DAILY DIGEST: Snowpack off to a great start this season; Tiny salamanders could stand in the way of raising Shasta Dam; Brown’s water deal is not certain; Climate assessment indicates serious changes for the San Joaquin Valley; and more …

In California water news today, Snowpack off to a great start this season; Tiny salamanders could stand in the way of Shasta Dam raise project; Jerry Brown’s new water deal is not certain; Climate Assessment Indicates Serious Changes For The San Joaquin Valley; Will more permits to chop down Christmas trees help thin California’s forests and prevent wildfires?; The surprise reincarnation of Owens Lake; Arizona’s CAP could act on drought plan at Thursday meeting; and more …

On the calendar today …

In the news today …

Snowpack off to a great start this season:  “California’s Sierra Nevada, the state’s increasingly crucial reservoir, is off to a well-above-normal snowpack to begin the wet season.  Many of the peaks are seeing double the normal amount of snowpack compared to early-December averages.  Several systems, including the disturbance that became Winter Storm Carter, have dumped feet of snow in the Sierra since late November. Snowfall totals ranged from three to five feet of snow in Carter alone.  … ”  Read more from the Weather Channel here:  Snowpack off to a great start this season

Series of Pacific storms raises hope for a wet El Nino season:  “Southern California was in the midst of its fourth rain event of the season this week and with another expected next week, some experts believe the arrival of the weather phenomenon known as El Niño could be imminent.  While it may be too early to link the Pacific storms to El Niño, the federal Climate Prediction Center’s El Niño “diagnostics discussion” could make the call next week on Dec. 13. … ”  Read more from NBC News here:  Series of Pacific storms raises hope for a wet El Nino season

Tiny salamanders could stand in the way of Shasta Dam raise project:  “A trio of tiny salamanders could stand in the way of a massive $1.4 billion project to raise the height of Shasta Dam.  An environmental organization has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, asking a judge to force the federal agency to make a determination on whether three salamander species living around Lake Shasta should be protected under the Endangered Species Act.  The suit was filed after the wildlife service failed to act on a 2012 request from the Center for Biological Diversity to list the three amphibian species as either endangered or threatened under federal law. ... ”  Read more from the Redding Record Searchlight here:  Tiny salamanders could stand in the way of Shasta Dam raise project

Dan Walters: Jerry Brown’s new water deal is not certain:  “Water supply is clearly the most important long-term issue affecting California’s future. It’s also the most politically complicated.  Incremental changes in California water policy typically take years, if not decades, to work their way through seemingly infinite legal, regulatory and political processes at federal, state and local levels — and the conflicts often are over the processes themselves.  Often, too, seeming breakthroughs on specific conflicts crumble into dust once they are revealed to the hundreds of “stakeholders.” ... ”  Read more from Cal Matters here:  Jerry Brown’s new water deal is not certain

Senator Kamala Harris opposes big ag water deal by McCarthy, Feinstein, Brown, and Trump: In tweet today, Senator Kamala Harris announced her opposition to the controversial Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act) proposed by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein and supported by the Jerry Brown and Donald Trump administrations in a deal designed to increase water deliveries to agribusiness. … ”  Read more from the Daily Kos here:  Senator Kamala Harris opposes big ag water deal by McCarthy, Feinstein, Brown, and Trump

Climate Assessment Indicates Serious Changes For The San Joaquin Valley: The Fresno Council of Governments held a symposium Tuesday to mull over the findings of California’s recently issued Fourth Climate Change Assessment. Since its last assessment in 2012, the state has experienced several of the most extreme climate related natural events in its history. Unlike the Trump administration’s climate change denial, many Central Valley leaders are taking the study’s stark conclusions seriously. One of those conclusions is that the San Joaquin Valley’s environment and economy will be dramatically impacted by the end of the century. Vic Bedoian reports from Fresno.”

Will more permits to chop down Christmas trees help thin California’s forests and prevent wildfires?  “In a patch of forest a few miles from Lake Tahoe’s shore, Susie Kocher and her family are crunching through the snow to find a Christmas tree.  She cuts down her own every year, going on a quarter-century, and this time she wants one with enough branches to put on “a ton” of ornaments. When her family finally finds the perfect tree, her grandson yells “Timber!” as it crashes into a few feet of snow.  “Basically, we have a family party every year,” she said of the tree hunt. “We invite them up and we have a potluck, and then get in the cars and drive to the permit location. People were huffing and puffing through the snow looking for the tree.” … ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here:  Will more permits to chop down Christmas trees help thin California’s forests and prevent wildfires?

Poll: Two-thirds of voters concerned about Trump Administration climate change report:  “About two-thirds of voters are concerned about the recent federal government report warning of potential dire consequences for the United States due to climate change, according to a new poll.  A POLITICO/Morning Consult poll published Thursday found that two-thirds of voters are either very or somewhat concerned about the findings of the report.   Another 58 percent of voters also agree that climate change is caused by human activity, the poll found.  … ”  Read more from The Hill here:  Poll: Two-thirds of voters concerned about Trump Administration climate change report

Tracking aquifer water with seismic noise:  “In drought-stressed areas like California where every drop in the aquifer counts, seismic noise may be the key to monitoring water. Harvard University PhD student and principal investigator Tim Clements spoke to EM about this recent work, and how it might be a game changer for water watchers across the country.  “The inspiration for this research was the historic drought in California from 2011 to 2017,” explains Clements. “This was the driest period in recorded history in the state. We started this research after California had implemented the first mandatory water restrictions in state history in 2015.” … ”  Read more from Environmental Monitor here:  Tracking aquifer water with seismic noise

In regional news and commentary today …

Heavy rains could threaten salmon spawn from toxic Camp Fire runoff:  “With the Camp Fire 100% contained, evacuation orders are slowly being lifted and roads are opening up allowing residents of Honey Run and Butte Creek Canyon to return to their property for the first time since being ravaged by the Camp Fire. However, with cleanup efforts still in their early stages the danger is far from over.  The Butte County Public Health Department has advised those entering fire damaged areas to use the utmost caution and to avoid disturbing ashes as they may contain hazardous chemicals warning that coming into direct contact with wet ash may result in a chemical burn. Property owners are advised not to remove ash or debris without approval from the Environmental Health Division. … ”  Read more from The Orion here:  Heavy rains could threaten salmon spawn from toxic Camp Fire runoff

The surprise reincarnation of Owens Lake:  “A century ago, Los Angeles pulled a sensational swindle. Agents from the city posed as farmers and ranchers and strategically bought up land in the lush Owens Valley, 200 miles to the north. Water rights in hand, the thirsty metropolis proceeded to drain the region via a great canal.  If the deception weren’t bad enough, the result was one of the nation’s worst ecological disasters. The 100-square-mile Owens Lake was emptied, creating a salt flat the size of San Francisco that unleashed enormous amounts of hazardous dust.  As recently as 2013, it remained the largest single source of dust pollution in the United States. … ”  Read more from California Sun here:  The surprise reincarnation of Owens Lake

‘Best Tasting Water in California’ has arsenic problem, Grand Jury finds, and that’s just the beginning: “A Kern County Grand Jury has given a water district on the eastern edge of the county 120 days to correct severe inadequacies in its business practices or it will be placed in receivership through the State Water Resources Control Board.  From leaks, to handshake deals, to members of the Board of Directors displaying a “lack of knowledge” of the responsibilities of their positions, the Grand Jury found a litany of problems with the Rand Communities Water District, which oversees water services for Randsburg, Johannesburg and Red Mountain, three former mining towns south of Ridgecrest that still attract occasional hikers and gold miners. … ”  Read more from Bakersfield.com here:  ‘Best Tasting Water in California’ has arsenic problem, Grand Jury finds, and that’s just the beginning

Pasadena: Construction Begins on Devil’s Gate Reservoir Sediment Removal Project: “The first stages of work on a long-delayed and controversial sediment removal project have begun at the Devil’s Gate Reservoir in Pasadena, at the southern end of Hahamongna Watershed Park.  County officials say they’ve worked for years to minimize the impact to the local community and wildlife as much as they can. But some local residents say they still have serious concerns.  “We’ve actually got the contractor on site. They’ve begun work,” Los Angeles County Department of Public Works Deputy Director Dan Lafferty said. “ The first portion of the work was taking a look at the 70 acres that we have in preservation in perpetuity as part of our mitigation for the project, and improving the habitat in that 70 acres. So taking out all of the invasive species that are there and making those 70 acres a better habitat for California native species.” … ”  Read more from Pasadena Now here:  Pasadena: Construction Begins on Devil’s Gate Reservoir Sediment Removal Project

Workers place 1,000 tons of rocks along Capo Beach to protect area as rain and high tides loom: Workers hauled big rocks in to Capistrano Beach on Wednesday, placing them along a stretch that collapsed last Friday — the latest damage in an area prone to weather destruction through the years.  Heavy machinery was being used to place the rocks along the shoreline, where last week waves and high tide battered the stretch of coast, causing a wooden walkway, sea wall, palm trees and light fixtures to collapse toward the ocean.  The damage also unearthed old cars dumped here and filled with cement decades ago when the sea wall was built. … ”  Read more from the OC Register here:  Workers place 1,000 tons of rocks along Capo Beach to protect area as rain and high tides loom

Along the Colorado River …

Gila River Indian Community Approves Major Deal to Provide Water to CAP: “In a major step forward for Arizona’s Drought Contingency Plan negotiations, the Gila River Indian Community Council voted unanimously Wednesday in favor of a deal to supply water to the Central Arizona Groundwater Replenishment District.  Under the deal, the Gila River Indian Community would supply the district, often referred to as CAGRD, with up to 830,000 acre-feet of desperately needed water over the next 25 years, starting in 2020. The board of the Central Arizona Project, which governs CAGRD, approved the deal in a meeting at the beginning of November. … ”  Read more from New Times Phoenix here:  Gila River Indian Community Approves Major Deal to Provide Water to CAP

CAP could act on drought plan at Thursday meeting:  “The board of the Central Arizona Water Conservation District meets Thursday in yet another high-stakes moment in the state’s effort to agree on a drought plan for the Colorado River.  The board could vote — or not — on a drought framework described last week in a meeting of the Arizona Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan Steering Committee.  The state’s plan has the backing of Gov. Ducey, Native American tribes and Valley cities, but was greeted with skepticism by Pinal County farmers and home builders. … ”  Read more from KJZZ here:  CAP could act on drought plan at Thursday meeting

EPA: Fish damage from mine spill wasn’t severe, long lasting:  “Fish and other aquatic life did not suffer severe or long-lasting damage from a mine waste spill three years ago that polluted rivers in three states, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said.  An EPA report released last week analyzed the 2015 spill at the inactive Gold King Mine in southwestern Colorado, which an EPA-led contractor inadvertently triggered. Rivers in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah were polluted with a bright yellow-orange plume carrying iron, aluminum and other metals. … ”  Read more from the Aspen Times here:  EPA: Fish damage from mine spill wasn’t severe, long lasting

Precipitation watch …

Norcal will see a mixed bag of weather over the next few days. Today and Friday should be mostly dry as an upper low moves into Socal. A weak system will skim the far north state early Saturday impacting only the far north state. A stronger system is expected to impact most of Norcal early next week but precipitation amounts do not appear will be excessive.

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

SCIENCE NEWS: Human actions impact wild salmon’s ability to evolve; A worm, a parasite, and a salmon; Wildfire ash could trap mercury; Tracking aquifer water with seismic noise; and more …

NEWS WORTH NOTING: Governor Brown appoints Sean Maguire to the State Water Resources Control Board; CDFW awards $13.2 million for fisheries habitat restoration and forest legacy projects

Today’s announcements …

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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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