DAILY DIGEST: With no El Nino, how does California’s winter shape up?; Chinook salmon flocking to revitalized San Joaquin River; West Coast fisheries “Comeback of the Century”; What the BLM shake-up could mean for public lands and their climate impact; and more …

In California water news today, With No El Nino, How Does California’s Winter Shape Up?; Chinook Salmon Flocking to Revitalized San Joaquin River; West Coast Fisheries “Comeback of the Century”; Groundwater Governance Q&A with Anita Milman; Loss of power can hinder firefighters, but it’s a situation they plan for; The Trump Administration Repealed Obama-Era Waters of the U.S. Rule. But Now What?; What the BLM Shake-Up Could Mean for Public Lands and Their Climate Impact; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • Groundwater Resources Association, Sacramento Valley Branch: Understanding Surface Water/Groundwater Interactions: Lesson Learned from Scott Valley from 5:30pm to 8:30pm.  Click here to register.  You do not need to be a member to attend.
  • Drinking Water & Groundwater Sustainability Plan Workshop in Lindsay from 6pm to 7:30pm.  Presented by Self Help Enterprises.  Download the English/Spanish flyer here.

In the news today …

With No El Nino, How Does California’s Winter Shape Up? Back in August, blogger Nat Johnson declared the El Niño of 2019 “officially done.”  Johnson isn’t just any blogger, either. His day job is with the NOAA Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory. The question is, what will winter 2019-2020 look like in California?  Will we have a second straight year of big snows and periodically heavy rains? Or is California headed for the start of another drought? ... ”  Read more from GV Wire here: With No El Nino, How Does California’s Winter Shape Up? 

Chinook Salmon Flocking to Revitalized San Joaquin River:  “A staggering number of Chinook salmon are returning to a California river that hasn’t sustained salmon for decades due to agricultural and urban demands, giving biologists hope that threatened fish are finally spawning in their native grounds without human help.  Officials working on a restoration program announced Tuesday that they have counted a record number of spring-run Chinook salmon fish nests (redds) so far this fall on a stretch of the San Joaquin River near Fresno. Program staff has discovered over 160 redds with several weeks to go, toppling the total of 40 recorded in 2018. … ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service here: Chinook Salmon Flocking to Revitalized San Joaquin River

West Coast Fisheries “Comeback of the Century”:  “With help from rebounding West Coast rockfish, Giuseppe “Joe” Pennisi has put the fisherman back in San Francisco’s famed Fisherman’s Wharf.  Pennisi is the first fisherman to sell freshly caught fish off his boat at Fisherman’s Wharf in many years. He has reintroduced locals to the flaky white fish that was once a mainstay of West Coast seafood. Most weekends when the fishing is good, crowds form early at the dock next to his boat, the Pioneer, and continue all day. Some wait for hours to buy chilipepper rockfish, rose fish, boccacio and other deep-water species Pennisi brings up in his nets. … ”  Read more from NOAA here: West Coast Fisheries “Comeback of the Century”

Groundwater Governance Q&A with Anita Milman:  “An expert in water governance, Anita Milman’s research focuses on understanding the interplay of technical, institutional and social dimensions of water within governance processes. Milman is an associate professor in the Department of Environmental Conservation at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the Landreth Visiting Fellow at Stanford’s Program on Water in the West (WitW). Below, Milman discusses keys to successful groundwater governance, implications toward achieving water security and her research activities at Stanford.  Q: The UN and other agencies have called water ‘a crisis of governance’ – what does this mean? … ”  Read more from Water in the West here: Groundwater Governance Q&A with Anita Milman

Central California olive farmers get a life line:  “Central Valley table olive farmers must wait in long lines at the Musco Family Olive Co. receiving plant in Exeter, Calif., but few are complaining.  They are relieved they have a buyer for this year’s harvest.  Many vividly remember receiving news last spring from Bell-Carter Foods Inc. that it had canceled almost all contracts with California olive farmers.  Tulare County olive farmer John Werner remembers that evening all too well. … ”  Read more from the Capital Press here: Central California olive farmers get a life line

What Happens When Your Town Dries Up?  “California’s Central Valley is one of the most productive agricultural regions in the United States—it yields a third of the produce grown in the country and is the world’s largest supplier of canned tomatoes. But a seven-year drought has threatened the viability of the valley’s farmland, and many rural communities have suffered greatly as a result. Joris Debeij’s short documentary When a Town Runs Dry offers a window into the front lines of the water crisis. … ”  Read more from The Atlantic here: What Happens When Your Town Dries Up?

Loss of power can hinder firefighters, but it’s a situation they plan for:  “Pacific Gas and Electric Co.’s massive power shutdown is supposed to help prevent wildfires from sparking, but it could also disable the pumps, hydrants and other equipment firefighters and emergency workers need to fight fires.  The preemptive power outages, set to begin early Wednesday and extend for several days, could hamper firefighting efforts if blazes were to erupt in a blacked-out Bay Area community. That danger prompted fire departments and water districts on Tuesday to fill their tanks and water tenders, put backup generators in place and prepare for the worst. ... ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: Loss of power can hinder firefighters, but it’s a situation they plan for

As dangerous fire conditions target California, Weather Service is rethinking its warning system:  “Roaring, dry winds are forecast in California over the coming days, setting up potentially the most extreme fire conditions this season, and for the San Francisco Bay area, perhaps the strongest offshore winds since the 2017 wine country firestorms. But the volatile fire weather situation raises the question: Will the public be ready if a blaze suddenly erupts given information provided by the National Weather Service? … ”  Read more from the Washington Post here: As dangerous fire conditions target California, Weather Service is rethinking its warning system

Study of past California wildfire activity suggest climate change will worsen future fires:  “In the wake of recent wildfires that have ravaged northern and central California, a new study finds that the severity of fire activity in the Sierra Nevada region has been sensitive to changes in climate over the past 1,400 years. The findings, published in Environmental Research Letters, suggest that future climate change is likely to drive increased fire activity in the Sierras.  “Our data show that climate has been the main driver of fire on a regional scale,” said Richard Vachula, a Ph.D. student in Brown University’s Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences and the study’s lead author. … ”  Read more from Science Daily here: Study of past California wildfire activity suggest climate change will worsen future fires

NATIONAL

Five Radical Climate Policies That Most Americans Actually Like:  “For the first time in years—and maybe ever—Democrats are getting ambitious about climate change. Several presidential candidates have proposed $1 trillion plans that variously nudge, cajole, and force the economy to reduce carbon pollution. The largest plan, from Senator Bernie Sanders, calls for $16.3 trillion in public investment over 10 years, which would be the biggest economic stimulus package since the New Deal. ... ”  Read more from The Atlantic here: Five Radical Climate Policies That Most Americans Actually Like

The Trump Administration Repealed Obama-Era Waters of the U.S. Rule. But Now What? September’s long-anticipated repeal of the 2015 “Waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS) rule may prove to be a preamble compared to the legal and regulatory battle set to erupt this fall and reverberate into 2020 and beyond. The Trump administration is expected to complete step two in its WOTUS repeal by finalizing its replacement for the Obama Era rule by the end of the year.  Likely to be revised in the new rule are the definitions of: What, exactly, constitutes a body of water?, What, exactly, qualifies a body of water for regulatory scrutiny?, and What, exactly, is the role of federal regulation in managing bodies of water? ... ”  Read more from Outside Life here:  The Trump Administration Repealed Obama-Era Waters of the U.S. Rule. But Now What? 

What the BLM Shake-Up Could Mean for Public Lands and Their Climate Impact:  “The changes underway at the U.S. Bureau of Land Management might not seem like much: A few hundred employees are being relocated from offices near the White House and dispersed throughout the West, while agency leaders move in next door to energy companies in newly leased headquarters in Grand Junction, Colorado.  But along with the appointment of a self-described Sagebrush Rebel as acting director, the shuffling of staff could help position conservatives to accomplish substantial political goals: expanding fossil fuel development, easing national environmental protections, and shifting more power to state governments for managing federal forests and energy development. … ”  Read more from Inside Climate News here: What the BLM Shake-Up Could Mean for Public Lands and Their Climate Impact

In regional news and commentary today …

Northern California: Some Counties Urging Water Conservation During PG&E Power Shutoff:  “Some Northern California residents who will experience power outages Wednesday are also being asked to conserve water. The city of Vacaville and El Dorado County announced Tuesday that the PG&E Public Safety Power Outage may also affect water service to neighborhoods.  Vacaville’s utilities department is working to ensure water is available to customers during the anticipated shutoff period. But, they said it’s important for residents to conserve water in case the shutoff lasts more than a couple of days. … ”  Read more from CBS 13 here: Some Counties Urging Water Conservation During PG&E Power Shutoff

Hamilton Levee Contract Awarded: “The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Sacramento District awarded a $6.4 million construction contract on September 30 to James Fisher Jr. Excavating of Willows, California. According to USACE, the company will provide construction work on the Hamilton City Phase 2B Levee Improvement Construction Project. … ”  Read more from Dredging Today here: Hamilton Levee Contract Awarded

Flood protection project in East San José nearly complete:  “For many San Jose residents, Lake Cunningham Park is a great spot to enjoy family picnics and recreational activities in a natural environment.  But the manmade lake and surrounding open space, built in coordination with the city of San José in the late 1970s and early ‘80s, serves another important function for our community. During strong storms, Lake Cunningham Park acts as a temporary flood detention facility and helps capture excess flows of water from nearby creeks, reducing flood risks for neighboring homes and businesses. … ”  Read more from Valley Water News here: Flood protection project in East San José nearly complete

Stockton breaks ground to modernize water treatment facility:  “On Tuesday, city officials broke ground on a project to modernize Stockton’s wastewater treatment facility in order to meet stricter federal and statewide regulations and potentially foster business and residential growth.  The Stockton Municipal Utilities District Regional Wastewater Control Facility Modifications Project involves new construction as well as improvements or demolition to existing facilities at the 700-acre site on Navy Drive in the southwest portion of the city. … ”  Read more from The Record here: Stockton breaks ground to modernize water treatment facility

Economic event in Merced turned spotlight on San Joaquin Valley’s land, people and opportunity:  “The University of California, Merced was a fitting venue for the Regions Rise Together meeting in the north San Joaquin Valley last week. UC Merced, the youngest of the UC campuses, is the first American research university of the 21st century. Its research agenda on issues of agriculture, water supply and sustainability, forest resiliency and ag tech mirrors the future of the region and the state.  It also is a university of the future in terms of whom it is educating, as interim Chancellor Nathan Brostrom told the gathering of leaders from the region, with first generation college students making up 70% of the 8,200 undergraduate student population. … ”  Read more from California Forward here:  Economic event in Merced turned spotlight on San Joaquin Valley’s land, people and opportunity

How Madera County growth can make Fresno’s dream of a river parkway come true:  “Public outcry over a proposed housing and golf course development along the San Joaquin River just north of Fresno is what led to the idea of a river parkway.  Thirty-five years later, efforts are underway to turn Ball Ranch and its neighbor, Ledger Island, into a 520-acre regional park that would create public access along one of the most scenic stretches of the envisioned 22-mile river greenbelt between Friant Dam and Highway 99. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here: How Madera County growth can make Fresno’s dream of a river parkway come true

We’re back, baby! Fresno top ag county once again:  “For the first time since 2013, Fresno County is the top agricultural county in California and the U.S.  This news comes with the Tuesday morning release of the 2018 Tulare County crop and livestock report, which shows sales of agricultural goods produced there last year totaled more than $7.21 billion, a 2.5% increase from ag sales in 2017.  In 2017, Kern County was the top ag county based on sales, followed by Tulare and Fresno counties, respectively. ... ”  Read more from the Business Journal here: We’re back, baby! Fresno top ag county once again

South Coast Shoreline Faces ‘Drastic’ Changes by 2050:  “The South Coast shoreline is the focus of a new study published in the national science journal Ocean & Coastal Management, which provides a rough roadmap for how local governments can help their beaches and ecosystems adapt to the inundations of sea-level rise. The study, explained lead author Monique Myers, a California Sea Grant specialist affiliated with UCSB and UCSD, distills previous data-heavy reports into a handful of take-home messages for city and county planners, “because they have so much to say on what happens to our coastal regions.” … ”  Read more from The Independent here: South Coast Shoreline Faces ‘Drastic’ Changes by 2050

Santa Clarita: Applications Still Being Accepted for Groundwater Advisory Committee:  “Applications are still being accepted for a public advisory committee to help develop a plan for sustainable management of the local groundwater basin in the Santa Clarita Valley. The application deadline has been extended to October 18, 2019 to ensure representation from all identified stakeholder groups. ... ”  Read more from the Santa Clarita Valley Signal here: Applications Still Being Accepted for Groundwater Advisory Committee

Santa Clarita commentary: Updated Water Supply Info Needed, says Lynne Plambeck:  She writes, “As CO2 levels rise more rapidly than predicted, we need to re-assess infrastructure needs, from sewage plants and roads located along the coasts as the sea level rises, to our water supply and delivery system.  “Infrastructure” might sound like a boring word, but it won’t be so boring to any of us if water doesn’t come out of the tap or untreated sewage is spilled into our bays, polluting the fish we eat, not to mention what it would do to sea life and birds.  Our country has long been blessed for the most part with adequate food and water supplies, though certain areas experience problems due to economic inequities. … ”  Read more from the Valley Signal here: Santa Clarita commentary: Updated Water Supply Info Needed

Del Mar will stand its ground against managed retreat:  “The Del Mar City Council unanimously agreed Monday to stand its ground against managed retreat.  The city’s resolve could be tested when its sea level rise adaptation plan is considered next week at the California Coastal Commission’s meeting in Chula Vista.  Coastal Commission staffers have recommended their voting board reject Del Mar’s plan unless the city adds 25 proposed modifications that Del Mar contends would be a “back door” to managed retreat. Council members said they will accept none of them. ... ”  Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune here: Del Mar will stand its ground against managed retreat

Commentary: Setting the Record Straight on Seawater Desalination:  Kelley Gage writes, “A recent news release posted on the Voice of OC website was clouded by mischaracterizations of the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant, which provides an important source of drinking water for San Diego County and reduces our region’s reliance on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay-Delta.  The plant is the result of a historic public-private partnership between the San Diego County Water Authority and Poseidon Water to ensure supply reliability for more than 3 million residents across the region. It helped to ensure that the Water Authority had sufficient water to meet demand during the last drought, and we are confident it will help us weather the next drought … and the one after that. … ”  Read more from the Voice of San Diego here: Setting the Record Straight on Seawater Desalination

Sen. Feinstein secures nearly $20 million to help stop Tijuana sewage from flowing into the U.S.:  “The Senate approved almost $20 million in funding to address sewage flows along the border.  Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who secured language in three different appropriations bills for the 2020 fiscal year, called the spills that send millions of gallons of raw sewage from Tijuana to San Diego, “unacceptable.”  The sewage flows have routinely closed San Diego County beaches for decades. Last year, Imperial Beach sued the federal government for failing to stop the flows, arguing the government is violating the Clean Water Act. ... ”  Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune here: Sen. Feinstein secures nearly $20 million to help stop Tijuana sewage from flowing into the U.S.

Along the Colorado River …

Proposals would dam Little Colorado River for hydropower:  “The Little Colorado River cuts across the northeast corner of Arizona, emptying its waters into the much-larger Colorado River after a more than 330-mile journey.  Few people wander in the remote region where it crosses the Navajo Nation, aside from river rafters traveling through the Grand Canyon, tribal members and occasional hikers.  That solitude in a lonely stretch of desert would be pierced by workers, roads and possibly more tourists if a long-term plan by a recently formed Phoenix-based company that wants to put in dams for power generation comes to fruition. … ”  Read more from the Associated Press here: Proposals would dam Little Colorado River for hydropower

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

METROPOLITAN BAY-DELTA COMMITTEE: SWP contract amendment for Delta conveyance; Activities of the Delta conveyance JPAs; Delta Smelt Resiliency Strategy

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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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