DAILY DIGEST, weekend edition: In Mammoth, the snow is so deep residents must tunnel out; From CA to Central India: Implementing water stewardship at the local level; How agtech is making irrigation more efficient; Could PFAS concerns sway the Democratic presidential contest?; and more …

Wagner Valley and Pilot Peak; photo by Verna Jiguor

In California water news this weekend, In Mammoth, the snow is so deep residents must tunnel out. There’s a history to that; From California to Central India: Implementing Water Stewardship at the Local Level; The shape of water: How agtech is making irrigation more efficient; Dangers rising along with rivers as the heaviest snowpack in recent years melts; What Makes a Catastrophic Flood? And Is Climate Change Causing More of Them?; Could PFAS concerns sway the Democratic presidential contest?; and more …

In the news this weekend …

In Mammoth, the snow is so deep residents must tunnel out. There’s a history to that: “By February, the snow made many neighborhoods here feel subterranean.  Twenty-foot walls of white, corniced by the wind, leaned over the plowed roads. Residents worked feverishly to keep the snow from swallowing their homes. They dug tunnels and narrow passageways to the street, opened portals to get light through second-story windows, shoveled dangerous weight off their roofs. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: In Mammoth, the snow is so deep residents must tunnel out. There’s a history to that

From California to Central India: Implementing Water Stewardship at the Local Level:  “From a young age, most people know the basic requirements of planting: seeds, soil, sunlight and water. Farming and water, specifically freshwater, are intrinsically linked. Agriculture accounts for 70 percent of global freshwater withdrawals, according to the World Bank. In its 2018 Global Responsibility Report, food company General Mills identified water risk as a material issue and pledged to champion the “activation of stewardship plans in its priority watersheds across its global value chain. Jeff Hanratty, applied sustainability manager for General Mills, spoke with TriplePundit about the company’s efforts to identify and address key water risks related to agricultural production. He began by explaining how the organization created its focus on priority watersheds. … ”  Read more from Triple Pundit here:  From California to Central India: Implementing Water Stewardship at the Local Level

The shape of water: How agtech is making irrigation more efficient: “Field D-17 on the Bowles Farming Company’s ranch in California’s Central Valley is dry and unplanted when I visit it with Emery Silberman in the spring. Last year’s watermelon crop was harvested the previous July, and this year’s tomatoes won’t go in the ground for several more months. We check out the array of globular red sand filters that will treat the water for this field, and Silberman shows me the drip irrigation pump and valve assembly nearby that will control that flow. Mounted there, he shows me, is a small piece of equipment from a company called WaterBit that’s designed to provide more granular control of conditions in the field—thus allowing farmers like Cannon Michael, Silberman’s boss, to save on valuable resources like water and fertilizer. ... ”  Read more from Fast Company here:  The shape of water: How agtech is making irrigation more efficient

Dangers rising along with rivers as the heaviest snowpack in recent years melts:  “Water levels and flows on area rivers are looking similar to conditions in 2017 when there were more than double the water rescues compared to average years.  “Everyone should treat the river like a wild animal,” said Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District Captain Jeff Frye. “Enjoy it from afar.”  A strong current on the Stanislaus River took the lives of two people in 2017’ last Sunday, it swept 5-year-old Matilda Ortiz downstream and out of the grasp of a bystander who briefly had a hold of her. Her body was recovered Wednesday after river flows were slowed and the water level dropped about two feet to aid in the search. ... ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  Dangers rising along with rivers as the heaviest snowpack in recent years melts

What Makes a Catastrophic Flood? And Is Climate Change Causing More of Them?: With floods submerging expanses of the Midwest and government scientists warning that this spring could bring a historic flood season in the United States, it’s natural to ask why it is happening. What causes catastrophic flooding? And what is the role of climate change?  The first thing to understand: It’s complicated.  Each flood is its own phenomenon, tied to the specific circumstances in the area. … ”  Read more from the New York Times here:  What Makes a Catastrophic Flood? And Is Climate Change Causing More of Them?

Wastewater is an asset, with nutrients, energy and precious metals — and scientists are learning how to recover them:  “Most people think as little as possible about the wastewater that is produced daily from their showers, bathtubs, sinks, dishwashers and toilets. But with the right techniques, it can become a valuable resource.  On average, every Americans uses about 60 gallons of water per day (PDF) for purposes that include flushing toilets, showering and doing laundry. This figure can easily double if outdoor uses, such as watering lawns and filling swimming pools, are also included. ... ”  Read more from Green Biz here: Wastewater is an asset, with nutrients, energy and precious metals — and scientists are learning how to recover them

In nature, premature springs are creating new winners and losers:  “Spring is usually a coordinated dance of singing birds, bursting leaves, buzzing insects, and blooming flowers, but climate change is throwing off the rhythm. With warming temperatures, the average spring in the eastern U.S. is starting earlier. This year, flowers bloomed 10 days early in Jackson, Mississippi, and leaves emerged up to 20 days early in West Virginia, according to the USA National Phenology Network.  Not every species is getting the memo. ... ”  Read more from Yale Climate Connections here:  In nature, premature springs are creating new winners and losers

Ideas for using the true cost of water in sustainability strategy: “As many of us know, water traditionally has been undervalued for quite some time and does not accurately represent the actual true cost of water to a company. Because of this, the financial incentives and the return on investment (ROI) for water conservation projects just aren’t there.  And because this real cost of water has not been adequately detailed, investments in water efficiency and conservation have not historically scaled with GDP. As a result, instead of becoming more productive with an important and less abundant resource, many economies are becoming less productive and efficient (PDF) with water resources because there is little incentive to discourage waste. … ”  Read more from Green Biz here:  Ideas for using the true cost of water in sustainability strategy

Rep. Huffman: You don’t want me on your Trivial Pursuit team:  “When Rep. Jared Huffman first ran for California State Assembly in 2006, he posted up outside the exit during a screening of “An Inconvenient Truth.”  It was the perfect opportunity. The movie ends with a call to act on climate change, so Huffman passed out flyers and pitched himself as the environmental candidate.  “It was one of the most productive leafleting moments of my career,” he said.  The Democrat in 2013 brought that attitude to Capitol Hill, where he’s emerged as a vocal foe of the Trump administration’s plans to open up federal waters to offshore oil and gas exploration. … ”  Read more from E&E News here: Rep. Huffman: You don’t want me on your Trivial Pursuit team

Could PFAS concerns sway the Democratic presidential contest?: “The plight of communities with PFAS contamination in their drinking water is getting an attention boost from the 2020 presidential campaign.  Democrats in the crowded field of more than a dozen candidates are calling for more action to clean up per- and polyfluoroalkyl substance pollution, a key concern in some areas of New Hampshire, which holds the first primary of the campaign season.  PFAS is providing a platform for hopefuls to slam President Trump’s environmental agenda as they make their case to voters about who is the best person to take on Trump next year.  And while New Hampshire, whose primary comes just after the Iowa caucuses, isn’t the only state to suffer from PFAS issues, it’s helping candidates connect more closely with voters in the Granite State. ... ”  Read more from E&E News here:  Could PFAS concerns sway the Democratic presidential contest?

In commentary this weekend …

Congress, approve the Colorado River Plan as a model for climate resilience, says David Festa:  He writes, “After years of hard work and difficult negotiations, a historic seven-state agreement to conserve Colorado River water is facing its last hurdle: Congress.  In the coming days, Congress will begin committee hearings on unusually concise, 139-word legislation that would allow the secretary of the interior to implement the Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan, or DCP.  The DCP may sound like three unimportant letters to members of Congress outside the seven states that rely on the Colorado River for their water supplies: California, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado, Wyoming and Utah.  But this agreement marks a watershed moment in building our country’s resilience to climate change. ... ”  Read more from The Hill here: Congress, approve the Colorado River Plan as a model for climate resilience

Sunday podcast …

Batten Down the Hatches – Levee Protection:  Steven Baker writes, “Making decisions on how to maximize the benefits of the California levees into the future is a function of engineering and economics. Our concerns are usually in terms of the consequences of flooding, drought conditions and earthquakes that are all too common in California. But did you know that our state transportation system, electricity system, energy and natural gas system and Delta agriculture can also take a hit when levees fail.  These hits would have a bounding impact on all of California. Jeff Michael, Professor of Economics at  the University of the Pacific, shares his research on solutions in the California Delta.”
Listen up. Water is a Many Splendor’ed Thing brings you another water relationship that has a personally significant impact to your life.  Stephen J. Baker, producer of Operation Unite’s Living Water® radio series, “Water is a Many Splendor’ed Thing”, has completed 258 episodes from around the world since 2006. Each story is a real circumstance of one water relationship that exists in the world.  Contact Operation Unite® if you would like your organization’s water relationship to be shared with the masses.
Bringing People Together to Solve Water Problems
Operation Unite®; stevebaker@operationunite.co; 530-263-1007

In regional news and commentary this weekend …

Phillips tells PID board meters one culprit in contamination: “Paradise Irrigation District general manager Kevin Philips reiterated to the board of directors on Wednesday night that the water is clean as is the water coming from the water treatment plant.  Phillips also told the board that they have yet to install any new meters —adding that they are taking out meters.  “We are pulling meters,” he said. “What we are doing is pulling meters because we feel meters could have been one of the leading criteria to the contamination. Plastic meters that got heated up.” … ”  Read more from Paradise Post here:  Phillips tells PID board meters one culprit in contamination

Sacramento: Officials Warn Public of Possible Debris and Needles Along Riverbanks:  “As the weather starts to get warmer, fire crews are warning the public about the possible dangers near riverbanks that include more than just fast-moving waters.  “There’s a lot of fishing going on and pretty soon, with the warm weather, families will be out there,” said Roberto Padilla, Sacramento Area Firefighters Local 522. “Whether they are out at Discovery Park or Tiscornia Park, or just finding their favorite water hole.”  But the recent high waters from heavy rainfall could be hiding potential dangers. … ”  Read more from Fox 40 here:  Sacramento: Officials Warn Public of Possible Debris and Needles Along Riverbanks

Speier, Feinstein demand EPA explanation on Cargill reversal:  “U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, and U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-CA, called on EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler to explain how the agency determined how his agency determined that the Redwood City salt plant site was not subject to federal permitting under the Clean Water Act despite an earlier draft that stated otherwise.  “As you know, EPA Region 9 drafted a jurisdictional determination in November 2016 finding that 1,270 acres of the 1,300 Redwood City salt plant site are ‘waters of the United States’ and therefore subject to federal permitting requirements under the Clean Water Act,” they wrote in a letter to Wheeler. … ”  Read more from the Daily Journal here: Speier, Feinstein demand EPA explanation on Cargill reversal

Will rising water costs spell the end for Santa Clara County farms? Mike Wade and Paul Mirassou write,Agriculture has always been a jewel of the Silicon Valley. The area continues to produce locally grown food crops that are consumed by food lovers throughout the Bay Area and beyond. It is a highly diverse farm-to-fork region that not only grows food, it provides open space benefits to almost 2 million Santa Clara County residents living in an otherwise highly developed region.  Santa Clara County farmers receive lower water rates designed to keep working lands in production instead of being bulldozed for new development. … ”  Read more from the Silicon Valley Business Journal here: Will rising water costs spell the end for Santa Clara County farms?

Carmel River FREE project hits key milestone:  “A “landmark” initiative aimed at restoring Carmel River floodplain habitat and helping reduce flood risks for homes and businesses along the lower part of the river and lagoon has reached a key phase with the release of its environmental review document.  A combined environmental impact report and environmental assessment for the project dubbed the Carmel FREE (floodplain restoration and environmental enhancement) project backed by Monterey County and the Big Sur Land Trust was released March 8 and will be available for a 45-day public review, including  comment period through April 22. … ”  Read more from the Monterey Herald here:  Carmel River FREE project hits key milestone

Public Workshop on Western Amador County Groundwater Sustainability:  “A public workshop on groundwater management in the far western region of Amador County will be held Wednesday, March 27, 2019, at the Amador Water Agency Board Chambers.  Anyone who lives, works, or manages land supported by wells in the Cosumnes Subbasin are encouraged to attend the workshop to learn about the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), passed in 2014 to protect groundwater from depletion and overuse. ... ”  Read more from the Amador Ledger here:  Public Workshop on Western Amador County Groundwater Sustainability

Turlock: Incoming rain could delay irrigation season:  “The 2019 irrigation season is set to begin Thursday with an ample amount of water, but could be pushed back if incoming clouds provide enough rain.  After substantially wet winter, which included a well above-average February, the Turlock Irrigation District Board of Directors on Tuesday approved dates for this year’s irrigation season — from March 28 through Oct. 30. However, incoming rainy weather could postpone the season’s start if the predicted precipitation is enough to quench the thirst of local crops. … ”  Read more from the Turlock Journal here:  Incoming rain could delay irrigation season

Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority discusses, approves revised budget:  “Discussion and approval of a revised budget and awarding of a $240,000 contract for water marketing consulting services were the main action items for the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority board March 21.  A report and discussion on Plan of Action and Milestones, a report on Proposition 1 grant status, and a report on pump fee status and schedule were among other items on the agenda.  “Staff went through and basically reworked the budget from the start,” said Indian Wells Valley Water District General Manager Don Zdeba. … ”  Read more from the Independent here:  Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority discusses, approves revised budget

Santa Barbara: Restoring the Devereux Wetlands:  “My last article (independent.com/wetlands) focused on the potency of wetlands for carbon sequestration. Here in our local backyard there is a stellar example of a sizeable wetland restoration project. A unique collaboration between The Trust for Public Land and UCSB is undoing a large area of developed land that caused severe damage to parts of the Devereux Slough. The 136-acre north-campus open-space project is restoring the area to salt marshes, coastal sage scrubs, grasslands, native perennials, freshwater marshes, vernal pools, and riparian woodlands.  Not surprisingly, the Ocean Meadows Golf Course, developed in 1960 in the middle of the Devereux watershed, was losing money due to periodic flooding. The Trust, working with the UCSB Cheadle Center for Biodiversity and Ecological Restoration, purchased the land in 2013 for $7 million and gifted it to UCSB. … ”  Read more from the Independent here: Santa Barbara: Restoring the Devereux Wetlands

City of Tehachapi explores new ways to reuse treated effluent water:  “City officials in Tehachapi are investigating ways to move treated effluent water coming from Tehachapi’s Waste Water Treatment Plant. More potable water could be available if a groundwater reuse project becomes reality, opening more land at Tehachapi Municipal Airport for potential growth.  “We want to capture that water and put it back in the aquifer and receive a credit. We can only pump as much as we own or control,” City Manager Greg Garrett said. “It’s certainly an event changer, so the city of Tehachapi can be self-sufficient, but it’s really a visionary at this point.” ... ”  Read more from the Techachapi News here:  City of Tehachapi explores new ways to reuse treated effluent water

Hagman concerned dam plan will hurt park expansion:  “The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said it is reaching out to County Supervisor Curt Hagman’s office to discuss his concerns about a plan to increase the depth of holding water at the Prado Dam.  Board chairman Mr. Hagman, a Chino Hills resident, said he heard about the study a week ago when the Army Corps of Engineers sent a letter seeking input.  “Really?” he said. “We’ve been talking about the Prado Park expansion plan for two years. One side is not talking to the other.” … ” Read from the Champion News here:  Hagman concerned dam plan will hurt park expansion

Poseidon optimism grows for desalination plant but several hurdles remain:  “Poseidon officials, who’ve spent 21 years working toward approval of a controversial desalination plant in Huntington Beach, had a figurative bounce in their step as they emerged from yet another permitting agency meeting Friday.  The Regional Water Quality Control Board remains months away from voting on one of the final two permits needed by Poseidon. But the fact the board staff detailed a specific timeline for the board’s permit process — with a final vote penciled in for Oct. 25 — was seen by Poseidon Vice President Scott Maloni interpreted that as a signal that board geologists, engineers and administrators are confident they can work through outstanding issues. ... ”  Read more from OC Register here: Poseidon optimism grows for desalination plant but several hurdles remain

Precipitation watch …

From the National Weather Service: A Winter Storm Warning is in effect from Monday morning through Tuesday morning. Another storm will bring additional heavy snow Tuesday night through early Thursday.

Sunday video …

Check out the Fremont Weir fish passage project …

Also on Maven’s Notebook this weekend …

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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.

Maven’s Notebook
where California water news never goes home for the weekend

no weekends

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