DAILY DIGEST, weekend edition: CA’s new plan for allocating its water means less for farmers; Abolishing a water district isn’t easy – even when it’s accused of nepotism, mismanagement, and delivering brown water; 5 things to know about Pruitt’s replacement; and more …

In California water news this weekend, California has a new plan for allocating its water and it means less for farmers; Abolishing a water district isn’t easy – even when it’s accused of nepotism, mismanagement, and delivering brown water; Efforts to fight nutria in the Delta ramping up; Deepening drought in Western US costs ranchers money and heartache; 5 things to know about Pruitt’s replacement; The world has never seen a Category 6 hurricane. But the day may be coming; and more …

Special section on the release of Bay Delta Plan Update documents …

NEWS ARTICLES

California has a new plan for allocating its water and it means less for farmers:  “State regulators proposed sweeping changes in the allocation of California’s water Friday, leaving more water in Northern California’s major rivers to help ailing fish populations — and giving less to farming and human consumption.  By limiting water sent to cities and farms and keeping more for fish, the proposal by the State Water Resources Control Board’s staff likely will ignite a round of lawsuits and political squabbles. Critics immediately pounced on the plan, saying it will take some of the nation’s most fertile farmland out of production and harm the Central Valley economy. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  California has a new plan for allocating its water and it means less for farmers

New California water plan aimed at boosting fish habitat:  “California water officials on Friday released a plan to increase flows through a major central California river, an effort that would save salmon and other fish but deliver less water to farmers in the state’s agricultural heartland.  It’s the latest development in California’s long-running feud between environmental and agricultural interests and is likely to spark lawsuits.  “The State Water Resources Control Board’s decision today is the first shot fired in the next chapter of California’s water wars,” warned Democratic Assemblyman Adam Gray of Merced, who represents San Joaquin Valley communities that rely on diversion from the river for water supply. ... ”  Read more from the AP via SF Gate here:  New California water plan aimed at boosting fish habitat

San Francisco would face new limits under state water proposal:  “California water officials announced an ambitious plan Friday to revive some of the state’s biggest rivers, a move that seeks to stave off major devastation to wetlands and fish, but on the back of cities and farms.  San Francisco, as well as numerous urban and agricultural water suppliers, under the plan would face new limits on how much water it draws from the San Joaquin River and its tributaries in the Sierra Nevada. … ”  Read more from the SF Chronicle here:  San Francisco would face new limits under state water proposal

Job losses, farm cuts, and other devastating impacts predicted from state’s water plan:  “A final state water board plan released Friday came as no surprise to local irrigation districts and county and city officials battling what they call a state water grab.  The State Water Resources Control Board wants dams such as Don Pedro to release 40 percent of natural river flows to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to address what the state calls an “ecological crisis.”  Farmers in the Northern San Joaquin Valley, along with Modesto and Turlock irrigation districts, business leaders and elected officials expect devastating impacts to the agriculture industry, the economy, groundwater and the quality of life. ... ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  Job losses, farm cuts, and other devastating impacts predicted from state’s water plan

Massive water grab:  “A plan for a massive diversion of water for urban and farm uses from the Stanislaus, Tuolumne, and Merced rivers released Friday by State Water Resources Control Board is being heralded as a way to possibly save salmon and other native fish.  But what the sound bites and the posturing of those favoring the move fails to touch on is the nitty gritty details of the 3,500 page report developed by state bureaucrats to redistribute water by essentially ignoring legally adjudicated senior water rights. … ”  Read more from the Manteca Bulletin here:  Massive water grab

COMMENTARY ON BAY DELTA PLAN UPDATE

Here’s how to move beyond the water wars and save the DeltaFelicia Marcus writes,The San Francisco Bay and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta estuary and watersheds improve the lives of nearly everyone in California, and many far beyond.  They put food on the table, put tens of thousands of people to work and deliver drinking water to more than 26 million Californians. These waters are a precious, shared resource. But there is a serious problem.  The ecosystem that the water supports is in crisis. Native fish, such as chinook salmon and steelhead, are on the brink of extinction. Populations of fall-run chinook returning to the San Joaquin River basin have plummeted 90 percent in the last 35 years. And the crisis is affecting other species that depend on fish for survival. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Here’s how to move beyond the water wars and save the Delta

We must fight the water grab, not just talk about it, says Mike Dunbar:  He writes, “This is a call to arms.  We’ve tried science. We’ve tried persuasion. We’ve tried to reason with the State Water Resources Control Board. For the last nine years, we’ve tried all these things and it was all worthless.  Friday, the board’s regulators released their plan to disrupt a century of California water law and demand twice as much water flow down the Tuolumne, Stanislaus and Merced rivers in a purported effort to save salmon. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  We must fight the water grab, not just talk about it

Increased Delta outflows are scientifically justified, says Doug Obegi:  He writes, “The State Water Resources Control Board today recommended potentially significant increases in Delta outflow, and reduced diversions throughout the Bay-Delta watershed, to protect water quality and our native fish and wildlife in this magnificent watershed and estuary.  However, the Board’s recommendation that winter-spring Delta outflow should be 55% of unimpaired flow (unimpaired flow is what would flow naturally in the absence of dams and diversions) is significantly less than what the best available science shows is needed.  The Board also recommends incorporating existing federal restrictions on the operations of the Central Valley Project and State Water Project, to ensure that fish and wildlife – and the thousands of fishing jobs that depend on them – are protected. These recommendations come just as the Trump Administration seeks to weaken those federal protections in the Delta. … ”  Read more at the NRDC here:  Increased Delta outflows are scientifically justified

RELATED CONTENT:

In other California water news this weekend …

Abolishing a water district isn’t easy – even when it’s accused of nepotism, mismanagement, and delivering brown water:  “For its litany of problems, it’s been hard to kill the tiny Sativa Los Angeles County Water District.  It has survived scandals involving financial instability, nepotism, poor maintenance and mismanagement.  Then in the last year, brown, smelly water started coming out of the taps — giving county and state officials what they believe is their best chance to close the embattled water district once and for all.  But it won’t be easy. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Abolishing a water district isn’t easy – even when it’s accused of nepotism, mismanagement, and delivering brown water

Efforts to fight nutria in the Delta ramping up:  “Nearly three months ago, a Delta farmer from Roberts Island delivered the carcass of a dead nutria to the desk of Tim Pelican, San Joaquin County’s agricultural commissioner.  It was the first of two nutria discovered in the county in April.  The other nutria was very much alive when found by a Lathrop Animal Control officer who didn’t recognize the vegetation-munching, mass-reproducing, levee-weakening menace and returned it to the Delta. … ” Read more from the Stockton Record here:  Efforts to fight nutria in the Delta ramping up

Scientists dig deep to track down California’s ever changing groundwater supply:  “Erica Woodburn first fell in love with hydrogeology – the study of the distribution and movement of groundwater – as an undergraduate majoring in geology. “I was fascinated by the idea that we don’t know where and how groundwater moves a lot of the time, and that we don’t know how much of it we have to rely on for the future,” she said.  Today, Woodburn – a research scientist in the Lab’s Earth and Environmental Sciences Area, and one of 10 Early Career Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) awardees announced in November – is developing a new modeling technique that employs remote sensing technology to understand “the effects of climate change on California’s water supply, including the impact of climate extremes – such as heavy rainfall or snowfall events followed by long periods of drought – that the state has experienced in recent years,” she said. ... ”  Read more from EIN News here:  Scientists dig deep to track down California’s ever changing groundwater supply

Deepening drought in Western US costs ranchers money and heartache:  “In the shadow of remote Dry Mountain in central Oregon, branding is the only way to guarantee a fair sorting of cattle among ranchers in the fall. Ear tags can rub off in the rough, sage-studded country.  So each year, before cattle are let out to graze on the summer range, the young are branded, castrated and vaccinated. Neighbors gather in the early morning to do the work.  A gritty fog of dust and campfire smoke washes over the scene, stinging eyes. Children duck behind the woodpile to avoid an upset mother Angus hellbent on protecting her captured calf. The ropers on horseback, called headers and heelers, hustle to brand 300 calves by noon. ... ”  Read more from NPR here:  Deepening drought in Western US costs ranchers money and heartache

NATIONAL

Incoming EPA administrator promises ‘overall agenda’ won’t change much:  “Acting Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Andrew Wheeler says that his takeover as head of the agency will not see the EPA shift from its core mission under President Trump.  In an interview with The Washington Post, Wheeler said that his first communication to agency staff upon taking over was meant to reassure officials that business will continue as normal. … ”  Read more from The Hill here:  Incoming EPA administrator promises ‘overall agenda’ won’t change much

5 things to know about Andrew Wheeler:  “Andrew Wheeler, described as a savvy and well-known D.C. insider, will take the helm at EPA after embattled Administrator Scott Pruitt exits today.  From his affinity for Midwestern fare to his low profile, sources say Wheeler and Pruitt — aside from their policy objectives — couldn’t be more opposite.  And that could mean big changes for EPA’s management.  “[Wheeler’s leadership is] going to lower the temperature dramatically, where Pruitt was more confrontational,” said Frank Maisano, a partner in Bracewell LLP’s Policy Resolution Group. “He’s a low-drama, high-production type of person. He’s certainly not going to grab the headlines like Pruitt.” ... ”  Read more from E&E News here:  5 things to know about Andrew Wheeler

The world has never seen a Category 6 hurricane.  But the day may be coming:  “As a ferocious hurricane bears down on South Florida, water managers desperately lower canals in anticipation of 4 feet of rain.  Everyone east of Dixie Highway is ordered evacuated, for fear of a menacing storm surge. Forecasters debate whether the storm will generate the 200 mph winds to achieve Category 6 status. This is one scenario for hurricanes in a warmer world, a subject of fiendish complexity and considerable scientific research, as experts try to tease out the effects of climate change from the influences of natural climate cycles. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union Tribune here:  The world has never seen a Category 6 hurricane.  But the day may be coming

In commentary this weekend …

The blithering idiocy of California’s water crisis:  Susan Shelley writes,It’s not new that most of the rainfall in California is in the north and most of the people and farms using water are further south. It’s not new that California has wet years and dry years, or that the state is at risk of both flooding and drought, sometimes simultaneously.  What’s new is that earlier generations of California politicians solved water problems, while the current generation intentionally creates them.  We are the beneficiaries of monumental achievements in water infrastructure that made modern California possible. And yet we are living under a government that believes it’s a good idea to withhold water that is readily available to sustain farming and human life. ... ”  Continue reading at the Press-Enterprise here:  The blithering idiocy of California’s water crisis

In regional news and commentary this weekend …

Why he stands in opposition to dam removal along the Klamath River: Oregon state representative E. Werner Reschke writes, “I stand in firm opposition to dam removal along the Klamath River. For multiple generations these dams have provided exemplary flood control, and abundance of clean, renewable, reliable and affordable power for the region, in addition to recreational enjoyment.  I understand DEQ is only asking for comment on the JC Boyle Dam which sits within Oregon’s borders, however, the proposal is to remove four dams along the Klamath River.  Discussing removal of one dam outside the scope of the entire project leads to false assumptions and incorrect conclusions about the overall impact to the environment and Oregonians. … ”  Continue reading at the Herald and News here:  Why I stand in opposition to dam removal along the Klamath River

Nevada County: Summertime ups and downs in reservoir management:  “Blazing summertime temperatures are driving fun-loving recreationists to the cooling waters of regional lakes and rivers. Nevada Irrigation District’s nine reservoirs are an especially big draw for folks who boat, swim and fish.  Water levels in these reservoirs are constantly changing this time of year, as NID water managers adjust levels to meet different water needs. While late spring snowmelt helped to fill the reservoirs, water demand is highest during the dry months of summer. Stored water is released to irrigate crops, provide drinking water (after treatment), generate hydroelectric power and support ecosystems with environmental flows in the rivers. … ”  Read more from The Union here:  Summertime ups and downs in reservoir management

Tiny Alameda beach to get funds to restore rare Bay Area sand dunes:  “In the city of Alameda, there’s a beach so small you might miss it. In fact, I did when I first tried to find it. All 2 acres of it.  “It’s a hidden gem but the locals know it very well,” says Joe Sullivan, program manager for the Encinal Dune Restoration and Shoreline Stabilization Project. “It’s a popular fishing spot. And it’s also a really popular beach for non-motorized boats.”  Encinal Beach is on the former naval weapons station at Alameda Point. Sullivan says that, back in the day, the Navy built a structure called a breakwater to protect its base from the bay, and in a happy accident, the breakwater created a small beach. … ”  Read more from KQED here:  Tiny Alameda beach to get funds to restore rare Bay Area sand dunes

Ravenswood salt pond improvements take shape:  “As early as the fall of 2020, Peninsula residents will have a chance to observe a diverse set of wetland species on Bayfront trails lining the Ravenswood salt ponds where a habitat restoration and flood protection effort is set to begin this summer.  Nestled between the Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, trails and open space atop a former landfill at Menlo Park’s Bedwell Bayfront Park and the on-ramp to the Dumbarton Bridge, a cluster of salt evaporation ponds have defined the landscape for years. ... ”  Read more from the Daily Journal here: Ravenswood salt pond improvements take shape

Success Lake enlargement a go:  “After many years of planning and delays over safety concerns about Success Dam, the Success Reservoir Enlargement Project (SREP) is finally going to happen.  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced Thursday that they will fully fund the $74 million project to raise and widen the dam’s spillway, which will increase the lake’s storage from 82,000 to 110,000 acre feet and provide additional flood protection for residents of Porterville and surrounding communities as well as more water storage for irrigation. ... ”  Read more from the Porterville Recorder here:  Success Lake enlargement a go

Army Corps to raise spillway at Lake Success:  “The Army Corps of Engineers will spend $74 million to enlarge Success Lake east of Porterville, doubling flood protection for the city and boosting the water supply for farmers.  House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, whose district includes Porterville, announced the funding Thursday.  It’s not the only Army Corps project in the majority leader’s district that got major funding. Lake Isabella in Kern County is getting $258 million for a dam safety modification project. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Army Corps to raise spillway at Lake Success

Paso’s wells could collapse into the Salinas River.  Here’s how the city is preventing that:  “After two winters of downpours, the resources that supply Paso Robles with two-thirds of its drinking water are on the verge of collapsing into the Salinas River.  The city’s Thunderbird well field — used to extract water that’s percolated under the sandy riverbed — and the equipment used to process Lake Nacimiento water are located on a dangerously eroded riverbank.  … ”  Read more from the San Luis Obispo Tribune here:  Paso’s wells could collapse into the Salinas River.  Here’s how the city is preventing that

Ridgecrest: Wells, metering project subject of water district committees:  “The Indian Wells Valley Water District’s finance and plants and equipment committees on Tuesday discussed costs for some final projects as well as the price tag of an upcoming customer portal project for the district’s Advanced Metering Infrastructure program.  At the plants committee meeting on Tuesday, Water District associate engineer Travis Reed updated committee members and staff on completion of rehabilitation work for its Well 18. The final results came back clean. ... ”  Continue reading at the Ridgecrest Independent here:  Wells, metering project subject of water district committees

Indian Wells Valley Water District board to hear cost of service study:  “A possible overhaul of cost of service will be presented at the Indian Wells Valley Water District board meeting on Monday night.  The presentation, conducted and prepared by Stantec under contract from the water district, will focus on recommended rate structures. Any changes to the rate structure require a Proposition 218 process, which includes public notification and a public hearing, and ultimately approval from property owners within the district.  Proposed changes for the district’s fixed charge structure would include: the current ready-to-serve and arsenic compliance charges; an account charge per account based on administrative costs; and a updated meter equivalency schedule. … ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here:  Indian Wells Valley Water District board to hear cost of service study

Water off Goleta Beach reopened after 6 month closure from bacteria contamination:  “It is now safe to go in the ocean at Goleta Beach.  After a six-month closure due to eleveated levels of bacteria, Santa Barbara County officials reopened the beach late Friday.  The beach is now on a “warning” status. Two consecutive tests for bacterial levels at three sampling sites at the beach have met state standards.  The ocean waters at Goleta Beach have been closed since January due to increased presence of bacteria. ... ”  Read more from Noozhawk here:  Water off Goleta Beach reopened after 6 month closure from bacteria contamination

Los Angeles County Supervisors should rethink stormwater tax, says the Pasadena Star-News:  They write, “The L.A. County Board of Supervisors will vote July 17 on whether to put a new property tax on the ballot to pay for capturing and cleaning up stormwater.  The proposed parcel tax would cost property owners 2.5 cents per square foot of “impermeable” surface. That’s a building, a driveway, a parking lot, a concrete patio and any other surface on the property that fails to allow rainwater to percolate into the ground.  To determine the tax liability of each property owner, the county has already used satellite imagery and sophisticated technology to examine each parcel and calculate the impermeable surface area. ... ”  Read more from the Pasadena Star-News here:  Los Angeles County Supervisors should rethink stormwater tax

Along the Colorado River …

Summit County and Colorado approaching record drought conditions:  “Pray for rain. That’s what Summit Fire & EMS Chief Jeff Berino suggested people do a few weeks ago when the Buffalo Mountain Fire set off. At this point, anything might be worth trying. Drought conditions in Colorado are looking to be the worst since 2002, and Summit County’s relatively healthy snowpack did not last long. The High Country is part of the drought zone with “abnormally dry” conditions.  According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, 80 percent of the state is experiencing some form of drought. The water shortage affects nearly 2.4 million Colorado residents, or 47 percent of the population. ... ”  Read more from Summit Daily here:  Summit County and Colorado approaching record drought conditions

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

no weekends

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