DAILY DIGEST: Will Trump’s California water plan send more water to Valley farms?; Lawsuits from Central Valley, Bay Area keep state ‘water grab’ tied up in courts; West Coast storms get some respect with new scale; Conservation groups clash over Bernhardt nomination; and more …

In California water news today, Will Trump’s California water plan send more to Republican farmers and short Democratic cities?; Lawsuits from Central Valley, Bay Area keep state ‘water grab’ tied up in courts; West Coast Storms Get Some Respect With New Scale; With impressive LA rain and snow in the Bay Area, hope rises for a rare wet winter; Conservation groups clash over Trump’s nomination of David Bernhardt as Interior Secretary; Environmentalists Lose Battle for Bottled Water Records; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • State Water Board staff workshop on wetlands policy at 9:00 am: The public staff workshop is regarding the Proposed Amendments to the Ocean Plan, and the Water Quality Control Plan for Inland Surface Waters, Enclosed Bays, and Estuaries of California to include a State Wetland Definition and Procedures for Discharges of Dredged or Fill Material to Waters of the State (formerly known as the Wetlands Policy).  Click here to watch on webcast.
  • The Assembly Water, Parks, and Wildlife Committee will participate in a joint legislative informational hearing on Safe and Affordable Drinking Water beginning at 9:30am. Click here for more informationClick here to watch on CalChannel.

In the news today …

NEW BIOLOGICAL ASSESSMENT

Will Trump’s California water plan send more to Republican farmers and short Democratic cities?  “While campaigning for president in 2016, Donald Trump promised a cheering Fresno crowd he would be “opening up the water” for Central Valley farmers who’d been victimized by “insane” environmental rules to protect fish.  Trump took one of the most aggressive steps to date to fulfill that promise Tuesday by proposing to relax environmental regulations governing how water is shared between fish and human uses throughout the Central Valley. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation released an 871-page “biological assessment” of conditions in the Delta that it said is designed to “maximize water supply and delivery” while maintaining protections for fish. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Will Trump’s California water plan send more to Republican farmers and short Democratic cities?

BAY DELTA PLAN

Lawsuits from Central Valley, Bay Area keep state ‘water grab’ tied up in courts: “An assortment of groups, from a leading farming organization to a water supplier for Silicon Valley, joined the legal fray in courts over the State Water Board decision in December to reduce water diversions for farms and cities from the Tuolumne, Stanislaus and Merced rivers.  Monday, the California Farm Bureau Federation said it filed a lawsuit in Sacramento Superior Court, charging the water board’s plan misrepresents and underestimates the impacts on Central Valley agriculture, which is the lifeblood of local communities. The plan would require irrigation districts to leave 30 to 50 percent of watershed runoff in the rivers from February through June to push young salmon downstream to the San Joaquin-Sacramento delta and the ocean. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  Lawsuits from Central Valley, Bay Area keep state ‘water grab’ tied up in courts
NEW SCALE FOR ATMOSPHERIC RIVERS

West Coast Storms Get Some Respect With New Scale: “The storms known as “atmospheric rivers” are make-or-break events for California’s water supply.  They can also be serious troublemakers, causing flooding and mudslides if they linger too long over the state. The recent National Climate Assessment included ARs as a type of extreme storm for the first time, and cites them as a specific risk associated with climate change.  But there hasn’t been a convenient way to classify these events according to their ferocity — until now. … ”  Read more from KQED here:  West Coast Storms Get Some Respect With New Scale

New scale ranks atmospheric rivers like hurricanes. Here’s how it’ll help California:  “Meteorologists just announced the creation of a scale that will rank intensity of atmospheric rivers from Categories 1 through 5, similar to the existing scale used for hurricanes.  The American Meteorological Society in a blog post Tuesday said the AR scale will help water and weather experts track the storms, which are prevalent on the West Coast, and determine whether they are beneficial or hazardous to the regions they hit.  The scale will work like the Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  New scale ranks atmospheric rivers like hurricanes. Here’s how it’ll help California

PRECIPITATION

With impressive LA rain and snow in the Bay Area, hope rises for a rare wet winter:  “Snow-capped mountains are pretty typical in California — just not the peaks that got dusted this week.  A series of storms has brought a rare wet winter to the state, sending snow levels plunging and creating some surreal scenes Californians won’t soon forget: Blankets of white covering vineyards in Napa Valley. Plows clearing Highway 17 between Santa Cruz and San Jose. Peaks in the San Francisco Bay Area with an alpine feel. Even San Francisco’s Twin Peaks got a light dusting. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  With impressive LA rain and snow in the Bay Area, hope rises for a rare wet winter

Are we safe from drought this year?  Here’s what we know so far:  “The rain and even a bit of snow keep on coming.  Except for a 10-day dry spell at the end of January, the San Francisco Bay Area has seen a series of drenching winter storms that have watered gardens, fueled waterfalls, recharged reservoirs, and diminished the possibility of the ever-dreaded drought.  In fact, all of California has been slammed with an onslaught of unsettled weather unleashing heavy snow and rain. There are some areas in Southern California such as Ventura and Kern counties where more rain has fallen in the past week than in all of last year. ... ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  Are we safe from drought this year?  Here’s what we know so far

Winter brings a year’s worth of water for 9 million Californians:  “California may have a reputation for persistent drought and water scarcity, but already this year the state’s freshwater reserves are worth celebrating.  Storms in the beginning of January brought an influx of snow to the Sierra Nevada and heavy rains elsewhere in the state, boosting its water reservoirs exponentially.  Over the first three weeks of January, “47 key reservoirs that state water officials closely monitor added 580 billion gallons of water — as much as roughly 9 million people use in a year,” according to the Chico Enterprise-Record. … ”  Read more from Water Online here:  Winter brings a year’s worth of water for 9 million Californians

Rare ‘Super Bloom’ looks promising, could see the return of wildflowers thought to be extinct:  “California is on the cusp of witnessing a rare flourish of wildflowers to rival the so-called “super bloom” of two springs ago, which could be seen from space.  In the right conditions, parks like the Carrizo Plain National Monument in the Central Valley—a few hours outside of Los Angeles—become awash with wildflowers in what the Bureau of Land Management described as an often “short-lived” but “breathtaking” sight.  The flowers could return this year if the precipitation levels in the area nudge up slightly, Richard Minnich, a professor of earth sciences at UC Riverside, told KPBS. … ”  Read more from Newsweek here:  Rare ‘Super Bloom’ looks promising, could see the return of wildflowers thought to be extinct

BERNHARDT NOMINATION

Conservation groups clash over Trump’s nomination of David Bernhardt as Interior Secretary:  “Conservation groups representing sportsmen are clashing over their assessment of President Donald Trump’s nomination of David Bernhardt to become Secretary of Interior, with a prominent salmon restoration organization criticizing the nomination and a prominent duck conservation group praising it.  Bernhardt, a former Westlands Water District and Big Oil lobbyist, was appointed Deputy Secretary of the Interior in July 2017 — and has served as Acting Interior Secretary after Ryan Zinke resigned in January under a cloud of federal investigations. … ”  Read more from the Daily Kos here: Conservation groups clash over Trump’s nomination of David Bernhardt as Interior Secretary

California salmon group calls for state action in advance of Interior secretary confirmation: “The Golden Gate Salmon Association (GGSA) is worried that president Donald Trump’s expected nominee for secretary of the Interior, David Bernhardt, could endanger salmon runs in the US state of California and is asking its Democrat-controlled state legislature to take action now, in advance of his confirmation.  “Now more than ever we need governor [Gavin] Newsom and the state legislature to fully implement existing state law and to pass [Senate Bill] 1 to protect California’s natural resources, including our salmon runs…”, said John McManus, the GSSA president, in a statement issued late Monday, referring to recently introduced pro-environment legislation. … ”  Read more from Under Current here: California salmon group calls for state action in advance of Interior secretary confirmation

OTHER STATEWIDE/NATIONAL NEWS

Environmentalists Lose Battle for Bottled Water Records: An environmental group demanding that Nestle stop pumping millions of gallons of water from a California creek failed to persuade a federal judge that the government should disclose records related to the Swiss company’s bottled water operations. U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden in Washington, D.C., ruled Monday that the U.S. Forest Service and the Department of Agriculture were justified in redacting and withholding certain records after the government produced thousands of pages plus emails, photos, and videos. … ” Read more from the Courthouse News Service here: Environmentalists Lose Battle for Bottled Water Records

Radio show: Future of Cities in a Changing Climate:  “With climate change comes rising seas, flooding and increased natural disasters. And those effects may be felt most acutely in cities. In this hour, broadcast live from the Night of Ideas festival at San Francisco’s Main Library, we’ll be joined by a futurist, an architect/designer, a science fiction writer, and a landscape architect. We will look at some bold actions cities can take, and ask: How can we design cities for a changing climate?”  Listen to the radio show from KQED here:  Future of Cities in a Changing Climate

In commentary today …

Governor Newsom must mop up Brown’s water mess, says Jonas Minton:  “Despite many high priority issues on his plate, one of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s first tests will be how he deals with California’s water challenges and opportunities. Unfortunately, in the last days of his term Gov. Jerry Brown made a bad bargain with the Trump administration and special interests. It’s yet another mess for the new governor to mop up.  During his last month, Brown quietly signed an agreement with the Trump administration to transfer water from Southern California and portions of the Bay Area to corporate farms in the San Joaquin Valley. In return, the Trump administration dropped its threatened opposition to Brown’s legacy project — the massive tunnels that would divert water from the San Francisco Bay Delta. This was done with no public notice, hearing or environmental analysis. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: Governor Newsom must mop up Brown’s water mess

In regional news and commentary today …

Yuba County: Officials: Much-needed rainfall not concerning: “A few days of stormy weather brought some needed rain, but not enough to cause concern, officials said.  “Yuba County’s lakes and rivers did not seem terribly impressed with the storms of the past few days,” said Russ Brown, communications coordinator with Yuba County. “The river levels remain well below monitoring stage and we don’t see any storms coming our way in the next several days that we cannot handle.” ... ”  Read more from the Appeal-Democrat here:  Yuba County: Officials: Much-needed rainfall not concerning

Lake Tahoe’s new reality: Study says Sierra Nevada snowpack to suffer sharp decline: “Imagine Lake Tahoe with no snow year round.  Every winter storm that reaches the basin brings only rain.  No skiing. No snowboarding. No winter sports of any kind.  As unpleasant and uncomfortable a thought it is, Tahoe is staring at a drastically different future.  A dramatic decline in the Sierra Nevada snowpack will be felt the most in Northern California by mid century, according to a study published in December 2018 by the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab). … ”  Read more from the Tahoe Daily Tribune here:  Lake Tahoe’s new reality: Study says Sierra Nevada snowpack to suffer sharp decline

East Bay: Tracking the trout: East Bay biologists, volunteers give spawning fish a leg up: Over the roar of BART trains speeding along tracks overhead, and the rushing waters of Alameda Creek, it was almost hard to hear the screams of joy let out by a group of people in the waterway when they saw a silvery fish flash along the water line.  It was a sign that the group — a mishmash of fisheries biologists, preservationists and volunteers who waded into the Alameda Creek Flood Control Channel in Fremont Tuesday to catch, tag, and transport steelhead trout upstream — had not come in vain.  “I don’t know if it was a steelhead, it was a sizeable fish,” said Joe Sullivan, the fisheries program director for East Bay Regional Park District, who was waist-high in the channel. ... ”  Read more from the East Bay Times here:  East Bay: Tracking the trout: East Bay biologists, volunteers give spawning fish a leg up

Santa Cruz takes stock of winter rains:  “Halfway through the rainy season, Santa Cruz’s has “actually a really optimistic outlook” for its water supply.  City Water Conservation Manager Toby Goddard gave the Santa Cruz Water Commission the year’s initial annual water supply outlook Monday as a sneak preview of what may be on the horizon for the coming winter months. Though the season had a dry start, rainfall this week reached 110 percent of the city’s average with a cumulative 19.9 inches, Goddard said. The city has already surpassed the total rainfall for all of last year’s rainy season, he said. … ”  Read more from the Santa Cruz Sentinel here:  Santa Cruz takes stock of winter rains

Sea-level rise report adapts Carpinteria to 10 more feet of ocean:  “Just as Carpinteria was finishing its draft ocean adaptation report, the State of California put out some gloomy news: Sea-rise levels were now expected to rise 10 feet by 2100, not 5 feet. “The Coastal Commission updated its guidance at the end of last year,” said Julia Pujo, with Wood Environment & Infrastructure Solutions, Inc., the contractor for the city on the report. “They advised us to look at critical facilities and infrastructure, like power plants or hospitals, that cities need to operate,” to stay on schedule and quickly revise the report. Carpinteria will be holding an all-residents-invited workshop on February 12 to discuss the findings and possible solutions. … ”  Read more from the Independent here:  Sea-level rise report adapts Carpinteria to 10 more feet of ocean

Mud, debris cause trouble as back-to-back storms target Ventura County:Ventura County will remain gray and soggy through Tuesday evening as a pair of back-to-back storms Monday and Tuesday bring more winter rain, according to the National Weather Service.  After the rains, temperatures and snow levels will also begin dropping on Tuesday.  A large boulder that fell Monday on the Dennison Grade section of Highway 150 shut down travel in Upper Ojai. As of 5 p.m., the closure was in place from Reeves Road to Black Mountain Ranch in Ojai, the California Department of Transportation said, and was expected to be in place overnight. ... ”  Read more from the Ventura County Star here:  Mud, debris cause trouble as back-to-back storms target Ventura County

Precipitation watch …

  • From NWS Sacramento: A cold low pressure system dropping out of the Arctic will bring snow to the northern California mountains this weekend. Snow levels will be relatively low again with this system and pass levels could see several feet of snow.

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

THIS JUST IN … Reclamation releases Biological Assessment for California water operations

 

REACTIONS: California Farm Water Coalition and Golden Gate Salmon Association react to release of new Biological Assessment of CVP/SWP operations

NEWS WORTH NOTING: Delta Conveyance DCA names new Executive Director; State Water Board updates cannabis cultivation policy; Yuba Water Agency continues emphasis on healthy forests with $235,000 grant

DELTA STEWARDSHIP COUNCIL: Delta Watermaster Update, Council priorities for 2019, and more …

 

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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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