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DAILY DIGEST: Largest legal weed farms face conflict in wine country; New mapping reveals lost West Coast estuary habitat; CA burning 26 times less than in 2018; West trading water for cash but water is running out; Epic snow doesn’t erase the West’s long-term drought; and more …

In California water news today, California’s Largest Legal Weed Farms Face Conflict In Wine Country; New mapping reveals lost West Coast estuary habitat; California is burning 26 times less than it did in 2018. Why?; New sprinklers will soon be more expensive in California. Here’s why; The West Is Trading Water for Cash. The Water Is Running Out; 2°C: Beyond the limit: Extreme climate change has arrived in America; The fight over Salinas Valley groundwater heats up as free-for-all nears its end; Last Winter’s Epic Snow Doesn’t Erase The West’s Long-Term Drought — Or A Shifting Climate; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • There will be an infrastructure funding fair in Irvine from 8pm to 12pm.  Registration is free and walk-ins are always welcome.
  • The North Coast Regional Water Quality Board will hold a listening session on the Governor’s Water Resilience Portfolio as part of its regular meeting.  Agenda and meeting information by clicking here.

In the news today …

California’s Largest Legal Weed Farms Face Conflict In Wine Country:  “The Santa Rita Hills, nestled in Santa Barbara County, are ideal for pinot noir, a notoriously finicky grape. That’s why Kathy Joseph came here to plant Fiddlestix Vineyard.  “The plants are over 20 years old, which comes through in the wines we make. The topography is just right; the proximity to the ocean is incredible,” Joseph says. “Difficult to find a pinot noir district this good.”  Neighboring grape vines extend to the west as far as the eye can see. In the other direction, there’s a new neighbor in town. This spring, a cannabis farmer started building hoop houses on the 100-acre parcel. So far, a quarter of the land is growing pot. Joseph has seen plenty of vegetable farms there before. … ” Read more from NPR here: California’s Largest Legal Weed Farms Face Conflict In Wine Country

New mapping reveals lost West Coast estuary habitat:  “An unprecedented survey has revealed the loss of about 85 percent of historical tidal wetlands in California, Oregon, and Washington. The report, published today in PLOS ONE, also highlights forgotten estuary acreage that might now be targeted for restoration.  Where West Coast rivers reach the sea, estuaries serve as critical nurseries for juvenile salmon and steelhead as they make the transition from freshwater to the ocean. They are among the most dynamic and productive habitats known, also supporting and a variety of other fish, shellfish, and terrestrial wildlife. … ”  Read more from PhysOrg here:  New mapping reveals lost West Coast estuary habitat

California is burning 26 times less than it did in 2018. Why? The number of acres burned in California through the beginning of August 2019 is 26 times less than the number of acres burned at the same point in 2018, according to new statistics from Cal Fire.  Through August 11 of this year, 23,748 acres of California land not controlled by the federal government had burned. At the same point last year, 618,996 acres had burned. Though to be fair, Scott McLean, a fire captain with Cal Fire, said 2018 was a record year for acreage burned in California at 1.8 million acres burned by wildfires.  But even compared to an average year, the number of acres burned in 2019 is still over 10 times fewer than the previous five years. … ”  Read more from SF Gate here: California is burning 26 times less than it did in 2018. Why? 

New sprinklers will soon be more expensive in California. Here’s why:  “Californians, your yard sprinklers are about to get a little bit more expensive. The good news is, your water bill is about to get cheaper.  California on Wednesday officially adopted new regulations which are estimated to save more than 400 million gallons of water per day within 10 years, enough to supply San Diego, the second largest city in the state, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.  Beginning in 2020, spray sprinklers will be required to be sold with a component that restricts the water flow to as close as possible to 30 pounds per square inch (PSI), the manufacturer-recommended level. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: New sprinklers will soon be more expensive in California. Here’s why

The West Is Trading Water for Cash. The Water Is Running Out:  “When it comes to global warming’s one-two punch of inundation and drought, the presence of too much water has had the most impact on U.S. agriculture this year, with farmers across the Midwest swamped by flooding throughout the Mississippi Basin.  But in the Southwest, it’s the increasing lack of water that’s threatening the agricultural economy, as well as the welfare of 40 million Americans and part of the food supply for the entire nation. … ”  Read more from Bloomberg here: The West Is Trading Water for Cash. The Water Is Running Out

2°C: Beyond the limit: Extreme climate change has arrived in America:  “Before climate change thawed the winters of New Jersey, this lake hosted boisterous wintertime carnivals. As many as 15,000 skaters took part, and automobile owners would drive onto the thick ice. Thousands watched as local hockey clubs battled one another and the Skate Sailing Association of America held competitions, including one in 1926 that featured 21 iceboats on blades that sailed over a three-mile course.  In those days before widespread refrigeration, workers flocked here to harvest ice. They would carve blocks as much as two feet thick, float them to giant ice houses, sprinkle them with sawdust and load them onto rail cars bound for ice boxes in New York City and beyond. … ”  Read more from the Washington Post here: 2°C: Beyond the limit: Extreme climate change has arrived in America

In regional news and commentary today …

Forest management company returns 50,000 acres of land to Yurok Tribe:  “Green Diamond and Western Rivers Conservancy have agreed to return tens of thousands of acres of ancestral lands to the Yurok Tribe.  On Monday, Aug. 19, the Yurok Tribe, Green Diamond Resource Company and Western Rivers Conservancy will celebrate a decade-long, hard-won effort to preserve and place into tribal ownership approximately 50,000 acres of forest surrounding four salmon sustaining streams, including Blue Creek, according to tribal leaders. … ”  Read more from KRCR here: Forest management company returns 50,000 acres of land to Yurok Tribe

‘Ground Zero:’ Coastal Commission Approves Safety Corridor Project, Worries Sea Level Rise May Leave it Under Water:  “While Caltrans’ project on the 6-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 101 that connects Eureka and Arcata is aimed at improving safety for motorists, the agency got an earful Aug. 7 from California Coastal Commissioners who felt it is ignoring a potentially far more dangerous threat: sea level rise.  “This is ground zero,” said Chair Dayna Bochco. “We don’t have a lot of time right here. The traffic is a terrible problem. The water is going to be a worse one.” … ”  Read more from the North Coast Journal here: ‘Ground Zero:’ Coastal Commission Approves Safety Corridor Project, Worries Sea Level Rise May Leave it Under Water

NID program looks to protect local reservoirs from invasive aquatic mussels:  “With boating season in high gear, efforts continue to protect local reservoirs from aquatic invasive species. Nevada Irrigation District (NID) is working to keep quagga and zebra mussels out of its reservoirs through boater education and a self-inspection program, as well as quarterly monitoring at Scotts Flat, Rollins and Combie reservoirs. No quagga or zebra mussels have been detected, according NID Hydrographer Ashley Vander Meer. … ”  Read more from YubaNet here: NID program looks to protect local reservoirs from invasive aquatic mussels

Trawling For Clarity: There Are Trillions Of Mysis Shrimp Living In The Depths Of Lake Tahoe. Here’s How They’re Impacting The Lake’s Clarity:  “As the sun sets across Lake Tahoe, UC Davis researcher Brant Allen and his team lower their sonar machine into the lake.  Thousands of little purple dots rise across the screen as they cross the lake. They represent one of the lake’s most damaging invasive species making their nightly swim to surface waters.  It’s not fish or Tahoe Tessie, a mysterious creature rumored to live in the depths of the lake; it’s a horde of tiny mysis shrimp, which researchers think have been making the lake murkier since they were introduced in the 1960s. ... ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here: Trawling For Clarity: There Are Trillions Of Mysis Shrimp Living In The Depths Of Lake Tahoe. Here’s How They’re Impacting The Lake’s Clarity

The fight over Salinas Valley groundwater heats up as free-for-all nears its end:  “California was the last Western state to pass legislation regulating groundwater: the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014 arrived after more than a century of development, intensive agriculture, bouts of drought and the looming threat that our aquifers will dry up.  But the details of who would get to pump what – and the financial cost of achieving groundwater sustainability – are only now becoming clear. Agencies at the local level, like the Salinas Valley Groundwater Basin Sustainability Agency, are finalizing the details in the coming months. … ”  Read more from the Monterey County Weekly here: The fight over Salinas Valley groundwater heats up as free-for-all nears its end

Ridgecrest: Meadowbrook, Searles Valley Minerals protest groundwater model:In light of the recent groundwater modeling scenarios generated by Indian Wells Valley Water Groundwater, some stakeholders in the basin have pushed back, including Searles Valley Minerals and Meadowbrook Dairy.  Lawyers for both entities submitted letters to the Policy Advisory Committee during a special meeting on Aug. 7 contesting the results generated from Model Scenario 6, which is a modified version of a previous scenario.  The scenarios generate data points about how the basin will be impacted after the IWVGA implements its groundwater sustainability plan. … ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here: Meadowbrook, Searles Valley Minerals protest groundwater model

Groups Urge State to Protect Aquifers From Oil, Gas Operations in Santa Barbara County:  “On Tuesday, groups submitted a letter to California’s key resource agencies responsible for preserving and managing the state’s natural resources, urging the agencies to protect drinking water and safeguard public health from the pending request for exemption from federal safe drinking water rules in the Cat Canyon Oil Field in Santa Barbara County.  Among the community and environmental groups seeking action are the Environmental Defense Center (EDC), Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Clean Water Action, and Friends of the Earth. … ”  Read more from Noozhawk here: Groups Urge State to Protect Aquifers From Oil, Gas Operations in Santa Barbara County

Carpinteria Valley Water District plans sustainable groundwater basin:  “The Carpinteria Valley Water District (CVWD) is in the process of forming a Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) for Carpinteria Groundwater Basin (CGB) in partnership with the city of Carpinteria, Santa Barbara County and Ventura County. The GSA is a requirement of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) which was passed in 2014 to ensure better regional management of groundwater use in California.  SGMA aims to have sustainable groundwater management in California by 2042, which is defined as “management and use of groundwater in a manner that can be maintained during the planning and implementation horizon without causing undesirable results.” These undesirable results include chronic depletion of groundwater supply, reduction of storage, significant seawater intrusion, decreased water quality and substantial land subsidence. … ”  Read more from Coastal View here: Carpinteria Valley Water District plans sustainable groundwater basin

Commentary: Warming Climate and Our Water:  Lynne Plambeck writes, “We all know that a warming climate will affect our water supply. Some areas of the country are predicted to see increased flooding from hurricanes and other storms, while climate models show the West, particularly California, will be getting dryer.  This will especially affect the water supply in California and here locally in the SCV, where we have long depended on water from the melting Sierra snowpack to get us through our hot, dry summers. For almost a hundred years we have relied on a water cycle that creates a massive annual snowpack in the mountains, larger than anything any reservoir could store, and then melts slowly over the spring and summer. This water is delivered to Southern California through the State Water Project aqueduct and provides about half the water for the Santa Clarita Valley. ... ”  Read more from the Santa Clarita Signal here: Commentary: Warming Climate and Our Water

San Diego: Column: Coming to grips with San Diego’s crumbling coastline:  “San Diego County’s eroding coastline is causing significant public safety, financial and political challenges.  Bluff collapses and shifting beaches are not new to the region and have long forced residents and governments to adapt.  But those shoreline changes seem certain to become more serious and frequent because of sea-level rise, yet the public at large does not seem ready to make some hard decisions regarding existing and future development along the coast. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune here: San Diego: Column: Coming to grips with San Diego’s crumbling coastline

Along the Colorado River …

Federal water managers to release Colorado River forecast:  “Federal water managers are expected to release a much-awaited study on the Colorado River today. The August report, known as the 24-month-study, serves as a key benchmark for Southwest water managers. And this year it could carry special significance.  Officials from the Bureau of Reclamation, the federal agency that operates the river’s network of dams and reservoirs, use the report to project whether Lake Mead elevations warrant voluntary cuts from the states in the watershed’s Lower Basin — Arizona, California and Nevada. After a year of heavy precipitation, the study is expected to show Lake Mead starting 2020 at a higher elevation than was predicted last year, a forecast that would avoid an official shortage declaration.   … ”  Read more from the Nevada Independent here: Federal water managers to release Colorado River forecast

Last Winter’s Epic Snow Doesn’t Erase The West’s Long-Term Drought — Or A Shifting Climate:  “Snow swamped mountains across the U.S. West last winter, leaving enough to thrill skiers into the summer, swelling rivers and streams when it melted, and largely making wildfire restrictions unnecessary. But the wet weather can be misleading.  Climate change means the region is still getting drier and hotter.  “It only demonstrates the wide swings we have to manage going forward,” James Eklund, former director of the Upper Colorado River Commission, an interstate agency that ensures river water is doled out properly, said earlier this year. “You can put an ice cube — even an excellent ice cube — in a cup of hot coffee, but eventually it’s going to disappear.” … ”  Read more from Colorado Public Radio here: Last Winter’s Epic Snow Doesn’t Erase The West’s Long-Term Drought — Or A Shifting Climate

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

BROWN BAG SEMINAR: It’s Vital: Delta Smelt Reproduction and Resilience

SCIENCE NEWS: Back-to-back low snow years will become more common; New mapping reveals lost West Coast estuary habitat; Voracious flowers of the tidepool; Fear of human voices can shape an ecosystem; Do salmon make decisions as a group?; and more …

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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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