DAILY DIGEST: Metropolitan will redo Delta tunnels vote amid pushback; Judge tells Reclamation to be on time with review of water transfer program; Sacramento planning to sell its water to farmers down south; The West’s sleeping giant: Abandoned mines; and more …

In California water news today, Metropolitan will redo Delta tunnels vote amid pushback; Judge tells Reclamation to be on time with review of water transfer program; Sacramento planning to sell its water to farmers down south; The West’s sleeping giant: Abandoned mines; House passes Water Resources Development Act; and more …

In the news today …

Why SoCal is calling for a do-over on its vote to bankroll the tunnels:  “A historic vote on the Delta tunnels project is getting a do-over.  Southern California’s powerful water agency — the Metropolitan Water District — said Thursday its board will vote again in July on whether to pay for the lion’s share of the project, known officially as California WaterFix. The announcement comes after environmentalists and an open government group complained that Metropolitan directors violated the Brown Act before voting in April to support the tunnels.  The Brown Act sets rules intended to prevent government boards from making decisions behind closed doors. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Why SoCal is calling for a do-over on its vote to bankroll the tunnels

Texts reveal political maneuvering ahead of MWD’s Delta tunnels vote:  “The days leading up to a key funding vote on the delta tunnels project were marked by intense politicking and head-counting by board members at the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.  The behind-the-scenes campaign to get the board to approve nearly $11 billion in financing for the water delivery project is spelled out in a series of texts and emails that Metropolitan released Thursday in response to a Public Records Act request filed by two groups that challenged the April 10 approval. ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Texts reveal political maneuvering ahead of MWD’s Delta tunnels vote

Officials scrambled to seal twin tunnels deal out of fear Newsom could kill it:  “Water officials and members of Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration rushed to seal the deal on a multibillion-dollar plan to build two tunnels to move water south from Northern California partly out of fear that Gavin Newsom could undo the whole plan if he becomes governor, newly released documents show.  In fact, the jockeying was so intense, watchdog groups have alleged the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California broke state open meeting laws when it approved the project two months ago, and now Metropolitan is planning to re-vote. ... ”  Read more from the Voice of San Diego here:  Officials scrambled to seal twin tunnels deal out of fear Newsom could kill it

Metropolitan will redo Delta tunnels vote amid pushback: “Dodging claims that it violated open government and transparency laws before voting to spend $10 billion on a contentious water project, California’s largest water supplier said Thursday it will vote again.  Despite acknowledging that some of its board members privately discussed the contentious project known as the Delta Tunnels before a critical April vote, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California insists it didn’t violate the state’s revered Brown Act. … ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service here:  SoCal water giant will redo Delta tunnels vote amid pushback

Judge tells Bureau of Reclamation to be on time with review of water transfer program:  “A judge denied a request Thursday by a federal water management agency for more time to evaluate the environmental impacts of California’s water transfer program that allows some water rights holders to sell water to parched farms in the southern part of the state.  U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence O’Neill ordered the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to come up with its full environmental analysis of a 10-year water transfer program by the end of June.  The feds had asked for more time to complete the analysis after O’Neill vacated part of the program in an extensive 133-page order handed down in February, but the judge was not pleased with the delay request. … ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service here: Judge tells feds to be on time with review of water project

Sacramento planning to sell its water to farmers down south:  “Sacramento is launching a controversial pilot project where it sells its river water to farmers down south.  Many Sacramento residents are still doing what they can to conserve and reuse water, and the city still has some conservation measures in place, including limiting outdoor watering to just two days a week.  But local water providers have filed an application to divert up to 12,000 acre feet of water from the river, or enough to supply 12,000 homes for a year, and sell it to water districts in the Fresno and Bakersfield areas. … ”  Read more from CBS Sacramento here:  Sacramento planning to sell its water to farmers down south

The West’s sleeping giant: Abandoned mines and the role of the Good Samaritan:  “The General Mining Act of 1872 (sometimes referred to as the ‘Hardrock’ Act) provided for the free and open development of vast expanses of the western U.S. to any citizen hoping to cash in on the promise of gold, silver, copper, and other minerals.  Because much of the foundation of U.S. mining law was predicated on the ‘right to mine,’ 32 of 50 states have been left to contend with roughly half a million abandoned mines.  The legacy of this history is particularly striking in the western U.S. where estimates by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggest that 40% of headwaters streams are contaminated from historical mining activity. … ”  Read more from Stanford’s Water in the West here:  The West’s sleeping giant: Abandoned mines and the role of the Good Samaritan

House passes Water Resources Development Act: “Yuba River levee construction is included in federal legislation recently passed by the House of Representatives.  On Wednesday, the House voted to pass the Water Resources Development Act of 2018 and the bill included several provisions that Congressman John Garamendi of California’s 3rd District helped secure, according to a news release from his office. … ”  Read more from the Appeal Democrat here:  House passes Water Resources Development Act

In commentary today …

Water wars are alive and well, says Jason Campbell:  He writes, ” … Obviously, a drought is going to happen again, and when it does we’re going to have more people to scrounge up water for and therefore we should probably talk about the ways in which we’re going to not only handle that situation but also make changes to ensure the impacts aren’t quite as extensive the next time around.  Thanks to our hyperpolitical climate, however, these sorts of discussions can’t take place. If Jerry Brown signs something that has the word water in it, then he’s obviously working an angle to make his disastrous twin tunnels a reality and take steps towards turning California into the Communist utopia that he secret pines for.  At least that’s what his detractors would have you believe.  These bills in question do something that is long overdue in the nation’s most populous state. … ”  Read the full commentary at the Manteca Bulletin here:  Water wars are alive and well, says Jason Campbell

Why should California tax drinking water? asks Jay Obernolte:  He writes, “Most Californians agree that clean drinking water is a human right, and that it is a fundamental function of state government to ensure access to safe drinking water. However, there is disagreement in the Legislature on how to pay for it.  Some members believe that a new water tax should be passed to fund this effort, as supported by the Bee’s editorial board (“This is California. We should be able to drink the water. Lawmakers, fix this disgrace,” sacbee.com, June 4).  This tax would generate from $140 million to $220 million a year. Local water companies would collect it and send it to the State Water Resources Control Board, an unelected bureaucracy, which would determine who would benefit from these taxes. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Why should California tax drinking water?

How do we detoxify California’s poison tap water?  More democracy, says Jacques Leslie:  He writes, “The public water boards in the southern San Joaquin Valley are only nominally public. Of 565 water board seats in Fresno, Kern, Kings and Tulare counties, 491 — a stunning 87% — went uncontested in elections over the last four years, according to the Visalia-based Community Water Center. Candidates ran unopposed so often that three-quarters of the boards didn’t even bother to hold elections.  These boards are the closest thing to local government in more than 300 unincorporated communities in the water-scarce San Joaquin Valley. They manage delivery of drinking water to residents and water to farms and dairies. They fund investments in pumps and pipes, set water rates and collect fees, and in some cases manage groundwater consumption. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  How do we detoxify California’s poison tap water?  More democracy

Feds must also protect Klamath farmers, ranchers, says the Capital Press:  They write, “Farmers and ranchers in the Klamath Basin are in a tough spot.  Agriculture is a $557 million industry in the Klamath Basin, but it requires steady, reliable access to water. Despite a huge federal irrigation project, farmers and ranchers in the basin don’t have that.  The Klamath Basin received just 43 percent of its usual snow last winter. Stream flows are expected to range between 24 and 58 percent of normal through September. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown declared a drought emergency for Klamath County on March 13. … ”  Read more from the Capital Press here:  Feds must also protect Klamath farmers, ranchers

In regional news and commentary today …

Algae bloom in Lake Oroville reported safe:  “A bloom of blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) has been found in the North Fork of Lake Oroville, but the Department of Water Resources and State Parks says water recreation, including swimming, is still safe.  Still the public is advised to avoid the bloom, which is being monitored for toxins.  Laboratory analysis Thursday morning found trace levels of microcystin toxin, but according to a press release it is at levels below human health concerns. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Algae bloom in Lake Oroville reported safe

Sacramento: Natural lawnmowers help water officials prepare for next rainy season:  “Nearly 600 goats are on the Sacramento waterfront on Thursday as the county Department of Water Resources prepares for next year’s rainy season.  Goats and sheep are natural lawn mowers, eating the grass and brush near the river so water flows won’t get clogged after the “first flush” of rain. ... ”  Read more from CBS Sacramento here:  Sacramento: Natural lawnmowers help water officials prepare for next rainy season

Formal deal lets Nicasio buy water:  “Nicasio residents who rely primarily on wells for their homes’ water sources now have a legal right to receive water from nearby reservoirs—a much-needed relief for those whose supplies occasionally run dry.  Marin Municipal Water District last month agreed to release a maximum of 20 acre-feet of surplus water annually into Lagunitas or Nicasio Creek so that North Marin Water District can hold that supply for Nicasio residents. … ”  Read more from Pt. Reyes Light here:  Formal deal lets Nicasio buy water

Report: Marin beaches are some of the cleanest in the state:  “As temperatures rise, Marin residents who like to take a dip got good news about water quality in an annual beach report card released Thursday by the environmental group Heal the Bay.  The county’s beaches had some of cleanest water in the state during spring and summer months, according to the 28th annual report that examined 2017 data. Analysts from the Santa Monica-based group assigned A to F letter grades to 118 Northern California beaches as part of their annual statewide study, based on levels of bacterial pollution measured by county health agencies. … ”  Read more from Marin Independent Journal here: Report: Marin beaches are some of the cleanest in the state

Bay Area project tackles sea level rise and water qualityThis 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 Water Deeply here:  Bay Area project tackles sea level rise and water quality

Santa Cruz beach maintains F grade, shows contamination improvement:  “Though still one of the top 10 worst beaches statewide for bacterial contamination, Cowell Beach has improved, according to the 28th Annual “Beach Bummer” report released Thursday.  Los Angeles area-based environmental watchdog Heal the Bay ranked Santa Cruz’s popular beach eighth worst in the state. Grades are based on state-required routine beach water quality sampling conducted by county health agencies, sanitation departments and dischargers, and lag by about a year. Too-high contamination levels trigger beach closures. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  Santa Cruz beach maintains F grade, shows contamination improvement

Long Beach ocean water is safe … until it rains, says 2018 beach report card:  “Long Beach’s ocean water quality is mostly fine so long as it hasn’t been raining, according to the annual Beach Report Card issued by Heal the Bay on Thursday.  Of the 15 city beaches tested throughout the past year, all rated “A” or “B” grades during summer months and 13 also received those grades during dry winter months.  But 14 received a “D” or “F” during rainy periods and the 15th was graded “C.” Heal the Bay recommends not entering the water at beaches rated “C” or below. … ”  Read more from the Long Beach Telegram here:  Long Beach ocean water is safe … until it rains, says 2018 beach report card

Environmental groups, Forest Service reach settlement on Nestle permit lawsuit:  “In what conservation groups are calling a major win, environmental activists and the U.S. Forest Service have reached a settlement in a legal fight over the permit that allows Nestlé to pipe water out of the San Bernardino National Forest to bottle and sell it.  The settlement, which was finalized Wednesday, stipulates that the Forest Service must within 30 days issue a decision either granting or denying a special-use permit for Nestlé’s operation. … ”  Read more from the Desert Sun here:  Environmental groups, Forest Service reach settlement on Nestle permit lawsuit

Along the Colorado River …

Desert city Phoenix mulls ways to quench thirst of sprawling suburbs:  “Carlee Rogers’ children run around Anthem Community Park, as she relishes the sunshine. The family moved here from Long Beach eight years ago to escape the rising cost of living, bumper-to-bumper traffic and air pollution in the California port city.  “We wanted a more stable environment for our children to grow up in,” said the mother of two.  Twenty years ago, Anthem blossomed from untouched desert land in Maricopa County, 35 miles (56 km) north of downtown Phoenix. Nestled amid clean streets and emerald-green golf courses, rows of sand-colored villas house some 30,000 people. … ”  Read more from Reuters here:  Desert city Phoenix mulls ways to quench thirst of sprawling suburbs

And lastly … Monsoon brings Toxic Toads, puts pets in danger:  “The monsoon is coming, which means so are the critters.  During the monsoon, there will be water throughout the city, which means Colorado River toads, also known as toxic toads, will show up in your backyard.  Toxic toads can be deadly to your pets.  “If you notice the signs and put your dog in the car, depending on how long it takes to get to the vet, the dog may have passed away by the time you get to the veterinarian,” said Dr. Beth Neuman, veterinarian. … ”  Read more from Tuscon Channel 4 here:  Monsoon brings Toxic Toads, puts pets in danger

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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