DAILY DIGEST: More rain means more water being released from Lake Shasta; Releases from Oroville Dam spillway to increase Friday; Implementing water conservation legislation; Legal analysis of new wetlands regulations; Senate committee endorses Bernhardt to head Interior Department; and more …

In California water news today, More rain means more water being released from Lake Shasta — and some flooding; Releases from Oroville Dam spillway to increase Friday; Implementing water conservation legislation; Legal analysis of new wetlands regulations; Senate committee endorses Bernhardt to head Interior Department; The Bay’s colorful salt ponds are fading, and that’s a good thing; and more …

On the calendar today …

In the news today …

More rain means more water being released from Lake Shasta — and some flooding:  “With more rain on the way, federal officials once again are upping water releases from Lake Shasta.  The lake is only 17 feet from its crest, or 89 percent full.  “Really, for this time of year and the amount of rainfall and the weather pattern, we got more water in the reservoir than we like,” U.S. Bureau of Reclamation spokeswoman Sheri Harral said Thursday morning. … ”  Read more from the Redding Record Searchlight here:  More rain means more water being released from Lake Shasta — and some flooding

Releases from Oroville Dam spillway to increase Friday:  “The state Department of Water Resources plans to increase releases from the newly reconstructed Oroville Dam spillway in light of forecasted storms.  The department intends to ramp up releases from 10,800 cubic-feet per second, or cfs, to 21,500 cfs starting at 10 a.m. Friday. The spillway is one of several components within the Lake Oroville facility to alleviate rising lake levels. Total increases into the Feather River will go up to 30,000 cfs at the same time. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Releases from Oroville Dam spillway to increase Friday

Meteorologists downgrade Friday’s storm to ‘marginal’ atmospheric river:  “National Weather Service meteorologist Scott Rowe says over the weekend weather models showed a moisture-rich atmospheric poised to soak the Bay Area with widespread rain on Friday. Now, Rowe says the storm appears significantly weaker.  “Models have trended downward,” he explains. “I’d say we’re now looking at a marginal atmospheric river.” … ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  Meteorologists downgrade Friday’s storm to ‘marginal’ atmospheric river

Implementing water conservation legislation:  “Water agency personnel from throughout the mountain counties gathered on March 15 at El Dorado Irrigation District headquarters for a workshop on how the state’s new water conservation legislation will be implemented.  Sponsored by the Mountain Counties Water Resources Association, the workshop’s featured speaker was Peter Brostrom who leads the water use and efficiency branch of the California Department of Water Resources.  Brostrom explained in detail how the new legislation, Senate Bill 606 and Assembly Bill 1668, which was passed last year, will be implemented and the role the DWR will play. ... ”  Read more from the Mountain Democrat here:  Implementing water conservation legislation

Legal analysis: After Years of Handwringing and Lengthy Stakeholder Negotiations, California Water Board Adopts State Wetland Definition and Procedures for Discharges of Dredge or Fill Material to Waters of the State:  “On Tuesday, April 2, 2019, the California State Water Resources Control Board (“State Water Board”) adopted its proposed State Wetland Definition and Procedures for Discharges of Dredge or Fill Material to Waters of the State (“Procedures”). … The Procedures consist of: (1) a state-wide definition of wetlands; (2) a framework for determining whether a feature meeting the wetland definition is a water of the state (“Jurisdictional Framework”), (3) wetland delineation procedures, and (4) procedures for application submittal and the review and approval of water quality certifications, waste discharge requirements (“WDRs”), and waivers of WDRs for dredge or fill activities (collectively referred to as “Orders”). Among other ramifications, the new Procedures largely duplicate (and in some respects are inconsistent with) federal procedures, but add a significant new layer to the already byzantine regulatory process for permitting projects that involve fill of federal and state waters and wetlands. … ”  Read the article from Downey Brand here:  Legal analysis: After Years of Handwringing and Lengthy Stakeholder Negotiations, California Water Board Adopts State Wetland Definition and Procedures for Discharges of Dredge or Fill Material to Waters of the State

Delta designated a National Heritage Area:  “A 10-year effort to obtain federal recognition of the Delta as a place of special significance recently culminated with President Trump’s signing of the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act, and the establishment of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta National Heritage Area (Delta NHA).  “National heritage areas are National Park Service recognized places where people have made an important contribution to the landscape,” explained Erik Vink, executive director for the Delta Protection Commission (DPC). … ”  Read more from The Press here:  Delta designated a National Heritage Area

Trump’s Interior secretary pick kept lobbying for industry client after promising to stop:  “President Trump’s pick to head the Interior Department, David Bernhardt, continued to lobby for a top client months after he signed a legal notice vowing to stop lobbying activities, according to an invoice obtained by an environmental advocacy group.  A bill for Bernhardt’s services and other documents that were obtained by Pacific Advocates and reviewed by the New York Times show that he continued working on behalf of the Westlands Water District until April 2017, the month he was nominated to become deputy interior secretary. Bernhardt signed a legal notice to end his status as a lobbyist in November 2016. … ”  Read more from Salon here:  Trump’s Interior secretary pick kept lobbying for industry client after promising to stop

Senate committee endorses Bernhardt to head Interior Department:  “A Senate panel voted Thursday to put a veteran former lobbyist in charge of the Interior Department, despite a last-minute round of intense debate on allegations that he was using his federal position to benefit former industry clients.  The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted 14-6 to approve David Bernhardt’s appointment to oversee the country’s public lands and resources. Two Democrats and one independent joined Republicans in voting yes. The vote sends President Donald Trump’s nomination to an as yet unscheduled final vote by the full Senate. ... ”  Read more from PBS News Hour here:  Senate committee endorses Bernhardt to head Interior Department

In commentary today …

Preserving protection for California’s vital wetlandsThe Santa Rosa Press Democrat writes,Wetlands, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says on its website, are among the most productive ecosystems in the world, comparable to rain forests and coral reefs.  The EPA calls wetlands “biological supermarkets” for wildlife and notes that more than a third of all threatened and endangered species live only in wetlands. Some medicines are derived from wetland plants and soil. These marshes and swamps also act as natural sponges, collecting and filtering urban runoff, recharging groundwater supplies and providing a line of defense against flooding. … ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here:  Preserving protection for California’s vital wetlands

In regional news and commentary today …

KID, KWUA to sue agencies over water supply restrictions:  “Irrigators in the Klamath Project will challenge the new federal rules restricting water supplies for the Project, according to a press release issued late Thursday.  The plan, adopted by federal agencies on April 2, will be in effect for five years, and includes new rules and limitations based on the Endangered Species Act. … ”  Read more from the Herald & News here:  KID, KWUA to sue agencies over water supply restrictions

Sonoma County cannabis farmer fined for diverting, polluting streams:  “A Geyserville property owner who launched a medical cannabis farm has agreed to pay $245,000 in fines and penalties for what Sonoma County prosecutors said was improper water diversion, unpermitted grading and site work that harmed streams in the Russian River watershed.  Property owner Darryl Crawford, a Napa-based investor with experience building wine cellars, said most of the issues on the sprawling 330-acre Geysers Road property stemmed from old roads, water systems and other features built decades ago by a prior owner. ... ”  Read more from the North Bay Journal here:  Sonoma County cannabis farmer fined for diverting, polluting streams

Napa Valley’s fish, fowl, rare plants thrive in heavy rains:  “The heavier than normal rains Napa Valley endured this winter will have beneficial after-effects for plants and animals like birds, fish and the endangered Calistoga popcorn flower.  “Coming off several years of drought, there’s really nothing but a positive from all this rain. The rain flushed out the waterways, cleared the debris, and introduced a great deal of freshwater into the ecosystem,” said Peter Tira, information officer for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Regions 3 and 4. Region 3 covers the San Francisco Bay and the Sacramento Delta, while Region 4 covers the Central Valley. … ”  Read more from the Napa Valley Register here:  Napa Valley’s fish, fowl, rare plants thrive in heavy rains

Hordes of fish killed in Berkeley by firefighting water, foam:  “A fierce battle by Berkeley firefighters to prevent a gas-tank explosion succeeded in averting a potential disaster this week — but an apparently deadly aftereffect is that hundreds of fish were killed when water and retardant foam from the firefight flowed into a nearby stream.  The blaze that set everything off erupted Wednesday in a garbage truck in North Berkeley. When flames began licking two hydraulic pressurized propane tanks on the rig, fire crews hit it with huge amounts of foam and water, said Berkeley Fire Battalion Chief Brian Harryman, to prevent an explosion that could have destroyed nearby houses and parts of a school. ... ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  Hordes of fish killed in Berkeley by firefighting water, foam

The Bay’s colorful salt ponds are fading, and that’s a good thing:  “Almost everyone who flies into San Francisco or San Jose airport has seen it — a vibrant patchwork quilt of colorful water. There, on the southern edge of the San Francisco Bay, you can see bright pinks, pumpkin oranges, neon greens and deep magentas, contrasted against the dark blues of the natural bay water. The last time KALW listener Donna Staton peered out an airplane window, she saw it, too. ... ”  Read more from KALW here:  The Bay’s colorful salt ponds are fading, and that’s a good thing

Tehachapi: ‘It will change the way the city uses our water;’ City Council approves plan to study ways to increase groundwater supply:  “City officials approved a plan for a new groundwater sustainability project, hoping it will be a solution to increase the supply of groundwater and find a place for excess effluent water coming to the Tehachapi Waste Water Treatment Plant. The benefits will not appear for decades, when the project is complete.  The Tehachapi City Council unanimously approved this second of five phases at its April 1 meeting. ... ”  Read more from the Tehachapi News here:  Tehachapi: ‘It will change the way the city uses our water;’ City Council approves plan to study ways to increase groundwater supply

Uncertainty over grant for South Bay stormwater project:  “The Hermosa Beach City Council’s decision last week not to pursue a large regional stormwater project under the Greenbelt or beneath South Park has left the future of a $3.1 million grant the Beach Cities received to address the issue in limbo.  Officials with the State Water Resources Control Board said this week that they were still considering whether Hermosa and the other signatories of the Beach Cities Enhanced Watershed Management Plan will be eligible to retain the funds, given that last week’s vote means that they will likely miss timelines set out in the grant to curb ocean pollution coming from the Herondo Street storm drain. … ”  Read more from Easy Reader here:  Uncertainty over grant for South Bay stormwater project

Black tar-like substance oozing from ground in Lake Elsinore has residents baffled: “A black and sticky tar-like substance has residents in one Lake Elsinore neighborhood trying to determine where it is coming from.  “I come out here everyday and look. It started out a couple of blobs here and there, and we were gone for two days and when I came back out, this was right along in here and it just keeps oozing this way,” said Mario Maldonado. … ”  Read more from ABC 7 here:  Black tar-like substance oozing from ground in Lake Elsinore has residents baffled

Olivenhain to start desalinating groundwater with test well: “Construction starts this month on a $1.5 million test well to show whether desalinated groundwater could supplement the drinking water supply for 86,000 customers of the Olivenhain Municipal Water District.  The district serves parts of Encinitas, Carlsbad, San Diego, San Marcos, Solana Beach and neighboring communities, and relies almost entirely on water imported from the Colorado River and Northern California. Like agencies throughout Southern California, it’s looking for ways to diversify its water supply. … ”  Read more from the Del Mar Times here:  Olivenhain to start desalinating groundwater with test well

Sunny days, fertilizer runoff and sewage can create toxic bacteria at Salton Sea:  “Hot weather is on its way, and with it, potentially toxic bacteria could bloom rapidly in California’s largest lake, the Salton Sea, and other waters on the receiving end of runoff from farms and golf courses or sewage spills. With temperatures across the desert expected to climb high into the 90s by Monday, experts say telltale signs will quickly appear.   Algae mats, foamy scum and off-color water all can contain microscopic cyanobacteria that gobble up fertilizers or waste and, using the sun for photosynthesis, explode with new growth. While many of the bacteria are harmless, some spawn nasty toxins that can cause convulsions, liver damage and other serious health concerns, officials say. … ”  Read more from the Desert Sun here:  Sunny days, fertilizer runoff and sewage can create toxic bacteria at Salton Sea

Mexico and US officials discuss fixes for failing sewer systems along the border:  “Mexican and American officials met in Mexico City this week to talk about fixing a costly set of problems that have sprung up along the border: failing sewer systems that send raw sewage spilling into rivers.  The meetings on Monday and Tuesday involved diplomats, water officials, and the top Mexican and U.S. representatives of the binational International Boundary and Water Commission.  Several Mexican border cities — including Tijuana, Mexicali, and Naco — have sewer systems that are overburdened and deteriorating. … ”  Read more from the Desert Sun here:  Mexico and US officials discuss fixes for failing sewer systems along the border

Along the Colorado River …

Fact fuses with fiction at Phoenix water meeting:  “On the first morning of a water conference in downtown Phoenix on Friday, an academic expert spoke of aridification in the Colorado River basin due to the ill effects of humans burning fossil fuels.  After dinner, a writer of vivid predictive fiction spoke about his book “The Water Knife,” which describes Phoenix in a dusty and water-starved river basin, in the not-so-distant future.  “First of all, the climate is changing, it’s happening now, it’s happening extremely rapidly and, in fact, it is accelerating,” said Kathy Jacobs, the director of the Center for Climate Adaptation Science and Solutions at the University of Arizona. … ”  Read more from Aspen Journalism here:  Fact fuses with fiction at Phoenix water meeting

Precipitation watch …

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

CAL WATER FIX: Metropolitan Board workshop compares one-tunnel options to Cal Water Fix

NEWS WORTH NOTING: Chairs Raúl M. Grijalva & Jared Huffman Request Documents on Acting DOI Secretary Bernhardt’s Ties with Westlands Water District

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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