DAILY DIGEST, weekend edition: Metropolitan ready to support scaled-down Delta tunnel plan; Snow too thick to plow keeps skiers from resorts; Conserving water is still a priority for CA. How about other states?; Bold plan: Replace the Border Wall with an Energy–Water Corridor; and more …

Photo of northern Mariposa County by Verna Jigour

In California water news this weekend, Metropolitan Water District ready to support scaled-down Delta tunnel plan; Snow too thick to plow keeps skiers from California resorts; Conserving water is still a priority for California. How about other states?; California Water District Opens Spigots for Tech Upgrade; $1.9 million to be spent on ridding California of giant rodents; Gov. Gavin Newsom faces a key test on his embrace of a new California water tax; Groundwater Agencies Formulating Plans for SGMA; Bold Plan: Replace the Border Wall with an Energy–Water Corridor; and more …

In the news this weekend …

Metropolitan Water District ready to support scaled-down Delta tunnel plan:  “Ventura County’s main water supplier supports Gov. Gavin Newsom’s scaled-down Delta tunnel project, even though it’s been cut in half.  Newsom said Tuesday in his State of the State address that he wants the twin-tunnel project — designed to re-engineer the troubled Northern California estuary that’s the hub of the state’s water-delivery system — reduced to a single tunnel.  “I do not support the WaterFix as currently configured,” Newsom said. “Meaning, I do not support the twin tunnels. We can build, however, on the important work that’s already been done. That’s why I do support a single tunnel.” … ”  Read more from the Ventura County Star here:  Metropolitan Water District ready to support scaled-down Delta tunnel plan

Santa Clarita Water General Manager holds hope that tunnel still on track: “On hearing Gov. Gavin Newsom’s support for a one-tunnel — and not a two-tunnel — system for getting Northern California water to Southern California, the head of the SCV Water Agency expressed measured optimism that much-needed improvements to a key portion of the imported water delivery system to the Santa Clarita Valley are still on track. … Matt Stone, general manager of the SCV Water Agency, sat down Wednesday to express his thoughts on plans to improve the way water is conveyed from melting snow in the Sierra Nevada to the Santa Clarita Valley. … ”  Read more from The Signal here:  Santa Clarita Water General Manager holds hope that tunnel still on track

Atmospheric rivers are pulling California out of drought and piling on the snow: “When 2019 started, California’s snowpack was at 67%. Now it’s at over 136% and rising.  The atmospheric rivers that are dumping rain along coastal California are also dumping massive amounts of snow in the state’s Sierra Nevada.  Newly released photos from NASA, taken four days and a year apart, show how much snow has fallen. … ”  Read more from CNN here:  Atmospheric rivers are pulling California out of drought and piling on the snow

Snow too thick to plow keeps skiers from California resorts:  “Winter weather enveloping California’s mountains for a fourth straight day Friday kept skiers from hitting the slopes at the start of the Presidents Day holiday weekend, with snow so deep that plows could not tackle it and cities scrambled to find places to pile it.  Several routes to the ski mecca of Lake Tahoe shut down, including about 70 miles (110 kilometers) of Interstate 80 from Colfax, California, to the Nevada state line. ... ”  Read more from the Star Advertiser here:  Snow too thick to plow keeps skiers from California resorts

Conserving water is still a priority for California. How about other states?  The Metropolitan Water District last week re-upped its turf-removal program, providing greater incentives for homeowners to replace thirsty lawns with drought-tolerant plants.  In Utah, the state’s Division of Water Resources is encouraging residents to use more water so it can justify spending $3 billion on a pipeline that will take more water from Lake Powell, which is fed by the Colorado River, a source of water for Southern California residents.  This tale of two states brings up an interesting question: Is water conservation de rigueur or passé? … ”  Read more from the San Gabriel Valley Tribune here:  Conserving water is still a priority for California. How about other states?

California Water District Opens Spigots for Tech Upgrade:  “When Luis Maciel joined the Coachella Valley Water District, he found infrastructure in sore need of technology upgrades.  “The legacy system had reached end of life and we were having a hard time maintaining it,” said Maciel, CVWD’s director of information systems. “The SCADA [supervisory control and data acquisition] system needed to be updated. We needed redundant technologies, including in the control room, and we needed a centralized emergency operations center.” ... ”  Read more from Government Technology here:  California Water District Opens Spigots for Tech Upgrade

$1.9 million to be spent on ridding California of giant rodents:  “For more than a year, giant rodent invaders with orange-hued teeth have munched through California’s marshland, threatening significant damage to the state’s wetlands and water infrastructure.  Nutria — large, web-footed mammals native to South America that resemble beavers — showed up in Merced County in 2017, alarming wildlife officials with their propensity to quickly reproduce, their voracious appetite for vegetation and their ability to destroy underground infrastructure. … ”  Read more from KTLA here:  $1.9 million to be spent on ridding California of giant rodents

Gov. Gavin Newsom faces a key test on his embrace of a new California water tax:  “Thirty-four words written into California law a few years ago take a strong stance on the most basic of human needs:  “It is hereby declared to be the established policy of the state that every human being has the right to safe, clean, affordable, and accessible water adequate for human consumption, cooking, and sanitary purposes.”  But there’s a catch. The statute, written in 2012, also says it “does not expand any obligation of the state to provide water” beyond existing efforts. Which is where Gov. Gavin Newsom enters a years-long debate on issues central to California’s future — not just water usage, but poverty and, yes, taxation. ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Gov. Gavin Newsom faces a key test on his embrace of a new California water tax

Groundwater Agencies Formulating Plans for SGMA:  “Groundwater agencies up and down the state are formulating initial plans for growers in their areas to reduce overdraft pumping of groundwater as they prepare for the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act regulations that will kick in around 2040. Ron Samuelian is a civil engineer with Provost and Pritchard consulting group, with offices around the state. He spoke with California Ag Today about their role as an engineering firm regarding helping growers with SGMA. … ”  Read more from Cal Ag Today here:  Groundwater Agencies Formulating Plans for SGMA

Bold Plan: Replace the Border Wall with an Energy–Water Corridor:Here’s an idea: Instead of an endless, inert wall along the U.S.–Mexico border, line the boundary with 2,000 miles of natural gas, solar and wind power plants. Use some of the energy to desalinate water from the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean and ship it through pipelines to thirsty towns, businesses and new farms along the entire border zone. Hire hundreds of thousands of people from both countries to build and run it all. Companies would make money and provide security to safeguard their assets. A contentious, costly no-man’s-land would be transformed into a corridor of opportunity.  Crazy? Maybe—or maybe not. History is full of ideas that initially sounded wacky yet ended up changing society. ... ”  Continue reading at Scientific American here:  Bold Plan Replace the Border Wall with an Energy–Water Corridor

In commentary this weekend …

It’s time to provide Californians with a reliable, resilient water supply, says Barbara Boxer:  She writes, “Climate change is here, and we must act now. This past summer, Californians experienced catastrophic wildfires that wiped out entire towns, took lives and brought pain and suffering to both the north and south of our state. If we do not respond to the climate change warnings before us, particularly drought, we will fail our children and our grandchildren who call California home. This is not just an environmental issue, it’s a social justice issue.  In his first State of the State address this week, Governor Newsom was right in calling for a fresh approach to meeting California’s “massive water challenges. ... ”  Read more from the Whittier Daily News here:  It’s time to provide Californians with a reliable, resilient water supply 

In regional news and commentary this weekend …

Bureau of Reclamation updates Klamath Irrigation District on water operations:  “Bureau of Reclamation’s Klamath Basin Area Office continues to operate under the 2013 Biological Opinion while a new document is being created, along with the court-ordered injunction in place to guide the Klamath Project, according Moss Driscoll, who shared a water operations update on Thursday with the Klamath Irrigation District board of directors.  April 1 is a tentative goal for the completion of the new biological opinion, and includes portions by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service. ... ”  Read more from the Herald & News here:  Bureau of Reclamation updates Klamath Irrigation District on water operations

Novato: Crews Working Diligently To Prevent Flooding From Levees:  “Storm damage has lingered in Novato. Westbound lanes on Highway 37 are shut down after levee breaches led to massive flooding. The Marin County Sheriff’s Department says the lanes between Lakeville Highway and the 101 will be closed until at least Saturday morning.  When 75 percent of your rain comes in just three months, you better be ready for it. Local, state, and federal crews are on high alert checking hundreds of levees across the region. … ” Read more from CBS 13 here:  Novato: Crews Working Diligently To Prevent Flooding From Levees

Atmospheric river wipes drought off the map in Bay Area: “What a difference an atmospheric river makes.  The superstorm with a vapor plume pulling moisture from the South Pacific drenched the Bay Area with rain this week, giving the region a bump in rainfall and literally wiping drought off the map (that is, for now). … ”  Read more from SF Gate here: Atmospheric river wipes drought off the map in Bay Area

Marina Planning Commission moves to deny Cal Am desal project permit:  “Marina city planning commissioners decided Thursday night to deny California American Water’s proposed desalination project a key permit. Now they just have to decide exactly why.  At the end of a three-hour hearing before a full Marina City Council chambers, the commission unanimously directed city staff to return with findings for denial of a coastal development permit application for the proposed desal project at a March 7 special meeting. ... ”  Read more from the Monterey Herald here:  Marina Planning Commission moves to deny Cal Am desal project permit

Turlock: Flooding avoided after weeks of storms:  “Less than halfway through the month, recent rainstorms have already propelled precipitation numbers well past last year’s February total, and there’s more on the way.  Storms fueled by a plume of moisture stretching over the Pacific Ocean almost to Hawaii dumped rain on the state this week. The phenomenon, known as an atmospheric river, hit Northern California hard this week, with Turlock Irrigation District Utility Analyst Olivia Cramer estimating during Tuesday’s Board of Director’s meeting an excess of 10 inches of precipitation falling in the foothills. ... ”  Read more from the Turlock Journal here:  Turlock: Flooding avoided after weeks of storms

Farmers brace for the worst after hail wallops the Central Valley: “Mother nature has certainly walloped the area and farmers across the Valley are now bracing for the lasting impact of this latest storm, while city crews have their work cut out for them as well.  “Hail this time of year can be very detrimental.”  A hail storm no farmer wants to see. Ryan Jacobsen with the Fresno County Farm Bureau says farmers in Sanger and Reedley especially those growing almonds could see significant damage following another heavy dose of rain and penny-size hail. … ”  Read more from Your Central Valley here:  Farmers brace for the worst after hail wallops the Central Valley

Recent rains raising Cachuma Lake:  “The water level in Santa Barbara County’s second-largest reservoir, Cachuma Lake, is rising rapidly as a result of recent rains, while Twitchell, the largest, appears to be filling more slowly and two others are full.  The county has received 145 percent of normal rainfall for this point in the water year, which started Sept. 1 and ends Aug. 31. Normal rainfall, based on a long-term average, is 18.55 inches. … ”  Read more from the Lompoc Record here:  Recent rains raising Cachuma Lake

State Water is the wrong solution for the Ojai Valley, says Carolee Krieger:  She writes, “As a resident of Santa Barbara County, I know from painful experience that state water is outrageously expensive and unreliable. Don’t make the same mistake we did. Please reject the State Water Project.In three essays, I’ll share what every regional water district should consider when developing solutions aimed at ensuring a secure water future for their community and explain why the State Water Project is not a viable path toward that goal. I’ll also present realistic alternative solutions to state water and how we can achieve sustainable and equitable water policy for all of California. … ”  Read more from the Ojai Valley News via CWIN here: State Water is the wrong solution for the Ojai Valley

Officials With Water District In Ventura County Say Water Levels Up, But Far From Drought-Ending:  “A South Coast water district is cautioning that despite a huge surge in its water supply due to recent storms, Ventura County is still in the grip of drought. … ”  Read more from KCLU here:  Officials With Water District In Ventura County Say Water Levels Up, But Far From Drought-Ending

Bacteria, Pathogens, Sewage: Santa Monica Bay After Rainfall:  “Two years after California experienced its wettest year since record-keeping began in 1895, the rain continues to fall, ending drought conditions in several parts of California long accustomed to carefully monitoring water usage.  While rainfall is welcome, swimmers, surfers and anyone else who frequents California beaches, especially in Santa Monica Bay, are reminded to be cautious when it comes to going into the water in winter months. … ”  Read more from the Santa Monica Mirror here:  Bacteria, Pathogens, Sewage: Santa Monica Bay After Rainfall

Parts of Southern California haven’t seen this much rain in decades. And more is on the way:  “After years of drought conditions, 2019 is shaping up to be a winter to remember.  Rain totals are well above normal, and this week’s storms brought some records. From Palm Springs to parts of San Diego County, communities recorded some of the wettest days in years, in some cases in decades. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Parts of Southern California haven’t seen this much rain in decades. And more is on the way

Hospital receives perplexing bills for mystery water use:  “Dennis Tankersly shared his shock with members of the San Gorgonio Hospital’s board of directors that he had just signed checks for two water utility bills amounting to nearly $20,000.  The bills were for water that the hospital has no idea as to where it is going, or who is using it; the meters, according to the hospital, sit on vacant land that the hospital healthcare district owns along Ramsey Street.  Since the hospital had never been billed for those meters before, board members were surprised at the sudden payments. … ”  Read more from the Record Gazette here:  Hospital receives perplexing bills for mystery water use

Imperial Valley: More New River Legislation, Fate Uncertain as Residents Stew:  For decades Calexico residents living near the highly polluted New River have heard promises of clean up of the fetid water and improvement of the surrounding landscape. Still, much remains unchanged—polluted water, often raw sewage—flows in from Mexico and the river remains a smelly eyesore.  The city’s New River Improvement Project now underway offers some hope with  a bike path/parkway and athletic fields. … ”  Read more from the Holtville Tribune here:  More New River Legislation, Fate Uncertain as Residents Stew

Federal funding secured to address sewage issues at US-Mexico border: A group of federal legislators from San Diego announced the allocation of $15 million Friday for water infrastructure improvements along the U.S-Mexico border.  Legislators included the funding in a spending bill approved earlier this week and signed Friday by President Donald Trump. The $15 million will go to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s U.S.-Mexico Border Water Infrastructure program. … ”  Read more from Channel 10 here:  Federal funding secured to address sewage issues at US-Mexico border

Along the Colorado River …

Arizona lawmaker accused of endangering Colorado River drought plan: “Top Arizona Democrats on Friday accused the Republican House speaker of risking the collapse of a drought plan for the Colorado River by pushing legislation that has angered the Gila River Indian Community, a key player in the negotiations to protect the water supply for 40 million people.  But Speaker Rusty Bowers dug in, saying he has no plans to withdraw the measure that Gila River Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis said threatens water rights that the tribe gained through a landmark settlement in 2004 at the culmination of a decadeslong battle. … ”  Read more from the Denver Post here:  Arizona lawmaker accused of endangering Colorado River drought plan

Precipitation watch …

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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