DAILY DIGEST, weekend edition: Can the Valley balance people, water, ag, and environment?; New atmospheric river set to hit NorCal on Monday; The David Bernhardt scandal tracker; Gila River Indian Community moves ahead with Colorado River drought plan after clash with lawmaker; and more …

In California water news this weekend, California’s Central Valley: Ground zero in water war; Can the Valley Balance People, Water, Ag, and Environment?; New atmospheric river set to hit Northern California on Monday; Similar to hurricanes, California storms now ranked by their own ‘Cat’-like scale; West’s active winter so far has had a huge impact on drought; The David Bernhardt scandal tracker; Did Bernhardt once try to blow up the Endangered Species Act?; Can a lake have legal rights? Voters in Toledo, Ohio will decide; Gila River Indian Community moves ahead with Colorado River drought plan after clash with lawmaker; and more …

In the news this weekend …

California’s Central Valley: Ground zero in water war:  “Stretching hundreds of miles from the mountains bordering Los Angeles north toward the state capital, the San Joaquin Valley doesn’t resemble landscapes typically associated with California. Devoid of the skyscrapers, beaches and bridges that make California famous, the sprawling valley is instead filled with thousands of farms and oil fields that quietly help drive the state’s $2.7 trillion economy.  Known as the “food basket of the world,” for over a century the valley and its rich soil have spoiled Americans with a wide variety of nuts, produce, wine grapes, dairy and even cotton. … ”  Read more from Courthouse News Service here:  California’s Central Valley: Ground zero in water war

Can the Valley Balance People, Water, Ag, and Environment?  “The San Joaquin Valley can overcome big challenges facing agriculture, the environment, and rural public health if major stakeholders embrace creative solutions to relieve stress on its water system.  However, forging agreement on these solutions won’t be easy as they will involve significant changes in land use and water management.  And recharging the Valley’s overdrafted groundwater basins likely will require the retirement of at least 500,000 acres from farm production.  These are some of the conclusions of “Water and the Future of the San Joaquin Valley,” a report issued Wednesday by the Public Policy Institute of California. … ”  Read more from GV Wire here:  Can the Valley Balance People, Water, Ag, and Environment?

New atmospheric river set to hit Northern California on Monday:  “An inbound atmospheric river is expected to dump several inches of rain on Northern California beginning Monday, but how much the storm will impact the North Bay wasn’t yet clear, National Weather Service officials said Saturday.  One computer model indicated the strongest rainfall will hit Sonoma, Napa and Marin counties, beginning Monday and lasting until Tuesday night, meteorologist Duane Dykema said.  If that model is correct, the region could see anywhere from a couple of inches to more than a half-foot of rainfall in the most heavily impacted areas, he said. … ”  Read more from GV Wire here: New atmospheric river set to hit Northern California on Monday

Similar to hurricanes, California storms now ranked by their own ‘Cat’-like scale: Remember the series of winter storms we experienced mid-January? It was the result of an “atmospheric river” driving a series of Pacific storms onshore.  Now there is a new scale to characterize strength and impacts of atmospheric river type storms, just like hurricanes. The scale is useful because atmospheric rivers often have a significant impact on California, bringing large amounts of snow, rain, and sometimes, catastrophic flooding. They are also a significant source for our water supply. ... ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  Similar to hurricanes, California storms now ranked by their own ‘Cat’-like scale

Westlands receives 35 percent water allocation:  “The Bureau of Reclamation announced Wednesday the initial 2019 water supply allocation for Central Valley Project water service contractors, leaving western Kings County farmers in Westlands Water District with only a fraction of their contracted supply this year.  Westlands and other agricultural districts south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River delta will get 35 percent of their historic water allotment, the Bureau announced. … ”  Read more from the Hanford Sentinel here:  Westlands receives 35 percent water allocation

West’s active winter so far has had a huge impact on drought:  “Drought conditions have dramatically improved this winter in the West and this trend is expected to persist into the spring.  A dominate weather pattern featuring a southward dip in the jet stream, or upper-level trough over the western U.S., has allowed a series of precipitation-rich storm systems to track through the region, especially over the last month. … ”  Read more from the Weather Channel here:  West’s active winter so far has had a huge impact on drought

The David Bernhardt scandal tracker:  “Just when you thought Ryan Zinke’s resignation would be the end of rampant corruption scandals at the Department of the Interior, along comes his former deputy David Bernhardt. It’s only been two weeks since President Trump nominated the former oil and gas lobbyist to head the department, but by our count, he’s already involved in at least 12 separate corruption-related scandals.  Just like we did for his former boss, we plan to keep this scandal tracker up-to-date by adding, subtracting, or elaborating on each scandal as it develops. … ”  Read more from Outside Magazine here:  The David Bernhardt scandal tracker

Did Bernhardt once try to blow up the Endangered Species Act?  “On Aug. 7, 2012, David Bernhardt went to bat for the American eel.  Theirs seemed an odd alliance — slippery, even, to some.  A Republican lawyer and lobbyist, Bernhardt had previously spent eight years in the George W. Bush administration’s Interior Department. There, the Colorado native had served on a team that regularly assailed the Endangered Species Act as rigid and litigation-gorged.  But on that hot August day, when the Washington, D.C., temperature reached 90 degrees Fahrenheit, Bernhardt filed a 14-page lawsuit demanding that the Fish and Wildlife Service act on a petition to protect the American eel as a threatened species under the ESA. … ”  Read more from E&E News here:  Did Bernhardt once try to blow up the Endangered Species Act?

Why aren’t we using nature to fight climate change?  “Restoring forests, maintaining peatlands, planting mangroves: These are some of the “nature-based solutions” that could help the world combat climate change.  As well as sequestering carbon released into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels, restoring natural ecosystems creates new habitats, protects against flooding, provides opportunities for food and pollination, and helps generate a trove of material for future medicines. What’s more, increasing the acreage of high-quality natural landscapes doesn’t require any dramatic change to the electricity grid, or demand that everyone buy an electric car—not to mention nature’s remarkable ability to make life generally more pleasant. … ”  Read more from Pacific Standard here:  Why aren’t we using nature to fight climate change?

Can a lake have legal rights?  Voters in Toledo, Ohio will decide:  “On Feb. 26, the residents of Toledo, Ohio, will have the chance to vote on an unusual proposal: whether to give one of the largest lakes in the U.S. its own Bill of Rights. If the ballot measure passes, it would be a win for the small but growing “rights of nature” movement, which aims to deter activities that pollute the environment by granting legal rights to ecosystems.  In the days leading up to the vote, the ballot measure has drawn intense opposition from business and agricultural interests that argue the measure could unleash a torrent of frivolous lawsuits. But those who fought to get the question on Tuesday’s special election ballot are determined to see it through, galvanized by their previous experience of seeing the city’s water supply declared too toxic to drink. … ”  Read more from WJCT here: Can a lake have legal rights?  Voters in Toledo, Ohio will decide

Sunday read …

Asparagus: Historic signature crop of the Delta:  “What foods come to mind when you think of the Delta? Pears? Crawfish? Catfish? Salmon? Fine Delta wine? How about succulent, flavorful asparagus? That’s the Delta flavor highlight of my childhood.  Asparagus was a signature crop of the SacramentoSan Joaquin Delta from the turn of the twentieth century through the 1970s. Delta asparagus was known for its great quality and flavor.  The first commercial crop of asparagus was grown on Bouldin Island (now bisected by Highway 12 between Rio Vista and Lodi) in 1892 by Chinese farmers working in local partnerships. ... ”  Read more from Soundings Magazine here:  Asparagus: Historic signature crop of the Delta

 

Sunday podcast …

Let’s get it done:  As more extreme weather patterns impact California and the western U.S., communities will need to build their defenses. Alicia Kirchner, U.S. Army of Corp of Engineers, was interviewed several years ago on Water is a Many Splendor’ed Thing. Alicia points out that levees are a structure that California communities have grown to trust. What would happen if future weather overstresses the levee system to the point of failure? Listen up. Water is a Many Splendor’ed Thing brings you another water relationship that has a personally significant impact to your life.

Stephen J. Baker, producer of Operation Unite’s Living Water® radio series, “Water is a Many Splendor’ed Thing”, has completed 258 episodes from around the world since 2006. Each story is a real circumstance of one water relationship that exists in the world.  Contact Stephen Baker at stevebaker@operationunite.co if you would like your organization’s water relationship to be shared with the masses. 

In commentary this weekend …

What’s Gavin Newsom’s plan for sustainable water in California? We still have little idea, says the LA Times:  They write, “Gov. Gavin Newsom’s references to water in his first State of the State address were brief and a bit patchy, but they were enough to make fiercely competing factions each believe the new governor had their backs. Newsom made clear that Jerry Brown’s two-tunnel project to pipe Sacramento River water under the delta to points south was dead, in favor of a single tunnel. The gratified reaction of environmentalists was, essentially: “We killed a tunnel!” The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California said, more or less: “We get a tunnel!”  But water policy in California is never that easy. Two weeks later, we still don’t know much about Newsom’s plans. Knowing we’ll have one tunnel instead of two tells us little. How big? How expensive? For what purpose? The new governor and his team are still working through those questions. ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  What’s Gavin Newsom’s plan for sustainable water in California? We still have little idea

Dan Walters: San Joaquin Valley: California’s poor stepchild?: “Technically, California’s San Joaquin Valley – the drainage plain of the San Joaquin River – begins a few miles south of Sacramento and ends a few miles south of Fresno.  However, in political and economic terms, it stretches even further south to the Tehachapi Mountains, south of Bakersfield.  The 300-mile-long valley is the heart of California’s largest-in-the-nation agricultural industry and much of its oil production, home to 4 million people (10 percent of the state’s population) and, unfortunately, has some of the state’s deepest poverty and most polluted air. ... ”  Read more from Cal Matters here:  Dan Walters: San Joaquin Valley: California’s poor stepchild?

California needs to save more of its rainwater, says the Santa Rosa Press Democrat:  They write, “The amount of rain that has fallen on California this winter is prodigious — 18 trillion gallons, enough water to fill 27 million Olympic swimming pools, in February alone.  So, no drought worries for 2019.  Unfortunately, the Golden State hasn’t applied its prudent financial strategy — stashing billions of dollars in a rainy day fund for a recession that’s bound to come — to preparing for the next prolonged dry spell. And, sure as the sun sets in the west, there will be another drought. … ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here:  California needs to save more of its rainwater

There is nothing fresh about a water tax, says Tyler Diep:  He writes, “Governor Newsom proudly declared in his State of the State address that we “need a fresh approach when it comes to meeting California’s massive water challenges.” I agree that there are serious water challenges in the state, especially when a significant number of Californians do not have access to safe and reliable drinking water. Some estimate that it’s over 1 million and mostly in the Central Valley, concentrated in poor and disadvantaged communities. As a state with the fifth largest economy, we owe it to those who do not have access to this fundamental necessity. … ”  Read more from the OC Register here:  There is nothing fresh about a water tax

In regional news and commentary this weekend …

Crescent City: Harbor commissioners still concerned about Klamath sediment:  “Though they submitted a letter to the State Water Resources Control Board supporting the removal of four dams on the Klamath River, harbor commissioners continue to voice concerns about potential impacts from sediment and silt.  During his CEO report on Tuesday, Harbormaster Charlie Helms said he discussed the possibility of financial assistance from the Klamath River Renewal Corporation for dredging costs if a large amount of silt and sediment affected the port as a result of dam removal. ”  Read more from the Del Norte Triplicate here:  Harbor commissioners still concerned about Klamath sediment

Emergency dredging needed for Humboldt Bay as shoaling increases:  “On Thursday the safety committee of the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District called for an emergency meeting to address the issue of shoaling in the bay due to severe winter storms.  The harbor district, responding to results of soundings performed by the Army Corps of Engineers that found the bay shallower than at any other point in its history, called for an emergency declaration. But the district does not have the authority to declare an emergency. ... ”  Read more from the Eureka Times-Standard here:  Emergency dredging needed for Humboldt Bay as shoaling increases

Recent rainstorms cause portion of Feather River levee to erode: “Rains over the past several weeks have caused erosion to a recently improved portion of levee along the east side of the Feather River and protecting Marysville. But officials say the damage is superficial and doesn’t pose a threat to public safety.  The site of the erosion is on the water side of the levee in between the bridges on 10th and Fifth streets. For most people, the erosion looks like cracks, but experts say that term implies a more serious condition. … ”  Read more from the Appeal-Democrat here: Recent rainstorms cause portion of Feather River levee to erode

Passionate comments open Napa Planning Commission’s watershed protection debate:  “People have conflicting opinions about proposed, stronger Napa County watershed and tree protections — the ideas are on target, too weak, a solution looking for a problem, a natural resources savior, an unnecessary burden on farmers.  Caught in the middle Wednesday was the Napa County Planning Commission. After hearing from a few dozen people, the commission delayed making a decision until March 6 because of public notice problems with the meeting. … ”  Read more from the Napa Register here:  Passionate comments open Napa Planning Commission’s watershed protection debate

Turlock Irrigation District to update community on river flows, dam relicensing:  “Those who have followed the Central Valley-famous “Worth Your Fight” campaign surrounding local river flows may want to attend Turlock Irrigation District’s Board of Director meeting on Tuesday night, as the agency will be providing an important update on the state water board’s recent SED decision and the Don Pedro relicensing process.  Typically during this time of year, TID holds a growers’ meeting prior to the Valley’s irrigation season to let farmers know the local outlook on water. This year, the water agency plans to inform farmers and the community about not only the amount of water the Tuolumne River Watershed has received so far this year, but also will provide information regarding the final license application for Don Pedro, which first began eight years ago, and the ongoing legal battle surrounding the State Water Resources Control Board’s decision to implement 40 percent unimpaired flows along the San Joaquin River and its tributaries for the betterment of fish. ... ”  Read more from the Turlock Journal here:  Turlock Irrigation District to update community on river flows, dam relicensing

Inside Pismo Beach’s plan to revitalize the Santa Maria basin:  “People up and down the coast are looking to use technology like this in the light of climate change and hydrological change,” Water Systems Consulting engineer Dan Heimel said during a Feb. 1 tour of the demonstration facility.  The plant will filter water three times: through microfiltration, allowing only water to pass through tiny pores; reverse osmosis, to remove salt; and ultraviolet advanced oxidation, to kill any remaining compounds. Wells will inject the purified water 200 to 400 feet into the groundwater basin, and after two years in the basin it can be used by South County cities. … ” Read more from New Times SLO here:  Inside Pismo Beach’s plan to revitalize the Santa Maria basin

Wet weather pulls San Luis Obispo out of drought – but not for long:  “For the first time in eight years, San Luis Obispo County is no longer experiencing abnormally dry weather or drought conditions.  A map the U.S. Drought Monitor released on Tuesday shows the county and the entire Central Coast region aren’t experiencing dryness or drought for the first time since 2011.  The Drought Monitor measures drought conditions throughout the country every two weeks on a scale from none to exceptional drought. ... ”  Read more from the San Luis Obispo Tribune here:  Wet weather pulls San Luis Obispo out of drought – but not for long

Santa Barbara: Just because it’s raining doesn’t mean water worries are over: “It’s raining, thank heaven! Santa Barbara County is, as of this writing, at 125 percent of average yearly rainfall (with more on the way). Lake Cachuma (in wet years more than half of the City of Santa Barbara’s water supply) is 52 percent full. The city and county have moved from Severe Drought to Abnormally Dry. Knowing all of this, it’s tempting to conclude the drought is over and that we can all return to “water use as usual.” That would be a huge mistake! … ”  Read more from the Independent here:  Santa Barbara: Just because it’s raining doesn’t mean water worries are over

Thomas Fire debris trucked from basin to beach:  “Since the rainy season began in earnest in January, County Flood Control has been operating almost constantly to keep its debris basins clear and ready for the next onslaught. Much of the accumulating debris is due to 2017’s Thomas Fire, which burned more than 280,000 acres in the back- and front-country behind Montecito, Carpinteria, and the western part of Ventura County. The scant vegetation on the hillsides has caused loose mud and rock to pour into the 11 debris basins below the burn scars when even a relatively small amount of rain has fallen. Trucks have been moving the stuff to Buellton, Santa Paula, and a closed landfill near the bridge to nowhere off Foothill Road. On February 4, the county began trucking the debris to Carpinteria. The city’s Parks & Rec director Matt Roberts welcomes the mud and stone as they help produce the sand his beaches need. … ”  Read more from the Santa Barbara Independent here:  Thomas Fire debris trucked from basin to beach

Navy to Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority: Groundwater ‘No. 1 encroachment issue’:The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority meeting Thursday ended on a surprise note, when Commander Peter Benson delivered a letter from NAWS Commander Captain Paul Dale. Benson is the non-voting member representing the Department of the Navy on the groundwater authority board.  Dated Feb. 20, 2019, and addressed to the Indian Wells Valley Ground Water Authority Board of Directors, the letter states that it is intended as a formal communication that “Commander Navy Region Southwest (CNRSW), in consultation with U.S. Navy commands located within the Indian Wells Valley, deems groundwater resources as the number one encroachment concern/issue which has the potential to impact missions enabled on and around Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake.” It goes on to state that “Water sustainability is critical to NAWSCL’s mission accomplishment.” … ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here:  Navy to Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority: Groundwater ‘No. 1 encroachment issue’

Decaying dam leaves parts of Los Angeles in path of rare megastorm destruction – study:  “Decaying dam leaves parts of California in path of rare megastorm destruction – study A combination of freak weather and decaying infrastructure could see dozens of cities in the Los Angeles area washed away by 20 feet of floodwater. Army engineers have pleaded with the federal government to avert a crisis.  Drought-stricken California seems an unlikely location for a flood of biblical proportions, but the US Geological Survey has repeatedly that a rare storm event, known as an “ARkStorm” could dump unprecedented amounts of rainfall onto the state, flooding the Central Valley, causing $300 billion in property damage and triggering the evacuation of millions of residents. … ”  Read more from Preston Business Journal here:  Decaying dam leaves parts of California in path of rare megastorm destruction – study

Funding funding increase will help address ‘sewage crisis’ on the border, lawmakers say:During the past two decades, the federal government’s spending on sewer projects along the U.S.-Mexico border has declined dramatically. The decrease in funding has left a long list of needed sewer fixes unbuilt, while raw sewage and industrial pollution have continued to pour into the New River, the Tijuana River and other rivers that flow across the border.  Now, Congress has started to put more money toward combating water pollution on the border. The newly enacted federal spending bill includes $15 million for the U.S.-Mexico Border Water Infrastructure Program, a $5 million increase from last year and the highest amount since 2010. … ”  Read more from the Desert Sun here: Funding funding increase will help address ‘sewage crisis’ on the border, lawmakers say

Along the Colorado River …

Gila River Indian Community moves ahead with Colorado River drought plan after clash with lawmaker:  “Arizona’s efforts to finish a Colorado River drought plan are moving forward after leaders of the Gila River Indian Community announced that they will proceed with their piece of the deal.  The community’s leader, Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis, had threatened to pull out of the agreement if the Legislature didn’t drop a bill that he said would undermine the community’s water rights under a hard-fought settlement. … ”  Read more from Arizona Central here:  Gila River Indian Community moves ahead with Colorado River drought plan after clash with lawmaker

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

One Response

  1. Richard

    Who wrote this? Surely we did not (and do not) expect anything or anyone different: “Just when you thought Ryan Zinke’s resignation would be the end of rampant corruption scandals at the Department of the Interior, along comes his former deputy David Bernhardt. It’s only been two weeks since President Trump nominated the former oil and gas lobbyist to head the department, but by our count, he’s already involved in at least 12 separate corruption-related scandals. Just like we did for his former boss, we plan to keep this scandal tracker up-to-date by adding, subtracting, or elaborating on each scandal as it develops. … ”

    Reply

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