DAILY DIGEST, weekend edition: Groundwater plans for Westlands Water District, three other areas, deemed “incomplete”, Westlands responds; Shasta Lake’s historic train tunnel is underwater once again; The tsunami that battered Santa Cruz highlights the threat facing California’s coast; and more …

In California water news this weekend …

Groundwater plans for Westlands Water District, three other areas, deemed “incomplete”

Groundwater plans for two regions in the western San Joaquin Valley were deemed deficient by the state Department of Water Resources (DWR) on Friday.  The Westside subbasin, overseen by Westlands Water District, and the Delta-Mendota subbasin’s plans were officially labeled as “incomplete” by DWR. The state also found groundwater plans for the Paso Robles and Cuyama water subbasins incomplete.  Managers of those plans will now have 6 months to make recommended changes and submit the plans for approval again. If the plans are rejected at that time, the state Water Resources Control Board could take over the subbasins and manage groundwater directly, or take other, more punitive action. ... ”  Read more from SJV Water here: Groundwater plans for Westlands Water District, three other areas, deemed “incomplete”

Westlands Water District responds to incomplete determination for Westside Subbasin Groundwater Sustainability Plan

Today the Department of Water Resources (DWR) announced that the Westside Subbasin Groundwater Sustainability Plan (Westside GSP) submitted by Westlands Water District, acting as a Groundwater Sustainability Agency, has received an incomplete determination under the provisions of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). The determination starts a 180-day window to address DWR’s comments. In response, Westlands Water District General Manager Tom Birmingham issued the following statement:  “Westlands has monitored groundwater conditions since the 1950s and has actively managed groundwater since the adoption of its Groundwater Management Plan in 1996. The Westside GSP, adopted pursuant to additional authorities provided by SGMA, includes numerous actions to ensure that groundwater levels stay at or above 2015 levels. The Westside GSP includes advanced monitoring, data, metering, and groundwater recharge programs to ensure that neither the groundwater basin nor the local communities that rely on it will be harmed by continued extractions of groundwater.” … ”  Continue reading at the Westlands Water District here: Westlands Water District responds to incomplete determination for Westside Subbasin Groundwater Sustainability Plan

Shasta Lake’s historic train tunnel is underwater once again

The summer and fall on Shasta Lake was a somewhat depressing time. The lake’s water dropped to extremely low levels as locals and visitors alike struggled to deal with the ongoing drought in Northern California. One silver lining during the drought was seeing the historic artifacts typically sitting underwater on the lake, giving people the chance to look at the regions history up close – including the historic train tunnel which became fully unearthed in the latter part of the year. … With the historic rain and snow that fell on Northern California in December, it didn’t take long for the train tunnel to once again retreat to its underwater home. Photos taken by April Collier and posted to Facebook by the Sugarloaf Cottages Resort show the progression of the train tunnel going underwater from mid-December to mid-January. … ”  Read more from Active NorCal here: Shasta Lake’s historic train tunnel is underwater once again

Scientist says DWR is taking huge risks by increasing State Water Project allocations

Dan Bacher writes, “The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) yesterday announced that they will increase the State Water Project allocations to 15%, but Scientist Deirdre Des Jardins of California Water Research warns that DWR is “taking a huge risk” of not meeting environmental water needs later in the year given the huge problems last year with watershed runoff forecasts.  2021 was one of the most disastrous years ever for imperiled salmon and other fish species on Central Valley rivers and the San Francisco Bay-Delta Estuary, due to mismanagement of scarce water during a record drought by the state and federal governments, according to a a coalition of Tribes and fishing, environmental justice and conservation organizations. … ”  Read more from the Daily Kos here: Scientist says DWR is taking huge risks by increasing State Water Project allocations

Study: Thousands of Californians may lack access to safe drinking water

Nearly 370,000 Californians use drinking water that might be contaminated with harmful chemicals, according to a new study led by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles and the University of California, Berkeley.  Scientists looked at more than 1,500 water systems statewide and nine years of data on chemicals in drinking water and groundwater and estimated that about 370,000 people in California — particularly in underserved communities — are drinking water that may contain elevated levels of arsenic, nitrate or hexavalent chromium, according to the study. … ”  Read more from the LA Daily News here: Study: Thousands of Californians may lack access to safe drinking water

The tsunami that battered Santa Cruz highlights the threat facing California’s coast

When harbor officials warned Kenneth Stagnaro of a tsunami heading from Tonga for the Santa Cruz Harbor last weekend, he decided to take his two boats out to sea.  Out there, Stagnaro, who runs a whale watching and charter fishing business, felt he could ride out the worst of the tsunami.  It’s what he and dozens of other large boat owners did in 2011 when a violent tsunami from a magnitude-9 earthquake in Japan capsized boats in the harbor and shredded whole docks, pulling them into the ocean, causing about $20 million in damage, and a total of $100 million in damage to harbors along California’s coast.  In the end, last Saturday’s tsunami that hit the California coast was smaller and less damaging. But it still caused an estimated $6 million in damage to Santa Cruz alone — and was a reminder of the importance of preparing for tsunamis along the coast. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: The tsunami that battered Santa Cruz highlights the threat facing California’s coast

College scholarships offered for water industry education

Multiple California water associations and water agencies in San Diego County are offering college scholarships to help candidates achieve their goals.  A large number of recent retirements combined with the need for a skilled workforce up to date on new technologies have resulted in a critical need to increase the talent pool of skilled individuals in the water and wastewater industry, including in San Diego County.  Scholarships are available for community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, and graduate-level programs. The following examples are due in the coming weeks for study in the 2022-2023 academic school year. … ”  Read more from the Water News Network here: College Scholarships Offered for Water Industry Education

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In commentary this weekend …

Opinion: Greywater rain systems save water, alleviate sprinkler guilt

Janine Zacharia, the Carlos Kelly McClatchy lecturer in the Department of Communication at Stanford University, writes, “With roughly half of California’s urban water use going outdoors, mostly for irrigation, I’ve been searching for the perfect barrel to alleviate my sprinkler guilt. So, amid forecasts of another dryer-than-average winter, I was thrilled when San Mateo County advertised free rain barrels for residents last fall.  “I want this,” I wrote to my husband. But by the time I tried to register, all 330 barrels were gone, and there was a waitlist of 200.  I next contacted Oakland-based WaterSprout for help with a barrel. But they said because of “extremely high interest” they were only taking on new home construction or major remodel projects. Another indicator I wasn’t the only Californian wanting to conserve water.  Finally, I found Joseah Rosales of Greywater Landscape Design who persuaded me within minutes that my barrel’s savings would be a drop in the bucket compared to what I could do with a greywater system. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here: Opinion: Greywater rain systems save water, alleviate sprinkler guilt

Podcasts …

JIVE TALKING PODCAST: Jerry Gilbert managed California waters for decades

Episode 166: Jerry Gilbert is a California water professional engineer. He was educated at the University of Cincinnati and Stanford, with experience in large and small utility management.He has been a leader of government agencies and associations both national and international.

WEST COAST WATER JUSTICE PODCAST: Following the water: How dams and water shape tribal recognition in California

In this episode, we hear from hereditary Chief Caleen Sisk of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe. Their tribal homelands encompass the Winnemem Waywaket (McCloud River) and much of the land now flooded by the Shasta Reservoir, California’s largest. The Winnemum Wintu’s resistance story exemplifies many of the inequities in California’s land and water rights.


LA TIMES PODCAST: An American West with no snow?

This past December brought record-high amounts of snow to the Sierra Nevada, California’s main mountain range. The state, of course, has suffered for years from bad, bad drought, so we should all be happy that the dry days are over with all this snow, right? In fact, those who monitor such things are saying we should be saving water more than ever. Because there’s a real possibility that one day, blizzards in the West might be gone. Today, our Masters of Disasters reconvene to talk about this possible future.


LET’S TALK ABOUT WATER PODCAST: Debunking ‘Toilet to Tap’, with Mike Markus

“With climate change threatening freshwater sources, water demand across the globe is likely to increase by 20 – 30% between now and 2050. In this episode, we’re looking at two promising solutions to create clean drinking water from surprising places: our sewers and our oceans.  We speak with General Manager of the Orange County  Water District, Mike Markus, about debunking the “toilet to tap” fear and how turning our wastewater into clean drinking water can be a closed-loop solution to mounting water scarcity.  We also hear from Dr. William Tarpeh about new research at Stanford University that could make desalination a more viable solution; one that’s less costly and better for the environment.


RIPPLE EFFECT PODCAST: Ten Strategies for the Colorado

Taylor Hawes, Colorado River Program Director at the Nature Conservancy, and Amy McCoy, AMP Insights, join us to discuss their work on the recently published Ten Strategies for Resilience in the Colorado River Basin. Great discussion on concrete actions for resiliency.


BERKELEY VOICES: How building wetlands could allow the world to recycle water

In the second half of the 20th century, California’s population exploded.  To keep all these people going, the state needed a source of water. Most of the water supply that was then built for cities came from snowmelt and rainfall collected in the mountains.  But now, California’s cities can’t rely so heavily on that water supply anymore.  David Sedlak is a professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and director of the Berkeley Water Center at UC Berkeley.  Sedlak says that we need to figure out new ways to generate an ongoing, stable water supply in our cities that isn’t as reliant on the weather.


WATER IS A MANY SPLENDOR’ED THING PODCAST: Alaska’s Tlingit People

Alaska’s native communities have lived in the coastal regions of the Alaskan Panhandle for many generations. Water has shaped their lives in every way. Stories heard and totem poles seen each describe the history and life of the Tlingit People. Water is a Many Splendor’ed Thing brings you another water relationship that has a personally significant impact to your life.  Produced by Steven Baker, Operation Unite® Bringing People Together to Solve Water Problems, water@operationunite.co

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In regional water news this weekend …

MOUNTAIN COUNTIES

Commentary: Keeping Tahoe blue with science

The Tahoe Science Advisory Council writes, “This past year has been a rollercoaster for the Lake Tahoe region. As the coronavirus pandemic dragged on, undeterred visitors continued to flock to the area.  In August, the Caldor Fire threatened the Lake Tahoe Basin, forcing 30,000 people to evacuate for weeks. An atmospheric river in October brought threats of flooding, only to be followed by huge storms and record-setting snow in December. Through it all, the Tahoe Science Advisory Council has been working to understand the impacts of these events on our Jewel of the Sierra.  For more than 60 years, science has helped protect and preserve Lake Tahoe.  ... ”  Continue reading at the Tahoe Daily Tribune here:

SACRAMENTO VALLEY

Fishing, swimming not advised where fuel reached Sacramento River, health officials say

Shasta County health officials are warning people to keep their distance from the Sacramento River where a fuel spill entered the river under the Cypress Avenue bridge on Friday.  A tanker crash early Friday morning on Pine Street in downtown Redding caused the truck’s tanks to rupture and spill a gasoline-diesel mix into storm drains. The fuel entered part of the Anderson-Cottonwood Irrigation Canal across from City Hall and the Sacramento River from its Calaboose Creek tributary. … ”  Read more from the Redding Record Searchlight here: Fishing, swimming not advised where fuel reached Sacramento River, health officials say

Red Bluff’s River Park closes temporarily Friday due to Redding fuel spill

The city temporarily closed River Park Friday after being notified a fuel spill in Redding that morning was making its way south in the Sacramento River.  Redding police and fire personnel responded around 4:30 a.m. Friday to a crash involving a semi-truck in the area of Pine Street at Cypress Avenue, according to a press release issued Friday by the Redding Police Department.  Upon arrival at the scene, emergency personnel found a semi-tanker truck had rolled over and leaked a large quantity of fuel from the punctured tanks, the release said. The driver, a woman, 51, of Redding, was taken to Mercy Medical Center with minor injures for evaluation. … ”  Read more from the Red Bluff Daily News here: Red Bluff’s River Park closes temporarily Friday due to Redding fuel spill

NAPA/SONOMA

Look back at the many lagunas of Sonoma County

During Mexican times (early 1800s), laguna was used for a number of places in Sonoma County. While its Spanish meaning varies over a spectrum from seasonal to perennial, and from salt to fresh water, locally the name referred to perennial bodies of fresh water. In other words, “lakes.”  Lagunas de Liwantolyomi was the name for a string of lakes running fourteen miles from Cotati to north of Sebastopol. Today, the lakes are largely gone and we say Laguna de Santa Rosa, as if it were just one. That demotion to the singular hints at the decline of surface water over the over the last two centuries.  In winter, a channel connected the lagunas to the Russian River. In the summer, the channel dried up, but the lagunas persisted. Lake Jonive, the largest, was: “a mile long, 150 feet wide, and from 20 to 30 feet deep, bounded with oaks, willows, etc … is a favorite place for bathing, boating and fishing.” … ”  Continue reading at the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here: Look back at the many lagunas of Sonoma County

BAY AREA

Sneaker waves expected along S.F. Bay Area coastlines starting Sunday afternoon

Beach-goers along San Francisco Bay Area coastlines should beware of sneaker waves starting on Sunday afternoon through Monday afternoon, National Weather Service officials said Saturday.  Sneaker waves, named for their nature of sneaking up unexpectedly along the coast, are capable of pulling humans and animals into the cold waters even at 1 to 2 feet of height, said Roger Gass, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Bay Area office.  “A lot of times the waters can look very calm and quiet and one of these waves will approach the coast and it basically catches people off guard,” Gass said. “Long period swells are initially only going to be about 1 to 2 feet in height, but they’re coming in at about 20 to 22 seconds.” ... ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: Sneaker waves expected along S.F. Bay Area coastlines starting Sunday afternoon

Column: The secret place in S.F. John Steinbeck would’ve loved

Columnist Carl Nolte writes, “When we were kids in San Francisco, my brother Frank and I thought the city was full of adventure just over the hill. So we’d go exploring on the eastern slope of Potrero Hill, where there was a wonderland full of railroad tracks, lumber dealers, junkyards, iron foundries, factories, dirt, noise and smoke, full of life and hard work. There was a shipyard at the northern end, and Butchertown was the southern frontier. The eastern border was San Francisco Bay, always full of ships. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: Column: The secret place in S.F. John Steinbeck would’ve loved

Valley Water extends comment period for Pacheco Reservoir Expansion Project Draft Environmental Impact Report

Despite a very wet December, Santa Clara County and much of California remain in a drought emergency. January rainfall was minimal. We don’t know when this drought will end, or when the next one will arrive.  That’s why Valley Water is exploring options to increase the amount of water it can store in local reservoirs.  One of these projects, the proposed expansion of Pacheco Reservoir in south Santa Clara County, would double the amount of water we can store in local reservoirs. Valley Water would rely on this local supply during future droughts and emergencies. … ”  Read more from Valley Water News here: Valley Water extends comment period for Pacheco Reservoir Expansion Project Draft Environmental Impact Report

CENTRAL COAST

Water district, PG&E revitalize Olympia Watershed, Sandhills

Next to the Zayante Fire Station, hidden just out of view, lie acres of precious Santa Cruz Sandhill habitat. Amongst species found nowhere else in the world – like the Mount Hermon June beetle and Ben Lomond spineflower — an invaluable Santa Cruz County resource is also harvested: drinking water.  Here, the San Lorenzo Valley Water District is working to steward the land, while also extracting that increasingly coveted resource.  This month, the district finished the first phase of a multiyear restoration project funded by Pacific Gas & Electric Co., removing more than 7 acres of invasive trees and shrubs on Olympia Watershed lands. … ”  Read more from the Santa Cruz Sentinel here: Water district, PG&E revitalize Olympia Watershed, Sandhills

Cambria district wraps up water-delivery fix. Here’s what comes next and how to weigh in

Temporary repairs have been completed and water is flowing through the Cambria Community Services District’s replacement pipe that delivers water from the town’s primary source near San Simeon Creek. Customers had been asked to continue aggressive conservation since the water-main break on Dec. 23. The district’s only supply since then has been wells that draw water from underground near Santa Rosa Creek. According to CSD general manager John Weigold’s email, the temporary, new, mostly above-ground pipeline “has been installed, tested, and put into service. Production from the CCSD’s San Simeon Well Field has resumed. … ”  Read more from the San Luis Obispo Tribune here: Cambria district wraps up water-delivery fix. Here’s what comes next and how to weigh in

Santa Barbara: Cachuma Lake: Our primary water source

Neighbors and I were discussing the recent rains and the resulting rise in the water level at Cachuma Lake. Our new neighbor, who just moved here from out of state, asked, “Where is Cachuma Lake, and why is the water level important?” She had no idea that Cachuma Lake, created by Bradbury Dam, controlled the Santa Ynez River and, therefore, the water supply for the Santa Ynez and Lompoc valleys. In addition, Cachuma Lake is a primary water source for the South Coast communities of Goleta, Santa Barbara, Montecito, Summerland and Carpinteria. … ”  Read more from the Santa Maria Times here: Santa Barbara: Cachuma Lake: Our primary water source

Delays, materials costs bring Santa Paula water facility price tag of $23 million

The Santa Paula City Council on Wednesday agreed to a higher price tag for an advanced water treatment facility, a project now expected to cost $23 million.  The treatment plant was first approved by the City Council in November 2020 and was estimated to cost about $20 million. But project delays and increased material costs have made the project more expensive.  The Council voted unanimously on the increase without much discussion.  To fund the new treatment facility, the city will borrow money from a state loan program. The facility will help Santa Paula comply with state regulations that mandate chloride levels in treated wastewater. … ”  Read more from the Ventura County Star here: Delays, materials costs bring Santa Paula water facility price tag of $23 million

SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY

Lathrop takes lead in levee financing effort

The City of Lathrop is taking the lead on the formation of a special financing district that will help provide flood protection for a wide swath of San Joaquin County.  Last week the Lathrop City Council voted unanimously – with Councilwoman Minnie Diallo absent – to approve the formation of an Enhanced Infrastructure Financing District for the Mossdale area that will collect funding from new development that will help overhaul the existing RD-17 levee along the San Joaquin River to provide 200-year flood protected mandated by the State of California. ... ”  Read more from the Manteca Bulletin here: Lathrop takes lead in levee financing effort

Kern County forecast calls for dry skies over next two weeks

The forecast calls for unseasonably mild and dry temperatures in Kern County for the next two weeks, according to weather officials, as temperatures are expected to stay in the 60s with little chance of precipitation.  “It looks like in Kern County, in the valley portion of Kern County, it’s going to be that way for the foreseeable future,” said Bill South, meteorologist with the Hanford station of the National Weather Service. NWS focuses on the seven-day forecast, he added, but its “sister office,” the Climate Prediction Center, issues a two-week outlook, and it looks to be more of the same. ... ”  Read more from the Bakersfield Californian here:  Kern County forecast calls for dry skies over next two weeks

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

Santa Clarita commentary: Resilient: Our Water Supply and People

Gary Martin, president of the Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency board of directors, writes, “As we enter our fifth year of operations as Santa Clarita Valley’s regional water agency, we are better prepared than ever to navigate challenges of both the expected and unprecedented varieties. We had countless opportunities to persevere and grow in 2021, and I’m proud of the resilience shown by our staff to meet those challenges head on.  As the pandemic continued to ebb and flow, we modified our business practices to meet everchanging health and safety requirements, while still providing superior customer care and numerous opportunities for public engagement. As statewide drought conditions intensified, our water resource portfolio was put to the test. But through it all, both our water supply and our staff proved to be resilient and able to meet our commitment to serving our community and providing safe, reliable water at a reasonable cost. … ”  Continue reading at The Signal here: Santa Clarita commentary: Resilient: Our Water Supply and People

IMPERIAL/COACHELLA VALLEYS

Beloved California desert plants threatened by climate change, thirsty animals

Veteran desert biologist Jim Cornett was astonished to see a bright yellow and black caterpillar munching on a spiny ocotillo plant one late March day. Normally the razor-spiked plants would not be considered fine dining — or dining at all — for those sphinx moth larvae and other creatures.  But the more he looked at the stand of gangly, twisted ocotillo, best known for their fluttering red springtime blooms, the more caterpillars he saw. It was a tiny but telltale sign of the unmistakable decline of those iconic plants and others in California’s deserts due to global warming, he and fellow experts say. And animals desperate for moisture are likely playing a role. … ”  Read more from the Desert Sun here: Beloved California desert plants threatened by climate change, thirsty animals

SAN DIEGO

Column: North County sand war underscores San Diego’s long struggle to save beaches

Columnist Michael Smolens writes, “It sounds like a coastal version of a range war.  Yet instead of damming water upstream, Oceanside decided to move ahead with a pilot project to build a handful of beach groins similar to small jetties to retain sand — which otherwise would naturally move south to beaches in neighboring Carlsbad and other communities.  Carlsbad didn’t take kindly to this and the growing dispute rumbled down the coast, raising concern in Del Mar and perhaps elsewhere. The Carlsbad City Council last week voted unanimously to oppose Oceanside’s move, with officials having some sharp words about their neighbors for not communicating their intentions. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune here: Column: North County sand war underscores San Diego’s long struggle to save beaches

Imperial Beach shoreline reopens after water contact closure

The shoreline at Imperial Beach was declared safe for recreational use Saturday after being closed following recent sewage contamination, county water authorities said.  “Testing confirms water quality along the Imperial Beach shoreline meets state health standards following recent sewage impacts,” the San Diego County Department of Environmental Health and Quality announced Saturday afternoon. … ”  Read more from Fox 5 San Diego here: Imperial Beach shoreline reopens after water contact closure

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Along the Colorado River …

Arizona: Rio Verde Foothills homes to lose water source

Flooding rains have eroded the roads here until they resemble desert washes, but they still will carry you to someone’s version of paradise. The roads curl past multi-million dollar homes, lead to sprawling ranches and take people to views once thought impossible to see from a front porch.  The area known as Rio Verde Foothills looks abundant, from the desert landscaping to the red-tile roofs. But one thing isn’t abundant: Water.  The wealthy community north of Scottsdale is the site of the latest skirmish in a coming water war. It’s a New West struggle that plays out like the Old West stories that have left ghost towns strewn across the Arizona landscape. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: Arizona: Rio Verde Foothills homes to lose water source

SEE ALSO: The story continues … All sides rip new official in water debate, from the Scottsdale Progress

New irrigation technology could save water for Arizona farms

The Central Arizona Project, which delivers Colorado River water to more than 80% of Arizona’s growing population, is taking a three-pronged approach to the megadrought that has resulted in the first water cutbacks to Arizona farmers.  One of those approaches is N-Drip, which converts flood-irrigated fields into a drip system that uses gravity, with no external form of energy. Developed by an Israeli company, the system is being tested to grow sorghum in Australia, sugar cane in Thailand and now cotton and alfalfa in Arizona. Chuck Cullom, the Colorado River programs manager for the CAP, said managers are focused on water conservation, desalination and recycling as well as irrigation efficiency. … ”  Read more from the Arizona Daily Sun here: New irrigation technology could save water for Arizona farms

Commentary: Maximize water security with new infrastructure, visionary policy

Haley Paul, Policy Director at the National Audubon Society in Arizona, and Christopher Kuzdas, Senior Water Program Manager at the Environmental Defense Fund, write, “Gov. Doug Ducey’s “State of the State” address reflected on a number of challenges facing Arizonans, including the current megadrought that is jeopardizing water supplies we all rely on.  Threats to Arizona’s water supplies are here and will only intensify in the future. We’ve grappled with water shortages in the past, but impacts are now more visible than ever before, as our rivers, farmers, rural communities and cities feel the effects of water cutbacks and declining groundwater levels. Our new water reality demands bolder and more holistic policy and infrastructure solutions from decision makers. … ”  Read more from the Arizona Capital Times here: Commentary: Maximize water security with new infrastructure, visionary policy

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Also on Maven’s Notebook this weekend …

FUNDING OPPORTUNITY: Delta Conservancy Announces Delta Drought Response Pilot Program

FUNDING OPPORTUNITY: Agricultural water conservation & efficiency projects

NOTICE OF HEARING pertaining to imidacloprid product residue detections in groundwater

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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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