NEWS WORTH NOTING: Water Year 2020 begins with robust reservoir storage; Quirk Bill will address dangerous toxic algal blooms in California’s waters; Vicki Kretsinger Grabert to be honored with an Award of Distinction at UC Davis; Judge rules, petitioners prepare for appeal in Siskiyou County CEQA lawsuit
Water Year 2020 begins with robust reservoir storage
From the Department of Water Resources:
California begins a new water year today with significantly more water in storage than the previous year thanks to above-average snow and precipitation.
Lake Oroville, the State Water Project’s (SWP) largest reservoir, is currently at 102 percent of average for the date compared to just 62 percent of average at this time last year. Shasta Lake, the Central Valley Project’s (CVP) largest reservoir, is at 126 percent of average compared to 88 percent of average last year. San Luis Reservoir, the largest off-stream reservoir in the United States where water is stored for the SWP and CVP, is at 132 percent of average compared to 117 percent of average last year. In Southern California, SWP’s Castaic Lake is at 112 percent of average compared to 108 percent last year.
“The significant rainfall and snowpack made for a great water year in 2019, so we start the new year in a good place,” said Department of Water Resources (DWR) Director Karla Nemeth. “However, we all know too well that California’s weather and precipitation is highly variable. What we could have today could be gone tomorrow. Conserve. Recycle. Recharge. People and the environment depend on it.”
Water Year 2019 highlights include:
- There were more than 30 atmospheric rivers with many making landfall in northern California.
- The state’s snowpack on April 1 was 175 percent of average.
- Statewide reservoir storage is 128 percent of average through the end of September which is approximately 29.7 million acre-feet.
The water year runs from October 1 to September 30. Rainfall and snow amounts help determine annual allocations for the State Water Project. State Water Project contractors received 75 percent of requested supplies this year, up from an initial allocation of 10 percent due to above-average precipitation.
For more information, visit DWR’s California Data Exchange Center website which shows current water conditions at the state’s largest reservoirs and weather stations in addition to measures of current rain and snow precipitation.
Quirk Bill will address dangerous toxic algal blooms in California’s waters
From Assemblymember Bill Quirk:
A statewide program to coordinate actions for the protection of public health and water quality from toxins produced by harmful algal blooms (HABs) is underway, with the signing of Assemblymember Bill Quirk’s (D-Hayward) AB 834.
Cyanobacteria are essential components of many freshwater ecosystems and form the foundation of most aquatic food chains. However, certain types of these bacteria produce toxins-including liver and neurotoxins-that sicken humans and wildlife. “HABs historically occur in the summer months, but due to climate change, they have recently been flourishing year-round,” explained Assemblymember Quirk who has been studying climate change for over three decades.
“These toxic blooms afflict every region of the State, and are a recurring national headline across the United States. In Alameda County alone, at least four water bodies are currently impaired. I’ve gotten reports of individuals getting sick and pets dying after coming in contact with these contaminated waters. It’s a serious health issue” said Assemblymember Quirk.
The Karuk Tribe has been monitoring HABs in the Klamath River for over a decade, and recognizes the need for better monitoring of HABs. “The toxic algae blooms that originate behind PacifiCorp’s Klamath dams affect the health of everyone that fishes and swims in the Klamath River. We applaud the efforts of Assemblymember Quirk to address the health threats posed by toxic algal blooms through better monitoring and public notification. In this way, we will be better able to hold polluters accountable while keeping the community safe,” said Russell “Buster” Attebery, Chairman of the Karuk Tribe.
The State Water Board has taken a lead role in the State’s HAB response by setting up a volunteer-run interagency working group. In 2018, 44 reports of potential HAB-related illnesses, including 11 dog illnesses, were received by the HAB working group. As recently as September 2019, a HAB-related dog death is under investigation after HABs were confirmed at Folsom Lake near Sacramento.
AB 834 furthers the efforts of the working group by enabling more research and data collection to understand why the number of HABs is increasing, whether their toxins are entering drinking water, and how the impacts and growth of HABs can best be mitigated.
“As Chair of the Assembly Committee of Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials, I believe it is critical that we protect our waters from the toxins released by HABs. These harmful blooms not only threaten the health and safety of people, pets and wildlife, they also threaten the livelihood of tribes like the Karuk Tribe,” said Assemblymember Quirk upon learning his bill was signed.
AB 834 goes into effect on January 1, 2020.
Vicki Kretsinger Grabert to be honored with an Award of Distinction at UC Davis
Vicki Kretsinger Grabert, president and principal hydrologist with Luhdorff & Scalmanini Consulting Engineers, will be honored October 4 with an Award of Distinction from her alma mater, the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CA&ES).
The award is presented annually to individuals whose contributions and achievements enhance the college’s ability to provide cutting-edge research, top-notch education and innovative outreach. She is receiving the award in the alumni category for her work helping communities throughout California find solutions to their groundwater challenges for more than 30 years.
Grabert earned her bachelor’s degree in environmental toxicology in 1977 and then in 1983, she joined the Woodland-based consulting firm she now leads. She returned to campus to study groundwater hydrology and water quality, earning a master’s degree in 1989.
The UC Davis alumna has managed county and basin-wide groundwater monitoring programs, characterized groundwater conditions throughout the Central Valley, and prepared groundwater management plans and water supply assessments for cities and water purveyors.
She is the founding president of the Groundwater Resources Association of California and has been a member of its board of directors since 1992. In 2010, she planned and organized the launch of a new Contemporary Groundwater Issues Council consisting of nearly three dozen local, state, national and international distinguished executives and leaders who provide input on information, education and programming needs.
The Award of Distinction ceremony starts at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, October 4, in the ARC Pavilion on the UC Davis campus with a reception to follow. To learn more and register, visit the College Celebration website at https://caes.ucdavis.edu/news/events/college-celebration.
Judge Rules, Petitioners Prepare for Appeal in Siskiyou County CEQA Law Suit
Siskiyou Superior Court, on August 29, 2019, issued a Statement of Decision on Writ in the case of We Advocate Thorough Environmental Review (W.A.T.E.R.) and the Winnemem Wintu Tribe (WWT) v. Siskiyou County and Crystal Geyser Water Company, denying the Petitioners’ challenge. The Petitioners, W.A.T.E.R. and WWT, had challenged the validity of the County’s Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the Crystal Geyser Water Company Project near the City of Mt. Shasta, citing many errors in fact, procedure, and interpretation of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
The Statement covered issues of inadequate project description and project alternatives, AB52 violations regarding Tribal Cultural Resources, emissions, hydrology impacts, and county General Plan violations. W.A.T.E.R. and the Tribe contend that each of these issues have not been properly addressed by the court and plan to appeal the decision to a higher court.
“The judge’s ruling allows the County to sidestep AB52 and in effect nullifies the Tribe’s rights and guarantees under the law to protect public trust resources for the good of all,” stated Mark Miyoshi, Winnemem Wintu Tribal Historic Preservation Officer. “The Court’s Statement does not really address the major issues raised in our Petition,” stated W.A.T.E.R. Board Member Geneva Omann. “The ruling, without much basis in either science or legality, basically rubber-stamps the grossly inadequate EIR, which itself virtually ignored the environmental issues raised by the community. We are convinced that our arguments remain strong and will be properly evaluated in the appellate court.”
“The Court’s decision against our challenge to the County’s EIR is legally questionable, in defense of an EIR that is unscientific, incomplete, and essentially deceptive. It attempts to pave a path toward a project that likely will be damaging to the environment and to the health of the community and only serve the profit interests of a multinational pharmaceutical corporation based in Japan,” stated W.A.T.E.R. Board Member and Gateway Neighborhood Association representative Raven Stevens. “We plan to keep up the fight to prevent Crystal Geyser from harming our mountain home and all life downstream.”
W.A.T.E.R. works to protect the natural resources of our area and the healthy environment in which many of us have chosen to live, as well as encouraging long-range community planning that includes regenerative practices to protect all citizens, thus promoting a thriving community and economy. (cawater.net)
Winnemem Wintu (Middle Water People) are indigenous to Mount Shasta’s water that flows
downstream above and below the ground into our Great Mother Ocean. Still here after
thousands of years, Winnemem are known to be passionate water protectors and fierce
defenders of all in our shared circle of life. (www.winnememwintu.us)
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About News Worth Noting: News Worth Noting is a collection of press releases, media statements, and other materials produced by federal, state, and local government agencies, water agencies, and academic institutions, as well as non-profit and advocacy organizations. News Worth Noting also includes relevant legislator statements and environmental policy and legal analyses that are publicly released by law firms. If your agency or organization has an item you would like included here, please email it to Maven.