DAILY DIGEST, 5/12: Newsom proposes increased funding for floodplains; Strong El Nino may be on the horizon; Construction begins on removal of 4 Klamath River dams; Local expert answers questions about the Tuscan Aquifer and how water works in Butte County; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • PUBLIC MEETING: Annual Water Supply and Demand Assessment Informational Meeting from 10am to 12pm.  The Department of Water Resources (DWR) Water Use Efficiency Branch will host a meeting to inform all on the next round of the Annual Water Supply and Demand Assessment.  Topics include lessons learned from 2022 Annual Assessments, changes to the second round of analysis and reporting, and the Assessment and Report submittal processes.  Click here to register.

Newsom proposes increased funding for floodplains …

Newsom restores floodplain funds, adds $290 million to flood control budget

Floodwaters from the March storms have cut across 6th Avenue south of Corcoran, in Kings County. Photo by Ken James / DWR

“Four months ago, Gov. Gavin Newsom yanked $40 million in funding to restore San Joaquin Valley floodplains from his proposed budget, angering legislators from both parties and conservationists. Today, he gave all of the money back as part of a $290-million package to increase flood protection funding statewide.  The funding comes in addition to $202 million already included in Newsom’s 2023-24 budget proposal in January. That makes a total of $452 million in investments that Newsom is proposing to protect Californians from flooding in the wake of winter storms that inundated towns in the San Joaquin Valley and the Central Coast. “California is facing unprecedented weather whiplash — we just experienced the driest three years on record, and now we’re dealing with historic flooding,” Newsom said in a written statement today. … ”  Read more from Cal Matters.

California will provide funds to protect Central Valley from flooding by Tulare Lake

“The state of California is stepping in to contribute millions of dollars to raise the levee protecting the city of Corcoran and a pair of nearby state prisons from the ongoing flooding in the Tulare Lake basin. Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the investment in the levee Thursday as part of a larger package of $290 million to deal with flooding issues in the Central Valley and elsewhere in the state. Those funds will be included in his May budget revision to be formally unveiled Friday. The cost for raising the 14.5-mile levee is estimated at about $17.2 million. The state’s latest spending on the levee is paying to raise the earthen structure to 192 feet above sea level, or about four feet higher than before the repairs began. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee. | Read via Yahoo News.

State to pay $17 – $20 million for repeated rebuild of Corcoran levee

“The state will front Kings County $17-$20 million to pay for raising the Corcoran levee but said it didn’t want to throw “good money after bad” and would require local groundwater agencies do more to stem subsidence, land sinking.  Gov. Newsom’s administration made the announcement Thursday as a separate measure among several water-related spending proposals that are part of the May budget revise.  When asked how the administration would ensure that the levee won’t need rebuilding again because of subsidence, Tim Goodwin, with the Department of Water Resources, said officials were “exploring all alternatives to helping remedy the situation to assure that we’re not going to go through this again.” … ”  Read more from SJV Water.


In other California water news today …

Monsoon-like weather? How a rare atmospheric setup will impact California

“A rare, summerlike weather pattern is shaping up for the Western United States next week, with a hot high-pressure system building to the north of the Bay Area and a low-pressure system to its east.  Together, these systems will likely create an atmospheric conveyor belt that could reel in rounds of unstable air and moisture toward California. Depending on how much instability makes it north of Los Angeles, parts of the Bay Area could experience monsoon-like thunderstorms by next week, which usually don’t arrive in Northern California until mid-June. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Scientists consider weather forecasts for water releases at Lake Oroville, New Bullards Bar

The New Bullards Bar Reservoir in Yuba County releases water into the Yuba River during an atmospheric river storm in Northern California. Photo taken February 27, 2019 by Kelly M. Grow / DWR

“Wet, snowy winters bring big decisions for Northern California water managers.  Now, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is working on modernizing how those decisions are made by incorporating weather forecasts into official flood control operations.  Dr. Cary Talbot is part of the research and development team with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which operates more than 70 dams and reservoirs in the Sacramento region.  Talbot says that historically, decisions on how much water to release and when has been based on recent rainfall and snowpack measurements.  “That’s a very safe way to operate, right? But it’s also very reactionary,” he said. … ”  Read more from KCRA Channel 3.

Remote Northern California reservoir stuck in drought despite winter’s water wealth

“There has been a lot of attention on the parts of California that saw a huge winter. One example is the Tulare Lake basin, which has flooded again as the southern Sierra snowpack melts.  Just about all of the state’s reservoirs are now near full. Shasta and Oroville, the two largest, are both well above their historical averages.  Trinity Lake, however, is one Northern California reservoir where all the rain and snow hasn’t quite added up.  Trinity is at just 39 percent capacity — just half its historical average. It’s a reservoir that works a bit differently from others but the people living there think they missed out on this winter and they’re not happy about it.  “I’ve been up here for 22 years,” said Trinity Alps Marina owner Darryl Marlin. “I’ve seen it go up and down. We’ve had droughts before. This lake should be about three-quarters full right now.” … ”  Read more from CBS News.

El Niño is coming: What it means for California weather

“El Niño conditions — the warming of ocean waters off South America that can alter weather across the globe, including California’s summer temperatures and the amount of rain it might receive next winter — are emerging in the Pacific Ocean for the first time in 4 years.  While El Niños do not automatically guarantee wet weather for California, historically, the stronger they are, the more likely it is that the state will have a rainy winter season. And after the dramatic series of storms this past winter that ended the drought and filled nearly empty reservoirs, another one back-to-back could increase flood risks.  “The climate models are in strong agreement that there will be an El Niño,” said Michelle L’Heureux, a climate scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who led a new report out Thursday. “At this point it’s looking likely.” … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News (gift article).


Drought update: 2023 winter deluge provides relief across much of the West, but long-term drought questions remain

“The total area of the western U.S. that is in drought is nearly 50% less than at the beginning of the water year (October 2022), according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.  Wetter and cooler-than-normal conditions have pivoted the focus from drought to flood, snowmelt, and runoff management.  The Pacific Northwest did not benefit from the winter deluge as much as the rest of the West, and spring and summer outlooks point to the potential for drought development.  Wet years like this one (and 2016–2017) are not unprecedented in the context of the current multidecadal drought. As such, all 11 western states still report some degree of drought. … ”  Read more from NIDIS.

Severe storms have devastating impact on Central California crops

“California’s Central Valley produces a quarter of the nation’s food, but a parade of atmospheric rivers this winter caused severe storms that destroyed thousands of acres of crops.  The storms, which have been linked to climate change, swamped 150,000 acres in the region, according to numbers from Kings County officials.  About 99% of the nation’s pistachio supply is grown in Central California, per data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  Pistachio farmer Nader Malakan estimates that about 1,200 acres of pistachio crops were destroyed, to the tune of $15 million.  “It’s going to hurt,” he told CBS News. “It’s a lot of money.” … ”  Read more from CBS News.

Almond acreage declines for first time in 25 years

“California’s almond acreage declined in 2022 for the first time in 25 years.  It reflects an increase in the removal of orchards and a decrease in the planting of new acreage. Orchard removal areas accelerated in areas where growers were faced with water delivery cutbacks.  As such, they removed older orchards several years ahead of when they normally would in order to keep younger plantings alive that by nature of their age have more remaining years of strong yields.  In a few instances, growers were completely cut off from water forcing them to pull out all of their orchards. … ”  Read more from Westside Connect.

California moves to recharge groundwater basins with floodwater

“Efforts to address floodwater in the Central Valley will include emergency diversions into groundwater recharge basins. The Department of Water Resources (DWR) made the announcement earlier this week. DWR will be providing support including equipment and funding to help local agencies divert high river flows away from at-risk areas.  Temporary pumps and siphons have already been deployed by the Fresno Irrigation District as part of the work to address flood impacts. Special Project Manager for the Fresno Irrigation District, Kassy Chauhan said the District and its partners have “the ability to put 200,000 acre-feet of water into the underground, utilizing existing facilities, doing projects like the temporary pump projects and it will go a long way in our road to sustainability.” … ”  Read more from Ag Net West.

Inspiring takeaways from the 2023 Salmon Restoration Federation Conference

“Just a few weeks ago, we found ourselves in the heart of Fortuna, California, soaking up the knowledge and camaraderie at the 40th Annual Salmonid Restoration Federation (SRF) Conference. CalTrout staff members were thrilled to be part of the bustling crowd of fellow scientists, conservationists, and policy-makers, all equally passionate about the world of aquatic conservation. The conference kick-started with 2 days full of immersive workshops and exciting field tours. This was followed by a half-day plenary session that delved into the many intricacies of the Klamath River.  The subsequent day and a half were packed with technical, biological, and policy-related concurrent sessions. … ”  Read more from Cal Trout.

Researchers find rising sea levels disproportionately impact marginalized communities

“Researchers from UC Berkeley, UCLA and Climate Central, in collaboration with the Toxic Tides Project, published a study that discovered rising sea levels along California’s coast are placing marginalized communities at risk of flooding by contaminated water.  Rachel Morello-Frosch, senior author of the study and campus public health professor noted that larger renter populations, who are predominantly made up of people of color and experience higher levels of poverty, are more likely to be susceptible to environmental pollutants that come with rising sea levels due to geographic proximity to hazardous sites.  When flooding occurs, these areas are the first to be impacted, according to the study. … ”  Read more from the Daily Californian.

California, Big Oil sued over new gas and well permits

“A coalition of environmentalists has launched legal claims against Big Oil, claiming new gas wells in Southern California are too close to homes, beaches and vulnerable ecosystems.   The Center for Biological Diversity and other groups sued California oil regulators in Alameda County Superior Court over the approval of about two dozen new oil and gas wells in Los Angeles and San Luis Obispo counties, saying the state did not conduct the required environmental review.  The California Geologic Energy Management Division approved 15 new oil and gas wells in the Wilmington oilfield in Long Beach, to be located on an artificial island less than 1,000 feet from a public beach. But the coalition says that an oil slick at the same location washed up on beaches last year, and the wells are within 3,200 feet of homes and community gathering sites.  Regulators relied on an expired 50-year-old study that doesn’t evaluate climate change or the risks to human health in approving the wells, the coalition says. … ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service.

Picture feature: The superbloom is a glimpse of California’s past

“This winter, it rained in California. Ten inches in San Francisco in the ten days after Christmas alone. Thirty-one atmospheric rivers—columns of vapor that move water from the tropics. Record-breaking snow at Mammoth Lakes. Los Angeles measured its wettest year on record since 2004-05, the year I moved here. … By April, the rain had stopped, and nasturtiums, not muddy rivers, were cascading down the hillsides. Seussian red bottlebrush trees and violet jacarandas made the days vivid, and at night the white blooms emanated perfume.  So this was Los Angeles: abundant, intoxicating, unmoored. It must have been a Superbloom, though I don’t remember anyone calling it that then. I didn’t know that it would be eighteen years before I would see this Los Angeles again.  Spring, 2023. I’m constantly disoriented. … ” Read more and view pictures at the New Yorker.

The ghosts of California’s most utopian experiments live in the remains of communes

“The desire for communal living has always been warmly welcomed by Angelenos, and throughout its history, L.A. County has hosted many intentional communities, from the Christian communards of Pisgah Grande near Simi Valley to the Krotona Theosophists in Beachwood Canyon, as well as the Manson Family’s Spahn Ranch, creating a constellation of dreams and nightmares around the city’s fragmented self. Even today, millennials favor communal living. That widely reported trend might be rooted in financial instability, but it also speaks of a desire to break with past patterns and take further steps toward a more equitable world.  Despite the earnest enthusiasm, the reality is that many of Los Angeles’ utopian experiments have failed over the years. And although it is typically argued that communes often collapse due to infighting, the majority of Californian utopian projects failed for another reason altogether: disputes over water rights. … ”  Read more from the LA Times.

Great Bas­in: His­tory of water sup­ply in one of the dri­est regions in the USA

“The team led by Christoph Spötl has been investigating the famous “Devils Hole” cave system in Nevada since 2010 – during spectacular expeditions. Using the calcite deposits in the cave, the researchers have already reconstructed the development of the water level in the cave up to several hundred thousand years ago. In the current study, this information has now been combined with a numerical groundwater model for this arid region. “Based on our extensive sampling in Devils Hole, we have a large amount of data that provides information on the evolution of the water table. By combining this with groundwater models from the US Geological Survey, we can now draw quantitative conclusions about changes in precipitation for the entire region over the last 350,000 years using the precise data from the cave,” explains the geologist Simon Steidle. … ”  Read more from EurekAlert.

California ‘weather whiplash’ fuels uncertainty in upcoming wildfire season

“When Jonathan O’Brien sees the rolling green hills of Southern California, the grasses lush from this winter’s heavy rains, he can’t help but feel uneasy.  “Even if it’s not this year or next year, sooner or later we absolutely will go into a drought period again, and all this vegetation that has grown will eventually suffer — that’s just the cycle we face,” said the National Interagency Fire Center meteorologist. “When that happens, it’s all but inevitable we will see a severe fire season or two.”  This summer, however, O’Brien and other forecasters project that portions of the state could get a break. The storms of the past couple of months have left behind a deep mountain snowpack that is expected to act as a buffer against massive wildfires like those that twice burned from one side of the Sierra Nevada to the other in 2021. At lower elevations, the outlook is uncertain. Those grassy hills could burn sooner rather than later. … ”  Read more from the LA Times.

Controlled burns help prevent wildfires, experts say. But regulations have made it nearly impossible to do these burns.

” … The controlled use of fire by expert crews is widely considered the most effective way to reduce the dangerous build-up of grasses and other vegetation that fuel larger conflagrations, experts agree.  But it has become nearly impossible to conduct controlled burns like the one McKinney’s crew set last month. A combination of overly broad restrictions, erratic weather patterns and public resistance have left piles of dead branches and shrubs sitting in open spaces for months.  Figuring out how to overcome these barriers, prevalent throughout the West, is crucial to addressing the fire risk, say land managers whose homes were also threatened by the Marshall Fire.  “We’ve done a lot of work in the forests about what to do to reduce fire risk and anticipate fire behavior,” said Katharine Suding, a plant community ecologist at the University of Colorado Boulder who is working to update fire modeling of prairie vegetation. “We need to do that in the grasslands.” … ”  Read more from Pro Publica.

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In regional water news and commentary today …


Construction begins on removal of 4 Klamath River dams

“Initial construction recently began on the long-awaited effort to remove four hydroelectric dams from the Klamath River in southern Oregon and Northern California. Draining a watershed of nearly 16,000 sq mi, the Klamath is California’s second-largest river in terms of average discharge and provides critical habitat for anadromous fish species, which migrate from freshwater rivers to the ocean and back.  Involving the simultaneous removal of the four dams and restoration of more than 2,000 acres of land, the estimated $450 million project is one of the most significant dam removal efforts in U.S. history, according to the Klamath River Renewal Corp., an independent nonprofit organization created in 2016 to oversee the removal process.  The culmination of a regulatory and legal process that has extended nearly two decades, the project aims to improve environmental conditions along the Klamath River and enable key fish species to regain access to hundreds of stream miles, some of which have been closed off for more than a century. … ”  Read more from Civil Engineering Source.

Judge won’t halt water for Klamath Project irrigators

“A federal judge in San Francisco indicated he will not limit water deliveries to the Klamath Project after the Bureau of Reclamation argued it is on track to meet its obligations for endangered species. The case stems from a lawsuit filed in 2019 by the Yurok Tribe, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations and Institute for Fisheries Resources challenging Reclamation’s Klamath Project operations plan. The Klamath Project provides water for about 200,000 acres of irrigated farmland in Southern Oregon and Northern California.  At the same time, Reclamation must satisfy minimum water demands for threatened coho salmon in the lower Klamath River, and two species of endangered sucker fish in Upper Klamath Lake, known as C’waam and Koptu. … ”  Read more from Capital Press.


Nevada County Planning Commission unanimously recommends denying the Idaho Maryland Mine – Rise Grass Valley Project

“Two days, and close to nine hours of public comment later, the Nevada County Planning Commission voted unanimously to not recommend approval of the Rise Gold project and also did not recommend approval of the Final Environmental Impact Report (EIR.) Commissioners were not swayed by the project proponent’s arguments or the M5.5 earthquake that rattled the building.  The project application, the EIR, the requests for rezones, variances, use permits (exceptions to the County’s General Plan rules) and sundry will now be move to the Board of Supervisors (BOS).  Continue reading from YubaNet.

Agencies seek feedback on Tahoe Basin wildfire plan

“The Tahoe Fire and Fuels Team is requesting public feedback on the Lake Tahoe Basin Community Wildfire Protection Plan survey.  These plans aim to help reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires and increase the resilience of communities to natural disasters. To complete the survey visit arcg.is/8zKGr0.  “This survey is an opportunity for fire districts to hear from community members about concerns and priorities related to wildfire risk reduction,” states CWPP Program Coordinator Cheyanne Neuffer with the Tahoe Resource Conservation District. “Community input will help guide the update of community wildfire protection plans and ensure that they reflect the needs and values of communities in the Lake Tahoe Basin.” … ”  Read more from the Mountain Democrat.


Crash course in water:  Local expert answers questions about the Tuscan Aquifer and how water works in Butte County

“The mature urban forest of Chico and valley oak woodlands of Butte County exist because of the Tuscan Aquifer. This system underlies the valley floor portion of several Northern Sacramento Valley counties and the lower Tuscan—the pressurized deep portion of the aquifer that supports the overlying water table–is literally the foundation of the quality of life for all that thrive here.  The water table provides baseflow to streams and water to our deep-rooted trees. The Tuscan baseflow below connects tributary streams to the Sacramento River, allowing Chinook Salmon migratory pathways between their foothill/mountain spawning waters to the ocean as well as critical rearing refuge for young salmon.  If used conservatively, the Tuscan Aquifer can even sustain our homes, businesses and farms as we face the uncertainty of prolonged drought. However, if overuse tips the system out of balance, we risk losing this buffer altogether.  What follows is an attempt to provide a basic foundation of understanding of this most vital resource by answering some general questions about how water works in Butte County. … ”  Read more from the Chico News & Review.


Eye turns to water safety ahead of heat, coastal swells slated for holiday weekend

“It’s going to be hot in Sonoma County this weekend, but area officials encouraged those seeking relief at local beaches to remain vigilant.  Temperatures will steadily increase Friday into Saturday, with highs expected to reach the low-80s and into the 90s across the North Bay’s valleys, said Brian Garcia, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s office in Monterey.  And, as temperatures rise, two swells — a weaker one from the northwest and a stronger one from the southwest — will roll up to beaches along Sonoma County’s coast.  Garcia emphasized that residents need to take precautions, such as finding shade and having cool water on hand to avoid heat exhaustion. It’s especially important to avoid leaving any person or animal in a car.  “Remember that when it warms up, it is even hotter in the car,” he said. “We need to make sure that we practices good safety measures so that we don’t end up with pediatric car fatalities.” … ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.

Doubt the drought? Rules for thee but not for me

“In recent years, Californians have been instructed by Governor Newsom to conserve as much water as possible due to drought conditions. The question at hand is if this same advisory applies to individuals across the board.  According to a 2021 confidential investigative report compiled by Insight Group, Inc; stakeholders within the County of Sonoma expressed grave concerns regarding the possibility of illegal water hauling. At a time when the general public was being told to destroy their lawns, not plant vegetable gardens and keep their swimming pools empty, they remained on high alert. The Insight Group office was initially contacted regarding the presumption that city water was being stolen and delivered to unknown marijuana gardens. Investigators observed on numerous occasions that a large water truck was utilizing a city hydrant as its supply and delivering to the Petaluma area. … ”  Read more from the California Globe.


Commentary: Will Pleasanton council be fiscally responsible and prioritize reliable water supply?

Gina Channell Wilcox, president and publisher of Embarcadero Media’s East Bay Division, writes, “Rome is burning. If the city council majority of Mayor Karla Brown and Councilmembers Valerie Arkin, Jeff Nibert and Julie Testa have their way, we might not have the people or the water pressure to put out the fire.  At a special meeting April 18, which preceded the regular council meeting, the council discussed the proposed two-year budget and four-year capital improvement plan (CIP). … The situation with water is by far the most troubling, and the “mission critical” message appears to not be getting through to the council majority.Three wells that produced about 20% of the city’s water are contaminated by per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), and are offline, forcing the city to rely solely on water purchased from Zone 7. … ”  Read more from Pleasanton Weekly.


Monterey Bay farmers are struggling to rebound from winter storms. The ripple effect is huge

“In a muddy field in Watsonville, farmer Peter Navarro showed off rows of strawberry plants that are starting to bear fruit and look healthy. The trouble, he said, is that this is what these plants should have looked like in March — not the beginning of May.  “It’s a good month, maybe five weeks, even up to six weeks behind,” Navarro said.  This year’s historic winter storms and floods, followed by unusually cold weather, set back crops throughout the region.  “I think everyone realizes at this point that the spring crop is probably not going to happen,” said Norm Groot, executive director of the Monterey County Farm Bureau. “It’s probably going to be a summer crop for most of those fields.” … ”  Read more from KAZU.

Santa Barbara: Program offers help with paying water and sewer bills

“About 500 Santa Barbara residents are now eligible to receive help in paying their past and current water and sewer bills.  That’s because the Santa Barbara City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to authorize Finance Director Keith DeMartini to execute an agreement to participate in a federal Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program.  Councilmember Kristen Sneddon said it was an “excellent program” that also drew unanimous support from the city’s Water Commission.  The LIHWAP program provides financial assistance to low-income Californians to help manage their residential water utility costs. Qualified low-income households can apply to a Local Service Provider to receive a one-time benefit payment of up to $15,000 on their past-due combined water and wastewater bill, as well as benefit payments on current water and wastewater bills. … ”  Read more from the Santa Barbara News-Press.

Ormond Beach could become national refuge

“Oxnard city leaders are angling to let the federal government take over management of wetlands and other sensitive habitat around Ormond Beach.  The relatively remote area spanning more than 600 acres between the city of Port Hueneme and Naval Base Ventura County, Point Mugu is currently managed through a partnership of three owners, the city of Oxnard, the California State Coastal Conservancy and the nonprofit The Nature Conservancy.  Anne Jensen works as a project manager in the Oxnard city manager’s office and said all three owners are working together to find a long-term land manager. … ”  Read more from the Ventura County Reporter.


Before and after photos show Yosemite after record snowpack melt

“Photographs have captured Yosemite National Park in California as warming temperatures melt the record snowpack, leading to surging rivers and spectacular waterfalls.  Areas of the national park have closed in recent weeks as the Merced River, which runs through the park, begins to overflow. A May 5 statement from the park said the river had “peaked a few inches below flood stage.”  The latest pictures contrast with photos taken last July that showed an exceptionally dry Yosemite National Park in the days following wildfires. … ”  Read more and view pictures at Newsweek.

California’s revived Tulare Lake threatens to flood this city. Will help arrive too late?

“For the past two months, floodwaters have been lapping at the edges of a city in the San Joaquin Valley and its prison complex, and efforts to finance a levee upgrade had hit a wall – until this week.  On Thursday, after weeks of pleas for money, Gov. Gavin Newsom committed to help pay the roughly $17 to $21 million cost of raising the city of Corcoran’s nearly 15-mile levee. The funding couldn’t come soon enough. The giant snowpack in the Sierra Nevada continues to melt, and a historical lake that reappeared with the wet weather and threatens to flood Corcoran is expected to grow with the mountain runoff. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle.

How a legacy of racism is putting a 115-year-old historically black town at risk of flooding — again

“Allensworth, a farmworker town of about 500 people in California’s San Joaquin Valley, sits at the edge of an area called the Tulare Lake basin, a patchwork of scrub brush and irrigated farmland that’s part of the most productive agricultural region in the nation.  Last March, California’s barrage of atmospheric river storms overwhelmed the area, flooding pistachio orchards and swamping communities, and Allensworth found itself all but surrounded by a shallow sea. Residents were told to evacuate. They were also told that this flood is just the beginning. … California is fighting a slow-motion disaster, one that could become its largest flood in recent history.  “It’s a horrific situation,” said Denise Kadara, an Allensworth community leader and vice chair of the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board. “We’re here like sitting ducks, waiting for the water to come and flood us out.” … ”  Read more from KQED.

Counties outside of Kern prepare for snowmelt

“Following Tuesday’s snowmelt preparation conference by Kern County Fire, the snowfall and rain California residents experienced over the winter is likely to cause dangerous summer conditions.  Conditions such as snowmelt are hitting rivers and streams.  Though there’s a lot expected to be in Kern, Chief Aaron Duncan from Kern County Fire said other counties have it much worse.  “Kern County, Tulare County, Kings County they’re all experiencing this. We just happen to be on the southern end of this,” said Chief Duncan. … ”  Read more from Fox 26.

Trove of historic Isabella Dam photos give insider’s view of the dam’s construction

“The best marketing team in the country could not have timed the release of Gene Verbeet’s and Larry M. Holochwost’s latest history book better.  “The Building of Isabella Dam: Taming the Mighty Kern,” a pictorial history in coffee table form went on pre-sale through the Kern River Historical Society a couple of months ago.  About the same time the books went on sale, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held at the dam marking the completion of a years long project to address seepage issues in the dam and construct the striking labyrinth weir to prevent overtopping. … ”  Read more from SJV Water.


Super-sized plants, streams to splash in, an epic waterfall: This L.A. hike has it all

Dakota Kim writes, “The 190-acre Eaton Canyon, like many of the natural areas around us, feels different this year. On a recent visit, I saw babies wading in a stream and dogs bounding across it. Yelping, giggling and splashing, the people around me were clearly enjoying the fruits of all the rain we had in the winter and early spring.  For Angeleno hikers used to dry terrain, our current streams and pools feel like a water bonanza. The looks on my fellow hikers’ faces seem bewildered, as if to say, “Really, free water in our drought-ridden city? A natural water park?” Flowing down from our frosty mountains, the water is startlingly cold when you slide a foot in, then refreshing as you cool your ankles and calves from your hike. My kid and I like to pretend we’re frogs hopping from lily pad to lily pad (those are sand bars, for the uninitiated). … ”  Read more from the LA Times.


Why is there so much water in the Whitewater River channel right now?

“A lot of water is flowing quickly through the Whitewater River right now ― and while the cause is partially the state’s historic snowpack, it’s a bit more complicated than just extra snowmelt runoff.  For the first time since 2006, Desert Water Agency and Coachella Valley Water District are receiving their full 100% allocation of water deliveries from the State Water Project this year, a total of 194,100 acre-feet. An acre-foot of water, or 326,000 gallons, is enough to supply one to two California households for a year.  In the past two years of severe drought, the water agencies were only getting about 5% of that allocation, according to CVWD spokesperson Lorraine Garcia. … ”  Read more from the Desert Sun.


After overcharging millions of dollars for water, San Diego gives smart meters 2nd chance

“City of San Diego officials say it’s going to be different this time around.  They say the smart water meter program will be run by experts who will catch glitches to prevent overcharging. That, coupled with government mismanagement and budget overruns, is why the city’s program was shut down five years ago and top public utilities staff lost their jobs.  In San Diego, water utility customers are supposed to get a bill every two months. A Department of Public Utilities worker physically visits customers and reads the meter to determine usage.In 2012, San Diego began rolling out smart water meters, also called Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI). … ”  Read more from NBC Channel 7.

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In national water news today …

From water saving to clean energy: Here’s why floating solar farms are booming in the US

“Producing electricity uses up huge amounts of land and often generates vast quantities of climate-heating emissions.  But what if it didn’t need to?  Floating solar panels are a simple concept but they could provide the answer to these problems – and prevent water loss from evaporation at the same time.  Photovoltaic cells are attached to rafts on bodies of water instead of taking up land that could be used for agriculture or buildings. They act as a sort of lid too, reducing evaporation to almost zero – a bonus in areas frequently hit by drought.  And, because the water keeps the solar panels cool, they can produce more energy than they would on land where they become less efficient as they heat up. … ”  Read more from EuroNews.

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National water and climate report …

The Natural Resources Conservation Service produces this weekly report using data and products from the National Water and Climate Center and other agencies. The report focuses on seasonal snowpack, precipitation, temperature, and drought conditions in the U.S.


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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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