DAILY DIGEST: Spillway could be used next week, DWR says; More snow and rain for NorCal today; Rising seas bring rising water management challenges; A honking fluttering spectacle; Colorado River drought plan gets first congressional hearing; and more …

In California water news today, Spillway could be used next week, DWR says; More snow and rain for NorCal today, California could experience more atmospheric rivers in the future; Rising seas bring rising water management challenges; A honking fluttering spectacle; Colorado River drought plan gets first congressional hearing; and more …

On the calendar today …

In the news today …

Oroville Dam’s Rebuilt Spillway Is Nearing Its First Use Since 2017:  “The agency that manages Oroville Dam says the facility’s rebuilt spillway is likely to be pressed into service for the first time as soon as next week.  The Department of Water Resources announced Tuesday that Lake Oroville has risen close to the point where the agency will need to release water to maintain empty reservoir space for runoff from incoming storms and spring snowmelt.  DWR said it will give the public between 24 and 72 hours advance notice of a release, which can be expected to cause relatively rapid rises on the Feather River downstream of the dam. … ”  Read more from KQED here:  Oroville Dam’s Rebuilt Spillway Is Nearing Its First Use Since 2017

Spillway could be used next week, DWR says:  “The newly-renovated Oroville Dam spillway could be used as early as next week, the state Department of Water Resources said Tuesday.  DWR is “closely monitoring Oroville reservoir levels and current forecasts,” the water agency said in a press release. With storms forecast in the Feather River basin, DWR said it is taking steps to prepare for use of the main spillway by the first week of April. ... ”  Read more from the Oroville Mercury-Register here:  Spillway could be used next week, DWR says

Heavy Sierra snow, valley thunderstorms and hail possible Wednesday as storm peaks:  “The heaviest rain, heaviest snow and highest probability of thunderstorms accompanying the current storm will pass through Northern California at varying times Wednesday.  Early morning showers were scattered, dropping heavier precipitation in the northern half of the Sacramento Valley while Sacramento stayed mostly dry as of 6 a.m., as National Weather Service radar images show.  Rain in Sacramento will likely begin later Wednesday morning. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Heavy Sierra snow, valley thunderstorms and hail possible Wednesday as storm peaks

Atmospheric rivers: California could experience more intense rains in the future:  “Imagine a river flowing through the sky – and all of its water dropping down to earth. That’s kind of what happens during many winter storms on the west coast.  A so-called “atmospheric river” is a long, flowing band of water vapor – typically a few hundred miles wide – that contains vast amounts of moisture. When it moves inland over mountains, the moisture rises, causing it to cool and fall to earth as rain or snow.  Duane Waliser of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory says atmospheric rivers are often beneficial, because they provide about half of California’s fresh water supply. But strong atmospheric river systems can also be dangerous – especially when they stall, or produce rain on top of snow. … ”  Read more from Yale Climate Connections here:  Atmospheric rivers: California could experience more intense rains in the future

A push for better atmospheric river forecasting:  “In California, atmospheric rivers are a necessary evil. They can provide up to half of the state’s total annual precipitation, but they’re one of the leading causes of flooding.  Water managers across the state are looking at different techniques to better forecast the extreme weather events, both for the benefit of flood protection and to help with water supply during dryer years. … ”  Read more from the Appeal Democrat here:  A push for better atmospheric river forecasting

A honking fluttering spectacle:  “The honking, fluttering spectacle of tens of thousands of snow geese in flight is a breathtaking sight—like watching “snowflakes drifting lazily across the azure sky,” in the words of naturalist and historian George Bird Grinnell. It is also a sight that would be far less common in the Sacramento Valley if the region was not one of the largest rice-growing areas in the United States.  In Grinnell’s day, the meandering Sacramento River wound through marshy wetlands in the valley, becoming what amounted to an inland sea during big winter and spring floods. Sacramento has the scars to prove it; the city has routinely suffered through devastating floods since the 1840s. ... ”  Read more from Earth Observatory here:  A honking fluttering spectacle

1 year and 410 nutria later, the war against California’s giant swamp rats rages on:  “It’s been one year since the California Department of Fish and Wildlife launched a formal effort to eradicate nutria from the state’s wetlands.  After not being seen in California since the 1970s, nutria, an invasive and destructive rodent, were rediscovered in the San Joaquin Valley in 2017. So far 410 nutria have been killed, but the Department of Fish and Wildlife warns that the war is far from over. ... ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  1 year and 410 nutria later, the war against California’s giant swamp rats rages on

Rising seas bring rising water management challenges:  “Sea level rise—driven principally by melting continental ice and expansion of the oceans as they warm—is a significant threat for those living along the coast. Adapting to increases in coastal erosion and flooding—and managing the broad impacts of sea level rise on the state’s water systems—will be expensive and disruptive for millions of Californians.  A recent study by the US Geological Survey took a sobering look at future risks from rising seas. The authors describe how storm surge, very high tides (popularly known as king tides), and large waves during storms can amplify the effects of sea level rise. ... ”  Read more from the PPIC Blog here:  Rising seas bring rising water management challenges

How the driest regions on the planet add to sea level rise:  “As humans, we continuously engineer our environment. We build structures, drain water sources, create urban and suburban areas which transform the way our world looks and how it functions. But, we can’t forget that the changes we make have consequences. One such repercussion is the alteration of global water storage and the movement of water on the earth.  Due to climate change, the last few decades bore witness to a measurable decline in water storage in all terrestrial or land-based environments across the globe. Examples of water loss from land include melting glaciers or frozen soils, depleted aquifers, drained reservoirs or lakes, and many more. When this water is lost from the land system, it is still part of the hydrosphere and will move to a different part of the global water cycle. So where is it going?  ... ”  Read more from EnviroBites here:   How the driest regions on the planet add to sea level rise

Trump’s pick to lead Interior blocked study on endangered species: report:  “David Bernhardt, President Trump’s nominee to lead the Interior Department, helped block the release of a study at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service examining the impact of pesticides on endangered species, according to a new report from The New York Times.  Bernhardt, a former oil and gas industry lobbyist, was working as a deputy Interior secretary at the time the study was blocked in October and November 2017. ... ”  Read more from The Hill here:  Trump’s pick to lead Interior blocked study on endangered species: report

In commentary today …

Still not enough water as the drought ends? asks Todd Fitchette: He writes, “The irony in California is deeper than this year’s Sierra snowpack.  After seven years of drought to one degree or another, officials have declared California “drought-free.” Which is good news indeed. … But, would someone please send that “drought-free” memo to the Bureau of Reclamation, which recently announced its water allocation to Central Valley Project (CVP) users for the upcoming season. ... ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press here:  Still not enough water as the drought ends?

California water tax plan is back — and Newsom’s version is the worst yet, says the San Diego Union-Tribune:  They write, “Two years ago, The San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial Board opposed a bill that would add a maximum 95-cents fee to the monthly bills of all but low-income water customers to help pay for water infrastructure improvements in some 300 communities with about 1 million residents. These residents, clustered in agricultural areas in the Central Valley, have to rely on unsafe water supplies. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune here:  California water tax plan is back — and Newsom’s version is the worst yet

In regional news and commentary today …

Mendocino County water district gets $3 million USDA loan:  “The Millview County Water District will receive a $3 million loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development program to help secure access to its wells.  “It’s not only critical for our rural communities to have modern and reliable infrastructure, but they need to have the ability to properly access it at all times,” (USDA) Rural Development California State Director Kim Dolbow Vann was quoted as saying in a press release this week that announced the $3 million loan as an “investment for infrastructure. Today’s funding will help ensure that Millview County Water District can continue to provide safe water to more than 4,300 Mendocino County residents.” … ”  Read more from the Ukiah Daily Journal here:  Mendocino County water district gets $3 million USDA loan

Environmentalists and Winemakers Square Off in Napa Valley: “Famed the world over, the Napa Valley is draped in picturesque hillside vineyards.  A magnet for nearly 4 million visitors per year, the residents who live here swell with pride when you mention some of the world’s finest wines that are produced in one of the most productive and arguably the most well-known viticultural areas in North America.  But all is not well in the bucolic valley these days. … ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service here:  Environmentalists and Winemakers Square Off in Napa Valley

Inverness property owners take water tank fight to the state:  “Jesse Colin Young and Connie Young — the couple who recently lost a challenge to a water tank replacement project they say would impair views on their ridgetop property in Inverness — are taking their case to the state.  “We’re not talking a lot of changes but we’re trying to make it so it can work with our property too,” Connie Young said of the project on Monday. “We are not expendable.” … ”  Read more from the Marin Independent Journal here:  Inverness property owners take water tank fight to the state

How does SGMA affect Glenn County?:  “A California law that passed in 2014 gave local control to agencies to manage their groundwater.  The Glenn Groundwater Authority – created in 2017 – is an agency that was formed under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act to regulate groundwater at a local level.  “The last thing anybody wants is more regulation, I get that,” said Dave Ceppos, program manager for SGMA, during a public workshop on the law on Thursday. “… What SGMA did was gave over a huge amount of local control.” ... ”  Read more from the Glenn County Transcript here:  How does SGMA affect Glenn County?

Deficiencies and fixes for Knights Landing Levee Basin presented to Yolo supervisors:  “Ways to reduce flood risks in Knights Landing were presented to the Board of Supervisors at their meeting on Tuesday.  Staff discussed preliminary flood reduction alternatives that have been identified for the small community through a California Department of Water Resources grant program. Yolo County received about $1.5 million in 2017 to perform feasibility studies for Knights Landing as well as Clarksburg and Yolo, according to Elisa Sabatini of the County Administrator’s Office. … ”  Read more from the Daily Democrat here:  Deficiencies and fixes for Knights Landing Levee Basin presented to Yolo supervisors

Report says less than 1/3 of Tulare County schools have been tested for lead; deadline is July 1“A new report shows that Tulare County schools have low levels of lead flowing in the water from faucets and fountains. But a statewide consumer group says any level of lead is too high for our children.  The California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG), a statewide consumer advocacy group, issued a report on March 21 giving California a C+ for its efforts to address lead in school drinking water. That’s higher than the state’s F grade in 2017. In the second edition of its Get The Lead Out study, CALPIRG reports that 45 percent of schools are still missing test results and of the 55 percent of schools that have been tested, one third of school districts had a school with lead levels at more than 5 parts per billion (ppb). … ”  Read more from the Sun Gazette here:  Report says less than 1/3 of Tulare County schools have been tested for lead; deadline is July 1

San Francisco has seen nearly twice as much precipitation as Seattle this year:  “Move over Seattle.  San Francisco is vying to take over your rainy reputation.  Since January 1, the California city known for its mild climate has seen two more days with precipitation than Seattle and has measured nearly twice as much total precipitation, with S.F. recording 17.13 inches versus 9.78 in Seattle. ... ” Read more from SF Gate here: San Francisco has seen nearly twice as much precipitation as Seattle this year

San Diego:  Protecting California’s coast with armor and habitat:  “Highway 101 is busy. People driving between Solana Beach and Encinitas can take the scenic road instead of hopping onto the nearby, but frequently congested Interstate 5.  Encinitas City Council Member Kelly Shaw Hinze said the road draws more than just car traffic.  “So this is a stretch of highway where people like to run, ride bikes and take in this sort of amazing scenic view shed that we have on either side of the highway,” Shaw Hinze said. … ”  Read more from KPBS here:  San Diego:  Protecting California’s coast with armor and habitat

February storms wash away drought conditions. Will San Diegans continue to conserve?:  “February storms have left California flush with water, relieving concerns the state could quickly slip back into the drought conditions that plagued it for much of the last decade.  Less than 3 percent of the state is now experiencing drought, down from nearly 84 percent just three months ago, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. At the same time, the state’s frozen reservoir of mountain snowpack is already 124 percent of average for the season. ... ”  Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune here:  February storms wash away drought conditions. Will San Diegans continue to conserve?

Banned pesticides and industrial chemicals found flowing from Tijuana into San Diego:  “There may be more in the sewage-tainted water that regularly spills over the border from Tijuana than many San Diegans realize.  The cross-border pollution also contains potentially dangerous industrial and agricultural chemicals, according to a draft report compiled by U.S. Customs and Border Protection that was circulated to officials throughout the region on Wednesday. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune here:  Banned pesticides and industrial chemicals found flowing from Tijuana into San Diego

Along the Colorado River …

Colorado River drought plan gets first congressional hearing:  “A plan that outlines how seven states will deal with declining flows in a major river in the U.S. West is getting its first hearing in Congress.  The drought contingency plan aims to keep two Colorado River reservoirs from crashing.  Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming recently agreed to push for federal legislation to implement the plan. … ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  Colorado River drought plan gets first congressional hearing

Here’s what the Colorado River deal will do, and why some criticize Arizona’s approach:  “Gov. Doug Ducey has called Arizona’s Colorado River drought plan the most significant piece of water legislation signed in the state in nearly 40 years.  The plan was worked out during seven months of negotiations and enables Arizona to join a larger shortage-sharing agreement with California and Nevada that will spread around the burden of expected water cutbacks.  Now that all the states have endorsed the agreement, Congress will hold initial hearings on Wednesday and Thursday to consider authorizing the deal. ... ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  Here’s what the Colorado River deal will do, and why some criticize Arizona’s approach

Precipitation watch …

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

CA WATER LAW SYMPOSIUM: Groundwater adjudication under SGMA

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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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