DAILY DIGEST: CA sues EPA over protection of SF Bay salt ponds; Can farmers adapt to SGMA?; Dry autumn winds bring fire threat — again; Water year 2019 leaves reservoirs with good storage; The newest hope to beat the traffic: a ‘flying’ water taxi and more …

In California water news today, Calif. sues EPA for nixing protection of S.F. Bay salt ponds; California farmers face ‘catastrophic’ water restrictions. Can they adapt to survive?; Water year 2019 leaves reservoirs with good storage; Dry autumn winds bring fire threat — again; Newsom will announce new plans for a satellite to track climate change; Butte County: Supervisors shelve groundwater plan until next month; The newest hope to beat the traffic: a ‘flying’ water taxi that glides across town; and more …

In the news today …

SALT PONDS

Calif. sues EPA for nixing protection of S.F. Bay salt ponds:  “California sued the Trump administration today over EPA’s refusal to extend Clean Water Act protections to salt ponds in San Francisco Bay.  At issue are development plans for 1,365 acres owned by Cargill Inc. and DMB Pacific Ventures LLC in the southern bay. Those tidal wetlands were converted to industrial salt production in the mid-1800s, but conservationists have been buying tracts in that area since the 1970s, arguing that restoring marshes will improve water quality and combat rising sea levels. … ”  Read more from E&E News here: Calif. sues EPA for nixing protection of S.F. Bay salt ponds

California, environmental groups sue EPA over protection of SF Bay salt ponds:  “California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Bay Area conservation groups sued the Environmental Protection Agency Tuesday for failing to protect Redwood City’s salt ponds under the Clean Water Act, a decision they say will harm the San Francisco Bay ecosystem.  The lawsuits, filed separately in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, claim the Trump administration’s decision to halt protections of many waterways, including the 1,365 acres of salt ponds, under the Obama-era Waters of the United States rule was illegal. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: California, environmental groups sue EPA over protection of SF Bay salt ponds

SGMA

California farmers face ‘catastrophic’ water restrictions. Can they adapt to survive? It was 2015 and, as far as John Konda knew, farming still had a viable future in the San Joaquin Valley.  So he expanded.  The Tulare County grower planted 75 acres of pistachios, adding to a farm he’s owned since 2003. Two years later, in order to augment his water supply, he drilled two new groundwater wells. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: California farmers face ‘catastrophic’ water restrictions. Can they adapt to survive?

Commentary: Five years into SGMA, here are five important considerations for balancing groundwater quality and quantity:  “California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), signed into law five years ago, requires local leaders to balance groundwater demand and supplies for the first time. Groundwater is an important foundation of California’s water system, and SGMA is a crucial way of strengthening that foundation and creating a more resilient future for the state.  However, balancing groundwater budgets will not be easy. And this major challenge is further complicated by the fact that activities designed to increase groundwater supplies can unintentionally cause new groundwater quality problems or worsen existing contamination. … ” Read more from the EDF here: Commentary: Five years into SGMA, here are five important considerations for balancing groundwater quality and quantity

OTHER STATEWIDE NEWS

Water year 2019 leaves reservoirs with good storage:  “As water years go, 2019 was all wet. With the new water year beginning Oct. 1, farmers and forecasters hope for more of the same.  Tulare County farmer Zack Stuller described 2019 as a “fantastic year” for water.  “The reservoirs are a lot fuller than they’ve been in the past,” Stuller said. “It looks very promising.” … ”  Read more from Ag Alert here: Water year 2019 leaves reservoirs with good storage

Dry autumn winds bring fire threat — again:  “California’s relatively mellow start to the 2019 fire season may be the calm before the firestorm, according to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC). California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection CAL FIRE agrees with the NIFC that when fall’s arid winds kick in — as they have in the last few days, prompting red flag alerts — California could experience another period of record wild fires. The fight against fires also is likely to be affected by a dispute with the Trump administration over money owed to local fire departments. ... ”  Read more from Capitol Weekly here: Dry autumn winds bring fire threat — again

Fallbrook PUD Crews Help Paradise Camp Fire Recovery Efforts: Crews from the Fallbrook Public Utility District are helping rebuild water services in Paradise, Calif. after the devastating November 2018 Camp Fire.  The Camp Fire burned 153,336 acres, destroyed 18,793 structures, caused 85 deaths and three firefighter injuries. The Camp Fire is the deadliest, most destructive fire in California’s history, according to CAL FIRE.  Colter Shannon and Austin Wendt left the FPUD yard Sept. 22 to make the 565-mile, 10-hour drive to Paradise. ... ”  Read more from the Water News Network here:  Fallbrook PUD Crews Help Paradise Camp Fire Recovery Efforts

California could face power shortages if these gas plants shut down, officials say:  “It’s been nearly a decade since California ordered coastal power plants to stop using seawater for cooling, a process that kills fish and other marine life.  But now state officials may extend the life of several facilities that still suck billions of gallons from the ocean each day.  Staff at the California Public Utilities Commission recommended this month that four natural gas plants in Southern California, which are now required to shut down in 2020, be allowed to keep operating up to three additional years. ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here: California could face power shortages if these gas plants shut down, officials say

An unlikely savior for California’s coastal ecosystems: orphaned sea otters:  “Stranded or orphaned baby sea otters have been given a new lease on life—and a mission: restoring damaged ecosystems along the California coast.  Sea otters are a keystone species in their native coastal environments. They prey on small herbivorous sea creatures like sea urchins, which can lead to more kelp and healthier seagrass in an area. But after being hunted for their fur to near extinction in the 19th and 20th centuries, otter populations along the California coast are still struggling. Restoring populations is not as simple as bringing in new otters, though. The animals often have strong ties to their homes, and some relocated otters have made journeys of more than 100 kilometers to return to their birthplaces. … ”  Read more from Science Magazine here: An unlikely savior for California’s coastal ecosystems: orphaned sea otters

Newsom will announce new plans for a satellite to track climate change:  “Former Gov. Jerry Brown famously said last year that California would launch its “own damn satellite” to track climate change in defiance of the Trump administration. On Wednesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom will announce a new approach and way to pay for it.  Bloomberg Philanthropies, the charitable organization founded by climate activist and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, pledged to spend an undisclosed sum to help the state use satellite data to track the emission of greenhouse gases. The funding will allow Planet Labs, a San Francisco-based earth-imaging company, to use its existing satellites and launch new ones to quantify emissions from all over the world and the state’s progress toward its climate goals. ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here: Newsom will announce new plans for a satellite to track climate change

NATIONAL

Proposed Senate budget offers no funding for BLM headquarters move:  “A final Senate budget deal appears set to offer no funding for the Trump administration’s plans to move the headquarters of the Interior Department’s land management agency out West.  Funding for the Interior Department passed out of committee Tuesday deprives the Trump administration of requested funds to move an anticipated nearly 300 Bureau of Land Management (BLM) employees out of Washington, D.C., to Grand Junction, Colo., and other locations in the Western U.S. … ”  Read more from The Hill here: Proposed Senate budget offers no funding for BLM headquarters move

UN climate report warns of warming oceans, sea level rise:  “The latest United Nations’ climate report released Wednesday paints a dire picture of the world’s oceans, warning that some ice melt may be irreversible as the globe faces rising sea levels that threaten coastal areas.  Even if countries significantly curbed their emissions, the planet is marching toward sea level rise of a meter, and most of the East and West coasts in the U.S. will experience flooding that would normally take place once a century every year, scientists warn. … ”  Read more from The Hill here: UN climate report warns of warming oceans, sea level rise

In commentary today …

Federal Plan for Sierra and Sequoia National Forests Falls Short:  John Gilroy writes,The Sierra and Sequoia national forests in California encompass some 2.4 million acres and serve as the gateway to Yosemite, Sequoia, and Kings Canyon national parks. This vast area in the southern Sierra Nevada mountain range is home to rich and varied ecosystems that support thousands of wildlife and plant species, and stunningly scenic areas that draw visitors from around the world. Both forests contain extensive wild lands and rivers worthy of protection.  For the first time in 20 years, the U.S. Forest Service is updating the forests’ land management plans, which will determine how much of these forests will be protected and how much will be open to development for the next 15 to 20 years. The agency’s draft plans, released June 18, fall short of what’s needed to safeguard the immense natural and recreational value of these forests. … ”  Read more from PEW Trusts here: Federal Plan for Sierra and Sequoia National Forests Falls Short

In regional news and commentary today …

A Push To Protect Oregon Spring Chinook Salmon Gets A Boost From Genetic Science:  “A logjam on a river can be a beautiful thing – especially if you’re a salmon. Logjams collect the gravel salmon need to lay their eggs.  But if you’re a spring chinook on the South Umpqua, the slick gray-green sheets of rock that line the course of the river can be a bleak place.  “The water just rips through it. And because the bedrock offers very little resistance, all the gravel and substrate just move out and don’t get retained,” Forest Service fisheries biologist Casey Baldwin said. … ”  Read more from OPB here: A Push To Protect Oregon Spring Chinook Salmon Gets A Boost From Genetic Science

Butte County: Supervisors shelve groundwater plan until next month:  “The Butte County supervisors chose to hold off on an agreement for a new groundwater sustainability plan Tuesday.  The agreement will now be moved onto the next Butte County Board of Supervisors meeting on Oct. 8, as more information was needed from staff.  The agreement that was scheduled to be approved Tuesday would have ushered in groundbreaking research for the Butte subbasin’s groundwater supply, according to Paul Gosselin, director of the county’s Department of Water and Resource Conservation. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here: Butte County: Supervisors shelve groundwater plan until next month

Chico: Salmon Festival: Where education and fun come together:  “Ask any Oroville local how to best describe the annual Oroville Salmon Festival and they’ll give you two words rarely ever used together, fun and educational.  The family-friendly event begins Friday with most of its festivities occurring Saturday in downtown Oroville.  This year will mark the festival’s 25th anniversary of celebrating the return of the salmon to the Feather River. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here: Salmon Festival: Where education and fun come together

How Is Climate Change Impacting Reno’s Truckee River?  “As populations in the West rise, managers of our precious water supplies have to figure out how to deal with increasing demand in the midst of climate change. Bill Hauck is the senior hydrologist for the Truckee Meadows Water Authority. He told KNPR’s State of Nevada the authority recently hired a firm that specializes in climate change and water supply to see what the warming planet would mean for the region’s water supply. ... ”  Read more from Nevada Public Radio here: How Is Climate Change Impacting Reno’s Truckee River?

County steps into Salinas Valley, Marina groundwater dispute:  “The county is considering a move aimed at resolving a dispute between the Salinas Valley and the city of Marina over control of the Cemex sand mining plant site potentially threatening local groundwater management efforts.  On Tuesday, County Administrative Officer Charles McKee announced a formal referral from Board of Supervisors chairman John Phillips that requests the county consider declaring itself as the groundwater sustainability agency over any disputed areas of the Salinas Valley basin’s 180/400-foot subbasin. That would include the 450-acre Cemex site where California American Water is planning to drill its desalination project intake wells. … ”  Read more from the Monterey Herald here:  County steps into Salinas Valley, Marina groundwater dispute

Santa Fe Irrigation selects multi-tiered structure for water rate increases:  “The Santa Fe Irrigation District board recommended moving forward with a new five-tier rate structure for its proposed three percent water rate increase. The vote was 4-1 with Director Marlene King opposed.  The Santa Fe Irrigation District (SFID) board is expected to make a final decision on the rates by January 2020 to ensure the financial stability of the district and meet its objectives of equity across customer classes and encouraging conservation. ... ”  Read more from the Rancho Santa Fe Review here: Santa Fe Irrigation selects multi-tiered structure for water rate increases

San Diego leaders meet with Trump administration to ask for fix to Tijuana River sewage pollution:  “Elected leaders from around the San Diego region met with the Trump administration on Tuesday to ask for help stopping the sewage-tainted water that regularly flows in the Tijuana River across the border with Mexico.  Specifically, regional leaders tried to persuade federal authorities to fund a more than $400-million plan to capture and treat the pollution — which has shuttered shorelines in Imperial Beach on more than 200 days this year alone. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune here: San Diego leaders meet with Trump administration to ask for fix to Tijuana River sewage pollution

Along the Colorado River …

Corps wants to help people with the regulations on the river:  “The regulations regarding what can be built or done along the Colorado River can be confusing. Bill Miller of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers acknowledged this, and said the Corps wants people to understand the regulations better. He added that, if they are out of compliance with the regulations, they want to help people become compliant.  “We want to work with people,” Miller said. “We want to bring people into compliance.” … ”  Read more from the Parker Pioneer here: Corps wants to help people with the regulations on the river

And lastly …

The newest hope to beat the traffic: a ‘flying’ water taxi that glides across town:  Oblong and glassy, with the ability to glide across water without making a sound, the SeaBubble looks like a vehicle straight out of a James Bond flick. Despite resembling a Hollywood contrivance, the vehicle is actually a potentially new form of electric, urban transportation that could offer Parisians a watery alternative to hailing a taxi, driving a car or hopping on an electric scooter. …. ”  I want one!!! Read more at Stuff here: The newest hope to beat the traffic: a ‘flying’ water taxi that glides across town

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

CA WATER COMMISSION: DWR Director Karla Nemeth on the Department’s Strategic Plan, Delta conveyance

NEWS WORTH NOTING: PPIC: Water policy priorities for a changing California; Lawsuit filed over failure to protect SF Bay’s salt ponds; Report: Toxic ‘forever chemicals’ widespread in CA drinking water sources; Study indicates oilfield activities have increased groundwater salinity in Western Kern County

UPDATE: Bulletin 74 — California Well Standards

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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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