DAILY DIGEST, weekend edition: Toxic wastewater from oil fields endangers California’s water supply; Sites Reservoir officials: $1 billion falls short of hopes; Temperance Flat Dam fallout continues; Water contamination clearing up in Santa Rosa’s Fountaingrove; and more …

In California water news this weekend, Toxic wastewater from oil fields endangers California’s water supply; Sites Reservoir officials: $1 billion falls short of hopes; Temperance Flat Dam fallout continues; Santa Rosa: Water contamination clearing up in Fountaingrove; Key permits will allow Putah Creek restoration to move forward; The Salton Sea is dying and now threatening children; and more …

In the news this weekend …

Toxic wastewater from oil fields endangers California’s water supply, scientists tell NBC Bay Area:  “Fred Starrh’s family near Shafter, California, used to have good clean water under their land which they used for their crops. Starrh said that was before oil companies next door started dumping their waste into open, unlined “percolation ponds” near their farm.  “They had  a 12 inch pipe that was running water continuously – this black oily water,” he said.  And, Starrh said, “They had about a mile of ponds.”  The Starrh family sued the owner of those waste ponds, Aera Energy, a company owned by both ExxonMobil Energy and Shell Global, charging that Aera destroyed their fresh water by polluting the groundwater under the Starrh land through the continuous use of those open waste pits next door. … ”  Read more from NBC Bay Area here:  Toxic wastewater from oil fields endangers California’s water supply, scientists tell NBC Bay Area

Sites Reservoir officials: $1 billion falls short of hopes:  “The California Water Commission – the entity responsible for awarding $2.7 billion in Proposition 1 funds to water storage projects in a few months – didn’t quite see eye-to-eye with officials pushing for Sites Reservoir, primarily on the benefits to salmon the project would provide.  When final public benefit ratio scores came out earlier this month, the commission said Sites, situation on the Colusa and Glenn counties border, was eligible for $1 billion – about $600 million short of what Sites officials requested.  “We are disappointed. We felt there were salmon benefits and felt it was a good opportunity for the state to buy some of those,” said Fritz Durst, chairman of the Sites Project Authority. “We felt it would be a win-win for water users in the state, but instead, we didn’t get that benefit.” … ”  Read more from the Appeal Democrat here:  Sites Reservoir officials: $1 billion falls short of hopes

Temperance Flat Dam fallout continues:  “Even growers who were not going to benefit from the proposed Temperance Flat Dam are upset by the denial of funding for the project by the California Water Commission.  Doug Verboon is a walnut grower as well as County Supervisor in Kings County. He said Kings County was not going to get anything from Temperance Flat, but still he was all for it.  “We’re actually in the middle. We weren’t going to get any water from the project, but we want our neighbors to be happy as well, so it hurts to see them hurt and we’re getting tired of the do as I say and not do as I do, attitude from … Sacramento,” Verboon said. ... ”  Read more from Cal Ag Today here:  Temperance Flat Dam fallout continues

In commentary this weekend …

The ‘fix’ in WaterFix is certainly appropriate, says the Oroville Mercury Register, Chico Enterprise Record:  They write:  “A bit of irony has emerged over Jerry Brown’s name for his twin tunnels idea — California WaterFix — because it sure looks like the fix is on.  The plan to put two huge tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to carry north state water south has faltered on its own, and is unlikely to advance if it is put to the kinds of environmental and financial review that it warrants.  The plan would be disastrous to the delta ecosystem, and likely to the Sacramento River watershed, as it would give the tunnel operators the capability to pull more water out of the river than is there for much of the year. … ”  Read more from the Oroville Mercury Register here:  The ‘fix’ in WaterFix is certainly appropriate

A new tax to fund drinking water?  Try the old ones, says the Eureka Times-Standard:  They write, “Three hundred miles to the south, our society rewards the makers of tech trinkets with the greatest fortunes ever amassed in history — largely, infamously untaxed.   Meanwhile, a coalition of government officials here and in Sacramento is asking you to pay a little more to ensure that everyone in the state has access to clean drinking water.  It’s true, clean drinking water is an admirable goal for all and a sad memory for some. Just ask the residents of Flint.  But why should our leaders be inventing new taxes to ensure the delivery of the most basic of services when there are plenty of old taxes laying around, endlessly abused or ignored outright by a long line of corporations that are by no means in any danger whatsoever of experiencing a moment of thirst? … ”  Read more from the Eureka Times-Standard here:  A new tax to fund drinking water?  Try the old ones

Proposed public water tax must be rejected, says Jim Shields:  He writes, “There’s a bill that’s been resurrected after not going anywhere last year in the state Senate that if approved would impose for the first time in California a tax on public drinking water for both homes and businesses.  It was a bad idea the first time around, and its standing has not improved with its reintroduction this session.  SB 623, sponsored by Sen. Bill Monning, D-Monterey, would generate $2 billion over 15 years allegedly for a Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund, which would provide emergency water and longer-term system fixes for hundreds of communities whose tap water doesn’t meet safe drinking-water standards. … ”  Continue reading at the Ukiah Daily Journal here:  Proposed public water tax must be rejected

A sensible way to keep struggling water systems afloat in California:  Danielle Blacet and David Guy write,We all can agree every Californian should have access to safe drinking water. But too many — nearly 800,000 people — do not.  The unfortunate reality is their local drinking water system serves contaminated water or can’t provide reliable service, and also can’t afford to invest in improvements to make the system safe. There are about 300 of these chronically noncompliant systems, most small and in rural, isolated communities.  We can take an important step toward fixing this important health and safety problem by empowering newly created local agencies to supply clean and safe drinking water. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  A sensible way to keep struggling water systems afloat in California

Yuba County:  Give them some time to parse out correct management of assets, says the Appeal Democrat:  They write, “We’re not sure all citizens of Yuba County appreciate the turning point that the community is just starting to engage. And we’d like to see some wait-and-see given to management of some massive assets.  Yuba County Water Agency board chairman Brent Hastey broached the topic Friday at the county’s Perspectives 2018 – an annual business appreciation luncheon.  YCWA took over the power generating liability and benefits derived from New Bullards Bar Dam just two years ago. The money is now coming in from that. And there are already plenty of people thinking they have better ideas for how to manage the business and how to spend and disperse the revenue.  They should sit back a while. There’s still a lot to learn; a lot to have some serious discussion about. (That’s our opinion.) … ”  Read more from the Appeal-Democrat here:  Give them some time to parse out correct management of assets

Newsom most likely to stand up our region in a water fight, says the Modesto Bee:  They write, “California’s governor is important not just here, but across the nation and even around the world, so it matters whom we choose to lead our great state.  At the risk of sounding irredeemably self-centered, it matters even more here in the Northern San Joaquin Valley. That’s because our region of 1 million is under attack by the State Water Resources Control Board. The next governor must not only understand our battle, but be willing to rein in an out-of-control state agency or at least alter the conversation. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  Newsom most likely to stand up our region in a water fight

In regional news and commentary this weekend …

Santa Rosa: Water contamination clearing up in Fountaingrove:  “Santa Rosa officials are increasingly hopeful that the full replacement of a portion of the water system in Fountaingrove contaminated after October’s wildfires may not be necessary, citing steady improvement in the water quality in parts of the system.  Instead of barreling ahead with replacing the entire system at a cost of up to $43 million, the city now is opting to replace the most contaminated parts and see if that helps resolve the contamination problem.  “The data suggests it may be premature to rush into full replacement,” said Ben Horenstein, director of Santa Rosa Water. … ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here:  Santa Rosa: Water contamination clearing up in Fountaingrove

Environmental analysis released for San Anselmo flood project:  “A proposed San Anselmo flood control project would reduce the flood risk for more than 500 properties in the Ross Valley during a 25-year flood, but could cause problems for others if barriers are not placed in the creek, according to a draft environmental impact report.  “This impact can be mitigated to less than significant with the installation of flood barriers” in Ross and San Anselmo, the report says. However, the barriers would have to be placed in areas of the creek that run through private property, and “the Flood Control District cannot enforce those measures on private property owners without their permission.” ... ”  Read more from the Marin Independent Journal here: Environmental analysis released for San Anselmo flood project

Davis: Key permits will allow Putah Creek restoration to move forward:  “Two phases of the Putah Creek restoration work, stalled while waiting for federal and state permits, will finally move forward.  The Central Valley Flood Protection Board on Friday approved its permit, the day after a long-awaited permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was issued as well.  “We had to get the (Army Corps) permit before we could get the Central Flood Protection permit,” said Rich Marovich, the streamkeeper with the Lower Putah Creek coordinating committee. … ”  Read more from the Davis Enterprise here:  Key permits will allow Putah Creek restoration to move forward

Dirty dishes pile in Exeter as city’s main well is broken:  “Frustration is building in Exeter as water pressure throughout the city remains “sub-par.”  While some Exeter residents struggle to maintain their day-to-day activities, such as watering their browning lawns, contractors are working to repair a major well that should have been up and running more than a month ago, city officials said.  For the last week, water pressure has been at its worst. City officials are hoping to have the well back online soon.  … ”  Read more from the Visalia Times-Delta here:  Dirty dishes pile in Exeter as city’s main well is broken

Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority sets pump fee hearing for June 21:  “The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority board of directors approved in a 4-0 vote the first reading of an ordinance setting up the framework for a pumping fee — labeled a groundwater extraction assessment — Thursday.  “Nothing is actually adopted today,” said Kern County Deputy Counsel Phil Hall at the board meeting. “Ordinances are a unique beast. They require two board actions to be fully adopted.”  Hall said the ordinance does not set the fees themselves. That will be done by resolution in the June 21 board meeting, where the second reading of the ordinance will also be conducted. … ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here:  Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority sets pump fee hearing for June 21

Bakersfield has no plans to reinstate watering restrictions heading into summer:  “Although Bakersfield is moving into the summer months following a winter season of below-normal rainfall, the city has no plans to bring back watering restrictions anytime soon.  Since Gov. Jerry Brown announced an end to a four-year drought in April 2017 after a wetter-than-normal winter season, the city has not imposed any restrictions on which days its customers can water. Currently, residents are allowed to water their yards any day of the week. … ”  Read more from Bakersfield.com here:  Bakersfield has no plans to reinstate watering restrictions heading into summer

The Salton Sea is dying and now threatening children:  “The Salton Sea is steadily disappearing, and communities near it are literally being left in the dust.  California’s largest body of water — located in Imperial County near the Mexico-U.S. border — has been sinking for years, and dust clouds containing heavy metals, agricultural chemicals and fine particulates connected to asthma and other diseases are harming young people in that area.  Children living in Imperial Valley have higher rates of respiratory problems compared to children elsewhere in the United States, according to a recently released government-funded survey conducted by researchers at the University of Southern California. … ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  The Salton Sea is dying and now threatening children

Along the Colorado River …

America’s Fastest-Growing Urban Area Has a Water Problem:  “When Latter-day Saint migrants arrived in Utah in 1847, a verse in Isaiah served as consolation to them in the dessicated landscape: “The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.”  Lately, the desert has blossomed nowhere more than the St. George area, in the state’s southern reaches. The city is a picturesque outpost, with red-rock desert framing bright green lawns and golf courses, all built around the stark white Mormon temple in the center of town. ... ”  Read more from CityLab here:  America’s Fastest-Growing Urban Area Has a Water Problem

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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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