DAILY DIGEST: Up to 3 feet of snow forecast for the Sierra; DWR hits pause on WaterFix; Wet winter aids groundwater replenishment; Forget the past, carbon-rich soil may be the ticket to sustainable agriculture; A long view of California’s climate; and more …

In California water news today, Up to 3 feet of snow in the forecast for the Sierra Nevada as storm hammers California; The 20th atmospheric river of the season is set to drench California, again; Department of Water Resources hits pause on WaterFix; Wet winter aids groundwater replenishment; Forget the past, carbon-rich soil may be the ticket to sustainable agriculture; Why California’s droughts and floods will only get worse; A long view of California’s climate; and more …

On the calendar today …

In the news today …

Up to 3 feet of snow in the forecast for the Sierra Nevada as storm hammers California:  “As a winter storm hits California Tuesday and Wednesday, heavy snowfall and high winds are in the mix for the Sierra Nevada.  The unsettled weather is expected to riddle mountain travel with road closures, low visibility and chain control. The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for the Tahoe Basin Tuesday at 4 p.m. through Thursday at 10 a.m. and cautioned people to avoid driving. … ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  Up to 3 feet of snow in the forecast for the Sierra Nevada as storm hammers California

The 20th atmospheric river of the season is set to drench California, again: “Winter storms keep lashing California with various degrees of impact, and on the doorstep is another atmospheric river primed to drop torrents of rain on waterlogged ground.  For all the record-breaking precipitation, the flood damage to property and harm to people has been minimal (with localized exceptions such as Guerneville).  “The big billion-dollar disaster has been avoided,” said Marty Ralph, director of the Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes (CW3E) at the University of California at San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography. … ”  Read more from the Washington Post here:  The 20th atmospheric river of the season is set to drench California, again

California Rains Prompt Evacuations Amid Fears of Mudslides, Debris Flows:  “A new round of heavy rain soaking California on Wednesday prompted evacuation orders for thousands of residents in wildfire burn areas amid concerns of mudslides and debris flows.  At least 3,000 residents were ordered Tuesday to leave Santa Barbara hillside neighborhoods scarred by the Thomas, Whittier and Sherpa wildfires, including areas in Montecito that were hit last year by a devastating debris flow that damaged hundreds of Montecito buildings, killed 21 people and left two others missing.  On Wednesday, the evacuation orders were lifted as the rains diminished in the the region, Santa Barbara County tweeted. ... ”  Read more from The Weather Channel here:  California Rains Prompt Evacuations Amid Fears of Mudslides, Debris Flows

Department of Water Resources hits pause on WaterFix:  “The real-world implications of Gov. Newsom’s rejection of the twin tunnels project became more apparent last week as the Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation requested and were granted a 60-day stay of hearings with the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB).  “We agree that the SWRCB water rights hearing should be stayed while the state determines what project it wishes to pursue,” said Osha Meserve, a Sacramento-based environmental attorney representing counties, local agencies and environmental groups opposed to WaterFix. “We are urging an open and transparent process to assess alternatives to the twin tunnels concept rejected by the Governor that could be more readily implemented.” ... ”  Read more from The Press here:  Department of Water Resources hits pause on WaterFix

Wet winter aids groundwater replenishment:  “Heavy rains this winter will help replenish groundwater aquifers and benefit projects that use excess surface water to recharge groundwater basins. Water managers say such projects will be key to addressing California’s groundwater woes.  At the California Department of Water Resources, planners focus on a voluntary strategy known as Flood-MAR, which stands for “managed aquifer recharge.” The strategy combines floodwater operations and groundwater management in an effort to benefit working landscapes, and could also aid local groundwater agencies as they implement the state Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, which requires overdrafted groundwater basins to be in balance by the 2040s. … ” Read more from Ag Alert here:  Wet winter aids groundwater replenishment

Forget the past, carbon-rich soil may be the ticket to sustainable agricultureLoren Poncia scooped up a handful of dark, damp soil that could change the future of farming.  The nutrient-rich muck was filled with slithery earthworms and thin, white roots sprouting in every direction like lightning bolts.  “This is the carbon farmer’s dream,” he exclaims. “We want to see like 10 worms in a shovel-full.”  Poncia’s Stemple Creek Ranch might be a model for future farmers with its sustainable agricultural practices to keep carbon in the soil and out of the atmosphere. Along with less greenhouse gas emissions, carbon-rich soil means healthier and more productive plants, according to rangeland ecologist Jeff Creque. ... ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  Forget the past, carbon-rich soil may be the ticket to sustainable agriculture

Why California’s droughts and floods will only get worse: “The Golden State’s had a harsh winter. Between October 1 and March 3, most California weather stations across the state were reporting greater-than-normal amounts of precipitation. And the state’s snowpack has grown to be the fifth largest in 40 years, with up to 25 feet of powder in some places.  It’s needed moisture after a six-year-long drought from 2011 to 2017 and last year’s dry winter. Snowpack and reservoirs are stocked right now. But persistent rain has flooded many areas, including towns along Northern California’s Russian River. In Guerneville, residents paddled around after the river swelled to 45 feet high. Rain, floods, and mudslides have also wrecked homes and roads in areas across the state. ... ”  Read more from Popular Science here:  Why California’s droughts and floods will only get worse

A long view of California’s climate:  “Deadly severe wildfires in California have scientists scrutinizing the underlying factors that could influence future extreme events. Using climate simulations and paleoclimate data dating back to the 16th century, a recent study looks closely at long-term upper-level wind and related moisture patterns to find clues.  The new research published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA examines jet stream and moisture patterns in California over a centuries-long time period—1571 to 2013—which is nearly four times longer than the instrumental period of record that begins in the latter part of the 19th century. … ”  Read more from NOAA here:  A long view of California’s climate

15 times former clients of the acting Interior secretary got favorable decisions:  “As a former fossil fuels lobbyist who now leads the Interior Department, David Bernhardt has oversight of the industry he used to represent.  While Bernhardt has recused himself for a period of time from certain dealings with his former clients, he serves as one of the main architects of the Trump administration’s deregulation agenda that has benefitted energy companies — including some of Bernhardt’s former clients.  Since Bernhardt joined the department in 2017, it has made at least 15 policy changes, decisions or proposals that would directly benefit Bernhardt’s former clients. In each case, the past clients shared comments or requests that the department’s actions have granted or aligned with, according to a CNN review. ... ”  Read more from CNN via Channel 9 here:  15 times former clients of the acting Interior secretary got favorable decisions

In commentary today …

One rainy season doesn’t mean California’s drought problems are over:  Patt Morrison writes, “Drought? What drought?  The big fear in the world of water management is that this big gulp of wet weather will lead some Californians to think that the drought is dead. Politicians from President Donald Trump to Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Inhofe, who displayed a snowball on the Senate floor to “disprove” global warming, willfully try to conflate climate change with weather. But one rainy season is not California’s last-reel rescue from drought. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  One rainy season doesn’t mean California’s drought problems are over

In regional news and commentary today …

Floods disrupt Northern California farms:  “Swollen rivers and creeks fed by atmospheric-river storms caused flooding with both short-term and long-term impacts for California farmers.  Mary Ann Renner, a dairy farmer in the Humboldt County town of Ferndale, said the flood from the Eel River was not the worst she’s seen—but was close.  “It was over 25 feet,” Renner said. “Flood level’s 20.” … ”  Read more from Ag Alert here:  Floods disrupt Northern California farms

Chico: Groundwater planning update offered Thursday:  “People interested in state-mandated plans to manage local groundwater can get an update Thursday evening in Chico.  The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act requires local authorities to come up with plans to avoid adverse effects to the water beneath the surface; things like a decline in water quality, or a drop in the soil surface due to over pumping. … ” Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Groundwater planning update offered Thursday

Colusa County: A series of town hall meetings on groundwater: The Colusa County Groundwater Authority – in coordination with the Colusa County Groundwater Commission – will be hosting a series of town-hall style public outreach meetings, providing landowners the opportunity to hear the latest updates and local implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. ... ”  Read more from the Appeal Democrat here:  A series of town hall meetings on groundwater

Russian River:  Groundwater, our invisible but critical water source:  Ann DuBay writes, “You can’t see them. You can’t swim in them. But groundwater aquifers are one of the most important sources of water in the North Coast. Aquifers are water-rich underground areas. They aren’t like lakes or pools but are composed of water-filled areas between rocks, sands, and gravels.  Plants and animals benefit from groundwater when it’s near the surface, and feeds creeks and streams. Humans tap into aquifers through wells used for drinking, irrigating crops and operating businesses. People who live in rural areas rely almost exclusively on groundwater, and while cities in Sonoma and Mendocino counties get most of their water from the Russian River, groundwater provides a critical back-up source that is used during droughts or in emergencies. … ”  Read more from the Ukiah Daily Journal here:  Russian River:  Groundwater, our invisible but critical water source

Santa Rosa proclaims flood emergency after 250 million gallons of treated sewage released into streams:  “Santa Rosa officials said Tuesday that managers at the city’s wastewater plant have been forced to release at least 250 million gallons of treated sewage into two creeks and the nearby Laguna de Santa Rosa amid record inflow to the facility that began in last week’s storm.  The three-day deluge pushed more than five times the normal flow of wastewater and runoff into the city’s Laguna de Santa Rosa plant, City Manager Sean McGlynn told the City Council on Tuesday. It was the highest inflow ever recorded at the site, according to the city. … ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here:  Santa Rosa proclaims flood emergency after 250 million gallons of treated sewage released into streams

Floods disrupt Yolo County farms:  “Swollen rivers and creeks fed by atmospheric-river storms caused flooding with both short-term and long-term effects for California farmers.  Along Cache Creek in Rumsey, Chris Scheuring watched the swollen waterway bordering his family’s Yolo County walnut farm.  “We’ve got a creek bank erosion problem up there,” said Scheuring, who also works as an environmental attorney for the California Farm Bureau Federation. “The creek has cut into our property.” … ”  Read more from the Woodland Daily Democrat here: Floods disrupt Yolo County farms

Homelessness, water and public safety loom large in Stanislaus, Withrow says in speech:  “In his state-of-the-county speech Tuesday, Board of Supervisors Chairman Terry Withrow touched on the dominant issues of the past year: water, homelessness and public safety.  Sometimes, the annual speech by Stanislaus County’s top elected official introduces an initiative or a new direction for the county. But Withrow was more intent on pushing long-term efforts such as Focus on Prevention and justifying a growing amount of money and resources invested in projects to reduce homelessness. ... ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  Homelessness, water and public safety loom large in Stanislaus, Withrow says in speech

Santa Barbara County, Water Agencies Clash on Ending Drought Emergency Proclamation:  “Local water agencies say both of these things are true: The drought is over for most of California, and southern Santa Barbara County has water shortages.  Office of Emergency Management Director Robert Lewin recommended that the county Board of Supervisors terminate its proclamation of a local emergency due to drought conditions, which has been renewed every 60 days since January 2014.  The drought emergency relates to climate conditions, and public peril and safety, and this winter’s rainfall amounts and snowpack indicate that the drought is over, he said at Tuesday’s supervisors meeting.  … ”  Read more from Noozhawk here:  Santa Barbara County, Water Agencies Clash on Ending Drought Emergency Proclamation

MWDOC Study Finds Better Options Than Poseidon Desalination Plant: “A recently completed study on the cost effectiveness and financial risk of proposals to meet water supply demands through 2050 concludes that the controversial Poseidon desalination project in Huntington Beach would produce more water than the Orange County basin needs and cost ratepayers far more than alternatives such as recycling and capturing rainwater.  Created by the Irvine engineering consultant CDM Smith Inc. for the Municipal Water District of Orange County (MWDOC), the 2018 Reliability Study also concludes that the Doheny Ocean Desalination project in Dana Point is among the best options to meet future South County water demands. … ”  Read more from OC Weekly here:  MWDOC Study Finds Better Options Than Poseidon Desalination Plant

Change at Salton Sea is affecting bird populations:  “California’s largest lake has long attracted visitors. Many go there year-round to see thousands of birds congregating around the lake and its nearby habitats, but the lake is changing and that’s changing bird populations.  More than 400 different species have been recorded here and estimates put the daily bird population around the sea at more than 100,000.  That’s great for bird watchers like Ryan Llamas. The Audubon Society member’s binoculars are pressed tightly against his eyes as he scans the open water. ... ”  Read more from KPBS here:  Change at Salton Sea is affecting bird populations

Along the Colorado River …

With no drought contingency plan approved, official turns to governors: “With another deadline missed Monday, the head of the Bureau of Reclamation is now looking for the governors in the states in the Colorado River basin to tell her what they think she should do to keep water levels from dropping even lower.  But there’s just two weeks for them to do that.  The move by Brenda Burman is no surprise. In fact she published a notice in the Federal Register on Feb. 1 — after she said Arizona and California had not acted by the Jan. 31 deadline for final approval of all elements of the drought contingency plan — setting up the process for gubernatorial input. ... ”  Read more from Arizona Central here:  With no drought contingency plan approved, official turns to governors

Will Arizona Blow Another Deadline for the Colorado River Drought Plan?  “All is normal in the ever-fluid world of Southwest water politics: Arizona is poised to miss another federal deadline for finishing its Colorado River drought plan, and the potential consequences are clear as mud.  This week, the Department of Interior moved a step closer to assuming management of the Colorado River. It began taking suggestions from governors of the seven Colorado River Basin states, including Arizona, on what the Bureau of Reclamation should do to unilaterally prevent the river from falling to catastrophically low levels. ... ”  Read more from New Times Phoenix here:  Will Arizona Blow Another Deadline for the Colorado River Drought Plan?

And lastly …

Waves of rain transform unique Northern California spillway into ‘mesmerizing’ sight:  “California’s wet winter has had a dramatic effect on the state’s reservoirs, and one lake has turned the excess rain into a unique waterfall.  The Monticello Dam’s Morning Glory Spillway in Northern California — or, as it’s commonly known, the “Glory Hole” — has been active for the first time in two years following recent rains that overfilled Lake Berryessa. ... ” Read more and view video from the LA Times here:  Waves of rain transform unique Northern California spillway into ‘mesmerizing’ sight

Precipitation watch …

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

DR. JAY LUND: Water Supply Reliability Estimation: An overview

CAL WATER FIX HEARING: State Water Board grants request for 60-day stay

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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