DAILY DIGEST: The shape of water: When ag water management pays off; January storms benefit Sierra snowpack; Congressman Garamendi reintroduces bill to establish ‘Delta Heritage Area’; Shutdown, additional requests for water could disrupt Arizona drought plan; and more …

In California water news today, The shape of water: When ag water management pays off; January storms benefit Sierra snowpack; Congressman Garamendi reintroduces bill to establish ‘Delta Heritage Area’; Government shutdown having major impact on wildfire prevention efforts in California, officials say; California Republicans Object After Trump Threatens Wildfire Aid; Trump ‘weaponized’ disaster aid against political opponents; Shutdown, additional requests for water could disrupt Arizona drought plan; and more …

On the calendar today …

In the news today …

The shape of water: When ag water management pays off:  “Years of drought have parched California’s vast agricultural lands, prompting farmers to drill deeper and deeper into aquifers to irrigate their fields.  But this often means higher water costs for everyone – and inefficient use of a precious resource.  …  Cornell researchers have a solution: Coordinate water use, taking into account all the farms drawing water from a particular aquifer. The approach offers the farms a significant payoff when crop prices are high, according to the study. … ”  Read more from News WIse here:  The shape of water: When ag water management pays off

January storms benefit Sierra snowpack:  “Although Mother Nature blew the storm door off its hinges in parts of California last weekend, the state continues to run below average for rain and snow so far this winter.  The Jan. 5-6 precipitation, combined with the prospect of additional storms during the week, added to a snowpack that stood at only two-thirds of average levels statewide last week, when the state Department of Water Resources conducted its first manual snow survey of the new year. … ”  Read more from Ag Alert here:  January storms benefit Sierra snowpack

Congressman Garamendi reintroduces bill to establish ‘Delta Heritage Area’:  “Congressman John Garamendi, D-3rd District, has reintroduced the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta National Heritage Area Act along with a handful of other representatives.  A National Heritage Area designation would authorize $10 million in federal funding over 15 years to provide matching grants to local governments, historical societies, and community nonprofit organizations throughout the Delta. This federal funding would support cultural and historical preservation and environmental conservation projects under a locally developed management plan, coordinated by California’s Delta Protection Commission. … ” Read more from the Daily Democrat here:  Congressman Garamendi reintroduces bill to establish ‘Delta Heritage Area’

Government shutdown having major impact on wildfire prevention efforts in California, officials say:  “Every winter, forest managers in places like California take a step back, analyze their budgets and plan on how to deal with the next fire season. But the government shutdown has shuttered a lot of those efforts, because federal lands like the U.S. Forest Service— which has been furloughed since December 22 — plays a huge role.  For example, crews in Redwood National Park are “just sitting on their hands,” according to University of California fire advisor Lenya Quinn-Davidson in Humboldt County, because they can’t work on federal land during the shutdown. … ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here:  Government shutdown having major impact on wildfire prevention efforts in California, officials say

California Republicans Object After Trump Threatens Wildfire Aid: “U.S. President Donald Trump lashed out once more at California on Wednesday for a series of devastating wildfires he blames on poor forest management, threatening to withhold federal disaster aid in a Twitter blast that drew rebukes from lawmakers in his own party.  But Trump’s tweet, the latest of several in recent months accusing California of bringing wildfires on itself, appeared to be a largely empty ultimatum, presuming presidential authority he lacks under federal statutes.  One such law expressly bars the president from acting to “delay or impede” disaster relief once a federal emergency or disaster declaration has been made. … ”  Read more from US News and World Report here:  California Republicans Object After Trump Threatens Wildfire Aid

Trump ‘weaponized’ disaster aid against political opponents:  “President Trump’s threat to yank disaster funds from California has escalated a long-standing fight over forest management, and experts are divided over whether he has the power to do it.  The extraordinary suggestion to halt assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to an area devastated two months ago by wildfire stands to politicize humanitarian assistance under a president who rejects climate science. Trump previously threatened to interrupt emergency aid to Puerto Rico, which was reeling from Hurricane Maria, when he falsely said in a 2017 tweet that officials were using disaster funds to “pay off other obligations.”  Yesterday, the president sharpened his warning that he could withhold catastrophe funding based on political disagreements. ... ”  Read more from E&E News here:  Trump ‘weaponized’ disaster aid against political opponents

Shutdown means EPA pollution inspectors aren’t on the job:  “The two-week-old shutdown has halted one of the federal government’s most important public health activities, the inspections of chemical factories, power plants, oil refineries, water treatment plants, and thousands of other industrial sites for pollution violations.  The Environmental Protection Agency has furloughed most of its roughly 600 pollution inspectors and other workers who monitor compliance with environmental laws. Those scientists, engineers and analysts are responsible for detecting violations that endanger human health, as they did, for example during an August 2018 airborne inspection that found that oil and gas fields in Karnes County, Tex., were leaking illegal levels of chemicals into the atmosphere, in violation of the Clean Air Act. ... ”  Read more from the New York Times here:  Shutdown means EPA pollution inspectors aren’t on the job

Scientists are using bacteria to remove harmful contaminants from our water. Here’s how.  “John Coates’ laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley, hums with activity. Negative 80-degree freezers whirr, liquid nitrogen bubbles, grad students meticulously measure and mix complicated concoctions. But all of this is nothing compared with the commotion going on at a microscopic level.  The Coates lab is growing many different kinds of bacteria, multiplying in petri dishes at mind-boggling rates. But these bacteria aren’t out to harm people or animals. In fact, quite the opposite — they’re hard at work breaking down a dangerous chemical that pollutes waterways across the United States. … ”  Read more from Environmental Health News here:  Scientists are using bacteria to remove harmful contaminants from our water. Here’s how.

In commentary today …

Gavin Newsom has the opportunity to make climate change adaptation California’s priority:  Faith Kearns writes, ““Folks can say what they want to say, but firefighters are living climate change,” outgoing CAL FIRE chief Ken Pimlott said in a recent interview. He suggested California residents are, too — and that they should be prepared to shelter in place if they are not able to evacuate in the face of fires that are, year after year, breaking new records in material and psychological devastation. And, in what might be his most revelatory comment, he said something few with power have been willing to: Californians should consider prohibiting building in particularly vulnerable areas. … ”  Read more from Bay Nature here:  Gavin Newsom has the opportunity to make climate change adaptation California’s priority

In regional news and commentary today …

Klamath Dam removal DEIR finds no significant long-term water quality concerns:  “Plans for the removal of three dams on the Klamath River in California cleared another regulatory hurdle when state officials released a draft environmental impact report that found no significant long-term water quality concerns.  The proposed EIR will be available for public comment through Feb. 26.  The 1,800-page report completed by the state Water Resources Control Board covered everything from water quality to wildfires to whether the Coho salmon – a critical part of the restoration process that spawned the dam demolition plan in the first place – are even native to the project area. … ”  Read more from Mount Shasta News here:  Dam removal DEIR finds no significant long-term water quality concerns

Coho salmon recovery programs seek help from local landowners:  “Nestled up against a verdant, forested ridge in western Sebastopol lies an idyllic little stream with plenty of cold, clear water and shady pools that look like prime fish habitat. Redwood Creek is a tributary to Jonive Creek, which weaves under and along Bodega Highway before entering Atascadero Creek at the northwest corner of Ragle Ranch Park. Atascadero Creek then flows through Graton into Green Valley Creek, which meets the Russian River in Forestville. Green Valley Creek is renowned as a critical and productive stronghold for endangered coho salmon and was the last stream in the Russian River watershed to support three consecutive year classes of coho. For decades, it has been a focal point of local salmon recovery efforts, but comparably little is known about the potential of Atascadero Creek and its tributary streams to support salmon. … ”  Read more from Sonoma West here:  Coho salmon recovery programs seek help from local landowners

Antelope Valley: Dam construction brings road closures:  “As construction at Littlerock Dam continues, the Palmdale Water District advised residents Tuesday that Mount Emma Road will be temporarily closed at times while water is released from the dam to lower the water level in the reservoir during work on the first phase of a sediment removal project intended to increase the water storage capacity of the reservoir.  The closures will be sporadic, as rainfall fills the reservoir to a point to impact the construction project, General Manager Dennis LaMoreaux said. … ”  Read more from the Antelope Valley Press here:  Dam construction brings road closures

Huntington Beach: Poseidon prevails in desalination lawsuit:  “A lawsuit seeking a new environmental report for the controversial Poseidon desalination plant proposed for Huntington Beach was rejected by a Sacramento Superior Court judge on Tuesday.  Three environmental groups had filed the suit, arguing that the plant’s 2010 Environmental Impact Report needed to be entirely done over because of subsequent changes to the proposal.  In its 2017 approval of the project, the State Lands Commission determined that Poseidon needed only to complete a supplemental report addressing the changes to the project, which proponents champion as a drought-proof source of local drinking water. … ”  Read more from the OC Register here:  Huntington Beach: Poseidon prevails in desalination lawsuit

Along the Colorado River …

Shutdown, additional requests for water could disrupt Arizona drought plan: “The partial federal government shutdown is affecting Arizona’s painstaking work on an internal drought plan, although not enough to delay a federal deadline set for the end of this month.  The Bureau of Reclamation remains open, Phoenix-area manager Leslie Meyers said, noting that the bureau’s funding was appropriated in September. The legal counsel for her office, however, is part of the Department of Interior, specifically the Office of the Field Solicitor. They are furloughed. The shutdown began Dec. 22.  “Right now, not having them at work is very difficult for us,” Meyers told reporters Tuesday, Jan. 8. “It’s hard to move forward.” ... ”  Read more from Cronkite News here:  Shutdown, additional requests for water could disrupt Arizona drought plan

11th hour demands plus federal shutdown bog down Arizona drought negotiations:  “First, the good news: The negotiators of Arizona’s Drought Contingency Plan have crafted the most detailed, concrete proposal to date laying out how Arizona will deal with expected cutbacks to its supply of Colorado River.  “We’re closer than we’ve ever been, and I think we’re in closure range,” said Ted Cooke, co-chair of the steering committee of the Drought Contingency Plan and general manager of the Central Arizona Project, after a three-and-a-half-hour meeting Tuesday.  Now, the bad: The partial shutdown of the federal government is squeezing these negotiators. … ”  Read more from Phoenix New Times here:  11th hour demands plus federal shutdown bog down Arizona drought negotiations

Arizona nearing deadline for Colorado drought plan:  “An Arizona committee looking for ways to divvy up cuts from the Colorado River water supply says it has about a handful of issues to settle.  Arizona is one of several states tasked with a drought contingency plan that the federal government wants to adopt by Jan. 31.  Farmers, cities, tribes, home builders, state agencies and others on the committee met Tuesday. Their goal is to save up to 700,000 acre-feet of water over seven years. … ”  Read more from the Miami Herald here:  Arizona nearing deadline for Colorado drought plan

Precipitation watch …

From NWS Sacramento: “A couple of storms will bring relatively light precipitation to northern California over the next few days. Impacts from these storms will be minimal over Norcal. Storms next week are expected to have a more direct track on the north state and therefore are expected to bring more significant amounts of precipitation.”

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

METROPOLITAN WATER PLANNING & STEWARDSHIP COMMITTEE: Coordinated Operations Agreement for the SWP/CVP, Voluntary settlement agreements

NEWS WORTH NOTING: Recharge roundtable call to action: Key steps for replenishing California groundwater; Metropolitan invests in future development of local water supplies

SCIENCE NEWS: Insects show the healing of toxic metal mining scars; Tree rings: Looking back on old growth to predict the future; The long memory of the Pacific Ocean; Research to watch in 2019; and more …

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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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