13 Nov Daily Digest: Initiative shifts High Speed Rail bonds to water projects; Bureaucratic barriers stand in the way of innovation that could help solve water crisis; El Niño is here, and it’ll be ‘one storm after another like a conveyor belt’; and more …

In California water news today, Initiative shifts High Speed Rail bonds to water projects; Bureaucratic Barriers Stand in the Way of Innovation That Could Help Solve Water Crisis; El Niño is here, and it’ll be ‘one storm after another like a conveyor belt’; Many California lakes are shockingly low, but snowpack ‘well above normal’ in the Sierra; Psychology helps reduce water use in Encintas; The Catholic church isn’t just praying for rain; In the Midwest, drought’s long term damage may come from underground; and more …

In the news today …

Initiative shifts High Speed Rail bonds to water projects:  “Two Republican elected officials have submitted a 2016 ballot measure that would shift $8 billion in unspent high-speed rail bond funds to water storage projects.  The initiative by Sen. Bob Huff (R-San Dimas) and Board of Equalization member George Runner is a direct challenge to the high-speed rail project championed by Governor Jerry Brown.  Huff says he supported the high-speed rail bonds approved by voters in 2008 – but that’s not the project getting built now. ... ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here:  Initiative shifts High Speed Rail bonds to water projects

Bureaucratic Barriers Stand in the Way of Innovation That Could Help Solve California’s Water Crisis: “A three-month-long NBC Bay Area investigation into California’s water crisis found several Silicon Valley technology companies and venture capitalists ready to design, produce and manufacture innovative high-tech solutions to the state’s drought. But the investigation also discovered that California’s labyrinth of rules, regulations, and the multiple agencies that oversee water policy have become serious barriers to those innovations and their large-scale adoption. … ”  Read more from NBC Bay Area here: Bureaucratic Barriers Stand in the Way of Innovation That Could Help Solve California’s Water Crisis

El Niño is here, and it’ll be ‘one storm after another like a conveyor belt’:The strong El Niño in the Pacific Ocean is becoming even more powerful, setting the stage for an unusually wet winter in California that could bring heavy rains by January, climate experts said.  The National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center said El Niño is already strong and mature, and is forecast to continue gaining strength. This El Niño is expected to be among the three strongest on record since 1950.  “It’s official. El Niño’s here. It’s a done deal,” said Bill Patzert, climatologist for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge. “So at this point, we’re just waiting for the impacts in California.” … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: El Niño is here, and it’ll be ‘one storm after another like a conveyor belt’

Many California lakes are shockingly low:  “In 35 years, nobody’s seen numbers like these.  In a personal survey this week of 125 recreation lakes, 33 are under 25 percent full, and that includes 19 that are less than 10 percent full and four that are empty.  Across California, Marin County is the one region that has thrived despite the drought. Last spring’s rains followed by conservation over the summer have kept five of its seven lakes over 70 percent full. There are other bright spots across Northern California for those who love lake-based recreation, even in the offseason. … ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  Many California lakes are shockingly low

Snowpack ‘well above normal’ in the Sierra:  “Two storms in November have brought snow to the Sierra Nevada, marking a “rapid start to the wet/snowy season” for California, Nevada and other parts of the western United States.  But, it will take much more of the same to make a dent in California’s historic four-year drought. … ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here:  Snowpack ‘well above normal’ in the Sierra

Psychology helps reduce water use in Encintas:  “Cal State San Marcos researchers have tapped behavioral sciences to help the Olivenhain Municipal Water District achieve state-mandated water cuts.  University interns this summer handed out door hangers with five different conservation messages to 11,000 households in the district, and the researchers later tracked water use at these homes to see how residents responded. … ”  Read more from the Encintas Advocate here:  Psychology helps reduce water use in Encinitas

The Catholic church isn’t just praying for rain: Prayers for rain in arid regions may be among the more persistent behaviors of our human species. Indeed, ancient religious texts are speckled with supplications for dewdrops and downpours.  As Cynthia Barnett writes in her lyrical book, Rain: A Natural and Cultural History, religions “hold a mirror to the history of humans and their complicated worlds, including their beliefs and perceptions about climate.”  Prayers for rain aren’t just mantras from a distant, religious past.  Recently, elected officials in the U.S. have appealed to the heavens. … ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  The Catholic church isn’t just praying for rain

In the Midwest, drought’s long term damage may come from underground:  “As severe drought wreaks havoc in the West, stoking forest fires and slamming agriculture, it’s creating contention even in areas of the Great Plains that are enjoying a welcome relief from it. But many farmers say their problems come not from the sky, but from underground. For the second year in a row, farmers from four counties in Nebraska have sued the state and its Department of Natural Resources, claiming their lax policies on groundwater pumping for irrigation have drained surface waters in the Republican River Basin, on which their livelihoods depend. ... ”  Read more from the Courthouse News here:  Drought’s long term damage may come from underground

In commentary today …

Met purchase of Delta islands isn’t fooling anyone, says the Contra Costa Times:  They write, “For the better part of the past century, the primary interest of Southern California’s mammoth Metropolitan Water District has been to secure water from any source possible to satisfy the region’s thirst for growth.  It boggles the mind that Metropolitan Water General Manager Jeff Kightlinger thinks anyone will believe him when he said last week the agency’s interest in purchasing four Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta islands is because it is “intrigued with the potential environmental benefits.”  It’s a $200 million water grab, pure and simple, aimed at jump-starting the controversial Delta tunnels project to send as much water as possible from the Delta to 19 million people in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino San Diego and Ventura counties. ... ”  Read more from the Contra Costa Times here:  Met purchase of Delta islands isn’t fooling anyone

What are Met’s intentions as new Delta dweller? asks Michael Fitzgerald: He writes, “The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is negotiating to buy four Delta islands. In the minds of locals, this is like the fox pricing the henhouse.  The Met, as it is called, is the most powerful of all water interests perennially contriving to draw water from the ailing estuary. The mighty Met supplies 19 million in metro Los Angeles.  Delta lovers fear the whole “Chinatown” thing, the Met’s shameful (but long past) history of ruthless and underhanded water acquisition that dried Owens Valley and destroyed its economy.  But the head of the Met is saying his agency is more concerned with keeping the Delta healthy than acquiring more water. ... ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here:  What are Met’s intentions as new Delta dweller?

Cooperation helps Northern California survive drought: Fritz Durst writes, “As we start a new water year in California, it is valuable to take stock of how the Sacramento Valley endured during this fourth consecutive year of dry conditions.  As we have seen in Northern California, with little snow and rain, there was reduced water for cities and rural communities, farm fields were left fallow, our wildlife refuges and ricelands had less food and water for waterfowl and shorebirds, and there was less water in the rivers for migrating salmon. … It is important to acknowledge that despite conventional wisdom about water wars, we did not get through this year by filing lawsuits, arguing over abstract water principles, challenging contracts, or attacking somebody else’s water use. … ”  Read more from the Capital Press here:  Cooperation helps Northern California survive the drought

Time to make the case for building Temperance Flat, says Mario Santoyo:  He writes, “The California Latino Water Coalition, Nisei Farmers League, valley mayors, water leaders, business leaders and ag leaders will be seeking federal support for construction of the Temperance Flat Dam above Millerton Lake.  After four years of California’s worst drought and two years of no federal water deliveries, water might finally be on its, way storage facilities are inadequate to hold the precious resource. Why? Because we have not had the necessary federal support to build the dams.  Some of our legislators say the right words but fail miserably in their actions; others just don’t care about our valley and its people.  … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  Time to make the case for building Temperance Flat

California’s water system needs innovation and new technologies, says Marc Levine:  He writes, “California is in the midst of a historic drought. We have had only one wet winter in the last eight years. The consequences of the drought are tremendous as communities thirst for drinking water, farm lands lay fallow, and industries make drastic changes in how they do business.  The potential for El Niño rains may bring us short term relief, but may also create a false sense of water security. Simply stated: We cannot rely on El Niño to solve California’s water problems. … ”  Read more from the LA Daily News here: California’s water system needs innovation, new technologies

In regional news and commentary today …

Rep. Ami Bera: Sites Reservoir would keep Folsom reservoir full:  “A proposed reservoir project in Western Colusa County would help keep more water in Folsom Lake, according to Rep. Ami Bera.  The Elk Grove Democrat announced on Thursday his support for the Sites Reservoir project. The announcement came as state park rangers took Bera on a tour of the dry bed of Folsom Lake.  “We should be underwater in normal times,” Bera said. ... ” Read more from KCRA here:  Rep. Ami Bera: Sites Reservoir would keep Folsom Reservoir full

EBMUD’s #1 water user?  You’ll never guess: The owner of a 1,200-square-foot San Leandro house with one bathroom and a front yard landscaped with rocks managed to use an average of more than 13,000 gallons of water a day over the summer — earning the distinction of the No. 1 water user in the East Bay Municipal Utility District.  That’s more than former Chevron executive George Kirkland, who has a 4-acre estate in Danville; more than Billy Beane, executive vice president of baseball operations for the Oakland A’s; and more than former Golden State Warrior Adonal Foyle. “Whaaaaat?” Lang said Thursday evening when told of his top ranking. … ”  Read more from the Contra Costa Times here: EBMUD’s #1 water user? You’ll never guess

San Lorenzo: Public viewing of experimental shoreline on Saturday: An experimental shoreline levee that may help protect the Bay Area from rising sea levels is taking shape, as Save the Bay volunteers begin to cover it with more than 70,000 native plants and scientists look at possible next steps.  On Saturday, a celebration will mark construction of the levee, the first phase in the project. People can check out the “horizontal ecotone levee,” designed to buffer against rising sea levels, while also providing wildlife habitat and improving water quality. Scientists and other experts will talk about the levee and its significance. ... ”  Read more from the Contra Costa Times here:  San Lorenzo: Public viewing of experimental shoreline on Saturday

Stanislaus River: Salmon on a record run to nowhere:  “In other times, most folks would be cheering the news of a record salmon run on the Stanislaus River.  But there really aren’t many happy stories involving fish and California rivers in the fourth year of the state’s worst ever drought. Biologists say most of the salmon swimming up the Stanislaus River this fall are likely here only because conditions are even worse on other California rivers and that high water temperatures mean that the eggs laid in the river are unlikely to survive. … ”  Read more from the Calaveras Enterprise here:  Salmon on a record run to nowhere

Wasting water to fill fish? The Stanislaus River Salmon Festival is Saturday.  And so far a record 6,000 endangered Chinook salmon have passed through a high-tech weir near Riverbank.  The festival at Stanislaus River Park at Knights Ferry from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. gives you a chance to see spawning salmon from the historic wooden bridge or via a monitor that’ll be setup using underwater cameras. But even with music, hands-on activities for kids, fly fishing demonstrations, and other festival trappings it’ll be tough to get scientists that make a living monitoring the river in a jovial mood.  “There’s no cause for celebration,” noted biologist and Fishbio principal Andrea Fuller who has been studying the Stanislaus River and its fish for 20 years. ... ”  Read more from the Manteca Bulletin here:  Wasting water to kill fish?

Valley drought on the silver screen:  “You’d be hard pressed to find people in the U.S. and around world who don’t know about California’s severe drought, considering the amount of news coverage generated about it.  But many outside the Central Valley don’t realize just how hard the drought has hit this area, from lost jobs to sinking terrain that has damaged buildings to nearly a million acres of farmland left fallow due to lack of water.  …  But the Sacramento documentary filmmaker hopes to change that with his 35-minute film, “Dead Harvest,” which he premiered Thursday evening at the Visalia Fox Theater to an audience of about 700 people. … ”  Read more from the Visalia Times-Delta here:  Valley drought on the silver screen

El Nino remains on track to soak Southern California:  “Bone-dry California remains on track to get a drenching this winter from the weather phenomenon known as El Niño, federal scientists said in new projections released Thursday.  The experts still believe “that this El Niño could rank among the top three strongest episodes” on record, bringing average or above-average rains to the entire state. Pacific Ocean temperatures driving the phenomenon aren’t expected to return to normal until late spring or early summer, adds the report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center and Columbia University’s International Research Institute for Climate and Society. … ”  Read more from the LA Daily News here:  El Nino remains on track to soak Southern California

A plan to funnel LA’s runoff water into a beautiful pool: Even in dehydrated California, there’s water to spare. A lot of it flows through the Los Angeles River, which carries some 200 million gallons of water a day right into the Pacific Ocean, where it’s lost forever.  Lujac Desautel is a young architect with an idea for all that wasted water. He calls the project Liquifying Aquifers. The concept calls for building some monolithic infrastructure along the Tujunga Wash, a 13-mile tributary of the L.A. river, that could siphon and clean the water running through it. Some of it would fill a public swimming pool; the rest would go into the parched San Fernando Valley groundwater basin, an aquifer that supplies potable water to more than 800,000 people in the Los Angeles area.  … ”  Read more from Wired Magazine here:  A plan to funnel LA’s runoff water into a beautiful pool

Source: http://mavensnotebook.com/2015/11/13/daily-digest-initiative-shifts-high-speed-rail-bonds-to-water-projects-bureaucratic-barriers-stand-in-the-way-of-innovation-that-could-help-solve-water-crisis-el-nino-is-here-and-itll-be-one-s/