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DAILY DIGEST: Legislation to repair Friant-Kern Canal advances; State wetlands policy returns to original intent; Stanford study offers a way to map where flooded fields best replenish groundwater; No hole in Shasta Dam says Reclamation; and more …

In California water news today, Legislation to repair Friant-Kern Canal receives 7 – 0 bipartisan support, advances to appropriations committee; State wetlands policy returns to original intent; Stanford study offers a way to map where flooded fields best replenish groundwater; Upgrading California’s Water Grid for Future Needs; “It is not a hole,” says Bureau of Reclamation after viewer takes photo of Shasta Dam; Falling levels of air pollution drove decline in California’s tule fog; Trump administration sabotages major conservation effort, defying Congress; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • WEBINAR: Preparing for a Climate with More Extremes – Results from California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment from 10am to 11am.  Dan Cayan, Scripps Insitute for Oceanography presenting.  Click here to register.
  • GRA Sacto Branch Meeting: Chemistry and Geoscience Education at Grand Canyon and Beyond: Who Knew Groundwater Hydrology Could Be So Complicated? at 5:30pm.  For more information, click here. You do not need to be a member to attend.
  • Lookout Slough Tidal Habitat Restoration and Flood Improvement Project Public Scoping Meeting at 6pm to 8pm.  Click here for more information.

 

In the news today …

Legislation to repair Friant-Kern Canal receives 7 – 0 bipartisan support, advances to appropriations committee:  “Senate Bill 559 (SB 559), authored by Senator Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger), representing the 14th Senate District in California, and principal co-authored by Senator Andreas Borgeas (R-Fresno), Assemblymember Devon Mathis (R-Visalia), Assemblymember Dr. Joaquin Arambula (D-Fresno), and Assemblymember Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield), today advanced through the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water by 7-0 vote. The legislation, which received bipartisan support, will invest $400 million from the State’s General Fund towards the Friant-Kern Canal, one of the Central Valley’s most critical water delivery facilities. ... ”  Read more from the Porterville Recorder here:  Legislation to repair Friant-Kern Canal receives 7 – 0 bipartisan support, advances to appropriations committee

State wetlands policy returns to original intent:  “More than a decade in the making, a new state definition of wetlands will likely take effect early next year—as will procedures intended to protect them from dredge-and-fill activities.  The State Water Resources Control Board adopted final amendments to the state wetland policy last week, after including changes that moved it closer to its original intent of limiting its application to agriculture.  The California Farm Bureau Federation and other agricultural groups had opposed earlier drafts of the State Wetland Definition and Procedures for Discharges of Dredged or Fill Material to Waters of the State, because they would have unnecessarily harmed farmers’ and ranchers’ ability to manage their land responsibly. … ”  Read more from Ag Alert here:  State wetlands policy returns to original intent

Stanford study offers a way to map where flooded fields best replenish groundwater:  “In California, the amount of water exiting aquifers under the state’s most productive farming region far surpasses the amount of water trickling back in. That rampant overdraft has caused land across much of the region to sink like a squeezed out sponge, permanently depleting groundwater storage capacity and damaging infrastructure.  The trend – and a 2014 mandate for sustainable groundwater management in the state – has ignited interest in replenishing aquifers in California’s Central Valley through managed flooding of the ground above them. … ”  Read more from Stanford News here:  Stanford study offers a way to map where flooded fields best replenish groundwater

Upgrading California’s Water Grid for Future Needs:  “Lawmakers recently heard testimony about the needs of California’s water grid at a recent House Subcommittee meeting on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife.  Several experts presented information about the current conditions of western water infrastructure and what will be required going forward.  “One of the first priorities is to really think about groundwater as a more active part of this grid; manage it more intensively and actively.  The second piece is fix what’s broken and expand capacity where it’s needed,” Director of the Water Policy Center at the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), Ellen Hanak told the committee.  … ”  Read more from Ag Net West here:  Upgrading California’s Water Grid for Future Needs

“It is not a hole,” says Bureau of Reclamation after viewer takes photo of Shasta Dam:  “A KRCR viewer sent in a photo of what they thought appeared to be a hole in the Shasta Dam. After the Oroville Spillway disaster, a photo like that can get people pretty concerned. However, the people who oversee the dam said its not an emergency.  The Area Manager of the Shasta Dam, Don Bader said the image is not a hole in the dam, but a spall- a small fragment or a chip, that has broken off of a larger solid body. … ”  Read more from KRCR here:  “It is not a hole,” says Bureau of Reclamation after viewer takes photo of Shasta Dam

Falling levels of air pollution drove decline in California’s tule fog:  “The Central Valley’s heavy wintertime tule fog – known for snarling traffic and closing schools — has been on the decline over the past 30 years, and falling levels of air pollution are the cause, says a new study by scientists at the University of California, Berkeley.  Tule fog, named for a sedge grass that populates California’s wetlands, is a thick ground fog that periodically blankets the Central Valley during the winter months.  To find out why the fog is fading, the researchers analyzed meteorological and air pollution data from the Central Valley reaching back to 1930. They found that while yearly fluctuations in fog frequency could be explained by changes in annual weather patterns, the long-term trends matched those of pollutants in the air. … ”  Read more from UC Berkeley here:  Falling levels of air pollution drove decline in California’s tule fog

White House will promote carbon capture technology in climate change fight:  “The White House will begin promoting carbon capture and storage technology, two senior administration officials told McClatchy on Friday, in a rare acknowledgment from the Trump administration of the dangers of rising carbon dioxide emissions.  Their embrace of the emerging technology is part of a nascent strategy by the Trump administration to promote innovation over regulation as a means of fighting climate change, and comes amid a bipartisan call from senators for an increase in federal funding for carbon capture development. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  White House will promote carbon capture technology in climate change fight

Trump administration sabotages major conservation effort, defying Congress:  “Scientists and officials around the US have told the Guardian that the Trump administration has withdrawn funding for a large, successful conservation program – in direct contradiction of instructions from Congress.  Unique in scale and ambition, the program comprises 22 research centers that tackle big-picture issues affecting huge swaths of the US, such as climate change, flooding and species extinction. They are known as Landscape Conservation Cooperatives – or were, because 16 of them are now on indefinite hiatus or have dissolved. … ”  Read more from The Guardian here:  Trump administration sabotages major conservation effort, defying Congress

Column: See how the Interior Department has tried to stifle ethical doubts raised about its acting chief:  Michael Hiltzik writes, “When it comes to acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt’s involvement in plans to loosen environmental restrictions on water flows for Central Valley farmers, a few things are clear and many more are murky.  What’s clear is that Bernhardt, who became deputy Interior secretary in 2017, was involved in decisions connected with those efforts. It’s also clear that the department’s actions would yield major benefits for the giant Westlands Water District, a client of Bernhardt’s during his years as a lawyer for agricultural interests in California. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Column: See how the Interior Department has tried to stifle ethical doubts raised about its acting chief

Trump’s Choice to Head Interior Divides Washington:  “David Longly Bernhardt is an attorney, government administrator, and former lobbyist for the oil and water industries who serves as Acting United States Secretary of the Interior. He is fighting for the department’s top position in the Senate, where he is going through the confirmation process to permanently replace former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who resigned early this year under a cloud of ethics issues.  Bernhardt served as Deputy Secretary of the Interior under Zinke from August 2017 until Zinke’s resignation on January 2 this year. President Trump nominated Bernhardt for the top slot on February 4. ... ”  Read more from Environment News Service here: Trump’s Choice to Head Interior Divides Washington

In commentary today …

Yes, we need clean water. But it must remain tax-free, says Sharon Quirk-Silva:  She writes, “Most states don’t tax milk, bread, fruit or vegetables because they are essential to human life. Food tax exemptions have been in place since the Great Depression, part of a social covenant formed to help the neediest afford life’s essentials.  But Democratic Sen. William Monning of Carmel is leading an effort to tax something even more essential than groceries. Tax bills now under consideration seek to tax the water we use in our homes. ... ”  Read more from Cal Matters here:  Yes, we need clean water. But it must remain tax-free

In regional news and commentary today …

Water for irrigators: KWUA announces Project delivery:  “Bureau of Reclamation’s Klamath Basin Area Office will deliver at least 322,000 acre feet of water — or a 92% allocation — rather than a full 350,000 from Upper Klamath Lake  to the Klamath Project this summer and fall.  The official number was announced Monday evening by Jeff Nettleton, manager of the Klamath Basin Area Office, at the Klamath Water Users Association’s annual meeting. … ”  Read more from the Herald & News here:  Water for irrigators: KWUA announces Project delivery

Lamalfa calls on California Conservation Corps to clean miles of irrigation canal: “The Anderson Cottonwood Irrigation District, or ACID, Canal was covered in tree debris after the snow and rain storms.  The workload was enough that Congressman Doug Lamalfa called in the California Conservation Corps (CCC).  “We started in Redding,” said CCC Supervisor Nicholas Johnson. “We’ve been clearing the debris out of the canal. We’ve been chipping it, we’ve been burning it, and we’ve been making our way down to Anderson in the ACID canal.” … ”  Read more from KRCR here:  Lamalfa calls on California Conservation Corps to clean miles of irrigation canal

Possible water contamination at Sonoma State University: “The water system at the Rohnert Park campus lost pressure over the weekend, increasing the possibility that sediment contaminated the water. No one has been sickened, but for two days, the school community has been advised to use anti-bacterial sanitizer after bathing or washing their hands with tap water. … ”  Read more from KTVU here:  Possible water contamination at Sonoma State University

Sea Level Rise Report Warns Rising Waters Will Inundate Marin Coastal Areas: “A report on the threat of sea level rise (SLR) presented to Marin County supervisors on Tuesday stressed there is no one-size-fits all solution to what has been called “a slow moving disaster.”  The presentation was an update on the Marin Bay Waterfront Adaptation Vulnerability Evaluation, also known as BayWAVE, which since 2015 has studied the impact of SLR on private and public lands. ... ”  Read more from the CBS San Francisco here:  Sea Level Rise Report Warns Rising Waters Will Inundate Marin Coastal Areas

Bay Area weather: Why this winter wasn’t as wet as we think:  “Now that spring is here and the sun is finally out, Bay Area residents are already reminiscing over what a rainy winter it was, one of the wettest in recent memory, with many more downpours than normal.  Or was it?  Not according to weather experts. ... ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  Bay Area weather: Why this winter wasn’t as wet as we think

South Bay residents unhappy over proposed water surcharge:  “Many homeowners in the South Bay are looking at a possible rate increase on their water bills, even after conserving so well over the past few years — and they are not happy about it.  San Jose Water — a local water company — sent out a public notice, saying it wants to impose a year- long surcharge beginning this summer.  The company says, the surcharge is to recover an “under collection” of more than $9 million in fixed costs. ... ”  Read more from KRON Channel 4 here:  South Bay residents unhappy over proposed water surcharge

GM will retire from one of Stanislaus County’s largest water and power providers:  “Casey Hashimoto, general manager of the Turlock Irrigation District since 2010, announced Tuesday that he will retire at the end of 2019.  The leader of one of Stanislaus County’s largest water and power providers disclosed his plans at the morning board meeting. Hashimoto, an electrical engineer, joined TID in 1985 and was an assistant GM for 10 years. ... ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  GM will retire from one of Stanislaus County’s largest water and power providers

Santa Barbara declares end to drought emergency:  “The City of Santa Barbara declared an end to its drought emergency Tuesday.  The city says the above-average rainfall this winter improved water supplies. Based on current water supply forecasts, the city believes it has enough supply to meet demands through 2021. … ”  Read more from KSBY here:  Santa Barbara declares end to drought emergency

One river remains:  “Southern California rivers are not known for their abundance of water flow. Yet, when the rains do come, the rivers can swell in dramatic fashion.  Attempts to tame inconstant rivers have resulted in channelized, dammed or leveed waterways that resemble concrete canals more than Instagram-worthy landscapes. But one wild river remains: the Santa Clara River.  Beginning with headwaters in both the Los Padres and Angeles National Forests, the river meanders for more than 100 miles through Los Angeles and Ventura counties before flowing into the estuary on McGrath State Beach. In dry months, many areas of the Santa Clara River flow completely underground.  Despite this lack of water, much of the Santa Clara River is alive with riparian trees and shrubs like willows, fragrant mule fat and native pollinators like buckwheat. … ”  Read more from the US FWS here:  One river remains

Santa Clarita:  Sanitation District gets more time to finish its chloride-reduction plan:  “In light of back-to-back lawsuits that stalled construction, state water regulators have granted the Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District more time to complete its four-year plan to reduce the amount of chloride discharged into the Santa Clara River watershed.  On March 12, the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board issued a tentative time schedule order, giving sewer officials a three-year extension to complete its plans. … ”  Read more from the Santa Clarita Valley Signal here:  Sanitation District gets more time to finish its chloride-reduction plan

The Super Bloom in Lake Elsinore is over.  We remember it fondly:  “The Super Bloom, of Lake Elsinore, died this past week. It was about 6 weeks old.  Not an actual scientific term, Super Bloom was born out of a drought — which killed invasive grasses that squash flowers’ chances of growing — and record rainfall that nourished wildflower seeds.  Remembered by local officials as an “unplanned, natural phenomenon,” Super Bloom enjoyed rain, sunshine, pollination, bees and the occasional sniff. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  The Super Bloom in Lake Elsinore is over.  We remember it fondly

SB 307 goes against California’s water needs, says the Riverside Press-Enterprise:  They write, “California is finishing one of its rainiest winters in decades, which leaves most of us pining for less water rather than more of it. But it wasn’t long ago the state was facing a devastating and persistent drought. Rain comes and goes, but this mostly arid state still has a growing population. There’s continual need for new water resources.  That’s why we’re disappointed that Sen. Richard Roth, D-Riverside, and Assemblywoman Laura Friedman, D-Glendale, have reintroduced legislation designed to cripple a long-planned water project in the Mojave Desert. ... ”  Read more from the Riverside Press-Enterprise here:  SB 307 goes against California’s water needs

The water shortage is over, so can La Jolla shower like it’s 1999?:  “Last month, California emerged from drought conditions for the first time since December 11, 2011, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, breaking a 376-week streak.  In response, the California Department of Water Resources increased the amount of water delivered from its State Water Project storage system from 35 percent of contractor requests, which it announced in February, to 70 percent.  So can La Jolla residents similarly up their water use? … ”  Read more from La Jolla Light here:  The water shortage is over, so can La Jolla shower like it’s 1999?

Along the Colorado River …

Colorado River drought plan heads to the White House:  “Nearly six years after discussions started, a drought plan for the Colorado River is on the verge of becoming federal law.  Legislation for the drought contingency plan aimed at propping up Lakes Mead and Powell unanimously cleared the House and Senate Monday and Tuesday, respectively. The bill now heads to President Trump for his signature. ... ”  Read more from the Arizona Daily Star here:  Colorado River drought plan heads to the White House

IID: Salton Sea is First Casualty of Drought Contingency Plan:  “Responding to congressional approval of a Southwestern drought pact, officials from the Imperial Irrigation District said Tuesday the Salton Sea is the untested plan’s “first casualty.”  Whether the passage of this Drought Contingency Plan will improve the sustainability of the Colorado River is an open question,” IID board President Erik Ortega said. “What we know for sure is that it is a dramatic setback for the sustainability of the Salton Sea, which makes it, in my view, the first casualty of this DCP.” ... ” Read more from My News LA here:  IID: Salton Sea is First Casualty of Drought Contingency Plan

Utahns hail passage of reforms to the Colorado River Compact, say it will help conserve water for the future:  “Utah’s members of Congress are praising the passage of legislation that seeks to curtail water usage from the Colorado River in seven, drought-stricken Western states.  The bill, which now heads to President Donald Trump’s desk, passed the House and Senate on a voice vote and is aimed at shrinking usage from the Colorado River, which provides drinking water, irrigation and hydropower for some 40 million Americans. ... ”  Read more from the Salt Lake Tribune here:  Utahns hail passage of reforms to the Colorado River Compact, say it will help conserve water for the future

Untold Arizona: Tracing The Ancient Origins Of Arizona Rivers:  “In Medieval Europe, all roads led to Rome. In Arizona, all rivers lead to the Colorado.  In fact, it’s no exaggeration to say the state of Arizona lies almost entirely within the Colorado River drainage basin, which also sprawls across southwestern Wyoming and down through parts of Utah, Colorado, Nevada, California and New Mexico.  Were it not for the vast system of dams and irrigation systems that lock up their waters and put them to work, the Gila and Salt Rivers, along with the Verde River to the north, would drain the Mogollon Rim and mountain ranges, wash their waters down through the canyons and valleys and deliver them into the Gulf of California. ... ”  Read more from KJZZ here:  Untold Arizona: Tracing The Ancient Origins Of Arizona Rivers

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

CA WATER COMMISSION: Using flood water for Managed Aquifer Recharge

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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