DAILY DIGEST: Pushback on effort to raise Shasta Dam; Overhyped blockchain perfect for monitoring groundwater; Lake Oroville continues to rise, Feds say Salton Sea not affected by drought plan; and more …

In California water news today, Federal effort to raise Shasta Dam by 18.5 feet is getting some serious pushback; Blockchain is overhyped, but it’s also perfect for California’s drought problem; Measuring success in groundwater management; Lake Oroville continues to rise as Hyatt Powerplant releases stay steady; California’s Water Wars & Cannabis: Will Small Growers Be the Losers?; Wildfire in California no longer stifled by wet winters, scientific report finds; Another atmospheric river takes aim at California; Feds say Salton Sea won’t be adversely impacted by multi-state drought plan; IID can join when it chooses, and more …

On the calendar today …

  • The State Water Board meets at 9:30am.  Agenda items include an update on stakeholder efforts to reactivate floodplains and a public workshop on the proposed amendments that would include a state wetland definition and procedures for discharges of dredged or fill material to waters of the state, the proposed final staff report, and the draft Supplemental Environmental Document (SED).   Click here for the full agendaClick here to watch on webcast.
  • The State Department of Food and Ag meets from 10am to 2pm:  Agenda items include updates on key issues related to water policy, industrial hemp and climate smart agricultural programs.  Click here for more information.

In the news today …

Federal effort to raise Shasta Dam by 18.5 feet is getting some serious pushback:  “Californians are doing battle with the federal government on any number of fronts these days — immigration, the environment, voting rights, sanctuary cities and the sale of federal lands.  Over the next few months, another simmering battle — water — is likely to jump into the headlines. It’s not about the steady rains the state has seen of late or the size of the Sierra Nevada snowpack. Those are fleeting things, and there is no telling what the next year will bring.  Instead, the war will be about the storage of water. The Trump administration wants to court favor with well-connected Central Valley agriculture interests by raising the height of Shasta Dam by 18.5 feet. … ”  Read more from Berkeley News here:  Federal effort to raise Shasta Dam by 18.5 feet is getting some serious pushback

Blockchain is overhyped, but it’s also perfect for California’s drought problem:  ” … For decades, farmers and businesses have pumped groundwater out of California’s aquifers, the permeable layers of rock that hold water underground, and the results have been frightening. As aquifers drain faster than rain can replenish them, the ground actually sinks, a phenomenon called “subsidence.” In areas where building and roads rest atop the ground, this can cause damage. … If California is going to prevent further depletion of aquifers and survive droughts like the one that afflicted it from 2011 to 2017, the state will need to manage its groundwater usage. In the central valley, a group of organizations is working on a project that could stem the tide by combining two technologies: the internet of things (IoT) and Blockchain. … ”  Read more from Digital Trends here:  Blockchain is overhyped, but it’s also perfect for California’s drought problem

Measuring success in groundwater management:  “The passage of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) in 2014 was a watershed moment, establishing the first statewide framework for managing California’s critical groundwater resources. Under this framework, one of the key challenges facing newly formed local government agencies responsible for groundwater management is to establish and implement quantitative metrics for sustainability. To help local agencies do this, a new report from Water in the West examines how four special act districts in California have used quantitative thresholds to adaptively manage groundwater. These case studies provide valuable insights on the development and implementation of performance metrics and will be important in guiding local agencies. ... ” Read more from Stanford News here:  Measuring success in groundwater management

Lake Oroville continues to rise as Hyatt Powerplant releases stay steady:  “Lake Oroville has risen by about 10 feet over the past few days while outflows from the Hyatt Powerplant have held steady.  This comes as the state Department of Water Resources announced on Friday that releases from the powerplant were being increased from 1,750 cubic feet per second to 5,000 cfs. The lake level on Monday afternoon was 811 feet elevation, which is 65 percent of its total capacity. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Lake Oroville continues to rise as Hyatt Powerplant releases stay steady

California’s Water Wars & Cannabis: Will Small Growers Be the Losers?:  “Last month, local officials in Northern California took a major enforcement action against cannabis growers for their environmentally unsound water practices, in a case that crystalizes some of the dilemmas facing the Golden State’s newly legal cash-crop sector and its interactions with the water supply.  The current dilemmas boil down to this: As the state punishes cannabis growers in the Emerald Triangle for environmental degradation, it is simultaneously pursuing an aqueduct project in the Central Valley that environmental groups claim will cause ecological harm of massive proportions. This project stands to benefit the “big ag” industry, which California’s newly legal cannabis companies are increasingly participating in. ... ” Read more from Cannabis Now here:  California’s Water Wars & Cannabis: Will Small Growers Be the Losers?

Wildfire in California no longer stifled by wet winters, scientific report finds:  “For centuries, a wet winter in California would significantly have tamped down the chances that a large wildfire would break out the following summer and fall.  However, heavy rain and snowfall no longer protects the state from massive conflagrations in the same way, according to research published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  The authors — a U.S.-German team, which included scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration — found that an abundance of fuel in overgrown forests and rising temperatures from global warming are now cancelling out those fire-suppressing benefits. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union Tribune here:  Wildfire in California no longer stifled by wet winters, scientific report finds

Tuesday’s atmospheric river takes aim at California. Here’s where it is expected to hit.: “An atmospheric river poised to strike California Tuesday and Wednesday is forecast to deliver the heaviest dose of rain over the Central Coast, with the Bay Area seeing moderate rainfall generally ranging from .5 to 1.5 inches.  The system will form when an upper-level area of low-pressure moving from the West taps into a plume of moisture stretching to the subtropics, and the National Weather Service reports weather models consistently show the system arriving onshore somewhere between Monterey and Santa Barbara with storm’s bull’s-eye over San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties. ... ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  Tuesday’s atmospheric river takes aim at California. Here’s where it is expected to hit.

California Storm Could Cause Flooding and Debris Flows as Feet of Snow Pile Up in Sierra Nevada: “California will see more soaking rain and feet of Sierra snow into midweek as another storm tapping an atmospheric river of moisture moves into the state.  Radar and satellite show the latest Pacific storm is beginning to nudge into the West Coast as of early Tuesday.  Flood watches have been issued by the National Weather for the burn areas of southwest California, including Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los Angeles Counties. … ”  Read more from The Weather Channel here:  California Storm Could Cause Flooding and Debris Flows as Feet of Snow Pile Up in Sierra Nevada

Frustrated by EPA, states blaze ahead on PFAS:  “EPA’s action plan on toxic chemicals found in drinking water did not satisfy several states that plan to push forward with their own policies.  The per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, plan announced last month promised a decision from the agency within the year on maximum contaminant level regulations for two chemicals, PFOA and PFOS.  Some experts say the regulatory process could take as long as 10 years before a rule is finalized. … ”  Read more from E&E News here:  Frustrated by EPA, states blaze ahead on PFAS

In regional news and commentary today …

Recent storms have Shasta Dam putting on a show:  “Denise Miraldi stopped at the Shasta Dam overlook Monday to snap a photo of something she likely will never see in her hometown.  Even North State residents won’t see very often what is happening at Shasta Dam this week.  The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which operates the dam, has kicked up the amount of water coming out of the dam to 30,000 cubic-feet per second, or 224,400 gallons per second. … ”  Read more from the Redding Record Searchlight here:  Recent storms have Shasta Dam putting on a show

Oyster-farming project in Humboldt Bay could threaten birds, conservationists say:  “A shellfish-farming operation spanning more than 200 acres could bolster Humboldt Bay’s reputation as the “oyster capital” of California, but some are anxiously awaiting details of the project’s environmental impacts, which conservationists say could extend to threatening various bird species.  Members of the public had until today to comment on the project, introduced by the Humboldt Bay, Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District. Now, the harbor district will consider the input and develop a report to assess potential environmental impacts. ... ”  Read more from the Eureka Times-Standard here:  Oyster-farming project in Humboldt Bay could threaten birds, conservationists say

Mendocino County: Habitat restoration project yields unprecedented results for coho salmon:  “Scientists and conservationists are reporting the return of spawning coho salmon to the upper reaches of a tributary of Big River, thanks to a four-year habitat restoration project led by Mendocino Land Trust in partnership with California Department of Fish and Wildlife and Jackson Demonstration State Forest.  Initial post-restoration informal surveying has already shown increased coho salmon spawning activity, demonstrated by several coho salmon nests (known as redds) and coho salmon carcasses upstream from the restoration site.  “The transformation is blowing my mind,” CDFW environmental scientist Scott Monday said of the exceptional early results. “I’ve never seen anything like this.” ... ”  Read more from Lake County News here:  Mendocino County: Habitat restoration project yields unprecedented results for coho salmon

‘We look like a Third World country’: Russian River communities grapple with heaps of flood debris:  “The pile of ruined belongings covered about 15 feet of the narrow roadside in front of Dezzy St. Andre’s River Drive home. Her grandmother’s Christmas ornaments. Waterlogged centerpieces, handmade signs and other mementos from her wedding. Baby keepsakes her mother collected in a box.  “Look at our street,” St. Andre said, motioning to five nearby mounds, easily the size of hers, on her narrow rural residential street. “We look like a Third World country.” … ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here:  ‘We look like a Third World country’: Russian River communities grapple with heaps of flood debris

Latest North Bay disaster underscores growing need for flood insurance:  “After reeling from property damage caused by recent wildfires, North Bay residents now are confronting another natural disaster in flooding — a threat that is not covered by property insurance and which could escalate as storms become more volatile in a changing climate.  Unlike fire-related claims, home and business owners have to buy a separate policy to insure structures and contents damaged by floodwaters. Local insurance agents sell the policies through a Federal Emergency Management Agency flood insurance program. … ”  Read more from the Sonoma Index-Tribune here:  Latest North Bay disaster underscores growing need for flood insurance

Water agencies band together, seek changes after destructive Woolsey, Thomas fires:  “Dave Pedersen watched the glow of the Woolsey Fire from a balcony at the Las Virgenes Municipal Water District.  About 2:20 p.m. on Nov. 8, flames had erupted near Simi Valley. The National Weather Service had issued a red-flag warning of dangerous fire conditions, and Santa Ana winds were fierce.  The Calabasas-based water agency activated its emergency operations center at 4 p.m. to get ready. At that time, the fire was still far away. … ”  Read more from the Ventura County Star here:  Water agencies band together, seek changes after destructive Woolsey, Thomas fires

Los Angeles needs to reclaim what we used to consider ‘wastewater’, says Robert Glennon:  He writes, “The city of Los Angeles’ Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant has long symbolized the absurdity of water policy in the American West. Although the plant generates a volume of water equal to the seventh largest river in the United States, until recently, the city of Los Angeles dumped every drop into the Pacific Ocean. Nonsensically, a desert city always in search of water disposes of 190 million gallons a day into the ocean.  L.A. is not alone. Most cities do the same thing. Treated sewage and storm water is considered “wastewater,” a substance to get rid of as easily and cheaply as possible. Disposal usually involves a pipe into a nearby river or an ocean. L.A.’s Hyperion plant is next to the Pacific not by coincidence, but by design. ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Los Angeles needs to reclaim what we used to consider ‘wastewater’

February storms wash away drought conditions. Will San Diegans continue to conserve?  “February storms have left California flush with water, relieving concerns the state could quickly slip back into the drought conditions that plagued it for much of the last decade.  Less than 3 percent of the state is now experiencing drought, down from nearly 84 percent just three months ago, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. At the same time, the state’s frozen reservoir of mountain snowpack is already 124 percent of average for the season. ... ”  Read more from the San Diego Union Tribune here:  February storms wash away drought conditions. Will San Diegans continue to conserve?

State Bill Would Bolster Sycuan’s Water Supply — and Possibly a New Hotel:  “About half the Sycuan Indian tribe relies heavily on a single groundwater well for water.  The whole tribe now wants access to the same water most San Diegans enjoy – Colorado River water, Northern California water and desalinated Pacific Ocean water.  Most of San Diego’s state legislative delegation is pushing a bill that could make it happen. The water could secure the tribe’s supply and perhaps fuel future development, including a new 300-room hotel and possible casino expansion. … ”  Read more from the Voice of San Diego here:  State Bill Would Bolster Sycuan’s Water Supply — and Possibly a New Hotel

Along the Colorado River …

Feds say Salton Sea won’t be adversely impacted by multi-state drought plan; IID can join when it chooses:  “Days after Imperial Irrigation District officials said there had been a breakthrough in their negotiations with federal officials to commit to the restoration of the Salton Sea in a mammoth Colorado River drought plan, a top federal official offered a different assessment.  “California has already found a path that ensures that the Salton Sea is not impacted by the (drought contingency plan) and we hope to be able to find a path to work as partners with IID to approve the DCP as soon as possible, while we continue to be a strong partner on the Salton Sea,” Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman said in a written statement. … ”  Read more from the Desert Sun here:  Feds say Salton Sea won’t be adversely impacted by multi-state drought plan; IID can join when it chooses

Southwest governors asked to submit Colorado River comments as another ‘deadline’ passes, states get an extension:  “The federal government initiated a comment period today for the seven states in the Colorado River Basin, after Arizona and California were unable to agree on a Southwest drought plan by a second “deadline” of March 4.  The Department of Interior is now giving the governors of the seven states, including Nevada, 15 days to offer recommendations on how federal water managers should proceed if the states can’t agree to a drought plan that they have been negotiating for years.  The expected Interior action sets a new target to complete the drought plan by March 19, a goal that many believe is achievable as Arizona and California come closer to resolving issues within their respective states that had prevented officials from signing onto the plan. The new deadline comes after water users missed a first deadline to finish the plan by Jan. 31. … ”  Read more from the Nevada Independent here:  Southwest governors asked to submit Colorado River comments as another ‘deadline’ passes, states get an extension

An Interstate Plan To Protect The Colorado River Still Isn’t Done. Now What?:  “Another federal deadline passed Monday for seven states in the U.S. West to wrap up work on a plan to ensure the drought-stricken Colorado River can deliver water to the 40 million people and farms that depend on it.  The states — Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming — have been working for years on drought contingency plans. But Arizona and California have missed two deadlines set by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and still have work to do.  Without a consensus among the states, the agency will allow governors from the seven states to weigh in with recommendations on what to do next. The federal government also could step in and impose its own rules in the river’s lower basin, affecting California, Arizona and Nevada. ... ”  Read more from Colorado Public Radio here:  An Interstate Plan To Protect The Colorado River Still Isn’t Done. Now What?

Deadlines are hard to pin down in drought planning for Colorado River: “The last day of January looked like a banner day for Arizona’s water planning. Lawmakers had passed legislation authorizing Arizona to enter into an important deal, and Gov. Doug Ducey signed the bills almost immediately.  “Working together with a common goal in mind, there’s no limit to what we can achieve. And today proves it,” he pronounced to the applause and relief of leaders gathered in the old state Senate chamber where the ceremony took place. … ”  Read more from Cronkite News here:  Deadlines are hard to pin down in drought planning for Colorado River

Conservation paves Las Vegas Valley’s path to water sustainability:  “Future growth in the Las Vegas Valley will rest almost entirely on the community’s ability to conserve its finite share of the Colorado River, water experts say.  How do they know this?  Because it’s already happening. Without the level of conservation the community has already achieved, Las Vegas would have run out of water more than a decade ago. … ”  Read more from the Las Vegas Review Journal here:  Conservation paves Las Vegas Valley’s path to water sustainability

Precipitation watch …

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

CA WATER COMMISSION: The Climate Registry: Water-Energy Nexus; Dam safety fee regulations; 2018 State Water Project Review

BLOG ROUND-UP: Socializing subsidence, Delta residents and the single tunnel plan, Economic policy approaches to water allocation, little action on 2014 salmon recovery plan, and more …

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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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