DAILY DIGEST, 2/13: One tunnel, same distrust; Is California ready for the next drought?; Tri-dam partners not satisfied with voluntary agreements; Costa, Cox vote to OK subpoenas to probe Valley water boost; San Joaquin River Chinook salmon made history last year – sort of; and more …

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On the calendar today …

In California water news today …

One tunnel, same distrust:  “State water officials offered an early look at the downsized California WaterFix project earlier this month, and conservationists and far-traveling indigenous tribes say they still believe it has the potential to permanently alter life in and around the Delta.  … In response to Gov Gavin Newsom’s executive order last April to limit the project to one tunnel, the California Department of Water Resources held one of its first public “scoping meetings” Feb. 3 to start a new environmental review process. But the scope of what DWR’s engineers have in mind still includes two steel and concrete intakes along the Sacramento River between Hood and Courtland, as well as two large forebays and various pumping plants.  … ”  Read more from the Sacramento News & Review here: 🔓 One tunnel, same distrust

Is California ready for the next drought? When winter weather turns dry, many of us start asking about the dreaded “d” word. So are we going to be in another drought?  The last drought in California from 2012 to 2016 was so catastrophic, some of the hardest hit communities still haven’t recovered.  Ruben Perez lives in one of those areas — East Porterville, in California’s Central Valley. His first indication he was running out of water during the drought was when dirt started coming out of the faucet. He says a lot of his neighbors had the same problem. Their wells went dry. … ”  Read more from ABC 10 here: 🔓 Is California ready for the next drought?  

SEE ALSO:

New online interactive tool helps Californians prepare for future drought:  “This rain-year has brought an alarmingly dry winter in California so far, according to climate change experts.  Now, there’s a new tool to help Californians navigate your water supply. It’s an online toll that allows a person to see the groundwater levels in their area. The tool then gives a representation of what could be at risk or impacted if a drought hits.  “Water is a basic human right,” said Heather Lukacs, director of community solutions with the Community Water Center. ... ”  Read more from KSBY here: 🔓 New online interactive tool helps Californians prepare for future drought

Tri-dam partners send lawmakers complaint letter over voluntary agreements:  “While they say they appreciate Governor Gavin Newsom’s help to settle what has been billed by many as a “massive water grab,” two water districts are crying foul over his solution.  … The communication argues that Governor Gavin Newsom’s latest proposed framework for voluntary settlement agreements among the stakeholders is still not cutting it because the proposal fails to include a sustainable operations plan for the Stanislaus River and it ignores the Bureau of Reclamation’s new biological opinion and other local science. … ”  Continue reading at My Mother Lode here: Tri-dam partners send lawmakers complaint letter over voluntary agreements

“Godspeed with the Witch Hunt”: Costa, Cox vote to OK subpoenas to probe Valley water boost:  “Two Valley Congressmen cast votes Wednesday morning to approve granting House Democrats the authority to investigate and potentially nullify the Trump administration’s moves to boost water supplies to the San Joaquin Valley.  Reps. Jim Costa (D–Fresno) and TJ Cox (D–Fresno) joined fellow Democrats on the House Natural Resources Committee to grant wide-ranging subpoena power to the committee’s chair, Raul Grijalva (D–Ariz.), to investigate the Interior, Agriculture, and Commerce Departments. ... ”  Read more from the San Joaquin Sun here: 🔓 “Godspeed with the Witch Hunt”: Costa, Cox vote to OK subpoenas to probe Valley water boost

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Central Valley clean water bill gets past major hurdle despite Republican opposition:  “A bill that could help disadvantaged Central Valley towns including ones in Tulare County provide safe and affordable drinking passed its first legislative hurdle despite facing opposition by Republican critics, including GOP representatives from California.  In December 2019, Rep. TJ Cox (D-Fresno) unveiled a $100 million proposal to make improvements in small towns suffering from contaminated drinking water. … ” Read more from the Visalia Times-Delta here:  Central Valley clean water bill gets past major hurdle despite Republican opposition

San Joaquin River Chinook salmon made history last year – sort of:  “An unexpected number of Chinook salmon swam up the San Joaquin River last spring, prompting surprise and giddy pronouncements that the river’s long dead spring-run population had been resurrected.  The 500 or so fish were living proof that the 11-year-long river restoration program was a success. A “smashing” success, some advocates said.  Others felt the event was proof that some level of a salmon fishery could be reproduced on the San Joaquin.  But at what cost? … ”  Read more from SJV Water here: 🔓 San Joaquin River Chinook salmon made history last year – sort of

Reclamation awards $3.5 million for 19 projects that will inform water management decisions (press release):  “The Bureau of Reclamation selected 19 projects to receive $3.5 million in WaterSMART Applied Science Grants to develop tools and information that will inform and support water management decisions. These projects will be matched by more than $4.5 million, non-federal cost-match, supporting a total project cost of $8 million.  “Water managers need the most updated information to ensure they are making the best water management decisions,” said Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman. “Applied Science Grants fund tool development and studies that help make western water more reliable.” … ”  Several California projects awarded grants.  Read more here: 🔓 Reclamation awards $3.5 million for 19 projects that will inform water management decisions

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In national/world news today …

Who pays? PFAS lawsuits, legislation raise question of pollution liability:  “A potential lawsuit in North Carolina and legislation in Congress have together surfaced an under-the-radar debate about who shoulders the burden of preventing contamination of waterways with toxic PFAS chemicals.  On one side are wastewater utilities, who view themselves as conduits for pollution, not its creators. They do not want to be held liable for the steep cost of removing PFAS chemicals — costs that would then be passed along to city residents in the form of higher sewer bills.  On the other side are citizen groups and lawmakers, who are scrambling to find immediate legal, technical, and policy fixes for a class of manmade chemicals that has thousands of variations, several of which have been shown to damage human health even at outrageously tiny concentrations. … ”  Read more from the Circle of Blue here:  🔓 Who pays? PFAS lawsuits, legislation raise question of pollution liability

Creating ‘Forever Chemicals’: A Guide to PFAS Companies:  “The billion-dollar companies that made and used chemicals now popping up in water supplies around the country are switching to newer alternatives, but they haven’t escaped liabilities for historic environmental contamination.  The chemicals, known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances or PFAS, have become ubiquitous in everyday consumer goods as well as in specialized industrial applications. For some of the companies, including 3M Co. and the Chemours Co., liabilities from their PFAS operations have negatively affected the value of their stock. … ”  Read more from Bloomberg Environmental here: 🔓 Creating ‘Forever Chemicals’: A Guide to PFAS Companies

‘How is climate change affecting winter in my region?’:  “Dear Sara, I would like to read your prediction of the effects of climate change on the traditional four weather seasons.  From a lifestyle preference, it has been nice for me to know that in the summer, there will be the warmth of the ocean. In the fall, we see the shedding of the leaves and the beauty of the trees when they’re bare. In the winter, there may be snow or outdoor sports. In the spring, we see the wonderful flower gardens that people have planted – and the beauty of that can be predicted.  I ask the question because I have some suspicion that that’s going to change in some way, shape, or form. And I don’t look forward to that.  – Claude in Durham, North Carolina Dear Claude … ”  Read more from Yale Climate Connections here: 🔓 ‘How is climate change affecting winter in my region?’

Australian fires declared ‘contained’ after devastating season:  “An Australian fire service announced Thursday that all wildfires in the state of South Wales were contained after weeks of firefighters’ efforts to battle the blazes.  The New South Wales Rural Fire Service tweeted early Thursday that the turning point marked the beginning of the end of what was “a truly devastating fire season for both firefighters and residents.” … ”  Read more from The Hill here: 🔓 Australian fires declared ‘contained’ after devastating season

SEE ALSO: Deadly fires turn Australians into climate change converts, similar to California, from the LA Times

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In regional news and commentary today …

President’s Budget and Work Plan announcements tab $188 million for Sacramento District projects:  “More than $188 million in flood risk management work for Northern California were outlined in two separate budget releases on February 10, adding to an already robust Sacramento District workload.  President Donald Trump’s fiscal year 2021 budget proposal would fund two Sacramento District projects in his plan for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers civil works program.  Continued upgrades to Natomas Basin levees leads the way with $131.5 million. Construction to improve 42 miles of levee surrounding the Sacramento area suburb has ramped up in recent years with construction work underway in four different sections of the project. The other project in the budget sits across the Sacramento River from Natomas in West Sacramento, which is targeted for $2.028 million to continue ongoing design efforts for authorized levee improvements around the city. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento District of the Army Corps here: 🔓 President’s Budget and Work Plan announcements tab $188 million for Sacramento District projects

Lack of rain creates drought concerns in the Bay Area:  “It has been a dry February after a dry January and there’s no rain in sight. Now, the word “drought” is popping up in conversations. However, experts say there’s no need to be alarmed.  “If there’s no rain and we start going back to where we were a couple years ago, then we’ll start being concerned,” said Matt Keller from Valley Water. … ”  Read more from NBC Bay Area here: 🔓 Lack of rain creates drought concerns in the Bay Area

Monterey: Cal Am gets Coastal Commission desal project extension:  “California American Water has received a 90-day extension of the deadline for the Coastal Commission to consider the company’s desalination project permit application, effectively allowing commission staff about four more months to complete additional analysis.  On Tuesday, Cal Am Vice President Ian Crooks sent a letter to Coastal Commission official Tom Luster requesting the 90-day extension of the time limits for considering the desal permit under the state’s Permit Streamlining Act, which requires consideration of a permit within 180 days of completion. … ”  Read more from the Monterey Herald here:  Cal Am gets Coastal Commission desal project extension

Have thoughts about groundwater cuts in Merced County? The state wants to hear from you: “Do you have something to say about the state-mandated sustainability plan that will limit individual and agricultural groundwater consumption in Merced County?  Now is the time to say it.  The Jan. 31 deadline for local agencies to submit their 20-year sustainable groundwater management plan has passed, kicking off a 75-day public comment period before the Department of Water Resources reviews it. ... ”  Read more from the Merced Sun-Star here: Have thoughts about groundwater cuts in Merced County? The state wants to hear from you

Cleaning Atwater’s contaminated water is city’s highest priority, says council: “The Atwater City Council this week unanimously declared its highest priority public improvement project to be restoring the city’s clean water.  The urgent resolution came after a carcinogenic chemical, 1,2,3-Trichloropropane (TCP), was found in several Atwater wells — and in quantities exceeding state-approved maximum contaminant levels.  “The main concern is that the council do something and get started on it,” Mayor Paul Creighton said. “This urgency resolution that has taken place is to reaffirm what citizens want.” … ”  Read more from the Merced Sun-Star here:  Cleaning Atwater’s contaminated water is city’s highest priority, says council

Ridgecrest:  Water district addresses Haiwee geothermal project concerns:  “The Indian Wells Valley Water District will submit a letter to the Bureau of Land Management over a proposed geothermal leasing area near Haiwee Reservoir.  The water district’s board of directors discussed its concern about the project at its Monday board meeting, noting the impact it could have on water use in or near the basin.  The Haiwee Geothermal Leasing Area project’s environmental impact statement is in the wrap-up stages and is currently in a 30-day protest period. … ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here: Ridgecrest:  Water district addresses Haiwee geothermal project concerns

Clarifying Channelkeeper’s role in Ventura River watershed adjudication:  Ben Pitterle, science and policy director of Santa Barbara Channelkeeper writes, “I’m writing to the VC Reporter to offer clarification for property owners in the Ventura River watershed about Santa Barbara Channelkeeper’s role in the groundwater adjudication initiated by the city of Ventura.  Santa Barbara Channelkeeper is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that works to protect and restore the Santa Barbara Channel and its watersheds (including the Ventura River) through science-based advocacy, education, field work and enforcement. We are aware that residents throughout the Ventura River watershed recently received notice from the city of Ventura that the city has commenced an adjudication of water rights. … ”  Read more from the Ventura County Reporter here: 🔓 Clarifying Channelkeeper’s role in Ventura River watershed adjudication

SCV Water looks at reservoirs due to winter, chemical concerns:  “A relatively dry winter and new state-set levels for the presence of a carcinogen in water threatening the closure of groundwater wells have local water officials considering water from new sources and looking to use water they’ve already banked.  Santa Clarita Valley water users get their supply from two main sources via the SCV Water Agency — water imported from Northern California through the State Water Project and water from the ground under the SCV.  Both sources are expected to yield less this summer than officials had initially hoped. … ”  Read more from The Signal here: SCV Water looks at reservoirs due to winter, chemical concerns

NWS report shows LA nearing driest start of year on record:  “With the Los Angeles river looking more like a trickle, it came as no surprise when the National Weather Service tweeted about the area’s lack of rain.  For January and February, combined, downtown L.A. has received less than half an inch. The story was much the same at Los Angeles International Airport and even in Palmdale. … ”  Read more from CBS Sacramento here:  🔓 NWS report shows LA nearing driest start of year on record

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And lastly …

McClatchy, major local news publisher, files for bankruptcy protection:  “The publisher of the Miami Herald, The Sacramento Bee and dozens of other newspapers across the country is filing for bankruptcy protection.  McClatchy Co.’s 30 newsrooms, including The Kansas City Star, The Charlotte Observer, The News & Observer in Raleigh, and The Star-Telegram in Fort Worth, will continue to operate as usual as the publisher reorganizes under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.  The publisher’s origins date to 1857 when it first began publishing a four-page paper in Sacramento, California, following the California Gold Rush. That paper became the Bee. … ”  Read more from the Long Beach Press Telegram here: McClatchy, major local news publisher, files for bankruptcy protection 

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

CA WATER COMMISSION: Headwaters to Floodplains initiative

Recently, the Department of Water Resources, Office of Floodplain Management launched a new safety initiative called Headwaters to Floodplains which applies an integrated regional watershed management approach to the realm of flood management.  The initiative is intended to enhance public engagement and facilitate sharing innovative flood risk reduction ideas and projects on a watershed basis.

At the January meeting of the California Water Commission, Mike Mierzwa from DWR’s Office of Floodplain Management briefed the Commission members on the new initiative.  He is a civil engineer with extensive expertise in hydrodynamic modeling and the planning of large scale water systems.  He’s also been part of DWR team working on the public benefits for the Water Storage Investment Program.

Mr. Mierzwa began by noting that headwaters and floodplains are places where Californians live and work. “We’re focused in on the land use connectivity with flood risk and consequences and the cooperation, so if there’s one key thing I could stress today, it’s this theme of cooperation at all levels of government as to how we manage flood risks.”

Click here to read this article.


Also posted on the 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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