NEWS WORTH NOTING: Secretary Laird Announces Establishment of Climate-Safe Infrastructure Working Group; DWR Applies Treatment to Silverwood Lake Algal Bloom

Secretary Laird Announces Establishment of Climate-Safe Infrastructure Working Group

From the California Natural Resources Agency:

Furthering the State’s continued efforts to address the effects of climate change, California Natural Resources Secretary John Laird today announced the appointment of 14 leaders in state climate science and infrastructure design to the Climate-Safe Infrastructure Working Group.

“I am proud to announce the appointees of the Climate-Safe Infrastructure Working Group,” stated Secretary Laird. “These dedicated professionals, with expertise in engineering, science, and policy will provide science-based recommendations to California decision-makers to enable the best infrastructural investment strategies for the state.  As changes to the environment continue to affect the public, the establishment of this Working Group reveals California’s ongoing leadership in climate adaptation.”

The impacts of climate change are already being felt in California and include record-breaking drought, wildfires, flooding, sea level rise, coastal erosion, and heat waves. These impacts are projected to worsen with a future punctuated by what are now considered extreme weather events.  Established by AB 2800 (Quirk, Statutes of 2015-16), the working group will unite experts from multiple scientific and state infrastructure disciplines to bolster the inclusion of climate impacts in state design processes.

Through its deliberations, the working group will investigate:

  • Current informational and institutional barriers to integrating projected climate change impacts into state infrastructure design
  • Critical information that engineers responsible for infrastructure design and construction need to address climate change impacts
  • How to select an appropriate engineering design for a range of future climate scenarios as related to infrastructure planning and investment.

“The creation of this working group is a reflection of California’s commitment to address the grand challenge of climate change adaptation. I am pleased to know that engineers and climate scientists will be working together to ensure our state infrastructures are resilient enough to withstand the impacts of climate change.  Their efforts will save lives, property, and investments,” said Assemblymember Bill Quirk (D-Hayward) who authored AB 2800 last year.

The working group is anticipated to begin deliberations this fall and work through the Spring of 2018.  It will report to the Legislature and Strategic Growth Council with its findings by July of 2018.

“Traditionally, engineers have planned and built infrastructure projects based on past climate and weather trends. With climate change, the past is no longer a good predictor of the future and we now must design infrastructure to withstand higher temperatures, more frequent and intense storms, drought, wildfires and sea level rise. The Climate-Smart Infrastructure Working Group will bring California one step closer to having the safe and resilient infrastructure system we need to protect our safety, economy, taxpayer investments, and our environment,” said Jamesine Rogers Gibson, senior climate analyst with the Union of Concerned Scientists, a sponsor of AB 2800.

The Natural Resources Agency leads California’s climate change adaptation efforts under several statutes and executive orders intended to foster change throughout state and local government.  In recent months, the California Natural Resources Agency has released a compelling analysis of the factors that affect how much the ocean will rise along California’s coast in coming decades as well as a draft of the Safeguarding California Plan: 2017 Update, which is the State’s strategy for adapting to a changing climate.  The Climate-Safe Infrastructure Working Group will strengthen these efforts as California continues to experience a more variable and unpredictable climate.

Appointees include:

Name Affiliation
Dr. Amir Aghakouchak, P.E. University of California, Irvine
Bruce Swanger, P.E. California Department of Transportation
Chester Widom, FAIA California Department of General Services: Division of State Architect
Dr. Chris Liban, P.E., ENV SP Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority; City of Los Angeles; National Council for Environmental Policy and Technology, USEPA
Dr. Dan Cayan University of California, San Diego: Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Dr. David Groves RAND Water and Climate Resilience; Pardee Rand Graduate School
Dr. Deb Niemeier, P.E, NAE University of California, Davis
James Deane AIA, CDT, LEED AP, PMP California High Speed Rail Authority; Parsons Brinckerhoff
John Andrew, P.E. California Department of Water Resources
Dr. Kristin Heinemeier, P.E. University of California, Davis: Energy Efficiency Center
Dr. Kyle Meng University of California, Santa Barbara: Bren School of Environmental Science and Management
Martha Brook, P.E. California Energy Commission
Nancy Ander, P.E. California Department of General Services
Dr. Noah Diffenbaugh Stanford University: Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment

More information on the appointees can be found at:  http://resources.ca.gov/climate/climate-safe-infrastructure-working-group/

DWR Applies Treatment to Silverwood Lake Algal Bloom

No Swimming Allowed Due To Ongoing ‘Warning’ Advisory
From the Department of Water Resources:

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) today applied an algaecide treatment to the algal bloom in Silverwood Lake that has prevented swimming there for the past week. A helicopter sprayed copper sulfate onto the lake’s surface from approximately 6 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The no-swimming advisory, first issued on July 14, remains in effect at Sawpit and Cleghorn swim beaches. Warning signs have been placed at the beaches urging the public to avoid direct contact with visible algal blooms and mats wherever they occur. Bloom conditions can change rapidly, and wind and waves may move or concentrate the bloom into different regions of the lake.

DWR said the copper sulfate treatment kills blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) instantly, but cells and toxins need one to three days to degrade and decompose. Silverwood Lake’s bloom was first observed in early July.  DWR said water will be tested again on Tuesday, and depending on laboratory results that are expected within two days, a reevaluation will be made on whether swimming will be allowed.

DWR applies copper sulfate to algal blooms in the State Water Project one or two times a year. DWR secured the proper environmental permits prior to today’s treatment of Silverwood Lake.

The swimming prohibition is based on the potential health risks from blue-green algae. (See Statewide Guidance on Cyanobacteria & Algal Blooms below.)

Click here to continue reading.

The algal 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.

Blue-green algae can pose health risks, particularly to children and pets. Visitors to Silverwood Lake are urged to choose safe water activities while recreating there. They should avoid swimming and ingesting the water in the Sawpit beach bloom area and avoid ingesting the water elsewhere in the lake. Pets should be kept away from the water in all areas under advisory.

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

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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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