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DAILY DIGEST: CA has received enough precipitation this month to fill Shasta 12 times; CA Democrats ask for more water to be allocated to farmers; Can rate structures provide an incentive for conservation?; Officials: Arizona will miss federal deadline for Colorado River Plan; and more …

In California water news today, 18 trillion gallons: Calif. has seen enough precipitation this month to fill Lake Shasta 12 times; CA Democrats ask for more water to be allocated to farmers; California wastes so much of its rainwater. Here’s why; Pricing California’s Water During the Drought: Can Rate Structures Provide an Incentive for Conservation?; US Appeals Court Slams FERC on Long-Muddled State Environmental Permits; US mining sites dump 50M gallons of fouled wastewater daily; Officials: Arizona Will Miss Federal Deadline For Colorado River Plan; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • The California Water Commission meets at 9:30am. Agenda items include 2018 State Water Project Annual Review, the Water-Energy Nexus, Consideration of Annual Fee Regulations for Dam Safety Program, and updates on the Water Storage Investment Program.  Click here for agenda and webcast link.
  • Radio show; KQED Forum: Delta Project Scaled Back to One Tunnel. Now What? Guests Lauren Sommer, Jeff Mount, Roger Patterson.  Click here to listen.
  • SF branch of Groundwater Resources Association presents The Gold Rush and it’s Impact on the Bay Area at 5:30pm:  Click here for more information and to register.  You do not need to be a member to attend.

In the news today …

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

18 trillion gallons: Calif. has seen enough precipitation this month to fill Lake Shasta 12 times:  “Imagine if half the water in Lake Tahoe was dumped on California. That’s sort of what happened in February.  A string of back-t0-back storms have slammed California since the start of February, recharging reservoirs, flooding rivers, triggering mudslides and crippling mountain traffic.  The National Weather Service has put a number on the heavy rain and snowfall, reporting that an estimated 18 trillion gallons of precipitation fell on California between Feb. 1 and Feb. 17. ... ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  18 trillion gallons: Calif. has seen enough precipitation this month to fill Lake Shasta 12 times

Before and After: See California’s Monster Snow Year by Satellite: “A rolling conveyor belt of storms this winter has left the Sierra Nevada blanketed in a thick layer of snow. The year started modestly, with the snowpack measuring around 70 percent of average on the first of the year. A robust January and February has brought the snowpack up to around 145 percent of normal for this time of year. April 1 typically marks the peak of Sierra snowpack accumulation and the start of the Spring runoff. Move the sliders below to view the terrain before and after snow storms.”  Read more from KQED here:  Before and After: See California’s Monster Snow Year by Satellite

‘A pretty good season.’ What California’s winter rain and snow mean for you in 2019: “It’s shaping up as a wetter-than-usual winter in California, putting to rest fears of another drought hitting anytime soon. Depending on where you live, though, you will still likely face some limitations on how much you can water your lawn this summer. Last week’s atmospheric river left the Sierra Nevada snowpack and most of the state’s reservoirs in solid shape. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: ‘A pretty good season.’ What California’s winter rain and snow mean for you in 2019

California Democrats taking action by asking for more water to be allocated to farmers:  “Democratic representative T.J. Cox, Jim Costa, joined senator Feinstein to send a letter to the Bureau of Reclamation asking that recent snowfall be taken into account when allocations are announced.  “When they have the certainty of water supply going into the future they can make their based plans on that,” said Representative Cox. “About what they are going to grow and how much they are going to plant.”  Cox said farmers have to know how much water they’ll have to work with, and as snow continues to fall, and with recent snowfall there should be plenty to go around. ... ”  Read more from KSEE here: California Democrats taking action by asking for more water to be allocated to farmers

California wastes so much of its rainwater.  Here’s why:  “California’s wet winter has dumped an estimated 18 trillion gallons of rain in February alone. But much of it is simply going down the drain.  In what has become a source of much concern in a state prone to droughts and water shortages, the vast majority of rainwater in urban areas flows into storm drains and is eventually lost to the Pacific Ocean.  “When you look at the Los Angeles River being between 50% and 70% full during a storm, you realize that more water is running down the river into the ocean than what Los Angeles would use in close to a year,” said Mark Gold, associate vice chancellor for environment and sustainability at UCLA. “What a waste of water supply.” ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  California wastes so much of its rainwater.  Here’s why

Pricing California’s Water During the Drought: Can Rate Structures Provide an Incentive for Conservation?: “The relationship between water pricing and water use is more nuanced than basic economic theory on supply and demand suggests. That’s what the Environmental Finance Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (EFC) found in a recent study on water pricing during the California drought.  California’s severe drought and statewide conservation mandate provided an opportunity to analyze the effects of pricing strategies as a tool to prevent wasteful water use. … Did water agencies with higher price signals achieve greater water savings than others? In some cases, yes. But not always. … ”  Read more from Water Finance and Management here:  Pricing California’s Water During the Drought: Can Rate Structures Provide an Incentive for Conservation?

US Appeals Court Slams FERC on Long-Muddled State Environmental Permits:  “What may be the nation’s largest dam removal project—delayed for years by regulatory and legal disputes of a utility, stakeholders and states over licensing and environmental permits—now may have new momentum after a hard-hitting January federal appeals court ruling.  Kiewit Infrastructure West, Granite Construction and Barnard Construction are shortlisted for the $400-million project to design and deconstruct four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River in California and Oregon.  The Klamath River Renewal Corp. (KRRC), set up to oversee the dams’ removal, says it will select a contractor in the spring for the project. … ”  Read more from ENR here:  US Appeals Court Slams FERC on Long-Muddled State Environmental Permits

US mining sites dump 50M gallons of fouled wastewater daily:  “Every day many millions of gallons of water loaded with arsenic, lead and other toxic metals flow from some of the most contaminated mining sites in the U.S. and into surrounding lakes and streams without being treated, The Associated Press has found.  That torrent is poisoning aquatic life and tainting drinking water sources in Montana, California, Colorado, Oklahoma and at least five other states.  The pollution is a legacy of how the mining industry was allowed to operate in the U.S. for more than a century. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  US mining sites dump 50M gallons of fouled wastewater daily

Supreme Court: Clean Water Act case could have sweeping impacts:  “The Supreme Court is taking up another far-reaching debate over the scope of the Clean Water Act.  The justices this morning agreed to hear County of Maui, Hawaii v. Hawai’i Wildlife Fund, a case involving whether the law covers pollution that moves through groundwater before reaching a federal waterway.  Environmental groups, states, industry and conservatives are watching the case closely, as its outcome could clarify or narrow EPA’s historical interpretation of the types of pollution discharges covered by the Clean Water Act. … ”  Read more from E&E News here:  Supreme Court: Clean Water Act case could have sweeping impacts

In commentary today …

New governor can see past the coast all the way to the valley.  That’s a change, says Adam Gray:  He writes, “In his first State of the State address, Gov. Gavin Newsom proved that his map of California does in fact include the San Joaquin Valley, the Inland Empire and other back-bone communities too often ignored.  The Valley has a justified history of distrust toward statewide politicians. As the former mayor of San Francisco, it’s easy to pigeonhole the new governor as another big-city politician out of touch with the unique issues of rural and inland communities. But after the Governor’s address, a lot of folks are rethinking their skepticism. ... ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  New governor can see past the coast all the way to the valley.  That’s a change

Sites Reservoir offers innovative water solutions, says Jim Watson:  He writes, “Managing our state’s water resources remains one of the greatest challenges that will continue to face California policy makers well into the future.  The state’s water infrastructure is getting older and stressed beyond its capabilities. Our demands for water to serve our communities, to fuel our economy and to preserve our environment have increased far beyond what the system was designed to reliably and sustainably support. Changing weather conditions only exacerbate an already unsustainable situation. ... ”  Read more from Ag Alert here:  Sites Reservoir offers innovative water solutions, says Jim Watson

To fulfill clean water law, state must focus on L.A.’s small systems, says Nathaniel Logar:  He writes, “In his first actions as governor, Gavin Newsom has focused on drinking water, in particular fulfilling the state’s promise, enshrined as a human right in a 2012 law, to provide safe and affordable water to all Californians.  In his January budget address, and a surprise bus trip with all 11 cabinet members to Monterey Park Tract, a community of 240 individuals in Stanislaus County, the governor emphasized the challenges many Californians still face with high bills for water from contaminated sources.  This past week, he signed legislation in Parlier to provide $20 million for clean water. ... ”  Read more from Cal Matters here:  To fulfill clean water law, state must focus on L.A.’s small systems

In regional news and commentary today …

Yuba County: Above-average rain, snowpack do not pose runoff threat: “The last several weeks of rain and snow have improved the outlook of the current water year. Aside from some issues along the Sacramento River, local experts said the region’s flood control system has been performing well.  The last water year saw below-average precipitation across the state. The new water year – Oct. 1, 2018, through Sept. 30, 2019 – started slow but has since improved, especially with the recent string of storms. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Yuba County: Above-average rain, snowpack do not pose runoff threat

Monterey: Groundwater Sustainability Agency board votes to approve new water fees: “Don’t be fooled by the wet weather. There’s still a looming water crisis in California. Faced with the urgency of overpumping from groundwater basins, the state Legislature passed three laws in 2014 that collectively became called the Groundwater Sustainability Act.   In Monterey County, that led to the formation of a new agency, the Salinas Valley Basin Groundwater Sustainability Agency. And that new agency just took the first step in approving annual fees for water users, both municipal, and agricultural. … ”  Read more from Monterey County Weekly here:  Monterey: Groundwater Sustainability Agency board votes to approve new water fees

Modesto will get more rain, snow in its watershed. How do they compare with 2017?: “Yet another cold storm Wednesday could bring light rain to Modesto and low-elevation snow to an already-blanketed Sierra Nevada.  As wet as this winter seems, it has a long way to go before matching what happened two years ago: The watersheds of the Tuolumne and Stanislaus rivers both had record runoff, as measured over the 12 months ending Sept. 30. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  Modesto will get more rain, snow in its watershed. How do they compare with 2017?

The state of Turlock’s water:  “It’s something most Turlock residents take for granted — turning on their kitchen faucet and immediately receiving clean water for drinking, cooking and washing. How Turlock can secure a reliable source of safe drinking water for the future will be a key issue for the new Turlock City Council in 2019 and beyond. Below is a status report on Turlock’s water resources. … ”  Read more from the Turlock Journal here:  The state of Turlock’s water

Santa Clarita Valley board talks about attrition, reducing board size: “Members of the SCV Water Agency board, who found themselves saying goodbye to two of their fellow directors this past year, have called a special meeting Tuesday to talk about obtaining permission to reduce the size of the board should there be any more attrition.  On Tuesday, the SCV Water board of directors is scheduled to meet at its Rio Vista Water Treatment Plant to discuss only one subject on the agenda — how to appropriately whittle 13 members down to nine members over the next three years. ... ”  Read more from the Santa Clarita Valley Signal here:  Santa Clarita Valley board talks about attrition, reducing board size

Antelope Valley: Water system replacement set:  “A section of the city’s water system that has been one of the most troublesome will be replaced in a $709,000 project unanimously ap­proved by the City Council on Feb. 11.  The area includes Nel­son Drive, Garibaldi Drive to Hooker Drive, a section that has had more than a dozen main water line failures over the past year, according to the staff report.  These problems have brought the project to the front of the line for water sys­tem replacements, Cal­ifornia City Public Works Director Craig Platt said. ... ”  Read more from the AV Press here:  Antelope Valley: Water system replacement set

San Diego reservoirs fill up as more rain and snow moves into region:  “Forecasters said Tuesday that California’s markedly wet winter will continue to deliver significant rain and copious high-elevation snow to the saturated San Diego area this week.  From tomorrow afternoon through early Friday, another cold storm is expected to drop a half-inch to three-quarters of an inch of moisture along the coast, three-quarters of an inch to 1.5 inches in the inland valleys, 1.5 to two inches in the mountains, and 0.1 to 0.2 of an inch in the deserts, according to the National Weather Service. … ” Read more from Channel 8 here:  San Diego reservoirs fill up as more rain and snow moves into region

Along the Colorado River …

Officials: Arizona Will Miss Federal Deadline For Colorado River Plan: “Arizona won’t have all the pieces of a Colorado River drought plan finished by the federal government’s deadline to finalize protections for water used by millions across the U.S. West, state water officials said Tuesday.  It’s the latest hurdle threatening the plan between seven states to take less water from the drought-starved Colorado River, which supplies 40 million people and 5.5 million acres of farmland. Missing the March 4 deadline could allow the federal government to step in and decide the rules. … ”  Read more from KUNC here:  Officials: Arizona Will Miss Federal Deadline For Colorado River Plan

Interior Nominee Will Recuse Himself From (Some) Matters Involving Central Arizona Project: “President Trump’s pick to lead the Department of Interior, David Bernhardt, has to recuse himself from some matters involving the Central Arizona Water Conservation District — at least until later this year. The CAWCD runs the Central Arizona Project canal system.  In between stints at Interior, Bernhardt worked for the Washington, D.C. firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck. BHFS is currently the CAWCD’s federal lobbyist. Back in spring of 2017, Bernhardt was nominated to go to Interior before CAWCD interviewed the firm for a lobbying contract it eventually won. … ”  Read more from KJZZ here:  Interior Nominee Will Recuse Himself From (Some) Matters Involving Central Arizona Project

Precipitation watch …

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

DR. BRAD UDALL: Is the Colorado River in Crisis?

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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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