DAILY DIGEST: L.A. is doing water better than your city; Clean streams key to aiding recovery of endangered frogs; Carbon farming works. Can it scale up in time?; CA turn to US for money that enviro groups say doesn’t go far enough; and more …

In California water news today, L.A. is doing water better than your city. Yes, that L.A.; Clean streams key to aiding recovery of endangered frogs; Carbon farming works. Can it scale up in time?; CA turn to US for money that environmental groups say doesn’t go far enough; Conservationists see winning issue in Trump era; Toxic chemicals in plastic pollution littering freshwater habitats; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • The Assembly Committee on Water, Parks, and Wildlife will be holding hearings this morning.  The Committee will hold its regular meeting to hear bills starting at 9am. Upon adjournment of that meeting, the Assembly Committee on Water, Parks, and Wildlife will join with Budget Subcommittee No. 3 On Resources And Transportation to hold a joint initiative hearing on the Initiative Statute: Authorize Bonds to Fund Projects for Water Supply and Quality, Watersheds, Fish, Wildlife, Water Conveyance, and Groundwater Sustainability and Storage (aka Jerry Meral’s bond initiative.)  Click here for the agendaClick here to watch on CalChannel.
  • The Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water meets at 9:30am.  Click here for the agenda.

In the news today …

L.A. is doing water better than your city.  Yes, that L.A.: ” … California is in trouble. Computer models show that with climate change will come harsher droughts and less frequent, yet more powerful storms. The state is not ready for this new reality, but one city south of Porterville could teach California how to survive desiccation: Los Angeles.  That is not a typo. Agreed, Los Angeles doesn’t exactly have a sterling reputation as a responsible consumer of water. After all, in the early 1900s it drained Owens Lake, 200 miles away, materializing a dust bowl in its place and giving local residents the old ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. These days, it imports the vast majority of its water from Northern California and the Colorado River to the east at a cost of hundreds of millions a year. … ”  Read more from WIRED Magazine here:  L.A. is doing water better than your city.  Yes, that L.A.

Clean streams key to aiding recovery of endangered frogs in California:  “Scientists working in the Santa Monica mountains of California recently announced that endangered red-legged frogs are successfully breeding on their own in four streams there, for the first time since the 1970s. It’s a huge success for a reintroduction program that began four years ago – and an important story about water quality.  The California red-legged frog (Rana draytonii) was popularized by Mark Twain in his 1865 story, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.” The amphibians were listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 1996 after decades of decline caused by invasive species and water pollution. … ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  Clean streams key to aiding recovery of endangered frogs in California

Carbon farming works.  Can it scale up in time? Lani Estill is serious about wool. And not just in a knitting-people-sweaters kind of way. Estill and her husband John own thousands of sweeping acres in the northwest corner of California, where they graze cattle and Rambouillet sheep, a cousin of the Merino with exceptionally soft, elastic wool.  “Ninety percent of our income from the sheep herd comes from the lamb we sell,” says Estill. But the wool, “it’s where my passion is.”  Wool, an often-overlooked agricultural commodity, has also opened a number of unexpected doors for Bare Ranch, the land Estill and her family call home. In fact, their small yarn and wool business has allowed Lani and John to begin “carbon farming,” or considering how and where their land can pull more carbon from the atmosphere and put it into the soil in an effort to mitigate climate change. And in a rural part of the state where talk of climate change can cause many a raised eyebrow, such a shift is pretty remarkable. ... ”  Read more from Civil Eats here:  Carbon farming works.  Can it scale up in time? 

Californians turn to US for money that environmental groups say doesn’t go far enough:  “California is one step closer to getting a cut of $2.5 billion over the next decade for its water needs now that the House has passed a bill aimed at funding water research and infrastructure projects.  The drought-stricken state has positioned itself as independent of the federal government most notably, the Trump administration on issues ranging from immigration to health care coverage. However, it still turns to federal lawmakers when it needs a financial boost for an issue as central to the state as water. … ”  Read more from Politico here:  Californians turn to US for money that environmental groups say doesn’t go far enough

Conservationists see winning issue in Trump era:  “After winning one of the country’s largest conservation ballot measures in California last week, advocates believe they have found a campaign issue with bipartisan political appeal in the Trump era.  With nearly 57 percent of the vote, California voters approved a record $4.1 billion bond package that will provide funding to a host of environmental priorities, including climate change resilience and stream restoration.  But the measure’s focus — and its biggest pot of money — is aimed at improving to access to parks, especially in underserved communities. According to the measure’s sponsor, the Trust for Public Land, 1 in 3 Americans don’t have a park within a 10-minute walk from home.  The nonprofit says the measure’s success is part of California’s resistance to the Trump administration’s budget cuts and the rollback of environmental regulations. ... ”  Read more from E&E News here:  Conservationists see winning issue in Trump era

Increased deaths and illnesses from inhaling airborne dust: An understudied impact of climate change:  “The Dust Bowl in the 1930s was one of the worst environmental disasters of the 20th century. Intense dust storms relentlessly pounded the southern Great Plains of the United States, wreaking severe ecological damage, forcing 2.5 million people to leave the region and claiming unnumbered lives, mainly from “dust pneumonia.”  Research has shown that this disaster was fueled by a combination of severe droughts and over-cultivated lands. Today, climate change driven by human actions is enhancing the occurrence of droughts in multiple regions around the world. ... ”  Read more from The Conversation here:  Increased deaths and illnesses from inhaling airborne dust: An understudied impact of climate change

Toxic chemicals in plastic pollution littering freshwater habitats:  “When we consider the glut of plastic rapidly accumulating all over the world, it’s easy to see the problem of pollution and disposal of substances that don’t biodegrade. However, it’s not always as apparent to us that plastic pollution also means a growing number of toxic chemicals in the environment, many of which can be harmful to ecosystems.  Plastic polymers and the products made from them are wildly diverse as to chemical properties, composition, and range of potential applications, although most plastics are made from petrochemicals. Throughout the very long lifespan of any given plastic product, the material may release various hazardous substances. … ”  Read more from the Environmental Monitor here:  Toxic chemicals in plastic pollution littering freshwater habitats

In commentary today …

Proposed drinking water tax is driving us not to drink, says the OC Register:  They write, “A plan to hit Californians with a first-of-its-kind statewide tax on drinking water is on ice, for now.  The proposed tax would cost most Californians about $1 per month on their residential water bills. Businesses would pay $4 to $10 per month.  Although California voters just approved another $4 billion in bonds including funds for clean water, and the November ballot will ask voters to approve about $8 billion more, Gov. Jerry Brown says it wasn’t enough. He pushed for the tap-water tax to raise another $140 million per year to clean up contaminated drinking water for 360,000 rural Californians, mostly in the San Joaquin Valley. … ”  Read more from the OC Register here:  Proposed drinking water tax is driving us not to drink

In regional news and commentary today …

Klamath water users argue tribes’ lawsuits filed in wrong court:  “The Klamath Water Users Association is asking a federal judge in San Francisco to dismiss a lawsuit filed in May by the Klamath Tribes, arguing the case should be heard in a different venue.  The tribes are suing three federal agencies, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Reclamation and National Marine Fisheries Service, seeking an injunction to hold more water in Upper Klamath Lake for endangered shortnose and Lost River suckers. … ”  Read more from the Capital Press here:  Klamath water users argue tribes’ lawsuits filed in wrong court

Oroville water rates study released:  “A study of Oroville’s highly contrasting water rates requested by the City Council a year and a half ago was presented last week to the Butte Local Agency Formation Commission.  Oroville City Council requested the study on Jan. 17, 2017, after residents with the Lower Oroville Water Rates group collected signatures on a related petition and Oroville Hospital CEO Bob Wentz put up $30,000 for a study.  Residents have long lamented that California Water Service’s rates are higher than the other two local water providers, Thermalito Water and Sewer District, and South Feather Water and Power Agency. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Oroville water rates study released

Sutter County: $50 million on tap from federal government for key levee work:  “A 5-mile stretch of levee in south Sutter County has been on the radar of local levee experts for a few years due to the amount of flood fighting required during high-water events – the latest occurring in 2017.  Officials have tried to obtain federal funding for the project but to no avail, until recently.  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released its 2018 work plan that highlights new construction projects set to receive federal funding. Levee work in the Sutter Basin was included in the plan and is designated to receive roughly $50 million from the federal government – the rest of the cost will be shared between the state and the Sutter Butte Flood Control Agency. … ”  Read more from the Appeal Democrat here:  Sutter County: $50 million on tap from federal government for key levee work

Civic pride and the Sacramento River Water Intake Structure:  “An iconic symbol representing Sacramento’s relationship with its two rivers, the Sacramento River Water Intake Structure is as striking as it is functional. Its job — to supply water at a capacity of 160 million gallons per day and to protect threatened fish species — and its purpose are inexplicably blurred. A visible beacon from several vantage points, the structure was designed to both engage the community and give Sacramento a new river landmark. The City of Sacramento has mandated that public works projects be planned in a way that contributes to public art and architecture, and the intake structure clearly achieves that goal. … ”  Read more from Comstock’s Magazine here:  Civic pride and the Sacramento River Water Intake Structure

Interlake Tunnel pact on white bass would drive project cost above $90 million:  “With the proposed Interlake Tunnel project’s future in the balance, Monterey County officials are hopeful they have resolved a key obstacle standing in the way involving the white bass. But it’s going to cost plenty.  On Monday, the Board of Supervisors and the county Water Resources Agency board both unanimously signed off on a proposed agreement with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife on how to handle white bass, a non-native species of fish originally introduced into Lake Nacimiento in the 1960s by state fish and game officials for sport fishing purposes that has since been dubbed a predatory species and prohibited from being transferred to other water bodies including Lake San Antonio where the proposed tunnel would connect. … ”  Read more from the Monterey Herald here:  Interlake Tunnel pact on white bass would drive project cost above $90 million

Michael Prather responds to LADWP and commercial ranch leases:  “The current question in the Eastern Sierra is, “Should the City of Los Angeles dry up LADWP grazing leases in the Crowley Lake area of Mono County – lands where, for over 150 years, ranchers have created meadows and wetlands that support a rich variety of wildlife including our Bi-state sage grouse?” The drying up of 6,000 acres (nearly 10 square miles) of irrigated meadows will morph these lands into dry scrub with far less value for local agriculture and wildlife.  Why would Los Angeles do this? Those of us living embedded in the City of Los Angeles lands have been asking that question for over 100 years. No one knows outside of the LADWP building on ‘Hope’ Street and City Hall. … ”  Read more from the Sierra Wave here: Michael Prather responds to LADWP and commercial ranch leases

Ventura County farmers celebrate launch of monitoring program:  “Farmers and public officials celebrated the launch of a historic water monitoring program during a ribbon cutting ceremony Monday afternoon in Oxnard.  Monday’s celebration, part of the multi-phase Advanced Metering Infrastructure and Water Market program, installed telemetry hardware on an agricultural well owned by Oxnard farmer Fred Van Wingerden. The technology will precisely monitor the amount of water used by the farm. Previously, farmers would self-report their water usage, which raised questions of accuracy.  The program is the first of its kind in California and was created in response to the state’s drought issues and the continued need for area farmers to conserve water.  ... ”  Read more from the Ventura County Star here:  Ventura County farmers celebrate launch of monitoring program

Elsewhere in the West …

Supreme Court: Deadlock in highways-or-habitat fight hands win to tribes:  “The Supreme Court deadlocked today on Washington state’s effort to get off the hook for repairing tunnels that block salmon runs in its northwest corner, including the Puget Sound watershed.  The high court’s 4-4 split affirms a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision that stuck Washington with a hefty tab and handed a big win in the decadeslong legal war over tribal fishing rights to tribes and the federal government.  Justice Anthony Kennedy sat out the case because he had participated in a prior iteration of the litigation while a judge on the 9th Circuit. In split decisions, the court typically does not release information about how individual justices voted. ... ”  Read more from E&E News here: Supreme Court: Deadlock in highways-or-habitat fight hands win to tribes

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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