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DAILY DIGEST: Storms spur emergency declarations across state by Newsom, more flooding expected; Why aren’t meteorologists talking about El Niño amid California’s wet winter?; Agencies plan for water rationing under SGMA; Optimism still alive for Temperance Flat Dam; and more …

In California water news today, Atmospheric River Is Pummeling Sierra With Feet of Snow, Topping February Records; Storms spur emergency declarations across state by Gavin Newsom, more flooding expected in Humboldt County; Why aren’t meteorologists talking about El Niño amid California’s wet winter?; Weak El Niños Like This Year’s May Become Rarer with Warming; Oroville Dam staying low to provide room for wet weather, possible use of reconstructed spillway; Agencies plan for water rationing under SGMA; Optimism still alive for Temperance Flat Dam; California touts desalination, but take it with a grain of salt; Land bill that includes Feinstein’s attempts to protect California’s deserts wins House approval, heads to Trump’s desk; and more …

On the calendar today …

In the news today …

Atmospheric River Is Pummeling California’s Sierra With Feet of Snow, Topping February Records:  “Another atmospheric river event is pummeling California with feet of snow in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, shattering February snow records at some ski resorts while also triggering flooding, rockslides and mudslides in lower elevations.  Heavy snow continues to pound the Sierra, generally above 5,000 feet, while rain persists in the lower elevations of Northern California. … ”  Read more from the Weather Channel here:  Atmospheric River Is Pummeling California’s Sierra With Feet of Snow, Topping February Records

Storms spur emergency declarations across state by Gavin Newsom, more flooding expected in Humboldt County:  “Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in 21 counties across the state on Tuesday, including Humboldt County, in the wake of the winter storms that have wreaked havoc across the state.  “These winter storms caused extensive snowfall, high winds, dangerous flash flooding, erosion, widespread power outages, and mud and debris flows,” the proclamation from the governor stated, citing storms that caused “atmospheric rivers” in January and February. “… these winter storms caused damage to critical infrastructure and to roads and highways throughout the state.” ... ”  Read more from the Eureka Times-Standard here:   Storms spur emergency declarations across state by Gavin Newsom, more flooding expected in Humboldt County

Why aren’t meteorologists talking about El Niño amid California’s wet winter?:  “Winter barged into California with unrelenting strength this year, delivering back-to-back storms that have pounded the state with rain and snow. Earlier this month, scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration confirmed El Niño conditions.  El Niño has a reputation for stirring up weather, so why aren’t we blaming the meteorological phenomenon for this wet and often strange winter? ... ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  Why aren’t meteorologists talking about El Niño amid California’s wet winter?

Weak El Niños Like This Year’s May Become Rarer with Warming:  “El Niño is back—although it probably won’t be the monster it’s been in the past.  In an announcement last week, NOAA noted that while the southern half of the United States may see wetter conditions in the coming months, this year’s event is likely to be weak and probably won’t come with any significant global impacts. There’s about a 55 percent chance it will last into the spring, according to NOAA forecasters. ... ”  Read more from Scientific American here:  Weak El Niños Like This Year’s May Become Rarer with Warming

Oroville Dam staying low to provide room for wet weather, possible use of reconstructed spillway:  “Oroville Dam is currently the only reservoir in the state that’s below average elevation — but that’s on purpose, said the state’s Department of Water Resources.  “If the lake begins to rise very quickly in the coming weeks due to large storms and increased inflows, then DWR may consider using outflow mechanisms,” the department said in a press release. That could include using the main spillway for the first time since it was rebuilt. ... ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Oroville Dam staying low to provide room for wet weather, possible use of reconstructed spillway

Lake levels rise, DWR prepares for possible use of new spillway: “Crews were seen moving equipment Tuesday morning atop of the Oroville Dam Spillway, preparing in the event that it will be used for the first time as a storm continues to pound Butte County.  As of 1 p.m. Tuesday, the lake level in the reservoir was 784 feet which is only 29 feet below the 813-foot entrance level to the main spillway, or the lowest point at which the Department of Water Resources could activate the spillway. ... ”  Read more from KRCR here:  Lake levels rise, DWR prepares for possible use of new spillway

Agencies plan for water rationing under SGMA:  “Local groundwater regulatory agencies set up under 2014 legislation in California are discussing future rationing schemes with irrigators as they scramble to submit long-term aquifer sustainability plans to the state by a deadline of early next year.  The plans are required by January 2020 for the state’s 21 most critically overdrafted or important basins. Most of those basins are in the San Joaquin Valley, where surface water cutbacks in recent years led to an overreliance on wells. … ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press here:  Agencies plan for water rationing under SGMA

Optimism still alive for Temperance Flat Dam:  “Funding awarded for the new Temperance Flat Dam may have fallen short, but hopes for construction are still very much alive. Jason Phillips, Director of Friant Water Authority and alumni of the San Joaquin Valley Water Infrastructure Authority, has insight as to why those involved with the project are still optimistic.  According to Phillips, the Temperance Flat project is being moved to a joint power authority (JPA), an action that was previously expected. … ”  Read more from Cal Ag Today here:  Optimism still alive for Temperance Flat Dam

California touts desalination, but take it with a grain of salt:  “Slimming down a $17 billion plan to shunt water from Northern California to the arid south has the state considering ways to supplement water needs. Desalination is one of the methods getting some attention.  California has a water problem, drought or no drought. The new administration has signaled a shift in water policy by specifically talking about turning salty water potable after Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) said he would support only a single tunnel as part of the project known as WaterFix, rather than the two tunnels his predecessor pushed for to bring water to the state’s southern half. ... ”  Read more from Bloomberg Environment here:  California touts desalination, but take it with a grain of salt

A day in the life of a hydrographer:  “Smack dab in the middle of where two rivers converge is the hub of the Yuba-Sutter area. It’s an area prone to flooding, and locals pay attention when the rivers start to rise.   It’s not everyone who maintains interest in what’s going on with the area’s hydrology year-round. Kaitlyn Chow isn’t everyone. Sure, the 25-year-old hydrographer for the Yuba Water Agency gets paid to do so, but for her it’s more than the money – it’s a passion.  Studying what the rivers, lakes, groundwater table and snowpack are doing while understanding incoming weather patterns are all in a day’s work for the Orange County native. ... ” Read more from the Appeal-Democrat here:  A day in the life of a hydrographer

Scientists Simulate Forest, Fire Dynamics to Understand Area Burn of Future Wildfires: “Climate change and wildfire make a combustible mix with deadly and costly consequences.  Scientists have been trying to understand that link for many years, studying the effects of climate and wildfire interactions in the Sierra Nevada.  UC Merced Professor LeRoy Westerling and University of New Mexico Professor Matthew Hurteau and colleagues have analyzed data via simulations of Sierra wildfires, and what they found was surprising. … ”  Read more from UC Merced here:  Scientists Simulate Forest, Fire Dynamics to Understand Area Burn of Future Wildfires

Land bill that includes Feinstein’s attempts to protect California’s deserts wins House approval, heads to Trump’s desk: The House of Representatives on Tuesday passed its first significant public lands conservation bill in years, designating more than 1 million acres of wilderness for environmental protection and permanently reauthorizing a federal program to pay for conservation measures.  There are several benefits for California, including an expansion of two of the most visited national parks in the California desert and designation of nearly 80 miles of scenic rivers while providing new off-highway vehicle recreation areas in San Bernardino County for motorized trail riding. … ”  Read more from the Long Beach Press Telegram here:  Land bill that includes Feinstein’s attempts to protect California’s deserts wins House approval, heads to Trump’s desk

In regional news and commentary today …

Russian River reaches flood stage — evacuations ordered:  “The second day of a wet and unrelenting storm socked the Bay Area and beyond on Tuesday to drench the North Bay, knock out power to thousands, dump several feet of snow in the Sierra and trigger mandatory evacuations along the Russian River.  The Russian River reached flood stage — at 32 feet — Tuesday night, and Sonoma County officials warned that continuing rainfall would cause the waterway to rise to 46 feet, inundating the area, by 11 p.m. Wednesday. ... ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  Russian River reaches flood stage — evacuations ordered

Chico: No solution in sight for Highway 99 flooding:  “According to Caltrans, approximately 20,000 vehicles drive the stretch along Highway 99 north of Chico for their daily commute.  Many of them commute to areas like Red Bluff and Los Molinos and vise versa.  But every year, an area north of Chico on Highway 99 floods causing hazards and traffic delays.  “The underlying cause of the flooding on the roadway is simply there is not enough capacity in the Rock Creek drainage and the Keefer Slew drainage,” said Dennis Schmidt, the Director of Public Works for Butte County. “There’s no easy million dollar solution. The solutions out there a multi-million, 20, 30, 40 million dollars and would require land owner approval.” … ”  Read more from KRCR here:  Chico: No solution in sight for Highway 99 flooding

Sacramento gets record rainfall, flood-prone creeks filling up … and it’s not over yet: “The capital region hunkered down Tuesday as the latest “atmospheric river” hit Northern California with torrential rain, leaving some creeks at or near flood stage and creating whiteout conditions in the Sierra, which forced at least one major highway to shut down.  And the worst may be yet to come, forecasters warned, as a flood watch is in place through Thursday morning for most of the Sacramento Valley. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Sacramento gets record rainfall, flood-prone creeks filling up … and it’s not over yet

Lake Berryessa ‘Glory Hole’ Spillway Active For First Time Since 2017: “With a constant stream of storms hitting Northern California over the past few months, an epic sight is finally returning to Lake Berryessa. The lake’s morning glory spillway – known affectionately by locals as the “Glory Hole” – is active as of Tuesday.  Lake Berryessa spills out of the Monticello Dam at the 440’ level. By early Tuesday afternoon, the lake was at 440.27’. ... ”  Read more from CBS Sacramento here:  Lake Berryessa ‘Glory Hole’ Spillway Active For First Time Since 2017

Yolo Bypass a key link in state’s water and flood future:  “Ever wonder what is going on under the Yolo Causeway when driving to and from Sacramento?  That’s part of the Yolo Bypass.  … Join Pete Bontadelli, Environmental Consultant at Analytical Environmental Services and former Director of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, as he presents “The Yolo Bypass: A Key Link in the State’s Water and Flood Picture” on Thursday, March 7 at 7 p.m. at the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area Headquarters as part of Yolo Basin Foundation’s Flyway Nights speaker series.  … ”  Read more from the Daily Democrat here:  Yolo Bypass a key link in state’s water and flood future

DWP’s request to dismiss Mono lawsuit overruled:  “Mono County hasn’t won the war, but it did win the first battle in its lawsuit against the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s decision to withdraw water allotments to its Long Valley area grazing leases.   Last Friday, the Alameda County civil court indicated LADWP’s request to dismiss the suit was overruled. According to Mono County Council Stacey Simon, “there is no written decision. Just one word on the website that says ‘overruled’ next to the docket entry.” ... ”  Read more from the Sierra Wave here:  DWP’s request to dismiss Mono lawsuit overruled

New tactic in Hollister Ranch attempt to limit beach access: Dump the judge:  Columnist Steve Lopez writes, “The tide has turned, so to speak, in favor of those who have been fighting to get to the beach at Hollister Ranch on the spectacular Gaviota coast. Recently, a Santa Barbara County judge put the brakes on a bad deal favored by area landowners that would provide only limited public access.  But the owners are a feisty bunch, and they’ve come up with a new tactic in their decades-long fight to keep the hoi polloi at a distance. On Thursday, the Hollister Ranch Owners Assn. filed a petition to have the judge who got in their way disqualified. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  New tactic in Hollister Ranch attempt to limit beach access: Dump the judge

LA County officials think they can do a better job than feds managing LA, San Gabriel rivers: The Los Angeles County Flood Control District has a message for the federal government: Thank you, but we’ll take it from here.  The keepers of more than 500 miles of the Los Angeles, San Gabriel and Rio Hondo rivers — mostly concrete passages steering storm runoff away from homes and streets into catch basins and ultimately the ocean — want to take over about 40 miles of channels owned and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  By a unanimous vote of the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, the district and the county Department of Public Works were directed to lobby Congress and negotiate with the Army Corps to hand over to the county the federally owned pockets intertwined within these SoCal rivers. … ”  Read more from the LA Daily News here:  LA County officials think they can do a better job than feds managing LA, San Gabriel rivers

Lake Elsinore residents fear planned hydroelectric dam project could spark wildfires:  “Some residents in the Southern California city of Lake Elsinore fear power lines from a proposed $2 billion hydro electric dam project could ignite a brush fire.  Residents are worried electrical towers and power lines could impact the area as part of the Lake Elsinore Advanced Pump Storage Dam project. ... ”  Read more from NBC 4 here:  Lake Elsinore residents fear planned hydroelectric dam project could spark wildfires

Along the Colorado River …

Arizona House refuses loan to Pinal Farmers facing Colorado River water shortage: “Farmers will have to wait for federal money to replace lost water for their crops after lawmakers blocked a plan to drill new wells.  The House Appropriations Committee rejected pleas to advance a $20 million state loan to Pinal farmers impacted by the drought contingency plan, or DCP. Farmers had hoped to build new wells and canals before huge reductions of water from the Colorado River set in by 2022.  But several lawmakers questioned why taxpayers should fund it when the contingency plan already set aside some cash for farmers. … ”  Read more from KJZZ here:  Arizona House refuses loan to Pinal Farmers facing Colorado River water shortage

Environmental groups to challenge Trump administration approval of Utah pipelines:  “Conservationists are planning a legal challenge to the Trump administration’s decision to allow a company to build transmission lines and pipelines on federal lands in Utah.  The Center for Biological Diversity, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club and five other environmental groups on Tuesday filed an intent to sue, challenging the Bureau of Land Management’s September decision to allow an Estonia based company to start construction of the pipelines in Utah’s Uintah Basin. … ”  Read more from The Hill here:  Environmental groups to challenge Trump administration approval of Utah pipelines

And lastly …

The Grand Canyon Turns 100 Years Old Today. Take a Look at Its History in Photos:  “The Grand Canyon is celebrating a big milestone this year, as it is officially 100 years old.  On Feb. 26, 1919, Congress passed legislation backed by President Woodrow Wilson recognizing the canyon as a national park. The natural wonder has become an American symbol and a space for visitors to connect with the raw outdoors. The scenic landscape holds both the heritage and culture of America’s first people and a collection of unique historical and geological records. ... ”  Read more from Fortune Magazine here:  The Grand Canyon Turns 100 Years Old Today. Take a Look at Its History in Photos

Precipitation watch …

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

CA IRRIGATION INSTITUTE: Groundwater Sustainability Plan development: How is it going on the ground?

 

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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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