NEWS WORTH NOTING: Delta Independent Science Board releases review of California Water Fix Final EIR; ACWA Policy Document: 21st century water infrastructure; Blue-green algal bloom found in San Luis Reservoir

Delta Independent Science Board releases review of California Water Fix EIR

From the Delta Independent Science Board:

The Delta Reform Act of 2009 directs the Delta Independent Science Board to review environmental impact assessments of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (now California WaterFix). Here, in our fifth such review, we focus on the adequacy of the scientific information presented in the final Environmental Impact Report (EIR)/Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the California WaterFix by revisiting the six main concerns we raised in our September 2015 review of the Recirculated Draft EIR/Supplemental EIS. We discuss improvements and shortcomings. We also comment on the need to improve impact assessments for scientific evaluation and effective stakeholder engagement.

The Final EIR/EIS contains a wealth of detail and considerable insight. This version improves on its predecessors but retains some persistent shortcomings. Improved content on adaptive management is still short on detail about how adaptive management would be implemented under changing and uncertain conditions. Summaries and comparisons, more abundant than before, lack insightful syntheses and graphics that ease comprehension of the vast amount of material presented. Expanded discussion of Delta levees stops short of evaluating interactions with water supply reliability and neglects changing views of earthquake hazards. Long-term effects are better addressed in several ways, but with insufficient attention to uncertainties in defining the No Action Alternative and to the interplay between California groundwater sustainability and Delta water supplies. Other content missing includes evaluation of environmental effects of water use south of the Delta. Evaluation of ecosystem impacts, though extensive, retains gaps on using restoration as mitigation.

The completion of our reviews of the Final EIR/EIS and its predecessors prompt us to reflect more broadly on the use and communication of science in the Delta and more specifically on the false tradeoff between thoroughness and intelligibility that has become common in environmental impact assessments. Overwhelming readers with content that addresses the many scientific issues related to a proposed project and its alternatives, while neglecting the thoughtful presentation and synthesis of insights and performance tradeoffs among alternatives, diminishes the value of this important document as a comparative guide to the expected environmental effects of the alternatives considered.

Click here to read the full report.

ACWA Policy Document: 21st century water infrastructure

From the Association of California Water Agencies:

This winter’s record-breaking rainfall and snowpack did more than end an historic five-year drought. It underscored the feast-or-famine nature of California’s hydrology and the need for new approaches to operating the state’s water system.

Local water managers from throughout the state are discussing new and innovative approaches that could go a long way toward improving the resiliency of our system in a time of changing climate and coequal goals.

The Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) commissioned a technical study to examine how California’s water supply system could operate more flexibly and effectively with the addition and integrated operation of new storage capacity. …

Click here to continue reading and to download the document.

Blue-Green Algal Bloom Found in San Luis Reservoir; Public Urged To Avoid Water Contact

From the Department of Water Resources:

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) is urging boaters and recreational users to avoid direct contact with or use of waters containing blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) in San Luis Reservoir in Merced County.

The recommendation is based on the potential health risks from the algae. Water sampled on June 19 at the Basalt Boat Launch contained approximately 10 micrograms per liter of microcystins, a level that prompts warning signs to be posted at the reservoir.

DWR personnel tested the water using field test strips, which provide faster results than laboratory testing. Water samples have been sent to a laboratory for additional analysis.

Bloom conditions can change rapidly, and wind and waves may move or concentrate the bloom into different regions of the reservoir. Warning signs have been posted at the Basalt Boat Launch, which is at the southeast corner of the reservoir.

The algae bloom can appear as blue-green, white or brown foam, scum or mats that can float on the water’s surface and accumulate along the shoreline and boat ramp area.

Click here to continue reading.

Blue-green algae can pose health risks, particularly to children and pets. Visitors to San Luis Reservoir are urged to choose safe water activities there. They should avoid swallowing water in the bloom area and keep their pets away from the water.

Recreational exposure to toxic blue-green algae can cause eye irritation, allergic skin rash, mouth ulcers, vomiting, diarrhea, and cold and flu-like symptoms.  Pets can be especially susceptible because they tend to drink while in the water and lick their fur afterwards.

The Statewide Guidance on Cyanobacteria and Harmful Algal Blooms recommends the following for waters impacted by blue-green algae:

  • Take care that pets and livestock do not drink the water, swim through algae, scums or mats or lick their fur after going in the water.  Rinse pets in clean water to remove algae from fur.
  • Avoid wading, swimming or jet or water skiing in water containing algae blooms or scums or mats.
  • Do not drink, cook or wash dishes with untreated surface water from these areas under any circumstances; common water purification techniques such as camping filters, tablets and boiling do not remove toxins.
  • People should not eat mussels or other bivalves collected from these areas.  Limit or avoid eating fish from these areas; if fish are consumed, remove the guts and liver, and rinse filets in clean drinking water.
  • Get medical treatment immediately if you think that you, your pet or livestock might have been poisoned by blue-green algae toxins.  Be sure to alert the medical professional to the possible contact with blue-green algae.  Also, make sure to contact the local county public health department.

For more information, please visit:

California Department of Public Health: http://www.cdph.ca.gov/healthinfo/environhealth/water/Pages/Bluegreenalgae.aspx

State Water Resources Control Board – California CyanoHAB Network: http://www.mywaterquality.ca.gov/monitoring_council/cyanohab_network/index.html

CA Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment: Information on Microcystin: http://oehha.ca.gov/ecotoxicology/general-info/information-microcystins

US Environmental Protection Agency: CyanoHAB website: https://www.epa.gov/nutrient-policy-data/cyanohabs

US Environmental Protection Agency: Anatoxin-a report: https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-06/documents/anatoxin-a-report-2015.pdf

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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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