News worth noting: NOAA’s winter outlook, more time requested for BDCP review, the USGS at work in the Delta, financing water projects and more

Outlook_map_Precip_203FDrought likely to persist in the southwest; NOAA’s Annual Winter Outlook gives California “equal chances” in terms of precipitation: Contrary to reports earlier this week, NOAA issued its long term forecast yesterday, predicting continued dry conditions in the southwest, but was unsure of how things will shake out for those of us further north.  Officials explain why it’s so hard to predict:  ” … Sea surface temperatures across the equatorial Pacific have been near average since spring 2012, and forecasters expect that to continue through the winter. This means that neither El Niño nor La Niña is expected to influence the climate during the upcoming winter.  “It’s a challenge to produce a long-term winter forecast without the climate pattern of an El Niño or a La Niña in place out in the Pacific because those climate patterns often strongly influence winter temperature and precipitation here in the United States,” said Mike Halpert, acting director of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “Without this strong seasonal influence, winter weather is often affected by short-term climate patterns, such as the Arctic Oscillation, that are not predictable beyond a week or two. So it’s important to pay attention to your local daily weather forecast throughout the winter.”  Read more from NOAA here:  Drought likely to persist or develop in the Southwest, Southeastern U.S. this winter

Environmental Water Caucus requests more time to review BDCP documents:  The group has penned a letter to the federal agencies requesting additional time and noting: “25,000 plus pages would require more than 200 pages per day to be covered, counting every Saturday and Sunday, and including Christmas, New Years, Presidents’ Day, and Martin Luther King’s Birthday. If the BDCP draft plan and EIS/EIR documents are a similar size, this estimate would double. Moreover, reading the enormous mass of material is just the beginning; the commenter must take notes on what has been read and then relate the portions of the Plan to the portions of the Draft EIR/EIS, and then review requirements applicable to EIRs and EISs. Finally, the commenter must then prepare and revise meaningful comments. It is impossible for organizations interested in thoughtfully responding to these BDCP documents to be staffed for a thorough NEPA/CEQA review.”  Read the letter here: Time_Extension_Request

What work is the USGS doing in the Delta?  More than you might know about, so this fact sheet will tell you: ” … To help ensure the health of this crucial estuary, the U.S. Geological Survey, in close cooperation with partner agencies and organizations, is providing science essential to addressing societal issues associated with water quantity and quality, sediment transportation, environmental contamination, animal health and status, habitat restoration, hazards, ground subsidence, and climate change. … ”  Download a copy of the 6-page fact sheet here: USGS Science at Work in the San Francisco Bayand Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Estuary

State Water Board extends deadline for submitting comments on its Groundwater Workplan Concept Paper to Wednesday, December 18:  “The Water Boards are in the process of developing a workplan that aligns its current groundwater protection efforts and potential actions that the Water Boards could pursue with the ongoing actions of other entities with groundwater management responsibilities. A concept paper has been developed to describe a proposed workplan framework under which the Water Boards’ groundwater activities would be organized. The State Water Board is interested in your thoughts on the relevance of the proposed framework for groundwater management as well as its applicability to groundwater-related programs statewide. The concept paper provides a starting point for discussion and solicits input on a range of groundwater management issues.”  For a copy of the paper and additional resources from the State Water Board, go here:  State Water Board’s Groundwater Workplan

California’s dependence on general obligation (GO) bonds as a source of funding for water projects is both unreliable and costly, says Pacific Institute report:  ” … Current water rates often do not fully cover the cost of providing water services and rarely reflect the full costs of the water itself, such as the ecosystem impacts related to extracting water. California ranks at the top of the EPA’s survey of infrastructure needs in terms of the investments required to maintain aging water systems over the next two decades. Climate change, continued population growth, and restoring critical ecosystems will add further to these costs.  “Various financing options are used to invest in existing water systems and services, develop new ones, and mitigate environmental impacts, but there are serious economic and financial challenges,” said Dr. Newsha Ajami, lead author of the report. “The water sector needs a more comprehensive and stable financing portfolio.” … ”  Read more from the Pacific Institute here:  Beyond Water Pricing: An Overview of Water Financing Options in California

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