DAILY DIGEST: Full allocations hard to reach despite storms; Activists want CA to ban fracking. What does Gov. Newsom want?; Bernhardt confirmed to head Interior Dept; Even in arid west, federal rule change for waterways matters; Snow in forecast once again; and more …

In California water news today, Full allocations hard to reach despite storms; Assemblyman Gray criticizes water board, says Delta-Bay Plan hurts struggling communities; Activists want California to ban fracking. What does Gov. Newsom want?; Oil-industry contaminants found in Kern County water wells; Drought is not just about water. It affects air pollution, too; How NASA technology is supercharging California’s snowpack data; Westlands Former Lobbyist Confirmed to Head Interior Department; Even In Arid West, Federal Rule Change For Waterways Matters; and more …

In the news today …

Full allocations hard to reach despite storms:  “Even as winter and early-spring storms have filled reservoirs to the brim and piled snow on Sierra Nevada mountaintops, state and federal officials say they’re limited in how much water they can send south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.  California’s lead water agency on March 20 set anticipated deliveries to contractors at 70 percent of requested supplies.  The Department of Water Resources’ (DWR) update came a few days after the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced that agricultural operations north of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta will receive their full supplies while south-of-Delta ag contractors will receive 55 percent. … ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press here:  Full allocations hard to reach despite storms

Assemblyman Gray criticizes water board, says Delta-Bay Plan hurts struggling communities:  “After the state Water Resources Control Board said its Delta-Bay Plan would not have “significant” effect on the drinking water of disadvantaged communities Assemblymember Adam C. Gray, D-Merced, blasted the board members for what he said was their lack of concern for impoverished and minority communities.  Gray recently introduced Assembly Bill 637, which requires the board to identify disadvantaged communities and mitigate impacts to the drinking water supplies serving those communities. The bill also requires the board to hold public hearings in or near those communities. ... ”  Read more from the Merced Sun-Star here: Assemblyman Gray criticizes water board, says Delta-Bay Plan hurts struggling communities

Activists want California to ban fracking. What does Gov. Newsom want?:  “California has been deeply involved with the oil and gas business since the first wooden derricks were erected in sleepy Kern County in the 19th century. But these days California is flush with laws, regulations and goals that will likely cause the state to eventually sever its long relationship with fossil fuels.  One of the flashpoints in that still-evolving association is hydraulic fracturing—or fracking—the controversial high-pressure pumping of chemicals and water into underground rock to crack it open and release oil. Former Gov. Jerry Brown declined to ban fracking despite intense pressure from anti-oil activists but signed into law a requirement that all chemicals used in the process be disclosed. … ”  Read more from Cal Matters here:  Activists want California to ban fracking. What does Gov. Newsom want?

Oil-industry contaminants found in Kern County water wells: “Water-supply wells in Kern County have oil-industry pollutants according to a new report released Thursday by the State Water Resources Control Board.  According to the report, elevated levels of arsenic, barium and boron were found.  Senior Attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, Hollin Kretzmann, says “Here’s more proof that California’s dirty oil production is polluting our precious groundwater.” ... ”  Read more from Bakersfield Now here:  Oil-industry contaminants found in Kern County water wells

Drought is not just about water. It affects air pollution, too:  “The severe drought that struck California from 2011 to 2015 had an obvious impact on rivers, forests, and wildlife. Now, a new study shows it also had some surprising effects on the state’s notorious air pollution, adding new wrinkles to the state’s efforts to clear the skies.  Researchers have long known that plants can both help create and cleanse one dangerous air pollutant: ground-level ozone, which causes breathing problems and exacerbates lung damage. Plants can scrub ozone from the air by absorbing the pollutant through their stomata, or pores. But certain plants also emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that react with other atmospheric chemicals to create ozone. … ”  Read more from Science Magazine here:  Drought is not just about water. It affects air pollution, too

How NASA technology is supercharging California’s snowpack data:  “It was in 1929, back when people drove Model A Fords, that California first launched its annual snow survey program in order to better predict water supplies for the state’s cities and farms. 90 years later, the manual snow survey techniques are much the same.  It’s a process that’s very familiar to television news viewers.  Monthly from February through May, a crew from the Department of Water Resources packs snowshoes and travels to Phillips Station, near South Lake Tahoe, where they plunge a pole into the snow to measure both depth and water content. … ”  Read more from KCRA Channel 3 here:  How NASA technology is supercharging California’s snowpack data

What is your town’s risk of wildfire? New media tool lets you see for yourself:  “Which California town might be the next to burn? That’s the driving question behind Destined to Burn, the brand new media package produced via a partnership between the AP, Gannet, McClatchy, and others. The project examines how California can prevent wildfire devastation.  Wildfires have always been a risk in drought-prone California. But due to climate change’s drying effects on the soil and vegetation, burns are getting bigger, deadlier, and more expensive for the Golden State. Just last year, the Camp Fire killed almost 90 people and completely leveled the town of Paradise in Northern California. The climate-induced tragedy was 2018’s most expensive natural disaster. … ”  Read more from Grist here: What is your town’s risk of wildfire? New media tool lets you see for yourself

Westlands Former Lobbyist Confirmed to Head Interior Department:  “The Senate on Thursday confirmed acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt to lead the department on a permanent basis, despite complaints by Democrats that the former oil and gas lobbyist has used his federal position to benefit former industry clients.  The Senate voted 56-41 to approve Bernhardt’s nomination to oversee the country’s public lands and resources. He succeeds Ryan Zinke, who resigned in January amid a series of ethics investigations.  Bernhardt represented energy and agricultural interests until President Donald Trump picked him in April 2017 to be deputy secretary. … ”  Read more from GV Wire here:  Westlands Former Lobbyist Confirmed to Head Interior Department

David Bernhardt confirmed as Interior secretary despite ethics concerns:David Bernhardt, President Trump’s pick to the lead the Interior Department, was confirmed by the Senate on Thursday amid persistent ethical concerns and doubts about his independence from the energy and water industry groups he long represented as a lobbyist. Senators voted 56-41 in favor of Bernhardt’s confirmation. Several Democrats crossed party lines to support the nominee, including Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Martin Heinrich of New Mexico.Sen. Angus King of Maine, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, also voted for confirmation. ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  David Bernhardt confirmed as Interior secretary despite ethics concerns

In regional news and commentary today …

The Eel River Forum Took a Detailed Look at Pikeminnow at Their March Meeting:  “Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations considers Pikeminnow to be the most significant obstacle to salmon recovery in the Eel River. Reducing mature Pikeminnow population by 10-20% may decrease the salmonid kill rate by half. Yet in the 40 years since Pikeminnow entered the Eel River watershed, no one has found a reliable method to remove them. … ”  Read more from the Red Headed Blackbelt here:  The Eel River Forum Took a Detailed Look at Pikeminnow at Their March Meeting

North Chico flooding  focus of listening sessionResidents in north Chico say they have never seen flooding like the deluge that came their way this year, and they want to know how to stop it.  Storm water from Rock Creek and Keefer Slough surged into their backyards, front yards, and in some cases into their homes. It crept into orchards and overtook Highway 99, north of Chico and continued westward. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  North Chico flooding  focus of listening session

Groundwater sustainability board backs off fees for rural well owners in Sonoma County: “Facing a wave of opposition over proposed fees for using well water, the directors of a little-known public agency backed away from a decision Thursday and agreed to consider an alternative plan that would exempt rural residents and cost other groundwater users far less overall.  Irate residents blistered the Santa Rosa Groundwater Sustainability Agency’s board of directors with complaints over the inequity and underlying principle of the plan to make residents, ranchers, businesses, towns and cities pay — for the first time — for water pumped out of the ground. … ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here:  Groundwater sustainability board backs off fees for rural well owners in Sonoma County

Turlock flushes water system after coliform detected:  “The city of Turlock reported that routine testing detected coliform bacteria in the city’s drinking water last month, triggering additional tests to make sure the water was safe to drink.  “The coliform bacteria was only found in a few locations in Turlock,” Municipal Services Director Michael Cooke said in a news release issued Wednesday. “I want to stress to our customers that this is not an emergency and the city’s water was always safe to drink.” … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  Turlock flushes water system after coliform detected

Goleta Water District drops drought surcharge:  “The Goleta Water District Board of Directors has agreed to drop a drought surcharge because of the recent wet winter and solid water supplies.  Customers will see the change starting with the billing cycle in May.  Surface water supplies from Lake Cachuma are at 80 percent of capacity, restoring confidence in the water supplies available to the district. … ”  Read more from KEYT here:  Goleta Water District drops drought surcharge

Several beaches in Ventura County have been removed from the Federal Impaired Waters List:  “Seven of Ventura County’s beaches were voted to be removed from the impaired water body list, also known as the 303(d) list by the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board (LA-RWQCB). The beaches, which consistently met water-quality objectives for indicator bacteria, have shown to have a significant improvement in water quality through results below the levels of concern for beach users’ health. ... ”  Read more from the Tri-County Sentinel here:  Several beaches in Ventura County have been removed from the Federal Impaired Waters List

Shadow of a Drought: Southern California’s Looming Water Crisis:  “While California recovers from the worst drought in state history, a myriad of impacts resulting from climate change threaten Southern California’s imported water supply. As a shadow of drought hangs over the region, this documentary explores the dire consequences of inaction that lie ahead.”  Watch video from KCET here: Shadow of a Drought: Southern California’s Looming Water Crisis

Orange County: The Big Dig: Trampas Canyon Reservoir to Serve as South County’s Largest Water Project:  “On 177 acres situated between San Clemente’s Talega community and Ortega Highway, mountainous earthworks are taking shape.  Santa Margarita Water District, which provides water and sewer services to Mission Viejo, Rancho Santa Margarita, Coto de Caza, Las Flores, Ladera Ranch, Rancho Mission Viejo and Talega, is building a 1.6-billion-gallon reservoir.  When completed in 2020, Trampas Canyon Reservoir, less than a half-mile north of Talega, will be able to store recycled wastewater collected from as many as five South Orange County treatment plants. … ”  Read more from the Capistrano Dispatch here:  Orange County: The Big Dig: Trampas Canyon Reservoir to Serve as South County’s Largest Water Project

San Diego: Pure Water’ Dominates Infrastructure Spending In Faulconer’s 2020 Budget:  “San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer unveiled his proposed budget for fiscal year 2020 on Thursday, saying it includes the highest infrastructure investment in the city’s history.  The proposed $4.15 billion budget is a 19.5% increase over the city’s fiscal year 2019 budget. Despite the spending hike of nearly $700 million, Faulconer was still forced to make an estimated $15.3 million in cuts to various line items such as civilian staff in the police department and tree trimming services. ... ”  Read more from KPBS here:  San Diego: Pure Water’ Dominates Infrastructure Spending In Faulconer’s 2020 Budget

Along the Colorado River …

Even In Arid West, Federal Rule Change For Waterways Matters:  “Nathan Rees and his German shorthaired pointer, Beau, took this reporter off-trail to hike along Dude Creek in Tonto National Forest, northeast of Phoenix. I asked Rees to show me an ephemeral stream: a channel that may be dry now, but clearly carries water at least once in a while.  We found one.  “[It’s] probably not mapped [because of] how small it is,” Rees said as Beau ran up and down the banks of Dude Creek. “But this contributes to Dude Creek that we’re standing in right now that has water in it.” … ”  Read more from KJZZ here:  Even In Arid West, Federal Rule Change For Waterways Matters

Salinity Cycles in Lower Colorado River Caused by Precipitation Patterns in Upper Basin:  “A new study shows that mysterious cycles in salinity in the lower Colorado River are a result of precipitation patterns in the headwaters of the upper basin more than a thousand river miles away. The salinity levels generally repeat about every 10 years.  Beginning in the late 1970s, these decadal-scale salinity cycles were observed at monitoring locations on the lower Colorado River in the U.S., hampering the Bureau of Reclamation’s efforts to manage salinity in the river for delivery of water to Mexico to meet obligations under an international treaty.  ... ”  Read more from the USGS here:  Salinity Cycles in Lower Colorado River Caused by Precipitation Patterns in Upper Basin

Precipitation watch …

From the National Weather Service: April snow? The current forecast projects that elevations above 6000 feet could see up to 2 to 7 inches of snow Monday into Tuesday. This could potentially cause delays to travel over Sierra passes. Lassen National Park could locally see up to a foot.

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

NEWS WORTH NOTING: Reclamation seeks comment on draft changes to Central Valley Project water banking guidelines; CA Water Board finds oil-industry contaminants in water wells; Democrats push for more DOI FOIA staff

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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