DAILY DIGEST, weekend edition: In this water-starved California town, one citrus farmer is trying to hang on; More on border wall funding and Bay Delta Plan lawsuits; Governor Newsom pushes drinking water fix; New year, new laws affecting water; and more …

In California water news this weekend, In this water-starved California town, one citrus farmer is trying to hang on; Trump eyes taking money from California flood projects to pay for border wall; Bay Delta Plan lawsuits, Gavin Newsom makes surprise trip to Stanislaus County to discuss drinking water fix; New year, new laws affecting water; Warning: A ‘Shrinking Window’ of Usable Groundwater; House votes to reopen Interior, EPA as shutdown fight wages on; Next president could declare climate emergency, GOP fears; and more …

In the news this weekend …

In this water-starved California town, one citrus farmer is trying to hang on:  “Citrus groves spread out in rows across the desert in Borrego Springs, forming a lush green oasis against a backdrop of bone-dry mountains. When the grapefruit and lemon trees bloom on Jim Seley’s farm, the white blossoms fill the air with their sweet scent.  His father founded the farm in 1957, and Seley has been farming here since 1964. He and his son, Mike, manage the business, and they hope to pass it on to the next generation of Seleys.  But the farms of Borrego Springs, like the town and its golf courses, rely completely on groundwater pumped from the desert aquifer. And it’s unclear whether farming will be able to survive in this part of the Southern California desert west of the Salton Sea in San Diego County. … ”  Read more from the Desert Sun here:  In this water-starved California town, one citrus farmer is trying to hang on

BORDER WALL FUNDING

Trump could divert money from Folsom Dam to fund a border wall; Democrats vow a fight: “President Donald Trump is reportedly considering raiding disaster recovery funding — including more than $1.7 billion for Sacramento-area flood protection projects — to help pay for a wall on the southern border.  Congressional Democrats are promising a fight.  “Congress allocated these taxpayer dollars for vital flood protection projects all over the country, including projects that safeguard Sacramento and over half a million of my constituents,” Democratic Rep. Doris Matsui of Sacramento said in a statement. “It’s unconscionable that President Trump wants to take Sacramento’s flood protection funding away to build his border wall, which he repeated, time and time again, that Mexico would pay for.” ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Trump could divert money from Folsom Dam to fund a border wall; Democrats vow a fight

White house considers diverting San Francisco Bay money to pay for Trump’s wall: “The Trump administration is considering diverting millions of dollars from San Francisco Bay shoreline restoration and flood control to help build the president’s wall on the southern border — part of a bigger plan under consideration to move disaster relief money to the project.  The White House is looking at nearly $2.5 billion allocated for California projects being worked on by the Army Corps of Engineers as possible sources to fund President Trump’s wall, according to a list of targeted projects obtained by The Chronicle from a source familiar with discussions. The White House could try to tap the money if Trump declares a national emergency along the U.S.-Mexico border to get around Congress’ refusal to approve his request for $5.7 billion for wall construction. … ”  Read more from the SF Chronicle here:  White house considers diverting San Francisco Bay money to pay for Trump’s wall

Trump eyes taking money from California flood projects to pay cost; San Jose levee project among flood control efforts on list: “President Trump is considering taking more than $2 billion already approved by Congress for flood control projects in California to help fund the building of his controversial border wall, according to a Democratic lawmaker.  Rep. John Garamendi, D-Fairfield, said in an interview Friday that the Army Corps of Engineers presented a list of funded-but-unbuilt projects — including new levees to protect homes, schools and businesses on San Francisco Bay’s shoreline in North San Jose — to the president as he headed to Texas on Thursday to bolster his case for a $5.7 billion border wall. ... ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  Trump eyes taking money from California flood projects to pay cost; San Jose levee project among flood control efforts on list

BAY DELTA PLAN LAWSUITS

San Francisco joins lawsuit against Bay Delta Plan:  “The city and County of San Francisco Thursday joined a lawsuit against the state’s implementation of a plan to increase water flows to the lower San Joaquin River and southern Delta.  The lawsuit is largely a technicality to buy time while agencies including the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission work together to create an alternative plan that will be good for both the environment and residents, city officials said.  The Bay-Delta Plan would increase flows from rivers including the San Joaquin River to about 40 percent of what would normally occur with no dams. Environmental groups support the plan, while some city water agencies worry that it might reduce the amount of drinking water for residents. … ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  San Francisco joins lawsuit against Bay Delta Plan

Turlock Irrigation District joins other agencies in lawsuit challenging river flows:  “After the State Water Resources Control Board voted in December to approve a vehemently-opposed plan set to increase unimpaired flows along local rivers, local legislators and water agencies vowed to take the case to court — a promise which came true Thursday as the San Joaquin Tributaries Authority filed a lawsuit challenging the decision.  The plan, known as the Bay-Delta Plan Update, calls for increased allocation of 30 to 50 percent of unimpaired flows along the San Joaquin River and its tributaries — the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers. … ”  Read more from the Turlock Journal here:  Turlock Irrigation District joins other agencies in lawsuit challenging river flows

SSJID suing the state:  “Calling a state move to commandeer water from irrigation districts “arbitrary” and “capricious” four agencies — including the South San Joaquin Irrigation District — are suing the State of California over a decision to increase unimpaired water flows on three rivers with the goal of increasing salmon population by 1,103 more fish a year.  The suit filed Thursday in Tuolumne County where both SSJID and Oakdale Irrigation District have senior adjudicated water rights on the Stanislaus River Basin that supersede every other claim to water seeks an injunction against the Department of Water Resources Control Board. The goal is to stop a Dec. 12 board decision that would require a 40 percent unimpaired flow between February and June on the Stanislaus, Merced, and Tuolumne rivers to bolster salmon population. … ”  Read more from the Manteca Bulletin here:  SSJID suing the state

State’s water grab forced our hand; Merced’s lawsuit justified and necessary, says the Merced Sun-Star:  They write, “The State Water Resources Control Board proved back on Dec. 12 that it wasn’t listening to a single thing anyone from our region was saying. By voting to impose draconian and scientifically unjustifiable water restrictions on our region, four of the five board members tuned out dozens of scientists, water professionals and people who live near the rivers.  If the water board won’t listen to us, maybe judges will.  Merced Irrigation District was the first of six Northern California water agencies demanding to be heard in court, filing its lawsuit in December. Now there are two more challenging the water board’s indefensible vote to adopt Phase I of the Bay-Delta Water Quality Plan. … ”  Read more from the Merced Sun-Star here:  State’s water grab forced our hand; Merced’s lawsuit justified and necessary

DRINKING WATER

In ‘surprise’ trip to Stanislaus County, Gavin Newsom discusses fixes for bad water: “A day after proposing a tax on drinking water, Gov. Gavin Newsom took a “surprise” road trip to meet with Stanislaus County residents in a community known for having unsafe wells.  Newsom and his cabinet made their first stop at the Monterey Park Tract in Ceres, where he held a roundtable discussion with people who for years had to use bottled water for drinking and cooking because their community’s two wells were long-contaminated with nitrates and arsenic. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  In ‘surprise’ trip to Stanislaus County, Gavin Newsom discusses fixes for bad water

Column: Governor Newsom delivers a message: ‘We’re in this together’:  Mike Dunbar writes, “What brought Gov. Gavin Newsom and his 11 cabinet members to Stanislaus County for an unannounced visit on Friday afternoon? It wasn’t a photo-op; he tried to keep the trip secret from the press.  No, this was a sightseeing trip.  The governor wanted some of the most influential people in California to see Monterey Park Tract. This poor community of roughly 240 that sits on the pancake-flat plain of western Stanislaus County, about eight miles from Modesto. ... ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:   Governor Newsom delivers a message: ‘We’re in this together’

California’s unfilled promise on access to safe water:  Phoebe Seaton writes,In 2012, former Gov. Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 685, making California the first state in the nation to legally recognize the human right to water. With climate change worsening an already inequitable water system, it’s important that Gov. Gavin Newsom support legislation to ensure California realizes the promise of clean water for all.  While most Californians believe strongly that all Californians should have safe drinking water, most Californians don’t understand the breadth of contaminants that impact communities throughout the state, and how significant those impacts are. ... ”  Read more from the Riverside Press-Enterprise here:  California’s unfilled promise on access to safe water

In office less than a week & governor wants to tax your drinking water, says Dennis Wyatt:  He writes, “These are taxing times we live in.  If you doubt that Gov. Gavin Newsom said while he expects the projected state budget surplus for the coming fiscal year that was estimated by the legislative analyst’s office as $14.8 billion will be closer to $21.5 billion he’s pushing to tax your drinking water.  That’s right. Sacramento is experiencing a tsunami of unexpected tax revenue so the governor wants to increase taxes. Jerry Brown wasn’t kidding when he warned on his way out the door that his biggest concern going forward were the Democrats he left behind were going to go on a spending spree. … ”  Read more from the Manteca Bulletin here:  In office less than a week & governor wants to tax your drinking water

OTHER STATEWIDE NEWS

More wildfires, drought and climate change bring devastating changes to California wildlands: “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. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  More wildfires, drought and climate change bring devastating changes to California wildlands

New year, new laws affecting water:  Scroll down the page of this article by Best Best & Krieger to get to the section on water and CEQA here: New Year, New Laws Impacting Public Agencies in California

NATIONAL NEWS

Warning: A ‘Shrinking Window’ of Usable Groundwater: “We’re living beyond our means when it comes to groundwater. That’s probably not news to everyone, but new research suggests that, deep underground in a number of key aquifers in some parts of the United States, we may have much less water than previously thought.  “We found that the average depth of water resources across the country was about half of what people had previously estimated,” says Jennifer McIntosh, a distinguished scholar and professor of hydrology and atmospheric sciences at the University of Arizona. ... ”  Read more from The Revelator here: Warning: A ‘Shrinking Window’ of Usable Groundwater

What warmer oceans mean for the planet:  “Our oceans are much warmer than we previously thought, according to a new study. They are also heating up faster than was believed, driven by climate change caused by humans.  The study, published this week in the journal Science, showed that the world’s oceans have got much warmer since the 1960s. Its authors said 2018 would be the warmest year on record for oceans. … ”  Read more from KEYT here:  What warmer oceans mean for the planet

House votes to reopen Interior, EPA as shutdown fight wages on: “The House approved legislation that would fund and reopen the Interior Department, Environmental Protection Agency and Forest Service in an 240-179 vote on Friday, the latest effort by Democrats to put pressure on Republicans and President Trump to end the partial shutdown.  Ten Republicans joined Democrats in voting for the measure.  It’s the fourth measure approved by the Democratic-controlled House this week. Democrats are voting on a series of bills to open up the parts of the government closed since Dec. 22, which has left about 800,000 federal workers furloughed or working without pay. … ”  Read more from The Hill here:  House votes to reopen Interior, EPA as shutdown fight wages on

Next president could declare climate emergency, GOP fears: “Republicans are increasingly concerned that President Trump’s threat to build a border wall by declaring a national emergency might be repeated by a future president who sees climate change as an existential danger to the United States.  A number of Republicans, including Sens. John Thune of South Dakota and Marco Rubio of Florida, expressed dismay at the potential reverberations of issuing an emergency order to achieve a political victory.  “We have to be careful about endorsing broad uses of executive power,” Rubio said Wednesday on CNBC. “If today the national emergency is border security, tomorrow the national emergency might be climate change.” ... ”  Read more from E&E News here:  Next president could declare climate emergency, GOP fears

In regional news and commentary this weekend …

Endangered coho returning to North Bay to spawn in streams, with mixed results:  “Standing on a stone bridge overlooking Lagunitas Creek in west Marin County, giddy onlookers observed a male coho salmon swimming upstream toward a nesting area guarded by a female.  Naturalist Catie Clune explained that male coho have a mere 20 seconds to fertilize hundreds of eggs laid by females. It’s a delicate, acutely time-sensitive task crucial for the survival of one of Northern California’s iconic species — and one most people have never witnessed.  Yes, you read that right, 20 seconds.  “This is amazing,” said Larry Martin, a retired food and wine professional from Forestville. “I’ve pretty much lived here my whole life and never seen a salmon spawning in a creek.” … ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here:  Endangered coho returning to North Bay to spawn in streams, with mixed results

San Mateo: Ducks dead of avian cholera: Officials drain popular Redwood Shores bird-watching pond as precaution: “A popular Redwood Shores bird-watching pond was drained Friday as officials try containing an outbreak of avian cholera they believe is behind the death of 150 ducks in the past week.  The South Bayside System Authority’s pond — technically called a landscape impoundment at 1400 Radio Road in southeast Redwood Shores — draws tens of thousands of birds and birdwatchers. But ducks began dying Friday, Jan. 3 and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials think the avian cholera confirmed in Hayward has spread to the Peninsula. … ”  Read more from the Daily Journal here:  Ducks dead of avian cholera: Officials drain popular Redwood Shores bird-watching pond as precaution

State grant to assist Santa Cruz coastal erosion planning:  “While a jewel of the city, Santa Cruz’s 2.5-mile scenic West Cliff Drive poses significant long-term danger in the form of coastal erosion.  Taking a step toward planning for the impacts of climate change, sea level rise and storm damage on the city’s ocean bluffs and pocket beaches, the city has secured a $353,677 California Department of Transportation grant to fund its West Cliff Drive Adaptation and Management Plan, an effort underway since October but moving into high gear this month. The city will kick in $45,825 of its own funding — in the form of staff time working on the project — to pay for the plan’s development. ... ”  Read more from the Santa Cruz Sentinel here:  State grant to assist Santa Cruz coastal erosion planning

Why Cal Am project should not go forward Kathy Biala and David Brown write,In the Jan. 5 Herald, former mayors Bill Kampe (PG), Ralph Rubio (Seaside) and Jerry Edelen (Del Rey Oaks), authored a column entitled, “New Peninsula leaders must finish job on water project,” referring to the Cal Am proposed slant well desalination project in Marina that would extract massive amounts of not ocean water, but mixed seawater and freshwater from Marina’s 180-foot aquifer. To the contrary, it is time for new Peninsula leaders, and incumbent ones, to consider whether this project is warranted, economically feasible and in the best interests of the public both on the Peninsula and in Marina. Here’s why:  First and foremost, Cal Am does not have the legal right to draw on Marina’s coastal 180-foot aquifer. Neither the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), nor any other governmental agency, has addressed this issue. … ”  Read more from the Monterey Herald here:  Why Cal Am project should not go forward

Along the Colorado River …

Arizona governor, lawmakers call water their top priority:  “Gov. Doug Ducey and state legislative leaders said Friday that approving a drought contingency plan before the end of January is their No. 1 priority during the annual session starting next week.  The Republican governor and the lawmakers spoke Friday to about 1,300 people at the yearly legislative outlook held by the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry at the Arizona Biltmore Resort.  The contingency plan must pass the state Legislature this month or run the risk having federal water managers impose unspecified measures. The legislative session opens Monday with the governor’s annual State of the State address. … ”  Read more from The News Tribune here:  Arizona governor, lawmakers call water their top priority

Arizona lawmakers under pressure to approve seven-state Colorado River drought plan before federal deadline: “Years of drought planning between the seven Western states that rely on the overtaxed, climate-withered Colorado River comes down to Arizona lawmakers in the next two-and-half weeks.  With a federal deadline of Jan. 31 for the states to forge a collaborative Drought Contingency Plan, Arizona remains the lone holdout. The plans for each of the states — California, Arizona and Nevada in the Lower Basin, and Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming in the Upper Basin — outline strategies for reducing demands on the Colorado River before water storage in the already record-low Lake Mead and Lake Powell drop to catastrophically low levels. ... ”  Read more from the Colorado Sun here:  Arizona lawmakers under pressure to approve seven-state Colorado River drought plan before federal deadline

Arizona lawmakers optimistic about passing monumental drought plan:  “Up against a federal deadline to approve a Colorado River drought plan — a “generational change” in Arizona water management — four key legislators say they’re optimistic they’ll meet it.  Led by House Speaker Rusty Bowers, a Mesa Republican, they see the Legislature as ready — finally — to officially endorse the plan. That’s even though competing water interest groups still have highly visible disagreements about it.  From the opening day of its 2019 session on Monday, Jan. 14, the Legislature has until Jan. 31 to pass a resolution putting its stamp of approval on the plan. … ”  Read more from Tuscon.com here:  Arizona lawmakers optimistic about passing monumental drought plan

Precipitation watch …

From NWS Sacramento: Monday will begin the period of active weather with the heaviest precipitation likely between Tuesday and Thursday. Moderate to locally heavy rainfall across Valley locations, significant mountain snowfall, and windy conditions are all likely with these systems.

Also on Maven’s Notebook this weekend …

APPOINTMENTS: Governor Newsom Appoints Natural Resources and Labor Secretaries, Senior Advisors, and Communications Staff

CALENDAR EVENTS: Bridging the gap: Increasing capture of flood flows during extreme weather events; CA Water Law Symposium: SGMA & beyond; Intro to groundwater and groundwater sustainability plans; Certificate in water management and leadership

SURVEY: Take a Survey on Energy Used For Groundwater Pumping

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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.

Maven’s Notebook
where California water news never goes home for the weekend

no weekends

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