DAILY DIGEST: Arizona legislature passes historic Colorado River drought plan hours before deadline, but IID wants $200M for drought plan okay; Delayed renewal of water law complicates Valley water politics; Bay Delta facing assault from new rules; Dusty agency gets sharp elbows under Trump; and more …

In California water news today, Arizona legislature passes historic Colorado River drought plan hours before deadline; Imperial Irrigation District wants $200 million for drought plan okay; Delayed renewal of water law complicates Valley water politics; Bay Delta facing assault from new rules; Dusty agency gets sharp elbows under Trump; Sierra snowpack near normal, despite slow start; Big weekend storm packing dangerous winds set to pound Bay Area and the Sierra; Even groundwater is contaminated with microplastics; and more …

In the news today …

Arizona legislature passes historic Colorado River drought plan hours before deadline:  “Arizona lawmakers passed a historic Colorado River drought deal Thursday afternoon, about seven hours before a midnight deadline set by the federal government.  Gov. Doug Ducey promptly signed the legislation, clearing the way for Arizona to join in the three-state Drought Contingency Plan together with California and Nevada.  “There’s a lot more work to be done to ensure that Arizona is prepared for a drier water future,” Ducey said as he signed. A crowd of policy advisers and lawmakers applauded in the old state Capitol building.  He said the deal represented “the culmination of years of discussions” and called it a “historic bipartisan achievement.” ... ”  Read more from Arizona Central here:  Arizona legislature passes historic Colorado River drought plan hours before deadline

Imperial Irrigation District wants $200 million for drought plan okay:  “California’s Imperial Irrigation District will get the last word on the seven-state Colorado River Drought Contingency Plans. And IID could end up with $200 million to restore the badly polluted and fast-drying Salton Sea.  Thursday, as the clock ticked toward a midnight deadline set by a top federal official, all eyes had been on Arizona. But lawmakers there approved the Colorado River drought deal with about seven hours to spare. IID, an often-overlooked southeastern California agricultural water district, appears to have thrown a last-minute monkey wrench into the process. ... ”  Read more from the Desert Sun here:  Imperial Irrigation District wants $200 million for drought plan okay

  • NOTE:  For more Colorado River news, see the Colorado River section below.

Radio show: Delayed renewal of water law complicates Valley water politics:  “The partial government shutdown caused all sorts of headaches for Congress, and it may have tipped the scales when it comes to support for one law that deals with water diversions to the San Joaquin Valley from the San Francisco Bay Delta.  The law is known as Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation, or the WIIN Act. It remains in place until 2021, but many lawmakers had been trying to renew it before the new Congress was sworn in earlier this month.  Listen to the interview with the Emily Cadei, Washington Correspondent for the Sacramento Bee, for more about the uncertain future of the WIIN Act, its complicated politics, and how it relates to former Governor Brown’s infamous twin tunnels project.”  Listen to the show from Valley Public Radio here:  Delayed renewal of water law complicates Valley water politics

Bay Delta facing assault from new rules:  “The Trump Administration is expected to propose its new plan to guide the operations of the federal Central Valley Project and the State Water Project under the Endangered Species Act. Delta advocates, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife have expressed concern that the new rules will weaken protections for Delta species and harm California’s fishing industry. Wildlife scientists have become increasingly concerned about the declining health of the Delta. In 2016, federal and state officials were on the verge of adopting biological opinions that would strengthen protections for fish species. California’s environmental agencies under Governor Gavin Newsom could resist the new proposal, or force the new biological rules to comply with the state’s endangered species protections, which are stronger that the federal laws. Vic Bedoian reports from Fresno.”

Dusty agency gets sharp elbows under Trump:  “The Bureau of Reclamation, the Interior Department’s Western water bureaucracy that saw its dam-building heyday in the 1960s, has risen in stature once again in the Trump administration.  Reclamation has flexed its muscles on Colorado River drought management plans, setting a deadline for today for states to act and threatening to step in if they don’t.  And it has been the administration’s key player in trying to fulfill President Trump’s campaign promise to deliver more water to California farmers, squeezing the state and forging ahead on a dam project California says it doesn’t want and is illegal.  To key water players, the bureau is more active now than it has been in decades. … ”  Read more from E&E News here:  Dusty agency gets sharp elbows under Trump

Sierra snowpack near normal, despite slow start:  “After a slow start to the season, a series of January storms bulked up California’s snowpack to nearly normal with more precipitation on the way.  The February snow survey conducted by the California Department of Water Resources at Echo Peak near South Lake Tahoe on Thursday yielded good news: The snowpack is 98 percent of average, and its water content looks positive as well.  “It’s very encouraging,” said John King, an engineer with the department. “Especially when considering we’ve had a couple dry years and we have two months to go.”  … ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service here:  Sierra snowpack near normal, despite slow start

Big weekend storm packing dangerous winds set to pound Bay Area and the Sierra: “Snow surveyors tromped around the Sierra Nevada gauging the frozen water supply Thursday as a series of storms stood poised to blanket the mountains with fresh snow and pound the Bay Area with dangerous wind and rain.  The Bay Area got a smattering of rain overnight Wednesday, but that was child’s play compared to the thrashing forecasters say the region will get Friday and again on Sunday. … ” Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  Big weekend storm packing dangerous winds set to pound Bay Area and the Sierra

Water Districts sue state over flow to the Delta:  “Two Bay Area water districts have sued the State Water Resources Control Board (WRCB) over a ruling designed to improve the ecological health of the Delta.  The Tuolumne River Trust, an environmental organization, disagrees with the rationale behind the suits.  San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, which operates the San Francisco water department, on January 10 joined a suit filed earlier by the San Joaquin Tributaries Authority and three of the Authority’s irrigation district members. San Francisco is also a member of the Authority because its Hetch Hetchy dam is located on the Tuolumne River, a tributary to the San Joaquin River. … ”  Read more from the Livermore Independent here:  Water Districts sue state over flow to the Delta

Historic sea star die-off tied to global warming:  “The skin lesions are the first sign that something is wrong. Then limbs fall off and the body disintegrates, collapsing in on itself as it liquefies. In the end, what was once a sea star is only a puddle on the ocean floor.  Since 2013, sea star wasting disease has killed so many starfish along the Pacific Coast that scientists say it’s the largest disease epidemic ever observed in wild marine animals. Where there used to be dozens of stars, scuba divers now report seeing none. … ”  Read more from KQED here:  Historic sea star die-off tied to global warming

Even groundwater is contaminated with microplastics: “It seems that no part of the planet is safe from the scourge that is microplastics. Not only are they found floating in the air and in deep ocean trenches, but now a study from the University of Illinois has found that underground aquifers, which supply one-quarter of the world’s population with drinking water, are contaminated, too.  The researchers took 17 groundwater samples from wells and springs. As a press release explains, 11 came from a highly fractured limestone aquifer near the St. Louis metropolitan area and six from an aquifer containing much smaller fractures in rural northwestern Illinois. ... ”  Read more from TreeHugger here:  Even groundwater is contaminated with microplastics

In commentary today …

In regional news and commentary today …

CalTrout deems Klamath Dams ‘ripe for removal’:  “Siskiyou County’s three Klamath dams were included this week on California Trout’s list of five dams they’ve deemed “prime for removal in the golden state” because they’re most hazardous to fish.  Dams on the list include Matilija Dam on the Ventura River in Ojai; Scott Dam on the Eel River in Lake County; Searsville Dam on Corte Madera Creek in Redwood City; Rindge Dam on Malibu Creek in Malibu; and the Klamath dams, including Iron Gate Dam and Copco Dams 1 and 2.  Groups that oppose removal of the Klamath Dams, including the Siskiyou County Water Users Association, contend that Klamath River instream flows were always marginal in the summer months and that Coho are not a native California species, but were instead planted in the 1890s. They also believe that blue green algae has historically been a factor in the river, even before the dams were built, so removing them will not necessarily benefit the fish. ... ”  Read more from the Siskiyou Daily News here:  CalTrout deems Klamath Dams ‘ripe for removal’

Along the Colorado River …

Arizona legislature passes historic Colorado River drought plan hours before deadline:  “Arizona lawmakers passed a historic Colorado River drought deal Thursday afternoon, about seven hours before a midnight deadline set by the federal government.  Gov. Doug Ducey promptly signed the legislation, clearing the way for Arizona to join in the three-state Drought Contingency Plan together with California and Nevada.  “There’s a lot more work to be done to ensure that Arizona is prepared for a drier water future,” Ducey said as he signed. A crowd of policy advisers and lawmakers applauded in the old state Capitol building.  He said the deal represented “the culmination of years of discussions” and called it a “historic bipartisan achievement.” ... ”  Read more from Arizona Central here:  Arizona legislature passes historic Colorado River drought plan hours before deadline

Imperial Irrigation District wants $200 million for drought plan okay:  “California’s Imperial Irrigation District will get the last word on the seven-state Colorado River Drought Contingency Plans. And IID could end up with $200 million to restore the badly polluted and fast-drying Salton Sea.  Thursday, as the clock ticked toward a midnight deadline set by a top federal official, all eyes had been on Arizona. But lawmakers there approved the Colorado River drought deal with about seven hours to spare. IID, an often-overlooked southeastern California agricultural water district, appears to have thrown a last-minute monkey wrench into the process. ... ”  Read more from the Desert Sun here:  Imperial Irrigation District wants $200 million for drought plan okay

Arizona joins Colorado River drought plan:  “Arizona delivered one of the final puzzle pieces for a Colorado River drought plan, agreeing Thursday to join six other states and Mexico in voluntarily taking less water from the constrained river.  The decision to join the drought plan, authorized by lawmakers and Gov. Doug Ducey, went right up to the edge of a federal deadline that threatened to blow up the agreement. U.S. Bureau of Reclamation director Brenda Burman said all parties must agree to cutbacks by Jan. 31 or she would begin the process to impose them. ... ” Read more from the AP via the Denver Post here:  Arizona joins Colorado River drought plan

Most Arizona Lawmakers Cheer Drought Plan, but Some Say Climate Change Ignored:  “With seven hours to spare before a midnight deadline, Arizona lawmakers approved a drought plan on Thursday that prepares for cuts to the state’s water supply from the Colorado River and allocates money and resources to ease the pain for waters users like farmers.  The federal Bureau of Reclamation warned Arizona and other states in the Colorado River basin that they had until January 31 to approve the Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan, a stopgap to prevent Lake Mead’s water level from falling to critical lows. ... ”  Read more from Phoenix New Times here:  Most Arizona Lawmakers Cheer Drought Plan, but Some Say Climate Change Ignored

Precipitation watch …

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

THIS JUST IN … January Storms Boost California’s Snowpack to 100 Percent of Average

NEWS WORTH NOTING: Interior and Reclamation seek formal input from governors to protect Colorado River Basin

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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