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In California water news this weekend …

How much water do fish need? The California Environmental Flows Framework dives into the question:  “One of the major factors affecting the decline of salmonids in California is insufficient streamflow. Streamflow has been referred to as the ‘master variable’ because it controls so many different aspects of the aquatic environment. … Changes in streamflow can also strongly affect water quality, including temperature, but also aquatic food webs. Not surprisingly, flow alterations are therefore a significant driver of salmonid population declines throughout California and elsewhere. One of the major questions fish biologists are often asked is “how much water do fish need?” In 2016, a group of scientists from California Trout, UC Davis, UC Berkeley, The Nature Conservancy, Utah State University and the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project, with funding in partnership from the State Water Board, began to delve into this question and others. ... ”  Read more from The Current here: 🔓 The California Environmental Flows Framework

California ag faces a decade of challenges:  “On Joe Del Bosque’s farm in the heart of California’s San Joaquin Valley, two costs have skyrocketed in recent years – water and labor. And those costs will only keep increasing.  On the heels of a seemingly perpetual drought that has slowed surface water deliveries to a trickle and made water transfers complicated and expensive, Del Bosque and other growers face new pumping restrictions under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.  “SGMA may not affect us directly because our farm is largely surface water supplied,” said Del Bosque, owner of Del Bosque Farms in Firebaugh, Calif. “However, when SGMA kicks in, there will be more competition for surface water, driving our costs higher.” … ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press here:  🔓  California ag faces a decade of challenges

The role of estuaries:  “Estuaries are areas where the rivers meet the ocean and are ecologically important to fish and wildlife species because of the rich feeding and nursery habitats they offer. They’re also an important transition area and gateway for aquatic species that migrate between freshwater rivers and the ocean.  When estuaries are degraded by urban impacts such as water pollution, coastal development, and dams – habitat quality declines for native species, while harmful algal blooms and invasive species take hold. ... ”  Read more from The Current here: 🔓 The role of estuaries

Deadline arrives for critically overdrafted basins:  “Local agencies representing 19 of the state’s most stressed groundwater basins are required to submit plans to the state by midnight tonight on how they will manage their basins to achieve sustainability by 2040.  Several plans were submitted early and were posted online today, starting a public comment period which closes on April 15, 2020. The remaining plans will be posted online in the coming weeks for a 75-day public comment period. ... ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press here:  Deadline arrives for critically overdrafted basins

California can be carbon neutral in 25 years—with drastic action:  “California can hit its goal of going carbon neutral by 2045 if it pulls emissions out of the air and slashes greenhouse gases from farming, landfills and other sources, according to a federal study released yesterday.  The nation’s most populous state needs to remove 125 million tons of carbon emissions per year from the atmosphere, roughly equivalent of removing 26 million cars from its roads annually, said an analysis by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. ... ”  Read more from Scientific American here:  🔓 California can be carbon neutral in 25 years—with drastic action

Trump quietly busts up California’s deep (water) state:  “Before President Donald Trump was elected, on May 27, 2016 he stated at a rally in Fresno, California: “There is no drought…If I win, believe me, we’re going to start opening up the water so that you can have your farmers survive.”  Michael Hiltzik of the Los Angeles Times responded on June 6 that Trump was “bloviating,” “oversimplifying a complicated problem” and cautioned that “putting one’s trust in Trump is the wrong place to start.” The national media scoffed at Trump’s seemingly preposterous boast (CNBC, Huffington Post, FactCheck.org, the Daily Beast, etc.).    However, on January 15, 2020, the California Department of Water Resources “with virtually no public notice quietly gave away a significant portion of Southern California’s water to farmers in the Central Valley as part of a deal with the Trump administration in December 2018”.  … ‘  Read more from the California Globe here: 🔓 Trump quietly busts up California’s deep (water) state

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In people news this weekend …

Women in Water Series: Susan “Sue” A. Mosburg:  “Susan “Sue” A. Mosburg is the Executive Director of the California-Nevada Section of the American Water Works Association. Mosburg has served in several roles with CA-NV AWWA including a long-time volunteer where her leadership roles included Chair of the California Water Loss Control Collaborative, Association Director on the AWWA Governing Board, and CA-NV AWWA Section Chair.  Prior to becoming the Executive Director, Mosburg was the Program Manager at Sweetwater Authority in Chula Vista, where she was responsible for water use efficiency, employee development, school education, and risk management programs. … ”  Read more from the California Water News Daily here: 🔓 Women in Water Series: Susan “Sue” A. Mosburg

North Central Valley WMA renamed in honor of Steve Thompson:  “Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt officially named the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s North Central Valley Wildlife Management Area after Service employee Steve Thompson this week at a small ceremony with family, friends and colleagues.  The very first regional director for the Service’s California Great Basin Region in Sacramento from 2002-2008, the late Steve Thompson had a decorated 32-year career in conservation and public service. He earned the 2007 Presidential Rank award for Distinguished Senior Professionals and Executives, the highest-ranking award for a federal employee and the first time a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employee ever received it.

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Steve was widely recognized for his ability to create innovative processes and implement practical solutions in complex situations,” said Secretary Bernhardt. “He will forever be remembered for his unwavering commitment to common-sense based conservation and bringing people and nature together.”

The North Central Valley Wildlife Management Area is part of the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex. It was established in 1991 with the primary purpose of preserving wetland habitat for wintering waterfowl and other wetland-dependent species. The area consists primarily of 28 conservation easements on nearly 15,000 acres of privately-owned wetlands, with one 1,700 acre publicly owned property known as the Llano Seco Unit. It touches 11 counties in California, and encompasses most of the Sacramento Valley floor from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to Red Bluff.

“It is so appropriate that a place that relies on collaborative partnerships to succeed will in perpetuity be tied to a great public servant who lived a life dedicated to making those partnerships happen through his devotion to his community, family, and Service-family,” said the Service’s Principal Deputy Director Margaret Everson. “The North Central Valley Wildlife Management Area is the perfect place to honor Steve Thompson, a man who embodied our agency’s mission of working with others to achieve conservation. Without partnerships with private landowners, this amazing place for waterfowl would not exist.”  (US FWS Press Release)

Former California Natural Resources Secretary Mike Chrisman elected board president of Water Education Foundation:  “Mike Chrisman, who served as California natural resources secretary for seven years under former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, was elected president of the Water Education Foundation’s board of directors. He follows in the footsteps of his father, Ira “Jack” Chrisman, who was the Foundation’s founding president in 1977.  “The Foundation is near and dear to my heart,” said Chrisman, who runs his family’s ranching and farming business in Tulare County. “My father and I both viewed his dedication to the Foundation as a true personal legacy and I’m proud to follow in his footsteps as board president.” … ”  Read more from the Water Education Foundation here:  🔓 Former California Natural Resources Secretary Mike Chrisman elected board president of Water Education Foundation

San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District welcomes new general manager:  “The San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District is now under the direction of Heather Dyer who took over as general manager on Dec. 31, following the retirement of Douglas Headrick.  Dyer has worked with the district since 2014 when she was hired to lead the development of the Upper Santa Ana River Habitat Conservation Plan, a group effort by water agencies to obtain the environmental permits needed for building 50 years worth of water supply projects. … ”  Read more from the Highland Community News here:  🔓 San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District welcomes new general manager 

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In national/world news this weekend …

On the environment, Trump is getting trounced in the courts. At least, so far …California has been involved in 54 major legal cases on a variety of issues with the Trump administration, a tracker developed by a Marquette University political scientist reveals. Of these, the state has sparred with President Trump over climate change and the environment more than on any other issue.  The state has won injunctions, policy reversals or other favorable rulings in 15 of the 16 major environmental cases that the courts have ruled on, with 15 cases pending. … ”  Read more from KQED here:  🔓  On the environment, Trump is getting trounced in the courts. At least, so far … 

How climate change could impact future Super Bowls:  “Imagine that the thousands of football fans flocking to Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Florida, for the Super Bowl had to use their beer coolers as flotation devices instead of tailgate centerpieces.  That could become reality, scientists say, if sea level rises as much as expected by the end of the century. At the stadium where the San Francisco 49ers will face the Kansas City Chiefs in the LIV Super Bowl Sunday, just a few feet of flooding could turn the sport into a much more aquatic event. … ”  Read more from the Delaware Journal here:  🔓 How climate change could impact future Super Bowls

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Sunday podcasts …

Lake Mead:  Steve Baker writes, “Build it and they will come. Just south of Las Vegas and close to the Arizona/Nevada border was the perfect spot to store water flowing in the Colorado River. The big S (for Storage) is critical for stability and reliable water deliveries and this is what Hoover Dam was built to accomplish. The birth of Lake Mead was created and this big news circulated quickly in the early 1930s. Waterscapes have a way of creating great benefits to people and the environment. Water is a Many Splendor’ed Thing brings you another water relationship that has a personally significant impact to your life.”  Produced by Steven Baker, Operation Unite® Bringing People Together to Solve Water Problems, Online at www.operationunite.co

 

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In commentary this weekend …

Whose water is being carried by Trump’s latest environmental rollback?  The San Francisco Editorial Board writes,When a Healdsburg winery leaked thousands of gallons of Cabernet into the Russian River last week, the jokes flowed, too. It was noted that the Russian was red, that water turned to wine, and that red wine doesn’t go with fish.  But the spill coincided with a more sobering blow to clean water, coming to light the day the Trump administration announced it was ripping up expanded protections for streams, wetlands and groundwater adopted by the Obama administration. And the revision goes beyond rolling back Obama-era policy to undo longer-standing protections under the Clean Water Act, which became law with overwhelming bipartisan support in 1972. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: Whose water is being carried by Trump’s latest environmental rollback?  The San Francisco Editorial Board writes,

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In regional news and commentary this weekend …

Klamath County planning for drought:  “While recent snow and precipitation is “encouraging” to Klamath County commissioners, it hasn’t kept them from asking for drought funding from the federal government prior to a drought declaration.  Klamath County Commissioners and the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors in early January asked Bureau of Reclamation’s Klamath Basin Area Office to configure a work plan for how to spend extra funding allocated to them in 2019, and calling for the creation of a water bank in 2020. … ”  Read more from Capital Press here:  Klamath County planning for drought

Eel River sonar system reveals salmon and steelhead status to scientists, anglers and agencies:  “The South Fork Eel River is a salmon and steelhead stronghold and represents the best opportunity to restore wild fish abundance. This stretch of river has been impacted by excessive water diversions in many of its tributaries. Improving stream flows is critical to protecting key life-stages for coho salmon and steelhead survival.  To inform our conservation work on the Eel, CalTrout has teamed up with partners on this new project – The Adult Salmonid Sonar Monitoring Program –  to tally the annual spawning run of Chinook salmon, coho salmon, and steelhead on the South Fork Eel River with a Sound Metrics Dual Frequency Identification Sonar (DIDSON) camera. ... ”  Read more from The Current here: 🔓 Eel River sonar system reveals salmon and steelhead status to scientists, anglers and agencies

Butte Environmental Council hosts water forum at Chico State:  “The Butte Environmental Council packed a Colusa Hall conference room at Chico State on Thursday night when holding a forum to discuss local water resources.  A panel of experts sat at the front of the room, each giving a presentation before breaking into groups with the audience to answer questions. The experts consisted of Brittany Van Es, John Scott, Richard Harriman and Lindsay Wood.  “The Butte Environmental Council has rebooted our community forum discussion program in the last six months and has done a lot of work around the area of climate change,” said Danielle Baxter, who is the general manager of the council. ... ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here: Butte Environmental Council hosts water forum at Chico State

Placer County continues work on French Meadows restoration project:  “Placer County, along with the U.S. Forest Service will continue restoration efforts at the French Meadows reservoir, 30 miles south of Soda Springs, with plans to treat over 3,800 acres of forest this year.  “We’ve done a lot of work right around the lake. Now we’re going to begin working our way out,” said Brett Storey of the Placer County Department of Public Works. “This year we’ve got larger, more aggressive planning going.”  This year they expect to remove 9 million board feet of timber, three times the amount removed last year, and 15,000 green tons of biomass that will be chipped, hauled and used for energy production. … ”  Read more from the Sierra Sun here: 🔓 Placer County continues work on French Meadows restoration project

Marin factions await voters’ verdict on San Geronimo Golf Course:  “Much like Democrats and Republicans wrangling over President Trump’s impeachment, the opposing camps on Measure D disagree on even the most basic facts, including what will happen if it passes.  The measure’s language on the March 3 ballot states that it would prevent the county from “changing the primary golf course use of San Geronimo Valley Golf Course without voter approval,” by amending the San Geronimo Valley Community Plan “to require voter approval for any change in the primary golf course use.” … ”  Read more from the Marin Independent Journal here:  Marin factions await voters’ verdict on San Geronimo Golf Course

Water levels in South Bay reservoirs well below average:  “With the snowpack statewide at just 72 percent of historic average, experts say it is not time to panic.  “It just shows how unpredictable snow and precipitation are here in California and how just a few atmospheric rivers can drastically change a water year like the one we are having now,” said Sean De Guzman, with the California Department of Water Resources. … ”  Read more from KPIX here:  🔓 Water levels in South Bay reservoirs well below average

Expanding Pacheco Reservoir will ensure a more reliable supply of safe, clean drinking water for our region:  “Many Santa Clara County residents know how unpredictable our water supply can be. The last decade brought the Golden State five consecutive years of drought, followed by one of the wettest winters on record.  In the face of climate change, Valley Water remains focused on preparing for future wet and dry years to ensure Santa Clara County’s 2 million residents have a reliable supply of safe, clean drinking water. … ”  Read more from Valley Water News here: 🔓 Expanding Pacheco Reservoir will ensure a more reliable supply of safe, clean drinking water for our region

Redwood forest in Santa Cruz Mountains preserved in $9 million deal:Capping one of the most significant redwood preservation deals in the Santa Cruz Mountains over the past 20 years, the non-profit Save the Redwoods League has signed an agreement to buy 564 acres of redwood forests and other lands near the San Mateo-Santa Cruz county line for $9 million.  The property, owned by the Holmes family of Danville since 1978, features more than 100 acres of old-growth redwoods, including one massive tree that scientists say is 528 years old — meaning it was growing in the same spot when Christopher Columbus set sail for the Americas in 1492. … ”  Read more from the Santa Cruz Sentinel here: Redwood forest in Santa Cruz Mountains preserved in $9 million deal

Carmel River project gets environmental certification:  “Dubbed a “Rubik’s cube” project with many moving parts, the Carmel River Floodplain Restoration and Enhancement project reached a key point this week with the certification of its environmental review document, clearing the way for critical funding approvals.  By a unanimous vote, the Board of Supervisors certified the project’s combined environmental impact report and environmental assessment on Tuesday. … ”  Read more from the Monterey Herald here:  Carmel River project gets environmental certification

New film documents the fight for clean water in Tooleville:  “Contaminated water has flown from faucets in Tooleville, a small community in Tulare County, since the 1980s. “The Great Water Divide: California’s Water Crisis” is a new documentary that follows the residents’ efforts to connect to neighboring Exeter’s water supply. FM89’s Kathleen Schock spoke to the filmmaker, Casey Beck, and Tooleville resident Ben Cuevas Martinez.  … ”  Read more from Valley Public Radio here: 🔓 New film documents the fight for clean water in Tooleville

Turlock-area dairy farmers will pay $108,608 penalty for manure violations:  “Turlock-area dairy farmers Antonio and Maria Brasil will pay $108,608 to settle a case involving mishandling of manure.  The farmers applied manure to feed crops at a rate that exceeded what the plants should get, the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board said in a news release Wednesday.  The state agency did not disclose the exact locations of the two violations, which happened early last year. The release said the practice threatened groundwater, but a spokesman could not be reached for details. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  Turlock-area dairy farmers will pay $108,608 penalty for manure violations

Video: Kern County In Depth: Groundwater Sustainability Plans:  “17’s Jim Scott discusses the county’s newly submitted groundwater sustainability plans to the state department of water resources.”  Watch video from KGET here: 🔓 Kern County In Depth: Groundwater Sustainability Plans

Calls for city of Ventura to drop legal action, water adjudication:  “People crowded into an Ojai junior high school auditorium this week after thousands received legal notices or a court summons from the city of Ventura.  The city notified 14,000-plus property owners in the Ventura River watershed of a potential adjudication of water rights. That move came years after the city faced legal action over its own water use.  In 2014, Santa Barbara Channelkeeper filed a lawsuit alleging the city was taking too much water from the river, hurting habitat for steelhead trout and other wildlife. The nonprofit sued to compel the state to intervene, analyze the city’s pumping and set conditions on it if appropriate. … ”  Read more from the Ventura County Star here: Calls for city of Ventura to drop legal action, water adjudication

Gov. Newsom, 2020 must be a year of action at the Salton Sea, says Frank Ruiz:  He writes, “For those of us living near the Salton Sea, 2020 began much like 2019. Another year has passed and promised solutions have vanished like the receding waters of the Sea itself.  We hear new assurances from the state of California that this year we will finally see progress on projects to control dust and create habitat as the Salton Sea shrinks. Meanwhile, 650,000 people that live near the sea and the hundreds of species of birds wait for even one project be completed. ... ”  Read more from the Desert Sun here: Gov. Newsom, 2020 must be a year of action at the Salton Sea

San Diego leaders say $300M in new federal cash will help build U.S. facility to capture TJ River pollution:  “The San Diego region has secured $300 million in federal funding for a new U.S. facility to capture Tijuana sewage spills before they foul South Bay shorelines, elected leaders said Friday.  “This has been an issue in our region for decades, and concrete federal action to address cross-border pollution has been long overdue,” said Rep. Mike Levin, D-San Juan Capistrano, at a news conference in Chula Vista. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune here:  San Diego leaders say $300M in new federal cash will help build U.S. facility to capture TJ River pollution

As tensions rise along the U.S.–Mexico border, cross-border ecosystems suffer:  “The stretch of Highway 2 in northern Mexico from San Luis Río Colorado to Sonoyta passes through seemingly otherworldly terrain: a UNESCO-protected area within the Sonoran Desert, one of the most biologically diverse places in the world. More than 2,000 species of plants grow here, among dormant volcanos and sand dunes, along with more than 350 species of birds, dozens of mammals and reptiles, and freshwater fish. It’s 120,000 square miles (311,000 square kilometers) of desert — one of the four great deserts of North America — a vast ecosystem with little regard for the nations it spans or the politics that govern them.   … ”  Read more from Ensia here: 🔓 As tensions rise along the U.S.–Mexico border, cross-border ecosystems suffer

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Along the Colorado River …

Reclamation extends comment period on alternatives to reduce salinity and improve water quality in the Colorado River: The Bureau of Reclamation is extending the public comment period on a draft Environmental Impact Statement that analyzes alternatives to reduce salinity in the Colorado River from sources in the Paradox Valley in western Colorado. The public comment period now closes February 19, 2020.   Currently, the Paradox Valley Unit in Montrose County, Colorado, is intercepting naturally occurring brine and injecting it 16,000 feet underground via a deep injection well. The PVU began operating in 1996 and is nearing the end of its useful life. The United States has a water quality obligation to control salt in the Colorado River, in compliance with the Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Act and a 1944 treaty with Mexico.  Reclamation is preparing an EIS and has released a draft for public review and comment. Alternatives analyzed in the draft EIS include a new injection well; evaporation ponds; zero liquid discharge technology; and no action, which would result in no salinity control in the Paradox Valley.  The draft Environmental Impact Statement is available online at www.usbr.gov/uc/progact/paradox/index.html or a copy can be requested by contacting Reclamation.  Reclamation will consider all comments received by 11:59 p.m. Mountain Standard Time on February 19, 2020.”

4 things Arizona should learn from California’s groundwater regulation fight:  Joanna Allhands writes, “Arizona is debating the next steps it should take to protect limited groundwater, 40 years after the state’s landmark Groundwater Management Act became law.  As the arguments take shape, it’s instructive to look west to California, which did not have groundwater legislation in place until 2014. The first round of management plans – which cover the basins with the most critical groundwater issues, mostly in the agriculture-heavy Central Valley – were due Jan. 31.  The process has been laden with drama. And it’s anyone’s guess, after years of debate, whether California regulators will sign off on some basins’ plans.  That offers four big lessons for Arizona … ”  Read more from Arizona Central here:  4 things Arizona should learn from California’s groundwater regulation fight

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Precipitation watch …

Warm and dry, then cool (and still dry), heading into February: Unusually dry conditions have been the rule over northern California since the early autumn–where dryness has persisted and become more anomalous in recent weeks. In southern California, however, the recent dryness is in greater contrast to the abundant rainfall that fell during a relatively narrow window in late November and early December. Seasonal precipitation accumulation to date has now fallen well behind average (in some places, <50% of average) in northern portions of the state, and have finally started to fall behind in the south. January was also quite a warm month in (and just east of) the Sierra Nevada–Reno experienced its third warmest January on record. As a result of low precipitation and relatively warm temperatures, snowpack is now falling behind typical values rather quickly (currently around ~70% of average statewide). ... ”  Read more from the California Weather Blog here:  🔓 Warm and dry, then cool (and still dry), heading into February

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Sunday video …

Also on Maven’s Notebook this weekend …

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Image credit: Mono Lake and the Eastern Sierra, photo by Sheila Sund via Flickr.

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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