DAILY DIGEST: Oroville Dam without DWR? It’s a possibility; Bill to abolish Delta Stewardship Council fails in Committee; Mountain Counties water agencies ask: Has the state gone too far?; Pruitt signs proposal limiting use of science in policymaking; and more …

In California water news today, Oroville Dam without DWR? It’s a possibility; Assembly bill may take inspection authority away from DWR; Bill to abolish Delta Stewardship Council fails to pass Assembly Water, Parks, and Wildlife Committee; Mountain Counties water agencies ask: Has the state gone too far?; Forest thinning can prevent fires, save water, study finds; Talks continue on bond funding for water storage; 2018 elections: Voters eye deluge of water money; Picture gallery: A look at Northern California lakes during 2 severe droughts; EPA Chief signs proposal limiting use of science in policymaking; and more …

On the calendar today …

In the news today …

Oroville Dam without DWR? It’s a possibility:  “A bill proposed by Assemblyman James Gallagher which would take the State Water Project out of the hands of the state Department of Water Resources passed unanimously on Tuesday through a legislative committee.  Assembly Bill 3045 passed 15-0 through the Assembly Water, Parks, and Wildlife Committee and is now headed to the Assembly Appropriations Committee. This comes just over one year after the failure of the Oroville Dam spillway, a component of the State Water Project which is operated and managed by DWR.  Gallagher, R-Yuba City, represents residents downstream who evacuated on Feb. 12, 2017 during the Oroville Dam crisis. A total of about 188,000 people were ordered to evacuate that day. ... ”  Read more from the Oroville Mercury-Register here:  Oroville Dam without DWR? It’s a possibility

Assembly bill may take inspection authority away from DWR:  “There are 34 storage facilities, 30 dams, 23 pumping plants and nine hydroelectric power generation plants that are part of the California State Water Project, and the Department of Water Resources is in charge of not only operating but also of inspecting all of them.  Local Assemblyman James Gallagher says that’s a conflict of interest, and a bill he’s pushing looks to take some of that authority away from DWR.  “It’s a conflict of interest to have the same entity operating and maintaining a facility that they are also a regulator of. This piece of legislation would remove the responsibility of operations and maintenance from DWR and give it over to an independent commission. DWR would continue to be in charge of dam inspections and safety, but there would no longer be a conflict of interest,” Gallagher said. ... ”  Read more from the Appeal Democrat here:  Assembly bill may take inspection authority away from DWR

Bill to abolish Delta Stewardship Council fails to pass Assembly Water, Parks, and Wildlife Committee:  “The Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee today failed to approve AB 1826, Assemblymember Jim Frazier’s bill to end the Delta Stewardship Council in 2020 and transfer its duties to the Delta Protection Coalition.  Six Assemblymembers voted no, eight abstained and zero voted for AB 1826.  The no votes were Chair Eduardo Garcia, Frank Bigelow, Steven S. Choi, Matthew Harper, Mark Levine and Rudy Salas.  Those abstaining included James Gallagher, Wendy Carrillo, Kansen Chu, Laura Friedman, Todd Gloria, Kalera, Blanca E. Rubio and Jim Wood. … ”  Read more from the Daily Kos here:  Bill to abolish Delta Stewardship Council fails to pass Assembly Water, Parks, and Wildlife Committee

Mountain Counties water agencies ask: Has the state gone too far?  “The question of whether the state has gone too far in its efforts to regulate water in California was the topic of a special workshop on Friday 13 hosted by the Mountain Counties Water Resources Association at the El Dorado Irrigation District.  John Kingsbury, the executive director of Mountain Counties, discussed the challenges facing its members including Delta outflow, attempts to dismantle the water rights system, a possible tax on water, potential regulation of individual wells, water restrictions on indoor and outdoor use, declining species, lack of effective management of the Sierra Nevada foothills, loss of local control, increased water rates, environmental and regulatory overreach and how all these things may affect agriculture, tourism and recreation. … ”  Read more from the Mountain Democrat here:  Mountain Counties water agencies ask: Has the state gone too far?

Forest thinning can prevent fires, save water, study finds:  “Better forest management would not only prevent wildfires but could serve as a valuable water-conservation tool, according to a study published Tuesday.  California could save billions of gallons annually by undertaking significant forest thinning operations, according to scientists affiliated with the National Science Foundation and the Sierra Critical Zone Observatory.  “We’ve known for some time that managed forest fires are the only way to restore the majority of overstocked western forests and reduce the risk of catastrophic fires,” James Roche, a National Park Service hydrologist and lead author of the new study, said in a statement. “We can now add the potential benefit of increased water yield from these watersheds.” … ”  Read more from Courthouse News Service here:  Forest thinning can prevent fires, save water, study finds

Talks continue on bond funding for water storage:  “Allocation of storage funding from the Proposition 1 water bond moves another step closer next week, when the California Water Commission meets to discuss revised staff recommendations for investing in the public benefits of storage projects.  Following a second round of scoring, Water Commission staff determined last week that eight of 11 projects would be eligible for $2.6 billion in bond funds, a significant increase from the $942 million eligibility amount issued by staff in February. “Californians clearly voted for new water storage when they overwhelmingly approved Proposition 1, and we urge the Water Commission to make a significant investment in new water storage,” California Farm Bureau Federation President Jamie Johansson said. … ”  Read more from Ag Alert here: Talks continue on bond funding for water storage

2018 elections: Voters eye deluge of water money:  “California voters may be asked this year to approve $13 billion in two separate water bonds that promise to pay for safe drinking water and improve flood protection.  Proposition 68, the California Clean Water and Safe Parks Act, is a $4.1 billion measure and is already set for the June 5 ballot.  The Water Supply and Water Quality Act is an $8.9 billion measure and could come up for a vote in November. The Secretary of State’s office is reviewing the signatures turned in and should decide by the end of the month whether the measure qualifies for the ballot. … ”  Read more from Capitol Weekly here:  2018 elections: Voters eye deluge of water money

Picture gallery: A look at Northern California lakes during 2 severe droughts (1976 & 2014).  Click here to view photo gallery from KCRA Channel 3.

EPA Chief signs proposal limiting use of science in policymaking:  “Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has signed a proposed rule that would restrict the types of scientific studies regulators can use to determine the impact of pesticide and pollution exposure on human health.  Pruitt says the change would increase transparency in the agency’s decision-making by requiring all underlying data used in scientific studies to be made publicly available.  Critics, including former EPA administrators and scientists, say Pruitt’s move is designed to restrict the agency from citing peer-reviewed public-health studies that use patient medical records required to be kept confidential under patient privacy laws. … ”  Read more from KQED here: EPA Chief signs proposal limiting use of science in policymaking

In commentary today …

Californians shouldn’t pay a tax on water, says Jon Foreman:  He writes, “The Valley of the Moon Water District is committed to providing affordable, safe and reliable water to our customers. We also vigorously support safe drinking water for all Californians. When a community is struggling with tainted water, state and federal resources should be available. But a new state tax on water, being proposed by the Brown administration, is an inappropriate way to address this problem.  The proposal is to impose a fee on residential water users to raise money for upgrades and maintenance required to deliver clean drinking water in disadvantaged communities. … ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here:  Californians shouldn’t pay a tax on water

Yes on 68: An investment in parks, water:  “Take a walk beneath the canopy of ancient giants at Armstrong Redwoods north of Guerneville, stand atop Bodega Head and watch migrating whales, or take a lesson in California history at Fort Ross or Mission Sonoma.  These diverse sites are four of 11 state parks in Sonoma County, where outdoor recreation is a pastime for residents and a lure for visitors.  California’s state park system hosts more visitors than any other state park system — 74 million people in 2015-16, the most recent figures available. … ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here:  Yes on 68: An investment in parks, water

In regional news and commentary today …

Sonoma Clean Power scraps plan for solar power array on wastewater ponds:  “A combination of factors, including President Donald Trump’s tariff on imported solar panels, have prompted cancellation of a major solar power project on six wastewater holding ponds in Sonoma County.  Sonoma Clean Power, the county’s public power supplier, also cited requirements by PG&E and the state Division of Safety of Dams as reasons for terminating a contract approved in 2015 for development of a 12.5-megawatt solar power system on the holding ponds owned by the Sonoma County Water Agency. ... ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here:  Sonoma Clean Power scraps plan for solar power array on wastewater ponds

Despite E. coli decline on American River, unhealthy levels still prompt caution while swimming:  “Last year the American River in Sacramento was put on California’s list of impaired waterways because of elevated E. coli levels. Around 20 percent of the tests along the lower portion of the river were found to have unsafe amounts of the bacteria since January.  But last week safe results were reported at all test sites, said Adam Laputz with the State Water Resources Control Board, which runs the testing program. ... ”  Read more from Captial Public Radio here: Despite E. coli decline on American River, unhealthy levels still prompt caution while swimming

Salinas Valley wells moratorium gets thumbs up over ag concerns:  “Despite pushback from agriculture interests, a split Board of Supervisors gave the go-ahead for a moratorium on new farmland irrigation wells in the northern Salinas Valley to battle worsening seawater intrusion.  By a 3-2 vote during a joint meeting with the supervisors and the county Water Resources Agency board of directors, a narrow board majority directed staff to move forward with an emergency ordinance aimed at establishing a temporary prohibition on new wells in the 180-foot, 400-foot and deep aquifers in a specific area of the Salinas Valley where county Water Resources Agency maps show seawater intrusion has been seeping deeper into the valley’s groundwater supply. Agency staff puts the blame for that on increased pumping from underground sources. … ”  Read more from the Monterey Herald here:  Salinas Valley wells moratorium gets thumbs up over ag concerns

Owens Valley: LADWP runoff/operations report in:  “With a series of March storms that continued to dribble through early April, the “most probable” run-off forecast for the Owens River Basin sits at 73-percent of average; 82-percent for Mono Basin according to Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s draft annual operations plan.  Those percentages translate to 219,000 acre-feet of runoff through the April-September irrigation season for the Owens’ basin, 82,700 acre-feet for Mono. ... ” Read more from the Sierra Wave here:  LADWP runoff/operations report in

Santa Barbara County working to restore beaches to conditions before mudslides:  “Santa Barbara County Public Works crews are restoring local beaches to their conditions prior to the Montecito mudslides.  A lot of mud and dirt was taken to Carpinteria and Goleta beaches, and now sediment layers are being removed from the shorelines. Public Works is underway in the cleanup process at both beaches. … ”  Read more from KEYT here:  Santa Barbara County working to restore beaches to conditions before mudslides

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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