DAILY DIGEST, 1/29: UCSD scientists to ride research aircraft into ‘atmospheric rivers’; Farmers welcome new federal rule on water quality; Stormwater permits required for industrial business licenses; and more …

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On the calendar today …

  • Webcast: Environmental DNA Symposium from 9am to 5pm.  The symposium will discuss the utility and application of eDNA in the Delta.  Click here to watch via livestream.
  • Webinar: NRDC 2020 Water Webinar series: Building resilience against drought: The California Experience from 10am to 11am.  Click here to watch online.

In California water news today …

UCSD scientists will ride research aircraft into huge storms to study ‘atmospheric rivers:  “UC San Diego will send airborne scientists into huge offshore storms to deepen their understanding of ”atmospheric rivers,” the plumes of moisture that can bring nourishing rains, and flooding, to the West Coast.  … “The flights will produce real-time data that will go into global weather models and lead to better forecasts,” said Marty Ralph, director of the Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes at Scripps Oceanography. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune here: UCSD scientists will ride research aircraft into huge storms to study ‘atmospheric rivers’

Farmers welcome new federal rule on water quality: “Farmers and ranchers expressed support for a new federal rule to protect navigable waters under the Clean Water Act, saying the rule should offer certainty, transparency and a common-sense approach about how the rule would apply on the farm.  California Farm Bureau Federation President Jamie Johansson said last week’s release of the Navigable Waters Protection Rule by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers “promises clear guidelines to help farmers maintain and improve water quality while retaining the flexibility they need to manage their land.” … ”  Read more from Ag Alert here: 🔓 Farmers welcome new federal rule on water quality

California industrial companies—your business license now depends on stormwater permitting:  “A new law in California took effect Jan. 1 and requires industrial business owners applying to a city or county for a new or renewed business license to demonstrate enrollment in a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) stormwater permit, if it’s required.  This may seem rather pedestrian on its face, but the impact on California facilities is potentially significant and may even require retention of legal counsel and an environmental consultant in order to ensure compliance. Failure to comply will result in delay or denial of a business license, effectively prohibiting the business from starting its operations. … ”  Read more from Bloomberg here:  🔓 California industrial companies—your business license now depends on stormwater permitting

Wildfires a hot topic during national weather conference at Stateline:  “Wildfires are feasting on overgrown, overcrowded and undermanaged forests, warmer temperatures have created longer fire seasons and officials are trying to prevent another environmental catastrophe.  That was all just part of the discussion Monday during Operation Sierra Storm, a national weather conference sponsored by the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority at Harveys Lake Tahoe. … ”  Read more from the Tahoe Daily Tribune here:  🔓 Wildfires a hot topic during national weather conference at Stateline

Cities’ lawsuits seeking damages for climate change reach critical juncture:  “With a dozen state and local governments in court seeking damages related to climate change from fossil fuel companies, the U.S. Supreme Court may be the final stop for an  industry seeking protection from billion dollar verdicts.  At some point, one of the lawsuits is likely to drop into the lap of the high court and its newly cemented conservative block of justices.  Rhode Island, Baltimore, tiny Imperial Beach, California and the other localities for the most part want the cases tried in state court and out of federal jurisdiction, arguing that climate-induced extreme weather linked to oil and gas consumption has led to billions in property damage and huge remediation costs. ... ”  Read more from KQED here: 🔓 Cities’ lawsuits seeking damages for climate change reach critical juncture

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In national/world news today …

As states prepare for disasters, they acknowledge things will get worse:  “State lawmakers across the country are calling for huge investments to mitigate the effects of wildfires, flooding, hurricanes, droughts and other natural disasters made more devastating and frequent by climate change.  Following the hottest decade on record, which saw record-breaking wildfires in the West, extreme weather events like Superstorm Sandy, a years-long drought in California, and severe flooding in the Midwest, legislators in many states say it’s long past time to treat such events as the new normal — and invest accordingly. ... ”  Read more from the Pew Charitable Trust here:  🔓 As states prepare for disasters, they acknowledge things will get worse

Why action on ‘forever chemicals’ is taking so long:  “What do you do about lab-made chemicals that are in 99% of people in the U.S. and have been linked to immune system problems and cancer? Whose bonds are so stable that they’re often called “forever chemicals“? Meet PFAS, a class of chemicals that some scientists call the next PCB or DDT. For consumers, they are best known in products like Scotchgard and Teflon. For businesses, PFAS are a puzzle that has already created billions of dollars worth of liabilities. But 70 years of unchecked proliferation may be ending as both the U.S. Congress and the Environmental Protection Agency have signaled a new willingness to take them on, even as regulators missed a self-imposed deadline at the end of 2019. … ”  Read more from Bloomberg here:  🔓 Why action on ‘forever chemicals’ is taking so long

What’s in your water? Researchers identify new toxic byproducts of disinfecting drinking water:  “Mixing drinking water with chlorine, the United States’ most common method of disinfecting drinking water, creates previously unidentified toxic byproducts, says Carsten Prasse from Johns Hopkins University and his collaborators from the University of California, Berkeley and Switzerland.  The researchers’ findings were published this past week in the journal Environmental Science & Technology. … ”  Read more from PhysOrg here: 🔓 What’s in your water? Researchers identify new toxic byproducts of disinfecting drinking water

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In commentary today …

Water plan should focus on the future, not the past, says Tracy Hernandez, CEO of the Los Angeles County Business Federation:  “Frequent drought and entrenched conflict have hampered most major improvements to California’s water delivery systems. Lack of a comprehensive and inclusive plan was identified by William Hammond Hall, a former State Engineer of California, as far back as 1878 when he suggested that the Legislature focus on regulating California’s water resources by surveying nature and water rights to develop a lasting solution. Unfortunately, this effort fell victim to the bureaucracy of government and politics. ... ”  Read more from the Whittier Daily News here:  Water plan should focus on the future, not the past

Desalination can help quench California’s water needs, says Wendy Ridderbusch, Executive Director of Cal Desal:  She writes,If you’ve ever created a personal budget, you know that assigning your money to different investment strategies is a crucial component to meet your financial goals. When you stop dipping into your savings account each month, savings can begin to build.  Understanding why desalination is so critical to California’s water future is a lot like building a personal budget. With a changing climate, growing population and booming economy, we need to include desalination in the water supply equation to help make up an imported water deficit. … ”  Read more from Cal Matters here:  🔓 Why desalination can help quench California’s water needs

We must fix the Salton Sea. And, yes, water transfer is one hope, says Bob Terry, member of the Salton Sea Coalition:  He writes, “In his recent Your Turn column, Alexander Schriener wrote that we need to focus on viable solutions for the ailing Salton Sea. I’d like to address some of the points made in that column.  “The Salton Sea is going through the natural evolution …,” Schriener wrote. There is nothing natural about farm chemicals. This is an intensely farmed region where the preferred means of disposing of these toxins is to use half as much water as the irrigation required simply to flush these chemicals into the sea, two or three times a year for over 100 years.  … ”  Continue reading at The Desert Sun here:  We must fix the Salton Sea. And, yes, water transfer is one hope

Legislation is more effective than litigation, says State Senator Andreas Borgeas:  He writes, “As a member of the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee and a former chair of the San Joaquin River Conservancy, I have a deep appreciation for California’s public lands and natural resources. California is unique in its geographic wonders and devotion to natural resource protection. … Originally passed in 1970 and signed by then Governor Ronald Reagan, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) was a legislative attempt to provide guardrails for new development projects in an 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.  ... ”  Read more from My Mother Lode here: Legislation is more effective than litigation

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In regional news and commentary today …

North State lawmakers introduce new legislation to help save Paradise water:  “Assemblyman James Gallagher introduced new legislation on Monday that will help expedite the construction of the Paradise Irrigation District intertie project.  PID said after the Camp Fire, a rough estimate of customers lost was around 9,000, nearly its entire customer base. The District is searching for new revenue streams in order to sustain itself into the future and provide water to the Town of Paradise.  This new project would allow PID to temporarily sell surface water that is otherwise stranded in two reservoirs located near a water treatment facility. … ”  Read more from Action News Now here:  🔓 North State lawmakers introduce new legislation to help save Paradise water

Solano County judge denies Friends of Putah Creek challenge:  “Solano County Superior Court Judge D. Scott Daniels denied a challenge by the Friends of Putah Creek that the Central Valley Flood Protection board should have required a more extensive environmental review before issuing an encroachment permit to allow restoration work on the creek.  “. . . (T)he court finds that the Flood Board was a responsible agency and had no duty to review all environmental arguments (the Friends of Putah Creek) raised during its determination whether to issue the subject encroachment permit, and that its review was appropriately limited to flood control,” Daniels stated in his decision dated Jan. 22. … ”  Read more from the Daily Republic here: Solano County judge denies Friends of Putah Creek challenge

An old well springs to life and Santa Clara homeowners’ nightmare begins:  “Doug Ridley and Sherry Shen figured their condominium in Santa Clara would serve as a retirement nest egg, drawing enough rental income so they could comfortably travel to the United Kingdom and Asia visiting relatives.  Instead, the last two years have turned into a homeowner’s nightmare, thanks to an old artesian well — one of many that used to irrigate the orchards and farms of what was once dubbed the Valley of Heart’s Delight. ... ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here: An old well springs to life and Santa Clara homeowners’ nightmare begins

San Joaquin Valley communities seeing unhealthy levels of toxins in water:  “Turning on the tap may seem harmless, but communities throughout the San Joaquin Valley are seeing unhealthy levels of toxins turn up in the water.  Kingsburg City Leaders say most residents could not tell anything was wrong with the drinking water, but years of testing showed unregulated chemicals were found.  “It’s not a sight or a taste or a smell thing,’ says Kingsburg City Manager Alex Henderson. “What it is is that we have to test for a number of chemicals and have for a very long time.” … ”  Read more from Channel 30 here:  🔓 San Joaquin Valley communities seeing unhealthy levels of toxins in water

Visalia Fire Department to save millions of gallons in trainings:  “The Visalia Fire Department will save an estimated 4.3 million gallons of water during its trainings each year thanks to a new piece of equipment that didn’t cost them a dime.  The Visalia City Council accepted the “pump pod” last month from California Water Service (Cal Water), the city’s municipal water supplier. Formally called a Direct Recirculating Apparatus Firefighting Training & Sustainability (DRAFTS) Unit, the pump pod is a self-contained unit that recirculates water used during firefighter training and pump testing. … ”  Read more from the Foothills Sun Gazette here:  Visalia Fire Department to save millions of gallons in trainings

Agua Caliente files new lawsuit against Coachella Valley water districts:  “The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians has filed a second lawsuit against the Coachella Valley Water District and Desert Water Agency over groundwater.  The first lawsuit filed by the tribe against the districts over rights to groundwater access has been pending since 2013, however courts have already agreed with the tribe’s contention that it has a reserved right to groundwater from the aquifer below reservation. In the new complaint filed on Jan. 24, the tribe asserts that it and its members should not have to pay a “replenishment assessment charge” for groundwater production on land owned by the tribe and individual tribal members. … ”  Read more from the Desert Sun here: Agua Caliente files new lawsuit against Coachella Valley water districts

New Inspection Tool Aids Vallecitos Pipeline Assessments:  “A new pipeline inspection tool being used by contractors working for the Vallecitos Water District to determine pipeline integrity could become a standard tool saving time and money.  After nearly completing construction in 2008, developers walked away from the 500-acre High Point subdivision in the City of Escondido. Water facilities installed for the subdivision were left unused for ten years.  Two developers CalWest and TrueLife Communities recently decided to complete the project. They approached Vallecitos to determine what is needed to complete water service. … ”  Read more from the Water News Network here: 🔓 New Inspection Tool Aids Vallecitos Pipeline Assessments

To prevent rail line collapse, San Diego area spends $10 million to repair Del Mar bluffs:  “The Del Mar bluffs have been plagued by a series of collapses over the last 18 months that have left residents and officials increasingly concerned about the stability of the busy railroad tracks perched atop the cliffs.  Top transportation officials are now gearing up for the largest bluff stabilization effort in nearly a decade. The San Diego Assn. of Governments and North County Transit District have already dedicated roughly $10 million to repair storm water drainage structures, replace parts of sea walls and install additional steel and concrete support columns to hold back the earth. ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  To prevent rail line collapse, San Diego area spends $10 million to repair Del Mar bluffs

San Diego plans to use drones, monitors to reduce water main breaks, sewer spills:  “San Diego sharply reduced the number of water main breaks and sewer spills across the city last year, saving ratepayers money and helping many neighborhoods avoid significant disruptions.  City officials credited the decreases to ramped-up maintenance and replacement efforts on water mains, sewer lines and pipes, particularly those made of cast iron. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune here:  San Diego plans to use drones, monitors to reduce water main breaks, sewer spills

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Precipitation watch …

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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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