DAILY DIGEST: Newsom inherits a ‘whole bunch of headaches’ despite last-minute water deals by Brown; State regulation would broaden wetlands rule; State Water Board outlines $606 million bill assistance program; Trump tells FEMA not to send any more money to CA for fires; and more …

In California water news today, Newsom inherits a ‘whole bunch of headaches’ despite last-minute water deals by Brown; State regulation would broaden wetlands rule; California water board outlines $606 million bill assistance program; Federal shutdown has mixed impact for farms, ranches; Suit targets Trump Administration for failing to protect threatened California species; Trump tells FEMA not to send any more money to California for fires; Arizona drought-plan issues remain as federal Jan. 31 deadline nears; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • Webinar: The Systems Approach for Sustainable Groundwater Planning and Management from 12pm to 1:30pm.  Presented by the Groundwater Resources Association.  Jay Lund (UC Davis), David Jordan (Intera) and Abhishek Singh (Intera) are the speakers.  Click here for more information and to register.
  • Groundwater Resources Association Sacramento Branch Meeting – Per- and Poly-Fluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) from 5:30 to 8:30pm.  Click here for more information and to register.  You do not need to be a member to attend.
  • Groundwater Resources Association Southern California Branch Meeting: Best Practices for Environmental Site Management from 6pm to 8pm in Orange.  For more information and to register, click here.  You do not need to be a member to attend.

In the news today …

Newsom inherits a ‘whole bunch of headaches’ despite last-minute water deals by Brown:  “As his term as governor drew to a close last month, Jerry Brown brokered a historic agreement among farms and cities to surrender billions of gallons of water to help ailing fish species. He also made two big water deals with the Trump administration — one to shore up support for his struggling Delta tunnels project, the other to transfer some of urban California’s water to Central Valley farmers whom the White House supports.  It added up to a dizzying display of deal-making over an issue that confounded Brown during much of his four terms in Sacramento. His top aides said the agreements represented a bold attempt to calm California’s notorious water wars and inject a dose of common sense into a system traditionally ruled by strife and paralysis. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Newsom inherits a ‘whole bunch of headaches’ despite last-minute water deals by Brown

On day 2, Gov. Newsom calls for greater fire safety — and seeks Trump help: “Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a plan Tuesday to confront California’s growing wildfire threat, pledging more money to improve forest health and emergency response. And it starts with an unexpected plea to President Trump for collaboration.  The initiative comes on day two of Newsom’s tenure in the governor’s mansion. While the details are still being fleshed out, his move signals a commitment to addressing the deadly fires that have battered the state in recent years and are likely to only worsen with climate change. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  On day 2, Gov. Newsom calls for greater fire safety — and seeks Trump help

Here’s what interest groups want to see in Gavin Newsom’s budget:  “After Gavin Newsom took the oath of office Monday — becoming California’s 40th governor — attention in the capital is turning to the state budget, Newsom’s first opportunity to officially lay out his administration’s policy priorities.  As the most progressive Democrat elected to the state’s highest office in decades, groups on the left have high expectations for funding on issues like child care, housing and health care.  The latter was addressed on Newsom’s first day in office, when the new governor announced he will propose expanding Medi-Cal coverage to undocumented immigrants up to age 26. … ”  Read more from KQED here:  Here’s what interest groups want to see in Gavin Newsom’s budget

State regulation would broaden wetlands rule:  “Saying that it will continue to protect environmentally sensitive waterways such as wetlands in California, even if federal protections on waters of the U.S. are limited, the State Water Resources Control Board has unveiled a final draft on how it plans to regulate dredge-and-fill activities in the state.  The draft, released last week, provides a definition of what the state considers a wetland. It also lays out permitting procedures for discharges of dredged or fill material to waters of the state.  The previous draft was released in 2017. The water board said it tentatively plans to consider adopting the procedures Feb. 5 in Sacramento. There will be a public workshop on the proposal Jan. 22, also in Sacramento. ... ”  Read more from Ag Alert here:  State regulation would broaden wetlands rule

California water board outlines $606 million bill assistance program:  “To subsidize drinking water bills for poor households, California regulators recommend new taxes on bottled water and incomes above $1 million a year, according to a draft proposal released by the State Water Resources Control Board.  If the $606 million proposal, or an alternate version, is accepted by the Legislature, California would be the first state in the country to run a water bill assistance program. With the affordability of water and sewer service a hot topic nationally and utility aid programs either underfunded, non-existent, or handcuffed by state laws, other states will be watching the outcome.  “It’s quite complex,” Max Gomberg, a water board staff member involved in drafting the proposal, told Circle of Blue. ... ”  Read more from the Circle of Blue here:  California water board outlines $606 million bill assistance program

Federal shutdown has mixed impact for farms, ranches: “As the partial shutdown of the federal government entered its third week, agencies serving farmers and ranchers reduced services as the new 116th Congress took office.  The stalemate among lawmakers and the administration left agricultural advocates wondering about Washington’s ability to find common ground on critical issues including immigration, trade and infrastructure.  Under the partial shutdown, certain essential services and programs affecting agriculture remained in operation, while other programs went on hiatus.  Josh Rolph, federal policy manager for the California Farm Bureau Federation, said the partial shutdown would affect farmers and ranchers differently, depending on whether they participate in federal programs, and what programs those are. … ”  Read more from Ag Alert here:  Federal shutdown has mixed impact for farms, ranches

Suit targets Trump Administration for failing to protect threatened California species:  “A new lawsuit soon to be filed accuses the Trump administration of failing to make important decisions on the fates of dozens of species, including two in California: the tri-colored blackbird and the American wolverine.  On Tuesday, the Center for Biological Diversity filed a notice of intent to sue acting Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt over the failure of the U.S. Fish and Wildife Service to make decisions on whether to list 26 species as threatened or endangered, or on whether to protect critical habitat. Noah Greenwald, the center’s endangered-species director, said it’s more than a case of backlogs at the agency.  “They’re dragging their feet, for sure,” he said. “This is definite foot-dragging, and it’s just consistent with the Trump administration’s antipathy toward environmental protections.” … ”  Read more from the Public News Service here:  Suit targets Trump Administration for failing to protect threatened California species

Trump tells FEMA not to send any more money to California for fires:  “President Trump said Wednesday that he has ordered the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to withhold funding for California unless the state improves its forest management to prevent wildfires.  “Billions of dollars are sent to the State of California for Forrest (sic) fires that, with proper Forrest (sic) Management, would never happen,” Trump tweeted.  “Unless they get their act together, which is unlikely, I have ordered FEMA to send no more money,” he added, calling it a “disgraceful situation in lives & money.” ... ”  Read more from The Hill here:  Trump tells FEMA not to send any more money to California for fires

Trump’s agenda in the crosshairs as shutdown lingers:  “The energy sector has largely been buffered from the worst effects of a partial government shutdown that’s now entering a third week.  Sources say that’s largely due to the Trump White House prioritizing oil and gas — they also warn that could quickly change if closures continue. And so far, there’s no end in sight to the spending impasse.  “We have not seen any major effects of the shutdown,” American Petroleum Institute CEO Mike Sommers said yesterday during a call with reporters, adding, “Obviously, it’s not good for the shutdown to continue long term.” … ”  Read more from E&E News here:  Trump’s agenda in the crosshairs as shutdown lingers

In regional news and commentary today …

Klamath refuge effort attacked from all sides:  “The federal government has been defending its management of six national wildlife refuges against legal challenges from both farmers and environmentalists.  The U.S. Interior Department is facing three lawsuits filed by three environmental groups who allege its plans for the 200,000-acre Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex along the Oregon-California border violates several federal laws.  A fourth complaint from six farms and agricultural groups alleges the agency has unlawfully exceeded its authority by restricting leases of refuge land for agricultural purposes. ... ”  Read more from the Capital Press here:  Klamath refuge effort attacked from all sides

Yuba Water Agency reaches milestone in relicensing effort:It might not be the last check-off needed before relicensing, but it’s significant for the Yuba Water Agency – it’s one step closer to its overall goal of maintaining operations of the Yuba River Development Project.  The agency owns and operates facilities that are part of the Yuba River Development Project, including New Bullards Bar Reservoir and dam, two diversion dams, three powerhouses and various recreation facilities. In order to continue operating those facilities into the foreseeable future, the agency needs a new license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. … ”  Read more from the Appeal Democrat here: Yuba Water Agency reaches milestone in relicensing effort

Marin water supply impacts eyed as PG&E seeks hydropower plant sale:  “Questions remain as to what extent Marin County water supplies will be affected by a potential change in ownership and operation of a 110-year-old hydropower plant more than 100 miles to the north.  “This is a complicated issue and it’s just underway,” North Marin Water District General Manager Drew McIntyre said.  Pacific Gas and Electric Co. is seeking to auction off its Potter Valley Project hydropower plant, which contains two reservoirs and dams, to a new operator. PG&E cited increasing operation costs, a competitive energy market and lower energy generation needs as reasons for its decision. … ”  Read more from the Marin Independent Journal here:  Marin water supply impacts eyed as PG&E seeks hydropower plant sale

Marin supervisors approve contract for Ross Valley flood design work: Marin supervisors on Tuesday approved a $1.24 million contract to complete the first phase of engineering design for a long-awaited San Anselmo flood control project.  “This is not happening a moment too soon,” said Supervisor Katie Rice, whose district includes San Anselmo. “I’ve got my fingers crossed all the rest of this winter that we don’t have a big flood event.”  The team of Stetson Engineers, GEI Consultants and ESA Inc., which was awarded the contract, submitted the only proposal even though 10 firms attended a pre-proposal meeting on Oct. 11. ... ”  Read more from the Marin Independent Journal here:  Marin supervisors approve contract for Ross Valley flood design work

Owens Valley Groundwater Authority seeks statements of interest:  “The Owens Valley Groundwater Authority is currently soliciting Statements of Interest from local individuals, entities or groups interested in participating as an “Interested Party,” which has a voting interest in the OVGA Board.  The OVGA was created to comply with California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) requirement that local agencies sustainably manage groundwater in the Owens Valley Groundwater Basin. The basin includes the Owens, Round, Chalfant, Hammil, and Benton Valleys as well as Fish Slough. ... ”  Read more from Sierra Wave here:  Owens Valley Groundwater Authority seeks statements of interest

Santa Margarita Water District is the best fit for San Juan Capistrano, says Carolyn Cavecche: She writes, Mark Twain once said, “Whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting over.” After years of struggling to operate their own water utility, the City of San Juan Capistrano is now considering turning over its water and wastewater operations to one of three local water districts that specialize in this service and have submitted proposals. Apparently, Mark Twain knew what he was talking about.  At the City’s request, Santa Margarita Water District (SMWD) to the east, South Coast Water District (SCWD) to the south and Moulton Niguel Water District (MNWD) to the north have all expressed an interest in owning and operating the City’s water utility. ... ”  Read more from the OC Register here:  Santa Margarita Water District is the best fit for San Juan Capistrano

Women’s future careers in water topic of Cuyamaca event: “Mount Helix resident Kathleen Coates Hedberg is a registered civil engineer, a grade 4 water treatment operator and cross connection specialist.  On the board of directors of the Helix Water District and San Diego County Water Authority, Hedberg knows what it is like to be in a male-dominated field.  “There’s only six of us on the county water board out of about 36 members,” Hedberg said.  She’d like to see a shift in those numbers, and is an advocate for women seeking — and succeeding — in careers in the water and wastewater industries. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune here:  Women’s future careers in water topic of Cuyamaca event

Along the Colorado River …

Arizona drought-plan issues remain as federal Jan. 31 deadline nears:  “Four key issues remain unsettled as negotiators for a Colorado River drought-adaptation plan wrap up discussions and prepare to send a complex package of water-saving proposals to the Arizona Legislature.  Farmers, developers and officials of the $4 billion Central Arizona Project said Tuesday they still aren’t satisfied with various provisions in a proposed drought contingency plan aimed at propping up imperiled Lake Mead. Because of that, negotiations over details will probably have to continue even when the Legislature starts debating the plan next week. … ”  Read more from Tucson.com here:  Arizona drought-plan issues remain as federal Jan. 31 deadline nears

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

DR. JEFF MOUNT: Ecosystem Water Budgets: A Novel Approach to Managing Water for the Environment

NEWS WORTH NOTING: On first full day in office, Governor Newsom appoints secretaries for CalEPA and CA Dept. of Food and Agriculture, announces executive actions to strengthen CA’s emergency preparedness and response

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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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