DAILY DIGEST: Climate change contributed to Oroville Spillway collapse, study says; What’s next for Prop 1 storage projects; Arizona commits to drought plan for Colorado River; Justice Kennedy’s retirement could reshape the environment; and more …

In California water news today, Climate change contributed to Oroville Spillway collapse, study says; What’s next for Prop 1 storage projects; Oroville releases needed to meet project deadline, officials say; Justice Kennedy’s retirement could reshape the environment; Few fish for new Deer Creek fish ladder; Martins Beach: New law could force billionaire Vinod Khosla to sell public path to beach he closed; Arizona commits to drought plan for Colorado River; 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.  Click here for more information and the webcast link.

In the news today …

Climate change contributed to Oroville Spillway collapse, study says:  “The study published this month in the Journal of Geophysical Research Letters investigated temperature impacts on snowpack and runoff‐driven flood risk in the Sierra Nevada during the extremely wet year of 2016–2017.  The team of researchers from the University of California Los Angeles determined that warming that year increased the Sierra Nevada’s early‐season snowpack runoff by 30 percent.  “In the Feather River Watershed, historical warming increased runoff by over one third during the period of heaviest precipitation in February 2017,” the authors wrote. “This suggests that historical anthropogenic warming may have exacerbated runoff conditions underlying the Oroville Dam spillway overflow that occurred.” … ”  Read more from The Weather Channel here:  Climate change contributed to Oroville Spillway collapse, study says

Oroville releases needed to meet project deadline, officials say:  “Officials from California’s water agency say the latest drawdown of Lake Oroville’s surface level was necessary for construction access so the main spillway could be mostly finished by a Nov. 1 deadline.  But the state Department of Water Resources hasn’t been releasing more water than would be needed to meet this summer’s water deliveries to the 29 State Water Project contractors, project manager Tony Meyers says. ... ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press here: Oroville releases needed to meet project deadline, officials say

As Decision Nears On California Water Storage Funding, a Chairman Reflects on Lessons Learned and What’s Next:New water storage is the holy grail primarily for agricultural interests in California, and in 2014 the door to achieving long-held ambitions opened with the passage of Proposition 1, which included $2.7 billion for new reservoirs and groundwater storage projects. But deciding which projects should get money — and how much — has not been easy for the California Water Commission, charged with refereeing the process. In a Western Water Q&A, Armando Quintero, chair of the commission, talked about the challenges of the unprecedented allocation process and the lessons that may inform decision-making on future California water projects.”  Read more from Western Water here:  As Decision Nears On California Water Storage Funding, a Chairman Reflects on Lessons Learned and What’s Next

Here are the 12 statewide measures on California’s November ballot:  “California voters will be asked to decide on 12 measures in November’s election, on topics ranging from housing to health care to taxes.  The Secretary of State’s office certified the final list of ballot measures on Thursday, after a series of last minute deals scrapped potential ballot measures on lead paint cleanup, local taxes, and internet privacy.  Here’s what Californians will see on their ballot in the fall: … ”  Read more from KQED here:  Here are the 12 statewide measures on California’s November ballot

Justice Kennedy’s retirement could reshape the environment:  “The retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, announced Wednesday in a letter hand-delivered to President Trump, could bring about sweeping changes to U.S. environmental law, endangering the federal government’s authority to fight climate change and care for the natural world.  With Kennedy gone, a more conservative Supreme Court could overhaul key aspects of the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act, legal scholars say. And any new justice selected by President Trump would likely seek to weaken the Environmental Protection Agency, curtail its ability to fight global warming, and weaken its protections over wetlands. … ”  Read more from The Atlantic here:  Justice Kennedy’s retirement could reshape the environment

In commentary today …

Shifting values towards conservation:  “We live in a world in which everything has an economic value. Our time is measured in opportunity cost, our value to society is measured by our contribution to GDP, even our lives ultimately have a dollar value; just ask any actuary.  Unsurprisingly, these views trickle down to colour how we look at our natural resources and ecosystems. Methods of environmental valuation are wide-ranging and imperfect. Researchers may look at mitigation and/or restoration costs, the revealed (i.e. travel cost methods) and stated (i.e. surveys) preferences of consumers, and supply and demand functions. All of these methods can give a somewhat close approximation of a natural entity’s economic value to society, but fail to capture the true intrinsic value. … ”  Read more from Source Magazine here:  Shifting values towards conservation

In regional news and commentary today …

Water users fight back in Klamath shutoff litigation:  “Klamath Water Users Association (KWUA) yesterday filed its objections to the Klamath Tribes’ request for a court order that would immediately shut off Klamath Project irrigation water in order to maintain higher Upper Klamath Lake elevations for endangered suckers.  The 49- page brief filed by KWUA with co-intervenors Sunnyside Irrigation District and Ben DuVal explains the motion “has been timed to maximize pain for family farms and rural communities.”  It also addresses scientific arguments as well as the severe consequences that would befall local farms, businesses, and communities if the request for a preliminary injunction were granted. ... ”  Read more from the Herald & News here:  Water users fight back in Klamath shutoff litigation

Commissioners hope to ease economic drought in Klamath County:  “Drought conditions and a tribal water ‘call’ are having an economic impact on the Klamath Basin – but the county is taking steps to help provide tax relief to farmers and ranchers.  NBC5 News did a story in late May about Bly rancher Butch Hadley, who sold his cattle since he’s unable to irrigate his pasture to feed them.  Hadley mentioned that one of his concerns was about property taxes.  “They don’t lower property taxes – they just raise them.” Noted Hadley. “And it doesn’t seem to matter if this went from being worth quite a bit, to nothing.” … ”  Read more from NBC 5 here:  Commissioners hope to ease economic drought in Klamath County

Few fish for new Deer Creek fish ladder:  “The new fish ladder on Deer Creek seems to be working, but unfortunately, there just don’t seem to be that many fish this year.  The ladder was completed last summer to improve passage around Lower Deer Creek Falls, which is about 35 miles upstream from the Sacramento River, and a couple of miles downstream from the first Highway 32 bridge across the creek.  The falls provide a barrier to threatened spring-run chinook salmon, who migrate upstream for several months around May and settle in deep, cool pools to spend the summer, before spawning and dying in fall. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Few fish for new Deer Creek fish ladder

California’s Tahoe Conservancy to receive $27 million in funding from Prop 68: “In the recent primary election, 57 percent of California voters said “yes” to Prop 68, the Parks, Environment and Water Bond, securing $4 billion in general obligation bonds for California’s parks, natural resources and restoration projects.  The funding includes up to $27 million for the California Tahoe Conservancy (CTC), which spearheads conservation and restoration projects in the Tahoe Basin. … ”  Read more from the Tahoe Daily Tribune here:  California’s Tahoe Conservancy to receive $27 million in funding from Prop 68

Plug pulled on Auburn Dam vestige:  “Formed 36 years ago to jumpstart a stalled Auburn dam effort, the American River Authority is no more.  Members of the authority representing local-government and water interests in Placer, El Dorado and San Joaquin counties voted unanimously in favor of dissolution of the joint-powers authority.  The vote came two years after the authority board voted to strip out the Auburn dam mission from its founding documents.  Without an Auburn dam to champion — and partially pull the strings to partially fund — members took the next step and voted not to continue the authority. Without the Auburn dam as a focus, the organization would have been left with a mission statement to support local water efforts that are already being tackled in several other arenas by similar groups. … ”  Read more from the Auburn Journal here:  Plug pulled on Auburn Dam vestige

Seawall preservation comes at a cost:  “A new ballot measure is officially on its way to voters in November, and it might be a hard sell. On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors gave its final approval for a measure that would provide $425 million for much-needed repairs to San Francisco’s eastern seawall.  It’s a timely effort, as the century-old barrier is crumbling and is badly in need of repairs. Sea levels are rising, and the whole piece of infrastructure — which stretches three miles from Fisherman’s Wharf to the mouth of Mission Creek, near AT&T Park — provides valuable protection from the water for businesses and residences along the Embarcadero. It also preserves the city’s ability to draw in billions of dollars through tourism and the Port of San Francisco. … ”  Read more from SF Weekly here:  Seawall preservation comes at a cost

Martins Beach: New law could force billionaire Vinod Khosla to sell public path to beach he closedObscure language in the massive state budget that Gov. Jerry Brown signed this week could force Silicon Valley billionaire Vinod Khosla to permanently open Martins Beach in San Mateo County to the public.  Khosla, who co-founded Sun Microsystems and has a net worth estimated at $1.5 billion, bought 89 acres surrounding Martins Beach, south of Half Moon Bay, in 2008 and closed the gate to a private road that the public had used for generations to access the shoreline, sparking a controversy that has gained national attention. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  Martins Beach: New law could force billionaire Vinod Khosla to sell public path to beach he closed

Loch Lomond Dam scheduled for major repair:  “Visitors to the Loch Lomond Recreation Area, which is nestled up in a narrow canyon in the Santa Cruz Mountains accessed by a windy road up from Lompico, find it odd it is owned and managed by the City of Santa Cruz Water Department. Especially when the city limit line is a good ten miles down the valley.  Many first time visitors to this “gem in the Santa Cruz Mountains” frequently report they had no idea such a beautiful mountain lake was basically in their own backyard. As natural and remote as it seems, Loch Lomond is a man-made reservoir that has been serving as the City of Santa Cruz’s “savings account” for drinking water storage since the rammed-earth dam, the Newell Creek Dam, was completed in 1960. … ”  Read more from the Press Banner here:  Loch Lomond Dam scheduled for major repair

State Water Board puts a possible damper on Pacific Grove’s plan to bank water credits: “Dave Stoldt, general manager of the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District, remembers a breakfast meeting in Emeryville five years ago this month between himself, Jason Burnett – then mayor of Carmel and president of the Monterey Peninsula Regional Water Authority – and Felicia Marcus, president of the State Water Resources Control Board. Stoldt remembers Marcus commenting, why would a city spend millions on its own water project and not expect to reap a benefit from it?  That was around the same time that Pacific Grove officials were in the early stages of planning their own project, known as the Local Water Project, a recycled water plant located on Point Pinos next to the P.G. Municipal Golf Links. The plan was to recycle wastewater from the Asilomar area into irrigation water for the golf course and the city-owned El Carmelo Cemetery. ... ”  Read more from Monterey Weekly here:  State Water Board puts a possible damper on Pacific Grove’s plan to bank water credits

Water at risk: Salinas River erosion threatens Paso Robles city wellfield: “Perspiring in the sweltering North County heat, Paso Robles Water Resources Manager Chris Alakel tromps down the middle of the parched Salinas River on June 22 until he comes to a halt at a point along its western bank.  “The way the water comes by here is different now,” Alakel says, surveying the stretch of bank that Mother Nature has molded into a 20-foot-tall sheer wall of soft river sediment. “It’s running directly at the banks … Before, the energy wasn’t directed at the bank; it was flowing along the bank. It’s a straight shot now.” … ”  Read more from New Times SLO here:  Water at risk: Salinas River erosion threatens Paso Robles city wellfield

Nipomo groundwater severely low for fourth straight year:  “A new report shows the Nipomo Mesa is still struggling with its groundwater supply. The community services district will take a closer look at how it manages Nipomo’s water.  The District Board of Directors declared a Stage 4 water shortage two years ago and the manager says they are on track to meet their reduction of groundwater usage but might have to look ahead to Stage 5 in the future.  A Stage 5 declaration would come after several years of a severe water shortage or if the coastal wells experience seawater intrusion. This could lead to more conservation requirements. … ”  Read more from KSBY here:  Nipomo groundwater severely low for fourth straight year

Ridgecrest: Kern County advances Groundwater Authority $500,000:  “In order to stem off another shortfall of cash flow, Kern County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously authorized a $500,000 advance to the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority.  The county advance marks the second such one the groundwater authority will receive in seven months; the first was authorized by the IWV Water District in December for similar reasons.  Kern County Deputy County Administrative Officer Alan Christensen, who also acts as support staff for the groundwater authority, presented the item before the board on Tuesday. … ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here:  Ridgecrest: Kern County advances Groundwater Authority $500,000

Along the Colorado River …

A water district wants a golf course to pay more.  The golf course goes to court.  In the middle of the dispute: Lake Mead:  “Straddling the border with Utah on a strip of arid land about 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas, golf courses dot the Virgin Valley and its largest town — Mesquite. The golf courses are made possible by the fact that the valley, despite dry desert conditions, can tap into the Virgin River.  The river rises above Zion National Park and snakes its way through Utah to Mesquite, where water is diverted for irrigation, before it connects to Lake Mead, the man-made reservoir that holds water for Arizona, California and Nevada as part of the Colorado River system. Policies on the Colorado River — a system serving 40 million Americans — have meant that water going down the Virgin River, every unit of water diverted to irrigate golf courses, has a dollar value. … ”  Read more from the Nevada Independent here:  A water district wants a golf course to pay more.  The golf course goes to court.  In the middle of the dispute: Lake Mead

Arizona commits to drought plan for Colorado River:  “Arizona water officials committed Thursday to reach a multi-state plan by the end of the year to stave off Colorado River water shortages, or at least lessen the impact.  The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has been prodding Western states to wrap up drought contingency plans, one each in the lower and upper basins. Little snowpack, rising temperatures and ongoing drought have led to steady declines in the river that serves 40 million people in seven U.S. states. ... ” Read more from the AP via the Miami Herald here:  Arizona commits to drought plan for Colorado River

Plug pulled on program paying farmers to conserve Colorado River water: “A four-year pilot program that paid ranchers and farmers in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and New Mexico about $200 per acre-foot of water saved by fallowing fields in order to boost water levels in Lake Powell will be put on hold after 2018.  On June 20, the five members of the Upper Colorado River Commission unanimously passed a resolution to that effect at a board meeting.  “Although the pilot (program) has helped explore the feasibility of some aspect of demand management programs, it does not provide a means for the upper (basin) states to account, store and release conserved water in a way which will help assure full compliance with the Colorado River Compact in times of drought,” the resolution said. ... ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  Plug pulled on program paying farmers to conserve Colorado River water

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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