DAILY DIGEST: As water goes scarce, can solar farms prop up the Valley?; EPA claims SF homeless crisis affecting water quality. Breed, Newsom hit back; PG&E power outages could be disastrous for wineries; Erosion threatens scenery and real estate along CA coastline; and more …

In California water news today, ‘Farming the sun:’ As water goes scarce, can solar farms prop up the Valley?; EPA Claims SF Homeless Crisis Affecting Water Quality. Breed, Newsom Hit Back; For California wineries during harvest, PG&E power outages could be disastrous; CA Supreme Court Temporarily Halts Study On Raising Shasta Dam; Report: 74 California water systems contaminated, 7.5 million potentially exposed to toxic chemicals; Erosion threatens scenery and real estate along iconic California coastline; Is Buying Rivers the Best Way to Protect Them? Western Rivers Conservancy Thinks So; Report on Poseidon desalination plant in Carlsbad, California shows poor performance and high costs; and more …

On the calendar today …

In the news today …

‘Farming the sun:’ As water goes scarce, can solar farms prop up the Valley?  “On the Changala family farm in Tulare County, the past and future are separated by a dirt road and a barbed-wire fence.  On the south side sits a wheat field. On the north, a solar farm, built three years ago, sending electricity to thousands of Southern Californians.  Alan Changala sees little difference between the two.  “We’re still farming the sun,” he said. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: ‘Farming the sun:’ As water goes scarce, can solar farms prop up the Valley?

EPA Claims SF Homeless Crisis Affecting Water Quality. Breed, Newsom Hit Back:  “The head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is threatening to “take action” against California if the state doesn’t fix water pollution problems the agency alleges may be caused, in part, by a worsening homeless crisis in cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles.  In a strongly worded letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom Thursday, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler claimed California is falling short on complying with federal environmental laws and asked the governor to provide a detailed plan for fixing the problems within a month. … ”  Read more from KQED here: EPA Claims SF Homeless Crisis Affecting Water Quality. Breed, Newsom Hit Back

E.P.A. Accuses California of ‘Significant’ Air and Water Problems:  “The Trump administration on Thursday, pressing the president’s complaints about homelessness in California, demanded the state improve the way it deals with human waste, arsenic and lead in water as it escalated the administration’s war with the country’s most populous state.  In a letter to Gov. Gavin C. Newsom of California, Andrew Wheeler, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, accused the state of “deficiencies that have led to significant public health concerns” and issued a veiled threat that federal funding to the state could be at risk. ... ”  Read more from the New York Times here: E.P.A. Accuses California of ‘Significant’ Air and Water Problems

EPA Targets California Again, This Time Over Water Quality:  “Two days after threatening to pull highway funding from California over “chronic” smog, the Trump administration on Thursday said the Golden State is also falling short of federal water-quality standards, due in part to a “homelessness crisis.”  Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler outlined the agency’s concerns, including “piles of human feces” on sidewalks, in a letter sent Thursday to Governor Gavin Newsom. … ”  Read more from Courthouse News Service here: EPA Targets California Again, This Time Over Water Quality

For California wineries during harvest, PG&E power outages could be disastrous:  ” … California’s wildfire season happens to overlap with the grape harvest, the time of year in which wineries most acutely depend on electricity. After wine grapes are picked, they are processed through various types of machinery — destemmers, sorting tables, crushers, pumps — none of which can work without electrical power. “If we learned we were getting our power shut down, we’d have to cancel our picks,” said Mick Unti, owner of Unti Vineyards in Healdsburg. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: For California wineries during harvest, PG&E power outages could be disastrous

CA Supreme Court Temporarily Halts Study On Raising Shasta Dam:  “The California Supreme Court on Wednesday temporarily halted efforts to raise the Shasta Dam by nearly 20 feet.  The Westlands Water District — the nation’s largest irrigation district — asked the state supreme court to overturn an earlier court decision that prohibited it from conducting a study on the possibility of raising the Shasta Dam.  If raised, the dam would collect more of the Sacramento River for irrigating down south. … ”  Read more from Jefferson Public Radio here: CA Supreme Court Temporarily Halts Study On Raising Shasta Dam

California Gov. Newsom signals veto of environmental bill:  “When Gov. Gavin Newsom vowed last week to veto Senate Bill 1 (SB 1) — the California Environmental, Public Health and Workers Defense Act — he caught environmentalists and supporters by surprise, and his decision could have far-reaching impacts in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.  “Every water group and environmental group in California understands that this is a dangerous bill to veto for the Delta and environmental protection across the board,” said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of Restore the Delta. … ”  Read more from The Press here: California Gov. Newsom signals veto of environmental bill

Report: 74 California water systems contaminated, 7.5 million potentially exposed to toxic chemicals:  “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. More than 40 percent of the systems had at least one sample that exceeded the health advisory level set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. … ”  Read more from ABC 7 here: Report: 74 California water systems contaminated, 7.5 million potentially exposed to toxic chemicals

Erosion threatens scenery and real estate along iconic California coastline:  “This is supposed to be a beautiful beach, but instead it looks like a disaster area because a sea wall built about a decade ago to protect homes has failed. Now property owners are spending millions to fix it.  From Mexico to Oregon, the iconic California coastline runs more than 3,400 miles. “CBS This Morning” correspondent Jonathan Vigliotti drove just over 600 of those miles to see how the state is getting ready for what scientists say is the inevitable future. … ”  Read more from CBS News here: Erosion threatens scenery and real estate along iconic California coastline

Is Buying Rivers the Best Way to Protect Them? Western Rivers Conservancy Thinks So:  “Traveling up northern California’s Klamath River to spawn, chinook salmon make a pitstop in an important cold-water tributary, called Blue Creek, to prepare themselves for the long journey east.  “Salmon stop there and lower their body temperature by 8 and a half degrees to allow them to continue their journey upstream to the next cold-water tributary, which is at mile 45 or so,” explains Sue Doroff, president and co-founder of the nonprofit Western Rivers Conservancy (WRC), which is based in Portland, Ore. “Without Blue Creek, the chinook salmon run and the Klamath River system, which is historically the third largest producer of salmon on the West Coast would cease to exist.” … ”  Read more from Modern Conservationist here: Is Buying Rivers the Best Way to Protect Them? Western Rivers Conservancy Thinks So

California billionaires donate $750 million for climate change research:  “Billionaire California agriculture titans Stewart and Lynda Resnick have donated $750 million to Cal Tech for climate change research in what officials say is the second-largest gift to a U.S. academic institution.  The gift, announced Thursday, comes amid growing alarm over climate change and Trump administration policies that many say are making the problem worse. … ”  Read more from SF Gate here: California billionaires donate $750 million for climate change research

Could Super-Absorbent Gel Save Millions Of Gallons Of Water In The Desert?The Colorado River provides water for 40 million people across seven states — and it’s running dangerously low.  Next year, Arizona and Nevada will face their first-ever restrictions that limit the amount of water they can pull from the river. The warming climate almost guarantees this will be a long term problem.  That’s why Arizona State University West launched a pilot project using a new water-saving solution called hydrogel — a potassium-based, biodegradable technology that resembles table salt. … ”  Read more from WBUR here: Could Super-Absorbent Gel Save Millions Of Gallons Of Water In The Desert?

PFAS Legislative Timelines Not Feasible, EPA’s Wheeler Says:  “Legislation that would require the EPA to designate all PFAS as hazardous substances within one year isn’t feasible, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler said Sept. 26.  Wheeler referred to H.R. 535, introduced by Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) in January. The provision to designate all PFAS as hazardous is now included in the House’s National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 2500).  The CERCLA, or Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, provision has been backed twice by the House and is supported by 53 Senators, said Michal Freedhoff, minority oversight director for the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. … ”  Read more from Bloomberg here: PFAS Legislative Timelines Not Feasible, EPA’s Wheeler Says

In commentary today …

California must embrace groundwater management, and expand it, says Sandi Matsumoto.  She writes: “We all walk on water. Not literally, but most Californians do walk over the water stored in the aquifers beneath our feet.   This unseen resource is groundwater, which provides 40% of our water supply in normal years, and up to 60% of our supply in times of drought.  With dry periods expected to increase in frequency and duration, groundwater is key to creating a more resilient water supply for drinking water, producing food, and sustaining our precious natural resources. Yet despite its importance, groundwater use in California has been largely unregulated.  Fortunately, this is about to change. … ”  Read more from Cal Matters here: California must embrace groundwater management, and expand it

In regional news and commentary today …

The Yurok Tribe is Leading a Massive Restoration Project on the Trinity River, and the Fish are Coming Back:  “Roger Boulby stood atop the steel treads of the hydraulic excavator he’d just driven across a shallow stretch of the Trinity River, all 88,000-pounds of machinery rumbling beneath his work boots as he reflected on the job he’s been on for the past several months.  That job, known as the Chapman Ranch Project, is part of the largest environmental restoration program ever implemented on the Trinity, and it’s being led by his own people, the Yurok Tribe. ... ”  Read more from the Lost Coast Outpost here: The Yurok Tribe is Leading a Massive Restoration Project on the Trinity River, and the Fish are Coming Back

270 Emerald Triangle Cultivators Received Letters that Their Water Rights Are Not in Compliance:  “On Friday the 20th, the State Water Resources Control Board’s Twitter account, @CaWaterBoards, announced the Division of Water Rights Cannabis Enforcement Section had “mailed 270 certified letters to residents in Trinity, Humboldt and Mendocino Counties today notifying them they lack the appropriate permits for commercial cannabis cultivation.”  The social media message directs recipients of the registered letters to the Water Board’s “Compliance Notice Portal” which it promises to be “quick, easy way to contact us without having to wait for a return call.”  … ”  Read more from the Redheaded Blackbelt here: 270 Emerald Triangle Cultivators Received Letters that Their Water Rights Are Not in Compliance

Officials may know why the South Yuba River turned yellow:  “Nevada County officials said they found a possible source of contamination that turned the waters of the South Yuba River yellow last weekend. Officials traced the sediment to a property in Nevada City on Kilham Mine Road. The heavy sediment may have caused the color change in the water. … ”  Read more from KCRA here: Officials may know why the South Yuba River turned yellow

Point Reyes: Next move in coho battle may come from the CBD:  “The Center for Biological Diversity has taken what appears to be a preliminary step toward suing Marin County over its supplemental environmental impact report to the Marin Countywide Plan, which focuses on potential cumulative impacts to salmonids from development in the San Geronimo Valley.  According to county staff, the Board of Supervisors received an emailed letter from the C.B.D. around 10 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 19, after the close of business and just hours before the board considered certifying the S.E.I.R. ... ”  Read more from the Point Reyes Light here: Point Reyes: Next move in coho battle may come from the CBD

Monterey Peninsula chief water counter says planned desalination plant far outpaces water demand. The Monterey Peninsula has gotten so good at conserving water that there is no need to build a costly desalination plant for decades – even if the region experiences unprecedented growth – according to a report from the top executive at the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District.  Dave Stoldt presented his conclusions to the district board Sept. 16, saying the region can meet all imaginable water needs until at least 2043 by ramping up the recycling of wastewater, an option that would be much cheaper than desalination. … ”  Read more from Monterey Weekly here: Monterey Peninsula chief water counter says planned desalination plant far outpaces water demand. 

CPUC rules failed desal project invoices remain confidential:  “Monterey County legal invoices for work on the failed Regional Desalination Project can remain confidential according to a decision by the state Public Utilities Commission.  Last week, the CPUC issued a decision finding that the county’s legal invoices at the heart of an agreement between the county and California American Water unwinding the regional desal project should be protected by attorney-client privilege and there was no waiver of that privilege. It affirmed that the commission’s previous decisions protecting the invoices from disclosure were proper. ... ”  Read more from the Monterey Herald here: CPUC rules failed desal project invoices remain confidential

Often Short of Water, California’s Southern Central Coast Builds Toward A Drought-Proof Supply:  “The southern part of California’s Central Coast from San Luis Obispo County to Ventura County, home to about 1.5 million people, is blessed with a pleasing Mediterranean climate and a picturesque terrain. Yet while its unique geography abounds in beauty, the area perpetually struggles with drought. … ”  Read more from Western Water here:  Often Short of Water, California’s Southern Central Coast Builds Toward A Drought-Proof Supply

Low-flying helicopters measuring Paso Basin groundwater:  “If you see a helicopter flying low to the ground in North San Luis Obispo County, do not be alarmed. It’s all part of a new pilot study conducted by Stanford University mapping the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin.  The study will help provide the county with a more accurate picture of the Groundwater Basin. The information will lead to making better decisions about managing water resources in the future. … ”  Read more from KCOY here: Low-flying helicopters measuring Paso Basin groundwater

Goleta Water Moratorium Continues:  “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 ground water basins. … ”  Read more from Edhat here: Goleta Water Moratorium Continues

Column: Cloud seeding increases rain for Cachuma Lake watershed:  “Mark Twain once said, “Everyone talks about the weather, but no one does anything about it.” If he were writing today, his famous quote would probably have to be altered.  You see, for more than half a century, the Santa Barbara County Water Agency has been seeding clouds to coax more rainfall from the sky and increase runoff to Lake Cachuma. … ”  Read more from the Santa Maria Times here: Column: Cloud seeding increases rain for Cachuma Lake watershed

Ventura County: Getting to groundwater sustainability in 20 years will cost money:  “The conversation about groundwater in the basin and higher pumping fees for Oxnard continues with an interview with Glenn Shepard and Kim Loeb who answer questions about the issue moving forward and how it will affect the Oxnard sub-basin.  Cities can expect considerable pumping fee increases per acre-feet of water, and that can have far-reaching effects on the local economy as the basin tries to reach sustainability. … ”  Read more from the Tri-County Sentry here: Ventura County: Getting to groundwater sustainability in 20 years will cost money

Pasadena: Big Dig Sediment Removal Is Still on Pause:  “Trucking operations at the controversial Devil’s Gate Dam sediment removal project, also known as the Big Dig, remain stalled over ongoing dust issues, and the date of the vehicles’ return is not yet known.  L.A. County Public Works Assistant Deputy Director Steve Burger said in a phone interview on Tuesday that officials are working with the contractor to come up with a plan that includes two proposed tire washes at the project’s exit to eliminate dust from the tires of the sediment-hauling trucks. … ”  Read more from Outlook Newspapers here: Big Dig Sediment Removal Is Still on Pause

Coachella Valley: Inside The Desert Resort Rethinking Water Conservation:  “Before Coachella was a music festival, it was a lake.  For thousands of years, Southern California’s landlocked Coachella Valley was under water, part of a prehistoric lake covering 2,200 square miles of California and northern Mexico. But the Colorado River slowly changed course and, as the indigenous people of the area told geologist William P. Blake in 1854, the water began to disappear ‘poco a poco’ (little by little). ... ”  Read more from Forbes Magazine here: Coachella Valley: Inside The Desert Resort Rethinking Water Conservation

Report on Poseidon desalination plant in Carlsbad, California shows poor performance and high costs:  “The San Diego County Water Authority’s 2019 fiscal year report on the Carlsbad ocean desalination plant shows poor performance at the facility. According to the report, Poseidon paid a penalty of almost $2 million for non-delivery of water, reaffirming concerns around affordability and reliability raised by community advocates in Orange County over the company’s proposal to build a similar desalination plant in Huntington Beach.  The report showed that water from the Carlsbad facility was far more costly than average, at a cost of $2,685 per acre foot, and is expected to increase 5 percent next year. The Authority (SDCWA) paid an astonishing total of $121 million for Poseidon’s desalinated water. … ”  Read more from the OC Breeze here: Report on Poseidon desalination plant in Carlsbad, California shows poor performance and high costs

San Diego leaders present $400 million plan to solve Mexican sewage problem: “A group of San Diego politicians presented a plan to White House officials Tuesday to finally address the flow of sewage from Mexico into U.S. waters.  The centerpiece of the proposal is a $404 million treatment facility that would be able to process 163 million gallons of runoff a day. … ”  Read more from KGTV here: San Diego leaders present $400 million plan to solve Mexican sewage problem

Along the Colorado River …

In major move, Utah pulls most hydropower out of Lake Powell pipeline:  “Utah’s proposed Lake Powell pipeline will cost less to build and be easier to permit under a decision announced Wednesday to cut major hydropower components from the controversial project that would move 86,000 acre-feet of Colorado River water to St. George.  At the same time, the Utah Division of Water Resources withdrew its application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which Utah had requested be the sole permitting agency on the project. … ”  Read more from The Salt Lake Tribune here: In major move, Utah pulls most hydropower out of Lake Powell pipeline

And lastly …

Fall colors glowing in Eastern Sierra – ‘Go now’:  “A year ago, CaliforniaFallColor.com was reporting more orange in the Eastern Sierra than has Sunkist. What a difference a year makes.  This autumn, Peak color is arriving a week and a half late, with Near Peak color only just reported from Virginia Lakes and Sagehen Summit, both in Mono County (US 395). … ” Read more from the Sierra Wave here: Fall colors glowing in Eastern Sierra – ‘Go now’

The Best Hike in Every National Park:  Tomorrow (Saturday), admission to National Parks is free.  There are nine national parks here in California, so here are some ideas to inspire you, if you are so inclined:  “From Alaska’s remote bush to downtown Cleveland, our national parks provide us with millions of acres of public land to explore. We compiled a list of the best hikes in each park, according to the wilderness guides, park rangers, and hikers who know them. ...”  Check it out from Outside Magazine here: The Best Hike in Every National Park

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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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