DAILY DIGEST: State officials spar with feds over Delta water operations; EPA says CA is also ‘failing’ to meet water pollution standards; CA leads lawsuit against rollback of ESA; State Supreme Court weighs in on Shasta Dam case; and more …

In California water news today, State officials spar with feds over Delta water operations; EPA to California: You’re also ‘failing’ to meet water pollution standards; California Leads Lawsuit Against Rollback of Endangered Species Protections; State Supreme Court weighs in on Shasta Dam case; Report details extent of water contamination in California; USDA Invests In California Infrastructure Improvements; Trump administration to move environmental review staff to states; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • The Delta Stewardship Council meets in Orange County this morning beginning at 8:30am.  The Council will meet at the Orange County Water District and take a tour of the Groundwater Replenishment System.  They will then adjourn and reconvene at the Orange County Sanitation District for the remainder of the meeting where they will discuss the inter-relationship of the Delta Plan and the California Water Resilience Portfolio, Southern California water supply reliability and reduced reliance projects, and innovations in water-use efficiency and reuse.  Click here for the agendaClick here to watch on webcast.
  • Webcast: Membranes 101 – The Basics and Beyond from 11am to 12pm.  Presented by WateReuse.  Click here to register.
  • Kern County GSP Public Review Open House from 5:30pm to 7:30pm in Bakersfield.  Click here for more information.

In the news today …

A new California fight against Trump over water, fish, the Delta and the environment:  “California is fighting a plan by President Donald Trump’s administration to push more water through the Delta – a move state officials say would harm endangered fish species and deprive millions of Southern Californians of water.  The state Department of Fish and Wildlife, in a letter to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, said the federal plan would harm the nearly-extinct Delta smelt and other species. The state said the plan would also hurt the mostly urban water agencies that belong to the State Water Project, which might have to surrender some of its supplies to compensate for the federal plan. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  A new California fight against Trump over water, fish, the Delta and the environment

FED WATER POLLUTION STANDARDS

EPA to California: You’re also ‘failing’ to meet water pollution standards:  “The Trump administration notified California officials on Thursday that it is “failing” to meet federal water-quality standards, attributing this in part to homelessness.  An oversight letter addressed to Gov. Gavin Newsom alleges that San Francisco, Los Angeles and the state “do not appear to be acting with urgency to mitigate the risks to human health and the environment that may result from the homelessness crisis.”  EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler warned that the agency is “concerned” about the state’s handling of public water systems. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: EPA to California: You’re also ‘failing’ to meet water pollution standards

Trump administration challenges California for ‘failure’ to address human health:  “The Trump administration issued a warning Thursday to California leaders that the state is ‘failing to meet its federal obligations” on sewage and water pollution.  A Sept. 26 letter from Environmental Protection Agency head Andrew Wheeler to California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) outlines what EPA calls “significant public health concerns” and “deficiencies” in California’s air and water quality.  The letter, in particular, focuses on the state’s homelessness issues in Los Angeles and San Francisco citing articles on human feces on streets and warning of potential water quality concerns. ... ”  Read more from The Hill here: Trump administration challenges California for ‘failure’ to address human health

ENDANGERED SPECIES LAWSUIT

California Leads Lawsuit Against Rollback of Endangered Species Protections:  “California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has filed suit to block reduced enforcement of the federal Endangered Species Act, a regulatory rollback announced by the Trump administration a little more than a month ago.  The lawsuit, which was filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, argues that the changes undertaken by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service are unlawful. Endangered species protections are bedrock environmental law, and California leaders warned that less protection will leave threatened species at risk of extinction. ... ”  Read more from KQED here: California Leads Lawsuit Against Rollback of Endangered Species Protections

MORE COVERAGE:

OTHER STATEWIDE NEWS

How the Central Valley became the ‘Appalachia of the West.’ Now, new threats loom for economy:  ” … Water shortages, already the scourge of the Valley, are about to get worse. A powerful state law called the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act will curb access to water and shrink agriculture’s footprint in the next two decades. Thousands of acres will be turned into solar-energy farms and other non-agricultural uses. The long-term effect of climate change, meanwhile, will squeeze water supplies even more.  All of which suggests a bleak future for a region that is among America’s poorest. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: How the Central Valley became the ‘Appalachia of the West.’ Now, new threats loom for economy

State Supreme Court weighs in on Shasta Dam case:  “The California Supreme Court has rejected a Fresno-based water district’s attempt to move forward with a study on raising the height of Shasta Dam. The Westlands Water District had asked the Supreme Court to overturn a Shasta County Superior Court ruling that ordered the district to stop work on an environmental impact report on the project.  The ruling came after the California Attorney General’s Office and several other environmental and industry groups sued the district, claiming the district’s work on the environmental report violated state law. ... ”  Read more from the Redding Record-Searchlight here: State Supreme Court weighs in on Shasta Dam case

Report details extent of water contamination in California:  “Chemicals used for carpets and anti-stain products have been found in water sources for 7.5 million people in California, detailing the extent of the problem as state regulators work to develop safety levels for the contaminants that have been linked to cancer.  A report released Wednesday by the Environmental Working Group found variants of the chemicals known as PFAS in 74 community water systems between 2013 and 2019, according to data from state and federal regulators. … ”  Read more from Bakersfield Now here: Report details extent of water contamination in California

California Farm Region Faces Furry New Threat: Swamp Rodents:  “One of the most recent threats to California’s environment has webbed feet, white whiskers, shaggy fur and orange buck teeth that could be mistaken for carrots.  “Boy, they’re an ugly-looking thing,” said David Passadori, an almond and walnut grower in central California. “And the way they multiply — jeez.”  The swamp rodents, called nutria, are setting off alarms in California. They weigh about 20 pounds and eat the equivalent of about a fourth of their weight each day by burrowing into riverbanks and chomping into plants that emerge from the water. … ”  Read more from KQED here: California Farm Region Faces Furry New Threat: Swamp Rodents

USDA Invests In California Infrastructure Improvements:  “The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development California State Director Kim Dolbow Vann on Monday, Sept. 23 announced more than $5 million in investments for three infrastructure improvement projects in California.  “We know that in order for California’s rural communities to continue to prosper, it is essential they have safe, reliable infrastructure,” said Vann. “USDA’s programs are addressing those needs and today’s investments will help improve water or wastewater systems in three communities.” … ”  Read more from the Oakdale Leader here: USDA Invests In California Infrastructure Improvements

NATIONAL

Trump administration to move environmental review staff to states“The Interior Department is forcing key staff responsible for environmental reviews to move west as part of the Trump administration’s efforts to shrink the number of federal workers based in Washington, two people familiar with the plans told POLITICO.  The move is the latest by the Trump administration to eliminate environmental positions from Washington, D.C. and comes after the Department of Agriculture’s decision to transfer researchers whose jobs included studying climate change to a new headquarters in Kansas City. ... ”  Read more from Politco here:  Trump administration to move environmental review staff to states

Trump’s Fish and Wildlife pick is entangled with industry:  “Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has links to powerful agricultural interests opposed to protections for endangered species she would oversee, the Guardian has learned.  Aurelia Skipwith, who is already a top official at the Department of the Interior, formerly worked at the agrochemical giant Monsanto.  New revelations show she also has ties to the Westlands Water District, a political powerhouse with a history of chafing against Endangered Species Act regulations that can interfere with farmers’ demands for water in California. ... ”  Read more from High Country News here: Trump’s Fish and Wildlife pick is entangled with industry

In regional news and commentary today …

Klamath River: A river runs through them:  “The Klamath is an upside down river.  It starts in a valley and ends in the mountains. Water temperatures at its source are warmer than when it meets the Pacific Ocean 257 miles away. It begins as a chemical stew and terminates teeming with life. It is the second largest river in California. And now one of the most controversial.  A plan to remove four dams – one of the most ambitious river restoration projects ever attempted – is either mocked or praised depending on the audience. It will expand salmon habitat or destroy a fishery. The only certainty is that lives will change forever. ... ”  Read more from the Siskiyou Daily News here: Klamath River: A river runs through them

Oregon DEQ releases plan to reduce water temperature in Klamath Basin:  “The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has issued a new plan to reduce water temperatures for endangered fish in the Upper Klamath and Lost River watersheds, though it could come at a price for farmers and ranchers.  The plan, which specifies Total Maximum Daily Load, or TMDL, sets limits on pollutants — in this case, heat — that can be present in streams and rivers to protect water quality. … ”  Read more from the Capital Press here: Oregon DEQ releases plan to reduce water temperature in Klamath Basin

Gray Lodge water supply project now underway:  “The Gray Lodge Wildlife Area is getting major improvements to the water delivery system the wildlife refuge receives.  The Biggs-West Gridley Water District was awarded $52,450,000 by the California Natural Resources Agency in August 2017 to improve water delivery to the Gray Lodge Wildlife Area, according to a recent press release from Ducks Unlimited. The Proposition 1 Central Valley Project Improvement Act grant will enable the wildlife area to receive full water allocations for the first time in history while also meeting local delivery needs to agriculture, the release states. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here: Gray Lodge water supply project now underway

Source of South Yuba River’s contamination identified, Nevada County officials say:  “Nevada County officials on Wednesday identified the source of contamination in the South Yuba River that turned the water yellow and prompted a no-swim advisory for nearly a week.  Officials said in a news release that a property in the 13000 block of Kilham Mine Road in Nevada City was likely the source of the plume that moved downstream into Englebright Lake.  Nevada County spokeswoman Taylor Wolfe said an investigation is underway, so details are limited, but investigators identified “a sediment” entering the river from the property that “seems to be naturally occurring.” … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: Source of South Yuba River’s contamination identified, Nevada County officials say

American River Habitat Restoration Project Highlights Federal-State-Local Partnership:  “Federal, state and local agencies recently came together to celebrate a new project to protect salmon and steelhead in the lower American River. Over the past several weeks, restoration teams have been carving out a new side channel at Sailor Bar in Fair Oaks and placing more than 14,000 cubic yards of gravel in the river to help fish spawn and rear their young.  Gathered along the river’s shoreline, with giant excavators and bulldozers working in the background, representatives from the Water Forum and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation discussed the partnership that is making the project possible. ... ”  Read more from ACWA’s Water News here: New Habitat Restoration Project Highlights Federal-State-Local Partnership

In Face Of Pervasive Drought, Palo Alto DPR Program May Be Palatable:  “Despite the official end of a years-long drought in the state, one major California city is poised to take a significant step toward sustainable conservation.  “In an effort to open the spigot on recycled water in the region, Palo Alto and Santa Clara Valley Water are exploring a deal that would send the city’s wastewater to a treatment plant elsewhere in the county, where it would be treated, transformed into potable water and potentially resold to the city for its residents and businesses,” according to Palo Alto Online. “The proposed deal would give Palo Alto a new source of drought-proof water to draw on in case of emergency.” … ”  Read more from Water Online here: In Face Of Pervasive Drought, Palo Alto DPR Program May Be Palatable

With scientists warning about warm seas, Monterey’s fishermen prepare for the worst.  “Beginning in September 2014 and stretching into 2016, Monterey Bay experienced the warmest ocean temperatures ever recorded. Spanning the entire West Coast up to Alaska, this oceanic anomaly – termed “the Blob” due to its appearance on a sea surface temperature map – resulted in several ecological disasters in Monterey County including California’s worst drought in 1,200 years, the closing of the Dungeness crab fishery and the most harmful algal bloom ever recorded on the West Coast. ... ” Read more from Monterey Weekly here: With scientists warning about warm seas, Monterey’s fishermen prepare for the worst

Goleta: Wet Winter, No New Water:  “The five-year-old moratorium on new water hookups in the Goleta Valley will likely continue through 2020, even though the drought emergency is over, authorities say.  On the heels of a very wet winter, the Goleta Water District is receiving its normal deliveries from Lake Cachuma, a key condition for lifting the moratorium on new service under the SAFE Water Supplies Ordinance of 1991. But district officials say they are unable to fulfill a second condition that requires injecting a large supply of Cachuma water into the valley’s depleted groundwater basins. … ”  Read more from the Santa Barbara Independent here: Goleta: Wet Winter, No New Water

Ridgecrest: Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority board structure talks future admin structure:  “The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority rolled out concepts for an administrative structure that could eventually cement the new agency as an independent entity — should money ever be found to fund them.  IWVGA Acting General Manager Don Zdeba presented a draft organizational chart, which places the board members for the five voting member agencies at the top. For administrative staff, the roles would include general manager, followed by an administrative assistant and a joint financial officer/benefits coordinator. … ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here: Ridgecrest: Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority board structure talks future admin structure

Federal study finds oilfield activity lowered groundwater quality in western Kern:  “A new study by the U.S. Geological Survey concludes oilfield activity has lowered the quality of groundwater in western Kern County, making it saltier and possibly affecting nearby irrigation sources but not harming drinking water.  The findings published this month in a technical journal of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists raise a red flag about local oil industry practices but do not point to any imminent government action on what has for years been a hot topic among California anti-oil activists. … ”  Read more from Bakersfield.com here: Federal study finds oilfield activity lowered groundwater quality in western Kern

And lastly …

High Sodium: Salt Pond Photos From Kite Level:  “Cris Benton is a photographer, tinkerer, bay steward, model airplane hobbyist, kite flyer, and former chair of the University of California, Berkeley’s Department of Architecture. This cluster of talents and interests has led to his stunning and captivating first book, Saltscapes: The Kite Aerial Photography of Cris Benton (Heyday, 2013). … ”  View slideshow from Sierra Magazine here: High Sodium: Salt Pond Photos From Kite Level

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

DWR Director Bonham urges Reclamation to implement Fall X2

SCIENCE NEWS: Paiute cutthroat trout reintroduced to native habitat; Machine learning aims to improve water management; As temperatures change, what organisms move north to California?; Can AI keep L.A.’s water flowing post-earthquake?; and more …

BROWN BAG SEMINAR: Managing water quality across boundaries

WATER PLAN eNEWS: ~~ Update 2018 Article~ Flood-MAR Forum~ Coastline Resilience~ Workshop Video~ Data Resources~ Funding Mechanisms ~~

 

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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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