DAILY DIGEST: California water projects could be tapped to pay for Trump’s border wall; San Francisco, Irrigation districts sue the State Board; Zero Delta smelt found in CDFW Fall Midwater Trawl; Supreme Court to decide if CEQA review is required for well permits; and more …

In California water news today, California water projects could be tapped to pay for Trump’s border wall; San Francisco sues state over potentially drastic reductions; Fight over water heads to court: Irrigation districts sue the State Board; For the first time ever, zero Delta smelt found in CDFW Fall Midwater Trawl; Gavin Newsom budget calls for drinking water tax to help poor communities; Supreme Court to decide if CEQA review is required for well permits; Parade of storms to bring soaking rain and feet of snow to California through next week; Forests, farms, and the global carbon sink: it’s happening; and more …

On the calendar today …

In the news today …

California water projects could be tapped to pay for Trump’s border wall:  “Officials have given President Trump a plan to divert funds designated for Army Corps of Engineers projects in California and Puerto Rico to help pay for a wall along the southern border, a leading member of Congress said Thursday.  On his way to the Texas border Thursday, Trump was presented with 13 Army Corps of Engineers projects for which Congress has allocated money, but which have not yet been put under contract, according to Rep. John Garamendi (D-Walnut Grove).  Those funds potentially could be tapped for building a border barrier if Trump declares a national emergency, which he said Thursday he is strongly inclined to do. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  California water projects could be tapped to pay for Trump’s border wall

BAY DELTA PLAN LAWSUITS

San Francisco sues state over potentially drastic reductions:  “The city of San Francisco is not standing down in California’s latest water war, joining a lawsuit against the state on Thursday to stop it from directing more of the Sierra Nevada’s cool, crisp flows to fish instead of people.  City officials contend the State Water Resources Control Board is overreaching with a new, sweeping plan to restore California’s depleted river system by limiting draws on such water supplies as San Francisco’s Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in Yosemite. The plan, according to city estimates, will force Bay Area households to cut water use by 20 percent or more. ... ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: San Francisco sues state over potentially drastic reductions

Fight over water heads to court: Irrigation districts sue the State Board:  “As expected, a state plan to require higher flows for salmon in the Tuolumne, Stanislaus and Merced rivers has spawned a flurry of lawsuits from irrigation districts in the Northern San Joaquin Valley, charging the plan won’t help the fish but will cause extensive economic harm.  Thursday, the San Joaquin Tributaries Authority filed a detailed suit in Tuolumne County on behalf of its members, including the Turlock, Oakdale and South San Joaquin irrigation districts and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.  The suit challenges a Dec. 12 decision by the State Water Resources Control Board approving the Bay-Delta water quality control plan, which requires districts to leave 40 percent of watershed runoff in the rivers to increase salmon populations. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  Fight over water heads to court: Irrigation districts sue the State Board

San Francisco, farmers team up to fight California’s ‘water grab’: “The liberal city of San Francisco and conservative farmers in the San Joaquin Valley don’t have much in common politically. But they do agree on one thing: California regulators are going to take too much of their water and give it to endangered fish.  On Thursday, San Francisco joined a cadre of irrigation districts that pull water from the tributaries that flow into the Lower San Joaquin River in filing a lawsuit against a plan by the State Water Resources Control Board to take billions of gallons of their water. … ” Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  San Francisco, farmers team up to fight California’s ‘water grab’

FISH TRAWL

For the first time ever, zero Delta smelt found in CDFW Fall Midwater Trawl:  “For the first time ever, a fish survey that the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) conducts every autumn turned up zero Delta smelt throughout the monitoring sites in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta in September, October, November and December 2018.  The smelt, a 2 to 3 inch fish listed under both federal and state Endangered Species Acts, is found only in the Delta estuary. It is regarded as an indicator species, a fish that demonstrates the health of the entire Delta ecosystem. ... ”  Continue reading from Dan Bacher at the FishSniffer here:  For the first time ever, zero Delta smelt found in CDFW Fall Midwater Trawl

GOVERNOR’S BUDGET

Gavin Newsom budget calls for drinking water tax to help poor communities: “Tackling what promises to be a controversial issue, Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed a tax on drinking water Thursday to help disadvantaged communities clean up contaminated water systems.  Newsom’s plan for a “safe and affordable drinking water fund,” included in the new governor’s first budget proposal, attempts to revive an idea that died in the Legislature last year.  A McClatchy investigation last year showed that at least 360,000 Californians rely on water that does not meet state standards for toxins. McClatchy also found that 6 million Californians have water providers that have violated state standards at some point since 2012. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Gavin Newsom budget calls for drinking water tax to help poor communities

What does Governor Newsom’s proposed budget mean for you?  “California’s projected budget surplus has soared to a record $21.5 billion, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Thursday during his first state budget proposal in which he finally put dollar signs behind some of the soaring rhetoric that defined his campaign and inauguration.  Now that he’s governor, what does he plan do with those billions?  In a packed news conference that lasted nearly two hours, Newsom proposed using nearly half of the windfall to pay down the state’s debts and pension obligations and add to its reserves while using the rest to shore up funding for the state’s public colleges and universities, early childhood education, housing production, homeless services and other programs for the poor. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  What does Governor Newsom’s proposed budget mean for you?

OTHER STATEWIDE NEWS

Supreme Court to decide if CEQA review is required for well permits:  “The Supreme Court of California has granted review of two cases to resolve a split among courts of appeal over whether the issuance of well permits pursuant to state standards is subject to CEQA. California Water Impact Network v. County of San Luis Obispo and Protecting Our Water & Environmental Resources v. Stanislaus County.  At the forefront of these cases is whether the standards issued by the Department of Water Resources for well construction give local agencies any discretion when issuing well permits. Water is a critical resource in the state and with enactment of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act in 2014, groundwater, particularly its sustainable withdrawal and quality, are issues receiving more attention. Consequently, the practice of ministerial approval of well construction permits by local agencies without discretionary environmental review have come under increasing scrutiny. … ”  Read more from the California Land Use and Development Law Report here:  Supreme Court to decide if CEQA review is required for well permits

Parade of storms to bring soaking rain and feet of snow to California through next week:  “California will be under a siege of storm systems through next week that will send rounds of soaking rain across the state and snow into the Sierra Nevada.  The storms will be guided toward California through a strong jet stream over the Pacific Ocean. It’s possible the Golden State could be affected by three or four separate weather systems through the end of next week.  Each one of the storms will deliver soaking rain through the lower elevations as well as snowfall in the Sierra Nevada. … ”  Read more from The Weather Channel here:  Parade of storms to bring soaking rain and feet of snow to California through next week

Forests, farms, and the global carbon sink: it’s happening:  “Arthur “A.G.” Kawamura’s family has been growing fruits and vegetables in the US state of California for three generations, but they’ve never seen heat like this. “We’ve had two once-in-a-millennium heatwaves in the past two years,” says Kawamura. “The climate is changing, and farmers have to change with it.”  Fred Yoder’s family has survived four generations of farming in Iowa – in part, he says, because they’ve always been willing to roll with the changes. “Farmers are nothing if not adaptable,” he says. “We’ve all been adapting to a changing climate, whether we admit it or not.”  But farmers aren’t just adapting to climate change; they’re also key to reversing it, as a 2017 summary of existing research and practices made clear. ... ”  Continue reading at the Ecosystem Marketplace here:  Forests, farms, and the global carbon sink: it’s happening

‘Race against time’: Chair of new congressional climate change panel wants quick action: “The warnings about climate change are dire: bigger floods, larger fires, larger storms.  Most experts agree there’s little to prevent these catastrophes without swift action on climate change.  Enter Rep. Kathy Castor, the Florida Democrat that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has chosen to chair the new Select Committee on the Climate Crisis.  A Capitol Hill veteran and clean energy champion with a background as an environmental lawyer, the Tampa Democrat plans to shine a light on the very climate issues many Democratic candidates ran on in November to win back the House. … ”  Read more from USA Today here:  ‘Race against time’: Chair of new congressional climate change panel wants quick action

In commentary today …

The state ignored us; it’s time to go to court, says the Modesto Bee:  “The water districts who filed a lawsuit against the State Water Resources Control Board on Thursday called it the “unfortunate culmination” of five years worth of efforts to reach a compromise on river flows.  We’ll use other words – like “inevitable,” because of the water board’s refusal to balance the needs of humans with those of the environment. And “necessary,” to protect our region’s rivers, thousands of food-industry jobs and the water rights that have sustained this Valley for more than a century. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  The state ignored us; it’s time to go to court

In regional news and commentary today …

Southern California’s ecosystem evolved to survive fire, but not like this:  “Summer had not yet arrived, but already the hillside on the edge of Los Padres National Forest was the color of toast.  Even a brilliantly sunny day couldn’t dress up the dull palette of invasive grasses that had transformed the slope into a dried-up weed patch.  Only a sprinkling of young shrubs provided a hint of what the spot looked like before it had burned — again and again and again.  In the last 22 years, three wildfires have swept across the area, all but erasing the cover of gray-green sage scrub documented in 1930s aerial photographs. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Southern California’s ecosystem evolved to survive fire, but not like this

Along the Colorado River …

Arizona faces unresolved issues as lawmakers prepare to take up Colorado River drought plan: “With a federal deadline to sign a Colorado River drought deal three weeks away, Arizona water managers are still grappling with several unresolved issues that could get in the way of finishing an agreement. The outstanding issues, some of which are proving contentious, range from developers’ concerns about securing future water supplies to lining up funding for Pinal County farmers to drill wells and begin to pump more groundwater. A disagreement has also flared up over the terms of an “offset” provision that involves leaving water in Lake Mead to boost the levels of the dwindling reservoir. ... ”  Read more from Arizona Central here:  Arizona faces unresolved issues as lawmakers prepare to take up Colorado River drought plan

Precipitation watch …

A couple of weather systems will Skim Northern California as they head into the southern half of the state. The Central, SBA south coast and western Ventura Counties could see up to three inches, whereas LA could see up to an inch.

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

BAY DELTA SCIENCE CONFERENCE: A Review of Water Quality Science in the Delta: Chemical contaminants and nutrients

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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