DAILY DIGEST: Why California law requires a clear benefit for groundwater recharge; California’s mega-farms have a dark side; Delta’s largest wetlands restoration project kicks off in Oakley; Trump slams California wildfire steps, threatens funding halt; and more ..

In California water news today, Why California law requires a clear benefit for groundwater recharge; California’s mega-farms have a dark side that could put our supply of fruits, vegetables, and nuts at risk; Delta’s largest wetlands restoration project kicks off in Oakley; Opponents of the Delta tunnels plan headed to Sacramento next week; Arsenic symposium calls attention to water contamination issues; State high court rejects Berkeley group’s suit to drain Hetch Hetchy Reservoir; When does smoke actually result in tainted wine grapes? It's complicated; Trump slams California wildfire steps, threatens funding halt; Trump: I have a ‘natural instinct' for science; and more … much more …

On the calendar today …

In the news today …

Why California law requires a clear benefit for groundwater recharge:  “Researchers at the University of California recently highlighted a flaw in state law that may prohibit diverting streamflow to recharge groundwater. The problem is that groundwater recharge by itself is not considered a “beneficial use” under state law, and meeting that definition is a requirement to obtain a permit to divert water.  Officials at the State Water Resources Control Board, which oversees water rights, say the reality is not so clear-cut. In fact, existing rules allow most groundwater recharge projects to obtain a water right. It’s just that they may not be awarded that right for the act of recharge by itself. The applicant would have to specifically target some ancillary benefit of recharge, such as salinity control in an aquifer or reversing land subsidence caused by overpumping groundwater. ... ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  Why California law requires a clear benefit for groundwater recharge

California’s mega-farms have a dark side that could put our supply of fruits, vegetables, and nuts at risk: “In the center of California lies one of the most important agricultural areas in the US — an 18,000-square-mile stretch of heartland known as the Central Valley. Each year, the region's mega-farms produce about a quarter of the nation's food supply, or around $17 billion worth of crops. Without them, a significant swathe of the US could lose easy access to staple foods like fruits, vegetables, and nuts.  That's begun to look increasingly likely as the effects of drought poison the water supply and cause the land to sink. … ”  Read more from Business Insider here: California’s mega-farms have a dark side that could put our supply of fruits, vegetables, and nuts at risk

Delta’s largest wetlands restoration project kicks off in Oakley:  “More than 1,000 acres of unused farmland in East Contra Costa County are slowly being converted back to the vibrant wetlands they once were in what’s hailed as the largest tidal marsh restoration project ever in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.  The Dutch Slough Tidal Marsh Restoration Project, which recently broke ground, is the California Department of Water Resources’ first major tidal wetlands restoration in the Delta. On Wednesday, representatives of the various agencies involved in the effort gathered on site in Oakley to celebrate what started 15 years ago and is now in full swing. ... ”  Read more from the East Bay Times here: Delta’s largest wetlands restoration project kicks off in Oakley

Opponents of the Delta tunnels plan headed to Sacramento next week:  “Opponents of the Delta Tunnels Project, aka California WaterFix, should plan to spend time in Sacramento next week.  The California Department of Water Resources has filed for a certification of consistency with the Delta Stewardship Council (DSC). DSC will hold hearings and listen to public comment in an effort to determine if WaterFix is consistent with the Delta Plan. ... ”  Read more from the Brentwood Press here:  Opponents of the Delta tunnels plan headed to Sacramento next week

Arsenic symposium calls attention to water contamination issues:  “The California Water Institute at Fresno State hosted the Arsenic Symposium, a community event focused on analyzing arsenic levels in groundwater.  The event, held at the Satellite Student Union on Oct. 11, brought together professional and academic experts from all over California to discuss causes of arsenic contamination and solutions to address the threat of contaminated groundwater.  Thomas Esqueda, Fresno State’s associate vice president of water and sustainability and the executive director of the California Water Institute, said the need for discussions about water infrastructure and safety is especially relevant in the San Joaquin Valley. ... ”  Read more from The Collegian here:  Arsenic symposium calls attention to water contamination issues

State high court rejects Berkeley group’s suit to drain Hetch Hetchy Reservoir: “The California Supreme Court rejected a conservation group’s lawsuit Wednesday seeking to drain Yosemite’s Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, a source of water for San Francisco and surrounding Bay Area communities.  Restore Hetch Hetchy, a Berkeley group, argued in its suit that the location of the dam and reservoir, which flooded a valley in the park after construction in 1923, violates a provision of the California Constitution requiring reasonable water use.  But a state appeals court in Fresno ruled in July that Congress had overridden state laws when it authorized construction of the dam and reservoir. The state’s high court denied a hearing Wednesday on the appeal by Restore Hetch Hetchy, without any dissenting votes. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: State high court rejects Berkeley group’s suit to drain Hetch Hetchy Reservoir

When does smoke actually result in tainted wine grapes?  It's complicated:  “Certain foods are prized for their smokiness: think of Gouda cheese or paprika. But when California winemakers talk about smoke taint, they’re not talking about wines with smoky notes.  “[Wine] is only tainted when you get that really negative, cold campfire, old ashtray aftertaste,” says Anita Oberholster, an enologist with the UC Davis Extension.  She says no serious winemaker would ever consider releasing a wine with these flaws. But lately, the enologist fields a lot of calls from vintners who want her to taste their wines and weigh in on whether she detects even the slightest trace of taint from smoke exposure. … ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here:  When does smoke actually result in tainted wine grapes?  It’s complicated

California and climate change:  Here's what to expect:  “California’s fourth, and most recent, climate assessment report reflects years of increasingly frequent and threatening natural disasters that have plagued the nation’s most populous state. In coming decades, they’re expected to become even more severe.  The state in its 2007 forecast had envisioned a tough 10 years ahead. That was the year the Witch Fire in San Diego County, which raged from October 21 to November 6, consumed nearly 200,000 acres, destroying 1,650 structures and killing one person. I remember that one distinctly: My wife and I had just returned from our honeymoon in Hawaii, and we evacuated our suburban neighborhood as thick brown clouds of smoke darkened the skies above. … ”  Read more from Yale Climate Connections here:  California and climate change:  Here’s what to expect

Repeal of Obama's Waters rule pushed back to 2019:  “The EPA is pushing back its timetable for repealing a landmark Obama-era waters jurisdiction rule by at least four months, a move that could prolong the confusion about how and where to implement it in the interim.  The agency is now planning on finalizing this repeal in March of 2019, rather than next month as originally planned, according to the Oct. 17 release of the Office of Management and Budget’s fall regulatory agenda. … ”  Read more from Bloomberg here:  Repeal of Obama’s Waters rule pushed back to 2019

Trump slams California wildfire steps, threatens funding halt:  “U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday rekindled his criticism of California's wildfire prevention steps and threatened to withhold billions of dollars of federal funding amid one of the most destructive fire seasons on record.  “It's hurting our budget, it’s hurting our country and they better get their act together,” Trump said at a Cabinet meeting about California's forestry management. He did not specify the type of funding that could be withheld.  The Republican president's comments, which followed his criticism in August of California's wildfire prevention efforts, were aimed at Democratic Governor Jerry Brown, whom he has frequently criticized over immigration and other policies. … ”  Read more from WHBL here:  Trump slams California wildfire steps, threatens funding halt

Trump: I have a ‘natural instinct' for science:  “President Trump this week said he has a “natural instinct for science” while defending his stance on climate change.  Trump, who spoke with the Associated Press Tuesday in an interview published the next day, said he agrees that the climate is changing but contended that it “goes back and forth, back and forth.” “…You have scientists on both sides of the issue. And I agree the climate changes, but it goes back and forth, back and forth. So we'll see,” Trump told the news outlet. … ”  Read more from The Hill here: Trump: I have a ‘natural instinct’ for science

In commentary today …

Jay Lund on How the next governor can address our water challenges: “All Californians make water decisions, from the length of our shower, to how we water our plants and irrigate farms, to how we manage runoff from our roofs. But when it comes down to it, California’s governor is our single most important water leader.  Governors control, if anyone does, the major state regulatory, water delivery project, and planning bureaucracies, with staffs of thousands and budgets of billions. Governors are involved in crafting, passing, and implementing water legislation. And governors react to, bring, and defend court actions regarding water.  This is no easy task. Water policy and management are highly decentralized and complex across the state, local, and federal levels. A governor’s interest and actions are often needed to bring these diverse decision-makers and stakeholders together. ... ” Read more from Cal Matters here: How the next governor can address our water challenges

Free Advice to Farmers: Stop hectoring the urbanites who drive by on Interstate 5 with cranky signs about water use and try educating them instead, says Justin Fox:  He writes, “California’s farmers tend to feel that they don’t get enough respect or understanding. The state’s agricultural sector is the country’s biggest, but amidst the giant California economy it doesn’t count for much, with farming and food processing directly accounting for only 2 percent of state gross domestic product. In Iowa, the No. 2 agricultural state, that share is 9 percent.  California’s politics are dominated by urban and suburban coastal voters and their concerns. Farmers and their needs not only get short shrift, but when water is short, as is the case every few years, they also are convenient scapegoats for suburbanites who are angry about not being allowed to keep their lawns green. … ”  Read more from Bloomberg here:  Free Advice to Farmers

In regional news and commentary today …

Nevada Irrigation District: Water quality improves as turbidity is reduced from Combie Reservoir flows:  “There is marked water quality improvement at Combie Reservoir after water levels dropped significantly last week, causing a turbidity event.  After Nevada Irrigation District (NID) began raising water levels, turbidity has reduced, and water tests indicate oxygen levels are returning to normal in the reservoir. Additional testing also shows mercury levels at non-detectable in the waters flowing through the District’s canals and down the Bear River, according to multiple sampling locations. … ” Read more from YubaNet here:  Nevada Irrigation District: Water quality improves as turbidity is reduced from Combie Reservoir flows

Federal funds once again available for Cache Creek flood study:  “Federal money could soon flow again for the preparation of a flood study on Lower Cache Creek after years of being “paused.”  Ironically, the news comes in advance of the Oct. 20-26 “Flood Preparedness Week,” that recognizes the risk of heavy rains that often lead to flooding on Cache Creek as well as other streams and tributaries along the Sacramento River.  Woodland’s City Council will also use the occasion to remind people of flooding that occurred in 1983 and 1995, in hopes of raising awareness of flood risks and the support of being prepared. … ”  Read more than Daily Democrat here:  Federal funds once again available for Cache Creek flood study

Channel work on Phase 3 of Putah Creek restoration complete:  “A hearing on a lawsuit brought against the Solano County Water Agency and the Central Valley Flood Protection Board about the Putah Creek restoration has been vacated – and the primary work on constructing a new creek channel at the old sewer ponds has been completed.  The hearing on the suit brought by the Friends of Putah Creek had been scheduled Wednesday. The court action challenging whether the California Environmental Quality Act was correctly applied to the project remains in place. No other court date has been set. … ”  Read more from the Daily Republic here:  Channel work on Phase 3 of Putah Creek restoration complete

Rain returns Northern California forecast: Will the Bay Area see any drops?: “Dry, mild conditions are in the forecast through the weekend around the San Francisco Bay Area, but early next week the weather pattern is expected to change as a low-pressure system moves into the West Coast.  The center of the storm is forecast hit the Pacific Northwest and the far reaches of Northern California, but the tail end could deliver some sprinkles to the Bay Area.  “We can't rule out a possibility of some rainfall in the North Bay,” says Roger Gass, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Monterey. ... ”  Read more from SF Gate here: Rain returns Northern California forecast: Will the Bay Area see any drops?

Election 2018: Massive plan to rebuild San Francisco's seawall on the ballot:  “Most visitors walking along the Embarcadero on San Francisco’s famed waterfront are familiar with the Ferry Building, the Giants ballpark, the Exploratorium and Fisherman’s Wharf.  But few might realize that none of those attractions would be possible without a low-profile workhorse that holds everything together: the Embarcadero Seawall, an aging, 3-mile-long, rock-and-concrete structure that rebuffs pounding tides and enabled the city to rise atop the tidal mudflats of San Francisco Bay. ... ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here: Election 2018: Massive plan to rebuild San Francisco’s seawall on the ballot

San Jose: The importance of our natural infrastructure:  “It’s been about a year and a half since the devastating flooding in downtown San José which tragically displaced 14,000 residents and caused over $100 million in damage. Not a day goes by when I don’t think about what nature did to prevent that tragedy from being even worse, and what more it could do to protect San José from future flooding disasters exacerbated by climate change. Yes, I said nature. The natural floodplains upstream of urban San José – known as Coyote Valley – capture, hold, and slow stormwater flows from Fisher and Coyote creeks. And the hills surrounding Coyote Valley absorb significant amounts of water too, further recharging our groundwater basin and helping to reduce flooding downstream. … ”  Read more from Bay Nature here:  The importance of our natural infrastructure

Modesto Irrigation District says it's close to having more storage in Lake McClure: Merced County area officials cleared a hurdle on Wednesday when the US Senate approved a plan officials hope could eventually result in more water storage at Lake McClure.  The Water Resources Development Act/America’s Water Infrastructure Act, which already passed the House, cleared the Senate with a 99-1 vote, officials said. The legislation could be signed into law in the coming days by President Donald Trump. … ”  Read more from the Merced Sun-Star here: Modesto Irrigation District says it’s close to having more storage in Merced County reservoir

Is drought our new normal? asks the Santa Maria Times:  They write, “Gov. Jerry Brown issued an executive order in April 2017 declaring an end to the state’s drought emergency. As college football analyst Lee Corso might say — not so fast, my friend.  Brown’s order covered most of California’s counties, including Santa Barbara County. But the rest of the story is that the drought is far from over locally. In fact, county water managers are not even cautiously optimistic.  One county official warned recently that despite the governor’s assertion that happy, wet days are here again, they are not. Officials can follow that lead with some confidence, because the numbers don’t lie. … ”  Read more from the Santa Maria Times here:  Is drought our new normal?

Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority's light agenda features POAM, Prop 1 status:  “The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority meets Thursday at 11 a.m. at Ridgecrest City Council council chambers, 100 W. California Ave.  The Groundwater Authority board will have a light agenda, including a report from Steve Johnson, the water resources manager and president of Stetson Engineers.  Johnson’s report will include discussion of the Groundwater Authority’s Plan of Action and Milestones, which serves as the agency’s roadmap in developing the Groundwater Sustainability Plan, as well as topics including the status of a Proposition 1 grant application, and updates on the pumping fee status and schedule. ... ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here:  Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority’s light agenda features POAM, Prop 1 status

Apple Valley awaits ruling on utility takeover:  “Residents were told Tuesday that officials are still waiting on a court ruling to determine the scope of the town’s lawsuit against water provider Liberty Utilities.  An August hearing was held to determine what factors should be considered in determining whether the town has the right to acquire Liberty’s water system. Kendall MacVey, an attorney with the law firm of Best Best and Krieger, told about 80 residents at an informational meeting at Town Hall that “we still have not gotten a decision. That decision may affect how the case unfolds.” ... ”  Read more from the Desert Dispatch here:  Apple Valley awaits ruling on utility takeover

Overdue dredging starts this week at Oceanside Harbor:  “Dredging to clear a growing sand bar at the entrance to the Oceanside harbor is scheduled to start Thursday, six months after the annual spring cleaning was cancelled for the lack of a permit.  Low tides and high surf can cause problems and even capsize boats at the harbor’s mouth, which steadily fills with sand pushed by ocean currents and waves. The goal of dredging is to reduce the hazards by keeping the channel at least 20 feet deep, though at times it can be less than half that. … ” Read more from the San Diego Union Tribune here: Overdue dredging starts this week at Oceanside Harbor

Del Mar City Council restates opposition to managed retreat:  “The Del Mar City Council reaffirmed its opposition to using “managed retreat” to respond to the threat of flooding due to sea level rise in the coming decades, at its meeting on Monday, Oct. 15.  The council unanimously approved a “commitment resolution” that spells out its approach to dealing with the potential of sea level rise — including a rejection of managed retreat — in preparation for submitting its sea level rise adaptation plan to the California Coastal Commission for approval. … ”  Read more from the Del Mar Times here: Del Mar City Council restates opposition to managed retreat

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

BAY DELTA SCIENCE CONFERENCE: The Delta Conservation Framework: Realizing a Vision for a Sustainable Delta by 2050

NEWS WORTH NOTING: DWR breaks ground on Dutch Slough tidal restoration project (with photos); EPA releases earthquake preparedness tools for community water systems

SCIENCE NEWS: The importance of our natural infrastructure; Turbulent history on the San Joaquin River; Economic analysis provides watershed moment for environmental groups; A tale of two paths to the world in 2050; and more …

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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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