DAILY DIGEST: The abandoned mine problem: Who should bear the burden?; Hoopa Tribe suing feds over endangered salmon; Will steel nets save Montecito?; Hard lessons at the Salton Sea; and more …

In California water news today, The abandoned mine problem: Who should bear the burden?; Smoky skies from wildfires are good for fish, study concludes; Hoopa Tribe suing feds over endangered salmon; Santa Rosa lifts 11-month water quality advisory in Fountaingrove neighborhood; Flooding irrigation being studied in Acampo Park; Santa Barbara County in record drought based on seven-year rainfall total; Lords of the Rings: Will steel nets save Montecito?; Hard lessons at the Salton Sea from the first 15 years of the massive QSA water deal; Arizona holds up the Colorado River drought agreement; Trial under way in long-running Northern Arizona water case; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • San Joaquin Valley Water Forum from 10am to 2pm in Visalia.  Hosted by ACWA Region 6 and 7.  For more information, click here.  You do not have to be a member of ACWA to attend.

In the news today …

The abandoned mine problem: Who should bear the burden? Thousands of abandoned and orphaned mines dot the American West. They pose a danger to both public and environmental health, and responsible parties are difficult to find, differentiate, or hold accountable. Why do inactive mines continue to pose safety hazards and pollute our waterways? The laws in place simply don’t have teeth. The Gold King Mine wastewater spill in southwestern Colorado in 2015 was a good reminder of the scope of the problem of abandoned and orphaned mines and how our current regulatory framework falls short. … ”  Read more from the University of Denver Water Law Review here:  The abandoned mine problem: Who should bear the burden? 

Smoky skies from wildfires are good for fish, study concludes:  “There is at least one beneficial side effect from increased wildfire activity in California. The extra smoke in the air may be good for threatened fish populations, according to new research.  Looking at extensive data from high wildfire years, scientists found that while making it harder to breathe, smoke cools the air by reflecting sunlight. … ” Read more from KCBS here:  Smoky skies from wildfires are good for fish, study concludes

In commentary today …

Farms, food producers taking strides to save water – and the climateKirsten James writes,Water and agriculture go hand in hand. Growing food for the planet’s people consumes 70 percent of its freshwater sources. Therefore, water is not only life-giving, it is life-sustaining.  Yet with climate change, population growth and development on watersheds, an estimated 2 billion people globally face limited access to clean water. And demand for water is expected to grow by 30 percent globally by 2050.  Because agriculture uses the majority of water – and research indicates that water uncertainty is one of the largest risks facing the $5 trillion industry – it makes sense that many agriculture and food companies are concerned about water and the climate change-aggravating water scarcity issues. ... ”  Read more from Water Deeply here: Farms, food producers taking strides to save water – and the climate

In regional news and commentary today …

Hoopa Tribe suing feds over endangered salmon:  “The Hoopa Valley Tribe is suing federal agencies for allegedly failing to reduce the numbers of endangered Coho salmon killed by fisheries in the Pacific Ocean, the tribe announced Wednesday. “Hoopa is making every effort to recover Coho salmon with this lawsuit,” said Vivienna Orcutt, a Hoopa tribal council member.  The tribe demands the Pacific Fishery Management Council reconsult the Endangered Species Act to gauge a fully accurate picture of how current fishing models impact Coho populations near the mouth of the Klamath River. … ”  Read more from the Eureka Times-Standard here:  Hoopa Tribe suing feds over endangered salmon

Commentary:  Pulling the curtain back on Nevada Irrigation District’s ‘compromise’ resolution re: Centennial Dam:  YubaNet writes, “Special Meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 9, was supposed to be an opportunity for public discussion and a vote by NID’s Board of Directors on a resolution brought forth by the South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL) to halt spending on the Centennial Dam project until the district completes their Raw Water Master Plan (RWMP). Resolution 2018-26 passed by NID directors limits the Capital Plan expenditures to $2 million and refocus NID’s priority on the RWMP.  Billed as “a compromise” by Director Scott Miller who proposed this seemingly ad-hoc resolution, the 3-2 vote effectively ended the meeting which had long descended into confusion and chaos. … ”  Continue reading at YubaNet here:  Commentary:  Pulling the curtain back on Nevada Irrigation District’s ‘compromise’ resolution re: Centennial Dam

Santa Rosa lifts 11-month water quality advisory in Fountaingrove neighborhood: “Water in Santa Rosa’s fire-ravaged Fountaingrove neighborhood is safe for drinking and bathing, city officials said Thursday.  The city lifted the water quality advisory in place since the historic Tubbs wildfire in October 2017 melted water pipes in the hilly neighborhood and contaminated sections of the water system with benzene, which can cause cancer.  Residents living in the advisory area of Fountaingrove, where about 1,600 homes burned in the most destructive fire in California history, will get individual notices from the city about the water safety. ... ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here:  Santa Rosa lifts 11-month water quality advisory in Fountaingrove neighborhood

Flooding irrigation being studied in Acampo Park:  “Fourteen acres of vineyards in Acampo were flooded with water coming from the Mokelumne River as part of a program started by local farmers Thursday. The process is called groundwater recharge and has gained statewide attention since the practice launched two years ago.  Farmers in San Joaquin County intentionally flood water into a field to study how it can potentially help other growers down the road. … ”  Read more from CBS Sacramento here:  Flooding irrigation being studied in Acampo Park

Santa Barbara County in record drought based on seven-year rainfall total: “While water supplies have rebounded for much of California, Santa Barbara County is still suffering from the worst drought in recent history, officials said.  Following significant winter rains last year, Gov. Jerry Brown issued an executive order in April 2017 declaring the drought state of emergency over in most counties, including Santa Barbara County.  But saying the drought is over doesn’t make it so, as Robert Lewin, director of the county’s Office of Emergency Management, indicated in a report to the Board of Supervisors this week. … ”  Read more from the Lompoc Record here:  Santa Barbara County in record drought based on seven-year rainfall total

Lords of the Rings: Will steel nets save Montecito?  ” … Now, as the first rains of what looks like an El Niño winter have arrived, a well-connected, privately funded group of women and men, many of whom live in Montecito, has proposed an ambitious plan ahead of the coming storms.  They call themselves The Partnership for Resilient Communities, and they first reached out to community leaders ​— ​from emergency responders to elected officials ​— ​asking: What can we do to help? Then came their bigger question: What can be done to stop a debris flow from happening again? The answer, of course, is nothing. But perhaps, they decided, something could be done to capture and slow a debris flow, should another come down from the steep canyons above Montecito. … ”  Read more from the Santa Barbara Independent here:  Lords of the Rings: Will steel nets save Montecito?

The fight is on at Hollister Ranch, as coastal officials delay development in push for beach access:  “After more than three decades of stops and stalls, the state this week made clear the fight for beach access at Hollister Ranch is far from over.  Coastal officials revived efforts to create a long-delayed public path while also preventing a family from building on its slice of the ranch until all visitors can enjoy the 8.5 miles of secluded Santa Barbara County coastline.  Earlier this year, the fight for access to some of the state’s most unspoiled beaches seemed like a done deal in favor of ranch owners, who have long contended the environment has benefited from their private stewardship. A controversial state deal ceded a contested claim to access by land, and a veto by Gov. Jerry Brown last month was cheered by Hollister as a victory. ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  The fight is on at Hollister Ranch, as coastal officials delay development in push for beach access

Antelope Valley: Water project slated to begin Recharging groundwater, creating rec space:Construction is about to begin on a project that will serve the dual purposes of recharging the groundwater basin beneath Palmdale, while creating a natural recreation space for residents.  The Upper Amargosa Creek Recharge Project will pipe State Water Project water from the California Aqueduct to a series of recharge ponds near Elizabeth Lake Road and 25th Street West, where the water will be allowed to percolate through the ground into the aquifer beneath.  The project is a joint effort with the Palmdale Water District, the city of Palmdale, Antelope Valley-East Kern Water Agency and the Los Angeles County Water Districts. … ”  Read more from the Antelope Valley Press here:  Water project slated to begin Recharging groundwater, creating rec space

Hemet sues Dow Chemical and Shell Oil over contaminated drinking water: Hemet has filed a federal lawsuit against Dow Chemical and Shell Oil seeking reimbursement for the cost of removing a cancer-causing chemical from the city’s water wells.  According to its Sept. 21 suit, the contaminated wells have been tainted by TCP, a “highly toxic substance” used until the 1980s to fumigate soil where crops were grown. The solvent’s chemical name is “1,2,3-trichloropropane.” Hemet Mayor Michael Perciful said low levels of the chemical were discovered in two wells during routine tests at least six months ago. ... ”  Read more from the Riverside Press-Enteprise here:  Hemet sues Dow Chemical and Shell Oil over contaminated drinking water

Aliso Beach berm wasn’t breached over summer for first time in decade, thanks to education, enforcement: Sun umbrellas and beach towels spread across a wide sand berm at the mouth of Aliso Creek, at Aliso Beach, have been common sights from Coast Highway for the last several months. But it wasn’t something ocean environmentalists or lifeguards saw much of over the decade prior.  “Pretty much the entire summer, the berm was never breached,” said Jason Young, lifeguard chief for OC Lifeguards, the agency that keeps watch over beaches from Aliso in Laguna Beach to Poche Beach on the border of Dana Point and San Clemente. “First time in my memory where we’ve had an entire summer go by without the berm breaching.” … ”  Read more from the OC Register here:  Aliso Beach berm wasn’t breached over summer for first time in decade, thanks to education, enforcement

Hard lessons at the Salton Sea from the first 15 years of the massive QSA water deal:  Michael J. Cohen writes, “Oct. 10 marked the 15th anniversary of the signing of the Quantification Settlement Agreement (QSA). The QSA created the nation’s largest transfer of water from agriculture to cities, building resilience and buffering Southern California from the impacts of the state’s recent drought while decreasing California’s reliance on the increasingly stressed Colorado River.  The QSA was a shotgun marriage, as Imperial Irrigation District found itself forced to supply water to San Diego County and others, in exchange for a lot of money and state promises to backstop the deal. ... ”  Read more from the Desert Sun here:  Hard lessons at the Salton Sea from the first 15 years of the massive QSA water deal

How dangerous are the crumbling Del Mar cliffs?Sections of the cliffs along Del Mar’s coastline have violently collapsed three times in recent weeks — casting a specter of disaster along the idyllic shoreline.  Thankfully, beachgoers were clear of the landslides each time the sandstone bluffs came crashing down onto the beach in rolling clouds of dust and heavy debris. In one case, a section of rock that broke loose was reportedly 50 feet wide.  “Two of these landslides happened in the middle of the day in areas where people sit regularly,” said Adam Young, a researcher at UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography, who has been tracking cliff erosion in Del Mar and around the state. “It’s lucky nobody was hurt.” ... ”  Read more from the San Diego Union Tribune here:  How dangerous are the crumbling Del Mar cliffs?

Along the Colorado River …

Arizona holds up the Colorado River drought agreement: “This week, the Bureau of Reclamation released the draft Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan, drawn up by the states within the river’s watershed.  The seven states that rely on Colorado River water are nearing completion of an ambitious two-part plan to protect water in the West, as the already over-allocated Colorado River faces further shrinking due to drought and climate change. The draft plan could spread the burden of exceptionally dry years across all communities that draw from the overtaxed river — if only warring factions inside Arizona could finalize their own portion of the agreement. … ”  Read more from High Country News here:  Arizona holds up the Colorado River drought agreement

Trial under way in long-running Northern Arizona water case“A trial over water rights is underway in one of the longest-running court cases in Arizona history.  The case will determine who has rights to water from the Little Colorado River basin. The claims number in the thousands and likely exceed the water available.  The trial is expected to last years. Up first is the Hopi Tribe, which will spend the next couple of months outlining its past and present water use.  The tribe is challenging an earlier court ruling that said it has no rights to the river since it doesn’t cross Hopi land or to water resources off the reservation, which is landlocked by the much-larger Navajo Nation. ... ”  Read more from US News & World Report here: Trial under way in long-running Northern Arizona water case

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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