DAILY DIGEST, weekend edition: Harder praises Trump, Denham for work to keep water for farmers; CA lawmakers seek funding for the polluted New River; New reservoir rules leave 2B more gallons of water in Lake Mendocino; Drought legislation takes shape in Arizona; and more …

In California water news this weekend, Strange bedfellows: Harder praises Trump, Denham for work to keep water for farmers; ‘A crisis of sewage’: California lawmakers seek funding for the polluted New River; Forecast Informed Reservoir Operations leave 2 billion gallons more water in Lake Mendocino after rains; Snow and wind expected in Tahoe on Sunday – avalanche warning issued for backcountry; Chances of El Nino continue to fade; With Jan. 31 deadline looming, water legislation takes shape in Arizona; and more …

In the news this weekend …

Strange bedfellows: Harder praises Trump, Denham for work to keep water for farmers: “When it comes to water, the lifeblood of the Central Valley, Democrats don’t have all the answers.  So says freshman Representative Josh Harder, suddenly one of the most powerful Democrats in these parts.  “Water is not a Republican or a Democratic issue,” Harder said Friday, with the La Grange Dam — where some of the Tuolumne River is diverted into canals for both the Modesto and Turlock irrigation districts — as a picturesque backdrop. The relatively tiny dam and its nearby big brother, Don Pedro Reservoir, represent “the foundation of water infrastructure in the valley,” he said — a symbolic place to discuss water policy as he begins a two-year congressional term. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  Strange bedfellows: Harder praises Trump, Denham for work to keep water for farmers

‘A crisis of sewage’: California lawmakers seek funding for the polluted New River: “For decades, the New River has flowed north across the U.S.-Mexico border carrying toxic pollution and the stench of sewage. Now lawmakers in Washington and Sacramento are pursuing new legislation and funding to combat the pollution problems.  Rep. Juan Vargas introduced a bill in Congress last week that would direct the Environmental Protection Agency to create a program focused on helping to coordinate funding for the restoration and protection of the New River.  Making a separate push in the California Legislature, Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia and Sen. Ben Hueso said they will ask Gov. Gavin Newsom to include $10 million in his budget proposal for a project that would encase a stretch of the river in an underground pipe where it passes next to a neighborhood in the border city of Calexico. … ”  Read more from the Desert Sun here: ‘A crisis of sewage’: California lawmakers seek funding for the polluted New River

Forecast Informed Reservoir Operations leave 2 billion gallons more water in Lake Mendocino after rains: “Heavy rains this week left Lake Mendocino, the North Bay region’s second-largest reservoir, with an extra 2 billion gallons of water that until now officials would have been obliged to release into the Russian River and eventually the Pacific Ocean.  With less than an inch of rain expected over the weekend and a subsequent long dry spell beginning next week, the Army Corps of Engineers plans to retain the water, enough for nearly 50,000 people for a year.  “We’re in new territory,” said Nick Malasavage, chief of operations and readiness at the Army Corps office in San Francisco. “We’re excited.” … ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here:  Lake Mendocino now can hold 22 billion gallons of water, most since its creation in 1958

Snow and wind expected in Tahoe on Sunday – avalanche warning issued for backcountry: “Those wanting to hit the slopes Sunday to enjoy the snow dropped by the blizzard conditions Wednesday in the Sierra, may want to take it slow and carry some water and an extra blanket along with those chains.  Forecasters are warning motorists of hazardous driving conditions Sunday as another storm rolls across the Tahoe area and other High Sierra spots.  A winter storm warning will be in effect from 9 a.m. Sunday to 4 a.m. Monday, said Jim Mathews, a meteorologist for the NWS in Sacramento. Elevations above 6,000 feet are expected to get 1 feet to 2 feet of snow, while higher peeks could receive as much as 3 feet of powder. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Snow and wind expected in Tahoe on Sunday – avalanche warning issued for backcountry

Chances of El Nino continue to fade:  “There is no “obvious indication” a long-anticipated El Nino will form this winter after all, according to a seasonal outlook issued Thursday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  NOAA continues to predict above-average temperatures for late winter and early spring in Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Northern California. But an expected El Nino is no longer a major reason for the temperate outlook.  A warm Pacific Ocean, El Nino’s essential ingredient, has not triggered the atmospheric conditions in the tropics that actually lead to mild winters in the northern U.S. … ”  Read more from the Capital Press here:  Chances of El Nino continue to fade

In Hopes Of Preserving Agricultural Land, California Farmland Trust Buys Development Rights For Nearly 70 Farms: “California Farmland Trust has bought the development rights for 16,000 acres of farmland in the Central Valley and Northern California, almost 70 farms in all.  Associate Director Melanee Cottrill said the goal is to keep the land in Sacramento, San Joaquin, Contra Costa, Stanislaus, Madera and Merced counties from being developed for housing or any other use.  “Every year, we lose estimated between 40- to 50,000 acres of farmland,” she said. “And primarily that’s because people want to live here. The same things that make this a great region for growing also makes it a great place for living.” … ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here:  In Hopes Of Preserving Agricultural Land, California Farmland Trust Buys Development Rights For Nearly 70 Farms

Almond farm of the future envisioned as doing with less:  “The almond orchard of the future will use less water and pesticide, and generate less waste and harvest-time dust, if goals announced Thursday morning by the Almond Board of California are met.  The goals are voluntary, but according to Almond Board Chair Holly King, “As a grower, each goal solves a problem or challenge, and creates an economic benefit.”  “We try to be a good steward of the land by doing more with less — less inputs, less applications, less trips into the field, obviously less water,” said Brian Wahlbrink, a Stanislaus County farmer and chair of the Almond Board’s Harvest Workgroup. ... ” Read more from the Capital Press here:  Almond farm of the future envisioned as doing with less

Democrats question acting EPA chief on urgency of climate change, impact of shutdown: “President Donald Trump’s nominee to take over the federal agency charged with protecting human health and the environment faced questions about the impact of the government shutdown on EPA and his views on climate change in a Senate hearing on Wednesday.  Andrew Wheeler took over the helm of Environmental Protection Agency in July after Scott Pruitt, the previous administrator, resigned amid increasing ethical questions and controversy. Wheeler had previously been confirmed as deputy administrator in April. ... ”  Read more from ABC 30 here:  Democrats question acting EPA chief on urgency of climate change, impact of shutdown

In commentary this weekend …

Newsom must set a new course on California water issues, says the San Jose Mercury News:  They write, “Since taking office Jan. 7, Gov. Gavin Newsom has not indicated how he intends to approach one of the state’s most pressing issues: water.  Former Gov. Jerry Brown wasted eight years trying to force California to push through his misguided $19 billion Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta twin-tunnels scheme, which wouldn’t add a drop of new water to the state’s supply.  It’s time to set a new course. ... ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  Newsom must set a new course on California water issues

Why Governor Newsom should save the Delta:  Barbara Barrigan-Parilla writes, “The confluence of California’s two great rivers, the Sacramento and the San Joaquin, create the largest estuary on the West Coast. Those of who live here call it, simply, the Delta.  It is essential to California’s future. That’s why we must save it.  In the early 1800s, this estuary teemed with salmon migrating to and from the rivers of the Sierra Nevada. Salmon were, as documented in photographs, so plentiful that you could harvest them from the river with a pitchfork. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  Why Governor Newsom should save the Delta

A compromise that’s good for the fish and the economy Brent Hastey writes,There are many things to look forward to in the new year and the ever-changing landscape of water policy. Some of the biggest topics to keep an eye on are the ongoing Bay-Delta negotiations and the proposed voluntary settlement agreements.  The State Water Resources Control Board has proposed flow requirements for rivers that feed the Delta based on a percentage of ‘unimpaired flows,’ which would require a large portion of each watershed’s total flow to be dedicated to the Delta. If approved, this ‘unimpaired flows’ approach would have significant impacts on farms, communities throughout California and the environment. … ”  Read more from The Union here:  A compromise that’s good for the fish and the economy

Sunday reading …

Building a farm and future in California’s Delta:  “Most of the first American settlers of the Delta came to California to quickly acquire a pile of gold. Few succeeded in the placers, but some recognized the agricultural potential and decided to build farms and futures in the Golden State. One such visionary was my great great grandfather, Reverend Daniel Shaw Stuart.   Daniel Stuart was not the stereotypical young man seeking a grand adventure in the gold fields; he was twenty-six years old, a college graduate, an ordained Methodist minister, with a two-hundred-acre farm, a pregnant wife, and two children when in 1851 he decided to leave his family in Orneville, Piscataquis County, Maine to seek his fortune in California. ... ”  Read more from Soundings here:  Building a farm and future in California’s Delta

In regional news and commentary this weekend …

Water lawsuit filed by Tracy’s main supplier: “Tracy-area water managers are watching closely as a major source of local water supplies has become the center of lawsuits challenging the state’s proposed redistribution of Sierra runoff water in this region.  Among the water agencies that filed suits last week against the State Water Resources Control Board is the Manteca-based South San Joaquin Irrigation District, which provides as much as 70 percent of the city of Tracy’s potable water. … ”  Read more from the Tracy Press here:  Water lawsuit filed by Tracy’s main supplier

Lake Nacimiento property owners sue Monterey County for ‘not less than $120 million’:  “The Nacimiento Regional Water Management Advisory Committee, an Atascadero-based nonprofit comprising members that own or lease property around Lake Nacimiento, sued Monterey County Dec. 15 in San Luis Obispo County Superior Court. The group alleges Monterey County violated its obligation to operate the lake in such a way so as to provide sufficient water levels to allow for recreation.  … ”  Read more from Monterey Weekly here:  Lake Nacimiento property owners sue Monterey County for ‘not less than $120 million’

Last week’s rains storm put SLO County’s rain totals above average. But will it stay that way?: “After a series of storms that marched across the Pacific and tore into the Central Coast with fearsome southerly winds, the deep rumble of thunder, high waves and much-needed rain, it was joyful to see that big bright yellow ball in the sky contrasted with the emerald-green hills on Saturday.  The four-day storm total at Rocky Butte, near Hearst Castle, was 6.5 inches of rain on Monday into Thursday. A vigorous cold front moved southward through the Central Coast on Wednesday night into Thursday morning and produced 3.6 inches of rain at Calvin French’s Home in Adelaida and 3.4 inches on the San Marcos Pass over a six-hour period. … ”  Read more from the San Luis Obispo Tribune here: Last week’s rains storm put SLO County’s rain totals above average. But will it stay that way?

Teen diver discovers 50,000 golf balls, many degrading, off of California coast:  “A teenage diver reportedly discovered over 50,000 golf balls, which can emit toxic chemicals as they degrade, off the coast of Northern California over the past two years.  Alex Weber told NPR News in a report published on Thursday that she first discovered the golf balls while she was swimming near Pebble Beach two years ago. Weber, who was 16 at the time, said she stumbled upon the discovery in a small cove she dived in to.  “You couldn’t see the sand,” she told the publication. “It was completely white.” … ”  Read more from The Hill here:  Teen diver discovers 50,000 golf balls, many degrading, off of California coast

Santa Barbara: “It’s a big deal, it’s just not a long-term deal” – Gibraltar spills, Cachuma could still use more: “With our drought levels now at moderate as opposed to severe in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties, after the big storm, how did all this rain affect our reservoirs?  Drying out and analyzing data, we now know that rain rates were higher in the back country. Seven inches accumulated at the Gibraltar Reservoir over the past three days.  The Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management says Jameson, Gibraltar and Cachuma all received “a lot more water.” … ”  Read more from KEYT here:  Santa Barbara: “It’s a big deal, it’s just not a long-term deal” – Gibraltar spills, Cachuma could still use more

Edison sues Santa Barbara County over Montecito mudslides:  “Southern California Edison — fighting dozens of legal claims related to the Montecito mudslides that followed the Thomas fire — is putting the blame on Santa Barbara County and Caltrans for failing to prepare for deadly debris flows they knew were inevitable.  More than 75 lawsuits have been filed against Edison alleging it ignited the fire, which denuded the slopes above Montecito, making them vulnerable to catastrophic erosion during a heavy storm. On Jan. 9, 2018, as downpours soaked the mountainsides, boulder-filled debris tore through the wealthy town, killing 23 people and destroying 130 homes. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union Tribune here:  Edison sues Santa Barbara County over Montecito mudslides

High surf shreds several feet of railing along Ocean Beach pier, leaves messes along the coast: “Monster waves shredded several feet of railing along the Ocean Beach Pier, which had been closed ahead of time in anticipation of high surf.  The damage seen Friday morning stretched perhaps 10 to 15 feet along the pier, which will remain closed until it is repaired.  San Diego Fire-Rescue spokesman Jose Ysea said the pier had been close since Thursday because of the expected high tides.  But waves, coming in at 10 to 12 feet, were higher than expected, he said.  “The king tide is what lifted it higher,” he said. ... ”  Read more from the San Diego Union Tribune here:  High surf shreds several feet of railing along Ocean Beach pier, leaves messes along the coast

Along the Colorado River …

With Jan. 31 deadline looming, water legislation takes shape in Arizona:  “With Lake Mead now 39 percent full and approaching a first-ever shortage, Western states that rely on the Colorado River are looking to Arizona to sign a deal aimed at reducing the risk of the reservoir crashing.  To make that deal possible, Gov. Doug Ducey’s office this week presented the Arizona Legislature with a package of draft legislation. Lawmakers have two weeks left to pass the measures before a Jan. 31 deadline set by the federal government, which is threatening to intervene and mete out water cutbacks if any state fails to act. … ”  Read more from Arizona Central here:  With Jan. 31 deadline looming, water legislation takes shape in Arizona

Water director urges developers to call Arizona legislators:  “Officials who worked on Arizona’s drought plan are asking powerful stakeholders to push the state Legislature to pass it.  Arizona’s Director of Water Resources, Tom Buschatzke, spoke Friday at a breakfast sponsored by the development group Valley Partnership. After a presentation and discussion of the Drought Contingency Plan, he urged the audience to reach out to lawmakers.  “We need all of you to go to your favorite legislator and express your support for the Drought Contingency Plan,” he said. ... ”  Read more from KJZZ here: Water director urges developers to call Arizona legislators

Radio show: Arizona Cities And Farmers Battle Over Drought Plan Priorities: “Jan. 31 is the looming deadline for the Arizona legislature to approve the Drought Contingency Plan, known as the DCP.  All the users of the Colorado River Basin waters, including Arizona, are expected to come up with policies and incentives to conserve water. As a reminder, Arizona has been in a critical drought for almost 20 years.  Now, as the clock ticks, last minute additions and proposals are being scrutinized and ironed out. And one issue that’s causing tension is between the Arizona Municipal Water Users Association and the Arizona Farm Bureau’s Pinal County farmers.  Howard Fischer from Capitol Media Services is following the story and joined The Show to distill the two sides of the battle.”  Listen to the radio show from KJZZ here:  Radio show: Arizona Cities And Farmers Battle Over Drought Plan Priorities

Precipitation watch …

A storm system will bring snow to the southern Sierra Sunday into Martin Luther King, Jr day. Accumulations of 6 to 12 inches are likely from Yosemite National Park to Kings Canyon National Park. Lighter snow amounts (1 to 6 inches) are expected over the remainder of the Sierra from Kings Canyon National Park to the Kern County line.

Also on Maven’s Notebook this weekend …

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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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