DAILY DIGEST, weekend edition: Water uncertainty frustrates victims of Camp Fire; Mark Arax on the forces that destroyed Paradise; Clean Water case ferments trouble for craft breweries and enviros; Meteorologists can’t forecast the weather more than 2-3 weeks in advance and they never will; and more …

In California water news this weekend, Water Uncertainty Frustrates Victims Of California’s Worst Wildfire; Mark Arax on the forces that destroyed Paradise; Raise costs for water in cities to better handle droughts?; How AI and data turn city water management from an art to a science; Clean Water case ferments trouble for craft breweries and environmentalists; Confronting the unpredictable: Meteorologists can’t forecast the weather more than 2-3 weeks in advance. And they never will.; Feds Say Fisheries Are in Good Shape, But Climate Challenges Loom; Dwindling groundwater, ever-deeper wells could spell trouble for Arizonans; and more …

In the news this weekend …

Water Uncertainty Frustrates Victims Of California’s Worst Wildfire:  “Tammy Waller thought she was one of the lucky ones after her home in Magalia survived California’s most destructive wildfire ever, but her community remains a ghostly skeleton of its former self.  Hazmat crews are still clearing properties, and giant dump trucks haul away toxic debris. Signs on the water fountains in the town hall say, “Don’t drink.”  Waller remembers the day she came back home after the Camp Fire.  “When I first walked in, I went to my kitchen sink and turned on the water, and it was just literally black,” Waller says. ... ”  Read more from NPR here: Water Uncertainty Frustrates Victims Of California’s Worst Wildfire

Sunday read: Mark Arax: Gone:  “By the time I made it to Paradise, the deadliest wildfire in California history was four months past, and the burned-out ridge between the two river canyons was pouring rain. I was riding the Skyway, the road from Chico to Paradise, flatland to hilltop, trying to understand what forces had conspired last November to create a blaze of such anger that it took the lives of 85 people and destroyed 19,000 structures.   I had puzzled out enough disasters to know that tragedy was a force of intricate construction. It wasn’t one detached act that materialized as tragedy but myriad smaller acts — some incidental, some accidental, others malevolent — that lined up in perfect continuity. Had one circumstance in the sequence lost its footing, a cosmic stumble, the next circumstance would have never hitched on, and tragedy would have been averted.  … ”  Continue reading at California Sunday Magazine:  Gone

Radio show: Mark Arax on the forces that destroyed Paradise:  “With the wildfire season upon us, we’re going to take a look back at last year’s Camp Fire, the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California’s history. It decimated the town of Paradise, destroyed 19,000 structures and took the lives of 85 people. In its aftermath, writer and journalist Mark Arax spent months digging into the reasons for such a deadly blaze. I spoke with him about his investigative piece called “Gone,” which is out this week in The California Sunday Magazine.”  Listen from Valley Public Radio here:  Mark Arax on the forces that destroyed Paradise

Wildfire risk fuels growing acceptance of ‘pyrosilviculture’:  “For millennia, fires periodically burned through California forests, thinning trees, reducing shrubbery and clearing out downed branches and debris. Without periodic fire, the forests became more dense, with spaces between large trees filling in with a thick carpet of duff, seedlings and shrubs.  As a result, today’s forests are prone to more intense and damaging fires, like the Rim Fire, King Fire, and — most recently — the Camp Fire in Butte County. These fires are burning with unprecedented severity and speed, threatening large swaths of forest, towns, and even urban areas.  Using fire as part of forest management is not a new concept. … ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press here: Wildfire risk fuels growing acceptance of ‘pyrosilviculture’

Trees experiencing new growth could present potential danger:  “Many trees on the Central Coast have experienced quite a bit of new growth due to the rainy winter, but according to certified arborist Gil Martinez that could present some issues.  Martinez attributes the most recent failure of a 200-year-old oak tree at the Saucelito Vineyard in East Arroyo Grande to the drought California has experienced for the past couple of years, followed by this past rainy winter… resulting in trees undergoing excessive growth they are not equipped to handle. ... ”  Read more from KSBY here: Trees experiencing new growth could present potential danger

WATER MANAGEMENT

Raise costs for water in cities to better handle droughts? Humans use water for a variety of different ends, but rivers also need water flowing through them to ensure the survival of fish and other wildlife. …  Andrew Plantinga, an environmental economist at the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management at the University of California, Santa Barbara, teamed up with colleagues at institutions in the Pacific Northwest to investigate water use dynamics in the Willamette River Basin. The goal was to figure out how to meet human demands on water while fulfilling the minimum flow requirements during severe droughts. … ”  Read more from Futurity here:  Raise costs for water in cities to better handle droughts? 

How AI and data turn city water management from an art to a science:  “In the face of futuristic urban change, water has been described as one of the least-disrupted municipal systems, despite its importance for survival.  The vast majority of water infrastructure in the United States is at least 50 years old, and with that age comes issues including leaks and poor water quality among others. … Some cities, like Akron, OH and Washington, DC, have turned to drones, robots and automated systems to move water management into a new era — but this is not the norm. Jeff Bronowski, Akron’s water bureau manager, said more people in the water sector need to be made aware of the benefits of new technologies. … ”  Read more from Smart Cities Dive here: How AI and data turn city water management from an art to a science

NATIONAL

Growing change: Can agriculture be good for the climate?: “Last year California set a goal to become carbon-neutral by 2045. Some called it unrealistic, while we call it mission-critical. But how do we get there? As we search for ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to prevent global atmospheric temperatures from rising above 1.5 degrees and result in irreversible climate change, one of the best answers is as old as the dirt under our feet, literally.  Let’s go back to basic science. Soil naturally has large amounts of carbon. Healthy soil — soil rich in nutrients and able to retain water — holds the carbon that plants absorb from the air and bring into their root system and sequester in the soil as root and plant matter decompose. Also, healthy soil is teeming with microbes which also bring carbon deep in the soil. … ”  Read more from GreenBiz here: Growing change: Can agriculture be good for the climate?

Clean Water case ferments trouble for craft breweries and environmentalists:  “Beer is mostly water — more than 90 percent, in some cases. Which is why the craft brewing industry is increasingly concerned about the Trump administration’s attempt to deregulate the 1972 Clean Water Act.  Sixty craft breweries from across the country filed a brief in July in support of environmental advocates who are fighting the deregulation attempt in a case before the Supreme Court. They claim that weakening the protections around American waterways directly threatens their livelihoods — as well as one of America’s favorite adult beverages. ... ”  Read more from NBC News here: Clean Water case ferments trouble for craft breweries and environmentalists

Confronting the unpredictable: Meteorologists can’t forecast the weather more than 2-3 weeks in advance. And they never will.  “The Sun will not start setting in the east. Niagara can’t begin flowing uphill. And the weather’s not going to become predictable more than a couple of weeks away.  Even with the ideal computer model and nearly perfect observations, new research confirms what meteorologists have long thought: there’s a limit to how far in advance we can forecast the weather.  “The atmosphere has a finite level of predictability,” said Falko Judt, a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the author of a recent paper on the subject. “If we want to predict the day-to-day weather, then we’re stuck with two to three weeks.” … ”  Read more from NCAR News here: Confronting the unpredictable: Meteorologists can’t forecast the weather more than 2-3 weeks in advance. And they never will.

Feds Say Fisheries Are in Good Shape, But Climate Challenges Loom:  “The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration touted the environmental benefits of the agency’s fisheries management Friday, saying the number of fisheries at sustainable levels is near a record high.  The agency said its 2018 Status of the U.S. Fisheries Annual Report to Congress is proof the United States is the unrivaled leader in stewardship of fish populations within its rivers, streams an off its shores.  In addition to the near record on sustainability, the agency said it has rebuilt the population of the smooth skate – a small fish resembling stingrays – in the Gulf of Maine. … ”  Read more from Courthouse News Service here: Feds Say Fisheries Are in Good Shape, But Climate Challenges Loom

Less overfishing, more overfished: NOAA report reveals environmental impacts to stocks:  “The 2018 NOAA report on the status of U.S. fisheries has been released, and reveals that environmental factors are having the most impact on stocks that are overfished. The report, which NOAA puts together every year, indicates that less species were subject to overfishing in 2018 than in 2017 – 28 versus 30 – a year that saw all-time low numbers of overfishing and overfished stocks. That means more than 90 percent of stocks are being fished at a sustainable level. However, the number of overfished stocks has increased, with eight more stocks on the list. While one of those stocks – the Atlantic mackerel fishery in the Gulf of Maine/Cape Hatteras – was previously un-assessed, almost every other stock added to the list was likely the result of environmental factors. ... ”  Read more from Seafood Source here: Less overfishing, more overfished: NOAA report reveals environmental impacts to stocks

In people news this weekend …

The Doc of the Bay:  Sejal Choksi-Chugh is leading the fight to restore San Francisco Bay to health. San Francisco Bay is part of the largest estuary on the west coast of the Americas, with headwaters that tumble from the Sierra Nevada Mountains, swell California’s longest rivers, and then rush through the Golden Gate to join the Pacific Ocean. The bay is also the heart of a bustling metropolitan area and touches nine counties, unifying the region known as the San Francisco Bay Area and providing respite from the crush of day-to-day living.  Sejal Choksi-Chugh is the San Francisco Baykeeper, and there’s no place she’d rather be than out on the water.  “There’s a special feeling of freedom in zipping across the bay in our patrol boat with the wind in my face, the smell of salt in the air, and breathtaking skylines all around us,” she says. “It always renews my spirit and helps me feel inspired for the work I do.” ... ”  Read more from Waterkeeper here: The Doc of the Bay:  Sejal Choksi-Chugh is leading the fight to restore San Francisco Bay to health. 

In Sunday podcasts …

Speaking Of Water With Peter Gleick – California Drinking Water Bill:  “In the latest episode of Speaking of Water, host Eileen Wray-McCann speaks with Dr. Peter Gleick, President Emeritus of the Pacific Institute, on a new bill in California that directs some $130 million dollars to improve access to clean drinking water for many state residents.”


Water Politics in War: Steve Baker writes, “Life in war torn regions in Afghanistan are bad enough for the communities, but it can be even more hopeless when the water runs out.  Mohammand Obaid shared a personal experience of his when the water to his province was cut off by the Taliban in order to take control of the region. No water was available for anything, not even drinking. As heartbreaking as this was, there was a positive outcome. After you listen to Mohammand’s story, make sure you thank every soldier that has served in Afghanistan. Water is a Many Splendor’ed Thing brings you another water relationship that has a personally significant impact to your life.” Operation Unite®: Bringing People Together to Solve Water Problems stevebaker@operationunite.co

In commentary this weekend …

Clean drinking water is a social justice crisis and AB792 is the wrong way forward, says Juan Carlos Mendez:  He writes, “Clean and safe drinking water — a basic human necessity — is no longer guaranteed for a growing number of Californians. Despite being one of our nation’s wealthiest states, 1 million California residents are drinking unsafe water. Failing infrastructure, coupled with the state’s inability to properly fund sustainable long-term solutions, has led California to a full-on public health crisis.  But perhaps worst of all, our most vulnerable communities are at the center of it. As head of a coalition of churches that serve many local disadvantaged communities, I have seen what a serious impact this problem can have on health and quality of life. Everyday activities, such as cooking, drinking, or bathing can be dangerous for residents living in these areas. … ”  Read more from the Pasadena Star News here: Clean drinking water is a social justice crisis and AB792 is the wrong way forward

In regional news and commentary this weekend …

Klamath: Facilitator to aid Interior on water talks:  “A coalition aimed at bringing multiple parties together to discuss the future of water resources in the Klamath Basin is hiring an additional facilitator to help with the effort.  Alan Mikkelsen, senior advisor to the Secretary of the Interior on water and western resource issues, said Friday he is continuing to take part in the so-called “Coalition of the Willing” meetings in addition to the facilitator.  Mikkelsen met with the coalition at the building housing the Bureau of Land Management office in Medford on July 30 and 31. … ”  Read more from the Herald & News here: Klamath: Facilitator to aid Interior on water talks

Commentary: Klamath dams critical to fighting wildfires, says the Siskiyou County Natural Resources Department:  They write, “Wildfire season is upon us once again in the Klamath Basin.  When homes and lives are at stake in a wildfire, nothing is more important than having firebreaks and a readily available water source. That’s exactly what’s provided by the reservoirs created by dams on the Klamath River.  The fact that the dams and those reservoirs are being targeted for removal by the Klamath River Renewal Corporation (KRRC) is a great source of worry for residents, firefighters, and the County of Siskiyou. Citizen safety is a primary responsibility of the county. … ”  Read more from the Herald & News here: Klamath dams critical to fighting wildfires

Tribe, Fishing Groups Sue Over Klamath River Water Allocations:  “Fishing groups and tribes have filed a lawsuit challenging new endangered species protection guidelines for the Klamath River.  The suit targets the biological opinion, which is an assessment of how the Bureau of Reclamation manages river flow, irrigation water and levels in Upper Klamath Lake to ensure protection of coho salmon and two species of sucker fish. The newest opinion was finalized earlier this year.  The lawsuit filed by the Yurok Tribe, the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations and the Institute for Fisheries Resource says the biological opinion is too permissive, allowing irrigation withdrawals at the expense of fish. … ”  Read more from OPB here: Tribe, Fishing Groups Sue Over Klamath River Water Allocations

Beale AFB drains lake to help fish migration:  “The U.S. Air Force, along with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, are collaborating on a project at Beale Air Force Base to benefit endangered fish passage by removing a dam on base.  The dam was built in 1942 when the site was Camp Beale and owned by the U.S. Army. The plan is to remove the structure at Beale Lake by next year, which in turn could help fall-run Chinook salmon and endangered steelhead migrate further up Dry Creek to spawning and rearing habitat. The work is part of the Sikes Act, enacted in 1960, which has seen over 300 military installations work alongside the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to promote conservation. … ”  Read more from the Appeal Democrat here: Beale AFB drains lake to help fish migration

San Francisco: Starting Aug. 20, SFO to ban sales of plastic bottles of water:  “If you’ve ever traveled through any airport, you know about that spot in the security line where, if you have a bottle of water or any other liquid, you have to throw the bottle away even if you haven’t finished your drink.  It’s a nuisance. After getting through the security check, you’ll then pay airport prices if you want another bottle of water or another beverage to drink. And now, things might even become more of a nuisance at San Francisco International Airport.  Starting Aug. 20, SFO will no longer allow restaurants, vendors or vending machines to sell single-use plastic water bottles on airport grounds. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here: San Francisco: Starting Aug. 20, SFO to ban sales of plastic bottles of water

Vineyard of Silicon Valley investor hit with $3.7 million in penalties after bulldozing Mendocino County wetland:  “A Silicon Valley tech entrepreneur and winemaker has agreed to pay $3.76 million in penalties after his company bulldozed a protected wetland and filled in a stream bed to build a vineyard in Mendocino County, North Coast water regulators announced Friday.  The settlement — one of the largest ever involving water quality on the North Coast — stems from a litany of environmental violations tied to unpermitted work by Rhys Vineyards starting as far back as 2015 on owner Kevin Harvey’s 4,500-acre ranch west of Highway 101 near Laytonville.  … ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here: Vineyard of Silicon Valley investor hit with $3.7 million in penalties after bulldozing Mendocino County wetland

Monterey: Feasibility study on Cal Am buyout delayed, written plan on track:  “A feasibility analysis of a potential public buyout of California American Water’s local water system will be delayed a few months. But the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District will go ahead with a required written public ownership plan even before the feasibility study is done, and the plan is expected to be presented to the water district board at its regular meeting later this month.  Water district officials had planned for its consultant team to deliver the feasibility analysis by late July, a month ahead of the deadline for producing the written plan for “acquisition, ownership and management” of the local water system by the end of August as required by the district’s public water ownership rule enacted following voter approval of Measure J in the fall election. … ”  Read more from the Monterey Herald here: Monterey: Feasibility study on Cal Am buyout delayed, written plan on track

Merced County’s invasive rodents are a problem for Valley farms. Can they be stopped?  “Massive invasive rodents are chewing up wetlands in Merced and other counties. Area leaders say the problem needs more money to eradicate the animals, before they are out of control.  South American rodents called “nutria” were found in Merced County in March 2017. That alarmed California wildlife officials because of the rodents’ potential to harm agriculture and water infrastructure that’s vital for San Joaquin Valley farms. ... ”  Read more from the Merced Sun Star here: Merced County’s invasive rodents are a problem for Valley farms. Can they be stopped?

Ridgecrest: TAC takes a crack at latest groundwater model: “The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority Technical Advisory Committee got a look at a new modeling scenario that could help define a groundwater sustainability plan required by the Department of Water Resources.  Jeff Helsley with Stetson Engineers, Inc., the Groundwater Authority’s water resources manager, provided the update during a meeting Thursday at Ridgecrest City Hall. The modeling scenario, labeled “Modified Water Buyout” is the sixth model to be developed, and is the modified version of a previous model identified as the most likely acceptable solution for stakeholders. … ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here: TAC takes a crack at latest groundwater model

Commentary: Ventura County water plan needs bigger frame, says Jan Dietrick:  She writes, “Water resource management is key in Ventura County to help address the perils local residents face from global warming, such as flooding, drought and sea level rise.  The preliminary draft of the 2040 General Plan update on Water Resources Element is so much more than an “update.” It ties together aspects of a water system that have historically been managed separately — especially groundwater, stormwater and recycled water. The Watersheds Coalition of Ventura County has been leading a shift toward integrated management, which must be reflected in the county’s general plan — the county framework until 2040. … ”  Read more from the Ventura County Star here: Ventura County water plan needs bigger frame

Along the Colorado River …

Dwindling groundwater, ever-deeper wells could spell trouble for Arizonans:  “Wells are drying up because groundwater is being depleted, and that affects food production and access to drinking water. Wells that bring groundwater to the surface are being dug deeper to tap dwindling aquifers, according to a new study. These deeper wells may be a stopgap measure, but researchers warn it’s not a sustainable practice.  By compiling decades of records for nearly 2 million groundwater wells across the country, researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara paint a disturbing picture of farmers, industrial users and residents drilling ever deeper to access what is, in some parts of the country, a disappearing resource. … ”  Read more from Cronkite News here: Dwindling groundwater, ever-deeper wells could spell trouble for Arizonans

Sunday Video …

Mount Shasta to Shasta Lake: Drone video shot and edited by John Hannon of the Upper Sacramento River, from Mount Shasta to Shasta Lake, including Hedge Creek Falls in Dunsmuir.

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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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