DAILY DIGEST, 2/25: Bernhardt fires back at Newsom over Calif. water lawsuit; Feds order South Bay reservoir drained amid fears of catastrophic dam failure; Research aims to tame atmospheric river risks — and save California’s rain; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • FREE WEBINAR: Tapping into Multiple Benefits of Sustainable Water Management, from 10am to 11am.  Presented by the Pacific Institute and the WaterNow Alliance.  Click here to register.
  • FREE WEBINAR: Drinking Water Tools for Small Systems from 11am to 12pm:  Scheduled presentations on EPA’s Online Drinking Water Training System, Water Operator Hiring and Contracting Guide, and Consumer Confidence Reports iWriter (CCR iWriter) Tool.  Click here to register.
  • Salton Sea Community Meeting — Westmoreland from 6pm to 8pm.  Come learn and share ideas about the developing plans to reduce dust from exposed lakebed around the Salton Sea. Complimentary food and beverages as well as Spanish translation will be provided.  Click here for more information.

In California water news today …

Bernhardt fires back at Newsom over Calif. water lawsuit:  “The future of the complicated network of waterways and canals that supplies millions of Californians with water daily could be murky at best, U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt warned Calif. Gov. Gavin Newsom in a letter Monday.  The letter comes on the heels of a busy week in California’s water landscape. Bernhardt spent much of the week in the San Joaquin Valley visiting with water users ahead of a forum hosted by Rep. Devin Nunes (R–Tulare) on Tuesday. … ”  Read more from the San Joaquin Sun here:  Bernhardt fires back at Newsom over Calif. water lawsuit

Feds order South Bay reservoir drained amid fears of catastrophic dam failure:  “Federal water officials have ordered Silicon Valley’s chief water supplier to start draining its largest reservoir by Oct. 1 because a major earthquake could collapse the dam and send floodwaters into communities from Monterey Bay to the southern shore of San Francisco Bay.  But Valley Water, the agency that manages the Anderson Dam and Reservoir, says it has already lowered the reservoir’s water below the level initially sought by federal officials — and that the total drainage the federal government now demands would actually make the dam more vulnerable to earthquake damage, while also reducing water supplies and causing environmental harm. … ”  Read more from the SF Chronicle here:  Feds order South Bay reservoir drained amid fears of catastrophic dam failure

SEE ALSO:

Drought or dangerous flooding? Research aims to tame atmospheric river risks — and save California’s rain:  “We were flying about 200 nautical miles off the coast of California when a voice over the headset reported a strong smell of fuel in the back of the plane.   I was in the cockpit with the U.S. Air Force’s “Hurricane Hunters,” who spend the summer and fall flying into the eyes of hurricanes. On a Tuesday at the end of January, though, we flew out of Travis Air Force Base in California toward a different kind of storm: an atmospheric river that was moving east across the North Pacific, toward the West Coast.  “All right, you have my attention,” pilot Lt. Colonel Jeff Ragusa said through his headset. “Talk to me, Goose.” … ” Read more from Cal Matters here:  Drought or dangerous flooding? Research aims to tame atmospheric river risks — and save California’s rain

California’s snowpack shrivels, raising fears of future wildfires:  “What a difference a year makes.  As the comparison of satellite images above shows, last year at this time California’s Sierra Nevada range was buried in snow. And even as recently as January of this year, snowpack was looking pretty good.  But since then, the jet stream has ferried storms north of California, causing the snowpack to shrivel — from about 150 percent of average last February down to just a little more than 50 percent now. … ”  Read more from Discover Magazine here:  California’s snowpack shrivels, raising fears of future wildfires

California Fish and Game Commission meets in Sacramento:  “At its February meeting in Sacramento, the California Fish and Game Commission took action on a number of issues affecting California’s natural resources. … After hearing impassioned arguments from stakeholders, the Commission voted unanimously to adopt its first Delta Fisheries Management Policy and an amended Striped Bass Policy.  “I’m proud of the work of our stakeholders, staff of the Commission and CDFW, and Commissioners in reaching this point, recognizing that this is just the beginning of a long effort to effect the changes in the policies to restore the health of the Delta,” said President Sklar.  President Sklar requested that the Commission add language to the Striped Bass Policy to support the “vitality” of the fishery. The newly adopted Delta Fisheries Management Policy calls out explicit support for all game fish fisheries, committing to the striped bass fishery as well as recovery of native species. … ”  Read more from CDFW News here: California Fish and Game Commission meets in Sacramento

Taking a cooperative approach to issues such as water:  “California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross highlighted the importance of taking a more cooperative approach to address important issues in lieu of an ‘us-versus-them’ mentality between environmental and agricultural interests. While often the two groups are on opposing sides of a particular issue, both are working toward a sustainable future. Ross noted that the framework for variable flows is the first step in getting environmentalists and producers on the same page to protect the state’s water. ... ”  Read more from Ag Net West here: Taking a cooperative approach to issues such as water

Tree nut growers more likely to use drought assistance:  “Tree nut growers are 23% more likely than other farmers to take advantage of drought assistance, even if it costs them more money in the short term, according to a university study.  Growers of nuts – particularly almonds – place a higher dollar value on USDA monetary and technical aid and are willing to take an over $7,000 loss in a season or two to protect their long-term investments, according to research from California State University, Fresno. ... ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press here:  Tree nut growers more likely to use drought assistance

Making agriculture more water friendly – eliminating nitrates from water:  “Kara Nell likens her work to developing a very special claw game. Nell, an assistant professor of chemistry at the University of Minnesota Morris, is trying to develop a material to remove nitrates from water sources.  Water systems can have excess nitrates, introduced by agricultural fertilizers, said Nell. Excess nitrification in drinking water can lead to suffocation in infants and may be cancer-causing. In the environment it is responsible for algal blooms, which can lead to aquatic die outs.  “It’s causing problems,” Nell said. “But we can’t just stop using fertilizer.” ... ”  Read more from the Capitol Journal here: Making agriculture more water friendly – eliminating nitrates from water

Could a California law help save America’s public lands throughout the West? Could a little-known bill that recently passed in California serve as a model to save public lands throughout the American West from destructive oil and gas drilling?  The innovative bill, an amendment to California’s Public Resources Code, goes by the inauspicious name of AB 342. That may not sound like much, but it accomplishes a lot.  The bill came as a response to an April 2019 announcement that the Trump administration planned to open more than 1 million acres of federal public lands in California to fracking and oil drilling. ... ”  Read more from The Revelator here: Could a California law help save America’s public lands throughout the West? 

Return to top

 

Legal briefs ...

Endangered species lawsuit: The Ecological Rights Foundation sued the Federal Emergency Management Agency in L.A. Federal Court, claiming its implementation of the National Flood Insurance Program in Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego counties harms threatened and endangered species and their habitat there.  Via Courthouse News.

Return to top

In national/world news today …

EPA Press Release: Associated Press wants you to believe the Trump administration ignores America’s most contaminated sites:  “The Associated Press is back at it again skewing their reporting demonstrating their bias against the Trump Administration. In their latest piece on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Superfund Program, they fail to acknowledge and understand the nature of the good work being done day in and day out across the country to clean up the nation’s most contaminated sites. Rather than presenting a correct account of EPA’s Superfund Program, the reporter cherry-picked statements that fit her preset narrative and ignored the facts provided to her by the agency.  Here’s what AP conveniently left out of their story ... ”  Read more from the EPA here: EPA Press Release: Associated Press wants you to believe the Trump administration ignores America’s most contaminated sites

California takes the lead in regulating PFAS chemicals in drinking water:  “California finds itself once again taking the lead by setting regulatory standards stricter than the rest of the nation. At issue is the nearly ubiquitous presence of certain PFAS chemicals in drinking water, a problem being addressed to varying degrees by many states and federal regulators. On Feb. 6, the California State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) lowered its reporting levels to below the thresholds set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), requiring water agencies in California to take action earlier than water agencies anywhere else in the country. … ”  Read more from Law.com here: California takes the lead in regulating PFAS chemicals in drinking water

Researchers blast ‘forever chemicals’ into oblivion with plasma:  “Christopher Sales is an environmental microbiologist, and until recently, his world was about harnessing the power of microorganisms to break down contaminants in the environment. But a resilient intruder that does not succumb to the same old tricks has shaken up the remediation community and led Sales to look outside of his field for a solution. It’s a chemical that’s been found in water, soil, and food all over the planet: PFAS. … Exposure studies have linked some forms of PFAS to thyroid disease and some cancers, but there’s very little health research on most of them. They’ve been dubbed “forever chemicals” because they don’t break down over time, and now scientists like Sales are racing to figure out how to clean PFAS up. ... ” Read more from Grist here: Researchers blast ‘forever chemicals’ into oblivion with plasma

Where’s Trump? He hasn’t tweeted about climate in 350 days:  “President Trump hasn’t used Twitter to malign climate science in almost a year. It’s been 350 days, to be exact.  The radio silence doesn’t mean Trump has stopped talking about it — in fact, his real-life rhetoric on global warming has wildly fluctuated in recent months.  But the absence of climate change from Trump’s favorite medium has caught the attention of activists and political strategists. And they said it could be a sign that Trump — or at least someone in his inner circle — is paying attention to shifting U.S. attitudes toward global warming. ... ”  Read more from E&E News here: Where’s Trump? He hasn’t tweeted about climate in 350 days

ICYMI: This week in water: Are Potty Habits Spreading the Coronavirus? (apologies for lack of link yesterday morning) “The rapid spread of COVID-19 is believed to be through coughing and sneezing, but new research suggests it may also be transmitted through human poop. JP Morgan Bank, the single biggest funder of fossil fuel companies in the world, is freaking out about climate change. The small snapping shrimp creates a crackling noise that sounds like sizzling bacon—and it’s getting louder as oceans warm. Poll: Nearly 60 percent of respondents say they would be more likely to support candidates who favor the Green New Deal. “BPA-free” plastic products could be as harmful to human health as those products that contain the controversial chemical. Why do whales migrate? It could be they want a spa day.” Listen to podcast or read transcript from H2o radio here: This week in water: Are Potty Habits Spreading the Coronavirus?

Coronavirus prompts North Korea to test source water, wastewater quality:  “With the outbreak of coronavirus in mainland China spreading despite efforts to contain it, a neighbor appears to be concerned about how the pandemic will affect regional source water and wastewater.  “North Korea could be inspecting water in the country’s streams and lakes amid uncertainty regarding inflows from neighboring China,” UPI reported. “Pyongyang’s state-controlled television channel KCTV said … the regime’s central emergency management command is launching investigations to ‘prevent the disease from entering the country,’ without mentioning China by name.” ... ”  Read more from Water Online here: Coronavirus prompts North Korea to test source water, wastewater quality

Return to top

In commentary today …

California governor’s water negotiations leave no one behind, senator Anna Caballero says:  “Recently, Governor Newsom announced his framework and support for Voluntary Settlement Agreements (VSAs) — a monumental effort that could bring to an end the conflict and litigation over water that flows through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. With great hope and guarded optimism, I applaud the governor’s efforts to avoid the water wars of the past, and to bring together opposing interests with a focus on solutions that can benefit everyone.  The VSAs provide a pathway forward, without costly litigation, to rely on the best, most current science for eco-system management of our state’s waterways, while ensuring stability to Central Valley communities that economically depend on water as their lifeblood. ... ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  California governor’s water negotiations leave no one behind, senator Anna Caballero says

Return to top

In regional news and commentary today …

Wildlife officers shut down two illegal cannabis grows in Shasta County: “On Feb. 11 and Jan. 30, wildlife officers from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) served search warrants in Lakehead and Anderson. The warrants were based on suspected environmental violations associated with illegal commercial cannabis cultivation. Support was provided by the U.S. Forest Service, Central Valley Regional Water Board, and Shasta County Environmental Health Division and Code Enforcement.  Shasta County does not allow outdoor commercial cannabis cultivation, however, there are a small number of permitted/licensed indoor cannabis grows in incorporated areas.  A records check confirmed neither site was in an area where commercial cultivation is allowed nor were any steps taken to secure a state license.  ... ”  Read more from the Department of Fish and Wildlife here: Wildlife officers shut down two illegal cannabis grows in Shasta County

Rain chances in SF remain unpromising: ‘Just enough to wash the pollen off your car’“When will it rain again in the San Francisco Bay Area?  As we head into the final days of February, it’s looking highly likely the region won’t see any measurable rain this month with clear skies and unseasonably are the forecast through Saturday, March 1.  This month will most likely go down as the first time the Bay Area was completely dry in February since 1864. ... ”  Read more from SF Gate here: Rain chances in SF remain unpromising: ‘Just enough to wash the pollen off your car’

Oakland School District Hopes To Reopen McClymonds Next Week:  “Officials with the Oakland Unified School District on Monday said they hope to reopen McClymonds High School next week following a multi-day campus closure due to concerns of a toxic chemical in its air and groundwater.  Parents with students at McClymonds received an update Monday morning on the toxic groundwater found under the campus during a community meeting. … ” Read more from CBS Bay Area here: Oakland School District Hopes To Reopen McClymonds Next Week

Safe, clean water and natural flood protection: Valley Water completes work in Mountain View:  “Valley Water’s work on a flood protection project at McKelvey Park in Mountain View, which incorporates great recreational benefits for our community, is complete. And soon, residents will hear two words that signify the park is open to the community.  “Play ball!”  Earlier this month, Valley Water finished part of the project for Permanente Creek Flood Protection Project with the construction of sunken baseball fields at McKelvey Park. The improved fields look incredible and will double as a place to contain floodwaters when Permanente Creek overflows. … ”  Read more from Valley Water here: Safe, clean water and natural flood protection: Valley Water completes work in Mountain View

Fresno: Lack of snow in mountains impacting agricultural operations in the Valley:  “The deficit of snow in the mountains is impacting agricultural operations in the Valley.  Last week, the Fresno Irrigation District announced they would delay water deliveries to their agricultural customers, storing the supply in local reservoirs until they decide to release it.  “We just got a recent report from the state, or DWR, Department of Water Resources, that says that the King River watershed area, the snowpack is currently at 58-percent, so what that results in is far below average, which is resulting in why we can’t start on March 1,” Says FID GM Bill Stretch. … ”  Read more from ABC 30 here: Fresno: Lack of snow in mountains impacting agricultural operations in the Valley

Court expected to decide this week on extension for those noticed in Ventura River lawsuit:  “A judge is expected to decide Thursday whether 14,000 Ojai Valley and Ventura property owners will get a six-month reprieve in a potential water adjudication case.  In January, the city of Ventura sent thousands of legal notices and summonses to people with property near the Ventura River or one of the area’s groundwater basins. The property owners were given 60 days to pay $435 in court fees and possibly hire an attorney to join the litigation or risk losing their ability to do so later. … ” Read more from the Ventura County Star here:  Court expected to decide this week on extension for those noticed in Ventura River lawsuit

Malibu: California Coastal Commission says city not using latest available science on sea level rise:  “At the monthly California Coastal Commission meeting in Long Beach last Thursday, two commissioners formally appealed the City of Malibu’s approval of a development permit for the Klein Family Partnership beachfront property at 30708 Pacific Coast Highway. They found five “substantial issues” with the project, which they decided to hold up as an example to the rest of the state.  The proposed project would involve demolishing a 3,153-square-foot single-family home built in 1968 and replacing it with a new, 6,120-square-foot single-family home and an attached garage. Because the project is so extensive, coastal staff consider it to be new development—not grandfathered into previous regulations. They say the property is vulnerable to coastal hazards and flooding and point out that it is in the Broad Beach Geologic Hazard Abatement District (BBGHAD). … ”  Read more from the Malibu Times here: Malibu: California Coastal Commission says city not using latest available science on sea level rise

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer to leave more than $1 billion in polluted rivers, flood issues to successor:  “Rainstorms routinely flush toxic chemicals, bacteria and even human feces through San Diego’s streets, canyons and rivers — ultimately polluting bays and beaches.  Those same downpours also regularly burst city stormwater pipes and overwhelm clogged waterways, inundating homes and businesses.  Under San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer the city laid out what it would cost to fix the problem — a financial blueprint over two decades for preventing undue flooding and coming into compliance with state mandates under the Clean Water Act. ... ”  Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune here: San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer to leave more than $1 billion in polluted rivers, flood issues to successor

Return to top

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

BLOG ROUND-UP: Trump, Newsom deliver on water promises; The difference between “endangered” and “threatened” species; EPA enforcement in distress; and more …

REACTIONS to California’s lawsuit against the feds over the biological opinions

 

Return to top

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.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: