DAILY DIGEST: Water leaders provide promising updates for Delta smelt restoration project; Wetlands complicate battle to extinguish smoky Solano County fire; Reduced Sierra Nevada snowmelt to threaten California ag; Water infrastructure up next for Senate; and more …

In California water news today, Water leaders provide promising updates for Delta smelt restoration project; Wetlands complicate battle to extinguish smoky Solano County fire; Reduced Sierra Nevada snowmelt to threaten California agriculture; The toxins of our past still threaten the future of killer whales; Senate: Water infrastructure up next after ‘rock bottom’ brawl; IPCC report makes the case for more ambitious climate pact; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • Webinar: Understanding California’s Water Efficiency Legislation from 10am to 11:30am.  Free webinar hosted by the Water Now Alliance.  Click here to register.
  • Kirby Brill, Building Bridges to a New World in Water Resource Management this evening from 5:30 to 8:30 pm in Fresno.  Hosted by the San Joaquin Branch Meeting of the Groundwater Resources Association.  Click here to register.  You do not have to be a member to attend.

In the news today …

Water leaders provide promising updates for Delta smelt restoration project:  “The second year of a program to improve conditions for the endangered Delta smelt shows promise in creating a bloom in the plankton that nourish the imperiled fish.  State and federal water leaders were joined Monday by Sacramento Valley farmers and water providers along the banks of the Yolo Bypass to hail the importance of the Delta Smelt Resiliency Strategy — a multipronged effort around restoring wetland habitat across the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to bolster the smelt population.  The strategy will re-activate the floodplain in the Sacramento Valley for the benefit of fish and wildlife, farms, cities and rural communities, according to speakers meeting at Conaway Ranch east of Woodland. ... ”  Read more from the Daily Democrat here:  Water leaders provide promising updates for Delta smelt restoration project

Wetlands complicate battle to extinguish smoky Solano County fire: “Firefighters have mostly surrounded a smoky grass fire in Solano County but the blaze moved into marshland Monday, and officials said it could take a week to extinguish the flames.  The Branscombe Fire, near Suisun City, has consumed about 4,700 acres and continues to burn on Grizzly Island, a state wildlife area that features natural tidal wetlands and artificially diked marshes. The conflagration is 80 percent contained, according to the Suisun Fire Protection District. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  Wetlands complicate battle to extinguish smoky Solano County fire

Reduced Sierra Nevada snowmelt to threaten California agriculture:  “An estimated three-quarters of the water used by farms, ranches and dairies in California originates as snow in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, but the future viability of that resource is projected to be at heightened risk due to global climate change.  In a study published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, University of California, Irvine researchers argue that a 1.0 degree Celsius increase in the global average winter will lead to a 20 percent jump in the likelihood of below-average snow accumulation in the high country, resulting in lower spring runoff. In this article, the authors describe how snow water equivalent, an important measure of water availability, and the elevation of the snowpack respond to different levels of warming. … ”  Read more from PhysOrg here:  Reduced Sierra Nevada snowmelt to threaten California agriculture

The toxins of our past still threaten the future of killer whales:  “A family of chemicals banned more than 30 years ago is still making it difficult for killer whales around the globe to have babies.  In fact, half of the world’s orca populations could collapse over the next century from exposure to polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) pollution, according to a study published last month in the journal Science.  “I’m always just surprised to see that we’re still talking about these old contaminants and these are the ones we still find in the highest concentrations everywhere,” says Magali Houde, a researcher with the Aquatic Contaminants Research Division for the Canadian government, who was not involved in the new study. … ”  Read more from Popular Science here:  The toxins of our past still threaten the future of killer whales

Senate: Water infrastructure up next after ‘rock bottom’ brawl:  “The Senate will hit the reset button this week to consider water infrastructure legislation, after the recent bitter and partisan brawl over sexual assault allegations and confirmation for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.  Speaking of the chaos that engulfed the chamber over the nominee, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said last week, “If this is not rock bottom, I wouldn’t want to be in my business.”  The bipartisan water infrastructure bill due for a procedural vote this evening is the first test for senators after the Kavanaugh vote. … ”  Read more from E&E News here:  Water infrastructure up next after ‘rock bottom’ brawl

IPCC report makes the case for more ambitious climate pact:  “The goal posts for the Paris Agreement have moved.  The world’s top climate scientists this weekend declared that keeping temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius — 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit — is no longer sufficient. Instead, they said, the globe must prevent warming of 1.5 C above preindustrial levels or abandon billions of people to the social and natural dangers of runaway warming.  The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a consortium of experts from 40 countries, authored the report, which incorporated findings from 6,000 scientific studies aimed at assessing the difference between a 1.5 C increase and a 2 C increase. … ”  Read more from E&E News here:  IPCC report makes the case for more ambitious climate pact

In commentary today …

Figuring on climate change: Model Outputs Vary, but Worries Are Real, says Tom Philp:  He writes, “The state of California recently released its Fourth Climate Change Assessment. Among the technical reports was a deep dive into the future of the State Water Project and the Central Valley Project. It was over my head. It was calling my name. And in climate change’s frenzied media cycle, the whole assessment soon faded.  That’s too bad. This assessment of the state’s two largest water projects provides an important but foggy glimpse into what all of our water successors come 2060 will likely be fighting about. The fog is due to how there is no single prediction from what today’s best science, collectively, is trying to tell us. ... ” Read more from Water Deeply here:  Figuring on climate change: Model Outputs Vary, but Worries Are Real

Solving the West’s wildfire problems means solving human problems, says Chuck Striplin:  He writes, “Since last year’s devastating North Bay wildfires struck a five-county region in Northern California, destroying 44 lives and almost 9,000 homes, the residents, business leaders, elected officials, tribes, scientists, and managers in the region have been engaging in a long process of introspection. The scale of the disaster forced the examination of some long-neglected truths about our place in the landscape, our place in our watersheds — and our obligation to be better stewards … for the sake of our very own lives.  I’m a watershed steward for the North Coast Regional Water Board, where last October, I found myself working far outside my normal duties as our office led the state’s post-fire erosion-control response. … ”  Read more from Bay Nature here:  Solving the West’s wildfire problems means solving human problems

In regional news and commentary today …

Prop 3 would pay for water and habitat projects.  Will North State voters want them?  “For the second time this year, California voters will be asked to approve a bond measure to pay for water infrastructure and environmental protection programs. Proposition 3 on the November statewide ballot asks voters to approve $8.9 billion in bonds to pay for water infrastructure and environmental projects. …  Prop. 3 supporters in the Sacramento Valley say the bond measure would provide millions of dollars for habitat improvement for salmon and other wildlife. ... ”  Read more from the Redding Record Searchlight here:  Prop 3 would pay for water and habitat projects.  Will North State voters want them?

Fortresses of mud: How to protect the San Francisco Bay Area from rising seas: “There’s something apocalyptic about this pond on the east side of San Francisco Bay, California. The legacy of a salt industry that has moved elsewhere, it has subsided a couple of metres below the level of neighbouring marshland. Algae paints red swirls in the brown water, and the pond’s edge is crusted hard with sparkling salt. As a breeze eases off the bay, a squadron of pelicans sails by, en route to more-appetizing hunting grounds.  But there is a better future ahead for landscapes like this one in the Eden Landing Ecological Reserve and elsewhere around the bay. Over the next decade, government officials plan to fill many such depressions with sediment and then open them up to the tides. ... ”  Read more from Nature here:  Fortresses of mud: How to protect the San Francisco Bay Area from rising seas

SF officials running tests on drinking water in Sunset after complaint about pesticides: “San Francisco water officials said Monday night they’re testing drinking water in the city’s Sunset District after receiving a report from a customer who said her water “tasted funny.”  Officials with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission said the tests are “out of an abundance of caution” and that they have no evidence of water quality issues.  But the customer who said she complained, Mel Scardina, told The Chronicle on Monday night hat officials told her they found pesticides in water around the Sunset. … ”  Read more from the SF Chronicle here:  SF officials running tests on drinking water in Sunset after complaint about pesticides

The big bore is over: OID has a new tunnel for some of its Stanislaus River water:  “The Oakdale Irrigation District has completed a $15 million tunnel that bypasses a section of canal at risk of rock slides.  The 5,949-foot tunnel a few miles east of Knights Ferry is the 10th that OID has built since it formed in 1909 to tap the Stanislaus River.  One machine bored from the east and one from the west after the project launched in September 2017, with a break for the 2018 irrigation season. The drillers met last month precisely where surveyors had planned, General Manager Steve Knell said Monday. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  The big bore is over: OID has a new tunnel for some of its Stanislaus River water

Along the Colorado River …

Amid Climate and Fed Pressure, Colorado River Water Managers Attempt To Chart New Course: “In 2007, years into a record-breaking drought throughout the southwestern U.S., officials along the Colorado River finally came to an agreement on how they’d deal with future water shortages — and then quietly hoped that wet weather would return.  But it didn’t.   Those states are now back at the negotiating table to hammer out new deals to avoid a slow-moving crisis on the river system that supports 40 million people in seven Western states. … ”  Read more from KUNC here:  Amid Climate and Fed Pressure, Colorado River Water Managers Attempt To Chart New Course

Phoenix prepares for the worst amid looming Colorado River shortage:  “On a tour of the Union Hills Water Treatment Plant, Troy Hayes, Assistant Director at Phoenix’s Water Services Department, pointed out a giant, open rectangle of untreated water.  “We bring water off [the] canal, and we’re adding a few chemicals here to get the heavier materials to fall out,” he said.  That is just one of many steps to clean Colorado River water coming in from the Central Arizona Project canal. The facility can produce up to 160 million gallons of water a day, Hayes said. … ”  Read more from KJZZ here:  Phoenix prepares for the worst amid looming Colorado River shortage

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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