DAILY DIGEST: California lawmakers move to reject Gavin Newsom’s water fee, Senate proposes new funding alternative; Judge rules FEMA must reconsider floodplains plan; Bernhardt: Interior reorganization plans to heat up this summer; and more …

In California water news today, California lawmakers move to reject Gavin Newsom’s water fee, Senate proposes new funding alternative; San Diego County Water Authority supports bill to spur pumped storage projects; Judge Rules FEMA Must Reconsider Floodplains Plan; California is already drenched. Now three ‘atmospheric rivers’ may unload two months’ worth of rain; Bernhardt: Interior reorganization plans to heat up this summer; Dan Walters: Key conflicts roil California’s ever-evolving waterscape; As Nevada legislators weigh changes to water law, litigation and the pipeline loom; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • WEBINAR: Tapping into resilient infrastructure from 10am to 11am.  Free webinar hosted by the Water Now Alliance.  Click here to register.
  • The Delta Protection Commission meets in Walnut Grove from 5:30pm to 7:30pm. Agenda items include a report from the Delta Protection Advisory Committee, an update on the activities of the Delta Stewardship Council, and update on the Delta Conservancy’s Prop 1 grant program, an update on the Delta National Heritage Area, and an update on Cal Water Fix/Delta tunnel project.  For more information, click here.

In the news today …

One less tax. California lawmakers move to reject Gavin Newsom’s water fee:  “A Senate budget subcommittee rejected Gov. Gavin Newsom’s water tax plan on Wednesday, instead recommending finding $150 million elsewhere to finance a safe and affordable drinking water fund.  Newsom proposed the tax in his January budget to help communities clean contaminated water systems. His May budget revise also included a fee to address the statewide problem that affects one million Californians.  “The governor has made his proposal in the budget, and he is encouraged by the conversations with the Legislature,” Newsom’s spokesperson Nathan Click said. “His objective remains providing a permanent and sustained funding source for safe drinking water.” ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  One less tax. California lawmakers move to reject Gavin Newsom’s water fee

Senate Proposes New Funding Alternative for Safe Drinking Water Solutions:  “Senate Budget Subcommittee No. 2 today rejected Gov. Gavin Newsom’s budget trailer bill language that proposes a water tax, instead supporting a new funding alternative for safe drinking water solutions.  The new budget trailer bill language proposes that the Legislature continuously appropriate $150 million annually from the General Fund to a Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund, which is proposed in SB 200 (Monning). The funding will only become available if SB 200 is enacted into law. ... ”  Read more from ACWA’s Water News here:  Senate Proposes New Funding Alternative for Safe Drinking Water Solutions

San Diego County Water Authority supports bill to spur pumped storage projects:  “A bill that the San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors voted to support in March is scheduled for a hearing Thursday in the state Senate Appropriations Committee. The proposed state legislation promotes the development of pumped hydroelectric storage projects to help meet state energy and climate goals.  Senate Bill 772 by Sen. Steven Bradford of Gardena promotes the development of pumped hydroelectric storage projects to help meet state energy and climate goals.  The Board’s support for the legislation followed the March release of a research paper from a team led by UC San Diego Professor David G. Victor that emphasizes the benefits of expanding pumped hydro energy storage as a cost-effective way to help California meet its renewable energy goals and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. … ”  Read more from the Water News Network here:  San Diego County Water Authority supports bill to spur pumped storage projects

Judge Rules FEMA Must Reconsider Floodplains Plan:  “A federal judge in San Francisco ruled Wednesday to block the Federal Emergency Management Agency from moving forward with its plans to offer flood insurance to developers and property owners in 100-year flood zones in California, finding that the agency failed to consider effects development might have on endangered wildlife in those areas.  Conservation groups Ecological Rights Foundation and Humboldt Baykeeper filed the complaint against FEMA, claiming that the government agency ignored floodplain development issues and should have worked with the Fish and Wildlife Services and National Marine Fisheries Service to address how to protect species and habitats protected by the Endangered Species Act (ESA). ... ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service here:  Judge Rules FEMA Must Reconsider Floodplains Plan

California is already drenched. Now three ‘atmospheric rivers’ may unload two months’ worth of rain.  “Californians proudly regard themselves as early adopters and trendsetters. So, of course, they’ll be the first to experience an aberrant weather pattern that is expected in the continental United States over the coming days.  A jet stream sagging into the mid-latitudes is forecast to drive into the Golden State some unseasonably late precipitation — and a lot of it — starting Wednesday and continuing into the weekend.  “All in all, ensemble forecasts project rainfall over the next 5-7 days will potentially exceed 200% of normal for the entire month of May across much of the region,” said the National Weather Service’s forecast office in Monterey. ... ”  Read more from the Washington Post here:  California is already drenched. Now three ‘atmospheric rivers’ may unload two months’ worth of rain.

Shasta Dam expansion: California, Conservation Groups Sue Water District Over Plan:  “The battle over Shasta Dam is escalating.  This week, California’s attorney general and several fishing and conservation groups filed separate lawsuits to stop a controversial project to elevate the dam and expand the state’s largest reservoir, near Redding.  “This project is unlawful,” wrote Attorney General Xavier Becerra in a statement announcing the state’s lawsuit. “It would create significant environmental and cultural impacts for the communities and habitats surrounding the Shasta Dam.” … ”  Read more from KQED here:  Shasta Dam expansion: California, Conservation Groups Sue Water District Over Plan

Bernhardt: Interior reorganization plans to heat up this summer:  “This summer could be a crucial one for Western communities hoping to snag parts of the Interior Department, Secretary David Bernhardt indicated today.  In his inaugural appearance as secretary before the House Natural Resources Committee this morning, Bernhardt said the department is pressing ahead on a reorganization effort initiated by his predecessor.  “I expect by this summer we’ll be sending up a reprogramming request regarding a potential move of some of the folks in the Bureau of Land Management and potentially the U.S. Geological Survey,” Bernhardt said. … ”  Read more from E&E News here:  Bernhardt: Interior reorganization plans to heat up this summer

In commentary today …

Key conflicts roil California’s ever-evolving waterscape:  Dan Walters writes, “As 2018 was winding down, one of California’s leading newspapers suggested, via a front-page, banner-headlined article, that the drought that had plagued the state for much of this decade may be returning.  Just weeks later, that same newspaper was reporting that record-level midwinter storms were choking mountain passes with snow, rapidly filling reservoirs and causing serious local flooding.  Neither was incorrect at the time, but their juxtaposition underscores the unpredictable nature of California’s water supply. … ”  Read more from Cal Matters here:  Key conflicts roil California’s ever-evolving waterscape

Permanent water conservation regulations:  John Kinsbury writes,The Mountain Counties Water Resources Association has long been opposed to loss of local control for this region. Back in 2017 MCWRA hand-carried a letter to each Assembly and Senate legislator’s office in Sacramento to strongly oppose proposed long-term water conservation legislation as well as a backdoor push of legislation on a budget trailer bill that would circumvent the legislative process.  However, signed into law last year, Assembly Bill 1668 and Senate Bill 606 established indoor and outdoor irrigation regulations, making water conservation a permanent way of life. This draconian and arbitrary rationing legislation tramples upon the personal rights of individuals to make choices regarding their beneficial use of water, undermines local conditions and local control, the state’s water rights priority system and area-of-origin water right assurances in this region. … ”  Read more from Village Life here:  Permanent water conservation regulations

Legislature should support more water projects, not work to defeat them, says Bill Manis:  He writes, “All of us remember California’s recent five-year drought when residents were encouraged to cut back their water use, let their lawns go brown, and use barrels to collect precious rainwater. Now, well-funded, politically-connected interest groups are trying to block a new source of clean drinking water for Southern California. … For more than a decade, the Cadiz Water Project has carefully followed California’s strict environmental review procedures – known as the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) – in an effort to increase the water supply for Southern California. … ”  Read more from the Riverside Press-Enterprise here:  Legislature should support more water projects, not work to defeat them

In regional news and commentary today …

Yurok Tribe establishes the ‘rights of the Klamath River’:  “The Yurok Tribal Council recently voted in favor of a resolution to establish the Rights of the Klamath River.  According to the Yurok Tribe, the resolution “establishes the Rights of the Klamath River to exist, flourish, and naturally evolve; to have a clean and healthy environment free from pollutants; to have a stable climate free from human-caused climate change impacts; and to be free from contamination by genetically engineered organisms.” … ” Read more from KRCR here:  Yurok Tribe establishes the ‘rights of the Klamath River’

Tehama County project to receive waterways grant funding:  “A project in Tehama County is among the 39 statewide projects to receive funding for multi-beneficial ecosystem restoration and protection program under Prop. 1 watershed restoration and Prop. 68 grants through the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.  The awards, totaling $48.5 million, were made under two separate solicitations for projects focused in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and watersheds statewide.  Funding in the amount of $374,5887 for the Tehama County waterways site will go to Point Blue Conservation Science to implement planning for the Restoration of the Deer Creek Headwaters at Childs Meadow project near Mineral. … ”  Read more from the Appeal Democrat here:  Tehama County project to receive waterways grant funding

6 months after deadliest wildfire in California, water found with elevated levels of cancer-causing benzene:  “While we now know power lines started the deadliest wildfire in California history, a different type of threat is affecting plans to rebuild: danger in the water system. Melted metal, plastic and wood created a toxic mix that officials say, six months later, has contaminated the town of Paradise’s water pipes. They’ve tested positive for elevated levels of cancer-causing benzene, reports CBS News correspondent Jonathan Vigliotti.  “If my kids get cancer in 20 years, I’ll never forgive myself,” Paradise homeowner Jessica Distefano said. When she and her family moved into their dream home last summer, they never imagined this would be their reality.  … ”  Read more from CBS Sacramento here:  6 months after deadliest wildfire in California, water found with elevated levels of cancer-causing benzene

Caution in the creeks:  Metals, chemicals found downstream from the Camp Fire:  “When it rains, it pours. And the Camp Fire just keeps on pouring. The latest byproduct? Waterways testing positive for heavy metals, from aluminum to selenium, as well as chemical contaminants. And the most recent test results, released last month, show unhealthy levels of both throughout the county, primarily in Paradise and nearby creeks.  What that means for people—particularly in the burn zone—is that swimming could be dangerous, as could drinking water that comes from shallow wells. … ”  Read more from the Chico News & Review here:  Caution in the creeks:  Metals, chemicals found downstream from the Camp Fire

Testing the waters: Expert decries state’s response to Camp Fire water contamination, potential dangers to public health—especially for Del Oro customers:  “Sherri and Thomas Gardner are not concerned that the results of the first water test at their burned-out property in Magalia came back positive for a higher concentration of benzene, a known carcinogen, than the state deems healthy for drinking. After all, a second test came back “ND,” or non-detect.  “The state maximum is 1 part per billion and the feds have theirs at 5—we were dead in the middle at 2.6,” Thomas said last week from the couple’s comfortable RV, which is parked on their now debris-free property. “We’re not at all worried. We’re brushing our teeth with [the water], we’re using it for ice.” … ”  Read more from the Chico News & Review here:  Testing the waters: Expert decries state’s response to Camp Fire water contamination, potential dangers to public health—especially for Del Oro customers

Nipomo Community Services District lifts restriction on new water connections:  “A four-year long restriction for new water connections has ended in many parts of Nipomo.  Last week, the Nipomo Community Services District (NCSD) Board of Directors voted to proceed with an upgrade to the supplemental water pipeline it has with Santa Maria.  “The Santa Maria pipeline that brings water from the City of Santa Maria onto the Nipomo Mesa is planned to be expanded and so the action the board took looked at creating a larger pipe to bring water into the distribution system, and it’s that reason that they’re feeling confident they can now provide additional water for new service connections,” said NCSD General Manager Mario Iglesias. … ”  Read more from KEYT here:  Nipomo Community Services District lifts restriction on new water connections

Along the Colorado River …

Nevada: As legislators weigh changes to water law, litigation and the pipeline loom:  “All of the water lawyers showed up this week.  Some of the developments this week in the ongoing debate over Nevada’s water law were to be expected. Others came as a surprise. Everyone from Southern Nevada Water Authority to environmental groups were caught off guard on Tuesday when Sen. Melanie Scheible, who chairs the Senate Natural Resource Committee, called a surprise work session on Assembly Bill 30, a contentious water bill aimed at resolving conflicts between water users and often viewed as a proxy battle over the water authority’s proposed pipeline. … ”  Read more from the Nevada Independent here:  As legislators weigh changes to water law, litigation and the pipeline loom

Arizona: Pinal County farmers seek $20 million for drought plan:  “Central Arizona farmers are making a last-minute plea to state lawmakers to give them millions of dollars to dig wells and build canals as they prepare to lose access to Colorado River water.  Farmers from Pinal County are scheduled to make their $20 million pitch during a news conference at the state Capitol on Thursday as lawmakers negotiate a budget. ... ”  Read more from Arizona Family here:  Pinal County farmers seek $20 million for drought plan

Latinos rely heavily on Colorado River water amid plans for cutbacks, says Elizabeth Venalonzo:  She writes, “The Por La Creación: Faith-Based Alliance is a bipartisan partnership of Hispanic pastors who believe in a common-sense approach to managing our natural resources. In February, 20 of us from Arizona gathered together in the Grand Canyon to talk about the Colorado River and the need for us to take action to protect this precious resource provided by God. This river provides water for one-third of Latinos in the United States. Latinos make up the bulk of agricultural workers harvesting the produce this river waters. We boat, fish, swim and recreate along its banks. We hold baptisms in its waters. Therefore, it is critical to engage the growing Latino population on water-smart solutions. ... ”  Continue reading at Arizona Capital Times here:  Latinos rely heavily on Colorado River water amid plans for cutbacks

Precipitation watch …

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

CA WATER COMMISSION: Feather River Fish Hatchery

SCIENCE NEWS: Growth and temperature tradeoffs for juvenile chinook salmon; Project designed to simulate beavers; Maximizing use of water stored in soil could result in savings for farmers; Microplastics are diverse and those differences matter; and more …

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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