DAILY DIGEST, weekend edition: Department of Interior blasts state water plan; New lawsuit alleges mismanagement of island in the Delta; Unusual California precipitation over last two winters could have been predicted; and more …

In California water news this weekend, A week after visit to New Melones, Department of Interior blasts state water plan; State water plan imperils Chicken Ranch tribe’s plan to use land for agriculture; New lawsuit alleges mismanagement of island in the Delta; When noise becomes signal: Unusual California precipitation over last two winters could have been predicted; With state allocation set, Sites Reservoir officials begin securing more funding; The Hoover Dam changed America – and it might do it again; Endangered Species Act: Trump admin torpedoes Obama-era mitigation goal; and more …

In the news this weekend …

A week after visit to New Melones, Department of Interior blasts state water plan:  “The Department of the Interior late Friday afternoon issued a blistering attack against the state’s proposed water grab, saying it would “cripple the Central Valley’s economy, farms and community.”  The comments came a week after Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke visited Don Pedro and New Melones reservoirs at the request of Congressman Jeff Denham, R-Turlock. ... ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  A week after visit to New Melones, Department of Interior blasts state water plan

State water plan imperils Chicken Ranch tribe’s plan to use land for agriculture:  “Tribal Secretary Linda Mathiesen, 24, looks at the sprawling piece of land across Highway 108 from the tribe’s Chicken Ranch Casino and sees an opportunity to carry on the tradition of agriculture that runs deep in Tuolumne County.  “Ag is one of the largest industries and our society is losing touch with it,” she said while standing on the balcony of the tribal office near the casino. “For me, it runs in my blood.” ... ” Read more from the Union Democrat here:  State water plan imperils Chicken Ranch tribe’s plan to use land for agriculture

New lawsuit alleges mismanagement of island in the Delta:  “The Wetlands Preservation Foundation has filed a lawsuit against the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) for alleged mismanagement of Staten Island, located in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.  “The gross mismanagement of Staten Island by DWR and TNC threatens the long-term viability of the island and poses serious risks that the entire island will be permanently flooded,” said attorney John Keker of Keker, Van Nest & Peters LLP. “This lawsuit is about forcing DWR to take responsibility and immediately start strengthening and extending levees, replacing lost soil, and converting Staten Island to more sustainable farming practices.” ... ”  Read more from the Lodi News-Sentinel here:  New lawsuit alleges mismanagement of island in the Delta

When noise becomes signal: Unusual California precipitation over last two winters could have been predicted:Last spring, Governor Jerry Brown declared an end to California’s historic drought that caused over $5 billion in damage to agriculture as well as substantial impacts to fisheries, infrastructure, human health, and vegetation. The drought was not only severe, but it also spanned the winters of 2015-16 and 2016-17, which had unusual and unexpected precipitation that affected the drought’s evolution.  Despite surrounding ocean conditions that often support reliable seasonal forecasts through long-distance relationships with the atmosphere, predictions made a season ahead of California precipitation during these winters performed poorly. However, a new study by scientists from Columbia University, funded by the NOAA MAPP Program, shows that forecasts issued a month ahead – within the subseasonal timescale and much further ahead than a normal weather forecast – could have accurately predicted the abnormal winter rain. ... ”  Read more from NOAA here:  When noise becomes signal: Unusual California precipitation over last two winters could have been predicted

With state allocation set, Sites Reservoir officials begin securing more funding:  “The Sites Reservoir project will move forward, according to officials, despite being awarded in a recent California Water Commission announcement about half what project backers sought.  They will spend the next few months securing the necessary financing to begin the next phase.  The Commission announced Tuesday that Sites could expect $816 million in state funding. … ”  Read more from the Appeal-Democrat here: With state allocation set, Sites Reservoir officials begin securing more funding

The Hoover Dam changed America – and it might do it again:  “The Hoover Dam is one of the crown jewels of American infrastructure. It was one of the most ambitious projects of the early 20th century, requiring millions of cubic feet of concrete and tens of millions of pounds of steel to build a dam that could provide electricity to 1.3 million people. Millions of people visit the dam every year. It’s even been immortalized in song.  Now there’s a new plan to update the Dam and bring it in line with America’s new energy needs in the 21st century, one that would turn the Hoover Dam into a more efficient energy-producing and energy-storing machine. … ”  Read more from Popular Mechanics here:  The Hoover Dam changed America – and it might do it again

Endangered Species Act: Trump admin torpedoes Obama-era mitigation goal: “The Fish and Wildlife Service today killed an Obama administration environmental mitigation policy that aimed to improve or, at a minimum, maintain the status of affected natural resources when considering permits and projects.  The much-anticipated rollback of the “net conservation gain” goal also includes restoring an overall mitigation policy from the Reagan administration.  Echoing a broader critique of government’s power under the Endangered Species Act to demand environmental offsets from energy developers and others, FWS observed that “at times, the nexus between a proposed undertaking and compensatory mitigation requirements is far from clear.” … ”  Read more from E&E News here:  Endangered Species Act: Trump admin torpedoes Obama-era mitigation goal

In commentary this weekend …

Dan Walters: Big water moves mark Brown’s final months:  “Nearly six decades ago, shortly after becoming governor, Pat Brown persuaded the Legislature and voters to approve one of the nation’s largest public works projects, the State Water Plan.  New reservoirs in Northern California, including the nation’s highest dam at Oroville on the Feather River, would capture runoff from snowfall in the Sierra, and a massive aqueduct would carry water southward to San Joaquin Valley farms and fast-growing Southern California cities.  As a gesture to what was then a nascent environmental movement, the Water Plan included a “peripheral canal” to carry water around the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and thus, it was said, protect its fish and other wildlife. … ”  Read more from Cal Matters here:  Dan Walters: Big water moves mark Brown’s final months

In regional news and commentary this weekend …

Hoopa Valley Tribe, EPA eye former Trinity River mine for Superfund site:  “A 90-year-old defunct copper mine along the Trinity River that has been draining acidic runoff and heavy metals into the Trinity River is now being eyed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a candidate to become a Superfund cleanup site.  EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Mike Stoker visited the Hoopa Valley and met with Hoopa Valley Tribe officials earlier this month, with the Copper Bluff Mine now being considered as one of the agency’s national priorities. Should the mine ultimately make the list, it will become eligible for federal funding for long-term cleanup. … ”  Read more from the Eureka Times-Standard here:  Hoopa Valley Tribe, EPA eye former Trinity River mine for Superfund site

Sacramento Valley: Farm’s centennial a milestone for region:  “For many who’d gathered under a warm midday sun to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of Gorrill Ranch, the July 20 event was also a milestone in the resilience of agriculture in the Sacramento Valley.  About 275 guests enjoyed tours of the Durham, Calif., farm, along with lunch and presentations from local dignitaries to laud the operation’s contributions in the century since founder Ralph Gorrill first planted rice on the roughly 2,400-acre property. … ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press here:  Farm’s centennial a milestone for region

Golden Gate Bridge towers holding up well for eight decades:  “The results from a dizzying spring inspection of the Golden Gate Bridge’s massive twin towers are in and show they are in pretty good shape after 81 years of exposure to wind, rain and of course the seemingly ubiquitous fog.  In late April, workers dangled more than 700 feet above the water atop the bridge to examine the massive steel structures as part of a federally mandated inspection. The high-wire act occurred above the commute, with news helicopters buzzing the span to get a look at the metal mountain climbers. The workers used ropes to make their way up, down and around the north and south towers. … ”  Read more from the Mercury News here:  Golden Gate Bridge towers holding up well for eight decades

Casmalia can’t be cleaned up, says Robert Sulnick:  He writes, “As one of the lawyers who represented residents of the town of Casmalia, California, in their lawsuit against Casmalia Resources, Hunter Resources Inc., Kenneth H. Hunter Jr,, the County of Santa Barbara, and generators of the toxic wastes disposed of at the facility, I believe it is essential to point out that it is misleading to state, as EPA Administrator Pruitt did, that there can be a “final cleanup” of the facility. … ”  Read more from The Independent here: Casmalia can’t be cleaned up

Indian Wells Valley Water District Committee talks Groundwater Authority:  “The IWV Water District water management committee touched on a number of items Thursday afternoon, including the results from the July 19 IWV Groundwater Authority meeting.  Both the committee members and the public voiced concerns about the costs associated with studies being conducted for the required groundwater sustainability plan.  Resident Judie Decker noted how Stetson Engineers and its president Steve Johnson, the company retained as the Groundwater Authority’s water resources manager, presented at a technical advisory committee a study of the infrastructure on how to collect wastewater from septic systems for treatment. … ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here:  Indian Wells Valley Water District Committee talks Groundwater Authority

And lastly …

Teaching About Watershed Using Sweets:  Finally, a science project all kids can get behind …  Check it out from Makezine here:  Teaching About Watershed Using Sweets

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

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