DAILY DIGEST, 3/17: ‘Miners’ pull lead bullets from the Santa Ana River, is it helping?; Valley water district employee tests positive for coronavirus; Could coronavirus collide with wildfire season?; CSPA sues over groundwater sustainability plan; and more …

In California water news today …

‘Miners’ pull lead bullets from the Santa Ana River. Do they help the environment, or hurt it?  “Shrapnel from ricocheting bullets hits Kenny Graham about four times a day. At this point, he just accepts it as part of his job.  As he rolled a cigarette and talked, a piece of flying metal banged viciously off a mechanical contraption with holes in it used to separate sand and rocks, not two feet from Graham’s unprotected hands. “There goes a pellet right there,” he said deadpan, seated in the dry, sandy Santa Ana River in Redlands. “Ask and you shall receive.”  Graham — who said he is experiencing homelessness, working through a divorce and otherwise unemployed — makes money by mining and recycling lead buckshot and bullet fragments that escape from the adjacent Redlands Shooting Park, only to accumulate in this wash. … ”  Read more from the Desert Sun here: ‘Miners’ pull lead bullets from the Santa Ana River. Do they help the environment, or hurt it?

Coronavirus: Silicon Valley water district employee tests positive, CEO and other leaders self-quarantine:  “An employee at Silicon Valley’s largest water district has tested positive for coronavirus, and at least eight other employees, including CEO Norma Camacho, were in self-quarantine as a result.  The employee at the Santa Clara Valley Water District — a public agency that provides drinking water and flood protection to 2 million residents from Mountain View to San Jose to Gilroy — works in the communications department.  The employee, who began showing symptoms March 2 but did not return to district offices after Feb. 29, remains hospitalized. The employee is not involved with the treatment or delivery of drinking water, and that service continues uninterrupted, officials at the district, also known as Valley Water, said Monday. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  Coronavirus: Silicon Valley water district employee tests positive, CEO and other leaders self-quarantine

Could coronavirus collide with wildfire season? California is preparing for it:  “Northern California may still be grappling with the novel coronavirus outbreak when it begins to face the more familiar threat of dangerous wildfires, and emergency officials are already contemplating that possibility.  It’s not clear exactly how long the new virus will cause disruptions such as school closures, event cancellations and quarantines — or whether its spread will be abated by warmer weather, like the common cold and flu. But California diagnoses of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus, are expected to continue rising for the foreseeable future. ... ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: Could coronavirus collide with wildfire season? California is preparing for it

California’s strict air quality rules help its farmers grow more food:  “Despite their lack of popularity with farmers in California’s Central Valley, the Golden State’s strict air pollution regulations have increased productivity for their farms and created greater wealth for them, according to research released Monday.  In a study published in the journal Nature Food, researchers from the University of California, Irvine, discovered that reduction in pollution from 1980 to 2015 resulted in an annual increase in production of $600 million.  “A lot of California farmers may not appreciate that air quality standards have had such a benefit on their ability to grow crops,” said co-author Steven Davis, UCI associate professor. “The irony is that by fighting against certain environmental regulations, these folks may be damaging their own earning capacity.” ... ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service here:  California’s strict air quality rules help its farmers grow more food

‘Miracle March’: California’s Sierra Nevada pummeled by feet of snow:  “Snow has finally diminished a bit after California’s Sierra Nevada picked up several feet of snow, part of a “Miracle March” weather pattern helping to replenish vital, water-providing snowpack after a record-dry February.  Heavy snow began in the Sierra last Saturday and continued through Monday night leading to major travel headaches. … ”  Read more from The Weather Channel here: ‘Miracle March’: California’s Sierra Nevada pummeled by feet of snow

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In national/world news today …

90 US cities and states suspend water shutoffs to tackle coronavirus pandemic:  “Almost 90 cities and states across the US have suspended water shutoffs for residents unable to afford their bills, as local leaders scramble to tackle the complex public health threats posed by the coronavirus pandemic.  There is no vaccine or treatment for coronavirus, also known as Covid-19. According to the World Health Organization, good hygiene, specifically frequent handwashing with soap, is crucial to prevent the virus spreading.  The expanding list of public utilities ordering a moratorium on shutoffs means about 57 million Americans in cities including Cleveland, Memphis and San Diego will be protected from losing their water service during the pandemic. … ”  Read more from The Guardian here: 90 US cities and states suspend water shutoffs to tackle coronavirus pandemic

Destruction of habitat and loss of biodiversity are creating the perfect conditions for diseases like COVID-19 to emerge:  ” … Only a decade or two ago it was widely thought that tropical forests and intact natural environments teeming with exotic wildlife threatened humans by harboring the viruses and pathogens that lead to new diseases in humans like Ebola, HIV and dengue.  But a number of researchers today think that it is actually humanity’s destruction of biodiversity that creates the conditions for new viruses and diseases like COVID-19, the viral disease that emerged in China in December 2019, to arise — with profound health and economic impacts in rich and poor countries alike. ... ”  Read more from Ensia here: Destruction of habitat and loss of biodiversity are creating the perfect conditions for diseases like COVID-19 to emerge

DOJ ends practice of allowing polluters to pay for environmental projects:  “The Department of Justice (DOJ) will no longer allow polluting companies to reduce their fines by footing the bill for environmental projects, putting an end to a tool that’s been popular with both industry and government agencies.  Special Environmental Projects (SEPs), which have been used for roughly 30 years, let businesses reduce their civil penalties by taking steps such as cleaning streams or replacing old gas-guzzling school busses.  But a DOJ memo on Friday said the program violates the Miscellaneous Receipts Act, which requires money acquired by the government go to the U.S. Treasury. … ”  Read more from The Hill here: DOJ ends practice of allowing polluters to pay for environmental projects

Military bases with possible PFAS water contamination rise. Is yours on the list?  “The number of known military sites where cancer-linked firefighting foam may have contaminated groundwater across the United States has jumped to 651 from 401, and the cleanup bill will likely cost billions of dollars more than initially estimated, according to a new Pentagon report. The new report was directed by Defense Secretary Mark Esper as part of his focus on PFAS contamination and lists hundreds of additional locations, many of them Army National Guard sites, in all 50 states where area groundwater may have been contaminated by the chemical compound. … ”  Read more from McClatchy DC here: Military bases with possible PFAS water contamination rise. Is yours on the list?

PFAS Testing & Treatment Act introduced:  “A new bill from Senate Democrats would roll out $20 billion in funding to remove PFAS from water.  The bill, Providing Financial Assistance to States for Testing and Treatment Act of 2020, is also known as the PFAS Testing and Treatment Act.   The bill would expand the reach of existing water programs run by the U.S. EPA and increase the funding of various grant programs, while allowing that money to be used to remove PFAS from water. … ”  Read more from Water Quality Products here:  PFAS Testing & Treatment Act introduced

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Legal briefs …

The California Sportfishing Protection Alliance sued the Eastern San Joaquin Groundwater Authority and 27 similar entities in a challenge to their groundwater sustainability plan for the San Joaquin Basin, in Stanislaus County Court.  Via Courthouse News Service.

James Irrigation District has sued Westlands Water District over their approval of the EIR/EIS for the Mendota Pool Group 20-year exchange program.

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Precipitation watch ...

20200313_RT_SWE_Report

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

GUEST COMMENTARY: A new threat to California Streams: Will the rush to develop our newest water source destroy more streams?

BLOG ROUND-UP: New science or just spin: science charade in the Delta; NRDC’s response to the Climate Resilient Water Portfolio; Delta Defenders calls for pause in Delta tunnel stakeholder engagement process; Scientists must learn how to interact with Indigenous people; 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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