DAILY DIGEST: Making a crane marsh; Foes seek to block permanent contract for Westlands; Capital Region farmers take steps to battle and adapt to climate change; Sea level rise is slowly getting get its day in California; US senator proposes money, oversight to boost dam safety; and more …

In California water news today, Making a crane marsh; Foes seek to block permanent contract for Westlands; Progressive-minded farmers in the Capital Region undertake steps to battle and adapt to climate change; Atmospheric rivers can be too much of a good thing; Step aside fires, drought and crazy weather. Sea level rise is slowly getting get its day in California; Map: Earthquake shake zones around the U.S.; US senator proposes money, oversight to boost dam safety; Congress set to pass its ‘most important climate bill'; When will the Netherlands disappear?; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • The California Water Commission meets beginning at 9:30am. Agenda items include consideration of the regulations for WIIN Act determinations and updates on SWP operations and the Central Valley Flood Protection Plan 2017 update.  For agenda and webcast link, click here.
  • The State Water Resources Control Board meets beginning at 9:30 am. Agenda items include the presentation of the 2018/2019 annual performance report and a public hearing on the proposed Environmental Lab Accreditation Program.  Click here for the full agenda.  Click here to watch on webcast.
  • Public Meeting for Friant-Kern Canal Repair Wednesday in Porterville from 5:30pm to 7:30pm at the U.S. Forest Service Office, 1839 S. Newcomb St. Porterville, CA

In the news today …

Making a crane marsh:  “A chorus calls out from the water. A rattling, almost gravelly, bugle — what Aldo Leopold called a “trumpet in the orchestra of evolution.” It’s the unmistakable sound of thousands of greater and lesser sandhill cranes chattering in their wetland roost.  The sun starts to rise over the California delta, coloring the water a deep, early-morning purple. The cranes fly to neighboring farmland by tens to spend the day foraging and dancing in pairs. “They’re just fun to watch,” says Emily Wells, a conservation program manager at the Nature Conservancy, from the edge of the wetland. “The way they dance and move. You can start to learn from their movements what they’re going to do next.” … ”  Read more from Earth Island Journal here: Making a Crane Marsh

Foes seek to block permanent contract for Westlands:  “Environmental groups, tribes and upstream water users in California yesterday sought to block a permanent water delivery contract between the Interior Department and the Westlands Water District.  At issue is a proposed deal between Westlands, an agricultural powerhouse in California's San Joaquin Valley, and the Bureau of Reclamation in which Westlands pays off its debt to the government to guarantee deliveries in perpetuity without future contract renewals.  In October, Westlands filed a motion in state court that would establish a judicial decree that such a contract is valid under state law. ... ”  Read more from E&E News here: Foes seek to block permanent contract for Westlands

Shouldering the burden: Progressive-minded farmers in the Capital Region undertake steps to battle and adapt to climate change:  “David Kaisel has to run to the hardware store. He needs to fix his combine harvester, he explains, taking off his ball cap to run a chapped hand through his brown hair, as he stands on the sidewalk outside the mill he runs from a small storefront in Esparto. Then he’ll drive the 65-year-old piece of equipment ever so slowly down Highway 16, clunking along to the field he’s leasing in Guinda, where he’ll spend an August afternoon in 100-degree heat harvesting heirloom wheat. ... ”  Read more from Comstock's Magazine here: Shouldering the Burden: Progressive-minded farmers in the Capital Region undertake steps to battle and adapt to climate change

Atmospheric rivers can be too much of a good thing:  “Atmospheric rivers are long, narrow bands of moisture that descend from the tropics to higher latitudes like from Hawaii to California. They used to be referred to mostly as a pineapple express.  They are mostly good, replenishing the water supply and putting out fires at the end of the wildfire season. But there can be too much of a good thing. These rivers in the sky can transport 10 times the volume of the Mississippi River in water vapor. When that vapor rises over coastal mountains, it drops rain and snow and can cause devastating flooding. … ”  Read more from Grist here: Atmospheric rivers can be too much of a good thing

Step aside fires, drought and crazy weather. Sea level rise is slowly getting get its day in California.  “People love the Golden State because of the coastline. There are all sorts of songs about the vibe California embodies — think “California Gurls” by Katy Perry, “Californication” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers and “California Love” by 2Pac.  But the ocean's response to climate change is threatening that very identity.  “It's part of what you often hear described as being Californian,” said Christine Whitcraft, director of Cal State Long Beach's Environmental Science and Policy program. “Threats from sea level rise are important for economics, but they're also important for the intrinsic value they have to us as Californians.” ... ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here: Step aside fires, drought and crazy weather. Sea level rise is slowly getting get its day in California.

Map: Earthquake shake zones around the U.S.:  “Researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey have refined their understanding of how soft basins of sedimentary rock below Earth’s surface amplify shaking from big earthquakes. The San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, Seattle and Salt Lake City all have deep basins beneath them.  The study gives policymakers more detailed information to assess the strength of buildings during a major earthquake, and to guide homeowners in reinforcing their houses. The new estimates will be included in future building codes. The data has also been incorporated into the USGS hazard map that was released last week … ”  Read more from KQED here: Map: Earthquake shake zones around the U.S.

‘Tectonic time bomb:’ Mapping where massive California earthquakes cause the most shaking, destruction:  “California has suffered some destructive earthquakes in the last few decades — among them Sylmar in 1971, Whittier Narrows in 1987, Loma Prieta in 1989 and Northridge in 1994.  All those quakes caused major destruction and resulted in loss of life. But they were not true seismic catastrophes. Much bigger quakes are possible, such as an event along the scale of the 1906 San Francisco quake. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: ‘Tectonic time bomb:’ Mapping where massive California earthquakes cause the most shaking, destruction

Groups vow to fight opening of 1 million acres to drilling, fracking in California:  “Environmental groups say they plan to fight a Trump administration decision that cleared the way for new oil and gas leases on more than 1 million acres in California.  The Bureau of Land Management, or BLM, released what’s called a Record of Decision late last week, allowing the agency to resume oil and gas leasing in the state.  The available land spans eight counties, including parts of Ventura County.  The decision stems from a plan that BLM officials released back in 2014. In response to a court order, the agency had to prepare a more thorough analysis of potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing. … ”  Read more from the Ventura County Star here: Groups vow to fight opening of 1 million acres to drilling, fracking in California

US senator proposes money, oversight to boost dam safety:  “U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on Tuesday called for more federal money and oversight to shore up the nation's aging dams following an Associated Press investigation that found scores of potentially troubling dams located near homes and communities across the country.  Gillibrand said new legislation in the works should ensure that federal standards are in place to make dams more resilient to extreme weather events that are becoming more common because of a changing climate. She also called for greater funding for federal grants to fix unsafe dams that pose a risk to the public. ... ”  Read more from the Porterville Recorder here: US senator proposes money, oversight to boost dam safety

House passes federal spending bill:  “The House voted to pass a $1.4 trillion government-wide spending package on Tuesday, which includes $14 million in investments for Central Valley and regional water projects.  The spending legislation would forestall a government shutdown this weekend and give President Donald Trump steady funding for his U.S.-Mexico border fence. The year-end package is anchored by a $1.4 trillion spending measure that ends a months-long battle over spending priorities.  The White House said Tuesday that Trump will sign the measure. ... ”  Read more from the Turlock Journal here: House passes federal spending bill

Congress set to pass its ‘most important climate bill':  “Democrats this week had their best shot thus far to address climate change in the 116th Congress, but they walked away with a mixed bag.  The $1.4 trillion appropriations and tax extenders package deal that passed the House yesterday contained a host of clean energy and environmental wins on the spending side, including large funding boosts for Department of Energy research programs and more money for EPA and the Department of the Interior.  At the same time, efforts to extend renewable energy and electric vehicle tax credits and create incentives for energy storage fell apart. ... ”  Read more from E&E News here: Congress set to pass its ‘most important climate bill’

When will the Netherlands disappear?  “The local phonebook in the Dutch area of Noordwaard is a record of a community that no longer exists: Lists of numbers for homes that have been demolished, leaving just square patches in the grass where their foundations stood.  Once a thriving farming area, Noordwaard is now an expanse of reedy marshlands in the southwest Netherlands, deliberately designed to flood in order to keep nearby Dutch cities dry. “Several years ago, when you came to that polder, big nice farms were there, acres with potatoes and onions,” said Stan Fleerakkers, a dairy farmer who lives nearby. “Now when you drive there, there's nothing left of it.” … ”  Read more from Politico here: When will the Netherlands disappear?

In commentary today …

To advance agriculture, we must break down silos, says Cannon Michael:  He writes, “In California, I think we in agriculture sometimes feel like there's a lot of things stacked against us.  We face a lot of regulatory pressure that many of our neighbors don't feel, and that can push us more into an insular nature. We have done a great job feeding and clothing people, but the consumer is disconnected from who is producing their products, further increasing the sense of isolation.  I was in that space.  Over time, I got involved in industry groups and served in different leadership roles. I started broadening my scope and got into water, starting on our local water district. … ”  Read more from Ag Alert here: To advance agriculture, we must break down silos

In regional news and commentary today …

Residents share water worries during Butte County workshop:  “The Butte County Board of Supervisors held a water resource workshop during its Tuesday meeting in Oroville at which point many residents expressed their concerns regarding the future of the county’s water supply.  During the presentation, Water and Resource Conservation Director Paul Gosselin and Assistant Director Christina Buck broke down the current status of water policies within Butte County but also some potential issues facing local water resources. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here: Residents share water worries during Butte County workshop

Levee improvement work along Sacramento River set to begin this week:  “Site preparation activity for upcoming levee improvements along the Sacramento River east levee will begin this week, kicking off a five-year U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project to upgrade levees throughout the Sacramento region and widen the Sacramento Weir.  Arborist crews will begin trimming and removing trees located in sections of the Sacramento River east levee between downtown Sacramento and the Pocket area. The Corps will trim or remove trees on the upper half of levees where 2020 construction is planned to allow for construction equipment accessibility and to create the minimum working platform required to construct necessary levee improvements. ... ”  Read more from the Army Corps of Engineers here: Levee improvement work along Sacramento River set to begin this week

Mokelumne River salmon come back in big numbers:  “Large numbers of fall-run Chinook salmon have returned to the Mokelumne River in Clements this fall despite challenging salmon fishing on the river and adjacent sloughs this season.  A total of over 12,658 salmon have gone over Woodbridge Dam in Lodi as of Dec. 10, according to William Smith, manager of the CDFW’s Mokelumne River Fish Hatchery.  “We will probably see just over 13,000 fish this fall,” Smith said. “We’re seeing an above normal season, although anglers reported slow fishing in the river.” … ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here:  Mokelumne River salmon come back in big numbers

$2.24 million settlement: South Bay mushroom farm fouled waterways with manure:  “The nation’s largest mushroom grower has agreed to pay $2.24 million to settle an environmental protection lawsuit brought by the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office.  The company, Watsonville-based Monterey Mushrooms Inc., was accused of polluting a South Bay creek with manure for years, despite orders and warnings dating back to the 1980s. ... ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here: $2.24 million settlement: South Bay mushroom farm fouled waterways with manure

Water district board to take next step on public water buyout effort:  “Monterey Peninsula Water Management District officials have agreed to move forward with detailed analysis and planning for a potential public acquisition and ownership of California American Water’s local water system.  On Monday, the water district board unanimously approved spending up to $1.24 million on work by a team of consultants to prepare the district to make a formal offer for the Cal Am system and, if the offer is rejected as expected, to consider a resolution of public necessity as a precursor to pursuing a forced acquisition of the system. ... ”  Read more from the Monterey Herald here: Water district board to take next step on public water buyout effort

Unanimous vote authorizes next step in public buyout of Cal Am’s water system:  “A closely watched and consequential vote on a controversial Monterey Peninsula water issue concluded, uncharacteristically, with a unanimous decision.   At its Dec. 16 meeting, the board of the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District heard the usual cacophony of public comment. It then proceeded to approve spending $1.2 million over the next six months on a plan to buy out California American Water and bring the local water system under public control. … ”  Read more from Monterey Weekly here: Unanimous vote authorizes next step in public buyout of Cal Am’s water system

Central Valley, regional water projects get $14M:  “In a landmark win for the Central Valley, Representative Josh Harder (CA-10) recently announced that $14 million in investments has been secured for Central Valley and regional water projects in the bipartisan year-end funding deal. Harder has been pushing these projects both publicly and privately during House deliberation earlier this year and during the drafting of the final deal this month. These projects were also included and supported in Rep. Harder’s SAVE Water Resources Act. The bill is expected to pass the Senate and be signed into law this week. ... ”  Read more from the Escalon Times here: Central Valley, regional water projects get $14M

Porterville: Ground (Water) rules: Public comment on draft GSP closes:  “The public comment period for the draft Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) has officially closed and no public comments were given at the final public hearing for the GSP on Monday afternoon.  The Eastern Tulare Groundwater Sustainability Agency (ETGSA) Joint Powers Authority hosted a special meeting on Monday afternoon in the Council Chambers at City Hall to collect the final comments for the draft GSP. … ”  Read more from the Porterville Recorder here: Porterville: Ground (Water) rules: Public comment on draft GSP closes

Carpinteria: Water District purification project’s environmental report responds to public concerns:  “On Dec. 16, Carpinteria Valley Water District’s (CVWD) Board of Directors unanimously certified the final environmental impact report (EIR) for the proposed Carpinteria Advanced Purification Project (CAPP) which involves the construction of a new advanced water purification facility, conveyance pipelines and injection wells to treat recycled water.  The $25 million project will take water that has been cleaned at the Carpinteria Sanitary District (CSD) Wastewater Treatment Plant, purify it, and then inject it into the groundwater basin to supplement the region’s water supply for a variety of needs, including drinking water. … ”  Read more from Coastal Views here: Water purification project’s environmental report responds to public concerns

Riverside County board approves $350K to support Salton Sea rehab:  “Riverside County supervisors today approved the allocation of $350,000 from an environmental improvement fund to support efforts to restore the dying Salton Sea.  In a 5-0 vote without comment, the supervisors authorized the disbursal from the Coachella Valley Air Quality Enhancement Fund to help pay for the planned north end restoration of the 360-square mile lake, which will include the establishment of a lagoon to overlay exposed playa and mitigate the resulting atmospheric impacts. ... ”  Read more from KESQ here: Riverside County board approves $350K to support Salton Sea rehab

New oxygenation system to improve water quality at San Diego reservoir:  “The City of San Diego’s Public Utilities Department last week took a major step toward completing an innovative project to improve water quality in Lake Hodges. A newly installed oxygenation system, designed by city engineers, will introduce highly oxygenated water to the bottom of the reservoir to reduce the accumulation of excess nutrients and harmful algae growth. ... ”  Read more from Water World here: New oxygenation system to improve water quality at San Diego reservoir

Along the Colorado River …

Water managers consider the future of the Colorado River:  “A rather quiet gathering of those who control the most precious resource in the West happened on the Strip last week. It was the annual Colorado River Water Users Association Conference. The states that rely on the river – Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming – were all represented. In a keynote address, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman touted the recent Drought Contingency plan reached among the states but cautioned that more needed to be done. ”  Read more from KUNC here: Water managers consider the future of the Colorado River

With drought plans finished, water managers pause Colorado River negotiations:  “With short-term drought plans finished, water managers from across the Southwest recently gathered in Las Vegas to figure out what's next.  The Colorado River Water Users Association annual conference brings together nearly every municipal water agency, irrigation district, Native American tribe and environmental group that relies on the Colorado River. … ”  Read more from KUNC here: With drought plans finished, water managers pause Colorado River negotiations

Precipitation watch …

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

ACWA PANEL DISCUSSION: The building blocks of success in the Delta

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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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