DAILY DIGEST: Biological Assessment called a game changer for CA’s water landscape; 2 year anniversary of Oroville Spillway crisis marked by emergency spillway completion, lawsuit; Trump Administration to waive environmental reviews for San Diego border wall; Clean drinking water debate rekindled; and more …

In California water news today, Biological Assessment Will Be A Game Changer For California’s Water Landscape; Bay Area Salmon Advocates Decry Proposed Delta Water Diversions; Two year anniversary of Oroville Spillway Crisis: Emergency spillway nears completion; Lawsuit claims corruption, racism, sexual harassment contributed to Oroville Dam crisis; Trump Administration to waive environmental reviews for San Diego border wall; California adds protections for Klamath spring run salmon; Both sides represented at Klamath dams removal meeting; Despite Unity of Purpose, Familiar Schisms Appear As California Lawmakers Rekindle Clean Water Funding Debate; and more …

In the news today …

BIOLOGICAL ASSESSMENT FOR SWP/CVP OPERATIONS

Federal Biological Assessment Will Be A Game Changer For California’s Water Landscape:The Bureau of Reclamation released its long-anticipated Biological Assessment this week, triggering a process that will change the way water deliveries are made in California for both the federal and state water projects. The Bureau says the move will maximize water deliveries to water contractors while promoting the survival of salmon and other wild species by applying new scientific methods. Delta advocates, environmental groups and the fishing industry were quick to criticize the assessment. They say the new rules will harm the Bay Delta environment and put even more pressure on endangered fish species struggling to survive. Vic Bedoian reports from Fresno.”

Bay Area Salmon Advocates Decry Proposed Delta Water Diversions:  “Officials from a San Francisco-based group dedicated to preserving the region’s salmon habitat say a new federal plan to divert more water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and San Francisco Bay would decimate the fish as well as jobs.  “This is a blatant water grab that threatened thousands of fishing jobs and families in California,” said Dick Pool, secretary of the Golden Gate Salmon Association.  Added GGSA Director Noah Oppenheim, “The Trump administration won’t be able to get away with killing off our salmon runs if the state refuses to cooperate.” ... ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  Bay Area Salmon Advocates Decry Proposed Delta Water Diversions

OROVILLE DAM

Two year anniversary of Oroville Spillway Crisis: Emergency spillway nears completion: “Thursday marks two years since the first hole opened up in the Oroville Dam Spillway, triggering an emergency that forced the evacuation of nearly 200,000 people. The crisis started on February 7, 2017. The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) had been releasing 60,000 cubic feet of water per second, when they noticed the concrete on the spillway began to disintegrate. That first day, the hole was 30 feet deep by 180 feet wide. … ”  Read more from KRCR here:  Two year anniversary of Oroville Spillway Crisis

Lawsuit claims corruption, racism, sexual harassment contributed to Oroville Dam crisis:  “Workers were patching Oroville Dam’s weathered concrete spillway, nearly four years before a massive crater would tear it open.  Michael Hopkins, an employee at the Department of Water Resources, alleges he saw something he would never forget.  A legally deaf woman was assigned to drive a truck down the spillway and listen for hollow sounds in the concrete as her colleagues performed what’s known as “chain drag testing,” Hopkins wrote in a declaration filed last week in Sacramento Superior Court. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: Lawsuit claims corruption, racism, sexual harassment contributed to Oroville Dam crisis

BORDER WALL

Trump Administration to waive environmental reviews for San Diego border wall:  “The Trump administration said Thursday it would waive environmental reviews to replace up to 14 miles (22.5 kilometers) of border barrier in San Diego, shielding itself from potentially crippling delays.  The Department of Homeland Security said it would issue the sixth waiver of Donald Trump’s presidency under a 2005 law that empowers the secretary to waive reviews required under environmental laws if the border barrier is deemed to be in national security interests. Those laws include the National Environmental Policy Act, the Clean Air Act and Endangered Species Act. … ”  Read more from Channel 8 here:  Trump Administration to waive environmental reviews for San Diego border wall

KLAMATH SALMON/DAMS

California adds protections for Klamath spring run salmon:  “Wednesday, the California Fish and Game Commission made Klamath-Trinity Spring Chinook salmon a candidate for listing under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA).  The decision was in response to a petition filed last year by the Karuk Tribe and the Salmon River Restoration Council. A final decision to list the species will be made within 12 months; in the meantime Klamath-Trinity Spring Chinook will be afforded all the protections of a listed species. … ”  Read more from the Herald & News here:  California adds protections for Klamath spring run salmon

Crescent City:  Council, harbor discuss dam removal plan:  “Out of two local governing bodies that heard presentations on Klamath dam removal this week, only the Crescent City Harbor District took action in support of the endeavor.   The harbor district’s decision on Tuesday wasn’t unanimous despite impassioned testimony from the public urging commissioners to approve a letter to the California Water Resources Control Board on behalf of the Klamath River Renewal Corporation’s application for a Clean Water Act section 401 certification in connection with the dam removal project.… ”  Read more from the Del Norte Triplicate here:  Crescent City:  Council, harbor discuss dam removal plan

Both sides represented at Klamath dams removal meeting:  “While most public meetings held in Siskiyou County regarding the Klamath dams garner comments that are overwhelmingly against dam removal, the opinions expressed at a dams meeting on Tuesday evening were considerably more balanced on either side of the scale.  While most public meetings held in Siskiyou County regarding the Klamath dams garner comments that are overwhelmingly against dam removal, the opinions expressed at a dams meeting on Tuesday evening were considerably more balanced on either side of the scale. The meeting, held by the California State Water Resources Control Board, provided a brief overview of the agency’s recently-released Draft Environmental Impact Report on the dams, but the majority of the three-hour long gathering was devoted to oral comments from the public on the Draft EIR. … ”  Read more from the Siskiyou Daily News here:  Both sides represented at Klamath dams removal meeting

DRINKING WATER

Californians with bad water ask for help while opposition mounts to Newsom’s proposed tax:  “Californians with unhealthy drinking water pleaded for help from lawmakers this week but opposition quickly developed to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposal to pay for system improvements with a new fee.  “We just upped our water rates, and to turn around and give them a tax on their meter is just not feasible,” said Maxine Israel, director at the Cabazon Water District, which serves about 2,500 customers near Palm Springs.  She was among dozens of water experts and advocates who crowded a hearing on Wednesday to discuss how the state can deliver system improvements that would help nearly 1 million Californians who lack access to safe drinking water. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Californians with bad water ask for help while opposition mounts to Newsom’s proposed tax

Despite Unity of Purpose, Familiar Schisms Appear As California Lawmakers Rekindle Clean Water Funding Debate:Nearly everyone who gathered at the California Assembly committee meeting on Wednesday to discuss safe, affordable drinking water agreed that the state needed swift and substantial action to remedy an inequality that has persisted for decades.   Lawmakers and public officials, worried citizens and utility representatives, as well as environmental justice organizers recited similar statistics about the depth and breadth of a crisis in which one million or more California residents do not have reliable, clean drinking water. … ”  Read more from Circle of Blue here:  Despite Unity of Purpose, Familiar Schisms Appear As California Lawmakers Rekindle Clean Water Funding Debate

DROUGHT/HYDROLOGY

Wet winter greatly reduces drought conditions:  “In a matter of weeks, a very wet winter has greatly reduced drought conditions that have plagued California.  A series of storms has coated mountains with blankets of snow and unleashed drenching rains that have even greened up landscapes recently blackened by wildfires.  Here are things to know about the suddenly soggy state: … ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  Wet winter greatly reduces drought conditions

Drought concerns lessen in wake of latest rain, but experts still cautious:  “Recent storms have drenched Southern California enough that areas have almost twice their average rainfall totals.  Even drought status has been pushed away for all but the southwest and north edges of the state.  “On the whole, it’s good news. But good news on water is only temporary in California,” said Jay Lund, professor of civil and environmental engineering at UC Davis, and director of watershed sciences at the school. “In wet years, we have to prepare for dry years, and in dry years for wet years.” … ”  Read more from the San Gabriel Valley Tribune here:  Drought concerns lessen in wake of latest rain, but experts still cautious

Images taken from space in 2018 and 2019 show two very different Californias:  “Lots of numbers have been thrown around in recent days to encompass California’s soaking-wet start to 2019.  The Sierra Nevada snowpack, which is a primary water source for the state, is 123 percent of normal — an astounding number when you consider at this same time last year, it was a mere 26 percent. … ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  Images taken from space in 2018 and 2019 show two very different Californias

And lastly … Photos: Recent California storms lift most of state out of drought Snow blankets the mountains across the state. Click here to view photos from across the state at the Santa Ynez Valley News. Enjoy!

NATIONAL

New project to build climate resilience through improved land management:  “A $4.6 million grant to UCs Merced and Irvine will help researchers develop new tools and methods for better managing the state’s forests, shrub lands and grasslands.  The Innovation Center for Advancing Ecosystem Climate Solutions, a three-year program co-led by UC Merced Professor Roger Bales and UC Irvine Professor Michael Goulden, was selected through the Strategic Growth Council’s competitive Climate Change Research Program. This program is part of California Climate Investments, a statewide program that puts billions of cap-and-trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy, and improving public health and the environment — particularly in disadvantaged communities. ... ”  Read more from UC Merced here:  New project to build climate resilience through improved land management

2018 was the U.S.’s third-wettest year on record—here’s why:  “On Wednesday, NASA and NOAA announced that 2018 was the fourth hottest year on record. But the impacts of a warming planet extend beyond just warming air; the feverish state of the planet is also changing when, where, and how intensely rain and snow fall. And 2018, the reports say, was the third-wettest year since 1895, when steady record-keeping began.  Overall, the U.S. got 4.68 inches more precipitation in 2018 than the 20th-century average, but that rain and snow was not anywhere close to evenly distributed across the country. … ”  Read more from National Geographic here:  2018 was the U.S.’s third-wettest year on record—here’s why

Democrats duel for climate spotlight:  “Democrats dueled for press coverage on their climate agendas this morning, much to the pleasure of major environmental groups that helped them take back the House.  Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) gathered reporters outside the Capitol to release their “Green New Deal” resolution, a road map of progressive policy goals to tackle climate change and massively transform the American economy.  “Today is the day that we truly embark on a comprehensive agenda of economic, social and racial justice,” said Ocasio-Cortez. ... ”  Read more from E&E News here:  Democrats duel for climate spotlight

In regional news and commentary today …

Officials worry toxic chemicals at Glendale lumber mill could contaminate Mad River:”A cancer-causing toxic wood preservative found at the site of a defunct lumber mill in the Glendale area has a state agency looking into whether chemicals could seep into the nearby Mad River and affect local drinking water.  The state Department of Toxic Substances Control certified the site in 1998, placing a concrete cap over soil that might have been contaminated. But in late December, the department site, concluding that”]announced it had determined rising groundwater is contaminated with a toxic chemical, prompting a change in plans. … ”  Read more from the Eureka Times-Standard here:  Officials worry toxic chemicals at Glendale lumber mill could contaminate Mad River

Sanitary district to decide fate of ponds near Tiburon’s Blackies Pasture:  “The Richardson Bay Sanitary District will soon decide what to do with its unused property adjacent to Blackie’s Pasture, which Tiburon officials hope to buy and convert into a recreation center or open space.  A series of ponds on the property holds recycled water, which Tiburon used for years to water the grass on the nearby McKegney Green. Tiburon no longer uses recycled water to maintain that field, which was renovated last year, so the ponds have become obsolete. … ”  Read more from the Marin Independent Journal here:

New Aptos well to test restoration concept:  “Saltwater intrusion is not just an academic concern for Pete Cartwright.  The Watsonville resident said he lost a tenant who farmed one of his properties about two years ago, when one of his wells became too salty for irrigation.  “It brought it to my attention, the whole saltwater intrusion,” Cartwright said Thursday, well-digging equipment towering behind him on wooded Twin Lakes Church grounds. “It’s a serious problem.” … ”  Read more from the Santa Cruz Sentinel here:  New Aptos well to test restoration concept

Tejon Ranch: Development deal test a decade-old conservation deal:  “Tejon Ranch is California wild, a place where mountain lions prey on unsuspecting fawns and storm-twisted trees cling to remote ridges, where California condors soar over bald peaks and Tehachapi slender salamanders hide in the damp leaf litter of secluded canyons. Tejon is also a private working ranch, where cowboys run cattle across an area bigger than Rocky Mountain National Park. Los Angeles, the nation’s second-largest city, is a mere 70 miles to the south. ... ”  Read more from High Country News here:  Tejon Ranch: Development deal test a decade-old conservation deal

Santa Barbara County retains control of state water contract:  “Questions about financial liability and concerns over weighted votes among member agencies of the Central Coast Water Authority prompted the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors to take no action on transferring the state water contract to that joint-powers agency.  Sitting as the board of directors for the Water Agency and the Flood Control and Water Conservation District, supervisors unanimously directed staff to continue discussions on the CCWA’s request to assume the state water contract. … ”  Read more from the Santa Maria Times here:  Santa Barbara County retains control of state water contract

Water districts make pitches to acquire San Juan Capistrano’s water and sewer systemSan Juan Capistrano is looking to unload its water utility, as maintaining the system is expected to become costly for the community.  The city is one of very few in south Orange County that manages its own water operations.  After a 10-month review of the options, the City Council discussed on Tuesday, Feb. 5, which agency – Moulton Niguel Water District, Santa Margarita Water District and South Coast Water District – the city should enter into an exclusive negotiation agreement to acquire its water system. … ”  Read more from the OC Register here:  Water districts make pitches to acquire San Juan Capistrano’s water and sewer system

Along the Colorado River …

Commentary: 5 critical questions Arizona must answer – and soon:  Joanna Allhands writes, “It’s not over.  Yes, Arizona has joined the Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan, which aims to keep Lake Mead, a significant source of our water supply, from tanking. But if you think that solves our water problems, think again. We’ve simply bought ourselves time to finish even tougher work.  Here are five big questions we’ll need to tackle soon: … ”  Read more from Arizona Central here:  5 critical questions Arizona must answer – and soon

Precipitation watch …

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

NEWS WORTH NOTING: State of California tackles drought with IoT & Blockchain; Commission accepts listing petition for Upper Klamath spring chinook salmon; Public interest groups appeal Poseidon desalination decision; Water and climate update

PARTICIPATION OPPORTUNITY: Water Rights Enforcement Policy

 

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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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