DAILY DIGEST: Drought deal trips over CA water district demands; A $600M plan to help low-income households absorb rising water bills; More cold storms on the way; EPA and ACOE release their WOTUS proposed replacement rule; and more …

In California water news today, Drought deal trips over California water district demands; California Officials Draft a $600M Plan To Help Low-Income Households Absorb Rising Water Bills; Senate Bill 204 increases Water Fix oversight; Study of brine discharge from Carlsbad desalination plant finds good and bad news; More cold storms on the way, and the snow may stick around for awhile; Plugging Holes in the Clean Water Act: EPA and ACOE Release their Proposed Replacement Rule Defining “WOTUS”; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board meets today and tomorrow in Rancho Cordova.  Meeting will be webcast.  Click here for the agenda.

In the news today …

Drought deal trips over California water district demands:  “A California water district and a looming environmental disaster have impounded drought contingency negotiations on the Colorado River.  The Imperial Irrigation District, or IID, is California’s biggest user of Colorado River water, servicing nearly 500,000 acres of farmland in the southeast corner of the state.  It is now refusing to sign on to a basinwide drought contingency plan unless more federal money is provided to address the Salton Sea, a shrinking lake that is exposing a toxic-dust-emitting lake bed.  At a board of directors meeting yesterday, IID declared a standoff with Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman. … ”  Read more from E&E News here:  Drought deal trips over California water district demands

  • NOTE: Plenty more Colorado River news in the section below.

California Officials Draft a $600M Plan To Help Low-Income Households Absorb Rising Water Bills:  “Low-income Californians can get help with their phone bills, their natural gas bills and their electric bills. But there’s only limited help available when it comes to water bills. That could change if the recommendations of a new report by the State Water Resources Control Board are implemented into law.” Read more from Western Water here:  California Officials Draft a $600M Plan To Help Low-Income Households Absorb Rising Water Bills

Senate Bill 204 increases Water Fix oversight:  “During a town hall meeting in November 2017, the Delta Caucus co-chairs state Sen. Bill Todd (D-Napa) and Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D-Discovery Bay) opined for more legislative oversight pertaining to the California WaterFix project.  Last week they took a step in that direction.  Todd introduced Senate Bill (SB) 204, which would require the Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the Delta Conveyance, Design and Construction Authority (DCDCA) to submit information about pending State Water Project contracts to the legislature for public review prior to those agencies moving forward with work on the Delta Tunnels. … ”  Read more from The Press here:  Senate Bill 204 increases Water Fix oversight

Study of brine discharge from Carlsbad desalination plant finds good and bad news:  “Before the Carlsbad Desalination Plant in Southern California began operations in 2015, scientists at UC Santa Cruz recognized an important opportunity to study the effects of the high-salinity brine that would be discharged from the plant into coastal waters. Starting in 2014, they collected measurements of water chemistry and biological indicators in the area so they could compare conditions before and after the plant began discharging brine into the ocean.  The results of their study, published January 25 in Water, include good news and bad news.  … ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  Study of brine discharge from Carlsbad desalination plant finds good and bad news

More cold storms on the way, and the snow may stick around for awhile:  “From the Bay Area to Los Angeles, it was a day to gaze upon snow-capped peaks; acknowledge that yes, California does have a winter; and share a photo or two on social media.  But don’t expect the alpine glory — caused by a series of cold storms that dropped snow levels dramatically — to disappear immediately.  Wet weather will kick back up again Friday for large swaths of the state, which could bring hazardous conditions for drivers. The National Weather Service said two new low pressure systems would be coming from the Arctic and slamming the Sierra Nevada with low temperatures and snow this weekend. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  More cold storms on the way, and the snow may stick around for awhile

Wet winter greatly reduces drought conditions“A very wet winter has greatly reduced drought conditions in California.  The U.S. Drought Monitor reports Thursday that more than 34 percent of the state including the Sierra Nevada, much of the Central Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area is free of any significant dryness.  The monitor says heavy rain has also removed most of the moderate drought that stretched from the Central Coast down through the southern tier of the state, leaving a lesser condition designated as abnormally dry. … ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  Wet winter greatly reduces drought conditions

For California ski resorts, fierce storms ‘are what we live for’“In the past week, California has been pummeled by fierce winter storms wreaking havoc from Sacramento to San Diego. Flash floods have damaged an already fragile landscape, as near hurricane-force winds downed power lines along the coast. On Tuesday, mountain highways were closed because of blizzard conditions and the National Weather Service warned about avalanches in the eastern Sierra Nevada range.  But for the state’s ski resorts, it’s looking a lot like a boom time. … ”  Read more from the New York Times here:  For California ski resorts, fierce storms ‘are what we live for’

Plugging Holes in the Clean Water Act: EPA and ACOE Release their Proposed Replacement Rule Defining “WOTUS”: “On December 11, 2018, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) announced proposed changes to the agencies’ definition of “waters of the United States” (WOTUS). This definition, conspicuously absent in the Clean Water Act (CWA), determines when point source discharges require CWA National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits from the EPA and delegated states, when dredging and other filling of wetlands require CWA §404 permits from ACOE, and when agencies and environmental groups can assert claims alleging violations of these permit programs or other CWA liability, such as payment of spill response costs and penalties. The proposed revised WOTUS definition would replace the 2015 Clean Water Rule (2015 Rule), which has been the subject of numerous legal challenges since its publication. ... ”  Read more from the National Law Review here:  Plugging Holes in the Clean Water Act: EPA and ACOE Release their Proposed Replacement Rule Defining “WOTUS”

Invasive weed creep spurs concern over Roundup bans“The threat to public lands posed by invasive plant species is increasing by about ten million acres each year, and conservationists fear they will lose their best tool to combat it.  That’s according to data from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) which manages 245 million acres of public land—about one in every 10 U.S. acres.  As pressure from invasive plants grows, conservation groups and land managers worry that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, might soon be off limits or severely curtailed. … ”  Read more from Bloomberg Environment here:  Invasive weed creep spurs concern over Roundup bans

Putting Solar Panels on Water Is a Great Idea—but Will It Float?  “Winemaker Greg Allen had a problem. As president of Far Niente Winery in Napa Valley, California, he had done the math on how much land the vineyard could possibly dedicate to solar panels, to offset energy costs. The figure—about two acres—“really hurt,” Allen says. So he compromised: Far Niente completed an array of 2,296 solar panels, 994 of which float on pontoons tethered to the bottom of the winery’s pond. The installation was the world’s first nonexperimental floating solar array. ... ”  Read more from Scientific American here:  Putting Solar Panels on Water Is a Great Idea—but Will It Float?

Trump touts infrastructure in State of the Union; ignores climate change:  “President Trump touted infrastructure in his State of the Union address last night without mentioning climate change.  But the two issues are intimately related.  Experts say the impacts of climate change—including floods, wildfires and sea-level rise—could place a big strain on the nation’s aging infrastructure. ... ”  Read more from Scientific American here:  Trump touts infrastructure in State of the Union; ignores climate change

In commentary today …

Reposting with correct link: Governor Newsom must mop up Brown’s water mess, says Jonas Minton:  “Despite many high priority issues on his plate, one of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s first tests will be how he deals with California’s water challenges and opportunities. Unfortunately, in the last days of his term Gov. Jerry Brown made a bad bargain with the Trump administration and special interests. It’s yet another mess for the new governor to mop up.  During his last month, Brown quietly signed an agreement with the Trump administration to transfer water from Southern California and portions of the Bay Area to corporate farms in the San Joaquin Valley. In return, the Trump administration dropped its threatened opposition to Brown’s legacy project — the massive tunnels that would divert water from the San Francisco Bay Delta. This was done with no public notice, hearing or environmental analysis. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: Governor Newsom must mop up Brown’s water mess

In regional news and commentary today …

Conflicts get an airing at Klamath Dam removal hearing in Yreka:  “The latest chapter in the long-running dispute over how to manage water in the Klamath Basin is playing out in northern California communities. The current issue is whether to approve a permit needed to tear down the four lower Klamath River dams to improve water quality and revive fish populations. This week, the California Water Board is holding several hearings on that permit. The first was held Tuesday night in Yreka. … ”  Read more from Jefferson Public Radio here:  Conflicts get an airing at Klamath Dam removal hearing in Yreka

Community continues to push for Klamath Dam removal:  “Humboldt County residents have until Feb. 26 to offer input on the draft environmental report covering the pending removal of four Klamath River dams, dams many scientists say have diminished the river’s water quality and endangered its salmon populations. For every one of the nearly two dozen people who spoke at a public hearing Wednesday in Arcata, removing the dams is both necessary and overdue. Fishing populations have been depleted and stretches of the river have become toxic because it doesn’t flow freely, attendees said at the D Neighborhood Center public hearing. … ”  Read more from the Eureka Times-Standard here:  Community continues to push for Klamath Dam removal

Judge stops logging project in Klamath National Forest:  “A district court judge recently halted the US Forest Service’s plan to log in an area burned by the 2017 lightning-caused Abney Fire, which burned approximately 90,000 acres on the Rogue River-Siskiyou and Klamath National Forests.  The lawsuit, which names Klamath National Forest supervisor Patricia Grantham and the non profit American Forest Resource Council as defendants, was brought by environmental groups including the Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center, Environmental Protection Information Center and Klamath Forest Alliance. … ”  Read more from the Siskiyou Daily News here: Judge stops logging project in Klamath National Forest

Scott River Watershed Council’s forum to address local, regional, global issues: “The Scott River Watershed Council is hosting its annual informational forum on Feb. 21 to help inform the community and agencies about the good work currently happening in the watershed. The day-long forum also addresses large, complex issues such as climate change and resiliency through presentations from local, regional and national professionals, said executive director Charnna Gilmore. … ”  Read more from the Siskiyou Daily News here:  Scott River Watershed Council’s forum to address local, regional, global issues

Getting wild in the Yolo Bypass:  “Tucked away between Davis and Sacramento lies the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area, a superb site to take a break from busy city life. From birdwatching to hiking, there is a variety of options for locals and tourists to get a taste of Yolo County wildlife.  Heidi Satter is the education coordinator for the Yolo Basin Foundation, which is a community-based organization that supported the establishment of the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area.  Satter explains that because of seasonal changes, visitors can enjoy different activities throughout the year. … ”  Read more from the Daily Democrat here:  Getting wild in the Yolo Bypass

South Sacramento community shapes design of Morris Creek Revitalization Project:  “Local community groups and residents are playing a key role in the design of the Morrison Creek Revitalization Project, a multi-benefit project in south Sacramento that seeks to improve the natural habitat around the creek while creating a safe, recreational environment for the community.  The Department of Water Resources (DWR) is assisting with project design and technical and environmental assistance; the project is funded by private foundations. ... ”  Read more from DWR News here:  South Sacramento community shapes design of Morris Creek Revitalization Project

Mile Rocks: A Bay Area Lighthouse Unlike Any Other: “As a major shipping port, the Bay Area has a lot of lighthouses to help with navigation, but there’s one lighthouse that looks quite different from the rest: Mile Rocks.  Instead of a tall tower, it’s a short, white cylinder with a helipad on top of it. And instead of sitting on a coastline, it sits on top of a rock in the water on the southwest side of the Golden Gate Bridge, not far from Lands End in San Francisco.  Bay Curious listener Jeremy Johnstone didn’t pay much attention to this helipad until he saw something peculiar there one day around 30 years ago. … ”  Read more from KQED here:  Mile Rocks: A Bay Area Lighthouse Unlike Any Other

These swaths of San Francisco will be underwater in just 70 years, models suggest:  “In 70 years, San Francisco as we know it could look drastically different. Gentrification, development and the other forces of urban change we fret about may be mere trifles compared to the drastic effects of climate change, including the rise of sea levels and erosion, scientists say.  By 2100, rising sea levels could displace more than 480,000 people along the California coast and result in property losses upwards of $100 billion if no preventative measures are taken, according to a 2009 study by the California Climate Change Center.  …  Read more from SF Gate here:  These swaths of San Francisco will be underwater in just 70 years, models suggest

Central Coast: Drought concerns loom for farmers, ranchers despite recent rains:  “Even with the onslaught of rainy weather, the U.S. Drought Monitor states San Luis Obispo County and Santa Barbara County remain in a moderate drought.  On Wednesday, the UC Cooperative Extension held a workshop in Solvang titled “Weather, Grass, and Drought: Planning for Uncertainty.”  “Leave it to a drought workshop to bring the rain,” Matthew Shapero joked. He is a livestock and range advisor for UCCE.  Farmers and ranchers enjoy the precipitation, but still face an uncertain supply of water when they need it. … ”  Read more from KSBY here:  Central Coast: Drought concerns loom for farmers, ranchers despite recent rains

Carpinteria: Truck loads of sediment moving out from debris basins after last storms:  “Over 100 truckloads of dirt and rocks have been on the move to kick off a multi-week effort to reduce the amount of debris in Montecito and Carpinteria basins.  Recent storms sent tons of debris and other material down from the area of the 2017 Thomas fire.  The trucks are hauling to three sites, one in Buellton, one off Foothill Road and at the end of Ash Avenue in Carpinteria.  At the waterfront heavy equipment is there to push the dirt to the water line. ... ”  Read more from KEYT here:  Carpinteria: Truck loads of sediment moving out from debris basins after last storms

Newport ponders major drainage upgrade for flood-prone Balboa Island: “Anyone who has been on Balboa Island during a hard rain knows the streets can flood.  The city of Newport Beach is considering replacing the island’s 1930s-era drainage system with several automated below-ground pumps. That would save on labor and costs associated with manually opening the tide gates at the end of streets and sending out portable pumps and slicker-clad city workers to dump excess storm water into the bay. ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here: Newport ponders major drainage upgrade for flood-prone Balboa Island

South Orange County beaches are rapidly disappearing:  “Rob Edwards looked toward the ocean during his daily walk Tuesday, Feb. 5, and pointed out how much sand had been chomped away at the stretch of beach in San Clemente.  About two feet of sand disappeared from under an abandoned concession stand at North Beach in just a day, exposing concrete pylons and a four-foot drop from a small staircase. It was a stunning visual of how much sand had been washed away with recent storms and high tides. “It’s sketchy,” he said, looking the building, where caution tape warned people to stay off. … ”  Read more from the OC Register here:  South Orange County beaches are rapidly disappearing

Along the Colorado River …

Drought deal trips over California water district demands:  “A California water district and a looming environmental disaster have impounded drought contingency negotiations on the Colorado River.  The Imperial Irrigation District, or IID, is California’s biggest user of Colorado River water, servicing nearly 500,000 acres of farmland in the southeast corner of the state.  It is now refusing to sign on to a basinwide drought contingency plan unless more federal money is provided to address the Salton Sea, a shrinking lake that is exposing a toxic-dust-emitting lake bed.  At a board of directors meeting yesterday, IID declared a standoff with Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman. … ”  Read more from E&E News here:  Drought deal trips over California water district demands

Federal register notice on DCP draws ire from IID:  “A notice published recently in the Federal Register is not sitting well with Imperial Irrigation District.  That notice, submitted by the Department of Interior through the Bureau of Reclamation and published on Feb. 1, calls recommendations from the governors of the seven Colorado River Basin state for protective actions the Department of Interior should take in the absence of a completed drought contingency plan. ... ” Read more from the Imperial Valley Press here:  Federal register notice on DCP draws ire from IID

What is Happening with the Colorado River Drought Plans?  “States that rely on the Colorado River for their water supplies are currently unable to finish a series of agreements that would keep its biggest reservoirs, Lake Mead and Lake Powell, from dropping to levels not seen since they were filled decades ago.  Five states — Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Wyoming and Nevada — are done. The country of Mexico has also completed its portion. But California and Arizona failed to meet a Jan. 31 federal government deadline to wrap up negotiations and sign a final agreement. … ”  Read more from KUNC here:  What is Happening with the Colorado River Drought Plans?

Blog: Colorado Drought Deal Close But Not Done:  “Last week Arizona and California missed a deadline to submit final plans for how they will manage water shortages in the Colorado River Basin over the coming decades to prevent Lake Mead levels from dropping so low that water cannot be released from the dam. The other five states that share the river’s waters have already submitted their drought contingency plans. We talked to John Fleck—director of the University of New Mexico’s Water Resources Program and a member of the PPIC Water Policy Center research network—about the situation.  PPIC: What is the drought contingency plan intended to do? ... ”  Read more from the PPIC blog here:  Blog: Colorado Drought Deal Close But Not Done

Colorado snowpack nears ‘normal;’ greater amount needed to counter drought: “Your neighbor who says, “we need the snow,” is still right.  As Glenwood Springs schools were closed Wednesday due to the latest winter storm, and with most of the state braced for heavy snowfall through the night, new data for January showed Colorado’s snowpack for the season so far is nearing normal levels.  In the Colorado River basin, snowpack was 112 percent of normal as of Feb. 1, according to a Natural Resources Conservation Service report released Wednesday. ... ”  Read more from the Post Independent here:  Colorado snowpack nears ‘normal;’ greater amount needed to counter drought

Intense drought in the U.S. Southwest persisted throughout 2018, lingers into the new year: “As part of their year-end national climate recap, the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information reported on the stubbornness of extreme drought in the U.S. Southwest and Four Corners region in 2018.  The animated gif at right [available on click through] shows drought conditions across the contiguous United States every four weeks throughout 2018, starting with January 2 and ending with December 25. Places identified as “abnormally dry” are colored yellow, and increasing intensity of drought is shown in shades of orange to dark red. … ”  Continue reading from Climate.gov here: Intense drought in the U.S. Southwest persisted throughout 2018, lingers into the new year

In an era of drought, Phoenix prepares for a future with no Colorado River water:  “The Hohokam were an ancient people who lived in the arid Southwest, their empire now mostly buried beneath the sprawl of some 4.5 million people who inhabit modern-day Phoenix, Arizona and its suburbs. … The fate of the Hohokam holds lessons these days for Arizona, as the most severe drought since their time has gripped the region. But while the Hohokam succumbed to the mega-drought, the city of Phoenix and its neighbors are desperately scrambling to avoid a similar fate — no easy task in a desert that gets less than 8 inches of rain a year. ... ”  Read more from Yale 360 here:  In an era of drought, Phoenix prepares for a future with no Colorado River water

Precipitation watch …

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

BAY DELTA SCIENCE CONFERENCE: Franks Tract feasibility study: Applying the guidance of a Delta Renewed

SCIENCE NEWS: New Scale to Characterize Strength and Impacts of Atmospheric River Storms; Study of brine discharge from Carlsbad desalination plant finds good and bad news; Learning to filter water by studying manta rays; and more …

REACTIONS: (updated) Congressman McCarthy, Coalition for Sustainable Delta, CA Farm Water Coalition and Golden Gate Salmon Association react to release of new Biological Assessment of CVP/SWP operations

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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