DAILY DIGEST: Water agencies, farmers fret over state’s move to regulate wetlands; Part of CA is sinking; here’s where and why; Feds hurting Lake Powell to prop up Lake Mead, scientists say; How Bitcoin’s footprint is impacting water use; and more …

In California water news today, Water agencies, farmers fret over California’s move to regulate wetlands; Part of California is sinking; here’s where and why; Listening sessions start on long-term conservation; Bills to create drinking water fund die in state legislature; California’s climate policies are a roadmap for others to follow; Feds hurting Lake Powell to prop up Lake Mead, scientists say; How Bitcoin’s footprint is impacting water use; and more …

On the calendar today …

In the news today …

Water agencies, farmers fret over California’s move to regulate wetlands:  “The state of California is working on a new regulatory program to oversee protection of wetlands and other ephemeral water bodies, such as seasonal streams. It comes in response to the Trump administration’s plan to roll back federal protection of such waters, which are critical for wildlife habitat, flood protection, groundwater recharge and water quality.  Water Deeply explored the state’s proposal in detail in an article published this week. But what would this broad new California regulatory program mean to the water industry and developers in the state? … ”  Continue reading at Water Deeply here:  Water agencies, farmers fret over California’s move to regulate wetlands

Part of California is sinking; here’s where and why:  “Researchers from UCLA and the University of Houston have been tracking changes in the groundwater table that runs below California’s San Joaquin Central Valley. The study directed by UCLA’s Department of Geography Dennis Lettenmaier shows how between 2002 and 2016 there was a significant loss of groundwater from what is considered one of the largest agricultural hubs in the United States, as it provides more than half of the country’s fruit, vegetable and nut supply.  … ”  Read more from the Weather Network here:  Part of California is sinking; here’s where and why

Listening sessions start on long-term conservation:  “The California Department of Water Resources held the first of three listening sessions in Sacramento today regarding recently enacted long-term conservation and water-efficiency legislation. Two more listening sessions are planned for Friday and next Tuesday.  During today’s listening session, DWR representatives announced the formation of three public advisory groups to provide input during the implementation stage of the legislation. … ”  Read more from ACWA’s Water News here:  Listening sessions start on long-term conservation

Bills to create drinking water fund die in state legislature:  “California’s legislative session ended last week, and with it, the hopes for a statewide pool of money that would have supported drinking water projects.  It was called the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund, and it would have been available for disadvantaged communities in need of water cleanup projects. The fund would have been sourced by fees on residential water bills and on some agricultural producers. … ”  Read more from Valley Public Radio here:  Bills to create drinking water fund die in state legislature

California’s climate policies are a roadmap for others to follow:  “California has played a vital role in climate and energy policy for decades and is already a global climate policy leader. If Senate Bill 100 is passed, it will be the most important climate law in US history.  Last week, California state legislators voted to transition the state to a carbon-free energy grid by 2045, making it the second state – behind Hawaii – to set such an objective, reported Digital Journal.  If anyone thinks Senate Bill 100 was a piece of legislation that came “out-of-the-blue,” they would be wrong. For nearly half-a-century, California has pioneered energy efficiency initiatives and technologies for buildings and appliances. California was the first state to set vehicle emission standards. … ”  Read more from the Digital Journal here:  California’s climate policies are a roadmap for others to follow

How Bitcoin’s footprint is impacting water use:  “Mineral extraction – gold, silver, copper or iron – has always been constrained by access to water. Miners had to degrade or devour cubic metres of water to produce each gram, a virtual or ‘embedded’ amount known as each precious metal’s water footprint.  Yet today’s world is rushing to extract an unprecedented new source of wealth: blockchain-enabled cyber-currencies. And as millions of ‘data miners’ rush after each twitch of bitcoin prices, currently priced at US $8,100, few know, or likely care, how much water it takes to generate each invisible unit.  To be sure, that footprint varies by location and energy source. Yet based on current trends, and documented water requirements to generate electricity, a back-of-an-envelope calculation suggests bitcoin mining drives both a prodigious and fast-escalating demand for water. … ”  Read more from Source Magazine here:  How Bitcoin’s footprint is impacting water use

Where did all the trash in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch come from? How do we stop it?: “The water bottle could be from Los Angeles, the food container from Manila, and the plastic bag from Shanghai.  But whatever its specific source, almost all of the trash in the infamous Great Pacific Garbage Patch comes from countries around the Pacific Rim.   Concerned about the millions of tons of garbage in the patch – a floating blob of trash halfway between California and Hawaii that’s twice the size of Texas – the Ocean Cleanup project is sending out a giant floating trash collector to try to scoop it up. The first of its cleanup systems launches Saturday near San Francisco. … ”  Read more from USA Today here:  Where did all the trash in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch come from? How do we stop it?

In commentary today …

California’s Water Fix was always a dangerous deal; now the Trump Administration is making it worse, say Eric Wesselman and Robert Wright:  They write, “There are many reasons to oppose the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta water tunnels project, now called the California WaterFix. The Trump administration has just added a few more.  The WaterFix is the most controversial and expensive water project in California history. It would install two huge tunnels, at a cost of at least $20 billion, revamping the way the state diverts water from the Sacramento River and the delta to farms and cities to the south. The earlier “peripheral canal” version of this project was voted down in a statewide referendum by a 2-to-1 margin in 1982. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  California’s Water Fix was always a dangerous deal; now the Trump Administration is making it worse

Only the powerful get relief from environmental law, says Dan Walters:  He writes, “During his eight years as a state senator, Anthony Cannella rarely speechified on the Senate floor, unlike his more verbose colleagues.  But he did so last Friday, the last day of the 2016-18 biennial session and Canella’s last time on the floor.  Cannella, a Republican from Modesto, rose to talk about a bill that would fast-track an Inglewood arena for the Clippers basketball team through the regulatory thicket of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). … ”  Read more from Cal Matters here:  Only the powerful get relief from environmental law

In regional news and commentary today …

Sprawling Jenner Headlands Preserve on Sonoma Coast opening to the public:  “Anyone who has ever driven past the hills that rise sharply here from the coast north of the Russian River outlet and wondered about the view from the top need wait little longer.  On Friday, the gates to the Jenner Headlands Preserve will be open to the public, adding an open space larger than Trione-Annadel State Park to the mix of protected, accessible lands lining the scenic Sonoma Coast. … ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here:  Sprawling Jenner Headlands Preserve on Sonoma Coast opening to the public

PG&E seeks offers to purchase Potter Valley hydroelectric facilities:  “Pacific Gas and Electric Co. on Thursday began the auction process for soliciting proposals from parties interested in purchasing its Potter Valley Project, a hydroelectric facility in Mendocino and Lake counties.  The Potter Valley Project consists of two dams along the upper Main Stem Eel River, a powerhouse in Potter Valley, and about 5,600 acres of land, including Lake Pillsbury in Lake County.  PG&E acquired the Potter Valley Project in 1930, according to PG&E spokeswoman Deanna Contreras. The Cape Horn Dam and powerhouse were built from 1905 to 1908, and the Scott Dam (forms Lake Pillsbury) was built 1920-21 and increased by 10 feet in height in 1925. ... ”  Read more from Lake County News here:  PG&E seeks offers to purchase Potter Valley hydroelectric facilities

Muddy waters: Local silica mine faced with mitigation measures, potential fines in contamination investigation: “Morris Ravine Creek is usually as clear as any other waterway in Butte County’s eastern foothills, but heavy rain makes the water run the color of chocolate milk.  That’s not normal. According to Josh Brennan, a warden with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), storm conditions churn up unnatural deposits of sediment that settle into cracks and crevices within the creek, burying the bases of trees in several inches of sand and smothering most aquatic life.  “Most of the time, it looks like a nice creek,” Brennan said, “but the creek is essentially dead.” ... ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Muddy waters: Local silica mine faced with mitigation measures, potential fines in contamination investigation

Yuba Water Agency buying Dobbins property, hydropower facility: “The Yuba Water Agency announced plans to purchase a 20-acre property in Dobbins worth about $220,000 to build a new warehouse and office building.  “This expansion is needed due to our growing workload and to ensure our reliability as a participant in the California wholesale electric market,” said Mike Kline, manager of power systems for the agency, in a press release. “Additional warehouse space is needed to grow the inventory of spare parts that support that level of reliability.”  The agency’s chores have increased in the past couple years after taking over operation of the New Bullards Bar energy production from Pacific Gas & Electric. ... ” Read more from the Appeal Democrat here:  Yuba Water Agency buying Dobbins property, hydropower facility

Quenching the Monterey Peninsula’s thirst: “The Monterey Peninsula has some of the most expensive water in the country. It also doesn’t have enough of it. A new project would help solve the water shortage by recycling the area’s wastewater. But exactly how much water the project will end up recycling remains uncertain, and some locals still worry about drinking water that may have irrigated crops months earlier.  The project, known as Pure Water Monterey, or PWM for short, is a collaboration between two public agencies: the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District and Monterey One Water. ... ”  Read more from Voices of Monterey Bay here:  Quenching the Monterey Peninsula’s thirst

San Luis Obispo County residents could be on the hook for $6 million to repair Oroville Dam:  “Water users in San Luis Obispo County will likely be on the hook for a portion of the costs of the 2017 crisis at Oroville Dam that’s surged past $1 billion — and it could run into the millions.  On Wednesday, the state Department of Water Resources revealed a $1.1 billion cost estimate for the massive repair work at America’s tallest dam. The cost of the emergency response, and the subsequent repairs to the dam’s two flood-control spillways, has periodically risen since officials made their initial estimates following the crisis, which triggered the evacuation of 188,000 residents. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  San Luis Obispo County residents could be on the hook for $6 million to repair Oroville Dam

Doheney proposal proves its possible to do desalination right in Orange County, says Garry Brown:  He writes, “Corporate profiteers like Poseidon have given seawater desalination a bad name, but a proposal in south Orange County shows that it is possible to use this technology responsibly.  While Poseidon’s oversized, overpriced and outdated Huntington Beach project is widely opposed, the smaller plant South Coast Water District wants to build near Doheny State Beach has earned broad support, including from environmental groups like Orange County Coastkeeper. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Doheney proposal proves its possible to do desalination right in Orange County

Along the Colorado River …

Feds hurting Lake Powell to prop up Lake Mead, scientists say:  “Federal management of the Colorado River’s reservoirs is draining Lake Powell while keeping Lake Mead propped up out of shortage territory, says a team of scientists studying the river.  Since 2015, Lake Mead — the source of Central Arizona Project water serving Tucson and Phoenix — has typically finished each year barely above the level where CAP cutbacks would be required. A key reason shortages were avoided is that for four straight years, federal officials sent the embattled lake an above-normal release of water from Lake Powell, the giant reservoir at the Utah border that’s separated from Mead by the Grand Canyon. The releases have been 9 million acre-feet, compared to normal annual releases of 8.23 million acre-feet. … ”  Read more from the Arizona Daily Star here:  Feds hurting Lake Powell to prop up Lake Mead, scientists say

Can Steadier Releases from Glen Canyon Dam Make Colorado River ‘Buggy’ Enough for Fish and Wildlife?  “Water means life for all the Grand Canyon’s inhabitants, including the insects that are a foundation of the ecosystem’s food web. But hydropower operations upstream on the Colorado River at Glen Canyon Dam disrupt the natural pace of insect reproduction as the river rises and falls, sometimes dramatically. But a recent experimental flow is raising optimism that the decline in insects such as midges, mayflies and caddisflies can be reversed. … ”  Read more from Western Water here:  Can Steadier Releases from Glen Canyon Dam Make Colorado River ‘Buggy’ Enough for Fish and Wildlife?

Lingering Colorado River drought could lead to water shortages:  “The Colorado River system’s ongoing 19-year drought could trigger unprecedented water rationing among its southern states by mid-2020, a new study warns.  The river, which supplies 40 million people, is going through the longest dry spell in recorded history and one of the driest in the past 1,200 years, according to the Bureau of Reclamation.  Over this summer, Reclamation said the chance of a water shortage in the river’s lower basin rose from 52 percent to 57 percent by 2020, based on computer model projections that look ahead five years. The shortages could affect Arizona, California and five other southern states. ... ”  Read more from Scientific American here:  Lingering Colorado River drought could lead to water shortages

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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