DAILY DIGEST: The twin tunnels are out—Berkeley experts say that’s a good thing; Valley farmers need Sacramento to sustain water levels; The challenges of changing land use in the San Joaquin Valley; Metropolitan vote moves Colorado River drought plan forward; and more …

In California water news today, The Twin Tunnels Are Out—Berkeley Experts Say That’s a Good Thing; Valley farmers need Sacramento to sustain water levels; The challenges of changing land use in the San Joaquin Valley; Warming trend with above normal temperatures brings concerns of a melting snowpack; Klamath Dams: Ruling would exempt dams from standards; Metropolitan Water District vote moves Colorado River drought plan forward; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • The GRA Northern Sacramento Valley Branch Meeting in Chico from 5:30 to 8:30pm.  Topic is the Recovery Efforts and Watershed Impacts Related to the 153,336 Acre Camp Fire in Northern California.  Click here for more information and to register.  You do not need to be a member to attend.
  • The GRA Sacramento Branch meeting in Sacramento from 5:30 to 8:30pm.  Topic is Resilience from Below: Proactively Managing Groundwater to Sustain Communities and Nature in an Uncertain Future.  For more information and to register, click here.  You do not need to be a member to attend.
  • The GRA Southern California Branch meeting in Orange from 6pm to 8pm.  Topic is How to Use (and Abuse) Environmental Lawyers to get Projects Done (and Make More Money Doing So).  Click here to register.  You do need to be a member to attend.

In the news today …

The Twin Tunnels Are Out—Berkeley Experts Say That’s a Good Thing:  “The extravagantly wet winter notwithstanding, California’s water woes are far from over. But recent moves suggest Governor Gavin Newsom is leading the state into a new era of water policy. Last month, he decided to scale back his predecessor’s decades-long effort, the Twin Tunnels, to deliver water from Northern to Southern California.  “Really, the idea that two massive tunnels would be built in the Delta was always—well, a pipe dream,” says Peter Gleick. … ”  Read more from California Magazine here: The Twin Tunnels Are Out—Berkeley Experts Say That’s a Good Thing 

Valley farmers need Sacramento to sustain water levels:  “Sacramento law makers have shown little interest in helping the Valley solve its water problems yet the only path forward is to get them to take interest in the area that grows most of the state, and the nation’s food.  A panel discussion last Wednesday at the Citrus Showcase, an industry conference for growers hosted by Exeter-based California Citrus Mutual (CCM), discussed the looming deadline for local governments to comply with the Groundwater Sustainability Management Act (SGMA). Often referred to as “sigma,” the 2014 law set a deadline of Jan. 31, 2020 for local agencies to implement plans to become water neutral, meaning they put as much water back into the ground as they take out. The state requires that every area deemed an overdraft basin, such as the entire San Joaquin Valley, must be operating under a Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) approved by the Department of Water Resources by next year. ... ”  Read more from the Foothills Sun Gazette here:  Valley farmers need Sacramento to sustain water levels

The challenges of changing land use in the San Joaquin Valley:  “Implementing the state’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act—which requires overdrafted groundwater basins to achieve balance between supply and demand by the 2040s—could require taking at least 500,000 acres of irrigated cropland out of production in the San Joaquin Valley. While some lands will be converted to uses such as solar energy, groundwater recharge, and restored habitat, there are no current plans for most of this acreage. We talked to Soapy Mulholland, president and CEO of Sequoia Riverlands Trust, about this impending challenge.  PPIC: What key challenges does this land use transition pose?  Soapy Mulholland: The challenges of managing this amount of land if it’s fallowed piecemeal―5 acres here, 30 there—are huge. A hodgepodge of retired lands would be very difficult to manage and restore. … ”  Read more from the PPIC Blog here:  The challenges of changing land use in the San Joaquin Valley

Warming trend with above normal temperatures brings concerns of a melting snowpack:After above average rain and snowfall in February, the sun is starting to shine more in the month of March with warmer temperatures.  The spring-like conditions this early are a concern for the Bureau of Reclamation. “We think of the April through the July period as the snowmelt runoff period. At our basin in the upper San Joaquin River we get two-thirds of our run comes during the snowmelt season,” said Michael Jackson, Bureau of Reclamation. … ”  Read more from KFSN here:  Warming trend with above normal temperatures brings concerns of a melting snowpack

President signs Garamendi Delta bill into law as part of conservation act: “After more than a decade in the making, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta National Heritage Area Act by Rep. John Garamendi, D-Solano, was signed into law by President Donald Trump as part of the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act.  The National Heritage Area Act will provide $10 million for community-based efforts to conserve the Delta’s cultural heritage and historical landmarks. Garamendi, who served as deputy secretary to the U.S. Department of the Interior under Bill Clinton, reintroduced the act in January. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, has sponsored a Senate companion bill since 2010. ... ”  Read more from The Reporter here:  President signs Garamendi Delta bill into law as part of conservation act

Thirsty California May Be Wary of Blockchain Water Rights: “Last week, Colorado lawmakers filed a bill exploring how blockchain technology could be applied to water rights management.  Now, California is also studying blockchain for use in water rights management, as reported by Cointelegraph. But coming off a severe drought, which saw water restrictions throughout the state, they are facing a far different set of circumstances than Colorado, as water rights in California have always been a highly political issue. … ”  Read more from Cointelegraph here:  Thirsty California May Be Wary of Blockchain Water Rights  SEE ALSO: Where is Blockchain Really Used? Nowhere! Study Shows 0% Success Rate

Destruction from sea level rise in California could exceed worst wildfires and earthquakes, new research shows:  “In the most extensive study to date on sea level rise in California, researchers say damage by the end of the century could be far more devastating than the worst earthquakes and wildfires in state history.  A team of U.S. Geological Survey scientists concluded that even a modest amount of sea level rise — often dismissed as a creeping, slow-moving disaster — could overwhelm communities when a storm hits at the same time. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Destruction from sea level rise in California could exceed worst wildfires and earthquakes, new research shows

In commentary today …

Dan Walters: Trumpies rightfully reduced Oroville Dam aid:  “California’s Democratic political leaders fancy themselves as leaders of the anti-Donald Trump “resistance” and are engaged in legal and political conflict with the White House on dozens of specific issues.  Thus, when the Trump administration declared last week that it would not reimburse California for $306 million of the $1.1 billion cost of responding to the near-failure of the Oroville Dam two years ago, many saw it as just another front in the Sacramento-Washington feud.  In this case, however, the Trumpies are right, and California politicians should be grateful that the federal disaster aid isn’t zero. … ”  Read more from CalMatters here:  Dan Walters: Trumpies rightfully reduced Oroville Dam aid

In regional news and commentary today …

Klamath Dams: Ruling would exempt dams from standards — greens:  “Environmental groups yesterday asked a federal appeals court to reconsider a ruling that struck down part of a high-profile removal plan for four dams in California and Oregon, saying it set a precedent that would exempt dozens of dams nationwide from meeting water quality standards.  If the ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit stands, they wrote, “dozens of dams that are undergoing licensing would be exempted from compliance with water quality standards for the next 30- to 50-years.”  The complicated case concerns four dams on the lower Klamath River in southern Oregon and Northern California owned by Portland, Ore.-based PacifiCorp. … ”  Read more from E&E News here:  Klamath Dams: Ruling would exempt dams from standards — greens

Klamath Dams: In split vote, county approves agreement for KRRC dam removal: “Klamath County Commissioners on Tuesday approved a Memorandum of Understanding for the Klamath River Renewal Corporation’s plans to own and remove four Klamath River dams.  KRRC consultant Joe Spendolini said the MOU was a way for KRRC to incorporate local government input in its plans to remove the four dams – J.C. Boyle in Oregon, and Copco 1 and 2, and Iron Gate in California – which are currently owned by PacifiCorp. … ”  Read more from the Herald & News here:  Klamath Dams: In split vote, county approves agreement for KRRC dam removal

Del Norte Board of supervisors requesting mitigation dollars for dam removal: “Still unconvinced Klamath River dam removal wouldn’t result in excessive silt at Crescent City Harbor, Del Norte County supervisors are asking the nonprofit organization behind the effort to set aside mitigation dollars. With a 4-1 vote Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors directed Community Development Director Heidi Kunstal to draft a letter to the Klamath River Renewal Corporation with its request. Supervisor Roger Gitlin dissented. … ”  Read more from the Del Norte Triplicate here:  Del Norte Board of supervisors requesting mitigation dollars for dam removal

After PG&E bankruptcy, Potter Valley Project’s future uncertain: A system that transfers and diverts water from the Eel River basin has been in Pacific Gas and Electric’s control for over 35 years, but the utility’s bankruptcy filing in January — coupled with its interest in either selling or abandoning the project — has Humboldt County officials intent on closely following what happens next.  For more than 100 years, the Potter Valley Project has seen Eel River water directed to the headwaters of the Russian River, providing water and power to thousands of Potter Valley residents. But researchers and scientists say the diversion has threatened fish populations, including the Chinook salmon and the Northern pikeminnow. ... ”  Read more from the Eureka Times-Standard here:  After PG&E bankruptcy, Potter Valley Project’s future uncertain

Debris removal, groundwater important topics at Butte County supervisors meeting:  “A Camp Fire debris removal update and establishing a new Groundwater Sustainability Agency were big business at the Butte County Board of Supervisors latest meeting on Tuesday.  An update on the progress of the Alternative Fire Debris Removal Program and Work Plan was given by members of Butte County’s Public Health Department, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the California Office of Emergency Services. The health department provided new information on the requirements of the plan, the review process and the timeline for turning around those reviews. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Debris removal, groundwater important topics at supervisors meeting

Sacramento Approves Construction Of Controversial New Sewage Vault Underneath McKinley Park: “The city of Sacramento has approved a $2.9 million contract that will allow construction of a new sewage vault underneath McKinley Park.  The goal of the project is to provide a place to store sewage during wet weather, when stormwater runoff — and wastewater — can end up in the same place, and overflow can send it all into East Sacramento’s streets. … ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here: Sacramento Approves Construction Of Controversial New Sewage Vault Underneath McKinley Park

San Francisco sees more days of rain in 2019 than Seattle:  “The recent monster storms to hit California have pulled the state almost entirely out of the historic drought, or any level of drought of extreme dryness.  The U.S. Drought Monitor reports that almost 90 percent of California is now classified as having no drought conditions. … ”  Read more from KTVU Channel 2 here:  San Francisco sees more days of rain in 2019 than Seattle

Santa Barbara County: Planning Commission to consider proposal for 187 new oil wells, pipeline in West Cat Canyon: “A proposal to add 187 new steam-injected oil wells and a new natural gas pipeline in West Cat Canyon will be considered by the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission when it meets Wednesday in Santa Maria.  Project opponents have said they intend to stage a demonstration outside and speak against the project that would have significant impacts on biological, surface water and groundwater resources and would increase noise, according to the environmental impact report. … ”  Read more from the Lompoc Record here:  Santa Barbara County: Planning Commission to consider proposal for 187 new oil wells, pipeline in West Cat Canyon

Lake Casitas gets OK to divert more water just as it passes the mark to do so:  “Local officials have received an OK to divert more water into Lake Casitas, years after prolonged drought conditions shrunk the reservoir to historic lows.  But the new measures were in effect just a matter of days and just for one storm.  The reason why is good news. This year’s steady stream of storms boosted lake levels past the “critical drought” threshold. … ”  Read more from the Ventura County Star here:  Lake Casitas gets OK to divert more water just as it passes the mark to do so

President Trump signed a bill Tuesday making the Saint Francis Dam a national monument, according to officials.:  ““Today, I have signed into law S. 47, the ‘John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act,’” said the president in a statement.  Ninety-one years ago, the Saint Francis Dam broke and killed more than 400 people in Santa Clarita and the surrounding areas.  On March 12, 1928, three minutes before midnight, the dam broke and sent a wall of water down San Francisquito Canyon through Castaic Junction, Santa Clarita, Piru, Camulos, Bardsdale, Fillmore, Santa Paula and Ventura before emptying into the Pacific Ocean between Oxnard and Ventura. … ”  Read more from KHTS here:  President Trump signed a bill Tuesday making the Saint Francis Dam a national monument, according to officials.

Presentation of the Draft Final Report on the Hydrogeological Conceptual Model of the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Basin:  “The draft final report on the Hydrogeological Conceptual Model (HCM) of the Indian Wells Valley groundwater basin will be presented Wednesday, March 20, at 10 a.m., in City Council Chambers located at 100 W. California Avenue. The HCM, developed as part of a brackish groundwater study, represents the largest aggregation of digital geological and water quality data that has been assembled to date. … ”  Read more from the Taft Midway Driller here:  Presentation of the Draft Final Report on the Hydrogeological Conceptual Model of the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Basin

Death Valley Rain, Flooding Creates Rare 10-Mile-Long Lake: “Heavy rains and flooding created a rare, 10-mile-long lake last week in the driest spot in the United States – Southern California’s Death Valley National Park.  Photographer Elliot McGucken of Los Angeles was on his way to Badwater Basin in Death Valley when he came across the temporary and unnamed lake near Salt Creek on March 7. The mesmerizing shots he captured and posted to Instagram showed the the rugged Panamint Range reflected beautifully in the still water of the newly formed lake. … ”  Read more from the Weather Channel here:  Death Valley Rain, Flooding Creates Rare 10-Mile-Long Lake

Along the Colorado River …

Metropolitan Water District vote moves Colorado River drought plan forward:  “The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California on Tuesday sealed California’s participation in a landmark Colorado River drought management plan, agreeing to shoulder more of the state’s future delivery cuts to prevent Lake Mead from falling to dangerously low levels.  With California signed on, the plan can move to Congress, which must approve the multi-state agreement before it takes effect. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Metropolitan Water District vote moves Colorado River drought plan forward

Water wars: Imperial Valley is being cut out of western US drought plan:  “The Imperial Irrigation District is being written out of a massive, multi-state Colorado River drought plan at the eleventh hour.  IID could sue to try to stop the revised plan from proceeding, and its board president called the latest development a violation of California environmental law.  But Metropolitan Water District of Southern California general manager Jeffrey Kightlinger disagreed, and said Tuesday that attorneys for his agency, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and others in a working group are finalizing new documents to remove IID from the Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan. ... ”  Read more from The Desert Sun here:  Water wars: Imperial Valley is being cut out of western US drought plan

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

NEWS WORTH NOTING: New governor brings hope for a new partnership on the Merced River; Sierra Nevada Conservancy awards over $26 million for forest health projects; Lawsuits target Trump’s war on transparency at EPA, Interior Department

DR. GLENDA HUMISTON: Managing our Lands to Manage our Water

PUBLIC INPUT WANTED: State Water Board solicits comments on the development of a water rights enforcement policy

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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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