DAILY DIGEST: A ban on Delta tunnels lawsuits slips into federal spending plan, Garamendi set to ‘brawl’; Water planners work to enhance snowpack data; Hemp legalization poised to transform agriculture; Humboldt County to draft stance on future of Eel River dams; and more …

In California water news today, A ban on Delta tunnels lawsuits slips into federal spending plan, Garamendi set to ‘brawl’; Water planners work to enhance snowpack data; Climate change is making droughts worse in the western US; Hemp legalization poised to transform agriculture in the arid West; Concerns swell over Trump’s proposed end of funding for beach water quality tests; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • Public Workshop on Landscape Area Measurement for Retail Urban Water Suppliers from 9:30am to 12:00pm at DWR’s Bonderson building in Sacramento.  For Skype information, click here.

In the news today …

A ban on Delta tunnels lawsuits slips into federal spending plan:  “With the California Delta tunnels proposal facing an uncertain future, one of the state’s Republican congressmen has come up with a way to help the multibillion water project, known formally as California WaterFix, reach completion: ban environmental lawsuits.  On Tuesday, veteran Rep. Ken Calvert of Riverside County released a 142-page draft spending bill for fiscal year 2019 for the Interior Department and related agencies.  Tucked into the bill, on page 141, is a brief provision that would prohibit state or federal lawsuits against “the Final Environmental Impact Report/Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Bay Delta Conservation Plan/California Water Fix … and any resulting agency decision, record of decision, or similar determination.” … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  A ban on Delta tunnels lawsuits slips into federal spending plan

Congressman would ban Delta tunnel lawsuits:  “A California congressman wants to ban environmental lawsuits challenging a plan to build two gigantic tunnels to divert water from the north to the thirsty south.  Rep. Ken Calvert, a Riverside County Republican, inserted the ban in a 142-page draft of an Interior Department spending bill for fiscal 2019 that he released Tuesday, the Sacramento Bee reported.  Calvert chairs the House Appropriations subcommittee on the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies.  Page 141 of the draft includes language prohibiting state or federal lawsuits against the final environmental impact report for the so-called California WaterFix project “and any resulting decision, record of decision or similar determination.” ... ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  Congressman would ban Delta tunnel lawsuits

Garamendi set to ‘brawl’ over tunnels appropriations bill:  “A Republican lawmaker’s proposal to ban legal challenges to the controversial Delta twin tunnels project would prevent citizens from having their voices heard in court on important environmental issues, Rep. John Garamendi, D-Solano, told the Winters Express in a telephone interview on Monday.  On Monday, Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Corona, introduced a 142-page appropriations bill that would establish the budget for the Department of Interior and other agencies within the federal government. Buried in the bill on the second-to-last page was a proposal that would prevent agency decisions regarding the Delta twin tunnels project from being challenged in court. … ”  Read more from the Winters Express here:  Garamendi set to ‘brawl’ over tunnels appropriations bill

Water planners work to enhance snowpack data:  “Access to precise, real-time data about the amount of water in the Sierra Nevada snowpack has become more critical than ever, California water managers say, in order to assist them in making informed decisions about an ever-less-predictable supply of water.  That’s why water managers came to a panel discussion about advancements in snow-measurement technology during an Association of California Water Agencies conference in Sacramento last week. The discussion focused on the Airborne Snow Observatory, or ASO program, developed by researchers at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. … ”  Read more from Ag Alert here:  Water planners work to enhance snowpack data

Climate change is making droughts worse in the western US:  “A new study from NASA reinforces the idea that droughts are getting worse and could become more frequent in the Western U.S.  The culprit is human-caused climate change.  Droughts aren’t just about precipitation, said NASA scientist and the study’s co-author Benjamin Cook. They’re also about the timing of snowmelt and the wetness of soil, both of which are upended by a warming climate. … ”  Read more from KPBS here:  Climate change is making droughts worse in the western US

Hemp legalization poised to transform agriculture in the arid West:  “Amid all the excitement around marijuana legalization in America, another newly legal crop has received comparatively little attention: hemp. And yet hemp may prove to be even more transformative, especially in the West’s arid landscapes.  Hemp is a variety of the cannabis sativa plant that is not psychoactive. Whereas marijuana plants can produce both the psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and the non-psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD) extracts, hemp produces only the latter. ... ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  Hemp legalization poised to transform agriculture in the arid West

Concerns swell over Trump’s proposed end of funding for beach water quality tests:  “Concerns are growing over the Trump administration’s plans to eliminate ocean quality grants used by coastal communities to determine whether the water poses a hazard to beach goers.  The EPA stopped requesting the $10 million in annual funds in 2013, saying that states, counties and cities were adequately equipped to continuing the monitoring on their own. But a report this year from the EPA’s Office of Inspector General said documents supporting that decision were inadequate and Congress has continued the funding through the current fiscal year for these BEACH Act grants. ... ”  Read more from the Riverside Press-Enterprise here:  Concerns swell over Trump’s proposed end of funding for beach water quality tests

In commentary today …

If Denham cares about conservation, he’ll get his name on bill to make funding permanent, says Dr. Jody Hallstrom:  She writes, “Since its formation in 1973, Stanislaus Audubon Society has promoted the conservation of wild birds and their habitats for future generations through education, research and active citizenship. Members of our community are very fortunate in having access to many natural areas in Stanislaus County for the benefit of wildlife and public enjoyment.  An important tool in the acquisition and development of these natural areas is the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Over the last 50 years, the LWCF has helped conserve millions of acres of public land across all 50 states – including national parks, wildlife refuges, historic sites, battlefields, neighborhood playgrounds and recreation facilities. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  If Denham cares about conservation, he’ll get his name on bill to make funding permanent

Director Chuck Bonham explains DFW’s decision to purchase Big Springs Ranch:  “On May 24, the California Wildlife Conservation Board will consider acquiring Shasta Big Springs Ranch currently owned by The Nature Conservancy. The primary purpose of this acquisition will be for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to manage the land to protect and restore critical cold-water habitat for threatened Coho salmon. I am writing this open letter to you, to explain our thinking here at the department.  In 2005, The Nature Conservancy purchased the Nelson Ranch followed by the Busk Ranch in 2009. These adjacent ranches total around 5,840 acres, and together are known as Shasta Big Springs Ranch. In 2010, CDFW partnered with The Nature Conservancy to purchase a conservation easement, administered by us. When The Nature Conservancy announced their intent to sell the property in 2016, we chose to exercise our right of first refusal (a condition of the conservation easement) with the intent to purchase the ranch. … ”  Read more from the Siskiyou Daily News here:  Director Chuck Bonham explains DFW’s decision to purchase Big Springs Ranch

Tijuana’s sewage spills finally get the attention they deserve, says the San Diego Union-Tribune:  They write, “Effluent from Tijuana’s broken sewage system coming ashore in the United States has become a routine part of life on San Diego County’s southern coast. It’s why parts of the Imperial Beach shoreline were closed more than five months a year in each of 2015, 2016 and 2017, and why dozens of Border Patrol agents have been sickened by exposure to the muck.  It is this ugly history — and the sluggish reaction to it by the International Boundary and Water Commission, a joint U.S.-Mexico agency that oversees water treaties — that demands state and federal leaders respond with a sense of urgency. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union Tribune here:  Tijuana’s sewage spills finally get the attention they deserve

In regional news and commentary today …

Humboldt County to draft stance on future of Eel River dams after PG&E announcement:  “Humboldt County tribes, fishermen, city officials and environmentalists on Tuesday called for the Board of Supervisors to support full removal of PG&E’s Potter Valley Project dams Tuesday after the utility company announced last week that it planned to auction off the project.  The board ultimately directed 2nd District Supervisor Estelle Fennell and 1st District Supervisor Rex Bohn to draft a policy statement outlining the county’s position on the future of the project, with the stance being based on the input from local stakeholders. … ”  Read more from the Eureka Times-Standard here:  Humboldt County to draft stance on future of Eel River dams after PG&E announcement

Birders detect dramatic changes as Davis climate warms:  “In 2002, the cover of The New York Times Magazine featured a silhouetted man standing on frosty mauve ice and staring through binoculars into a rosy polar sky. The title read, “Watching the World Melt Away: The future as seen by a lonely scientist at the end of the earth.”  … Sixteen years later, birders in Yolo County are witnessing those kinds of changes at our latitude. Winters are suddenly filled with species previously associated with warmer climates to the south, while some other winter visitors no longer come this far south. In the summer, new species are arriving from more arid regions and have started nesting locally. ... ”  Read more from the Davis Enterprise here:  Birders detect dramatic changes as Davis climate warms

Mammoth Community Water District Requests Reopening the Environmental Review of Ormat’s Casa Diablo IV Geothermal Expansion Project:  “The Mammoth Community Water District (MCWD)formally asked the Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District (Great Basin) to re-evaluate the findings of the Final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for Ormat Technologies’ Casa Diablo IV (CD-IV) geothermal expansion project. The request follows the release of new scientific evidence that directly contradicts the Final EIR’s conclusion of no impacts to Mammoth’s groundwater basin.  A new analysis of water quality data collected by the experts at the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and analyzed by Wildermuth Environmental, provides conclusive evidence that geothermal fluids are present in Mammoth’s groundwater basin – the community’s main and most reliable public water supply. This data was unavailable at the time Great Basin certified the Final EIR on July 17, 2014. ... ”  Read more from the Sierra Wave here:  Mammoth Community Water District Requests Reopening the Environmental Review of Ormat’s Casa Diablo IV Geothermal Expansion Project

Inyo County argues LADWP’s operations plan:  “Los Angeles Department of Water and Power came out with its 2018-19 operations plan late last month. Inyo County came back April 30 with its own recommendation, below the low end of LADWP’s proposed range.  LADWP’s range started at 77,990 acre-feet, topping out at 96,230. The high number, according to Inyo’s response, is the highest volume since the “environmentally damaging amounts” in the late 1980s. Based on well fields that remained below the mid-1980s baseline even after last year’s epic run-off, Inyo’s preference was 74,450 acre-feet. … ”  Read more from the Sierra Wave here:  Inyo County argues LADWP’s operations plan

Corps completes debris removal mission in Santa Barbara:  “It was a dark, cold night in February in Santa Barbara County – in the low 30s – and freezing outside, as far as Mary Carmona was concerned.  As she worked alongside a contractor during a 12-hour night shift at the Cold Springs Creek Basin in Montecito, she pondered why she was there. She missed her family and just wanted to go home and sleep in the comfort of her own bed.  But going home wasn’t an option for Carmona – at least not for the next 20-some days, as she and about 60 other U.S. Army Corps of Engineers employees set up temporary residence in the county to help clear vehicle-sized boulders, several feet of mud, trees and other debris from the community’s basins.  It was a daunting task in less-than-ideal conditions, but these weren’t even less than ideal; they were catastrophic. … ”  Read more from the Army Corps of Engineers here:  Corps completes debris removal mission in Santa Barbara

Surfrider announces plans to sue federal agency over Tijuana sewage spills:  “The Surfrider Foundation environmental advocacy group announced Tuesday it also plans to sue a federal agency in response to years of sewage flow from the Tijuana River into U.S. waterways.  The nonprofit submitted a 60-day notice of intent to sue the United States Section of the International Boundary and Water Commission. The action came one day after state Attorney General Xavier Becerra and the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board did the same. … ”  Read more from KPBS here:  Surfrider announces plans to sue federal agency over Tijuana sewage spills

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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