizona. The feud has the potential to either upset, or reignite, negotiations over the river’s future. … ”  Read more from KUNC here:  Five things to know about the latest Colorado River dustup

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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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