DAILY DIGEST: Deeply Talks: New water storage in California; Shasta Dam raising plan, the pro view; EPA bill rider would bar lawsuits against Water Fix; Pruitt seeks to limit EPA’s authority to block water pollution permits; and more …

In California water news today, Deeply Talks: New water storage in California; Shasta Dam Raising Plan, the Pro View; EPA bill rider would bar lawsuits against Water Fix; Pruitt seeks to limit EPA’s authority to block water pollution permits; This tiny California town is suing Big Oil. It sees this as a fight for survival; After dismissal of San Francisco, Oakland climate suits, what lies ahead?; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • The California Water Commission will meet beginning at 8:30am to make decisions on final application scores and nine determinations for each the projects remaining in the Water Storage Investment Program.  The meeting will continue on Friday if needed.  Click here for more information and the webcast link.
  • The Delta Stewardship Council meets beginning at 9am. The Data to Decision Making Series continues with a presentation on Delta science governance and the role of performance measures, plus an agenda item on 2018 Council priorities. Click here for the full agenda.
  • Public meeting on the draft 2018 SGMA Basin Prioritization in Ventura County beginning at 10am.  Click here for more information.

In the news today …

Deeply Talks: New water storage in California:  “In this episode of Deeply Talks, Tara Lohan, managing editor of Water Deeply, talks with Jay Lund, a professor of civil and environmental engineering and director of the Center for Watershed Sciences at the University of California, Davis, and Rachel Zwillinger, water policy adviser for Defenders of Wildlife, about how water storage projects in California are being funded, which projects are receiving state money and what kinds of water projects the state really needs. … ”  Read/Listen from Water Deeply here:  Deeply Talks: New water storage in California

Radio show: Shasta Dam Raising Plan, the Pro View:  “The recent drought years have often left drivers on Interstate Five wondering what happened to Shasta Lake.  The bridges that cross arms of the lake are often high above the water line, and it can be hard to even see water and boats.  But a plan to raise the height of Shasta Dam by 18 feet is still on the table, in fact got recent funding for design and engineering work.  The move is applauded by Westlands Water District and other water agencies. But the dam-raising plan is condemned by Friends of the River and other groups. Tom Birmingham of WWD joined us. … ”  Listen to radio show (22:15) from Jefferson Public Radio here:  Radio show: Shasta Dam Raising Plan, the Pro View

EPA bill rider would bar lawsuits against Water Fix:  “A rider attached to the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) funding bill would prohibit any federal or state lawsuits against the final environmental impact report (EIR) for the California WaterFix.  Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris have come out against the bill.  The WaterFix consists of a $17 billion project proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown to build one or two tunnels from the Sacramento River to the State Water Project (SWP) intakes for water that travel from the Delta southward. … ”  Read more from the Livermore Independent here:  EPA bill rider would bar lawsuits against Water Fix

Pruitt seeks to limit EPA’s authority to block water pollution permits:  “Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head Scott Pruitt is planning to limit the agency’s authority to block permits for activities that could pollute or harm waterways.  In an agency memo released Wednesday, Pruitt formally asked the EPA’s water office to propose a regulation under which officials wouldn’t be able to block a permit before it had been applied for or after the Army Corps of Engineers has issued the permit. … ”  Read more from The Hill here:  Pruitt seeks to limit EPA’s authority to block water pollution permits

This tiny California town is suing Big Oil.  It sees this as a fight for survival:  “Among Serge Dedina’s first stops on a brisk morning tour of this small seaside city is a wall that separates a row of frayed apartments from wetlands known as the San Diego Bay Wildlife Refuge. Artists are dabbing finishing touches on a mural of sea birds against a flamingo-pink wall.  This splash of color is important to Dedina. It’s something he can do — his city’s leadership can do — to cheat the austerity that comes with having one of the smallest city budgets in the state. Dedina, 53, is the mayor of this oceanfront community at the southern edge of California, separated from Mexico by the estuary of the Tijuana River. ... ”  Read more from KQED here:  This tiny California town is suing Big Oil.  It sees this as a fight for survival

After dismissal of San Francisco, Oakland climate suits, what lies ahead?  “A federal judge’s decision Monday to dismiss the climate liability lawsuits brought by San Francisco and Oakland against five of the world’s largest oil companies raised as many questions as it answered. U.S. District Judge William Alsup’s ruling at once made a sweeping declaration that the courts are not the appropriate venue in which to tackle climate change, while largely ignoring the central issue of the complaint: should the companies that produce the product that drives global warming pay the costs?  Alsup’s dismissal upheld the fossil fuel defendants’ argument that courts should not decide complex policy questions surrounding climate change. “The problem deserves a solution on a more vast scale than can be supplied by a district judge or jury in a public nuisance case,” Alsup wrote in his order. … ”  Read more from Climate Liability News here:  After dismissal of San Francisco, Oakland climate suits, what lies ahead?

In regional news and commentary today …

Klamath farmers face ongoing water cutbacks:  “For hundreds of farmers in the Klamath Project, two water delivery plans released last week by the Bureau of Reclamation amount to what one farmer called “too little, too late.”  Farmer Ben DuVal of Tulelake, who serves as president of the Modoc County Farm Bureau, said the late announcement by the bureau makes it impossible for farmers to plan and be able to make decisions for their businesses.  “Half the year has already gone,” DuVal said. “This is the first time it has ever been this late. I understand that there were some challenges with the drought, but ordinarily we get the operations plan in March or April.”  He called the mid-June release timing “absolutely ridiculous.” ... ”  Read more from Ag Alert here:  Klamath farmers face ongoing water cutbacks

Humboldt County to allow cannabis farm ‘hoop houses’ in flood hazard areas:Humboldt County will now allow cannabis producers to temporarily put up “hoop houses” in flood hazard areas, a move county staff say will address the permitting backlog and make the industry more competitive.  Under the previous county rules, structures like hoop houses had to be anchored to the ground with foundation, be elevated above the base flood elevation and must have flood resistive materials. The changes adopted Tuesday would allow farmers to construct temporary hoop houses for up to 180 days between April 16 and Oct. 15. The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors adopted the change in a unanimous vote Tuesday. Third District Supervisor Mike Wilson was absent. … ” Read more from the Eureka Times-Standard here: Humboldt County to allow cannabis farm ‘hoop houses’ in flood hazard areas

Crews building the ‘biggest water project in Ukiah since the dam’:  “Not an inch of it will be purple, but hopefully by Christmas the city of Ukiah’s Purple Pipe Project will have close to 40,000 feet of pipe buried along the spine of the Ukiah Valley.
“This is probably the largest water project in Ukiah since the dam was built,” said Sean White, the director of water and sewer for the city, standing next to large sections of technically lavender-colored pipe Monday that were lined up in a vineyard along East Perkins Street. ... ”  Read more from the Eureka Times-Herald here:  Crews building the ‘biggest water project in Ukiah since the dam’

El Dorado Irrigation District plans to sell water again:  “Taking a second shot at selling excess water, the El Dorado Irrigation District board unanimously approved a potential sale of up to 5,000 acre-feet of water to the Dudley Ridge Water District and the Kern County Water Agency.  This is the second such water transfer EID has undertaken. The last one was in 2015 when they sold water to the Westlands Water District. … ”  Read more from the Mountain Democrat here:  El Dorado Irrigation District plans to sell water again

Mokelumne River becomes California’s newest Wild and Scenic River:  “The Mokelumne language included in the bill embodies recommendations made by the California Natural Resources Agency’s Mokelumne River Wild and Scenic River Study Report, which was released in mid-April 2018. The study recommendations and legislation – which included five special provisions to protect local water supplies – were broadly supported by a coalition of interests including river conservation, fish and recreation organizations; businesses and tourism organizations; foothill and East Bay water agencies; local water agencies; and Amador and Calaveras counties.  “This legislation is a true ‘win-win.’ It protects the Mokelumne River water supply that Amador County residents depend on for nearly all of our public water,” said Amador Water Agency Board President, Art Toy. “At the same time, it protects the river environment and recreation.” ... ”  Read more from The Pine Tree here:  Mokelumne River becomes California’s newest Wild and Scenic River

Solano supervisors will challenge DWR groundwater priority proposal:  “The Solano County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday followed the staff lead and will challenge the state Department of Water Resources on its proposal to change the status of the Napa-Sonoma Lowlands from a very low to medium priority groundwater basin.  The lowlands basin includes a part of southwest Solano County, including a piece of Vallejo, the board was told. … ”  Read more from the Daily Republic here:  Solano supervisors will challenge DWR groundwater priority proposal

Marin: Flaws in county’s approach to Ross Valley flood control, says Garril Page:  He writes, “That a water glass fills from the bottom up is an assumption few would argue. It makes sense.  The Ross Valley flood control projects adopt top-down flow patterns for both the process and the projects. This does not make sense.  Why plan projects that expand upstream creek carrying capacity while downstream channels lack capacity to carry those new loads? Why limit public scrutiny and oversight of plans, leaving questions about these discrepancies unanswered? … ”  Read more from the Marin Independent Journal here:  Flaws in county’s approach to Ross Valley flood control

Golden Gate ferry damage could be offset by wetland work:  “Golden Gate Bridge officials have put forth a $1.2 million plan to restore wetlands in Corte Madera to mitigate for environmental damage caused by ferry operations.  Because of dredging at the Larkspur Ferry Terminal and operations of high-speed ferries — which cause wakes that disturb coastlines — the bridge district is being required by regulators to create 4 acres of wetlands. The work would occur on 72 acres of district-owned land near the Corte Madera Ecological Reserve. … ”  Read more from the Marin Independent Journal here:  Golden Gate ferry damage could be offset by wetland work

Golden State Water customers can expect rates to drop on July 1:  “Golden State Water Co. customers in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties can expect to see their water bills drop July 1 as tax savings are passed along to ratepayers, a company spokesman said.  Rates will drop 4.27 percent for customers in the company’s Santa Maria service area, which includes rural Santa Maria, Orcutt, Tanglewood, Lake Marie and Sisquoc in northern Santa Barbara County as well as Cypress Ridge and a portion of Nipomo in southern San Luis Obispo County. ... ”  Read more from the Santa Maria Times here:  Golden State Water customers can expect rates to drop on July 1

Ridgecrest: What exactly does ‘de minimus’ mean?  “When the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority board of directors approved the first read of its pump fee ordinance on June 21, it made a few changes.  The first: splitting the difference on the monthly fee rate: $30 per acre-foot pumped, as opposed to $35 an acre-foot. The fee impacts all groundwater well owners in the Valley except for the Navy, Bureau of Land Management, and de minimis users (those who use two acre-feet or less per year for domestic purposes).  The second came from the legal team’s recommendation: remove the requirement for de minimis users to register their wells by Oct. 1. The major pumpers would have until Aug. 20, after the board formally adopts the ordinance at its July meeting. ... ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here:  Ridgecrest: What exactly does ‘de minimus’ mean?

Riverside, water authority join efforts to study Santa Ana River homelessness:  “The homeless people living along the Santa Ana River in Riverside have long prompted concerns about their impact on the city’s economy, public health, pollution and fire danger.  City officials, citing these problems as well as humanitarian concerns, have launched a number of initiatives — most recently helping churches build tiny houses on their properties — led by the Office of Homeless Solutions.  But the city’s residents aren’t the only ones affected by the homeless encampments along the river. And the city government isn’t the only one with resources to solve the problem. … ”  Read more from the Riverside Press-Enterprise here:  Riverside, water authority join efforts to study Santa Ana River homelessness

Forest Service grants Nestlé three-year permit to keep piping water out of San Bernardino National Forest: “The U.S. Forest Service has granted Nestle a new three-year permit to continue operating its bottled water pipeline in the San Bernardino National Forest.  The agency announced the decision Wednesday, saying the permit has been offered to the company “with measures to improve the watershed’s health” along Strawberry Creek.  The Forest Service took up the matter in 2015 after a Desert Sun investigation revealed Nestlé was piping water out of the mountains under a permit that listed 1988 as the expiration date. The revelation that officials had allowed the company to use the permit without a review for 27 years generated an outpouring of opposition and prompted the permit review as well as a lawsuit by environmental groups and an investigation by California regulators. … ”  Read more from the Desert Sun here:  Forest Service grants Nestlé three-year permit to keep piping water out of San Bernardino National Forest

Feds allow Nestle to keep taking water from San Bernardino Forest:  “U.S. officials offered Nestle, the maker of Arrowhead bottled water, a three-year permit on Wednesday to keep taking millions of gallons of water from a national forest in Southern California – but with new restrictions designed to keep a creek flowing for other uses.  The offer announced by the U.S. Forest Service allows Nestle Waters North America, the biggest bottled-water company in the nation, to keep piping water from the Strawberry Creek watershed that it’s tapped for decades.  The permit would allow extraction only when water is available to protect natural resources in the San Bernardino National Forest northeast of Los Angeles. Use could be restricted if the state’s scattered drought conditions worsen. … ”  Read more from the AP via PA Homepage here:  Feds allow Nestle to keep taking water from San Bernardino Forest

Deferred maintenance on San Diego storm water system may lead to emergencies:  “A city of San Diego analysis delivered to the City Council’s Audit Committee Wednesday found that Storm Water Division infrastructure faces the largest deferred maintenance backlog of any asset type in the city amid chronically insufficient funding.  Continued deficits could lead to more emergencies and an inability to meet water quality requirements, Principal Senior Performance Auditor Andy Hanau told the committee. ... ”  Read more from Fox News 5 here:  Deferred maintenance on San Diego storm water system may lead to emergencies

Coronado major discusses sewage problem with EPA head Scott Pruitt: “Coronado’s mayor flew to Oklahoma this week to talk with the head of the Environmental Protection Agency about possible solutions to the recurring Tijuana sewage spills that sully the San Diego County coastline.  Mayor Richard Bailey and Administrator Scott Pruitt spoke one-on-one for about 20 minutes Tuesday during an annual meeting between leading environmental experts and regulators from Mexico, the United States and Canada.  “We discussed possible next steps and (Pruitt) expressed a strong desire for some tangible progress in the very near future,” Mayor Richard Bailey said. “I’m walking away from this trip with a lot of confidence that the EPA are great partners.” ... ”  Read more from the San Diego Union Tribune here:  Coronado major discusses sewage problem with EPA head Scott Pruitt

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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