DAILY DIGEST, weekend edition: Delta Stewardship Council sued over Delta Plan conveyance amendment; Legal analysis: Can Congress prevent state and federal courts from hearing WaterFix lawsuits?; New set of scores released for water bond projects; and more …

Irrigation with recycled water in the Salinas Valley

In California water news this weekend, Delta Stewardship Council sued over Delta Plan conveyance amendment; Frazier asks US Senators to oppose Cal WaterFix rider; Legal analysis: Can Congress prevent state and federal courts from hearing WaterFix lawsuits?; New set of scores released for water bond projects; U.S. Senate bill would require independent review of Oroville Dam; Oroville Dam: DWR attempts to quash Butte County lawsuit; and more …

In the news this weekend …

Delta Stewardship Council sued over Delta Plan conveyance amendment:  “Environmental organizations sued the California agency in charge of managing a massive water project Friday, saying the state illegally altered the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta management plan to favor the project over environmental restoration.  Friends of the River, the Center for Biological Diversity and four other groups say the California Delta Stewardship Council’s amendments to the Delta Plan, which pave the way for construction of two massive underground tunnels capable of sending billions of gallons of water north to south, come at the expense of the delta’s sensitive environment. ... ”  Read more from Courthouse News Service here:  California sued over Delta tunnels project changes

Frazier asks US Senators to oppose Cal WaterFix rider:  “Assemblyman Jim Frazier and 16 other state legislators have sent a letter to California’s U.S. senators to oppose a “rider” attached to a bill that would exempt the twin tunnels from legal challenges.  A rider is a provision added to legislation that often has no connection to the bill being considered.  “This rider seeks to infringe on the separate and equal powers of the judicial branch protected by the Constitution, and the powers reserved to the states under the 10th Amendment,” Frazier, D-Discovery Bay, stated in the letter to Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris. ... ”  Read more from the Daily Republic here:  Frazier asks US Senators to oppose Cal WaterFix rider

Legal analysis: Attempting to close the floodgates of litigation: Can Congress prevent state and federal courts from hearing WaterFix lawsuits?  Kathleen Miller writes, “The journey of California’s proposed delta tunnels project (also known as California WaterFix) has been anything but straightforward and already faces a slew of ongoing legal challenges.[i] Last week, Congress added a different kind of twist when the proposed Department of Interior budget for FY 2019 was introduced in the House Appropriations Committee. The relevant language is found in Section 437, on the second-to-last page of the bill draft:  “Notwithstanding any other provision of law, 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 shall hereafter not be subject to judicial review under any Federal or State law.” Let’s break that paragraph down. … ”  Continue reading at the Legal Planet blog here:  Attempting to close the floodgates of litigation: Can Congress prevent state and federal courts from hearing WaterFix lawsuits?

New set of scores released for water bond projects:  “Water storage projects seeking money from Proposition 1 got another round of scoring Friday from the California Water Commission staff, adding a little more clarity to what will get how much.  Proposition 1, a water bond measure passed in November 2014, included $2.7 billion for new water storage in the state. Twelve projects initially sought a share of that money, including Sites Reservoir, a proposed 1.8 million acre-foot off-stream reservoir west on Maxwell in Colusa County.  Project proponents and the staff of the Water Commission have been conducting a back-and-forth since February over the value of the “public benefit” of their project. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  New set of scores released for water bond projects

U.S. Senate bill would require independent review of Oroville Dam:  “The U.S. Senate pushed forward a bill on Thursday that would require an independent risk analysis of the Oroville Dam, following a meeting last month between Butte County supervisors and Sen. Dianne Feinstein.  The bill directs the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to brief House and Senate committees on FERC’s response to the independent study of the Oroville Dam spillways. It would also require that independent consultants nominated by the U.S. Society of Dams prepare their own risk analysis during the 2019 safety review of the dam operated by the state Department of Water Resources. ... ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  U.S. Senate bill would require independent review of Oroville Dam

Oroville Dam:  DWR attempts to quash Butte County lawsuit:  “Whether the Butte County district attorney will have a shot at winning a lawsuit against the state Department of Water Resources could come down to a comma.  At the North Butte County Courthouse on Friday, the two sides presented different interpretations of the 1875 law that District Attorney Mike Ramsey is suing under for environmental damages caused by the Oroville Dam crisis in February 2017. ... ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Oroville Dam: DWR attempts to quash Butte County lawsuit

In commentary this weekend …

Stop outrageous effort to ban Delta tunnels lawsuits, says the San Jose Mercury News:  They write, “Shameful.  It’s the only way to describe the latest effort by a Southern California lawmaker to grab as much water as possible from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta without regard to the health of the largest estuary west of the Mississippi.  Riverside County Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Corona, on May 8 slipped a rider into the 2019 House Interior and Environmental Appropriations bill prohibiting any judicial review of Gov. Jerry Brown’s $16 billion Delta twin-tunnels plan.  It’s beyond outrageous. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  Stop outrageous effort to ban Delta tunnels lawsuits

The costliest infrastructure project in recent history won’t be on the ballot, but you can still be heard, say Don Nottoli and Chuck Winn:  They write, “The California primary election on June 5 will give voters the opportunity to decide on candidates and critical issues that will have major state and local impacts. It’s how the democratic process should work. That’s not the case for Gov. Jerry Brown’s $17-billion-plus twin tunnels project, known as WaterFix, which completely bypasses a vote of the people.  WaterFix will result in sizable rate increases for tens of millions of Californians living in the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) service area. Deep-pocketed water districts that decimated the Owens Valley still have tunnel vision. When all seemed lost for the tunnels and financing could not be agreed upon, MWD, intent on locking in a huge water grab, agreed to fund most of the tunnels project, hypothesizing that it could squeeze substantial funds from other water districts when they got thirsty down the road. … ”  Read more from the Bakersfield Californian here:  The costliest infrastructure project in recent history won’t be on the ballot, but you can still be heard

In regional news and commentary this weekend …

Feds OK expert panel for Klamath River dam removal review:  “Proponents of a plan to remove four Klamath River dams to improve water quality and fish health were encouraged last week after a federal commission approved their panel of experts who will be responsible for determining what it will take to undergo what officials say is the largest dam removal project in the nation’s history, according to the nonprofit heading the project.  The dam removal plan, encapsulated in the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement, is under review by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. ... ”  Read more from the Eureka Times-Standard here:  Feds OK expert panel for Klamath River dam removal review

Marin gets thousands for projects to combat sea level rise:  “A host of Marin nature-based sea-level rise projects earned approval by a state panel this week as the county plans to gird against expected high seas in the coming decades.  San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission maps show a 3-foot rise over the next 100 years will push the bay over low-lying areas of Mill Valley, Sausalito and Tiburon, among other areas. Specialists have been discussing engineered solutions such as seawalls, rip-rap and raising or flood-proofing structures. … ”  Read more from the Marin Independent Journal here:  Marin gets thousands for projects to combat sea level rise

Sacramento: Flood risk? These goats have got it under control:  “A herd of goats may be coming to a neighborhood near you.  The Sacramento County Department of Water Resources has hired nearly 600 goats and sheep to graze in and around water detention basins, clearing grass and weeds that might block water flow and cause flooding.  “If we let the grass grow, it ends up growing so high that when it rains drains get clogged and we get localized flooding,” said Matt Robinson, the department’s spokesman. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Sacramento: Flood risk? These goats have got it under control

Modesto Irrigation District protests Turlock, Ceres’ river water treatment project:  “The Modesto Irrigation District has put a bump in the City of Turlock’s road to providing a more reliable source of drinking water to its citizens.  For the past 30 years, the City has been working on securing an alternate source of water — treated surface water from the Tuolumne River. Recently, the Cities of Turlock and Ceres, as members of the Stanislaus Regional Water Authority — and in partnership with the Turlock Irrigation District —have started the process of building a plant to deliver treated Tuolumne River water to homes by 2022. ... ”  Read more from the Turlock Journal here:  Modesto Irrigation District protests Turlock, Ceres’ river water treatment project

Ridgecrest: Groundwater Authority, public talk financing: The question of whether or not the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority needs a finance committee bore some fruitful discussion as San Bernardino County representative Bob Page brought the topic up during May 17′s meeting.  Page noted that interested parties have been requesting a finance committee for months in order to keep an eye on finances. However, he asked why one was needed when the board meeting agenda provides a finance report detailing the information on a monthly basis.... ” Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here:  Groundwater Authority, public talk financing

Community rallies around Corps’ ecosystem restoration project in Norco: “About 120 volunteers came together to help restore an area around the Santa Ana River to its natural habitat.  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District, along with its contractor, UltraSystems Environmental, partnered with the City of Norco to host a restoration-planting event May 12 on more than one acre of the Corps’ land near the Santa Ana River. About 520 plants and 200 plant cuttings, including California buckwheat, Chemise, Mexican elderberry and arroyo willow were planted.  “It was a great partnership with the Corps of Engineers, UltraSystems and the city to bring a bunch of people together to make a difference,” said Brian Petree, deputy city manager for the City of Norco. “Volunteers from probably age 6 to 60 came out to help plant native vegetation in the area.” … ”  Read more from the Army Corps of Engineers here:  Community rallies around Corps’ ecosystem restoration project in Norco

San Bernardino: Sterling recycling project secures $126 million in state funding:  “The Sterling Natural Resource Center has secured $126 million from the California State Water Resources Control Board to construct a facility that will recycle 10 million gallons of wastewater a day.  Through $119 million in low-interest loans and $6.7 million in grants for project design and construction, the center will benefit more than 700,000 residents in the San Bernardino Valley. … ”  Read more from High Country News here:  San Bernardino: Sterling recycling project secures $126 million in state funding

Seawater desalination is water independence for Orange County, says Denis R Bilodeau:  He writes, “Managing our existing water supplies and planning for future needs requires thoughtful deliberation. Significant fluctuations in the manifestation and intensity of seasonal weather conditions, symptoms of climate change, are becoming the new normal and there is no “one size fits all approach” to dealing with its effects. Consider that, in just this current decade, California has gone from its most severe drought to one of its wettest winters in recorded history, and now back to a below-average winter snowpack this year. This unpredictability requires us to take a closer look at our traditional water resources and how we can diversify to reduce dependence on climate-dependent water supplies. … ”  Read more from the OC Register here:  Seawater desalination is water independence for Orange County

Along the Colorado River …

9th circuit ruling on Walker Lake puts far-reaching water rights issue before the Nevada Supreme Court:  “In 1902, a rancher by the name of Henry Miller — known as the “Cattle King of the West” — brought a lawsuit against Thomas B. Rickey, a Nevada farmer, through his Miller & Lux land company. The issue was water rights on the Walker River, and the fight between the rival ranchers set up more than a century of litigation over a waterway that originates at the edge of Yosemite National Park in California and flows through Nevada to its terminus, Walker Lake.  The case ended in 1919 with the “Rickey Decree,” which split the river among 151 users.  But that decree spawned a new case in 1924, when the federal government moved to establish water rights for the Walker River Indian Reservation. That docket remains active to this day ... ”  Continue reading at the Nevada Independent here:  9th circuit ruling on Walker Lake puts far-reaching water rights issue before the Nevada Supreme Court

6 things to know about dire challenges to Colorado River lifeline:  “A bruising battle between the Central Arizona Project and many states and water users has revitalized the push for a stillborn plan to prepare for more drought on the Colorado River.  The original dust-up was over whether the CAP was seeking to “game the system” of reservoir operations at lakes Mead and Powell to benefit itself at the expense of the river’s Upper Basin states: Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming.  That’s prompted new talks to try to also resolve longstanding differences with another of CAP’s adversaries, the Arizona Department of Water Resources. … ”  Read more from Tucson.com here:  6 things to know about dire challenges to Colorado River lifeline

And lastly …

50-year-old Humboldt race has evolved into Northern California’s wackiest:  “Watching an 11-eyed monster emerge from the Humboldt Bay onto the beach can feel a little like watching evolution in front of your eyes.  Scenes like this happen every Memorial Day weekend on the North Coast, where the Kinetic Grand Championship — a three-day event that’s part art display, part cycling race and part demolition derby — has grown from a small artistic movement into an event that embodies the eccentricity and creativity of Humboldt County residents.  Over three days, teams of competitors pedal custom-built, human-powered machines out of Arcata and across land, sand and sea. This weekend marks the 50th running of the event, and spectators can expect a larger than normal crowd of sculptures traversing the Redwood Empire. ... ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  50-year-old Humboldt race has evolved into Northern California’s wackiest

Mussels off Seattle Coast test positive for opiods:  “As more and more American communities grapple with opioid addiction, the human toll of the epidemic has grown in both scope and severity. And now, scientists at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife have found evidence that drug’s impact has literally flowed downstream to affect marine life, as well.  Specifically, they used mussels as a barometer of pollution in the waters off Seattle and discovered that oxycodone is now present enough in the marine environment there for shellfish to test positive. … ”  Read more from CBS 13 here:  Mussels off Seattle Coast test positive for opiods

Idaho town told not to drink the water after fired worker’s eerie suicide:  “Residents of an Idaho town have been told not to drink its well water amid concerns that a fired municipal worker who killed himself in his home may have contaminated it, officials said Friday.  Tom Young, 62, was found dead Thursday by emergency workers who were sent to a hospital after entering his residence in Dietrich.  Lincoln County Sheriff Rene Rodriguez said Friday that Young’s death has been ruled a suicide and the cause is asphyxiation by nitrogen gas released into the home from a tank. … ”  Read more from the New York Post here:  Idaho town told not to drink the water after fired worker’s eerie suicide

ICYMI: Friday’s breaking news …

Also on Maven’s Notebook this weekend …

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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.

Maven’s Notebook
where California water news never goes home for the weekend

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