DAILY DIGEST: The Valley floor is sinking, affecting ability to deliver water; Regulators turn to coalition for solutions to salt and nitrates in Valley groundwater; Bills proposed to amend ESA; House Democrats want to keep Interior official from working with former clients; and more …

In California water news today, The Valley floor is sinking, and it’s crippling California’s ability to deliver water; Vexed by Salt And Nitrates In Central Valley Groundwater, Regulators Turn To Unusual Coalition For Solutions; How communities are turning stormwater from a liability to an asset; Radio show: Storm brewing over the future of Mono Lake and LA’s diversions; Western lawmakers introduce bills to amend Endangered Species Act; House Democrats want to keep Interior official from working with former clients; Trump just remade ocean policy – here’s what it means; and more …

In the news today …

The Valley floor is sinking, and it’s crippling California’s ability to deliver water:  “Completed during Harry Truman’s presidency, the Friant-Kern Canal has been a workhorse in California’s elaborate man-made water-delivery network. It’s a low-tech concrete marvel that operates purely on gravity, capable of efficiently piping billions of gallons of water to cities and farms on a 152-mile journey along the east side of the fertile San Joaquin Valley.  Until now.  The Friant-Kern has been crippled by a phenomenon known as subsidence. The canal is sinking as the Valley floor beneath it slowly caves in, brought down by years of groundwater extraction by the region’s farmers. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  The Valley floor is sinking, and it’s crippling California’s ability to deliver water

Vexed by Salt And Nitrates In Central Valley Groundwater, Regulators Turn To Unusual Coalition For Solutions: “More than a decade in the making, an ambitious plan to deal with the vexing problem of salt and nitrates in the soils that seep into key groundwater basins of the Central Valley is moving toward implementation, but its authors are not who you might expect. An unusual collaboration of agricultural interests, cities, water agencies and environmental justice advocates collaborated for years to find common ground to address a set of problems that have rendered family wells undrinkable and some soil virtually unusable for farming. Yet for some, concerns remain about whether it goes far enough, or can meet its goals.”  Read the article at Western Water here:  Vexed by Salt And Nitrates In Central Valley Groundwater, Regulators Turn To Unusual Coalition For Solutions

How communities are turning stormwater from a liability to an asset:  “Stormwater used to be viewed as a liability – it was shuttled into storm drains as fast as possible to prevent flooding – and then dumped into the ocean, rivers or streams. But increasingly, stormwater is now being viewed as an asset – a way to help augment water supplies and adapt to a changing climate.  A new report on stormwater capture issued by the Pacific Institute – the Oakland, California-based water think tank – looks at regulatory and funding challenges as well as creative solutions and collaborations. … ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  How communities are turning stormwater from a liability to an asset

Radio show:  Storm brewing over the future of Mono Lake and LA’s diversions: Mono Lake is one of the jewels of the Eastern Sierra. Its saline waters have created a unique ecosystem, providing habitat for everything from brine shrimp to migratory birds. But for years Mono Lake has had a problem – water diversions made by the City of Los Angeles. They reduced the level of the lake, harming both the ecosystem and creating massive dust clouds. In the mid-1990’s a deal was reached that both the LA Department of Water and Power and conservationists hoped would save the lake, and increase water levels by reducing the diversions. But now climate change is posing a threat to that plan, and it could set off a big conflict over the future of the late. A new report by journalist Louis Sahagun in the Los Angeles Times details the looming fight. He joined us on Valley Edition to talk more about what both sides are saying about the lake’s future in a changing climate.”  Listen to the radio show from Valley Public Radio by clicking here.

Revote on Water Fix confirms funding for double tunnel solution:  “The board of directors of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California has voted to provide the additional $10.6bn financing needed for the full two tunnel construction of the California WaterFix project to modernize the state’s badly out-dated and increasingly vulnerable water delivery system.  The extra funding confirms the build of the 60kms of large diameter tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and makes Metropolitan the primary investor in the project, which has a total estimated cost of $16.7bn. … ”  Read more from the Tunneling Journal here:  Revote on Water Fix confirms funding for double tunnel solution

Lawmakers set sights on changes to Endangered Species Act:  “Federal lawmakers are making a move to change the Endangered Species Act. On Thursday, members of the U.S. House announced legislation they say will “modernize” one of the country’s seminal environmental laws, originally passed in 1973.  Members of the House Western Caucus say the nine pieces of legislation are designed to streamline the administration of the Endangered Species Act, provide more local control and protect property rights. … ”  Read more from OPB here:  Lawmakers set sights on changes to Endangered Species Act

Western lawmakers introduce bills to amend Endangered Species Act:  “A group of House lawmakers introduced a package of bills on Thursday to overhaul the federal government’s process for protecting imperiled plant and animal species.  The ambitious legislative package would accomplish numerous longstanding Republican goals for amending the Endangered Species Act (ESA), like making it easier for the government to remove species from the endangered or threatened lists and preventing organizations from suing to try to get species protected. … ”  Read more from The Hill here:  Western lawmakers introduce bills to amend Endangered Species Act

House Democrats want to keep Interior official from working with former clients:  “House Democrats are raising concerns that expanding the Interior Department’s ability to transfer water infrastructure would create new conflicts of interest.  Rep. Jared Huffman, a California Democrat, proposed an amendment on Thursday to the Reclamation Title Transfer Act that would bar the government from transferring dams, canals and other water management infrastructure to Deputy Secretary David Bernhardt’s former clients.  “The Secretary and Deputy Secretary can’t give away the public’s infrastructure to those who recently signed their lobbying paychecks,” Huffman said. … ”  Read more from CNN here:  House Democrats want to keep Interior official from working with former clients

Trump just remade ocean policy – here’s what it means:  “The spill began with a bang. On August 20, 2010 a jet of natural gas surged to the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform. Fumes filled the air, signaling something was amiss—and then the rig exploded in a smoky blaze, killing eleven people on board. In the three months that followed, an estimated 134 million gallons of oil gushed into the gulf, devastating marine life—from tiny microorganisms to sea birds and dolphins.  “We’re still feeling the effects today,” says Andrew Rosenberg, director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists. ... ”  Read more from National Geographic here:  Trump just remade ocean policy – here’s what it means

In commentary today …

‘So what’ attitude at root of water wars, says the Chico Enterprise-Record:  They write, “A sequence of events over that last week may explain why California is endlessly locked in water wars.  Last Friday, the State Water Resources Control Board released a final plan for the San Joaquin River and the framework for an upcoming plan on the Sacramento River, which will require less water be diverted from those waterways and their tributaries.  Four days later, the Metropolitan Water District in Southern California voted to spend $11 billion — the bulk of the $17 billion cost — to put two tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. … ”  Read more the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  ‘So what’ attitude at root of water wars

California’s Next Governor Must Address Long-Ignored Water-Quality Issues, say Robert Wilkinson, Kira Redmond, and Das Williams:  They write, “Over the course of 10 infamous days in January 1969, more than 80,000 barrels of crude oil gushed into the Santa Barbara Channel. The pollution fouled beaches from Goleta to Ventura and decimated marine life, killing animals as large as dolphins and sea lions.  The spill and other events that year like the Cuyahoga River catching on fire (again) triggered a wave of public outrage that rolled all the way to Washington, D.C., where it swept a number of pioneering environmental laws through Congress — laws that became the foundation of the environmental movement. California, and Santa Barbara in particular, has been at the leading edge of this movement from the beginning. … ”  Continue reading at the Independent here:  California’s Next Governor Must Address Long-Ignored Water-Quality Issues

Three Californias proposition should be removed from the ballot, says the San Jose Mercury News:  They write, “Raise your hand if you’ve heard of the Pico Act of 1859. The Dolwig Proposal of 1965? How about the Statham Proposal of 1992?  Didn’t think so. They are three of the 220 efforts to split California into smaller states, change its boundaries or secede and become a separate nation. None of them went anywhere, and neither will Bay Area venture capitalist Tim Draper’s latest undertaking. It’s a waste of money and voter time.  The California Supreme Court can do voters a favor by ruling in favor of the lawsuit seeking to remove the proposition from the November ballot. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  Three Californias proposition should be removed from the ballot

In regional news and commentary today …

Oroville a leader in water savings:  “Oroville continues to be one of the state’s leaders in water conservation, more than doubling the statewide average in May.  But it had local company, as Paradise and the Del Oro Water Co. also saved at twice the rate of the the state.  The State Water Resources Control Board released water saving numbers earlier this week, and reported statewide savings of 20.2 percent in May, compared to May 2013, the benchmark year for before the drought. … ”  Read more from the Oroville Mercury-Register here:  Oroville a leader in water savings

Eel River salmon, steelhead habitat to be restored after being blocked by railroad for 104 years: “The early 20th century wrought significant damage and changes to the Eel River and its fish populations through zealous overfishing and blockage of key tributaries by railroads and dams, which limited salmon and steelhead’s ability to recover.  But projects are now underway to restore these tributaries to their previous state with the hope of simultaneously restoring the once bountiful runs in state’s third largest river basin. … ”  Read more from the Eureka Times-Standard here:  Eel River salmon, steelhead habitat to be restored after being blocked by railroad for 104 years

Tahoe Basin receives $3.2 million from Prop 68 for restoration:  “Last month Proposition 68 was approved by 56 percent of California voters, authorizing the state to borrow $4.1 billion for investments in water conservation projects, land conservation and outdoor recreation.  With more than 60 percent of California’s water supply flowing from the Sierra Nevada, the California Tahoe Conservancy, which heads conservation and restoration projects in the Tahoe Basin, will now receive $27 million under Prop 68. … ”  Read more from the Sierra Sun here:  Tahoe Basin receives $3.2 million from Prop 68 for restoration

Lathrop continues efforts to protect city from flooding:  “The City of Lathrop will be able to continue issuing permits for the Mossdale Tract area for at least another year.  On Monday, the Lathrop City Council approved the “finding of adequate progress” for the 200-year urban level of flood protection for the area within the Reclamation District 17 basin while efforts continue to overhaul the levee that protects Lathrop to meet the new California standard. … ”  Read more from the Manteca Bulletin here:  Lathrop continues efforts to protect city from flooding

Severe river erosion creates concern for Paso Robles wells:  “The Salinas River is facing severe erosion, which negatively affects the security of the Paso Robles Thunderbird well field, which houses five wells. The erosion is largely due in part of two years of heavy rains following five years of intense drought.  The rate of erosion is unprecedented, according to reports. The Thunderbird well field is where the processing of water from Lake Nacimiento and under the riverbed to potable water happens; it annually supplies two-thirds of the city’s water, which is about 1.5 billion gallons, with the remaining amount coming from deep water wells, according to reports. ... ”  Read more from the Paso Robles Daily News here:  Severe river erosion creates concern for Paso Robles wells

Ridgecrest: Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority fields questions in 2nd townhall meeting:  ” … The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority team faced a group of hundreds as people filled most of the seats at the Kerr McGee Center’s main banquet room. The Groundwater Authority’s legal team — IWV Water District counsel Jim Worth, Ridgecrest city attorney Keith Lemieux, and water resources manager Steve Johnson — fielded questions from a long line of residents after providing background on a planned pumping fee. … ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here:  Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority fields questions in 2nd townhall meeting

Four Ventura County dams cited as deficient in grand jury report:  “The Ventura County Grand Jury is calling for tightened oversight of area dams and community education on how to respond to a dam failure after investigating the safety of the critical structures.   The civilian panel examined the condition of more than 20 dams in and adjoining Ventura County and found that 14 could cause significant loss of life and property if they failed.  Four were identified with existing or potential deficiencies by the California Division of Safety of Dams in a review of close to 100 dams that was spawned by the failure of the Oroville Dam spillway last year, jurors said.  … ”  Read more from the Ventura County Star here:  Four Ventura County dams cited as deficient in grand jury report

San Diego program offering money to remove lawns is back, with changes:  “This week the San Diego County Water Authority launched it’s popular landscape transformation program. In partnership with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, the program gives people a rebate to remove their lawns.  Residents can get up to $2.75 per square foot of grass they replace with sustainable landscaping. The offer is good for lawns up to 1,500 square feet. … ”  Read more from KPBS here:  San Diego program offering money to remove lawns is back, with changes

Along the Colorado River …

As Arizona’s drought persists, Phoenix’s water use continues to drop:  “As harsh drought persists in Arizona and the Southwest, water managers have their eyes on the Colorado River, making the most of its resources as dry conditions worsen and securing a region-wide Colorado River drought plan after agency gridlock made headlines.  But even as a historically dry winter and low snowpack numbers set reservoir levels back, officials say it isn’t all bad news.  Salt River Project announced in June that water use among its users has decreased by one-third since 1980, even though the state’s population has doubled since then. … ”  Read more from the Arizona Sun here:  As Arizona’s drought persists, Phoenix’s water use continues to drop

Water managers meet to plan for low Colorado River flow:  “Water officials in Arizona came together this week to discuss what to do if less Colorado River water is available because of drought.  The public asked who will be most affected under the new plan and whether water managers can finally come together to hammer out the details.  Central Arizona Project General Manager Ted Cooke says partnerships will be crucial to finally getting a drought contingency plan (DCP) approved. ... ”  Read more from Arizona Public Media here:  Water managers meet to plan for low Colorado River flow

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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