DAILY DIGEST: Trump’s tweet becomes policy after firefighters rebuffed it; ‘Crucial milestone’ met at Oroville Dam with structural concrete placement; Water regulators help target black market marijuana farmers; Seaside mansion or public beach: Which will the Coastal Commission save?; and more …

In California water news today, Trump’s tweet becomes policy after firefighters rebuffed it; Zinke blames ‘radical environmentalists’ for wildfires; ‘Crucial milestone’ met at Oroville Dam with structural concrete placement; California water regulators help target black market marijuana farmers; Seaside mansion or public beach: Which will the Coastal Commission save?; Photographer has chronicled California’s Wild and Scenic Rivers for 40 years. He’s worried; Making water last; Improved Oxidation is Water Wizardry Against Drought; and more …

In the news today …

Trump’s tweet becomes policy after firefighters rebuffed it:  “President Trump’s tweets have become federal wildfire policy.  The Commerce Department yesterday said it’s following Trump’s directions to bend environmental protections so more water can go to wildfire suppression, even though firefighters say they have more than they need.  Some experts and advocates said the directive to temporarily bypass the Endangered Species Act is political theater. It’s unlikely to help douse the historic fires in California, and it probably won’t threaten vulnerable species, either. But it could lend weight to Trump’s version of events.  “It’s been a very tough situation taking place in California for a number of years,” Trump said yesterday, before the directive was announced. “And we’re going to have to have some meetings about it, because there are reasons and there are things you can do to mitigate what’s happening.” … ”  Read more from E&E News here: Trump’s tweet becomes policy after firefighters rebuffed it

Trump’s inaccurate tweet on California wildfires now appears to be actual policy:  “The Trump Administration appears to be bringing President Trump’s recent tweets about California’s wildfires and environmental laws to life.  U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross has directed fisheries officials to “facilitate” access to water in order to aid in firefighting efforts in California.  “The protection of life and property takes precedence over any current agreements regarding the use of water,” he said in a written statement.  The “current agreements” are likely about the protection of endangered salmon, which are overseen by the National Marine Fisheries Service in California. … ”  Read more from KQED here: Trump’s inaccurate tweet on California wildfires now appears to be actual policy

Zinke blames ‘radical environmentalists’ for wildfires:  “Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is partially blaming “radical environmentalists” for the dozens of wildfires burning in California and elsewhere in the West.  In a USA Today opinion piece published Wednesday, Zinke said “active forest management” — including logging, prescribed burns and clearing brush — is the way to minimize wildfires on federal land.  But green groups sue the federal government to stop such management practices, Zinke charged, exacerbating the problem. … ”  Read more from The Hill here:  Zinke blames ‘radical environmentalists’ for wildfires

‘Crucial milestone’ met at Oroville Dam with structural concrete placement:  “Crews have begun to place the final layer of concrete this week on the upper portion of the Oroville Dam spillway chute.  This marks a “crucial milestone,” said Tony Meyers, project manager for the recovery project for the state Department of Water Resources, in a moderated media call on Wednesday.  The top layer of the spillway consists of structural concrete slabs, which are designed to be erosion-resistant. The first two structural concrete slabs were placed Monday on the upper chute. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  ‘Crucial milestone’ met at Oroville Dam with structural concrete placement

California water regulators help target black market marijuana farmers:  “After Riverside County deputies raided an unlicensed cannabis farm in the small, unincorporated community of Aguanga, they found nearly 3,000 plants growing scattered between the brush.  The tip that led Sgt. Tyson Voss and his team to that illicit farm last month came from a source you might not expect: the Cannabis Enforcement Unit of the California State Water Resources Control Board.  The state water agency created a pilot cannabis team four years ago to investigate marijuana growers in Northern California who divert or pollute waterways in their effort to profit via cannabis. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here: California water regulators help target black market marijuana farmers

Seaside mansion or public beach: Which will the Coastal Commission save? On a stretch of Laguna Beach where waves slam right onto white sand, a wall of steel and concrete interrupts the shoreline.  The sea wall exists to protect one beachfront home. Without it, the homeowners say, millions of dollars could be lost to the rising sea.  But the structure also inhibits the natural sand flow, according to coastal officials. So long as the wall remains, sand will continue to disappear in front of the home, washing away a section of what is known as Victoria Beach.  As more homeowners try to fight sea-level rise, California must pick a side: Protect private property or the public interest? Save a mansion or a beach for the people? … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Seaside mansion or public beach: Which will the Coastal Commission save? 

Photographer has chronicled California’s Wild and Scenic Rivers for 40 years.  He’s worried:  “Spot quiz: Of the dozens of rivers that flow through California, how many are completely undammed?  Answer: Just one. (Read on to find out which.)  But that number would likely be zero, were it not for a law passed by Congress 50 years ago: the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.  For Tim Palmer, a naturalist, photographer, and author of 26 books, including “California Rivers” and “Wild and Scenic: An American Legacy,” the date is etched into his consciousness as firmly as his own birthday. For nearly 40 years, Palmer has chronicled and photographed America’s rivers, with an eye to their role in nature and society. And frankly, he’s a little worried. … ”  Read more from KQED here:  Photographer has chronicled California’s Wild and Scenic Rivers for 40 years.  He’s worried

Making water last:  “Scientists convened in downtown Sacramento last week to discuss technological advances that might help California achieve a sustainable water strategy for the future.  On August 1, leading researchers from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory said developments in conservation and desalinization are being carefully developed for the state’s specific needs. The lab is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and has produced research that’s led to 13 Nobel prizes. Among the speakers was Peter Nico, who works in its Resilient Energy, Water and Infrastructure program.  “As California whiplashes back and forth between drought and floods, what can we do to balance out those humps?” Nico posited. “We over-draft 1- to 2 million-acre feet of water a year in California.” ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento News & Review here:  Making water last

Improved Oxidation is Water Wizardry Against Drought: “Nothing beats summer heat better than diving into a pool or sipping a cold glass of lemonade.  Sadly, these simple pleasures are becoming more expensive and less sustainable as California’s population growth and drought suck our reservoirs and aquifers dry. Like Hogwarts wizards, water engineers have the technology to transform the water we flush down our toilets, sinks, and washing machines into sparkling, pure water.  With California’s famous love of nature and zest for recycling, potable water reuse seems like a no-brainer. So why don’t we do it?  In some places, we already do. And researchers at UC Riverside are making the process more effective. ... ”  Read more from UC Riverside here:  Improved Oxidation is Water Wizardry Against Drought

In commentary today …

The bullet train has (almost) nothing on Brown’s twin tunnels: Susan Shelley writes, If you thought the bullet train was a boondoggle designed to lift money from your wallet while delivering nothing, wait until you hear what’s next.  The state of California is building a time machine.  That’s how Gov. Jerry Brown and the Department of Water Resources intend to pay part of the cost of the $17 billion twin-tunnel project known as WaterFix. They have to get voters to approve the costly undertaking so property taxes can be raised to pay for it.  Here’s the catch: The voters have to approve it in 1960. … ” Read more from the OC Register here:  The bullet train has (almost) nothing on Brown’s twin tunnels

Harder vows to protect Valley’s water rights, way of lifeJosh Harder writes,One-hundred seventy years ago, my great-great-grandfather crossed the U.S. to find a better life in California. He and his wife founded their peach farm in Manteca. Access to water to grow their crops was critical to providing for their family then. It’s just as critical today.  For farmers here in the Valley, water is not a partisan issue – it’s about economic self-determination and the difference between providing for your family or going without. For decades, Democrats and Republicans alike have worked together to protect our access to our water.  No matter what political party you belong to, we’ve always agreed that we will never solve our problems by piping our water to Southern California. … ”  Continue reading at the Modesto Bee here:  Harder vows to protect Valley’s water rights, way of life

In regional news and commentary today …

After dam removal, what the Klamath Basin needs next:  “If all goes according to the latest plan, four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River, which runs from southern Oregon to the northern California coast, would be removed in 2021. It’s the culmination of years of work in the Klamath Basin by a diverse group of stakeholders including tribes, state and federal agencies, farmers and ranchers and conservationists.  The removal of the dams would open up hundreds of miles of stream habitat, in a boost to native fish populations, and is expected to also improve water quality in the river. And while a massive undertaking, and the biggest such dam removal process in the nation, those who know the basin well understand that it’s just one piece of a bigger picture. ... ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  After dam removal, what the Klamath Basin needs next

Lake Tahoe summit: Wildfire risks, management central themes:  “With smoke pooling in the Tahoe Basin, members of Congress from Nevada, California, and Alaska took the stage at Sand Harbor on Tuesday for the 22nd annual Lake Tahoe Summit.  While the representatives touched on a number of issues regarding Tahoe and the importance of public-private sponsorships in the fight to preserve and restore the lake, there would be no ignoring the affects of the largest fire in California state history as the members of Congress stood in front of a lake clouded by haze. … ”  Read more from the Tahoe Daily Tribune here:  Lake Tahoe summit: Wildfire risks, management central themes

Secretary Laird visits Loch Lomond:  “Dealing with one of the worst droughts on record and then the largest, most destructive wildfires in California’s history, the Secretary of California’s Natural Resources Agency has his hands full. The Natural Resource Agency is a sprawling, cabinet-level state agency overseeing and coordinating 25 different departments, from Cal Fire to the Department of Water Resources with a lot to coordinate over the last several years.  Yet Secretary John Laird, former City of Santa Cruz council member, two-term mayor, and three-term state assembly member found time to participate in the annual “Secchi Dip-In” at the Loch Lomond Recreation Area on July 28. Secretary Laird also helped christen a new, 22-passenger pontoon boat, “The Newell Jewel,” to be used on the lake for nature tours and carrying cargo for infrastructure improvements planned for the dam. ... ”  Read more from the Press Banner here:  Secretary Laird visits Loch Lomond

Dam being removed from Tuolumne River:  “The small dam that has been in the Tuolumne River for over 85 years intended to create a lake near the Ninth Street Bridge but is an impediment for water craft and fish alike, is being removed.  Work began last week to start dismantling the submerged obstacle at a cost of $1 million. The lowest bidder came in much lower than the $2.4 million bid obtained in summer of 2017, said Nathan Houx, the city of Modesto’s Parks Planning and Development manager and the administrator of the Tuolumne River Regional Park JPA. … ”  Read more from the Ceres Courier here:  Dam being removed from Tuolumne River

USDA loan/grant program will invest $5M for well repairs, new water mains in Pixley and Poplar: “California legislators fell short on their promise to ensure every resident has a reliable source of clean drinking water, but the federal government is picking up the mantle for at least two local communities.  On Aug. 3, Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing more than $5 million in rural southern Tulare County communities of Pixley and Poplar to upgrade water systems. Funds are provided through the agency’s Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant program.  The announcement came during an infrastructure roundtable in Pixley hosted by Hazlett and Rural Development California State Director Kim Dolbow Vann. ... ”  Read more from the Foothill Sun-Gazette here:  USDA loan/grant program will invest $5M for well repairs, new water mains in Pixley and Poplar

Mono County headed to court against LADWP irrigation policy:  “Mono County’s Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to pursue litigation against the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to “restrain” its policy of withdrawing irrigation water from 6,400 acres of grazing leases in Long, Round and Little Round valleys.  Tuesday’s discussion of the issue took 3-1/2 hours with comments from 27 speakers in Bridgeport and Mammoth Lakes. The chambers were packed with an overflow of supporters of either the environment, the lease-holding ranchers or both watching the proceedings on a laptop in the hallway. ... ”  Read more from the Sierra Wave here: Mono County headed to court against LADWP irrigation policy

Los Cerritos wetlands, oil development land swap approved by Coastal Commission:  “State officials Wednesday approved a zoning amendment that could allow a controversial deal in which Long Beach would trade land with an oil company to consolidate oil operations while simultaneously restoring portions of the Los Cerritos Wetlands.  The 10-1 vote by the California Coastal Commission follows the City Council approval of the plan in January. Because the plan sits in the coastal zone, it required approval from the coastal commission before the city could move forward with its rezoning efforts. Councilwomen Lena Gonzalez and Jeannine Pearce were the only members to vote against the project earlier this year. … ”  Read more from the Long Beach Post here:  Los Cerritos wetlands, oil development land swap approved by Coastal Commission

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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