DAILY DIGEST, weekend edition: Bernhardt suggests Westlands for major contract; Westlands steps back from Shasta expansion. Environmentalists still worry; How to start adapting to CA’s “precipitation whiplash”; Dust kicked up from the West’s drying lakes a looming health hazard; and more …

Yesterday along the South Fork of the Tuolumne River, above Rainbow Pool.

In California water news this weekend, Bernhardt suggests Westlands for major contract; Westlands steps back from Shasta expansion. Environmentalists still worry; How to start adapting to California’s “precipitation whiplash”; California’s working landscape generates $333 billion in sales, 1.5 million jobs; Warming climate, population sprawl threaten California’s future with more destructive wildfires; Dust kicked up from the West’s drying lakes is a looming health hazard; Federal oil lease auctions may soon resume after BLM finds minimal fracking risks in California; Huge gaps in research on microplastics in North America, PSU study finds; and more …

In the news this weekend …

WESTLANDS/BERNHARDT

Bernhardt suggests Westlands for major contract:  “The Interior Department has proposed awarding one of the first permanent federal water contracts to an influential California district for which Interior Secretary David Bernhardt worked as a longtime lobbyist.  According to The Associated Press, the contract would go to the Westlands Water District, the largest agricultural water supplier in the nation. The district serves some of the U.S.’s wealthiest and most influential farmers. ... ”  Read more from The Hill here: Interior (aka Bernhardt) suggests ex-client of department head (aka Westlands) for major contract

Interior chief’s lobbying past has challenged the agency’s ethics referees: “On the morning of Aug. 21, 2018, David Bernhardt, then the deputy interior secretary, wanted to attend a White House meeting on the future of a threatened California fish, the delta smelt — an issue upon which Mr. Bernhardt had been paid to lobby until he joined the Trump administration a year before.  It was a sticky ethical issue, seemingly exemplifying the revolving door that has separated lobbying from policymaking in the nation’s capital for decades. So Mr. Bernhardt, who had, as a lobbyist, pressed to loosen delta smelt protections for a California water district, personally approached the Interior Department’s ethics referee. … ”  Read more from the New York Times here: Interior chief’s lobbying past has challenged the agency’s ethics referees

Environmentalists oppose Westlands’ bid to secure water:  “The Interior Department proposes to award one of the first contracts for federal water in perpetuity to a powerful rural California water district that had long employed Secretary David Bernhardt as a lobbyist.  Conservation groups are demanding fuller disclosure of financial terms and an environmental review of the proposed deal for Westlands Water District, the nation’s largest agricultural water supplier. The water district serves some of country’s wealthiest and most politically influential corporate farmers.  Bernhardt served as a lobbyist for Westlands until 2016, the year before he joined Interior, initially as deputy secretary. … ”  Read more from GV Wire here: Environmentalists oppose Westlands’ bid to secure water

Groups slam Trump administration’s sweetheart water deal with Westlands Water District:  Dan Bacher writes, “Conservation, environmental justice and public interest groups today responded with outrage to an Associated Press report that Secretary David Bernhardt’s Interior Department is poised to award one of the first contracts for federal water “in perpetuity” to the powerful Westlands Water District – Bernhardt’s former lobby client and largest agricultural water district in the U.S.  A draft Bureau of Reclamation contract dated October 22 reveals that Interior plans to deliver Westlands up to 1.15 million acre-feet of water a year, more than double the water supply used by the City of Los Angeles in 2018, according to Roll Call. … ”  Read more from the Daily Kos here: Groups slam Trump administration’s sweetheart water deal with Westlands Water District

‘As Corrupt as It Gets’: Oil Lobbyist Turned Interior Chief Proposes Giving ‘Coveted’ Contract to Ex-Client:  “Watchdog and conservation groups called out former oil lobbyist and current Interior Secretary David Bernhardt Friday over the department’s attempt to give a “coveted” permanent water supply contract to one of Bernhardt’s ex-clients.  “Bernhardt might as well still work for his former lobbying firm, where he represented oil and gas, mining, and agribusiness interests for many years,” declared Public Citizen president Robert Weissman. … ”  Read more from Common Dreams here: ‘As Corrupt as It Gets’: Oil Lobbyist Turned Interior Chief Proposes Giving ‘Coveted’ Contract to Ex-Client

OTHER STATEWIDE NEWS

Big California water agency steps back from Shasta expansion. Environmentalists still worry:  “The nation’s largest water agency signed an agreement that legally bars it from participating in a controversial plan to raise Shasta Dam, a move applauded by environmental groups that fiercely opposed the proposal out of fears enlarging the state’s biggest reservoir would swamp a stretch of a protected Northern California river and flood sites sacred to a Native American tribe.  Late Thursday, Westlands Water District signed a legal settlement with California Attorney General Xavier Becerra that prohibits the water district from working in a formal way on planning to raise Shasta Dam near Redding. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: Big California water agency steps back from Shasta expansion. Environmentalists still worry

How to start adapting to California’s “precipitation whiplash”:  “Much of California enjoys a mild Mediterranean climate where the weather typically swings like a pendulum from warm, dry summers to cool, wet winters. Year-to-year, this pendulum can swing with great variation. If it doesn’t swing toward rain and snow between October and March, it leads to drought; if it does, we might see record-breaking precipitation. In the dry season the pendulum can swing too far into fire weather, creating hot, dry, and windy conditions prime for wildfires.  While the pendulum has always swung here, there’s evidence that its swings are now getting more dramatic, and anyone who’s lived here in the last few years has seen it firsthand. … ”  Read more from Bay Nature here: How to start adapting to California’s “precipitation whiplash”

California’s working landscape generates $333 billion in sales, 1.5 million jobs:  “California’s working landscape and the industries associated with agriculture and natural resources contribute significantly to the state’s economy, according to a new study by the California Community Colleges Centers of Excellence for Labor Market Research, California Economic Summit and the University of California’s Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.  “When people think of California’s economy, they think of entertainment, information technology and other industries. They may not think of working landscape,” said Glenda Humiston, University of California vice president, agriculture and natural resources. “People may be surprised to learn that California’s working landscape accounts for 6.4% of the state’s economy, supports more than 1.5 million jobs and generates $333 billion in sales.” … ”  Read more from the Daily News here: California’s working landscape generates $333 billion in sales, 1.5 million jobs

Warming climate, population sprawl threaten California’s future with more destructive wildfires:  “A recent spate of devastating wildfires has rocked California, causing billions of dollars of property damage, burning hundreds of thousands of acres, and displacing thousands from their communities.  Wildfires have gotten bigger and more destructive in the Golden State, with 10 of California’s most destructive fires occurring in the past decade alone.  Recent blazes like the Getty, Kincaide and Saddle Ridge fires may be under control now, but as conditions continue to dry due to a heating climate, California’s future is under threat from even more disastrous fires. ... ”  Read more from CNBC here: Warming climate, population sprawl threaten California’s future with more destructive wildfires

Dust kicked up from the West’s drying lakes is a looming health hazard:  “Matt Dessert does not want to sue San Diego, nor does he want to start a legal battle with the state of California. But the growing threat to Imperial County’s air quality may leave Dessert, an officer with the county Air Pollution Control District, with little choice.  In May, an Imperial County resident captured dramatic evidence of the air quality issue around the Salton Sea, an inland saline lake in this southern California county, as he drove through a massive dust storm. ... ”  Read more from Bitterroot here: Dust kicked up from the West’s drying lakes is a looming health hazard

Federal oil lease auctions may soon resume after BLM finds minimal fracking risks in California:  “A long-running legal battle over federal oil-and-gas leasing in California may be nearing resolution after new findings by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management that the oilfield technique known as fracking does not pose undue environmental harm to 1.2 million acres in Kern County and other parts of California.  The findings, contained in an environmental review the BLM’s Bakersfield office released late last week, do not automatically open new lands to the controversial well-completion practice also known as hydraulic fracturing. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here: Federal oil lease auctions may soon resume after BLM finds minimal fracking risks in California

AP finds thousands face risk because of aging US dams:  “On a cold morning last March, Kenny Angel got a frantic knock on his door. Two workers from a utility company in northern Nebraska had come with a stark warning: Get out of your house.  Just a little over a quarter-mile upstream, the 92-year-old Spencer Dam was straining to contain the swollen, ice-covered Niobrara River after an unusually intense snow and rainstorm. The workers had tried but failed to force open the dam’s frozen wooden spillway gates. So, fearing the worst, they fled in their truck, stopping to warn Angel before driving away without him. … ”  Read more from the AP here: AP finds thousands face risk because of aging US dams

Huge gaps in research on microplastics in North America, PSU study finds:  “Amid increasing concern about the effects of plastic pollution on marine ecosystems, a new study led by Portland State University found that North America is lagging behind other continents when it comes to understanding the potential risks that microplastics and associated pollutants pose to both fisheries and the humans that consume the seafood.  Researchers from Portland State University (PSU), Oregon State University (OSU), and the University of North Carolina-Wilmington (UNC-W) reviewed microplastics studies on commercially-important fishery species published before March 1, 2019, finding that most of the existing literature comes from Europe, Asia, and South America. … ”  Read more from Environmental News Network here: Huge gaps in research on microplastics in North America, PSU study finds

Sunday podcasts …

Speaking of Water: Michael Cohen on the Salton Sea:  “26 years ago, a writer for the LA Times, called the Salton Sea, “A shallow body of water in deep trouble.” And said, “California’s largest Lake has become the ecological equivalent of the Broadway stage. Always dying but never quite dead.” The intervening decades have revitalized Broadway, but not so for the Salton Sea. ... ” Podcast from Circle of Blue with Michael Cohen, senior researcher at the Pacific Institute. (Transcript here.)


A Common Link: Steve Baker writes,A college student, Gage Wilson, accepted a water job in Kenya, Africa to identify and suggest solutions to their water problems. Observing life in Kenya villages is very similar in common view points and values that we face in the U.S. Good water means a well managed environment. It is accomplished like a big family. Water is a Many Splendor’ed Thing brings you another water relationship that has a personally significant impact to your life.Operation Unite, Bringing People Together to Solve Water Problems

In regional news and commentary this weekend …

Researchers flock to Butte County to study Camp Fire:  “Researchers from across the country and the world are studying the Camp Fire’s aftermath to gain insight into the catastrophic wildfires they expect will continue in communities throughout the West.  More than 45 outside universities have asked Chico State about the fire and the recovery as an initial step in their research, according to community liaison Megan Kurtz.  “People keep asking what are the lessons learned,” said Kurtz. “Well, we’re still learning them. This is going to continue to be layered.” ... ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here: Researchers flock to Butte County to study Camp Fire

Innovative Partnership to Reduce Wildfire Risk in the North Yuba River Watershed:  “A diverse group of nine organizations announced today their commitment to prioritize, plan, and execute forest restoration on an unprecedented scale in the North Yuba River watershed, covering 275,000 acres of the northern Sierra Nevada.  The memorandum of understanding spells out the group’s commitment to work together to increase the pace and scale of ecologically-based restoration within the North Yuba River watershed and to prioritize community safety, forest health, and resilience through landscape-scale restoration. … ”  Read more from ACWA News here: Innovative Partnership to Reduce Wildfire Risk in the North Yuba River Watershed

Sudden oak death rebounds in Sonoma County, spreads in California:  “Sudden oak death reasserted its grip on Sonoma County this year, doubling its presence in the wake of a wet winter, while the pathogen that has sickened and killed millions of trees cropped up alarmingly 300 miles away near the Oregon border.  The identification of two infected tanoak trees in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park in Del Norte County hardly constitutes an epidemic, but worries scientists because it could mark the beginning of a bridge that brings to California a European strain of the disease that attacks conifers, possibly including Douglas fir, a mainstay of the lumber industry in both states. ... ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here: Sudden oak death rebounds in Sonoma County, spreads in California

Massive Bel Marin Keys marsh restoration begins:  “A levee is all that keeps the waters of San Pablo Bay from gushing into the large sunken bowl of hay fields surrounding the community of Bel Marin Keys. While breaking this levee would seem like a catastrophe, state and federal agencies intend to do just that.  The purpose is not to unleash some biblical, punishing flood, but rather to allow nature to reclaim nearly 1,600 acres of wetland habitat. Before then, these agencies will construct a significantly larger levee to protect nearby communities from sea level rise. … ”  Read more from the Marin Independent Journal here: Massive Bel Marin Keys marsh restoration begins

Kern County: Underground water impacting farmland property value:  “Kern County is seeing a drop in agricultural property value.  The water crisis plaguing the state is also affecting the value of farms here in Kern County.  Michael Ming, Lead Appraiser for Alliance Ag Services, said groundwater sustainability efforts have proven to be a big challenge. … ”  Read more from Bakersfield.com here: Kern County: Underground water impacting farmland property value

Castaic Lake dam to undergo modernization to prevent malfunction during emergencies:  “The Castaic Lake Dam is expected to be modernized to prevent malfunction in the event of an emergency, officials said.  The California Department of Water Resources is conducting a stream release structure investigation, according to the organization.  The investigation plans to cover and modernize the structure and function of the Castaic Dam in case of heavy earthquake damage or malfunctioning errors. … ”  Read more from KHTS here: Castaic Lake dam to undergo modernization to prevent malfunction during emergencies

Woolsey fire crippled Boeing water safety system at toxics site:  “California regulators say it’s one of the state’s worst toxic waste sites, and it’s perched atop a rocky plateau in suburban Ventura County, close to Los Angeles.  Yet, the Boeing Co., which owns the largest portion of the site, has been relying on plastic pipes to reroute and treat potentially toxin laced rainwater before it flows toward thousands of homes and businesses down the hill.  In a major storm, state officials knew, rainwater could carry pollutants from the Santa Susana Field Laboratory, a former nuclear and rocket testing site with a documented history of nuclear and chemical accidents, toward the surrounding communities of Simi Valley and the West San Fernando Valley. … ”  Read more from NBC LA here: Woolsey fire crippled Boeing water safety system at toxics site

Supes back bid for parks and wetlands at power plant site:  “Redondo Beach’s bid to own the AES Power Plant property was boosted on Tuesday, when the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors backed plans for a financing district that would help the City purchase and renovate the site into sorely-needed open space.  “This power plant is an eyesore and we have an opportunity now to transform this site into a massive regional park and restore some of the wetlands that this power plant destroyed,” said Fourth District Supervisor Janice Hahn, who represents Redondo on the five-seat board. “There is plenty of work ahead of us, but this is a major step in returning this prime piece of waterfront real estate to the people.” … ”  Read more from Easy Reader here: Supes back bid for parks and wetlands at power plant site

Orange County’s pioneering wastewater recycling system embarks on major expansion: “Orange County’s wastewater recycling program, a pioneering idea that’s already touted as the largest of its type in the world, is about to get bigger.  Big enough, in fact, to serve the tap water needs of about 1 million residents, according to the Orange County Water District and Orange County Sanitation District. Dubbed the Groundwater Replenishment System, the project produces water that is half the price of imported water, and is virtually immune to both drought and reductions in imports. … ”  Read more from the OC Register here: Orange County’s pioneering wastewater recycling system embarks on major expansion

Victorville council approves $1.5 million water board settlement:  “The City Council on Tuesday agreed to pay a $1.5 million settlement to a local water board, which claimed the city’s negligence led to discharges of raw sewage into a Mojave River tributary.  In a civil complaint from 2016, the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board cited six sanitary sewer overflows — or spills — that occurred between March 2014 and May 2016. The largest sent more than 11 million gallons of raw sewage into the tributary. … ”  Read more from the Daily Press here: Victorville council approves $1.5 million water board settlement

Sunday video …

PPIC panel discussion: Priorities for the Water Resilience Portfolio:This panel reviews the climate challenges facing California’s water systems, and the administration’s effort to address it through the development of a water resilience portfolio. Moderated by Jeffrey Mount, senior fellow, PPIC Water Policy Center. Panelists: Louise Bedsworth, executive director, Strategic Growth Council; Secretary Wade Crowfoot, California Natural Resources Agency; and Secretary Karen Ross, California Department of Food and Agriculture. The discussion is part of the November 5, 2019 event “Preparing California’s Water System for Climate Extremes.”

Also on Maven’s Notebook this weekend …

Click here to read more editions of the Daily Digest.

Daily emailsSign up for daily email service and you’ll never miss a post!

Sign up for daily emails and get all the Notebook’s aggregated and original water news content delivered to your email box by 9AM. Breaking news alerts, too. Sign me up!

—————————————-
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

(Visited 851 times, 1 visits today)

Leave a Reply