DAILY DIGEST: Illegal pot operations in public forests are poisoning wildlife and water; New law requires California dams to have emergency plans — but do they?; The dam nobody wants just won’t go away; West’s water shortage is fueled by human error; and more …

In California water news today, Illegal pot operations in public forests are poisoning wildlife and water; California has six of the nation’s 1,680 high-hazard dams deemed in risky condition; New law requires California dams to have emergency plans — but do they?; The dam nobody wants just won’t go away; Farmageddon in California: Why J.G. Boswell is set to benefit from California’s ‘catastrophic’ water law; The West’s water shortage is fueled by human error; EPA, Bureau of Reclamation advance cooperation on water supply, reuse funding; Are numbers of species a true measure of ecosystem health?; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • The California Environmental Flows Workgroup meets at 9:30am: Agenda items include a  CDFW presentation on current studies, CEFF Updates and walk through examples, and a presentation on the LA River.  The meeting is also available via Skype.  Click here for the full agenda and Skype information.
  • Webinar: The Tap into Resilience Toolkit: Unlocking Financial Solutions for Lead Line Replacement at 10:30am: Learn how your community can access new ways to finance lead service line replacements. Hear from water leaders on their personal experiences and plan your next community water innovation.  Hosted by the Water Now Alliance.  Click here to register.
  • Webinar: Communicating the value of water from 11am to 12pm: This webinar will review branding and messaging for the water sector with a focus on persuasive messaging in the face of challenges. We’ll review broad concepts and tangible examples of how to successfully get the message out to key stakeholders.  Presented by the US Water Alliance.  Click here to register.
  • SGMA survival toolkit in Tulare at 1:30pm: Three panels will discuss the impacts and possible unintended consequences of SGMA. Free and open to the public.  More information by clicking here.

In the news today …

Illegal pot operations in public forests are poisoning wildlife and water:  “Water and wildlife in the nation’s public forests are slowly being poisoned by insecticides and other chemicals used in illegal marijuana operations, say forest police and researchers. … “The true crime here is the fact that they’re killing off basically America’s public lands, killing off the wildlife, killing off our water,” says Kevin Mayer, a U.S. Forest Service law enforcement assistant special agent in charge. “This is stuff that, you know, it’s not gonna repair itself.” ... ”  Read more or listen at NPR here: Illegal pot operations in public forests are poisoning wildlife and water

California has six of the nation’s 1,680 high-hazard dams deemed in risky condition:  “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. … ”  Continue reading at the LA Times here: California has six of the nation’s 1,680 high-hazard dams deemed in risky condition

New law requires California dams to have emergency plans — but do they?  “In the heart of Cameron Park sits a neighborhood of homes with some of the widest streets in the county. The homes all have garages with doors wide enough to let a full airplane park inside. …  The neighborhood has another distinctive feature: To the north of the homes sits a dam and Cameron Park Lake is on the other side. Even though the dam has never had any breaches or problems, Bray did his homework. … ”  Read more from KCRA Channel 3 here: New law requires California dams to have emergency plans — but do they?

The dam nobody wants just won’t go away:  “The construction of dams on rivers worldwide has stopped the natural flow of sand and silt to the sea—resulting in coastal wetland loss and disappearing beaches—as well as preventing fish from reaching vital spawning grounds. But when the decision is made to remove a dam it can be remarkably challenging. Just ask the people of Ventura, California, who’ve been trying for 20 years—and are not much closer to ditching a dam that supplies no water but packs a lot of downsides—and risk. ... ”  Read more from H2O Radio here: The dam nobody wants just won’t go away

Farmageddon in California: Why J.G. Boswell is set to benefit from California’s ‘catastrophic’ water law:  “In 2014 California governor Jerry Brown signed into law the State Groundwater Management Act, known as SGMA (pronounced as SIGMA). An article in the Sacramento Bee in late September of 2019, called the law “catastrophic” for California farmers. … In 2014 California governor Jerry Brown signed into law the State Groundwater Management Act, known as SGMA (pronounced as SIGMA). An article in the Sacramento Bee in late September of 2019, called the law “catastrophic” for California farmers. … ”  Read more from Seeking Alpha here: Farmageddon in California: Why J.G. Boswell is set to benefit from California’s ‘catastrophic’ water law

NASA identified California’s ‘super-emitters’ of greenhouse gases. Here’s where they’re coming from.  “When it comes to pollution, not all greenhouse gases are created — or emitted — equally. Methane is 25 times as efficient at trapping radiation in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, making it an especially potent greenhouse gas.  During five campaigns betwee 2016 and 2018, NASA flew a specially-equipped plane equipped over 272,000 “infrastructure elements” to identify where the state’s methane emissions were coming from. They found 564 sources — or just 0.2% of all sources surveyed — were responsible for 60% of all methane emissions. … ”  Read more from SF Gate here: NASA identified California’s ‘super-emitters’ of greenhouse gases. Here’s where they’re coming from.

NOAA awards Scripps $4.9 million to identify cause of toxic algae blooms:  “Researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography have received a $4.9 million federal grant to find out what causes an ocean algae bloom to suddenly turn deadly.  The grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will fund a hunt for blooms along California’s coast to learn how to predict when they will turn toxic. … ”  Read more from the Times of San Diego here: NOAA awards Scripps $4.9 million to identify cause of toxic algae blooms

California is one of many places wrestling with its climate change future:  “Californians have grappled with destructive wildfires and struggled to breathe with the smoke-filled air over the past two weeks. While some weighed in that California is becoming unlivable, it’s clear that the question of livability does not only apply to the Golden State. … To say California is becoming unlivable also means that many communities across the U.S. and around the world can already be considered “unlivable.” … ”  Read more from The Hill here: California is one of many places wrestling with its climate change future

The West’s water shortage is fueled by human error:  “Back in 2013, Zach Frankel, executive director of the Utah Rivers Council, an environmental advocacy group, asked Utah’s Division of Water Resources (DWR) for the data used to create a landmark study of the state’s water usage. Seven years earlier, the state legislature had commissioned the massive, expensive Lake Powell Pipeline to suck water out of the Colorado River, based on the needs predicted by that study, and Frankel was suspicious about the underlying numbers. But, he says, the DWR couldn’t fulfill the request. Because while the agency had decades of water-usage data in its archives, it hadn’t saved the methodology it used to assemble the study. … ”  Read more from Outside Magazine here: The West’s water shortage is fueled by human error

EPA, Bureau of Reclamation advance cooperation on water supply, reuse funding:  “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) last week announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that advances federal collaboration on funding for water supply and water reuse projects nationwide.  Consistent with the Administration’s commitment to infrastructure resiliency, the agencies are collaborating on approaches to effectively and efficiently help ensure that all Americans have access to sustainable supplies of clean water by leveraging the core expertise of each agency. … ”  Read more from Water Finance and Management here: EPA, Bureau of Reclamation advance cooperation on water supply, reuse funding

Renewable energy gives farmers another reason to love it:  “As if the case for renewable energy needs any more making, along comes a new study showing that wind and solar power are good for the water table and they could help farmers survive periods of drought, too. That’s especially big news for California. The state has suffered through a series of droughts, leading to unsustainable use of its underground water resources by farmers and other users. But wait, there’s a weird hydropower angle in there, too. … ”  Read more from Clean Technica here: Renewable energy gives farmers another reason to love it

Are numbers of species a true measure of ecosystem health?  “A great extinction is under way across most of the planet. From the forests of the Amazon to the suburban hinterlands of America, from the depths of the oceans to Southeast Asia’s mangrove swamps, millions of species are being lost. And as species disappear, the populations of those that remain are also plunging. North America has lost more than a quarter of its birds since 1970.  And yet the situation is more complex than at first sight. … ”  Read more from Yale E360 here: Are numbers of species a true measure of ecosystem health?

In commentary today …

Dead dogs and toxic fish: Welcome to Stockton, a city choking on California water policy, says the LA Times:  They write, “Stockton is a city simultaneously in recovery and under stress. The municipality of about 300,000, some 50 miles south of Sacramento and 80 miles east of San Francisco on California’s extraordinary inland delta, became the largest U.S. city to file for bankruptcy in 2012 (Detroit followed in 2013). It was then, and remains today, one of the nation’s most violent cities, and it still struggles with deep poverty, even as its emergence from insolvency sparks civic renewal and innovation. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: Dead dogs and toxic fish: Welcome to Stockton, a city choking on California water policy

Huffman’s interest in fisheries act is commendable, says Richard Slusher:  He writes, “A once-in-a-decade opportunity for everyone to weigh in on the management of our fisheries has been put into motion.  The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act is the primary federal law that governs all management of marine fisheries in federal waters of the United States. The act governs both commercial and recreational fishing sectors. First enacted by bi-partisan legislation in 1976, it has been reauthorized and amended by Congress in 1996 and 2006. The intent was to update and reauthorize the MSA every 10 years. Obviously, a reauthorization in 2016 did not occur and the MSA has remained essentially unchanged since 2006. … ”  Read more from the Marin Independent Journal here: Huffman’s interest in fisheries act is commendable

In regional news and commentary today …

North Coast: What seining the rivers can tell us:  “On a crisp fall morning, in the not-quite-light of pre-dawn, men in waders gathered to seine for fish at Huntley Park on the Rogue River, about 7 miles up Jerrys Flat Road out of Gold Beach.  Several of the men are from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW). Their companions are are a hardy group of volunteers, fishermen who belong to Curry Anadromous Fishermen.  They’re there to count fish … yet again. … ”  Read more from the Daily Triplicate here: North Coast: What seining the rivers can tell us

Feather River Fish Hatchery meets salmon harvest goal; 12 million chinook eggs collected:  “Take a walk along the Feather River and you’ll see the water teeming with fish as the chinook salmon continue to make their fall journey upriver to the hatchery ladder.  The annual run of salmon returning from the ocean to the river for spawning started a little late this year due to ocean conditions, according to Penny Crawshaw, Feather River Fish Hatchery manager 1.  “They were about two weeks behind this year because there was a bunch of krill in the ocean so they stayed there a little longer to feed and get more energy before they entered the river system and stopped eating,” said Crawshaw. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here: Feather River Fish Hatchery meets salmon harvest goal; 12 million chinook eggs collected

Sonoma County drills wells to study groundwater sustainability:  “The shallow wells Sonoma County’s water agency is drilling near 11 waterways have nothing to do with delivering water to 600,000 residents of Sonoma and Marin counties.  Instead, the 21 wells will serve as measuring sticks to determine whether pumping groundwater in the county’s three basins — the Santa Rosa Plain, Petaluma Valley and Sonoma Valley — is curbing the flow in creeks inhabited by federally protected fish and other species. ... ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here: Sonoma County drills wells to study groundwater sustainability

Bay Area rainfall: When’s it coming and when should we start to worry? Normally between Oct. 1 and mid-November, if historical averages are any guide, the Bay Area has received nearly 2 inches of rain, and Los Angeles and Fresno each have received about an inch.  But so far this year? None. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here: Bay Area rainfall: When’s it coming and when should we start to worry? 

Menlo Park man files lawsuit against creek authority:  “Menlo Park resident Peter Joshua filed a lawsuit on Oct. 24 in San Mateo County Superior Court against the San Francisquito Creek Joint Powers Authority and its board, claiming that on Sept. 26, it skipped a step in the approval process when it opted to move forward with its plan to replace the Pope-Chaucer Bridge, among other flood control measures. … ”  Read more from The Almanac here: Menlo Park man files lawsuit against creek authority

Antelope Valley: Not just fire, California has water worries:  “Antelope Valley’s neighbors to the east now have something to worry about.  According to an article in USA Today, some Californians have serious concerns over water. Officials have worries that the Mojave River Dam could breach in an extreme weather event.  Flood waters could threaten Hesperia, Apple Valley, Victorville and Barstow. ... ”  Read more from the Antelope Valley Press here: Not just fire, California has water worries

Long Beach: Lab-raised white abalone to be released to secret location by team from Long Beach aquarium:  “How do you save a struggling sea species on the brink of extinction?  When it comes to endangered white abalone, marine scientists are hoping “human helper” efforts will provide the necessary lifeline.  A team from Long Beach’s Aquarium of the Pacific, as well as other research, academic and governmental partners, will be releasing hundreds of cultured white abalone in coming days at a secret sea location, a first-ever attempt to release into the wild the federally protected species that once was plentiful off the California coastline. … ”  Read more from the Long Beach Press Telegram here: Long Beach: Lab-raised white abalone to be released to secret location by team from Long Beach aquarium

Along the Colorado River …

Arizona’s water supplies are drying up. How will its farmers survive?  “You could almost visit Arizona without noticing it was a farming state. If you flew into Phoenix in an aisle seat, for instance, and spent your time in the city. But if you happened to drive south beyond the car shops and warehouses, across the sandy flats of mesquite and creosote, over dry arroyos, and past the groves of Saguaro cactus that really do stand like sentinels, you would eventually look up from the road to see fields of technicolor green. It may seem otherworldly after so many monochromatic miles, but irrigated agriculture has been a part of this desert landscape for more than 1,000 years. ”  Read more from National Geographic here: Arizona’s water supplies are drying up. How will its farmers survive?

As fight over proposed Las Vegas pipeline persists, remember Owens Valley, says Kyle Roerink:  He writes, “Any visitor to the small border town of Baker, Nevada will likely come across a phrase that references the Eastern Sierra: Remember the Owens Valley.  The famed California valley is a victim of William Mulholland’s Los Angeles Aqueduct –– a project made famous by its rapacious desertification of Owens Lake and surrounding areas. That damage, which continues to cost Californians millions of dollars per year for mitigation, explains why many Nevadans hope we learn an important lesson from our neighbor to the west. … ”  Read more from the Reno Gazette Journal here: As fight over proposed Las Vegas pipeline persists, remember Owens Valley

More news and commentary in the weekend and Veterans Day editions of the Daily Digest …

DAILY DIGEST: Veteran’s Day edition: Feds set to lock in huge water contract for well-connected Westlands Water District; 2 years after spillway crumbled, lessons learned at Oroville Dam; SCOTUS Argument analysis: Context trumps text as justices debate reach of Clean Water Act; and more …

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 …

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

BLOG ROUND-UP: Trump’s Bay-Delta biops are a plan for extinction; Some more water management truisms; Settlements constrain efforts to enlarge Shasta Dam; Providing ‘overdraft’ protection for groundwater in the Pajaro Valley; Building climate resilience through insurance; and more …

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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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