Thursday, May 1, 2014

News articles and links from May 1, 2014

Water Supply

From: Craig Miller, KQED

In California, it's as dependable as the rainy season. Okay, more so. Whenever there's too much water or not enough, people start talking about Auburn Dam. It's California's biggest dam that has never been built - and probably never will be.

The latest revival occurred at a recent show-and-tell for the new spillway under construction at Folsom Dam. Congressman Tom McClintock, R-Auburn, seized the occasion - not so much for congratulations - but to decry recent releases of water from dams on the American River.

From: Matt Weiser, Sacramento Bee

California water officials are on the verge of making an unusually drastic pronouncement in response to the ongoing drought: Ordering hundreds of water agencies, farmers and other property owners to stop diverting water from rivers in which they have longstanding water rights.

Within a matter of days, the State Water Resources Control Board is expected to issue curtailment orders to "junior" water rights holders, meaning they would be required to stop diverting water from streams and rivers, or reduce those diversions. The intent is to heed state law, which requires that available water, during times of scarcity, be reserved for those with "senior" water rights and for the environment.

From: Jason Dearen, Associated Press

State water managers were expecting more bad news Thursday as they take the season's last measurement of the Sierra Nevada snowpack, a key source of water in drought-stricken California.

The Department of Water Resources survey is meant to gauge the amount of water that has begun melting from the mountain snowpack into streams and reservoirs. The Sierra snowpack is an essential element of California's water supply - it accounts for about one-third of the state's water.


From: Jonathan Kauffman, San Francisco Chronicle 

Kate Creps, operations manager for the Heart of the City Farmers' Market in Civic Center, can track the effect of the drought on her market by the empty spaces in the line of stalls. Pheng Keng is missing. No one has seen Gloria Aguilar, who's been a regular since the 1980s, in months.

It could be worse: Only five or six stalls out of 55-almost exclusively small family farmers, who govern the independent market as well as display their wares at it-are absent so far, she estimates, including a few Vietnamese American and Hmong farmers from the Central Valley. The usual Wednesday-afternoon crowd, a mix of Tenderloin residents and office workers, doesn't appear any smaller than usual.

Sacramento River

From: Denis Cuff, San Jose Mercury News

An emergency supply of Sacramento River water arrived at the East Bay's largest water district Wednesday, culminating a mission sidetracked for decades by a regional water war. East Bay Municipal Utility District leaders welcomed the water gushing into San Pablo Reservoir as drought insurance for 1.3 million people in Contra Costa and Alameda counties.

The 32-day supply of water -- enough to fill the Oakland Coliseum 24 times -- will allow the district to stick with voluntary rationing this year instead of requiring mandatory rationing and raising rates.


From: J.N. Sbranti, Modesto Bee

A 20-point proposal for managing Stanislaus County groundwater - including possible financial help for families whose wells go dry and requirements that farmers report how much they're pumping - was unveiled Wednesday.

The county's recently formed Water Advisory Committee reviewed the draft framework, which currently includes only broadly written concepts rather than specific details.
The committee plans to fine-tune that framework next month, and then present it in June to the county Board of Supervisors.

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