DAILY DIGEST: State water contractors pick sides in lawsuit over Trump’s water boost; Delta residents speak out against Newsom’s controversial tunnel project; CA’s governance innovation for groundwater sustainability; Adapting to fire: How cities can enhance resilience with distributed energy; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • Urban Water Management Plan Guidebook Development Workshop from 10am to 4pm.  Attendance is full, but webinar is available through the registration link.
  • Webinar: Irrigation Technology from 4pm to 5pm.  As part of the Silver Solutions webinar series presented by the California Institute for Water Resources, Mallika Nocco will give a presentation on irrigation technology.  Click here for webinar information.
  • Sierra Science Series: The Connection Between Groundwater and Surface-Water, from 6pm to 7:30pm at Sierra College in Grass Valley.  For more information, click here.
  • GRA Inland Empire: 2020 Updates – Understanding Geology & Geophysics Licensure Requirements in California from 6pm to 8pm in Riverside. Click here to register.

In California water news today …

State water contractors pick sides in lawsuit over Trump’s water boost:  “The State Water Contractors, an association of water agencies drawing water from California’s State Water Project, is wading into the newest showdown in the Golden State’s Water Wars.  Tuesday, the association filed a motion to intervene as a defendant in a lawsuit filed by the Natural Resources Defense Council, Defenders of Wildlife, along with a handful of other environmental nonprofits.  The suit, launched in mid-December, is companion litigation to a suit launched by California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Attorney General Xavier Becerra last month. ... ”  Read more from the San Joaquin Valley Sun here: State water contractors pick sides in lawsuit over Trump’s water boost

Delta residents speak out against Newsom’s controversial tunnel project:  “On Jan. 15, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) released the Notice of Preparation to start the environmental review process for a single tunnel project to divert water from the Sacramento River south via intakes to the Tracy pumps.  Former Gov. Jerry Brown’s twin tunnels or California WaterFix was abandoned in 2019 by Gov. Gavin Newsom, but the first-term governor has revived the project as a single tunnel alternative. While the project is considerably smaller, the design would include a 6,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) tunnel, constructed 150 feet underneath the Delta. … ”  Read moire from the Benicia Herald here: Delta residents speak out against Newsom’s controversial tunnel project

California’s governance innovation for groundwater sustainability:  “For the past several years, California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act has been the talk, not only of the town and of the state, but also of the national and international groundwater and environmental policy community.  What’s the big deal?  SGMA fundamentally changes groundwater management in California – a big deal to be sure. Equally important, as we discuss in a recently published paper, is the broader conceptual significance of the SGMA experiment. That significance lies in SGMAs governance structure. … ”  Read more from the Legal Planet here: California’s governance innovation for groundwater sustainability

Adapting to fire: How cities can enhance resilience with distributed energy:  “As California experienced uncharacteristically low precipitation in February, normally its peak rainy season, parts of the state are moving into drought conditions. This is likely to increase wildfire prevalence in the state in 2020, and it underscores the point that communities need to think about a range of strategies to increase their resilience to wildfires. One of these strategies is the way that communities approach their electricity systems.  Distributed energy resources (DERs) — on-site solar, battery energy storage and microgrids — can help decrease the likelihood of wildfires and protect communities from their worst effects. … ”  Read more from Green Biz here: Adapting to fire: How cities can enhance resilience with distributed energy

Huffman announces bill to protect water resources from oil and gas pollution:  “Last week Representative Jared Huffman (D-CA), Chair of the Water, Oceans, and Wildlife subcommittee and member of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, introduced the Oil and Water Don’t Mix Act, legislation to ensure America’s water resources are protected from the impacts of oil and gas production.  “Over the past four years, President Trump and the fossil fuel interests he’s hired to run his administration have repeatedly stripped away commonsense protections for the nation’s water resources while simultaneously going on a dirty energy drilling binge,” said Rep. Huffman. “My bill closes these loopholes and ensures that America’s water resources, especially drinking water sources, aren’t contaminated by harmful oil and gas development. Every community has a right to safe, clean water, and should be protected from the impacts of fossil fuel operations.” … ”  Read more from Willits News here: Huffman announces bill to protect water resources from oil and gas pollution 

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In national/world news today …

February 2020 was a month of precipitation extremes for the United States:  “Among the highlights of the February 2020 climate summary for the United States were the precipitation extremes experienced by different parts of the country. Much of the Southeast experienced record or near-record wet conditions last month, while almost all of California and parts of Oregon and Nevada were either much drier than average or record dry.  This map shows precipitation—including both rain and snow—for February 2020 as a percent of the 1981-2020 average.  Places where precipitation was close to 100% of average are white or very light yellow (just barely below normal) or very light green (just barely above normal). Dark browns and greens indicate extreme departures from average. ... ”  Read more from Climate.gov here:  February 2020 was a month of precipitation extremes for the United States

Advocating for Clean Water: As the nation’s water and wastewater treatment systems of pipes, pumps, and plants reach the end of their intended lifespan, investing in water infrastructure has taken the spotlight:  “As the nation’s water and wastewater treatment systems of pipes, pumps, and plants reach the end of their intended lifespan, investing in water infrastructure has dominated the utility landscape. In its most recent report card (2017), the American Society of Civil Engineers gave water infrastructure in the United States a D grade and the nation’s wastewater infrastructure a D+.  According to the US Water Alliance, 85 percent of Americans support increasing federal investment to rebuild our water infrastructure, yet there remains a significant funding gap between the amount of federal funds available and how much utilities and municipalities will need to ensure public health and safety in the coming years. ... ”  Read more from Water World here: Advocating for Clean Water: As the nation’s water and wastewater treatment systems of pipes, pumps, and plants reach the end of their intended lifespan, investing in water infrastructure has taken the spotlight

Climate science skeptics grasp for power in changing GOP:  “Skeptics of mainstream climate science and hard-line conservatives think they still have a hold on the GOP, despite a recent rhetorical evolution among congressional Republicans.  It’s part of a battle for the soul of the party between hard-right organizations, such as the Club for Growth, and the newfangled and well-funded ecosystem of conservative clean energy groups, led most prominently by ClearPath and Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions.  There are abundant signs on Capitol Hill that people who question climate science are losing clout with Republicans. But they are insistent that not much has changed, particularly with President Trump still in the White House. … ”  Read more from E&E News here: Climate science skeptics grasp for power in changing GOP

SEE ALSO: Trump’s next chief of staff open to doing more on climate, from E&E News

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In commentary today …

Good news on farm water and the environment: Farmers are expanding their ability to improve water quality in storm-related discharges, says Suzanne Redfern-West:  She writes, “Maintaining an ample supply of fresh drinking water is rightfully a high priority for all Californians. That’s why the Feb. 7 oped about a recent storm water discharge permit must have raised serious concerns among many readers.  That is unfortunate, because this is a good-news story, a win-win on the ag-environmental front. I speak as a farmer from the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, the area spotlighted in the piece. My family has farmed there for nearly 100 years. In those early days and for much of the 20th century, water left over from crop production flowed naturally to the San Joaquin River. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here: Good news on farm water and the environment: Farmers are expanding their ability to improve water quality in storm-related discharges

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In regional news and commentary today …

Tehama County: Proposal would protect Hamilton Ranch with easement:  “More than 3,000 acres in Tehama County may soon be protected by a conservation easement through Northern California Regional Land Trust.  The proposed Hamilton Ranch Agricultural Conservation Easement encompasses some 3,109 acres of rangeland, irrigated pasture and riparian habitat known as the Hamilton Ranch property, just east of Vina, according to a press release issued by the trust. It is comprised of 10 legal parcels north of Deer Creek at the base of the Sierra-Cascade foothills in Tehama County. … ”  Read more from the Red Bluff Daily News here:  Tehama County: Proposal would protect Hamilton Ranch with easement

10 plus feet of water: Without $175M levee upgrade thousands in Manteca, Lathrop would need flood insurance:  “Failure of levees during a 200-year event would send three feet or more of water to cover almost all of Lathrop, flood neighborhoods in Manteca southwest of the Airport Way and 120 Bypass interchange as well as inundate the first floor of the 500-room Great Wolf Lodge and indoor water park.  Areas in the City of Manteca where almost 4,000 homes have been approved west of McKinley Avenue along with the existing Oakwood Shores development could be covered with more than 10 feet of water. The same applies for the new Wayfair distribution center in Lathrop along the 120 Bypass. … ”  Read more from the Manteca Bulletin here: 10 plus feet of water: Without $175M levee upgrade thousands in Manteca, Lathrop would need flood insurance

Central Coast: Orcutt Hill oil company ordered to reduce polluted runoff, pay $115K to watershed fund:  “A settlement was reached Wednesday in a federal lawsuit filed by an environmental group accusing Pacific Coast Energy Co. of illegally discharging polluted water from an Orcutt oil facility into northern Santa Barbara County waterways and threatening endangered species.  The company agreed to reduce polluted runoff from its 5,400-acre Orcutt Hill oil facility and pay $115,000 toward a fund for projects that enhances the quality of local watersheds, according to a settlement agreement filed March 4 in federal court in Los Angeles.  … ”  Read more from the Lompoc Record here:  Central Coast: Orcutt Hill oil company ordered to reduce polluted runoff, pay $115K to watershed fund

Antelope Valley: Regional conservation plan ignores locals write, “If you have heard about the Antelope Valley Regional Conservation Investment Strategy (AVRCIS), then you are one of a very few, as most Antelope Valley residents have no idea what the state is trying to impose on our community.  Impacted communities and their representatives in the Legislature were not included in what is supposed to be a public process.  Recently, the Antelope Valley Regional Conservation Investment Strategy (AVRCIS), a northern Los Angeles County conservation plan that also impacts Kern County, was crafted by special interests and sent to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife for its approval. The lack of public participation is very concerning to us. ... ”  Read more from the Antelope Valley Press here:  Regional conservation plan ignores locals

Cybersecurity company linked to FBI raid of DWP files claim against city:  “A cybersecurity firm that worked for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power is alleging in a new legal claim that there are widespread security gaps at the utility and that the DWP and city staff concealed those vulnerabilities from regulators.  Ardent Cyber Solutions LLC submitted a 10-page claim against the city earlier this year, alleging retaliation and breach of contract. The firm alleges that Mayor Eric Garcetti personally ordered its contract canceled as a “retaliatory measure” after Ardent alerted officials to the utility’s physical and cybersecurity problems, according to the claim. ... ” Read more from the LA Times here: Cybersecurity company linked to FBI raid of DWP files claim against city

Storm could bring thunder, hail, water spouts to Southern California:  “A storm system that could bring thunder, hail and possible water spouts has arrived in Southern California.  The slow-moving storm could bring heavy showers at times and authorities are bracing for the possibility of mud and debris flows near recent burn areas, rock falls on canyon roads, and freeway flooding. Thunderstorms could bring lightning to beach areas, and water spouts are possible over the ocean, according to the National Weather Service. ... ”  Read more from CBS Los Angeles here: Storm could bring thunder, hail, water spouts to Southern California

Local scientists launch weather balloons to study ‘atmospheric river:  “Local scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography are closely watching a storm system as it moves into Southern California.  Scientists are releasing weather balloons every three hours to study the storm system, classified as an atmospheric river.  “An atmospheric river is just a large amount of moisture that’s associated with the system,” said program analyst Brian Kawzenuk. “An atmospheric river is sort of what it sounds like: it’s a river in the atmosphere.” … ”  Read more from KPIX Channel 5 here: Local scientists launch weather balloons to study ‘atmospheric river’

Implementing solutions for Tijuana River to meet Clean Water Act requirements:  “Twenty-five to 35 million gallons of raw sewage is pouring into the ocean every day and could keep flowing all summer long.  Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina tweeted Friday about the fluctuating flow rate of the Tijuana River, which could indicate that parts of Mexico are using the river as an open sewer. ... ”  Read more from KUSI here: Implementing solutions for Tijuana River to meet Clean Water Act requirement

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Along the Colorado River …

There’s no plan to save the Colorado River, says Gary Wockner:  He writes, “The latest research about the Colorado River is alarming but also predictable: In a warming world, snowmelt has been decreasing while evaporation of reservoirs is increasing. Yet no politician has a plan to save the diminishing Colorado River.  If you followed the news about the Colorado River for the past year, however, you’d think a political avalanche had swept down from Colorado’s snow-capped peaks and covered the Southwest with a blanket of “collaboration” and “river protection.”  I won’t call it fake news, but I will point out errors of omission. ... ”  Read more from the Las Vegas Sun here: There’s no plan to save the Colorado River, says Gary Wockner

‘This system cannot be sustained’: This year, tribal nations enter negotiations over Colorado River water: ” … 2020 will see the start of the renegotiation of the Colorado River Interim Guidelines. The guidelines, which regulate the flow of water to users, were created in 2007 without tribal consultation and are set to expire in 2026. The 29 tribal nations in the upper and lower basins hold some of the river’s most senior water rights and control around 20% of its annual flow. But the tribes have often been excluded from water policymaking; around a dozen have yet to quantify their water rights, while others have yet to make full use of them. Most of the tribal nations anticipate fully developing their established water rights by 2040 — whether for agriculture, development, leasing or other uses. Drought and climate change are still causing shortages and uncertainty, however. Already, the Colorado River has dropped by about 20%; by the end of this century, it could drop by more than half. … ”  Read more from High Country News here:  ‘This system cannot be sustained’: This year, tribal nations enter negotiations over Colorado River water

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Precipitation watch ...

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

CA WATER COMMISSION: Newsom administration envisions a new role for the Water Commission

BLOG ROUND-UP: The state’s plan for Delta fishes, biological opinions, the Delta tunnel, SGMA’s economic impacts to San Joaquin Valley, dam failures, federalism and PFAs, and more …

HYDROVISIONS, Spring issue: PFAS, Aquifer recharge in urban environments, Groundwater management in Arizona, and more …

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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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