DAILY DIGEST, weekend edition: Momentum builds for public investment in water-storage projects; Energy Dept, CA spar over nuclear site cleanup; EPA sets stage for Cargill plans in Redwood City; What’s ahead for CA following waterlogged winter?; and more …

In California water news this weekend, Momentum builds for public investment in California water-storage projects; Fong proposes redirecting high speed rail state bonds for Central Valley water storage projects; Energy Department, California spar over nuclear site cleanup; EPA sets stage for Cargill plans in Redwood City; Radio show: What’s ahead for California Following Waterlogged Winter?; Congress wants to see acting Interior secretary’s calendar but he doesn’t have one; Colorado River states urge California to OK drought plan; and more …

In the news this weekend …

Momentum builds for public investment in California water-storage projects:  “It won’t arrive in time for this wet winter, but hopes are rising that Central Valley politicians will soon deliver on one of their top political goals in recent years: investment in California water storage.  Bills introduced last week by Bakersfield Republicans in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., would redirect money from the state’s high-speed rail project toward a series of reservoir projects, as well as repairs to a canal serving Kern County farmers.  If ultimately signed into law, the legislation would build on recent water infrastructure successes at the state and federal levels, including a 2014 state bond measure that raised $7.5 billion for eight water storage projects. ... ”  Read more from Bakersfield.com here:  Momentum builds for public investment in California water-storage projects

Fong proposes redirecting high speed rail state bonds for Central Valley water storage projects: “Assemblyman Vince Fong (R-Kern County) introduced AB 435, which will prohibit additional bonds from being sold for high-speed rail purposes and redirect unspent bond funds for Central Valley water infrastructure projects. This repurposing of funds will only go into effect upon approval by the voters at the next statewide general election in 2020.  “It is abundantly clear that this High Speed Rail project is not going to be delivered as promised to voters in 2008,” said Assemblyman Fong. ... ”  Read more from the Daily Independent here:  Fong proposes redirecting high speed rail state bonds for Central Valley water storage projects

Energy Department, California spar over nuclear site cleanup:  “California is battling federal authorities over how to clean up a contaminated former nuclear research site near Simi Valley that was also caught up in the flames of November’s Woolsey Fire.  The fire complicated cleanup efforts after burning large portions of the site, scorching nearly 100,000 acres of land, and destroying 1,643 buildings.  The Santa Susana Field Laboratory operated as a nuclear research and rocket test facility on 2,850 acres from 1948 to 2006. Ten nuclear reactors were used on the site for various research products, and a partial meltdown in 1959 was not revealed until 20 years later. ... ”  Read more from Bloomberg Environmental here:  Energy Department, California spar over nuclear site cleanup

EPA sets stage for Cargill plans in Redwood City: “A long battle over development of the Cargill salt ponds in Redwood City may soon return after the EPA declared the site exempt from the federal Clean Water Act — causing concern by environmentalists and the city’s mayor.  The Environmental Protection Agency announced its decision earlier this month, effectively removing one of several barriers to development of the 1,400-acre Bayside property.  “After careful legal consideration and review, EPA has found that the Redwood City Salt Plant site does not include ‘waters of the United States’ because the site was converted to [dry] land long before the CWA was enacted,” according to the EPA’s website. ... ”  Read more from the Daily Journal here:  EPA sets stage for Cargill plans in Redwood City

Radio show: What’s ahead for California Following Waterlogged Winter? Here in California when it rains, it pours. But how much good is all this water really doing us?  In this edition of In Depth we take on two water topics. First, there’s growing concern that a lot of the rainwater we’ve been getting is just going down the drain and out to sea. We plumb the depths of California’s water system to find out where it’s coming up short and what can be done to fix it.  …”  Guests: Heather Cooley (Pacific Institute), Jennifer Pierre (State Water Contractors), Alan Taylor (professor)

What snow, rain means for river wildlife: “The snow is piling up and the rivers are full. Good news for us—but also for wildlife along the American and Sacramento rivers.  The cold, fast flowing water is great for clearing weeds and debris.  “When you have flooding in the bypasses, that’s usually very good for the fish,” UC Davis Civil and Environmental Engineer Jay Lund said. “Having flooded habitat provides more room for young fish to grow and that’s the natural ecosystem of the Central Valley.” … ”  Read more from KCRA Channel 3 here:  What snow, rain means for river wildlife

California’s Drought Largely Wiped Out After Winter of Soaking Rain, Heavy Sierra Snowpack:  “Years of drought have been nearly wiped out by an active storm track in California this winter and drought conditions have dramatically improved across the West, and this trend is expected to persist into the spring.  A dominant weather pattern featuring a southward dip in the jet stream over the West has allowed a series of precipitation-rich storm systems to track through the region, especially over the last two months. … ”  Read more from the Weather Channel here:  California’s Drought Largely Wiped Out After Winter of Soaking Rain, Heavy Sierra Snowpack

UC to offer more training for water diverters:  “University of California advisors are offering two more courses to teach landowners with rights to divert water from rivers and streams how to install their own devices to measure and report their diversions.  The April 4 courses in Redding and Woodland will clarify water reporting requirements for ranches, offer opinions on which meters work best in different situations and teach participants how to determine measurement equipment accuracy, according to the UC Cooperative Extension. ... ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press here:  UC to offer more training for water diverters

Millions of Californians’ water bills could climb after Trump’s FEMA won’t pay $300M for Oroville Dam:  “Millions of Californians could end up with higher water bills after the Trump administration on Friday announced that federal emergency officials aren’t going to reimburse the state for $306 million in repairs to Oroville Dam stemming from the 2017 spillway crisis.  The Federal Emergency Management Agency said federal taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for problems that existed prior to a massive hole forming in the dam’s concrete spillway in February 2017, eventually prompting the two-day evacuation of 188,000 downstream residents and a $1.1 billion emergency response and repair job. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Millions of Californians’ water bills could climb after Trump’s FEMA won’t pay $300M for Oroville Dam

Federal Disaster Agency Rejects $306 Million Request for Oroville Spillway Reimbursement: “The Federal Emergency Management Agency has rejected a $306 million reimbursement request from the California Department of Water Resources for work to restore Oroville Dam’s shattered main spillway.  The state agency says it will appeal the decision, made earlier this week.  The rejection comes as construction crews near completion of a two-year project to replace the spillway, which began to disintegrate during water releases in February 2017, and reinforce a severely eroded adjoining hillside that was meant to serve as an emergency spillway. ... ”  Read more from KQED here:  Federal Disaster Agency Rejects $306 Million Request for Oroville Spillway Reimbursement

Mathis, Hurtado introduce water legislation:  “Senator Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger), representing the 14th Senate District in California, along with principal co-authors Senator Andreas Borgeas (R-Fresno), Assemblymember Devon Mathis (R-Visalia), Assemblymember Dr. Joaquin Arambula (D-Fresno), and Assemblymember Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield), have recently announced the introduction of Senate Bill 559.  The bipartisan supported legislation will secure California’s water supply by investing $400 million in general funds towards the Friant-Kern Canal, one of the Central Valley’s most critical water delivery facilities. ... ”  Read more from the Valley Voice here:  Mathis, Hurtado introduce water legislation

There’s a Once-a-Decade ‘Super Bloom’ in the California Desert – for the 2nd Time in 2 Years:  “It started with the desert lilies in December. Since then a wave of wildflower blooms has been crescendoing across Southern California’s Anza-Borrego desert in a burst of color so vivid it can be seen from mountain tops thousands of feet above.  Two years after steady rains followed by warm temperatures caused seeds dormant for decades under the desert floor to burst open and produce a spectacular display dubbed the “super bloom,” another winter soaking this year is expected to create possibly an even better show by Mother Nature. … ”  Read more from Time Magazine here:  There’s a Once-a-Decade ‘Super Bloom’ in the California Desert – for the 2nd Time in 2 Years

Congress wants to see acting Interior secretary’s calendar:  “As Democrats in Congress seek to conduct oversight and request more information from the federal agencies, they are running into an odd roadblock at the Interior Department where the acting secretary says he can’t provide his calendar to lawmakers because he doesn’t have one.  In response to questions about the transparency of his government schedule, acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said he does not personally maintain a calendar and has no legal obligation to do so. ... ”  Read more from Channel 3000 here:  Congress wants to see acting Interior secretary’s calendar

Sunday podcast …

An atmospheric river: Steve Baker writes: “The words out! California has experienced over twenty atmospheric river storms so far this water year and that is a huge increase from a normal year. I met David Reynolds of the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration a few years ago and had a very interesting conversation about atmospheric river storms and how they impact California. Predicting Atmospheric Rivers are creating very significant advantages for responding to flooding and other damages that may develop in western coastal states.  As conditions are recognized and quantified in California, the California Emergency Management Agency is informed and the boots on the ground begin to prepare for our defenses.  And when this happens, each of you join the queue to button up the hatches and prepare for that next pineapple express will bring.”

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 Operation Unite® if you would like your organization’s water relationship to be shared with the masses.  Bringing People Together to Solve Water Problems Operation Unite®; stevebaker@operationunite.co; 530-263-1007

Sunday read …

Delta Anthology: Collecting stories of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta: Alex Breitler writes, “For a region so crucial to the growth of California as we know it today, you might think there would be libraries full of books about the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.  And yet, as UC Merced scholar Gregg Camfield wrote several years ago, the most obvious thing about the literature of the Delta “is how little there is.”  Advocates of the largest estuary on the west coast of the Americas are trying to collect those scattered bits and pieces in a new anthology of the Delta. … ”  Read more from Soundings Magazine here:  Delta Anthology: Collecting stories of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

In regional news and commentary this weekend …

NASA satellite photo captures extent of Russian River flooding:  “A dramatic before-and-after satellite image show just how much water was in Sonoma County during the flooding.  The color-enhanced image, shared by NASA, combines two shots, one from Jan. 27 and the other Feb. 28, to show how both the Russian River and the Laguna de Santa Rosa swelled to cover a large area of land with floodwaters. … ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here:  NASA satellite photo captures extent of Russian River flooding

Organic farm takes root outside of Santa Cruz:  “Although John Vars grew up in the agriculturally rich Willamette Valley of Oregon, he planted his roots on California’s Pacific Coast.  “My house was in a pretty typical suburban neighborhood. I did, however, visit Grandpa’s farm, a sheep and cattle ranch in western part of the state,” he said.  While apprenticing at the University of California-Santa Cruz Farm and Garden program in 2002 he became enamored with the concept of sustainable agriculture. … ”  Read more from the Santa Cruz Sentinel here:  Organic farm takes root outside of Santa Cruz

San Luis Obispo County eyes new rules on well drilling:  “San Luis Obispo County supervisors are exploring what it’d take to bolster the county’s authority in issuing groundwater well permits.  Following a report about groundwater conditions in the Adelaida region of the North County on Feb. 26, the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to have its staff look at how it could increase the level of review and discretion the county has over approving or denying well applications. ... ”  Read more from New Times SLO here: SLO County eyes new rules on well drilling

‘Major problem’ floods Tulare County homes, crews work to pump water:  “A “major problem” in southeast Tulare County forced hundreds of people out of their homes and endangered thousands of animals.  Dozens of residents were asked to evacuate beginning Friday night. Even more were forced out by water Saturday morning.  Tulare County Sheriff’s Department was sent scrambling to notify residents in the area of Strathmore that Frazier Creek Canal spilled over and water levels were rising. Frazier Creek is directly linked to the Friant-Kern Canal. ... ”  Read more from the Visalia Times-Delta here:  ‘Major problem’ floods Tulare County homes, crews work to pump water

LADWP, Mono County court overrule explained:  “The Alameda County judge’s order overruling the Los Angeles Department of Water’s request to dismiss Mono County’s suit may include some hints as to how the legal battle over dewatering ranch leases may go.  The basis of the County’s suit is the requirement to conduct a California Environmental Quality Act study to determine potential damage to the 6,200 acres of grazing meadows leased from and historically irrigated by LADWP for nearly a century. The department wanted the suit dismissed since the 2010 leases indicated water could be withheld for any reason. Judge Evelio Grillo didn’t buy that argument. … ”  Read more from the Sierra Wave here:  LADWP, Mono County court overrule explained

LADWP announces plans to spread water in Long Valley during spring runoff:  “Earlier this evening, the Inyo Mono Alpine Cattlemen’s Association’s Spring Tour Dinner Meeting was held at the Talman Pavillion. The meeting included updates on information relevant to ranching interests at the local, regional, state, and federal levels. Staff members from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) were in attendance and announced that LADWP plans to spread 30,000 acre-feet of water in Long Valley starting this coming May 2019. ... ”  Read more from the LADWP here:  LADWP announces plans to spread water in Long Valley during spring runoff

Orange County expands ‘toilet to tap’ water recycling:  “One way state officials hope to make California better able to withstand the ongoing drought is to stock underground drinking water supplies with recycled wastewater. Water managers across the state could learn a thing from the Orange County Water District: It was an early adopter of recycled water. And now, the district is expanding its use of what some call “toilet to tap.” … ”  Read more from KPCC here:  Orange County expands ‘toilet to tap’ water recycling

Along the Colorado River …

Colorado River states urge California to OK drought plan: “California is now the lone holdout on an emergency drought plan for the Colorado River, and the other river states are turning up the heat to get the deal done.  Representatives from Nevada and five other Western states sent a letter to California on Saturday urging water officials there to set aside their concerns and “and immediately and unconditionally approve” the so-called Drought Contingency Plan. … ”  Read more from the Las Vegas Review-Journal here:  Colorado River states urge California to OK drought plan

Top fed backs IID push for Salton Sea Farm Bill clean-up funds, with no linkage to drought plan:  “As promised, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman on Friday wrote a letter of support to the Imperial Irrigation District, backing efforts to win substantial Farm Bill funds to restore the dwindling Salton Sea.  But she stopped short of linking a pledge of funds to the seven-state Colorado River drought package that she is pushing to complete in two weeks. Instead, she said adopting the drought plan was the single biggest step to both preserving drinking water across the West and to preserving the Salton Sea. ... ”  Read more from the Desert Sun here:  Top fed backs IID push for Salton Sea Farm Bill clean-up funds, with no linkage to drought plan

Plotting how many people Southern Nevada’s water can sustain:  “It seems like a simple question: How many people can Southern Nevada support with the water it has now?  But the answer is far from easy.  The number can swing wildly depending on a host of variables, including the community’s rates of growth and conservation and the severity of drought on the Colorado River.  … ”  Read more from the Las Vegas Review-Journal here:  Plotting how many people Southern Nevada’s water can sustain

Precipitation watch …

Also on Maven’s Notebook this weekend …

CALENDAR EVENTS: Webinar on Fox Canyon Groundwater Market; American Water Works Assn Confluence 2019; Bruce Babbitt & Ellen Hanak: Parting the Waters; California Water Policy Conference

Announcements 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

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