DAILY DIGEST: No real worry that Hetch Hetchy will be drained after Zinke’s visit; House passes funding bill with two CA water amendments offered by Denham; Temperance Flat gets $171M, but may turn it down; Environmental issues weigh heavily for CA voters; and more …

In California water news today, No real worry that Hetch Hetchy will be drained after Zinke’s visit; House passes funding bill with two California water amendments offered by Denham; Controversial bill could exempt California Water Fix from judicial review; Temperance Flat dam gets $171 million, but they may turn it down; Environmental issues weigh heavily for California voters; Senators question proposal to merge National Marine Fisheries Service, Fish and Wildlife Service; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • USGS lecture on Iron Mountain, California: An Extreme Acid Mine Drainage Environment from 7pm to 9pm in Menlo Park.  Charlie Alpers, presenter.  Click here for more information.

In the news today …

No real worry that Hetch Hetchy will be drained after Zinke’s visit:  “U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke appears to be interested in the idea of draining Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in Yosemite National Park after meeting with a group that wants to tear down the century-old O’Shaughnessy Dam.  “Good meeting with Restore Hetch Hetchy,” Zinke tweeted, referring to the Bay Area organization that’s long advocated getting rid of the reservoir and returning Hetch Hetchy Valley to its natural state.  “Taking a fresh look at different opportunities and options to restore public access and recreation to the valley,” Zinke tweeted Sunday. The Department of the Interior did not respond to a request for more details about the secretary’s position. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  No real worry that Hetch Hetchy will be drained after Zinke’s visit

Interior Secretary visits reservoirs hit by flows plan: “Amid a flood of concern regarding a state proposal to divert more water to the ocean, a Cabinet secretary visited two of the affected reservoirs and a Central Valley congressman offered a pair of amendments aimed at the diversions.  U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke visited Don Pedro Lake on the Tuolumne River and New Melones Reservoir on the Stanislaus River Friday, in the company of Reps. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, and Tom McClintock, R-Elk Grove.  “Our goal here today is to show him not only the opportunities we have for more water storage for a growing state, but to also show him the devastation that can happen if you push all of our water out to the ocean,” Denham said. … ”  Read more from Ag Alert here:  Interior Secretary visits reservoirs hit by flows plan

House passes funding bill with two California water amendments offered by Denham:  “The U.S. House of Representatives approved a federal 2019 appropriations bill that includes two amendments championed by U.S. Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA) aiming to prevent a controversial state water plan from moving forward and to store water in his California district’s Central Valley region.  “My amendments put a stop to the state’s disastrous plan to flush water from Valley rivers and ensure federal resources are available to build storage,” said Rep. Denham. … ”  Read more from the Ripon Advance here:  House passes funding bill with two California water amendments offered by Denham

Controversial bill could exempt California Water Fix from judicial review:  “A federal spending bill containing three controversial riders that may impact California water management for decades passed the House of Representatives July 19 and will next face debate in the U.S. Senate.  The Fiscal Year 2019 Interior and Environment Appropriations bill (H.R. 6147), was introduced by Rep. Ken Calvert (CA-42). Calvert, who serves as the Chairman of the Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee, included a rider identified as Section 437 in the bill that would exempt the California WaterFix project from state and federal judicial review. Shortly after the bill’s introduction, Rep. David Valadao (CA-21) added a rider that would extend that exemption to the Central Valley and state water projects. … ”  Read more from The Brentwood Press here:  Controversial bill could exempt California Water Fix from judicial review

Temperance Flat dam gets $171 million.  The project just needs another $2.6 billion:  “The proposed Temperance Flat dam east of Fresno on the upper San Joaquin River has been awarded $171 million by the California Water Commission, which doled out $2.5 million Wednesday for water storage projects around the state.  The amount for Temperance Flat is far less than the $1 billion that proponents had asked for. The cost of building the dam is estimated at $2.83 billion.  But the project is not dead, said Tulare County Supervisor Steve Worthley, president of the San Joaquin Valley Water Infrastructure Authority.  “We’re still moving forward and are not giving up,” he said. ... ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Temperance Flat dam gets $171 million.  The project just needs another $2.6 billion

What to do with $171 million? Temperance Flat Dam backers may turn it down:  “The good news is, a state board officially approved $171 million for Temperance Flat Reservoir.  But, get this: The lead agency for the project isn’t sure if it wants the money.  Have you ever heard of government, or anyone else, turning down $171 million?  It could happen. That’s because project organizers requested $1.3 billion, and need $2.7 billion to build the dam on the San Joaquin River above Millerton Lake. … ”  Read more from GV Wire here:  What to do with $171 million? Temperance Flat Dam backers may turn it down

Environmental issues weigh heavily for California voters:  “Environmental policy appears to be especially important to California voters this year, particularly in the gubernatorial race between Democratic Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom and Republican businessman John Cox.  A survey of likely voters by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) found 87 percent rated the candidates’ environmental positions as either “very” or “somewhat” important to them.  It found 57 percent of likely voters believe global warming poses a very serious threat to California’s economy and quality of life. … ”  Read more from KQED here:  Environmental issues weigh heavily for California voters

Poll shows surprising GOP tilt toward environmental issues in California:  “In a state with a partisan split that’s broad and growing wider, environmental issues provide a surprising bridge between Democrats and Republicans, a new poll by the Public Policy Institute of California indicates.  Proposition 3, an $8.9 billion bond on the November ballot for a range of water projects, has support from 58 percent of California’s likely voters, with 25 percent opposed and 17 percent undecided, the poll indicates. But while 72 percent of Democrats surveyed back the bond measure, what’s striking is that Republicans, despite a well-documented aversion to new spending, also support the spending, 43 percent to 38 percent. ... ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  Poll shows surprising GOP tilt toward environmental issues in California

Senators question proposal to merge National Marine Fisheries Service, Fish and Wildlife Service:  “Members of the U.S. Senate got their first chance to look at the latest attempt to merge NMFS with the Fish and Wildlife Service at a meeting on Thursday, July 19.  Members of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee met to discuss the Trump administration’s plan to revamp agencies within the Department of Interior, which is where the proposed merged agency would be located. Two Democratic committee members spoke out against the proposal during the hearing.  A merger of the two agencies requires approval of the U.S. Congress. … ”  Read more from National Fisherman here:  Senators question proposal to merge National Marine Fisheries Service, Fish and Wildlife Service

In commentary today …

‘Twin tunnels’ plan continues to show colossal arrogance, says Thomas Elias:  He writes, “The way environmental activists in California’s delta region tell it, there is no part of government in this state more arrogant than the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.  The huge MWD, supplier of water to the majority of the state’s populace, is certainly acting the part as it pushes for a project Gov. Jerry Brown is trying to make an irreversible fait accompli before he leaves office (presumably for the last time) at the end of this year.  That’s the so-called “California WaterFix” or twin tunnels project to bring Northern California river water to San Joaquin Valley farms and urban Southern California via gigantic culverts running around and through the delta of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers. ... ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  ‘Twin tunnels’ plan continues to show colossal arrogance

New California water storage?  It’s about time, says the San Diego Union Tribune:  They write, “It has long been plain that California must do a better job of capturing rainfall and melting snow by adding water storage. Yet for decades, governors, lawmakers and bureaucrats have struggled to agree on funding for new or expanded dams or reservoirs — even as the state’s population has grown amid droughts from 25 million in 1982 to 40 million now. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: New California water storage?  It’s about time

Bay Area greatly benefits from new state water funding, says the Mercury News and the East Bay Times:  “Bay Area residents are finally getting the funding they sought for additional water storage when they helped pass Proposition 1 in 2014.  What a relief.  State officials on Tuesday approved spending $2.5 billion of Prop. 1 money to help fund construction of four new dams and four underground storage projects. That includes $459 million for the Contra Costa Water District to raise the height of the Los Vaqueros dam in the East Bay by 55 feet, and $485 million for the Santa Clara Valley Water District to build a new, 319-foot-tall dam at Pacheco Pass. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  Bay Area greatly benefits from new state water funding

Why California’s new Wild and Scenic River is a big deal:  Steve Evans writes, “The Mokelumne River became California’s newest Wild and Scenic River when Governor Jerry Brown signed the natural resources budget bill in the last week of June. Protection of 37 miles of this magnificent river in the Sierra Nevada foothills – from Salt Springs Dam to a point just upstream of Highway 49 – became a reality after decades of advocacy by Friends of the River, Foothill Conservancy and other conservation groups.  The unusual legislative vehicle used to protect the river – the natural resources budget trailer bill – became possible after political obstacles were overcome and a rare consensus among conservation groups, water agencies and the California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA) was forged. … ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  Why California’s new Wild and Scenic River is a big deal

Changing the Endangered Species Act could actually help conservation, says Tate Watkins:  He writes, “When the Endangered Species Act passed in the Senate 45 years ago this month, not one member voted against it. As University of California at Berkeley law professor Holly Doremus has chronicled, the bill’s 1973 passage “went almost unnoticed by the national press” and was seen as a unanimous win for conservation.  Today the act is a perpetual source of conflict among landowners, environmentalists, states and the federal government. That could begin to change with a proposal to “improve and modernize” the law unveiled last week by the Department of the Interior. The changes, which would alter the way the Fish and Wildlife Service lists certain species and designates critical habitat, could help accord win out over acrimony in disputes over imperiled species. ... ”  Read more in the Washington Post here:  Changing the Endangered Species Act could actually help conservation

In regional news and commentary today …

No more slurping through plastic straws in San Francisco:  “Soon to be heard in San Francisco: the last slurp through a plastic straw. That’s because the city’s about to make them illegal.  The Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance Tuesday that will prohibit the city’s restaurants, bars and retailers from providing customers with plastic items — such as straws, stirrers or toothpicks — beginning July 1, 2019. If the ordinance passes the board on the second reading next week, it will then be presented to Mayor London Breed. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  No more slurping through plastic straws in San Francisco

Senator hosts public meeting on status of South San Francisco Bay Shoreline Project:  “Following up on the Jan. 11 introduction of SB 881, State Sen. Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) hosted an outdoor meeting Tuesday, July 24 at the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge Environmental Education Center in San Jose.  According to a press release, the South San Francisco Bay Shoreline Project “incorporates a multi-benefit approach to flood protection by combining environmental restoration of wetlands and traditional levee construction to protect properties in the South San Francisco Bay. The project would provide flood protection to areas in Palo Alto, Mountain View, Sunnyvale, San José, and the community of Alviso from the risk of high tides and rising seas.” … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here: Senator hosts public meeting on status of South San Francisco Bay Shoreline Project

Carmel Lagoon project will move forward with smaller Scenic Road sea wall option:  “Monterey County will move ahead with the Carmel River Lagoon project’s environmental review while focusing on a smaller, less-expensive Scenic Road sea wall and a potential land swap with California State Parks.  During its last meeting before the five-week summer break on Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors agreed by a 4-1 vote to proceed with completing an environmental impact report for the lagoon project, including additional technical studies. It was also made clear its preferred alternative includes a mid-slope Scenic Road protective barrier aimed at protecting private property and public infrastructure from erosion due to lagoon activity. … ”  Read more from the Monterey Herald here:  Carmel Lagoon project will move forward with smaller Scenic Road sea wall option

And lastly …

Can a river play a violin?  It can with this researcher’s help:  “Stand near a river and you’ll hear a symphony of sounds: birds chirping, frogs croaking and water flowing. But what would it sound like if the stream itself could be transformed into classical music?  David Merritt, a Colorado-based researcher and musician, is helping answer that question by turning river data into music to hear how we’ve changed rivers throughout the West. … ”  Read more from KUNC here:  Can a river play a violin?  It can with this researcher’s help

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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