News Worth Noting: DFW monitors effect of severe drought on wildlife; New report: Building Consensus on Solutions to California’s Urban Water Challenges; DWR extends public comment period on draft Groundwater Sustainability Plan Regulation; Weekly water and climate update

Department of Fish and Wildlife Monitors Effect of Severe Drought on Wildlife

Stream- and Wetland-Dependent Species Most at Risk

From the Department of Fish and Wildlife:

dfw logoAmphibian, reptile, bird and mammal populations that depend on freshwater marsh, streamside habitat and wet meadows are struggling most to endure the drought that has gripped California for more than four years, according to a comprehensive assessment released today by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW).

CDFW biologists ranked the vulnerability of the state’s terrestrial species and gave top priority for additional monitoring and assistance to 48 species. The greatest concentrations of these high-risk populations are found in Southern California coastal, mountain and valley regions, the Sierra Nevada mountain range, the Mojave Desert, Central Valley and the southern Cascade mountain range.

The majority of these “Priority 1” species are found in freshwater marsh, riparian and wet meadow habitats. The species include the mountain yellow-legged frog, the giant garter snake, tricolored blackbird and the Amargosa vole.

CDFW researchers analyzed and assessed the vulnerability of more than 358 land species. Scientists then classified them into Priority I (most vulnerable) and Priority II (less vulnerable) categories. All of the species evaluated were threatened, endangered or were otherwise considered species of special concern before the drought impacted them.

CDFW also determined the San Joaquin Valley, southern Sierra Nevada, western Mojave Desert and Owens Valley areas experienced the least amount of normal average rainfall during this extended drought. As a result, wildlife in these regions struggle most finding resources to survive.

“While many species are mobile and able to deal with periods of extended drought, some are more vulnerable than others,” said CDFW Program Manager Karen Miner. “Each species plays an important role in the overall health of the ecosystem and contributes something that impacts other animals in the food chain. It’s important to recognize that the effects of extended or more frequent extreme droughts may not be immediately apparent for some species.”

Continue reading at the Department of Fish and Wildlife here: CDFW Monitors Effect of Severe Drought on Wildlife

Where We Agree: Building Consensus on Solutions to California’s Urban Water Challenges

From the Pacific Institute:

Where_We_Agree_Report_CoverCalifornia has a long list of unresolved and difficult water challenges, made more urgent by the severe drought that is gripping the state.  As the state’s population continues to grow and climate changes become increasingly apparent, the pressures to identify and implement solutions to these critical challenges have only intensified.

Recognizing an urgent need for serious changes in the way water is managed and used in the state, a broad array of stakeholders saw an opportunity to move beyond the traditional rancor and conflict by coming together to identify pragmatic and achievable solutions to urban water challenges.

During 2015, the Pacific Institute, in partnership with the California-Nevada Section of the American Water Works Association, UC Berkeley Water Center, and UC Davis Extension’s Collaboration Center, coordinated a series of in-depth Where We Agree meetings. This unique effort provided participants opportunities to set aside differences and explore water technologies and policies that would have broad support. Together, they generated a set of practical recommendations for policymakers, municipal water managers, businesses, and community groups.

It’s time to put disagreements aside and concentrate on implementing solutions that we know work and launching innovative approaches to managing the state’s water resources,” said Pacific Institute Water Program Director Heather Cooley. “I am delighted with the progress this group made to create and advance a wide range of positive, on-the-ground solutions to California’s water crisis.”

The group was comprised of representatives from water utilities, trade associations, nonprofit organizations, academia, foundations, and the business sector. The meetings identified key ways to improve urban water management in California. Some key areas of agreement identified by the group include:

  • Expand indoor and outdoor water conservation and efficiency efforts that target residential, commercial, industrial, and institutional users;
  • Increase water reuse at a variety of scales, from a more decentralized building-scale system to a more centralized municipal scale, by adopting a suite of policies to make it more affordable and convenient;
  • Adopt stormwater policies, guidelines, and incentives to facilitate stormwater capture and use;
  • Improve resilience for future droughts by enhancing planning and data collection and reducing constraints on short-term water transfers during droughts, provided they are protective of ecosystems and communities;
  • Improve the reliability and adequacy of funding for water infrastructure;
  • Integrate water management activities to foster innovative solutions that result in projects that provide multiple services and benefits;
  • And invest in groundwater storage and develop an integrated strategy for maximizing the potential of these projects.

“Despite the perception of unresolvable water conflicts in California, there is broad consensus on many of the key strategies needed to tackle our water resources challenges. The outcome of these Where We Agree meetings offers a roadmap for sensible solutions that have a strong likelihood of public and political support and if implemented, could dramatically shift the way Californians use and manages water” said Cooley.

Download the full report here.

DWR extends public comment period on draft Groundwater Sustainability Plan Regulation

From the Department of Water Resources:

NEW_DWR_LOGO_14inchThe Department of Water Resources (DWR) Sustainable Groundwater Management Program will host three required public meetings and a statewide webinar to solicit comments on the Draft GSP Emergency Regulations. Local agencies and interested parties are encouraged to attend, listen, and provide comments. The deadline to submit written comments has been extended to April 1, 2016.

Public meetings are scheduled as follows:

  • Monday, March 21st in Visalia from 4:00pm to 6:00 pm at the Visalia Convention Center
  • Tuesday, Marsh 22nd in Santa Ana from 1:00pm to 3:00pm at the Delhi Community Center
  • Thursday, March 24th, via webinar:  Registration link at:  https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/2515354223176908292
  • Friday, March 25th in Sacramento from 9:00am to 11:00am at the Secretary of the State Building

For more information or special accommodations contact Lauren Bisnett at Lauren.Bisnett@water.ca.gov or call (916) 653-7564.

Visit DWR’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Program website at http://water.ca.gov/groundwater/sgm/index.cfm

National Water and Climate Update: Record warm winter temperatures for the contiguous U.S.

From the USDA:

temp departThe 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.

News release from NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information: “A strong El Niño helped fuel a warm and wet winter for the United States. The average temperature for the contiguous U.S. during winter (December – February) was 4.6°F above the 20th century average, a new record, according to scientists from NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information. Alaska had its second warmest winter on record. The winter precipitation total for the contiguous U.S. was 1.26 inches above the 20th century average, ranking as the 12th wettest winter on record for the Lower 48 states and the wettest since 1997/1998.

Click here to read the report.

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About News Worth Noting:  News Worth Noting is a collection of press releases, media statements, and other materials produced by federal, state, and local government agencies, water agencies, and academic institutions, as well as non-profit and advocacy organizations.  News Worth Noting also includes relevant legislator statements and environmental policy and legal analyses that are publicly released by law firms.  If your agency or organization has an item you would like included here, please email it to Maven.

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