DAILY DIGEST: Parade of storms to bring soaking rain and feet of snow to CA; Wade Crowfoot appointed to lead Natural Resources Agency; The West’s great river hits its limits: Will the Colorado River run dry?; and more …

In California water news today, Parade of Storms to Bring Soaking Rain and Feet of Snow to California This Week; California snowpack surges after slow start. Will it be enough to combat years of drought?; Gavin Newsom appoints Wade Crowfoot to lead Natural Resources Agency; Desalination plants produce more waste brine than thought; Five key environmental impacts of the government shutdown; The West’s great river hits its limits: Will the Colorado River run dry?; and more …

On the calendar today …

In the news today …

Parade of Storms to Bring Soaking Rain and Feet of Snow to California This Week:  “California will be under a siege of storm systems this week that will send rounds of soaking rain across the state and snow into the higher terrain.  The storms will be guided toward California through a strong jet stream over the Pacific Ocean, guiding three separate weather systems to the West Coast this week.  This string of stormy weather actually kicked off last Friday into Saturday, when an initial weather system made its way into the state. The rain from that storm triggered a mudslide on the Pacific Coast Highway near Malibu, California, early Saturday, forcing it to close for a time. … ”  Read more from the Weather Channel here:  Parade of Storms to Bring Soaking Rain and Feet of Snow to California This Week

California snowpack surges after slow start. Will it be enough to combat years of drought?  “California’s snowpack is surging after a series of storms hit the Sierras last week.  More snow could hit California’s mountain ranges this week.  “Last week’s storms have been nice and cold, coming from the Gulf of Alaska and putting some nice snow across the Sierra Nevadas,” said Chris Orrock, California Department of Water Resources spokesman.  California began 2019 with lower-than-average snowpack measurements — just 67 percent of the year-to-date average.  Recent storms pushed that total to 90 percent as of Friday. … ”  Read more from the Visalia Times-Delta here:  California snowpack surges after slow start. Will it be enough to combat years of drought?

The decline of the Western snowpack is real:  “More than 700 SNOTEL telemetry stations —   run by the federal government — sit in high-mountain watersheds in 13 Western states, delivering vital data about water supply (“Taking water’s measure,” HCN, 6/13/16). Climate models using SNOTEL data predict a decline in Western snowpack, with earlier melting in spring – together increasing the risk of floods, droughts and severe wildfires. ... ”  Read more from High Country News here:  The decline of the Western snowpack is real

Gavin Newsom appoints Wade Crowfoot to lead Natural Resources Agency:  “Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed the leader of an Oakland water philanthropy to be the next secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency.  Wade Crowfoot will lead the agency that oversees state parks, the Department of Water Resources and the Department of Fish and Wildlife, among other offices, Newsom announced Friday.  Crowfoot, 45, was CEO of the Water Foundation, an organization with offices in Sacramento, Oakland and Los Angeles that helps fund efforts to improve water management, from 2016 to 2018. Before that, Crowfoot worked as a deputy cabinet secretary and senior adviser to Gov. Jerry Brown, and as a senior environmental adviser to Newsom when he was mayor of San Francisco. ... ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  Gavin Newsom appoints Wade Crowfoot to lead Natural Resources Agency

Desalination plants produce more waste brine than thought:  “As clean freshwater has become scarcer around the world—especially in arid regions such as the Middle East and North Africa—those countries that can afford it have increasingly turned to desalination. That energy-intensive process extracts salt from sea (or other saline) water, transforming it into water that’s fit for human consumption. There are now nearly 16,000 desalination plants either active or under construction across the globe.  “[But] they don’t just produce desalinated water,” explains Manzoor Qadir, a researcher at the United Nations University in Canada. “They also produce brine.” ... ”  Read more from National Geographic here:  Desalination plants produce more waste brine than thought

Developers, not farmers, get biggest hit from wetlands rule: “President Donald Trump often points to farmers as among the biggest winners from the administration’s proposed rollback of federal protections for wetlands and waterways across the country.  But under longstanding federal law and rules, farmers and farmland already are exempt from most of the regulatory hurdles on behalf of wetlands that the Trump administration is targeting. Because of that, environmental groups long have argued that builders, oil and gas drillers and other industry owners would be the big winners if the government adopts the pending rollback, making it easier to fill in bogs, creeks and streams for plowing, drilling, mining or building.  Government numbers released last month support that argument. ... ”  Read more from Yahoo Finance here:  Developers, not farmers, get biggest hit from wetlands rule

Five key environmental impacts of the government shutdown:  “As President Donald Trump and Congress continue to wrangle over funding for a border wall and the overall 2019 budget, the federal government remains shutdown since December 22, 2018, making it the longest furlough of large numbers of government employees in U.S. history.  While politicians in Washington haggle over long and short-term budgets, the stoppage of many functions of government reverberate across the country. Here’s a look at some of the key impacts that relate to the environment: … ”  Continue reading at National Geographic here:  Five key environmental impacts of the government shutdown

In commentary today …

Gavin Newsom needs a plan for California’s endangered water supply, says the LA Times:  They write, “California’s water supply is now inextricably tied up with climate change. In a warming world, nature has already brought smaller Sierra snowpacks and less predictable precipitation patterns, with periods both of drought and of flooding. Gov. Gavin Newsom, if he is to successfully steer the state into the future, has to bring to his water agenda the same steely-eyed, reality-based drive that the two previous governors brought to limiting carbon emissions.  It is time for the state to respond to its water challenge with the same sense of urgency with which it adopted Assembly Bill 32, the landmark law capping greenhouse gas emissions, in 2006. ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Gavin Newsom needs a plan for California’s endangered water supply

Yuba River Accord could be a model for how to get diverse groups to work together for good, says the Appeal-Democrat:  They write, “We produced a couple of stories for the Jan. 2 edition that we thought covered the most significant topics of the previous year.  … The other story of the year was, perhaps, less conspicuous … it has to do with water, the life’s blood for the West and North California, and how a bunch of people with different notions of what’s right came together. This past year was the 10th anniversary of the Yuba River Accord. … ”  Read more from the Appeal-Democrat here:  Yuba River Accord could be a model for how to get diverse groups to work together for good

In regional news and commentary today …

Residents protest possible debris removal site in Oroville:  “About 30 citizens protested a possible Camp Fire debris dumping site in Oroville on Sunday.  Officials are planning to use the Koppers Company Incorporated superfund site to dump waste from Paradise. Many residents attended to voice their concerns regarding the idea.  “The idea of bringing all the waste down from Paradise and bringing it down here doesn’t strike me as being a good idea at all,” said 15-year Oroville resident and Palermo school board member William Bynum. “I would rather that they keep closer to where the catastrophe happened.” … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Residents protest possible debris removal site in Oroville

2 million gallons of wastewater spills into Sonoma slough:  “Roughly 2 million gallons of wastewater spilled into a slough in southern Sonoma County this weekend because of a leaking pipe valve — but any ecological impact appears minimal, officials said.  The spill began Friday morning from a manually operated valve south of Schellville and the Carneros wine region along Highway 12. It ended Saturday at 10:45 a.m.  “By all appearances the valve was closed, but apparently it didn’t fully seal,” said Ann DuBay, a spokeswoman for the Sonoma County Water Agency. The problem was spotted when an operator at the Sonoma Valley County Sanitation District offices “noticed that numbers looked strange” on the monitors tracking the fluids in the pipes. ... ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  2 million gallons of wastewater spills into Sonoma slough

New Crystal Springs Reservoir bridge opens to public:  “The long-awaited Crystal Springs Dam Bridge opened on Friday, offering hiking, cycling and auto access along one of the most scenic stretches of the San Francisco Peninsula.  “It’s just beautiful. They did a great job,” said cyclist Gary Stanton of San Mateo. “I never thought I’d say this, but it’s worth the wait.”  The new $13.1 million bridge, eight years in the making, spans the top of the dam between the two artificial lakes of Crystal Springs Reservoir. The dam was recently raised and the width of the spillway doubled so the reservoir can hold and release more water. ... ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  New Crystal Springs Reservoir bridge opens to public

Is there enough water for us in the desert? Water agencies work to keep it flowing:  Joseph K. Stuart writes, “Is there enough water in our desert? I am often asked this question.  Everywhere you look new homes, hotels and master-planned developments are appearing. It is wise to ask whether we have enough water for these future desert residents and visitors.  Permits for new projects are under the jurisdiction of cities or the county — not under the purview of water agencies. Water agencies are tasked with supplying the water.  Balancing growth and water supplies is nothing new to desert communities. It has always been a fact of life in our desert and is one of Desert Water Agency’s most important responsibilities.  ... ”  Continue reading here:  Is there enough water for us in the desert? Water agencies work to keep it flowing

Along the Colorado River …

Things Are Getting Crazy on the Colorado River:  “The Colorado River may not look like it, but it’s one of the world’s largest banks.  The river is not only the source of much of the American West’s economic productivity – San Diego, Phoenix and Denver would hardly exist without it – but its water is now the central commodity in a complex accounting system used by major farmers and entire states.  Now, when talking about the river, water officials across the West use terms like bank, payback and surplus. Often the analogies to finance don’t stop there – they put money behind deals that dictate who gets water and who does not.  This month, the nation’s largest water agency, the Metropolitan Water District, began what amounts to a run on the bank. … ”  Read more from the Voice of San Diego here:  Things Are Getting Crazy on the Colorado River

The West’s great river hits its limits: Will the Colorado River run dry?  “The beginnings of the mighty Colorado River on the west slope of Rocky Mountain National Park are humble. A large marsh creates a small trickle of a stream at La Poudre Pass, and thus begins the long, labyrinthine 1,450-mile journey of one of America’s great waterways.  Several miles later, in Rocky Mountain National Park’s Kawuneeche Valley, the Colorado River Trail allows hikers to walk along its course and, during low water, even jump across it. This valley is where the nascent river falls prey to its first diversion — 30 percent of its water is taken before it reaches the stream to irrigate distant fields. … ”  Read more from Yale 360 here:  The West’s great river hits its limits: Will the Colorado River run dry?

Precipitation watch …

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

DAILY DIGEST, weekend edition: In this water-starved California town, one citrus farmer is trying to hang on; More on border wall funding and Bay Delta Plan lawsuits; Governor Newsom pushes drinking water fix; New year, new laws affecting water; and more …

CA WEATHER BLOG: Wet and stormy week ahead for all of California; Dipole pattern to follow

APPOINTMENTS: Governor Newsom Appoints Natural Resources and Labor Secretaries, Senior Advisors, and Communications Staff

RESERVOIR AND WATER CONDITIONS for January 14

CALENDAR EVENTS: Bridging the gap: Increasing capture of flood flows during extreme weather events; CA Water Law Symposium: SGMA & beyond; Intro to groundwater and groundwater sustainability plans; Certificate in water management and leadership

 

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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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