DAILY DIGEST, 1/30: CA unlikely to benefit from new navigable waters protection rule; Irrigation water prices under SGMA causing sticker shock; Friant-Kern, drinking water bills reviewed; Where do Democratic candidates stand on water? and more …

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On the calendar today …

In California water news today …

California unlikely to benefit from new navigable waters protection rule:  “It is doubtful that the new Navigable Waters Protection Rule will provide any benefits to California’s farmers and ranchers.  Because of the rules that the State Water Board established last year, California is unlikely to be affected by the recent federal regulation that replaces the Waters of the U.S. rule.  “The rules that are in place for California are certainly far and away beyond the rule that was adopted at the federal level,” said Mike Wade, Executive Director of the California Farm Water Coalition.  “We’re not going to – I don’t believe – see much if any relief in California from the revisions at the federal level because we’re already living under a more strict definition of Waters of the State, as it’s known.” … ”  Read more from Ag Net West here:  🔓 California unlikely to benefit from new navigable waters protection rule

Irrigation water prices under SGMA causing sticker shock:  “Reaction was hushed when Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District General Manager Eric Averett asked the small group of farmers Tuesday morning if any were interested in buying irrigation water at the previously unheard of price of $770 an acre foot.  No papers rustled. Keyboards went silent. And none of the growers raised a hand. ... ”  Read more from SJV Water here:  🔓 Irrigation water prices under SGMA causing sticker shock

Friant-Kern, drinking water reviewed: Subcommittee hearing on two Cox bills:  “Congress began the process of providing relief to the San Joaquin Valley when it comes to the Friant-Kern Canal and clean drinking water in rural communities when a subcommittee held a hearing on two bills sponsored by T.J. Cox.  The House of Representatives subcommittee on water, oceans and wildlife held the hearing on the bills sponsored by Congressman Cox-D, who represents the 21st district, which includes the Terra Bella area. … ”  Read more from the Porterville Recorder here:  Friant-Kern, drinking water reviewed: Subcommittee hearing on two Cox bills

‘Our voices are not being heard’: Colorado town a test case for California PFAS victims:  “When Wendy Rash was diagnosed in 2005 with a thyroid disorder, chronic fatigue and other ailments, her doctor couldn’t explain her suddenly failing health.  Soon, other family members became ill. Her brother-in-law contracted fatal kidney cancer. Her father-in-law developed esophageal cancer. Then her 32-year-old son began having severe kidney problems.  It wasn’t until 2016 that scientists tested the tap water they had been drinking and found it was contaminated with man-made chemicals known as per-fluorinated compounds, part of a family of chemicals called PFAS. The chemicals were traced to firefighting foam from a nearby military airfield, one of hundreds of Pentagon bases nationwide that for decades may have contaminated drinking water used by tens of thousands of people. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  ‘Our voices are not being heard’: Colorado town a test case for California PFAS victims

Harder bill for nutria invasion passes:  “Representative Josh Harder’s (CA-10) bill to combat the invasion of nutria, an invasive species of giant rodent, has passed the House Natural Resources Committee with unanimous support.  The bill as amended would provide $12 million to nutria-impacted states, including California. Since the animal first reappeared in California in 2017, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has removed over 800 animals from the Central Valley. Rep. Harder is joined on the bill by Republican Garrett Graves of Louisiana as well as fellow California Representatives Jim Costa, TJ Cox, John Garamendi, Barbara Lee, and Jimmy Panetta. … ”  Read more from Cal Ag Today here:  🔓 Harder bill for nutria invasion passes

California completes 34 land projects to slow wildfires:  “California has completed 34 of the forest thinning projects it rushed to finish in the past year as a way to buffer 200 communities at high risk from wildfires, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday.  His office said two of the projects helped protect Santa Barbara residents during a fire before Thanksgiving.  His administration expedited 35 projects in the wake of catastrophic wildfires that devastated communities in recent years, including one that nearly leveled the Northern California town of Paradise.  The final project is expected to be finished this spring. … ”  Read more from the Marin Independent Journal here:  California completes 34 land projects to slow wildfires

The Pacific Ocean is so acidic that it’s dissolving Dungeness crabs’ shells:  “The Pacific Ocean is becoming more acidic, and the cash-crabs that live in its coastal waters are some of its first inhabitants to feel its effects.  The Dungeness crab is vital to commercial fisheries in the Pacific Northwest, but lower pH levels in its habitat are dissolving parts of its shell and damaging its sensory organs, a new study found. Their injuries could impact coastal economies and forebode the obstacles in a changing sea. And while the results aren’t unexpected, the study’s authors said the damage to the crabs is premature: The acidity wasn’t predicted to damage the crabs this quickly.” … ”  Read more from KSBY here: 🔓 The Pacific Ocean is so acidic that it’s dissolving Dungeness crabs’ shells

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In national/world news today …

As Iowa caucuses approach, where do Democratic candidates stand on water?Water issues are gaining new prominence in the Democratic presidential race as candidates react to rising public concerns about drinking water pollution, failing infrastructure, and the perceived inability of state and federal governments to fix the problems.  Iowa Democrats will gather in community centers and elementary school cafeterias on Monday to deliver the first verdict in the party’s presidential campaign.  As they muster support for their preferred nominee, attendees will have a distinct advantage compared to previous Iowa caucuses. The Democratic candidates have published more information about their policy positions than in recent campaigns. That is especially true for water. … ”  Read more from the Circle of Blue here:  🔓 As Iowa Caucuses Approach, Where Do Democratic Candidates Stand on Water?

Trump’s drive to make toilets, dishwashers great again collides with companies, product testing:  “They flushed smashed bananas. They flushed mashed potatoes. But the two engineers soon discovered that the best method for testing a toilet’s flushing ability was soybean paste. Its consistency was perfect.  And so Bill Gauley and John Koeller have used soybean paste, also known as miso, for almost two decades to test toilets, part of their carefully calibrated protocol that has become a common testing standard throughout the toilet industry.  The two men say today’s toilets are flushing marvels, able to clear an average of two pounds of paste and paper per flush — more than just about anyone needs, and four times as much as old commodes, despite using less than half as much water.  So Gauley and Koeller were surprised when President Trump recently started complaining publicly about toilets. … ”  Read more from the Washington Post here:  Trump’s drive to make toilets, dishwashers great again collides with companies, product testing

Trump administration proposes rolling back law protecting migratory birds:  “A new regulation set to be unveiled by the Interior Department would end most federal protections for migratory birds, allowing companies that accidentally kill such animals to not face punishments.  The New York Times reported that a rule change set to be announced by the agency as soon as Thursday would codify a legal opinion issued by the Interior Department in 2017 that found that laws established to protect migratory birds should not be applied in situations where animal deaths are accidental. … ”  Read more from The Hill here: 🔓 Trump administration proposes rolling back law protecting migratory birds

Trump’s new water rule: What it means for mines and pollution:  “There is most certainly gold under Ned Blackmon’s feet.  For months now, a rumbling carousel of rock trucks and backhoes expands the already expansive open pit mine at the 4,600-acre Haile Gold Mine here in Kershaw. The hunt for tiny specks of gold hidden deep in the Southern slate has sparked a gold rush among prospectors eyeing surrounding land – including Mr. Blackmon’s farm.  The rush to revive one of America’s oldest gold mines was only bolstered last week when the Trump administration replaced the Obama-era Waters of the United States rule with the Navigable Waters Protection rule. The revision reduces federal oversight over the ephemeral headwaters that feed into larger rivers and lakes, and ultimately Americans’ drinking water. … ”  Read more from the Christian Science Monitor here:  Trump’s new water rule: What it means for mines and pollution

Worst climate scenario probably won’t happen, scientists say:  “One of the most fundamental questions in climate research asks the following: What will the world look like when we reach a certain point of warming?  How will it change after 2 degrees? 4 degrees? Even warmer?  More than a decade ago, scientists designed a set of hypothetical scenarios to help them model the climate. Their goal was to answer these very questions. Each scenario assumes a different level of future greenhouse gas emissions and global carbon dioxide concentrations, translating to different levels of warming. … ”  Read more from E&E News here:  🔓 Worst climate scenario probably won’t happen, scientists say

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In regional news and commentary today …

Cal Fish and Wildlife monitoring effects of Healdsburg wine spill:  “On Wednesday morning, Jan. 22, around 90,000 gallons of Rodney Strong wine spilled out of a tank, resulting in an estimated 45,000 gallons getting into the Reiman Creek and another 45,000 into a wastewater treatment pond. The wine tank spill was initially estimated at 97,00 gallons since the tank hold aroun 97,000. 20% of the spill was contained immediately after the spill and 50% was contained by Friday morning according to Rodney Strong. Despite the spill, California Department of Fish and Wildlife representatives say that there looks to be no immediate negative environmental impact. … ”  Read more from the Healdsburg Tribune here: Cal Fish and Wildlife monitoring effects of Healdsburg wine spill

Occidental, home of sky-high sewage rates, eyes outlet in Graton, but some residents object:  “Two Italian-style restaurants have drawn generations of diners to Occidental while serving pasta, pizza and soup — in recent years under the burden of the steepest sewage treatment rates in Sonoma County and among the highest in California.  Negri’s Original Italian Restaurant and the Union Hotel, both run by local families, pay about $120,000 a year in wastewater fees included in their property tax bills, shouldering much of the cost in a west county sanitation district that serves about 100 properties.  “You gotta sell a lot of ravioli to pay for that,” said Al Negri, former operator of his family’s eatery, established in 1943. “It would be fantastic if we got some relief.” ... ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here:  Occidental, home of sky-high sewage rates, eyes outlet in Graton, but some residents object

Monterey: Proposed settlement reached in regional desal lawsuit:  “Eight years after the regional desalination project fell apart, the legal battle over its unraveling appears to be nearing a conclusion.  A proposed settlement has been reached among the parties involved including California American Water, Monterey County and the county Water Resources Agency, Marina Coast Water District, and RMC Water and Environment regarding the failed desal project. It was presented on Monday in the San Francisco Superior Court overseeing the long-running lawsuit. … ”  Read more from the Monterey Herald here:  Proposed settlement reached in regional desal lawsuit

San Joaquin Valley: Program preps communities for next drought:  “Whether or not you accept climate change as a reality, one thing is for certain – the San Joaquin Valley will have another drought. Throughout recorded history, the semi-arid Valley has had extended dry spells with little precipitation to moisten its fertile soil creating a micro climate of economic crisis. … In preparation for the inevitable, Self-Help Enterprises (SHE), a community development organization whose mission is to work with low-income families to build and sustain healthy homes and communities, has launched a new and innovative Emergency Services Division that will reach and engage diverse and vulnerable populations around natural disasters, such as drought, fire, flood and earthquake. … ”  Read more from the Foothills Sun Gazette here:  San Joaquin Valley: Program preps communities for next drought

Local ag warns Corcoran – Suit against Curtimade Dairy will have statewide consequences:  “It was standing room only as supporters of Curtimade Dairy lined the walls of Corcoran City Council Chambers during last night’s city council meeting.  Corcoran is currently suing the Curti family for $65 million dollars for damages incurred when their dairy allegedly contaminated the city’s water supply at the height of the drought in 2015. The Curtis have countered that their dairy has always been in compliance with all water regulations and permits and that the city wells have tested as having safe drinking water.  To loud applause from those in attendance, a dozen public speakers urged the city council to drop its suit against Curtimade Dairy. Local farmers and dairies say the city’s suit is just an excuse for some quick cash. … ”  Read more from Valley Voice here: 🔓 Local ag warns Corcoran – Suit against Curtimade Dairy will have statewide consequences

Steve Lopez column: What won’t Hollister Ranch residents do to keep us off ‘their’ beach?  “It was not a question of if, but when.  The residents of Hollister Ranch in Santa Barbara County are nothing if not predictable, determined and relentless as the tides. So it’s no surprise they have fired a torpedo at a new law that would finally, after decades of battle, allow public access to one of California’s greatest coastal treasures.  Lobbyists, lawyers, legislators — the affluent residents of Hollister Ranch have used them all over the course of nearly 40 years to keep other Californians away from their little stretch of paradise. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Steve Lopez column: What won’t Hollister Ranch residents do to keep us off ‘their’ beach?

Public meeting set to discuss why Ventura sent thousands of legal notices to river users:  “The public will get an opportunity to hear from the city of Ventura on Thursday about why it has sent out thousands of notices and summonses to those who use, pump or own property in the Ventura River watershed.  The process started years ago after Santa Barbara Channelkeeper filed a lawsuit alleging the city was taking too much water from the watershed, officials said.  Doing so, the Santa Barbara-based nonprofit said, hurt habitat for steelhead trout and other protected species. Channelkeeper argued the State Water Resources Control Board hadn’t properly limited the city’s use of the water. … ”  Read more from the Ventura County Star here:  Public meeting set to discuss why Ventura sent thousands of legal notices to river users

Ventura releases info, will consider alternative to adjudication:  “On Monday, Jan. 27, the Ventura City Council voted unanimously to release information it claimed did not have to be released to the public. That action followed the VCReporter and Ojai Valley News filing complaints with the Ventura County District Attorney for Brown Act violations due to the city declining to the release the information. (“Secret votes? CalAware says Ventura in violation of the Brown Act,” Kimberly Rivers, VCReporter, Jan. 23, 2020.)  “In an effort to reduce the controversy in this matter, city council has directed the city attorney to report out action taken by the council to add parties in this case,” said Gregory Diaz, city attorney for Ventura, speaking following closed session on Monday. The case he is referring to is a legal watershed adjudication cross-complaint in which the city acted to notice 10,500 people in the Ventura River Watershed that their water rights could be impacted by the legal process they commenced. Property owners along the Ventura River in West Ventura were also included. … ”  Read more from the Ventura County Reporter here: 🔓 Ventura releases info, will consider alternative to adjudication

Newport Beach water wheel project moving forward:  “The Newport Beach Harbor Commission got an update on the proposed water wheel project at their Jan. 8 meeting, with Newport Beach Department of Public Works Water Quality Senior Engineer John Kappeler telling commissioners city staff is hoping a consultant contract will be awarded in February.  The water wheel would be a floating stationary solar and hydro-powered trash interceptor in San Diego Creek nestled by Jamboree Road Bridge.  “The experts tell me that about 80 percent of the trash that comes into upper Newport Bay comes down San Diego Creek,” Kappeler told commissioners at the Jan. 8 meeting. ... ”  Read more from The Log here: Newport Beach water wheel project moving forward

With signing of USMCA, help is on the way for Tijuana sewage:  “President Donald Trump signed the renegotiated trade agreement with Mexico and Canada Monday that will replace NAFTA.  The bipartisan deal includes $300 million to help address the frequent sewage spills in Tijuana that contaminate beaches in San Diego’s South Bay.  “It’s a huge win for San Diego and it’s a huge win for our cross-border region,” said San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, who attended the signing ceremony outside the White House. ... ”  Read more from ABC 10 here: 🔓 With signing of USMCA, help is on the way for Tijuana sewage

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Along the Colorado River …

Swimming pools and lush lawns? As water use slows, that image of Phoenix is changing:  “Large lawns and backyard pools were once common features of new homes in the Phoenix area, but not anymore.  A recent study of single-family homes in the Phoenix metropolitan area showed that nearly two-thirds of homes do not have a swimming pool.  The study in Phoenix, Glendale and Gilbert focused on a randomly selected sample of 3,022 houses and also found that 39% had no grass. Others had small or moderate-sized lawns. Only about 7% of the homes had grass covering more than a third of the property. ... ”  Read more from the Desert Sun here:  Swimming pools and lush lawns? As water use slows, that image of Phoenix is changing

Arizona may threaten tribes who don’t agree to water settlements:  “Faced with a deepening water shortage, the Arizona legislature may try to use casino gaming compacts to pressure tribes into water settlements.  The move could affect the Tonto Apache Tribe, which has been discussing a water settlement for years.  It probably won’t affect the White Mountain Apache Tribe, which agreed to a water settlement several years ago, but still hasn’t received the promised federal funding.  One of the key targets of the ploy is the Navajo Nation, with a huge outstanding claim. … ”  Read more from the Payson Roundup here: State may threaten tribes who don’t agree to water settlements

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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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