DAILY DIGEST: Water projects agree to update operations pact; Tiny salamander could spell problems to heighten Shasta Dam; Trump’s rule a wild card for Western water supplies; and more …

In California water news today, Water projects agree to update operations pact; Tiny salamander could spell problems to heighten Shasta Dam; Trump’s rule a wild card for Western water supplies; Trump eyes Denham as Secretary of the Interior; and more …

In the news today …

Water projects agree to update operations pact:  “Intending to create immediate environmental improvement and long-term collaboration, operators of state and federal water projects have updated a longstanding agreement that defines how they share water-quality and environmental-flow obligations imposed by regulatory agencies.  The California Department of Water Resources and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced they resolved differences in an agreement known as the Coordinated Operation Agreement, or COA, approving updates to how the State Water Project and federal Central Valley Project operate to meet environmental regulations and downstream obligations.  “The state and federal projects are intertwined, and we have a joint interest and responsibility to ensure our water system meets California’s needs, especially as conditions change,” DWR Director Karla Nemeth said. ... ”  Read more from Ag Alert here: Water projects agree to update operations pact

Tiny salamander could spell problems to heighten Shasta Dam:  “A trio of tiny salamander species could mean big trouble for federal officials spearheading a controversial $1.4-billion public works project to heighten the Shasta Dam in Northern California.  Two environmental organizations — the Center for Biological Diversity and the Environmental Protection Information Center — filed a federal lawsuit last month asking a judge to force the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to determine whether the Shasta salamanders should be protected under the Endangered Species Act. ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Tiny salamander could spell problems to heighten Shasta Dam

Trump eyes Denham as Secretary of the Interior:  “Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, is under consideration to be the next U.S. Secretary of the Interior.  Denham, who lost his re-election bid on Nov. 6 to Democrat Josh Harder, may replace Ryan Zinke, who is leaving the post a year’s end. Denham’s Chief of Staff Bret Manley confirmed the White House has approached his boss about the position.  Also reportedly consideration for the Interior post is U.S. Senator Dean Heller of Nevada. ... ”  Read more from The Ceres Courier here:  Trump eyes Denham as Secretary of the Interior

In commentary today …

DWR Director Karla Nemeth: What new water deals mean and what work is left to be done:  She writes, “California’s State Water Project and federal Central Valley Project span several northern watersheds, converging in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, where their pumping stations operate a stone’s throw away from one another. They coordinate their operations on a daily basis and have done so for decades.  Earlier this month, the California Department of Water Resources signed three agreements updating how the state and federal projects share environmental and financial obligations associated with their operations.  The department also joined the California Department of Fish and Wildlife in outlining a comprehensive plan for improving river flows and restoring habitat in key watersheds. While each of these actions is important on its own, together they provide a critical set of tools to maintain a productive partnership in managing California’s limited resources into the future. ... ”  Read more from Cal Matters here:  What new water deals mean and what work is left to be done

Thomas Birmingham (Westlands) and Jason Phillips (Friant Water Authority: State’s new voluntary water agreements are a good deal for Delta fish, Valley farms:  They write, “Over the past three years, the State Water Resources Control Board has conducted a public process to increase the water flowing to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Rivers Delta with the intent of improving declining fish populations. However, an increase in river flow means a reduction in supplies for Californians, who are dependent on them for their lives and livelihoods.  There are two approaches to this: painful, mandatory cuts to water supplies or voluntary agreements among water users to achieve specific goals in the Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan update. The latter approach has been encouraged by Gov. Jerry Brown, and a coalition of water users has emerged with a set of agreements that would do exactly that. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  State’s new voluntary water agreements are a good deal for Delta fish, Valley farms

ACWA Executive Director Dave Eggerton: What ‘collaboration over conflict’ can look like:  He writes, “The Dec. 12 decision by the State Water Resources Control Board came with a silver lining. Yes, its 4-1 vote to move forward with a regulatory approach to relying on a percentage of unimpaired flows was disappointing. But in arriving at that decision, State Water Board members heard the most compelling argument yet for considering an alternative approach, one that relies on collaboration among water stakeholders to achieve the same result, and likely with better outcomes.  Thanks to leadership and engagement by Gov. Jerry Brown, and because of a comprehensive presentation by Department of Water Resources Director Karla Nemeth and Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Chuck Bonham, Californians now have a much more clear understanding of the investment, dedication and collaborative work among water agencies through voluntary settlement agreements. And just as importantly, the State Water Board left the door open for further consideration of voluntary settlement agreements. … ”  Read more from ACWA’s Voices on Water here:  What ‘collaboration over conflict’ can look like

Emma Shumway: Land and Water Conservation Fund has dried up; Congress needs to turn on the tap:  She writes, “Five weeks before the recent elections, Congress let America’s best conservation and recreation program expire. As a result, the future of the Land and Water Conservation Fund is in jeopardy, and the program has missed out on nearly $200 million that would normally be earmarked for conservation.  Sept. 30 was the deadline for Congress to reauthorize LWCF. Due to longstanding bipartisan support for the fund, and the fact that it has enhanced every American’s life, bankrolling projects in all 50 states, it should have been swiftly reauthorized. It wasn’t. Late Wednesday, the U.S. Senate chose to delay voting on a lands package that included LWCF. ... ”  Read more from Bakersfield.com here:  Land and Water Conservation Fund has dried up; Congress needs to turn on the tap

Kevin Cowtan and Stephan Lewandowsky: Debunking ‘Climate Change Hiatus’ of 2000s:  They write, “The record-breaking, El Niño-driven global temperatures of 2016 have given climate change deniers a new trope. Why, they ask, hasn’t it since got even hotter?  In response to a recent U.S. government report on the impact of climate change, a spokesperson for the science-denying American Enterprise Institute think-tank claimed that “we just had […] the biggest drop in global temperatures that we have had since the 1980s, the biggest in the last 100 years.” … ”  Read more from KQED here:  Kevin Cowtan and Stephan Lewandowsky: Debunking ‘Climate Change Hiatus’ of 2000s

In regional news and commentary today …

Yuba County: California biomass project receives grant:  “A new biomass facility near Camptonville, California, is one step closer to becoming a driving force in ensuring a healthy forest with the help of a $186,500 grant from Yuba Water Agency. This funding will help the Camptonville Community Partnership wrap up the remaining tasks required to secure a power purchase agreement with PG&E, a contract between an electricity generator and a power purchaser.  … ”  Read more from California Biomass here:  Yuba County: California biomass project receives grant

Monterey: The ebb and flow of Public Water Now:  “It was in the late summer of 2014 when a group of Public Water Now officials gathered to pick up the pieces from the failed Measure O vote in the June primary. The grassroots nonprofit organization’s president and co-founder Ron Cohen resigned as managing director, leaving longtime area water activist George Riley in charge and the remaining backers needed to decide what to do next.  Cohen, who was the public face of Public Water Now back then, had called Measure O the Monterey Peninsula’s “final chance” to decide how the local water system would be managed, arguing California American Water’s Monterey District assets would be too expensive to acquire in a few more years. ... ”  Read more from the Monterey Herald here:  Monterey: The ebb and flow of Public Water Now

Big Bear: Water sustainability project to replenish Valley in many ways:  “There are four managers in Big Bear Valley who are passionate about a joint project. In fact they are almost giddy when they talk about it even if the giddiness is tempered with the knowledge that there is hard work ahead to see the project to fruition.  David Lawrence, Mike Stephenson, Reggie Lamson and Mary Reeves are determined this project is completed. Formerly called the Bear Valley Water Sustainability Project, it was renamed Replenish Big Bear after months of discussions between the agencies — Big Bear Area Regional Wastewater Agency, Big Bear Municipal Water District, Big Bear Lake Department of Water and the Big Bear City Community Services District. ... ”  Read more from Big Bear Grizzly here:  Water sustainability project to replenish Valley in many ways

San Diego: Court rejects San Diego County’s climate action plan again:  “A superior court judge this week rejected San Diego County’s latest climate action plan to control greenhouse gas emissions.  The court found that the climate action plan failed to meet the county’s commitment to reach greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals laid out by the state of California.  The judge decided that using carbon credits, or offsets from around the world, was not acceptable, calling the mitigation unverifiable. ... ”  Read more from KPBS here:  San Diego: Court rejects San Diego County’s climate action plan again

Along the Colorado River …

Trump’s rule a wild card for Western water supplies: “The Trump administration’s proposal to limit the Clean Water Act’s reach over wetlands and waterways would likely complicate efforts to protect and manage the parched West’s most important and imperiled source of water.  At risk: the Colorado River — water provider for 40 million people and vast swaths of cropland — which is already reeling from a crippling drought and rising water demands.  Trump’s proposed waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule would strip federal protections for ephemeral streams that only flow after rain or snow and wetlands without continuous surface water connections to waterways. That’s particularly important in the Colorado River Basin. … ”  Read more from E&E News here:  Trump’s rule a wild card for Western water supplies

Western drought ranks among the worst of the last millennium:  “In the late 13th century, Native Americans living in cliff dwellings in the what is now the Four Corners region of the U.S. Southwest abandoned their homes en masse. They moved into river valleys, closer to the water that had become a scarce resource in the midst of one of the worst “megadroughts” to hit the western part of the continent in the last millennium.  Scientists who study climate history have long been concerned that rising temperatures could help tip the already dry region into megadroughts (generally defined as droughts lasting 20 years or longer) again more easily in the future—a major worry in a rapidly growing part of the country that has already had trouble meeting water needs during nearly two decades of drought. … ”  Read more from the Scientific American here:  Western drought ranks among the worst of the last millennium

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

SCIENCE NEWS: A sailor, a squall and a scientist; Summary of transactions of the smelt working group in Water Year 2018; Surprising changes will affect biodiversity in 2019; Building a better weapon against harmful algal blooms; and more …

Today’s announcements …

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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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