DAILY DIGEST, weekend edition: Defying environmentalists, Newsom vetoes bill to block Trump’s Endangered Species Act rollback; Secretary Bernhardt wants to enlarge Shasta dam; Westlands would benefit; Bird study results questioned; Two new dams near the Grand Canyon?; Nutria as tasty dog treats; and more …

Late afternoon reflections of an Aspen grove off South Lake Road, Bishop, CA  Photo by Jan Arendtsz

 

In California water news this weekend, Defying environmentalists, Newsom vetoes bill to block Trump’s Endangered Species Act rollback; The Interior Secretary Wants to Enlarge a Dam. An Old Lobbying Client Would Benefit; $100 million desalination project to be led by Lawrence Berkeley National Lab; Water experts tell Trump no, the homeless aren’t hurting California water quality; A cooler start to October, but little precipitation on the horizon; In a New Study on Bird Loss, Some Scientists Say Subtlety Is Lost, Too; Two new dams near the Grand Canyon? Conservation groups call the plan ‘unconscionable’; Nutria as tasty dog treats; and more …

In the news this weekend …

Defying environmentalists, Newsom vetoes bill to block Trump’s Endangered Species Act rollback:  “Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed a bill on Friday that would have allowed California to preserve Obama-era endangered species protections and water-pumping restrictions for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta should they be dismantled by the Trump administration, a move scorned by environmental groups that have been among the governor’s most important political allies.  Newsom, who had announced his intent to veto Senate Bill 1 after it was approved by the Legislature this month, expressed little concern about a rift with environmentalists over the legislation, which he dismissed as a “solution in search of a problem.” … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: Defying environmentalists, Newsom vetoes bill to block Trump’s Endangered Species Act rollback

Newsom Vetoes SB 1 Environmental Bill Criticized as “Job Killer”:  “Gov. Gavin Newsom angered some allies on Friday by vetoing a bill aimed at blunting federal rollbacks of clean air and endangered species regulations in the state. The governor’s action comes two weeks after the passage of SB 1 in the final hours of the state’s legislative session.  The bill would have made it easier for state regulators to counter the Trump administration’s efforts to change enforcement of the federal Endangered Species Act and other environmental pillars — at least in California. ... ”  Read more from GV Wire here: Newsom Vetoes SB 1 Environmental Bill Criticized as “Job Killer”

The Interior Secretary Wants to Enlarge a Dam. An Old Lobbying Client Would Benefit. For years, the Interior Department resisted proposals to raise the height of its towering Shasta Dam in Northern California. The department’s own scientists and researchers concluded that doing so would endanger rare plants and animals in the area, as well as the bald eagle, and devastate the West Coast’s salmon industry downstream.  But the project is going forward now, in a big win for a powerful consortium of California farmers that stands to profit substantially by gaining access to more irrigation water from a higher dam and has been trying to get the project approved for more than a decade. … ”  Read more from the New York Times here: The Interior Secretary Wants to Enlarge a Dam. An Old Lobbying Client Would Benefit. 

$100 million desalination project to be led by Lawrence Berkeley National Lab:  “In an effort to widen the use of a nearly limitless — but expensive — source of water for California and other places worldwide that are prone to shortages, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has been selected to lead a $100 million project aimed at bringing down the cost of desalination.  The money, announced this week and awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy, will fund a research consortium of 19 universities around that the country that include Stanford, UC Berkeley, UCLA and others, along with 10 private industry partners and other Department of Energy institutions, like Oak Ridge National Lab in Tennessee. … ”  Read more from the Mercury News here: $100 million desalination project to be led by Lawrence Berkeley National Lab

A cooler start to October, but little precipitation on the horizon:  “September is characteristically one of the warmest (if not the warmest) month of the year along the relatively narrow but highly populated California coast. The combination of reduced upwelling of cold ocean water and the prevalence of “offshore wind” patterns evolved in classic fashion over the past few weeks–bringing periods of very hot conditions even to the immediate coastline. … The record NorCal heat of earlier this week will be a distant memory by later this weekend as an unseasonably deep low pressure system carves out a trough across the entire western U.S. … ”  Read more from Weather West here: A cooler start to October, but little precipitation on the horizon

TRUMP-EPA WATER QUALITY

Water experts tell Trump no, the homeless aren’t hurting California water quality:  “The Trump administration tried to pin California’s water woes on the homeless, but water quality experts say there is little connection between homeless camps and water pollution.  … But experts say the EPA was short on scientific backing for its claims.  “No self respecting EPA scientist or regulatory staffer is going to claim there’s a direct connection between the homeless and the issues raised in that letter. It’s a pure political stunt,” said Steve Fleischli, senior director of water initiatives at the Natural Resources Defense Council, who knocked the EPA for various proposals to roll back water quality regulations. ... ”  Read more from The Hill here: Water experts tell Trump no, the homeless aren’t hurting California water quality

EPA: “We are rolling back clean water rules.” Also the EPA: “Poop on California streets is bad for water”: A week after rolling back a major Obama-era protection for clean water in the U.S., the Trump administration now claims that “piles of human feces” on sidewalks in San Francisco and Los Angeles are a water pollution violation. Both cities struggle with homelessness and, yes, poop on sidewalks. But environmentalists point out that the current head of the EPA, who wrote a letter to California’s governor threatening enforcement action, has little interest in actually protecting the environment. … ”  Read more from Fast Company here:  EPA: “We are rolling back clean water rules.” Also the EPA: “Poop on California streets is bad for water”

EPA cancels meeting with California after a week of clashes:  “In another sign of the Trump administration’s intensifying political feud with California, the Environmental Protection Agency has abruptly called off a meeting next week with state environmental leaders.  After a week of repeated clashes, in which the EPA accused California’s leaders of not protecting the state’s air and water, the agency on Thursday took another jab at the most populous state. It canceled a meeting scheduled for Oct. 2 between Matthew Tejada, the federal EPA’s director of the Office of Environmental Justice, and the leaders of three California environmental agencies that oversee air and water quality. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: EPA cancels meeting with California after a week of clashes

NATIONAL

Forever Chemicals: What’s going on:  “You have likely heard a lot about PFAS (perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl) in the last few weeks. Companies involved in PFAS manufacture faced congressional hearings where they were asked to explain why they concealed the health risks posed by the chemicals and how they plan to address widespread PFAS contamination. PFAS can be found in food packaging, nonstick cookware, cleaning products, paints, waxes, firefighting foams, drinking water, etc. It has also been found in the blood of many humans who were tested for these chemicals. … ”  Read more from EnviroBites here: Forever Chemicals: What’s going on

In a New Study on Bird Loss, Some Scientists Say Subtlety Is Lost, Too:  “When a major new study on North American bird populations appeared in the journal Science last week, it included all the trappings of a typical scientific paper, along with one, less conventional addition: The study also came with its own hashtag, #BringBirdsBack.  Certainly, the central finding of the research team, led by Ken Rosenberg, a conservation scientist at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, seemed likely to trigger strong public reaction, on and off social media. Since 1970, the researchers estimated, the North American bird population had declined by roughly 2.9 billion birds, a 29 percent drop. It was, the researchers wrote, “an overlooked biodiversity crisis.” ... ”  Continue reading at Undark here: In a New Study on Bird Loss, Some Scientists Say Subtlety Is Lost, Too

Sunday podcasts …

Study Finds Oilfield Wastewater Migrates To Nearby Groundwater: “A U.S. Geological Survey study has found oilfield wastewater in western Kern County has seeped its way into three nearby aquifers and made them saltier. The produced water comes up with oil as its pumped up and must be disposed of or treated. Data gathered from groundwater monitoring shows how wastewater from ponding basins and injection wells has already migrated up to a mile away from the disposal source. Vic Bedoian reports from Fresno.”


Tracy Mehan improves US drinking water policy:  From David Zetland’s Jive Talking podcast.  “G. Tracy Mehan, III is Executive Director, Government Affairs, for the American Water Works Association (AWWA). He is also an Adjunct Professor at the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University and Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College. This episode’s motto: “Political interference can be bad for quality water service.”


Water is Really, Really Good:  When we think of Afghanistan, our hearts sink with memories of the tragedies of military and civil wars that continue to play out in that remote part of our planet. But there is a softer story of appreciation and acknowledgement of the sweet water that supports the good bounty of life that is also available in  Afghanistan. Water is a Many Splendor’ed Thing brings you another water relationship that has a personally significant impact to your life.” Steve Baker, Operation Unite®; stevebaker@operationunite.co

In regional news and commentary this weekend …

Ecology Center applauds Medicine Lake ruling: “A 22-year challenge to industrial geothermal development in the Medicine Lake Highlands reached a pinnacle last week with the issuance of a favorable decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Sept. 19.  The Ninth Circuit agreed with a 2017 U.S. District Court order that voided the 40-year extensions of 26 geothermal leases held by Calpine Corporation on thousands of acres in the Highlands – an order that Bureau of Land Management appealed to the higher court.  The Pit River Tribe, Mount Shasta Bioregional Ecology Center, Native Coalition for Medicine Lake Highlands Defense, and Medicine Lake Citizens for Quality Environment are the plaintiffs in the legal challenge, represented by the Stanford Environmental Law Clinic, according to a recent press release. … ”  Read more from the Taft Midway Driller here: Ecology Center applauds Medicine Lake ruling

Ukiah: First steps of Riverside Park restoration underway:  “Bright pink “whiskers” have popped up in Riverside Park recently, likely left by people performing a topography survey in the beginning stages of a grant-funded project to restore habitat in the largely undeveloped park that used to be home to the city’s sewage treatment plant.  Melissa Carter of Environmental Science Associates said her group will be performing a hydrology study at the park as a subcontractor working for Melton Design Group, the firm hired by the City of Ukiah to complete the restoration project. … ”  Read more from the Ukiah Daily Journal here: First steps of Riverside Park restoration underway

Fishery disaster declared for Mendocino Coast red sea urchin divers, processors:  “Relief may be on the way for the diminishing ranks of an obscure commercial seafood industry on the Mendocino Coast, where divers eager to cash in on what was once a newly profitable crop were drawn by the hundreds to participate just three decades ago.  The red sea urchin fishery — already substantially smaller than in its heyday in the late 1980s and early 1990s — has been devastated by the recent collapse of the bull kelp forest and the related invasion of voracious purple urchins, smaller cousins with no commercial value that have taken over the ocean floor. … ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here: Fishery disaster declared for Mendocino Coast red sea urchin divers, processors

Marin County Sued in Fight Over Protecting Endangered Coho Salmon:  “Two conservation nonprofits are suing Marin County for allegedly violating the California environmental law.  The lawsuit, filed by the Center for Biological Diversity and the Salmon Protection and Watershed Network, or SPAWN, concerns the protection of endangered coho salmon and threatened steelhead trout in streams in Marin’s San Geronimo Valley.  SPAWN’s Executive Director Todd Steiner said the county has failed to adopt a streamside conservation ordinance to preserve and protect the habitat of these fish. … ”  Read more from KQED here: Marin County Sued in Fight Over Protecting Endangered Coho Salmon

Lake Oroville Community Update: “A new commission tasked with providing public feedback related to the Oroville Dam and its facilities will hold its inaugural meeting on Monday, September 30. The meeting, which is open to the public, will take place from 9:30 a.m. to Noon at the Southside Oroville Community Center, 2959 Lower Wyandotte Road, Oroville, CA 95966, in the community center’s Multipurpose Room.  The Oroville Dam Citizens Advisory Commission, created by Senate Bill 955 (Nielsen) in 2018, establishes a new forum for discussing issues related to the Oroville Dam facilities. … ”  Read more from DWR News here: Lake Oroville Community Update

Turlock: 2019 water year sees above-average rainfall:  “After a lackluster amount of rainfall throughout the San Joaquin Valley in 2018, the recent end to the 2019 precipitation year was a welcome sight for community members wary of drought thanks to plenty of storms that brought above-average numbers.  This past precipitation year, which began Sept. 1, 2018 and ended Aug. 31, 2019, saw 45.65 inches of rainfall — nearly 10 inches more than the historical average for the area or about 125 percent of average for the date.  “It’s well above average and it’s well above what we did in 2018,” Turlock Irrigation District Utility Analyst Olivia Cramer said during Tuesday’s Board of Directors meeting. … ”  Read more from the Turlock Journal here: Turlock: 2019 water year sees above-average rainfall

Paso Robles: Templeton Community Services District celebrates new drought-resistant water supply project:  “The Templeton Community Services District celebrated the completion of its new drought-resistant water supply project at a ribbon-cutting held on Wednesday, Sept. 25.  The project, called the Upper Salinas River Basin Conjunctive Use Project (US-CUP) captures existing wastewater flows generated within the eastside of the District and will return these flows back to the Meadowbrook Wastewater Treatment Plant (MWWTP). … ”  Read more from the Paso Robles Daily News here: Templeton Community Services District celebrates new drought-resistant water supply project

Bakersfield’s water usage drops as residents’ behavior become more efficient:  “Bakersfield residents deserve a round of applause, at least in terms of the city’s water usage.  So far in 2019, city residents have saved 3,348 acre feet of water compared to 2013 quantities. Cumulatively, the city has cut water usage by nearly 12 percent since 2013, an average year before drought struck the state.  “As a city, we’re doing really good,” Water Resources Manager Art Chianello said. “It seems like, definitely, the residents of Bakersfield are water aware, and they’ve been using water wisely.” … ”  Read more from Bakersfield.com here: Bakersfield’s water usage drops as residents’ behavior become more efficient

Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency poised to notify county, city about suspected carcinogen:  “Local water officials found trace amounts last month of a non-stick chemical suspected of being carcinogenic in 17 of its wells, requiring them to notify key agencies about the discovery.  The amounts of a chemical called PFAS, or polyfluoroalkyl substances, were found in such minuscule amounts that none of wells require being shut down under state-set guidelines.  Nevertheless, those minuscule amounts now require — after state water officials recently lowered the allowable levels of that chemical — Santa Clarita City Council officials and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to be notified of the water-test results. … ”  Read more from SCV News here: SCV Water Agency poised to notify county, city about suspected carcinogen

Los Angeles: A year later, Sativa customers are getting clean water:  “Ten months after Los Angeles County took over the troubled Sativa Water District, county officials have announced dramatic improvements to the water system that serves 6,800 customers in the Willowbrook and Compton communities.  County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who represents the area, said residents served by the Sativa Water District can reliably expect clean and clear water when they turn on their taps.  Almost a year ago, the five-member board and general manager of the Sativa Water District were removed by the California State Water Resources Control Board. The decision came after Gov. Jerry Brown signed bill AB 1577 in September 2018, allowing for the Sativa board’s removal. … ”  Read more from Wave Newspapers here: A year later, Sativa customers are getting clean water

Can Los Angeles blend new housing with river restoration? This is the first big test:  “Los Angeles’s twin challenges of building more housing while restoring its namesake waterway are clashing along a shady 11-mile stretch of the Los Angeles River between downtown and the hills of Griffith Park.  On a 7-acre parcel in that stretch, a developer wants to build the riverfront’s first major development, Casitas Lofts, a 419-unit mix of mostly upscale apartments, offices and restaurants bordering neighborhoods on the east side of the river, Glassell Park and Atwater Village. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: Can Los Angeles blend new housing with river restoration? This is the first big test

Along the Colorado River …

Two new dams near the Grand Canyon? Conservation groups call the plan ‘unconscionable’:  “A Phoenix company wants to build two hydroelectric dams less than five miles from the eastern border of Grand Canyon National Park, submerging several miles of the Little Colorado River and the endangered fish habitat it protects. If they’re built, the dams could produce more than just electricity. Environmentalists say the project could further imperil the fish, the native humpback chub, interfere with the Canyon’s already-degraded hydrology and irreparably damage sites held sacred by at least one Arizona tribe. … ”  Read more from Arizona Central here:  Two new dams near the Grand Canyon? Conservation groups call the plan ‘unconscionable’

And lastly …

What to do with nutria? Company Turns Destructive Swamp Rodents into Dog Treats:  “California has had its issues with the swamp rodent, nutria, for a while now and while wildlife agencies are working to get rid of them, a Louisiana company may have a more….creative solution.  Marsh Dog, a company based in Baton Rouge, has developed a type of dog snack that is made from the meat of the nutria rats. … ”  Read more from KFI here: Company Turns Destructive Swamp Rodents into Dog Treats

Precipitation watch …

Snow in the Sierras: A Winter Weather Advisory is in effect for elevations above 6000 feet through Monday afternoon.

Sunday video …

Also on Maven’s Notebook this weekend …

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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.

Maven’s Notebook
where California water news never goes home for the weekend

no weekends

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