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In California water news this weekend …

Is California headed back into drought, or did we never really leave one?  “The most recent U.S. Drought Monitor, issued on Thursday, shows an oval-shaped patch of Central California slipping back into moderate drought. This is after a couple months where the Drought Monitor showed the state to be almost drought-free.  … But did the drought in California ever really end? Climatologist and weather expert Bill Patzert thinks Southern California continues to be mired in a two-decade drought, and he uses rainfall figures for downtown Los Angeles to illustrate his point. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: Is California headed back into drought, or did we never really leave one?

California is drying out again; Here’s why it’s not a concern – yet:  “Storm after storm has swerved away from California, and drought conditions have started to return.  For the first time since early December, a small part of the Golden State’s central valley and Sierra Nevada have fallen into a moderate drought.  With this week’s update from the U.S. Drought Monitor, more Californians are in a moderate drought than at any time in the last year, in terms of population. … ”  Read more from The Weather Channel here: 🔓 California is drying out again; Here’s why it’s not a concern – yet


New California law creates pathway to water industry jobs for military veterans:  “Legislation co-sponsored by the San Diego County Water Authority and the Otay Water District is intended to make it easier for military veterans to launch careers in the water industry.  After Lt. Jose Martinez retired from the U.S. Navy in 2007, he went from serving his country underwater to serving reliable, high quality water to a community.  His experience aboard a nuclear submarine and on the management staff of Otay Water District shares a few commonalities. Both involve highly complex systems, which often operate away of the public eye, either underwater or underground.  “People turn on the tap and out comes water,” said Martinez, General Manager for ACWA-member Otay Water District. “It seems rather simple, but it’s really complex. It’s fascinating to me.” ... ”  Continue reading at the Water News Network here:  🔓 New California Law Creates Pathway to Water Industry Jobs for Military Veterans

Dodd introduces bill to boost agricultural conservation:  “State Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, has introduced legislation to increase conservation on California’s farms and ranches by offering incentives and technical assistance for adopting practices that protect wildlife and the environment, his office announced Friday.  Senate Bill 1028 would revitalize conservation, providing assistance to agricultural producers who want to voluntarily make wildlife-friendly improvements on their land, Dodd’s office said. The program would provide financial and technical assistance to create fish and wildlife habitat. It would provide added environmental benefits such as improved water quality, erosion control and conserved ground water. ... ”  Read more from the Vallejo Times-Herald here: Dodd introduces bill to boost agricultural conservation

After massive beetle outbreaks, some Western forests show signs of recovery:  “Just a few years after simultaneous bark beetle outbreaks decimated trees in the Rocky Mountains, scientists have found that large portions of these high-elevation forests are already showing signs of recovery, according to a new study of 14,000 trees published in the journal Ecology. ... ”  Read more from Yale E360 here:  🔓 After massive beetle outbreaks, some Western forests show signs of recovery

Meet cli-fi. It’s dark, it’s gloomy — and it might help:  “The southern United States disappeared under rising waters and sudden storms pummel the coast of the Mississippi Sea. New Orleans is gone; so is Florida. Oil is outlawed, and the nation is plunged into a second civil war marked by disease and desperate refugees.  “The water swallowed the land,” Omar El Akkad writes in “American War,” a novel about war and displacement set in a United States transformed by climate change. “To the southeast, the once glorious city of New Orleans became a well within the walls of its levees. The baptismal rites of a new America.”  This is cli-fi. … ”  Read more from E&E News here:  🔓 Meet cli-fi. It’s dark, it’s gloomy — and it might help

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In people news this weekend …

Maven’s Notebook: “To understand what’s happening in California agriculture, you must understand what’s happening in water throughout the state. Maven’s Notebook is a tremendous resource of up-to-date information about California Water. Founder Chris Austin explains how she got her start in blogging… ”  Read/listen at Ag Info Network here: Maven’s Notebook

Sean Maguire, 38, of Carmichael, has been reappointed to the California State Water Resources Control Board, where he has served as a member since 2018. Maguire held multiple positions at the California State Water Resources Control Board from 2015 to 2018, including supervising water resources control engineer and senior water resources control engineer. He held multiple positions at Kennedy/Jenks Consultants from 2003 to 2015, including water resources practice leader, senior associate engineer and senior staff engineer. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $159,068. Maguire is a Democrat.  (Sourced from Governor’s press release.)

LADWP announces Deputy Manager of Aqueduct Operations:  “Adam Perez has been selected as the new Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) Deputy Manager of the Aqueduct for the Water Operations Division. Mr. Perez will succeed the current Manager of Aqueduct, Mr. Clarence Martin, upon his retirement later this year.  Mr. Perez’s appointment was effective February 3, 2020. He will report directly to the LADWP Director of Water Operations, Anselmo Collins.  “Adam’s experience in both engineering and environmental management coupled with his innate ability to connect with people and the community makes him a perfect fit for this position,” said, Anselmo Collins. … ”  Read more from LA DWP here: 🔓 LADWP announces Deputy Manager of Aqueduct Operations

Jason Wagner selected as Reclamation’s 2020 Engineer of the Year:  “Jason Wagner, P.E., a civil engineer, is the Bureau of Reclamation’s 2020 Engineer of the Year for his work on designing fish passage structures around the West. He will be recognized by the National Society of Professional Engineers at an awards ceremony held in Washington, D.C., on February 14, 2020.  “Jason’s work has been important to Reclamation, its partners and the American public,” said Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman. “His cutting-edge work as an engineer has led to projects that protect fish while ensuring water delivery commitments.” ... ”  Read more from the Bureau of Reclamation here: 🔓 Jason Wagner selected as Reclamation’s 2020 Engineer of the Year

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In commentary this weekend …

It’s time for Gov. Newsom to take a firm stand to protect the Delta, says the San Francisco Chronicle:  They write, “It’s time for Gov. Gavin Newsom to own up on water policy. He can either play nice with a roughshod plan from President Trump to divert crucial water flows or craft his own blueprint that balances both wildlife and California’s economy.  Clearly, it shouldn’t be much of a choice, especially given the governor’s flashy resolve in going after big targets. He’s threatened the state’s largest utility, PG&E, with a public takeover. He wants to spend billions on housing and homeless programs. He’s in a near-daily war of words with the White House. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: Editorial: It’s time for Gov. Newsom to take a firm stand to protect the delta

Time to act is now on California’s water system, says Alice Huffman:  She writes, “Access to reliable, clean drinking water should be a fundamental human right for all Californians. Unfortunately, many disadvantaged communities throughout the state lack access to clean drinking water, and our aging water delivery infrastructure threatens water reliability for millions of California residents.  In the face of climate change and an increased risk of natural disasters, it is imperative that the state take action now to fortify our mainline water distribution infrastructure to better protect all Californian’s access to clean, reliable water. … ”  Read more from Capitol Weekly here: 🔓 Time to act is now on California’s water system

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Sunday podcasts …

Rethinking Prior Appropriation:  Steve Baker writes, “Some people wonder if the prior appropriative doctrine is still working well.  Rachael Osborn, Center for the Environmental Law and Policy in Spokane, Washington focuses on protecting fresh waters of western Washington. She feels current water law doesn’t use water efficiently and is inequitable. Enormous conflicts are in our future. Rachael is an advocate to changing the prior appropriative doctrine if the changes can consider water that drives the economy. It’s about how we see our connection with the environment and each other. 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

Water Economics with Dr David Zetland – Future of Agriculture: “Dr. David Zetland is a university lecturer, blogger, and economy researcher. He currently teaches at Leiden University College – The Hague as a lecturer in political-economy. He is the creator of the Aguanomics blog, a site that focuses on topics on the different ways people manage, use, and abuse water. David obtained his Ph.D. in Agricultural and Resource Economics from UC Davis and has earned extensive experience regarding water economy and water policy. David joins me today to discuss the water economy and where we are right now as a civilization. He shares why we should be in a global state of panic and why we’re no longer in a world where water is sustainable. He explains the need for water to be priced and how it can positively affect the ag industry. David also discusses water rights, “free water,” the water market, and possible solutions to water scarcity.” From Cal Ag Today. Additional resources here.

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In regional news and commentary this weekend …

As the planet heats up, Humboldt County plans to address rising sea levels with an emissions reduction plan and a slow retreat strategy:  “Last week the temperature in Antarctica hit an all-time high of 65 degrees Fahrenheit on Feb. 6, only to beat that record a few days later on Feb. 9, when it hit a high of 69.3 degrees. During this small period of time, a massive iceberg spanning about 116 square miles broke off of the Pine Island Glacier. … The warming temperatures will contribute to a rising sea level. Here in the Humboldt area, Aldaron Laird has been studying the effects of sea level rise on the Humboldt Bay for the past 10 years. He says that Humboldt Bay is experiencing the fastest rate of sea level rise on the West Coast because the bay sits on a tectonic plate that is being pulled down as the sea level rises. Laird told the Outpost that over the past 100 years or so the waters around the bay have risen around 12 to 18 inches. … ”  Read more from the Lost Coast Outpost here: 🔓 As the planet heats up, the county plans to address rising sea levels with an emissions reduction plan and a slow retreat strategy

Rocklin-based firm tackling first phase of Folsom Dam project:  “In about five years, the Sacramento region’s best-known flood control feature will stand a little taller.  Partnering with the state of California and the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency, the Army Corps of Engineers is overseeing a $383 million project to raise the height of Folsom Dam.  At a site along Folsom Lake, Rocklin-based Odin Construction Solutions is tackling the first phase of that effort, raising what’s known as Dike 8. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Business Journal here: Rocklin-based firm tackling first phase of Folsom Dam project

Rep. McNerney secures $23.1 million in funding for new San Joaquin flood management project:  “As the result of his efforts to bolster critical flood damage reduction measures in the region, Congressman Jerry McNerney (CA-09) announced that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) has included $23.1 million in their Fiscal Year 2020 Work Plan to fund the start of the Lower San Joaquin River Flood Risk Management Project.  Just one of two “New Start” construction flood control projects designated by the Corps nationwide, this project will be conducted in partnership with the San Joaquin Area Flood Control Agency (SJAFCA) and the State of California. ... ”  Read more from East County Today here: Rep. McNerney secures $23.1 million in funding for new San Joaquin flood management project

Gilroy:  Uvas Creek levee project completed:  “A $3.3 million upgrade and rehabilitation project on the Uvas Creek Levee, which provides flood control and recreation functions for Gilroy, was completed this winter.  The board of directors of Valley Water, which manages the levee, this week formally accepted a report on the 15-month project, which winds around the west and southwest edges of Gilroy along Christmas Hill Park.  The levee rehabilitation work began in August 2018 and was completed by the end of last November. … ”  Read more from the Gilroy Dispatch here: Gilroy:  Uvas Creek levee project completed

Pajaro River flood reduction project gets federal funds:  “A long-planned Pajaro River flooding prevention project has secured its first federal funding for engineering and design.  Earlier this week, Rep. Jimmy Panetta announced that the Pajaro River Flood Risk Reduction Project had been provided $1.8 million from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 2020 work plan budget.  The funding follows the release of a final feasibility report for the project by the Army Corps in December after decades of effort, allowing the $393.7 million initiative in the works since 1966 to begin its long-awaited pre-construction, engineering and design phase, making it eligible for state and federal funding. … ”  Read more from the Monterey Herald here: Pajaro River flood reduction project gets federal funds

Feds burn island weeds at Mono Lake to help birds feather their nests:  “A massive weed infestation on a tiny island at Mono Lake has choked out the nesting grounds that California gulls need to complete a life cycle as ancient as the million-year-old Sierra Nevada ecosystem.  On Friday, conservationists finally got their wish: a controlled burn aimed at destroying thousands of the nonnative spider-like plants. ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here: Feds burn island weeds at Mono Lake to help birds feather their nests

Kern’s shift to specialty crops expected to accelerate:  “Not so long ago, cotton was king in Kern County. Potatoes were plentiful and golden fields of hay stretched far into the horizon.  While none of these commodities has disappeared entirely from the local landscape, field crops have largely been supplanted by specialty crops such as table grapes, nut trees and “easy-peel” citrus.  There are many reasons for the shift, from rising incomes overseas and a shortage of farm labor to scarcity of water for irrigation. But as expected, the bottom line is the bottom line: growers generally plant what sells best.  The degree to which this shift has occurred was highlighted recently by a report documenting drastic changes in California crop patterns during the past six decades. … ”  Read more from the Bakersfield Californian here:  Kern’s shift to specialty crops expected to accelerate

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Along the Colorado River …

As Arizona weighs water reforms, farms push back against reporting pumping data:  “While the Arizona Legislature considers how to respond to problems of falling groundwater levels in rural areas, the agriculture industry is pushing back against proposals that would require owners of large wells across the state to measure and report how much water they’re pumping.  Some farmers and other well owners have objected to the idea of having to submit their pumping data, suggesting this could be a first step toward targeting their businesses for unwanted regulation. … ”  Read more from Arizona Central here:  As Arizona weighs water reforms, farms push back against reporting pumping data

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Also on Maven’s Notebook this weekend …

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Image credit:  Manzanita Lake, photo by Al Case 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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