DAILY DIGEST, 1/22: Small farmers wait for California’s groundwater hammer to fall; Newsom wades into decades-long bid to wring more water for California; Governor’s budget seeks to build water resilience; California launches new weapon against wildfires; Trump admin fast-tracks Colorado River pipeline; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • FREE WEBINAR: Science Be Dammed: How Ignoring Inconvenient Science Drained the Colorado River from 10am to 11am.  Webinar with John Fleck and Eric Kuhn, authors of Science be Dammed, presented by the American Water Resources Association.  For more information, click here.
  • The Southern California Water Dialog meets from 12:00pm to 1:30pm.  Program focuses on contaminated drinking water in Southern California.  Speakers will discuss southland areas still needing water quality upgrades, the multiple challenges facing small agencies, and how officials are handling the Sativa transformation.  For more information, click here.

In California water news today …

Small farmers wait for California’s groundwater hammer to fall:  “A black lab trots dutifully behind as Randy Fiorini proudly points out the drip irrigation lines running along the base of his walnut trees. The orchards sit on land first planted in 1907 when his grandfather established Fiorini Ranch a few miles outside of Delhi, California after relocating from Redondo Beach. A cement ditch carrying water from the Don Pedro Reservoir about 50 miles away runs alongside peach, almond, and walnut trees.  Back when the ranch was irrigated by flooding its fields, Fiorini would splash around with his childhood friend, Scott Severson, in the huge pools under the shade of the trees. Like Fiorini, Severson grew up to farm his family’s ranch nearby in Merced County.  Like most parts of the Central Valley, the Fiorini and Severson ranches in the Turlock Irrigation District used surface water when it was available, and pumped groundwater when it wasn’t. … ” Read more from the Bill Lane Center for the American West here: Small farmers wait for California’s groundwater hammer to fall

Newsom wades into decades-long bid to wring more water for California:  “It didn’t take long for Gavin Newsom to dive head-first into a political onion that has bedeviled a long list of capable and successful California governors.  Hours after being elected in 2018, Newsom and his predecessor Jerry Brown intervened in a decade-long fight by convincing regulators to stall a plan requiring farmers and cities to leave more water in Central Valley rivers for salmon. Months later, Gov. Newsom announced during his first major speech he supported downsizing a prickly $17 billion plan to tunnel underneath the state’s main estuary to deliver more water to the thirsty south state. ... ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service here:  Newsom wades into decades-long bid to wring more water for California

Governor’s budget seeks to build water resilience:  “Earlier this month the Newsom administration laid out its vision for addressing the linked issues of water and climate in two key policy documents: the much-anticipated draft of its Water Resilience Portfolio (WRP) and the governor’s budget proposal. The WRP, which resulted from an April 2019 executive order, was developed with extensive input from state agencies and stakeholders from around California. It outlines more than 100 actions designed to ensure that communities, the economy, and ecosystems across California’s diverse regions are able to weather our increasingly volatile climate. The January budget provides a roadmap of the administration’s initial spending priorities in this area. … ”  Read more from the PPIC here:  Governor’s budget seeks to build water resilience

Protecting California’s water assets: state releases new water resilience portfolio:  “Abundant and clean water supplies will be essential for California’s people, communities and economy to thrive in the future. Yet, the state faces significant challenges on the road to water security.  To address those difficulties, Governor Gavin Newsom’s administration has released a draft “Water Resilience Portfolio” designed to ensure that California’s water systems, both natural and constructed, will adequately support our growing state in the future.  The Portfolio consists of more than 100 separate actions designed to improve the state’s ability to contend with limited water supplies, population growth, aging infrastructure, a warmer and more variable climate, and more extreme droughts, floods and wildfires.  … ”  Read more from California Forward here:  Protecting California’s water assets: state releases new water resilience portfolio

California launches new weapon against wildfires:  “California has a new weapon in the war against wildfires — but will it provide the extra artillery needed for an effective fight against the blazes?  The weapon is the Wildfire Safety Advisory Board. The board will offer wildfire expertise to the California Public Utilities Commission, which has never had a division of wildfire safety. ... ”  Read more from KCRA Channel 3 here: California launches new weapon against wildfires

Aquarium’s climate panel urges action from state leaders:  “A panel of experts including Dr. Jerry Schubel, president and CEO of Long Beach’s Aquarium of the Pacific, gave California a grade of “A” for its environmental good intentions — but just a middling “C” for its overall efforts to combat climate change.  Schubel, who wrote the aquarium’s recent Climate Resilience Assessment Report for the City of Long Beach, convened a panel of scholars for the sixth annual Climate Change Symposium at the newly expanded sea-life center’s Ocean Theatre over the weekend. ... ”  Read more from the Daily News here: Aquarium’s climate panel urges action from state leaders

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In national/world news today …

Atmospheric rivers drive western U.S. flood damages, says RISA-funded study:  “New research recently published in Science Advances found that atmospheric rivers accounted for 84% of flood damages, or $42.6 billion, across the western United States from 1978-2017. Supported by RISA and co-authored by California-Nevada RISA PI Alexander Gershunov, the study analyzed 40 years of data from the National Flood Insurance Program to quantify atmospheric rivers’ economic impacts. … ”  Read more from the NOAA’s Climate Program Office here:  Atmospheric rivers drive western U.S. flood damages, says RISA-funded study

Trump outlines administration’s work on agriculture:  “Saying he had kept his promise to do everything at his disposal “to protect the American farmer and restore the full strength of American agriculture,” President Donald Trump described actions his administration has taken on trade, regulatory reform and other fronts on behalf of farmers and ranchers.  Trump spoke Sunday to the American Farm Bureau Federation Annual Convention in Austin, Texas—the third year in a row the president has spoken to the nation’s largest farm organization.  He also pledged to return to next year’s AFBF convention, which will be held in San Diego. … ”  Read more from Ag Alert here:  Trump outlines administration’s work on agriculture

A surge of new plastic is about to hit the planet:  “As public concern about plastic pollution rises, consumers are reaching for canvas bags, metal straws, and reusable water bottles. But while individuals fret over images of oceanic garbage gyres, the fossil fuel and petrochemical industries are pouring billions of dollars into new plants intended to make millions more tons of plastic than they now pump out.  Companies like ExxonMobil, Shell, and Saudi Aramco are ramping up output of plastic—which is made from oil and gas, and their byproducts—to hedge against the possibility that a serious global response to climate change might reduce demand for their fuels, analysts say. … ”  Read more from Wired here:  A surge of new plastic is about to hit the planet

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In regional news and commentary today …

Damaged city ponds in Ukiah still waiting for repairs:  “Although the damage occurred nearly a year ago, the Ukiah City Council voted again at its last meeting to declare that repairs needed to the Wastewater Treatment Plant due to flooding last February were still deemed an emergency.  “The ponds are still in the somewhat horrifying condition they’ve been in since (winter of 2019), and we really can’t cut into them until it’s quite a bit drier than it is now,” Public Works Director Tim Eriksen told the City Council last week. “We have Ghilotti scheduled to do this as soon as we get about seven to 10 dry days.” … ”  Read more from the Ukiah Daily Journal here:  Damaged city ponds in Ukiah still waiting for repairs

Vineyards versus vernal pools: On Napa’s Atlas Peak, a neighbors’ dispute turns ugly:  “Save for the occasional bear or bobcat sighting, there’s rarely much commotion in the rugged hills of Napa Valley’s Atlas Peak area.  But a dispute between two neighbors over a small vineyard planting — and whether it might threaten its surrounding landscape — turned into a major clash that led to a libel lawsuit, restraining orders and, allegedly, gunshots. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: Vineyards versus vernal pools: On Napa’s Atlas Peak, a neighbors’ dispute turns ugly

Column: Bill Lynch: Beavers more than cute creatures for Sonoma Creek:  “The Sonoma Index-Tribune recently published a couple of articles about beavers and otters in Sonoma Creek.  It’s a good sign, not just because it’s nice to know that Sonoma Valley’s main waterway is actually clean enough to support wildlife, but also because beavers can actually improve life for other critters, including my favorite, rainbow trout.  Our Sonoma Valley creeks used to be home to a healthy population of steelhead/rainbow trout and spawning areas for king and Coho salmon. In my boyhood here we could fish for trout in most of our streams through the spring and early summer. … ”  Read more from the Sonoma Index-Tribune here: Column: Bill Lynch: Beavers more than cute creatures for Sonoma Creek

Sites Reservoir to receive $6 million:  “The proposed Sites Reservoir will receive a $6 million investment from the federal government as part of a bipartisan spending bill that was signed during President Donald Trump’s year-end spending package.   According to a release issued by the Sites Project Authority, the funding, authorized by the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act, was appropriated to the Bureau of Reclamation to advance Sites Reservoir. Congress has now appropriated roughly $10 million in WIIN Act funding to the Bureau of Reclamation for Sites Reservoir. … ”  Read more from the Glenn County Transcript here: Sites Reservoir to receive $6 million

Sacramento Valley:  Waterfowl fill sky in winter spectacle:  “In one sweep of the eye, roughly 100,000 snow geese lifted off before us, filling the sky with wings, squawks and honks.  Yet right alongside, cars ripped by at 80 mph on Interstate 5, the drivers with nary a clue of the scene unfolding so nearby. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: Waterfowl fill sky in winter spectacle

Folsom Dam is being raised. What that means for droughts, boating and your flood insurance:  “Folsom Dam has long quietly served as a backstop for Sacramento, offering critical flood protection to one of the most at-risk metropolitan areas in the country. But a few scary winter storms in the 1980s and 1990s proved that the dam and the region’s extensive system of river levees weren’t as fail-safe as thought.  That’s prompted several billion dollars of flood control work since then. Now, as part of that, the dam itself is about to get a major makeover that could lead to lower flood insurance rates and more time on the lake for boaters. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: Folsom Dam is being raised. What that means for droughts, boating and your flood insurance

SEE ALSO: 

Carmel River flood control project finally reaches key stage:  “With the release of its final environmental review document, the long-awaited Carmel River flood control project aimed at reducing flooding risks and potential damage for homes and businesses while restoring habitat along the lower part of the river and lagoon is on the verge of a crucial milestone.  Released on Friday, the final combined environmental impact report and environmental assessment for the Carmel River FREE (floodplain restoration and environmental enhancement) project is set to be considered by the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday next week. ... ”  Read more from the Monterey Herald here: Carmel River flood control project finally reaches key stage

Tulare County:  COS students to attend conference on future of irrigation water:  “Two local college students will have front row seats as experts chart a new course for irrigating California’s crops.  Konner Gilman and Kyler Hendrick, who both attend COS Tulare College Center, have been offered the student scholarship to attend the 2020 California Irrigation Institute Conference hosted in Sacramento on Jan. 27-28. The scholarship includes conference registration, accommodations, two luncheons, an exhibitors reception, pre-conference dinner, and transportation. … ”  Read more from the Foothills Sun-Gazette here: Tulare County:  COS students to attend conference on future of irrigation water

Santa Barbara: Edison in hot water over dumping of debris, rocks into Mission Creek:  “Santa Barbara County and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have issued notices of violation to Southern California Edison for its dumping of debris and rocks into Mission Creek near the Inspiration Point hiking trail.   Edison committed grading that exceeded 50 cubic yards and caused a cut of fill that exceeded three feet in vertical distance, and caused a change in elevation to the natural contour without a permit, according to the county.  ... ”  Read more from Noozhawk here: Santa Barbara: Edison in hot water over dumping of debris, rocks into Mission Creek

Escondido water quality lab leads by example:  “California’s 600 certified water quality testing labs will face strict new accreditation standards in the near future. While final hearings still need to take place on the draft regulations before adoption, the City of Escondido Water Quality Lab isn’t waiting. Escondido is working now to adopt the anticipated regulations.  Escondido is one of only two California labs already compliant with the draft regulations, which require more stringent quality controls. … ”  Read more from the Water News Network here: Escondido Water Quality Lab Leads By Example

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Along the Colorado River …

Endangered fish on upswing in Colorado River basin:  “An endangered fish found in the Colorado River basin is on the upswing, federal officials said Tuesday as they proposed reclassifying the humpback chub as threatened.  The fish that gets its name from a fleshy bump behind its head is one of four endangered fish that make their home in the Colorado River and its tributaries. It was listed as such in the late 1960s as its numbers fell drastically before stabilizing more than a decade ago. ... ”  Read more from the Mohave Valley News here: Endangered fish on upswing in Colorado River basin

Trump admin fast-tracks Colorado River pipeline:  “The Trump administration has put one of the largest new water projects on the Colorado River on the fast track, raising concerns among environmentalists.  Utah first proposed building a 140-mile pipeline from Lake Powell on the Utah-Arizona border more than a decade ago. The plan, however, was waylaid by environmental and other reviews during the Obama administration.  But last fall, the Utah Division of Water Resources updated the proposal, removing a hydropower plant and cutting $100 million from its price tag. … ”  Read more from E&E News here:  Trump admin fast-tracks Colorado River pipeline

How will Western water be affected by climate change? A tiny Colorado flower may have the answer:  “The question biologist Heidi Steltzer is trying to answer is this: How much water does the tiny prairie smoke – a diaphanous pink mountain flower – send into the sky?  The answer could say a lot about how much water cities from Denver to Los Angeles will have as a changing climate tampers with the snow and rain falling on the West. … ”  Read more from the Colorado Sun here: How will Western water be affected by climate change? A tiny Colorado flower may have the answer

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Precipitation watch …

From the National Weather Service: “Some scattered showers are possible in the N. Sacramento Valley the next couple of days. The next system is expected to move in over the weekend bringing widespread Valley/foothill rain and high elevation mountain snow.”

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

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Image credit: CA streamflow assessment map, courtesy of Belize Lane.   From this paper: Lane, B. A., Dahlke, H. E., Pasternack, G. B., & Sandoval‐Solis, S. (2017). Revealing the diversity of natural hydrologic regimes in California with relevance for environmental flows applications. JAWRA Journal of the American Water Resources Association53(2), 411-430.

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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