DAILY DIGEST: Four years after CA’s largest dam removal project, how are the fish doing?; Central Valley Project districts seek ways to enhance water supplies; Civil engineers grade CA’s infrastructure with a C-; Imperial Irrigation District approves Salton Sea restoration project; and more …

In California water news today, Four years after California’s largest dam removal project, how are the fish doing?; Central Valley Project districts seek ways to enhance water supplies; Civil Engineers Grade California’s Infrastructure with a C-; As U.N. warns of widespread extinction, California is already losing species; Imperial Irrigation District approves Salton Sea restoration project; Finally, California and IID reach agreement on Salton Sea access and liability; Dan Walters: Newsom is shrinking Brown’s pet projects; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • DWR will host an Applicant Assistance Webinar for the Proposition 1 IRWM Implementation Grant Program from 1:30pm to 3:00pm.  Click here for more information.
  • The Sacramento Branch of the Groundwater Resources Association meets tonight from 5:30 to 8:30pm.  The topic is “Let’s Talk: A Conversation on How We Communicate about Science”.  For more information and to register, click here.  You do not have to be a member to attend.

In the news today …

Four years after California’s largest dam removal project, how are the fish doing?  “Four years ago, construction crews with huge jackhammers tore apart a 10-story concrete dam in the wooded canyons of the Carmel River, between the Big Sur hills and the beach front town of Carmel.  The destruction of the San Clemente Dam, which had blocked the river since 1921, remains the largest dam removal project in California history. It’s still early, but one of the main goals of the project seems to be on track: The river is becoming wilder, and struggling fish populations are rebounding. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  Four years after California’s largest dam removal project, how are the fish doing?

Central Valley Project districts seek ways to enhance water supplies:During a time in which the Sierra Nevada snowpack stands at about 140% of average but water supplies remain at 65%, managers of San Joaquin Valley water districts try to supplement supplies.  The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which operates the Central Valley Project, may update its 65% allocation for south-of-delta agricultural contractors later this month. But Lon Martin, general manager of the Los Banos-based San Luis Water District, said landowners who are planting crops and must secure water for the remainder of the year “cannot wait until May and June to make decisions.” … ”  Read more from Ag Alert here: Central Valley Project districts seek ways to enhance water supplies

Civil Engineers Grade California’s Infrastructure with a C-:  “One doesn’t have to look far to realize California’s infrastructure is deteriorating.  “California has a number of challenges that we are struggling to keep up with. First of all, our infrastructure is aging and we also have a growing population,” John Hogan, co-chair of the California Report Card Committee, told FOX40.  Failing power lines and crumbling roads are just some of the major issues highlighted in the American Society of Civil Engineers’ 2019 report card. ... ”  Read more from Fox 40 here:  Civil Engineers Grade California’s Infrastructure with a C-

As U.N. warns of widespread extinction, California is already losing species:  “A new United Nations report warning of a global extinction crisis identifies three parts of the world in particular danger: South America, Africa and parts of Asia.  But there are signs of struggle everywhere, notably in California. Though the state boasts some of the most diverse plant and animal life in the United States, California has more than 300 endangered species, from the delta smelt to the birds of the Mojave Desert.  Many are imperiled by loss of habitat, rising ocean temperatures and rural and urban areas’ demand for ever-increasing amounts of fresh water. ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here: As U.N. warns of widespread extinction, California is already losing species

Rice planting takes off after a delayed start:  “After a late start, California rice planting is finally ramping up in the Sacramento Valley.  Late spring rains kept fields wet and farmers from working their ground, shortening this year’s planting season, with some acres expected to be left fallow because farmers won’t have enough time to plant them.  Colusa County grower Kurt Richter, who seeded his first ground in Maxwell last week, said once the rain stopped, several days of hot weather and high winds made all the difference. … ”  Read more from Ag Alert here:  Rice planting takes off after a delayed start

It’s heating up. But when will California’s waterways be warm enough for summer fun? Northern and Central California in 2019 experienced the rainiest start to the year in recent memory, including one of Sacramento’s wettest Februaries on record.  It rained hard enough and long enough to eliminate drought conditions statewide by mid-March, and to boost snowpack levels in the Sierra above annual averages at each of this year’s monthly snow surveys.  But within just a few weeks, weather warmed up – perhaps too much, and too quickly. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  It’s heating up. But when will California’s waterways be warm enough for summer fun? 

See the captivating flux of Western alkaline waters:  “Two million years ago, as glaciers carved much of North America, torrential rains flooded what is now the Western United States, forming vast lakes across the region. The only remnants of that era are millions of saline ponds, some so small that over a hundred can be concentrated into a square kilometer. These lakes are now quickly shrinking. With less runoff from snowpack, and more water being diverted for agriculture, the lakes’ levels are rapidly decreasing, becoming even higher in salt content.  These saltwater landscapes of the West are in a constant flux, transforming from low salinity chartreuses and cyans to alkaline magenta, finally settling into evaporated salty white wastelands. Soaring in a small plane above the landscapes, photographer Aya Okawa captures these unique ecosystems at different stages of their progressions, as salt becomes more concentrated. ... ”  Read more from High Country News here:  See the captivating flux of Western alkaline waters

In commentary today …

Dan Walters: Newsom is shrinking Brown’s pet projects:  “When Jerry Brown began his first governorship in 1975, he quickly set himself apart from his father, former Gov. Pat Brown.  The elder Brown’s legacy had been an immense expansion of the state’s public-works infrastructure—new colleges and universities, a web of freeways and, most of all, a massive project to carry water from Northern California to the fast-growing cities of Southern California.  The younger Brown echoed economist E.F. Schumacher’s aphorism that “small is beautiful,” suggested that California’s high population growth was a thing of the past and virtually shut down highway and freeway construction. … ”  Read more from CalMatters here:  Dan Walters: Newsom is shrinking Brown’s pet projects

Unfortunately, it’s not possible to celebrate a great water year … there are too many worries, says the Appeal-Democrat:  They write, “We understand the necessity for caution, but it’s unfortunate we can’t simply celebrate a great water year. “California cities and farms can expect ample water supplies this summer,” said Department of Water Resources Director Karla Nemeth in a recent story. “But it’s critical that it’s put to use replenishing groundwater basins and storage reservoirs for the next inevitable drought.” … ”  Read more from the Appeal-Democrat here:  Unfortunately, it’s not possible to celebrate a great water year … there are too many worries

In regional news and commentary today …

Klamath: Record Dam Removals, Long Delayed, Are Awarded to Kiewit:  “What is touted as a record-size U.S. dam removal, held up by 15 years of stakeholder and government legal disputes, now is moving forward, with an April 24 design-build contract to Kiewit Infrastructure West.  The firm will remove four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River in California and Oregon, allowing it to flow freely with fish passage restored. The project, for Klamath River Renewal Corp., is estimated at $400 million, but Kiewit is currently under an $18.1-million preliminary services award and will develop a guaranteed maximum price by January.  KRRC spokesman Matt Cox termed the project the largest dam removal in U.S. history. ...”  Read more from Engineering News-Record here: Klamath: Record Dam Removals, Long Delayed, Are Awarded to Kiewit

San Lorenzo Valley Water District criticized over proposed environmental budget cuts:  “As budget season approaches, a valley water district’s board has come under fire for its proposed cost-cutting measures.  Felton resident Larry Ford on Thursday asked San Lorenzo Valley Water District board leaders for some “smart innovation” in cost-effective operational budgeting, as an alternative to cutting funding to several of its standing environmental programs in the coming year’s budget. ... ”  Read more from the Santa Cruz Sentinel here:  San Lorenzo Valley Water District criticized over proposed environmental budget cuts

Mono Supervisors to look at hydro project:  “Mono County Board of Supervisors will get briefed today on the details and process of the Owens Valley Pumped Storage Project. Currently Premium Energy Holdings is in stage one toward a preliminary permit to explore the possibility of reservoirs on Wheeler Crest and the Owens River and/or Rock Creek gorges in a closed loop system to generate approximately 5,200 MW of energy.  Material in the Board packet provides more detail on the procedure for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s permits. … ”  Read more from the Sierra Wave here:  Mono Supervisors to look at hydro project

Imperial Irrigation District approves Salton Sea restoration project:  “A major Southern California water purveyor paved the way Tuesday for a massive restoration project at the Salton Sea in an attempt to stave off ecological devastation and an unfolding public health disaster.  The Imperial Irrigation District, which serves the Imperial Valley in southeastern Southern California, approved an easement agreement with the state on Tuesday, which allows the state to begin a critical restoration project at the Salton Sea.  “It is time to get to work,” said Pablo Garza, California Political Director of Ecosystems for the Environmental Defense Fund, in a statement Tuesday. The communities living near and the wildlife dependent upon the Salton Sea can wait no longer for shovels to hit the ground.” … ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service here:  Imperial Irrigation District approves Salton Sea restoration project

Finally, California and IID reach agreement on Salton Sea access and liability:  “The Imperial Irrigation District board of directors voted Tuesday to allow access across its lands for critically needed state wetlands projects at the Salton Sea, designed to tamp down dangerous dust storms and give threatened wildlife a boost. In exchange, California will shoulder the maintenance and operations of the projects, and the state’s taxpayers will cover the costs of any lawsuits or regulatory penalties if the work goes awry.  Tuesday’s vote clears a key hurdle to constructing 3,700 acres around the heavily polluted New River at the south end of the lake, implementing what’s known as the Species Conservation Habitat plan.  ... ”  Read more from the Desert Sun here:  Finally, California and IID reach agreement on Salton Sea access and liability

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

CALIFORNIA WATER POLICY CONFERENCE: Reasonable Use or Waste: A Developing Dichotomy

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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