DAILY DIGEST, New Years Day edition: Big NorCal water deals will trickle down to San Diego; More rain due to climate change may not mean more water resources; House Democrats end year with EPA-Interior spending plan; and more …

Lake Tahoe Sunrise, Photo by Christian Arballo

Step out of the history that is holding you back.
Step into the new story you are willing to create.
  – Oprah Winfrey

Wishing you a wonderful and happy 2019!
May it be a year filled with love, joy, ideas,  and success …
(and of course, water !!!)
From Maven

In California water news today, Big Northern California Water Deals Will Trickle Down to San Diego; 2018 another dry year for California; More rain due to climate change may not mean more water resources; Winter is shrinking, Scripps study finds, posing new fire, water risks; California’s coastal habitats face existential threat from rising seas; New Interior FOIA rule could make it harder to get public documents; House Democrats end year with EPA-Interior spending plan; and more …

In the news today …

Big Northern California Water Deals Will Trickle Down to San Diego: “In this week’s Environment Report, let’s focus on an issue that doesn’t always get much attention in Southern California: the rivers of Northern California.  Every so often, people get together and divide a river.  That’s been happening a lot lately in the final throes of Gov. Jerry Brown’s term. State and federal water officials have worked furiously to redo how we all share the Sacramento and the San Joaquin rivers and their numerous tributaries.  At stake for cities and farms is how much water will be available and at what price.  At stake for fish is their very existence. ... ”  Continue reading at the Voice of San Diego here:  Big Northern California Water Deals Will Trickle Down to San Diego

2018 another dry year for California:  “As the Golden State moves into 2019, it will close the book on an abnormally dry year with hopes that a few rain storms can stave off the prospect of another drought.  Two consecutive years of devastating wildfires killing dozens of residents, causing billions in property damage and reducing millions of acres to ash has demonstrated the effects of the prolonged drought stretching from 2012 until 2017.  Storms finally brought much-needed precipitation in 2017, replenishing reservoirs and aquifers, but the moisture content in the forest vegetation and the swathes of dead trees in the Sierra Nevada attest to the consequences of the sustained dry weather. … ”  Read more from Courthouse News here:  2018 another dry year for California

Couple fined after claiming to use more water than the earth holds:  “A couple with rights to take water from a Trinity County creek has been fined $10,000 for overstating the amount of water they diverted, at one point claiming they used more water than is actually available on Earth.  As part of an agreement with the State Water Resources Control Board, the couple has agreed to pay for misstating the amount of water they took from Price Creek, a tributary to the Trinity River. … ”  Read more from the Redding Record-Searchlight here:  Couple fined after claiming to use more water than the earth holds

CLIMATE CHANGE

More rain due to climate change may not mean more water resources:  “As the impacts of climate change continued to intensify this year, much of the country experienced record levels of rainfall — so much that 2018 has already been deemed the fifth-wettest year on record in the contiguous United States.  Despite climate change making some places much wetter, however, global water resources are in decline. This is the paradoxical finding of a new study published in the journal Water Resources Research.  As temperatures rise, warmer air is able to hold more moisture, making rainfall more intense in areas such as Washington, D.C., Maryland, North Carolina, and Philadelphia. … ”  Read more from Think Progress here:  More rain due to climate change may not mean more water resources

Winter is shrinking, Scripps study finds, posing new fire, water risks:  “Across the mountains of the West, the landscape of winter is changing.  Deep snowpacks that held fast through winter, then melted in a torrent each spring, are instead seeping away earlier in the year. The period of winter weather is shrinking, too, with autumn lasting longer and spring starting earlier.  The findings by Amato Evan, a professor of atmospheric and climate science with Scripps Institution of Oceanography, show changes to Western hydrology that could jeopardize water resources, flood control, fire management and winter recreation.  His results were published this month in the Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology, and presented at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in Washington, D.C. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union Tribune here:  Winter is shrinking, Scripps study finds, posing new fire, water risks

Like fruit, vegetables, and almonds? Scientists have bad news.  “So far, this winter has brought ample snows to the Sierra Nevada, the spine of mountains that runs along California’s eastern flank. That’s good news for Californians, because the range’s melted snow provides 60 percent of the state’s water supply. Anyone in the United States who likes fruit, vegetables, and nuts should rejoice, too, because water flowing from the Sierra’s streams and rivers is the main irrigation source for farms in the arid Central Valley, which churns out nearly a quarter of the food consumed here.  But the Sierra snowpack has shown an overall declining trend for decades—most dramatically during the great California drought of 2012-2016—and will dwindle further over the next several decades, a growing body of research suggests. … ”  Read more from Mother Jones here:  Like fruit, vegetables, and almonds? Scientists have bad news

California’s coastal habitats face existential threat from rising seas:  “The sea otters of Elkhorn Slough float by on their backs, greeting the occasional kayaker with unwanted socializing that can tip a boat. Chubby harbor seals lounge on large rocks and a great blue heron stands tall among hundreds of birds on a sliver of land.  This Monterey Bay estuary south of San Francisco hosts about 20,000 migratory shorebirds a year and is a nursery habitat for fish and shellfish. It’s notable for having bolstered the waning population of the curious southern sea otters, which now exceed 100 and are webcast live daily. … ”  Read more from The Guardian here:  California’s coastal habitats face existential threat from rising seas

NATIONAL NEWS

New Interior FOIA rule could make it harder to get public documents: “A new Interior Department rule could make it harder for news organizations and nonprofits to get public information from the government.  Filed to the Federal Register between Christmas and New Year’s Day on Friday, the suggested rule would change the way the agency must file Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests by relaxing timelines by which information must be handled and increasing the burden on requesters to be specific in what they are looking for. … ”  Read more from The Hill here:  New Interior FOIA rule could make it harder to get public documents

Climate change: Democrats see Trump, GOP inaction as 2020 opportunity: “Environmental advocates say now is the time for decisive action on climate change.  Democrats won the House in November riding a platform that included a call to address the crisis. Global warming was blamed for intensifying natural disasters that killed dozens and cost billions of dollars across the country in 2018. A recent avalanche of evidence that the climate is already changing radically has hardened the case for immediate action.  “Climate change is here and now. And palpably getting worse. That is rapidly changing how Americans think about it,” David Doniger with the Natural Resources Defense Council wrote in a recent blog. “The shift from ‘future problem’ to ‘now crisis’ is being fueled by blockbuster scientific reports and blockbuster real-world catastrophes.” ... ”  Read more from USA Today here:  Climate change: Democrats see Trump, GOP inaction as 2020 opportunity

House Democrats end year with EPA-Interior spending plan:  “House Democrats signaled their readiness for 2019 combat with President Trump with the New Year’s Eve release of an omnibus spending bill aimed at reopening the government.  The spending bill — which would fund EPA and the departments of the Interior, Commerce, Agriculture, Transportation and State — is part of the incoming House majority’s push to end the partial government shutdown.  The omnibus would fund the agencies through the Sept. 30 end of the fiscal year. A separate bill would fund the Department of Homeland Security until Feb. 8.  “Responsibly funding the federal government is one of the most important duties of Congress,” said Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), who’ll take over the Appropriations Committee this week. … ”  Read more from E&E News here:  House Democrats end year with EPA-Interior spending plan

In commentary today …

2019 will be the year that LA starts to wean itself from imported water, says Mark Gold:  He writes, “It’s been hard to see 2018 as a good year for water in California.  In November, voters rejected a bond that would have provided almost $9 billion for water resource infrastructure and protection projects across the state. Congress, with support from Gov. Jerry Brown and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, worked to sidestep important environmental protections for the San Francisco Bay and the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. And the Trump administration rolled back protections for hundreds of miles of streams and rivers in the Southwest as well as thousands of acres of wetlands. ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  2019 will be the year that LA starts to wean itself from imported water

In regional news and commentary today …

Humboldt: Seawater encroachment on low-lying land forces unprecedented choices:Sea level rise could change the way the state deals with coastal development, as expansion and construction of dikes will fill wetlands but also protect large agricultural areas that double as freshwater habitat.  A workshop on Humboldt County’s early stages of developing sea level rise defense continued at the December 13 Planning Commission meeting.  The county’s primary concern is the impacts of sea level rise in the Humboldt Bay planning area. Senior Planner Lisa Shikany told commissioners that in a scenario of 3.3 feet of sea level rise – which is projected by 2070 – 33 miles of protective structures like dikes and road grades would be overtopped. ... ”  Read more from the Mad River Union here:  Seawater encroachment on low-lying land forces unprecedented choices

Plumas County: Flood/water district district requests $100,000 from county or it would go broke:As manager of the Plumas County Flood Control and Water Conservation District Bob Perreault was back at the table requesting funding to keep the program afloat.  At length members of the district and Plumas County Board of Supervisors approved an up to $100,000 credit line for the district. Members of the two boards are the same people, it was noted at the meeting’s outset.  Without the loan, Perreault told the boards the district wouldn’t be able to pay the monthly fees for services demanded by the state. And there’s no forgiveness in the state’s eyes, he explained. … ”  Read more from the Plumas County News here:  Flood/water district district requests $100,000 from county or it would go broke

Northern California weather phenomenon delivers crystal views:  “At the summit of Mount Diablo, cold air and a north wind Friday provided a rare phenomenon: You could see snow-blanketed 10,457-foot Lassen Peak, 185 miles away.  It’s part of a spectacle across the state right now, with the best long-distance views of the year.  The icy temperatures wick the moisture out of the air. The cold wind from the north blows out the haze and fog. What follows is tremendous clarity. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  Northern California weather phenomenon delivers crystal views

Madera County: Water advisors up the pace for 2019:  “Madera County’s three advisory committees for its Groundwater Sustainability Agency will meet as one this new year — and more often.  Members of the Madera, Chowchilla and Delta-Mendota committees requested a merger of the committees, more frequent meetings than quarterly, and daytime scheduling for meetings, which county supervisors approved early in December.  In the past, the committees struggled to achieve a quorum due to their small size, which made absences troublesome. The Delta-Mendota committee had only three members, so all had to attend to have a quorum. … ”  Read more from the Madera Tribune here:  Water advisors up the pace for 2019

Inyo County: Feds roll back water protections:  “Amid all the news stories rolling out of Washington this month, proposed rollbacks to the Clean Water Act protections haven’t made it on the nightly news casts.  But, Evan Halper ran a story in the Los Angeles Times in mid-December that sent us scrambling for more information.  Here’s the deal: former President Barack Obama expanded the definition of protected waterways in 2015. While the additional protections have been mired in courts in some states, they’re in effect in California.  The Eastern Sierra is a perfect environment to explain the 2015 additions including wetlands and seasonal streams that flow into protected waterways. The rationale: the quality of, let’s say, water in the Owens River is dependent on the quality of the water flowing out of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. ... ”  Read more from Sierra Wave here:  Feds roll back water protections

And lastly …

If you monetized all the plastic garbage in the world, here’s what you could buy: “This year, I served on the judging panel for The Royal Statistical Society’s International Statistic of the Year.  On Dec. 18, we announced the winner: 90.5 percent, the amount of plastic that never has been recycled. OK — but why is that such a big deal?  Much like Oxford English Dictionary’s “Word of the Year” competition, the international statistic is meant to capture the zeitgeist of this year. The judging panel accepted nominations from the statistical community and the public at large for a statistic they feel shines a light on today’s most pressing issues. … ”  Read more from GV Wire here:  If you monetized all the plastic garbage in the world, here’s what you could buy

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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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