DAILY DIGEST: CA AG, enviro groups sue to stop Shasta Dam raise; Residents concerned about Oroville Dam with spring storms looming; As PG&E dumps Potter Valley project, new suitors line up; Audit blasts SF Bay watchdog on inaction; and more …

In California water news today, California AG Xavier Becerra, environmental groups sue to stop Shasta Dam raise; Residents concerned about Oroville Dam with spring storms looming; Maximizing Use of Water Stored in Soil Could Result in Savings for Farmers; As PG&E dumps Potter Valley project, new suitors line up; Audit Blasts San Francisco Bay Watchdog on Inaction; Santa Clara Valley Water’s farm subsidy to remain, for now; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • The California Water Commission meets in Kerman beginning at 9:30am.  The Commission meets in Kerman.  Agenda items include a presentation from the PPIC on their latest report, Water and the Future of the San Joaquin Valley; Modesto Irrigation District’s In-Lieu Recharge Program; and DWR’s climate change vulnerability assessment.  For agenda and webcast link, click here.
  • Climate Change Adaptation: Challenges for California and the World at the UC Center from 12pm to 1pm.  Click here to register.
  • GRA SF Bay Branch: Making Polluters Pay for PFAS Treatment Costs from 5:30pm to 8:30pm in Oakland.  Click here for more information and to register.

In the news today …

California AG Xavier Becerra, environmental groups sue to stop Shasta Dam raise:  “Citing the state’s Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, California attorney general and several environmental groups have sued to stop plans to raise the height of Shasta Dam.  The lawsuit against the Fresno-based Westlands Water District was filed in Shasta County Superior Court on Monday.  State officials have for years maintained that raising the height of the dam would violate the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act because a higher dam would further inundate the McCloud River, in violation of state law. … ”  Read more from the Redding Record Searchlight here:  California AG Xavier Becerra, environmental groups sue to stop Shasta Dam raise

California Sues to Sink Planned Expansion of Shasta Dam:  “Up against the Trump administration and the nation’s largest agricultural water supplier, California’s attorney general and a coalition of fishing groups are counting on a landmark environmental law to foil a plan to increase storage at the linchpin of the Golden State’s water delivery system.  The federal government wants to raise the height of the dam at Shasta Lake in Northern California by 18.5 feet. The move would increase the capacity of what is already California’s largest reservoir by approximately 14%, creating more supplies for Central Valley farmers during wet years. … ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service here:  California Sues to Sink Planned Expansion of Shasta Dam

SEE ALSO:

Spillway concerns? DWR, Sheriff Kory Honea say no:  “The California Department of Water Resources released a Lake Oroville community update on Monday afternoon amid rumors of ongoing safety concerns regarding the Oroville Dam’s main spillway.  These rumors have been circulated mostly on Facebook, according to DWR Public Information Officer Elizabeth Whitmore.  “At this time, the community update should answer all questions regarding any safety issues with the main spillway, as well as concerns growing over the upcoming rain storm,” Whitmore said. ... ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Spillway concerns? DWR, Sheriff Kory Honea say no

Residents concerned about Oroville Dam with spring storms looming:  “With a spring storm ready to pound Northern California, some people living upstream and down from the Oroville Dam have theories as to whether it’s safe. Rumors have been spreading on social media and by word of mouth.  Longtime resident Misty Anderson heard one rumor. ... ”  Read more from CBS Sacramento here:  Residents concerned about Oroville Dam with spring storms looming

Maximizing Use of Water Stored in Soil Could Result in Savings for Farmers:  “As California faces more frequent and severe droughts, agriculture, which relies on irrigation from surface water and groundwater, could become expensive and unsustainable. Researchers at the University of California, Davis, looked at using a “free” resource — rain water stored in the soil — and found that optimizing its use could go a long way to help meet demand for five California perennial crops. Their findings appear in the journal Environmental Research Letters.  “The study highlights a climate-smart opportunity to make better use of the rain that does fall,” said lead author Scott Devine, a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Land, Air and Water Resources. ... ”  Read more from UC Davis here:  Maximizing Use of Water Stored in Soil Could Result in Savings for Farmers

Microplastics are diverse and those differences matter:  “The oceans contain a medley of tiny plastic fragments. In a sample of seawater, scientists might find thin fibers, degraded fragments, and a slurry of particles that are too small to see. Yet every piece of this plastic soup goes by the same name: microplastics. And according to researchers, this catch-all term is muddling our understanding of a complex class of environmental pollutants.  Scientists have found microplastics nearly everywhere they have looked, from Arctic sea ice to the ocean’s depth. Yet these plastic particles, defined as pieces smaller than five millimeters (about the size of a pencil eraser), are as varied as they are rampant. They can be spherical, fibrous, irregularly shaped, or foamy. And they can be made of hundreds—if not thousands—of different plastic polymers, each with its own chemical properties. … ”  Read more from Hakai Magazine here:  Microplastics are diverse and those differences matter

In commentary today …

Newsom crafting smart water portfolio for California, says Sejal Choksi-Chugh:  He writes, “As the dust settles from the whirlwind transition of the California governor’s office, it’s a relief to see that the new statehouse has squashed the massive Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta tunnels water project.  Conservation, fishing, and community groups welcomed the Newsom administration’s May 2 announcement that it will abandon Gov. Jerry Brown’s misguided twin tunnels plan and seek instead to refocus the state’s water priorities. ... ”  Continue reading at the San Jose Mercury News here:  Newsom crafting smart water portfolio for California

In regional news and commentary today …

After Klamath River flushes, C. shasta spores spike, surprising scientists:  “The latest report from the Bureau of Reclamation over flushing out C. shasta spores in the Klamath River does not look promising, but it is also early in the data analysis, experts say.  According to Megan Skinner, Klamath River Manager for Reclamation, the number of spores actually spiked three or four weeks after the river flushing was completed earlier this spring.  She reported the preliminary results to the Klamath Irrigation District board members last week. Board members were taken by surprise, as were the scientists on the ground who are studying the river. ... ”  Read more from the Herald & News here: After Klamath River flushes, C. shasta spores spike, surprising scientists

Sacramento: Homeless encampments along Sacramento rivers are damaging flood levees and putting more than 100,000 houses at risk, officials warn:  “Homeless encampments along the Sacramento river are damaging flood levees and could be putting more than 100,000 houses in danger, it has been revealed.  Some of the homeless have been digging into the slope of the levees to create a flat surface for their tents, potentially compromising the entire structure.   And, due to the number of tents, levee monitors are having a hard time finding the trouble spots that need fixing before the winter flood season. In one instance, they discovered a large encampment had been hiding a four-foot deep trench that was dug into the slope of a levy. ... ”  Read more from the Daily Mail here:  Sacramento: Homeless encampments along Sacramento rivers are damaging flood levees and putting more than 100,000 houses at risk, officials warn

Sonoma County supervisors eye future of Potter Valley diversion project:  “Sonoma County supervisors agreed Tuesday to study the possibility of applying for a license to operate a remote Mendocino County hydropower project, marking the first move to maintain a long-standing water transfer deemed critical to residents and ranchers in both counties.  A coalition of five Mendocino County agencies and California Trout, a 50- year-old environmental nonprofit, are collaborating with Sonoma County’s water agency in the consideration of taking over the federal license for the Potter Valley Project, which delivers 20 billion gallons of water a year from the Eel River into the Russian River basin. … ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here:  Sonoma County supervisors eye future of Potter Valley diversion project

SEE ALSO:

Environmental report released on Corte Madera marsh restoration:  “On a former tidal marsh in Corte Madera that’s blanketed with bay mud and overgrown with invasive grasses, Golden Gate Bridge officials are planning a $2 million restoration project that would bolster habitat for an endangered bird species displaced by the Larkspur Ferry Terminal.  The Golden Gate Bridge district has released the results of an environmental study of the proposed project and is accepting comments on the report until May 26. According to John Eberle, a deputy district engineer, the project is designed to enrich what was once a thriving marsh habitat.  “The finished product will have a beneficial environmental impact, because we’ll be taking this upland area and restoring it to a wetland,” he said. ... ”  Read more from the Marin Independent Journal here:  Environmental report released on Corte Madera marsh restoration

Audit Blasts San Francisco Bay Watchdog on Inaction:  “The San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission has “neglected its mission” to protect the bay and surrounding wetlands, the California state auditor reported Tuesday.  The commission, which issues permits for activities like boating, dredging and dumping, has a backlog of 230 open enforcement cases, some decades old. “The commission estimates that eliminating its backlog will take 20 years based on historical averages, but the backlog’s recent growth suggests that the problem will likely get worse rather than better,” State Auditor Elaine Howle wrote. “In some instances, the commission’s failure to resolve cases promptly can result in considerable, ongoing damage to the bay.” … ”  Read more from Courthouse News Service here:  Audit Blasts San Francisco Bay Watchdog on Inaction

Santa Clara Valley Water’s farm subsidy to remain, for now:  “Like everyone else in Santa Clara Valley who uses wells, farmers will see their groundwater production charges go up 6.8 percent this year. But unlike the others, they’ll continue to receive substantial subsidies.  In approving the increased charges for well users, the Santa Clara Valley Water District board left intact for at least two years the current structure that allows farmers to pay only 6 percent of the amount residents and businesses pay. The water district absorbs the rest of the cost for farmers, mostly through property tax revenue. ... ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  Santa Clara Valley Water’s farm subsidy to remain, for now

Stanislaus County asks state to allow bottled water in hardship cases:  “Stanislaus County will ask the state to consider use of bottled water as a permanent alternative for small public water systems that are in violation of safe drinking water standards.  Last week, the state notified the county of a State Water Resources Control Board position that doesn’t recognize bottled water as a way for small water systems to comply with drinking water regulations. Business owners, mobile home park operators, employers and schools are among those facing rising costs of maintaining regulated water systems that are increasingly polluted with nitrates, arsenic and other contaminants. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  Stanislaus County asks state to allow bottled water in hardship cases

Owens Valley groundwater basin goes low:  “California’s Department of Water Resources came out with its latest prioritization of state groundwater basins and, tentatively, the Owens Valley basin is now low. Over the short life of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, Owens Valley has gone from medium to high and now low priority.  That prioritization would have had an impact three years ago. Medium and high priority basins are required to form an agency and sustainability plan; low basins are not. The factor in the earlier ratings was water exports by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. LADWP’s portion of the basin is treated as adjudicated and not required to develop a plan. ... ”  Read more from the Sierra Wave here:  Owens Valley groundwater basin goes low

Indian Wells Valley Water District board hears brackish water study update:  “A brackish water study conducted by consulting firm Aqualogic has predicted three potential areas that can be tapped for brackish water extraction in the Indian Wells Valley.  The idea, should a feasibility study support it, would be to extract as much as 10,000 acre-feet per year through 2070, with production starting at 5,000 acre-feet per year in 2025.  The data was presented by Aqualogic representative Anthony Brown at Monday’s board meeting. The brackish water study is part of a partnership between the water district, Mojave Pistachios, Coso Geothermal and Searles Valley Minerals, as well as minor funding assistance from Meadowbrook Dairies. … ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here:  Indian Wells Valley Water District board hears brackish water study update

Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority board meets Thursday:  “The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority board of directors meets Thursday at 10 a.m. in the Ridgecrest City Council Chambers at Ridgecrest City Hall, 100 W. California Ave.  The board will hear an update from Steve Johnson, president of Stetson Engineers and the Water Resources Manager on the Plan of Action and Milestones, which outlines progress made on the IWVGA’s mandate to create a groundwater sustainability plan for the IWV basin. ... ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here:  Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority board meets Thursday

The Cadiz project to drain the desert is a bad idea, says the LA Times:  They write, “There’s a tiny green patch of Mojave Desert, past Barstow but before Needles, north of Joshua Tree National Park and south of the Mojave National Preserve, where groundwater pumped from an aquifer under the arid landscape irrigates several hundred acres of crops. Rainfall that seeps from the adjacent mountains is sporadic, but sufficient to replenish what is taken from the ground while still leaving enough for the natural springs that sustain the bighorn sheep, desert tortoises and other threatened species that live in the environmentally fragile region. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  The Cadiz project to drain the desert is a bad idea

Senate should OK SB 307 to give California more review of Cadiz aquifer harvesting project, says David Lamfrom:  He writes, “The importance of surface water in the desert cannot be overestimated. In the arid heart of the Mojave, water which began flowing underground during the Ice Age finishes its journey 15,000 years later. The water surfaces as a spring running down a canyon, creating habitat and sustaining life in one of the driest places on our continent.  This place is Bonanza Spring, a lush ribbon of green in Mojave Trails National Monument that Sean Milanovich of the Native American Land Conservancy has referred to as “a miracle.” When President Barack Obama established Mojave Trails in 2016 as California’s largest national monument, Bonanza was among the collection of priceless resources protected for the benefit of our generation, and those to come. … ”  Read more from the Desert Sun here: Senate should OK SB 307 to give California more review of Cadiz aquifer harvesting project

Along the Colorado River …

ASU awarded NASA grant for study on Colorado River water management:  “An interdisciplinary team of researchers at Arizona State University has received a $1 million grant from NASA’s Earth Science Division to provide long-range scenarios for water management for the Colorado River Basin. “Water management is a pressing issue for Arizona,” said Enrique Vivoni, principal investigator of the project and professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration and the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment. “This grant will assist in helping local, state and federal entities with their drought contingency planning.” ... ”  Read more from Arizona State University here:  ASU awarded NASA grant for study on Colorado River water management

Colorado: Snowpack, streamflow numbers far exceeding early winter predictions:  “Colorado is swimming in snowpack this year, with the state’s southwest corner at 19.5 inches, 220% of the median for May 14 and 1.6 inches above the usual April 2 median peak, federal data show.  So reservoirs are filling, and the generous snowfall has nearly eliminated a drought that hydrologists said in January would take years for recovery.  “I don’t see how you could order something better than what we got after a year like last,” said Greg Smith, a senior hydrologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “This is exactly what we needed.” … ”  Read more from The Gazette here:  Colorado: Snowpack, streamflow numbers far exceeding early winter predictions

360: Should we have more cloud seeding in Colorado?:  “Cloud seeding can provide between 5% and 15% more snow to help ski areas, farmers and watersheds in the state, supporters say.  “These observations show us that cloud seeding does work,” said University of Colorado researcher Katja Friedrich, who has studied cloud seeding inside and outside of a laboratory. … ”  Read more from the Denver Channel here:  360: Should we have more cloud seeding in Colorado?

Precipitation watch …

Highly unusual sequence of winter-like storms headed for California (in late May!):  Daniel Swain writes, “A very warm April and relatively warm start to May–coupled with rather dry conditions throughout the state during that period–will come crashing to an end tomorrow. A rather prolonged period of unsettled, perhaps even downright stormy, conditions are expected across most of California over the next 10 days or so. The suddenness of this pattern change, along with the highly unusual nature of widespread significant rainfall (and mountain snowfall) this late in the season will likely catch a lot of folks by surprise, and will have some substantial impacts for the agricultural sector and those traveling (not to mention those poor souls just starting out on the Pacific Crest Trail). ... ”  Read more from the California Weather Blog here:  Highly unusual sequence of winter-like storms headed for California (in late May!)

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

CALIFORNIA WATER POLICY CONFERENCE: Tribal Groundwater Rights and SGMA: A New Underlying Tension?

Interview with Wade Crowfoot: Implementing Newsom’s “One California” portfolio approach for water

LETTER: Senator Feinstein praises Newsom decision to support a single Delta tunnel project

NEWS WORTH NOTING: North Coast entities to sign Potter Valley Project planning agreement; Survey: CA voters strongly favor restoration of Yosemite’s Hetch Hetchy Valley; North Monterey County Drought Contingency Plan completed

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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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