DAILY DIGEST, 3/19: ‘March Miracle’ continues as several storms queue up for CA; Butte County expresses concerns over Delta tunnel project; Ag water use accounting provides path for surface water use solutions; and more …

On the calendar today …

In California water news today …

‘March Miracle' continues as several storms queue up for California:  “After an absence of major storms for much of the winter, the ‘March Miracle,' in terms of wet weather, seems likely to continue next week in California.  The storm that brought drenching rain and yards of snow to the Sierra Nevada early this week was still lingering as of Wednesday night but will diminish over the next couple of days.  A lull in storms is forecast late this week to this weekend, but a new series of storms is destined to impact much of the West next week with more rain and mountain snow from Monday to Wednesday. … ”  Read more from Accu-Weather here:  ‘March Miracle’ continues as several storms queue up for California

California mountains blanketed in snow after March storms:  “California mountains are blanketed in snow and much of the state has had plenty of rain in a remarkable March turnabout from the extremely dry first two months of the year.  The most recent statewide storm started during the weekend and, despite diminishing, snow snowfall and showers were still occurring here and there.  In the Sierra Nevada, Homewood Mountain Resort on the west shore of Lake Tahoe reported late Tuesday a storm total of 114 inches (289.5 centimeters) of snow at its summit and 74 inches (188 centimeters) at the base. ... ”  Read more from US News & World Report here: California mountains blanketed in snow after March storms

Tunnel tussle: Butte County sounds alarm as state begins environmental review of Delta water conveyance project:  “The nature of Butte County’s concerns over Gov. Gavin Newsom’s scaled back delta tunnel project was made clear last Tuesday (March 10), when Supervisor Debra Lucero questioned a staffer from the state Department of Water Resources (DWR).  Marcus Yee, an environmental project manager for the Delta Conveyance Project, told the Board of Supervisors that DWR completed all the initial scoping meetings—in which the agency sought input on the proposed project from affected communities—with a gathering just days earlier in Redding, which was the only such meeting in the North State. Comments would be incorporated into a pending environmental document.  Yee said DWR held eight meetings—most in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta area where construction would take place.  “So, you had one in Northern California,” Lucero said. ... ”  Read more from the Chico News & Review here:  Tunnel tussle: Butte County sounds alarm as state begins environmental review of Delta water conveyance project

Removing 81 dams is transforming this California watershed:  “Removing one gigantic dam can have a massive effect on restoring a river ecosystem.  But bringing down more than 80 smaller dams? That can also cause a transformation.  This spring the Forest Service, aided by U.S. Marine Corps members, will blast apart 13 more dams in the Trabuco ranger district in Southern California’s Cleveland National Forest.  It’s the last phase of a groundbreaking project that began more than five years ago to remove a total of 81 dams from four streams in the mountains of Orange County. … ”  Read more from The Revelator here: Removing 81 dams is transforming this California watershed

Study: Agricultural water use accounting provides path for surface water use solutions:  “Agricultural water demands can conflict with habitat needs in many North Coast watersheds. Understanding different water use patterns can help reduce conflict over limited supplies. We measured on-farm crop water use and conducted grower interviews to estimate the agricultural water demand in the upper Russian River and Navarro River watersheds. Annual agricultural water demand was less than 11% in the Russian River, and 2% in Navarro River, of the total annual discharge in each watershed. However, because demands are concentrated in the dry season when instream flows are at a minimum, these relatively small amounts can represent a significant constraint to stream habitat conditions. We have shared our study results in broad basin and community water resource planning efforts, including flow management of the Russian and Navarro rivers and implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act in the Ukiah Basin. Findings and recommendations from this study have influenced on-the-ground solutions to meet water demand in these watersheds, including construction of off-stream wintertime storage capacity to replace summertime stream diversions, and use of a municipal recycled water conveyance system as a replacement for summer diversions.”  Read the study from California Agriculture here: Study: Agricultural water use accounting provides path for surface water use solutions

State regulators focus on compliance with commercial cannabis cultivation“The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), and State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) are reminding commercial cannabis cultivators to follow existing state regulations to avoid fines and other administrative penalties.  “Environmental compliance is much less expensive than the penalties for cultivation-related violations,” said Jeremy Valverde, CDFW’s Acting Cannabis Program Director. “The state is here to help commercial cannabis cultivators of all sizes navigate the regulatory process. Cultivators can call or email regulatory staff to learn more about state requirements or attend a permitting workshop, when they are scheduled later this year.” … ”  Read more from CDFW News here:  State regulators focus on compliance with commercial cannabis cultivation

Wineries operating as essential businesses under COVID-19 orders:  “Wineries can still operate as essential businesses under shelter-in-place orders issued Monday for seven San Francisco Bay area counties, according to the San Francisco-based Wine Institute.  The orders require individuals living in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties to remain in their place of residence and leave only to provide or receive certain essential services or engage in certain essential activities and work for essential businesses and governmental services. … ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press here:  Wineries operating as essential businesses under COVID-19 orders

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In national/world news today …

Groups bring suit over secret approval process for PFAS chemicals:  “Bemoaning the government’s clandestine process of approving widely unregulated PFAS chemicals, environmentalists brought a federal complaint Wednesday to make the chemical program transparent.  Short for perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, PFAS are a class of chemicals ubiquitous in commercial products and disturbingly linked to cancer, infertility, pregnancy complications and other toxic effects. ... ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service here:  Groups bring suit over secret approval process for PFAS chemicals

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In commentary today …

3 billion birds have vanished from our skies. Can we ever bring them back?  Patt Morrison writes, “Look! Up in the sky! It’s … not as much as there used to be. Three billion wild birds have vanished from North America’s air in 50 years; a new study calls that loss “staggering.” Three billion is as many as 1 bird in 4 — birds of the forests, birds of the grasslands, gone. And 50 years is about the same time that it took North America to send the passenger pigeon — once the most abundant bird on the continent, flying by the billions in flocks that blocked the sun for hours at a time — to send it into extinction. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: 3 billion birds have vanished from our skies. Can we ever bring them back?

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In regional news and commentary today …

Ukiah’s Purple Pipe performs well during ‘mock frost event’:  “Likely just in time for the real thing, a “Mock Frost” event was held this week to test the capacity of the city of Ukiah’s recycled Water System, also called the Purple Pipe.  “It went even better than I hoped,” said Sean White, the city’s director of water and sewer utilities. explaining that from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. Thursday, sprinklers were running in the vineyards connected to the purple pipe, which travels underground from the Wastewater Treatment Plant north to Perkins Street and beyond. … ”  Read more from the Ukiah Daily Journal here: Ukiah’s Purple Pipe performs well during ‘mock frost event’

Bay Area column: There are ways to get the 2020 salmon season off to a good start:  “San Franciscans are weeks away from the start of the 2020 salmon season, and the forecast looks fine. Plentiful rain and runoff during the last several years coupled with improved hatchery release practices has created a “conveyor belt” that is moving baby fish from rivers in the Central Valley out to the ocean through the San Francisco Bay.  “We have reason to be hopeful as we look to the start of salmon fishing in 2020 and we’re glad to see that programs supported by the Golden State Salmon Association are apparently resulting in more fish for everyone to catch this year,” said John McManus, president of the Golden Gate Salmon Association. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Examiner here: There are ways to get the 2020 salmon season off to a good start

San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge: Refuge: It’s for the birds (and lots of other SJ Valley critters, too):  “Less than half an hour south of Manteca you will find one of the 209’s best kept secrets — the San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge.  It consists of 7,000 acres of wetlands, riparian woodlands, as well as grasslands at the confluence of the San Joaquin and Stanislaus rivers. The refuge also stretches to where the Tuolumne River joins the San Joaquin. It is one of the two key reasons why the Aleutian cackling geese has made a roaring comeback to more than 100,000 birds since the 1970s when their numbers slipped below 1,000. The wintering habitat you’ll find here helped the Aleutian cackling geese become delisted as an endangered species. Part of the revival also involved removing predators from their nestling grounds in the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. … ”  Read more from the Escalon Times here: San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge: Refuge: It’s for the birds (and lots of other SJ Valley critters, too)

Central Coast: Clock still ticking on Ag Order 4.0 despite pandemic:  “Cancelations and postponements continue around the nation, but the clock on the open comment period for aggressive regulation on the Central Coast is still ticking.  Proposed regulation for six Central Coast counties being called Ag Order 4.0 is sitting in a 45-day open comment period. That timeline remains unchanged with ongoing COVID-19 declarations. The San Luis Obispo (SLO) County Farm Bureau is moving forward with a forum today on the issue with California Farm Bureau Federation Senior Counsel Kari Fisher. … ”  Read more from Ag Net West here: Clock still ticking on Ag Order 4.0 despite pandemic

Owens Valley Groundwater Authority board grows, learns parameters of “sustainability”:  “The Owens Valley Groundwater Authority board took the bulk of last week’s meeting discussing the addition of members within a format established in the Joint Powers Agreement that all members signed nearly three years ago.  The thorny topic: adding a representatives from area tribes, mutual water companies and what are defined as interested parties.  ... ”  Read more from the Sierra Wave here: Owens Valley Groundwater Authority board grows, learns parameters of “sustainability”

Ridgecrest: Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority meets Thursday, virtual attendance encouraged:  “The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority board will meet Thursday, 10 a.m., for its March meeting at the Ridgecrest City Hall council chambers, 100 W. California Ave.  As a precursor to the ongoing novel coronavirus outbreak, the groundwater authority encouraged people to watch remotely and call in any comments, or submit written comments. … ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here: Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority meets Thursday, virtual attendance encouraged

Casitas pulls out of mediation talks over Ventura River water adjudication:  “An Ojai Valley water district has pulled out of mediation talks with the city of Ventura and others after months of negotiation over water rights.  Those talks started after the city of Ventura filed a cross-complaint in response to a 2014 lawsuit over its own pumping from the Ventura River. Santa Barbara Channelkeeper had filed the lawsuit, alleging the city of Ventura was taking too much water from the river, hurting habitat for steelhead trout and other wildlife. ... ”  Read more from the Ventura County Star here: Casitas pulls out of mediation talks over Ventura River water adjudication

Carlsbad desalination plant staff take extraordinary step to shelter in place to ensure operational continuity at critical facility (press release):  “The following is a statement from Poseidon Water, manager of the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant.“As manager of the Claude “Bud”Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant in San Diego County, our top priority is to ensure the health and safety of the employees and compliance with stringent state and federal standards for the production of a safe and healthy drinking water supply. With theCOVID-19 pandemic,we are taking extraordinary steps to ensure there is uninterrupted production and delivery of safe and reliable water for San Diego County. In response to the rapidly evolving situation, we have been working with our Plant Operator (IDE Americas Inc.) to assemble a team of mission-critical employees to shelter in place at the Carlsbad plant. … ”  Read more from Poseidon Resources here: Carlsbad desalination plant staff take extraordinary step to shelter in place to ensure operational continuity at critical facility 

Microplastics found in a quarter of San Diego estuary fish:  “In a sampling of fish from a creek that flows into San Diego Bay, nearly a quarter contain microplastics, according to a new study published in the journal PLOS ONE. The study, which examined plastics in coastal sediments and three species of fish, showed that the frequency and types of plastic ingested varied with fish species and, in some cases, size or age of fish.  The study reveals that species' natural history, in particular what they eat, how they feed, and how those change over their lifetimes, may influence their contamination levels. This new information on how plastics travel through the environment and into fish could help add a key piece to the emerging picture of the dynamics and impacts of plastics in California's coastal environment. ... ”  Read more from PhysOrg here: Microplastics found in a quarter of San Diego estuary fish

U.S. EPA awards $280,000 to advance environmental projects in the California/Baja California border region:  “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced that it will award nearly $280,000 to four environmental projects benefitting the U.S.-Mexico border region between California and Baja California. With matching funds, the total benefit to the projects will total over half a million dollars.  “Protecting the public health of our border communities with Mexico is a top priority of EPA,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler.“Through these grants and matching funds, we will be able to better provide a safe and healthy work environment for the community and our federal partners as we monitor changes in air and water quality, make necessary corrections, and prevent these issues from continuing.” … ”  Read more from the US EPA here: U.S. EPA awards $280,000 to advance environmental projects in the California/Baja California border region

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Precipitation watch ...

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Also on Maven's Notebook today …

SGMA IMPLEMENTATION: David Orth gives his observations on how SGMA implementation is playing out in the San Joaquin Valley

SCIENCE NEWS: Environmental flows in CA; Microplastics found in fish; Environmental DNA; New app for wetland data; and more …

DWR’s SGMO NEWS: DWR operations continue; Update on annual report submittals; Statewide groundwater level change report and dot maps available; and more …

WATER PLAN eNEWS: ~~OEHHA Workshop~ FIRO Forecasts~ Floodplain Management~ Habitat Grants~ Interim Rule~ Sierra Meadows ~~

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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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