DAILY DIGEST, weekend edition: Delta smelt are at the heart of water debate, but extinction could be close; Heat is driving off clouds that dampen CA wildfires; CA will have water consumption limits for the first time; Buffering the bay shoreline while improving water quality; and more …

In California water news this weekend, Delta smelt are at the heart of California’s water debate. But extinction could be close; Heat is driving off clouds that dampen California wildfires; California will have water consumption limits for the first time after ‘landmark’ legislation passed; River otters populations rebounding in Sonoma County; Buffering the bay shoreline while improving water quality; Reinforcements of toxic Jackson Dam to begin; and more …

In the news this weekend …

Delta smelt are at the heart of California’s water debate.  But extinction could be close:  “As a young biologist in the 1970s, Peter Moyle remembers towing nets behind boats in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and catching 50 to 100 translucent, finger-length smelt in a matter of minutes.  Moyle doesn’t see those days coming back.  “I think extinction is imminent the way things are going,” said Moyle, a prominent UC Davis fisheries biologist. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Delta smelt are at the heart of California’s water debate.  But extinction could be close

Heat is driving off clouds that dampen California wildfires:  “Sunny California may be getting too sunny. Increasing summer temperatures brought on by a combination of intensifying urbanization and warming climate are driving off once common low-lying morning clouds in many southern coastal areas of the state, leading to increased risk of wildfires, says a new study.  “Cloud cover is plummeting in southern coastal California,” said Park Williams, a bioclimatologist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and lead author of the research. … ”  Read more from PhysOrg here:  Heat is driving off clouds that dampen California wildfires

California will have water consumption limits for the first time after ‘landmark’ legislation passed:  “For the first time in the state’s history, California is setting permanent water-consumption goals to prepare for future droughts and climate change, with a local elected official involved in the historic move.  Assemblywoman Laura Friedman (D-Glendale) introduced Assembly Bill 1668, one of the bills signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown Thursday. Her district also includes Burbank.  Brown also signed Assembly Bill 606 by Robert Herzberg (D-Van Nuys). The laws will go into effect in January.  “A lot of us have taken water for granted, but it’s not something we can take for granted in Southern California,” Friedman said. “Climate change, drought — we need to make sure it doesn’t impact life and safety and the economic future of our state.” … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  California will have water consumption limits for the first time after ‘landmark’ legislation passed

In commentary this weekend …

Too many Californians lack safe drinking water.  Here’s how to supply the have nots:  “When we read about drinking water problems like those in Flint, Mich., it’s easy to think that would never happen here. But the unfortunate fact is that many local water systems in California are failing to provide safe drinking water to their customers through no fault of their own.  In roughly 300 communities, from Trinidad to Tulare and Riverside to Oceanside, tap water has tested high for arsenic, nitrates, uranium and other chemicals that can cause learning disabilities, miscarriages, birth defects, and cancer. Right now, hundreds of thousands of Californians lack access to clean water for drinking, bathing and cooking. Children and the elderly are at the highest risk. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Too many Californians lack safe drinking water.  Here’s how to supply the have nots

Water tax proposal remains poor policy, says Mark Muir:  He writes, “Like a bad penny, a plan to tax water keeps turning up in Sacramento.  That’s right — under two proposals circulating in the Capitol, California would start taxing the most fundamental resource on the planet. Such taxes would needlessly drive up costs for families already struggling to make ends meet and undermine the very goals that proponents profess.  Senate Bill 623 by state Sen. William Monning (D-Carmel) and a budget trailer bill supported by Governor Jerry Brown would add a tax to local residential and business water bills in the name of providing safe, clean drinking water to disadvantaged communities, mostly in the Central Valley. … ”  Read more from San Diego Uptown News here:  Water tax proposal remains poor policy

Dan Walters: Brown may leave with two big projects on the bubble:  “During Jerry Brown’s first stint as governor four decades ago, he was openly disdainful of big public works projects, often citing British economist E.F. Schumacher’s 1973 book, “Small is Beautiful: A Study of Economics As If People Mattered.”  Brown’s attitude manifested itself in a virtual halt to highway construction, which led to constant bickering with his fellow Democrats in the Legislature who wanted projects in their districts.  It also was widely seen as a repudiation of his father, Pat Brown, who as governor had fostered a massive expansion of highways, waterworks, college campuses and other forms of what we now call “infrastructure.” ... ”  Read more from the Cal Matters here:  Brown may leave with two big projects on the bubble

In regional news and commentary this weekend …

River otters populations rebounding in Sonoma County:  “River otters are making a comeback in Sonoma County and across the Bay Area thanks in part to improved water quality and habitat restoration projects, according to ecologists.  In recognition of last week’s World Otter Day, local otter fans are hosting a Saturday lecture and series of kids’ activities at the Petaluma Regional Library from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.  The message of the lecture will be one of resiliency and recovery, said Megan Isadore, executive director of the River Otter Ecology Project, which is hosting the North Bay event. A second event is also taking place in the South Bay. … ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here:  River otters populations rebounding in Sonoma County

Buffering the bay shoreline while improving water quality:  “This small rectangle of wetland near the San Francisco Bay in San Lorenzo doesn’t look particularly visionary. Above ground, it’s an appealing — if unusually orderly — array of meadows, cattails, and willows. But there’s far more here than meets the eye. This modest strip of land, just 38 by 150 feet, in the Oro Loma Sanitary District promises to help solve two of the Bay Area’s most pressing concerns: sea level rise and nutrient pollution.  “In many ways, the project has been a wild success,” said Jason Warner, the sanitary district’s general manager. ... ”  Read more from the Bay Area Monitor here:  Buffering the bay shoreline while improving water quality

Tahoe Conservation District acquires land on the Upper Truckee River:  “A large swath of privately owned land along the Upper Truckee River has been acquired by conservation agencies as part of an effort to restore an altered watershed harming Lake Tahoe’s clarity.  The Tahoe Resource Conservation District in California recently announced the acquisition of Johnson Meadow, a 206-acre (83-hectare) area that once served as a natural water filter that helped reduce the amount of fine sediment flowing into the lake, the Tahoe Daily Tribune reported Tuesday. ... ”  Read more from CBS Sacramento here:  Tahoe Conservation District acquires land on the Upper Truckee River

Reinforcements of toxic Jackson Dam to begin:  “The Jackson City Council received an update on the effort to reinforce the Argonaut Tailing Dam as new construction is starting at the site.  The 100-year-old concrete dam holds back tons of mine tailings, the remains of ore after it has been processed that contain arsenic and other heavy metals. Should the dam fail, the potentially toxic material could flow downhill into downtown Jackson. … ”  Read more from the Amador Ledger Dispatch here:  Reinforcements of toxic Jackson Dam to begin

Owens Valley: A bit of a brouhaha at Standing Committee meeting:  “For a brief time, members of the Standing Committee seemed to be on the same page despite disagreements on specific issues. If that was indeed an era of good will, it’s gone, replaced by what looked like dueling agencies.  Example: Inyo Water Commission Chair Mike Prather used a visual to bring home the 96,000 acre-feet high end in Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s pumping plan for this run-off year. That volume, if placed in the field of the Rose Bowl, would be 96,000-feet high. ... ”  Read more from the Sierra Wave here:  A bit of a brouhaha at Standing Committee meeting

Ridgecrest: Fees discussed at IWCVA joint committee meeting:  “One message came out loud and clear from the public and members of both Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority’s standing committees Thursday afternoon: some of the informational material prepped for a planned pump fee is apparently lacking.  Draft versions of frequently asked questions (FAQ), well registration form and monthly report/payment form were presented to the technical advisory and policy advisory committees in a joint meeting.  “It was decided that the best way to get input was to get these forms out in draft form,” said Steve Johnson, the water resources manager and president of Stetson Engineering. … ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here:  Fees discussed at IWCVA joint committee meeting

Desalination deal draws criticism from groups concerned about water affordability:  “Today Orange County Water District released the terms of a new agreement with Poseidon Water for a corporate desalination plant proposed for Huntington Beach. The agreement would require Orange County ratepayers to buy Poseidon’s costly desalinated water for 30-35 years, while guaranteeing a profit for Poseidon’s investors.  The proposed billion-dollar desalination plant has been widely opposed for years. Conservation and equity groups are concerned about its impact on water affordability, as well as harm the plant will cause to sea life, pollution of ocean and groundwater, and carbon emissions. … ” Read more from Voice of San Diego here:  Desalination deal draws criticism from groups concerned about water affordability

Along the Colorado River …

Arizona makes no legislative progress, despite governor’s push:  “What was heralded to be a big legislative session on water issues turned out to be much ado about nothing.  For much of last year, groups appointed by Gov. Doug Ducey mulled behind closed doors over a raft of proposals aimed at halting declines at Lake Mead, improving groundwater management and clamping down on operators of the $4 billion Central Arizona Project.  The governor’s staff told reporters back then that the state needed an overhaul of water laws on the scale of the 1980 Groundwater Management Act, the toughest of its kind. ... ”  Read more from the Arizona Daily Star here:  Arizona makes no legislative progress, despite governor’s push

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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