In California water news this weekend …

Why California’s water crisis is everyone’s problem:  “The state of California is no stranger to calamity, as evidenced by the persistent droughts and devastating wildfires that have ravished the land in years past. Now, however, it is facing a crisis of another kind, and at this critical juncture the fate of the global agriculture industry hangs in the balance.  California comprises 14 percent of the U.S. economy, much of which is fueled by agriculture. The state’s agriculture industry produced $50 billion in output last year. California supplies approximately 50 percent of the country’s fruits, nuts, and vegetables across almonds, apricots, avocados and many more grown foods.  However, a law crafted in 2014 dubbed the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), a product of the severe seven-year drought, stands to jeopardize ag production in the state, which has far reaching implications nationally and around the world. … ”  Read more from Global Ag Investing here: Why California’s water crisis is everyone’s problem

Why did this California farmer end up in court for growing wheat?  “No one told Jack LaPant that he could be in violation of the Clean Water Act for farming his own land.  That’s mostly because the federal law includes a clear exemption for “normal” farming activities. But it’s also because the government officials LaPant consulted didn’t view overturned dirt that has been tilled and plowed as pollution.  In 2016, the Army Corps of Engineers, which administers the Clean Water Act with the Environmental Protection Agency, began legal action against LaPant for plowing he did in 2011 to plant wheat on a ranch property he owned in Northern California.  … ”  Read more from the National Interest here: Why did this California farmer end up in court for growing wheat?

Two Tulare County towns will be testing ground for ‘innovative’ Arsenic-tainted water treatment:  “Two rural Tulare County towns will be the testing ground for a cutting-edge technology that could revolutionize the treatment of groundwater tainted with arsenic, the EPA announced this week.  A $30,000 grant will bring together 20 high school students from Allensworth and Alpaugh to learn about safe drinking water, conduct hands-on testing of arsenic treatment, and present findings to the community and decision-makers.  The students will work with a UC Berkely lab to test the technology, Electrochemical Arsenic Remediation, “an innovative, comparatively very low-cost approach to creating arsenic-safe drinking water,” according to the announcement. … ”  Read more from the Visalia Times-Delta here: Two Tulare County towns will be testing ground for ‘innovative’ Arsenic-tainted water treatment

‘This is not how sequoias die. It’s supposed to stand for another 500 years’:  “The fable of the giant sequoia tree is an enduring tale of America’s fortitude. Standing quietly on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada, the Californian giants can survive almost anything – fire, disease, insect attack, cold years, hot years, drought – so the story goes.  The largest living organisms on the planet can grow over 90 metres (300ft) tall. When they do die after 3,000 years or so, the oldest trees, known as monarchs, usually succumb to their own size and collapse. Their giant trunks will rest on the forest floor for another millennia. … ”  Read more from the Guardian here: ‘This is not how sequoias die. It’s supposed to stand for another 500 years’

Valley vineyard removals may exceed 30,000 acres:  “San Joaquin Valley vineyard pullouts could again top 30,000 as growers besieged by low prices look for higher margins in almonds.  While opportunities for growing quality wine grapes exist along the California coast, inland grape farmers of all types – wine, raisin and table – are reacting to poor market conditions in grapes that left fruit unsold last year. … ” Read more from the Western Farm Press here: Valley vineyard removals may exceed 30,000 acres

Could Mount Shasta be the next Mount St. Helens? When a series of small earthquakes over a two-week period rattled the southwestern flank of Mount Shasta last September it caught the attention of geologists. Such events can be a precursor to a volcano rumbling to life.  Although the earthquakes near McCloud ended almost as soon as they started, the Cascade Range sits on an active fault zone. The last major eruption was Mount St. Helens in 1980. Mount Shasta is the second-most southern peak in the range and is considered dormant but not extinct. … ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here:  Could Mount Shasta be the next Mount St. Helens? 

California takes step toward single-tunnel Delta tunnel plan:  “The Department of Water Resources (DWR) on Jan. 15 released a Notice of Preparation (NOP) for a proposal to modernize water infrastructure in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, initiating environmental review in compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The NOP, announcing the preparation of an environmental impact report (EIR) for the proposed Delta Conveyance Project, marks the first step under the CEQA process. … ”  Read more from Tunnel Business Magazine here: California takes step toward single-tunnel Delta tunnel plan

California sues federal government over Central Valley drilling proposal:  “California on Friday officially challenged a Trump administration plan to open up more than a million acres of public land in the state to fossil fuel development.  In December, the Bureau of Land Management finalized a fracking and drilling plan that spans eight counties in Central California, ending a federal moratorium on new leases in the state. The proposal includes land in Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Tulare, and Ventura Counties. … ”  Read more from KQED here: California sues federal government over Central Valley drilling proposal

Thousands of dead birds, washed up on Pacific Coast, linked to ocean heat wave:  “David Irons was driving past a beach in Whittier, Alaska, on New Year’s Day four years ago when something caught his eye. It was an endless line of white lumps near the water’s edge—piles of something that shouldn’t be there.  They were dead sea birds, and the bodies were everywhere. “I just couldn’t believe it,” said Irons, a recently retired biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “We started counting them, and we just counted a section and we got to 1,500.” … ”  Read more from KQED here: Thousands of dead birds, washed up on Pacific Coast, linked to ocean heat wave

Workshop Report: Technology transfer for water management in the Western U.S.:  “The Western States Water Council (WSWC) and the NASA Western Water Applications Office (WWAO) hosted a joint workshop on technology transfer for water management in the Western U.S. The goals of the workshop were to understand how different agencies approach the technology transfer and research to operations (R2O) process, identify best practices, and discuss existing barriers to successful technology infusion into operational water resource management systems at the state and federal level. The workshop took place August 7-9, 2019 in Irvine, CA. … ”  Read the report here: Workshop Report: Technology transfer for water management in the Western U.S.

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In people news this weekend …

Yolo Farm Bureau honors Tim O’Halloran as Agriculturalist of the Year:  “There were fewer people attending the Yolo County Farm Bureau 106th Agricultural Celebration this year.  Maybe it was the weather. Heavy rains pelted much of Yolo County on Thursday and that could have kept people home. Instead of the roughly 250 people turning out in 2019, this year there were around 190.  However, the availability of water was exactly what farmers and others in agriculture recognized — specifically the person who for the past 16 years had made sure that those who needed water got it and that there will always be a supply for the future. … ”  Read more from the Daily Democrat here: Yolo Farm Bureau honors water manager as Agriculturalist of the Year

Reclamation’s California-Great Basin office hires two deputy directors:  “The Bureau of Reclamation California-Great Basin office in Sacramento has two new deputy regional directors at the helm, starting this month. … Deputy Regional Director of Business Services Michelle Williams will oversee five California-Great Basin divisions: Financial Management, Information Management, Administrative Services, Acquisition Services, and Human Resources. Jeff Payne joins as the new Deputy Regional Director of Technical Services, which will oversee area offices in Klamath Falls, Oregon and Carson City, Nevada. Payne will also manage regional divisions of Resources Management, and Safety and Emergency Management. … ” Read more from the Bureau of Reclamation here: Reclamation’s California-Great Basin office hires two deputy directors

Jennifer Capitolo named California Water Association Executive Director:  “The California Water Association (CWA), which represents drinking water utilities regulated by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and the State Water Resources Control Board, is pleased to announce it has named Jennifer Capitolo as its new Executive Director, effective January 20, 2020. She is replacing Jack Hawks, who has served as the Association’s Executive Director since 2005, and who is retiring. … ” Read more at the California Water Association here: Jennifer Capitolo named CWA Executive Director

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In national/world news this weekend …

How anti-sprawl policies may be harming water quality:  “Urban growth boundaries are created by governments in an effort to concentrate urban development — buildings, roads and the utilities that support them — within a defined area. These boundaries are intended to decrease negative impacts on people and the environment. However, according to a Penn State researcher, policies that aim to reduce urban sprawl may be increasing water pollution.  “What we were interested in was whether the combination of sprawl — or lack of sprawl — along with simultaneous agriculture development in suburban and rural areas could lead to increased water-quality damages,” said Douglas Wrenn, a co-funded faculty member in the Institutes of Energy and the Environment. ... ”  Read more from Science Daily here: How anti-sprawl policies may be harming water quality

Gina McCarthy on clean energy, climate and 2020 elections:  “Gina McCarthy wrapped up week two as head of the Natural Resources Defense Council by laying out her goals to reporters for what will be a pivotal year in energy and environmental policy.  The former EPA administrator, who led the agency during President Obama’s second term, started last week as head of NRDC, one of the country’s most prominent environmental organizations. She spoke this morning to reporters at the group’s Washington office.  … ”  Read more from E&E News here: Gina McCarthy on clean energy, climate and 2020 elections

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Sunday podcasts …

Environmental advocates wary of new Delta tunnel plan:  “Governor Gavin Newsom has restarted a project to build a single tunnel to ship billions of gallons of water from the San Joaquin Delta to Southern California. Newsom issued a Notice of Preparation on Wednesday which will begin a lengthy process of environmental review. KPFA’s Vic Bedoian reports from Fresno.”

Don’t Just Sit There:  Steve Baker writes, “Growing up, my parents instilled an attitude that I still believe to this day. Don’t just sit there if you see someone needing help, you help them. Overuse of agricultural water has caused much suffering in Yemen. Technical and social behavior changes are needed. So, do we just sit there as we see hardship taking place or do we contribute to solving the problem? Water is a Many Splendor’ed Thing brings you another water relationship that has a personally significant impact to your life.”  Steve Baker, Operation Unite

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In commentary this weekend …

When it comes to California environmental review, legislation is better than lawsuits, says State Senator Andreas Borgeas:  He writes, ” … Originally passed in 1970 and signed by then Gov. Ronald Reagan, the California Environmental Quality Act was a legislative attempt to provide guardrails for new development projects in effort to protect the state’s natural resources.  Unfortunately, CEQA has morphed into a legal weapon for lawyers and activist groups to stall essential projects and infrastructure. The pattern is well established. ... ”  Continue reading at the Fresno Bee here: When it comes to California environmental review, legislation is better than lawsuits

New California water laws are fake news, says BJ Atkins:  He writes, “Regional news agencies reported recently water customers could be fined for taking a shower and doing laundry on the same day.  WRONG!  There is no law against showering and doing laundry on the same day. There are no specific statewide laws that require individual households to meet a specific target or standard.  Rather, urban water use objectives will be set for an entire service area. … ”  Read more from the Signal here: New California water laws are fake news

Fake rationing scare highlights California’s crazy water policy, says Steve Greenhut:  He writes, “Stamping out incorrect social-media information is like trying to halt those computer viruses that multiply bad files every time you close one. You can sometimes convince someone that the story isn’t quite right – only to see it pop up on myriad other feeds. After trying to serve as the “truth police” recently, I finally gave up. There are so many real problems to worry about, but lots of people seem determined to be upset by bogus ones.  The specific story involved water rationing. … ”  Read more from the OC Register here:  Fake rationing scare highlights California’s crazy water policy

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In regional news and commentary this weekend …

NorCal’s Shasta and Scott River salmon runs below sustainable levels:  “The number of Coho salmon in Northern California’s Shasta and Scott rivers in 2019 was too low to sustain a viable population. That’s according to a just-released report from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.  The most recent count identified only 334 Coho on the Scott, and 61 on the Shasta. … ” Read more from Jefferson Public Radio here: NorCal’s Shasta and Scott River salmon runs below sustainable levels

Disappointing numbers for annual coho salmon run in western Marin County:  “The pouring rain this winter brought with it a buoyant optimism among fisheries experts about the celebrated run of coho salmon in western Marin County, but the expected swarm of leaping pink fish never showed up.  Fewer than 90 coho have made their way up meandering, forested Lagunitas Creek and laid eggs on the northwest side of Mount Tamalpais, one of California’s last great strongholds for embattled wild salmon that have never mingled with hatchery-bred fish. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: Disappointing numbers for annual coho salmon run in western Marin County

Marina faces off with state, county, Salinas Valley agency over CEMEX site:  “A legal showdown is brewing over groundwater management of the CEMEX sand mining plant site where California American Water proposes to construct its desalination project well field.  The city of Marina and its groundwater sustainability agency have sued the state Department of Water Resources and its director Karla Nemeth, Monterey County along with its Board of Supervisors and its groundwater sustainability agency, and the Salinas Valley Basin Groundwater Sustainability Agency and its board of directors over the right to manage the 450-acre site located within the city’s limits. ... ”  Read more from the Monterey Herald here: Marina faces off with state, county, Salinas Valley agency over CEMEX site

Stockton: State senate candidates can’t escape the water wars. They disagree about high-speed rail.:  “The territory encompassed by the 5th State Senate District has been a battleground for California’s complex water politics.  So it’s not surprising the two Democrats and three Republicans running to succeed Sen. Cathleen Galgiani, D-Stockton, who is terming out this year, might tap dance around questions regarding Tuolumne and Stanislaus river flows and water quality in the Sacramento-San Joaquin delta. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here: Stockton: State senate candidates can’t escape the water wars. They disagree about high-speed rail.

‘All risk and no reward’: Patterson group fights back against proposed dam:  “Dozens of families in Stanislaus County are fighting against a proposed dam just west of Patterson.  The 800-acre reservoir would mean a portion of Del Puerto Canyon would be underwater.  “Quite frankly, this project is all risk and no reward,” said Patterson resident Chuck Marble. … ”  Read more from KTXL here: ‘All risk and no reward’: Patterson group fights back against proposed dam

Former Patterson mayor warns of disaster with Del Puerto Canyon Reservoir:  David Keller writes, “Buried deep within a recent statement to “community members” and in reference to their Draft Environmental Impact Report, the Del Puerto Water District states: “Lengthy preliminary investigations did not reveal any fatal flaws.”  Where does the city of Patterson stand on exposing its citizens to a new natural hazard?  … If the proposed Del Puerto Canyon Reservoir is built, the entire city of Patterson will be downstream of a brand-new natural hazard — a dam inundation zone. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here: Former Patterson mayor warns of disaster with Del Puerto Canyon Reservoir

Indian Wells Valley groundwater plan approved:  “With the bang of a gavel, the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority board of directors passed its groundwater sustainability plan following years of planning and heavy debate.  “We have a GSP,” said Kern County Supervisor Mick Gleason, the board chair. ... ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here: Indian Wells Valley groundwater plan approved

Photographing the Future of Sea Level Rise: California King Tides Project 2020 Launches in Malibu:  “A group of locals interested in documenting sea level rise with photographs gathered at Westward Beach last Saturday to learn the ropes. The California King Tides Project—a partnership of the California Coastal Commission, state and federal agencies and nonprofit organizations since 2010—is an annual winter project where citizen scientists volunteer to take photos of the highest high tides of the year, known as King Tides. ... ”  Read more from the Malibu Times here:  Photographing the Future of Sea Level Rise: California King Tides Project 2020 Launches in Malibu

LA County and city urge NASA to honor agreement to clean up Santa Susana Field Lab:  “The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is urging NASA to honor its agreement to fully clean up the Santa Susana Field Laboratory, weeks after NASA released its proposal to clean up the site, tucked in the hills above San Fernando Valley.  “Although the SSFL has been inactive for several years, various serious incidents have left radioactive and chemical contaminants in the soil, in airborne dust particulates, and in stormwater runoff,” according to the board’s letter to Peter Zorba, SSFL project director for National Aeronautics and Space Administration. … ”  Read more from the LA Daily News here: LA County and city urge NASA to honor agreement to clean up Santa Susana Field Lab

Los Cerritos wetlands restoration draft EIR to be unveiled:  “Restoration of the Los Cerritos Wetlands in east Long Beach long has been a goal of officials and advocates alike.  The Los Cerritos Wetlands Authority — a joint powers governing group — has taken the lead in the long-term planning for that restoration, and already has approved a conceptual restoration plan for the 500 acres of remaining wetlands area. … ”  Read more from the Grunion here:  Los Cerritos wetlands restoration draft EIR to be unveiled

Santa Ana River Wash Plan aims to protect land and species:  “The San Bernardino Valley Water Conservation District laid out its goals for the Habitat Conservation Plan (Wash Plan) for the Santa Ana River Wash area.  The Wash Plan area is 4,892 acres between Highland and Redlands at the meeting of the Santa Ana River and Mill Creek.  On Thursday, Jan. 9, Land Resources Manager Betsy Miller explained the plan’s goals and history to the public. … ”  Read more from Redlands Community News here: Santa Ana River Wash Plan aims to protect land and species

Hydraulic dredging goes small, and precise, at sand-filled marina in Newport Beach:  “A new type of dredging in Newport Harbor will balance the shores in the area of Corona del Mar’s China Cove, where there’s too much beach in one area and not enough a few streets away.  The city of Newport Beach and the Channel Reef Community Assn. are partnering on a precision hydraulic dredging project that will suck 5,000 cubic yards of sand out of the clogged Channel Reef marina through a hose and deposit it on the public pocket beaches just to the south. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: Hydraulic dredging goes small, and precise, at sand-filled marina in Newport Beach

San Diego: Wildlife protected for new underground reservoir project:  “One by one, small mammals and amphibians living within a construction zone in Mission Trails Regional Park are being relocated to safe areas. Protecting sensitive species is one part of the Mission Trails Project.  A team of biologists from the San Diego County Water Authority, AECOM, and the San Diego Natural History Museum began surveying for and relocating the wildlife in preparation for a new underground reservoir. The reservoir will be constructed in the western portion of the park. The habitat surveys and wildlife relocation program span 15 acres of the park and are designed to protect sensitive species in the project area from construction activities. … ”  Read more from the Water News Network here: Wildlife Protected for New Underground Reservoir Project

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Along the Colorado River …

Bill would ban water transfers from river communities to central Arizona:  “Under a new bill in the Arizona state Legislature, some water tied to land that borders the Colorado River could not be transferred into central Arizona. It comes after recent proposals to do just that.  Most recently, the company GSC Farm wants to sell about 2,000 acre-feet of Colorado River water to the Town of Queen Creek. (An acre-foot is roughly what a family of four uses in one year.)  … ”  Read more from KJZZ here: Bill would ban water transfers from river communities to central Arizona

As the Southwest dries out, water managers increasingly look to cloud seeding:  “Southwest Colorado has long been considered part of the arid West. But as a decades-long drought grips the region, and the population only increases, adequate water supply has become a greater concern to farmers, urban planners and ski resorts.  That is why water managers in Southwest Colorado plan to increase investments in cloud-seeding infrastructure beginning this year. … ”  Read more from the Durango Herald here: As the Southwest dries out, water managers increasingly look to cloud seeding

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Precipitation watch …

From the National Weather Service: “Dry today with some morning fog in the Central Valley and favored mountain valleys. Rain and mountain snow beginning Monday night into Tuesday morning. Heaviest precipitation late Tuesday morning into early Tuesday evening. Lingering showers Tuesday night into Wednesday morning. Wet commute on Tuesday with chain controls likely in the mountains.”

 

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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.

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