DAILY DIGEST, 3/3: UC Berkeley report spells disaster for Central Valley, says Assemblyman; Yurok and other Tribes protest Delta tunnel project; Operating Suisun Marsh tidal gates to benefit Delta smelt; Coronavirus and water treatment; and more …
Note: Articles marked with the unlocked symbol 🔓 are freely available. Absence of the unlocked symbol means you might encounter a paywall, depending upon how often you have visited that website this month. I do not include links to content behind strict paywalls.
On the calendar today …
The State Water Resources Control Board meets at 9:30am. Agenda items include an update on current hydrologic conditions, urban water conservation, and a workshop on the Draft Policy for Developing the Fund Expenditure Plan for the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund For the full agenda, click here. Click here to watch on webcast.
In California water news today …
UC Berkeley water report sinks California farm industry says Valley assemblyman: “A groundbreaking new report released Monday afternoon spells out the economic disaster for farmers in the Central Valley and statewide as a result of California’s water policies. The report done by University of California, Berkeley, economists Dr. David Sunding and Dr. David Roland-Holst shows that the California economy will suffer unless responsible, balanced water reforms are enacted in the effort to achieve groundwater sustainability goals in the San Joaquin Valley. Assemblyman Jim Patterson’s Office released the data … ” Read more from KMJ here: UC Berkeley water report sinks California farm industry says Valley assemblyman
One area in California will tap regional planning to respond to the state’s groundwater law. Here’s how it could help farmers: Ann Hayden writes, “Now that critically overdrafted groundwater basins in the Central Valley have submitted their sustainability plans, the hard work begins for them to balance groundwater supply and demand in ways that minimize economic disruption. A state program called Regional Conservation Investment Strategies (RCIS) can help. RCIS wasn’t created to help groundwater basins comply with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). Rather, it was established in 2016 as a framework for regions to prioritize and develop measurable habitat conservation outcomes including those needed to adapt to climate change. This week, however, the Kaweah Subbasin was awarded $515,000 from the state’s Wildlife Conservation Board to develop an RCIS plan, becoming the first region in the Central Valley to leverage the process in response to SGMA. … ” Read more from EDF here: One area in California will tap regional planning to respond to the state’s groundwater law
Yuroks and other Northern California Tribes protest Delta tunnel project at Redding rally: “Yurok, Hoopa Valley, Karuk, Pit River and Miwok Tribal members, the Yurok Tribe, and supporters will rally in Redding today with local Indigenous people to protest the Department of Water Resources’ Delta Tunnel proposal that threatens imperiled salmon and North State water quality. They are calling on Governor Newsom to adhere to his obligation, as required by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, to procure free, prior and informed consent from tribes for any project that may impact their ancestral homelands. They are also asking for the Governor to stand with them to fight the Trump administration’s new water diversion rules from California’s salmon rivers. ... ” Read more from the Lost Coast Outpost here: Yuroks and other Northern California Tribes protest Delta tunnel project at Redding rally
Don’t be salty: Operating the Suisun Marsh tidal gates to benefit Delta smelt: “As delta smelt (Hypomesus transpacificus) continue to decline throughout the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, with recent population estimates numbering in the low thousands, novel approaches are being implemented to open up additional habitat for these imperiled fish. While many proposed conservation actions focus on habitat restoration, others focus on various environmental conditions preferred by delta smelt. As recommended in the California Natural Resource Agency’s Delta Smelt Resiliency Strategy (CNRA 2016), the Department of Water Resources, in collaboration with other stakeholders, has been conducting a pilot research study to investigate how operational changes at the Suisun Marsh Salinity Control Gates affect delta smelt habitat conditions. ... ” Read more from FishBio here: Don’t be salty: Operating the Suisun Marsh tidal gates to benefit Delta smelt
Temperature and precipitation outlooks for March 2020: “Welcome to meteorological spring! March kickstarts the transition season for many across the United States, and NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center has issued its monthly outlook for March 2020 temperature and precipitation. As a reminder, these outlooks don’t predict the actual numerical temperature or the exact amount of precipitation. Instead, they predict the probability that monthly temperatures and precipitation will be in the upper or lower third of the climatological record (defined as the 1981-2010 period) for a given location. Darker colors refer to a higher chance, not more extreme conditions. ... ” Read more from Climate.gov here: Temperature and precipitation outlooks for March 2020
Some parts of California had no rain in February — and are already seeing wildfires: “Huge swaths of California experienced its driest February on record, with some northern areas of the state recording zero precipitation for the entire month, according to the National Weather Service. The unusually dry conditions in what is normally one of California’s rainiest months of the year could significantly increase the risk of wildfires across the state. “California has a fairly restricted rainy season in the winter — between December and March — so we’re highly dependent on what falls during these few core rainy months,” said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at the University of California, Los Angeles. “This year, it literally could not have been any drier.” … ” Read more from NBC News here: Some parts of California had no rain in February — and are already seeing wildfires
February ranked among the driest on record across California. Forecasters hopeful for a ‘miracle March’: “After one of the driest Februaries on record across much of California, the first day of March brought a dash of rain and a dusting of fresh powder to the parched landscape. The storm, which rolled into Los Angeles County on Sunday afternoon, dropped less than one-tenth of an inch of rain on the coast, while higher elevations saw between one-quarter and an inch of precipitation. … ” Read more from the LA Times here: February ranked among the driest on record across California. Forecasters hopeful for a ‘miracle March’
Feds ink deal with water district tied to Bernhardt: “The Trump administration on Friday awarded a permanent water delivery contract to the country’s largest agricultural district, brushing aside environmentalists’ concerns about California’s uncertain water future in the face of climate change. At issue is irrigation water that flows through the Bureau of Reclamation’s Central Valley Project to the Westlands Water District, a Rhode Island-sized agricultural powerhouse and former client of Interior Secretary David Bernhardt. Reclamation cast the agreement as a good deal: In return for a contract that lasts in perpetuity, Westlands pays off its debt for the Central Valley Project construction much faster. As of Sept. 30, 2018, Westlands owed about $480.7 million to the federal government. ... ” Read more from E&E News here: Feds ink deal with water district tied to Bernhardt
WEF Podcast: Coronavirus and water treatment: “Dr. Rasha Maal-Bared is Senior Microbiologist at EPCOR and Scott Schaefer is Wastewater Practice Leader at AE2S and Chair of WEF’s Disinfection & Public Health Committee. In this episode Rasha and Scott discuss the coronavirus, its origin, and the agencies involved in response. They explain why the water sector should pay attention to coronavirus, how treatment addresses the virus, and that water workers should follow standard safety protocol. Rasha and Scott say the water sector should stay informed of developments but remain calm.” Listen to the podcast from the Water Environment Federation here: Podcast: Coronavirus and water treatment
California’s inner-struggle for common sense on water: Wayne Western writes, “As you have probably heard, initial 2020 water allocations have been announced by the Bureau of Reclamation for Central Valley Project contractors. For agriculture, north-of-Delta is currently allocated 50 percent of their contract while south-of-Delta ag users will receive is 15 percent. Friant Class 1 users initial allocation is 20 percent while Class 2 is zero. Wildlife refuges will receive 100% while the San Joaquin Restoration Program will receive just under 71,000 acre-feet of water. Other allocations cover senior water right holders and municipal and industrial uses. ... ” Read more from the San Joaquin Valley Sun here: California’s inner-struggle for common sense on water
Anderson reservoir draw down planning on deck as FERC notice forces action: “Valley Water in Santa Clara, Calif., doesn’t fully agree with a Feb. 20 directive from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to drain its Anderson Dam as the water district waits to begin upgrades to the structure near the Calaveras Fault. “The demand to empty Anderson Reservoir could result in unsafe consequences,” Norma Camacho, Valley Water CEO, said in a statement. “A top concern is the potential to damage the intake structure, which would give us no way to control water flows out of the reservoir, potentially impacting downstream communities.” … ” Read more from ENR here: Anderson reservoir draw down planning on deck as FERC notice forces action
Sacramento River levee improvements next step in $1.5 billion plan to modernize Sacramento-area flood infrastructure: “The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District awarded a $64 million construction contract on February 14 to Maloney Odin Joint Venture of Novato, California, for nearly three miles of levee improvements along the Sacramento River East Levee. This project will kick off major construction in the region to complete approximately $1.5 billion of work to upgrade levees along the American and Sacramento Rivers as well as widening the Sacramento Weir and Bypass. This first contract will improve levees along five segments of the river, the longest of which is a two-mile stretch from Garcia Bend Park to the Freeport Regional Water Facility in the Pocket neighborhood. ... ” Read more from the Army Corps of Engineers here: Sacramento River levee improvements next step in $1.5 billion plan to modernize Sacramento-area flood infrastructure
Why the big drop in California’s Colorado River water use? “In 2019, California’s use of the Colorado River—a major water source for Southern California’s cities and farms—dropped to the lowest level in decades. We asked John Fleck—director of the University of New Mexico’s Water Resources Program and a member of the PPIC Water Policy Center research network—about the ongoing changes in California’s use of this water, and what it means going forward. He is the author, with Eric Kuhn, of the new book Science Be Dammed: How Ignoring Inconvenient Science Drained the Colorado River Basin. PPIC: What are the main reasons Californians are using less Colorado River water? JOHN FLECK: The biggest reason for the recent drop is that Metropolitan Water District (MWD)—the state’s biggest urban user of the river—didn’t need to take as much water in 2019. But this decline also reflects a longer term trend. … ” Read more from the PPIC here: Why the big drop in California’s Colorado River water use?
Legislation would change how Pinal divvies up its groundwater supply: “Proposed legislation would change how Pinal County’s groundwater is allocated in the future, but the bill hasn’t progressed because critics say it doesn’t address the issue in other management areas in the state. The Arizona Municipal Water Users Association met on Thursday to discuss the assured water supply in the Pinal Active Management Area. The Board of Directors of the association discussed House Bill 2880, which if approved by the Legislature would change the requirements for receiving a certificate of assured water supply, or CAWS. ... ” Read more from the Casa Grande Dispatch here: Legislation would change how Pinal divvies up its groundwater supply
Desalination dilemma: What to do about the future of Paradox Valley project: “Comments submitted to the Bureau of Reclamation about the future of its Colorado River desalination project in the Paradox Valley are highlighting the challenge the agency faces in addressing that future. The no-action alternative the agency has proposed — letting the existing injection well program reach the end of its useful life and then ending the project — is viewed by some as an untenable option. But the approaches the Bureau of Reclamation has proposed for replacing the well each have their critics, and the state of Colorado, while a backer of continued desalination efforts in the Paradox Valley, isn’t currently satisfied with any of those proposed alternatives. ... ” Read more from the Grand Junction Sentinel here: Desalination dilemma: What to do about the future of BuRec project
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.