DAILY DIGEST: Groundwater: Deadline nears for completion of local plans; State Board to introduce streamlined permitting process for groundwater recharge; EPA targets water quality reviews that stifle energy infrastructure; Toxic algal blooms are worsening with climate change; and more …

In California water news today, Groundwater: Deadline nears for completion of local plans; SGMA: State Board to introduce streamlined permitting process for groundwater recharge; The lack of rain is on the minds of growers throughout California; Drilling boom adds stress to U.S. western water supplies: report; EPA targets water quality reviews that stifle energy infrastructure; Toxic algal blooms are worsening with climate change; How do we know when a species at risk has recovered? It’s not just a matter of numbers; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • Public meeting on the State Water Project Delta Conveyance contract amendment beginning at 10am.  Agenda, meeting materials, and webcast information by clicking here.
  • Workshop: Completing a Successful CWSRF Application from 1pm to 4pm in Fountain Valley. Topics of discussion includes a brief overview of the CWSRF funding application processes, as well as a discussion specific to the State Water Board expectations regarding the environmental, financial, and technical, application packages.  Click here for a flyer.
  • GRA Sacto Branch: Introduction to Abandoned Mine Lands: What They Are, How Big of an Issue Are They, and What Can We Do About Them? from 5:30pm to 8:30pm in Sacramento.  Click here to register.  You do not need to be a member to attend.
  • GRA Inland Empire Branch: The disconnect between groundwater legal systems and groundwater hydrology from 6pm to 8pm in Riverside. Click here to register.  You do not have to be a member to attend.

In the news today …

Groundwater: Deadline nears for completion of local plans:  “With roughly two and a half months remaining before a state-mandated deadline, local agencies overseeing critically overdrafted groundwater basins are working to finalize sustainability plans as required by a 2014 state law.  The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, or SGMA, requires local groundwater sustainability agencies in critically overdrafted basins to submit their plans by next Jan. 31. The plans must describe how local agencies will achieve groundwater sustainability by 2040, and should include measurable objectives and milestones in five-year increments. ... ”  Read more from Ag Alert here: Groundwater: Deadline nears for completion of local plans

SGMA: State Board to introduce streamlined permitting process for groundwater recharge:  “The Division of Water Rights will introduce its “Streamlined Processing for Standard Groundwater Recharge Rights” at the regular November 19th meeting of the State Water Resources Control Board (State Board). The streamlined permitting process is an important component of Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) implementation, as it may assist Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSA) in more efficiently obtaining the necessary water rights to divert and recharge water during high flow events. Groundwater recharge is likely to be an important component of many GSA sustainability plans. … ”  Read more from Somach Simmons & Dunn here: SGMA: State Board to introduce streamlined permitting process for groundwater recharge

See also this Q&A on sustainable groundwater management with Taryn Ravazzini, California Department of Water Resources Deputy Director of Statewide Groundwater Management. Read more from Ag Alert here: Online extra: Q-and-A on sustainable groundwater management

The lack of rain is on the minds of growers throughout California:  “We spoke with Joe Del Bosque, a diversified grower in Western Fresno and Madera Counties. He farms Almonds, Cherries, asparagus and cantaloupes. He is concerned about the lack of rain.  “We started the water year in pretty good shape with the most of our reservoirs above normal and I think they’re probably still in pretty good shape,” said Del Bosque. “But of course right now it’s starting out like a dry year.” … ”  Read more from Cal Ag Today here: The lack of rain is on the minds of growers throughout California

Bernhardt proposes permanent water allocation for Westlands Water District:  “In a move harshly criticized as unethical by environmental advocates across the nation, the Department of Interior is proposing to give a permanent water allocation to the Westlands Water District, the former employer of Interior Secretary David Bernhardt. Westlands comprises more than half a million acres of ag land in the western San Joaquin Valley. They employed Bernhardt for years as a lobbyist, before President Trump picked him to head the agency. Vic Bedoian reports from Fresno.

Drilling boom adds stress to U.S. western water supplies: report:  “About 60% of federal oil and gas drilling leases offered since 2017 are located in areas that are at risk of shortages and droughts, according to a report released on Tuesday.  The report from the left-leaning Center for American Progress argued an increase in drilling in these areas could worsen water shortages, a potential problem for ranchers, farmers, and municipalities, because it requires vast amounts of water. … ”  Read more from Reuters here: Drilling boom adds stress to U.S. western water supplies: report

EPA targets water quality reviews that stifle energy infrastructure:  “In the latest water quality debate between local regulators and the Trump administration, the U.S. EPA has proposed a rule that may be intended to pave the way for new natural gas pipelines despite environmental concerns.  “A proposed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulation intended to prevent states from using water quality reviews to block natural gas pipelines and other energy infrastructure is running into stiff opposition from states, tribal nations and environmental groups — in a sign of possible legal challenges ahead,” according to S&P Global. “The EPA regulation proposed in August attempts to clarify the scope and timing of state reviews and to cut back on what it casts as ‘confusion’ leading to delays.” ... ”  Read more from Water Online here: EPA targets water quality reviews that stifle energy infrastructure

Wind and solar can save the planet — can they save our water supply, too?  “Solar panels and wind turbines are lifelines to any non-apocalyptic version of the future. They’ll help us keep the lights on, the air breathable, and the planet inhabitable. But while the climate and health benefits of wind and solar are well known, they have another, underappreciated feature that could come in handy in our inevitably warmer, drier future: They don’t rely on water.  A new study published in Nature Communications explores how this often overlooked benefit could help alleviate water scarcity and improve food security during a drought. ... ”  Reda more from The Grist here: Wind and solar can save the planet — can they save our water supply, too?

Toxic algal blooms are worsening with climate change: “Every summer, vast blooms of harmful algae erupt in freshwater lakes across the United States. This year, blue-green mats of algae blanketed more than 1,500 square kilometers of Lake Erie’s surface by August; toxic algae forced officials to close New Jersey’s largest lake to recreational activities, and officials in North Carolina and Georgia warned dog owners to keep their pets out of the water after at least four dogs died after swimming in contaminated water. ... ”  Read more from EOS here: Toxic algal blooms are worsening with climate change

How do we know when a species at risk has recovered? It’s not just a matter of numbers:  “Around the world, animals and plants are disappearing at alarming rates. In May 2019, a major U.N. report warned that around one million species were at risk of extinction – more than at any other time in human history. … The challenge is that while extinction is easy to define, recovery is not. Until recently, there was no general definition of a “recovered” species. As a result, some species recovery plans are much less ambitious than others, and scientists don’t have a common yardstick for recognizing conservation successes. … ”  Continue reading at The Conversation here: How do we know when a species at risk has recovered? It’s not just a matter of numbers

Clean energy, yes. But divisions put Dems on different paths:  ” … The major challenge for the 2020 Democratic presidential field is that the United States isn’t close to an energy mix that relies on zero- or low-emission sources. And that’s a major hurdle for a sector that accounted for about 28% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2017, according to EPA data. … ”  Read more from E&E News here: Clean energy, yes. But divisions put Dems on different paths

In regional news and commentary today …

Redding: A clean-water plant’s ponds become a top five bird-watching destination in its county:  “Ponds at wastewater treatment plants are like magnets for birds and bird-watchers, especially those along the migration flyway in California’s Central Valley area.  Among them is the Clear Creek plant in Redding, along the Sacramento River, which serves as its receiving stream. A 93-acre portion of the property contains 10 ponds, each about 7 feet deep, that were process ponds when the plant was built in 1961. Since then, two upgrades and expansions have altered the use of the ponds — except for the birds’ purposes. … ”  Read more from Treatment Plant Operator here: Redding: A clean-water plant’s ponds become a top five bird-watching destination in its county

Late last week, around 470 Humboldt landowners got ‘we see you’re growing’ letters:  “Last week, Humboldt County’s Commercial Cannabis Cultivation unit at Code Enforcement sent out about 470 warning letters to residents it suspects of unpermitted cultivation activity. Consultants who help farmers through the permit process received multiple calls from panicky growers. The county has “carpet bombed our community again,” one consultant said in exasperation. … ”  Read more from the Redheaded Blackbelt here: Late last week, around 470 Humboldt landowners got ‘we see you’re growing’ letters

Monterey: Locals have options for Coastal Commission desal project hearing:  “Citing “environmental justice” concerns, Coastal Commission staff is offering unusual access for local residents to Thursday’s commission hearing on the California American Water desalination project.  In addition to the regularly scheduled commission hearing in Half Moon Bay, the commission will offer live-streamed access to the hearing and the ability to provide public testimony at the Marina City Council chambers to allow locals to participate without making the 100-mile journey up the coast and potentially missing a day of work. … ”  Read more from the Monterey Herald here: Monterey: Locals have options for Coastal Commission desal project hearing

Along the Colorado River …

Historically left out, Colorado River tribes call for more sway in western water talks:  “Earlier this year, Arizona — one of seven southwestern states that rely on the Colorado River — was in the midst of a heated discussion about water.  “It’s time to protect Lake Mead and Arizona,” the state’s Republican governor, Doug Ducey, said in his state of the state address in January 2019. He spoke to lawmakers in the midst of uncomfortable, emotional discussions at the statehouse in Phoenix about who gets access to water in the arid West, and who doesn’t. … ”  Read more from KUNC here: Historically left out, Colorado River tribes call for more sway in western water talks

No oversight in place for Arizona’s dry washes once EPA rule change final:  “Arizona expects to lose federal oversight over a large chunk of its waterways once a new Trump administration rule goes into effect.  The Environmental Protection Agency’s new definition of “Waters of the United States” is slated to be in place by spring. The change would remove from federal regulation certain urban lakes and so-called “ephemeral” streams, which only run due to rain or snow. … ”  Read more from KJZZ here: No oversight in place for Arizona’s dry washes once EPA rule change final

Arizona prepares to lose federal water protections:  “The vast majority of Arizona waters now regulated by the state under the federal Clean Water Act could be excluded from protection under the Trump administration’s narrowed definitions of federal waters, according to state environmental officials.  The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality is taking initial steps to launch a state program to oversee waters excluded from the Trump administration’s revised definition of what it considers Waters of the U.S. That definition determines which waters fall under federal oversight. … ”  Read more from Bloomberg Environmental here: Arizona prepares to lose federal water protections

Pinal County has plenty of water for the next 100 years. We just need to prioritize demand, say Jordan Rose and Tom Galvin:  They write, “Mark Twain once wrote of his difficulty with math by ascribing a quote about the flexible power of numbers to British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”  Farmers, developers, landowners, residents and elected officials in Pinal County are now empathetic with Twain because we are trying to dispel a growing notion that “Pinal County is out of groundwater.” … ”  Read more from Arizona Central here: Pinal County has plenty of water for the next 100 years. We just need to prioritize demand

In a revived Arizona river, a wildlife oasis is remade:  “Much of the Santa Cruz River is a dry, desert wash, only flowing after heavy monsoon rains. As Tucson Water hydrologist Dick Thompson and I walk along the river south of Starr Pass Boulevard, he points out how brown the vegetation looks. “Dry as a bone,” he says.  We walk down the dry riverbed, toward the stretch of the Santa Cruz that does have water. … ”  Read more from HPPR here:  In a revived Arizona river, a wildlife oasis is remade

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

METROPOLITAN WATER PLANNING & STEWARDSHIP COMMITTEE: USFWS Regional Director Paul Souza explains the biological opinions

WORKSHOP SCHEDULED to inform development of implementation guidance for new wetland regs

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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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