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

Attorney General Becerra Secures Ruling in Shasta County Halting Westlands Water District Involvement in Illegal Shasta Dam Project

From the Office of Attorney General:

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today issued the following statement after a Superior Court granted a preliminary injunction halting Westlands Water District’s participation in an unlawful project to raise the Shasta Dam:

“The court has stopped Westlands Water District from moving forward with a project that would hurt the people and environment in our state,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Maybe others believe they’re above the law and can get away with it. But, in California, we’re prepared to prove otherwise.”

Attorney General Becerra filed the lawsuit on May 13, 2019 to block Westlands from taking an unlawful action to assist in the planning and construction of a project to raise the height of the Shasta Dam. The project poses significant adverse effects on the free-flowing condition of the McCloud River and on its wild trout fishery, both of which have special statutory protections under the California Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. The Act prohibits any agency of the State of California, such as Westlands, from assisting or cooperating with actions to raise the Shasta Dam.

A copy of the ruling can be found here.

Harmful Algal Bloom Triggers Public Health Alerts for Copco and Iron Gate Reservoirs

From the North Coast Regional Water Quality Board:

The North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board is urging boaters and recreational water users to avoid recreational activities in Copco and Iron Gate Reservoirs due to high levels of toxins produced by cyanobacteria blooms.

Copco Reservoir currently exceeds the “danger” threshold and has been posted with public health alerts warning against all forms of water recreation including boating, swimming, and fishing; and further advising against pet and livestock contact with the water.

Cyanobacteria toxin levels have increased to “warning” levels in Iron Gate Reservoir. Swimmers are advised to stay out of the water until further notice. The public is urged to keep pets from coming in contact with the water.

The blooms appear as bright green in the water and can accumulate along the shore. Recreational exposure to cyanobacteria toxins can cause eye irritation, allergic skin rash, mouth ulcers, vomiting, diarrhea and cold and flu-like symptoms. Liver failure, nerve damage and death have occurred in rare situations where large amounts of contaminated water were directly ingested.

Residents and recreational water users are advised to enjoy camping, hiking, picnicking or other recreational activities while taking precautions to avoid waters near these bloom areas and any scums along the water’s edge. Please visit the State Water Board Twitter Page for pictures of what these blooms look like in the reservoirs.

Water quality monitoring is done weekly in the summer from Link River Dam in Oregon to the Klamath River estuary in California. Sampling continues late into the fall to determine when toxin levels are below the public health thresholds and water contact is safe.

To learn how to stay safe around HABs, report a bloom, check most recent sampling results and more, visit the CA HABs Portal: http://www.mywaterquality.ca.gov/habs/

Federal Officials Announce Priority Actions Supporting Long-Term Drought Resilience

From the Bureau of Reclamation:

Today, senior administration officials participated in the Second National Drought Forum where they announced Priority Actions Supporting Long-Term Drought Resilience. This document outlines key ways in which federal agencies support state, tribal and local efforts to protect the security of our food supply, the integrity of critical infrastructure, the resilience of our economy, and the health and safety of our people and ecosystems.The document was developed by the National Drought Resilience Partnership (NDRP), a federal collaborative formed to promote long-term drought resilience nationwide. While authority lies with the states to manage water resources, federal agencies play a key role in supporting states, tribes, communities, agriculture, industry, and the private sector owners and operators of critical national infrastructure to prepare for, mitigate against, respond to, and recover from drought.

The following statements were released after today’s panel:

“Under the leadership of President Trump, we are taking unprecedented steps at the federal level to coordinate and empower states, tribes, local communities, and water users to promote drought preparedness and resiliency and ensure reliable water supply throughout the West. The U.S. Geological Survey and Bureau of Reclamation play integral parts in this, whether it’s the science or infrastructure piece of this equation,” said U.S. Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Dr. Tim Petty.

“The Western states have experienced intense drought with the potential to severely impact agriculture, municipal water supplies and hydropower production. We’ve demonstrated that infrastructure investments, innovative approaches to conservation, and collaboration build drought resiliency and reduces risks,” said Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman.

“We know we can accomplish more when we work together, and the National Drought Resilience Partnership facilitates collaboration among federal partners to help the country respond to drought and to prepare for the future” said U.S. Department of Agriculture Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation Bill Northey. “These priorities are a large part of our game plan to how we can protect our food and water supply, and to build resilience on our farms and ranches and in our communities and businesses”

“The impact of drought on public health and the environment is far reaching because it reduces both water quantity and water quality,” said U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Assistant Administrator for Water David Ross. “Through EPA initiatives, such as the National Water Reuse Action Plan, we are working to ensure a sufficient supply of clean water for the American people.”

“Water quality and availability is a national issue and it is one that affects every American. Through this partnership, the data produced by the U.S. Geological Survey will be integrated into a comprehensive framework of information sharing that is flexible and responsive to the nation’s decision-makers, ensuring every community understands drought preparedness, mitigation, and resiliency,” said U.S. Geological Survey Director James Reilly.

“The National Drought Resilience Partnership is essential to the continued collaboration amongst federal agencies regarding the nation’s water resources. I am committed to this partnership and will ensure the Corps’ support to other agencies as they work drought-related issues and coordinate to reduce duplicative and redundant efforts,” said U.S. Department of Army Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Ricky “R.D.” James.

“The National Drought Resilience Partnership is inspiring action across the federal government. DOE is pleased to collaborate with other agencies to stimulate American innovation and technology solutions that address drought resilience through the Water Security Grand Challenge and other activities,” said U.S. Department of Energy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Daniel Simmons.

The NDRP and the document released today focus on fostering a national dialogue about how federal agencies can support these entities in building a more drought-resilient nation for sufficient water quality and quantity and a vibrant economy at the local level. NDRP categorizes its drought resilience efforts along six goal areas, which provide a framework to systematically address how the federal government supports building long-term drought resilience:

  1. Data Collection and Integration
  2. Communicating Drought Risk to Critical Infrastructure
  3. Drought Planning and Capacity Building
  4. Coordination of Drought Activity
  5. Market-based Approaches for Infrastructure and Efficiency
  6. Innovative Water Use, Efficiency, and Technology

Background

Established in 2016, the NDRP is comprised of federal agencies that work together to leverage technical and financial federal resources, strengthen communication, and foster collaboration among its members to productively support state, tribal, and local efforts to build, protect, and sustain drought resilience capacity at regional and basin scales. The NDRP co-chairs are the Department of Agriculture and Environmental Protection Agency.

The additional interagency NDRP Member Agencies and offices include the Department of Defense; the Department of the Interior (DOI); the Department of Commerce; the Department of Energy; the Department of Homeland Security (DHS); the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works; the Office of Management and Budget; the Office of Science and Technology Policy; the National Economic Council; the Council on Environmental Quality; the National Security Council staff; and such other agencies or offices as the agencies set forth above, by consensus, deem appropriate.

Currently, other offices include: the Office of Water Prediction, the National Weather Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Integrated Drought Information System, which all are within the Department of Commerce; the Bureau of Reclamation and the United States Geological Survey, within the DOI; National Aeronautics and Space Administration; DHS Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency – National Risk Management Center; the Centers for Disease Control; and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Member agencies collaborate to ensure successful outcomes with maximum efficiency and minimal duplication.

 

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About News Worth Noting:  News Worth Noting is a collection of press releases, media statements, and other materials produced by federal, state, and local government agencies, water agencies, and academic institutions, as well as non-profit and advocacy organizations.  News Worth Noting also includes relevant legislator statements and environmental policy and legal analyses that are publicly released by law firms.  If your agency or organization has an item you would like included here, please email it to Maven.

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