DAILY DIGEST: Weather Service urges NorCal travelers to wait out winter storm, even so, fire season isn’t over; Programs pursue groundwater quality goals; EPA Clean Water Act interpretation reasonable, court says; Feds clear farmer to plow, then slap him with millions in fines; and more …

In California water news today, Weather Service urges Northern California holiday travelers to wait out winter storm; Even with storms bringing rain and snow, California fire season isn’t over; Programs pursue groundwater quality goals; Paiute traditions inform water management practices in once-lush Owens Valley; UC Santa Cruz researchers funded to develop new technology for monitoring toxic algae; When it comes to wildfires, should California be more like Australia?; EPA Clean Water Act interpretation reasonable, court says; Feds clear farmer to plow, then slap him with millions in fines; and more …

In the news today …

Weather Service urges Northern California holiday travelers to wait out winter storm:  “The National Weather Service in Northern California urged people to wait to travel for Thanksgiving until the weather improves as a major winter storm brought rain and show throughout the Western U.S. Tuesday.  The storm developing in the Pacific Ocean was expected to slam the West Coast of the U.S. on Tuesday evening, bringing snow to the mountains of California and wind and rain along the coasts of California and Oregon. … ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here: Weather Service urges Northern California holiday travelers to wait out winter storm

Threat of mudslides returns to California after devastating fires. How do they work? With parts of California yet again burned by severe fires, the state is facing a new winter of mudslides.  Why do mudslides happen so often in California?Mudslides have always been at the heart of the peril of living close to the mountains in California. All it can take is an intense amount of rain in a short amount of time to create damaging flows of mud and debris that can kill people and destroy buildings. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: Threat of mudslides returns to California after devastating fires. How do they work? 

Even with storms bringing rain and snow, California fire season isn’t over:  “A major storm system will sweep across much of California heading into the Thanksgiving weekend, but Cal Fire cautions it won’t mark the end of fire season.  “One storm is not the cure-all for what we’ve had to deal with in the past in the state,” said Scott McLean, deputy chief with Cal Fire. “The vegetation is definitely going to draw up this moisture, but we’ll see what next week brings. It could come with winds which could dry things back out.” ... ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here: Even with storms bringing rain and snow, California fire season isn’t over

Programs pursue groundwater quality goals:  “Pilot programs in two regions of the San Joaquin Valley will serve as templates for other areas developing plans to prevent fertilizer and irrigation runoff from entering groundwater supplies. The programs will also create plans to provide clean drinking water to disadvantaged communities.  The Turlock and Kings River groundwater subbasins are among six in the Central Valley designated as high priority due to nitrate levels that exceed 10 milligrams per liter. Affected stakeholders in the two subbasins are using grant funds from the State Water Resources Control Board for pilot programs to develop plans for compliance. ... ”  Read more from Ag Alert here: Programs pursue groundwater quality goals

Paiute traditions inform water management practices in once-lush Owens Valley:  “About 250 miles north of Los Angeles, there is a long valley known to the Big Pine and Bishop Northern Paiute people of the Owens Valley — the Nüümü (Paiute) and Newe (Shoshone) — as Payahüünadü, “The Land of Flowing Water.”  For at least 15,000 years, these Northern Paiute tribes have tended their homeland, more recently also known as the Owens Valley. The beloved region of green, well-tended gardens and wetlands, nestled between mountain ranges to the east and west, along California’s eastern edge, was nurtured by extensive and sophisticated irrigation ditches the Northern Paiute built and maintained to channel water from the seasonal, and wildly fluctuating snowmelt flowing down from the nearby Sierra Mountain Range. … ”  Read more from KCET here: Paiute traditions inform water management practices in once-lush Owens Valley

Video: Managing groundwater with the Paiute:  “In the wake of the recent drought, scientists and politicians are beginning to understand that reserving and maintaining groundwater is essential for addressing the state’s water needs. California’s Native peoples have lived with drought cycles for millennia and today, the Paiute are shepherding conversations around access to water resources, raising key questions about how our snowpack, streams and aquifers are used and maintained.”  Watch video here: Managing groundwater with the Paiute

UC Santa Cruz researchers funded to develop new technology for monitoring toxic algae:  “Raphael Kudela, professor of ocean sciences at UC Santa Cruz, has been working for over 20 years to understand and predict the periodic blooms of toxic algae that occur along the California coast. One focus of his work in recent years has been to improve the monitoring technology available to detect when algal toxins are appearing in coastal waters.  Two new grants from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are funding ongoing efforts by Kudela and his collaborators to develop technology that can detect a broad range of algal toxins. … ”  Read more from UC Santa Cruz here: UC Santa Cruz researchers funded to develop new technology for monitoring toxic algae

When it comes to wildfires, should California be more like Australia? As California casts about for new approaches to its wildfire crisis, officials could do worse than look to Australia, firefighting’s acknowledged superstar.  That fire-prone country has turned disaster into a laboratory. While not perfect, Australia has studied fire extensively and crafted policies intended to reduce fatalities and make homes safer. The country also explicitly shares fire chores with homeowners, who are expected to help or get out of the way. … ”  Read more from Cal Matters here: When it comes to wildfires, should California be more like Australia? 

$7 million legislation introduced to battle nutria swamp rats:  “The nutria swamp rat, similar in size of the common beaver, with a very high reproduction rate, is capable of wide destruction to farm waterways. It has gotten so bad in California that Congressman Josh Harder of Modesto has introduced legislation in order to get funding in an attempt to eradicate the invasive pests. … ”  Read more from Cal Ag Today here: $7 million legislation introduced to battle nutria swamp rats

California cotton fields: building biodiversity with John Teixeira:  “Cotton encouraged John Teixeira to consider organic farming, back in the late 1980s.  “It was the only thing I knew, transitioning from cotton that was conventional to organic. But I couldn’t find anyone that wanted to buy that cotton,” he says looking back. “They didn’t even know how to deal with it. It was a hard learning experience.”  But fast forward two decades and Teixeira who owns and operates Lone Willow Ranch, a 90-acre property that is Demeter-certified biodynamic, is taking his understanding of regenerative agriculture further by working to cycle all the necessary nutrients from within the boundaries of the farm, and forgoing foreign inputs. … ”  Read more from Resilience here: California cotton fields: building biodiversity with John Teixeira

EPA Clean Water Act interpretation reasonable, court says:  “The EPA’s determination that it “categorically” can’t regulate pollution-via-groundwater under the Clean Water Act is entitled to deference despite “opening a gaping regulatory loophole,” the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts said Nov. 26.  The decision comes after the Supreme Court heard arguments over the same question in County of Maui v. Hawai’i Wildlife Fund on Nov. 6. … ”  Read more from Bloomberg Environmental here: EPA Clean Water Act interpretation reasonable, court says

Addressing quality, affordability, and climate change issues in US water policy:  “Americans have come to expect clean, abundant fresh water for a variety of needs: drinking, industry, healthy ecosystems, recreation, and tourism, just to name a few. As the number of Americans living in urban areas continues to grow, domestic and industrial demand for water will increase and compete with other uses of water, such as irrigation for agriculture, one of the largest destinations for fresh water in the United States. These changes are contributing to a pressing issue: the quality of freshwater available in America is becoming increasingly problematic. … ”  Read more from Resources Magazine here: Addressing quality, affordability, and climate change issues in US water policy

In commentary today …

Feds clear farmer to plow, then slap him with millions in fines, says Paige Gilliard:  She writes, “Following government rules is often a tough enough task. But when federal agencies secretly move their own rules’ goalposts and then threaten millions of dollars in fines for noncompliance, it can be devastating.  Ask Jack LaPant. In 2011, the rural farmer in Tehama County, Calif., planted 900 acres of winter wheat on his property. Before he ever put a plow to the soil in his field, he sought the official views of both the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Services Agency and the Natural Resources Conservation Service. … ”  Read more from The Hill here: Feds clear farmer to plow, then slap him with millions in fines

How goats (and other grazing animals) can save California from the next wildfire:  Mark Nelson writes, “Another wildfire season has Californians scrambling to learn how to live with a new normal. The increased intensity of fires has impacted the lives of people in every corner of the state. … Yet wildfires remain a dangerous risk, fueled by extreme winds, drought and a buildup of flammable scrub.   So what else can we do to protect and prepare our state for the inevitable fires of the future?  We can better tend to our land. And ranchers are here to help. … ”  Read more from Cal Matters here: How goats (and other grazing animals) can save California from the next wildfire

In regional news and commentary today …

Editorial: Still time to solve recreation access problems on Klamath River, says The Bulletin:  They write, “Plans to remove four dams on the Klamath River in Southern Oregon and Northern California continue to move ahead. Now, only about three years before the first dam is expected to be removed, it’s becoming clear that some early supporters may get less than they bargained for.  Outdoor recreationists, fishing and rafting guides among them, were early and vocal supporters of dam removal. … ” Continue reading at The Bulletin here: Still time to solve recreation access problems on Klamath River

Scuba divers head out in the winter storm conducting survey for young salmon:  “There were a few people on the Sacramento River on Tuesday fishing in the cold. Some people were even in the water but they were not fishing.  Scuba divers from the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission came out to the Turtle Bay Redding Boat Launch where they were conducting a snorkeling survey on young salmon. … ”  Read more from KRCR here: Scuba Divers head out in the winter storm conducting survey for young salmon

Contractor hired to study dam removal at the Potter Valley Project: The Potter Valley Project Planning Agreement Partners, known collectively as the Two-Basin Partnership, announced today they have selected a contractor to conduct a feasibility study to evaluate long-term options and a potential licensing proposal for the Project. Stillwater Sciences will conduct the study with the goal of pointing to a pragmatic way forward for the Project that meets the needs of water users that depend on Eel River water as well as fish and habitat in both the Eel and Russian River basins. … ”  Read more from the Redheaded Blackbelt here: Contractor hired to study dam removal at the Potter Valley Project

Tahoe Conservancy receives $2.98 million in funding for Upper Truckee Marsh:  “The California Wildlife Conservation Board has awarded $2.98 million to the California Tahoe Conservancy to help restore the Upper Truckee Marsh, the largest wetland in the Lake Tahoe Basin.  “We’re grateful to the Wildlife Conservation Board for its support,” said Conservancy Board Chair and City of South Lake Tahoe representative Brooke Laine. “This new funding closes a gap for one of the most important environmental restoration projects in Lake Tahoe’s history.” … ”  Read more from the Tahoe Daily Tribune here: Tahoe Conservancy receives $2.98 million in funding for Upper Truckee Marsh

Crews build Sacramento’s McKinley Park water vault:  “Tuesday’s rain didn’t stop construction on Sacramento’s McKinley water vault construction project.  The view from above shows just how massive the project is. KCRA went deep underground with Sacramento Councilman Jeff Harris to see the progress. … ”  Read more from KCRA Channel 3 here: Crews build Sacramento’s McKinley Park water vault

Here’s why dump trucks are moving tons of sand down San Francisco’s Ocean Beach:  “Access improvements. Structural protection. Managed retreat. Those may sound like military terms — because they are. But they also describe what’s happening at San Francisco’s Ocean Beach right now — in a biennial battle the city is waging with Mother Nature.  On Monday, huge dump trucks began hauling massive loads of sand. They’re traveling from the north end of the beach, near the Beach Chalet, two and a half miles down the Great Highway to the intersection of Sloat Boulevard, which is eroding fast. It’s requiring the closure of the southbound thoroughfare every weekday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., and it’ll happen until January. By the end of the operation, the Public Utility Commission expects to move 100,000 tons of sand. Then, in a couple years, once the tides and wind have had their way, they’ll probably have to do it again. They’ve been doing it just about every two years since 2012. In this story from 2016, we take you through the process. … ”  Read more from KALW here: Here’s why dump trucks are moving tons of sand down San Francisco’s Ocean Beach

Martins Beach: Court hands Silicon Valley billionaire win in public-access fight:  “An appellate court this week sided with venture capitalist Vinod Khosla in his ongoing battle over restricting access through his property to Martins Beach, but that doesn’t necessarily allow the billionaire to shut a gate to the only road to the coveted slice of San Mateo County coast anytime soon.  The First District Court of Appeal said in a ruling dated Monday that beach-goers’ historic payment of parking fees to a previous owner to access the beach south of Half Moon Bay did not establish a public right to the road. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  Martins Beach: Court hands Silicon Valley billionaire win in public-access fight

Could shipwrecks from prohibition smuggling off Montaña de Oro still be polluting the water? Along the California coastline, there are numerous mussel-watch stations composed of bags of live filter-feeding bivalves placed on mooring lines anchored to the ocean’s floor or on pier pilings. Organizations like universities, the state Water Resources Control Board, NOAA or California Fish and Wildlife (CFW) maintain these stations, which measure trace metals, harmful algal toxins and other water pollutants.  You see, just one adult mussel can filter up to 15 gallons of seawater per day as they feed on plankton. Pollutants in the water accumulate in these bivalves (mussels, clams and oysters) tissues over time. … ”  Read more from the San Luis Obispo Tribune here: Could shipwrecks from prohibition smuggling off Montaña de Oro still be polluting the water?

Progress for Lake of the Woods in Kern County:  “Lake of the Woods (LOW) is no stranger to the ‘water struggle’. This unincorporated Kern County community located in San Emigdio Mountains, has dealt with old leaking waterlines and a drought impacted water supply for several years, and more recently, drinking water contamination.  Residents here get their water from groundwater supplied by the Lake of the Woods Mutual Water Company (Mutual), a not-for-profit company that serves approximately 401 households and businesses in the area. … ”  Read more from Self Help Enterprises here: Progress for Lake of the Woods in Kern County

Santa Clarita: Water heads name advisers to groundwater agency:  “It wasn’t easy for water officials tasked with hammering out a plan to manage the Santa Clarita Valley’s groundwater to find seven people to serve as the agency’s advisory group, but on Monday, they approved a list of double the number they sought.  Members of the Santa Clarita Valley Groundwater Sustainability Agency met Monday afternoon for special meeting, in part, to define which volunteers would serve as groundwater advisers. ... ”  Read more from the Santa Clarita Valley Signal here: Santa Clarita: Water heads name advisers to groundwater agency

Giant water wheel will churn LA River water just like the 1860s:  “A long-in-the-works project that would put a functioning water wheel on the Los Angeles River is underway.  The roughly 50-foot-tall wheel received its final permit—an elusive one from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers—in September, and began installing the needed pipeline in the river bed shortly after, says Michael Gagan, a lobbyist shepherding Chinatown-based Metabolic Studio through the approvals process. … ”  Read more from Curbed LA here: Giant water wheel will churn LA River water just like the 1860s

Column: Rains push L.A. trash into Ballona Creek. He plucks it out.  Steve Lopez writes, ““This is gonna blow your mind,” Josey Peters promised, calling me down to the banks of Ballona Creek. “You’ll never be the same.”  I pushed through the bushes, eased down the slippery slope and stepped into the muck of a million pieces of trash. For as far as I could see, east and west, the banks were littered with plastic cups, fast-food containers, spray paint cans and chip wrappers. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: Column: Rains push L.A. trash into Ballona Creek. He plucks it out.

Long Beach: O’Donnell criticizes Army Corps breakwater study, says he hopes it was ‘dictated by science, not political science’:  “The Army Corps of Engineers announced this week that it would not recommend removing Long Beach’s breakwater — and at least one state politician isn’t happy about it.  Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell, D-Long Beach, said in a Tuesday, Nov. 26, statement that he was “saddened” by the recommendation in the long-awaited report, which studied how to improve the marine habitat in the east San Pedro Bay. … ”  Read more from the Long Beach Press Telegram here: Long Beach: O’Donnell criticizes Army Corps breakwater study, says he hopes it was ‘dictated by science, not political science’

Long Beach’s Aquarium of the Pacific helps release federally protected White Abalone in first-of-its-kind effort:  “A team of divers from Long Beach’s Aquarium of the Pacific, as well as other academic researchers, recently released hundreds of cultured white abalone into the ocean — in a first-of-its-kind effort.  The team released the abalone, many reared at UC Davis’ Bodega Marine Laboratory, at undisclosed locations along the California coast over the weekend, setting them free from holding boxes placed at the secret spots in October. It marked the first time the federally protected species has been released into the wild, and capped an 11-year, multi-agency collaborative effort known as the White Abalone Recovery Program. … ”  Read more from the OC Register here: Long Beach’s Aquarium of the Pacific helps release federally protected White Abalone in first-of-its-kind effort

Huntington Beach desalination plant appears headed for a key approval:  “Poseidon Water’s long-delayed plans to build one of the West Coast’s biggest seawater desalination plants on the Huntington Beach coastline appear headed for a key approval.  A regional water board is proposing to grant Poseidon permits for a $1-billion desalting facility that would annually produce enough drinking water to supply 100,000 Orange County households. ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here: Huntington Beach desalination plant appears headed for a key approval

Oceanside realtors not too worried about oceanfront homes:  “Has the threat of rising tides or the reality of denuded beaches triggered a rush to sell beachfront property in Oceanside?  The Strand is Oceanside’s most traveled seaside roadway. Many of the scenes in TNT’s Animal Kingdom were shot in the beachfront bungalows on The Strand. But is there a new rush to sell them? ... ”  Read more from Easy Reader here: Oceanside realtors not too worried about oceanfront homes

San Diego County Water Authority approves requiring countywide voter approval for 2 agencies seeking to leave regional control:  “The San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors last week authorized actions to ensure all San Diego County voters are heard on plans by the Rainbow and Fallbrook water agencies to leave the regional water wholesaler and instead join a Riverside County water agency.  Rainbow’s Water District Manager Tom Kennedy has said the Riverside District charges $1,000 per acre foot of water, substantially less than the SDCWA which charges about $1,600 per acre foot – an annual savings of $5.6 to $6 million for Rainbow area customers, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported in June. ... ”  Read more from the East County Times here: San Diego County Water Authority approves requiring countywide voter approval for 2 agencies seeking to leave regional control

Five Takeaways from Re:Border: The Water We Share:  “From sewage spills to clean water, transborder water policy is an issue with a vital impact on millions of people.  “The Water We Share,” a two-day binational conference that concludes today, Nov. 26, in Tijuana, brings together researchers, public policy experts and community stakeholders. Through a variety of panel discussions, presentations and a showcase of student research, the Re:Border conference is exploring how San Diego State University and its regional partners can contribute to innovative solutions for water-related challenges in the transborder region. … ”  Read more from San Diego State University here: Five Takeaways from Re:Border: The Water We Share

Along the Colorado River …

EPA sending money to tribes for environmental projects:  “The federal government is sending almost $29 million to tribes in the region for water infrastructure and environmental protection.  The Environmental Protection Agency said 19 tribes are expected to use the money to improve drinking water and air quality, restore watersheds, and raise public awareness, among other things. The tribes include the Ak-Chin Indian Community, the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, and the Tohono O’odham Nation. … ”  Read more from KJZZ here: EPA sending money to tribes for environmental projects

Precipitation watch …

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

CA WATER COMMISSION: Department of Water Resources’ new Division of Multi-Benefit Projects

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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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