DAILY DIGEST: Researchers look to wetlands to increase Delta water quality; Reducing flood risk while replenishing aquifers; What do firefighting chemicals do to a forest?; Offshore drilling: Leaking ‘legacy’ oil wells pollute Calif. beaches, stir fears; and more …

In California water news today, Researchers look to wetlands to increase Delta water quality; Putting the ‘flood’ in Flood-MAR: reducing flood risk while replenishing aquifers; California wildfires lead to water treatment struggles; What do firefighting chemicals do to a forest?; Offshore drilling: Leaking ‘legacy’ oil wells pollute Calif. beaches, stir fears; Supreme Court leans toward expanding Clean Water Act to protect oceans from wastewater; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • Tchobanoglous Water Lecture: “California’s Water Resilience Portfolio: An Opportunity for Détente in the State’s Water Wars?” from 6pm to 7pm. Wade Crowfoot to speak at the free event at McGeorge School of Law.  Click here for more information.

In the news today …

Researchers look to wetlands to increase Delta water quality:  “UC Merced Professor Peggy O’Day hopes to improve water quality in the California Delta by studying local wetlands.  O’Day is leading a new three-year study of Merced County wetlands that drain into the San Joaquin River and eventually the Delta.  “The Delta is sort of the heart and lungs of Northern California,” said O’Day, a geochemistry professor, founding faculty member and former chair of the Department of Life and Environmental Sciences in the School of Natural Sciences. … ”  Read more from UC Merced here: Researchers look to wetlands to increase Delta water quality

Putting the ‘flood’ in Flood-MAR: reducing flood risk while replenishing aquifers:  “Water management in California includes a diverse range of strategies that often requires a community of water experts to come together, collaborate, and solve issues ranging from infrastructure to operations.  Scientists, water managers, and other stakeholders had an opportunity to do just that during the 2019 Flood-MAR Public Forum held Oct. 28 to 29 in Sacramento. Hosted by the Department of Water Resources (DWR), the event provided a venue to discuss the implementation of Flood-MAR projects throughout the state. … ”  Read more from DWR News here:  Putting the ‘flood’ in Flood-MAR: reducing flood risk while replenishing aquifers

Increasingly unusual dry autumn conditions persist; fire season continues until further notice:  “Unfortunately, the weather situation in California has changed very little since my last post. The warming and “periodic offshore wind events” discussed in the last post did indeed come to pass, and unfortunately with fairly dramatic impacts in many regions. A prolonged period of offshore winds affected both northern and southern California over the past 2-3 weeks, and some regions (especially the far North Bay region) experienced some of the most extreme such offshore winds observed in years (including hurricane-force sustained winds and at least one 100mph gust in the hills above Santa Rosa). These locally powerful winds coincided with a much more widespread incursion of a dessicatingly dry airmass nearly everywhere, even on the immediate coast. In fact, the amount of atmospheric water vapor over both northern and southern California has reached record low levels (for the time of year) at various points over the past 10 days. … ”  Read more from the California Weather Blog here: Increasingly unusual dry autumn conditions persist; fire season continues until further notice

California wildfires lead to water treatment struggles:  “The latest extreme blaze in California, known as the Kincaid Wildfire, has burned tens of thousands of acres, prompted the evacuation of thousands of residents, and consumed more than 100 structures. And naturally, as with any widespread catastrophe, there have been significant impacts on regional water treatment operations. ... ”  Read more from Water Online here: California wildfires lead to water treatment struggles

What do firefighting chemicals do to a forest?:  “Dear Umbra,  What is Phos-Chek, the red stuff the fire department drops on fires? And what does it do to the land when the fire’s out? — Bothered by Unintended Results in Nature  A. Dear BURN,  I’m sure a lot of people are wondering this! Every wildfire season, it seems like there’s a slew of photos of planes dropping red clouds of some sinister material over smoking forests and the headline is something like: “THE APOCALYPSE IS NOW.” And sure, it looks bad, but there has to be a more mundane explanation than the second coming of Jesus, right? … ”  Read more from Grist here: What do firefighting chemicals do to a forest?

Why California continues to burn:  “There’s little doubt that wildfires are worsening in California. Seven of the state’s 10 most destructive fires have occurred over the past five years. Five of the 10 biggest fires have occurred this decade.  Hotter, drier weather has primed California’s hills and valleys for burning. The result is a longer fire season — now, it’s not uncommon to have wildfires in November and December. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: Why California continues to burn

Offshore drilling: Leaking ‘legacy’ oil wells pollute Calif. beaches, stir fears:  “Drillers punched hundreds of shallow wells in the California seafloor off Santa Barbara County at the turn of the 20th century — only to abandon them in the early 1900s.  In those days, plugging wells meant throwing rocks in the hole.  But the oil has lingered. It leaks from the orphaned wells and seeps from the ocean floor naturally off the Santa Barbara coast — the second-largest natural seep in the world. It leaves tar on the beach and a sheen on the waters.  Environmentalists worry about damage to the ecosystem and threats to public health on a beach that smells of motor oil and produces wave spumes the color of a latte. … ”  Read more from E&E News here: Offshore drilling: Leaking ‘legacy’ oil wells pollute Calif. beaches, stir fears

Supreme Court leans toward expanding Clean Water Act to protect oceans from wastewater:  “Supreme Court justices, both conservative and liberal, appeared skeptical Wednesday of a Trump administration argument that the federal Clean Water Act should not apply to sewage plant wastewater that flows into the ground and eventually seeps into federally protected waters, such as rivers or oceans.  The case from Hawaii has emerged as a major test of the federal anti-pollution law’s scope even as the Environmental Protection Agency under President Trump cuts back on enforcement. If justices side with environmentalists, their ruling could extend federal regulation to water treatment plants across the country. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: Supreme Court leans toward expanding Clean Water Act to protect oceans from wastewater

BLM staffers face looming deadline to relocate or quit:  “The Bureau of Land Management is expected next week to hand employees in its D.C. headquarters formal notices of relocation to Colorado and other states in the West, according to multiple sources.  The letters will kick off a 30-day period in which staffers must decide to move or potentially leave the bureau.  BLM managers have been instructed to ensure that as many staffers as possible are in town the week of Nov. 12, when the notices will be hand-delivered to the roughly 30 positions moving to BLM’s new headquarters in Grand Junction, Colo., and to the nearly 200 others being relocated to state offices across the West as part of a broad reorganization plan, the sources said. … ”  Read more from E&E News here: BLM staffers face looming deadline to relocate or quit

Study: switching to solar and wind power will reduce groundwater use:  “Increasing energy output from solar and wind power could result in less groundwater usage and more drought-resistant environments, according to a study published Wednesday in Nature Communications.  Researchers found solar and wind power, often viewed as valuable tools to help reduce reliance on fossil fuels and combat air pollution, can also lead to significantly less groundwater usage in areas where water management is most crucial, such as California. These reductions in spent groundwater, according to the study, have the potential to increase resistance to severe, long-lasting droughts. ... ” Read more from the Courthouse News Service here: Study: switching to solar and wind power will reduce groundwater use

In regional news and commentary today …

A push to protect Oregon spring chinook salmon gets a boost from genetic science:  “A logjam on a river can be a beautiful thing—especially if you’re a salmon. Logjams collect the gravel salmon need to lay their eggs.  But if you’re a spring chinook on the South Umpqua, the slick gray-green sheets of rock that line the course of the river can be a bleak place. … ” Read more from Jefferson Public Radio here: A push to protect Oregon spring chinook salmon gets a boost from genetic science

Saving Salmon: Will overhauling Scott Dam save native fish?  “[A] historic photo of the Scott Dam from October of 1920 shows concrete being poured and the dam’s south end anchorage to the outcropping of what was assumed to be bedrock. It turned out to be a huge boulder, unattached to bedrock, and located at the base of a long landslide going uphill. This was apparently unnoticed by the design engineers.  Salmon three feet long seem to clog the water as the chrome-colored fish, fresh from the ocean, begin their journey upriver toward the high-elevation gravel riffles where they were born. Here, in the remotest tendrils of the watershed, they will lay and fertilize the eggs that ensure the next generation of salmon.  At least that’s how it once was early each autumn on the Eel River. … ”  Read more from the Bohemian here: Saving Salmon: Will overhauling Scott Dam save native fish?

A year after the Camp Fire, locals are rebuilding Paradise:  “On a secluded corner of Marywood Drive in Paradise sit two vacant lots, side by side. The empty space used to hold single-family residences surrounded by Ponderosa pines. That was until the November 2018 Camp Fire — California’s deadliest and most destructive wildfire — leveled the Butte County town and destroyed more than 13,000 homes.  Now, one year later, these lots are being rebuilt by two Paradise natives, Christine and Dave Williams, who bought the properties after the fire. ... ”  Read more from KQED here: A year after the Camp Fire, locals are rebuilding Paradise

Marin: Crappy Creek:  “Winding westward along Marin County’s northern border, San Antonio Creek encompasses about 20 percent of the Petaluma River watershed. While the state has continuously designated the main stem of the Petaluma River a contaminated water body due to excessive levels of bacteria tied to fecal matter since 1975, San Antonio Creek, a tributary to the river, has gone unaffected by the river’s bacteria problem. Until now.  A state water oversight board may pass a plan laying out the steps to lower the levels of bacteria in the river and its watershed, including the San Antonio Creek. The federal Clean Water Act for contaminated water bodies requires the state to create a plan, known as a Total Maximum Daily Load [TMDL]. … ”  Read more from the Marin Independent Journal here: Marin: Crappy Creek

San Mateo: Long-awaited Butano Creek restoration project finished:  “Walking along the banks of Butano Creek earlier this month, ecologist Jim Robins saw something of a surprise in the murky waters of the freshwater stream running from the mountains to the Pacific Ocean — a crab.  Modest in size, the crab Robins spotted near a section of the creek flowing under Pescadero Creek Road might not be the sort of catch that would fetch a high price at local markets. But it was a source of excitement for Robins and Kellyx Nelson, executive director of the San Mateo Resource Conservation District, who saw the crab as a sign that the monthslong project to dredge the creek may be helping restore it to the rich, natural habitat home to a diverse set of species. ... ”  Read more from the Daily Journal here: San Mateo: Long-awaited Butano Creek restoration project finished

Monterey: Public takeover of Cal Am’s local system is feasible, analysis finds:  “A public takeover of California American Water’s local water system valued at $513 million “appears to be economically feasible” and would probably save customers money, according to a 113-page report issued by the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District on Wednesday.  According to a preliminary valuation and cost of service analysis conducted by Raftelis Financial Consultants Inc. as part of a feasibility study, a public acquisition of the local water system would likely result in “significant annual reductions in revenue requirements and projected monthly water bills.” … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: Monterey: Public takeover of Cal Am’s local system is feasible, analysis finds

TUD to request feds for New Melones water supplies:  “Plans to exercise federal county-of-origin rights to tap New Melones waters are in the works.  According to the documents for next Tuesday’s Tuolumne Utilities District (TUD) board of directors meeting, district staff will be recommending that the board authorize General Manager Ed Pattison to submit a formal letter of request to the United States Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) for a water supply contract. … ”  Read more from My Mother Lode here: TUD to request feds for New Melones water supplies

Ridgecrest: TAC, PAC to discuss sustainability plan:  “The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority’s technical and policy advisory committees will hold a joint meeting Thursday evening at 4 p.m. at Ridgecrest City Hall council chambers, 100 W. California Ave.  The primary topic for the agenda will be the discussion of the draft version of the IWVGA’s groundwater sustainability plan, a blueprint that will chart how the agency will manage the groundwater basin and achieve a sustainable safe yield over the next 20 years. … ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here: Ridgecrest: TAC, PAC to discuss sustainability plan

Palmdale Water District agrees to take on monitoring costs:  “Continuing an ongoing, joint effort to monitor groundwater levels and quality in the Antelope Valley, the Palmdale Water District on Oct. 28, agreed to fund its portion of the costs for the next year.  A group of several Valley water agencies annually contract with the U.S. Geological Survey to perform the monitoring duties, using a series of established wells from various points in order to create a picture of the water levels beneath the ground and the overall water quality. … ”  Read more from the Antelope Valley Press here: Palmdale Water District agrees to take on monitoring costs

Santa Maria: Up to 10 barrels of oil spills at former Greka facility on Black Road:  “An estimated eight to 10 barrels of crude oil leaked Wednesday at a former Greka facility on Black Road, but no riparian or waterways were threatened by the spill, according to the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.  About 10:10 a.m., County Fire received information that an oil spill had taken place at HVI Cat Canyon near 5080 Black Road, said public information officer Capt. Daniel Bertucelli. … ”  Read more from the Santa Maria Times here: Santa Maria: Up to 10 barrels of oil spills at former Greka facility on Black Road

Ventura County: Oil moratorium extended for year with results of water study still unknown: “A moratorium on new oil wells in the vicinity of a key source of groundwater has been extended for as long as another year.  Voting unanimously Tuesday, the Ventura County Board of Supervisors continued a ban on the drilling of steam-injection wells and the re-drilling of existing ones in the vicinity of the Fox Canyon Aquifer.  ... ”  Read more from the Ventura County Star here: Oil moratorium extended for year with results of water study still unknown

Design plans, environmental review underway for new Montecito debris basin:  “Environmental review for a new Montecito debris basin will be finished next year, according to Santa Barbara County Flood Control, which held a workshop on the project Monday night.  The county does not have all the funding necessary for the proposed debris basin on Randall Road and Highway 192, at San Ysidro Creek, but has hired project design and environmental review process consultants, said Tom Fayram, deputy public works director. … ”  Read more from Noozhawk here: Design plans, environmental review underway for new Montecito debris basin

Extreme storm could overwhelm Southern California dam and flood thousands:  Federal engineers have found that a dam protecting the high desert communities of Victorville, Hesperia, Apple Valley and Barstow falls short of national safety standards and could erode and collapse in an extreme flood, inundating thousands of people. Officials for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Tuesday that they had raised the risk factor for the Mojave River Dam from “low” to “high urgency action” because of “performance concerns” discovered at the 48-year-old structure, which joins a growing inventory of California dams showing signs of severe stress. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: Extreme storm could overwhelm Southern California dam and flood thousands

Yucca Valley: New sewer system used for first time:  “The new sewer system was used for the first time Monday in a home on Indio Avenue in eastern Yucca Valley.  The ceremonial “first flush” was originally set for summer, but the Hi-Desert Water District pushed back the schedule four times. Last week, the water district and a plumbing company announced the wastewater treatment plant and the piping snaking through the east end of town were ready to go online. ... ”  Read more from the Hi-Desert Star here: New sewer system used for first time

Rising seas will threaten San Clemente’s railroad and pier, could wipe out beaches, study says:  “Sea-level rise in San Clemente will threaten portions of the seaside railroad, increase the pier’s exposure to high surf, radically shrink beach size, hurt surfing quality and eventually erode bluffs that are topped with homes, according to a vulnerability assessment presented to the City Council on Tuesday, Nov. 5.  Like most coastal cities in Orange and Los Angeles counties, San Clemente is analyzing the threats of rising seas and beginning to develop strategies for dealing with increased flooding and erosion. … ”  Read more from the Daily Breeze here: Rising seas will threaten San Clemente’s railroad and pier, could wipe out beaches, study says

Imperial County declares New River emergency, sends Newsom demands for Salton Sea:  “Imperial County is doubling down on its efforts to wrest help from state and federal officials to clean up raw sewage and other pollutants flowing into the New River, and to tamp down lung-clogging dust along the fast-drying Salton Sea.  Two weeks after county supervisors declared a local air pollution emergency at the sea, they voted unanimously again this week to proclaim a local emergency at the New River due to the discharge of raw sewage and other pollutants that cause “extreme peril to the health, safety, and welfare of people and properties near and around the river.” … ”  Read more from The Desert Sun here: Imperial County declares New River emergency, sends Newsom demands for Salton Sea

San Diego taking steps to revive landmark water recycling program amid legal dispute“San Diego took key legal steps Tuesday aimed at reviving efforts to construct the city’s $4 billion Pure Water pipeline, which was abruptly halted this summer by a legal dispute over the use of unionized construction workers.  The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to remove pro-union language from contracts for Pure Water, a recycling system that would purify treated sewage into drinking water and supply one-third of San Diego’s water supply by 2035. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune here: San Diego taking steps to revive landmark water recycling program amid legal dispute

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

DR. GEETA PERSAD: Climate change and the future of California’s water

SCIENCE NEWS: Bustin’ berms: The restoration of Tule Red; Researchers look to wetlands to increase Delta water quality; What’s that fish jumping at the shallow bay’s edge?; Best of frenemies: unexpected role of social networks in ecology; and more…

NEWS WORTH NOTING: Sonoma County: New groundwater monitoring wells will provide ‘picture’ of underground water connections; PCFFA, Coalition protests Grasslands Bypass Project permit extension;

WATER PLAN eNEWS: ~~ Sierra Runoff~ PPIC Report~ Award Nominations~ Ag Events~ Flood-MAR ~~

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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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