NEWS WORTH NOTING: Public warned to be aware of harmful algal blooms this holiday weekend; Reclamation highlights Yolo Bypass tools used to evaluate improvements for fish; Proposed north Natomas flood risk reduction project out for public review; Weekly Water and Climate Update

Water Boards Remind the Public to be Aware of Harmful Algal Blooms this Holiday Weekend

Various Popular Waterbodies Assessed Prior to Labor Day

From the State Water Resources Control Board:

With a large number of swimmers and boaters expected this Labor Day weekend at many of the state’s water bodies, the State Water Board is reminding the public to be mindful of harmful algal blooms (HABs) in lakes, streams and reservoirs, and to keep dogs and children away from these blooms if they see one.

Last week, the California state and regional water boards conducted targeted sampling at some of the state’s most visited lakes and streams that have had a history of HABs. This sampling was part of a collaborative effort with other state and local agencies to gather data and share it with the public. Those agencies included the California Department of Water Resources, East Bay Regional Parks, Big Valley Rancheria, Elem Colony Bands of Pomo Indians, and others.

“Being aware of the conditions at your local waterbody before heading out to recreate is important to keeping you and your pets healthy this Labor Day weekend, and anytime during these hot summer days when HABs can be present,” said State Water Board Vice-Chair Steven Moore.  “The State Water Board thanks local agencies and groups, for partnering up to identify HABs and keep the public informed on how to safely recreate.”

The results of the targeted sampling and data collection for approximately 43 waterbodies are summarized in an interactive map (Figure 1). You can see which locations were sampled at each waterbody and recommended advisory levels. If cyanotoxins were detected, advisory signs informing the public about the presence of HABs and the associated risk, based on of level toxins present, should be posted at that location. Please be aware that HAB location, extent and toxicity can change quickly. The data in this map is subject to change as new information is received. The interactive map can be found at: http://www.mywaterquality.ca.gov/habs/bulletins_newsletters/index.html.

Cyanobacteria are small microbes that live in nearly every habitat on land and in the water. They have existed for millions of years as essential components of freshwater ecosystems and form the foundation of most aquatic food chains. But, when environmental conditions favor their growth – warm temperatures and low or stagnant water flows – they can multiply very rapidly creating what is called a HAB. Some cyanobacteria are capable of producing toxins that can harm pets or people that come into contact with them.

HABs can be recognized by a few distinguishing features, including an oily or paint-like sheen on the water’s surface, benthic (on bottom of waterbody) or floating mats, or a “pea soup” appearance of the water. Although HABs can occur anywhere in a body of water, in lakes they tend to be more concentrated in areas where water movement is limited and are downstream of wind and water currents. In streams or rivers, they can be found attached to the sediment on the bottom or floating along the shoreline in backwater eddies.

It is important to distinguish cyanobacteria (often referred to as “blue-green algae”) from green algae and other non-toxic water plants that are not thought to pose potential hazards to health (Figure 2).   The state has created a visual guide with photos to help users recognize HABs and differentiate them from green algae or water plant growth.  The guide is available online at: http://www.ccamp.net/Swamp/images/3/33/SOP-Visual_Guide_to_Observing_Blooms.pdf.

Cyanobacteria blooms can look like slicks of opaque, bright green paint, or “pea soup,” but closer inspection often reveals the grainy, sawdust-like appearance of individual colonies.  Green algae are commonly encountered and typically are grass-green in color and have stringy filaments that feel either slippery or like cotton. Some floating aquatic plants may look like algae, but close examination shows that individual plants are present, such as duckweed.

Exposure to a HAB, if it is toxin-producing, can result in eye irritation, skin rash, mouth ulcers, vomiting, diarrhea, or cold and flu-like symptoms.  Pets can be especially susceptible because they tend to drink while in the water and lick their fur after, increasing their risk of exposure and illness.  Symptoms of animal illness include: vomiting and/or diarrhea, lethargy, abnormal liver function test results, difficulty breathing, foaming at the mouth, muscle twitching and sometimes death.

The California state and regional water boards have collaborated with the BloomWatch App (http://cyanos.org/bloomwatch/), which allows anyone observing a potential HAB to document it and send information to water managers.   In using the app, each user will be asked to answer a few basic questions and provide pictures of the potential HAB.  The public can also report the bloom directly to the water boards by calling the free HAB Hotline 1-844-729-6466, or report the bloom through the online HAB Portal http://www.mywaterquality.ca.gov/habs/do/index.html#how

Remember to always practice healthy water habits:

  • Heed all instructions on posted advisory signs.Avoid body contact with cyanobacteria.
  • Keep an eye on dogs and children, ensuring that they do not approach areas with HABs.
  • Do not drink untreated lake or river water, and do not let your dog drink HAB-affected water.
  • Common water purification techniques such as camping filters, tablets and boiling do not remove toxins.
  • Do not cook or wash dishes with lake or river water.
  • Wash yourself, your family and your pets with clean water after lake or river play.
  • Consume fish only after the guts and liver have been removed and rinse filets.

For more information, please visit:

Reclamation highlights tools used to evaluate improvements for fish in the Yolo Bypass

From the Bureau of Reclamation:

Reclamation will be presenting methods used to develop the Yolo Bypass Salmonid Habitat Restoration and Fish Passage Project to the Delta Stewardship Council’s Delta Science Program at a two-day public workshop next week.

The Bureau of Reclamation and California Department of Water Resources are currently developing the Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report (EIS/EIR) for the project, which will identify potential alternatives to improve fish passage and increase floodplain rearing habitat in the Yolo Bypass. This project would benefit Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon, Central Valley spring-run Chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead and Southern Distinct Population Segment green sturgeon. The draft EIS/EIR is anticipated to be released in late October.

In May, Reclamation and the California Department of Water Resources requested the Delta Stewardship Council conduct an independent scientific review of the analytical methods and models used in the study. The goal of the review is to have a panel with expertise in fishery, population biology and hydrodynamic modeling determine if the best available science is being used to evaluate the alternatives.

The request was granted and a panel from the Delta Science Program will discuss the scientific assessment at the workshop, which will include presentations on the various tools used, question and answer segments, and a period for public comment.

The meetings will be held at the Park Tower – Second Floor Conference Room, 980 9th Street, Sacramento, California, 95184. The meeting date and times are:

  • Sept. 7, 2017 – 8:30 a.m. – 5:15 p.m.
  • Sept. 8, 2017 – 1:30 p.m. – 4 p.m.

The Delta Stewardship Council announcement and more information on meeting specifics can be found at: http://deltacouncil.ca.gov/event-detail/14848 . For more information on the project visit https://www.usbr.gov/mp/BayDeltaOffice/yolo-bypass.html or contact Ben Nelson at 916-414-2424 or email bcnelson@usbr.gov.

Proposed north Natomas flood risk reduction project out for public review

From the US Army Corps of Engineers:

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District released its draft supplemental environmental assessment for Reach D of its Natomas Basin project for public review.

The proposed project includes the removal of two abandoned pumping plants (Bennett and Northern Pumping Plants), the rehabilitation of a third pumping plant (Pumping Plant 4), and the relocation of a canal located on the south side of the levee (Vestal Drain) at Reach D, located along the Natomas Cross Canal, near Howsley Road in Sutter County.

The draft SEA describes the environmental resources in the project areas; evaluates the environmental effects of the proposed plan; and recommends mitigation measures.  All potential adverse effects that would result from the proposed alternatives would either be short-term, reduced by using best management practices or avoided altogether.

The document is published on the district’s website at http://www.spk.usace.army.mil/Missions/Civil-Works/Sacramento-Area-Levees/, and is available for review at Sacramento’s Central Library and the North Natomas Public Library. Copies of the report are available upon request.

The draft document will be available for public review and comment until Sept. 20, 2017. Written comments can be submitted through the postal mail to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District, Attn: Ms. Robin Rosenau, Environmental Manager, 1325 J Street, Sacramento, California 95814 or by e-mail at Robin.M.Rosenau@usace.army.mil.  All comments received on the draft document will be considered and incorporated into the final EA, as appropriate.

The project at Reach D is a cooperative effort by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Central Valley Flood Protection Board and the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency to address seepage problems in the American River levee system.  This project would ensure levees on the north side of the Natomas Basin meet the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s criteria for certification.

Construction is expected to begin in spring 2018.

Weekly Water and Climate Update: Hurricane Harvey sets preliminary precipitation record

From the USDA:

The 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.

According to the National Weather Service, Hurricane Harvey has set a preliminary record, surpassing 50 inches for the greatest amount of single-storm rainfall ever measured for the continental U.S. Additional rainfall accumulations of 6 to 12 inches are expected to the north and east of Houston from far east Texas into southwestern Louisiana. This is producing devastating flooding throughout the region. Numerous Flash Flood Warnings are currently in effect.

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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