DAILY DIGEST: The country’s cheapest water is in the West’s driest cities; Ballot measure aims at CA water solutions, but at a steep cost; An acre-foot of water goes a lot further than it used to; Interior Department implements new science policy; and more …

In California water news today, The country’s cheapest water is in the West’s driest cities; Ballot measure aims at CA water solutions, but at a steep cost; In Water-Stressed California and the Southwest, An Acre-Foot of Water Goes a Lot Further Than It Used To; New California law requires day care facilities to test for lead in water; California beaches are supposed to be public. So why is Hollister Ranch an exception?; What Would You Do About Water If You Were California’s Next Governor?; Legal: Reimbursement for State Mandates Denied Because Proposition 218 Does Not Affect Local Governments’ Fee-Levying Authority; Interior Department implements new science policy; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • The Delta Independent Science Board meets this morning by teleconference from 9am to 11am. Agenda items include updates on Water Quality, Ecosystems (Non-native Species), Water Supply Reliability, Interagency Ecological Program (IEP), and Delta Monitoring Enterprise reviews.  Click here for more information.
  • DWR and California Rural Water Association will hold a Drought Preparedness Workshop for small water systems in Victorville from 12pm to 4:30pmFor more information and to register, click here.

In the news today …

The country’s cheapest water is in the West’s driest cities:  “If water were priced according to demand, many Westerners would be smelly and thirsty. But water is a necessity, and demand-based pricing would be unethical. Instead, many cities rely on block pricing for residential use, charging different amounts for essential water and for additional water. Done right, block pricing should encourage conservation while still letting everyone meet their needs: The cost of essential water, used for basics such as clothes washing, staying hydrated, bathing or cooking, is low, while additional water — say, for growing a lush lawn in the desert — costs more. But according to new research, that’s not the reality across the West. … ”  Read more from High Country News here:  The country’s cheapest water is in the West’s driest cities

California water woes: Ballot measure aims at solutions, but at a steep cost: “The biggest ticket item on California’s November ballot, tucked between the governor’s race and local elections, is an $8.9 billion bond to help modernize California’s sprawling waterworks.  The measure, which was authored by a former state water director, would fund scores of projects, from shiny new desalination plants to upgrades of old dams and aqueducts to restoration of tainted watersheds, including San Francisco Bay.  The initiative, Proposition 3, comes as a historic drought has exposed the vulnerabilities of California’s water infrastructure and it has become apparent that hotter, drier times ahead will test the adequacy of state supplies. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  California water woes: Ballot measure aims at solutions, but at a steep cost

Yes, that’s snow in the Sierra and more is expected this weekend: “Barely a week past summer, some Sierra Nevada peaks have received a dusting of snow — and a bigger accumulation is possible this weekend.  The unsettled weather and brisker-than-normal temperatures that have lingered in the Bay Area this week brought hail and snow to the higher elevations of the Lake Tahoe area. … ”  Read more from the Mercury News here:  Yes, that’s snow in the Sierra and more is expected this weekend

In Water-Stressed California and the Southwest, An Acre-Foot of Water Goes a Lot Further Than It Used To: “People in California and the Southwest are getting stingier with water, a story that’s told by the acre-foot. For years, water use has generally been described in terms of acre-foot per a certain number of households, keying off the image of an acre-foot as a football field a foot deep in water. The long-time rule of thumb: One acre-foot of water would supply two typical households for a year. It’s a description that’s stuck, but one that is changing amid drought, changing household habits and improved technology.”  Read more from Western Water here: In Water-Stressed California and the Southwest, An Acre-Foot of Water Goes a Lot Further Than It Used To

New California law requires day care facilities to test for lead in water:  “A law signed by Gov. Jerry Brown will expand California’s requirement to test water in schools for lead to day care centers and pre-schools that serve nearly 600,000 children.  The law marks the first time California’s day care centers have been required to test for lead in water. Only two other states require both K-12 schools and day care centers to do such testing. The testing requirement goes into effect in 2020 to give state regulators time to come up with rules to implement the law. ... ”  Read more from Ed Source here:  New California law requires day care facilities to test for lead in water

California beaches are supposed to be public.  So why is Hollister Ranch an exception? When California ordered property owners to provide beach access for all, Hollister Ranch made the case that the pristine coastline west of Santa Barbara deserved an exception.  With 14,500 acres connected only by private roads, ranchers argued it was impossible for each of them, as required by law, to provide a public route to the beach every time they sought a permit to build. So lawmakers allowed owners to pay a fee instead — with the money going toward a ranch-wide route to be built by the state “as expeditiously as possible.”  But decades later, no one has held up that end of the bargain. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  California beaches are supposed to be public.  So why is Hollister Ranch an exception? 

What Would You Do About Water If You Were California’s Next Governor?There’s going to be a new governor in California next year – and a host of challenges both old and new involving the state’s most vital natural resource, water. So what should be the next governor’s water priorities? Participants at the Water Education Foundation’s Sept. 20 Water Summit in Sacramento offered up a wide-ranging potential to-do list, including increasing flood protection and drought resiliency, improving dam safety and access to clean and affordable water for economically pressed communities.”  Read more from Western Water here:  What Would You Do About Water If You Were California’s Next Governor?

Legal: Reimbursement for State Mandates Denied Because Proposition 218 Does Not Affect Local Governments’ Fee-Levying Authority: “The Third District Court of Appeal issued a decision this week holding that Proposition 218 does not affect the authority of local governments to impose fees or charges to recover the costs of state mandates.  Paradise Irrigation Dist. v. Comm’n on State Mandates (Oct. 1, 2018, C081929) __Cal.App.5th__ [2018 Cal. App. Lexis 894].  The court also held that local governments’ fee authority is not controlled by whether they have tried and failed to impose fees.  Even if a local government unsuccessfully attempts to impose a fee to cover a state mandated cost, it will not be entitled to reimbursement.  As a result, local governments may find themselves in a position where they could be unable to pay for new requirements imposed by the state. … ”  Read more from Somach Simmons & Dunn here:  Legal: Reimbursement for State Mandates Denied Because Proposition 218 Does Not Affect Local Governments’ Fee-Levying Authority

Interior Department implements new science policy:  “The Interior Department has implemented a new policy that it says is meant to boost transparency and integrity of the science that its agencies use to make decisions.  The policy, outlined in an order issued last week by Deputy Secretary David Bernhardt, mandates that officials only use scientific studies or findings whose underlying data are publicly available and reproducible, with few exceptions. … ”  Read more from The Hill here:  Interior Department implements new science policy

In regional news and commentary today …

Lawsuit settlement agreement now signed by city of Ukiah, Sanitation District:  “During what City Manager Sage Sangiacomo described as his last regularly scheduled update to the Ukiah City Council Wednesday on the lawsuit filed by the Ukiah Valley Sanitation District, few details were shared regarding a recent settlement other than that representatives from both agencies had officially signed related documents.  “Is there a signed document?” asked Council member Steve Scalmanini at the Oct. 3 meeting, and City Attorney David Rapport confirmed that both the settlement agreement and the new operating agreement for the Ukiah Valley Wastewater Treatment Plant had been “fully executed by both parties. The operating agreement was signed by (the Sanitation District) today (Oct. 3), and the settlement agreement was signed Oct. 1.” ... ”  Read more from the Ukiah Daily News here:  Lawsuit settlement agreement now signed by city of Ukiah, Sanitation District

Chico: Storm drain trash to cost city $5 million plus:  “A price tag has been calculated for keeping Chico’s trash out of nearby rivers and streams: $5.4 million, plus $122,000 a year.  The city is being required by the State Water Resources Control Board to implement a plan to capture the trash that washes into the city storm drain system, to keep it out of waterways.  The Water Board issues the permits that allow cities to operate storm drain systems, and in December 2015, it amended all the permits statewide to require the trash plans. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Chico: Storm drain trash to cost city $5 million plus

EPA, California settle with UC Regents over Davis Superfund site:  “The Environmental Protection Agency and the state Department of Toxic Substances Control (have reached a settlement with University of California Regents to begin an estimated $14 million cleanup of contaminated soil, solid waste, and soil gas at the Laboratory for Energy-related Health Research/Old Campus Landfill Superfund site in Davis.  Contaminants found at the site include carbon-14, polychlorinated biphenyls, pesticides, solvents, such as chloroform, and metals, such as lead.  “This settlement is an important step toward addressing several decades’ worth of contamination at UC Davis,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Mike Stoker. “By cleaning up the site, the University is protecting public health and the environment.” ... ”  Read more from the Daily Democrat here:  EPA, California settle with UC Regents over Davis Superfund site

Marin County may redraw water basin boundary: “In an effort to sidestep the need to form a new governmental agency and management plan, Marin County has filed an application with California’s Department of Water Resources to reconfigure the boundary of the water basin below Tomales and Dillon Beach.  The move, which supervisors authorized last month, will save the county “a lot of time and a lot of money,” Rebecca Ng, deputy director of Environmental Health Services, said. ... ”  Read more from the Point Reyes Light here:  Marin County may redraw water basin boundary

San Francisco Bay returning to health:  “It’s been a battle, but water quality in San Francisco Bay is finally showing improvement thanks to years of aggressive environmental interventions. One of the groups noticing the difference—and making it happen—is the San Francisco Baykeeper (Baykeeper). Ian Wren, the Staff Scientist from the Baykeeper, spoke to EM about some of the challenges the Bay faces, and what’s being done to improve its water quality. … ”  Read more from Environmental Monitor here:  San Francisco Bay returning to health

Streamflow availability ratings identify surface water sources for groundwater recharge in the Central Valley:  ““In California’s semi-arid climate, replenishment of groundwater aquifers relies on precipitation and runoff during the winter season. However, climate projections suggest more frequent droughts and fewer years with above-normal precipitation, which may increase demand on groundwater resources and the need to recharge groundwater basins. Using historical daily streamflow data, we developed a spatial index and rating system of high-magnitude streamflow availability for groundwater recharge, STARR, in the Central Valley. … Read more from California Agriculture here:  Streamflow availability ratings identify surface water sources for groundwater recharge in the Central Valley

Coachella Valley saw a scintilla of rain this week, regional precipitation way below normal: “The Coachella Valley received a sprinkle of rain this week, but not much more, according to a National Weather Service forecast.  NWS forecaster Miguel Miller said moisture from what had been Hurricane Rosa — now just a tropical depression — brought light rain to the region Monday and Tuesday before a separate low-pressure system originating in the eastern Pacific brought showers and thunderstorms to Riverside County on Wednesday. … ”  Read more from The Desert Sun here:  Coachella Valley saw a scintilla of rain this week, regional precipitation way below normal

Los Angeles: Sup. Sheila Kuehl on Measure W: The Safe, Clean Water Act: “In November, Los Angeles County voters will decide on a proposed parcel tax to fund regional infrastructure projects for stormwater capture. Measure W, the “Safe Clean Water Act,” would raise $330 annually for multi-benefit projects that increase local water supply, clean our drinking water and oceans, and provide green space and recreational opportunities throughout the county—all through a 2.5 cent parcel tax on land that, like concrete, cannot absorb water and therefore generates runoff. In this TPR interview, Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl opines on the importance of stormwater capture to a holistic water management strategy for the region and unpacks the details of the measure before LA voters November 6th. … “  Continue reading at the Planning Report here:  Los Angeles: Sup. Sheila Kuehl on Measure W: The Safe, Clean Water Act

Legal news: Minimum Water Flows/Municipal Water Department: Settlement Agreement Addresses Santa Ana River/Endangered Species: “The City of San Bernardino, California and City of San Bernardino Municipal Water Department (“Water Department”) and the Center for Biological Diversity and San Bernardino Audubon Society (collectively “CBD”) entered into an October 2nd Settlement Agreement (“Agreement”) addressing the maintenance of certain minimum water flows in the Santa Ana River.  The purpose of the Agreement is to protect an endangered species known as the Santa Ana sucker. … ”  Read more from JD Supra here:  Legal news: Minimum Water Flows/Municipal Water Department: Settlement Agreement Addresses Santa Ana River/Endangered Species

San Diego: Progress on water issues:  Mark Muir writes, “When I started my term as board chair of the San Diego County Water Authority in October 2016, California was mired in drought but the San Diego region had sufficient supplies regardless of the weather.  Thankfully, just a few months later, epic rain and snow significantly improved water supply conditions statewide, but not before validating our long-term strategy to develop a drought-resilient portfolio of water resources that protect the region during dry times. In fact, we had enough water to store 100,000 acre-feet of water for the future – a testament to regional foresight, coordination, hard work and investments by ratepayers. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union Tribune here:  San Diego: Progress on water issues

Along the Colorado River …

Deeply Talks: Drought on the Colorado – Can We Adapt to Changing Runoff?  “Snowmelt is shrinking and runoff is coming earlier on the Upper Colorado River, the source of 90 percent of water for 40 million people in the West. This is leading to vegetation changes, water quality issues and other concerns. But it may be possible to operate reservoirs differently to ease some of these effects.  In September’s episode of Deeply Talks, we spoke with two experts about the consequences and opportunities of these changes on the river. … ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  Deeply Talks: Drought on the Colorado – Can We Adapt to Changing Runoff?

Arizona Department of Water Resources “Basic Data Unit” teams prepare for groundwater hydrology “sweeps” season:  “It is high season once again for one of ADWR’s most important duties – collecting data on groundwater levels by the department’s Basic Data Unit.  The staff of the “BD Unit,” as it is known, will be fanning out across the State to measure water levels in wells, measure discharge from pumping wells and collect well inventories.  Each year as the weather cools, the hydrologists and water-resource specialists of the BD Unit conduct their research on 1,700 wells around Arizona that are known as “index wells,” which are wells that are measured each year through the “index line” program. ... ”  Read more from ADWR here:  Arizona Department of Water Resources “Basic Data Unit” teams prepare for groundwater hydrology “sweeps” season

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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