DAILY DIGEST, weekend/Monday edition: California’s droughts hurt fight against climate change. Study tells us why; Is Valley drought back? 2018 ends as a drier-than-normal year; As the funds run out, EPA will furlough 13,705 employees; and more …

In California water news this weekend, California’s droughts hurt fight against climate change. Study tells us why; Is Valley drought back? 2018 ends as a drier-than-normal year; Republicans push innovation as a climate change solution; Novato Creek tide gauges aid sea-level rise, flood planning; As the funds run out, EPA will furlough 13,705 employees; Charting a New Course for Water Supply in the Southwest; and more …

In the news this weekend …

California’s droughts hurt fight against climate change. Study tells us why:  “Recent droughts across the West have belted drinking-water supplies, withered crops and fanned deadly wildfires.  They’ve also squeezed hydroelectric facilities, with the less obvious side effect of hampering efforts to reduce greenhouse gas pollution.  A new study out of Stanford University finds that 10 percent of the total carbon dioxide spewed from California, Oregon, Washington and Idaho for power generation this century is the result of states turning to fossil fuels when water was too sparse to spin electrical turbines at dams. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  California’s droughts hurt fight against climate change. Study tells us why

Is Valley drought back? 2018 ends as a drier-than-normal year: “In a state where dead trees in the Sierra Nevada still stand as a testament to a severe seven-year stretch of dry weather that ended in 2017, some nervously wonder whether the state may slide back into a drought.  In the eastern Pacific Ocean near the equator, ocean temperatures are pretty stable. That means there’s no El Niño or La Niña sitting out there to help drive a chain of storms to dump rainfall on the Valley and snow in the Sierra Nevada as the calendar closes on 2018. ... ”  Read more from Fresno Bee here:  Is Valley drought back? 2018 ends as a drier-than-normal year

New plan means less water for Valley farmers:  “The Merced Irrigation District is pursuing legal action against a new state water plan they say will take water away from farmers and communities within the county.  The State Water Resources Control Board passed the Bay Delta Plan earlier this month.  It will increase flows by 40% from the Merced, Stanislaus and Tuolumne Rivers to restore fish populations in the Delta and improve water quality.  According to the state water board’s website, “The 40 percent unimpaired flow proposal would result, on average, in a 14 percent reduction in surface water supply for human uses like agriculture and drinking water.”  CBS47s Alex Backus reports.”  Watch newscast video here:  New plan means less water for Valley farmers

Republicans push innovation as a climate change solution:  “GOP lawmakers are increasingly turning to a new refrain for their position on climate change, calling for “innovation” as the policy solution.  Many Republicans have seemingly settled on innovation as their primary position to counter progressive Democrats who have grown louder in their calls for a Green New Deal, with its emphasis on renewable electricity, and as the United Nations and federal government issue reports saying time is running out to dramatically cut emissions. ... ”  Read more from The Hill here:  Republicans push innovation as a climate change solution

Jerry Brown: Trump ‘very convinced’ of his position on climate change:  “California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) said Sunday that President Trump is “very convinced” of his position that climate change is not a significant issue.  Brown said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that while he appreciated that Trump came to California in November to tour damage caused by massive wildfires, he did not feel the aftermath of the disaster swayed the president’s views.  “I would say, he is very convinced of his position,” Brown said. “And his position is that there’s nothing abnormal about the fires in California or the rising sea level or all the other incidents of climate change.” ... ”  Read more from The Hill here:  Jerry Brown: Trump ‘very convinced’ of his position on climate change

EPA targets Obama-era basis for mercury, toxics regs: “In a move that could have profound consequences for future attempts to limit air pollution, EPA has proposed undoing the justification for one of the Obama administration’s crowning environmental achievements: the 2012 regulations on power industry mercury emissions.  In a draft rule released this morning, EPA proposes to revoke the agency’s prior determination that it was “appropriate and necessary” to curb releases of mercury, arsenic and other hazardous air pollutants from coal- and oil-fired power plants.  While the proposal would leave the actual emission limits in place, it concludes that the Obama administration erred in heavily relying on “co-benefits” attributed to reductions in pollutants besides those targeted in the regulations to justify the expected compliance costs. … ”  Read more from E&E News here:  EPA targets Obama-era basis for mercury, toxics regs

As the funds run out, EPA will furlough 13,705 employees:  “Now in its seventh day, the partial government shutdown is tightening its grip on federal agencies.  Set to run out of carryover funds tonight, EPA will soon close and send thousands of employees home without pay.  The Interior Department has pledged to keep national parks open but has struggled with mounting trash and locked bathrooms as they have been left unstaffed (see related story). And today, Smithsonian officials announced that all of its museums and the National Zoo will be shuttered on Jan. 2 unless a deal is reached. … ”  Read more from E&E News here:  As the funds run out, EPA will furlough 13,705 employees

In commentary this weekend …

Going nowhere fast on climate, year after year, says Paul Bledsoe:  They write, “Thirty years ago, a NASA scientist, James Hansen, told lawmakers at a Senate hearing that “global warming is now large enough that we can ascribe with a high degree of confidence a cause-and-effect relationship with the greenhouse effect.” He added that there “is only 1 percent chance of accidental warming of this magnitude.”  By that, he meant that humans were responsible. ... ”  Read more from the New York Times here: Going nowhere fast on climate, year after year, says Paul Bledsoe

Smart land use policy can help combat climate change:  “From the Sierra foothills to Malibu, climate change has left its deadly and destructive mark on California.  One month after the worst wildfire in state history, policymakers are beginning to consider solutions and policies to help our state recover and adapt to our climate-changed world.  While there’s no silver bullet, there is a sector whose value as a climate solution has been overlooked.  The Nature Conservancy has spent decades examining how land can be managed in ways that benefit all of us. In recent research done in partnership with Next 10, we’ve found that by focusing on restoration and conservation, we can build our resiliency to what Gov. Jerry Brown aptly called the “new abnormal”—helping to fight climate change and protect communities from increased wildfire severity at the same time. … ”  Read more at CalMatters here:  Smart land use policy can help combat climate change

In regional news and commentary this weekend …

Novato Creek tide gauges aid sea-level rise, flood planning: Two new tide gauges have been installed in Novato Creek to assist with sea-level rise and flood control planning.  Roger Leventhal, the Marin County Flood Control District’s senior civil engineer, said the gauges provide 24 hour/seven-day-a-week water elevation readings, pushing out real-time updates to the district’s Marin.OneRain.com website, which is available to the public.  This will help planners understand how the water level rises and drains, specifically during the rainy winter season. ... ”  Read more from the Marin Independent Journal here: Novato Creek tide gauges aid sea-level rise, flood planning

Mule Creek signs of the times:  “Placed along Mule Creek since June 2018, the signs read:  “BIOHAZARD:  Mule Creek Prison has illegally discharged sewage and contaminated waste water into Mule Creek for over 20 years! Do not allow your children or pets to contact the water due to health issues experienced by those who did. (File CW-241842) Regional Water 916-464-4676. Signed by Citizens for Clean Groundwater.”  In September of 2006, Senator Dave Cox spoke out about the lack of mitigation measures for the proposed prison expansions, including MCSP. Five bills had been passed by the Senate on August 30, 2016 aimed at addressing statewide overcrowding issues in the prison system.  … ”  Read more from the Amador Ledger-Dispatch here:  Mule Creek signs of the times

Madera County: Contamination forces idling of some eastside water wells:  “Some of the drinking-water wells on the northeast side of Madera are being idled or abandoned because of fluctuating water levels and significant plumes of groundwater contamination by the agricultural chemical DBCP, a powerful pesticide suspected to cause sterility and cancer.  The Madera City Council recently heard a presentation on an update of the 2014 Water Master Plan by the consultant firm Akel Engineering. The engineers evaluated current operations and capacity, and made projections about future well pumping capacity, costs, and how and where to accommodate future residential populations due to well water quality issues. … ”  Read more from the Madera Tribune here:  Madera County: Contamination forces idling of some eastside water wells

As Moss Landing reinvents itself, fishing fades into the background:  “Weathered by age and the sea, rusted railings mark the path to Bay Fresh Seafoods, a one-room shop where fourth-generation Moss Landing fisherman Jerid Rold has just arrived with a writhing haul of hagfish — one of his few remaining profitable catches.  Across the street stands the sleek and sophisticated Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute — a world-renowned center for advanced research in ocean science. Moss Landing, population 200, is rapidly switching identities. The historic town is seeing its commercial fishing roots disappear as Moss Landing secures its status as a prized destination for marine research and ecotourism.  ... ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  As Moss Landing reinvents itself, fishing fades into the background

Salinas River bank shored up to protect Paso wells: “It took more than 10,000 tons of boulders and $738,000 of city funds, but a critical Paso Robles water wellfield is now purportedly safe from an eroding Salinas River bank.  Paso officials said they recently completed work on the emergency Salinas River bank stabilization project, launched in June 2018. Heavy rains during March 2018 ripped 30 feet of sediment off an eroding section of the river wall, diverting the flow of water dangerously close to the city’s adjacent Thunderbird Wellfield, which pumps half of the city’s water supply. … ”  Read more from New Times SLO here:  Salinas River bank shored up to protect Paso wells

Temecula: Meadowview Stream is restored for community safety: “Anthony Fowler was 11 years old when he found himself trapped under dirt and rocks in Meadowview Creek.  He and his friend rode their bikes from Long Canyon Creek Park to the creek ravines on a Saturday afternoon in 2012. Surrounded by 12-foot-tall sand walls creating jagged cliffs, they decided to dig tunnels into the existing holes in the dry walls. Their shoveling destabilized the dirt above them, causing the dirt and rocks to collapse on top of them, Gretchen Fowler, his mother, said. He was later taken to Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego where he spent 12 days in the ICU. … ”  Read more from the Valley News here:  Meadowview Stream is restored for community safety

Beaches reopen in Long Beach after 10 days, were temporarily closed after sewage spill:  “Winter beachgoers can return to all of Long Beach’s shores on Friday, Dec. 28, following a 10-day closure due to a sewage spill.  The beaches were closed on Dec. 18, following a sewage spill was reported by the city of Glendale. According to Glendale officials, about 10,400 gallons of sewage were released into the Los Angeles River. The spill was caused by a grease blockage in the line and has since been repaired. … ”  Read more from the Long Beach Press Telegram here:  Beaches reopen in Long Beach after 10 days, were temporarily closed after sewage spill

Along the Colorado River …

Charting a New Course for Water Supply in the Southwest: “It’s been a busy year for water managers in the seven states that rely on the Colorado River. Luke Runyon is a reporter with KUNC who covers on the Colorado River Basin. AZPM’s Ariana Brocious chatted with Luke Runyon to recap what’s been happening and why it’s so important. … ”  Read the transcript or listen to the radio show from Arizona Public Media here:  Charting a New Course for Water Supply in the Southwest

Pinal County is about to use a lot more groundwater. And, yes, that’s as bad as it sounds, says Joanna Allhands:  She writes, “Hello, cautionary tale.  Pinal County is once again about to become completely reliant on unsustainable groundwater.  On purpose.  Because in this new, scarcer water reality, there may not be any other way. Pinal County has a lot of water underground. The Arizona Department of Water Resources has begun a year-long process to measure what’s left of it.  Until the 1980s, the county was racing through its groundwater, in some years using more than a million acre-feet (an acre-foot is roughly enough to sustain two homes for a year). … ”  Read more from Arizona Central here:  Pinal County is about to use a lot more groundwater. And, yes, that’s as bad as it sounds

Crisis on the Colorado River: In the words of water officials:  “Water managers and officials said some riveting things in the last half of 2018 about the increasingly dry conditions in the Colorado River system, and the falling water levels at Lake Powell and Lake Mead.  Many of the most hair-raising remarks heard at water meetings were made while water officials and managers were discussing “drought contingency planning,” or DCP. ... ”  Read more from The Aspen Times here:  Crisis on the Colorado River: In the words of water officials

Colorado, desperate for snow, explores new takes on the old idea of cloud seeding:  “Cloud-seeding machines strategically positioned in Colorado’s high country have been aimed at the sky for four decades, spewing a compound called silver iodide into the clouds to try to make it snow.  Skeptics have been plenty and definitive research was elusive — it’s hard to prove exactly how much more snow falls after clouds are seeded when no one can say for sure what Mother Nature had planned on her own. … ”  Read more from the Colorado Sun here:  Colorado, desperate for snow, explores new takes on the old idea of cloud seeding

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

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NEWS WORTH NOTING: California, Oregon herald significant step toward Klamath River restoration

 

RESERVOIR AND WATER CONDITIONS for December 31st

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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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