DAILY DIGEST: Delta tunnels, diversity the focus of new California water leader; California to conduct season’s first snow survey; Lessons from Orange County’s water strategy; Five big things Governor Brown did on climate change; Why overall water use is declining in US despite population growth; and more …

In California water news today, Delta tunnels, diversity the focus of new California water leader; California to conduct season's first snow survey; Lessons from Orange County's water strategy; Five big things Governor Brown did on climate change; Trump has yet to nominate a DOI secretary to replace Ryan Zinke, so here's who's taking over; Speaking of water – Looking back at 2018, ahead to 2019; Why overall water use is declining in US despite population growth; and more …

In the news today …

Delta tunnels, diversity the focus of new California water leader:  “The new person in charge of delivering water to one in 17 Americans has two big goals: seeing through a controversial public works project to build two new California water tunnels and ensuring her agency is represented by a more diverse group of people.  Gloria Gray became chairwoman of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California on Jan. 1 and made history, though not for the first time.  She will be the first African-American and second woman to head the board of directors in the 90-year history of the state’s southern zone, the nation’s largest treated water supply district. It delivers water to 26 public agencies that supply water for 19 million Californians. ... ”  Read more from Bloomberg News here:  Delta tunnels, diversity the focus of new California water leader

California to conduct season's first snow survey:  “California water managers will conduct the season's first manual surveys of the state's crucial winter snowfall.  Winter snow in the Sierra Nevada mountains supplies drinking water for much of California as it melts throughout the spring and summer. The amount of snow is measured monthly through the winter at more than 260 locations to help water managers plan for how much they can deliver to customers later in the year.  The survey will take place Thursday. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: California to conduct season’s first snow survey

Lessons from Orange County's water strategy: “Water is a serious issue for the cities of the world. Even in a wealthy nation such as the United States, people die from toxic water in Flint, Michigan, confront megadroughts in Los Angeles, face salinated aquifers in Miami and worry in Omaha about oil pipeline spills in the Ogallala aquifer. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) in its annual U.S. infrastructure report card gives U.S. drinking water a grade of D. Water is the greatest challenge in resiliency planning.  Southern California heavily depends on water from the Colorado River. Recent droughts have caused water levels at the Lake Mead, our nation's largest reservoir, to drop over 100 feet. Shockingly, the lake is at only 38 percent of capacity. It is only 4 feet above the legal emergency level of 1,075 feet. With droughts come more frequent and intense wildfires. For the past five years, California has experienced wildfires 12 months per year. … ”  Read more from Green Biz here:  Lessons from Orange County’s water strategy

Five big things Governor Brown did on climate change:  “In 1977, the 39-year-old governor of California led a puzzled press corps to a blustery stretch of coastline near Bodega Bay.  “I heard that you were going to come out here and talk to the whales,” one reporter said to him.  “No, I came out here to see,” said Governor Jerry Brown. “The idea of the project is to put hydrophones in the water and pick up the sounds that the whales make as they go through their migration south.” ... ”  Read more from KQED here:  Five big things Governor Brown did on climate change

Trump has yet to nominate a DOI secretary to replace Ryan Zinke, so here's who's taking over:  “Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, who resigned in December, officially left office on Wednesday. Though there has been much talk about who President Donald Trump might choose to replace him—names thrown around have included exiting Senator Dean Heller (R-Nevada), exiting Governor Scott Walker (R-Wisconsin), and Representative Rob Bishop (R-Utah)—the president has yet to nominate anyone, NPR reports. In the interim, Deputy Secretary David Bernhardt will step in as acting secretary. … ”  Read more from Pacific Standard here:  Trump has yet to nominate a DOI secretary to replace Ryan Zinke, so here’s who’s taking over

Speaking of water – Looking back at 2018, ahead to 2019:  “Water continues to be among the biggest stories of our era, and there are waves of change ahead. So, what are the trends and the disruptions we saw in 2018, and what’s ahead for 2019 and beyond? I’m J. Carl Ganter with a special edition of Speaking of Water, from Circle of Blue. We’ve brought together some of the best in the business to talk about the most important stories of the past year and to look into the crystal ball for what’s ahead. How will shifting priorities affect regulations, and what role will big data and artificial intelligence play in water’s future? Circle of Blue’s senior reporter Brett Walton speaks with Heather Cooley, director of research at the Pacific Institute, and Will Sarni, noted author, strategist, and CEO of Water Foundry. Let’s join them for a glimpse into water’s present and water’s future. … ” Listen to podcast or read transcript from Circle of Blue here:  Speaking of water – Looking back at 2018, ahead to 2019

Why overall water use is declining in US despite population growth:  “Water use efficiency was a hot topic among sustainability experts in 2018, as changing weather patterns, a US population increase of 4%, and aging water infrastructure continue to put a strain on our nation’s water supply.  But for all the dire news about the negative impacts of climate change on weather patterns, water restrictions and storms that spilled wastewater into city streets, good news happened, as well.  Cities and municipalities are moving forward with innovative water conservation efforts. El Paso, Texas, for example, is building an advanced purification system that will treat sewage water and turn it directly into drinking water. Unlike other potable reuse facilities in the US, which return drinking water to a treatment plant or blend with other raw water sources, the facility will use a direct-to-distribution approach, with the purified water flowing directly into the drinking water distribution system, according to the city. … ”  Read more from the Environmental Leader here:  Why overall water use is declining in US despite population growth

In commentary today …

How Trump's Wall Would Alter Our Biological Identity Forever: Jennifer Miller writes, “It’s no secret that the Trump administration is attacking science. From scrubbing the words “climate change” from federal agency websites to cutting public health programs in the Environmental Protection Agency to burying its own climate report involving more than 300 leading climate scientists, President Donald Trump and his appointees take well-established scientific facts and treat them like science fiction. One environmental attack is particularly appalling, but headlines have focused more on its political theatrics than on its catastrophic consequences for North American biodiversity: building the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. As a scientist who understands the implications of this decision for wildlife, I am astounded and outraged that such a precious biological treasure is being sacrificed for political gain. And I am not alone. … ”  Read more from Scientific American here: How Trump’s Wall Would Alter Our Biological Identity Forever

In regional news and commentary today …

January could be key to Napa's rain season:  “Here comes January, which usually is one of the coldest, rainiest months of the year.  That’s just what Napa County needs. The county is coming off a subpar 2017-18 water year. The latest U.S. Drought Monitor shows the southernmost county as having “abnormally dry” conditions and the rest as having “moderate drought” conditions.  A wild, wet January would be just the thing to wash away drought fears. But in recent years, some Januarys have been so dry that the rainfall wouldn’t fill a thimble. … ” Read more from the Napa Register here: January could be key to Napa’s rain season

A long vacant property in Seaside may finally come to life – but only if there’s water for it:  “Building new developments on the Monterey Peninsula became a lot more challenging in 2009, when the State Water Board imposed a cease-and-desist order on California American Water to curtail its illegal overpumping of the Carmel River, and to put a moratorium on new connections to Cal Am’s system.  That has forced developers to get creative, and in some cases, look underground.  In early December, developer Patrick Orosco had a test well drilled in a vacant dirt lot in Seaside at 1271 Canyon Del Rey, just east of the Chili’s parking lot. In December 2016, Orosco entered into an agreement with Seaside – which owns the property – to buy the property for $250,000 if it has a viable groundwater supply. If it doesn’t, the price will be renegotiated. … ”  Read more from Monterey Weekly here:  A long vacant property in Seaside may finally come to life – but only if there’s water for it

Santa Barbara: ‘Times' report dredges up debris basin issues:  “A Los Angeles Times exposé published December 20, 2018, found that Santa Barbara officials had known for decades that the county’s system of debris basins in the mountains above Montecito would be unable to protect the community from the heavy debris flows the Santa Ynez Mountains were known to produce. The article, written by Times features reporter Joe Mozingo, also found that at the time of the 1/9 Debris Flow, the carrying capacity of the basins had been dramatically reduced with silt and sediment from years of limited maintenance, leaving less room to hold back the debris. ... ”  Read more from the Santa Barbara Independent here: Santa Barbara: ‘Times’ report dredges up debris basin issues

Arbiter sides with tribes in contract dispute with San Diego County Water Authority:  “An arbiter has sided with five local tribes in a dispute over what county water officials argued was a request that left them with an unexpected $2.1 million budget deficit after the tribes won back lost water rights.  At issue was a one-time loss to the San Diego County Water Authority in 2017. The dispute arose after the federal government restored water rights to the San Luis Rey Indian Water Authority, which represents the tribes, that year. ... ”  Read more from the San Diego Union Tribune here:  Arbiter sides with tribes in contract dispute with San Diego County Water Authority

Precipitation watch …

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

CA WATER COMMISSION: Climate change effects on the State Water Project and Central Valley Project

SCIENCE NEWS: Is habitat restoration actually killing plants in the California wildlands?; Sinking rails; Tule Elk: Part Tu; Collecting clean water from air, inspired by desert life; and more …

NEWS WORTH NOTING: Reclamation finalizes Klamath Project Biological Assessment; Corps releases supplemental documents for Sacramento River levee improvement

 

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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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