DAILY DIGEST: Gov. Brown addresses ACWA convention, stresses support for Delta tunnels; Gov. Brown orders major offensive against wildfire threat; Justice Dept asks judge to dismiss climate change lawsuits; ‘We need action,’ federal official tells Colorado River states; and more …

In California water news today, Governor Brown addresses ACWA convention, stresses support for Delta tunnels project; Governor Brown orders major offensive against wildfire threat; Justice Department asks judge to dismiss climate change lawsuits; Oroville spillway work resumes as funding questions linger; What if people were paid to use less water?; ‘We need action,’ federal official tells Colorado River states; and more …

In the news today …

Governor Jerry Brown warns that Delta project could be jeopardized if momentum is not maintained:  “Gov. Jerry Brown warned local water agency officials throughout California on Thursday that unless the delta tunnels project gets needed state and federal permits soon and continues advancing, the major infrastructure project may not happen in their lifetime.  Brown issued the warning Thursday in a speech to more than 1,000 water experts and officials whom he urged to support the project at a conference of the Assn. of California Water Agencies. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Governor Jerry Brown warns that Delta project could be jeopardized if momentum is not maintained

Governor Brown stresses support for Delta tunnels project: “Fresh off recent victories securing billions of dollars in financing for his ambitious plan to reroute California’s water system, Gov. Jerry Brown offered a genial yet urgent reminder Thursday of the need to set the project on stable footing before he leaves office next year.  Although its financing is shaping up, the project still faces hurdles including securing more state permits and battling a constant spate of lawsuits from environmental groups who worry the project will harm fish ecosystems.  “If it doesn’t happen now, forget it — you will all be dead before it’s even thought of again,” Brown said in remarks to a conference of the state’s public water agencies. “I know because things come and go, and there’s a moment.” ... ”  Read more from the Hastings Tribune here:  Governor Brown stresses support for Delta tunnels project

Brown addresses ACWA members at conference luncheon:  “California Gov. Jerry Brown made a special appearance at the 2018 ACWA Spring Conference & Exhibition during its Thursday Luncheon, delivering a keynote address touching on nearly every challenge within the state’s water community and highlighting the California WaterFix plan.  “We have a good, elegant solution. …It’s been well thought out, it will increase reliability for farms, for people and for the north and for the south,” Brown said, thanking water districts who support the plan.  Brown started his keynote speech describing the relationship between the complexity of highly-engineered water infrastructure and the increase in California’s population from 300,000 people, throughout most of its history, to the current 40 million. … ”  Read more from ACWA’s Water News here:  Brown addresses ACWA members at conference luncheon

Governor Brown introduces forest health initiative:  “California Governor Jerry Brown vowed to step up efforts to make forests more resilient to drought and wildfire by allocating more dollars toward thinning projects and prescribed burns.  On Thursday, Brown released a statement announcing that he will carve out $96 million as part of his revised budget proposal, which will be unveiled tomorrow. The money will come from various sources to foster healthier forests on the heels of the worst wildfire season in the state’s recorded history.  “Devastating forest fires are a profound challenge to California,” Brown said in the statement on Thursday. … ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service here:  Governor Brown introduces forest health initiative

Governor Brown orders major offensive against wildfire threat:  “Gov. Jerry Brown, alarmed by reports that climate change is dramatically increasing fire risk, on Thursday ordered an all-out attack by scientists, land managers, industry and the public on the dangerous conditions that helped spread last year’s devastating wildfires.  The executive order will launch a slate of projects to improve forest conditions and increase fire protection, including a doubling of the amount of land managed by controlled burns, tree thinning and other forest-management tactics. ... ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: Governor Brown orders major offensive against wildfire threat

Justice Department asks judge to dismiss climate change lawsuits: “The Department of Justice on Thursday asked a federal judge to dismiss two lawsuits seeking to hold the world’s biggest oil companies liable for rising sea levels and climate change.  The twin lawsuits, filed by the cities of Oakland and San Francisco, accuse five oil giants of orchestrating a decades-long misinformation campaign about the science of climate change. The cities seek billions of dollars in damages to cover the cost of sea walls to combat rising sea levels.  The Justice Department says the executive and legislative branches are better suited than the courts to address the delicate issues of energy production, economic concerns and environmental harm. ... ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service here:  Justice Department asks judge to dismiss climate change lawsuits

Oroville spillway work resumes as funding questions linger:  “Construction resumed on the Oroville Dam’s main spillway this week as a cloud remains over potential Federal Emergency Management Agency reimbursements for the project.  Crews hired by the State Department of Water Resources began the second phase of repairs to the spillway at 12:01 a.m. May 8, and began preparing to remove the temporary roller-compacted concrete walls in its middle section.  This summer, crews from Kiewit Infrastructure Co. will replace the temporary walls with permanent, structural concrete walls and add other concrete walls and slabs to the structure, state officials explain. ... ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press here: Oroville spillway work resumes as funding questions linger

It’s the final countdown: DWR sets Nov. 1 deadline for main spillway completion: “The countdown has begun as the Department of Water Resources sets its sights on finishing major reconstruction of the main spillway at Lake Oroville by Nov. 1.  The state received federal approval to begin work on the spillway starting May 8. DWR and its contractor, Kiewit Infrastructure West Co., wasted no time, starting just after midnight on Tuesday – they have less than six months to complete major construction work and place all of the concrete. … ”  Read more from the Appeal Democrat here:  It’s the final countdown:DWR sets Nov. 1 deadline for main spillway completion

What if people were paid to use less water? From Sao Paulo and Cape Town to Beijing and San Diego, water demand in cities around the world is outstripping supply. Urbanization, developing economies, and shifting precipitation patterns are some of the causes, all with the same result: diminishing water availability in cities all over the world. We need a global rethink, one that starts with turning markets upside down.  A group of university and private partners is working with two water utilities, one in Sonoma, California, and the other in Marrakesh, Morocco, to pioneer a new approach, based on rewarding conservation, rather than charging for consumption. … ”  Read more from City Lab here:  What if people were paid to use less water?

People in the news …

Glen Peterson to retire from Las Virgenes Municipal Water District:  “After serving on the Las Virgenes Municipal Water District board of directors for over 30 years and on the Metropolitan Water District more than 25, Glen Peterson announced he will retire at the end of the year.  The 68-year-old Peterson became a leading expert on water issues in his three decades with water district.  “Glen came to the LVMWD board to serve his community, but that service turned into something that became much larger and more significant than the daily operations of a local water agency,” said Dave Pedersen, the Las Virgenes general manager. ... ”  Read more from the Acorn here:  Glen Peterson to retire from Las Virgenes Municipal Water District

In commentary today …

Temperance Flat Dam is dead.  Now Valley lawmakers need to come up with fresh ideas, says Marek :  He writes, “The Temperance Flat dam died last week, a symbolic stake driven through its concrete heart.  Hard as this might be for our elected representatives to accept, there’s really only one course of action left:  Let it go.  After that, get their collective heads together and come up with a solution for the central San Joaquin Valley’s water storage woes that makes sense in the 21st century – one that has an actual chance for statewide approval. ... ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Temperance Flat Dam is dead.  Now Valley lawmakers need to come up with fresh ideas

Proposition 68 will leave California with more unnecessary debt: Vote no, says the San Bernardino Sun:  They write, “The California Legislature is about as spendthrift a legislature as one can find anywhere in the country.  State revenues and expenditures continue to hit record levels, with Governor Brown’s budget proposal for the coming fiscal year calling for over $131 billion in General Fund spending, compared to $91 billion in General Fund spending for 2012-13.  Yet for all this growth in revenues and even a projected surplus, the Legislature never gets around to prioritizing the basics. The addiction to doling out money left and right never seems to apply to things like the water, flood protection or parks. ... ”  Read more from the San Bernardino Sun here:  Proposition 68 will leave California with more unnecessary debt

In regional news and commentary today …

PG&E announces plan to sell Potter Valley Project:  “The Pacific Gas and Electric Company announced Thursday it plans to put the hydroelectric facility known as the Potter Valley Project up for sale this fall.  “This decision to begin the auction process ultimately reflects that continuing to operate the facility is not in the long-term best interests of PG&E’s electric customers,” wrote David Moller, PG&E’s director of power generation, in a letter addressed to the Eel-Russian River Commission and dated May 10, 2018. “However, PG&E fully realizes that the project has key environmental attributes and provides important regional benefits including recreation opportunities and a significant contribution to the Russian River water supply.” ... ”  Read more from the Ukiah Daily Journal here:  PG&E announces plan to sell Potter Valley Project

Petition seeks revised Carmel River cutback order for Pure Water Monterey expansion:  “A petition to the state water board has been filed this week seeking to revise the Carmel River cutback order to add new, parallel milestones aimed at accommodating a proposed Pure Water Monterey expansion capable of providing an alternative replacement water source to meet the cutback order in case California American Water’s proposed desalination project is delayed.  At the same time, a new motion to the state Public Utilities Commission requesting a separate phase and hearings on the proposed recycled water project expansion is being considered several months after a similar earlier motion was filed but which has not yet drawn a formal CPUC response. … ”  Read more from the Monterey Herald here:  Petition seeks revised Carmel River cutback order for Pure Water Monterey expansion

Monterey: Environmental report shows desal won’t harm groundwater, says John Narigi:Local water politics are complex, often emotional and often based on factors other than objective science. Politics matter, but we should not allow public discourse to be based on distortions of fact.  “Cal Am claims its desal project won’t harm Marina’s groundwater, but opponents say it will.” How many times over the past five-plus years have we read that sentence, or something similar to it, in media and other public reports? Cal Am says one thing, while Public Water Now, Marina Coast Water District and others say something else. Who are we, the public, supposed to believe? ... ”  Read more from the Monterey Herald here:  Environmental report shows desal won’t harm groundwater

The embattled Carmel River steelhead face a new obstacle to recovery – invasive snails:The Carmel River steelhead, a federally threatened species, can’t seem to catch a break.  Despite the removal of the San Clemente Dam in 2015, the species’ recovery has been impeded by invasive striped bass, which can prey on steelhead.  Now, there is a newer invader – New Zealand mudsnails, tiny invertebrates about the size of a large grain of sand. Biologists with the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District first discovered the snails in the river system from samples taken in November 2016, which were identified in a lab in February 2017. … ”  Read more from Monterey Weekly here: The embattled Carmel River steelhead face a new obstacle to recovery – invasive snails

Winter rains fall short and drought keeps its grip on Santa Barbara:  “What may have felt like a solid winter of rain, was far from what Santa Barbara needed.  Even though there were some large moments for weather events in January and March that came with big downpours, the city says it remains in State Three drought conditions.  Santa Barbara City Assistant Water Manager Kelley Dyer says, “the whole state is seeing dry conditions this year.  Our area here is in the worst part of it. Our neighbors in Ventura County have been deemed in extreme drought and we are in severe (drought.)” ... ”  Read more from KEYT here: Winter rains fall short and drought keeps its grip on Santa Barbara

This Southern California flower town is wrestling with odor amid shift to pot:  “This picturesque coastal town cradled by mountains and sandy shores is a scene out of a Southern California postcard. Residents of Carpinteria say they feel lucky to live in what they consider a slice of paradise.  But change is in the air. And sometimes, they say, it stinks.  That’s because marijuana has become a new crop of choice in the farmlands surrounding this tight-knit community of 14,000, which has long helped fuel the U.S. cut flower industry. … ”  Read more from KPCC here:  This Southern California flower town is wrestling with odor amid shift to pot

Salton Sea: Plan to restore habitat, suppress dust is behind schedule:  “Plans to control dangerous dust from the Salton Sea are behind schedule. There are about 20,000 acres of exposed lakebed on California’s largest lake. The dust created from the dry lakebed is expected to make the area’s already high asthma rate even higher.  The amount of exposed lakebed is rapidly increasing because mitigation water is no longer being put into the sea. Under a deal to transfer water to San Diego County and the Coachella Valley, mitigation water was sent to the Salton Sea to help slow the shrinking of the sea. That ended in December 2017. ... ”  Read more from KPBS here: Plan to restore habitat, suppress dust is behind schedule

Along the Colorado River …

‘We need action,’ federal official tells Colorado River states:  “The head the federal agency that oversees the Colorado River has a message for state water managers: The outlook is bleak, so quit squabbling and get back to work.  In a pointed message Wednesday, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman said drought and low flows continue on the Colorado with no end in sight, so it’s up to those who rely on the river to stave off a coming crisis.  “We need action and we need it now. We can’t afford to wait for a crisis before we implement drought contingency plans,” Burman in a written statement. “I’m calling on the Colorado River basin states to put real — and effective — drought contingency plans in place before the end of this year.” ... ”  Read more from the Las Vegas Review-Journal here:  ‘We need action,’ federal official tells Colorado River states

Arizona, Nevada, and Mexico Face Better-Than-Even Odds For Colorado River Cuts: “Mexico and the U.S. states of Arizona and Nevada face a better-than-even possibility of getting less water from the Colorado River in 2020 because of a persistent drought, water managers said Wednesday.  The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which manages the river, released projections showing a 52 percent chance the river’s biggest reservoir, Lake Mead in Arizona and Nevada, will fall low enough in 2020 to trigger cutbacks under agreements governing the system.  If that happens, those two states and Mexico would be the first see their share of water cut. Further drops in the reservoir could trigger cuts for other states. … ”  Read more from Colorado Public Radio here:  Arizona, Nevada, and Mexico Face Better-Than-Even Odds For Colorado River Cuts

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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