DAILY DIGEST: Delta tunnels get $650 million boost from Bay Area water agency; California lawmakers want faster action on Salton Sea; Climate change ruining California’s environment, report warns; Phase 2 construction begins at Oroville Dam; and more …

In California water news today, Brown’s Delta tunnels get $650 million boost from Bay Area water agency; California lawmakers want faster action on Salton Sea; Climate change ruining California’s environment, report warns; Phase 2 construction begins at Oroville Dam; Prop 1 water project backers discuss California Water Commission’s decision; Report: Legal marijuana boosts government revenue — a little; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • Joint Legislative Oversight Hearing on the California Water Fix beginning at 9am: Accountability And Administrative Review And Water, Parks, And Wildlife And Budget Subcommittee No. 3 On Resources And Transportation will hold on oversight hearing on the Cal Water Fix project.  Click here for more information.  Click here for webcast link.
  • STORMS Seminar Series: “Talking Trash with Clean River Alliance” at 1PM.  Presentation by Chris Brokate, Founder of the Clean Water Alliance.  Webcast/In person.  Click here for more information.
  • Domestic Well Supply Reliability During Drought: Stress Testing for Groundwater Overdraft and Economic Costs at 5:30pm; hosted by the Sacramento chapter of the Groundwater Resources Association.  Click here to register.  You do not need to be a member to attend.

In the news today …

Brown’s Delta tunnels get $650 million boost from Bay Area water agency:  “A Bay Area water agency agreed Tuesday to pump $650 million into Gov. Jerry Brown’s Delta tunnels project, providing a meaningful boost for the controversial $16.7 billion plan.  The 4-3 vote by the Santa Clara Valley Water District brings the tunnels project, which would overhaul the troubled heart of California’s aging water delivery network, a step closer to being fully funded.  Just a few months ago the project, officially known as California WaterFix, was sputtering for a lack of funds. Brown’s administration was forced to consider a phased-in approach that called for building one tunnel first and constructing a second tunnel only if enough money became available. WaterFix is to be paid for by south-of-Delta local water agencies that get supplies from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Brown’s Delta tunnels get $650 million boost from Bay Area water agency

Silicon Valley water agency votes to give $650 million to Brown’s Delta tunnels project:  “The South Bay’s largest water agency gave a big lift to Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan for a pair of water conveyance tunnels through the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta on Tuesday, committing $650 million to the effort.  The $17 billion tunnels project, which would help move water from Northern California to the drier south, has been among the governor’s top priorities but has lacked the necessary funding to move forward.  The Santa Clara Valley Water District came out against the proposal in October, reiterating a common concern that the cost of the tunnels might not justify the unknown boost in water supplies, but reversed itself with this week’s 4-3 vote by the agency’s board. The majority agreed the project will ensure steadier water deliveries, even if they can’t quantify the benefit. … ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  Silicon Valley water agency votes to give $650 million to Brown’s Delta tunnels project

California lawmakers want faster action on Salton Sea:  “California leaders who represent the shrinking Salton Sea want the same kind of expedited action taken on restoring it as the Oroville spillway crisis had in 2017.  After the spillway eroded millions of dollars were quickly allotted to fix the dam. A 10-year plan to restore California’s largest lake was adopted last year.  Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia questioned the agencies in charge of the project Tuesday at an oversight hearing over why it’s behind schedule. … ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here:  California lawmakers want faster action on Salton Sea

Assembly Committee Meets to Discuss Salton Sea Management Plan: “The State Assembly Committee on Water, Parks, and Wildlife held a public hearing Tuesday, May 8th, on the plan to rehabilitate the shrinking Salton Sea in Imperial County.  The Salton Sea has been shrinking rapidly in 2018, after most of the water it used to get from agricultural run-off was directed to other parts in the state last year. And less water means more exposed lake-bed, which comes with a number of problems. … ”  Read more from KVCR here:  Assembly Committee Meets to Discuss Salton Sea Management Plan

Climate change ruining California’s environment, report warns:  “Bigger, more intense forest fires, longer droughts, warmer ocean temperatures and an ever shrinking snowpack in the Sierra Nevada are “unequivocal” evidence of the ruinous domino-effects that climate change is having on California, a new California Environmental Protection Agency report states.The 350-page report released Wednesday tracks 36 indicators of climate change, including a comprehensive list of human impacts and the effects on wildlife, the ocean, lakes, rivers and the mountains. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  Climate change ruining California’s environment, report warns

6 charts from new report show how much California’s climate has already changed:  “Warmer days — and nights. Rising sea levels. Less water available in summer.  A report released Wednesday by state officials says climate change is affecting California’s ecosystem already in ways great and small.  The document looks at 36 indicators that measure aspects of climate change, including human-influenced causes of climate change such as greenhouse gas emissions and the impact of the changes on people and wildlife. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  6 charts from new report show how much California’s climate has already changed

Impact of a warming climate on the Sierra Nevada and California’s water:  “Imagine a California where springtime temperatures are 7F warmer than they are today, where snowmelt runoff comes 50 days earlier and the average snowpack is just 36 percent of the 1981–2000 average.  That may be the reality by the end of the century if we don’t curb greenhouse gas emissions, say researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles. A recent report from the UCLA Center for Climate Science analyzes how climate change will impact the Sierra Nevada and what that will mean for water resources. ... ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  Impact of a warming climate on the Sierra Nevada and California’s water

Phase 2 construction begins at Oroville Dam:  “Crews went back to work again on the Oroville Dam at midnight on Tuesday for phase two of construction.  This year, crews will be replacing the temporary walls with permanent structural concrete walls.  Crews are removing the temporary roller-compacted concrete walls in the middle section of the main spillway. … ”  Read more from Action News Now here:  Phase 2 construction begins at Oroville Dam

Prop 1 water project backers discuss California Water Commission’s decision: “With decisions made on public benefits, several steps remain before state officials finalize bond funding for new water storage projects, and two large surface-storage projects in the Central Valley face different outcomes in the allocation process.  Under terms of the Proposition 1 water bond passed by voters in 2014, the California Water Commission must allocate the $2.7 billion in funds dedicated to water storage projects. Bond funding must be used for the public benefits of the projects, such as ecosystem improvements, water quality improvements, flood control, emergency response and recreation.  Since commission staff issued its first estimates of those public benefits earlier this year, the commission has ratcheted up the funding for the proposed Sites Reservoir in the Sacramento Valley, which now could receive $1.01 billion in bond funds. … ”  Read more from Ag Alert here:  Prop 1 water project backers discuss California Water Commission’s decision

Report: Legal marijuana boosts government revenue — a little: “A new report finds that legalizing and taxing marijuana boosts revenue for state and local governments, but not by much.  The credit rating agency Moody’s Investor Service says in a study released Tuesday that legalizing recreational use of marijuana brings governments more money than it costs to regulate it.  Despite high taxes on the legal sales of the drug, the revenue accounts for a small portion of government budgets. In Colorado, the first state to legalize recreational use, a marijuana tax brings in the equivalent of about 2 percent of the state budget. ... ” Read more from the Capital Press here:  Report: Legal marijuana boosts government revenue — a little

In commentary today …

Opinion: State law recognizes rivers and groundwater are connected — now what?  Dave Owen, Alida Cantor and Michael Kiparsky write,For years, Californians have mismanaged the aquifers that supply the state with about 40 percent of its water supplies. Declining water levels from over-pumping have left less water for agriculture, urban, and other uses in many areas of the state.  But the problems do not stop with groundwater users. Groundwater and surface water are closely connected, so declining groundwater can reduce streamflow at critical times of the year, and can devastate rivers, streams, and wetlands. As groundwater levels drop, people who use surface water have less, but low flows can also leave fish gasping in dewatered streams. Oak forests and wetlands can wither and die. Water quality suffers. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  Opinion: State law recognizes rivers and groundwater are connected — now what?

In regional news and commentary today …

District looks ahead at Salt River work this year:  “In the coming construction season, the Humboldt County Resource Conservation District hopes to restore about 2,500 feet of waterway during the latest phase of the Salt River Restoration Project.  The end goal of the $34 million project is to reduce flooding impacts and restore wildlife habitat along a 7-mile stretch of the Salt River and 330 acres of tidal marsh. Last year saw portions of Salt River and Francis Creek excavated and restored after some resistance from landowners. … ”  Read more from the Eureka Times-Standard here:  District looks ahead at Salt River work this year

Yolo Habitat Conservation Plan heads for final approval:  “Western burrowing owls, valley elderberry longhorn beetles and giant garter snakes are among the dozen species protected under the 50-year conservation plan local governments will consider for approval over the next two months.  The Yolo Habitat and Conservation Plan and Natural Community Conservation Plan will provide Endangered Species Act permits and associated mitigation for infrastructure and development projects over the next 50 years throughout the county.  The plan aims to coordinate mitigation efforts to benefit 12 sensitive species, conserve habitat and support the county’s agricultural economy. ... ”  Read more from the Davis Enterprise here:  Yolo Habitat Conservation Plan heads for final approval

Column: San Francisco’s water conservation can flow to salmon:  Robyn Purchia writes, “California’s commercial salmon season opened last week, but feasting on the fatty fish is still an upstream battle for many San Franciscans.  Already-low populations of salmon were further decimated by the drought in 2015. This means smaller catches for local fishermen and higher prices this season for The City’s consumers.  “The fishery we see today is based on what happened three years ago,” explained Glen Spain of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations. “Too much water got taken out of the rivers for too long, and the situation was exacerbated by drought. Right now, salmon habitats are miserable.” ... ”  Read more from the San Francisco Examiner here:  Column: San Francisco’s water conservation can flow to salmon

Nearly 250,000 gallons of toxic sewage floods Oakland in one year:  “Miracles of Faith Rev. Greggory L. Brown can’t forget one Thanksgiving weekend when it seemed as though biblical-sized floods had deluged his church. He had just finished serving a meal to his parishioners when he got an urgent phone call. Sewage was spewing into the bathroom and up to the countertops at his church, nestled in a residential Oakland neighborhood near the Laurel District. The air smelled like rotten eggs. Brown goo covered the floor. None of the children at the church-run Head Start program were allowed to come to school until crews dressed in hazmat uniforms hauled out the unsanitary mess. … ”  Read more from KTVU Channel 2 here:  Nearly 250,000 gallons of toxic sewage floods Oakland in one year

Turlock: Experts help local growers navigate the waters:  “Water use in the Central Valley has been at the forefront of conversation for years and continues to be both a prominent and complex issue which affects farmers throughout the region. This led business owners, growers and other water stakeholders to pack into the Modesto DoubleTree’s Grand Ballroom Tuesday morning to hear leading experts speak on critical issues facing California agriculture.  “Navigating the Waters,” hosted by the Almond Board of California, brought together presidents, managers, CEOs and directors from some of the area’s top water agencies for an event aimed at helping almond growers make informed decisions when it comes to the storage and management of surface water, including keynote speaker Ellen Hanak. ... ”  Read more from Turlock Journal here:  Turlock: Experts help local growers navigate the waters

Kern County: Environmentalists fight decision to allow oilfield wastewater dumping: “An environmental group is fighting a decision by state regulators to allow the continued dumping of oilfield wastewater in western Kern County.  According to the Center For Biological Diversity, Valley Water Treatment Company dumps nearly three million gallons of produced oilfield wastewater a day into these unlined ponds near Buttonwillow. … ”  Read more from KGET here:  Kern County: Environmentalists fight decision to allow oilfield wastewater dumping

City of Pomona Claims Chilean Company ‘Poisoned’ its Groundwater: “A Southern California city said defectively designed fertilizer used on citrus orchards from the 1930s through the 1950s contaminated its drinking water and it is suing the Chilean chemical company that imported the product in federal court.  In U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, an attorney for the city of Pomona said Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile (SQM) “poisoned” the city’s groundwater as large amounts of perchlorate seeped into the ground from the fertilizer. Large of amounts of perchlorate may cause hyperthyroidism in humans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. … ”  Read more from Courthouse News Service here: City of Pomona Claims Chilean Company ‘Poisoned’ its Groundwater

EPA’s move to fast-track Orange County groundwater cleanup questioned: “When a contaminated aquifer in Orange County made U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt’s list of top-priority sites for “immediate, intense action,” the local water district was quick to highlight the announcement.  But questions of political favoritism are swirling over Pruitt’s decision in December to prioritize cleaning the Orange County North Basin groundwater pollution plume beneath Anaheim and Fullerton using the federal Superfund program. ... ”  Read more from the OC Register here:  EPA’s move to fast-track Orange County groundwater cleanup questioned

Controversial EPA chief Scott Pruitt part of long-running Orange County contamination dispute: A long-contaminated Orange County site is getting increased federal attention after the court-ordered release of emails showing that conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt set up a meeting between controversial EPA chief Scott Pruitt and attorneys for the Orange County Water District, which is seeking federal oversight of the cleanup process.  The 5-square-mile site is the source of a 15-year dispute between the business community, which says it is steadily progressing with cleanup under state supervision, and the water district, which says the EPA can help get the job done more thoroughly and efficiently. … ” Read more from the Whittier Daily News here:  Controversial EPA chief Scott Pruitt part of long-running Orange County contamination dispute

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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