DAILY DIGEST, weekend edition: Snow returns to NorCal this week; US almond growers struggle to overcome ‘vampire’ image problem; House passes PFAS chemicals bill to push water standards; NEPA overhaul won’t be ‘overnight game changer’; and more …

In California water news this weekend, Snow returns to NorCal this week; US almond growers struggle to overcome ‘vampire’ image problem; California lays out ambitious climate change budget plan; King tides come to the CA coast; Those big wildfires in Australia look familiar — they’re much like California’s; House Democrats push environmental bills, but victories are few; House passes PFAS chemicals bill to push water standards; NEPA overhaul won’t be ‘overnight game changer’; Photo feature: Mount Diablo, a Story of Place; and more …

In the news this weekend …

Snow could blanket the Pacific Northwest, NorCal this week: Multiple low-pressure systems will move into colder air across the Pacific Northwest where snow is expected to fall down to valley floors through midweek, including in Seattle and Portland, Oregon.  The Pacific Northwest has seen several rounds of rain and heavy mountain snow since earlier last week. … ”  Read more from The Weather Channel here: Snow could blanket the Pacific Northwest this week

How US almond growers are struggling to overcome ‘vampire’ image problem:  “Californian almonds will benefit from a new public campaign next week to capitalise on the explosion in plant-based eating, but concerns remain regarding the crop’s sustainability.  The new campaign, branded ‘Do You Almond?’, will focus on the health benefits of almonds by featuring humorous scenarios “from a contortionist granny to a life drawing maverick.” It was developed by the Almond Board of California, which represents growers producing almost 80% of the global supply. … ”  Read more from The Grower here: How US almond growers are struggling to overcome ‘vampire’ image problem

California lays out ambitious climate change budget plan, says Trump administration isn’t helping:  “Gov. Gavin Newsom introduced a budget proposal on Friday with ambitious goals for addressing climate change — in part because his administration says the Trump White House is not doing enough.  “Unlike the federal government, which is shirking its responsibility to address these issues, California has been and is going to continue to lead,” said Kate Gordon, director of the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research and a senior advisor on climate. … ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here: California lays out ambitious climate change budget plan, says Trump administration isn’t helping

Those big wildfires in Australia look familiar — they’re much like California’s:  “The brownish-orange skies, choking soot, mass evacuations and deaths of people and wildlife are all familiar to Californians who have endured their share of fire disasters in recent years — except that the bushfires raging across more than 15 million acres of Australia are orders of magnitude worse.  Nearly 140 separate blazes have burned since November — springtime in Australia — sending plumes of smoke all the way to South America. They have burned at least 2,000 structures, killed 25 people, including three firefighters, and incinerated hundreds of millions of animals, including kangaroos and native endangered koala bears. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: Those big wildfires in Australia look familiar — they’re much like California’s

House Democrats push environmental bills, but victories are few:  “Speaker Nancy Pelosi delivered a triumphant message on Friday as the House moved on legislation, long sought by environmentalists, to force the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate toxic chemicals that can contaminate drinking water.  “The Trump Administration’s E.P.A. is breaking its own promises every day that it delays and puts polluters ahead of the American people,” she said before 24 Republicans joined all but one Democrat to pass the act, 247 to 159, on the chemicals, known as PFAS. “In stark contrast, the House is taking action.” … ”  Read more from the New York Times here: House Democrats push environmental bills, but victories are few

House passes PFAS chemicals bill to push water standards:  “House lawmakers passed a bill Friday for U.S. regulators to designate chemicals found in cooking spray, cosmetics and other grease-resistant products as health hazards.  Known as polyfluoroalkyl and perfluorooctanoic substances (PFAS and PFOS), the chemicals have been found in groundwater sites across the nation. The Environmental Working Group — an activist group focused on research advocacy of toxic chemicals — released a study in November that found nearly 110 million Americans had been drinking PFAS-contaminated water. … ”  Read more from Courthouse News Service here:  House passes PFAS chemicals bill to push water standards

NEPA overhaul won’t be ‘overnight game changer’:  “The Trump administration heralded its latest environmental rollback as an end to drawn-out legal brawls challenging high-profile energy and infrastructure projects.  But experts say the legal implications of planned changes to rules surrounding the National Environmental Policy Act would be much less dramatic. … The White House Council on Environmental Quality’s draft changes to NEPA’s implementing rules may do little to ease courtroom wrangling over the federal government’s compliance with the law — especially when the new rules are held up against a body of long-standing precedent, legal experts say. … ”  Read more E&E News here: NEPA overhaul won’t be ‘overnight game changer’

SEE ALSO:

In people news this weekend …

Pam Tobin elected vice president of statewide water association:  “On December 4, 2019, San Juan Water District Director Pam Tobin was elected as Vice President of the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA), the statewide association that represents the 400+ public water agencies in California. This is only the second time in the 110-year history of the organization that a Vice President was elected from the Sacramento Region. Director Tobin is also the fourth woman to hold this post at ACWA. … ”  Continue reading at San Juan Water District here: Pam Tobin elected vice president of statewide water association

Placer County Water Agency appoints Andrew Fecko as next general manager:  “The Placer County Water Agency (PCWA) announced today that Andrew Fecko has been appointed as the Agency’s next General Manager. The PCWA Board of Directors approved his contract at its meeting on January 6.  Mr. Fecko currently serves as PCWA’s Director of Strategic Affairs, a position held since 2017. … ”  Read more from Mountain Counties Water Resources Association here: Placer County Water Agency appoints Andrew Fecko as next general manager

Sunday photo feature …

Mount Diablo, a Story of Place:  “This is an excerpt from photographer and longtime Bay Nature contributor Stephen Joseph’s new book, Mount Diablo, A Story of Place and Inspiration. The book consists of hundreds of Joseph’s photographs, taken over three years on the mountain, and features essays by local conservation leaders. The text excerpt is from an essay by Save Mount Diablo Land Conservation Director Seth Adams, titled “Creating a Sense of Place.”… “  Read essay and view pictures from Bay Nature here: Mount Diablo, a Story of Place

Sunday podcast …

Real or Perceived:  Steve Baker writes, “If you want to construct a domestic well in Montana, you simply get a permit to construct and don’t worry about getting a water right. These wells are considered a permit exempt wells and don’t require any special evaluations. Today in Montana, these wells are thought to be creating a problem with people with a senior surface water right. So, how do you solve a problem like this?  Water is a Many Splendor’ed Thing brings you another water relationship that has a personally significant impact to your life.”  Produced by Steve Baker, Operation Unite.

In commentary this weekend …

Fighting climate change in California will take more than a bond measure, says the San Francisco Chronicle:  They write, “As the wildfire bills stack up and the PG&E bankruptcy drags on, California leaders have become all too aware of the costs of climate change — both now and in the future.  But is a climate bond the best way to pay for it? … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: Fighting climate change in California will take more than a bond measure

Rising sea levels threaten California beaches.  Here’s how we can help protect them:  Monique Myers writes,I recently returned from Kiribati, the low-lying Pacific Island nation that is projected to be the first country lost to sea-level rise. The I-Kiribati are people who smile easily, laugh often and dance before dinner. It’s difficult to comprehend sea-level rise displacing this or any culture, although our California beach culture faces a similar threat.  I visited Kiribati as part of a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) program to train local governments about assessing threats to marine systems. As a scientist focused on climate impacts in California, I assumed climate change would be at the forefront of Kiribatians’ minds given the imminent threat of rising sea levels. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: Rising sea levels threaten California beaches. Here’s how we can help protect them

In regional news and commentary this weekend …

Radio show: North Coast could miss some effects of climate change:  “The “Lost Coast” might not stay lost for long.  Especially when the rest of the country realizes that California’s northwest coast might have an easier time with the effects of climate change.   Effects will be felt, says Michael Furniss at Humboldt State University, but temperatures will generally be cooler than anywhere else in California.   He lays out his findings in a visit to The Exchange, hastening to add that he’s talking about the difference between getting hit by a motorbike and getting hit by a truck, metaphorically.”  Listen to radio show from Jefferson Public Radio here: Radio show: North Coast could miss some effects of climate change

21st century challenge meets 19th century reality on Humboldt Bay:  “What is today’s king tide will be tomorrow’s normal tide.  The recent king tide reached its peak of 8.35 feet on Saturday just after noon, providing a window into what normal tides will look like in the future and identifying potential vulnerabilities to local communities along Humboldt Bay. … A series of dikes that were put in along the bay in the late 1800s by land speculators trying to create agricultural land out of a salt marshes are still the only protection for critical infrastructure, such as sewer lines, power lines and Highway 101, that would be vulnerable if those dikes were to erode or get overtopped, Laird’s research showed. … ”  Read more from the Redwood Times here: 21st century challenge meets 19th century reality on Humboldt Bay

Sacramento Valley: Habitat restorations for endangered salmon:  “Biologists, heavy equipment operators, government agencies, and non-profits all working together.  Hopefully, they’re major steps toward restoring the endangered chinook salmon winter run in the Sacramento River.  Water wouldn’t have been flowing like this very long ago. This is a three-quarter-mile long, three-acre side channel along the Sacramento River in Anderson River Park. … ”  Read more from KRCR here: Habitat restorations for endangered salmon

When Sacramento became ‘Levee City’ | Marking the 170-year anniversary of the flood that started it all:  “The river barreled over, sinking the streets of Sacramento in 6-feet of water. It was streaming fast, flooding the hotels and houses of Gold Rush migrants hoping to find fortune in the bountiful land of California.  “This will be a day never to be forgotten by the residents of Sacramento City as a day that awoke their fears for the safety of their city against the dangers of a flood long since prophesied,” a horrified witness described to The Daily Alta California as he watched his city ripped apart in 1850. … ”  Read more from ABC 10 here: When Sacramento became ‘Levee City’ | Marking the 170-year anniversary of the flood that started it all

Restoring the marsh for future generations in Solano County:  “Slogging through thick mud may not be everybody’s idea of a rewarding morning, but for a handful of dedicated volunteers, it meant helping Mother Nature thrive.  The Solano Land Trust’s “Citizen Science Volunteer” program was at Rush Ranch Friday to plant native plants around an area that has undergone major tidal marsh restoration project that has been going on for over a decade, according to Jasmine Westbrook a project manager with the land trust. … ”  Read more from The Reporter here: Restoring the marsh for future generations in Solano County

Marin County: California’s Coho Salmon Spawning Numbers Plummet:  “As this year’s spawning season for Marin County’s coho salmon comes to an end, biologists are reporting some of the worst spawning numbers in nearly a quarter century.  Only a total of 44 nests (called redds) were reported so far for Lagunitas Creek, San Geronimo Creek, Woodacre Creek and Arroyo Creek. This is despite above average rains that have allowed salmon to migrate upstream unencumbered, and excellent conditions for monitoring the population. While a few more nests may be recorded before the season ends in the next couple of weeks, few if any un-spawned fish have been seen in recent surveys. … ”  Read more from Turtle Island Restoration Network here: California’s Coho Salmon Spawning Numbers Plummet

Bay Area: King Tides: A story of the moon, sun and sea:  “A sunny walk along San Francisco’s Embarcadero is about as nice as it gets, with the waterside promenade framed by a stunning view of the Bay Bridge. Strolling day trippers can also visit much-loved city attractions such as the Exploratorium science museum and the Ferry Building, loaded with gourmet snacks.  This weekend, however, all that charm is going to be flanked by a sobering reminder of climate change. The Embarcadero is also one of the premier spots in the region to glimpse the future as it relates to rising seas. … ”  Read more from KQED here: King Tides: A story of the moon, sun and sea

Bay Area: Exploratorium illustrates dangers of king tides, sea level rise:  “Water lapped inches beneath the low-lying sidewalk at San Francisco’s Embarcadero until a boat cruised by.  Suddenly, a cresting wave gushed over the edge, sending a shrieking group of onlookers scurrying for dry land in soaked shoes. “The tide finally got us,” Lori Lambertson said. “This is what we were hoping for.”  The king tide — one of the highest tides in the year — reached its peak shortly before noon Saturday near the Embarcadero’s Pier 3, where more than 100 people gathered to watch it. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: Bay Area: Exploratorium illustrates dangers of king tides, sea level rise

Pure Water Monterey finishes key water tests, delivery date delayed again:  “Pure Water Monterey has completed critical water tests and is now poised to deliver a report to state regulators as part of an effort to seek the final thumbs-up before beginning to deliver water to the Seaside basin. But the recycled water project has again been delayed.  According to Monterey One Water general manager Paul Sciuto, the best-case scenario now is the much-anticipated $126 million recycled water project would be able to start delivering water to the basin by early February, about a month later than the most recent previous estimate and representing the latest in a series of delays that have stretched on for more than six months. … ”  Read more from the Monterey Herald here: Pure Water Monterey finishes key water tests, delivery date delayed again

What causes dangerous tule fog in California’s Central Valley, and why is it becoming less common?  “Opaque tule fog, a staple of winter in California’s Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys, is the bane of motorists because it can reduce visibility to zero and cause massive freeway pileups.  But it is also beloved by growers of crops such as almonds, apricots, cherries, peaches and pistachios because it helps the trees to satisfy the dormancy requirement necessary to produce flowers and fruit. The trees need this rest period to produce high yields during the growing season.  And in the dry Central Valley, it’s a natural part of the ecology. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: What causes dangerous tule fog in California’s Central Valley, and why is it becoming less common?

Reclamation issues Record of Decision for Mendota Pool Group program offering affordable, reliable water for farmers (press release):  “The Bureau of Reclamation issued a Record of Decision Friday for an action that optimizes water supply and reduces pumping impacts through the Mendota Pool Group 20-Year Exchange Program, expected to begin in early 2020.  Reclamation and Westlands Water District evaluated alternatives and recommended an action to allow annual exchanges over a 20-year period of up to 25,000 acre-feet of Central Valley Project water for groundwater that is introduced into the Mendota Pool, which is a small non-federal reservoir located near Mendota, around 35 miles west of Fresno in Fresno County. … ”  Read more from the Bureau of Reclamation here: Reclamation issues Record of Decision for Mendota Pool Group program offering affordable, reliable water for farmers

Ballona Wetland Conservation supporters slam restoration project:  “On Dec. 20, environmental and community leaders who have long been involved with protection efforts for this 600+ acre coastal oasis in Los Angeles have blasted the release — just days before Christmas — of an environmental review (Final EIR) for plans that would be harmful to wildlife, protection of which is one of the key mandates for the CA Department of Fish & Wildlife, which ironically released this report.  “This proposal is worse than a lump of coal on Christmas Eve and far worse for climate change,” stated Molly Basler, a Climate Reality Leader trained by Al Gore and Chair of the Wetlands Committee for Climate Reality Project’s Los Angeles Chapter. … ”  Read more from Culver City News here: Ballona Wetland Conservation supporters slam restoration project

Surfrider Foundation says fight to sink breakwater isn’t over:  “Despite a significant setback recently, a chairman for the Long Beach chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, which has long advocated tearing down the city’s breakwater, says the organization is still hopeful the wave-blocking behemoth will one day be removed.  In November, after more than a decade of anticipation, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released the results of a study to determine whether parts of Long Beach’s 2.2-mile breakwater could be torn down to bring waves back to the coast. … ”  Read more from the Long Beach Post here: Surfrider Foundation says fight to sink breakwater isn’t over

Orange County: King tides threaten roads and cover beaches in preview of sea level rise:  “On a stretch of Sunset Beach where the overfull Huntington Harbour is higher than Pacific Coast Highway, a pump is ready to keep the road from flooding. In Long Beach, seawater has overtaken Bayshore Beach. The water laps against Balboa Island’s recently elevated seawall and it crashes onto the boulders protecting beachfront homes in Capistrano Beach.  So far, the ocean reaches these points just a few times a year, when the alignment of the sun and the full moon conspire to create the high water levels known as king tides. One such time is now: King tides will peak in the mornings from Friday, Jan 10, through Sunday, Jan. 12. … ”  Read more from the OC Register here: King tides threaten roads and cover beaches in preview of sea level rise

Along the Colorado River …

In 2020 legislative session, Arizona lawmakers face tough questions about water:  “Just a year after approval of the much-heralded Drought Contingency Plan, Arizona lawmakers once again face tough questions of how to deal with the increased demand for water in the face of drier weather — and getting water to where it is needed.  The 2019 plan provides some short-term relief for the state as Arizona is required to withdraw less from the Colorado River. While few are convinced that this provides a permanent solution, it could create some breathing room, especially for farmers whose river supplies are being cut. … ”  Read more from KJZZ here:  In 2020 legislative session, Arizona lawmakers face tough questions about water

The Colorado River had a stellar 2019, but this year’s forecasts are below average:  “The Colorado River had a great 2019, with Lake Mead rising the most in a decade due to heavy flows into the river stemming from last year’s primo snowpack.  But 2020 isn’t shaping up as well, with a dry monsoon season and fall in 2019 paving the way for expected below-average spring summer runoff this year.  Right now, the April-July runoff is supposed to be 82% of average. That compares to 145 % of average in 2019, the second-best runoff season in the past 20 years, says the federal Colorado Basin River Forecast Center. … ”  Read more from the Arizona Daily Star here: The Colorado River had a stellar 2019, but this year’s forecasts are below average

Rural groundwater pumping is next big Arizona water issue for lawmakers:  “Arizona lawmakers once again face tough questions of how to deal with increased demand for water in the face of drier weather, and how to get water to where it is needed.  The much-heralded drought contingency plan approved in 2019 plan provides some short-term relief for the Colorado River, as Arizona is required to withdraw less water from it.  But the emerging problem is in areas that do not get Colorado River water, like portions of Cochise and La Paz counties where large industrial farms have been built. ... ”  Read more from the Arizona Daily Star here: Rural groundwater pumping is next big Arizona water issue for lawmakers

Precipitation watch …

Also on Maven’s Notebook this weekend …

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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.

Maven’s Notebook
where California water news never goes home for the weekend

no weekends

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