DAILY DIGEST, 2/6: Newsom seeks peace with Trump in California water wars. Enviros are ready to fight; Regional EPA chief in CA suddenly removed from his job; Monterey: Cal Am facing permit dilemma; Kings County groundwater plan raising questions; Trump to limit regulators; and more …

Note:  Articles marked with the unlocked symbol 🔓 are freely available. Absence of the unlocked symbol means you might encounter a paywall. I do not include links to content behind strict paywalls.

On the calendar today …

  • YOLO BYPASS FLYWAY NIGHTS: Wildlife Corridors for Flood Escape in the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area at 7pm at the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area.  For more information, click here.

In California water news today …

Newsom seeks peace with Trump in California water wars. Enviros are ready to fight:  “Two months ago, Gov. Gavin Newsom seemed poised to file yet another suit against President Donald Trump — this time, over a federal plan to pump more water to Trump’s farming allies in the San Joaquin Valley.  Instead, Newsom announced a compromise this week that aims to avoid another protracted legal battle. The Democratic governor outlined a sweeping, $5.2 billion water-sharing agreement that Newsom’s team hopes will put an end California’s never-ending tension’s between shipping river water to farms and cities and protecting critically endangered fish species. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Newsom seeks peace with Trump in California water wars. Enviros are ready to fight

Voluntary settlements are disastrous for fish and the ecosystem – and are not new:  Dan Bacher writes, “Yesterday Governor Gavin Newsom unveiled what he describes as a “comprehensive solution for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay Delta” through a series of voluntary agreements in an opinion piece at Cal Matters, “Gov. Newsom: California must get past differences on water. Voluntary agreements are the path forward.”  In the tradition of the failed CalFed, Delta Vision, Bay Delta Conservation Plan and California Water Fix processes, Newsom presents a “new path forward” that supposedly engages an array of stakeholders to supposedly resolve their differences, seek common ground and work for the coequal goals of water supply supply reliability and ecosystem restoration as they move past “the old water binaries.” Newsom writes … ”  Read more from the Fish Sniffer here: Voluntary settlements are disastrous for fish and the ecosystem – and are not new

Trump’s regional EPA chief in California is suddenly removed from his job:  “The Environmental Protection Agency’s top official in California was abruptly removed from office Wednesday.  No reason has yet been given for Mike Stoker’s dismissal.  In an email sent to staff members of the environment agency’s Pacific Southwest regional office, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler wrote, “I would like to thank Mike Stoker for his service to the EPA.”  He then added, “I wish him and his family the best in their future endeavors.” ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here: Trump’s regional EPA chief in California is suddenly removed from his job

Declining Sierra Nevada snowpack levels potentially impacting state water supply:  “2020 is off to a dry start, and it could be threatening California’s water supply.  “The snowpack this year is looking a lot less than what we usually see,” said Action News Now meteorologist Bryan Ramsey.  He echoes findings by the state: Snowpack levels are lower this year, after a January with little rain.  “Overall, we are about 75% of where we should be. Unless we see some major atmospheric rivers, which we haven’t seen, we could be seeing a below-average year for snowpack, and that could be detrimental to agriculture and fire season,” said Ramsey. … ”  Read more from Action News Now here:  🔓 Declining Sierra Nevada snowpack levels potentially impacting state water supply

Video: CEQA 101: Introduction to the Delta Conveyance Project CEQA Process: 🔓 View video by DWR by clicking here.

New treatment system to bring clean drinking water to rural community in California:  “Hillview Water in Raymond, California will begin delivering clean drinking water with the installment of a Microvi MNE nitrate treatment system by Microvi Biotech. Hillview Water serves a rural community that has been plagued with high levels of nitrate contamination for years.  Nitrate is one of the most widespread contaminants in groundwater globally and can have significant human health impacts. ... ”  Read more from the California Water News Daily here: 🔓 New treatment system to bring clean drinking water to rural community in California

Nearly one-third of vineyards certified sustainable:  “Nearly one-third of California’s vineyards representing more than 85 percent of commercial wine production are certified under a statewide sustainability program, according to a new report.  As of December, 149 wineries producing 255 million cases and 2,097 vineyards representing 29 percent of California’s wine grape acreage (184l,818 acres) were credited by the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance for their practices, according to the group’s third annual report released Feb. 4. … ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press here:  🔓 Nearly one-third of vineyards certified sustainable

The toxic legacy of old oil wells: California’s multibillion-dollar problem:  “Across much of California, fossil fuel companies are leaving thousands of oil and gas wells unplugged and idle, potentially threatening the health of people living nearby and handing taxpayers a multibillion-dollar bill for the environmental cleanup.  From Kern County to Los Angeles, companies haven’t set aside anywhere near enough money to ensure these drilling sites are cleaned up and made safe for future generations, according to a months-long data analysis and investigation by the Los Angeles Times and the Center for Public Integrity. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: The toxic legacy of old oil wells: California’s multibillion-dollar problem

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In national/world news today …

Trump to limit regulators:  “President Donald Trump declared war on regulations in his first term, ordering that for every new rule issued two others had to be eliminated.  And even as Trump celebrated “slashing a record number of job-killing regulations” in his State of the Union address Tuesday night, he’s readying a second effort: limiting the power of federal regulators such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Securities and Exchange Commission to go after companies accused of wrongdoing. The White House calls it an effort to protect citizens from unjust government actions, but critics say it would dilute safeguards for workers, investors and the environment. … ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press here: 🔓 Trump to limit regulators

Democratic senators press Interior official over proposed changes to migratory bird protections:  “Democratic senators pressed top Interior Department official Rob Wallace during a Wednesday Senate hearing on the Trump administration’s easing of a law protecting migratory birds. Wallace, the assistant secretary for fish and wildlife and parks, was questioned about migratory birds by Sens. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Tom Carper (D-Del.) during an Environment and Public Works Committee hearing. … ”  Read more from The Hill here: 🔓 Democratic senators press Interior official over proposed changes to migratory bird protections

Photos of ‘king tides’ globally show risks of climate change:  “Tourists, nature lovers and amateur scientists are whipping out their cameras to document the effects of extreme high tides on shorelines from the United States to New Zealand, and by doing so are helping better predict what rising sea levels will mean for coastal communities around the world.  A network of volunteer photographers fans out around the globe during so-called king tides to capture how high the waterline gets and where the water goes. ... ”  Read more from the AP here:  🔓 Photos of ‘king tides’ globally show risks of climate change

New biodiversity map offers view of life on both land and water:  “Efforts by scientists to map out global diversity are not new, particularly as ecosystems come under increasing pressure from a combination of human development and a changing climate.  But up to now, most of those efforts have focused on terrestrial biodiversity, neglecting the teeming ecosystems that thrive beneath the surface of water. ... ” Read more from the Courthouse News Service here: 🔓 New biodiversity map offers view of life on both land and water

Can we protect nature by giving it legal rights? A great blue heron walks slowly on long legs. A loud splash just might signal the presence of an endangered lake sturgeon. At the headwaters of the Great Lakes, North America’s largest freshwater estuary teems with life. This place called Gichigami-ziibi in native Anishinaabemowin — the St. Louis River in English — is rich in biodiversity and an important place for migratory birds and native fish. … In August 2019, a group of citizens met in Duluth to learn about an unconventional strategy that could protect this place and potentially change its story going forward. Rights of Nature is a growing international movement that recognizes species and ecosystems not simply as resources for humans to use, but as living entities with rights of their own. … ”  Read more from Ensia here:  🔓 Can we protect nature by giving it legal rights? 

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In commentary today …

Reducing reliance on the Delta and improving regional self-reliance: Two sides of the same coin:  Susan Tatayon writes, “As Chair of the Delta Stewardship Council, I am often asked about California’s policy of reducing reliance on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta through improved regional self-reliance.  The Delta Reform Act of 2009 established that it is state policy to “reduce reliance” on the Delta in meeting the state’s future water supply needs by investing in improved water use efficiency, water recycling, advanced water technologies, and other regional water supply projects. In other words, establishing a portfolio of water supply options [Water Code section 85021].  One of the top priorities outlined in the Newsom Administration’s recently released draft Water Resilience Portfolio is reducing reliance on any one water source and diversifying supplies – key strategies for making our water supply systems more flexible, adaptable, and resilient to the impacts of climate change. ... ”  Read more from the Delta Stewardship Council blog here: 🔓 Reducing reliance on the Delta and improving regional self-reliance: Two sides of the same coin

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In regional news and commentary today …

Eagles photographed fighting over fresh kill at Sacramento Wildlife Refuge:  “The striking photos of two eagles fighting over a fresh kill were taken by photographer Sam Davidson at the Sacramento Wildlife Refuge.  The Fair Oaks photographer is on a mission to capture fleeting moments along the American River Parkway that can be easily overlooked with earbuds, conversations and focusing on the trail. … ”  Read more from KCRA Channel 3 here: 🔓 Eagles photographed fighting over fresh kill at Sacramento Wildlife Refuge:

Arcata’s fluoride talk draws contentious discussion, falls flat:  “The Arcata City Council took up the issue of water fluoridation on Wednesday evening, considering whether to add a ballot measure in November 2020 asking voters’ opinion on the issue. The council, after hearing comments from a wide swath of Humboldt County residents, never actually voted because there was no second on the motion.  The issue was brought forward by Councilmember Paul Pitino, who talked at length about what he has learned about the issue since the city last voted on the issue in 2006. … ”  Read more from the Eureka Times-Standard here: Arcata’s fluoride talk draws contentious discussion, falls flat

Solano County judge denies Friends of Putah Creek challenge:  “Solano County Superior Court Judge D. Scott Daniels on Jan. 22 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.  “The 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. … ”  Read more from the Davis Enterprise here: Solano County judge denies Friends of Putah Creek challenge

Large parts of the Bay Area are built on fill. Why and where? When Nicole was growing up, her grandmother always told her: Don’t live anywhere built on artificial fill. Her uncle also had strong memories of watching the Marina burn after the 1989 earthquake, when parts of the ground liquefied, causing buildings to collapse and gas lines to break.  Nicole wants to follow her grandmother’s advice, but she needs to know a few things: “What neighborhoods and cities in the Bay Area are built on filled land? And what are those cities and neighborhoods doing to mitigate the risk of liquefaction?” … ” Read more from KQED here: 🔓 Large parts of the Bay Area are built on fill. Why and where? 

Mountain View water bill woes expose potential flaws in process: Growing up with limited resources in India taught Ranjitha Vishwa the importance of water conservation.  Now the Mountain View resident’s children use buckets to measure how much shower water they use and Vishwa employs a similar technique when washing dishes. Laundry is done only by full load, and the family’s toilets are low-flow, efficient ones.  So it was with no small degree of surprise when Vishwa opened a bill from the city in December and learned she owes $2,633 as part of an adjustment for underbilled water usage going back to October 2018. ... ”  Read more from the Los Altos Town Crier here:  🔓 Mountain View water bill woes expose potential flaws in process

Pure Water Monterey gets final state OK:  “Pure Water Monterey has finally secured a critical final state approval and is poised to begin delivering potable recycled water to the Seaside basin by mid-February.  After an all-day inspection of the $126 million recycled water project’s advanced water purification facility by a nine-member team on Tuesday, the state Division of Drinking Water signed off both verbally and by email.  The state approval, which is conditioned on “minor” fixes to the recycled water treatment plant’s alarm system, allows the project to begin pumping product water into its conveyance system and eventually into the basin where it will reside until it is extracted later for use by Monterey Peninsula customers. ... ”  Read more from the Monterey Herald here:  Pure Water Monterey gets final state OK

Monterey:  Cal Am facing permit dilemma:  “California American Water’s Plan for a desalination plant hit a major hurdle last month when the California Coastal Commission told the company it is not ready to make a decision on its permit.  The news came in a letter dated January 28, 2020 and it recommend Cal Am pull its current application and resubmit at a later date. The Coastal Commission cited its likely inability to make a decision in time to meet its own internal deadline per the Permit Streamlining Act. … ”  Read more from KSBY here: 🔓 Cal Am facing permit dilemma

Kings County groundwater plan raising questions:  “It’s hard to imagine state officials giving the thumbs up to a groundwater sustainability plan that potentially allows Corcoran – California’s subsidence epicenter – to sink another 6 feet.  Especially considering the tiny, rural town was forced to spend $14 million in 2017 to rebuild its levees following the 2012-16 drought when it suffered subsidence of up to 1.5 feet a year. … ”  Read more from SJV Water here:  🔓 Kings County groundwater plan raising questions

Owens Valley Indian Water Commission awards $100,000 to the Big Pine Paiute Tribe Of Owens Valley to repair and upgrade the Tribe’s irrigation system:  “Owens Valley Indian Water Commission is pleased to announce the Commission awarded the Big Pine Tribe a $100,000 Agriculture Assistance Grant torepair segments of the Tribe’s irrigation system to ensure tribal members have access to water for agricultural and general purposes. … ”  Read more from the Sierra Wave here: 🔓 Owens Valley Indian Water Commission awards $100,000 to the Big Pine Paiute Tribe Of Owens Valley to repair and upgrade the Tribe’s irrigation system

Diaz Lake and Laws to get updated water systems:  “Diaz Lake and the Laws Railroad Museum will be getting some major fixes to their water systems, thanks to an anticipated $400,000 in Prop. 68 Per Capita funds.  As Leslie Chapman, assistant administrative officer, explained at Tuesday’s Inyo Board of Supervisors meeting, there may be more funding coming, but the $400,000 is guaranteed to Inyo as a small county. ... ”  Read more from the Sierra Wave here: 🔓 Diaz Lake and Laws to get updated water systems

Big news from the Kern County Water Agency???  “There could be an announcement on who the new general manager will be at the Kern County Water Agency at a special meeting called for tomorrow, Feb. 6, at 11:30 a.m. The board will hold a closed session to discuss a single topic: General Manager.  Following the closed session, the board will announce any “reportable action,” such as whether it has made a hire. … ”  Read more from the SJV Water here:  🔓 Big news from the Kern County Water Agency???

Ventura County joins Carpinteria Groundwater Sustainability Agency:  “In a unanimous vote on Feb. 4, the Board of Supervisors of the County of Ventura provided the final decision needed to form a new agency in the form of a Joint Powers Authority (JPA) called the Carpinteria Groundwater Sustainability Agency made up of four local agencies: the Carpinteria Valley Water District, the city of Carpinteria, the Santa Barbara County Water Agency and the county of Ventura.  … ”  Read more from Coastal View here:  🔓 Ventura County joins Carpinteria Groundwater Sustainability Agency

Coachella Valley: District helps make desert bloom:  “The Coachella Valley Water District faces hefty challenges each day: providing water for more than 1,200 ag customers on 65,000 acres in a desert environment.  The water district serves San Diego, Imperial and Riverside counties and nine cities.  “I would say managing our water on a long-term basis, optimizing our Colorado River water and groundwater and using them as efficiently as possible are major priorities for us,” said Katie Evans, director of communications for the district. ... ” Read more from the Capital Press here: Coachella Valley: District helps make desert bloom

Water bill credits approved by Poway council:  “Poway City Council members voted 4-1 Tuesday night to give most city water customers small credits on an upcoming bill due to last year’s six-day boil water advisory.  The average customer will see a one-time credit of about $28.72 in March or April, depending on which bimonthly billing cycle the customer is on. This includes a $5.29 credit on the fixed rate and $23.43 for commodity equal to 1/8th of the bimonthly bill. Seventy-seven percent of all water customers will have a commodity credit of between $10 and $50, depending on how much water they typically use. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union Tribune here: Water bill credits approved by Poway council

San Diego Bay channel dredging set to begin:  “A roughly six-week dredging project in a federal channel at the southern end of San Diego Bay will begin this month, federal authorities announced Wednesday.  The excavation work will re-establish required depths in the channel adjacent to National City Marine Terminal, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reported. The waterway was last dredged in 1976. … ”  Read more from Channel 10 here:  🔓 San Diego Bay channel dredging set to begin

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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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