DAILY DIGEST: Thirsty vineyard, Big Ag test landmark aquifer law; Sinking Central Valley floor is wrecking a key irrigation canal; Rising seas could cause problems for internet infrastructure; What Gavin Newsom said – and didn’t say – during his visit Monday in Modesto; and more …

In California water news today, Thirsty vineyard, Big Ag test landmark aquifer law; Sinking Central Valley floor is wrecking a key canal supplying Fresno, farmers with water; Massive tree die-off brings unprecedented danger as wildfire burns near Yosemite; Bay Area Council Seeks to Raise a Statewide California Resilience Challenge Fund; Rising seas could cause problems for internet infrastructure; Kavanaugh in line to decide ‘sleeper case’ that could reign in EPA, other agencies; What Gavin Newsom said – and didn’t say – during his visit Monday in Modesto; and more …

In the news today …

Thirsty vineyard, Big Ag test landmark aquifer law:  “When Roberta Jaffe and her husband planted their small vineyard, one factor trumped all others: groundwater.  Knowing that this isolated valley in south-central California relies on a depleted aquifer, the couple “dry farmed” their Condor’s Hope Ranch, using 5 percent or less of the water required by a conventional vineyard.  “For us, it is very much about farming in a way that is harmonious with the environment,” Jaffe said. “This is what we see as what this environment can handle.”  So Jaffe was alarmed when Harvard University’s endowment fund installed an 850-acre conventional vineyard just down the road in 2014 — and drilled 14 wells. ... ”  Read more from E&E News here:  Thirsty vineyard, Big Ag test landmark aquifer law

Sinking Central Valley floor is wrecking a key canal supplying Fresno, farmers with water: “Central California is slowly collapsing under its own weight as farmers suck out groundwater, emptying vast subterranean aquifers and disrupting one of the state’s key water-delivery networks.  The subsidence of the San Joaquin Valley is nothing new; it’s been happening since at least the 1920s. But during the recent five-year statewide drought, it accelerated at a record pace, taking infrastructure like bridges and roads down with it. ... ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  Sinking Central Valley floor is wrecking a key canal supplying Fresno, farmers with water

Massive tree die-off brings unprecedented danger as wildfire burns near Yosemite:  “The Ferguson fire burning through Mariposa County has already charred nearly 10,000 acres and killed a firefighter working the front lines.  But its true destructiveness might lie ahead as it burns a path through a tinderbox already primed for disaster.  On either side of the Merced River, hillsides are filled with trees that have been killed by five years of drought and a bark beetle infestation, according to state maps. The ground is carpeted with bone-dry pine needles, which are highly combustible. These conditions, combined with dry, hot weather, have officials fearful that the fire could grow far worse as it burns near Yosemite National Park. ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Massive tree die-off brings unprecedented danger as wildfire burns near Yosemite

Bay Area Council Seeks to Raise a Statewide California Resilience Challenge Fund: “Last month, the Bay Area Council unveiled the California Resilience Challenge. The Council, led by Jim Wunderman, began its efforts to address the climate threats of sea level rise by spearheading the Bay Area multi-county Measure AA parcel tax in 2016 to fund San Francisco Bay resilience projects. As Wunderman and Bay Area Council Vice President Adrian Covert explain in TPR, the new California Resilience Challenge builds off of Rockefeller Foundation’s Resilient By Design initiative. The Challenge seeks to raise a statewide fund, from which communities can apply for climate adaptation grants to fund wildfire reduction, forest management, flood protection, and extreme urban heat island projects. … ”  Read the article at The Planning Report here:  Bay Area Council Seeks to Raise a Statewide California Resilience Challenge Fund

Rising seas could cause problems for internet infrastructure:  “The dense network of cables that make up the Internet is likely to be inundated with saltwater as sea levels rise, a new analysis suggests, putting thousands of miles of critical infrastructure along U.S. coastlines underwater in the next 15 years.  “It is actually the wires and the hardware that make the Internet run,” explains Ramakrishnan Durairajan, a computer scientist at the University of Oregon and an author of the research. The analysis estimates under the most severe model for sea level rise that more than 4,000 miles of fiber optic cable along U.S. coastlines will be underwater by the early 2030s. ... ”  Read more from PBS here:  Rising seas could cause problems for internet infrastructure

How drawbridge is drowning, and what it means for our future:  “A century ago, the island town of Drawbridge held 90 homes, hotels and cabins, with hunting so bountiful that dead ducks served as currency at its gambling tables.  Now — in a rare act of reverse colonization — civilization is ceding to the elements in this windswept marsh, located near Alviso at the southern end of San Francisco Bay. Rising tides flood a dozen or so surviving skeletal structures. Owls nest inside battered roofs. Mud entombs a once-tidy network of boardwalks. Every step is as soft as a sponge, with pickle weed looping around ankles like booby traps.  Unlike ghost towns of Bodie, Calico or Virginia City, there’s no rescue for Drawbridge.  … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  How drawbridge is drowning, and what it means for our future

Why 96 million plastic ‘shade balls’ dumped into the LA Reservoir may not save water: “In 2015, the world watched as a video of 96 million “shade balls” getting dumped into the Los Angeles Reservoir went viral. The purpose of the balls: to improve water quality and save water.  But a new study raises an interesting question: Could saving water in the Los Angeles Reservoir come at the cost of consuming water in other parts of world?  At the time, Californians faced a record-setting drought, and conserving water was on everyone’s minds. Mandatory water restrictions led to brown lawns and shorter showers. ... ”  Read more from PBS News Hour here:  Why 96 million plastic ‘shade balls’ dumped into the LA Reservoir may not save water

Kavanaugh in line to decide ‘sleeper case’ that could reign in EPA, other agencies:  “Conservative groups and jurists, including U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, have long advocated restricting the latitude of the Environmental Protection Agency and other federal agencies to set rules and regulations, beyond what Congress has specifically authorized.  They may have that chance this fall. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear an obscure case, Gundy v. United States, with implications for the federal bureaucracy, including agencies that set rules for pollution, wildlife protection and food safety. ... ”  Read more from McClatchy DC here:  Kavanaugh in line to decide ‘sleeper case’ that could reign in EPA, other agencies

In commentary today …

What Gavin Newsom said – and didn’t say – during his visit Monday in Modesto:  The Modesto Bee writes, “Gavin Newsom came to Modesto on Monday night to shake hands and meet important people.  Most, if not all, of them wanted to know one thing: Newsom’s position on water. Specifically, the water flowing down the Tuolumne, Stanislaus and Merced rivers. Our water.  As a Democrat running against a little-known Republican to replace Jerry Brown, Newsom is destined to be California’s next governor. Of the problems Brown is handing off to his replacement, none is more delicate or difficult than water. … ”  Continue reading at the Modesto Bee here:  What Gavin Newsom said – and didn’t say – during his visit Monday in Modesto

Twin tunnels: Repeat of Owens Valley, says Dennis Wyatt:  He writes, “Above June Lake beneath the steep peaks of the Eastern Sierra that some liken to America’s Switzerland due to the handiwork of glaciers there is water seemingly everywhere.  Hike beyond Carson Peak and you are in the headwaters of the Owens River.  Connect with the Pacific Crest Trail and head to the southwest and you’re hiking in the headwaters of the Middle Fork of the San Joaquin River. … ”  Read more from the Manteca Bulletin here:  Twin tunnels: Repeat of Owens Valley

10 signs of water progress:  Sean Bothwell writes, “The extreme weather swings California has experienced recently, from a historic drought to record-breaking rain and snow, may become increasingly commonplace. A study from the University of California, Los Angeles, suggests we will see more of this weather “whiplash” in the years to come.  Fortunately, California has been busy preparing for an uncertain future. That means making the most of every drop of rain or snow that falls, stretching our supplies through increased efficiency, capturing rainwater and recycling water rather than dumping it. Below are 10 examples of water progress that suggest California is well on its way to water resilience. … ”  Continue reading at Water Deeply here:  10 signs of water progress

To ensure a water-filled future we all need to start planning for a rainy day – literally:  Gregory Rachal writes, “… As a native Angeleno, I’ve watched us whipsaw from drought to flood to drought my entire life. Big winter storms in 2017 ended six years of statewide drought, busting dams, knocking out power, costing five lives in Southern California alone. A year later, our region is already heading back to drought.  Here’s our challenge: We must use our wet years to ensure we have enough clean water when the dry ones come. We have to use – and reuse – every drop of water that nature gives us. With climate change worsening, we’ve got to stop importing 80 percent of our water. It’s just not smart. … ”  Read more from the Daily Breeze here:  To ensure a water-filled future we all need to start planning for a rainy day – literally

We must take action on the nation’s coming water supply crisis, say Congressman Most Americans take water for granted. It’s a resource that people assume will always be accessible, available, and consumable. For most people in this country, whether they’re at a public drinking fountain, a restaurant or at home, water is a commodity considered to be at our constant beck and call – but for how much longer?  America’s water supply is in crisis and, if we don’t act now, we face an imperiled future. … ”  Read more from The Hill here:  We must take action on the nation’s coming water supply crisis

In regional news and commentary today …

Finding a balance for the Klamath Basin’s water is key, says the Herald & News:  “Next week could prove to be a watershed moment for the Basin as a federal court judge in San Francisco is due to hear arguments for and against releasing water from Upper Klamath Lake to protect endangered suckerfish in the lake.  The Klamath Tribes filed for injunctive relief May 23 against the Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service, calling on defendants to take “immediate, emergency measures” to provide enough water for suckerfish to survive in the lake. The Tribes argue insufficient water in the lake could lead to extinction for the fish. ... ”  Read more from the Herald & News here:  Finding a balance for the Klamath Basin’s water is key

Growing pike minnows in Eel River endangering native fish population:  “This summer’s statistics from the Eel River Recovery Project (ERRP) shows that pikeminnow have been continuously growing and are endangering fish throughout the river.  After support this year from the University of California, Berkley, four students joined seasoned volunteers and fisheries professionals to count the non-native Sacramento pikeminnow in the South Fork Eel River. … ”  Read more from KRCR-TV here:  Growing pike minnows in Eel River endangering native fish population

California State Parks offers new plans for Upper Truckee River restoration:  “After a November court ruling resulted in California State Parks compromising restoration plans for the Upper Truckee River at Washoe Meadows State Park and Lake Valley State Recreation Area, the department has developed a new alternative and is seeking public comment until the end of this month.  The new plan for the Upper Truckee River Restoration and Golf Course Reconfiguration Project, Alternative 2B, is now the preferred method of action. It would relocate five of the holes of Lake Tahoe Golf Course while restoring the river. The other option on the table, Alternative 1, would require no action but treatments to the river as needed. ... ”  Read more from the Tahoe Daily Tribune here:  California State Parks offers new plans for Upper Truckee River restoration

Del Valle reservoir, park in Livermore to get $5 million overhaul:  “One of the most popular East Bay parks that’s also a state park is about to get a $5 million makeover.  Del Valle reservoir in Livermore is spectacular. It is a five mile long lazy expanse of emerald water lined by golden hillsides dotted with California oak trees. There are boats and beaches and trails. On a typical weekend day 10,000 people jam in. … ” Read more from ABC 7 here:  Del Valle reservoir, park in Livermore to get $5 million overhaul

Lake Perris is 79% full and rebuilding its reputation as a fishing haven:  “Not long before the state drained much of Lake Perris to ease worries that its dam would collapse in an earthquake and flood homes downstream, Kerry Krueger pulled a 9-pound, 7-ounce, largemouth bass out of the reservoir near Moreno Valley and Perris.  Then the San Bernardino man, who loves to fish the largest Inland lakes, stayed away for several years.  “It was down for a very long time,” said Krueger, former president of the Inland Saltwater Anglers Club. “We were beginning to wonder whether they were ever going to fill it up again and whether we were ever going to be able to fish it again.” ... ”  Read more from the Riverside Press-Enterprise here:  Lake Perris is 79% full and rebuilding its reputation as a fishing haven

Coachella school hasn’t paid its sewer bill since 1974; city says, ‘give us $74,000 and we’ll call it even’:  “Coachella Valley Unified School District will pay the City of Coachella $74,000 for outstanding sewer fees that have been unpaid since 1974. The agreed upon charge, however, is much lower than it could be.  CVUSD’s board unanimously approved the payment during Thursday’s meeting. Although the city discovered that the school had not been paying for sewer services for more than 40 years, the district will be charged for the period between 2011 and 2017 following negotiations with the city. … ”  Read more from the Desert Sun here:  Coachella school hasn’t paid its sewer bill since 1974; city says, ‘give us $74,000 and we’ll call it even’

City of San Diego launches internal investigation into Water Department management:  ““I’m going to personally apologize for anything that’s been conveyed to the taxpayers of the city that has given the impression that there’s an issue of credibility and trust with the city and or the Public Utilities Department,” Johnnie Perkins said Monday, hours into his first day of work as the city’s Deputy Chief Operating Officer of Infrastructure and Public Works.  Perkins was responding to questions surrounding the findings of a joint NBC 7 Responds and Voice of San Diego investigation released last week, showing the city did not take action when informed of a glitch with one of its new smart water meter vendors.  … ” Read more from KNSD here:  City of San Diego launches internal investigation into Water Department management

And lastly …

Incredible video shows ‘firenado’ becoming water spout along the Colorado River:  Watch video from KCRA Channel 3 here:  Firenado video  (Firenado water spout starts at about 1:05)

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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