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DAILY DIGEST: August Delta Conveyance Update; 30-mile parallel Friant-Kern Canal proposed; Implementing SGMA: Results from a stakeholder survey; Enviros slam regulators over Kern County oil spills; A California dream: Less plastic in the ocean; and more …

In California water news today, August Delta Conveyance Update; 30-mile parallel Friant-Kern Canal proposed; Implementing SGMA: Results from a stakeholder survey; Environmentalists Slam Chevron, State Regulators Over Kern County Oil Releases; There’s lead in California’s tap water. What you need to know; Colder waters off West Coast mark end of “the blob”; A California Dream: Less Plastic in the Ocean; Water harvester makes it easy to quench your thirst in the desert; Environmentalists scoff after Trump claims he’s one of them; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • The Wildlife Conservation Board meets at 10am.  The Wildlife Conservation Board will receive updates on funding status and recovery of funds, and a strategic plan update, as well as consider several restoration projects.  Click here for the full agenda.
  • Visalia Community Water Center Evening Meeting from 5:30pm to 7:30pm.  For more information, click here.

In the news today …

August Delta Conveyance Update:  “The Department of Water Resources (DWR) is continuing to work on the environmental planning and permitting to modernize State Water Project infrastructure in the Delta. This effort is consistent with Governor Newsom’s direction and support for a single-tunnel project to ensure a climate resilient water system. This process will include significant engagement with the public, especially Delta communities. The department anticipates the formal environmental review process will begin with the Notice of Preparation (NOP) under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) near the end of this year. … “  Read more from the Department of Water Resources here: August Delta Conveyance Update 

30-mile parallel Friant-Kern Canal proposed:  “Friant Water Authority is conducting geotechnical investigations this summer along the outer banks of a 30-mile stretch of the Friant-Kern Canal in southern Tulare County to determine if the soil may support construction of a second canal running parallel to the first.  The reason for the research is the capacity of this key, eastside Valley canal has been reduced by 60% due to recent land subsidence caused by years of vigorous groundwater pumping by nearby farms, homes and businesses. … ”  Read more from The Business Journal here:  30-mile parallel Friant-Kern Canal proposed

Implementing SGMA: Results from a stakeholder survey:  “The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) of 2014 represents a historic transition to collective groundwater resource management and has the potential to significantly reduce groundwater overdraft in California. A total of 260 groundwater sustainability agencies (GSAs) recently formed to collectively manage groundwater resources in the 127 high and medium priority groundwater basins of the state. The simultaneous formation of hundreds of new governing agencies is an unprecedented institutional effort with very few examples to learn from. As GSAs move towards the design and deliberation of their groundwater sustainability plans (GSPs), assessments on the process up until now can directly inform development processes that are still taking place. … ”  Read more from UC Davis here: Implementing SGMA: Results from a stakeholder survey

Environmentalists Slam Chevron, State Regulators Over Kern County Oil Releases:  “Environmental groups are calling for increased scrutiny of California’s oil and gas industry after learning that more than 50 million gallons of crude oil flowed out of the ground in an uncontrolled release near a Chevron facility in Kern County over the last 16 years.  Over the weekend the state Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources, or DOGGR, issued a notice of violation against the San Ramon-based oil company, ordering it to stop uncontrolled surface releases at a site in the Cymric oil field that began flowing in March 2003.  The flows at the site, and at others nearby, have apparently been triggered by Chevron’s steam injection operations — a method used to free oil trapped in underground rock formations — in the Cymric field. … ”  Read more from KQED here: Environmentalists Slam Chevron, State Regulators Over Kern County Oil Releases

There’s lead in California’s tap water. What you need to know:  “At the Video Music Awards in Newark, New Jersey on Monday, five protestors who were demanding clean water got arrested. Newark residents are drinking bottled water because the tap water contains high levels of lead.  It’s a problem in California too. The state passed a law a few years ago that required public schools built before 2010 to test for lead in their drinking fountains before July 2019. Nearly 80% of schools have reported some testing. Of those, one in five school sites found lead levels of more than five parts per billion (ppb). … ”  Read more from KCRW here: There’s lead in California’s tap water. What you need to know

Colder waters off West Coast mark end of “the blob”:  “Record high Pacific Ocean temperatures recorded off the West Cost in recent years have receded to near normal, according to a report on the California Current.  That cool shift marks the end of “the blob,” the mass of warm water that dominated the West Coast, and of the El Nino event that followed. It’s unclear, however, what that means for fish and marine mammals, scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration stated in the 2019 ecosystem status report for the California Current Ecosystem. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune here: Colder waters off West Coast mark end of “the blob”

A Battle To Protect The Environment When Housing Is In High Demand:  “Marcia Grefsrud, an environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, is out at a conservation site for some local endangered species, like the California Tiger Salamander. They’re small, brown amphibians with bright yellow spots. But she doesn’t see any here today.  As the salamanders grow up, they move out of the wetlands and into the foothills and grasslands. They live in burrows left by ground squirrels and other mammals. There are populations of these salamanders across the state, from Santa Barbara to Yolo County. And they’re an important part of each of these ecosystems. … ”  Read more from KALW here: A Battle To Protect The Environment When Housing Is In High Demand

Red-flag warning issued for Northern California and the Sierras:  “Critical fire weather is expected Wednesday morning through Thursday evening in the Sierras and much of Northern California, according to the state’s fire protection agency.  The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire, encouraged residents Tuesday to exercise caution outdoors.  The National Weather Service issued the red-flag warning Tuesday. It includes most of Modoc County, and the Shasta-Trinity National Forest in Siskiyou County. The warning also includes a large swath of interior Northern California. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Red-flag warning issued for Northern California and the Sierras

National Fish and Wildlife Foundation awards Mountain Counties Water Resources Association $179,021.53 grant:  “The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) today announced more than $3.5 million in grants to restore forests and watersheds impacted by wildfires within the Eldorado and Lassen National Forests, and targeted instream improvements for salmon and steelhead within the Klamath, Shasta-Trinity and Six Rivers National Forests in northern California. The grants will leverage more than $1.3 million in matching contributions for a total conservation impact of $4.9 million. … ”  Read more from MCWRA News here:  National Fish and Wildlife Foundation awards Mountain Counties Water Resources Association $179,021.53 grant

California Tribe Hopes to Conquer Climate Woes — With Fire:  “More and more land in California is going up in flames. The area in the state burned by wildfires has increased by a factor of five since 1972, according to a recent study, which identified human-caused warming the likely culprit.  So what’s to be done?  The Karuk Tribe wants to fight fire with fire.  This summer the tribe, one of the largest in the state, released a climate-adaptation plan that calls for a return to a more natural fire regime. … ”  Read more from The Revelator here: California Tribe Hopes to Conquer Climate Woes — With Fire

Tiny Toxins: How Algal Blooms Affect Coastal Systems Through a Complex Web of Interactions:  “Think summertime and the mind usually wanders to warm thoughts of sand, sunscreen, and fireworks. But increasingly summertime fun is being interrupted by algal blooms. From the Atlantic seaboard to the Gulf of Mexico, from the Great Lakes to the Pacific coast, harmful algal blooms are shutting down beaches, killing fish, birds, and other wildlife, and contaminating drinking water. The economic impacts of an algal bloom can be severe, especially if the algae become toxic. … ”  Read more from Berkeley Lab here: Tiny Toxins: How Algal Blooms Affect Coastal Systems Through a Complex Web of Interactions

A California Dream: Less Plastic in the Ocean:  “Friday is National Beach Day—an easy day to celebrate in California. The Golden State’s love of beaches is legendary, and as it happens it’s a legend backed by data. The latest PPIC environment survey found that three in four Californians (77%) say the condition of the ocean and beaches is very important to the state’s future economy and quality of life.  Californians are very concerned about a number of threats to their marine environment—including sea level rise, overfishing, and plastic pollution. Overwhelming majorities view plastic and marine debris as a big problem (72%) or somewhat of a problem (18%). Across age, education, income, and racial/ethnic groups, solid majorities say this is a big problem. ... ”  Read more from the PPIC here: A California Dream: Less Plastic in the Ocean

New Tools for Diverse Challenges:  “Innovation is nothing new in the water utility world, but its pace and scale are accelerating in some very exciting ways. Across the country from Denver to Philadelphia, public utilities are partnering with their communities to improve water quality, build resilience, and stretch supplies.  Many of them are using a suite of strategies we call Distributed Infrastructure – programs that encourage conservation and responsible landscaping, new ways to finance large-scale pipe replacement, and Green Stormwater Infrastructure, which helps prevent flooding, eases the burden on treatment plants, and beautifies neighborhoods along the way. These solutions vary by geography and scale, but many of them can be less expensive, easier to build, and more acceptable to community uptake than traditional “gray” infrastructure projects. ... ”  Read more from the Water Now Alliance here: New Tools for Diverse Challenges

Water costs are rising across the U.S. — here’s why:  “Each glass of water, shower or flush costs far more than it did just eight years ago — and your water is bill is likely to go up again in 2019.  The average water and sewer bill in 50 cities jumped 3.6% this year, marking the eighth consecutive year of increases, according to a recent annual study from Bluefield Research. Since 2012, water bills have surged 31%, outpacing inflation.  This year, the typical household will pay $104 per month for water and wastewater services, the Boston-based company said. That’s a faster pace than increases in prices for most groceries or gasoline, based on recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. … ”  Read more from CBS News here:  Water costs are rising across the U.S. — here’s why

Water harvester makes it easy to quench your thirst in the desert:  “With water scarcity a growing problem worldwide, University of California, Berkeley, researchers are close to producing a microwave-sized water harvester that will allow you to pull all the water you need directly from the air — even in the hot, dry desert.  In a paper appearing this week in ACS Central Science, a journal of the American Chemical Society, UC Berkeley’s Omar Yaghi and his colleagues describe the latest version of their water harvester, which can pull more than five cups of water (1.3 liters) from low-humidity air per day for each kilogram (2.2 pounds) of water-absorbing material, a very porous substance called a metal-organic framework, or MOF. That is more than the minimum required to stay alive. ... ”  Read more from UC Berkeley here: Water harvester makes it easy to quench your thirst in the desert

Environmentalists scoff after Trump claims he’s one of them:  “President Trump’s statement that he is an environmentalist is provoking a backlash from critics who say his policies have hurt environmental protections and the fight against climate change.  Trump’s assertion Monday that he is a friend of the environment came at the conclusion of the Group of Seven (G-7) summit in France, after he skipped the climate portion of the summit and a discussion on Brazil’s raging forest fires. The president’s words, coupled with his actions, prompted swift criticism from environmental advocates. … ”  Read more from The Hill here: Environmentalists scoff after Trump claims he’s one of them

In regional news and commentary today …

Supervisors vote to form Big Valley Groundwater Sustainability Agency; goal is to keep local control of water supply:  “The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted to move forward with forming the Big Valley Groundwater Sustainability Agency, a move county leadership said is necessary to keep local control of the watershed.  The unanimous vote to adopt a resolution to form the new agency – in accordance with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, which went into effect as part of California Water Code in January 2015 – followed a brief public hearing Tuesday morning. … ”  Read more from Lake County News here: Supervisors vote to form Big Valley Groundwater Sustainability Agency; goal is to keep local control of water supply

Yolo County: Vernal pool tours planned this spring at Grasslands Park:  “Tours are being planned this spring of vernal pools at the Grasslands Regional Park, thanks to a state grant.  The Yolo County Parks Division, in partnership with the Yolo Basin Foundation, was awarded a four-year, $65,200 California Department of Parks & Recreation grant recently.  The money will go toward docent-led tours during the spring to students from Yolo County and the greater Sacramento region, as well as the general public. … ”  Read more from SF Gate here: Vernal pool tours planned this spring at Grasslands Park

Five Delta Businesses Fined For Allegedly Violating Clean Water Act:  “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced settlements Tuesday with five waterfront operations along the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta over allegations they violated the Clean Water Act.  Two of the facilities are in Contra Costa County, with one more in Solano County and the other two are in San Joaquin County. ... ”  Read more from SF Gate here: Five Delta Businesses Fined For Allegedly Violating Clean Water Act

Nature gone: Bay Area beach getting washed away:  “The tides of San Francisco Bay are taking such a toll on a strip of beach at the edge of one of the largest salt marshes in the East Bay that it may soon disappear.  Known to locals as “Long Beach,” it’s part of the San Leandro Shoreline Marshlands and once stretched at least 23 miles. The most recent official estimate done back in 2008 put the beach at seven miles amid development and rising sea levels. ... ”  Read more from the Mercury News here: Nature gone: Bay Area beach getting washed away

Monterey: A study in Elkhorn Slough reveals the increasing threat of climate change to salt marshes:  “There’s one more thing climate change and rising sea levels are affecting: salt marshes. Between crabs burrowing into the marshes and rising oceans, a recent study led by Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve in collaboration with NOAA’s National Estuarine Research Reserve System found that it is not crabs alone that are potentially causing problems for the nation’s salt marshes. … ”  Read more from Monterey Weekly here: Monterey: A study in Elkhorn Slough reveals the increasing threat of climate change to salt marshes

Fresno: Water deliveries are plentiful for Valley farmers thanks to a healthy snowmelt:  “Water deliveries in the Fresno Irrigation District typically end in September, but they could last until November this year.  The extra deliveries will allow growers to not only irrigate but also to bank some water for future use.  The sound of water rushing through canals and ditches is music to the ears of Valley farmers. Fresno farmer David Sarabian explained, “Just the fact that this water is running over this dirt environment, we’re getting percolation or recharge.” … ”  Read more from KFSN here: Fresno: Water deliveries are plentiful for Valley farmers thanks to a healthy snowmelt

Tooleville connection details reveal $1.1 million project:  “Exeter all but accepted their water master plan two weeks ago. The plan gave them a detailed look over what they need to fulfill water demand for now and in the future. And in all 163 pages of it, eight were dedicated to the impact connecting Tooleville would have on the Exeter system.  The Council waited in order to accommodate Tooleville advocate Pedro Hernandez from the Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability, and attorney Michael Clayborne who has been representing the Tooleville Mutual Nonprofit Water Association (TMNWA). They noted during the Aug. 13 meeting that they wanted to examine the Tooleville specific pages in the plan before the Council formally accepted it. Hernandez, who spoke at the meeting pointed his finger at the City for obscuring access to the plan. ... ”  Read more from the Foothills Sun-Gazette here: Tooleville connection details reveal $1.1 million project

Ridgecrest: Stephens grills Hayman on water: “It’s a frequent and recurring item on the Ridgecrest City Council’s agenda: discussing and providing guidance to Councilman Scott Hayman who is the city’s representative to the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority. At the council meeting August 21, however, Mayor Pro Tem Lindsey Stephens used the opportunity to ask several specific pointed questions about the IWVGA and its plans, essentially grilling Hayman on the status of the project.  Stephens hammered on the topic with a relentless list of questions, until Hayman eventually said he did not feel the questioning was fair. … ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here: Ridgecrest: Stephens grills Hayman on water

Southern California: Stormwater Parcel Tax Collection To Begin This Fall:  “Los Angeles County residents will see a new charge on their property tax bills this fall. Measure W, which was approved by county residents last November, will implement a parcel tax that is intended to increase stormwater capture. The intent is to increase local water supply, improve water quality and invest in community projects.  Measure W, or the Safe Clean Water Program, will charge its tax based on impermeable area, as opposed to property value. According to a county fact sheet, an impermeable area is defined as a site covered by hardscape-like materials, such as structures, asphalt and concrete. … ”  Read more from the Long Beach Business Journal here: Stormwater Parcel Tax Collection To Begin This Fall

Salton Sea odor advisory extended again. Relief may come on Wednesday:  “An odor advisory issued last week for the Coachella Valley to elevated levels of hydrogen sulfide that smell like rotten eggs was extended again on Monday, this time for another two days.  It is now set to expire Wednesday afternoon.  The advisory had already been extended three times since Aug. 18 due to the stench emanating from a sparsely populated area immediately downwind from the Salton Sea. … ”  Read more from The Desert Sun here: Salton Sea odor advisory extended again. Relief may come on Wednesday

As Salton Sea shrinks, experts fear far-reaching health consequences:  “In the string of small farm towns that stretches south from California’s Salton Sea toward the border with Mexico, pretty much everyone knows someone with asthma.  As many as three of every 10 people report having the disease in places like Brawley, Calipatria and Westmorland — compared with about one of 10 in California as a whole. Bronchitis is also common, and many residents complain about coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath.  Experts point to numerous likely culprits. … ”  Read more from USC here: As Salton Sea shrinks, experts fear far-reaching health consequences

California must comply with water quality rules in Salton Sea restoration, says Jeff Geraci:  He writes, “The intent of the Salton Sea restoration is to mitigate losses of habitat for wildlife as the Salton Sea shrinks. However, mitigating lost habitat by replacing it with something harmful does not result in any benefits to wildlife; in fact, it makes things worse by creating a new exposure pathway that subjects wildlife to contaminants. The whole purpose of mitigation is to alleviate negative environmental impacts; not to create or perpetuate them.  The instant that these habitats are filled they will become “impaired waters of the State” by default under the Clean Water Act. This impairment status likely will persist for the life of the project, leading to decades of costly monitoring and litigation, as well as needless regulatory actions and bird kills. ... ”  Read more from The Desert Sun here:  California must comply with water quality rules in Salton Sea restoration

Along the Colorado River …

ASU water policy expert addresses new drought plan for state:  “The Southwest’s long-standing drought has left the state staring down a historic and first-ever Colorado River water cutback in 2020.   Starting Jan. 1, Arizona will see a 6.9% reduction of Colorado River water under the Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan, which was finalized in May with California, Nevada and the federal government. Mexico will give up 3% of its allotment under a separate agreement. … ASU Now spoke to Sarah Porter, director of the Kyl Center for Water Policy at ASU’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy, about the cutbacks and what they will mean for Arizona’s agriculture and the state’s roughly 7 million residents. … ”  Read more from ASU here: ASU water policy expert addresses new drought plan for state

Can A ‘Wild’ River Survive In A Rapidly Drying West?  “Finding a river in the West that still behaves like a Western river — one that rises and falls with the annual rush of melting snow — is tough. Many of the region’s major streams are controlled by dams. Their flows come at the push of a button. Instead of experiencing dynamic flows, dammed rivers are evened out. Floods are mitigated and managed, seen as a natural disaster rather than an ecological necessity. But one major Western waterway has achieved almost mythical status for its wildness: the Yampa in northwestern Colorado. As climate change intensifies, and water in the West grows more scarce, those who depend on the river are left wondering how best to protect it. … “  Continue reading at KUNC here: Can A ‘Wild’ River Survive In A Rapidly Drying West? 

And lastly …

It’s Burning Man festival time again!  Check out this year’s desert creations: First Look At Burning Man 2019’s Art and Installations from SFist and A look at the art and architecture of Burning Man from Curbed SF.

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

CA WATER LAW SYMPOSIUM: An overview of California water rights

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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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