DAILY DIGEST: Court order stalls plan to raise height of Shasta Dam; Is Hetch Hetchy worth $100 billion?; Newsom signs bill requiring further enviro review for Cadiz project; Water systems must notify Californians about PFAS; and more …

In California water news today, Court Order Stalls Plan to Raise Height of Shasta Dam; Is Hetch Hetchy worth $100 billion?; Newsom signs bill requiring further environmental review for Cadiz project; Water systems must notify Californians about PFAS; How PFAS Poses An Emerging Problem For Wastewater; Trump set to weaken wildlife rules during ‘mass extinction’; Central Basin is now charging even noncustomers in Southeast LA County; To Commemorate Powell’s Colorado River Expedition, Research Team Retraces His Steps; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Board begins the first day of a two-day meeting at 4pm with a discussion of End of Year Program Assessments and Board Strategic Planning.  Click here for the full agenda and webcast link.
  • A public meeting on the Draft EIR for CVP and SWP operations in Chico from 5pm to 7pm.  Hosted by the Bureau of Reclamation.  Click here for more information.

In the news today …

Court Order Stalls Plan to Raise Height of Shasta Dam:  “Dealing a short-term setback to the Trump administration’s plan to raise the height of one of California’s tallest dams, a state judge barred the project’s main investor from completing a crucial environmental report.  In a win for the state’s lawyers, the order prevents Fresno-based Westlands Water District from finishing the reporting it will need if it decides to help the feds with the $1.3 billion cost of raising Shasta Dam in Northern California. … ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service here: Court Order Stalls Plan to Raise Height of Shasta Dam

Judge orders Westlands to stop work on Shasta Dam raise:  “A judge has ordered a Fresno-based water district to stop working on plans to raise the height of Shasta Dam.  The Westlands Water District, which provides irrigation water to farmers on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, was working on a report assessing the environmental impacts of raising the height of the dam.  But a judge ruled that Westlands’ work violated a state law that prohibited local and state agencies from participating in any projects that would have an adverse impact on the McCloud River. … ”  Read more from the Redding Record Searchlight here: Judge orders Westlands to stop work on Shasta Dam raise

Is Hetch Hetchy worth $100 billion?:  “Yosemite’s Hetch Hetchy Valley was dammed and flooded nearly 100 years ago, but the prospect of draining the reservoir continues to inspire romantic imaginings about unlocking a brand-new outdoor-recreation mecca in one of the country’s most popular national parks. If we could return Hetch Hetchy to a more natural state — of the variety that stirred John Muir’s soul a century ago — would we be clearing a path for the emergence of Yosemite Valley 2.0?  The fantasy of Hetch Hetchy’s grand return was recently given new dimensions with the release of an economic assessment concluding that the valley represents a sunken treasure trove of tourism revenue. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: Is Hetch Hetchy worth $100 billion?

CADIZ

Trump revived the Cadiz water project. Now California has added a new hurdle:  “A controversial Mojave Desert water project, which has emerged as a major environmental flashpoint between California and the Trump administration, cannot go forward without approval by the State Lands Commission under a new law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday.  The restriction places a major obstacle to Cadiz Inc.’s long-standing plans to pump desert groundwater and sell it to urban Southern California.  Newsom said he signed the bill to ensure the Mojave Desert’s fragile ecosystem is protected. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: Trump revived the Cadiz water project. Now California has added a new hurdle

Newsom signs bill requiring further environmental review for Cadiz project:  “A bill signed Wednesday evening by Gov. Gavin Newsom will require Cadiz Inc.’s Mojave Desert groundwater pumping project to undergo further review to show it will not harm the surrounding environment.  The bill, SB 307, was authored by Sen. Richard Roth, D-Riverside, and cleared the Assembly earlier this month. It requires the State Lands Commission to determine that projects involving the transfer of water from a groundwater basin won’t adversely impact the surrounding environment. … ”  Read more from The Desert Sun here: Newsom signs bill requiring further environmental review for Cadiz project

Cadiz statement on signing of SB 307:  “Cadiz CEO Scott Slater made the following statement following Governor Newsom’s action:  “While we believe SB 307 is a troubling precedent for infrastructure development, it will not stop the Cadiz Water Project, a sustainable project designed to safely make available new water for 400,000 people in California. We stand ready to comply with SB 307, just as we have complied with all of California’s stringent environmental laws.  “We look forward to working closely with the Governor’s office, the State Lands Commission and other State Agencies as we complete this public, and transparent procedural step and we are confident that we will continue to demonstrate that the Project is environmentally sound and a worthy part of the solution to California’s persistent water supply challenges. ... ”  Continue reading at Cadiz here:  Cadiz statement on signing of SB 307

PFAS

Water systems must notify Californians about these cancer-linked chemicals under new law:  “Starting next year, California water systems must notify residents if their water sources contain potentially toxic levels of cancer-linked chemicals called PFAS under a law Gov. Gavin Newsom signed WednesdayThe new law, AB 756, will also expand state regulators’ ability to test for per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS. The compounds can be found in everyday plastics and products like floss and are concentrated in firefighting foam that the military and commercial aviation industry has used for decades. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: Water systems must notify Californians about these cancer-linked chemicals under new law

How PFAS Poses An Emerging Problem For Wastewater:  “The intrusion of PFAS into source water supplies has grabbed the regulatory spotlight. As more scientists and health professionals raise concerns about the compounds — technically known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances — federal and state environmental agencies are under increasing pressure to impose limits for public protection.  Now, it seems that municipalities have another looming headache as PFAS is finding its way into wastewater. … ”  Read more from Water Online here:  How PFAS Poses An Emerging Problem For Wastewater (Note: requires free registration)

NATIONAL NEWS

Moving forward on desalination:  “As global populations grow and water scarcity becomes an increasingly pressing issue, the number of desalination plants is growing. There are now more than 20,000 worldwide, and more than 300 million people around the world rely on desalination for some or all of their daily water needs, according to the International Desalination Association…  [A] desalination technology that has shown great promise is forward osmosis – it requires far less energy then reverse osmosis, but there are still barriers to wider adoption.   Jeff Urban, a staff scientist who specializes in new materials for energy storage and conversion at Berkeley Lab’s Molecular Foundry, a Department of Energy nanoscience research facility, explains what forward osmosis is and how Berkeley Lab is addressing the challenges. … ”  Read more from Berkeley News here: Moving forward on desalination

Plastic Pollution Is Everywhere. What Can We Do About It? Scientists are finding plastic pollution in every nook and cranny of the planet – from the top of the Pyrenees to the deepest ocean trench. It’s littering rivers, lakes and oceans, killing wildlife, washing out of our clothes and making its way into our food and drinking water. … Experts say we’re all part of the problem when it comes to plastic pollution. The plastic products we buy and throw away don’t always make it to a landfill or recycling facility. If they land in a waterway, they become hazards to wildlife, and they break down into smaller and smaller particles until they’re small enough to be ingested by shellfish – and then eaten by us. … ”  Read more from OPB here: Plastic Pollution Is Everywhere. What Can We Do About It?

Water Cycle is Speeding Up Over Much of the U.S.:  ““Water is everywhere on Earth, and it is a unique molecule that is critical for life. Where, when, and how it moves—the water cycle—is equally critical.  Water falls over Earth’s surface as rain, snow, or ice. From there, it evaporates and returns to the atmosphere; seeps into the ground as soil moisture or groundwater; or runs off into rivers or streams. It continually evaporates from bodies of water, gets transpired from vegetation, sublimes from ice and snow, condenses, and precipitates along these pathways.  In new research, scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) showed that there has been an increase in the flow between the various stages of the water cycle over most the U.S. in the past seven decades. … ”  Read more from the Earth Observatory here: Water Cycle is Speeding Up Over Much of the U.S.

Pair of GOP senators propose easing Obama water rule:  “Two Midwest Republican senators are pushing a bill to roll back an Obama-era rule designed to reduce water pollution, bringing a pet project of the Trump administration to Congress.  The Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule has long been controversial within the agriculture community, with farmers arguing it gives the federal government far too much power to regulate runoff in small bodies of water that could get contaminated by farm waste. The bill from Sens. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Mike Braun (R-Ind.) is the latest attempt to put the onus on Congress instead of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to define which waters should be regulated under the law. … ”  Read more from The Hill here: Pair of GOP senators propose easing Obama water rule

Trump set to weaken wildlife rules during ‘mass extinction’:  “Ranchers shot and poisoned prairie dogs to make room for their cattle, but now they’re suffering desertification that’s tied to the species’ disappearance.  Sea otters still haven’t recovered from fur hunting, leaving their prey free to mow down underwater seabeds of kelp along the coast of California.  Oregon’s deer mice have survived the changes that drove away other wildlife. Now they’re spreading a tick-borne virus that causes deadly lung problems in humans, because those other species are gone.  This is what Earth’s sixth mass extinction looks like, scientists say. It’s an interlocking series of pressures that can amplify one another while affecting people in unpredictable ways. … ”  Read more from E&E News here: Trump set to weaken wildlife rules during ‘mass extinction’

In regional news and commentary today …

Dam removal closer: Klamath project advancing:  “The Klamath Dam Removal Project is expected to take another big step July 29 when a supplemental submission is made to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).  The project aims to remove the Klamath River’s lower four dams in California and Oregon, all owned by PacificCorp. — the John C. Boyles Dam, Copca 1, Copca 2, and the Iron Gate Dam — all of which currently are being used to generate power. ... ”  Read more from the Del Norte Triplicate here: Dam removal closer: Klamath project advancing

Yurok Tribe, fishermen sue feds over Klamath River plan that is ‘killing the river’:  “This afternoon, the Yurok Tribe and the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations (PCFFA) filed a lawsuit against the Bureau of Reclamation and the National Marine Fisheries Service in response to low flows and high salmon disease rates under the federal agency’s new management plan for the Klamath River. The groups are represented by the environmental law firm Earthjustice.  The recently implemented Klamath Biological Opinion (BiOp) created environmental conditions that worsened an outbreak of the lethal pathogen Ceratonova shasta (C. shasta), infecting an observed majority of this year’s juvenile salmon. … ”  Read more from the Eureka Times-Herald here: Yurok Tribe, fishermen sue feds over Klamath River plan that is ‘killing the river’

Sacramento Valley: Landowners invited to participate in state waterfowl habitat program:  “Landowners interested in participating in the state’s Waterfowl Habitat Program are invited to now apply, announced the Department of Fish and Wildlife. The program provides technical guidance and economic incentives to private landowners who agree to manage their properties in accordance with a wetland management plan developed cooperatively by Fish and Wildlife biologists and participating landowners. … ”  Read more from the Corning Observer: Landowners invited to participate in state waterfowl habitat program

How will the Potter Valley Project impact Cloverdale?  “On June 28, a group of local parties submitted a notice of intent to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) that states its plan to apply for a permit to take over operation of the Potter Valley Project.  The groups involved in the project are California Trout, the County of Humboldt, Mendocino County Inland Water and Power Commission (IWPC) and Sonoma Water. While the current permit for the project is held by PG&E, it announced in January that it wouldn’t be working to renew the licensing past its expiration date of 2022. The Potter Valley Project provides water to Cloverdale, so the question on many citizens’ minds is — how will this shift in power impact what happens with the city’s water? ... ”  Read more from Sonoma West here: How will the Potter Valley Project impact Cloverdale?

Lake Tahoe water wars history – part 1:  “After his short stint in Nevada Territory writing for the Virginia City Daily Territorial Enterprise, humorist Mark Twain was credited with saying, “Whiskey is for drinking. Water is for fighting over.” The quote hasn’t been verified, but it fits Twain’s clever wit and sharp sense of observation.  Water is indeed the most precious natural resource in the arid West and from that perspective it should come as no surprise that water-rights issues on Lake Tahoe and Truckee River have been at the center of negotiation and controversy since pioneers first settled the region. … ”  Read more from Tahoe Weekly here: Lake Tahoe water wars history – part 1

Getting Answers: What Leaders Are Doing To Protect The Levees From Damage From Homeless:  “Sacramento is one of the two most flood-prone cities in the country.  Now, the River City faces a new water threat: homeless people digging into the levees the city and surrounding areas count on to protect its residents from devastation.  We first told you about this problem back in May. City leaders had told CBS13 they were putting together a task force to tackle the problem.  Now they are standing behind state legislation that they say could prevent the issue from getting worse. ... ”  Read more from CBS Sacramento here: Getting Answers: What Leaders Are Doing To Protect The Levees From Damage From Homeless

Broken Bubbling System On Stockton Waterfront Contributes To Growth Of Harmful Algae:  “The city of Stockton is working to fix a broken bubbling system that has caused an overgrowth of harmful algae along the Stockton waterfront.  People who work near the deepwater channel believe the green sludge is preventing others from playing on the water. Patti Brennan is the Director of the California Delta Chambers and Visitor’s Bureau. She said she moved to Stockton four years ago from the Bay Area because she was attracted to the beauty of the Stockton waterfront.  “It is one of the best marinas, I believe, in the state of California,” Brennan said. ... ”  Read more from CBS Sacramento here: Broken Bubbling System On Stockton Waterfront Contributes To Growth Of Harmful Algae

Officials post warnings near New Melones Reservoir about potentially harmful algae bloom:  “People may want to think twice before taking a dip in the green-tinted water near the Parrotts Ferry Bridge at New Melones Reservoir, according to U.S. Bureau of Reclamation officials.  The water’s greenish hue is due to a cyanobacteria bloom that was first detected in the Middle Fork of the Stanislaus River upstream of the reservoir on July 17.  Test results from three water samples taken on July 24 confirmed the presence of cyanobacteria, but did not detect toxins sometimes produced by the organisms that can be harmful to people and animals. … ”  Read more from the Union Democrat here:  Officials post warnings near New Melones Reservoir about potentially harmful algae bloom

Monterey County: San Antonio Dam has significant cracks, is ‘unsafe for use,’ state says:  “Remember when the concrete spillway of the nation’s tallest dam developed a giant hole, and downstream communities were evacuated out of fear that a wall of water would charge down the river?  It turns out that the same structural problems that caused the failure at Oroville Dam in February 2017 also exist at the spillway of San Antonio Dam, just two miles north of Lake Nacimiento and above the community of Bradley.  Those problems have been known “for quite sometime,” according to the current manager of the dam operator. But the state didn’t take notice or downgrade the dam’s safety condition until after it revamped its oversight process following the massive failure in Northern California. ... ”  Read more from the San Luis Obispo Tribune here: San Antonio Dam has significant cracks, is ‘unsafe for use,’ state says

Lawsuit threatens Arroyo Grande Oil Field aquifer exemption:  “The Center for Biological Diversity is threatening to sue the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over its decision earlier this year to exempt portions of the Arroyo Grande Oil Field from the Safe Drinking Water Act.  Maya Golden-Krasner, the center’s climate deputy director and senior attorney, said that the federal agency didn’t complete its due diligence before issuing a decision in April, violating both the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Protection Act.  “This is a federal agency that’s approving it, and they’re supposed to consider the foreseeable direct and indirect consequences of their decisionmaking,” Golden-Krasner said. “The law requires agencies to consider those consequences.” … ”  Read more from New Times SLO here: Lawsuit threatens Arroyo Grande Oil Field aquifer exemption

Thirsty for sustainability: Is Paso Robles any closer to solving its groundwater problem?:  “On a blistering hot July day in San Miguel, Robert Galbraith, 68, bends down and scoops up two handfuls of dry soil. He spreads his fingers and lets the dirt fall back to his fallowed ground.  The motion is symbolic of how Galbraith feels his family farm is slipping away from him.  A San Luis Obispo County policy regulating pumping from the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin has hamstrung how Galbraith can farm his land. … ”  Read more from New Times SLO here:  Thirsty for sustainability: Is Paso Robles any closer to solving its groundwater problem?

Pasadena: Dirt from Devil’s Gate haulers causes dust-up among locals, county:  “Every week, Bob Frank — whose Hillside School and Learning Center has a ringside seat to the years-long Devil’s Gate Dam sediment removal project happening near his Oak Grove Drive campus — grabs a hose and gets to work.  He washes away the patina of dust that has accumulated on the school’s driveway and atop the leaves of nearby plants from an endless convoy of diesel trucks that pass by his campus every few minutes, headed to dump sites off the Foothill (210) Freeway.  … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: Pasadena: Dirt from Devil’s Gate haulers causes dust-up among locals, county

Central Basin is now charging even noncustomers in Southeast LA County:  “A regional water district on Wednesday approved the equivalent of a $2 annual fee on every household in the southeast area of Los Angeles County — including areas that don’t buy its water.  Kevin Hunt, general manager for Central Basin Municipal Water District, said his agency needs the $600,000-plus the fee will raise to balance its $10 million budget. The water wholesaler has significant money problems because of decreasing water sales. ... ”  Read more from the Long Beach Press Telegram here: Central Basin is now charging even noncustomers in Southeast LA County

Is that smell the Salton Sea? Humid weather fostering stinky air around Palm Springs:  “There’s an unmistakable smell in the air. One that creeps into the Coachella Valley during the hot, sticky days of summer.  The sulfuric odor typically shows up when the mercury and humidity are high, and levels of hydrogen sulfide spike in the Salton Sea.  A South Coast Air Quality Management District spokeswoman on Wednesday said the agency hadn’t received any reports of smelly air, and in fact, air quality across Southern California — including Riverside County — was “moderate.” The district, located in Diamond Bar, issues alerts when air pollutants are at levels that could be harmful to humans. … ”  Read more from The Desert Sun here: Is that smell the Salton Sea? Humid weather fostering stinky air around Palm Springs

Protesters warned for raking seaweed off Children’s Pool Beach in La Jolla:  “On Friday, July 26, beach-access advocate John Leek and a man identifying himself as Dave Johnson removed seaweed laden with sand flies and seal feces from La Jolla ‘s Children’s Pool Beach, raking and wheelbarrowing it into the ocean.  The action seemed so altruistic and environmentally conscious, a tourist even briefly grabbed one of their rakes and joined in — until Senior Park Ranger Rich Belesky confronted the group. … ”  Read more from La Jolla Light here: Protesters warned for raking seaweed off Children’s Pool Beach in La Jolla

Radio show: Coastal Cities Wrestling With ‘Managed Retreat’ Ramifications Of Rising Sea Levels:  “The California Coastal Commission has encouraged cities to include a strategy called “managed retreat” in plans to prepare for sea level rise. But the commission may be retreating from that position. Plus, a California appeals court has stopped plans to build houses on a 1400 acre ranch near Julian and the post office in Poway may soon be getting a new name in honor of the longest-living Pearl Harbor survivor, who died last year.” Listen to the radio show from KPBS here: Radio show: Coastal Cities Wrestling With ‘Managed Retreat’ Ramifications Of Rising Sea Levels

Along the Colorado River …

To Commemorate Powell’s Colorado River Expedition, Research Team Retraces His Steps:  “One hundred and fifty years ago, a group of explorers led by Civil War veteran John Wesley Powell set out to document the canyons of the Green and Colorado Rivers. It was the first trip of its kind. To commemorate the journey, a group of scientists, artists and graduate students from the University of Wyoming called the Sesquicentennial Colorado River Exploring Expedition has been retracing his steps this summer.  ... ”  Read more from KUNC here: To Commemorate Powell’s Colorado River Expedition, Research Team Retraces His Steps

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

SCIENCE NEWS: Water cycle is speeding up over much of the U.S.; The genetics of Yosemite’s trout; Genetic “nets” detect DNA as accurately as real ones; Scientists teaching sturgeon to hunt; Coming to pay per view: Reigning champ ocean vs. the scrappy land; and more …

NEWS WORTH NOTING: AG Becerra secures ruling halting Westlands involvement in Shasta Dam project; Harmful algal blooms in Copco and Iron Gate Reservoirs; Feds announce priority actions supporting long-term drought resilience

FUNDING OPPORTUNITY: Stream Flow Enhancement Program – 2019 Proposal Solicitation Notice

WATER PLAN eNEWS: ~~GSP Workshops~ Climate Summit~ Drought Tour~ Resilience Toolkit~ Groundwater Game~ Supporting Documents ~~

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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.

 

One Response

  1. Francis Coats

    Some levee maintenance organizations see Sacramento’s problem of homeless persons burrowing into levees as an opportunity to propose excluding the public generally from the levees, and the public trust lands to which they otherwise provide access. Some levee maintenance organization officers are even on record as saying that the public has no business being on the levees, rivers and river bottoms other than at supervised and policed selected locations. Of course, these same people who oppose public presence on public land are supportive of the presence of private land owners and their guests inside the levees. Fortunately, so far, the law has a simple answer. A member of the public has a right to be on the navigable waters including the temporarily dry land below ordinary high water mark, and there engage in recreation. Public agencies must consider the effect of their decisions on these interests, and refrain from adversely affecting when ever feasible and to the extent feasible. And then the public also has a right to fish on state-owned land and on land formerly owned by the state and transferred out of state ownership after November 8, 1910.

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