DAILY DIGEST: Controversial Cal Water Fix bill on the table; Senate eyes floor action on energy-water bill; Suit says state council favored twin tunnels over restoring the Delta; Record-low clarity in Lake Tahoe blamed on unusual weather events; and more …

In California water news today, Controversial Cal Water Fix bill on the table; Suit says state council favored twin tunnels over restoring the Delta; Record-low clarity in Lake Tahoe blamed on unusual weather events; Study says 2014 Napa quake may be linked to groundwater changes; New water law raises questions, anxiety; U.S. groups sue Trump administration over water protections; Senate eyes floor action on energy-water bill, recissions; and more …

On the calendar today …

In the news today …

Controversial Cal Water Fix bill on the table:  “A federal spending bill containing a provision that could spell disaster for opponents of the California WaterFix project passed an important hurdle when it was approved by the House Committee on Appropriations last week.  The Fiscal Year 2019 Interior and Environment Appropriations bill, introduced by Congressman Ken Calvert (CA-42), includes a rider identified as Section 437. If approved, the rider on page 141 of a 142-page document will exempt the California WaterFix project from state and federal judicial review. Since the spending bill’s introduction, another rider, authored by Congressman David Valadao (CA-21), was added that would also exempt the Central Valley Project and State Water Project from judicial review. ... ”  Read more from The Press here:  Controversial Cal Water Fix bill on the table

Senate eyes floor action on energy-water bill, recissions: “Legislation to boost energy and water spending and a separate plan to cut billions of dollars from an Energy Department loan technology program both could make it to the Senate floor next week.  The chamber is expected to take up the fiscal 2019 spending bill that would increase funding for both DOE and the Army Corps of Engineers.  It also is due to vote on a package of $14.7 billion in cuts from unspent funding from past years that the White House has made a priority.  The $43.7 billion energy and water appropriations bill would move as part of a three-bill package, known as a minibus, that will also contain funding for military construction-veterans affairs and the legislative branch. The House passed its version of the minibus last week. … ”  Read more from E&E News here:  Senate eyes floor action on energy-water bill, recissions

Suit says state council favored twin tunnels over restoring the Delta:  “A coalition of environmental groups has sued the California Delta Stewardship Council (CDSC) over what they say are violations of law affecting Delta environment restoration.  The suit was filed May 25 in Sacramento Superior Court, where headquarters for the council are located.  The plaintiffs include the Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the River, Center for Food Safety, Sierra Club California, Planning and Conservation League and Restore the Delta.  The suit contends that the CDSC violated the Delta Reform Act and CEQA by amending its Delta Plan to give the 35-mile single tunnel or double 35-mile tunnels of the proposed Delta WaterFix priority over restoring the Delta. … ”  Read more from the Livermore Independent here:  Suit says state council favored twin tunnels over restoring the Delta

Record-low clarity in Lake Tahoe blamed on unusual weather events:  “A bizarre confluence of weather events led to the average clarity level of Lake Tahoe last year falling to the lowest on record.  The annual  report issued by the Tahoe Environmental Research Center at UC Davis points to historic drought, followed by record precipitation and warm temperatures. Lake clarity is a key indicator used to track the degradation and restoration of the iconic lake.  Data released by the center on Wednesday shows that the average annual clarity level for 2017 was 59.7 feet, which marks the deepest point at which a standardized measuring disk is visible. That’s a 9.5 -ft. decrease in depth from the previous year. The five-year average for lake clarity is about 70 feet. ... ”  Read more from KQED here:  Record-low clarity in Lake Tahoe blamed on unusual weather events

Drought, heavy rains leave Lake Tahoe with historically bad clarity:  “Water clarity in Lake Tahoe reached a record low annual average in 2017 due to a historic drought, record-breaking precipitation and warmer-than-usual lake temperatures, according to a new study.  The average annual clarity level for 2017 clocked in at 59.7 feet — a roughly 9.5-foot decrease from 2016 — and surpassed the previous recorded low of 64.1 feet in 1997, according to a report released by the Tahoe Environmental Research Center at UC Davis.  “The combination of arguably the most extreme drought period ending with the most extreme precipitation year produced the low clarity values seen,” said Geoffrey Schladow, the research center director. “But this does not reflect the long-term trend, and measurements for 2018 have already shown a large improvement … more in line with the long-term trend.” ... ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  Drought, heavy rains leave Lake Tahoe with historically bad clarity

Study says 2014 Napa quake may be linked to groundwater changes:  “Research suggests the magnitude 6.0 earthquake that rocked California wine country in August 2014 may have been caused by an expansion of Earth’s crust due to seasonally receding groundwater under the Napa and Sonoma valleys.  The vineyard-filled valleys flank the West Napa Fault, which produced the quake that killed one person, injured several hundred and caused more than $500 million in losses. ... ”  Read more from KQED here:  Study says 2014 Napa quake may be linked to groundwater changes

New water law raises questions, anxiety:  “New legislation signed by Gov. Jerry Brown putting permanent restrictions on how much water people can use has already raised questions and concerns about how it will affect people’s quality of life, the cost of water and whether it’s a covert attack on the state’s water rights system.  While the regulations have yet to be drafted and won’t be rolled out for a few more years, the heads of various county water agencies were asked how they think the legislation will affect them and their customers.  One of the big questions is how will the state limit and monitor residential consumption, which until Jan. 1, 2025 will be 55 gallons per capita daily (gpcd) for indoor residential water use. ... ”  Read more from the Mountain Democrat here:  New water law raises questions, anxiety

Toxic trap: Groundwater pumping boosts arsenic in California aquifer:  “In California’s agricultural heartland, the San Joaquin Valley, excessive pumping of groundwater has resulted in subsidence, damaging crucial infrastructure, including roads, bridges and water conveyance. A study last year from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, found overpumping of groundwater since the 1920s had caused parts of the San Joaquin Valley to sink as much as 28ft.  But groundwater overpumping may have another serious side effect, according to a study published June 5 in the journal Nature Communications. Researchers found that recent groundwater pumping caused an increase in the concentrations of arsenic in the aquifer. ... ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  Toxic trap: Groundwater pumping boosts arsenic in California aquifer

U.S. groups sue Trump administration over water protections:  “Environmental groups sued the Trump administration on Wednesday challenging moves they say weaken protections for rivers, wetlands and other waterways.  The actions follow an executive order by President Donald Trump in February 2017 that directed the Environmental Protection Agency to work toward rescinding a clean water rule issued under President Barack Obama in 2015.  Nine conservation organizations including the Center for Biological Diversity and regional groups in California and Idaho filed the lawsuit U.S. District Court Northern District of California. ... ”  Read more from KFGO here:  U.S. groups sue Trump administration over water protections

In commentary today …

California, the world’s fifth largest economy, has a Third World drinking water problem, says the LA Times:  They write, “Even in times of drought, California’s natural and human-made arteries run with the nation’s cleanest, most accessible water. So fundamental is the stuff to the state’s identity and to its residents’ daily lives that California law recognizes a human right to “safe, clean, affordable, and accessible water adequate for human consumption, cooking, and sanitary purposes.”  Yet the taps in hundreds of communities produce only toxic brown fluid because years of environmental degradation have contaminated parts of the water table, and because extreme poverty has blocked residents and their leaders from upgrading their water infrastructure or from connecting to the systems of their neighbors. ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  California, the world’s fifth largest economy, has a Third World drinking water problem

In regional news and commentary today …

Butte DA’s suit against DWR moves forward:  “A lawsuit filed by Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey against the state Department of Water Resources over environmental damages resulting from the Oroville Dam spillway crisis is moving forward in court.  Butte County Superior Court Judge Stephen Benson overruled DWR’s demurrer, which is essentially a plea to have a case dismissed, through a written ruling filed on May 31.  The decision came after attorneys for DWR and Ramsey had a chance to present their arguments to the judge at a hearing on May 25. The Attorney General and Randy Gimple, a San Francisco-based attorney, are representing the department. ... ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Butte DA’s suit against DWR moves forward

Yosemite: Largest restoration project in history opens Friday at Mariposa Grove:  “After being closed to the public for nearly three years, Mariposa Grove, the storied forest of giant sequoia trees at Yosemite National Park first set aside for protection by Abraham Lincoln, is set to re-open Friday morning following completion of a $40 million restoration project.  The massive reddish-brown trees, located near Yosemite’s southern entrance, have awed visitors for 150 years. The grove’s sequoias are among the largest living things on earth, reaching up to 285 feet tall, with bark more than a foot thick and dating back 2,000 years. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  Yosemite: Largest restoration project in history opens Friday at Mariposa Grove

Cancer-causing chemical found in Tulare tap water.  Now what?  “Water from six wells in Tulare flunked a new test when a cancer-causing chemical came in above state standards, the city said in a letter to customers.  But the water is still safe to drink, the city said, because the presence of the chemical is not an emergency.  There is no need for Tulare residents to buy bottled water, the letter to 17,000 customers said. The chemical is 1, 2, 3-Trichloropropane, or TCP, a waste product from making plastic. For years, it was added to fumigants that farmers put in the soil to kill tiny worms called nematodes. ... ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Cancer-causing chemical found in Tulare tap water.  Now what?

Tulare has $14 million to fix cancer-causing water; here’s how they’ll use it:  “City officials say money from a multimillion-dollar lawsuit settlement will be used to help reduce the amount of a cancer-causing contaminant recently found in Tulare’s drinking water.  As part of a class-action lawsuit, Tulare agreed to receive $23.8 million, minus attorney’s fees, to settle out of court a legal action against The Dow Chemical Company.  In total, Tulare will get about $14 million, including three $1 million payments, to address the excess level of 1,2,3-Trichloropropane — 1,2,3-TCP for short — found in the local drinking water. … ”  Read more from the Visalia Times-Delta here:  Tulare has $14 million to fix cancer-causing water; here’s how they’ll use it

Ridgecrest: Indian Wells Valley water district delays recouping $500,000 investment:  “The Indian Wells Valley Water District board of directors agreed Monday night to delay seeking reimbursement of a $500,000 advancement it made to the IWV Groundwater Authority.  But lingering questions remained as the board discussed the financial stability of the new government agency and impending groundwater extraction fee that will be imposed on major pumpers in the basin, including the water district.  Board vice president Chuck Griffin noted that he had had concerns at the May meeting because the groundwater authority had not provided thorough information on the pumping fee that was to be discussed its May 17 meeting. … ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here:  Ridgecrest: Indian Wells Valley water district delays recouping $500,000 investment

Salton Sea: A ghost town in the making:  “With sandy beaches and warm water year-round, Salton Sea in California was the perfect family getaway of the 1950s and 60s. It attracted Hollywood’s elite – Rock Hudson water-skied there, Frank Sinatra and Jerry Lewis visited their friend Guy Lombardo’s yacht which was moored there. The Beach Boys were members of the North Shore yacht club, Sonny Bono was a visitor and President Dwight Eisenhower golfed there.  Business was booming – hotels, motels, casinos and yacht clubs popped up along the lake’s 116-mile shoreline helping to create enclaves including Bombay Beach and Salton City. Residents and developers quickly reaped the benefits of the influx.  Back then it was called the ‘miracle in the desert’. Today, it is described as an ‘ecological nightmare and disaster’ – a ghost town in the making. … ”  Read more from the Daily Mail here:  A ghost town in the making

Along the Colorado River …

Water is leaving the Colorado farmland for the city – but will it ever return?  “An old water cliché tells us that “water flows uphill toward money.” It’s an adage born out of people’s frustrations about who benefits when water moves around in the Western U.S., popularized by author Marc Reisner’s 1986 book, “Cadillac Desert.”  Like all persistent folksy sayings, it’s a mix of myth and truth.  But there’s at least one case where it has some validity: the phenomenon known as “buy and dry” along Colorado’s fast-growing, historically agricultural Front Range. … ”  Read more from KUNC here:  Water is leaving the Colorado farmland for the city – but will it ever return?

And lastly …

California ghost town for sale real cheap: The moment you get the keys to your first home is a big deal. Maybe it’s a modest pad in the suburbs or a condo in the city — whatever it may be, it deserves to be celebrated. But how do you mark the occasion of getting the deed to your very first town? That’s something you’ll actually need to consider if you make the winning offer on a 316-acre historic “ghost town” currently up for grabs in California, complete with more than 20 existing structures on the site. … ”  Read more from the Thrillist here: This Entire ‘Ghost Town’ in California Is for Sale & Way Cheaper Than You Think

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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