Daily Digest: Melting snow, water releases, and La Nina complicate drought picture; Will the water sector help or hurt on climate change; New permitting program for wetlands and waters of the state proposed; Bill targets secrecy in California water data; and more …

In California water news today, Melting snow, water releases, and La Nina complicate California’s drought picture; Will the water sector help or hurt on climate change; The great water waste: One way to mitigate a drought – stop throwing away perfectly good water; California Proposes Adopting New Permitting Program for Wetlands and Waters of the State; Bill targets secrecy in California water data; Siskiyou County groundwater sales initiative gathers over 2,000 signatures in ballot bid; Clear Lake: EPA grapples with mercury mine cleanup efforts; Yolo County groundwater recharged by March Miracle storms; Tuolumne County: Sediment sampling at Phoenix Lake begins this week; San Diego: Desalination plant again faces environmental questions; Shrinking Salton Sea spawns public health nightmare

On the calendar today …

The State Water Resources Control Board will meet this morning at 9am.  Agenda items include consideration of a proposed resolution on concurrence with the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board’s Order granting an exception to the State Thermal Plan for the Sacramento Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant, a presentation on the winners and insights from the First Annual California Water Data Innovation Challenge, and the annual report for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund for Fiscal Year 2014/2015.  Click here for the agenda.

In the news today …

Melting snow, water releases, and La Nina complicate California’s drought picture:  “First, the good news: This winter, much of the Sierra had a near-average snowpack. Now, the bad news: It has melted early.  Word of the vanishing Sierra snowpack, which usually helps replenish reservoir levels later in the summer, arrives amid uncertainty over how California’s dams will be managed in coming months to protect endangered fish. It also comes at a critical juncture for urban water officials across the state. Wednesday is their deadline to submit updated drought conservation plans that lay out projections of how much water will be available to customers over the next three years. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Melting snow, water releases, and La Nina complicate California’s drought picture

Will the water sector help or hurt on climate change:  “California has been diligently trying to reduce use of fossil fuels and cut greenhouse gas emissions. Last year, Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 350, which requires 50 percent of the electricity from utilities to come from renewable sources by 2030.  But it’s not just energy utilities that can add more renewables to their portfolios – water suppliers can, as well, although they aren’t mandated to do so.  It takes a lot of energy to pump, treat and deliver drinking water, and to treat and dispose of wastewater. Some water travels hundreds of miles from source to tap. Currently, 20 percent of California’s electricity is used by the water sector. And that may increase in the future as more energy will be required to pump groundwater from greater depths and to desalinate or treat recycled water. ... ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  Will the water sector help or hurt on climate change

The great water waste: One way to mitigate a drought – stop throwing away perfectly good water:  “All water, conventional scientific wisdom goes, is recycled. The Earth’s water has been here since the planet formed some 4.6 billion years ago, and any given molecule may have passed through the bodies of dinosaurs, fish throughout the oceans, the living tissue of giant trees and numerous human beings.  But water recycling in the more immediate, industrial sense refers to sewage water or gray water from our showers and sinks that is captured before it flows out to sea, purified with advanced technology and re-circulated back into the water grid. Many people believe the future of California, and much of the world, will rely on such water recycling. ... ”  Read more from Comstocks Magazine here:  The great water waste: One way to mitigate a drought – stop throwing away perfectly good water

California Proposes Adopting New Permitting Program for Wetlands and Waters of the State:  “On June 17, 2017, the State Water Resources Control Board (State Board) published proposed amendments to the Ocean Plan and the water quality control plan for Inland Surface Waters and Enclosed Bays and Estuaries and Ocean Waters of California to adopt procedures for discharges of dredged or fill material to waters of the state that are not protected by the federal Clean Water Act (CWA). In addition to the proposed amendments, the State Board also published a detailed staff report and a separate comparison of the new “State Supplemental Dredged or Fill Guidelines” to the CWA’s Section 404(b)(1) Guidelines, which requires sequencing of impacts to avoid, minimize, and mitigate impacts to waters.  Two workshops and a public hearing are scheduled in June and July, with the public comment period ending on August 4, 2016.  The proposal is tentatively scheduled to be considered by the State Board in the fall of 2016. … ”  Read more from the National Law Review here:  California Proposes Adopting New Permitting Program for Wetlands and Waters of the State

Bill targets secrecy in California water data: Farms and golf courses rank among the biggest water users in the Coachella Valley, but detailed information about how much water each of those businesses use is kept secret by the area’s largest water agency.  That would change under a bill now before the California Legislature. The bill would clarify previous legislation by specifying that while residential customers’ data may be kept confidential, the public is entitled to information about how much water and energy is used by businesses and institutions. … ”  Read more from The Desert Sun here:  Bill targets secrecy in California water data

Siskiyou County groundwater sales initiative gathers over 2,000 signatures in ballot bid:  “A ballot initiative created by a group of concerned citizens aims to alter groundwater management in Siskiyou County.  Chapter 13 of the Siskiyou County Code governs the withdrawal and transport of groundwater, and section 3-13.301 does not allow the unpermitted transport of water from the county; however, “commercial water-bottling enterprises” are exempt from requiring such a permit.  The revision the group is trying to enact will require a permit for all groundwater extraction for which the water will be transported outside the county, which would include any type of water bottling facility. … ”  Read more from the Siskiyou Daily News here:  Siskiyou County groundwater sales initiative gathers over 2,000 signatures in ballot bid

Clear Lake: EPA grapples with mercury mine cleanup efforts:  “Despite decades of cleanup efforts and feasibility studies costing about $70 million, dangerous levels of highly toxic substances — mercury, arsenic and antimony — continue to drain into Clear Lake from the Sulphur Bank Mercury Mine Superfund site.  Human exposure to mercury at the mine is “not under control” because contamination has been found at an unsafe level for humans and that people are likely still being exposed to the highly toxic contamination, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Sulphur Bank Mine website.  It also reports that the movement of contaminated groundwater from the mine site to the lake is also “not under control” and “not stabilized.” … ”  Read more from the Record Bee here:  Clear Lake: EPA grapples with mercury mine cleanup efforts

Yolo County groundwater recharged by March Miracle storms:  “With this year’s storms helping to refill the Sacramento region’s lakes and reservoirs, local water district officials and state regulators are diverting and percolating stormwater from Cache Creek into the Yolo County canal system to recharge groundwater supplies used by local farmers, city residents and UC Davis.  Groundwater normally supplements surface water to meet residential, agricultural and industrial needs. When rainfall is scarce and surface water dries up, groundwater can make up the difference. But soaring usage over the past few drought years have caused groundwater supplies to drop to levels not seen since the 1970s.  Anticipating winter storms brought on by El Niño conditions, officials at the Yolo County Flood Control and Water Conservation District recharged groundwater levels by diverting 11,000 acre-feet at the Capay Diversion Dam. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Yolo County groundwater recharged by March Miracle storms

Tuolumne County: Sediment sampling at Phoenix Lake begins this week: Consultants for Tuolumne Utilities District plan to use a barge this week to sample sediment at Phoenix Lake, which was built in 1852 to support hydraulic mining.  The sampling is one step in ongoing design and permitting for the Phoenix Lake Preservation and Restoration Project, which ultimately aims to improve water quality and increase capacity at the man-made reservoir. Improving watershed health is also a goal of the project.  Dredging is expected to begin in spring 2018. ... ”  Read more from the Union Democrat here:  Sediment sampling at Phoenix Lake begins this week

San Diego: Desalination plant again faces environmental questions:  “Carlsbad’s new desalination plant went through years of regulatory review and faced 14 legal challenges from environmental groups before it opened last year. Six months after opening, it’s still facing regulatory hurdles, including one that’ll make the water it produces more expensive.  The plant is also facing claims from regulators that it’s having a larger effect on greenhouse gas emissions than its developers promised, and that the desalination process could be hurting nearby ocean life. ... ”  Read more from the Voice of San Diego here:  Desalination plant again faces environmental questions

Shrinking Salton Sea spawns public health nightmare: A dust bowl is coming, and people here are scared.  Aide Munguia-Fulton, a nurse who runs a community program for children with asthma, has been seeing referrals for assistance soar in the last three years as the Salton Sea has begun receding due to water management schemes and a persistent drought.  Receiving 400 referrals last year alone, Munguia-Fulton has funding to enroll no more than 200 kids a year. She’s managed to include more children, but she knows the lake is expected to shrivel more quickly starting at the end of 2017, exposing thousands of acres of a dusty, toxin-laced salt bed and exacerbating already high asthma rates. … ”  Read more from E&E Publishing here:  Shrinking Salton Sea spawns public health nightmare

In commentary today …

Small farmer to Westlands management: Time for a transformation:  Brad Gleason writes, “I am a farmer in the Westlands Water District. That is not an easy thing to admit these days.  My acres there aren’t vast, nor do I wield much power. I have never sat on the board of directors. Like other smaller farmers in Westlands, I’ve had to accept the reality that the direction of the district – misguided as it has been of late – is beyond my control.  But that doesn’t mean I don’t have a voice. For the past several years, I’ve been speaking out in private meetings with my fellow growers. Now, given the district’s bent toward secrecy and its habit of shooting itself in the foot, I am choosing to speak out publicly. ... ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Small farmer to Westlands management: Time for a transformation

Defining a groundwater management system:  Scott Slater writes,In the past 30 years, perhaps no legislative effort to bolster the state’s water policy has received as much attention as the management of groundwater.  This effort lead to the expansion of water district powers, the creation of special act districts with unique powers, the authorization of voluntary plans and finally culminated in the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) and its trailing legislation.  Although the well-managed and adjudicated basins within Southern California had long established limits on the extraction of groundwater to safe quantities, the track record elsewhere in the state was a bit spotty.   Ultimately, the acknowledged drought and regulatory induced shortages of surface water supplies lead farmers and cities to pursue the most readily available cover.  In many cases, the most readily available supply to cover was groundwater.  … ”  Continue reading at Capitol Weekly here:  Defining a groundwater management system

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

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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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