DAILY DIGEST, 2/19: Trump’s visit expected to center on increasing water deliveries, Satellite pics show snowpack withering; One more Shasta Dam controversy, Top 10 extreme weather events of the decade; and more …

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On the calendar today …

  • The California Water Commission meets at 9:30 am.  Agenda items include a presentation on the Water Resilience Portfolio, an update on Delta Conveyance, a presentation on tribal engagement in Delta Conveyance, and an action item on the Annual Review of the State Water ProjectFor agenda and webcast link, click here.
  • WEBINAR: EPA Tools and Resources Webinar: National Stormwater Calculator: Great Lakes Applications from 12pm to 1pm:  This presentation focuses on examples of how EPA’s SWC has been applied in the Great Lakes region; advancing the science and implementation of green infrastructure to protect water quality and human health. To reduce impairments of our nation’s waterbodies caused by stormwater runoff, EPA developed the National Stormwater Calculator (SWC) to help support local, state, tribal and national stormwater management objectives and regulatory efforts to reduce runoff through infiltration and retention using green infrastructure practices as low impact development (LID) controls.  To join this webinar, please register: https://epawebconferencing.acms.com/swc_greatlakesapplications/event/registration.html
  • GRA SF Bay Branch meets tonight in Oakland at 5:30pm: The topic is Isotopic Hydrology: New Approaches to Sustainable Water Management.  Click here to register.  You do not need to be a member to attend.
  • PUBLIC SCOPING MEETING for Delta Conveyance Project in Clarksburg from 6pm to 8pm.  Pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) will initiate the preparation of an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the Delta Conveyance Project in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, California.  Read the full Delta Conveyance Notice of Preparation.

In California water news today …

Trump delivers on pledge for wealthy California farmers:  “Hoisting the spoils of victories in California’s hard-fought water wars, President Donald Trump is directing more of the state’s precious water to wealthy farmers and other agriculture interests when he visits their Republican Central Valley stronghold Wednesday.  Changes by the Trump administration are altering how federal authorities decide who gets water, and how much, in California, the U.S. state with the biggest population and economy and most lucrative farm output. Climate change promises to only worsen the state’s droughts and water shortages, raising the stakes. … ”  Read more from the AP here: 🔓 Trump delivers on pledge for wealthy California farmers

Trump’s Bakersfield visit expected to center on increasing water deliveries from Northern California:  “The focus of President Donald Trump’s visit to Bakersfield Wednesday is expected to be the finalization of controversial federal biological opinions that could lead to more water being diverted from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to farmers in the southern Central Valley and urban areas in Southern California.  People familiar with Delta water matters said an official signature has been the only thing holding up a federal “record of decision” formalizing the biological opinions. Several sources said Trump will likely host a ceremonial signing in Bakersfield that would politically benefit his local allies. ... ”  Read more from Bakersfield.com here:  🔓 Trump’s Bakersfield visit expected to center on increasing water deliveries from Northern California

Bernhardt pitches new era of “common sense” on California’s water:  “The era of insanity at the Interior Department is over, so said U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt here on Tuesday.  Bernhardt’s visit, and one by President Donald Trump in Bakersfield on Wednesday, serve as a one-two punch to reset the equation on Central California’s water.  Driving it all: the Trump administration’s recently-released biological opinions – or legal guidelines determining the flow of water through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta via the Federally-operated Central Valley Project. … ”  Read more from the San Bernardino Sun here: 🔓 Bernhardt pitches new era of “common sense” on California’s water

What happened at Devin Nunes water forum with Interior Secretary? We can’t tell you. Here’s why:  “Rep. Devin Nunes held a major water forum in Tulare County on Tuesday afternoon that excluded The Fresno Bee.  U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, the nation’s top ranking administrator of federal waterways, was a speaker. His department manages the Central Valley Project, which delivers water from Shasta Dam to San Joaquin Valley farms.  Nunes has routinely concealed his public schedules in California for the past several years and rescheduled fundraising events when logistical details have leaked. The water forum on Tuesday was not a private fundraiser. ... ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here: What happened at Devin Nunes water forum with Interior Secretary? We can’t tell you. Here’s why


Some environmentalists are disappointed with Governor Gavin Newsom:  “Few if any environmentalists were surprised last year when the federal government proposed a new pumping plan that would send more Northern California water to farmers and which experts think could drive species extinct, including winter-run Chinook salmon and Delta smelt.  But in the four months since two federal agencies signed off on the proposal as environmentally sound, watershed and fishery advocates are concerned that Gov. Gavin Newsom hasn’t stepped forward in defense of the state’s natural resources. … ”  Read more from the East Bay Express here:  Some environmentalists are disappointed with Governor Gavin Newsom

Sierra snowpack withering in California’s dry winter. New satellite image shows the bad news:  “The image is disturbing and leaves little doubt about California’s growing predicament: The snowpack in the Sierra Nevada is a sad whisper of it was a year ago, a withering testament to the lack of precipitation in the state’s increasingly dry winter.  The National Weather Service tweeted satellite images of the Sierra on Tuesday, showing the stark difference between this year and the above-average snowfall from 2019. The mountain snowpack — a crucial element in the state’s annual water supply — is 53 percent of normal for this time of year, according to the Department of Water Resources. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: Sierra snowpack withering in California’s dry winter. New satellite image shows the bad news


Effort to protect Shasta County plant grows into one more Shasta Dam controversy:  “An attempt to list as an endangered species a plant found only in Shasta County could put it in the middle of a controversy over raising the height of Shasta Dam.  The California Fish and Game Commission is expected to vote Friday on whether to accept a petition to list the Shasta snow-wreath as an endangered species under state law.  The snow-wreath grows only in Shasta County, and according to the petition, up to 79% of the plant’s population — a number disputed by a Redding biologist who has studied the plant — would be threatened by raising the height of the dam. ... ”  Read more from the Redding Record Searchlight here:  Effort to protect Shasta County plant grows into one more Shasta Dam controversy

State seek input on Delta tunnel plan:  “The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) is holding a public meeting in Brentwood, Thursday, Feb. 20 at the Brentwood Community Center from 6 – 8 p.m. to review the details of the Delta Conveyance Project (DCP).  The DCP is the latest iteration of the state’s plans to build a tunnel through the Delta that will convey water from the Delta’s northern reaches to a forebay near Byron. … ” Read more from The Press here:  State seek input on Delta tunnel plan

California agriculture in 2050: still feeding people, maybe fewer acres and cows:  “Water supply concerns, regulations, labor issues, tariffs, climate change, and other challenges have prompted some rather dire predictions about the future of California agriculture. We talked to Dan Sumner—director of the UC Davis Agricultural Issues Center and a member of the PPIC Water Policy Center research network—about his research on California agriculture in 2050.  PPIC: How do you think California agriculture will change in the next few decades?  DAN SUMNER: The value of farm production in California has been growing for a very long time and is likely to continue to grow. … ”  Read more from the PPIC here:  🔓 California agriculture in 2050: still feeding people, maybe fewer acres and cows

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In national/world news today …

Federal PFAS Legislation – the NDAA and Beyond:  “Congress continues to grapple with how it should legislate in response to human health and environmental concerns related to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Of the dozens of bills proposed in 2019 to address PFAS, only the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) passed both chambers, becoming law when the president signed the act on Dec. 20, 2019.  Believing the NDAA was only a first step towards comprehensive PFAS legislation, the House of Representatives has continued to push forward. It passed the PFAS Action Act (H.R. 535) on Jan. 10, 2020 … ”  Read more from the National Law Review here:  🔓 Federal PFAS Legislation – the NDAA and Beyond

Nearly half the country working on PFAS rules as EPA drags feet:  “More states are stepping up to protect people from drinking water contaminated with “forever chemicals” in the absence of federal enforcement.  Twenty-three states are writing their own guidance, regulations, or legislation that would address drinking water contaminated with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, also known as PFAS.  The family of thousands of chemicals, once used in Teflon and Scotchgard, may cause liver tissue damage, immune system or thyroid problems and increased cholesterol levels, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The substances require massive amounts of energy to fully break down, enabling them to persist in the environment, seemingly “forever.” … ”  Read more from Bloomberg BNA here: 🔓 Nearly half the country working on PFAS rules as EPA drags feet

Avoiding crisis: Preparing for the proposed lead and copper rule revisions:  “In October 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its long-awaited proposed revisions to the existing Lead and Copper Rule (LCR). The proposal would update the original 1991 rule, change the current standards and add several new responsibilities for water utilities across the country. The changes will place rigorous and costly new demands on water systems, and many are questioning how they can best prepare for the changes ahead. … ”  Read more from Water Finance & Management here:  🔓 Avoiding Crisis: Preparing for the Proposed Lead and Copper Rule Revisions

Extreme weather could bring next recession:  “Physical climate risk from extreme weather events remains unaccounted for in financial markets. Without better knowledge of the risk, the average energy investor can only hope that the next extreme event won’t trigger a sudden correction, according to new research from University of California, Davis.  “If the market doesn’t do a better job of accounting for climate, we could have a recession — the likes of which we’ve never seen before,” said the article’s author, Paul Griffin, an accounting professor at the UC Davis Graduate School of Management. … ”  Read more from UC Davis here: 🔓 Extreme weather could bring next recession

Top 10 U.S. Record-breaking extreme weather events of the decade:  “The top 10 extreme weather events over the past decade caused more than $400 billion in damages, and more record-breaking catastrophes seem to be occurring every year, according to a new report.  Hurricane Harvey was the most record-breaking weather event in the U.S. over the past decade, according to the report from Weatherwise magazine. … ”  Read more from US News & World Report here: 🔓 Top 10 U.S. Record-breaking extreme weather events of the decade

Driven by climate change, desalination researchers seek solutions to water scarcity:  “The state of California has dedicated $34 million for eight desalination facilities across the state amid growing concerns about water scarcity in the U.S.  Desalination is when saltwater is converted into freshwater. Though 71% of the Earth is made up of water, extreme weather linked to climate change is adding to concerns about water scarcity. ... ”  Read more from WBUR here: 🔓 Driven by climate change, desalination researchers seek solutions to water scarcity

Legal brawls could fuel or freeze climate adaptation:  “Courtroom action could prove to be a mixed bag for state and local efforts to adapt to rising temperatures and shifting seas.  Lawsuits related to adaptation projects have proliferated along the U.S. coasts, where attempts to respond to climate change — and questions over how to fund those measures — are pressing concerns. Legal experts say litigation over adaptation may affect whether and how states, cities and towns buffer their residents, landscapes and infrastructure against climate impacts.  Not everyone is convinced that’s a good thing. … ”  Read more from E&E News here: 🔓 Legal brawls could fuel or freeze climate adaptation

Green groups plan to sue over Trump rollback of Obama waterway protections:  “A coalition of environmental groups informed the Trump administration Tuesday that it would sue over a major rollback of water protections designed to replace the Obama-era Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule.  “Trump’s despicable giveaway to polluters will wipe out countless wetlands and streams and speed the extinction of endangered wildlife across the country,” Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement. “Even as we’re fighting this in court, the polluters will rush to fill in wetlands and turn our waterways into industrial toilets.” … ”  Read more from The Hill here: 🔓 Green groups plan to sue over Trump rollback of Obama waterway protections

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In regional news and commentary today …

Colusa County: Growers needed for on-farm, groundwater recharge program:  “The Colusa Groundwater Authority, the California Department of Water Resources and The Nature Conservancy have partnered to conduct an on-farm, multi-benefit demonstration program for growers in two select project locations around Colusa County.  According to Mary Fahey, Colusa County Water Resource manager, this project will provide local Groundwater Sustainability Agencies with valuable information about potential benefits to the groundwater system that can be achieved through field flooding practices. … ”  Read more from the Appeal Democrat here:   Growers needed for on-farm, groundwater recharge program

Caltrans to restore wetlands off Highway 101 as part of corridor project:  “Caltrans, the agency planning to modify U.S. Highway 101’s safety corridor between Eureka and Arcata, will begin work on off-road wetlands in 2020 to restore and enhance a freshwater marsh and estuarine habitats.  Among other restoration efforts, project officials will decommission several agricultural wells, set up “wildlife-friendly” fencing and excavate material from a marsh to rid it of marine water that leaks in through a nearby tidegate. When finished, the wetlands portion of the project will enhance the wetlands’ degraded habitats. ... ”  Read more from the Eureka Times-Standard here: Caltrans to restore wetlands off Highway 101 as part of corridor project

Roseville replenishes groundwater basin this fall and winter:  “Last November, both Roseville and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) entered into an agreement to transfer up to 6,000 acre-feet of SMUD water annually for three years. This agreement is a testament to our mutual commitment of ensuring that regional water supplies are effectively and collaboratively managed within the local groundwater basin.  Roseville began replenishing the groundwater basin this past December, thanks to Mother Nature’s work on bringing in rain and snowfall, and will continue to do so through this month. … ”  Read more from ACWA Water News here: 🔓 Roseville replenishes groundwater basin this fall and winter

Fairfield spends $4 million on hardening project for wastewater treatment plant:  “The town of Fairfield is moving forward with a project that aims to better protect its wastewater treatment plant from coastal flooding from large storms and sea level rise.  According to a press release from First Selectwoman Brenda Kupchick, the project will cost a total of $7.4 million but $3.33 million will be funded through a grant from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Developments’ (US HUD) Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery. ... ”  Read more from the Fairfield Citizen here: Fairfield spends $4 million on hardening project for wastewater treatment plant

Two dams—essential to the Salinas Valley—are in serious need of repair:  “Many communities in Monterey and San Luis Obispo counties receive their water supply from two local dams. And those dams are in serious need of repair. Later this spring, its likely voters in Monterey County will be asked to decide whether these costly repairs will go forward.  In 2017, a part of the Oroville dam north of Sacramento failed, prompting the evacuation of almost 200,000 people living downstream. … ”  Read more from KCBX here:  Two dams—essential to the Salinas Valley—are in serious need of repair

Blooming trees attract visitors to Fresno County’s Blossom Trail:  “The Valley is famous for spectacular fruit and nut tree blossoms and they’re just starting to bloom.  Mid-February to mid-March is prime time for the Fresno County Blossom Trail.  The scenic loop runs from Southeast Fresno west to the foothills, down through Reedley and back around. Maps and additional information are available at here.   Read more from KFSN here:  Blooming trees attract visitors to Fresno County’s Blossom Trail


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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

METROPOLITAN WATER DISTRICT: Subsidence of the California Aqueduct in the San Joaquin Valley

Plus a brief update on the voluntary agreements, and good news on the Colorado River

Recently, the Department of Water Resources released a report to supplement the 2017 California Aqueduct Subsidence Study (CASS) report that addresses the specific issues within a 10-mile-wide study corridor centered on the California Aqueduct south of San Luis Reservoir to the southern San Joaquin Valley and looked at predictions of future subsidence.

At the February meeting of Metropolitan’s Water Planning and Stewardship Committee, Ted Craddock, DWR Assistant Deputy Director of the State Water Project, provided an overview of the report, detailing the subsidence problem on the California Aqueduct, some of the recent work that DWR has been doing to assess the subsidence, and what the plans are for moving forward.

Click here to read this article.

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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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