DAILY DIGEST, 2/26: Trump promised more water to farmers, but dry weather gets in the way; Modesto farmer Bill Lyons resigns as Governor’s ag liaison; Who, exactly, is sinking the California Aqueduct? and more …

On the calendar today …

  • Wildlife Conservation Board meets at 10am at the Resources Building, 1416 9th Street, in Sacramento.  Click here for the agenda.
  • Webinar: Science to Support and Implement Microbial Water Quality Criteria from 11am to 12pmClick here to register.
  • Southern California Water Dialog from 12pm to 1:30pm in downtown LA: Join the Water Dialogue as we explore the process of finalizing the Portfolio, proposed stakeholder revisions, the potential impact of actions on Southern California, and how the Portfolio may shape a proposed November water bond.  For more information, click here.
  • Webinar: Never Say “Forever” 1,4-Dioxane – a Persisent Legacy Contaminant that Keeps on Emerging: Stories from the Battle for Clean Water from 12pm to 1pm.  Presented by the Groundwater Resources Association. Click here for more information and to register.
  • Webinar: Water, Power & Fire: Coordination, Resiliency and Liability in 2020 from 1pm to 2pm.  Presented by Nossaman.  Click here to register.
  • California Water Wars in a Time of Climate Change from 5pm to 6pm.  Author Mark Arax will discuss his new book at McGeorge University.  Free event.  All are welcome.  Click here for more information.
  • GRA SoCal: EMWD’s San Jacinto Groundwater Basin: Protection and Use in One of CA’s Fastest Growing Areas, from 6:00pm to 9pm in Orange. Paul Jones II, General Manager at Eastern Municipal Water District, will be speaking about groundwater banking, recycled water, and more in one of the fastest growing areas in the state.  Click here to register.  You do not need to be a member to attend.
  • Salton Sea Community Meeting — Bombay Beach 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 …

Trump promised more water to California farmers. But dry weather gets in the way:  “Turns out President Donald Trump is no match for another California drought.  Less than a week after Trump told San Joaquin Valley farmers in Bakersfield that he was taking bold steps to increase their water supply, his administration announced Tuesday farmers on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley may only receive about 15 percent of their contracted water supply for the upcoming growing season.  A profoundly dry January and February has the Sierra snowpack at only about half its average amounts, and no major storms are in the forecast. The new rules Trump signed earlier this month were intended to boost water supply to Trump’s farming allies in the San Joaquin Valley. But they can only do so much, said Ernest Conant, the Bureau of Reclamation’s mid-Pacific regional director. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Trump promised more water to California farmers. But dry weather gets in the way

Dry year spells light initial water allocation for Valley farmers:  “Despite plenty of Federal action to increase pumping through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to Valley farmers, lack of rainfall hasn’t been forgiving.  Tuesday, the Bureau of Reclamation announced its initial allocation of water for the Central Valley Project with snowpack at the outset of 2020 holding at 41 percent of the April 1 average, the California Department of Water Resources reports.  … “Fortunately, our project reservoirs are still hovering above average thanks to the wet winter last year, but with little precipitation in the forecasts, we must remain cautious with supplies and allocations this early in the year,” Ernest Conant, Reclamation’s Regional Director said in a statement. … ”  Read more from the San Joaquin Sun here: Dry year spells light initial water allocation for Valley farmers

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Farmers review impact of federal, state water actions:  “After a week that saw President Donald Trump visit Bakersfield to pledge more water for Central Valley farmers and Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration respond with a lawsuit, farmers and water agencies looked for ways to continue work on voluntary agreements intended to ease California’s water disputes.  Trump announced his administration had finalized new federal rules to guide operations in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta for the federal Central Valley Project and the State Water Project. The lawsuit filed by the state the next day asserts that new biological opinions prepared by federal agencies lack safeguards for protected species and their habitat. ... ”  Read more from Ag Alert here: Farmers review impact of federal, state water actions

McCarthy, GOP colleagues denounce lawsuit against federal regs to upgrade Calif. water policy:  “A lawsuit filed by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra with support from California Gov. Gavin Newsom against federal regulations to upgrade the state’s water policy isn’t sitting well with U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and his home-state Republican colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives.  “This baseless lawsuit demonstrates the governor and attorney general are playing a dangerous game of politics with California water policy,” Rep. McCarthy said in a statement released on Feb. 21 with GOP members including U.S. Reps. Ken Calvert (R-CA) and Paul Cook (R-CA). ... ”  Read more from the Ripon Advance here: McCarthy, GOP colleagues denounce lawsuit against federal regs to upgrade Calif. water policy

Modesto farmer Bill Lyons resigns as Governor’s ag liaison:  “Bill Lyons resigned his post as agricultural liaison to Gov. Gavin Newsom effective immediately, according to an email from the Governor’s office Monday afternoon.  Lyons, a long time Modesto farmer, was touted as being the “voice of the valley” in the Newsom administration when he was appointed to the unique post almost exactly one year ago.  Lyons referred all questions about his resignation to the Governor’s office. ... ”  Read more from SJV Water here:  Modesto farmer Bill Lyons resigns as Governor’s ag liaison

CA Commission allies with agribusiness, throws out science in removing striped bass restoration goal:  Dan Bacher writes, “Rejecting the recommendations of the top three striped bass scientific experts on striped bass and Delta fisheries in the state, the California Fish and Game Commission voted unanimously on Friday, February 21, to adopt its first Delta Fisheries Management Policy and an amended Striped Bass Policy that has no numerical goal for the restoration of the species.  In doing so, the Commission threw all of the science presented by striped bass experts Dr. Peter Moyle, Dr. David Ostrach and Dr. Cynthia LeDoux Bloom in Commission meetings into the trash can and sided with powerful corporate agribusiness interests, including the Coalition for a Sustainable Delta, that see the striped bass and other fish as a hindrance in their decades long to pump even more water out of the Sacramento San Joaquin River Delta. … ”  Read more from the Daily Kos here: CA Commission allies with agribusiness, throws out science in removing striped bass restoration goal

LAO Report: The 2020-21 Budget: Resources and Environmental Protection: In this report we assess several of the Governor’s 2020-21 budget proposals in the natural resources and environmental protection program areas. This includes reviews of the Governor’s proposals related to the Department of Toxic Substances Control, Department of Parks and Recreation, and the Department of Fish and Wildlife. ”  Read it here: LAO Report: The 2020-21 Budget: Resources and Environmental Protection

Who, exactly, is sinking the California Aqueduct?  “A state report released in December pinned blame for sinking along the California Aqueduct on excessive nearby groundwater pumping to irrigate vineyards and nut orchards.  That was a pretty pointed finger, but not pointed enough for some committee directors in the large and powerful Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.  They wanted names. … ”  Read more from SJV Water here: Who, exactly, is sinking the California Aqueduct?

SWRCB releases draft implementation guidance regarding the procedures for discharges of dredged or fill material:  “On February 14, 2020, the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) published Draft Guidance for the State Wetland Definition and Procedures for Discharges of Dredged or Fill Material to Waters of the State (Draft Guidance). The Draft Guidance pertains to the SWRCB’s adoption of a State Wetland Definition and Procedures for Discharges of Dredged or Fill Material to Waters of the State (Procedures) that were approved by the California Office of Administrative Law (OAL) on August 29, 2019. ... ”  Read more from JD Supra here: SWRCB releases draft implementation guidance regarding the procedures for discharges of dredged or fill material

California court tosses blanket approval for 72,000 new oil wells:  “A California appellate court on Tuesday threw out a Kern County law that allowed major oil producers to rely on a single, blanket environmental approval for 72,000 new oil wells, instead of facing scrutiny of each new project’s potential impact on air quality, drinking water, wildlife and other concerns.  The Fifth District Court of Appeals, based in Fresno, ruled that the county’s 2015 environmental impact report failed to disclose the full extent of drilling’s potential harm, in violation of state law known as the California Environmental Quality Act. The appellate court ruled Kern County officials ignored threats to public health from particulate soot, and impacts to drinking and agricultural water supplies, along with other deficiencies. ... ”  Read more from the Desert Sun here:  California court tosses blanket approval for 72,000 new oil wells

SEE ALSO: Appeals court finds Kern County oil permit system violates environmental law, from KTLA

New ‘Roadmap to an Organic California’ report released:  “California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) released the second portion of a research project looking at the value that organic production can provide. The Roadmap to an Organic California: Policy Report was recently unveiled at the CCOF Foundation Reception. The report outlines the steps that would be necessary to use organic production to sequester more carbon, stimulate local economies, and protect the health of California communities. ... ”  Read more from Ag Net West here:  New ‘Roadmap to an Organic California’ report released

How young California ranchers are finding new ways to raise livestock and improve the land:  “As California contends with drought, wildfires and other impacts of climate change, a small yet passionate group of residents are attempting to lessen these effects and reduce the state’s carbon emissions. They are ranchers — but not the kind that most people picture when they hear that term.  These first-generation ranchers are young, often female and ethnically diverse. Rather than raising beef cattle destined for feedlots, many are managing small grazing animals such as sheep and goats. And they are experimenting with grazing practices that can reduce fire risk on hard-to-reach landscapes, restore biodiversity and make it possible to make a living from the land in one of the most expensive states in the country. … ”  Read more from Green Biz here:  How young California ranchers are finding new ways to raise livestock and improve the land

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In national/world news today …

Drinking water: Revamped lead rule ignores concerns raised in EPA memo:  “Three years ago, staff in EPA’s Midwest office sent a warning to headquarters about regulations that prevent lead in drinking water: Even when followed perfectly, the standards weren’t protecting public health.  “Proper implementation and compliance with the [Lead and Copper Rule] may not provide certainty that the public is protected from elevated levels of lead, particularly in communities with lead service lines and particularly with regard to susceptible populations such as young children,” then-acting Region 5 Administrator Robert Kaplan wrote in a 2017 memo to then-acting Assistant Administrator for the Office of Water Michael Shapiro. … ”  Read more from E&E News here: Drinking water: Revamped lead rule ignores concerns raised in EPA memo

Climate change poses ‘catastrophic’ threat to national security, report says:  “Climate change poses a significant threat to national security and global stability, according to a new report.  “Even at scenarios of low warming, each region of the world will face severe risks to national and global security in the next three decades. Higher levels of warming will pose catastrophic, and likely irreversible, global security risks over the course of the 21st century,” the report warns. ... ”  Read more from The Weather Channel here: Climate change poses ‘catastrophic’ threat to national security, report says

How much would the Democrats’ climate bill cost?  “Draft legislation from House Energy and Commerce Committee Democrats shows an ambitious federal government spending strategy heavily dependent on grant programs and cooperation from congressional appropriators and the executive branch.  In total, the measure would authorize approximately $316 billion over a decade’s time in order to help the country reach net-zero emissions by 2050, according to an E&E News accounting.  The spending would come through new programs within the Department of Energy and EPA, along with a host of reauthorizations and expansion of existing programs at those agencies.  The accounting represents an attempt to capture the direct dollar figure authorizations included in the draft bill language. … ”  Read more from E&E News here: How much would the Democrats’ climate bill cost?

White House effort to roll back bedrock environmental law spurs strong opposition:  “The White House heard an outpouring of opposition to its plans to roll back a landmark environmental law that requires the government to weigh the environmental impacts of pipelines, highways, oil development and a host of other projects.  The White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) in January proposed a massive rewriting of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) eliminating the requirement that the government consider climate change when evaluating projects and in some cases even allowing companies to assess the impacts of their own projects.  … ”  Read more from The Hill here:  White House effort to roll back bedrock environmental law spurs strong opposition

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In commentary today …

Commentaries here.

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In regional news and commentary today …

Klamath Water Users Association to hold meeting on drought, irrigation water supply: Klamath Water Users Association (KWUA) and the Klamath Project Drought Response Agency (DRA) will host a public meeting on March 5, 2020, at 1 p.m., at the Klamath County Fairgrounds, Building #2, to present information on irrigation water supply availability in the upcoming growing season.  “The first official estimate of what we may have as a water supply is based on March 1 conditions in the basin,” said Tulelake Irrigation District Manager Brad Kirby. “That’s not the final word by any means, but growers and districts need to plan based on the best information we have.” ... ” Read more from Klamath News here:  KWUA To hold meeting on drought, irrigation water supply

New Sacramento ordinance bans homeless encampments near levees:  “A new city of Sacramento ordinance aims to protect homes and businesses by removing homeless encampments around levees — and even criminalize some homeless activity within the city.  City council members voted unanimously on Tuesday to adopt the plan.  Homeless advocates are strongly opposed to the plan. ... ”  Read more from KCRA Channel 3 here: New Sacramento ordinance bans homeless encampments near levees

Marin group joins fight over Clean Water Act changes:  “A Marin County conservation group has put the Trump administration on notice for a potential lawsuit over a rule change that environmental groups say would destroy vital waterways and harm more than a hundred endangered and threatened species.  Joining 12 other conservation groups from throughout the country, the Olema-based Turtle Island Restoration Network alleges the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers did not attempt to weigh the potential impacts to endangered species when it removed millions of acres of waterways and habitat from Clean Water Act protections in January. ... ”  Read more from the Marin Independent Journal here: Marin group joins fight over Clean Water Act changes

Bay Area’s dry February weather approaching Civil War era record:  “A high pressure system remained stalled off the Northern California coast Tuesday, locking the region into a dry spell that reached 27 consecutive days without rain and edged the region toward a record set during the Civil War.  The National Weather Service said the 27 days of dry weather matched a similar time span in 2018. With skies forecast to be clear and dry again Wednesday, the region will match 1869, 1910, 1936 and 1988 for consecutive days without measurable rain. The longest mid-winter dry spell was 43 days in 2014 as the region headed into years of severe drought. ... ”  Read more from KPIX here: Bay Area’s dry February weather approaching Civil War era record

Pleasanton faces newly discovered water contamination:  “PFAS is a man-made superchemical used to make carpets stain-resistant and pans nonstick, but it’s toxic to human health. It’s also turning up in drinking water supplies nationwide. Wherever people test for it, it seems to show up, and California’s just beginning to test, thanks to a new state law.  It’s a Friday morning last October. Radio host Jill Buck is opening her show, Go Green Radio. This show reaches millions of people every month on VoiceAmerica.com, the nation’s largest internet talk radio station. … ”  Read more from KALW here: Pleasanton faces newly discovered water contamination

Dozens of high-risk Bay Area dams lack required emergency plans: “The Bay Area is dotted with at least 145 dams where failure or misoperation could result in death or property destruction, yet many lack required emergency plans, according to an analysis of state data.  Most of these “high-hazard” dams were built before 1960. While not at a higher risk of failure, they could endanger countless homes and businesses that rest below the aging facilities, making emergency planning and maintenance increasingly important, experts said. ... ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: Dozens of high-risk Bay Area dams lack required emergency plans

Many wonder if Anderson Dam’s closure will cause water-use restrictions:  “With February as dry as it’s been and as we head into March, many in the South Bay are worried about the announcement that Anderson Dam may be closed for years for seismic repairs. Anderson Dam, Santa Clara County’s largest reservoir, holds more water than all of Valley Water’s nine dams combined, making it by far, a critical water supply for two million South Bay customers.  … ”  Read more from KTVU here: Many wonder if Anderson Dam’s closure will cause water-use restrictions

Water district seeks to minimize impact from quickly draining Anderson Reservoir:  “The Santa Clara Valley Water District wants to move quickly to drain the Anderson Reservoir and seismically retrofit the dam, but it also wants to move carefully to minimize impacts once the water is let go.  Anderson Dam was built in the 1950s and is made from earthen materials like soil, gravel and rocks. But for the last few years, its water levels have been purposely kept below half full to minimize risks of a dam failure if a major earthquake were to hit the area. … ”  Read more from KPIX here: Water district seeks to minimize impact from quickly draining Anderson Reservoir

Monterey: Dam repair funding options considered:  “Monterey County officials are mulling options on how to pay for $145 million in dam upgrades and repairs at Lakes San Antonio and Nacimiento.  On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors heard a report from county Water Resources Agency officials on possible funding options for the work, which is expected to cost $160 million when adding in annual inflation and administrative costs. … ”  Read more from the Monterey Herald here: Monterey: Dam repair funding options considered

Visalia just had its driest February on record. Forecasters, growers hope for ‘March Miracle’:  “Tulare County is set to conclude its driest February on record, with drought conditions that officially returned to much of the San Joaquin Valley earlier this month expected to worsen.  Though Visalia and parts of the county saw slight sprinkles on Saturday, forecasters say this “trace” amount of rain isn’t measurable. The last recorded rainfall to hit the South Valley occurred on Jan. 16. … ”  Read more from the Visalia Times-Delta here: Visalia just had its driest February on record. Forecasters, growers hope for ‘March Miracle’

San Diego: Getting the lead out of school drinking water:  “You cannot see it, smell, or taste it. But lead in drinking water can be toxic, especially to children. The San Diego Unified School District has a new way to deal with this growing concern with its clean water program.  At Clay Elementary School Tuesday, the San Diego Unified showed off its proposed solution to the problem: Filtered water hydration systems installed in all the district’s schools. … ”  Read more from KPBS here: San Diego: Getting the lead out of school drinking water

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

CA IRRIGATION INSTITUTE: Implementation strategies for SGMA

Hydrologist Derik Williams discusses the different paths GSAs are taking to get to sustainability, plus the three things every GSP should include

Derik Williams is a professional geologist and certified hydrologist with more than 30 years of experience managing groundwater in California.  He’s recently completed the development of two Groundwater Sustainability Plans (or GSPs) in critically overdrafted basins along the Central Coast and is starting on 5 other GSPs for non-critically overdrafted basins.  In this presentation from the California Irrigation Institute’s conference, Mr. Williams gave his perspective on some common themes in SGMA implementation and the different paths that groundwater basins are taking towards sustainability.

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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