DAILY DIGEST, 3/18: Coronavirus doesn’t jeopardize tap water, but it might be carried in raw sewage; Central Valley groundwater markets emerging under SGMA; Cattle ranchers cope with dry pastures; 12 cities with the worst tap water in the US; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • The California Water Commission meeting is canceled.
  • Public negotiation session:  SWP Contract Amendment for Delta Conveyance from 10am to 3pm.  Remote access available.  Click here for more information.
  • WEBINAR: Water Well Design – Fundamentals and Applications from 12pm to 1pm.  Presented by the Groundwater Resources Association.  Click here to register.

In California water news today …

Coronavirus doesn’t jeopardize tap water, but it might be carried in raw sewage:  “Bottled water has been disappearing from store shelves as fast as toilet paper. And, like toilet paper, there’s no practical reason to stockpile bottled water.  “People need to stop hoarding water,” said Damon Micalizzi of the Municipal Water District of Orange County. “Your tap water is regulated more strictly than any bottled water you buy.”  Tap water is treated specifically to remove infectants like the new coronavirus, which “is a type of virus that is particularly susceptible to disinfection and standard treatment,” according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency website.  But what about streams, lakes, bays and oceans? What about sewage getting into those? ... ”  Read more from the OC Register here: Coronavirus doesn’t jeopardize tap water, but it might be carried in raw sewage

Central Valley groundwater markets emerging under SGMA:  “Central Valley farmers may soon have another crop to sell along with almonds, tomatoes and peppers — the groundwater beneath their land.  Proposed groundwater markets have popped up in just about every groundwater sustainability plan (GSP) filed with the state Jan. 31.  One such market is about to launch its first phase within the next a week in Kern County.  The proposed markets are being touted by some as a way to limit groundwater pumping while still allowing farmers the flexibility to optimize their resources. … ”  Read more from SJV Water here: Central Valley groundwater markets emerging under SGMA

Cattle ranchers cope with dry pastures:  “California’s bone-dry February didn’t leave a lot of forage for Todd Swickard’s cattle—though mid-March rains should provide some help.  While looking around his Napa County winter pasture last week, before a late-winter storm arrived during the weekend, Swickard noted conditions on the hills were what one would expect in mid-April or later, with land gradually fading to brown and poppies everywhere. ... ”  Read more from Ag Alert here: Cattle ranchers cope with dry pastures

So, how much rain and snow did we actually get last weekend?  “Coming off of the driest February since 1849 in Sacramento, the Central Valley was in dire need of a good dousing.  That’s exactly what we received over the weekend.  A strong low-pressure system stalled out over the area providing rainfall for 2 to 3 days. … ”  Read more from ABC 10 here: So, how much rain and snow did we actually get last weekend?

SEE ALSO:

Follow her lead: Cindy Messer:  “Cindy Messer considers one of her greatest professional accomplishments also the toughest experience in her 23-year career. Messer was sworn in as chief deputy director of the California Department of Water Resources the day after the Oroville Dam crisis began in February 2017, when damage to both the main and emergency spillways forced the evacuation of more than 180,000 residents. But within months, her boss retired, and she became acting interim director for the recovery phase. Today, Messer says she feels proud of her efforts to lead the department through this unsettled period and to engage residents warranted in their anger.  “I was the person to go out and be the face at the public meetings,” Messer says. ... ”  Read more from Comstock’s Magazine here: Follow her lead: Cindy Messer

Creating resilient, sustainable water supplies means flipping the management paradigm:  “As well as Water in the West, Newsha Ajami works with Stanford-based National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center’s Re-Inventing the Nation’s Urban Water Infrastructure (ReNUWIt), and is in her second term serving on the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board.  Ajami spoke with Sonia Tagare, host of theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s mobile livestreaming studio, during the Women in Data Science conference in Stanford, California. They discussed how Ajami is working to bridge the gap between science and policy in water management, building solutions for water resilient cities, and changing the traditional top-down water management model to a more collaborative bottom-up approach.  … ”  Read more from Silicon Angle here: Creating resilient, sustainable water supplies means flipping the management paradigm

Indian Nations Law Update – March 2020:  Summaries of selected court decisions: “In Hawkins v. Bernhardt, 2020 WL 516036 (D.D.C. 2020), the Klamath Tribes had ceded twelve million acres to the United States by treaty in 1864, reserving 800,000 acres and the exclusive right to hunt and fish within the reservation. In the 1954 Klamath Termination Act, Congress terminated federal supervision but expressly disclaimed any intention to diminish the Tribes’ treaty fishing rights. Congress restored the Tribes in 1986 and the government sued in 1975 to obtain a declaration of the Tribes’ water rights. ... ”  Read more from the National Law Review here: (Scroll down for this case summary): Indian Nations Law Update – March 2020

The public advised to not to flush disinfecting wipes, paper towels down the toilet –throw them away instead:  “While the State Water Board and other public agencies encourage Californians to follow the Centers for Disease Control recommendations to clean surfaces with disinfecting wipes to reduce the spread of COVID-19, it is important to discard those items in the trash, not the toilet.Flushing wipes, paper towels and similar products down toilets will clog sewers and cause backups and overflows at wastewater treatment facilities, creating an additional public health risk in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.Even wipes labeled “flushable” will clog pipes and interfere with sewage collection and treatment throughout the state. ... ”  Read the press release from the State Water Board here: The public advised to not to flush disinfecting wipes, paper towels down the toilet –throw them away instead  (click here for Spanish version).

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In national/world news today …

America thrived by choking its rivers with dams. Now it’s time to undo the damage. America was shaped by its rivers—more than 250,000 in all—and since Colonial times we have bent them to our will. The Army Corps of Engineers, which oversees dams owned by the federal government, lists more than 90,000 in its national inventory. Tens of thousands more remain unregistered. “Think about that number,” then-Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt told a meeting of the Ecological Society of America in 1998. “That means we have been building, on average, one large dam a day, every single day, since the Declaration of Independence.” The best of them generate power, facilitate navigation, and slake our thirst. But many, perhaps the majority, are no longer essential. … ”  Read more from Popular Science here: America thrived by choking its rivers with dams. Now it’s time to undo the damage. 

The unexplored consequences of wildfires reaching water:  “There is now plenty of evidence that as the atmosphere warms, the planet is experiencing more wildfires. The fires still sweeping huge swaths of Australia are the most striking example, but in many other regions the fire season is also growing longer. Understandably, much of the media surrounding these incidents focuses on the immediate damage to forests, homes, people and wildlife, but one potentially dangerous long-term impact has received less attention – the effect of fires on water. ... ”  Read more from Geographical here: The unexplored consequences of wildfires reaching water

EPA seeks to expand federal role in water reuse:  “Water reuse for both potable and non-potable uses is a well-established practice in some areas of the U.S., especially in the West and along the East Coast. Yet with less than 1% of U.S. water demand currently met through water reuse, there’s plenty of potential for future growth.  As a “call to action” for greater reuse, the Environmental Protection Agency recently released its National Water Reuse Action Plan in conjunction with other federal, state, tribal, local and water sector partners. … ”  Read more from Bloomberg Environmental here: EPA seeks to expand federal role in water reuse

12 cities with the worst tap water in the US:  “Every year from 1982 to 2015, between 9 million and 45 million Americans got their drinking water from a source that violated the standards of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  While rural areas are the most contaminated, a few major cities have struggled to renovate their aging pipes and enforce safe standards among local jurisdictions. Here are some of the cities with the worst tap water in the US. … ”  Read more from the Business Insider here: 12 cities with the worst tap water in the US

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Legal briefs …

A trial court properly ordered the city of Agoura Hills, California, to set aside its approval of a development project and to prepare an environmental-impact report, the Ninth Circuit ruled, finding that even though the city’s plan included mitigation measures to reduce the project’s impact on native oaks, other plants and a Chumash cultural site, an environmental report is necessary due to the project’s predicted significant impact on those concerns. Via Courthouse News Service.

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In regional news and commentary today …

Oregon water regulators exceeded authority, judge rules:  “Oregon’s water regulators exceeded their authority by shutting off wells within 500 feet of waterways in the Upper Klamath Basin last year, according to a judge.  Marion County Circuit Judge Claudia Burton has also ruled the Oregon Water Resources Department violated the due process rights of irrigators Troy and Tracy Brooks, who filed a lawsuit opposing the agency’s enforcement action.  “They basically came up with these rules and gave nobody due process,” said Dominic Carollo, attorney for the plaintiffs. … ”  Read more from the Capital Press here: Oregon water regulators exceeded authority, judge rules

Sonoma County needs 3 months of record rainfall to get back on track:  “Sonoma County is poised to receive 2 to 3 inches of rainfall by Wednesday, the wettest period in weeks that is also raising hopes of a slower start to fire season.  Over the weekend, a late winter storm released a quarter- inch of rain on Santa Rosa, with even more landing on surrounding hills. The Mayacamas Mountains could get 2 to 3 inches this week, National Weather Service Meteorologist Steve Anderson said Sunday. … ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here: Sonoma County needs 3 months of record rainfall to get back on track

Tahoe Conservancy awards $912K in grants for projects around Lake Tahoe Basin:  “At its last meeting, the California Tahoe Conservancy (CTC) authorized $912,000 for grants to advance climate change adaptation and improve community sustainability in the Lake Tahoe Basin.  The Conservancy Board approved three climate adaptation grants, all funded by Proposition 68 … ”  Read more from South Tahoe Now here: Tahoe Conservancy awards $912K in grants for projects around Lake Tahoe Basin

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

Conserving the watershed — $1 million grant to help preserve 927-acre Lewis Ranch:  “A major conservation project in El Dorado County just got a huge boost after it was announced March 5 that it will be the beneficiary of $1 million in grant monies from the Sierra Nevada Conservancy.  The million dollars will go to the American River Conservancy for the purchase of the 972-acre Lewis Ranch, which is currently being used for cattle grazing and hunting. … ” Read more from the Mountain Democrat here:  Conserving the watershed — $1 million grant to help preserve 927-acre Lewis Ranch

Southern California: Supporting Endangered Steelhead Passage:  “This past fall, CalTrout, and the Wishtoyo Chumash Foundation conducted water quality sampling at several locations on Santa Paula Creek, a tributary of the Santa Clara River. Work that allowed us to glimpse a better understanding of the potential source of bacterial contamination observed by downstream landowners. … ”  Read more from Cal Trout here: Southern California: Supporting Endangered Steelhead Passage

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Along the Colorado River …

‘Flood event’ closes popular trail from Colorado River to hot springs:  “A section of a popular hiking trail near the Nevada-Arizona border was temporarily closed starting Tuesday, but not because of coronavirus.  A ladder on the Arizona Hot Springs Trail that allows hikers to access the springs from the Colorado River was washed out during a “recent flood event,” Lake Mead National Recreation Area officials said. Starting Tuesday, that section of the trail will be closed “in the interest of public and employee safety.”  The ladder is scheduled to reopen by April 16, park officials said. ... ”  Read more from the Las Vegas Review-Journal here:  ‘Flood event’ closes popular trail from Colorado River to hot springs

Former governor apologizes for failing rural counties on groundwater issues:  “When county Board of Supervisor member Peggy Judd asked former Gov. Bruce Babbitt to share his thoughts on rural counties taking on responsibilities relating to groundwater management, he responded, “I couldn’t say no.”  Judd heard Babbitt talk about the underground water problem in rural Arizona at a conference last year and it struck a chord in her as she realized the extent of the groundwater problem in the Willcox Basin. His words inspired her to hold a series of workshops on the Willcox Basin which provides water to a large portion of northeastern Cochise County in the Sulphur Springs Valley. ... ”  Read more from the San Pedro Valley News-Sun here: Former governor apologizes for failing rural counties on groundwater issues

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

KERN COUNTY WATER SUMMIT: Infrastructure: What’s on Tap for California

GUEST COMMENTARY: Significant progress being made in implementing the state’s groundwater law

SWP CONTRACT AMENDMENT FOR DELTA CONVEYANCE: Remote participation and agenda for March 18, 2020 Public Meeting

NOTICE: Update from the Delta Conveyance Project: In Response to Ongoing Public Health and Safety Concerns

 

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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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