DAILY DIGEST: Wildfire burn zones depleting snowpack across West, which fuels more fires and snow loss, research shows; Water tax bill moves to appropriations suspense calendar; CA’s bold step forward Into the contentious world of wetlands regulation; and more …

In California water news today, Wildfire burn zones depleting snowpack across West, which fuels more fires and snow loss, research shows; Water tax bill moves to appropriations suspense calendar; California’s Bold Step Forward Into the Contentious World of Wetlands Regulation; After its 12 wettest months on record, the United States is virtually drought-free for the first time in decades; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • Upon Adjournment of Session, the Assembly Committee on Water, Parks, and Wildlife and Committee on Governmental Organization will hold a joint informational hearing on California’s Inland Flood Control System and Emergency PreparednessClick here for more information.

In the news today …

Wildfire burn zones depleting snowpack across West, which fuels more fires and snow loss, research shows:  “Wildfires that increasingly plague the American West are contributing more than previously known to the deterioration of the region’s snowpack, according to newly published research. The effect of wildfires on snowmelt is more widespread and longer lasting than people thought and has ramifications across the region, where cities such as Las Vegas, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Reno and Salt Lake rely heavily on melting snow to replenish water supplies. … ”  Read more from the Reno Gazette-Journal here:  Wildfire burn zones depleting snowpack across West, which fuels more fires and snow loss, research shows

Water tax bill moves to appropriations suspense calendar:  “The Assembly Appropriations Committee today moved AB 217 (E. Garcia), which proposed a water tax on public water systems, to the Suspense Calendar. The author waived presentation so there was no public testimony on the bill.  AB 217 proposes a water tax equivalent to 50-cents per connection per month, which would be passed along to public water agency customers. It is one of two proposals for a statewide water tax, along with the Newsom Administration’s budget trailer bill. ... ”  Read more from ACWA’s Water News here:  Water tax bill moves to appropriations suspense calendar

Legal analysis: California’s Bold Step Forward Into the Contentious World of Wetlands Regulation:  “In April 2019, the California State Water Resources Control Board (State Board) unanimously approved a comprehensive new legal framework for protecting California’s wetlands. California has lost approximately 90% of its historic wetland areas, which have important water quality, species habitat and other environmental and economic benefits. The new rules, in development for about 15 years, are designed to “fill the gap” in preserving California’s wetlands as the federal courts (and more recently the Trump Administration) have, in the view of California’s regulators, been rolling back federal wetlands protections. … ”  Read more from Law.com here:  Legal analysis: California’s Bold Step Forward Into the Contentious World of Wetlands Regulation

After its 12 wettest months on record, the United States is virtually drought-free for the first time in decades:  “In just over a year’s time, the nation’s rainfall fortunes have shifted suddenly and dramatically. Rainfall famine has turned to rainfall feast.  The amount of U.S. real estate covered by drought is about as low as it has been in recent decades, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported Wednesday. Drought affects just 2 percent of the country — about the smallest area since the federal government began official monitoring in 2000. ... ”  Read more from the Washington Post here:  After its 12 wettest months on record, the United States is virtually drought-free for the first time in decades

‘We’re the bad guy’: inside the shocking new film about wild fish:  “Artifishal, a new documentary about salmon, might, in less capable hands, have been a tiresome screed, another damning diary of how humans have despoiled the Earth.  In salmon’s case, we have interrupted one of the most dramatic cycles of nature, the wild fish’s journey from the rivers where they spawn to the oceans where they grow and back again. The result is that fish have died, species that eat them have died, communities that depend on them have faded, the food supply has been polluted and a lot of tax dollars have been wasted. … ”  Read more from The Guardian here:  ‘We’re the bad guy’: inside the shocking new film about wild fish

States at Risk from Climate Disasters Rank Low in Emergency Readiness:  “Some of the nation’s most exposed states to climate disasters, including half of the hurricane-battered Gulf Coast and wildfire-ravaged California, are laggards in health emergency planning and preparedness, according to a new national index.  The findings from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation come amid what researchers say is a general improvement in U.S. health security over the last six years based on 129 measures. They include condition of critical infrastructure, hazard planning in nursing homes, numbers of health emergency workers and volunteers, and health care access. … “  Read more from Scientific American here:  States at Risk from Climate Disasters Rank Low in Emergency Readiness

In commentary today …

California must pitch in to make drinking water safe for everyone, say Emily Rooney and Jennifer Clary:  They write, “It’s a mistake nearly every farmer has made when something breaks down on the farm.  You try to patch it up as best you can.  And then you do it again. And then maybe again – before you finally decide to stop throwing good money after bad and actually fix what’s wrong.  It’s the same situation the Legislature is faced with as it confronts a crisis that has left 1 million Californians without access to safe drinking water. The situation is intolerable, and everybody knows it.  No family should have to live in a community in which the water that comes from their taps puts their children’s health at risk. ... ”  Read more from CalMatters here:  California must pitch in to make drinking water safe for everyone

Don’t panic, but California has yet another water problem, says the LA Times:  They write, “First, don’t panic.  It’s true that a report published late last month in the journal Environmental Health found a link between California tap water and cancer. The study noted high levels of arsenic, plus numerous other contaminants that may be more toxic in combination than they are separately. According to the report, the tainted water could cause more than 200 cases of cancer a year.  The problem is very serious — but not necessarily statewide.  ... ” Continue reading at the LA Times here:  Don’t panic, but California has yet another water problem

Excluding hydropower makes no sense, says Dan Walters:  He writes, “When California embarked on its quest to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases as a global model to stave off climate change, its first target was the state’s electric power industry.  A series of ever-tightening decrees required utilities to shift from coal, natural gas and other carbon-based sources to a “renewable portfolio,” eventually reaching 100% non-carbon sources by mid-century. … ”  Read more from CalMatters here:  Excluding hydropower makes no sense

Protecting the ocean: Don’t stop at the shoreline, say Noah Oppenheim and Sean Bothwell:  They write, “California has distinguished itself as a climate leader, from reducing carbon emissions to managing wildfire risk and preparing coastal cities for rising seas. But our action to date has largely stopped at the shoreline, despite the fact that some of the first and worst climate impacts are being felt in the ocean.  If you have walked the coastal trail at Point Lobos lately, you may have noticed the once-sprawling kelp forests are shrinking. If you fish or enjoy eating local seafood, surely you have noticed the periodic absence of Dungeness crab at local markets over the past couple years, as heat waves fueled toxic algae blooms that at times made their meat unsafe to eat. … ”  Read more from Capitol Weekly here:  Protecting the ocean: Don’t stop at the shoreline

In regional news and commentary today …

City of Ukiah contributes more to study of Potter Valley Project purchase:  “The Ukiah City Council recently approved contributing another $50,000 to a local group’s effort to explore the possibility of buying the Potter Valley Project.  “This money is part of a larger pool of money being contributed by all five members of the (Mendocino County) Inland Water and Power Commission,” Sean White, the city’s director of water resources, told the Ukiah City Council at its May 1 meeting, describing the dam facility as “essentially a diversion of Eel River water through a tunnel that provides major benefits to Lake Mendocino, which provides a significant amount of our water supply.” … ”  Read more from the Ukiah Daily Journal here:  City of Ukiah contributes more to study of Potter Valley Project purchase

Soquel Creek Water Board advances Live Oak treatment site:  “Locking in a $3.2 million sale price, the Soquel Creek Water District board will enter an initial five-month “option to purchase” agreement to buy a nearly 2-acre parcel in Live Oak.  The purchase option period, which could be extended for as long as a year, is designed to give district officials time to survey the 2505 Chanticleer Ave. land, assessing its ability to serve as home to the proposed Pure Water Soquel plant. The board will need to take a future vote to finalize its plans buy the property, owned by the family of Arthur Lam. ... ”  Read more from the Santa Cruz Sentinel here:  Soquel Creek Water Board advances Live Oak treatment site

Cal Am’s desal permit remains in limbo as Marina weighs what to tell the Coastal Commission:  “It was the best attended city council meeting that didn’t happen.  Marina City Council had scheduled a special meeting on May 6 for a public hearing on California American Water’s bid for a coastal development permit to build intake wells and related infrastructure for its planned desalination plant on a beach in Marina.  Dozens of residents arrived, including members of Citizens for Just Water, a group critical of Cal Am’s plan to construct a desalination plant. Outside City Hall, demonstrators held signs saying “Science Matters!”, “Illegal Water Grab” and “Yes! Recycled Water.” ... ”  Read more from Monterey Weekly here:  Cal Am’s desal permit remains in limbo as Marina weighs what to tell the Coastal Commission

Reforestation Project Along the Scenic Byway in Eastern Madera County Makes Progress – Reforesting the French Fire Burn Scar:  “The Eastern Madera Wildfire Reforestation Project is focused on reforesting 350 acres of Sierra National Forest burned in the 2014 French Fire. The project site is located near Mile High Vista along the Sierra Vista Scenic Byway. This particular area was chosen because of the high severity of wildfire.  The project is being managed by the Yosemite Sequoia Resource Conservation and Development Council (Y/S RC&DC) in coordination with the Bass Lake Ranger District. Work began in 2017 and since then steady progress has been made. Site preparation, which includes tree felling, piling, burning and herbicide spraying, has been completed on 171 acres.  … ” Read more from the Sierra Sun Times here:  Reforestation Project Along the Scenic Byway in Eastern Madera County Makes Progress – Reforesting the French Fire Burn Scar

LA/Inyo Standing Committee covers a lot of ground:  “Here are the positive take-aways from Monday’s Standing Committee meeting: Los Angeles’s Green New Deal outlines a pathway for the City to source 70-percent of its water locally by 2035; both members of the Committee, Los Angeles and Inyo County, are open to a second look at changes to the document managing the Lower Owens River Project.  And, finally this one may put an end to rumors, or not, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power isn’t planning on using Owens Valley water to solve Indian Wells’ sustainable water problems. Water spreading in Rose Valley during the heavy 2017 run-off was a one-off. ... ”  Read more from the Sierra Wave here:  LA/Inyo Standing Committee covers a lot of ground

Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority PAC talks water modeling:  “The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority Policy Advisory Committee took a look at three water modeling scenarios currently being run for consideration by the groundwater authority and the Technical Advisory Committee on Thursday.  Specifically, the scenarios represent “straw man” hypothetical ways the GA could potentially meet the requirements of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act to form a Groundwater Sustainability Plan and bring the IWV groundwater basin closer to sustainability. … ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here:  Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority PAC talks water modeling

State agencies consider aquifer exemption in Cat Canyon Oil Field:  “Oil companies may have more space to build injection wells in the Cat Canyon Oil Field if the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approves a potential recommendation from various state agencies.  The California Department of Conservation’s Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR)—along with the State Water Resources Control Board and the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board—is considering recommending that the EPA expand the aquifer exemption area in the oil field where injection projects can take place. … ”  Read more from the Santa Maria Sun here:  State agencies consider aquifer exemption in Cat Canyon Oil Field

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

SCIENCE NEWS: Forest fires accelerating snowmelt across western US; Things are looking up: the 2018 salmon season; Using genetics to inform conservation of spring-run chinook salmon; and more …

NEWS WORTH NOTING: Feather River smolt release to help biologists study salmon life cycle; Carlsbad Desalination Plant updated permit approved by San Diego Water Board

In announcements today …

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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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