DAILY DIGEST: Fisheries experts to testify on new biops; Harder’s SAVE Water Resources Act takes final step towards house passage; Drought expanding in California; DWR CEQA process proceeds with tunnel proposal independent experts deem “impractical”; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • WEBINAR: State of the Salmonids – Fish in Hot Water from 9am to 10am.  Click here to register.
  • WEBINAR: Water Budget Handbook – Public Webinar from 11am to 12:30pmClick here for more information.
  • BROWN BAG SEMINAR: From Measurements, Models and Maps to Management: Leveraging 25 years of Delta Biogeochemistry Research Across Scales from 10:45am to 12:45pm.  Presentation by Dr. Lisamarie Windham-Myers, candidate for Delta Lead Scientist.

In California water news today …

Fisheries experts to testify on impacts of President Trump’s water grab to California’s rivers and fish:  “As Chair of the Joint Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture, North Coast Senator Mike McGuire is hosting a critical hearing this Thursday on the current state of California’s ocean and fresh water fisheries.  One of the most impactful panels will be focused on the Trump Administration’s dangerous new rules that would allow more water to be diverted from the state’s rivers, bringing endangered chinook salmon and steelhead trout to the threat of extinction. ... ”  Read more from the Lake Record-Bee here: Fisheries experts to testify on impacts of President Trump’s water grab to California’s rivers and fish

Harder’s SAVE Water Resources Act takes final step towards house passage:  “The first bill introduced by Representative Josh Harder (CA-10), the Securing Access for the Central Valley and Enhancing (SAVE) Water Resources Act passed in the Natural Resources Committee today on a vote of 19-12. The bill provides a wraparound approach to addressing water issues facing the Central Valley by supporting local water storage projects, spurring innovation, and making long-overdue investments in our aging water infrastructure. This is the final step in the legislative process before the bill receives a vote in the full House of Representatives. ... ”  Read more from Cal Ag Today here: Harder’s SAVE Water Resources Act takes final step towards house passage

A reality check on groundwater overdraft in the San Joaquin Valley:  “What are water budgets, and why do they matter?Water budgets track the water coming into and going out of the groundwater basin. If more groundwater is pumped than the amount replenished over time, the basin is in overdraft. In our study of the valley’s 30-year water balance (1988‒2017), which used data on inflow and outflow to the San Joaquin Valley as a whole, we found a long-term overdraft of 1.8 million acre-feet per year—about 11% of net water use.  Under SGMA, water users need to bring their basins into long-term balance and avoid undesirable effects from excess groundwater pumping—such as lowering groundwater levels and causing lands to sink. Understanding the extent of the overdraft problem is key to taking appropriate action. As the saying goes, you can’t manage what you don’t measure. … ”  Read more from the PPIC here: A reality check on groundwater overdraft in the San Joaquin Valley

Drought expanding in California — nearly half the state now affected:  “Drought conditions continue to spread across California, with nearly half the state now affected, federal scientists reported Thursday, as recent rains weren’t enough to significantly slow a drying trend that has been growing more serious all winter.  Overall, 48% of California is classified as being in moderate drought — up from 34% a week ago, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, a weekly report issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.  That’s the highest percentage in California since January, 2019. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here: Drought expanding in California — nearly half the state now affected

Driving water conservation:  “As California approaches what could be another drought, water utilities are eager to find new ways of curbing water demand. Stanford researchers have developed a machine learning model that detects unexpected water-use consumption patterns – data water utilities can use to inform resource planning and water conservation campaigns. Their related study, published in Water Resources Research, pinpoints when consumers altered water use during California’s most recent drought, along with the influence policies and media coverage may play in spurring water savings. As climate change increases the odds of drought in many parts of the U.S., understanding when and how to implement successful water conservation plans at the customer level will inform how utilities can most effectively protect their water supply. … ”  Read more from Stanford’s Water in the West here: Driving water conservation

USDA investing $1 million in California water quality improvements and wildfire mitigation:  “The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will be investing more than $1 million in California this fiscal year for wildfire mitigation and improving water quality.  The efforts are being made possible through the Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership.  The Partnership allows the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to work with farmers and landowners in implementing conservation and restoration projects on a substantial scale. … ”  Read more from Ag Net West here: USDA investing $1 million in California water quality improvements and wildfire mitigation

LEGAL ANALYSIS/COMMENTARY

Salmon lessons for the Delta smelt: unjustified reliance on hatcheries in the USFWS October 2019 biological opinion:  “Pursuant to the Endangered Species Act, in October 2019 the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) of the Trump Administration issued a new Biological Opinion (BiOp) for coordinated operations of the Central Valley Project and the State Water Project (2019 USFWS BiOp).  The Central Valley Project is operated by the United States Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation), and the State Water Project is operated by the California Department of Water Resources.  … The 2019 USFWS BiOp issued by the Trump Administration found that anticipated water project operations would not jeopardize the survival of the endangered delta smelt, a fish species dependent on low-salinity conditions and found only in the brackish estuary where the freshwater of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers mix with the seawater of the San Francisco Bay. The “no jeopardy” determination in the 2019 USFWS BiOp contrasted with the previous 2008 USFWS BiOp, which found that anticipated water project operations would likely push the endangered delta smelt into extinction due to elevated salinity levels. … ”  Read more from Ecology Law Currents here: Salmon lessons for the Delta smelt: unjustified reliance on hatcheries in the USFWS October 2019 biological opinion

Legal analysis: DWR CEQA process proceeds with tunnel proposal independent experts deem “impractical”:  “The Department of Water Resources (DWR) is soliciting public comment on the scope of environmental review for a revised Delta tunnel project despite prior findings of independent technical experts that a key project proposal is “impractical,” stating that it “does not recommend” further study. DWR’s January 15, 2020 Notice of Preparation (NOP) for the Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the Delta Conveyance Project (Project) proposes two possible tunnel corridors for a 40-foot diameter pipeline that would convey water diverted from the Sacramento River in south Sacramento County to State Water Project facilities in the Discovery Bay area. The NOP’s timing raises questions among Delta stakeholders about the role of ongoing stakeholder engagement processes in light of the independent technical experts’ December 2019 findings. … ”  Read more from Somach Simmons & Dunn here:  DWR CEQA process proceeds with tunnel proposal independent experts deem “impractical”

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In regional news and commentary today …

Klamath Dam removal: let’s hope that sanity will prevail, says :  He writes, “The last two paragraphs of the article set forth the real problem here for the community and the region as Mr. Meurer clearly states that KRRC is not interested in reviewing any other ideas or looking at issues which may alleviate the proposal to remove the hydroelectric facilities even though such removal of the may be detrimental, in fact, extremely damaging to Siskiyou County and its citizens.  Mr. Meurer is a part of the Matt Cox communications team formerly with Senator Ted Gaines’ “public relations” department. The goal of KRRC he states is “to simply implement the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement” as amended. They are not there to look at alternatives to dam removal.  He is right; their job is unwaveringly to destroy the dams for money and everything that goes with it. ... ”  Read more from the Siskiyou Daily News here: Klamath Dam removal: let’s hope that sanity will prevail

Butte County: In hot water: County water commissioner faces sharp criticism over Paradise pipeline work:  “Butte County Water Commissioner Matt Tennis has been a vocal advocate for studying the feasibility of a water pipeline connecting Paradise to Chico. That advocacy landed him in the hot seat at the Board of Supervisors’ meeting Tuesday (March 10).  Supervisors Debra Lucero and Tami Ritter accused Tennis of a breach of trust and ethical lapses related to his work on a Butte County Water Commission subcommittee that has been tasked with presenting recommendations to the board regarding a potential intertie project connecting Paradise Irrigation District (PID) and California Water Service Co.’s Chico branch. … ”  Read more from the Chico News-Review here: Butte County: In hot water: County water commissioner faces sharp criticism over Paradise pipeline work

Roseville and PCWA achieve water reliability:  “Regional collaboration on water supply reliability is nothing new for us in south Placer County. For years, our respective agencies have been aligned in delivering reliable, affordable and sustainable water for our communities.  For the City of Roseville (Roseville) and Placer County Water Agency (PCWA), the partnership goes back to the construction of the Middle Fork Project, a locally-controlled system of reservoirs and powerhouses upstream of Folsom Lake on the American River that continues to benefit all of Placer County. … ”  Read more from Roseville Today here: Roseville and PCWA achieve water reliability

American River trail to close for Nimbus fish ladder construction:  “A popular section of the Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail along the American River Parkway in Sacramento will close next week.  The stretch spans just a few hundred yards between Nimbus Fish Hatchery and Nimbus Dam. … ”  Read more from KCRA Channel 3 here: American River trail to close for Nimbus fish ladder construction

Sacramento River East Levee contract awarded:  “The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Sacramento District recently awarded a $64 million construction contract 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. … ”  Read more from Dredging Today here: Sacramento River East Levee contract awarded

Reclamation releases draft congressionally mandated repayment contract for Central Valley Project City of West Sacramento contractor (press release):  “The Bureau of Reclamation announced today ongoing congressionally mandated contract conversions pursuant to the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (WIIN Act). Today’s release includes one draft repayment contract assignment for Sacramento River Division’s City of West Sacramento for a 60-day public comment period. This is one of over 86 repayment contract conversions requested by federal Central Valley Project contractors.  Reclamation plans to release an additional 12 draft repayment contracts with north-of-delta contractors for public review in 2020. Reclamation will continue to release more draft repayment contracts throughout the year. … ” Read more from the Bureau of Reclamation here: Reclamation releases draft congressionally mandated repayment contract for Central Valley Project City of West Sacramento contractor

Time for Cargill to join the 21st century, says Alice Kaufman:  She writes,  “Recently, Redwood City leaders were informed that Cargill and its development partner, luxury housing developer DMB Associates, would be conducting a poll of residents concerning potential development on the Cargill-owned salt ponds in Redwood City. These salt ponds, which stretch more than 1,400 acres of Bay tidal flats from Woodside Road to Marsh Road on the east side of Highway 101, have been proposed for development before — and the proposal met with such overwhelming opposition from local residents that Cargill and DMB were forced to withdraw their development application. … ” Read more from the Daily Journal here: Time for Cargill to join the 21st century

San Joaquin Valley: Drought likely to persist, some effects in the Valley:  “Despite the recent rain and mountain snow, Central California is still officially in a drought — a drought that is already starting to show its effects in the Valley.  NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center and the USDA are pointing to signs that our Moderate Drought here in Central California will persist or get worse over the coming months. … ”  Read more from Your Central Valley here: Drought likely to persist, some effects in the Valley

Kaweah River Power Authority selling hydro plant to Canadian operator:  “Tulare County-based Kaweah River Power Authority has requested Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approval to transfer the license for their 20MW hydroelectric plant at Kaweah Lake’s Terminus Dam to Canadian-based Ontario Power Generation.  Ontario Power Generation (OPG) is Ontario’s largest energy provider, producing almost half of the electricity for the province. The US entity for the Canadian firm is called Eagle Creek Renewable Energy, a firm that actively seeks to buy underutilized hydro-electric facilities in the US and work to improve their operation. They would operate here under the name of Terminus Hydroelectric ,LLC. ... ”  Read more from the Foothills Sun-Gazette here: Kaweah River Power Authority selling hydro plant to Canadian operator

7 Best Places to Discover the L.A. River:  “We’re getting better when it comes to the L.A. River. Ten years ago, most of us didn’t even know that L.A. even had a river.  And like many other aspects of Los Angeles, the river that runs through it can be confusing, hidden and downright intimidating. … ”  Read more from KCET here: 7 Best Places to Discover the L.A. River

Coachella Valley Water District board member suggests pause on rate hikes due to coronavirus; water agency halts tours:  “The Coachella Valley Water District board of directors on Tuesday discussed the possibility of temporarily freezing increases in water rates in an effort to mitigate the expected financial impacts of the spreading coronavirus.  The COVID-19 virus has already found its way to Riverside County and led to the cancellation of major events around the valley. … ”  Read more from the Desert Sun here: Coachella Valley Water District board member suggests pause on rate hikes due to coronavirus; water agency halts tours

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Along the Colorado River …

Nevada Supreme Court hears arguments about the state’s role in protecting water for the ‘public trust’:  “The Nevada Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday in a case weighing how state regulators should consider “public trust” values — the environment or recreation — when the sustainability of lakes or rivers could be harmed by how the state has allocated water rights.  The questions before the court stem from ongoing federal litigation over the use of water in the Walker River. But the case has received significant attention because it could provide an opportunity for the state’s top court to bolster legal protections for the environment. At the same time, agricultural groups, businesses and municipal water users fear a broad ruling could upend their existing water rights. … ”  Read more from the Nevada Independent here: Nevada Supreme Court hears arguments about the state’s role in protecting water for the ‘public trust’

Radio show: Lawyer writes of defending the Colorado River:  “If corporations can have the rights of people under the law, why not rivers?  The question made sense to Will Falk, and he answered it yes.   Falk is a lawyer, and he got to represent the Colorado River in a lawsuit.  So he spent time along the river, in something of a conversation with it.   Falk tells the story in his book “How Dams Fall”.  He visits to talk about his journey along the river and into the courtroom.”  Listen to the radio show from Jefferson Public Radio here: Radio show: Lawyer writes of defending the Colorado River

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Precipitation watch ...

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

DR. JAY LUND: Integrated Modeling and Delta Science & Policy

THIS JUST IN … Golden State Salmon Association and allies seek injunction to stop implementation of new biological opinions

SCIENCE NEWS: Is the Sacramento Splittail an Endangered Species?; Microplastics in fish; Where have all the flowers gone?; Environmental footprint of cows; and more …

SFEWS: Delta smelt predation; Central Valley surface water diversions; Predicting juvenile salmon fish routing, Sacramento River predator diet analysis

WATER PLAN eNEWS: ~~ Flood-MAR Summary~ MAR Symposium~ ICARP Meeting~ Comments Call~ Conference Registration~ CCVFCA Forum ~~

 

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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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