DAILY DIGEST: Melting ice could cause more California droughts; Ruling: Water districts don’t need voter approval on fees; Portable treatment system to create first virtual water district; High-pressure ridge settles along West Coast: Is it ever going to rain again?; and more …

In California water news today, Melting ice could cause more California droughts; Climate scientists see alarming new threat to California; California water districts don’t need voter approval on fees; Portable treatment system to create first virtual water district; High-pressure ridge settles along West Coast: Is it ever going to rain again?; Some say the Tahoe snow line is moving up; now one study backs them up; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • The State Water Resources Control Board meets at 9:30am.  Agenda items include consideration of an amendment to the policy on Supplemental Environmental Documents and a public hearing on proposed amendments to the sediment quality provisions of the Water Quality Control Plans for Enclosed Bays and Estuaries.  Click here for the agendaClick here to watch on webcast.

In the news today …

Melting ice could cause more California droughts:  “Loss of ice cover in the Arctic could spur more droughts in California, according to a new study by federal researchers.  The study, published today in Nature Communications, finds that sea-ice loss in the Arctic could trigger atmospheric effects that drive precipitation away from California. The research was led by atmospheric scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.  It’s the same kind of effect that contributed to state’s historic dry period that ended last year. The five-year drought was exacerbated by an atmospheric pressure system in the North Pacific Ocean that researchers dubbed the “ridiculously resilient ridge,” which pushed storms farther north and deprived the Southwest of precipitation. … ”  Read more from the Scientific American here:  Melting ice could cause more California droughts

Climate scientists see alarming new threat to California:  “California could be hit with significantly more dangerous and more frequent droughts in the near future as changes in weather patterns triggered by global warming block rainfall from reaching the state, according to new research led by scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.  Using complex new modeling, the scientists have found that rapidly melting Arctic sea ice now threatens to diminish precipitation over California by as much as 15% within 20 to 30 years. Such a change would have profound economic impacts in a state where the most recent drought drained several billion dollars out of the economy, severely stressed infrastructure and highlighted how even the state most proactively confronting global warming is not prepared for its fallout. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Climate scientists see alarming new threat to California

California water districts don’t need voter approval on fees:  “The state’s water conservation districts don’t need the approval of property owners or voters to charge their customers fees to fund programs aimed at protecting groundwater, the California Supreme Court ruled on Monday.  But the justices in a unanimous decision also said the districts cannot charge cities disproportionately more than farmers for conservation efforts. ... ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  California water districts don’t need voter approval on fees

Portable treatment system to create first virtual water district:  “One of the hard truths revealed by California’s five-year drought is that many small, rural communities lack the resources to adapt to water shortages. In this case, that means both money and expertise.  It can be very expensive, for instance, to build a new water treatment plant or connect with one in the next closest town. Even if a community finds the money to build a small treatment plant, it may not have anyone locally with the expertise to operate it.  These problems are not unique to California, but common to rural areas worldwide. … ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  Portable treatment system to create first virtual water district

High-pressure ridge settles along West Coast: Is it ever going to rain again?  “Like an invisible wall, a high-pressure ridge is stretching along the entire West Coast, from northern Washington to Southern California, blocking Pacific storms and keeping conditions dry.  Meteorologists, who can only predict weather with some accuracy about 10 to 14 days out, are forecasting the ridge will remain in place, likely preventing any rain until at least Dec. 15.  After that, they don’t know what will happen, but they’re watching the system closely as its trajectory plays into whether the Northwest, Northern California and Southern California see wet or dry winters. … ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  High-pressure ridge settles along West Coast: Is it ever going to rain again?

Some say the Tahoe snow line is moving up; now one study backs them up:  “For years, Sierra residents have murmured about winter rain falling on trails that used to be covered in snow, but there has been no scientific evidence to back up a change in the snowfall pattern.  Now, a new piece of research suggests the snow line, the point of elevation above which rain turns to snow during winter storms, may be changing.  The study published in the journal Water suggests the snow line has risen about 1,200 feet in the northern Sierra Nevada due to rising temperatures since 2007. ... ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  Some say the Tahoe snow line is moving up; now one study backs them up

In commentary today …

Protect Delta water with a dam across Carquinez Strait, says Mark Altgelt:  He writes, “California’s primary source of water is at risk because the sea level is gradually rising and will begin to contaminate the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta estuary with ocean water.  The Sea level is predicted to rise 3 to 7 feet by 2100, depending on how fast Antarctic and Greenland ice melts. A 3-foot rise in sea level would inundate the Delta estuary west of Route 5. A larger catastrophe is also looming because any one of several known potential glacier collapses would significantly exceed current sea level rise predictions. … ”  Read more from the Vallejo Times-Herald here:  Protect Delta water with a dam

A test of California’s commitment to groundwater management:  Bruce Delgado writes, “Throughout California, access to water and how it is distributed is a perennial issue. Water conflicts are often nuanced and take on a life of their own. In some cases, a local conflict can have statewide implications — the City of Marina, a small city along the shores of Monterey Bay, finds itself in such a conflict.In 2009, the California State Water Resources Control Board ordered the private, for-profit California American Water Company to end its illegal water diversions from the Carmel River. In looking for alternate water sources, Cal Am now has focused on a proposal to sink slant wells in the City of Marina to supply a desalination plant, which would pump large amounts of water from an aquifer within the Salinas Valley Groundwater Basin. ... ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  A test of California’s commitment to groundwater management

In regional news and commentary today …

Nevada Irrigation District bargains with Centennial Dam opponents:  “Nevada Irrigation District is negotiating with groups that have filed protests against its application for water rights on the Bear River.  The district has applied to divert up to 221,400 acre feet of water annually on the Bear River to feed the proposed Centennial Reservoir. In order to begin diversion, the district’s application for water rights must be accepted, said Timothy Moran, a public information officer for the State Water Resources Control Board. … ”  Read more from The Union here:  Nevada Irrigation District bargains with Centennial Dam opponents

North Bay: After the fires, rain – and the threat of toxic runoff:  “One of Katya Robinson’s favorite things about her Coffey Park home was the walkway up to her front door.  “We had this great front little wavy fence that was really welcoming and a beautiful tomato garden right here, to the left,” she points as we step over piles of ash and fire debris. “Now, it kind of looks like big pile of trash.”  Her home, like almost all of the others in her neighborhood, was completely leveled in the fire. All that’s left are some cast iron pans, mangled hot water heaters, and pools of melted metal. The blackened skeleton of her car is one of hundreds, oddly sitting in the driveways of the flattened subdivision. … ”  Read more from KALW here:  After the fires, rain – and the threat of toxic runoff

Marin escapes major flooding from King Tide:  “The king tide that washed into Marin on Monday didn’t create a lake out of the Manzanita Park-and-Ride lot near Mill Valley as expected, but it did flood parts of a walking and bike trail, and more high water is expected in the coming days.  A tide of 7 feet was expected at 11:08 a.m. Monday and, in anticipation, Caltrans closed a section of the commuter lot under Highway 101 to prevent cars from flooding as has occurred in previous years. … ”  Read more from the Marin Independent Journal here:  Marin escapes major flooding from King Tide

King Tides a sign of what sea level rise may look like in California:  “A sign of the times, or just the “tide”?  On Monday, San Francisco residents got a peek at what the sea level looks like elevated, with the king tides boosting the water 6 inches or more.  The king tides happen only a couple times a year. When paired with a storm, the result can be flooding all over the street, which is what we saw last January.  But even on a calm day, it’s still a reminder the status quo and sea wall now won’t work in a decade or two. … ”  Read more from NBC Bay Area here:  King Tides a sign of what sea level rise may look like in California

Shoreline collapses in Oakland estuary, pushing pier, shipping containers into the water:  “A pier collapsed in Oakland’s Clinton Basin area Friday afternoon near the site of the Brooklyn Basin Project.  Officials said about 300 feet of shoreline crumbled, which pushed the pier into the water around 4:15 p.m. Friday.  The Oakland Fire Department put booms in the water to prevent materials from spreading. There were four shipping containers on the pier when it collapsed. ... ”  Read more from CBS Bay Area here:  Shoreline collapses in Oakland estuary, pushing pier, shipping containers into the water

Monterey Bay advocates ready to fight marine sanctuaries executive order:  “With the future of the country’s national marine sanctuaries unknown, Californians are loading up their quivers, tightening their bows and dusting off their shields.  A review on the national marine sanctuaries requested by President Trump was submitted to the White House on Oct. 25, but it has not been made available to the public. Fearing the worst, local organizations and individuals are preparing to defend these areas once again, should the Trump administration attempt to rollback the protections. But part of it is a waiting game. … ”  Read more from the Santa Cruz Sentinel here:  Monterey Bay advocates ready to fight marine sanctuaries executive order

Lompoc: EPA settles on final Casmalia toxic dump cleanup plan; public comment sought:  “Some 28 years after Casmalia Resources’ hazardous waste facility shut down, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has settled on a plan for final cleanup of the 252-acre site where more than 5.6 billion pounds of solid and liquid toxic waste was deposited between 1972 and 1989.  EPA officials plan to conduct a public meeting Wednesday, Dec. 6, to outline the plan and receive written and oral comments about it that will become part of the official record to be considered when the plan comes up for final approval. ... ”  Read more from the Lompoc Record here:  EPA settles on final Casmalia toxic dump cleanup plan; public comment sought

Metropolitan Water District board approves repair of Lake Mathew’s forebay lining and outlet tower:  “The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California approved the repair of the forebay lining and outlet tower at Lake Mathews.  The Nov. 14 MWD board vote awarded a $3,248,000 contract to J.F. Shea Construction for the work while appropriating $4,570,000 for the project. The board action also found the project categorically exempt from California Environmental Quality Act review. … ” Read more from Valley News here:  Metropolitan Water District board approves repair of Lake Mathew’s forebay lining and outlet tower

Drought and bugs have killed tens of thousands of trees in the Santa Monica Mountains:  “When biologist Rosi Dagit wants to give people a glimpse of the urgency of the problem afflicting trees in the Santa Monica Mountains, she takes them to a withering oasis in Topanga Canyon where hundreds of sycamores, alders and willows are dead and dying.  Just six years ago, the creek offered all the arboreal comforts needed for frogs, newts and protected fish such Arroyo chubs and steelhead trout to avoid extinction: leafy canopies to control water temperature and prevent algae blooms, and willows buzzing with insects for nourishment.  Now, streamside trees weakened by drought are being ravaged by fungal diseases and swarms of insects the size of sesame seeds — imperiling not only the lush canopy but all the creatures that live in the stream. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Drought and bugs have killed tens of thousands of trees in the Santa Monica Mountains

Long Beach officials get earful before approving plan for 70 oil wells, wetlands restoration:  “Cries of outrage met a unanimous recommendation by the Long Beach Planning Commission in favor of a proposed land swap deal that would allow an oil company to drill new wells in the southeast part of the city in exchange for wetlands restoration.  “You people are death,” one person yelled after the vote.  The plan, as proposed, involves four pieces of land close to the intersection of Second Street and Studebaker Road near the marshy environment of the Los Cerritos Wetlands. … ”  Read more from the Long Beach Press Telegram here:  Long Beach officials get earful before approving plan for 70 oil wells, wetlands restoration

No ‘retreat’ from rising sea levels for Del Mar:  “The old resort community of Del Mar is facing a reckoning.  It has about 600 homes at beach level on the northern end of the city. They include some of San Diego County’s most expensive properties, including a home owned by Kim Fletcher, a member of one of San Diego’s pioneering families who lives with his wife in a beachfront house on land his grandfather bought in the 1940s.  But rising sea levels are putting the Pacific perilously close to those low-lying homes. As a result, the state Coastal Commission says all cities must devise a plan that addresses the inevitable decline of the shoreline. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union Tribune here:  No ‘retreat’ from rising sea levels for Del Mar

Coachella Valley water picture gets cloudier, says the Desert Sun:  They write, “A recent Supreme Court move has locked the Coachella Valley into what could be a long period of uncertainty when it comes to water.  The nation’s highest judicial body refused to take up an appeal by the Desert Water Agency and the Coachella Valley Water District of a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision that says the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians has a reserved right to groundwater.  This move – leaving in place prior decisions that the right dates to the federal government’s creation of the Coachella Valley reservation under an 1870s treaty – raises significant questions for the Coachella Valley and far beyond. ... ”  Read more from The Desert Sun here:  Coachella Valley water picture gets cloudier

Precipitation watch …

New insights into the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge and the North American winter dipole:  “In the coming days, a remarkably persistent weather pattern will begin to develop across North America and adjacent ocean regions. Characterized by strong high pressure near the West Coast and low pressure over the Eastern Seaboard, this “quasi-stationary,” high-amplitude atmospheric wave pattern will essentially become locked in place for at least the next 2 weeks. Patterns like this have a tendency to become self-reinforcing, lasting for much longer than more typical transient weather patterns and leading to prolonged stretches of unusual weather. This particular event will be no exception: California (and much of the West Coast) will almost certainly experience an extended, multi-week warm and dry spell, while much of the East Coast shivers through repeated blasts of cold, Arctic air. … ”  Read more from Daniel Swain at the California Weather Blog here:  New insights into the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge and the North American winter dipole

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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