DAILY DIGEST: Study shows areas of subsidence in Sacramento Valley; The land where birds are grown; Scott Dam in Lake County listed by CalTrout among top 5 dams to remove to benefit fish, habitat; On deadline, drought bills move forward in Arizona legislature; and more …

In California water news today, Study shows areas of subsidence in Sacramento Valley; The land where birds are grown; Scott Dam in Lake County listed by CalTrout among top 5 dams to remove to benefit fish, habitat; Water outlook improves after recent storms; 1st major storm in weeks to pummel California with heavy rain, mountain snow as February begins; California land managers hope to speed up forest-thinning projects to slow wildfire; Environmentalists are questioning the strategy; Federal agency after Trump tweet: Winter storms don’t disprove climate change; 2018’s most significant climate change reports; On deadline, drought bills move forward in Arizona legislature; and more …

In the news today …

Study shows areas of subsidence in Sacramento Valley:  “New data released measure changes in land subsidence in the Sacramento Valley over the past nine years, finding the greatest land surface declines in Arbuckle.  According to the Sacramento Valley GPS Subsidence Network Report and accompanying fact sheet, most of the valley has experienced little to no subsidence, however, land in the Arbuckle area has sunk 2.14 feet compared with baseline measurements recorded in the same location in 2008, according to a press release from the Department of Water Resources.  The report was led by DWR in coordination with 19 state and local agencies. ... ”  Read more from the Appeal-Democrat here:  Study shows areas of subsidence in Sacramento Valley

The land where birds are grown:  “Remaking California’s Central Valley wetlands was a complicated project that took much of the 20th century. Resurrected from degraded farmland and cash-strapped gun clubs, assembled by bulldozer and backhoe, the current patchwork of national wildlife refuges, state wildlife areas, and county preserves is much diminished from the four million acres of primeval wetlands that spanned the Central Valley before it was farmed. Nevertheless, these habitats are ecologically significant on a hemispheric level, serving 60 percent of migratory waterfowl on the Pacific Flyway, including three million ducks, two million geese, and a half million shorebirds. Their restoration has lured hungry birds away from agricultural fields, created wilderness access for rural communities, and returned endangered species to viable numbers. Decades before the spread of concepts like the Anthropocene and reconciliation ecology, refuge managers were devising ways to sustain ecological systems that had been dramatically altered. … ”  Read more from the Places Journal here:  The land where birds are grown

Scott Dam in Lake County listed by CalTrout among top 5 dams to remove to benefit fish, habitat:  “Five dams across California – including one in Lake County that forms Lake Pillsbury – have been listed as key for removal by an advocacy group in the effort to stop the extinction of native salmon and steelhead.  In response to what it calls a “statewide fish extinction crisis,” which indicates 74 percent of California’s native salmon, steelhead and trout species are likely to be extinct in the next century, the fish and watershed conservation nonprofit organization California Trout on Tuesday released its list of the top five dams prime for removal in the golden state. ... ”  Read more from Lake County News here:  Scott Dam in Lake County listed by CalTrout among top 5 dams to remove to benefit fish, habitat

Water outlook improves after recent storms:  “Storms during the first three weeks of January brought seasonal rainfall and snowpack levels to average or more, increased reservoir levels and brought cautious optimism to California farmers, who hope to see improved water supplies in the coming year.  After seeing the Sierra Nevada snowpack increase from 70 percent of average on Jan. 1 to 105 percent of average at the start of this week, farmers said they’re encouraged—but noted the winter still has a long way to go. … ”  Read more from Ag Alert here:  Water outlook improves after recent storms

Above average snow survey expected this week:  “California drought watchers will be turning their attention on Thursday to Phillips Station in the Sierra Nevada as the second snow survey of the year is taken.  Right now, it appears the survey will deliver some pleasing numbers following the heavy winter rains of several weeks ago. The survey is also being taken even as another in a series of storms moves in. … ”  Read more from the Daily Democrat here:  Above average snow survey expected this week

1st major storm in weeks to pummel California with heavy rain, mountain snow as February begins:  “A major storm will hit California during the first days of February, heightening the risk of flash flooding, mudslides and dangerous travel in the mountains.  This will be the first major storm to hit the area since the middle of January.  The storm to kick off February will be preceded by a quick-hitting rain event as January comes to a close. ... ”  Read more from Accu-Weather here:  1st major storm in weeks to pummel California with heavy rain, mountain snow as February begins

Weekend California Storm May Become Wintry Mess Next Week in the Plains, Midwest and Northeast: “A Pacific storm swinging into California this weekend may then spread a mess of snow and ice into parts of the Midwest and Northeast, kicking off the first full week of February early next week.  After one of the coldest Midwest outbreaks in a generation, the jet stream pattern will undergo a fundamental change.  Instead of taking a nosedive out of Canada into the Great Lakes and Northeast, the jet stream will take a southward plunge in the western U.S. by the weekend.  This will push a potent storm to the West Coast this weekend that will work its way into the Plains, Midwest and Northeast early next week. ... ”  Read more from The Weather Channel here:  Weekend California Storm May Become Wintry Mess Next Week in the Plains, Midwest and Northeast

California land managers hope to speed up forest-thinning projects to slow wildfire; Environmentalists are questioning the strategy:  “California wildland managers said Tuesday that they want to speed up logging and prescribed burns designed to slow wildfires that have devastated communities in recent years.  After the deadliest and most destructive blazes in state history, officials are scrapping 12 years of efforts and starting anew on creating a single environmental review process to cover projects on private land, such as cutting back dense stands of trees and setting controlled fires to burn out thick brush.  A new process would still need to clear administrative hurdles and may face lawsuits. … ”  Read more from the Long Beach Press Telegram here:  California land managers hope to speed up forest-thinning projects to slow wildfire; Environmentalists are questioning the strategy

Federal agency after Trump tweet: Winter storms don’t disprove climate change: “A federal agency tweeted Tuesday that winter storms don’t disprove climate change, hours after President Trump seemed to imply the opposite in a tweet.  “Winter storms don’t prove that global warming isn’t happening,” the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) tweeted from its main climate change-related account, which is associated with its Climate.gov website.  The tweet had a cartoon-like drawing and linked to a 2015 post on NOAA’s website explaining that even with climate change, certain locations will continue to experience “winters that are unusually cold and snowy.” … ”  Read more from The Hill here:  Federal agency after Trump tweet: Winter storms don’t disprove climate change

2018’s most significant climate change reports: “Two climate change reports caused quite a stir last year. The IPCC’s special report on Global Warming of 1.5 C° raised alarms in October. And the odd timing of the Trump administration’s release of the second part of the Fourth National Climate Assessment produced a spike in the coverage of climate change at the end of November. But other less-noticed reports also contributed to the evolution of our understanding of climate change in 2018.  Yale Climate Connections here highlights reports that incorporate 2017 data into the climate record, that update projections of climate’s impact on food security, public health, and the economy, and that lay out competing policy options for action, including the “Green New Deal” that hit the headlines in the wake of the 2018 election. … ”  Read more from the Yale Climate Connection here:  2018’s most significant climate change reports

In commentary today …

State Water Board’s wetlands proposal needs to be clarified, says Kari Fisher:  She writes, “It took more than a decade to create, but a revised state definition of wetlands and procedures to protect them from dredge-and-fill activities requires still more work to make the plan more clear and to reduce its impact on farmers, ranchers and foresters.  The State Water Resources Control Board released its proposed final amendments Jan. 3, under the title State Wetland Definition and Procedures for Discharges of Dredged or Fill Material to Waters of the State.  According to the state water board, the proposed amendments aim to cover only those wetlands no longer protected under the federal Clean Water Act due to U.S. Supreme Court decisions, to provide consistency among regional water boards and to address current regulations that have not been adequate to prevent losses in the quality and quantity of wetlands in California. … ”  Read more from Ag Alert here:  State Water Board’s wetlands proposal needs to be clarified

Klamath Dam removal isn’t over yet, says Regina Chichizola:  She writes, “After many years of hard work, North Coast dam removal efforts are now rapidly accelerating. On Friday, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. announced that it is pulling the application to relicense the Potter Valley Project, a series of two dams and a large diversion on the Upper Eel River. On Feb. 6, the California Water Resources Control Board is coming to Arcata to take comments on their final 401 (Clean Water Act) permit to remove four dams on the Klamath River.  What does this all mean? Are we really about to see the Eel and Klamath River dams come down? ... ”  Read more from the Eureka Times-Standard here:  Klamath Dam removal isn’t over yet, says Regina Chichizola

In regional news and commentary today …

Hoopa win appeal in Klamath dam case:  “The Hoopa Valley Tribe has prevailed in a federal court of appeals case concerning Klamath River dams against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The court unanimously ruled Friday that FERC, PacifiCorp and the states of California and Oregon can no longer delay certification for a new license for hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River. ... ”  Read more from the Del Norte Triplicate here:  Hoopa win appeal in Klamath dam case

Sonoma County Spills Spewed Nearly 3 Million Gallons of Sewage Into Creeks and Bay: “Sonoma County water officials, under order from the state to improve the capacity of their sewage system, say a valve malfunction and leaky pipes resulted in a string of spills this month that released 2.7 million gallons of waste and stormwater, some of which flowed into local creeks and San Pablo Bay.  The largest spill occurred Jan. 12, when a faulty valve at a Sonoma County Water Agency treatment plant caused sewage to run backward in a pipeline that handles waste from homes and businesses in the Sonoma Valley. ... ”  Read more from KQED here:  Sonoma County Spills Spewed Nearly 3 Million Gallons of Sewage Into Creeks and Bay

Elephant seals take over a Pt. Reyes beach during shutdown; It won’t reopen anytime soon:  “You know the saying: When the cat’s away the mice will play. It appears the Bay Area is ready to coin a new turn of phrase: When the rangers are gone the elephant seals will swarm.  When tourism decreased and wildlife management staff were furloughed during the government shutdown, an elephant seal colony in Point Reyes National Seashore spread from their normal spot on the beach to an area normally frequented by humans. … ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  Elephant seals take over a Pt. Reyes beach during shutdown; It won’t reopen anytime soon

Santa Clara County supervisors approve spending $20 million to start farm preservation program:  “Santa Clara County supervisors Tuesday unanimously agreed to spend $20 million to start a program that aims to prevent farmland from being sold to developers.  “This is all great but people aren’t going to know you’re serious (about preserving farmland) until you put dollars behind it; then it becomes a real program,” said Supervisor Dave Cortese, who proposed the program with Supervisor Mike Wasserman.  The program initially will be financed with money left over from the 2019-20 fiscal year budget. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  Santa Clara County supervisors approve spending $20 million to start farm preservation program

Santa Barbara’s water supplies still a concern:  “Santa Barbara is still in a drought even with the strong start to the year with rain and more coming this weekend.  The updated water supply report to the Santa Barbara City Council detailed the current storage above and below ground and it was a mosaic of resources. … ” Read more from KEYT here:  Santa Barbara’s water supplies still a concern

Montecito and City of Santa Barbara close to desal contract:  “Even with last week’s rains increasing Lake Cachuma elevations by more than five feet, the available supply for South Coast water agencies has remained the same. Under the complex legal arithmetic by which Cachuma is divvied up, all the additional water accrues to agencies downstream; that will remain the case until there’s enough runoff in the Santa Ynez River to generate a live stream. … ” Read more from the Santa Barbara Independent here:  Montecito and City of Santa Barbara close to desal contract

Southern California:  Scientists seek to help troubled urban forests:  “When the Santa Ana winds start gusting in Southern California, the air blows hot, dry, and hard. Even though the winds are a regular feature of the region’s weather, their first blast last October startled Tesia Villegas, who lives in Covina, California. Trees and branches crashed to the ground. A downed tree fell onto a neighbor’s house.  “I actually have never really seen anything like that,” she said.  During a heat wave in nearby Los Angeles last year, Dorrit Ragosine observed another problem with trees in her neighborhood: Their leaves turned crunchy and brown, leading her to wonder whether her trees will survive if temperatures keep rising. ... ”  Read more from Yale Climate Connections here:  Southern California:  Scientists seek to help troubled urban forests

City of San Diego joins lawsuit against Trump administration over Tijuana sewage spills:The city of San Diego decided Tuesday to back California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra’s lawsuit that seeks to hold the Trump administration accountable for sewage and other toxic flows that routinely spill over the border from Tijuana and foul beaches as far north as Coronado.  The City Council voted unanimously in closed session on Tuesday to join the legal action. Councilman Chris Cate was absent. ... ”  Read more from the San Diego Union Tribune here:  City of San Diego joins lawsuit against Trump administration over Tijuana sewage spills

Scripps Institution Scientists Study Imperial Beach As Sea Level Rises: “San Diego scientists who are interested in rising sea levels recently spent a chunk of time in the coastal community of Imperial Beach. They were there to see the impact of a storm swell on top of an astronomical high tide.  The low-lying city is nearly surrounded by water and the community faces real and immediate challenges from a changing climate. ... ”  Read more from KPBS here:  Scripps Institution Scientists Study Imperial Beach As Sea Level Rises

Along the Colorado River …

On deadline, drought bills move forward in Arizona legislature:  “Arizona’s Legislature hasn’t approved a drought plan yet, but it may as well be a done deal.  Legislative leaders appear to be in alignment with Gov. Doug Ducey on the legislative package of water bills that lawmakers will have to vote on by Thursday if Arizona is to meet a deadline set by federal officials.  The final drought plan deal includes additional funding for groundwater infrastructure for Pinal County farmers and intent language that would allow the Legislature to consider offering more funding to Pinal farmers that in theory, would be repaid at a later date by the federal government. … ” Read more from the Arizona Capitol Times here:  On deadline, drought bills move forward in the legislature

Colorado River Water Crisis Is Days Away. Can States Make a Deal?: “Avoiding a long-expected crisis on the Colorado River, a water source for 40 million people, is coming down to a final few days of frenzied negotiations. A 19-year drought and decades of overuse have put a water shortfall on the horizon.  If California and six other states, all with deeply entrenched interests, can’t agree on a plan to cut their water consumption by Jan. 31, the federal government says it will step in and decide the river’s future. ... ”  Read more from KQED here:  Colorado River Water Crisis Is Days Away. Can States Make a Deal?

Arizona House committee approves drought plan, deadline looms Thursday: “Five hours after the hearing began, the Arizona House Committee on Natural Resources, Energy and Water passed out to the full house Arizona’s version of the Colorado River drought contingency plan. Lawmakers also approved a series of measures to help Pinal County farmers deal with the water shortages they will face as part of the agreement.  Governor Ducey said passage of the contingency plan was his top priority. The state has until Thursday to submit it to the Federal Government’s Bureau of Reclamation. ... ”  Read more from Channel 15 here:  Arizona House committee approves drought plan, deadline looms Thursday

Precipitation watch …

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

PANEL DISCUSSION: Upgrading the water grid

THIS JUST IN … Survey Shows Areas of Land Subsidence in the Sacramento Valley

NEWS WORTH NOTING: Trump Administration urged not to block access to records on wildlife, public lands; Rep. Huffman elected Chair of Water, Oceans, & Wildlife Subcommittee; Napolitano elected Chair of Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee

 

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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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