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DAILY DIGEST: Securing SoCal water to benefit NorCal salmon; Study: Atmospheric rivers cause $1B in damage per year; Storm parade to continue Friday into weekend; Feds sue LADWP, saying utility’s equipment caused the Creek fire; River management on a changing planet; and more …

In California water news today, Securing SoCal water to benefit NorCal salmon; Atmospheric rivers cause $1 billion in damage a year, study shows, and are getting worse; California storm parade continues Friday with more rain, feet of sierra snow through the weekend; U.S. government sues the LADWP, saying utility’s equipment caused the Creek fire; California must act now to prepare for sea level rise, state lawmakers say; A solution for cleaning up PFAS, one of the world’s most intractable pollutants; River management on a changing planet; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • The State Water Resources Control Board will host Day 2 of a workshop focusing on PFAS in California: Past, Present, and Future beginning at 9am. Topics will include usage, chemistry, and toxicological background, the occurrence in drinking water, exposure pathways and investigation challenges, approaches to treatment and remediation, efforts being made in product stewardship, and a status of current and an outlook on future PFAS regulatory efforts in California.  Click here for more informationClick here to watch on webcast.
  • The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board meets beginning at 10am.  Agenda items include consideration of a revised order for Grassland Project discharge permit, update on water quality certification programs including new wetland regulations, and an update on harmful algal blooms.  Click here for the full agendaClick here to watch on webcast.
  • WEBINAR: Balancing water reuse and stream quality in the highly urbanized Los Angeles River watershed: Application of statewide framework, from 10am to 11am.  Click here to register.
  • PPIC Event: A Path Forward for California’s Freshwater Ecosystems:  12:00pm to 1:30pm.  Attend in person or by webcast.  Click here to register.

In the news today …

Securing SoCal water to benefit NorCal salmon:  ” ... Just as the Feather River salmon seem doomed, along comes a scheme that would be cockamamie if it weren’t so practical: a water-management project in Southern California that won’t divert water from a river, won’t involve new dams, and promises enhanced streamflow for the beleaguered Feather River salmon 780 kilometers away. … ”  Read more from Hakai Magazine here: Securing SoCal water to benefit NorCal salmon

Big atmospheric rivers do a lot of damage — especially in Northern California:  “During the first week of January 1995, a powerful storm lashed Northern California, pushing the Russian River over its banks for seven straight days and damaging more than 4,000 properties, what scientists now say is the costliest atmospheric river the West has seen.  A first-ever economic analysis of atmospheric rivers, released Wednesday as another series of these potent weather systems emerged over the Pacific, finds that such events have caused an average of $1.1 billion of flood damage annually over 40 years. The hardest-hit place, across 11 Western states with losses, was Sonoma County. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: Big atmospheric rivers do a lot of damage — especially in Northern California

Atmospheric rivers’ wreak huge economic damage in California and West, study finds:  “Atmospheric rivers, the extreme weather events that dump inches of rain on Western states, cause more than $1 billion in flood damage every year. A large share of the damage measured over four decades occurred in 20 counties, including Sonoma, Marin and Sacramento, where the weather system lead to thousands of insurance claims.  Researchers at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography found that as the intensity of the storms increased so did the scale of the damage. The results of the study were published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances. … “  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  ‘Atmospheric rivers’ wreak huge economic damage in California and West, study finds

Atmospheric rivers cause $1 billion in damage a year, study shows, and are getting worse:  “As back-to-back atmospheric rivers have made umbrellas a necessity across the state — and with more rain on the way in California this weekend — a new study reveals the connection between the weather phenomenon and the economic effects of localized flooding.  Atmospheric rivers, the storms that carry moisture from the tropics to the mid-latitude regions, have long been linked to the ecological impacts they have on a region. But when the storm passes, what’s left in its wake? … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: Atmospheric rivers cause $1 billion in damage a year, study shows, and are getting worse

California storm parade continues Friday with more rain, feet of sierra snow through the weekend:  “Another Pacific storm will surge into California Friday and last into the weekend wringing out feet of Sierra snow and more rain that could trigger additional flooding and debris flows.  Satellite imagery clearly shows the next system waiting in the wings to soak the Golden State beginning Friday. … ”  Read more from The Weather Channel here: California storm parade continues Friday with more rain, feet of sierra snow through the weekend

U.S. government sues the LADWP, saying utility’s equipment caused the Creek fire:  “Los Angeles Department of Water and Power equipment was responsible for one of several fires that broke out in Southern California in late 2017 and destroyed dozens of homes, according to a federal lawsuit.  In the complaint, filed Tuesday against the LADWP, the federal government alleges the utility failed to clear brush beneath its equipment off Little Tujunga Canyon Road in the hills above Lake View Terrace in the Angeles National Forest before a fire began Dec. 5, 2017. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: U.S. government sues the LADWP, saying utility’s equipment caused the Creek fire

California must act now to prepare for sea level rise, state lawmakers say:  “At a packed meeting catering to state lawmakers and top planning officials, Mark Merrifield played a video that he and his research team at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography have seen many times before.  The camera zooms in on the majestic sandy bluffs that make this stretch of the San Diego County coast so iconic: a close-up, everyone realizes, of that cliff crumbling in real time — ancient sand and soft, somewhat cemented rocks tumbling onto the beach below.  Moments later, a popular commuter rail rumbles by. Some in the room gasped. Lawmakers watched in sober silence. … ” Read more from the LA Times here:  California must act now to prepare for sea level rise, state lawmakers say

Feds release study into repairing sunken Friant-Kern Canal:  “With its capacity reduced by more than 300,000 acre-feet of water due to sunken ground, a fix for the Friant-Kern Canal may be on the horizon.  Tuesday, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation released its initial study into correcting the subsidence-caused collapse of the canal.  The Friant-Kern spans 152 miles from Millerton Lake in Fresno County to the Kern River in Bakersfield. … ”  Read more from the San Joaquin Sun here: Feds release study into repairing sunken Friant-Kern Canal

California’s forever water war:  “In February, Gov. Gavin Newsom declared his hopeful goal of solving California’s water wars: “We have to get past the old binaries, like farmers versus environmentalists, or North versus South.”   This week, environmental and fishing interests sued the Trump administration over its plan to pump water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, contending it fails to protect chinook salmon, steelhead trout and Delta smelt. … ”  Read more at Cal Matters (scroll down for story):  California’s forever water war

Radio show: The fragile future of strawberries:  “California is the nation’s strawberry capital, growing 88 percent of U.S. supply. Strawberries are a highly lucrative crop for California, whose climate allows for nine months of production. But as UC Santa Cruz professor Julie Guthman points out in her latest book, “Wilted,” the industry long criticized for grueling labor conditions now faces an uncertain future. The overuse of pesticides and toxic soil fumigants has led to new pathogens that threaten the crop. Guthman joins us to talk about strawberries and their grim environmental footprint.” Listen to the Forum radio show on KQED here: Radio show: The fragile future of strawberries

Orange County Water District launches the nation’s largest pilot program to identify a local treatment remedy to remove PFAS from groundwater:  “The Orange County Water District (OCWD) today announced the launch of its pilot program that will test various treatment options for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, a family of manmade heat and water-resistant chemicals found in numerous everyday consumer products that have infiltrated groundwater supplies over several decades. While the levels of PFAS in Orange County groundwater wells are relatively low, OCWD and its retail water agencies are exploring long-term solutions to ensure that water supplies continue to meet all state and federal water quality standards. … ”  Read more from OA Online here: Orange County Water District launches the nation’s largest pilot program to identify a local treatment remedy to remove PFAS from groundwater

A solution for cleaning up PFAS, one of the world’s most intractable pollutants: “A cluster of industrial chemicals known by the shorthand term “PFAS” has infiltrated the far reaches of our planet with significance that scientists are only beginning to understand.  PFAS – Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances – are human-made fluorine compounds that have given us nonstick coatings, polishes, waxes, cleaning products and firefighting foams used at airports and military bases. They are in consumer goods like carpets, wall paint, popcorn bags and water-repellant shoes, and they are essential in the aerospace, automotive, telecommunications, data storage, electronic and healthcare industries. … ”  Read more from Colorado State University here: A solution for cleaning up PFAS, one of the world’s most intractable pollutants

Expert discusses the harms of algal blooms:  “When dying birds and sea lions wash up by the dozens on Southern California beaches, David Caron’s phone starts ringing.  Like a detective at a crime scene, the expert in microbial ecology pieces the clues together in his lab to determine what happened. “These events, which we call unusual marine mortality events, can be caused by harmful algal blooms,” says Caron, an expert in dangerous algae growth, including the so-called red tide. … ”  Read more from PhysOrg here: Expert discusses the harms of algal blooms

River management on a changing planet:  “River management is inherently complex, demanding mastery of constantly dynamic conditions even when the climate is stable. As the climate changes, however, river management will become even more difficult and unpredictable—and old models and techniques are likely to fail more often.  Now, researchers from around the world are calling for attention and change to how we manage and model the rivers of the world. Dr. Jonathan Tonkin, a Rutherford Discovery Fellow at New Zealand’s University of Canterbury, spoke to EM about why he is arguing that current tools for river management are no longer enough as even historical baseline river ecosystem conditions themselves are changing. ... ” Read more from Environmental Monitor here: River management on a changing planet

As climate change worsens, a cascade of tipping points looms:  “Some of the most alarming science surrounding climate change is the discovery that it may not happen incrementally — as a steadily rising line on a graph — but in a series of lurches as various “tipping points” are passed. And now comes a new concern: These tipping points can form a cascade, with each one triggering others, creating an irreversible shift to a hotter world. A new study suggests that changes to ocean circulation could be the driver of such a cascade. … ”  Read more from Yale E360 here: As climate change worsens, a cascade of tipping points looms

In commentary today …

Why is California suing to stop water flowing to its own people?, asks Wayne Western:  He writes, “Before discussing the latest attack on Californians by their own state government, remember these two facts.  First, since January 1, 2019, eight (8) Delta Smelt and eight (8) Longfin Smelt have been found at the federal pumps in the Delta. From January 1, 2018 to December 31, 2018, four (4) Delta Smelt and zero (0) Longfin Smelt were found at the federal pumps in the Delta.  Second, since October 1, 2018, California has sent around 30 million acre-feet of water to the Pacific Ocean, enough to go from empty to full in Millerton Lake just under sixty (60) times.  Forming perspective using facts is important. … ”  Continue reading at the San Joaquin Sun here: Why is California suing to stop water flowing to its own people?

California must stop relying on the Endangered Species Act to manage the environment, says Jeff Mount:  He writes, “In California, state and federal endangered species acts play an important and often outsized role in regulating water and land management. These powerful laws are also often at the center of conflicts between environmental and economic uses of water.  The state and federal acts have helped prevent the extinction of species and encourage better stewardship of water and the environment. But endangered species protection is often used as a proxy for protecting the environment, something the act are not intended to do. Here’s why we need a better tool. … ”  Read more from Cal Matters here: California must stop relying on the Endangered Species Act to manage the environment

Making farms more climate resilient might protect California from wildfire damage, say Judith Redmond and Julie Finigan Morris:  They write, “When you think about farms at the front lines of climate-related challenges, you may think of extreme weather, floods or drought. But did you know we’re also at the front lines of wildfire? … Farms, ranches, dairies and rural communities can help protect our neighbors by creating wildfire buffers around urban areas. And well-managed agricultural land offers additional climate-smart solutions, like recharging groundwater tables, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and storing carbon, all while producing healthy food. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: Making farms more climate resilient might protect California from wildfire damage

In regional news and commentary today …

Crescent City: Officials satisfied now that harbor dredging is completed:  “The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Curtin Maritime, a dredging company from Richmond, California, completed dredging the Crescent City Harbor federal navigation channel Nov. 21.  Although some were concerned the dredging could cause risk to nearby Anchor Way by changing wave activity, harbor officials have determined the street remains safe from damage. ... ”  Read more from the Del Norte Triplicate here: Crescent City: Officials satisfied now that harbor dredging is completed

Trinity River under siege:  “While local tribes celebrated a federal appellate court ruling last month upholding their senior water rights on the Klamath River, a trio of threats facing the Trinity River combine to paint a foreboding picture for local salmon populations.  “Just the status quo is a risk to the river and the fishery,” said Thomas Stokely, a retired Trinity County planner who currently co-manages the nonprofit Save California Salmon and has spent more than three decades working on Trinity River water issues. ... ”  Read more from the North Coast Journal here: Trinity River under siege

Sacramento: With more rain on the way, county officials say months of planning goes into preventing flooding:  “Some people have their own way of preparing for the next round storms. “I’m probably just going to stay in. I probably wasn’t going to go out,” Ronald Albero said.  But, Sacramento County is making its own preparations for the upcoming rain.  “Everything we’re doing is preventive. So we’re going around cleaning out all of the DIs, raking all of the leave off of them if we have to, we use a vacuum,” Mark West, a member of the county’s Storm Water Utility division, said. … ”  Read more from CBS 13 here:  Sacramento: With more rain on the way, county officials say months of planning goes into preventing flooding

Central Coast: Levee break shuts down California highway, strands students overnight at school:  “A broken levee shut down U.S. Highway 101 in Northern California on Wednesday and forced about 30 students and teachers to spend the night in their school’s gym.  Meanwhile, a nursing home in a neighboring county evacuated its residents because of flooding.  The levee near the school in Chualar was partially breached about 2 p.m., KSBW reported. The rain came as an atmospheric river storm drenched the state. … ”  Read more from The Weather Channel here: Levee break shuts down California highway, strands students overnight at school

Central Coast farm growers welcome this week’s rain:  “This week’s rainfall is good news for farm growers throughout the central coast valley.  Farm grower Tom Ikeda loves this week’s rainfall.  “The rain in general is good for all crops because it helps the salts under the soil which inhibit the growth and could cause problems in the summertime,” said Ikeda. … ”  Read more from KEYT here: Central Coast farm growers welcome this week’s rain

Planned Palm Springs entertainment arena has big water needs, adds to city climate footprint:  “The planned downtown Palm Springs entertainment arena, like many desert projects, is a thirsty one, requiring almost 12 million gallons of water each year to accommodate an American Hockey League affiliate team and other visitors. A new city staff report on the ambitious plans from the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians and Oak View Group notes “the project may have a unique opportunity to use water from melting ice as an irrigation source.” The ice could help water drought-tolerant landscaping planned for outside. … ”  Read more from the Desert Sun here: Planned Palm Springs entertainment arena has big water needs, adds to city climate footprint

State official: faulty reservoir system contributed to Poway water contamination:  “The recent contamination of Poway’s water was caused in part by storm drain and reservoir connections that are not in compliance with state regulations, a state official told KPBS Wednesday.  The system was overwhelmed during last week’s rains and storm water flowed into a reservoir of treated water that was then piped into homes and businesses, according Sean Sterchi, the San Diego District Engineer for the state’s Water Resources Control Board Division of Drinking Water. … ”  Read more from KPBS here: State official: faulty reservoir system contributed to Poway water contamination

Poway editorial: Water frustrations, and a way to help:  “Things being what they are these days, everyone seems to be looking for someone to blame for Poway residents and restaurant owners being told to boil municipal water this week.  Hardest hit were the more than 190 restaurants, delis, bars and markets providing fresh food. All but a very few have been closed by the county health department since the weekend. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union Tribune here: Poway editorial: Water frustrations, and a way to help

Along the Colorado River …

In the Colorado River Basin, challenges and solutions aren’t limited to compact compliance, says Hannah Holm:  She writes, “As reported by the Grand Junction Sentinel and KUNC, participants [at the Upper Colorado River Basin Water Forum] were warned that the Upper Basin States of Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Wyoming are at risk of getting into trouble with the terms of the 1922 Compact between the states that share the Colorado River. …  The risk of failing to meet downstream obligations, and therefor face mandatory, uncompensated water use cuts, is real. However, as other speakers at the forum demonstrated, our regional water challenges go far beyond compact compliance, and state officials aren’t the only ones with the capacity to take action. … ”  Read more from the Summit here: In the Colorado River Basin, challenges and solutions aren’t limited to compact compliance

Colorado snowpack back above average after huge week of snow:  “After a huge week of snowfall across most of the state, Colorado’s statewide snowpack levels are back above average.  As of Monday’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) update, Colorado statewide snowpack levels were running at 117% of the season-to-date levels, meaning that statewide snow levels are slightly above average. … ”  Read more from the Denver Post here: Colorado snowpack back above average after huge week of snow

Precipitation watch …

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

STATE OF ESTUARY: Standing too close to the elephant: addressing scales in restoration and fisheries conservation

SCIENCE NEWS: Check-Up On San Francisco Estuary Health; Which Bay Area Salamander Are You?; What Happened to Commercial Crab Season?; Atmospheric river storms create $1 billion-a-year flood damage; Do Hawks Eat Pets?; Studying water quality with satellites and public data; 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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