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DAILY DIGEST: Storms to dump up to seven feet of snow; El Nino, a no-show so far; Idled farmland presents habitat restoration opportunities in San Joaquin Valley; Hangover from 2018 drought likely to deplete Colorado River spring runoff; and more …

In California water news today, California storms to dump up to seven feet of snow, force evacuations; One Of The World’s Largest Rivers Is Floating Above California. It’s Bringing Rain, Possible Flooding And A Blizzard Warning; El Nino, a no-show so far, losing steam; Idled farmland presents habitat restoration opportunities in San Joaquin Desert; USDA invests $449M in California Water Supply Innovations; President tells farmers to expect a bright future; The global race for groundwater speeds up to feed agriculture’s growing needs; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • The California Water Commission meets today at 9:30am.  Agenda items include State Water Project dam safety update, AB 1755 Open Data Initiative update, and Groundwater Basin Boundary Modifications.  For agenda and webcast link, click here.
  • Water Data Advisory Council Meeting, Open and Transparent Water Data Act (AB 1755) from 11:30am to 3:00pm in Laguna Niguel.  Click here to register.
  • GRA SF Bay Chapter Meeting: SF Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board’s annual regulatory update from 5:30pm to 8:30pm in Oakland.  Click here to register.  You do not need to be a member to attend.

In the news today …

California storms to dump up to seven feet of snow, force evacuations:  “A big Pacific storm is set to dump up to seven feet of snow in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains and several inches of rain elsewhere in the state on Wednesday and Thursday, compounding the flood risk after earlier rain storms blew through the state.  “The big one is rolling in late morning today, that’s for darn sure,” said meteorologist David Roth with the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland. … ”  Read more from Reuters here:  California storms to dump up to seven feet of snow, force evacuations

One Of The World’s Largest Rivers Is Floating Above California. It’s Bringing Rain, Possible Flooding And A Blizzard Warning: “California is about to get hammered by a storm that could drop three inches of rain at low elevations and up to five feet of snow in the Sierra.  “It definitely is looking like the biggest storm that we’ve seen so far this winter … with heavy rain, strong winds and heavy mountain snow,” said Sacramento National Weather Service Meteorologist Corey Miller. … ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here:  One Of The World’s Largest Rivers Is Floating Above California. It’s Bringing Rain, Possible Flooding And A Blizzard Warning

El Nino, a no-show so far, losing steam:  “The weather has yet to be influenced this winter by a warmer Pacific Ocean and likely won’t be impacted in a major way, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports.  Federal climatologists reduced the chances that an El Nino will form in January or February to 82 percent, down from 96 percent a month ago. If an El Nino does occur, it will be weak, according to NOAA.  “Significant global impacts are not anticipated during the remainder of the winter, even if conditions were to form,” the agency stated, in its monthly outlook on sea-surface temperatures along the equator. ... ”  Read more from Capital Press here:  El Nino, a no-show so far, losing steam

Idled farmland presents habitat restoration opportunities in San Joaquin Desert: “Most of the native habitat in California’s San Joaquin Desert has been converted to row crops and orchards, leaving 35 threatened or endangered species confined to isolated patches of habitat. A significant portion of that farmland, however, is likely to be retired in the coming decades due to groundwater overdraft, soil salinity, and climate change.  A new study led by researchers at UC Santa Cruz looked at the conservation potential of marginal farmland in the San Joaquin Desert and found that restoration of fallowed farmland could play a crucial role in habitat protection and restoration strategies for the blunt-nosed leopard lizard and other endangered species. … ” Read more from Science Daily here:  Idled farmland presents habitat restoration opportunities in San Joaquin Desert

USDA invests $449M in California Water Supply Innovations: “U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing more than $449 million to help build an innovative water management system that will increase the reliability of the California water supply and create more than 560 jobs in the Sacramento Valley. Perdue was joined by former U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke and Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Rickey “R.D.” James. The announcement follows on President Donald J. Trump’s memo to promote a reliable supply and delivery of water out west. … ”  Read more from Construction Equipment Guide here:  USDA invests $449M in California Water Supply Innovations

President tells farmers to expect a bright future:  “Promising farmers “the greatest harvest is yet to come,” President Trump said his actions on regulatory reform, tax policy, trade and immigration would bring both short-term and long-term benefits.  For a second straight year, Trump came to the American Farm Bureau Federation convention, speaking Monday to the organization’s 100th annual gathering in New Orleans, and said the future for American farmers “is bigger, better, greater, bolder and brighter than ever before.”  The president said his administration’s actions to reduce regulations and reduce taxes have had immediate benefits for rural America, and reassured farmers that the administration’s trade policies would lead to more-open markets for U.S. farm products. … ”  Read more from Ag Alert here:  President tells farmers to expect a bright future

The global race for groundwater speeds up to feed agriculture’s growing needs:  “Water is becoming a scarce resource in many parts of the world. Water tables have been falling in many regions for decades, particularly in areas with intensive agriculture. Wells are going dry and there are few long-term solutions available — a common stopgap has been to drill deeper wells.   This is exactly what happened in California’s Central Valley. The recent drought there prompted drilling of deeper and deeper water wells to support irrigated agriculture. … “  Read more from The Conversation here:  The global race for groundwater speeds up to feed agriculture’s growing needs

GAO investigating EPA’s low enforcement numbers:  “The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has launched an investigation into declining enforcement actions against companies accused of violating EPA’s pollution standards during the Trump administration.  A GAO spokesman said Tuesday that the probe began in October, with a focus on 2017 enforcement data that showed a significant drop in dollar amounts for settlements made with polluters. The final report is underway but not expected to be completed “until later in the year, likely fall,” the spokesman said. … ”  Read more from The Hill here:  GAO investigating EPA’s low enforcement numbers

In commentary today …

Newsom’s pick for environmental protection and water chiefs will reveal his priorities, says Richard Frank:  He writes, “One of the keys to former Gov. Jerry Brown’s success as California’s chief executive over the past eight years was the stellar group of individuals he recruited as his top environmental and water officials. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s initial, senior environmental appointments suggest that he is wisely following in Brown’s footsteps. Californians can only hope his water leadership team turns out to be equally strong.  Newsom’s first two environmental appointments are his most important, and his choices are impressive indeed. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  Newsom’s pick for environmental protection and water chiefs will reveal his priorities

In regional news and commentary today …

Del Norte: Ranch receives violation notice pertaining to slough: “The owners of Reservation Ranch are addressing a notice of violation from the regional water quality board over alleged unlawful discharges of waste into Tillas Slough and another tributary of the Smith River.  Steven Westbrook, co-owner and manager of Reservation Ranch in Smith River, received an order for technical reports from the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board on Dec. 11, 2018. The order requires Reservation Ranch to produce information related to its historical operation. … ”  Read more from the Del Norte Triplicate here:  Del Norte: Ranch receives violation notice pertaining to slough

Yuba County: Flood control veteran to leave post:  “The work to provide Yuba-Sutter with the highest level of flood protection possible isn’t yet complete, but the levees are much better today, having had the oversight expertise of the head of the Sutter Butte Flood Control Agency.  After more than seven years with the agency, SBFCA Executive Director Mike Inamine announced he would be leaving this week for a job with the California Department of Water Resources.  Inamine is credited with overseeing the design, state and federal financing, and implementation of $350 million in levee improvements during his time in the area, including the massive Feather River West Levee Project that spans from Thermalito Afterbay to south Sutter County. ... ”  Read more from the Appeal-Democrat here: Flood control veteran to leave post

US sues Tetra Tech over Hunters Point shipyard work, claiming widespread fraud: “Top managers of the environmental engineering firm Tetra Tech directed their employees to commit widespread fraud in the cleanup of America’s largest Superfund waste site, according to new legal complaints by the U.S. Department of Justice.  The allegations were filed Monday against Tetra Tech EC, a wholly owned subsidiary of parent company Tetra Tech Inc., the $3 billion government contracting giant. The complaints contradict Tetra Tech’s repeated claims that the company has done nothing wrong and that all problems with its cleanup work at San Francisco’s mothballed naval shipyard were caused by a few rogue employees. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: US sues Tetra Tech over Hunters Point shipyard work, claiming widespread fraud

Speier seeks info on EPA Cargill decision: “Whether the Cargill salt ponds in Redwood City are subject to the Clean Water Act has the possibility of bringing a large-scale but moribund development project back to life, but little is known if the Environmental Protection Agency is seeking to change its status.  Still, U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, has requested more information on the EPA’s plans and is requesting a meeting prior to any final decision about the site, located in her congressional district. … ”  Read more from the San Mateo Daily Journal here:  Speier seeks info on EPA Cargill decision

King tides on the way this weekend:  “King tides, the highest tides of the year, will return to the Monterey Bay this weekend. On Sunday and Monday, tides are expected to reach 6.7 feet above sea level around 9 a.m. The change in water level during King tides isn’t too extreme— it’s a matter of inches rather than feet. However, areas that are typically exposed may become flooded with just a few inches of water. The high water levels also augment large waves that may coincide with King tides. ... ”  Read more from the Monterey Herald here:  King tides on the way this weekend

Long Beach says sea-level rise will bring dire flooding to some neighborhoods: Rising sea levels are not only going to increasingly flood parts of Long Beach, but could leave the most vulnerable neighborhoods uninhabitable within a generation or two, according to a city presentation Monday night that drew more 300 residents concerned about the city’s — and their own — future.  “Residents can continue living on Naples and the Peninsula for several decades as long as you’re willing to experience occasional flooding,” said Jerry Schubel, a marine scientist and CEO of the Aquarium of the Pacific. “(But) over the next few decades, you need to think about moving. … ”  Read more from the Long Beach Press Telegram here:  Long Beach says sea-level rise will bring dire flooding to some neighborhoods

15 SoCal Pilot Projects Ensure a Wet Future with $3.5M in Funding:  “Final approval for $3.5 million in funding for studies and pilot projects aimed at ensuring the future of Southern California’s water supply was given last week. The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s board of directors approved the funding of 15 projects across 11 Metropolitan member agencies.  When combined with matching funds from the member agencies, and other local, state and federal resources, an additional $8 million will be infused into the projects. … ”  Read more from Environmental Leader here: 15 SoCal Pilot Projects Ensure a Wet Future with $3.5M in Funding

Along the Colorado River …

Hangover From 2018 Drought Likely To Deplete Spring Runoff, New Report Says: Following one of the hottest and driest years on record, the Colorado River and its tributaries throughout the western U.S. are likely headed for another year of low water.  That’s according to a new analysis by the Western Water Assessment at the University of Colorado Boulder. Researcher Jeff Lukas, who authored the briefing, says water managers throughout the Colorado River watershed should brace themselves for diminished streams and the decreasing likelihood of filling the reservoirs left depleted at the end of 2018. … “  Continue reading at KUNC here:  Hangover From 2018 Drought Likely To Deplete Spring Runoff, New Report Says

Arizona lawmakers chafe at Jan. 31 deadline to OK ‘unseen’ drought plan:  “House Speaker Rusty Bowers warned Tuesday he won’t be pressured by Gov. Doug Ducey into approving a drought contingency plan, which lawmakers have yet to see, by a Jan. 31 deadline.  Bowers told Capitol Media Services that the governor made a big show of announcing on Monday and again Tuesday the number of days that remain ahead of the deadline set by Brenda Burman, Reclamation Bureau commissioner, for Arizona to adopt its plan for dealing with the shortage of Lake Mead water. … “  Read more from the Arizona Daily Star here:  Arizona lawmakers chafe at Jan. 31 deadline to OK ‘unseen’ drought plan

Precipitation watch …

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

PANEL DISCUSSION: What do the new water conservation and efficiency requirements mean for your water agency?

NEWS WORTH NOTING: Lawsuit launched over Trump administration failure to protect 9 at-risk species; CDFW releases guidance document for Delta conservation planning

Today’s announcements …

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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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