DAILY DIGEST, weekend edition: State agencies report on progress of Voluntary Agreements; CA’s coast is disappearing under rising seas and our choices are grim; Spring Delta smelt surveys reveal record low numbers; Holiday visitors leave more than 1,800 pounds of trash at Lake Tahoe; and more …

In California water news this weekend, State agencies report on Voluntary Agreements in process to Water Board plan; The California coast is disappearing under the rising sea. Our choices are grim; Closer to extinction: Spring Delta smelt surveys reveal record low numbers of fish; Power Plants Create Giant Water Battery; Smaller almond crop predicted in California; A big mess: Fourth of July visitors leave more than 1,800 pounds of trash at Lake Tahoe; Borrego Air Ranch: A desert community in peril; and more …

In the news this weekend …

State Agencies Report On Voluntary Agreements In Process To Water Board Plan:  “Behind the scenes, state environmental officials seem to be making progress on alternatives to water regulators’ impending plans many describe as a massive “water grab.”  This week, California Secretary of Environmental Protection Jared Blumenfeld and Secretary for Natural Resources Wade Crawfoot jointly issued a status report to stakeholder groups. It details how their agencies are helping to collaboratively develop voluntary agreements (VAs) for implementing the State Water Resources Control Board’s updated water quality objectives for the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers, their tributaries, and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. … ”  Read more from My Mother Lode here: State Agencies Report On Voluntary Agreements In Process To Water Board Plan

The California coast is disappearing under the rising sea. Our choices are grim: “The California coast grew and prospered during a remarkable moment in history when the sea was at its tamest.  But the mighty Pacific, unbeknownst to all, was nearing its final years of a calm but unusual cycle that had lulled dreaming settlers into a false sense of endless summer.  Elsewhere, Miami has been drowning, Louisiana shrinking, North Carolina’s beaches disappearing like a time lapse with no ending. While other regions grappled with destructive waves and rising seas, the West Coast for decades was spared by a rare confluence of favorable winds and cooler water. This “sea level rise suppression,” as scientists call it, went largely undetected. Blinded from the consequences of a warming planet, Californians kept building right to the water’s edge. … ”  Continue reading at the LA Times here: The California coast is disappearing under the rising sea. Our choices are grim

Closer to extinction: Spring Delta smelt surveys reveal record low numbers of fish as big water exports continue:  Dan Bacher writes, “The fall of 2018 saw a new record low number of Delta smelt in the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) midwater trawl survey. This trend has continued in the spring Delta smelt 20-mm surveys conducted this year and in 2018, with a record low number of the smelt collected by Department scientists. The Delta smelt was once the most abundant fish on the entire Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, numbering in the millions. However, massive water exports by the State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project to agribusiness interests, combined with declining water quality and the impact of upstream dam operations, have put the fish on the bring of extinction under the Jerry Brown and Gavin Newsom administrations. … ”  Read more at the Daily Kos here: Spring Delta smelt surveys reveal record low numbers of fish as big water exports continue

Power Plants Create Giant Water Battery:  “California is a leader in renewable energy, and the state has pledged to use only clean sources for electricity, including wind and solar power, by 2045. One hurdle is energy storage, but an old solution involving water may help the state reach its goal of zero emissions.  The solution is “pumped storage,” which uses water in reservoirs at different elevations to smooth the fluctuations of intermittent power from the wind and sun, and makes electricity available when it is needed. ... ”  Read more from the Voice of America here:  Power Plants Create Giant Water Battery

Smaller almond crop predicted in California:  “The 2019 almond crop is now forecast at 2.2 billion pounds, down 3.5% from the 2018 crop of 2.28 billion pounds.  The California Almond Objective Measurement Report is also down 12% from the preliminary May 10 California Almond Subjective Report of 2.5 billion pounds. ... ”  Read more from the Capital Press here:  Smaller almond crop predicted in California

Sierra Nevada Conservancy awards $3 million for restoration projects:  “At its quarterly meeting, the Sierra Nevada Conservancy Governing Board approved a total of $3,122,551 in funds for five different projects focused on improving watershed and forest health throughout the Sierra Nevada.  Each of the selected projects strike at the heart of the Sierra Nevada watershed improvement program, SNC’s large-scale restoration initiative designed to improve ecosystem and community resilience in the region. … ”  Read more from the Mountain Democrat here:  Sierra Nevada Conservancy awards $3 million for restoration projects

Wildfires and climate change: What’s the connection?Across the United States and around the world, wildfires are growing in intensity and frequency. Wildfire season can spark anytime throughout the year in arid regions where Mediterranean climates predominate, such as Spain, Portugal, and much of California. Dry, wooded regions where people and wild lands exist in close proximity have grown especially dangerous, as rural communities become trapped by rapidly spreading conflagrations. … ”  Read more from Yale Climate Connections here:  Wildfires and climate change: What’s the connection?

Lawmakers talk legislation in response to FOIA changes:  “Senators from both parties are unhappy with new Trump administration rules giving political appointees at two government agencies more power to review public information requests, and they say they may craft legislation to fix it.  The new rules for considering Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests at the Interior Department and Environmental Protection Agency have provoked complaints from the media and outside groups, and the senators say they go in the opposite direction in terms of providing access to government records. … ”  Read more from The Hill here: Lawmakers talk legislation in response to FOIA changes

Sunday podcasts …

Mexi-Cali: Jared Blumenfeld’s Podship Earth podcast explores a tale of two cities – Calexico and Mexicali – that straddle the US/Mexico border. Both of these communities share very serious air and water pollution challenges.


Phillip Bowles on the complexity of farming: “Philip Bowles is the Chairman of Bowles Farming Company, Inc. of Los Banos, CA. Bowles produces cotton, alfalfa, wheat, processing tomatoes, melons, other row crops. Its foundations date from 1856. Philip earned his BA from Yale in Drama, now serves as president of the California Alfafa and Forage Association, and pursues a diverse range of hobbies (from hunting and fishing to collecting stamps, firearms, cane fly rods and antique silver).  This episode’s motto: “Farming is hard work — and not like you expect.”  From David Zetland at the Jive Talking podcast.


Yellowstone:  Stephen Baker writes, “Things happen all the time at Yellowstone. That is why there is always something different to experience when visiting this part of Wyoming. It’s the water that plays a critical part in the beauty and life that is so abundant in the northwestern part of Wyoming. Yellowstone is built on top of a really big volcano where the magma is near the surface of the earth’s crust.  Thermal features, the rivers, the falls, the great fly fishing each benefit by underlying geothermal conditions and the hydrology of the area.  The benefits of water go even further than that.  Elk herds, pronghorn, big horn sheep, mountain lions and the last free ranging bison are witnessed everyday living their life on the rugged landscape. Water is truly fundamental to this environment.   So now that it is summer, it is time to schedule a trip to that heaven on earth that we call Yellowstone and experience firsthand the value of water. Water is a Many Splendor’ed Thing brings you another water relationship that has a personally significant impact to your life.

Stephen J. Baker, Operation Unite®; stevebaker@operationunite.co; 530-263-1007

In commentary this weekend …

Editorial: Dam opening sparks moment to reflect:  The Chico Enterprise-Record writes, “On the last Saturday in June, a road in Butte County was opened. That in itself isn’t anything unusual. Roads are opened and closed regularly around here.  But it was the significance of this road that makes it a remarkable occurrence. It was the road over Oroville Dam. ... ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here: Editorial: Dam opening sparks moment to reflect

In regional news and commentary this weekend …

Paradise Irrigation District lifts water advisories at 27 customer locations:  “The Paradise Irrigation District announced on Wednesday that it has lifted the water advisory lifted at 27 customer addresses.  PID said the 27 service locations are a mix of businesses and residences in Paradise.  According to Google Maps, Mize Automotive, Butte County Fire Station 35, Paradise Unified School District Offices, Fastrip on Clark Road, Dutch Bros., Pelican’s Roost, Wells Fargo, Starbucks, Skyway Feed & Supply, Feather River Health Center and Paradise Fire Station 1 were among the customers who were lifted. ... ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here: Paradise Irrigation District lifts water advisories at 27 customer locations

Ukiah’s recycled water is ready for delivery:  “One of the vineyard owners hooked up to the city’s Purple Pipe is anxiously waiting for the recycled water to begin flowing, asking this week if he would need to begin tapping the Russian River near his property to irrigate instead.  “I am optimistic that he won’t need to draw from the river,” said Sean White, the city of Ukiah’s director of water sewer, as he stood Wednesday by one of three new ponds where reclaimed water that can be used for thirsty grass and crops is being stored. … ”  Read more from the Ukiah Daily Journal here: Ukiah’s recycled water is ready for delivery

Lakeport completes state-required dam breach inundation study, emergency plan:  “The city of Lakeport has completed a state-required dam breach inundation study and emergency action plan, which the Lakeport City Council approved at a June meeting.  In the wake of the February 2017 Oroville Dam incident, which involved the failure of its main and emergency spillways, the state is now requiring jurisdictions to identify dams, identify hazards and have an emergency action plan in the case of a failure. … ”  Read more from Lake County News here: Lakeport completes state-required dam breach inundation study, emergency plan

A big mess: Fourth of July visitors leave more than 1,800 pounds of trash at Lake Tahoe:  “Every year, hordes of people swarm Lake Tahoe for the Fourth of July celebration, and every year, they leave a big mess.  Luckily, there’s a group of dedicated volunteers who comb through the shorelines picking up trash. This year, 315 people volunteered for the annual Keep Tahoe Blue cleanup effort, an event organized by the League to Save Lake Tahoe.  Volunteers walked through six different sites around Lake Tahoe on Friday, totaling 10 miles of shoreline, according to chief strategy officer Jesse Patterson. ... ”  Read more from the Reno Gazette Journal here: A big mess: Fourth of July visitors leave more than 1,800 pounds of trash at Lake Tahoe

Worth one’s salt: Proposed Doheney Ocean Desalination Plant jumps EIR hurdle:  “South Coast Water District General Manager Rick Shintaku recalls the California drought from 1987 to 1992 as a pivotal moment in his career in water resources.  “Where was I in 1991? I was back in college sharing a house with four other guys. We weren’t flushing our toilets and we weren’t washing our clothes very much,” Shintaku said at a SCWD public hearing for the Doheny Desalination project on June 27.  Shintaku reflected on the major changes in the water world and the conservation mandates that rolled out. … ”  Read more from the Capistrano Dispatch here: Worth one’s salt: Proposed Doheney Ocean Desalination Plant jumps EIR hurdle

Borrego Air Ranch: A desert community in peril:  “The survival of a tiny, unique, desert neighborhood is threatened because more than 60 years ago the community decided to form a small water district instead of digging individual wells.  Borrego Air Ranch is built around a private air strip where residents’ garages double as airplane hangers. It’s located on the southeastern outskirts of unincorporated Borrego Springs, less than a mile from Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.  For many years, Borrego Springs has been living on borrowed time, drawing far more water from the ground than its rains replace, a practice the state says can no longer continue. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune here: Borrego Air Ranch: A desert community in peril

Along the Colorado River …

Believe It or Not, Colorado Will Soon Become a Waterless Desert, says Bill Hudson:  He writes, “Based on two weeks of research into the probable future of water supplies in the American West, it’s pretty clear that no water expert or journalist truly believes Colorado is likely to become a lifeless, waterless desert, within the lifetime of anyone currently alive.  On the other hand, almost everyone seems to believe that the western US will indeed experience ‘water shortages’ during the coming decades, if you define a ‘water shortage’ as ‘less water, per person, than we were accessing in the 1990s.’ If, and when, the water shortages arrive, we can all decide to share the pain. Or alternatively, people with money and power can seize control of our water, and thereby acquire additional money and power. ... ”  Read more at the Pagosa Daily Post here: Believe It or Not, Colorado Will Soon Become a Waterless Desert

Colorado river streamflows are 400% of normal in some areas of the state:  “The melting snowpack over the last month fortunately hasn’t resulted in widespread flooding through Colorado. But that doesn’t mean extra caution isn’t needed along the state’s swollen rivers, which are seeing above average streamflow from the snowmelt.  Over the last week, streamflows in some rivers have been more than 400% of normal in some areas of the state, from the Front Range into the high country. Not every river is seeing those extremely high numbers, but most across the western half of the state are well above normal. ... ”  Read more from the Denver Post here: Colorado river streamflows are 400% of normal in some areas of the state

Sunday video …

From the folks at Sacramento Valley:  One of the beautiful, though lesser-known waterfalls in Northern California – New York Canyon Falls near Foresthill. Video shot and edited by John Hannon.

Also on Maven’s Notebook this weekend …

OPPORTUNITY TO COMMENT: Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for Delta Plan Amendment Regarding Delta Levees Investment Strategy

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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

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