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DAILY DIGEST: State launches probe into oil field spills – including one flowing since 2003; SB1: Unwittingly, Trump helps out; ‘Bizarre hole’ in Lake Berryessa sparks curiosity; Trump Admin moves to limit public input, environmental review; and more …

In California water news today, State Launches Probe Into Oil Field Spills – Including One That’s Been Flowing Since 2003; SB1: Unwittingly, Trump helps out; ‘Bizarre Hole’ in 521-Billion-Gallon Lake in California Sparks Curiosity; Microplastics are found in Lake Tahoe’s waters for first time ever; Trump Administration Moves to Limit Public Input, Environmental Review; Interior: ESA foe takes on new role; Environmental groups argue lands bill will exempt Las Vegas pipeline from judicial review; water authority disagrees; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • The California Water Commission will meet beginning at 9:30am.  Agenda items include designating the Proposed Sacramento Regional Water Bank Project as consistent with Proposition 1 and a second listening session for the Governor’s Water Resilience Portfolio.  Click here for the agenda and webcast information.
  • Coastal Watershed Flood Risk Reduction Program Workshop – Oakland from 1pm to 3pm: DWR will host a public workshop to provide information about how the Coastal Watershed Flood Risk Reduction Program was established, what the Draft Guidelines cover, and how the solicitation process works.  Click here for more information.
  • JUST ADDED TO CALENDAR: Drought Stressor Monitoring: Summary of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Statewide Drought Response from 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.  Presented by Kristine Atkinson (CA Department of Water Resources).  Attend in person or via webcast.  Click here to register.

In the news today …

State Launches Probe Into Oil Field Spills – Including One That’s Been Flowing Since 2003:  “State oil and gas regulators say they’re launching an investigation of operations in a Kern County oil field after a series of large, uncontrolled crude petroleum releases near Chevron wells — including one that has continued on and off for more than 16 years and may have spewed out more than 50 million gallons of crude oil.  The state Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources, known as DOGGR, served Chevron with a notice of violation on Friday, ordering the company to stop major, uncontrolled surface flows at a site called Gauge Setting 5, or GS-5, in the Cymric oil field. Oil has been flowing from the location since March 2003. … ”  Read more from KQED here: State Launches Probe Into Oil Field Spills – Including One That’s Been Flowing Since 2003

SB1: Unwittingly, Trump helps out:  “Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins couldn’t have orchestrated it better if she tried.  Her Senate Bill 1 is the year’s most far-reaching environmental legislation. It declares that the state would adhere to laws governing clean air, water, endangered species and labor that were in place in January 2017, when President Trump took office, and before he set about trying to unravel environmental law.  Farm groups mounted a major campaign to sway legislators to amend or kill the bill, and seemed to be gathering momentum. … ”  Read more from Cal Matters here: Taxes, guns, endangered species, and sex

Video: ‘Bizarre Hole’ in 521-Billion-Gallon Lake in California Sparks Curiosity:  “At first glance, some may wonder if this bizarre hole is a watery vortex into another dimension. But not to worry; it’s not some UFOs or supernatural phenomena. In fact, this perfectly round phenomenon is man-made, and it has attracted quite the attention for its mesmerizing drainage of surplus water.  A gaping hole at Lake Berryessa in California is the spillway constructed for the 304-foot-high dam, and it’s a sight to behold when it’s doing what it does best—drain water. … ”  Read more from the Epoch Times here: Video: ‘Bizarre Hole’ in 521-Billion-Gallon Lake in California Sparks Curiosity

Microplastics are found in Lake Tahoe’s waters for first time ever:  “Scientists have detected microplastic pollution in Lake Tahoe’s deep blue waters for the first time. Now they are trying to determine its source and potential harm to the lake’s flora and fauna.  Preliminary analyses of water samples collected by researchers at the Desert Research Institute in Reno revealed the presence of particles of synthetic fiber and bits of red and blue plastic no bigger than the head of a pin.  “On one level, we’re heartbroken and disappointed by this discovery,” said Monica Arienzo, an assistant research professor at the institute and leader of the investigation. “We really hoped we wouldn’t find much of this material in Tahoe’s water, which is almost entirely snow melt.” ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here: Microplastics are found in Lake Tahoe’s waters for first time ever

Researchers Press California to Strengthen Landmark Climate Law:  “California’s cornerstone climate law for reducing planet warming emissions is coming under fire from a group of high-profile researchers.  The legal and policy experts are challenging California’s top regulators to strengthen oversight of the state’s cap-and-trade law and to adopt changes to ensure that the state’s marketplace is reducing greenhouse gas pollution at the rate it claims. ... ”  Read more from KQED here: Researchers Press California to Strengthen Landmark Climate Law

These waterways are some of the most diverse ecosystems on the West Coast — and the most endangered:  “Most of the West Coast’s estuary habitat has vanished, according to a new study, the most thorough of its kind. The mapping project found that, today, less than 15% of historic estuaries remain along the Washington, Oregon and California coastlines.  Estuaries form where fresh water from rivers and streams meets the salt water of the ocean. They take the form of salt marshes, tidal forests, beaches and steep river mouths. They are among the most productive and diverse ecosystems on Earth. Estuaries are also among the most endangered habitats on the planet. … ”  Read more from Crosscut here: These waterways are some of the most diverse ecosystems on the West Coast — and the most endangered

Trump Administration Moves to Limit Public Input, Environmental Review:  “National forests, including California’s Los Padres and many more, may see more commercial projects in the near future if a new rule change proposed by the feds goes through. The public comment period on changes to the National Environmental Protection Act ended Monday, and more than 36,000 people flooded the site, overwhelmingly condemning the move to limit environmental review and public input.  B.J. McNanama, organizer for the Indigenous Environmental Network, said she’s convinced the Trump administration just wants to fast-track certain types of projects. … ”  Read more from the Public News Service here:  Trump Administration Moves to Limit Public Input, Environmental Review

Interior: ESA foe takes on new role:  “A fierce critic of the Endangered Species Act is now advising the director of the U.S. Geological Survey.  Rob Gordon, a veteran of the Heritage Foundation and Competitive Enterprise Institute, started advising USGS Director James Reilly this month. He was previously Interior’s deputy assistant secretary for policy, management and budget.  Gordon’s move comes at a key moment for Interior, as the department transitions from rewriting ESA regulations to defending and implementing the new standards. … ”  Read more from E&E News here: Interior: ESA foe takes on new role

From the California Weather Blog ….

Hot August continues; some dry lightning possible in NorCal:  Daniel Swain writes, “As projected in seasonal forecasts and mid-range modeling outlooks, the past 30 days have been substantially warmer than average across the vast majority of California–featuring several significant heatwaves, especially in north coastal areas. Two somewhat conspicuous exceptions to the otherwise broad warmth were parts of the Sierra Nevada and the far southern coastal strip from Los Angeles southward–so despite the widespread warmth a substantial fraction of California’s population (and mountain vacationers) experienced near-average August temperatures. A similar pattern is currently manifesting itself across the state, with very hot conditions in the northern third and essentially average conditions along the south coast.  Another notable feature of Summer 2019 is the near-total failure of the North American monsoon (which has been, in the parlance of the Weather West comments section, “a total bust”). ... ”  Read more from the California Weather Blog here: Hot August continues; some dry lightning possible in NorCal

In commentary today …

Trump’s assault on Delta threatens Bay Area water supply, says the San Jose Mercury News:  He writes, “The death of the twin-tunnels project hasn’t stopped Central Valley farmers’ efforts to send more water south to irrigate their fields at the expense of the health of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.  The latest assault on the Delta, which supplies roughly one-third of the Bay Area’s water, is the Trump administration’s efforts to gut the federal Endangered Species Act. Removing protections in existence for nearly 50 years threatens not only the Delta’s wildlife but also the quality of its fresh water. ... ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here: Trump’s assault on Delta threatens Bay Area water supply

Why Santa Clara County should declare a climate emergency:  Dave Cortese writes,Our county, our country and our world are in the midst of an existential crisis.  In dire times, times that require our immediate attention and action, Santa Clara County has always been a leader. The crusade against climate change is no different.  The County Climate Coalition, a project spearheaded by my office in partnership with Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project, affirmed the county’s commitment to emission reductions deadlines and called on counties across the nation to achieve 100 percent renewable energy and commit to the goals set forth in the United Nations’ Paris Climate Agreement — an agreement that our science-denying presidential administration withdrew from in 2017. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here: Why Santa Clara County should declare a climate emergency

In regional news and commentary today …

City of Napa responds to water concerns shared by Napa County Grand Jury:  “How much of a problem are off-tastes and odors in Napa’s city tap water? And how easy or difficult are they to measure?  Responding to a Napa County Grand Jury’s call for improved water treatment, a city report last week defended its handling of quality issues that do not pose health risks but instead make water less pleasing to the palate and nose. The statement of reply – which cities must issue within 90 days of a grand jury report – outlined the measures Napa takes to control the sources of taste and odor problems, particularly algae that are commonly found in reservoir supplies before treatment. … ”  Read more from the Napa Register here: City of Napa responds to water concerns shared by Napa County Grand Jury

Napa County vineyards and fog can slow fire’s spread, but is it enough to protect us?  “Napa Valley’s vineyards are its trademark. But the well-manicured rows aren’t just a cash crop.  Though firefighters view vineyards as an important asset to be protected, they “make great defensible space around homes or structures,” said Cal Fire Sonoma-Lake-Napa Division Chief Thomas Knecht.  Defensible space refers to an area surrounding a building that has been maintained or cleared of vegetation in order to slow a fire’s spread toward the building. Any time that an area is converted for agricultural purposes, much of the native, flammable vegetation is removed, he said. … ”  Read more from the Napa Register here: Napa County vineyards and fog can slow fire’s spread, but is it enough to protect us?

Agencies testing for toxic blue-green algae on South Shore of Lake Tahoe:  “Officials are awaiting test results to determine if a toxic form of algae is present on the shoreline of Lake Tahoe.  A person reported late Wednesday, Aug. 21, that their dog had died after swimming in the lake near the Tallac Historic Site on Tahoe’s South Shore, according to Doug Smith, assistant executive officer with the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board.  Staff from Lahontan and El Dorado County visited the site the following day to take samples from the area where the owner said the dog was swimming. … ”  Read more from the Tahoe Daily Tribune here: Agencies testing for toxic blue-green algae on South Shore of Lake Tahoe

Manteca: Cantu opposes building in flood zone until levees are upgraded:  “Mayor Ben Cantu believes it is irresponsible for the City of Manteca to continue issuing building permits within the 200-year floodplain before additional levee improvements are in place.  Cantu last week was on the losing end of a 4-1 council vote certifying adequate progress is being made by Reclamation District 17 to start construction of upgraded levees along the San Joaquin River as well as a controversial dry levee in Manteca’s southwest flank by Oct. 31, 2025 that will meet the new 200-year rating as mandated by Sacramento under Senate Bill 5. … ”  Read more from the Manteca Bulletin here: Cantu opposes building in flood zone until levees are upgraded

State Water Resources Control Board has strengthened notification requirements for a potential carcinogen found in wells across the state, including Santa Clarita:  “The state water board updated guidelines for local water agencies, including SCV Water, to follow in detecting and reporting the presence of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) in drinking water.  Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of manmade chemicals that are prevalent in the environment and were commonly used in industrial and consumer products to repel grease, moisture, oil, water and stains, according to SCV Water officials. … ”  Read more from KHTS here: California State Water Board Strengthens Notification Requirements For Potential Carcinogen

Class action lawsuit takes aim at CVWD, claims illegal tax benefits agricultural industry:  “A new class action lawsuit accuses the Coachella Valley Water District of illegally taxing customers to benefit large agricultural companies.  The 90-page lawsuit, filed last week, names Palm Desert resident Randall C. Roberts as the plaintiff. Jeffrey Costell, an attorney with Costell & Adelson Law Corp. handling the case, says water customers are footing too much of the bill, while agricultural businesses pay artificially low water rates.  “They have systematically subsidized the rates being paid by agricultural users at the cost and expense of residential users,” Costell said. … ”  Read more from Channel 3 here: Class action lawsuit takes aim at CVWD, claims illegal tax benefits agricultural industry

San Diego: FPUD considering affiliating with EMWD rather than CWA:  “The Fallbrook Public Utility District has been part of the San Diego County Water Authority since SDCWA was formed in 1944, but FPUD is now investigating the possibility of detaching from the CWA and becoming part of the Eastern Municipal Water District.  FPUD general manager Jack Bebee gave a presentation on the possibility at FPUD’s July 22 board meeting.  “We just provided an update on the process and where we stand,” Bebee said. ... ”  Read more from Village News here: FPUD considering affiliating with EMWD rather than CWA

Along the Colorado River …

Environmental groups argue lands bill will exempt Las Vegas pipeline from judicial review; water authority disagrees:  “Environmental groups are raising concerns over a provision in draft legislation they believe could exempt the Las Vegas pipeline — a proposal to pump eastern Nevada groundwater about 300 miles to Southern Nevada — from further litigation and federal environmental review.  The concern stems from Clark County’s recent legislative proposal that aims to resolve issues with the federal land that encircles Las Vegas as the region looks to expand its urban footprint. … ”  Read more from the Nevada Independent here: Environmental groups argue lands bill will exempt Las Vegas pipeline from judicial review; water authority disagrees

Salt impacting water quality throughout the West, but a ‘grand deal’ has improved it:  “Salt in the Colorado River could threaten drinking water for millions of people dependent on its runoff.  The Colorado is the most significant water supply source in the West, but it carries an annual salt load of nine to 10 million tons, said Don Barnett, executive director of the Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Forum. That’s salt that has to be removed from the river to improve water quality. ... ”  Read more from Colorado Politics here: Salt impacting water quality throughout the West, but a ‘grand deal’ has improved it

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

BLOG ROUND-UP: Remarkable Suisun Marsh: a bright spot for fish; San Joaquin Valley Water Blueprint; Delta Levees Investment Strategy: protecting Delta smelt?; California’s new PFAS guidelines; Is Los Angeles a desert?; and more …

SANTA ANA WATERSHED AMBASSADOR PROGRAM: Register now & view draft agendas for a workshop near you!

NOTICE: Agricultural Water Management Plan Guidebook Workgroup Meeting September 23

 

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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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