DAILY DIGEST, 2/21: CA sues Trump admin over water; FEMA to pay $300M for Oroville Dam fixes; How much longer will wild coho hang on in the golden state?; Climate change has stolen more than a billion tons of water from the Colorado River; and more …

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On the calendar today …

  • WEBINAR: Microplastics Study Design, Analysis, and Reporting from 10am to 12:30pm. The goal of the webinar is to guide and encourage robust and consistent monitoring of microplastics.  Hosted by SFEI.  Click here to register.

In California water news today …

California sues Trump administration again — this time over water:  “A day after President Trump visited the Central Valley to celebrate a boost in water for California farms, state officials sued to block the additional water deliveries.  Attorney General Xavier Becerra, in a lawsuit filed Thursday, maintains that new federal rules designed to increase pumping from the Sacramento San Joaquin River Delta fail to protect salmon and other endangered fish in the delta estuary. ... ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: California sues Trump administration again — this time over water

Lawsuits loom as Trump opens Calif. taps:  “Legal challenges and fierce politicking lie ahead for the farmer-friendly California water moves celebrated with a flourish yesterday by President Trump and his Interior Department team.  In a midafternoon event that festooned an administrative procedure with the trappings of a campaign rally, Trump capped a “record of decision” intended to steer more irrigation water to San Joaquin Valley farmers.  “[It’s] going to give you a lot of water, a lot of dam, a lot of everything,” Trump told the California audience. “You’ll be able to farm your land, and you’ll be able to do things you never thought possible.” … ”  Read more from E&E News here: 🔓 Lawsuits loom as Trump opens Calif. taps

Growers see Trump’s water delivery order as a promise kept:  “Kern County farmer Larry Starrh told President Donald Trump in Bakersfield that his family considered selling the farm prior to his election in 2016 because of pessimistic economic signs. On Wednesday he thanked the president for giving him the hope to reverse that decision.  With Starrh and other Central Valley farmers in attendance, the president signed an official memorandum to address complaints in how water is managed for fish and the environment after ordering two federal agencies to rewrite biological opinions mapping how surface water supplies are managed. … ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press here: 🔓 Growers see Trump’s water delivery order as a promise kept

Trump celebrated a big boost in water for the Valley. But what did he sign?  “Flanked by three Valley members of Congress, President Donald Trump signed off on a memorandum charting a new path on California’s water on Wednesday.  Yet the major consequential move long-sought by Reps. Devin Nunes (R–Tulare) and Kevin McCarthy (R–Bakersfield) was not spelled out on the paper signed by Trump on Wednesday. … ”  Read more from the San Joaquin Sun here: 🔓 Trump celebrated a big boost in water for the Valley. But what did he sign?

SEE ALSO:

Trump administration reverses itself, will pay California for Oroville Dam fixes:  “In a rare reversal, the Trump administration has agreed to reimburse California for hundreds of millions of dollars in repair costs stemming from the 2017 emergency at Oroville Dam.  The state Department of Water Resources said Thursday the Federal Emergency Management Agency agreed to cover approximately $300 million in repair costs the agency had previously denied.  All told, the state now expects to be reimbursed for approximately $750 million of the $1.1 billion cost of the crisis, said DWR spokeswoman Erin Mellon. By law, the federal agency can reimburse up to 75 percent of the costs. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: Trump administration reverses itself, will pay California for Oroville Dam fixes

SEE ALSO: 🔓 California to receive $300M from US for Oroville Dam repairs, from the AP

How much longer will wild coho hang on in the golden state?  “Ribbons hang from redwood boughs above Lagunitas Creek in Marin County, California. They’re there to demarcate redds, saucer-shaped depressions in the gravel bed below, where coho salmon spawn and where inch-long fry later emerge to begin their tumultuous three-year life cycle between river and sea.  “Usually between here and the road there’s a half dozen redds or more,” says Todd Steiner, pointing 100 feet or so downstream to where Sir Francis Drake Boulevard passes over the confluence of Lagunitas Creek and San Geronimo Creek, near the town of Lagunitas. But only two ribbons hang from the trees. … ”  Read more from Earth Island Journal here: 🔓 How much longer will wild coho hang on in the golden state?

Dry February sends California back to drought:This hasn’t happened in 150 years’:  “San Francisco and Sacramento have not seen a drop of rain this February, and climate scientists are expecting that disturbing dry trend to hold, in what is typically one of the wettest months of the year for California.  “This hasn’t happened in 150 years or more,” said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability. “There have even been a couple wildfires – which is definitely not something you typically hear about in the middle of winter.” … ”  Read more from The Guardian here: 🔓 Dry February sends California back to drought

Could a ‘miracle’ March make up for California’s bone-dry February? What history tells us:  “Do you believe in miracles?  At this point, it would take one to restore water and snowpack totals in a very dry California near average levels for the winter.  Devoid of any meaningful rain since Jan. 26, Northern California has been barren for almost a month. The short-term weather forecasts will tell you there’s no relief in sight: Even with an extra day on the calendar due to leap year, Sacramento looks all but certain to have its first ever completely rain-free February in recorded history, a span of more than 170 years. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Could a ‘miracle’ March make up for California’s bone-dry February? What history tells us

Yosemite’s annual ‘Firefall’ waterfall may (not) be all wet, as drought dries the spectacle:  “Photographers are already gathering for the annual lighting up of Horsetail Waterfall in Yosemite National Park, which comes alight around this time each year when hit by the sun’s setting rays at just the right angle.  But they might be disappointed to learn that the main ingredient — water — is missing, though they will in all likelihood be treated to a “mere” spectacular sunset. … ”  Read more from the Daily News here: 🔓 Yosemite’s annual ‘Firefall’ waterfall may (not) be all wet, as drought dries the spectacle

Warm winter renews concerns about orchard chill:  “There’s a growing concern for San Joaquin Valley tree fruit and nut farmers – diminishing winter chill in an age of climate change, according to a media report.  “Warm winters mess with nut trees’ sex lives,” reported Lauren Summer on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition.  For example, adequate winter chill allows female and male pistachio trees to wake up simultaneously, which is ideal for pollen to be available for wind to carry it to blooms on female trees. … ” Read more from the Western Farm Press: 🔓 Warm winter renews concerns about orchard chill

Understanding water through data:  “Water effects nearly every aspect California agriculture, all the way down to lending decisions made by banks to farmers. However, the factors that contribute to a property’s water assets can be numerous. AQUAOSO is a new company that is helping agricultural lenders understand the water resources associated with the properties they’re lending against. Here’s CEO Chris Peacock. … ”  Read more from Cal Ag Today here: 🔓 Understanding water through data

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In national/world news today …

EPA Closer to Regulating PFAS in Drinking Water:  “The EPA has made an initial determination that it will eventually set legal limits for levels of two key PFAS chemicals in drinking water, the agency announced Thursday.  Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, the “preliminary regulatory determination” announced Thursday is the last step before the Environmental Protection Agency proposes limits on the releases of the two chemicals in drinking water and groundwater supplies. That announcement could still be months away. ... ”  Read more from Bloomberg BNA here: 🔓 EPA Closer to Regulating PFAS in Drinking Water

Prevent water scarcity from becoming job scarcity:  “It doesn’t matter which came first — chickens, eggs, farmers or consumers. When water scarcity is involved, all parties are interdependent.  Limiting agricultural or industrial water use in favor of residential use does a community no good if the local economy cannot support existing jobs, or attract new ones, for its residents. In regions chronically impacted by limited groundwater and surface water options or prolonged drought, sustaining the status quo is no longer sufficient. Something has to change, and that change needs to start with recalibrating consumer and industry attitudes about water. … ”  Read more from Water Finance & Management here: 🔓 Prevent water scarcity from becoming job scarcity

USDA hopes to cut farms’ environmental footprint in half by 2050:  “The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) laid out a series of goals Thursday to make the farming sector more environmentally friendly, part of an effort to cut the carbon footprint of agriculture in half.  “It’s a stretch goal, but it should be and we think we can get there,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said at the Annual Agricultural Outlook Forum.  The USDA wants to increase production by 40 percent while cutting pollution from multiple aspects of the industry.  … ”  Read more from The Hill here: 🔓 USDA hopes to cut farms’ environmental footprint in half by 2050

U.S. to triple operational weather and climate supercomputing capacity:  “The United States is reclaiming a global top spot in high-performance computing to support weather and climate forecasts. NOAA, part of the Department of Commerce, today announced a significant upgrade to computing capacity, storage space, and interconnect speed of its Weather and Climate Operational Supercomputing System. This upgrade keeps the agency’s supercomputing capacity on par with other leading weather forecast centers around the world.  … ”  Read more from NOAA here: 🔓 U.S. to triple operational weather and climate supercomputing capacity

What Trump’s proposed NEPA rollback could mean for the climate:  “The Trump administration is proposing to break new ground in its efforts to de-emphasize climate change, in this case involving the landmark 1970 National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and its provisions requiring environmental impact statements. A Trump Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) proposal would allow review of environmental impact statements without consideration of projected impacts of greenhouse gas emissions and effects on the global climate. ... ”  Read more from Yale Climate Connections here:  🔓 What Trump’s proposed NEPA rollback could mean for the climate

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In commentary today …

How a Trump administration rule could kill millions of birds:  Ted William writes, “In May 2010 I went to the Gulf of Mexico to report on what oil from British Petroleum’s blown-out Deepwater Horizon rig was doing to migratory birds and other marine life. On barrier islands I saw brown pelicans, laughing gulls, black-crowned night herons, great blue herons, tricolored herons, snowy egrets, great egrets, roseate spoonbills, Forster’s terns, and royal terns — all black with oil. The lucky ones couldn’t fly. Some of those were captured and washed. A few survived.  … Back then America’s landmark environmental/conservation statute — the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) — made it illegal to kill migratory birds either intentionally or accidentally. Congress enacted the law in 1918 as part of a treaty with Canada and Mexico (later Russia and Japan) to protect shared bird species. … ”  Read more from Yale E360 here: 🔓 How a Trump administration rule could kill millions of birds

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In regional news and commentary today …

Steamboats once ruled North Coast waterways:  “Offering long-distance transportation to Sonoma County residents, steam-powered vessels sailed down North Coast waterways from as early as 1850.  The first attempts at powering a boat by steam date back to the early 1700s, when French inventor Denis Papin and English inventor Thomas Newcomen experimented with adapting Thomas Savery’s original 1698 mining pump into an machine that could power a sailing vessel. Early patents for paddle-wheel boats powered by steam date back to 1730s England, although successful models (ones that did not sink) did not begin to appear until the 1780s. … ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here:  Steamboats once ruled North Coast waterways

Study to evaluate living shorelines as fix for rising waters:  “By 2030, the projected sea level combined with a particularly nasty storm event could flood nearly everything west of Highway 1 in Stinson Beach: 590 parcels, 430 buildings and several miles of road. By the middle of the century, every high tide will bring flooding, and the roadways will likely need to be altered to maintain access to the low-lying town.  The Marin County Community Development Agency, in a countywide sea-level rise adaptation report published two years ago, selected both Stinson Beach and the eastern shore of Tomales Bay as priorities for mitigation efforts. The projections for the impact on those two areas—based on a coastal storm modeling system created by the United States Geological Survey—are among many alarming revelations in a sea-level rise vulnerability assessment released in 2016. … ”  Read more from the Point Reyes Light here:  🔓 Study to evaluate living shorelines as fix for rising waters

See when Bay Area landmarks go underwater due to sea level rise if precautions not taken:  “Scientific research has repeatedly shown that amid a changing climate, rising ocean waters would inundate coastal lands in the future — and that includes the San Francisco Bay shoreline.  Exactly when areas around the bay’s edge will go underwater is uncertain, but studies suggest that by 2050, the region could experience 12 to 36 inches of sea level rise.  “At 12 inches, we see impacts, and once we hit 24 to 36 inches, I think that’s where we’ll feel that life as a whole is different,” said Dana Brechwald, manager of the Adapting to Rising Tides Program at the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission. … ”  Read more from SF Gate here: 🔓 See when Bay Area landmarks go underwater due to sea level rise if precautions not taken

Oakland: McClymonds HS closed for rest of week after chemical found in groundwater:  “McClymonds High School will be closed for the rest of the week after the halocarbon chemical compound trichloroethylene was found in the school’s groundwater, the Oakland Unified School District said Thursday.  According to the district, the compound was not found in the school’s drinking water and testing is expected to continue during the school’s temporary closure.  Both state and county officials have confirmed that the compound came from somewhere offsite, the district said. ... ”  Read more from SF Gate here: 🔓 McClymonds HS closed for rest of week after chemical found in groundwater

Lengthy dry spell raises South Bay concerns about possible drought:  “With hardly a drop of rain in the entire month of February, 59 percent of California is now experiencing abnormally dry conditions according to the Federal Drought Monitor.  At Calero Reservoir in South San Jose, it was a nice day to be out fishing for Steve Trimmer, but also something of a guilty pleasure. ... ”  Read more from KPIX here: 🔓 Lengthy dry spell raises South Bay concerns about possible drought

Turlock Irrigation District could reduce water deliveries, though not drastically:  “The dry winter could prompt the Turlock Irrigation District to cap water deliveries for the first time since the 2012-16 drought.  The district board will hold a special meeting Friday afternoon to consider the staff proposal, which would be much less severe than the worst of the drought. Farmers would get no more than 42 vertical inches of Tuolumne River water per acre over the irrigation season. The   allotment dropped to as low as 18 inches in 2015, forcing many customers to pump groundwater and to stretch the surface supply. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here: Turlock Irrigation District could reduce water deliveries, though not drastically

This may typically be the rainy part of the year. But Ventura County is ‘abnormally dry’:  “Ventura County may be wrapping up what’s typically its wettest time of the year, but after back-to-back dry months, it’s hard to tell by looking outside.  So far, February has been one of the driest months throughout the state, and it followed a mostly dry January.   The county ended 2019 with above-normal rainfall for the water year, which runs from October through September, but it has now fallen below normal. ... ”  Read more from the Ventura County Star here: This may typically be the rainy part of the year. But Ventura County is ‘abnormally dry’

New pipe that transports tap water from SFV to central LA would prevent contamination:  “If you’ve been on Riverside Drive in Burbank lately, you’ve probably seen this giant sound wall that’s taken over Johnny Carson Park South. LADWP took Eyewitness News on the other side of the wall where crews are hard at work replacing a valuable water pipeline that supplies tap water from the Northeast San Fernando Valley to Central L.A.  “We’re making sure that the water within the pipe, it actually has positive pressure. Meaning that in the event that the pipe ever had a rupture, water that’s in the ground would not enter the pipe causing some sort of cross contamination,” said Johan Torroledo, the project manager for LADWP. ... ”  Read more from ABC 7 here: 🔓 New pipe that transports tap water from SFV to central LA would prevent contamination

San Clemente gets federal funding for shoreline project:  “More than $500,000 in federal funding will come to San Clemente to help complete the design phase of an ongoing sand replenishment project, Rep. Mike Levin, D-CA, announced last week.  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will allocate $505,000 in federal funding for the Planning, Engineering and Design phase of the San Clemente Shoreline Project, which is meant to mitigate beach erosion and protect the Los Angeles-San Diego-San Luis Obispo Rail Corridor. … ”  Read more from the San Clemente Times here: San Clemente Gets Federal Funding for Shoreline Project

San Diego: Proposed changes to County landscape ordinance would reduce water use by 40%:  “The County’s Planning & Development Services (PDS) is preparing to release draft documents for public review this week related to the project called Water Efficiency Updates to the Landscape Ordinance.  This project will update the County’s Landscape Ordinance to codify requirements set forth by the County’s Climate Action Plan (CAP) Measures W-1.2 and A-2.1. PDS began implementing these requirements upon approval of the CAP in 2018 through the CAP Development Checklist and existing landscape review process within PDS. … ”  Read more from the Valley Roadrunner here: San Diego: Proposed changes to County landscape ordinance would reduce water use by 40%

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Along the Colorado River …

Climate change has stolen more than a billion tons of water from the West’s most vital river:  “The Colorado River’s average annual flow has declined by nearly 20 percent compared to the last century, and researchers have identified one of the main culprits: climate change is causing mountain snowpack to disappear, leading to increased evaporation.  Up to half of the drop in the Colorado’s average annual flow since 2000 has been driven by warmer temperatures, four recent studies found. Now, two U.S. Geological Survey researchers have concluded that much of this climate-induced decline — amounting to 1.5 billion tons of missing water, equal to the annual water consumption of 10 million Americans — comes from the fact that the region’s snowpack is shrinking and melting earlier. … ”  Read more from the Washington Post here:  Climate change has stolen more than a billion tons of water from the West’s most vital river

SEE ALSO: 🔓 Climate change is slowly drying up the Colorado River, from Science News

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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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