DAILY DIGEST: ‘Bomb Cyclone,’ extreme winds headed for NorCal coast; Draft GSP would end large-scale agriculture in Indian Wells Valley; Aging Oroville Dam spillway gates draw concern; Cross-border water issues need cross-border solutions; and more …

In California water news today, ‘Bomb Cyclone,’ extreme winds headed for Southern Oregon-California coast; Lawsuit aims to save desert ag: Draft groundwater sustainability plan would end large-scale agriculture in Indian Wells Valley; Aging Oroville Dam spillway gates draw concern; Cross-border water issues need cross-border solutions; Tale of three regions: Study probes drought-forced change in water policies; The shifting winds of fire management; California Democrats seek EPA watchdog help amid Trump threats; Oysters To Serve As Biological Sensors In San Diego Estuaries; New monitoring program hopes to boost science on Colorado River headwaters; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • California Wildfires: Community and Water Supply Protection at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco beginning at 6pm:  What are communities doing to protect their homes and their water supply? What are drinking water utilities and the state of California doing to address these terrible problems? This program will discuss the actions a large Bay Area water utility is taking to protect the green and build infrastructure that delivers our water. We will hear from the state’s forest health lead on the focus of their work. Finally, we will present examples of steps other communities around the West are taking.  Click here for more information and to register.

In the news today …

‘Bomb Cyclone,’ extreme winds headed for Southern Oregon-California coast:  “A major winter storm is headed for the Oregon-California coast Tuesday.  Meteorologists are calling it a “bomb cyclone” — a storm that intensifies rapidly, causing winds to swirl around a base of extremely low pressure.  For the Oregon-California coast, that means winds of up to 70 miles per hour. … ”  Read more from KLCC here: ‘Bomb Cyclone,’ extreme winds headed for Southern Oregon-California coast

Wild weather week in California: fire risk, rain/wind, low snow levels:  “To start off what will ultimately become a pretty wet and wild weather week throughout California, the first item to contend with will be…briefly critical fire weather conditions across most of northern California, including the Sierra Nevada foothills and the Bay Area (yes, on *November 25*). For folks in SoCal who might need a reminder: most of Northern California has still not seen measurable precipitation since mid-May (since the precipitation event last week missed the northern half of the state). As a result, much of coastal northern and central California is currently (as of today) experiencing its driest autumn-to-date period on record. In fact, much of California would likely have experienced its driest autumn on record–save for the widespread precipitation event that will arrive just in the nick of time (i.e., the last 4 days of the 3-month Sep-Nov season). … ”  Continue reading at the California Weather Blog here: Wild weather week in California: fire risk, rain/wind, low snow levels

Lawsuit aims to save desert ag: Draft groundwater sustainability plan would end large-scale agriculture in Indian Wells Valley:  “Water managers trying to bring groundwater into balance in the severely overdrafted Indian Wells Valley basin near Ridgecrest laid out a draft plan last month that would essentially mean the end of large-scale agriculture in that desert region.  “We are giving options to (ag) pumpers so they understand they have a limited future here and can make the best decisions for their businesses,” said Kern County Supervisor Mick Gleason, who represents the area and sits on the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority board. … ”  Read more from the Bakersfield Californian here: Lawsuit aims to save desert ag: Draft groundwater sustainability plan would end large-scale agriculture in Indian Wells Valley

Aging Oroville Dam spillway gates draw concern:  “Despite increased maintenance of Oroville Dam since the spillway fell apart in February 2017, members of the community-led Oroville Dam Ad Hoc Group have expressed concern about the age and wear of mechanics within the spillway’s main gates, citing similar failures on dams of the same era.  The Department of Water Resources convened a meeting Nov. 13 of the Oroville Dam Ad Hoc Group — an organization comprised of local elected officials and stakeholders appointed by state Sen. Jim Nielsen (R-Tehama) and Assemblyman James Gallagher (R-Yuba City) — as part of the Oroville Dam Safety Comprehensive Needs Assessment that was initiated by the DWR after the spillway crumbled. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here: Aging Oroville Dam spillway gates draw concern

Cross-border water issues need cross-border solutions:  “Regional collaboration and partnerships are needed to solve cross-border water issues, according to San Diego County Water Authority Board Chair Jim Madaffer.  “The Water Authority is exploring innovative solutions to increase water supply reliability for the San Diego region, but also Baja California and the Southwest,” said Madaffer during today’s opening ceremony of RE:BORDER 2019 at San Diego State University. “Those solutions include the possibility of a transborder water connection that can help both Mexico and the United States.” … ”  Read more from the Water News Network here: Cross-border water issues need cross-border solutions

Bi-national conference tackles border region’s water issues:  “A bi-national conference held Monday at San Diego State University was aimed at analyzing water resources in the Baja California and San Diego border region where challenges include cross-border pollution and water scarcity, experts said.  Water supplies are particularly low in Tijuana right now where officials announced earlier this month citywide roving water shutoffs for the next two months to allow an important reservoir to replenish. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune here: Bi-national conference tackles border region’s water issues

Tale of three regions: Study probes drought-forced change in water policies:  “Aside from advanced economies and Mediterranean climates that sustain long growing seasons, California, Spain and Australia share an intermittent feature that reshapes their overburdened water systems every time it rears its ugly head: drought.  As populations and the demand for both rural and urban water supplies increase, so have the damaging impacts of droughts and water shortages. A recent series of bitterly dry stretches have forced lawmakers in the different continents to scrap outdated approaches and become more proactive in shielding drought. … ”  Read more from the Courthouse News here: Tale of three regions: Study probes drought-forced change in water policies

Fog brings poison mercury to Santa Cruz Mountains — mountains lions are suffering:  “Three times as much mercury has been found in mountain lions in the Santa Cruz Mountains than in their inland brethren, and the likely culprit is coastal fog, a first-of-its-kind study by UC Santa Cruz has found.  The fog is apparently pulling mercury out of the ocean and dripping it over the coastal mountains, a potentially lethal problem for cougars because it bioaccumulates in their fat and could eventually contribute to their demise, the study, published Tuesday in the journal Scientific Reports, concluded. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: Fog brings poison mercury to Santa Cruz Mountains — mountains lions are suffering

The shifting winds of fire management:  “The American West is getting hotter and drier, and that has driven a quick succession of ever-more-devastating wildfires. Clearly, we need to examine our approach to fire risk management.  It’s a complicated matter made more so, researchers say, because politicians and the public tend to conflate two rather different issues. “We are mixing up the problem of forest and fuel management with the problem of wildland-urban interface fires,” explained Max Moritz, an adjunct professor at UCSB’s Bren School of Environmental Management and a statewide Cooperative Extension wildfire specialist. ... ”  Read more from the Santa Barbara Independent here: The shifting winds of fire management

California Democrats seek EPA watchdog help amid Trump threats:  “A group of California Democrats on Monday pressed the EPA’s internal watchdog to investigate whether the agency has retaliated against their state for political reasons, including by threatening to withhold federal funds for multiple transportation projects. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler threatened in a Sept. 24 letter to the California Air Resources Board, the state’s air agency, to withhold federal funding for highway projects if local regulators did not implement plans, known as “state implementation plans,” or SIPs, to improve air quality. ... ”  Read more from Roll Call here: California Democrats seek EPA watchdog help amid Trump threats

EPA weighs greater reporting of ‘forever chemicals’:  “The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is considering increasing the monitoring of a cancer-linked chemical that has been leaching into the water supply.  Their efforts focus on a class of chemicals abbreviated as PFAS, which are used on a variety of nonstick products like raincoats and cookware. One study found that 99 percent of individuals tested had PFAS traces in their blood, and it’s been deemed a “forever chemical” due to its persistence in both the body and the environment. ... ”  Read more from The Hill here: EPA weighs greater reporting of ‘forever chemicals’

In commentary today …

Speaker Nancy Pelosi can play a big role in climate-change legislation:  Anne Kelly writes, “California is experiencing the devastating impacts of a changing climate every day. Residents up and down the state worry about the next wildfire as they anxiously breathe hazardous smoke, see the growing number of extreme heat waves, watch as sea level rise encroaches on the coasts, comfort neighbors as floods devastate homes and carefully meter out water during times of drought — all the while trying to help the most vulnerable community members. … ”  Read more from the SF Chronicle here: Speaker Nancy Pelosi can play a big role in climate-change legislation

In regional news and commentary today …

Klamath Basin tribes win lawsuit to protect Coho:  “A long-standing court case was decided in the federal court last week, when the U.S. Court of Appeals issued its opinion that the Klamath Basin tribes – Yurok, Hoopa Valley and the Klamath Tribes – had senior, federally reserved rights of Klamath Irrigation Project irrigators, according to a press release from the Yurok.  The court ruled that the tribes’ water rights require at least enough instream water to ensure the continued existence of tribal trust species listed under the Endangered Species Act, the release states. The water rights “entitles them, at a minimum, to prevent junior appropriators from withdrawing water from the Klamath River in amounts that would cause the endangerment and extinction of the SONCC Coho salmon.” ... ”  Read more from the Siskiyou Daily News here: Klamath Basin tribes win lawsuit to protect Coho

Montecito districts look to next steps with pilot recycled water plant operating:  “The Montecito Sanitary District’s pilot project is producing recycled water at its headquarters, but it will be a while before any recycled water can be used for irrigation.  Engineering manager Carrie Poytress gave an update at the Nov. 5 joint meeting of the sanitary and Montecito Water District boards.  … ”  Read more from Noozhawk here: Montecito districts look to next steps with pilot recycled water plant operating

Long Beach: After years of study, Army Corps determines the breakwater must stay:  “The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Monday released a tentative plan to restore parts of Long Beach’s coastline but proposed no changes to the city’s 2.2-mile breakwater.  The city for more than a decade has anticipated the results of an Army Corps’ study to determine whether parts of the breakwater could be torn down to restore waves to the coastline. … ”  Read more from the Long Beach Post here: After years of study, Army Corps determines the breakwater must stay

Commentary: Huntington Beach Seawater Desalination Plant will receive $585 million in credit assistance:  Jordan Brandman writes, “Orange County has long been recognized as a worldwide leader for developing state-of-the-art, environmentally sensitive new water supply technology, and we are not resting on our laurels. … This month, it was announced that the Huntington Beach Seawater Desalination Plant will receive $585 million in credit assistance under the EPA’s WIFIA program. … ”  Continue reading at the LA Times here: Commentary: Huntington Beach Seawater Desalination Plant will receive $585 million in credit assistance

Chino Hills wells could be offline three more years:  “It will be two years in December that the city of Chino Hills shut down its wells because of a new contamination level set by the state for the chemical 1,2,3-TCP (TCP) and it could take another three years before a filtration system can be built to treat the chemical and put the wells back in service, according to public works officials.  The city has been paying approximately $1 million a year to purchase water because of the shutdown and it will cost $5 million for land acquisition, design, and construction associated with the filtration system, said officials. ... ”  Read more from the Chino Hills Champion here: Chino Hills wells could be offline three more years

Santa Fe Irrigation District proposes raising rates by 9 percent over three years:  “The Santa Fe Irrigation District is moving forward with a proposed three-year rate plan that would raise total revenue for the district by 3 percent per year over the next three years, beginning early next year, through rate increases and changes in the district’s rate structure. … ”  Read more from the Rancho Santa Fe Review here: Santa Fe Irrigation District proposes raising rates by 9 percent over three years

Oysters To Serve As Biological Sensors In San Diego Estuaries:  “San Diego researchers will wade into a couple of local estuaries to deliver biological sentinels — oysters equipped with sensors that will monitor the bodies of water.  The scientists are looking for insight into a habitat that can undergo dramatic changes in a matter of hours. … ”  Read more from KPBS here: Oysters To Serve As Biological Sensors In San Diego Estuaries

Along the Colorado River …

Arizona tribes oppose plan to dam Colorado River tributary:  “Native American tribes, environmentalists, state and federal agencies, river rafters and others say they have significant concerns about proposals to dam a Colorado River tributary in northern Arizona for hydropower.  Phoenix-based Pumped Hydro Storage company is seeking preliminary permits from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to study sites on the Navajo Nation, east of Grand Canyon National Park. … ”  Read more from the Salt Lake Tribune here: Arizona tribes oppose plan to dam Colorado River tributary

New monitoring program hopes to boost science on Colorado River headwaters:  “A new federal program hopes to fill in knowledge gaps on how water moves through the headwaters of arguably the West’s most important drinking and irrigation water source. The U.S. Geological Survey announced the next location for its Next Generation Water Observing System (NGWOS) will be in the headwaters of the Colorado and Gunnison rivers. It’s the second watershed in the country to be part of the program, after a successful pilot on the Delaware River started last year. … ”  Read more from KUNC here: New monitoring program hopes to boost science on Colorado River headwaters

Precipitation watch …

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

BLOG ROUND-UP: Is it drought yet?; Newsom v JFK!; Sustaining wild Salmon and Steelhead above Central Valley dams; We need to talk about environmental projects that fail; Stealing the Rain; and more …

CA WATER COMMISSION: An update on implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (or SGMA)

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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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