DAILY DIGEST: Brown tries to jam Delta water hearing through the legislature; Groundwater loss prompts more California land sinking; Thinning California’s fire prone forests: Five things to know; Zinke says Interior reorganization won’t relocate employees — yet; and more …

In California water news today, Brown tries to jam Delta water hearing through the legislature; Groundwater loss prompts more California land sinking; Thinning California’s fire prone forests: Here’s five things to know as lawmakers move towards a plan; New bill proposes to fix water quality for less than pennies on the dollar; Zinke says Interior reorganization won’t relocate employees — yet; Budget change threatens future of the Colorado River; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • Joint Legislative Budget Committee meeting on SWP Contract Extensions has been postponed.
  • DWR is hosting a Flood MAR workshop today from 1:30 to 4:30pm at Sacramento State – Downtown.  Click here for more information.

In the news today …

Brown tries to jam Delta water hearing through the legislature:  “An innocuous sounding hearing tomorrow morning for lawmakers on the Joint Legislative Budget Committee at the State Capitol may lock taxpayers into paying for the California WaterFix for the next half century.  The informational hearing, called “Department of Water Resources: Proposed Water Supply Contract Extension & Amendments,” will commit 50 years of funding to the WaterFix, the state’s plan to build two tunnels to siphon water from the Delta and send it south. … ”  (Note: the hearing was canceled late last night.)  Read more from the Tracy Press here:  Brown tries to jam Delta water hearing through the legislature

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Groundwater loss prompts more California land sinking:  “Despite higher-than-normal amounts of rain in early 2017, the large agricultural and metropolitan communities that rely on groundwater in central California experienced only a short respite from an ongoing drought.  When the rain stopped, drought conditions returned and the ground has continued to sink, by up to a half-meter annually, according to a new Cornell study in Science Advances. ... ”  Read more from the Cornell Chronicle here:  Groundwater loss prompts more California land sinking

California is sinking: Drought conditions are causing the San Joaquin Valley to shift by up to a half-meter annually: “New research has found that ongoing droughts are causing some areas in the central California to dip by up to 50cm a year.  Despite heavy higher-than-normal amounts of rain in early 2017,  when the rain stopped, drought conditions returned and the ground has continued to sink, researchers say.   ‘With the heavy storms in early 2017, Californians were hopeful that the drought was over,’ said Kyle Murray, a Cornell doctoral candidate in the field of geophysics who worked on the new study in Science Advances. … ”  Read more from the Daily Mail here:  California is sinking: Drought conditions are causing the San Joaquin Valley to shift by up to a half-meter annually

Thinning California’s fire prone forests: Here’s five things to know as lawmakers move towards a plan:  “With wildfires smoldering all over California, prevention has risen to the top of lawmakers’ agenda. A key process in managing forests for fire resistance is thinning tree stands to reduce the fuel that propels the blazes. Lawmakers are voting this week on a proposal that includes $200 million for that purpose.  Here are five things to keep in mind: … ”  Read more from Cal Matters here:  Thinning California’s fire prone forests: Here’s five things to know as lawmakers move towards a plan

New bill proposes to fix water quality for less than pennies on the dollar: “A new piece of bipartisan legislation was introduced last week in another attempt to solve water quality issues for California’s poorest communities.  Sen. Andy Vidak (R-Hanford), who represents most of Tulare County in the state legislature, co-authored Senate Bills 844 and 845 in the latest attempt to create a new tax that would fund projects to treat water in rural areas where water is contaminated with arsenic, nitrates, lead and other contaminants.  Introduced by co-author Senate Majority Leader Bill Monning (R-Santa Cruz), SB 844 proposes mandatory fees on dairy producers and fertilizer manufacturers. … ”  Read more from the Foothills Sun Gazette here:  New bill proposes to fix water quality for less than pennies on the dollar

Zinke says Interior reorganization won’t relocate employees — yet:  “The Interior Department’s final reorganization plan would separate agency offices into 12 regions across the U.S., according to an internal email obtained by The Hill Wednesday.  The plan, announced by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke in a staff-wide email, aims to reorganize management of the department through ecosystem and watershed boundaries rather than state lines in what will be called Unified Regions.  “To prepare the Department for the next 100 years, I am pleased to announce the next steps we have taken to modernize the way we do business in order to continue to responsibly manage America’s natural resources,” Zinke wrote. … ”  Read more from The Hill here:  Zinke says Interior reorganization won’t relocate employees — yet

In commentary today …

Stop Gov. Brown’s sleazy last-minute Delta tunnels bid, says the San Jose Mercury News:  They write, “In what would be the sleaziest maneuver of Jerry Brown’s tenure, a legislative committee suddenly has rescheduled a hearing for Thursday morning that would allow the state to move forward with the governor’s $19.9 billion Delta tunnels water grab. Without a vote of the Legislature, without a vote of the people, and without legislative oversight.  Appalling doesn’t begin to describe this end run of ratepayers, voters and their elected representatives on the next-to-last-day of the legislative session. Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood, and state Senate President Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, had canceled the original Aug. 14 hearing after this newspaper and others raised objections. Rendon and Atkins deserve to be labeled gutless if they now allow this charade to proceed. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  Stop Gov. Brown’s sleazy last-minute Delta tunnels bid

How you can stop Sacramento from raising your water rates and property taxesSusan Shelley writes, On Thursday, August 30, at 8:00 a.m., an obscure committee in Sacramento will hold an informational hearing that will commit you, your children and your grandchildren to paying higher rates and higher property taxes to cover the cost of the proposed boondoggle known as WaterFix.  Under state law, the Department of Water Resources can finalize a long-term contract for water from the State Water Project through a unique process that doesn’t require a vote of the Legislature or any legislative committee. The DWR simply sends over a copy of the contract, the Joint Legislative Budget Committee holds an informational hearing, and 60 days later, the contract can be finalized. … ”  Read more from the OC Register here:  How you can stop Sacramento from raising your water rates and property taxes

Groundwater banking: A Likely Solution to Achieve Greater River FlowsPatrick Koepele writes,A proposal by the California Water Resources Control Board to require additional water to be left in the Tuolumne River and other San Joaquin River tributaries has prompted strong negative opinions, including from some newspapers serving the region, such as the Modesto Bee.  Regrettably, what has received little attention in this debate are the opportunities for improving water management to meet the agricultural and environmental demands placed on these rivers.  A coalition of conservation groups has proposed that Modesto and Turlock irrigation districts, working with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, establish a 90,000 acre-foot groundwater bank. ... ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  Groundwater banking: A Likely Solution to Achieve Greater River Flows

Respect? We’re not getting it from the state, says the Merced Sun-Star:  They write, “We’d often prefer to ignore what happens in Sacramento, but then we wake up to find we’ve been, uh, disregarded again.  It happened Tuesday as the Assembly voted to make California greener. Eventually. It could happen again Thursday when a “call to order” could push the cost of the state’s WaterFix onto about 25 million unsuspecting taxpayers and harm us.  Tuesday, the Assembly voted 43-32 to pass Senate Bill 100 over the angry but eloquent objections of Assemblyman Adam Gray of Merced. SB 100 will require all California utilities to provide exclusively renewable energy to customers. Sounds like a mighty blow against climate change – until you realize it won’t be fully implemented until 2045. … ”  Read more from the Merced Sun-Star here:  Respect? We’re not getting it from the state

Another reason to save California forests?  Our water supplies, says Laurie Wayburn:  She writes, “This summer’s wildfires have taken a terrible toll on California. As firefighters gain control and residents begin to rebuild their lives, big questions are emerging about how we invest in our natural resources to reduce wildfire risk and restore healthier, more resilient forests.  Few will argue that many of California’s forests are in poor condition, but there is far less consensus on how to fix them, particularly when partisan politics intervene. We need to look at the big picture and where we want to go, not focus on just one piece of the problem. For forests, that means also considering the surrounding watersheds that are the source of much of the state’s water supply. … ”  Continue reading at the Sacramento Bee here:  Another reason to save California forests?  Our water supplies

No telling what a Governor Newsom might be like, says Thomas Elias:  He writes, “As the fall election season begins officially this week, it’s high time to look closely at what a Gov. Gavin Newsom might be like.  That’s partly because Newsom held leads of anywhere from 25 to 30 percentage points over Republican businessman John Cox in polls taken during the summer, drawing about 55 percent support – well over the 50 percent polling threshold that’s often viewed as decisive when campaigns enter their homestretch.  By now, many Californians should already have acquired some sense of the potential new governor. He’s traveled to almost every corner of the state since declaring for the office about two years ago, long before any of the Democratic primary election rivals he easily bested last June. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  No telling what a Governor Newsom might be like

In regional news and commentary today …

El Dorado Irrigation District votes to replace flume:  “A $12.6 million dollar project to replace Flume 44 was approved by the El Dorado Irrigation District board at its Aug. 27 meeting.  The 476 foot flume was last replaced in 1948 and has since undergone several repairs to shore it up until it could be replaced. Located above Highway 44 between Bridal Veil Falls and Ice House Road, the wooden structure is severely degraded in places.  The project is designed to be constructed in two phases over two years during the fall of 2018 and 2019. ... ”  Read more from the Mountain Democrat here:  El Dorado Irrigation District votes to replace flume

California climate change could reduce Sacramento Valley crop yields, water supply:Climate change may reduce crop yields and even render the Sacramento Valley unable to grow some crops in the coming decades, according to a new state report.  The latest California Climate Change Assessment estimates an increase in average daily temperature of 5.6 degrees to 8.8 degrees in the state by 2100, depending on greenhouse gas emissions.  For ag producers, the changes could mean that yields could decline by 2 to 11 percent in many field crops, orchards, grains, grapes and corn, according to the report. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Business Journal here:  California climate change could reduce Sacramento Valley crop yields, water supply

Half Moon Bay: Restoration project nears:  “The long-awaited restoration project to reduce flooding and improve water quality at Pescadero’s historic Butano Creek is set to begin next month.  California State Parks and the San Mateo Resource Conservation District will kick off their work on Sept. 6. The first phase of the project — which will clear trees and brush along the creek downstream of Pescadero Creek Road Bridge — will enable workers to remove sediment next summer without disturbing local wildlife. … ”  Read more from the Half Moon Bay Review here: Half Moon Bay: Restoration project nears

Scotts Valley water supply: Climate change, not growth, is the larger threat:  “With several large housing projects on the horizon in Scotts Valley, including the Town Center project with a proposed 300 new units of housing, growth has become a hot issue in Scotts Valley, and has raised many questions at public meetings about adequate water supply.  Last week, Piret Harmon, General Manager of the Scotts Valley Water District, in a presentation to the Santa Margarita Groundwater Agency (SMGWA), made it clear that water districts are not authorized, by state law, to determine the growth policies for the cities they serve. ... ”  Read more from the Press-Banner here:  Scotts Valley water supply: Climate change, not growth, is the larger threat

Drought-stricken western Ventura County may need more than planned $45 million pipeline as a fix:  “Heading into an eighth year of drought, Ventura County water agencies teamed up to try to import water into Ventura.  But a fix — a proposed seven-mile pipeline from Camarillo to Ventura — will still leave gaps in water supplies.  “I think it’s very important that this area begin to look at its next step for sustainable water supply,” said Steve Wickstrum, general manager of Casitas Municipal Water District, which supplies drinking water to much of the Ojai Valley and parts of Ventura.  … ”  Read more from the Ventura County Star here:  Drought-stricken western Ventura County may need more than planned $45 million pipeline as a fix

Cadiz, Inc. wants to sell groundwater from the Mojave Desert.  Will California let it happen?  “The next two days could help determine the fate of a proposal by Cadiz Inc. to pump groundwater in the Mojave Desert and sell it to Southern California cities.  Environmental groups are making a last-minute push for lawmakers in Sacramento to pass a bill that could block the project. The state Assembly approved the measure in a 45-20 vote Wednesday evening. But the bill could face an uphill battle in the Senate, and the legislative session ends Friday night. If the measure doesn’t pass by then, Cadiz will have an easier path toward pumping up to 16.3 billion gallons of groundwater per year on land surrounded by Mojave Trails National Monument, especially after last year’s decision by the Trump administration to approve the company’s water pipeline. … ”  Read more from the Desert Sun here:  Cadiz, Inc. wants to sell groundwater from the Mojave Desert.  Will California let it happen?

SoCal cities’ groundbreaking border pollution lawsuit advances:  “A first-of-its-kind lawsuit by southern California cities and the San Diego Unified Port District over polluted waterways at the U.S.-Mexico border survived dismissal Wednesday when a federal judge found the agencies have standing to bring claims for Clean Water Act violations.  U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Miller advanced most of the claims by the San Diego County cities of Imperial Beach and Chula Vista and the San Diego Unified Port District, granting the plaintiffs leave to amend their complaint.  The judge noted the case is the first “in which a court addressed a CWA claim in which polluted waters enter the United States from another country.” … ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service here:  SoCal cities’ groundbreaking border pollution lawsuit advances

Along the Colorado River …

SNWA chief talks Colorado River, pipeline, need for changes in Nevada water law:  “The leader of Las Vegas’s powerful water authority said the time has come for the Legislature to make changes to Nevada water law, an idea that will likely get pushback from many water users, during a 50-minute interview on The Nevada Independent’s podcast, IndyMatters. In the wide-ranging interview, John Entsminger, general manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority, addressed concerns over a Colorado River shortage and the agency’s continued push for a pipeline project to pump large amounts of groundwater from Eastern Nevada to Las Vegas. … ”  Read more from the Nevada Independent here:  SNWA chief talks Colorado River, pipeline, need for changes in Nevada water law

Budget change threatens future of the Colorado River:  “The Bureau of Reclamation’s $23 million budget will be transferred to the United States Treasury next fiscal year, impacting the continued health of the Colorado River and the many entities that depend on it.  The funds originally come from the power revenue created by the Glen Canyon Dam, which was then retooled by the bureau to ensure the safety of the water downstream. Without funding, the water, aquatic life and archaeological sites in the Colorado River area will be left unprotected and unmonitored. This change could affect Native American tribes including Havasupai, Hualapai, Hopi and Navajo, seven states of the Colorado River Basin  and two states in Mexico — all places that the river runs through. … ”  Read more from the Arizona Daily Sun here:  Budget change threatens future of the Colorado River

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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