DAILY DIGEST, 2/14: Trump heads west, with CA water in mind; CA analysts urge lawmakers: reject Newsom’s $1B climate loan proposal; As groundwater depletes, arid American West is moving east; and more …

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In California water news today …

Trump heads west, with Calif. water in mind:  “President Trump will splash into California’s perpetually roiled water world next week when he drops by the southern San Joaquin Valley city that’s home to his biggest House booster and proximate to some of the state’s biggest dilemmas.  With his expected visit to Bakersfield, Trump can affirm support for increased irrigation water deliveries, troll Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom and reward House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) in his hometown.  The president can also expect a warm welcome in a county dependent on agriculture and the oil and gas business, where he beat Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016 by a 53% to 40% margin. … ”  Read more from E&E News here: 🔓 Trump heads west, with Calif. water in mind

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California may be sliding back into drought, lawmakers and advocates warn now is the time to prepare:  “New federal data show that California may be sliding back into drought, just as the Legislature is starting to pursue ways to make sure residents are prepared for water shortages.  Due to weeks of dry weather about 10 percent of California and more than half of Nevada are in drought mode, the federal government reported Thursday.  “Really the last 60 days or so, after a decent start to the wet season, things have pretty much – I won’t say shut off – but there’s been a considerably lower than normal amount, probably about just a quarter of normal,” said  Rich Tinker, a meteorologist with NOAA and author of this week’s Drought Monitor report. … ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here:  🔓 California may be sliding back into drought, lawmakers and advocates warn now is the time to prepare

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Christmas bird counts survey local populations amidst North American declines:  “At dawn on the edge of Big Lagoon County Park, north of Arcata, California, Ken Burton is walking through the woods trying to rile up the nearby birds. As he scans the windswept cypress trees and leggy underbrush, he purses his lips and makes a plosive screech. It’s called “pishing.”  “I don’t’ think anyone really knows why it works,” Burton says. “Maybe it’s just an unfamiliar sound or close enough to an alarmed jay call.” … ”  Read more from KLCC here: 🔓 Christmas bird counts survey local populations amidst North American declines

A crisis right now: San Francisco and Manila face rising seas:  “What do you do when the sea comes for your home, your school, your church?  You could try to hold back the water. Or you could raise your house. Or you could just leave.  An estimated 600 million people live directly on the world’s coastlines, among the most hazardous places to be in the era of climate change. According to scientific projections, the oceans stand to rise by one to four feet by the end of the century, with projections of more ferocious storms and higher tides that could upend the lives of entire communities.  Many people face the risks right now. ... ”  Read more from the New York Times here: A crisis right now: San Francisco and Manila face rising seas

3 years later: Oroville Dam Spillway brought mass evacuations:  “Three years ago, the Oroville Dam Spillway crisis brought mass evacuations in Oroville and downstream from the Oroville Dam.  Even after a crack in the spillway, the Department of Water Resources continued releasing water because there was so much inflow from heavy rains, and it needed to make room in the reservoir.  But the spillway started to break apart and for the first time ever, water flowed over the top of the emergency spillway. ... ”  Read more from Action News Now here: 🔓 3 years later: Oroville Dam Spillway brought mass evacuations

Legislative Analyst’s Office Report: The 2020-21 Budget: Climate Change Proposals: This report assesses the Governor’s major 2020-21 budget proposals related to climate change. The four proposals we evaluate are the Governor’s (1) cap-and-trade expenditure plan ($965 million), (2) expanded climate adaptation research and technical assistance activities ($25 million), (3) new Climate Catalyst loan fund ($250 million), and (4) climate bond ($4.75 billion).”  Read the report from the LAO here: 🔓 The 2020-21 Budget: Climate Change Proposals

California analysts urge lawmakers: reject Gov. Newsom’s $1 billion climate loan proposal:  “Nonpartisan policy analysts took aim Thursday at Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposal to use $1 billion in state funds to seed innovative climate change efforts, questioning the state’s ability to even identify the right projects.  The Climate Catalyst Loan Fund, which Newsom called for in his $222.2 budget proposal for next year, would offer low-interest loans to public and private projects that would otherwise struggle to attract venture capital money or bank loans — particularly those intended to combat climate impacts of recycling, transportation, agriculture, and forestry sectors.  … ”  Read more from Cal Matters here:  🔓 California analysts urge lawmakers: reject Gov. Newsom’s $1 billion climate loan proposal

SEE ALSO: 🔓 Lawmakers should reject Newsom’s $1 billion green loan fund, legislative analyst says, from KQED

Northwest forests can slow climate change. How, exactly, is up for debate:  “Along the northern reaches of the chilly Pacific Ocean, stands of Douglas fir, western red cedar, spruce, and hemlock tower 100 feet or more in the air. Their upper boughs are often shrouded in mist, and knobby roots keep hold of thick, peaty forest soil. They shelter black bears, Roosevelt elk, spotted owls, marbled murrelets, and mountain lions, just to name a few.  They are also among the planet’s best carbon sinks. Scientists say these forests can sequester more carbon per acre than even the rain forests of the Amazon, and keep it locked up for 800 years. “We live in a carbon-dense forestry region, and we should be managing for carbon as one of the outcomes,” said Brad Kahn, director of communications for the Forest Stewardship Council, a nonprofit that certifies sustainably-grown wood. … ”  Read more from Bitterroot here:  🔓 Northwest forests can slow climate change. How, exactly, is up for debate

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In national/world news today …

Senate Democrats plot takeover for environmental action:  “Democratic presidential hopefuls are making big promises on climate change policy, and House Democrats are mapping out their own path come 2021, but no major climate legislation is likely to survive if their colleagues in the Senate don’t capture the upper chamber in this year’s elections.  Republicans hold 53 of the Senate’s 100 seats, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has shown little appetite for allowing votes on climate bills.  Democrats and their environmental allies, however, think they’re in striking distance of gaining the four seats they would need to take the majority this year. … ”  Read more from E&E News here: 🔓 Senate Democrats plot takeover for environmental action

As groundwater depletes, arid American West is moving east:  “Even under modest climate warming scenarios, the continental United States faces a significant loss of groundwater — about 119 million cubic meters, or roughly enough to fill Lake Powell four times or one quarter of Lake Erie, a first-of-its-kind study has shown.  The results, published today in Nature Communications, show that as warming temperatures shift the balance between water supply and demand, shallow groundwater storage can buffer plant water stress — but only where shallow groundwater connections are present, and not indefinitely. As warming persists, that storage can be depleted — at the expense of vital connections between surface water, such as rivers, streams and water reservoirs underground. ... ”  Read more from Science Daily here: 🔓 As groundwater depletes, arid American West is moving east

National water and climate update: Strong storm in the East brings heavy rain, flood threats: The Natural Resources Conservation Service produces this weekly report using data and products from the National Water and Climate Center and other agencies. The report focuses on seasonal snowpack, precipitation, temperature, and drought conditions in the U.S. A series of strong storms are moving across the eastern U.S. bringing heavy rainfall, thunderstorms, and the threat of flash floods to the region. Flood watches have been issued from Texas to Pennsylvania. The National Weather Service Weather Prediction Center map shows rain and thunderstorms in the Southeast, transitioning to a rain/snow mix in the Northeast. A winter weather advisory is in effect from Pennsylvania to Maine, with up to six inches of snow forecast for the region. Behind this storm, a high pressure system will bring much colder temperatures to the Northeast by Friday, where wind chills will be below zero in parts of New England.”  🔓 Click here to read the report.

Wildfire smoke boosts photosynthetic efficiency:  “In summer 2018, severe wildfires ravaged California. Fires broke out across the state beginning in July, including California’s largest wildfire on record. The fires’ impacts reached well beyond their devastating footprints as millions of people across the country inhaled particulate matter from the smoke.  Huge plumes of smoke also drifted through California’s typically sunny Central Valley during peak growing season in 2018, blanketing several kinds of crops and ecosystems. In new research, Hemes et al. turned their attention to the ecological effects of the smoke-smudged sky, studying how wildfire-induced haze in the air affects photosynthesis and productivity in different restored and cultivated ecosystems. … ”  Read more from EOS here: 🔓 Wildfire smoke boosts photosynthetic efficiency

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In regional news and commentary today …

‘It’s terrifying’: Young ranchers worried for agriculture future in Butte:  “Young ranchers and farmers in Butte County join other areas of California in facing financial burdens from water shortages, climate issues and a changing market, according to a new study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  The USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service is currently gathering information about farm economics and production practices from farmers and ranchers across California, as the agency conducts the third and final phase of the 2019 Agricultural Resource Management Survey. The service is reaching out to more than 30,000 producers nationwide, including over 2,500 in California, for in-depth information about operating revenues, production costs and other issues. ... ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here: ‘It’s terrifying’: Young ranchers worried for agriculture future in Butte

Mule Creek still a dumping ground for industrial waste:  “The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) opened the stormwater slide gates at Mule Creek State Prison (MCSP) dumping a total of 1,847,644 gallons of industrial waste containing Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and Semivolatile Organic Compounds (SVOCs) into Mule Creek in Ione during the month of January. This following a 5,981,830 gallon spill reported on December 10, 2019. … ”  Read more from the Amador Ledger here: Mule Creek still a dumping ground for industrial waste

Two dams, essential to the Salinas Valley, are in serious need of repair:  “Many communities in Monterey County receive their water supply from two dams. And those dams are in serious need of repair. Later this spring, its likely voters in the county will be asked to decide whether these costly repairs will go forward.  … While they’re located in San Luis Obispo County, they supply water to communities in Monterey County like the Salinas Valley and coastal areas from Marina to Moss Landing. … ”  Read more from KAZU here: 🔓 Two dams, essential to the Salinas Valley, are in serious need of repair

San Luis Obispo County: Candidates dig into North County’s housing crisis and water woes at SLO Tribune forum:  “John Peschong and Stephanie Shakofsky got knee deep into groundwater at a forum hosted by The Tribune and KCBX at Cuesta College’s North County campus on Monday night, where water sustainability and homelessness were the focus of conversation.  We chose to hone in on those two main issues at a San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors candidate forum in Paso Robles because that’s what attendees told us they care about. We used their input on an RSVP form to shape our event. ... ”  Read more from the San Luis Obispo Tribune here:  Candidates dig into North County’s housing crisis and water woes at SLO Tribune forum

Bakersfield: Drought conditions are creeping back to the Central Valley:  “After a promising start to 2020, drought conditions are creeping back into the Central Valley.  The United States Drought Monitor relapsed its weekly drought map Thursday with new indicators designating nearly all of Kern County as “abnormally dry” and parts as experiencing “moderate drought” conditions. … ”  Read more from Bakersfield Now here: Bakersfield: Drought conditions are creeping back to the Central Valley

LA River restoration effort lands $1.8 million:  “The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has awarded more than $1.8 million to help fund a cleanup and revitalization effort for 700 acres of open space along the Los Angeles River from Griffith Park to downtown, local officials announced today.  The funding will go toward pre-construction engineering and design for the Los Angeles River Ecosystem Restoration Project. The project received $400,000 in 2016 and $100,000 in 2017. … ”  Read more from the LA Daily News here: LA River restoration effort lands $1.8 million

San Bernardino: State project water could help local agencies in another year of drought:  “After a promising start to the 2019-20 winter season, with record snowfall in the Sierras in December, most Pacific storms have since skipped California, leaving much of the state with below normal precipitation.  Indeed, by the end of January, the Sierra snowpack was down to a mere 70 percent of normal. As a result, the Department of Water Resources has committed to delivering only 15 percent of the water that San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District and other agencies would normally have available to purchase through the State Water Project. … ”  Read more from Highland Community News here:  State project water could help local agencies in another year of drought

IID prevails against farmer Michael Abatti’s contempt of court complaint:  “The Imperial Irrigation District has been found not guilty of a contempt of court complaint brought against it by farmer Michael Abatti as part of his contentious fight over water rights in the Imperial Valley.  Abatti alleged that IID had failed to prioritize agricultural users when it entered into an amended agreement in November to provide water to Heber Geothermal Co., which has been operating in the Imperial Valley since the 1980s. Imperial County Superior Court Judge L. Brooks Anderholt sided with the irrigation district, which contended that it was fairly delivering water for all its users and could continue to even if faced with water cutbacks. … ”  Read more from the Desert Sun here: IID prevails against farmer Michael Abatti’s contempt of court complaint

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Along the Colorado River …

Massive water tank arrives at Lake Mead after 500 mile journey:  “A gigantic water tank arrived at Lake Mead Thursday as part  of the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s Low Lake Level Pumping Station.  Due to drought conditions since the early 2000s, the water level at Lake Mead has dropped 130 feet and current infrastructure was in danger of becoming inoperable.  The low lake pumping project, which began in 2015, will allow water authorities to draw water from a much deeper part of the lake. ... ” Read more from Channel 5 here: 🔓 Massive water tank arrives at Lake Mead after 500 mile journey

Only new regulations can ensure Arizona’s wells won’t go dry:  Polina Whitehouse writes, “Saudi Arabia has a water problem.  Having nearly drained its precious underground aquifers through unsustainable agriculture, the country is taking drastic measures to preserve what’s left. So where does Saudi dairy giant Almarai go to grow alfalfa, a notoriously thirsty crop used to feed dairy cows?  One place is Arizona’s La Paz County, another groundwater-dependent place that — as a recent investigation in The Arizona Republic eloquently demonstrates — is rapidly depleting its own aquifers, which recharge extremely slowly in desert climates. ... ”  Read more from The Desert Sun here: Only new regulations can ensure Arizona’s wells won’t go dry

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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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