DAILY DIGEST: California’s shifting water politics; Fish in the fields; Cal Poly researcher looks back at California’s mega drought; Turning Desalination Waste Into A Useful Resource; Supreme Court to review high-stakes Clean Water Act fight; and more …

In California water news today, California’s shifting water politics; Fish in the fields; Cal Poly researcher looks back at California’s mega drought; Turning Desalination Waste Into A Useful Resource; 18 trillion gallons of water has poured into California during February storms; The future of cities in a changing climate; Supreme Court to review high-stakes Clean Water Act fight; and more …

In the news today …

California’s shifting water politics:  “A letter from U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein could have helped lead to Felicia Marcus’s ouster as State Water Resources Control Board chair last week.  Surprised? Don’t be: The moderate Democratic senator has a long alliance with Central Valley ag.  Marcus inflamed agriculture and Bay Area water users by proposing more water from the San Joaquin River watershed go to environmental needs such as bolstering the salmon population. Gov. Gavin Newsom had to decide whether to keep the otherwise highly regarded Jerry Brown appointee. … ”  Read more from Cal Matters here:  California’s shifting water politics

Fish in the fields:  “While the science is complex, the idea is simple: put small fish in flooded rice fields and watch them help combat climate change.  At the end of 2017, several local rice farmers teamed up with researchers for a pilot program known as “Fish in the Fields” through the Resource Renewal Institute, a nonprofit research and natural resource policy group, to see what would happen when fish were introduced to flooded rice fields.  Now in its second year of experiments, researchers have concluded that it works, with methane – a climate-changing byproduct of rice agriculture much more detrimental than carbon dioxide – being reduced by about two-thirds, or 65 percent, in flooded fields that had fish in them. … ”  Read more from the Appeal Democrat here:  Fish in the fields

Cal Poly researcher looks back at California’s mega drought:  “Drought has long been a part of California’s history. There is archeologic evidence that shows periods of below-normal rainfall have lasted for more than 50 years in the past. A Cal Poly professor is looking back at those so-called mega-droughts to see what we might be able to learn about the area’s climate in the future.  Archaeology professor Terry Jones has been looking into California’s climate for most of his career. He found evidence of a 50-plus year mega-drought in our area 800 years ago that forced a change in the culture of native Central Coast residents. They responded to the incredibly dry conditions by turning away from land and to the ocean for food. ... ”  Read more from KSBY here:  Cal Poly researcher looks back at California’s mega drought

Turning Desalination Waste Into A Useful Resource:  “The rapidly growing desalination industry produces water for drinking and for agriculture in the world’s arid coastal regions. But it leaves behind as a waste product a lot of highly concentrated brine, which is usually disposed of by dumping it back into the sea, a process that requires costly pumping systems and that must be managed carefully to prevent damage to marine ecosystems. Now, engineers at MIT say they have found a better way.  In a new study, they show that through a fairly simple process the waste material can be converted into useful chemicals — including ones that can make the desalination process itself more efficient. … ” Read more from Water Online here:  Turning Desalination Waste Into A Useful Resource

18 trillion gallons of water has poured into California during February storms:  “Rain, rain and more rain! If you are wondering how much rain California received this month – you may find the answer startling.  Eighteen trillion gallons of water have fallen in California in February, according to the National Weather Service. And the month isn’t over yet.  Meteorologist Mike Nicco from our ABC affiliate KGO-TV breaks it down. ... ”  Read more from Channel 23 here:  18 trillion gallons of water has poured into California during February storms

Winter Storms Push California Snowpack Well Above Normal, Bring Record Snow To Tahoe Resorts:  “California’s water year is running well above average following this weekend’s stormy weather.  The National Weather Service in Sacramento uses data from eight monitoring stations throughout the northern Sierra Nevada to judge the state’s water content.  Meteorologist Craig Shoemaker said we’re currently sitting at 121 percent of average, with above normal snowpack across the Sierra, which is where most of California’s water supply comes from. … ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here:  Winter Storms Push California Snowpack Well Above Normal, Bring Record Snow To Tahoe Resorts

AB 1668: Water management planning:  “California Assembly Bill 1668 (“A.B. 1668”) imposes several new or expanded requirements on state water agencies and suppliers. This bill would require the State Water Resources Control Board (“SWRCB”) and the Department of Water Resources (“DWR”) to establish long-term urban water use efficiency standards. These bodies would have to adopt efficiency regulations, outline requirements for water suppliers, specify penalties for violations, and conduct studies to make necessary recommendations to the State Legislature. The main sponsors of the bill are lead author Assemblyperson Laura Friedman, with Coauthors Ben Allen, Bob Hertzberg, Nancy Skinner, and Scott Wiener. This bill was signed into law by Governor Brown on May 31, 2018.  ... ”  Continue reading at the University of Denver Law Review here:  AB 1668: Water management planning

The future of cities in a changing climate:  “With climate change comes rising seas, flooding and increased natural disasters. And those effects may be felt most acutely in cities. In this hour, broadcast live from the Night of Ideas festival at San Francisco’s Main Library, we’ll be joined by a futurist, an architect/designer, a science fiction writer, and a landscape architect. We will look at some bold actions cities can take, and ask: How can we design cities for a changing climate?”  Listen to radio show from KQED here:  The future of cities in a changing climate

For a warming world, a new strategy for protecting watersheds:  “Long before an aspen tree fell on a power line in New Mexico’s Jemez Mountains in June 2011, triggering the biggest wildfire in the state’s history, fire managers knew that New Mexico’s forests were vulnerable. Climate change-induced drought and higher temperatures had dried out the trees and soil. And after more than a century of fire suppression, areas that supported 40 trees per acre in the pre-European era now were blanketed with up to a hundred times as many. This profusion of trees — as many as one per square yard — weakened all of them, and rendered them defenseless against megafires.  … ”  Read more from Yale 360 here: For a warming world, a new strategy for protecting watersheds

Supreme Court to review high-stakes Clean Water Act fight: “The Supreme Court is set to take up a critical debate over the scope of federal water protections.  The justices today agreed to hear what amounts to the biggest environmental case of this year: a dispute over which types of pollution discharges trigger the Clean Water Act.  The issue reached the high court in two different cases: County of Maui, Hawaii v. Hawai’i Wildlife Fund and Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP v. Upstate Forever. The justices will hear the first one.  Both raise this critical question: If a pollutant travels through groundwater before reaching a federally regulated waterway, does the Clean Water Act apply? … ”  Read more from E&E News here:  Supreme Court to review high-stakes Clean Water Act fight

Trump’s WOTUS: Clear as mud, scientists say:  “The Trump administration’s stated goal for a rule defining which wetlands and waterways get Clean Water Act protection: Write a simple regulation that landowners can understand.  “I believe that any property owner should be able to stand on his or her property and be able to tell whether or not they have a ‘water of the U.S.’ on their property without having to hire an outside consultant or attorney,” acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in mid-January.  But scientists who specialize in the study of wetlands and waterways say it’s not that simple. ... ”  Read more from E&E News here:  Trump’s WOTUS: Clear as mud, scientists say

In commentary today …

Juliet Christian-Smith and Andrew Fahlund:  How to lead on water:  They write, “Too often, entrenched conflicts that pit water user against water user block efforts to secure a sustainable, equitable, and democratic water future in California.  Striking a balance involves art and science, compassion and flexibility, and adherence to science and the law.  Felicia Marcus is a public servant unknown to many Californians. But as she concludes her tenure as chair of the State Water Resources Control Board, we owe her a debt of gratitude for consistently reaching for that balance.  In the face of a changing climate with more ferocious and unpredictable floods, droughts, and fires, Californians need public leaders of Marcus’ caliber. ... ”  Read more from Cal Matters here:  Juliet Christian-Smith and Andrew Fahlund:  How to lead on water

Thomas Elias: Brown’s legacy projects growing less likely:  He writes, “The farther four-term Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown gets from the state Capitol’s “horseshoe” office suite, the less likely it seems that either of his two would-be legacy projects will ever be completed.  The fate of the high speed rail “bullet train” project authorized under a 2008 ballot proposition remains highly uncertain, even if some bridges and viaducts have been completed in the Central Valley. In a December visit to Fresno where he faced questions about that ever-more-costly venture, new Gov. Gavin Newsom opined that “it’s time for a fresh start, it’s time for a more sober, honest assessment of what it is and what it isn’t, and that’s what I intend to do.” … ”  Read more from the Union here:  Thomas Elias: Brown’s legacy projects growing less likely

Julie Rentner: How projects like ours at Dos Rios will help save California, and the planet:  “Close to the geographic heart of California, a California Conservation Corps crew experienced climate change ground zero last July.  The crew was working on the largest floodplain restoration project underway in the state, at Dos Rios Ranch in Stanislaus County, planting thousands of native trees, shrubs and grass, under direction of our nonprofit group, River Partners.  The restored floodplain will provide flood security, habitat for endangered species, and many other climate-protection benefits. ... ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  Julie Rentner: How projects like ours at Dos Rios will help save California, and the planet

In regional news and commentary today …

Butte County says temporary water systems need inspection:  “The Butte County Environmental Health Department announced Friday morning that businesses that plan on re-opening in the Camp Fire affected area and will be installing temporary water systems, including water tanks and hauling water, must contact its office prior to opening.  In a press release the department said it must verify that the system is properly installed and that there is a system in place for ongoing water quality monitoring. For businesses who sell or prepare food, additional steps are required prior to re-opening. ... ”  Read more from the Paradise Post here:  Butte County says temporary water systems need inspection

Sacramento: Trash piling up in river after big storm:  “When the rain falls, the debris really piles up along the Sacramento River.  Evidence of the recent rain is everywhere. That includes logs, sticks, and trash piling up along the Sacramento River. The rain sent it moving down the river and you can see where it all ended up. … ”  Read more from CBS Sacramento here:  Sacramento: Trash piling up in river after big storm

Coho comeback in West Marin is a welcome sight:  “Marin’s struggling population of coho salmon is staging an impressive comeback.  Fish counters are reporting that the number of the salmon seen making their way back up the Lagunitas Creek watershed to spawn hit a 12-year high.  The creek has been the host of about 20 percent of the wild coho runs between Monterey Bay and Fort Bragg.  There are many factors responsible for the comeback, but the return of rainy weather has been one of them, providing the fish with enough water to return to their natal streams to spawn. … ”  Read more from the Marin Independent Journal here:  Coho comeback in West Marin is a welcome sight

Recent rains rapidly raising Cachuma Lake; Twitchell recovering slowly: “Recent rains are rapidly raising the level in Santa Barbara County’s second-largest reservoir, while the largest appears to filling more slowly and the two smallest ones are already full.  The improving health of the county’s water supplies is likely due to receiving 145 percent of normal rainfall for this point in the water year, which starts Sept. 1 and ends Aug. 31. ... ”  Read more from the Santa Ynez Valley News here:  Recent rains rapidly raising Cachuma Lake; Twitchell recovering slowly

County Starting Debris Basin Sediment Disposal at Goleta Beach: “Crews are still trucking loads of rock and mud from South Coast debris basins, and will expand beach disposal to Goleta Beach County Park starting Tuesday, the Santa Barbara County Public Works Department announced.  The county has been disposing of sediment at Carpinteria State Beach, at Ash Avenue, for two weeks, and has emergency permits to also truck loads to Goleta Beach and Butterfly Beach in Montecito. … ”  Read more from Noozhawk here:  County Starting Debris Basin Sediment Disposal at Goleta Beach

Lake Casitas finally gets rainstorms but no reprieve from Thomas Fire debris: “More storms dumped on a drought-stressed Lake Casitas last week, but again debris from the Thomas Fire caused trouble.  That’s likely going to be status quo for at least the rest of the rainy season, according to the Casitas Municipal Water District.  “We’ve had all these storms coming through, which is fantastic,” Pete Kaiser, president of Casitas’ Board of Directors. “But with the water, we’re getting silt buildup.” … ”  Read more from the Ventura County Star here:  Lake Casitas finally gets rainstorms but no reprieve from Thomas Fire debris

Bakersfield: Oilfield wastewater disposal operation near Bakersfield closes under pressure from regulators, environmentalists:  “A controversial oilfield wastewater disposal operation east of Bakersfield has been shut down amid a years-long regulatory crackdown and opposition by environmental activist organizations.  The Jan. 3 closure of Valley Water Management Co.’s Fee 34 and Race Track Hill facilities, which sprayed wastewater on the hillsides south of Breckenridge Road for more than half a century with little notice, puts an end to a practice regional water quality regulators say threatened to foul Bakersfield’s water supply through a slow process of underground migration. … ”  Read more from Channel 23 here:  Bakersfield: Oilfield wastewater disposal operation near Bakersfield closes under pressure from regulators, environmentalists

Santa Clarita Valley Water maps out a course after two-day strategy session: “SCV Water officials are blazing a course hammered out during a recent two-day, strategy-setting retreat.  Transparent and “plain language” communication with customers were among the goals identified by SCV Water’s Board of Directors at the recent planning workshop.  Directors and management staff looked back on key accomplishments from the first year as a regional water agency; they then turned their focus to the next five years. … ”  Read more from The Signal here:  Santa Clarita Valley Water maps out a course after two-day strategy session

Storm leaves Orange County beaches with erosion, debris:  “The last storm moved through Orange County with a vengeance. The rain came down hard – and so did a large section concrete wall, which was part of the Orange County Flood Control District canal.  “We got reports of hearing a loud thunderous sound off Laguna Canyon Road. When we got down here we realized that there is definitely some damage to the control wall,” said Sgt. Jim Cota with Laguna Beach police. … ”  Read more from KABC here:  Storm leaves Orange County beaches with erosion, debris

Artists Use Desert X Installations To Comment On Degradation Of Salton Sea:  “When you think of the Salton Sea, you think of an ecological disaster — bad smells, dead fish and birds, dust blowing in the wind.  You don’t typically think of public art. The curators of Desert X are hoping to change that. This year the Coachella Valley art exhibition has expanded to include multiple installations near the Salton Sea. … ”  Read more from KPBS here:  Artists Use Desert X Installations To Comment On Degradation Of Salton Sea

Along the Colorado River …

Rising temperatures reduce Colorado River water flow:  “The Colorado River flows through seven U.S. states and northern Mexico, before discharging into the Gulf of California. Along the way, it provides drinking water to millions of people and irrigates thousands of square kilometers of cropland. However, although annual precipitation in the region increased by about 1% in the past century, the volume of water flowing down the river has dropped by over 15%.  New research by Xiao et al. examines the causes behind this 100-year decline in natural flow, teasing out the relative contributions of rising temperatures and changes in precipitation. This work builds on a 2017 paper showing that rising temperatures played a significant role in reduced flows during the Millennium Drought between 2000 and 2014. ... ”  Read more from EOS here:  Rising temperatures reduce Colorado River water flow

In Discussing Colorado River Drought Plan, Ducey Won’t Say ‘Climate Change’:  “Arizona Governor Doug Ducey steered away from the term “climate change” in order to garner political support for the state’s Colorado River drought plan, he indicated Friday in an interview with a Pima Community College newspaper.  In that interview, he also avoided making any connection between climate change and the “drier future” (his preferred phrase) that Arizona faces. His omission bordered on a denial of the established links between the two. ... ”  Read more from Phoenix New Times here:  In Discussing Colorado River Drought Plan, Ducey Won’t Say ‘Climate Change’

Drought contingency plan fails to conserve Arizona’s precious rivers, says Matt Clark:  He writes, “The state Legislature recently passed legislation authorizing the Drought Contingency Plan (DCP) — an effort to prop up Lake Mead so that Arizona will not have to take more drastic cuts in the water it relies upon from the Colorado River. However, the DCP does not really address conservation. Some state legislators openly admit to this failure.  This failure is twofold. ... ”  Read more from the Arizona Daily Star here:  Drought contingency plan fails to conserve Arizona’s precious rivers

And lastly …

New kind of water sport vehicle literally defying gravity, creating ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’: “A new type of water sport looks like something out of a James Bond movie. Video of it is going viral, too.  It’s called an eFoil ride and there are barely any in existence. However, there is one in New Bern. … ”  Read more from Channel 12 here:  New kind of water sport vehicle literally defying gravity, creating ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’

Precipitation watch …

A cold low pressure system dropping out of the Gulf of Alaska will bring mainly light snow to Norcal Wednesday and Thursday. About a half a foot of snow is forecast for the higher elevations of the northern Sierra. Otherwise…only light snow is expected.

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

NEWS WORTH NOTING, Legislators edition: Sen. Feinstein, Reps. Costa, Cox send letter urging additional water for Valley farmers following high snowfall; Assembly Member Adam Gray proposes package of water reform legislation

NEWS WORTH NOTING: LAO report: The 2019-20 budget: Natural resources and environmental protection; Elevated concentrations of some pollutants persist in streams following Camp Fire

BLOG ROUND-UP: State Water Board shake up, winter farming, fall-run salmon, sociology of science in environmental management

Holiday and weekend editions of the Daily Digest …

DAILY DIGEST: Federal commission accepts MID, TID plan for river flows. Will state water board agree?; George Skelton: Brown was obsessed with twin-tunnel vision. Newsom has a more realistic view; Rare mega storm could overwhelm LA-area dam and flood dozens of cities, experts say; and more …

DAILY DIGEST, weekend edition: Metropolitan ready to support scaled-down Delta tunnel plan; Snow too thick to plow keeps skiers from resorts; Conserving water is still a priority for CA. How about other states?; Bold plan: Replace the Border Wall with an Energy–Water Corridor; and more …

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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