DAILY DIGEST: FEMA details why it rejected state’s request for Oroville spillway funds; Sierra snowpack at 156% but groundwater recovery could take years; Western states finish Colorado River drought deal, ask Congress to sign off; and more …

In California water news today, FEMA Details Why It Rejected State’s Request for Oroville Spillway Funds; Sierra Snowpack at 156% as Some CA Ski Resorts Get Over 550 Inches of Snow This Season; Patzert says not so fast with declaring drought over; groundwater recovery could take years; Resource issues dominate annual CFBF conference; Siskiyou County: Agreement intends to help landowners aid salmon; Western states finish Colorado River drought deal, ask Congress to sign off; and more …

On the calendar today …

In the news today …

FEMA Details Why It Rejected State’s Request for Oroville Spillway Funds: “Federal emergency relief officials have provided new details on their decision to reject California’s request to reimburse the state for  work to rebuild and reinforce the badly damaged spillways at Oroville Dam.  The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced earlier this month that it would not reimburse the state for $306 million in construction on the spillways, which failed in February 2017 and prompted mandatory evacuation orders for 188,000 people living downstream of the nation’s tallest dam. … ”  Read more from KQED here: FEMA Details Why It Rejected State’s Request for Oroville Spillway Funds

Sierra Snowpack at 156% as Some CA Ski Resorts Get Over 550 Inches of Snow This Season:  “A very wet winter across California recently pulled the state out of drought for the first time in years, and it’s also been a boon for the Sierra snowpack, now at a staggering 156 percent above normal as of Wednesday.  The latest figures show a marked improvement over this time last year, when the statewide average for the snowpack was about 40 percent of normal, according to the National Weather Service’s Hanford office. … ”  Read more from KTLA Channel 5 here:  Sierra Snowpack at 156% as Some CA Ski Resorts Get Over 550 Inches of Snow This Season

In California, abundant rains, 618 inches of snow and an end to drought. More winter and water are coming:  “The past week has been lovely for enjoying California’s outdoor splendor, with warm temperatures and clear, blue skies ushering in a welcome change from such a wet, dreary winter. Bring on spring!  But while the Golden State might be through with winter, winter is not through with the Golden State. Forecasts are calling for precipitation, widespread and light — save for scattered cloudbursts — and cooler conditions starting Wednesday. A second round of unsettled weather, perhaps a little weaker and quicker, is coming late Friday into Saturday.  Looking beyond that, how about another atmospheric river to go atop the 20-plus that already have struck the state? … ”  Read more from the Washington Post here:  In California, abundant rains, 618 inches of snow and an end to drought. More winter and water are coming

Patzert says not so fast with declaring drought over; groundwater recovery could take years:  “We’re having one of the best rainfall seasons in years, with drought conditions easing for much of the state.  But one of the nation’s leading oceanographers says there’s much more involved before the impacts of the drought are completely gone, and that it could take years to replenish groundwater supplies.  Former NASA oceanographer Dr. Bill Patzert says while we had the possibility of El Nino conditions going into the rainfall season, which could have magnified rain amounts, it didn’t happen. Patzert says El Nino was “El No-Show”. … ”  Read more from KCLU here:  Patzert says not so fast with declaring drought over; groundwater recovery could take years

Resource issues dominate annual CFBF conference:  “Addressing concerns that include floods, droughts, wildfires and state regulations on river flow, two state officials advised farmers and ranchers to remain engaged in those and other natural-resources issues.  At the California Farm Bureau Federation Leaders Conference in Sacramento last week, California Natural Resources Agency Secretary Wade Crowfoot said his top priorities include water and wildfire protection.  “From our perspective, it’s getting worse and we need to prepare California for more variable hydrology—drier periods are drier and wetter periods becoming wetter—and what that means for our communities, forests and woodlands in terms of danger,” Crowfoot said. “At the Resources Agency, we have to help state government help local communities become more resilient.” … ”  Read more from Ag Alert here:  Resource issues dominate annual CFBF conference

Coding teams step up to dam problem:  “Dozens of computer coding teams from around San Joaquin County were tasked to create an app in roughly seven hours.  The issue: following the destruction caused by the malfunction of the Oroville Dam in February 2017 and the evacuation of more than 180,000 people, could there be an app that can track dam leakage, seismic activity and other structural impacts and communicate with the appropriate individuals to help deter another disaster? … ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here:  Coding teams step up to dam problem

SB 559 would unblock Valley’s major water artery:  “A collection of legislators are taking another shot at getting state money to repair the canal carrying water to thousands of farms and several cities along the Valley’s eastside.  Earlier this month, Senator Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger), representing the 14th Senate District encompassing part of Tulare County, 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), gathered along the Friant-Kern Canal in Terra Bella to announce the introduction of Senate Bill 559. The bipartisan supported legislation will secure California’s water supply by investing $400 million in general funds to repair subsidence in the canal caused during the historic drought. … ”  Read more from the Foothills Sun-Gazette here:  SB 559 would unblock Valley’s major water artery

Western droughts caused permanent loss to major California groundwater source:  “California’s Central Valley aquifer, the major source of groundwater in the region, suffered permanent loss of capacity during the drought experienced in the area from 2012 to 2015.  California has been afflicted by a number of droughts in recent decades, including one between 2007 and 2009, and the millennium drought that plagued the state from 2012 to 2015. Due to lack of water resources, the state drew heavily on its underground reserves during these periods. … ”  Read more from PhysOrg here:  Western droughts caused permanent loss to major California groundwater source

ASU scientists using latest space technology to assess the health of a large aquifer system in California’s San Joaquin Valley:”A team of Arizona State University scientists has been using the latest space technology, combined with ground measurements, to assess the health of one of the nation’s most important sources of underground water, a large aquifer system located in California’s San Joaquin Valley.  The team, comprised of School of Earth and Space Exploration researchers Chandrakanta Ojha, Susanna Werth and Manoochehr Shirzaei, focused on the San Joaquin Valley’s most recent drought period, from 2012 to 2015, measuring both groundwater loss and aquifer storage loss. The results of their findings have been recently published in the Journal of Geophysical Research. … ”  Read more from Arizona State University here:  ASU scientists using latest space technology to assess the health of a large aquifer system in California’s San Joaquin Valley

As Risks Rise, An Overhaul Announced for Federal Flood Insurance:  “The Trump administration has announced plans to overhaul the federally subsidized National Flood Insurance Program, increasing policy premiums to more accurately reflect flood risk and home values starting in October 2020. The decision comes in the midst of historic flooding that has displaced thousands of people and destroyed homes, farms, and infrastructure across parts of the U.S. Midwest.  The National Flood Insurance Program is run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and covers more than 5 million properties across the United States, both those in coastal and inland flood zones. A string of costly natural disasters and worsening flooding caused by sea level rise has saddled the program with debt, topping $30 billion in 2017, Bloomberg News reported. … ”  Read more from Yale 360 here:  As Risks Rise, An Overhaul Announced for Federal Flood Insurance

March 2019 king tides, fueled by pull of supermoon, to cause flooding in coastal areas of US:  “The final supermoon of 2019 will contribute to king tides and the potential for minor coastal flooding in areas prone to high water issues in the United States this week.  During the full moon, the Earth, sun and the moon are in close alignment. This pulls on the ocean a tad more than other times during the month.  Since the moon is a bit closer to the Earth during this full moon when compared to most other times of the year it is called a supermoon. … ”  Read more from Accu-Weather here:  March 2019 king tides, fueled by pull of supermoon, to cause flooding in coastal areas of US

Democratic lawmakers call for investigation into Interior officials over alleged ethics violations:  “A pair of Democratic lawmakers are calling on the Interior Department watchdog to look into ethical concerns involving a number of key agency officials.  Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) wrote a letter to Interior’s acting Inspector General Mary Kendall on Friday, asking her office to investigate reports of “ethics irregularities” for senior Interior officials, specifically acting Secretary David Bernhardt. … ”  Read more from The Hill here:  Democratic lawmakers call for investigation into Interior officials over alleged ethics violations

Wetland mud is ‘secret weapon’ against climate change:  “Muddy, coastal marshes are “sleeping giants” that could fight climate change, scientists say.  A global study has shown that these regions could be awoken by sea level rise.  Sea level is directly linked to the amount of carbon these wetlands store in their soil, the team reports in the journal Nature.  Researchers studied the carbon locked away in cores of wetland mud from around the world.  They say that the preservation of coastal wetlands is critical for mitigating global warming. … ”  Read more from the BBC here:  Wetland mud is ‘secret weapon’ against climate change

Freshwater springs support amazing ecosystems and reflect the health of aquifers humans rely on. What can we do to protect them?  “In a nameless spring on Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in southeastern New Mexico, water bubbles up through dark sand and runs into a steep-banked channel en route to the Pecos River. The small pool it creates is clear and cold on a gusty, dry summer day, but it’s unremarkable, hidden by weeds. Yet its water, emerging from a deep aquifer, is coveted by people and animals alike, a critical resource for a nearby city, farmers and tiny endangered invertebrates.  The Bitter Lake NWR isn’t alone in its ecological importance — it represents numerous spring-dependent ecosystems across the arid western United States. Encircled by rangeland, irrigated farms, and oil and gas development, they are often sanctuaries for species found nowhere else. … ”  Read more from Ensia here:  Freshwater springs support amazing ecosystems and reflect the health of aquifers humans rely on. What can we do to protect them?

In commentary today …

Government meddling in groundwater creates more problems, says John Michelena:  He writes, “Move over global warming or cooling, California has a new environmental disaster called groundwater. And where there’s an emergency, we have ambulance-chasing regulators and lawmakers with bureaucratic fixes.  Why are we having groundwater problems?  It’s plain and simple: Groundwater is replacing surface water.  When there’s substantially less surface water delivered to cities and farms, then groundwater becomes the only water that’s left. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  Government meddling in groundwater creates more problems

Groundwater: The Resource We Can’t See, but Increasingly Rely Upon, says Graham Fogg:  He writes, “People have used groundwater for thousands of years, especially in arid regions such as the Middle East and North Africa, where hand-dug wells and subsurface tunnel systems collected and diverted it for early societies. These ancient methods amounted to skimming the shallow groundwater off the top of massive aquifer systems—the vast stores of invisible groundwater beneath the continents that account for more than 95 percent of all circulating fresh water on Earth. … ”  Read more from Trend Magazine here:  Groundwater: The Resource We Can’t See, but Increasingly Rely Upon

In regional news and commentary today …

Siskiyou County: Agreement intends to help landowners aid salmon:  “A group of agricultural landowners in Siskiyou County has sought to enter into a federal agreement to help salmon species in the Shasta River while ensuring their efforts would allow them to continue operating their ranching businesses in a viable way.  Working as the Shasta Watershed Conservation Group, 10 landowners in the watersheds of the upper Shasta River—a tributary of the Klamath River—and Parks Creek applied earlier this month for a permit to enroll in a Safe Harbor Agreement. … ”  Read more from Ag Alert here:  Siskiyou County: Agreement intends to help landowners aid salmon

City of Ukiah may put signs, fence around wetlands near Costco:  “The Ukiah City Council Wednesday will consider a resolution reaffirming that a small patch of wetlands near Costco contains sensitive habitat that is closed to the public.  According to the staff report for the March 20 meeting, city staff have been receiving reports from concerned citizens that the area just south of the Costco gas station on Airport Park Boulevard “is being damaged due to public use. The reports have cited incidences of pedestrian traffic, vehicle traffic, overnight campers and litter” on the area called Wetlands Park. ... ”  Read more from the Ukiah Daily Journal here:  City of Ukiah may put signs, fence around wetlands near Costco

City of Napa to look into joint water study of reservoir areas with county:  “To better understand how vineyard and housing development could affect its Upvalley water sources, the city of Napa may join forces with the county on a study of runoff and inflow into Lake Hennessey and Milliken Reservoir.  The study, which comes before the City Council on Tuesday afternoon, would expand monitoring and sampling to help officials better understand how water flows into Napa’s two municipal reservoirs – and help the city better predict how runoff from new homes or vineyards in the reservoir watersheds, only a small portion of which the city owns, could affect the quality of the drinking water ultimately piped to Napa residents and businesses to the south. … ”  Read more from the Napa Valley Register here:  City of Napa to look into joint water study of reservoir areas with county

Palo Alto prepares for sea level rise:  “With rising tides threatening to submerge the Palo Alto Baylands by mid-century, city officials agreed on Monday that they need to explore new barriers — both physical and legislative — to protect coastal area from sea level rise.  These measures will be approved as part of a new Sea Level Rise Implementation Plan, a document that Public Works staff are in the process of putting together and that could have significant ramification for properties around the Baylands. … ”  Read more from Palo Alto Online here:  Palo Alto prepares for sea level rise

High-tech fight on aquatic invasive plants in Lake Tahoe shows promising results:  “A pilot program that used ultraviolet light to combat aquatic invasive plants has shown promising results.  Results from the program, which was deployed in Lakeside Marina in the summer of 2017, show the use of ultraviolet-C light successfully killed submerged aquatic plants, according to the Tahoe Resource Conservation District.  Most of the submerged plants showed signs of deterioration or complete collapsing withing seven to 10 days following the treatment, which was administered via a specially-made boat fitted with a drop-down panel of UVC lights. … ” Read more from the Tahoe Daily Tribune here:  High-tech fight on aquatic invasive plants in Lake Tahoe shows promising results

How long until Capitola Village is underwater?  “Sitting in a depression between high rocky cliffs near the shore, the Capitola Village is home to trendy shops, bars and restaurants, all of which have helped make the town of Capitola a popular, laid-back getaway since 1869. Over the years, the city has seen many changes—and more dramatic ones could be on the way.  Patrick Barnard, who’s lived in the Capitola Village for more than 15 years, works as a coastal geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Pacific Coastal Science Center. As research director for the federal agency’s climate impacts and coastal processes team, Barnard focuses on climate-related changes to the beaches and estuaries bordering the Pacific Ocean. … ”  Read more from Good Times Santa Cruz here:  How long until Capitola Village is underwater?

Santa Barbara: Hundreds of new oil wells could soon triple county’s oil production:  “Environmental groups and local residents are sounding alarms that proposed drilling projects would triple onshore oil production in Santa Barbara County — to which the oil industry says, “What’s wrong with that?”  Three companies propose to add hundreds of new wells and associated pipelines to extract thick crude using thermally enhanced recovery — an energy-intensive process to recover heavy oils that can’t flow unless they are heated — and then truck the oil on rural roads and highways. ... ”  Read more from the San Luis Obispo Tribune here:  Santa Barbara: Hundreds of new oil wells could soon triple county’s oil production

Ventura: Get your state water questions answered Thursday:  “Learn more about Ventura’s plans to connect to state water during a meeting Thursday in the city.  Betsy Cooper with the city’s water department will talk and answer questions during the monthly East Ventura Community Council meeting. The group represents residents who live east of Victoria Avenue.   The city has held rights to state water since the early 1970s and for its 2019 entitlement is slated to pay $1.3 million. It’s selling the water for $1.1 million, under a deal city elected officials approved this week.  … ”  Read more from the Ventura County Star here:  Ventura: Get your state water questions answered Thursday

Third time a charm? New site eyed for water plant in Escondido:  “It could be called the Washington Avenue shuffle.  Three times now, Escondido has proposed building a large recycled water treatment plant on lots along Washington Avenue, first near its eastern terminus, the second time in the middle of the city, and now near the western end of the street.  The first try was on city-owned land near where the street ends at El Norte Parkway, property surrounded on three sides by newer housing whose residents screamed bloody murder. That location was rejected by the City Council in 2016. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune here:  Third time a charm? New site eyed for water plant in Escondido

Water Managers Decry Blind Eye for Shrinking Salton Sea: “Residents and officials who packed a yacht club on the north shore of the Salton Sea in Southern California on Tuesday vented their anger about what they perceive as unnecessary delays and obfuscations about the environmental and public health disaster unfolding here.  The California Water Resources Control Board held the workshop at the North Shore Yacht and Beach Club designed to both inform the public and garner the opinions and experiences of residents living in proximity to the sea, which is rapidly vanishing into the desert.  “Some people say that an environmental disaster is imminent here at the Salton Sea,” said Thomas Tortez, the tribal chairperson of the Torres Martinez Desert Cuihilla Indians. “It is already happening.” …. ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service here: Water Managers Decry Blind Eye for Shrinking Salton Sea

Along the Colorado River …

Western states finish Colorado River drought deal, ask Congress to sign off:  “Representatives of seven states finished a landmark agreement to shore up the dwindling Colorado River and signed a letter to Congress on Tuesday calling for legislation to enact the deal.  The set of agreements would prop up water-starved reservoirs that supply cities and farms across the Southwest and would lay the groundwork for larger negotiations to address the river’s chronic overallocation, which has been compounded by years of drought and the worsening effects of climate change. ... ”  Read more from Arizona Central here:  Western states finish Colorado River drought deal, ask Congress to sign off

US Official Declares Drought Plan Done for Colorado River:  “Seven states that rely on a major waterway in the U.S. West have finished a yearslong effort to create a plan to protect the Colorado River amid a prolonged drought, the federal government declared Tuesday.  U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman commended Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming for reaching a consensus on the Colorado River drought contingency plan. Now the states are seeking approval from Congress to implement it.  “It is time for us to work with our congressional delegations to move forward to make sure we can implement DCP this year,” Burman said on a call with reporters. … ”  Read more from the AP via US News & World Report here:  US Official Declares Drought Plan Done for Colorado River

Colorado River states sign letter agreeing to Drought Contingency Plan, despite opposition from river’s largest user: “After years of talks and disputes, the seven states in the Colorado River Basin came together on Tuesday to back a Drought Contingency Plan (DCP) to use less water during shortages. Negotiators for the seven states sent the plan to Congress, which would have to enact legislation to implement the plan, and met a key deadline imposed by federal water managers.  Las Vegas could face up to a 10 percent cut in its water right if Lake Mead falls below a shortage elevation, a reduction water managers said they are prepared for. … ”  Read more from the Nevada Independent here:  Colorado River states sign letter agreeing to Drought Contingency Plan, despite opposition from river’s largest user

Precipitation watch …

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

MET WATER PLANNING & STEWARDSHIP COMMITTEE: Voluntary Settlement Agreements

NEWS WORTH NOTING: Sites Reservoir project draws criticism from fishermen, tribes, and conservation groups; Groups warn Feinstein a “dark ethical cloud” hangs over Bernhardt

Today’s announcements …

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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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