DAILY DIGEST: CA now drought free, first time in 7 years; Judge says Oroville Dam lawsuit can go forward; Wastewater treatment plants spreading antibiotic resistance; Pentagon pushes for weaker Standards on PFAS; and more …

In California water news today, California Is Drought Free After Very Wet Winter — a First in More Than 7 Years, Officials Say; Judge says lawsuit’s claims of racism, corruption at Oroville Dam can go forward; Funding water storage projects with High Speed Rail money; Coastal ecosystems suffer from upriver hydroelectric dams; Wastewater treatment plants spreading antibiotic resistance; Pentagon Pushes for Weaker Standards on PFAS; Is U.S. Groundwater Quality Getting Better or Worse? It’s Hard to Say; and more …

In the news today …

California Is Drought Free After Very Wet Winter — a First in More Than 7 Years, Officials Say:  “California is free of drought for the first time in more than seven years and only a small amount of its territory remains abnormally dry as a very wet winter winds down, experts said Thursday.  More than 93 percent of the state is free of drought or dryness, and areas of abnormal dryness along the Oregon border and in parts of four southern counties amount to less than 7 percent of the state, the U.S. Drought Monitor said in its weekly update. ... ”  Read more from KTLA here:  California Is Drought Free After Very Wet Winter — a First in More Than 7 Years, Officials Say

Judge says lawsuit’s claims of racism, corruption at Oroville Dam can go forward:  “Blockbuster claims in a lawsuit that a racist, sexist, corrupt culture contributed to the near-catastrophic failure of Oroville Dam two years ago can go forward, a Sacramento judge ruled Thursday.  The decision by Sacramento Superior Court Judge James McFetridge sets the stage for what plaintiffs’ attorneys vow will be a deep dive into claims of a poisonous work culture that nearly disastrously compromised the nation’s tallest dam and the safety of nearly 200,000 residents downstream. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Judge says lawsuit’s claims of racism, corruption at Oroville Dam can go forward

Funding water storage projects with High Speed Rail money:  “Two different bills were recently introduced for the purpose of funding water storage projects using existing money currently assigned to the high-speed rail project. Previous attempts to redirect high-speed rail money for other purposes have failed, but the continual problems with the project and increasing need to address California’s water infrastructure issues may garner adequate support for the legislation. … ”  Read more from Ag Net West here:  Funding water storage projects with High Speed Rail money

Coastal ecosystems suffer from upriver hydroelectric dams:  “Researchers at UC Riverside and Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego have found that inland river dams can have highly destructive effects on the stability and productivity of coastline and estuarine habitats.  The researchers analyzed downstream ecosystems from four rivers, two dammed and two unobstructed, in the Mexican states of Sinaloa and Nayarit, which sit on the Pacific coast. They found dramatic coastal recession along the mouths of the obstructed rivers, including in vital ecosystems like mangrove forests, which provide protection from storms, commercial fishery habitats, and belowground carbon storage. … ”  Read more from UC Riverside here:  Coastal ecosystems suffer from upriver hydroelectric dams

Climate change negatively affecting waterbirds in the American West:  “Climate change is having a profound effect on the millions of migrating birds that rely on annual stops along the Pacific Flyway as they head from Alaska to Patagonia each year.  They are finding less food, saltier water and fewer places to breed and rest on their long journeys, according to a new paper in Nature’s Scientific Reports.  The culmination of more than two decades of work in the six-state Great Basin, the study is a collaboration between researchers from UC Merced, Oregon State University, the U.S. Geological Survey and The Alliance for Global Water Adaptation (AGWA). ... ”  Read more from UC Merced here:  Climate change negatively affecting waterbirds in the American West

Wastewater treatment plants spreading antibiotic resistance:  “The products of wastewater treatment have been found to contain trace amounts of antibiotic resistant DNA. These products are often reintroduced to the environment and water supply, potentially resulting in the spread of antibiotic resistance. As such, researchers at the University of Southern California Viterbi School of Engineering have been studying the development of these potentially harmful and dangerous genes in wastewater treatment processes. Their findings, published in Environmental Science & Technology, indicate that even low concentrations of just a single type of antibiotic leads to resistance to multiple classes of antibiotics. ... ”  Read more from Water World here:  Wastewater treatment plants spreading antibiotic resistance

As wildfires devour communities, toxic threats emerge:  “As an uncontrollable wildfire turned the California town of Paradise to ash, air pollution researcher Keith Bein knew he had to act fast: Little is known about toxic chemicals released when a whole town burns and the wind would soon blow away evidence.  He drove the roughly 100 miles to Paradise, located in the Sierra Nevada foothills, from his laboratory at the University of California, Davis, only to be refused entrance under rules that allow first responders and journalists – but not public health researchers – to cross police lines.  … ”  Read more from Reuters here:  As wildfires devour communities, toxic threats emerge

Pentagon Pushes for Weaker Standards on PFAS:  “Facing billions of dollars in cleanup costs, the Pentagon is pushing the Trump administration to adopt a weaker standard for groundwater pollution caused by chemicals that have commonly been used at military bases and that contaminate drinking water consumed by millions of Americans.  The Pentagon’s position pits it against the Environmental Protection Agency, which is seeking White House signoff for standards that would most likely require expensive cleanup programs at scores of military bases, as well as at NASA launch sites, airports and some manufacturing facilities. ... ”  Read more from the New York Times here: Pentagon Pushes for Weaker Standards on Chemicals Contaminating Drinking Water

Is U.S. Groundwater Quality Getting Better or Worse? It’s Hard to Say:  “After nearly three decades of groundwater monitoring, the federal government’s foremost Earth science agency has collected enough data to begin identifying long-term pollution trends in the country’s largest aquifers.  A few trends, that is, but not many. Two clear patterns that the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Water Quality Assessment found are that concentrations of chloride and sodium are climbing nationally, while in farm regions in California and southern Georgia, nitrate levels have increased. ... ”  Read more from Circle of Blue here:  Is U.S. Groundwater Quality Getting Better or Worse? It’s Hard to Say

Waterfalls can form in a surprising new way.  Here’s how:  “Waterfalls are graceful monuments to nature’s power. In each gentle curve and thrilling plunge, these watery edifices record the dynamic forces thought to be key players in their formation, allowing scientists to tease through the history of the surrounding landscape.  But now, a study published in Nature suggests a new mechanism for creating a waterfall that throws a wet blanket on some of geologists’ long-held assumptions. … ”  Read more from National Geographic here:  Waterfalls can form in a surprising new way.  Here’s how

Students Worldwide Skip Class to Demand Action on Climate:  “From the South Pacific to the edge of the Arctic Circle, students mobilized by word of mouth and social media skipped class Friday to protest what they believe are their governments’ failure to take tough action against global warming.  The coordinated ‘school strikes,’ were inspired by 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who began holding solitary demonstrations outside the Swedish parliament last year.  Since then, the weekly protests have snowballed from a handful of cities to hundreds, fueled by dramatic headlines about the impact of climate change during the students’ lifetime. ... ”  Read more from NBC LA here:  Students Worldwide Skip Class to Demand Action on Climate

In commentary today …

Clean water at risk as Trump Administration ignores science: Scientist Ellen Wohl explains why the administration’s decision to rewrite a key component of the Clean Water Act is scientifically unsound and dangerous:  “When lawmakers passed the Clean Water Act of 1972, they agreed the federal government needed stronger regulations to protect the waterways that we rely on for drinking, fishing, recreation and supporting a healthy environment.  But our watersheds are more than just major rivers — there are wetlands, ponds and small streams, some of which only contain water part of the year. And it’s in these waterways that an ongoing, unseen conversation happens between surface and groundwater. … ”  Read more from The Revelator here:  Clean water at risk as Trump Administration ignores science

Farmers’ efforts contribute to environmental gains, says John Newton:  He writes, “Over many years, as the international community has sought to learn more about carbon emissions, their sources and impact, agriculture has been part of the conversation—not only in regard to its emissions but in its potential to serve as a “carbon sink.” Recent policy discussions on Capitol Hill have renewed interest in this topic.  Using data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory Data Explorer, here is an attempt to provide clarity on agriculture’s contribution to greenhouse gas emissions and demonstrate how productivity trends and technology adoption are reducing the footprint of agricultural greenhouse gas emissions and increasing sustainability. … ”  Read more from Ag Alert here:  Farmers’ efforts contribute to environmental gains, says John Newton

In regional news and commentary today …

First stage of Combie Reservoir mercury project removes 40,000 cubic yards of sediment:  “On Wednesday, the Nevada Irrigation District board of directors heard an update on the Combie Reservoir Sediment and Mercury Removal Project, a multi-year, multi-million-dollar pilot project.  The project got underway in July 2017 and will remove sediment from the reservoir, while extracting mercury using an innovative centrifuge technology.  The water district has been testing the new technology, suctioning sediment from waterways and funneling it into a centrifuge machine, which spins and cleans the sediment and removes 98 percent of mercury. … ”  Read more from The Union here:  First stage of Combie Reservoir mercury project removes 40,000 cubic yards of sediment

The Glory Hole and the town below Lake Berryessa:  “Forged to the Vaca mountains by means of 326,000 cubic yards of concrete is the Monticello Dam. It’s located in a narrow canyon known as Devil’s Gate on the southeastern side of Lake Berryessa.  The 304-foot-tall structure can hold back 1,602,000 acre-feet of water, but when water gets too high it spills down the Morning Glory Spillway.  “Not the ‘glory hole.’ The official name is the Morning Glory Spillway,” said Melissa Vignau, project manager with Solano Irrigation District. … ”  Read more from ABC 10 here:  The Glory Hole and the town below Lake Berryessa

Trump’s EPA opens door for massive San Francisco Bay development:  “A sprawling stretch of salt ponds on the western edge of San Francisco Bay, once eyed for the creation of a virtual mini-city, is back at the center of debate over regional development after the Trump administration this month exempted the site from the Clean Water Act.  With the regulatory hurdle out of the way, real estate company DMB Pacific Ventures says it’s reopening discussion about what to do with the unusually large chunk of undeveloped land at the heart of Silicon Valley in Redwood City. ... ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  Trump’s EPA opens door for massive San Francisco Bay development

Bay Area: X-band radar improves rainfall, creek flow predictions: “How rainfall will affect creek flows is an important piece of information when you’re trying to keep the public informed about potential flood risks. To figure it out, it helps to know exactly where the rain is falling, and to predict where it will fall with greater accuracy.  So Valley Water is getting a little help doing just that with a device called the X-band radar. Sitting atop our Penitencia Water Treatment Plant in the county’s east foothills, the X-band radar is part of a larger collaboration between Sonoma County Water, Colorado State University, the Department of Water Resources, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and many other agencies to deploy four X-band radars and one C-band radar around the Bay Area. ... ”  Read more from Santa Clara Valley Water News here:  Bay Area: X-band radar improves rainfall, creek flow predictions

Desalination project permit denial by Marina to be appealed:  “A week after the Marina Planning Commission unanimously rejected a key desalination project permit, California American Water has filed an appeal of the decision to the Marina City Council.  On Wednesday, Cal Am filed the appeal to the council, arguing the planning commission erred in its denial of a coastal development permit for parts of the proposed desal project, including six new slant production wells and conversion of a test slant well to a production well at the Cemex sand mining plant site, and a conveyance pipeline to the proposed desal plant off Del Monte Boulevard. … ”  Read more from the Monterey Herald here:  Desalination project permit denial by Marina to be appealed

West Side ag faces ongoing challenges:  “West Side agriculture, the diverse industry which is the background of the local economy, faces an array of challenges in the year ahead.  While there are some bright spots – such as a solid outlook for almond prices and prospects for improved walnut prices this year – the prices for many commodities remain low even as production costs continue to rise.  Water continues to be an uncertainty for growers served by federal agencies such as the Del Puerto Water District which runs along the I-5 corridor, despite heavy snow packs and filling reservoirs. … ”  Read more from Westside Connect here:  West Side ag faces ongoing challenges

Lake Arrowhead opens spillway after 6 years:  “After several heavy rain and snow storms have hit the mountain in the last few weeks, the Arrowhead Lake Association (ALA) opened Spillway Gate One multiple times during the last week as the lake approached the 6-inch above full mark.  The gate was first opened at Thursday, March 7 at 9:30 a.m. and was closed on Saturday, March 9 at 8:30 a.m. The lake dropped around 1.8 inches during this 47-hour period. It was opened again on Tuesday at 8 a.m. … ”  Read more from the Mountain News here:  Lake Arrowhead opens spillway after 6 years

Along the Colorado River …

Two California water agencies battling over Colorado River drought plan: “A major Southern California water agency is trying to push the state through a final hurdle in joining a larger plan to preserve a key river in the U.S. West that serves 40 million people.  Most of the seven states that get water from the Colorado River have signed off on plans to keep the waterway from crashing amid a prolonged drought, climate change and increased demands. But California and Arizona have not, missing deadlines from the federal government.  Arizona has some work to do but nothing major holding it back.  California, however, has two powerful water agencies fighting over how to get the drought contingency plan approved before U.S. officials possibly impose their own rules for water going to California, Arizona and Nevada. … ”  Read more from the AP via KQED here:  Two California water agencies battling over Colorado River drought plan

‘Mission-Oriented’ Colorado River Veteran Takes the Helm as the US Commissioner of IBWC:  “For the bulk of her career, Jayne Harkins has devoted her energy to issues associated with the management of the Colorado River, both with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and with the Colorado River Commission of Nevada.  Now her career is taking a different direction. Harkins, 58, was appointed by President Trump last August to take the helm of the United States section of the U.S.-Mexico agency that oversees myriad water matters between the two countries as they seek to sustainably manage the supply and water quality of the Colorado River, including its once-thriving Delta in Mexico, and other rivers the two countries share. … ”  Read more from Western Water here:  ‘Mission-Oriented’ Colorado River Veteran Takes the Helm as the US Commissioner of IBWC

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

NEWS WORTH NOTING: Garamendi introduces bill to support CA water infrastructure projects; Winnemem Wintu Tribe and W.A.T.E.R. challenge Crystal Geyser EIR in opening brief; Lahontan Water Board accepts Lake Tahoe Nearshore Plan

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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