DAILY DIGEST: Is your drinking water dangerous? In some parts of the state, it could be; Is help on the way for Californians whose tap water is tainted?; CA Court finds public trust doctrine applies to groundwater resources; To thin or not to thin: That is the question; and more …

In California water news today, Is your drinking water dangerous? In some parts of the state, it could be; Is help on the way for Californians whose tap water is tainted?; To thin or not to thin: That is the question; Central California sinking at an alarming rate; Climate change is going to cost California and the bill will be staggering; Deadline looms to pass bill on controversial water project; How does water scarcity affect mental health?; California Court Finds Public Trust Doctrine Applies to State Groundwater Resources; and more …

In the news today …

Is your drinking water dangerous?  In some parts of the state, it could be:  “Five years ago, California became the first state in the nation to recognize the human right to safe, clean, affordable and accessible water. Today, we look at how the state is working to ensure that right and where the biggest concerns for Californians are.  The California Water Resources Control Board’s records show more than 266 water suppliers were not in compliance with drinking-water standards as of May 2018. Most of the violations were in the rural agricultural regions of the state.  “The central part of the state has many more water systems,” said Robert Brownwood, a deputy director for the sState Water Resources Control Board. ... ”  Read more from the San Gabriel Valley Tribune here:  Is your drinking water dangerous?  In some parts of the state, it could be

Is help on the way for Californians whose tap water is tainted? Karen Lewis knows about water problems. The 67-year-old lives in Compton, where the water coming out of her tap is tinged brown by manganese, a metal similar to iron, from old pipes.  The water is supplied by the troubled Sativa Los Angeles County Water District. The district has been plagued by administrative scandal and charges of mismanagement, and it hasn’t been able to generate the money needed to fix the brown water.  Lewis has sat through innumerable community meetings and heard years’ worth of explanations, and she’s had enough. “Nothing’s been changed,” she said. “They’re not going to change.” … ”  Read more from Cal Matters here:  Is help on the way for Californians whose tap water is tainted? 

To thin or not to thin: That is the question:  “The Rim Fire, which burned 257,314 acres of forest in 2013, was the biggest wildfire on record for the Sierra Nevada. Forest Service officials declared large areas of the Stanislaus National Forest “nuked” into a “moonscape” where pine trees might not grow back for a generation.  But five years later, Chad Hanson — a forest ecologist who opposes logging on federal lands — can barely avoid stepping on the ponderosa pine saplings that have taken root amid the blackened trunks in one fire-damaged patch of the 898,099-acre national forest. Here, where the Rim Fire burned especially hot, one of the biggest questions about the future of America’s climate-challenged woodlands plays out around Hanson’s ankles: Are forests healthier and safer if humans mostly leave them alone? ... ”  Read more from E&E News here:  To thin or not to thin: That is the question

Central California sinking at an alarming rate:  “New research suggests Central California’s San Joaquin Valley is once again sinking at an alarming rate, as groundwater is drained faster than it can be replenished.  Between October 2011 and September 2015, California experienced its driest four-year spell since scientists began tracking precipitation totals in 1895. Heavy rains in early 2017 offered farmers a brief respite, and helped municipalities replenish reservoirs. … ”  Read more from UPI here:  Central California sinking at an alarming rate

Climate change is going to cost California and the bill will be staggering:  “As California lawmakers struggled this week to address an apparent new normal of epic wildfires, there was an inescapable subtext: Climate change is going to be staggeringly expensive, and virtually every Californian is going to have to pay for it.  The day before a special wildfire committee agreed to spend $200 million on tree clearance and let utilities pass on to their customers the multi-billion-dollar costs of just one year’s fire damage, the state released a sobering report detailing the broader costs Californians face as the planet grows warmer. … ”  Read more from Cal Matters here:  Climate change is going to cost California and the bill will be staggering

Deadline looms to pass bill on controversial water project:  “Conservation advocates say it’s now or never to protect the aquifer underneath the Mojave Trails National Monument in the southern California desert. The state legislative session ends Friday, so supporters are urging state lawmakers to pass Senate Bill 120. It would require the controversial Cadiz Water Project to undergo state review, even as the Trump administration has moved to fast track it. David Lamfrom, California desert and wildlife program director for the National Parks Conservation Association, says the plan to transfer desert water to seven southern California cities is flawed. … ” Read more from the Public News Service here:  Deadline looms to pass bill on controversial water project

How does water scarcity affect mental health? A nearly two-decade drought has drained the Colorado River, leaving regulators scrambling to protect the waterway, which provides water to 40 million people across seven states. Colorado officials are treating the situation as an emergency, the Aspen Times reports. But their efforts may come too late; the Bureau of Reclamation predicts a 57 percent chance that the river’s largest reservoir will be too low to give each state its agreed-upon share by 2020, according to a Colorado Public Radio report. … ”  Read more from Pacific Standard here:  How does water scarcity affect mental health? 

Special feature …

California Court Finds Public Trust Doctrine Applies to State Groundwater Resources: Richard Frank writes, “The California Court of Appeal for the Third Appellate District has issued an important decision declaring that California’s powerful public trust doctrine applies to at least some of the state’s overtaxed groundwater resources.  The court’s opinion also rejects the argument that California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) displaces the public trust doctrine’s applicability to groundwater resources.  The Court of Appeal’s opinion in Environmental Law Foundation v. State Water Resources Control Board decides two key issues of first impression for California water law: first, whether the public trust doctrine applies to California’s groundwater resources; and, second, if it does, if application of that doctrine has been displaced and superseded by the California Legislature’s 2014 enactment of SGMA.  A unanimous appellate panel answered the first question in the affirmative, the second in the negative. … ”  Read more from the Legal Planet here:  California Court Finds Public Trust Doctrine Applies to State Groundwater Resources

In commentary today …

Cal Water Fix ensures safe, clean water for Santa Clara County, says Tony Estremera:  He writes, “In May, the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors voted to participate in the California WaterFix Project, the state’s plan to improve the infrastructure that carries water through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to Santa Clara County and other water customers throughout the state.  As part of our participation, we have a leadership role in the joint powers authority that will govern the project and see it through design and construction. This body is called the Delta Conveyance Design and Construction Authority, or DCA, and I have been designated chair of the DCA for the next two years. ... ”  Read more from Inside San Jose here:  Cal Water Fix ensures safe, clean water for Santa Clara County

Change needed in Lake Oroville operation, and this action could help, says the Chico Enterprise-Record:  They write, “Finally, Butte County has some company out on the limb when it comes to dealing with Lake Oroville. It could be the start of meaningful change, but only if other government agencies and private organizations show the courage to demand better from the state Department of Water Resources.  At a meeting Friday, the Oroville Recreation Advisory Committee brought long-brewing discontent to a head and voted 5-4 to withdraw from a 12-year-old agreement that would allow the state to continue to operate Oroville Dam. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Change needed in Lake Oroville operation, and this action could help

In regional news and commentary today …

Organic farmer pushes Nevada County’s water district to reduce herbicide use:  “Mike Pasner is a man on a mission. For months, he has been pushing the Nevada Irrigation District board of directors on the use of herbicides in its canals. And now he’s looking to spread the word on his campaign, debuting at the Nevada City Farmer’s Market this Saturday.  The water district drips aquatic herbicides into 350 miles of irrigation ditches — including 33 miles of natural creeks — to control weeds and algae, Pasner said. But he insists it would be just as economical, and a lot more environmentally friendly, simply to dredge the canals once a year. … ”  Read more from The Union here:  Organic farmer pushes Nevada County’s water district to reduce herbicide use

Arroyo Seco tributary bill passes California Legislature:  “California’s State Legislature has passed SB 1126, which will include the Arroyo Seco Tributary into the Upper Los Angeles River and Tributaries Working Group, composed of local agency representatives that will work to develop a revitalization plan for the Upper Los Angeles River, the tributaries of the Pacoima Wash, Tujunga Wash, and Verdugo Wash, and any additional tributary waterway that the working group determines to be necessary.  Authored by Pasadena-area State Senator Anthony J. Portantino, the bill contains an urgency clause which would make it effective on the day Gov. Jerry Brown signs it. Non-urgency bills do not become law until January 1, 2019. … ”  Read more from Pasadena Now here:  Arroyo Seco tributary bill passes California Legislature

Revitalizing the LA River will take a lot of green:  “Along the concrete flood channel of the Los Angeles River on Wednesday, renowned architect Frank Gehry’s soft-spoken voice described a greener update for communities along the river as state and local officials listened, including Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom.  Earlier this year, LA County hired Gehry’s architecture firm and two other groups to update the 22-year-old master plan for the river. That plan will include installing 2 or 3-acre parks in “park poor” communities with a linear Central Park-like approach. ... ”  Read more from Courthouse News Service here:  Revitalizing the LA River will take a lot of green

San Diego: Director of Public Utilities steps down after widespread overcharges:  “San Diego’s Director of Public Utilities is retiring amid the continued effort to determine how and why water meter readers from his department overcharged a wave of residents in 2017, spurring multiple city audits and refunds for customers.  “Vic Bianes has informed the City he is retiring from his position as Director of PUD,” the City of San Diego announced in a memo released Thursday. “A nationwide search will be conducted to find a permanent director.” … ”  Read more from Fox 5 here:  Director of Public Utilities steps down after widespread overcharges

Judge allows South Bay lawsuit over Tijuana sewage overflows to move ahead: “A lawsuit brought by South Bay cities alleging the federal government is not doing enough to prevent and treat the flow of Tijuana sewage into the U.S. can move forward, a San Diego federal judge ordered this week.  The ruling, filed Wednesday, comes a day after U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Miller toured pumps and water-capture basins in the Tijuana River Valley to get a first-hand look at the issue. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union Tribune here:  Judge allows South Bay lawsuit over Tijuana sewage overflows to move ahead

And lastly …

New global agricultural powerhouse? Portugal Seduces Parched Investors With Water: Plenty of It: “As wildfires scorched California yet again this summer, Jose Dariush Leal da Costa, a Bay Area native with Portuguese roots, was harvesting his first almonds in a sun-drenched, watery oasis in southern Portugal.  The largest artificial lake in the European Union, the 250 square km (97 square miles) Alqueva, irrigates an area the size of Los Angeles, luring foreign investors at a time when climate change is fanning droughts from California to northern Europe.  European fruit growers, Spanish olive oil makers, almond and berry farmers from California and Chile, and many others are moving in to rival local farmers on these irrigated lands, whose prices soared by 50 percent in the past five years. … ”  Read more from US News & World Report here:  Portugal Seduces Parched Investors With Water: Plenty of It

And from the ‘You Think We’ve Got It Bad, Perhaps This Is Worse’ Department: Miami Will Be Underwater Soon. Its Drinking Water Could Go First:One morning in June, Douglas Yoder climbed into a white government SUV on the edge of Miami and headed northwest, away from the glittering coastline and into the maze of water infrastructure that makes this city possible. He drove past drainage canals that sever backyards and industrial lots, ancient water-treatment plants peeking out from behind run-down bungalows, and immense rectangular pools tracing the outlines of limestone quarries. Finally, he reached a locked gate at the edge of the Everglades. Once through, he pointed out the row of 15 wells that make up the Northwest Wellfield, Miami-Dade County’s clean water source of last resort. ... ”  Read all about it at Bloomberg Business Week here:  Miami Will Be Underwater Soon. Its Drinking Water Could Go First

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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