DAILY DIGEST: As CA fights over fresh water, the SF Bay barely survives; Livestock production drinks up water in drought-stricken CA; How water agencies can change our habits; Coastal Commission launches effort to counter sea level rise; and more …

In California water news today, As Californians fight over fresh water, the San Francisco Bay barely survives; Livestock production drinks up water in drought-stricken California; Social norms messaging: How water agencies can change our habits; Urgency, but no easy answers in Coastal Commission’s effort to counter sea level rise; State looks for comments on draft about Delta water levels; Time lapse of ocean temperatures show El Nino fading, hints of La Nina; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • Cal Water Fix hearing at the State Water Board beginning at 9am.  Click here to watch on webcast.
  • Webinar on sea level rise and the effects tidal marshes from 2 to 3pm:  Given by Dr. Karen Thorne, USGS, WERC, San Francisco Bay Estuary Field Station.  Tidal marshes, mudflats, and shallow bays within coastal estuaries link marine, freshwater and terrestrial habitats, and provide economic and recreational benefits to local communities. Climate change effects such as sea-level rise (SLR) are altering these habitats, but we know little about how these areas will change over the next 50–100 years. The goal of our research was to provide science in support of coastal management and climate change adaptation efforts along the Pacific Coast.  Click here for more information.

In the news today …

As Californians fight over fresh water, the San Francisco Bay barely survives:  “The San Francisco Bay is an estuary — an ecological mixing bowl where salty waters from the Pacific Ocean meet the fresh runoff that flows down from the high sierra through the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers and eventually to the sea. The brackish blending together of these aquatic inputs produces one of the most abundant ecosystems on the planet. Shrimp, crabs, smelt, salmon, and many small but supremely important invertebrates swim (or scuttle) in its mild waters. Cormorants, pelicans, geese, and ducks galore wing overhead or waddle along its shores. Mammals, including whales, seals, and some humans too, depend on its productivity for their very survival. It is the beating heart of its urban namesake, that West Coast capital we call the Bay Area. ... ”  Read more from Pacific Standard here:  As Californians fight over fresh water, the San Francisco Bay barely survives

Livestock production drinks up water in drought-stricken California: Over the past five years, Californians have been trained to turn the faucet off when brushing their teeth, allow their lawns to turn dusty brown and keep their gardens alive using dishwater. These tactics, among others, allowed urban water users to reduce their average consumption by almost 25 percent in 2015. Those caught wasting water were publicly shamed by the media. The state’s almond industry, especially, has been vilified for its intensive use of California’s precious water.  However, amid such hyper-hydro-awareness, there has been conspicuously little attention paid to the production of meat and dairy, by far the biggest water guzzling industry in the state. … ”  Read more from Comstock’s Magazine here:  Livestock production drinks up water in drought-stricken California

Social norms messaging: How water agencies can change our habits:  “For years companies have targeted consumers with advertising that leverages social pressure – like saying seven out of 10 people prefer a certain brand of toothpaste or laundry detergent. More recently, that kind of thinking has been used not just to sell products, but also to change behavior.  “Behavioral economists assert that in the absence of price signals, policymakers can change people’s behaviors by harnessing their natural inclination to conform to social norms,” wrote Nola Hastings and Galib Rustamov in a 2015 report on customer water use messaging for the California Urban Water Conservation Council. “For example, customers make decisions based on social cues, self-image, local values and identities.” … ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  Social norms messaging: How water agencies can change our habits

Urgency, but no easy answers in Coastal Commission’s effort to counter sea level rise:  “With the ocean rising eight inches over the past century and the most recent scientific models indicating a rise of 66 more inches by 2100, the California Coastal Commission said Wednesday the time is now to protect the state’s famed coastline from the effects.  “Sea levels are rising. We know that, and we know they are going to be accelerating in the future,” said Kelsey Ducklow, a climate change analyst with the commission. “Projections right now that we are using indicate about 5 1/2 feet by the end of the century, but there are efforts underway to understand if that is accurate. And it is looking now, especially if we don’t change, it will be potentially higher.” … ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service here:  Urgency, but no easy answers in Coastal Commission’s effort to counter sea level rise

State looks for comments on draft about Delta water levels:  (Their headline, not mine!)  “The State Water Resources Board has released the draft of a Scientific Basis Report that looks at fisheries and water flows in the Sacramento River and Bay-Delta region. The area supplies 80 percent of the Valley’s water.  The report issued Oct. 19 follows by several weeks a draft study sent out for comment on the other major river that flows into the Delta, the San Joaquin River, which feeds the federal Central Valley Project.  Zone 7 Water Agency is suppled by the State Water Project from the Shasta Dam on the Sacramento River. The water flows into the Delta, then into the South Bay Aqueduct for use by farmers, businesses and residents in the Valley. ... ”  Read more from the Livermore Independent here:  State looks for comments on draft about Delta water levels

Time lapse of ocean temperatures show El Nino fading, hints of La Nina:  “The tropical Pacific Ocean is home to Earth’s most influential natural climate cycle: the El Nino-Southern Oscillation, or “ENSO” for short. Linked to a cascade of global impacts, ENSO describes how the central-eastern tropical Pacific repeatedly swings from being warmer and rainier than usual (El Niño) to being cooler and drier than usual (La Niña).  Last winter brought one of the three strongest El Nino events on record. This animation shows surface water temperatures in the tropical Pacific roughly every two weeks from November 21, 2015, though September 24, 2016, as El Niño peaked and then faded. The maps show surface water temperatures less than 80°F in shades of blue, and temperatures above 80°F in orange. … ”  Read more from NOAA Climate.gov here:  Time lapse of ocean temperatures show El Nino fading, hints of La Nina

In commentary today …

Californians move beyond emergency water conservation to more sustainable practices, says Tim Quinn:  He writes, “After five years of historic drought, Californians will never again look at water in the same way. Wasting water is now as socially unacceptable as littering became in the 1970s after a massive public education campaign.  This permanent shift in the way Californians use and think about water is apparent in communities up and down the state where lawns are being replaced with water-wise landscapes thanks in part to the hundreds of millions of dollars in rebates offered by state and local agencies. Water customers also are changing out toilets and appliances indoors, making meaningful water-use reductions that can be sustained into the future. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Californians move beyond emergency water conservation to more sustainable practices

Lessons we should learn from the drought:  Jay Lund writes, “California is entering what could be a sixth year of drought, despite a wet October.  The drought is not over in the sense that surface water storage has not fully recovered – the state would need three Folsom Reservoirs filled to the brim. And our groundwater reserves have been drawn down – it would take 12 full Folsom Reservoirs stored underground to return to pre-drought levels.  The drought has had devastating effects on forests and fish populations. Even if we have a wet winter, groundwater depletion will remain an issue for years, as will ecosystem recovery. And it will take many years to figure out how to efficiently manage the state’s water system.  Several lessons are clear from the last five years of drought ... ”  Read more at the Sacramento Bee here:  Lessons we should learn from the drought

Delta tunnel planners should learn from Seattle’s expensive goof, says Connor Everts:  He writes, “Engineers will converge in Los Angeles from November 6-9, during the election, for the Cutting Edge 2016: Advances in Tunneling Technology conference. California, it seems, is a hotspot for industrial tunneling these days.  International tunneling firms will wine-and-dine political leaders in hopes of landing extremely profitable contracts, like the proposed Delta tunnels, while Californians are fixated on the elections.  So before the conference begins, let’s review some recent West Coast tunnel history. … ”  Read more from KCET here:  Delta tunnel planners should learn from Seattle’s expensive goof

In regional news and commentary today …

Siskiyou County’s voters can end sweetheart deal for water bottlers:  Jane Braxton Little writes, “Siskiyou County is water-rich. Springs bubble out of rocks from a fabric of underground lava tubes lacing the land at the base of Mount Shasta. Combined with snowmelt, the area contributes as much as 40 percent of the state’s water supply.  County officials have been managing their most precious resource in blissful ignorance. Despite a dearth of information about the aquifer, they have courted corporations that bottle and export Siskiyou water without knowing how much water they actually have or how much they are giving away. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Siskiyou County’s voters can end sweetheart deal for water bottlers

Northern California water managers will have a new tool to measure reservoir releases:  “The answer to our drought may come from what we call Atmospheric Rivers, or ARs for short. Seven out of the last 12 droughts ended when these big fire hoses of water in the sky took aim at California.  ARs can carry about the same amount of water as 20 Mississippi Rivers!  And now we just found out ARs also produce another transport of the abundant moisture. It’s called a Sierra Barrier Jet.  … ”  Continue reading at ABC 10 here:  Northern California water managers will have a new tool to measure reservoir releases

New $12 million Russian River salmon ladder offers glimpse of recovery efforts:  “A massive concrete structure, built to withstand floods and earthquakes beside the Russian River near Forestville, is the latest step toward restoring the river’s beleaguered salmon and steelhead populations.  The 600,000 Sonoma and Marin county residents who get their drinking water from the river paid for most of the $12 million fish ladder, which includes both a video monitoring system so scientists can count the migrating fish and a viewing gallery that will give the public a glimpse as well.  Grant Davis, general manager of the Sonoma County Water Agency, which developed the facility, said it offered a unique, submarine vantage point in California to watch wild salmon make their way upstream. ... ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here:  New $12 million Russian River salmon ladder offers glimpse of recovery efforts

Appeals court upholds review of Lake Tahoe development plan:  “An environmental review of a development plan for the Lake Tahoe region adequately addressed concerns about the lake’s water quality, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.  The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the review and said the drafters of the development plan reasonably concluded that it would not have a significant effect on the lake’s water, given expected improvements in pollution management. ... ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Appeals court upholds review of Lake Tahoe development plan

Sacramento: Salmon ladders open for spawning season:  “Together, state and federally operated hatcheries raise 40 million juvenile salmon for release into California waters each year.  On Wednesday, the Nimbus Hatchery in Rancho Cordova opened its salmon ladder to start of the spawning season on the American River. This is one of eight state run salmon and steelhead hatcheries participating in the salmon spawning effort. ... ”  Read more from CBS 2 here:  Salmon ladders open for spawning season

San Francisco sees most October rainy days since 19th century:  “San Francisco’s 12 days of rain in October were the most in the month in well over a century, said forecasters who cautioned that the wet opening to the holiday season isn’t necessarily a harbinger of drought-busting deluges this winter.  The city’s October record of 13 rainy days occurred in 1889, said Jan Null, a meteorologist with Golden Gate Weather Services. San Francisco received 2.43 inches of precipitation last month — more than double the total from a year earlier and 10 percent of what the city typically sees in a year. … ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  San Francisco sees most October rainy days since 19th century

East Bay water will taste different, but it’s safe: Go ahead, drink the water — it doesn’t taste that much worse.  The flow from the tap may taste a little musty for some 800,000 East Bay residents, but that’s because the water is coming temporarily from a different source.  Effective Friday, all East Bay Municipal Utility District customers west of the Oakland/Berkeley hills from Crockett to San Leandro will be getting drinking water from East Bay reservoirs instead of flows piped in directly from the Sierra foothills. … ”  Read more from the East Bay Times here:  East Bay water will taste different, but it’s safe

State won’t reconsider extension on Carmel River pumping: The California American Water company (Cal-Am) has cleared a legal hurdle in its continued efforts to get an extension of a cease and desist order requiring the company to cutback pumping of the Carmel River.  This past summer, the State Water Board gave the water company a 5-year extension of that CDO. The original cease and desist order was scheduled to go into effect at the end of this year.  But as soon as the Water Board approved the extension, opponents filed petitions requesting the board reconsider their decision. ... ” Read more from Channel 8 here:  State won’t reconsider extension on Carmel River pumping

Oakdale Irrigation District fallowing farmers won’t be left high and dry:  “Farmers who contracted to fallow some land this year will get their money even though no one bought the freed-up water, irrigation leaders said Tuesday.  In other news, Oakdale Irrigation District water prices won’t go up 3 percent in 2017, the board said.  The fallowing proposal never got off the ground but sparked two lawsuits, threats of more lawsuits, much discord among board members and ongoing disputes over who was to blame for the project’s demise. ... ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  Oakdale Irrigation District fallowing farmers won’t be left high and dry

Don Pedro Reservoir to undergo major refurbishment in 2017: While emphasizing that Don Pedro Reservoir remains a safe — but aging — facility, Turlock Irrigation District is hoping to secure another 50 years of successful operation with three major refurbishment projects in 2017.  “It’s up to current standards and it’s passed every single thing we’ve thrown at it,” said Chief Dam Safety Engineer Peggy Harding. “It’s an excellently constructed and maintained dam. There’s absolutely nothing I can think of that this dam needs aside from routine maintenance.” ... ” Read more from the Turlock Journal here:  Don Pedro Reservoir to undergo major refurbishment in 2017

Santa Barbara: Development during drought:  “Construction sites across the city of Santa Barbara are raising eyebrows and the ire of local residents. Particularly, what appears to be a construction corridor, of sorts, along Upper State Street.  “It hits you like how are these people going to have water?” asked Robin Young. “I mean doing their dishes, laundry, landscaping … where’s it going to come from?”  A developer out of San Francisco is behind an upscale, 88 room hotel going in at the site of the former Hope Ranch Inn on the 4000 block of State Street. ... ”  Read more from KEYT here:  Santa Barbara: Development during drought

Huntington Beach: Poseidon finds common ground with Coastal Commission, two other agencies: Poseidon Water came to terms with two state agencies and a regional water board to streamline the permitting process for a planned desalination plant in Huntington Beach, it was announced Oct. 13.  The joint agreement included Poseidon Water, California Coastal Commission, California State Lands Commission and the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board.  A statement released by Poseidon claimed the joint agreement would “clearly define the remaining permitting process.” ... ”  Read more from The Log here:  Huntington Beach: Poseidon finds common ground with Coastal Commission, two other agencies

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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