DAILY DIGEST: December storms gave California a promising snowpack; How will CA prevent more mega-wildfire disasters?; Broad-ranging PFAS chemicals bill on House floor next week; Weed water war gets a win; Paso Robles approves groundwater sustainability plan; and more …

In California water news today, December storms gave California a promising snowpack; Enough rain? Sufficient snow? Here’s how wet California, and Sacramento, got in 2019; How will California prevent more mega-wildfire disasters?; National water and climate outlook for January 2; 5 Biggest Weather Questions About 2020; Broad-ranging PFAS chemicals bill on House floor next week; Peter Moyle: Fly Fisherman’s 2020 Conservationist of the Year; Weed water war gets a win; Paso Robles approves groundwater sustainability plan; and more …

In the news today …

December storms gave California a promising snowpack:  “December storms gave California a promising snowpack despite a slow start, state water authorities said Thursday after conducting measurements to determine how much vital runoff can be expected to flow into reservoirs this spring.  Statewide, the amount of water contained in the snowpack — known as snow water equivalent — was 9.3 inches (23.6 centimeters), or 90% of the Jan. 2 average, the Department of Water Resources said. … ”  Read more from the Associated Press here: December storms gave California a promising snowpack

Drought, what drought? Largest snowpack in 4 years, most stored water in Southern California history paint rosy picture:  “With snowpack levels in the Sierra Nevada registering at 90% of normal Thursday and state reservoirs at record historic levels, the urban water supply picture for 2020 could hardly be any rosier.  Southern California water managers are trying to restrain their joy, not because of a picture-postcard mountain top, but for the bounty that will come in spring when the snow melts, sending pristine water into state reservoirs and more importantly, southward via the State Water Project aqueduct, a source that supplies 30% of Southern California’s drinking water. … ”  Read more from the OC Register here: Drought, what drought? Largest snowpack in 4 years, most stored water in Southern California history paint rosy picture

SEE ALSO:

Enough rain? Sufficient snow? Here’s how wet California, and Sacramento, got in 2019:  “It’s a new year, and a time to take stock in California’s most precious commodity: water.  While October marks the start of the new water year, state hydrology leaders opened the new year with the first measure of snowpack in the Sierra Nevada, east of Sacramento. Coupled with the rainfall totals for the calendar year, thanks to a series of storms in late November, Thursday’s measurement brought a hopeful start for the state’s biggest source of water. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: Enough rain? Sufficient snow? Here’s how wet California, and Sacramento, got in 2019

California’s disastrous wildfires pale in comparison to Australia’s catastrophic fires:  “The scenes of wildfire devastation and smoke coming from Australia may appear familiar to many Californians, who have been dealing with a seemingly never ending string of wildfires in recent years.  Bushfires have burned in all Australian states, and the major cities of Sydney and Melbourne have been impacted by think plumes of smoke.  As of Thursday, a total of 14.6 million acres have burned in the country’s bushfires since September, CNN reported, an area larger than the countries of Belgium and Haiti combined. … ”  Read more from CBS San Francisco here: California’s disastrous wildfires pale in comparison to Australia’s catastrophic fires

How will California prevent more mega-wildfire disasters?  “Sasha Berleman walks through 10 acres of burned woods in a coastal forest about 26 miles north of San Francisco, California. A fire ecologist for the conservation organization Audubon Canyon Ranch, she and a crew of 40 firefighters and trained volunteers had set the area ablaze three weeks earlier. Now she’s looking for signs of regeneration.  Berleman’s team was using low-intensity ground fire to remove a thick carpet of fallen pine needles and broken, sawed-off branches that littered the forest floor. … ”  Read more from National Geographic here: How will California prevent more mega-wildfire disasters?

NATIONAL

National water and climate outlook for January 2:  “Winter arrived with snow covering the western mountains and northern tier states. Snowstorms across the country impacted travel in the parts of the West, northern Great Plains, Midwest, as well as the Northeast, during the busiest travel time of the year. Heavy snow blanketed the mountains and inland high desert near Los Angeles, closing a major interstate for 36 hours.  Other impacts across the country included power outages and tree damage.  The map above shows, as of January 2, 2020, 34.5% of coterminous US is covered by snow according to the National Weather Service.”  Click here to read the report.

5 Biggest Weather Questions About 2020:  “Now that we’ve entered the new year, you might be wondering if there’s anything we can say about 2020.  While we can’t forecast key details such as how many hurricanes will make a U.S. landfall, there are some broad indicators we’ll be watching as 2020 unfolds that could influence, for instance, how cold the rest of winter will be and how much spring flooding may occur.  Let’s walk through five of the key weather questions of 2020 and explain what some outlooks suggest might happen. … ” Read more from the Weather Channel here: 5 Biggest Weather Questions About 2020

New study links daily weather patterns to climate change for first time:  “Scientists have for the first time linked human-induced climate change and global daily weather patterns in a new study.  The report, released Thursday in Nature Climate Change, could mark a transformation in long-held beliefs about the separation between daily weather and long-term climate change.  The study also suggests that measurements analyzing humankind’s role in producing incidents such as heat waves and floods could underestimate the contribution people make to such extreme weather events. … ”  Read more from The Hill here:  New study links daily weather patterns to climate change for first time

Broad-ranging PFAS chemicals bill on House floor next week:  “A bill that would require the EPA to regulate PFAS, an emerging family of chemicals contaminating U.S. municipal and private water supplies, is slated to be the first major legislation that the House will take up in 2020.  The House expects to begin considering a bill Jan. 9 (H.R.535) that would push the Environmental Protection Agency to create nationwide protective measures against poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances, and could vote on passage Jan. 10, according to an aide to House Majority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.). … ”  Read more from Bloomberg BNA here: Broad-Ranging PFAS chemicals bill on House floor next week

‘The salt they pump back in kills everything’: is the cost of Chile’s fresh water too high?  “As Eduardo Muñoz drifts his ageing skiff into Antofagasta’s harbour, flecks of paint peeling from its prow, he looks disconsolate.  “I used to get twice as many clams from every dive,” he mutters bitterly, hauling two large sacks of shellfish on to the dock and ruffling the salt from his hair.  “Since desalination began a few years back I’ve hardly had any luck,” he says. “The salt they pump back into the sea kills everything, and there’s just a thick layer of sludge on the sea bed now.” … ”  Read more from The Guardian here: ‘The salt they pump back in kills everything’: is the cost of Chile’s fresh water too high?

In people news today …

Peter Moyle: Fly Fisherman’s 2020 Conservationist of the Year:  “For most modern-day fly fishers, the concept of catch-and-release is as familiar as the idea of hooking a fish on a fly rod. Back in the 1970s, though, it was an odd proposition. But a young fish biologist named Peter Moyle pushed the practice to balance conservation and recreation on a newly conserved stretch of California’s McCloud River. Needless to say, the idea stuck. The McCloud today is one of California’s most hallowed fly-fishing streams, and its best stretch of fly water is open to anglers thanks to the practical solution Moyle advocated. His solution also helped usher in a way of thinking about and handling native fish that today is second nature for nearly every fly angler out there. ... ”  Read more from Fly Fisherman Magazine here:  Peter Moyle: Fly Fisherman’s 2020 Conservationist of the Year

Valley Water CEO set to retire:  “Norma Camacho, the chief executive of Silicon Valley’s largest water district, expects to retire by July 10, according to a letter obtained by San Jose Inside.  The Valley Water boss announced her decision in a Nov. 25 letter to the agency’s seven-member governing board, saying she’ll take a six-week leave up through her final day. ... ”  Read more from San Jose Inside here: Valley Water CEO set to retire

In regional news and commentary today …

Weed water war gets a win:  “After two years of fighting over its water supply, the small northern California town of Weed is celebrating a small victory as Roseburg Forest Products has dropped its lawsuit against nine citizens and agreed to pay their legal fees.  These individuals, who make up the group Water for Citizens of Weed, California (WCWC), were sued after speaking out against the Springfield-based timber company’s efforts to control their local water source.  Although the free speech of Weed citizens is preserved, the war isn’t over yet. ... ”  Read more from Eugene Weekly here: Weed water war gets a win

Facts about California’s water legislation and what it means for South Lake Tahoe:  “No, you’re not going be fined for taking a shower and doing laundry on the same day. A news story by a Los Angeles area television station and carried through the internet on New Year’s Day wrongly stated just that as an effect of upcoming water efficiency laws.  KTLA has since taken that story down (can be seen here), but not before people across the state shared it, stating each person in the state could only use 55 gallons of water a day before being fined starting January 1. ... ”  Read more from South Tahoe Now here: Facts about California’s water legislation and what it means for South Lake Tahoe

SLO County leaders test cloud seeding to raise Lopez Lake Reservoir levels:  “We might not be able to create weather, but there are ways to enhance it.  The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors recently approved a winter cloud seeding project that could add millions of gallons of water to the Lopez Lake Reservoir and supply thousands of homes.  Cloud seeding has been used for decades around the world. … ”  Read more from KSBY here: SLO County leaders test cloud seeding to raise Lopez Lake Reservoir levels

Paso Robles approves groundwater sustainability plan:  “After almost two years of planning, public outreach and discussion, the City of Paso Robles approved the Groundwater Sustainability Plan for the Paso Robles Water Basin on Dec. 17. The GSP’s completion and approval is a vital step in keeping the power of water management in local hands and not controlled by the State of California.  The City of Paso Robles Groundwater Sustainability Board, comprised of the City Council, passed the GSP in a majority vote of 3-0 with Mayor Steve Martin and Councilmember Maria Garcia absent. … ”  Read more from The Paso Robles Press here: Paso Robles approves groundwater sustainability plan

L.A. Watershed management program falls short of EPA goals:  “Scientists with Heal the Bay, a water quality nonprofit, measured the progress that local watershed areas made from 2012 to 2018 toward achieving storm water retention targets established by the U.S. EPA.  Their research discovered seasonal fluctuations and difficulty with consistent water quality testing, reported the Argonaut.  The watershed areas achieved 1.41 acre feet of additional storm water retention capacity since December 2012, out of a target of 671.69 acre feet, which includes flood control upgrades to Oxford Basin Lagoon. … ”  Read more from Stormwater Solutions here: L.A. Watershed management program falls short of EPA goals

End of drought brings stocked trout back to Crystal Lake:  “The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has once again stocked Crystal Lake in Los Angeles County with rainbow trout, restoring angling opportunities after several years. CDFW stopped stocking this popular fishing area because years of drought led to low lake levels and poor water quality.   “It’s exciting to be able to bring back this opportunity for anglers in the San Gabriel Mountains,” said Inland Fisheries Environmental Scientist Jennifer Pareti. “Prior to the drought, Crystal Lake was stocked by CDFW for more than 70 years. People often share with me their memories of catching fish as kids at Crystal Lake.” … ”  Read more from CDFW here: End of drought brings stocked trout back to Crystal Lake

The hidden tunnel in the San Jacinto Mountains:  “Back in the mid-1990s, Huell Howser made his way into the San Jacinto wilderness to explore the wonders that many didn’t know existed. The American television personality who hosted “California’s Gold,” a human interest show produced by KCET in Los Angeles for California PBS stations, adventured through the Sunshine State to shed light on the amazing sites it has to offer.  Howser took a trip on Jan. 8, 1997 through a 13-mile tunnel through the San Jacinto Mountains excavated by the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) during the 1930s as part of the 242-mile Colorado River Aqueduct, which brings water to Southern California. … ”  Read more from the Idyllwild Town Crier here: The hidden tunnel in the San Jacinto Mountains

Aliso Creek estuary restoration closer to reality:  “Currently filled with sludge, bacteria, fertilizers, run-off and other pollutants that severely limit a healthy diversity of native plants and wildlife, the Aliso Creek lagoon is another step closer to recovery as a burgeoning aquatic wetland.  The mission to restore the Aliso Creek estuary, spearheaded by Laguna Ocean Foundation two years ago, received a second gift from the California Coastal Conservancy this holiday season, a $400,000 grant to implement the plan’s next phase. ... ”  Read more from the Laguna Beach Independent here: Aliso Creek estuary restoration closer to reality:

Imperial Irrigation District files claim for access to stored water in Metropolitan’s system (Press release):  “Since 2007, as a result of agreements associated with the 2007 Colorado River Interim Guidelines, the Imperial Irrigation District has had the ability to store conserved water with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. In 2015, both agencies executed a three-year amendment that allowed IID to extend and increase its right to store water within MWD’s system through 2017.  … ”  Continue reading at IID here: IID files claim for access to stored water in MWD’s system

Along the Colorado River …

Is customer-based water conservation a drop in the bucket in Southern Nevada?Reduced precipitation from climate change and disputes over Colorado River water rights loom over Nevada’s water supply, but the agency that oversees it says officials can manage the uncertainty with a boost from new conservation programs and legislative mandates.  The Southern Nevada’s Water Authority’s (SNWA) Joint Water Conservation Plan was approved by the board’s seven member agencies in December, after significant updates to the conservation formula and strategies for 2019 through August 2024, when the five-year plan will be updated. … ”  Read more from the Nevada Independent here: Is customer-based water conservation a drop in the bucket in Southern Nevada?

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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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