DAILY DIGEST: Santa Clara Valley Water District delays vote on Delta tunnels project; One million salmon released into the Sacto River; CA’s water managers harness storms for drought relief; North-south tensions laid bare at hearing over fate of Delta Stewardship Council; and more …

In California water news today, Santa Clara Valley Water District delays vote on Delta tunnels project; A million salmon were released into the Sacramento River. So why are anglers unhappy?; Seeds for tomorrow: California’s water managers harness storms for drought relief; Wayward stewardship: North-south tensions laid bare at hearing over fate of Delta Stewardship Council; Surfing competition comes to the Central Valley; Mysterious giant eyeball washes up on Florida beach; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • The California Water Commission will meet for the third day of a three day meeting to review and potentially adjust the Public Benefit Ratios for the competing water storage projects.  Click here for the agenda and webcast link.
  • The Delta Independent Science Board will meet beginning at 9am.  The Delta ISB will consider approving the content of its water quality review of nutrients and chemical contaminants, discuss its review on the synthesis papers of the Delta Plan Ecosystem Amendment, and may take action by considering approval of the content of the review.  Click here for agenda and webcast.
  • Brown Bag Seminar: Remote Sensing Monitoring Methods for Detecting Invasive Weed Coverage in Delta Waterways and Bay Marshlands, from 12pm to 1pm.  It’s part of the DISB meeting.  Click here for agenda and webcastThis has been canceled.
  • “Water is Life!  A Hydrologist’s Eye on the Gualala River” tonight from 5:30pm to 7:00pm at the Gualala Arts Center,

In the news today …

Santa Clara Valley Water District delays vote on Delta tunnels project:  “After a five-hour packed public hearing, the board of Silicon Valley’s largest water provider late Wednesday night put off a closely watched vote until next week on whether to provide up to $650 million to support Gov. Jerry Brown’s $17 billion plan to build two giant tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to make it easier to move water south.  Although it appeared there might be four votes on the seven-member Santa Clara Valley Water District board in favor of the project, which the Brown administration calls WaterFix, board members were divided and continued the issue until Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  Santa Clara Valley Water District delays vote on Delta tunnels project

Key water district delays vote on Delta tunnels project:  “A Northern California water agency heard hours of public comment Wednesday on whether to give its full support to the governor’s plan to build two multibillion-dollar tunnels to remake the state’s water system, before choosing to delay the vote until next week.  Support from the Santa Clara Valley Water District board could renew momentum behind one of the Democratic governor’s top priorities as he prepares to leave office. The water district’s potential reversal comes just weeks after a state water commission backed funding for a reservoir expansion that is a high priority for the area. Under a previous recommendation, the project wasn’t eligible for money. ... ”  Read more from CBS Channel 13 here:  Key water district delays vote on Delta tunnels project

A million salmon were released into the Sacramento River.  So why are anglers unhappy?  “Standing next to a Department of Fish and Wildlife tanker on Wednesday morning, Scott Hambelton pulled a long lever. Tens of thousands of four-inch silver fish gushed from a connected pipe and into the Sacramento River.  “That’s hundreds of hours (of work) behind that pull,” said Hambelton, a retired fishing guide from Roseville who was on hand to commemorate the release.  The tanker was the first of eight truckloads of juvenile Chinook salmon that California fisheries officials were bringing to the Elkhorn Boat Launch north of Sacramento throughout the day. In total, 1 million Chinook raised by biologists at a hatchery near the base of Oroville Dam were to be released into the river. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  A million salmon were released into the Sacramento River.  So why are anglers unhappy?

Quite a sight: One million chinook salmon released into the Sacramento River:  “One million fall-run chinook salmon were released into the Sacramento River Wednesday.  The smolts were bred at Feather River Hatchery in Oroville through the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The smolts will now head to the ocean and face trying odds. A resilient fraction will return a few years later as adults.  “On this particular release, the success: We may get 1,000 to 10,000 fish back out of the million,” said Harry Morse with the CDFW. … ”  Read more from KCRA Channel 3 here:  Quite a sight: One million chinook salmon released into the Sacramento River

Seeds for tomorrow: California’s water managers harness storms for drought relief:The storm is rolling in. It’s January. A parched fall, thus far followed by an abnormally dry winter—which helped produce the largest fire in California’s recorded history—is already giving the state’s farmers and water managers visions of imminent, crippling drought. And while the deluge associated with this particular moisture system rolling in off the Pacific Ocean will ultimately create the deadly Montecito mudflows, to say the rain is overdue is an understatement. Reservoirs need to be filled, groundwater basins require recharging, and miles of farmland are thirsty for liquid relief.It’s why today a handful of Public Works employees for Santa Barbara County aren’t battening down the hatches in preparation for the destructive storm. No, out here at Twitchell Dam, with a sea of low-hanging gray clouds kissing the Santa Maria Valley floor, the men and women on site are doing what critics describe as anything from a waste of time to “playing God.” ... ”  Read more from the Santa Maria Sun here:  Seeds for tomorrow: California’s water managers harness storms for drought relief

Wayward stewardship: North-south tensions laid bare at hearing over fate of Delta Stewardship Council: “A few days after calling the Delta Stewardship Council “a shill” for Gov. Jerry Brown and his controversial twin tunnels project, Assemblyman Jim Frazier attempted to forward a bill that would abolish the statewide coalition altogether. While the legislative attempt fell flat, the lively exchange it sparked revealed not everyone is sold on Brown’s $17 billion legacy project.  The Delta Stewardship Council is a state-sanctioned governing body created in 2009 to balance monitoring of the state’s water supply with restoring the Delta’s fragile ecosystem. Frazier, who represents the Delta cities of Antioch, Brentwood and Oakley, says it has done anything but. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento News & Review here:  Wayward stewardship: North-south tensions laid bare at hearing over fate of Delta Stewardship Council

Surfing competition comes to the Central Valley: “If you build it they will come.”  The famous line from the “Field of Dreams” was part of the inspiration to build a surfing facility around 100 miles from the ocean in an area that’s known mostly for its agriculture.  This weekend “they” are coming.  The Surf Ranch is hosting its first major competition, The Founders’ Cup, May 5-6 drawing an expected 5,000 people to the Lemoore area. … ”  Read more from the Hanford Sentinel here: The Surf Ranch to host Founder’s Cup competition

In commentary today …

More water storage doesn’t mean build more dams, says the San Francisco Chronicle:  They write, “The California Water Commission has been meeting this week to discuss how to invest $2.7 billion in water storage funds approved by voters under Proposition 1. The commission — and all Californians — should bear in mind that water storage doesn’t necessarily mean a dam with water behind it. The commission’s charge is not to fund the biggest new dam but to fund projects with the greatest net benefits to California cities, farms and wildlife.  The commission is considering 12 projects, ranging from traditional surface storage projects, such as the proposed Sites and Temperance Flat reservoirs, to multiple use projects such as expanding Los Vaqueros Reservoir in Contra Costa County or the Inland Empire Utilities Agency’s project, which would time water releases for benefit of the native fish runs and farmers. … ”  Read more from the SF Chronicle here:  More water storage doesn’t mean build more dams

Address state’s drinking water crisis while protecting farming, say Nicholas Ortiz and Beatris Sanders: They write, “Several years ago, California farmers, including many in the Valley, began receiving threatening letters from the State Water Resources Control Board.  The demand? Provide clean drinking water to local residents with nitrate contaminated private wells or face punitive legal action.  The logic? Years of fertilizer application by farmers led to excess nitrates in the drinking water supply for some residents in California’s agricultural regions, including our Tulare Lake Basin.  Farming requires the use of nitrogen-based fertilizers, whether synthetic or organic, to replenish soil nutrients to ensure healthy crops. For more than half a century, farmers have relied on the guidance of the government and research universities to determine best fertilizer application practices. … ”  Read more from the Bakersfield Californian here:  Address state’s drinking water crisis while protecting farming

In regional news and commentary today …

Invasive bat-eating fish threatens Washington salmon future:  “There is a rapidly growing threat to salmon in the Columbia River that biologists say could wipe out tens of millions of dollars in restoration efforts.  On the surface of Lake Roosevelt, it may look like a picture-perfect day. Underwater, the scenery is anything but perfect.  The Spokane Tribe built a boat to deal with the invasive predator lurking beneath the surface. … ”  Read more from Channel 5 here:  Invasive bat-eating fish threatens Washington salmon future

North Yuba Water District receives $326,000 grant from Yuba County Water Agency:  “The Yuba County Water Agency announced it will award the North Yuba Water District a $326,000 grant to help pay for a portion of the construction costs to pipe the Forbestown Ditch, which provides potable water for the district’s nearly 3,100 domestic customers.  “We are deeply grateful for (YCWA’s) time and effort,” said Jeffrey Maupin, general manager for the district. “The Board has come out and walked the ditch with us. They’ve looked at our situation, and they’ve done more than just support our efforts financially. They’ve dedicated their time and talent and embraced what we are trying to accomplish.”… ”  Read more from the Appeal Democrat here:  North Yuba Water District receives $326,000 grant from Yuba County Water Agency

Fifty-year conservation plan for Yolo, part of Solano nears finalization:  “A habitat conservation plan that includes nearly 1,200 acres of privately owned land in Solano County is about a month away from being finalized.  The Yolo Habitat Conservation Plan and Natural Community Conservation Plan covers 1,174 acres in Solano south of Putah Creek and the whole of Yolo County – a total of 654,721 acres.  The plan outlines “strategies to avoid, minimize, and offset potential direct, indirect and cumulative effects of development, public service, agricultural and conservation strategy implementation activities,” according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. ... ”  Read more from the Daily Republic here:  Fifty-year conservation plan for Yolo, part of Solano nears finalization

Suisun moves forward with dredging plan:  “Suisun City could see dredging start as early as late this year if the city gets the permits it needs and gets Pierce Island ready to accept dredging spoils in time.  The City Council was generally pleased with the update Tuesday on plans to dredge the Suisun marina and Whispering Bay that have already been delayed for a year.  Council members were told the city could get the permit approvals it needs from state agencies and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, possibly within a month. … ”  Read more from the Daily Republic here:  Suisun moves forward with dredging plan

Monterey: Local kelp forests are giving way to barrens of sea urchins. Divers want to fight back.  “All around the Monterey Peninsula, and off of much of the California coast, the marine ecosystem has changed dramatically in the last few years: Kelp forests are being replaced by purple sea urchins.  The phenomenon has alarmed divers, who seek out the biodiversity kelp forests harbor. Scientists are questioning what, if anything, can be done about it. ... ”  Read more from Monterey County Weekly here:  Monterey: Local kelp forests are giving way to barrens of sea urchins. Divers want to fight back.

Slow watershed recovery from Thomas Fire leaves Montecito in continuing danger:  “Slower than normal recovery of the watershed damaged by the Thomas fire means for several years Montecito residents will be at risk for a repeat of the flooding and debris flows that devastated the community in January, according to a combined report delivered Tuesday to the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors.  “We’re experiencing very slow regrowth, unfortunately,” said Kevin Cooper, leader of the U.S. Forest Service’s Burn Area Emergency Response, or BAER, Team. “And it is the re-establishment of vegetation on those slopes which will help protect us from … future flooding events.” … ”  Read more from the Lompoc Record here:  Slow watershed recovery from Thomas Fire leaves Montecito in continuing danger

Along the Colorado River …

Lake Mead desalination plant could cost millions to upgrade:  “Anticipating years of drought, officials built the Yuma Desalting Plant in 1992 to treat agricultural runoff and conserve water in Lake Mead. Over the past 26 years, however, the plant has operated just three times while costing millions of dollars to maintain.  And it may need millions more, even to operate at a small fraction of capacity.  “The plant takes salty water from the agricultural drainage system, separates the salt . and generates clean water that it delivers to the Colorado River to Mexico,” explained Chuck Cullom, the Central Arizona Project Colorado Rivers programs manager. … ”  Read more from Cronkite News here:  Lake Mead desalination plant could cost millions to upgrade

Western Water Managers Meet To Relieve Colorado River Tension: “After nearly a month of terse exchanges among water managers in Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, Utah and Arizona about Colorado River conservation strategies, representatives from the five states met Monday in Salt Lake City to hash out their differences.  At issue is how the Central Arizona Project (CAP) — the operator of a 336-mile aqueduct that pumps Colorado River water to farmers and cities — is conserving water in Lake Mead, the river’s largest reservoir. The project is managed by the Central Arizona Water Conservancy District (CAWCD) and is the state’s largest water provider. … ”  Read more from KRCC here: Western Water Managers Meet To Relieve Colorado River Tension

And lastly …

Mysterious giant eyeball washes up on Florida beach:  “Perhaps reminiscent of the infamous Montauk monster, a giant eyeball has washed up on a Florida beach (as if Florida needed anything else weird). The Internets are buzzing with questions: whose eye is it? What is it? ... ”  Read more from National Geographic here:  Mysterious giant eyeball washes up on Florida beach

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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