DAILY DIGEST: Salmon lose diversity in managed rivers, reducing resilience to environmental change; Trump administration OKs leasing for new oil drilling in California — again; Most of California drought free after series of storms; Could abandoned agricultural lands help save the planet?; and more …

In California water news today, Salmon lose diversity in managed rivers, reducing resilience to environmental change; Trump administration OKs leasing for new oil drilling in California — again; Launch Thursday focused on epic storm, flood control; Most of California — including all of SoCal — is drought free after series of storms, officials say; Sustainable sand pulls pollutants from stormwater; CA fire prevention efforts undercut by property owners refusing to let crews work on their property; Could abandoned agricultural lands help save the planet?; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • FREE WEBINAR: New State Water Board Streamlined Permitting Process for Underground Storage from 1pm to 2:30pm.  The webinar will discuss eligibility, the permitting process and technical questions.  Presented by ACWA.  Click here to register.

In the news today …

Salmon lose diversity in managed rivers, reducing resilience to environmental change:  “The manipulation of rivers in California is jeopardizing the resilience of native Chinook salmon. It compresses their migration timing to the point that they crowd their habitats. They may miss the best window for entering the ocean and growing into adults, new research shows.  The good news is that even small steps to improve their access to habitat and restore natural flows could boost their survival. … ”  Read more from EurekAlert here: Salmon lose diversity in managed rivers, reducing resilience to environmental change

Trump administration OKs leasing for new oil drilling in California — again:  “The Trump administration on Thursday gave the go-ahead to new oil-drilling leases on federal land in California, mostly around petroleum-rich Bakersfield but also in less-obvious spots in the Sierra foothills, such as near Yosemite National Park.  The move, which covers eight counties in Central California, comes as President Trump pushes ahead with an agenda of increased fossil fuel development and follows a decision in October to open up parts of the Bay Area and Central Coast to potential drilling. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  Trump administration OKs leasing for new oil drilling in California — again

Trump administration opens 1 million acres in California to fracking, drilling:  “The Trump administration signed off on an order Thursday that’s intended to open up more than 1 million acres of land in California, from the Central Coast to the San Joaquin Valley, to fracking and conventional oil drilling.  The Department of the Interior, through the Bureau of Land Management, released the record of decision that ends a five-year moratorium on public land fracking and drilling. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Trump administration opens 1 million acres in California to fracking, drilling

Launch Thursday focused on epic storm, flood control:  “Researchers from the University of California’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography, in partnership with the Yuba Water Agency and California Department of Water Resources, will launch the first in a series of weather balloons near Marysville Thursday.  The research is aimed at better understanding atmospheric river events, or “epic storms,” that have created deadly flood events in previous generations. ... ”  Read more from KCRA Channel 3 here: Launch Thursday focused on epic storm, flood control

Most of California — including all of SoCal — is drought free after series of storms, officials say:  “Bolstered by recent heavy rains, almost all of California is completely out of drought, according to the latest report from the U.S. Drought Monitor.  The  data, released Thursday, shows that there is no drought in 96.4% of the state. Only sections of California that border Oregon have any lingering dryness. … ”  Read more from KTLA here: Most of California — including all of SoCal — is drought free after series of storms, officials say

Almond board putting $5.9M toward research:  “The Almond Board of California announced it will commit $5.9 million in 85 independent research projects and released the Almond Orchard 2025 Goals Roadmap on Tuesday at the 47th annual Almond Conference in Sacramento.  This year’s investment includes $678,000 dedicated toward water sustainability research and $607,000 toward identifying new uses for almond co-products. Since 1973, the California almond community has invested $89 million in research to build a foundation of knowledge on responsible farming practices, food quality and safety, and almonds’ impact on health. … ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here: Almond board putting $5.9M toward research

Sustainable sand pulls pollutants from stormwater:  “UC Berkeley engineers have developed a mineral-coated sand that can soak up toxic metals like lead and cadmium from water. Along with its ability to destroy organic pollutants like bisphenol A, this material could help cities tap into stormwater, an abundant but underused water source.  The team’s findings were published recently in the journal Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology. … ”  Read more from PhysOrg here: Sustainable sand pulls pollutants from stormwater

CA fire prevention efforts undercut by property owners refusing to let crews work on their property:  “Buzzing chainsaws are interrupted by the frequent crash of breaking branches as crews fell towering trees and clear tangled brush in the densely forested Santa Cruz Mountains south of San Francisco.  Their goal: To protect communities such as Redwood Estates, where giant redwoods loom over the houses of tech workers who live in the wooded community just 20 miles from the heart of Silicon Valley. With California’s increasingly warm, dry and overgrown landscape, wildfire has become a perpetual danger. … ”  Read more from KTLA here: CA fire prevention efforts undercut by property owners refusing to let crews work on their property

California Fish and Game Commission meets in Sacramento:  “At its December 2019 meeting in Sacramento, the California Fish and Game Commission took action on a number of issues affecting California’s natural resources. The following are just a few items of interest from the two-day meeting.  The Commission made a listing decision under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA) regarding the foothill yellow-legged frog. ... ”  Read more from the Department of Fish and Wildlife here: California Fish and Game Commission meets in Sacramento

80% of D.C. staffers could leave BLM:  “The vast majority of staffers at the Bureau of Land Management’s Washington, D.C., headquarters do not intend to move out West as part of a planned reorganization, according to multiple sources.  As many as 80% of the 159 BLM staffers in D.C. who are being moved to the new headquarters in Grand Junction, Colo., or to other state offices from Alaska to Arizona, plan to reject the reassignment orders and either retire or find another job at the Interior Department or other agency in Washington, the sources told E&E News. … ”  Read more from E&E News here: 80% of D.C. staffers could leave BLM

How ‘Big Solar’ jumped from rooftops to farm fields: “The town council of Midland, N.C., was facing what it felt was a bizarre and costly invasion in April 2017. Solar energy companies were planting arrays of solar modules on nearby farmland, and the council was trying to stop it.  One 40-acre project had already been permitted by Cabarrus County, which surrounds Midland (population 3,692). Now a second company had arrived, proposing a 627-acre solar farm. One Midland councilman, Darren Hartsell, described that as a “tremendous footprint.” He worried about “safety of the people who live close by and the valuation of their homes.” … ”  Read more from E&E News here:  How ‘Big Solar’ jumped from rooftops to farm fields

Could abandoned agricultural lands help save the planet?  ” … Abandonment of rural lands has become one of the most dramatic planet-wide changes of our time, affecting millions of square miles of land. Partly it’s a product of rural flight, and the economic, social, and educational appeal of cities. Partly it’s about larger forces like climate change and globalization of the food supply chain. But the result, according to a new study in Nature Ecology and Evolution, is that the global footprint of agriculture has “started decreasing in size during the past two decades, with more land now being abandoned from agriculture than converted to it, especially in Western Europe and North America.” … ”  Read more from Yale E360 here: Could abandoned agricultural lands help save the planet?

In commentary today …

Who pays for the Friant-Kern repairs? It should be farmers, but most likely, taxpayers, says Ron Manfredi:  He writes, “A recent Fresno Bee headline read, “Friant-Kern Canal: Trump moves ahead on repairs, but who pays.” If area legislators and ag interests have their way, you can bet the farm that taxpayers will pay a significant portion of the $40 million estimated costs.  The Friant-Kern Canal was built in 1949, a 152-mile-long canal carrying water from Millerton Lake north of Fresno to the Kern River in Bakersfield. The problem is a 30-mile stretch from Porterville to Delano where it has sunk due to land subsidence, caused by overpumping of groundwater, resulting in 60% water lost. Senate Bill 559 (Hurtado, D-Sanger) proposes to build a parallel canal alongside the problem area. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here: Who pays for the Friant-Kern repairs? It should be farmers, but most likely, taxpayers

Editorial: Sea levels are rising. California needs to get serious about the problem:  “A new report from the state Legislative Analyst’s Office spotlights a dangerous incongruity in how California approaches two issues involving global warming: the push to reduce emissions of Earth-warming greenhouse gases and what to do about the already-rising seas. While the state has been an international leader on the former, it is woefully behind on the latter. California has not done what it should to prepare for coastal erosion, sea incursions into low-lying areas (including sensitive wetlands), storm-surge flooding of shore communities or the possible need for a forced retreat from imperiled developments at the ocean’s edge. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: Editorial: Sea levels are rising. California needs to get serious about the problem

In regional news and commentary today …

Antelope Valley: A model for the future of water:  “With a low rumble from a large pipe, water began flowing into a dirt basin at 25th Street West and Elizabeth Lake Road Thursday morning, christening the Upper Amargosa Creek Recharge Project and marking the debut of a new water storage endeavor in the Valley.  Inside the basin, water flowed from holes in a round structure to begin flooding the bottom, where it will begin to percolate through the soil to the aquifer beneath.  “This project is made to put water in the ground,” Palmdale City Manager James Purtee said. … ”  Read more from the Antelope Valley Press here: Antelope Valley: A model for the future of water

Controlling pests: San Bernardino water agencies committed to natural alternatives:  “San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District and water agencies throughout San Bernardino and Riverside Counties have invested millions of dollars in recent years to help protect native Santa Ana suckers and other threatened or endangered species that live in and along the Santa Ana River. In fact, a coalition of water agencies is scheduled to release its long-awaited Upper Santa Ana River Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) this month for public comment before submitting a final draft of the plan to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for consideration. … ”  Read more from Highland Community News here: Controlling pests: San Bernardino water agencies committed to natural alternatives

Dangerous Level of Toxicity in Lake Gregory:  “Toxins from algae in this water can harm people and kill animals” reads a sign posted at Lake Gregory. Across from the Crestline Sanitation District, green sludge stains the rocks on the lakeside. The smell of rotting plants faintly tinges the air.  The San Bernardino Regional Parks Department raised the warning level of Lake Gregory to “Danger” after a water test revealed unsafe levels of cyanobacteria present in the lake. … ” Read more Mountain News here: Dangerous Level of Toxicity in Lake Gregory

New leadership for Mojave Water Agency:  “Heading into 2020, two longtime High Desert residents will lead the Mojave Water Agency’s Board of Directors after they voted to name Thurston “Smitty” Smith as board president and Jim Ventura as vice president.  The decision on Thursday to promote Smith to president was unanimous among MWA’s seven-member Board and comes on the heels of Smith serving a year as vice president. … ” Read more from the Daily Press here: New leadership for Mojave Water Agency

Coastal Commission approves 8 toad pools and habitat restoration at Crystal Cove State Park:  “When it came time Thursday to approve development of eight pools to provide seasonal homes for toads, the California Coastal Commission hopped to it.  The commission approved a coastal development permit application submitted by the state Department of Parks and Recreation for the artificial pools along the southeastern boundary of Crystal Cove State Park and additional habitat restoration on about 10½ adjacent acres to foster breeding, foraging and nesting opportunities for the western spadefoot toad and the cactus wren, a small bird. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: Coastal Commission approves 8 toad pools and habitat restoration at Crystal Cove State Park

Person claims sickness after drinking contaminated water in Poway:  “At least one person has filed a claim against the City of Poway saying they were sickened after drinking contaminated water. … ”  More from Fox Channel 5 here: Person claims sickness after drinking contaminated water in Poway

San Diego County Water Authority makes SAWR permanent:  “The San Diego County Water Authority has a program called the Transitional Special Agricultural Water Rate, and the SDCWA will be transitioning the TSAWR into a permanent program.  A unanimous CWA board vote on Nov. 21 approved making the SAWR permanent. An annual review of the SAWR will be conducted in conjunction with other rates and charges and the cost of service process to determine SAWR rates is expected to be completed in spring 2020. … ” Read more from the East County Californian here: San Diego County Water Authority makes SAWR permanent

Along the Colorado River …

US water chief praises Colorado River deal, sees challenges:  “States in the U.S. West that have agreed to begin taking less water next month from the drought-stricken Colorado River got praise and a push for more action Thursday from the nation’s top water official.  U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman told federal, state and local water managers that abiding by the promises they made will be crucial to ensuring that more painful cuts aren’t required.  The river supplies 40 million people in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming as well as a $5 billion-a-year agricultural industry. … ”  Read more from the Associated Press here: US water chief praises Colorado River deal, sees challenges

Precipitation watch …

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

NEWS WORTH NOTING: New advisory group selected to help focus Safe and affordable drinking water funding efforts; CDFW awards $10.1 million for fisheries habitat restoration and forest legacy projects, $11.35 million for greenhouse gas reduction grant projects

SAN FRANCISCO ESTUARY & WATERSHED SCIENCE: 16 years of SFEWS, Monitoring contaminants in the Delta, Modeling South Delta entrainment, and more …

ESTUARY NEWS: Coverage of State of the Estuary conference: Water, environment, climate, equity

DELTA eNEWS: ~~ Sacramento Marketplace~ Tree Lighting~ Sturgeon Derby~ Winery Weekend~ Estuary News~ DSC Meeting~ DSC Blog~~

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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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