NEWS WORTH NOTING: DWR increases SWP allocation to 20%; New report uncovers 5 hallmarks of successful groundwater management; Natural Resources Agency releases updated report on climate resiliency strategies; Water LA 2018 Report for Phase 1 Pilot now available

DWR Increases Allocation to DWR’s Water Contractors

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) today announced a statewide increase in water allocations. Going forward, the vast majority of State Water Project (SWP) contractors will receive 20 percent of their requests. Statewide allocations are based on conservative assumptions and may change depending on rain and snow received this winter. The initial December allocation provided 15 percent to most SWP contractors.

“This incremental adjustment to allocations reflects only very modest improvements to water supply,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth. “California’s variable weather is why we all must make conservation a way of life to sustain our economy and our environment in an ever-changing climate.”

The state’s major reservoirs continue to be well above their historical averages thanks to last year’s record year.  DWR’s California Data Exchange Center website shows current water conditions at the state’s largest reservoirs and weather stations and measures current rain and snow precipitation.

“Unfortunately, the water content of the January snowpack is only slightly higher than it was in January 2015 while we were in the middle of a crippling statewide drought,” said SWP Water Operations Executive Manager John Leahigh. “However, we are only halfway through California’s rainy season and have many opportunities to see a significant improvement in conditions.”

DWR will conduct the season’s second manual snow survey on February 1, 2018 at Phillips Station. On average, the snowpack supplies about 30 percent of California’s water needs as it melts in the spring and early summer. The greater the snowpack water content, the greater the likelihood California’s reservoirs will receive ample runoff as the snowpack melts to meet the state’s water demand in the summer and fall.

Nearly all areas served by the SWP have sources of water other than the allocation, among them streams, groundwater, and local reservoirs. DWR is hopeful that today’s SWP allocation will increase as storms bring rain and snow to the state.

New report uncovers five hallmarks of successful groundwater management

Lessons from across the western US will help California achieve goals set forth in SGMA

From the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and the Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute (DWFI):

Perhaps the two most important elements of successful groundwater management are trust and community engagement. At least that’s what Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and the Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute (DWFI) discovered while investigating the tools and strategies used by groundwater managers across the Western U.S.

In a new report released today, EDF and DWFI seek to provide guidance to groundwater managers in California as they grapple with implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). Passed in 2014, SGMA, for the first time and on an unprecedented scale, created a mandate to rebalance groundwater aquifers and change how they are managed statewide.

“California has embarked on a new era of groundwater management,” said Christina Babbitt, senior manager of EDF’s California Groundwater Program. “This is no longer the Wild West. Now communities and water districts face the considerable challenge of creating successful groundwater management programs. This new report can help them.”

Going beyond the typical technical guidance, The Future of Groundwater in California: Lessons in Sustainable Management from Across the West attempts to get at the “story behind the story” by drawing upon varied experiences of groundwater management to try to understand what works and what does not. The report uses nine case studies from six states to present key lessons learned. The case studies are from Arizona, California, Colorado, Nebraska, Oregon and Texas, and represent areas reflective of a wide range of hydrologic conditions, governance structures and water uses.

The report found that, while there are a diversity of regulatory and voluntary tools available to water managers, ultimately the most effective groundwater management programs had five key elements:

  1. Trust and community involvement
  2. Accurate data
  3. A portfolio of approaches
  4. Performance metrics
  5. Access to adequate funding

Building trust within communities and among people most impacted by groundwater policies emerged as a key, yet often overlooked element of successful groundwater management. In many cases, trust building began by having broad community involvement from the very earliest stages of program development.

“It is vital that all stakeholders feel empowered and part of the process for a program to be effective,” said Babbitt. “We are living in a world in which trust is in short supply, so it was encouraging to see that programs had built such strong levels of trust.”

“There is no silver bullet solution to groundwater management. But there are surprising similarities between some of the most effective programs we looked at,” said Kate Gibson, DWFI’s program coordinator. “Effective management takes time and a lot of patience. Fortunately, California water managers don’t need to go it alone. There’s a lot of knowledge out there and some unique solutions have been discovered already.”

The report can be found here.

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Environmental Defense Fund ( edf.org ), a leading international nonprofit organization, creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. EDF links science, economics, law and innovative private-sector partnerships. Connect with us on  Twitter Facebook and our  Growing Returns blog .

The Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute at the University of Nebraska was founded in 2010 to address the global challenge of achieving food security with less stress on water resources through improved water management in agricultural and food systems. We are committed to ensuring a water and food secure world while maintaining the use of water for other human and environmental needs. Learn more at waterforfood.nebraska.edu/ or follow on Twitter , Facebook , YouTube and Instagram .

Natural Resources Agency Releases Updated Report on Climate Adaptation, Resiliency Strategies

From the California Natural Resources Agency:

The California Natural Resources Agency today released an updated report on state actions and strategies to adapt to a changing climate. The Safeguarding California Plan: 2018 Update lays out a roadmap for everything state agencies are doing and will do to protect communities, infrastructure, services, and the natural environment from climate change impacts.

As California continues to experience rising average temperatures, destructive fires, higher sea levels, and extreme precipitation events, the plan lays out 69 recommendations across 11 sectors and more than 1,000 ongoing actions and next steps developed by scientific and policy experts across 38 state agencies.

“California leads the nation in reducing greenhouse gas emissions to combat the effects of climate change, but impacts already are being felt – and they are disproportionately affecting our most vulnerable communities,” California Natural Resources Secretary John Laird said. “This updated plan shows how we are addressing current impacts and how we are working across state government to create a more resilient future for the generations of Californians to come.”

Last week, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. emphasized the need for climate action in his State of the State address. He also detailed a new plan for investing $1.25 billion in cap-and-trade auction proceeds to reduce carbon pollution and improve public health and the environment.

The updated Safeguarding California Plan reflects hundreds of comments received during the public comment period and includes several new chapters and features, including a Climate Justice chapter highlighting how equity is woven throughout the entire plan.

From pinpointing vulnerabilities in the electricity grid to improving energy efficiency to realigning coastal roads to prepare for sea-level rise, state agencies are funding projects and actions to safeguard both natural and built environments from climate change impacts. Examples include:

  • Assessing transportation vulnerability: In the past year alone, extreme weather in California caused severe flooding, landslides and coastal erosion totaling more than $1.2 billion in highway damages statewide. Extreme events like these and associated costs are expected to become more pronounced and more frequent in the future because of climate change. Caltrans is conducting Climate Change Vulnerability Assessments to identify segments of the State Highway System that may be impacted by rising sea levels and larger storm surge, more frequent wildfires, changing precipitation patterns and increasing temperatures associated with climate change. By identifying the possible risks and implications of climate change, the assessments seek to guide future planning and investments to reduce the likelihood of damage and ensure the long-term future of California’s transportation system. By October 2019, Caltrans expects to complete assessment reports for all 12 Caltrans districts. Using the data from the study, Caltrans intends to help evaluate the vulnerability of other modes of the transportation system through partnerships and data sharing with local and regional agencies.
  • Studying grid vulnerability in Los Angeles County : Research shows the Los Angeles region will see average temperatures rise 3-5 °F by mid-century and experience an increase in the number of “extreme heat days,” adding significant strain on the energy grid. A project funded by the Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) program is developing data that will help local and regional agencies and utilities identify where the grid is most vulnerable, which neighborhoods are served by these problem spots, and what types of adaptation measures should be taken to improve reliability and minimize risks to public health and safety.
  • Building drought resilience in Tulare County : California’s five-year drought left Tulare County particularly vulnerable. Hundreds of households in the unincorporated community of East Porterville lost access to safe drinking water as shallow wells went dry or became contaminated. The State Water Resources Control Board, the California Department of Water Resources and the California Office of Emergency Services worked with local governments to deliver a permanent solution by connecting 1,100 homes to the City of Porterville’s water system. As climate change continues to affect California’s natural environment and hydrology, collaborative efforts such as these will help safeguard communities against the effects of drought and extreme events.

Additional examples of climate change adaptation actions can be found in a compilation developed by the Natural Resources Agency in tandem with the 2018 update.

Later this year, the Natural Resources Agency and other agencies will release California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment, which will include more than 50 reports on expected climate change impacts in California. The Assessment will also include nine regional reports, three topical reports, and a statewide report on vulnerabilities and solutions to climate impacts across the 11 sectors addressed in the 2018 update to the Safeguarding California Plan.

More information about the state’s climate change adaptation efforts can be found at http://resources.ca.gov/climate/safeguarding/.

Water LA 2018 Report for Phase 1 Pilot now available

From the River Project:

The River Project is pleased to announce the release of the Water LA 2018
Report on the Phase I Pilot. The Pilot successfully demonstrates the results of
simple, cost-effective approaches for homeowners to have a significant impact on water management in the Los Angeles region.

The Report finds that homes retrofitted by the Water LA Program:

• Reduced water use down to 54.7 gallons per capita per day
• In a year with average rainfall, they capture and treat an estimated 1.2
million gallons of water.
• Provide 18,175 square feet of native plants and trees for habitat, shade,
air quality enhancements, carbon sequestration, and aesthetic benefits
• Cost an average $5,200 per household in labor and materials

The Water LA 2018 Report can be found at: https://www.theriverproject.org/water-la-2018-report

In cities across the globe, much of the urban landscape is dedicated to housing.
In Los Angeles, residential property is about 60% of the developed landscape. This report summarizes opportunities for and challenges of building a climate-resilient region by making small, distributed changes to the urban landscape.

The initial outcomes demonstrate parcel-based retrofits in Los Angeles reduce the rate of potable water consumption, reduce flood risk, clean streams, and increase local water supply. Hydrologic modeling data indicates that the reworked properties absorb a substantial amount of rainwater into the ground, decreasing pollution in the region’s waterways and recharging the underground aquifers.

Working together with local partners and agencies The River Project also identified and surmounted policy and design barriers to the implementation of nature-based solutions in Los Angeles.

The Water LA neighborhood retrofit program was developed to explore the possibilities of LA residents playing a substantial role in managing the city’s stormwater. Intended to maximize water capture, conservation, and reuse on individual properties, the pilot offered a model for how to design and implement nature-based strategies for home landscapes. The program was developed collaboratively, drawing on expertise from a range of local NGOs and green businesses. The project was led by The River Project, a small local NGO with a long-term commitment to facilitating sustainable watershed management in LA.

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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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