DAILY DIGEST, weekend edition: State’s offer of working group to oversee water flows ‘a joke’, MID official says; Western water honchos secretly huddle; ORAC votes to exit Oroville settlement agreement; State moves closer to taking Martin’s Beach public pathway from billionaire; and more …

In California water news this weekend, State’s offer of working group to oversee water flows ‘a joke’, MID official says; Gallagher joins petition to stop the state water grab; Valley voices heard by State Water Board; Western water honchos secretly huddle on tunnels, fish; ORAC votes to exit Lake Oroville settlement agreement at ‘contentious’ meeting; Martins Beach: California moves closer to taking public pathway from billionaire Vinod Khosla; Five recent events stoking climate change fears; Commentaries on the State Water Board’s flow objectives, the water tax; and more …

In the news this weekend …

State’s offer of working group to oversee water flows ‘a joke’, MID official says:  “Key elements of a State Water Resources Control Board plan for restoring fisheries are not acceptable to local irrigation districts, which are likely to sue if the state board does not compromise, district board members said Friday.  Most people know by now that the Bay Delta update would require 40 percent of unimpaired flows from February through June on the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers to restore salmon and support the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta estuary.  To implement the plan, the state board would create a working group for the rivers that would exert far too much influence over the operation of Don Pedro, New Exchequer and New Melones reservoirs, two board members said. ... ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  State’s offer of working group to oversee water flows ‘a joke’, MID official says

Gallagher joins petition to stop the state water grab:  “Assemblyman Gallagher (R- Yuba City) is joining state and federal bipartisan legislators, valley farmers, and North State Farm Bureaus in an effort to stop the State Water Resources Control Board from cutting water supplies to agriculture.  “This dangerous “Water Grab”, that could cripple the farming economy, is possible because of the unaccountable and un-elected bureaucrats and their radical policies that do not take people into account, and is why we are seeing our water infrastructure crumbling. If they can take water in Stanislaus, Merced, and Tuolumne, they’re going to do it to us in the North State. We need to be together and we need to be united,” Gallagher stated at a rally on Monday. ... ”  Read more from the Placer Sentinel here: Gallagher joins petition to stop the state water grab

Valley voices heard by State Water Board:  “After witnessing hundreds rally at the State Capitol, receiving thousands of written comments and hearing hours of testimony from farmers, laborers, students, citizens and even lawmakers who opposed their plan that would cut local water use for the benefit of fish and wildlife, the State Water Resources Control Board has postponed its critical vote on the proposal.  Despite vehement opposition from a broad coalition of local governments and organizations, the water board in July released its third and final draft of the Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan update, which calls for allocation of 40 percent of unimpaired flows along the lower San Joaquin River and its tributaries — the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers — to help rehabilitate the area’s native fish species. … ”  Read more from The Turlock Journal here:  Valley voices heard by State Water Board

Western water honchos secretly huddle on tunnels, fish:  “California’s biggest water players quietly gathered on the shores of Lake Tahoe this week, hoping to reconcile some long-standing differences involving tunnels, fish, rivers and more.  In an unpublicized summit that convened Monday, Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman met with representatives from Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration as well as officials from the state’s major rural and urban water districts. And though the get-together was largely kept under wraps, some interested parties described it as an effort to reach a “global solution” to problems that until now have defied resolution. … ”  Read more from E&E News here:  Western water honchos secretly huddle on tunnels, fish

ORAC votes to exit Lake Oroville settlement agreement at ‘contentious’ meeting:  “The Oroville Recreation Advisory Committee voted 5-4 to exit the Lake Oroville settlement agreement on Friday, an action that could have big implications.  The committee, known as ORAC, was one of over 50 groups that signed onto the agreement 12 years ago, which would allow the state Department of Water Resources to operate the dam for up to another 50 years, if approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.  In exchange, approval of a new license would trigger over $61 million in slow trickling benefits to Oroville recreation. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  ORAC votes to exit Lake Oroville settlement agreement at ‘contentious’ meeting

Martins Beach: California moves closer to taking public pathway from billionaire Vinod Khosla:  “A state agency is moving closer toward forcing Silicon Valley billionaire Vinod Khosla to permanently open Martins Beach in San Mateo County to the public, by seeking funding to help cover the costs of buying a route through his land — whether he wants to sell it or not.  The State Lands Commission, on a 3-0 vote Thursday afternoon, set up a program to accept donations from the public, government agencies, non-profit groups and others that could be used to compensate Khosla, if the commission uses its power of eminent domain to require him to sell an easement, or public right of way, over a path from Highway 1 to the sandy beach. The vote came as the U.S. Supreme Court considers whether to take up the high-profile case that has come to define whether wealthy residents in California can limit the public from the shoreline. ... ”  Continue reading at the Mercury News here:  Martins Beach: California moves closer to taking public pathway from billionaire Vinod Khosla

Five recent events stoking climate change fears:  “The Trump administration this month introduced rules that would roll back Obama-era regulations on vehicle emissions and coal fired plants, raising concerns in the scientific community about how a slower approach to decreasing carbon emissions will affect the world’s climate.  Arctic melting, raging forest fires and increasingly brutal summer temperatures are just a handful of the signs that climate change may have transitioned from a lingering threat to a phase where it might be too late to mitigate some of its effects. ... ”  Read more from The Hill here:  Five recent events stoking climate change fears

In commentary this weekend …

SF should reduce water use to restore state’s river and fisheries, says Jon Rosenfeld: He writes, “San Francisco is addicted to a cheap supply of abundant water. This has led to unsustainable water demand that threatens to extinguish some of the state’s native fishes and the valuable fisheries and tourism industry they support.  The Tuolumne River is the source for much of the water San Francisco uses and sells to Peninsula communities. The city’s water managers are upset that the city might be held responsible for conditions on that river as well as downstream, in the San Joaquin River, the delta and San Francisco Bay. ... ”  Continue reading at the SF Chronicle here:  SF should reduce water use to restore state’s river and fisheries

State Water Board plan would require water rationing in the Bay Area, says Jim Wunderman:  He writes, “Apart from a famous Mark Twain quote involving whiskey and fighting, no cliché about California water is more abused than the phrase “water wars.” However, in the instance of the State Water Resources Control Board’s plan to restore the San Joaquin River, the label fits. War has been declared on the Bay Area’s largest source of freshwater, with grave implications for residents and businesses that go way beyond letting your lawn go brown.  At issue is a proposal to increase freshwater flows on the San Joaquin River. The plan targets the San Joaquin’s three major tributaries — the Stanislaus, Merced and Tuolumne rivers — and would require the farms and cities that divert water from those rivers to scale back their diversions to leave more water for the environment. … ”  Continue reading at the SF Chronicle here:  State Water Board plan would require water rationing in the Bay Area

Mike Dunbar to the LA Times: Would you like some facts or do you prefer to remain all wet?  He writes, “Dear Editor of The Los Angeles Times, We know opinion journalists often draw different conclusions from the same facts. But we have some problems with both the conclusions you’ve drawn and the “facts” you cited in your editorial, “Letting California’s rivers run isn’t a ‘water grab’.”  After chiding San Francisco over insufficient environmental karma, you turned your pious gaze on us Valley yokels. You chastised us for being unwilling to save the rivers that have nourished us – and you, through our vegetables, melons, wines, nuts, cheese, tree fruit, etc. You portrayed us as part of a villainous “agribusiness,” perhaps not realizing the average farm size in Stanislaus County is 175 acres, and three quarters of all farms here are under 100 acres. For that matter, why is “big ag” any greedier than big movies, big bio-tech or big banking, some of your big industries? ... ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  Would you like some facts or do you prefer to remain all wet? 

Water plan falls short in restoring Delta to more than ‘an irrigation ditch’, says Barbara Barrigan-Parilla: She writes, “Supervisor Bob Elliott’s recent guest editorial “Revised ‘water grab’ could lead to severe, irreversible impacts” misses the mark on the importance of the Water Quality Control Plan update for San Joaquin River flows for the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary.  Adequate flows and enforcement of current South Delta salinity standards are needed in the San Joaquin River to do the following for San Joaquin County … ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here:  Water plan falls short in restoring Delta to more than ‘an irrigation ditch’

Clean drinking water proposal a good deal for the Valley, say Joel Nelsen and Anja Raudabaugh They write, “It’s all over the news.  A powerful state agency is threatening to divert even more water away from Central Valley farms and communities in a quest to preserve fish species. Meanwhile, under the “watchful” eye of this very same agency our communities have been left without access to clean drinking water. This is a problem that plagues every county in California, but none more so than those in our own Valley.  In 2012, California lawmakers made access to clean drinking water is a basic human right, yet our taps are toxic. There are 300 unsafe drinking water systems across the state, many of which are located in our backyard here in Tulare County.  ... ”  Read more from the Visalia Times-Delta here:  Clean drinking water proposal a good deal for the Valley

New clean water bill is a nightmare for local agencies, says Charles Hoppin:  He writes, “Surfacing with only 11 days left in the legislative session, Senate Bill 845 was gutted and amended to propose a mandate that more than 3,000 local community water agencies in California solicit and collect a contribution for safe drinking water on behalf of the state and send the money to Sacramento. Residential and business customers would pay the contribution on their water bills unless they elected to opt out or pay a different amount.  No one involved opposes a fund to help ensure that all Californians have safe drinking water (“Speaker Rendon, allow a vote on clean water,” Editorial, Aug. 24). The question has been about the sources of the funding. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  New clean water bill is a nightmare for local agencies

Last-minute twist on water tax won’t work, says Cindy Tuck:  She writes, “Every Californian should have access to safe and affordable drinking water. And while most do, there are communities in California where this is not the case.  The Legislature set aside $23.5 million for this issue earlier this year. In June, voters approved Proposition 68, which includes $250 million in general obligation bond funds that must be prioritized to provide safe drinking water for disadvantaged communities. All of this is positive.  The Legislature appropriately rejected the proposed water tax and went with the general fund set aside which complements the new Proposition 68 funding. … ”  Read more from Cal Matters here:  Last-minute twist on water tax won’t work

A water wolf in sheep’s clothing, says Tony Stafford:  He writes, “The state of California wants to tax your drinking water and give the proceeds to failing water systems.  Senate Bill 845 would create the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund, which would provide money to “secure access to safe drinking water” for Californians who rely on chronically noncompliant groundwater wells.  These wells are impacted by a variety of contaminants, some resulting from land-use practices and some naturally occurring, that render the wells unable to meet basic health and safety standards. Treating groundwater is an expensive solution that most noncompliant systems, situated as they are in economically disadvantaged areas, cannot afford. Instead, people go without. ... ”  Read more from the Ventura County Star here:  A water wolf in sheep’s clothing

This time, a state water bond has real money intended to benefit the Valley, says the Fresno Bee: “Four years ago California voters considered a $7.5 billion water bond that Valley supporters hoped would provide money to build a new dam on the San Joaquin River at Temperance Flat.  That $2.83 billion dam was to provide a critical new supply of water to the Valley, both for farmers as well as cities. The water bond, Proposition 1, was on the ballot in the midst of a crushing drought, and voters passed it handily. Valley officials hoped to get $1 billion for their project. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  This time, a state water bond has real money intended to benefit the Valley

In regional news and commentary this weekend …

Ceres, Turlock look to $272 million project to secure their water futures:  “Officials from Ceres, Turlock and the Turlock Irrigation District gathered Friday near Fox Grove Park along the Tuolumne River to celebrate the start of construction of a roughly $272 million project that will provide the two cities with reliable and clean drinking water.  Officials said the project will secure the cities’ futures and economic vitality because it gives them a second water source — the Tuolumne River — in addition to the groundwater they now pump. ... ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  Ceres, Turlock look to $272 million project to secure their water futures

Digging for ‘new’ gold:  “The road to securing a reliable source of drinking water for local residents has been long and bumpy, but on Friday the effort reached a milestone. The Stanislaus Regional Water Authority, made up of the Cities of Turlock and Ceres — and in partnership with the Turlock Irrigation District — broke ground on the site of the future surface water treatment plant which will deliver treated Tuolumne River water to homes by 2022. … ”  Read more from The Turlock Journal here:  Digging for ‘new’ gold

Otherworldly Mono Lake reaches ‘right into your soul’:  “Like many Bay Area residents, I’ve spent plenty of time on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada. But my husband and I recently took the plunge behind the “Granite Curtain,” dropping five miles and 3,000 feet from Yosemite National Park’s 9,941-foot Tioga Pass into the Eastern Sierra.  John Muir described this spectacular stretch of North America as “hot desert bounded by snow-laden mountains … frost and fire working together in the making of beauty.”  Set against this “frost and fire” landscape is Mono Lake, an ancient body of water that’s probably best known for its tufa towers, limestone formations that rise from the water, creating an otherworldly tableau. ... ”  Read more from the Mercury News here:  Otherworldly Mono Lake reaches ‘right into your soul’

Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority updated on pump fee, Prop 1 grant status:  “Things are pacing along with the Department of Water Resources as the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority awaits final authorization on a set of Proposition 1 grants, according to the agency’s water resources manager.  Steve Johnson, president of Stetson Engineers, Inc. and the Groundwater Authority’s water resources manager, provided an update to the agency’s board of directors on Aug. 16. He noted that revised agreements have been submitted to the state before it executes the $2.1 million grant agreement.  “I believe we got additional comments back from staff and resubmitted those on Aug. 14, and DWR has approved all of those exhibits,” Johnson said, noting that DWR had all of the information ahead of its Aug. 15 deadline. ... ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here:  Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority updated on pump fee, Prop 1 grant status

Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority mulls over finance committee:  “An ongoing call to form a standing finance committee for the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority was disregarded by Kern County First District Supervisor Mick Gleason on Aug. 16.  The reason: it will be more of a hindrance than anything else.  “In my opinion, we don’t need it,” Gleason said. “I think it is a function that is just going to bog us down; it’s going to be an impediment to the efficient move within this group.”  IWV Water District board member Peter Brown broached the subject at the end of the meeting, noting his agency’s entire board “would really like to see a finance committee.” ... ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here:  Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority mulls over finance committee

Oceanside Harbor dredging set for October:  “The entrance of the Oceanside harbor, which missed its annual spring cleaning this year, will get a special dredging in October to keep the channel safe for navigation, federal officials announced Friday.  Ocean waves and currents constantly push sand into the harbor, which requires periodic maintenance to stay open. A recent city survey showed the channel’s average depth was down to 16 feet, with spots as shallow as 8 or 9 feet.  “On a low tide and a south swell, it’s pretty treacherous out there,” Harbor Division Manager Ted Schiafone told the city’s Harbor and Beaches Advisory Committee this week. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union Tribune here:  Oceanside Harbor dredging set for October

Simi Valley puts groundwater feasibility study on hold, citing community concerns:  “Simi Valley has placed on hold the processing of a draft study that concludes developing the Simi Valley Basin as a potable water resource is feasible.  The city late Friday announced in a news release that it had put the study on hold “at this time” in response to “concerns … expressed by members of the public” that the groundwater is contaminated by the nearby Santa Susana Field Laboratory and is likely cancer-causing. … ”  Read more from the Ventura County Star here:  Simi Valley puts groundwater feasibility study on hold, citing community concerns

California might bail out controversial desert hydropower plant that can’t get a contract: “Eagle Crest Energy Company has been trying to build a hydroelectric power plant in the open desert east of Palm Springs, just outside Joshua Tree National Park, since the early 1990s. But the developer has struggled to find a buyer for the electricity, and environmentalists have fought the project, saying it would damage the national park.  Now the California Legislature may step in to help the developer. ... ”  Read more from The Desert Sun here:  California might bail out controversial desert hydropower plant that can’t get a contract

Along the Colorado River …

Odds of unprecedented Colorado River shortage increase, federal water managers say:  “The drought-stressed Colorado River carried even less water than expected this summer, increasing the odds of a shortage in the vital river system in 2020, federal water managers said Friday.  The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation said the chances of a shortfall in Lake Mead, the river’s biggest reservoir, are now 57 percent, up from the 52 percent projected in May.  The river and its tributaries serve 40 million people and 6,300 square miles (16,300 square kilometers) of farmland in Mexico and the U.S. states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Wyoming and Utah. A nearly two-decade drought, coupled with rising demand from growing cities, has reduced the amount of water available in Lake Mead and the river’s other big reservoir, Lake Powell. … ”  Read more from the Denver Post here:  Odds of unprecedented Colorado River shortage increase, federal water managers say

It’s been a cruel summer for Colorado River amid big drought:  “The drought-stressed Colorado River carried even less water than expected this summer, increasing the odds of a shortage in the vital river system in 2020, federal water managers said Friday.  The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation said the chances of a shortfall in Lake Mead, the river’s biggest reservoir, are now 57 percent, up from the 52 percent projected in May.  The river and its tributaries serve 40 million people and 6,300 square miles of farmland in Mexico and the U.S. states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Wyoming and Utah. A nearly two-decade drought, coupled with rising demand from growing cities, has reduced the amount of water available in Lake Mead and the river’s other big reservoir, Lake Powell. ... ”  Read more from the Las Vegas Review-Journal here:  It’s been a cruel summer for Colorado River amid big drought

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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