DAILY DIGEST: Atmospheric river boosted CA snowpack well above average by mid-January; Implementing groundwater regulations in Kern County; Departing Nevada state engineer approves controversial water market near Eureka; ‘The United States won’t let Lake Mead crash’; and more …

In California water news today, Atmospheric river boosted California snowpack well above average by mid-January; Implementing groundwater regulations in Kern County; Departing Nevada state engineer approves controversial water market near Eureka; ‘The United States won’t let Lake Mead crash’; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • The State Water Board meets at 9:30am.  Agenda items include consideration of adoption of permanent regulations for point of use and point of entry treatment; a public workshop on wetlands regulations, and a quarterly report from the Delta Lead Scientist.  Click here for the full agendaClick here to watch on webcast.

In the news today …

Atmospheric river boosted California snowpack well above average by mid-January: “Snowpack across California is about 110 percent of normal for this time of year, thanks in no small part to an atmospheric river that brought heavy snowstorms to the Sierra range, the state Department of Water Resources’ most recent data show.  As of last Friday, the northern Sierra snowpack measured at 113 percent of normal. The central and south Sierra were each observed at 110 percent of normal, for a statewide average of 111 percent, according to DWR’s latest snow survey.  Statewide snowpack is more than quadruple what it was by this time last year. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Atmospheric river boosted California snowpack well above average by mid-January

Storms transform Northern California’s rivers, lakes and peaks:  “From your backyard to the boondocks, the storms over the past week have transformed the rivers, lakes and mountains of Northern California. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  Storms transform Northern California’s rivers, lakes and peaks

A recap of California’s water year so far: “When the skies clear and the weather gets calmer, it’s a good time to take stock of our storms and see where we are with water in California.  … ”  Read more from ABC 10 here: A recap of California’s water year so far

State Parks says King Tides show potential effects of sea level rise:  “King Tides are bringing higher high tides and lower low tides to Central Coast beaches.  It only happens a couple times of year and though short, California State Parks says it’s a potential glimpse into the future.  On Monday, onlookers watched as the big waves rolled in near Morro Rock. ... ”  Read more from KEYT here: State Parks says King Tides show potential effects of sea level rise

Turning wood into electrons: Biomass Facilities Transform Burnt Forests Into Renewable Energy, But Some Argue It’s Not An Eco-Friendly Solution: “Imagine the number of burnt trees left to clean up after a wildfire, or the volume of litter remaining after forest-thinning. California’s grappling with what to do with all this forest waste, especially given recent devastating wildfires. Forest managers have a few options: leave it in piles, spread it out over the forest floor, burn it — or use a controversial practice called biomass.  About an hour north of Lake Tahoe, an old saw mill in a town called Loyalton uses biomass to turn forest debris into energy. The plant closed in 2010 but re-opened in 2018, and vice president of operations Jim Turner says the private company, American Renewable Power, is bringing in new contractors every month. ... ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here: Turning wood into electrons: Biomass Facilities Transform Burnt Forests Into Renewable Energy, But Some Argue It’s Not An Eco-Friendly Solution

Critics slam WOTUS economics: ‘In theory, pigs could fly’:  “The Trump administration’s bid to restrict the Clean Water Act’s reach over streams and wetlands is backed by an analysis showing the proposal wouldn’t reduce environmental benefits when it comes to dredging and filling waterways.  Key to lessening the rule’s impact on water quality is the assumption that 29 states “may” or are “likely” to bolster dredge and fill regulations as federal oversight retreats.  Among eight states the administration says “may” strengthen regulations is North Carolina. That assumption springs from wetlands legislation that a Democratic-led General Assembly passed 18 years ago — ancient history in light of the Republican takeover of the Legislature in 2010. ... ”  Read more from E&E News here:  Critics slam WOTUS economics: ‘In theory, pigs could fly’

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 Environmental News Network here:  The global race for groundwater speeds up to feed agriculture’s growing needs

In regional news and commentary today …

Workshop planned for Yuba City Council members on water projects, impact fees:  “A special workshop is planned for today to give the new Yuba City Council members an update on current impact fees and the city’s planned water and wastewater projects.  Council members will have an opportunity to provide city staff with direction on the topics, either keeping plans in place or to take steps to reverse them.  “The new council members asked for updates on the city’s water and wastewater rates. The Public Works Department will provide the council with a presentation on our current rates, how they are calculated, and what improvements are planned for wastewater and water treatment plants,” said Darin Gale, economic development manager for the city. ... ”  Read more from the Appeal-Democrat here:  Workshop planned for Yuba City Council members on water projects, impact fees

Jackson: Completed Construction Improves Safety of Argonaut Dam: “At its meeting Monday night, the Jackson City Council received a report on the now-completed construction project to reinforce the Argonaut Tailing Dam.  Located northwest of Jackson Junior High and first constructed in 1916 to hold the processed remains of gold ore, the Argonaut Dam posed a danger to much of Jackson should it fail. ... ”  Read more from the Amador Ledger here:  Jackson: Completed Construction Improves Safety of Argonaut Dam

Monterey: Despite lawsuit, crucial desal permit proceeds:  “California American Water’s Monterey Peninsula desalination project is in the midst of another critical phase even as a Carmel River pumping cutback order milestone requiring the start of construction looms later this year.  Despite its lawsuit challenging the state Public Utilities Commission approval of the Cal Am desalination project, the city of Marina is on schedule to consider the project’s coastal development permit application covering mostly proposed desal plant feeder slant wells on the CEMEX sand mining plant by mid-March, according to a senior city planning official. ... ”  Read more from the Monterey Herald here:  Monterey: Despite lawsuit, crucial desal permit proceeds

Santa Barbara: What a difference a little rain makes at Cachuma Lake:  “The hills are greener, the air is cleaner and the water levels at Cachuma Lake are a little, higher. Here are a few comparison shots from the Santa Barbara County Flood Control District’s “hydro cameras” at Cachuma Lake. … ”  Read more from the Lompoc Record here:  Santa Barbara: What a difference a little rain makes at Cachuma Lake

Implementing groundwater regulations in Kern County:  “There is a lot of uncertainty down on the farm about impending and unprecedented restrictions that will be imposed on groundwater usage in California in 2020. On Kern County: In Depth, an update on the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014.”  Watch news feature from KGET here: Implementing groundwater regulations in Kern County 

Los Angeles:  Measure W will fund projects to recycle rainwater from LA River: “With four straight days of rain, the Los Angeles River has come alive. Thanks to Measure W, which was passed by voters last November, projects will be funded and infrastructure will be built to capture, treat and recycle all this rain water.  “We lose trillions of gallons of water out to the ocean every year, and if we were able to capture it, we could supply about half of our water needs locally,” said Jill Sourial with The Nature Conservancy. … ”  Read more from ABC 7 here:  Los Angeles:  Measure W will fund projects to recycle rainwater from LA River

Southern California: How much rain was captured?  “So, we got all this rain this last week, but how much of it is L.A. County able to catch and keep for future use? And how does that work? We check on the spreading grounds along the San Gabriel River to see how the water is siphoned off the river and directed into places where it can sink into the earth.”  Listen to radio show from Southern California Public Radio here (starts about 24:35):  Southern California: How much rain was captured?

Imperial Beach Continues to Face Contamination, Flooding Problems as Other Beaches Reopen: “Imperial Beach continued to face problems from pollution to displaced sand as other beaches across the county reopened Monday after raw sewage poured in from Tijuana.  Local coasts have been hit by King Tides, which are extremely high tides that occur every year, and for Imperial Beach, it has sent contaminated ocean water up into the streets and carried away much-needed sand. … ”  Read more from NBC San Diego here:  Imperial Beach Continues to Face Contamination, Flooding Problems as Other Beaches Reopen

Scripps new program forecast Imperial Beach flooding, helped city brace for impact: “Massive waves crushed the Imperial Beach shoreline at dawn Friday, flooding sections of Seacoast Drive all the way to the Tijuana River Estuary.  Many residents boarded up windows and put out sandbags in preparation for the 15-foot waves that covered the entire beach during high tide, inundating streets and garages.  However, the city would’ve been caught off guard had it not been for an experimental warning system launched just months ago by UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union Tribune here:  Scripps new program forecast Imperial Beach flooding, helped city brace for impact

Along the Colorado River …

Departing Nevada state engineer approves controversial water market near Eureka: “In the valley north of the central Nevada town of Eureka, dozens of circle irrigation systems spray water onto alfalfa each spring. The water that flows through the rotating center pivots comes from the ground. But that limited groundwater supply is being overpumped and beginning to dry up at a rate that has long concerned Nevada’s top water regulator, the state engineer.  Each year, water users near Eureka pump more than twice the amount of groundwater from Diamond Valley — a hub for hay growers in central Nevada — than is replenished by Mother Nature. Underneath the valley, the water table has dropped further away from the surface. ... ”  Read more from the Nevada Independent here:  Departing state engineer approves controversial water market near Eureka

‘The United States won’t let Lake Mead crash’:  “Water was on the menu for January’s Valley Partnership Friday Morning Breakfast.  A standing-room only crowd gathered at Phoenix Country Club to hear from five of Arizona’s most influential leaders when it comes to water policy. Valley Partnership president and CEO Cheryl Lombard moderated the discussion, which brought together Tom Buschatzke, director of Arizona Department of Water Resources, Ted Cooke, general manager of Central Arizona Water Conservation District, Governor Stephen Roe Lewis of the Gila River Indian Community and Joe Gysel, president of EPCOR, USA. … ”  Read more from Arizona Big Media here:  ‘The United States won’t let Lake Mead crash’

Drought hangover: ‘OK’ snowpack in Colorado won’t be enough to replenish reservoirs: “After one of the hottest and driest years on record, the Colorado River and its tributaries across the Southwest are likely headed for another year of low water.  That’s according to an analysis by the Western Water Assessment at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Jeff Lukas, the researcher who authored the briefing, urged water managers throughout the Colorado River watershed to brace themselves for diminished streams and a decreasing likelihood of filling reservoirs left depleted by nearly two decades of drought. The analysis relies on data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Geological Survey and the Natural Resources Conservation Service, among other agencies. … ”  Read more from KUNC here:  Drought hangover: ‘OK’ snowpack in Colorado won’t be enough to replenish reservoirs

Arizona Water Leaders Lean on Developers to Support Drought Plan: “As the Colorado River teeters on the brink of shortage, water leaders in Arizona are begging developers to pressure legislators to sign off on a drought plan, while also aiming to reassure those developers that despite a drier future, it’s safe to come to Arizona and build.  “We need all of you to go to your favorite legislator and express your support for the Drought Contingency Plan,” Tom Buschatzke, the director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources, told a group of 250 development industry representatives and others during a breakfast meeting Friday. “I implore you.” … ”  Read more from Phoenix New Times here:  Arizona Water Leaders Lean on Developers to Support Drought Plan

Gila River threatens to pull out of Drought Contingency Plan:  “The Gila River Indian Community is threatening to blow up the drought contingency plan because of efforts it says will undermine its claim to water rights.  House Speaker Rusty Bowers is proposing changes to state laws in a way he said will protect the rights of farmers in the Safford Valley who have been “scratching it out” to water from the Gila River.  But attorney Don Pongrace who represents the Gila River Indian Community said what Bowers proposes to do would effectively overturn and nullify a federal appellate court ruling which said that those who are upstream who have not used the water have forfeited those rights. ... ”  Read more from the Arizona Capitol Times here:  Gila River threatens to pull out of Drought Contingency Plan

No, Lake Powell is not inexorably headed toward “dead pool”:  John Fleck writes, ” … Brian Maffly has a great piece in the Salt Lake Tribune about the challenges of Colorado River management, with a focus on Lake Powell.  But Maffly weakens an otherwise excellent survey of the river’s issues with the alarmist assertion that “without a change in how the Colorado River is managed, Lake Powell is headed toward becoming a ‘dead pool.’”  It is important when doing journalism about phenomena over time (and any other sort of analysis) to choose periods of record that accurately capture the thing you’re trying to understand and explain. … ”  Continue reading at the Inkstain Blog here:  No, Lake Powell is not inexorably headed toward “dead pool”

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

BLOG ROUND-UP: Are water rights sufficient enough to protect water users?; Winnemem Wintu fight for restoration of salmon; No, Lake Powell is not inexorably headed toward “dead pool”; and more blog commentary…

NEWS WORTH NOTING: AQUAOSO™ Launches Free Digital Water Map for California; Shutdown Prompts Requests to Extend Comment Deadline for Proposed Changes to FOIA Regulations; Reps. Huffman & Napolitano Release GAO Report on the Benefits of Water Reuse Projects

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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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