In California water news this weekend …

Active pattern to bring rain and snow to the West into the week ahead:  “A pair of low pressure systems will bring rain and mountain snow to the West in the early part of the week ahead, including communities in worsening drought.  The first of the low pressure systems is approaching the California coast, and it will arrive on Sunday. The second system, the larger of the two storms geographically, will swing southward from the Gulf of Alaska through midweek. Each of these systems will bring a dose of much needed rain and snow from the West Coast to the Rockies.  Much of California is far behind in precipitation since late last year. Redding, California, for instance, is nearly a foot below normal. … ” Read more from The Weather Channel here:  Active pattern to bring rain and snow to the West into the week ahead

Garamendi urges California to consider western route for delta conveyance (press release)Today, Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA), who represents the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in Congress, sent a letter to Director Karla Nemeth of the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) objecting to the agency’s lack of consideration of the “western route” for the new Delta Conveyance Project. To date, DWR has failed to examine a possible western route for the project, even though the western route could more effectively preserve the ecology of the Delta. According to a map released by DWR, the state is focusing solely on tunnel routes under the central and eastern Delta for the conveyance project.  “DWR is failing Delta communities by refusing to evaluate a potential western route for the Delta Conveyance Project,” Garamendi said.

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“In April 2019, Governor Newsom directed state agencies to reassess plans to modernize conveyance through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. DWR has failed to fulfill the Governor’s directive by refusing to consider the western route.  Significant work has already been done to evaluate the western route. Failure by DWR to study the pros and cons of a western route relative to other options is an abdication of the agency’s responsibility to the Delta and Californians. I will continue to urge DWR to consider this option throughout its planning for the Delta Conveyance Project.”A copy of Congressman Garamendi’s letter is available here.

CDFW’s salmon evacuation decision pays exceptional dividends:  “In February 2017, damage to the Oroville Dam’s spillways prompted the evacuation of more than 180,000 people living downstream along the Feather River. The raging muddy waters also triggered an emergency decision to relocate millions of young salmon from the Feather River Hatchery to the Thermalito Annex Hatchery to be raised and held until river water conditions improved. Most, if not all, of the young salmon would have otherwise died when mud from the raging river overwhelmed the hatchery waters. … ”  Read more from CDFW News here: CDFW’s salmon evacuation decision pays exceptional dividends

Network listens for passing salmon:  “It’s a cold morning in early February, and Chris Vallee of the U.S. Geological Survey is motoring upriver along Steamboat Slough. His two-man crew is hunched in the bow with backs to the wind, wrapped to the ears in water-resistant jackets above warm layers. Vallee pilots the vessel in relative comfort behind the shelter of the windscreen.  The boat passes the usual Delta sights: greenish-brown water drifting past road-crowned levees, the occasional dock and house, a greater egret the color of alabaster lifting off from a eucalyptus branch. After glancing periodically at the open laptop perched on his console, which displays a GPS map of our destination waypoints, Vallee turns the bow toward shore. … ”  Read more from Estuary News here: Network listens for passing salmon

Q&A: Lessons in future-focused utility management:  “California always seems on the precipice, for better or worse. It can symbolize hope and prosperity — from the fortune seekers of the gold rush to today’s would-be Hollywood stars, it’s the place where a brighter future awaits (or, at least, where the sun always shines). Or, it can portend certain doom — a state on fire, both literally and figuratively, where (over)population and natural disasters eventually coalesce into catastrophe. … I spoke to Andrew DeGraca, chair of CA-NV AWWA, for insight on how water managers are safeguarding water and preparing for an uncertain future in the region, with impact that will be felt well beyond — for better or worse. … ”  Read more from Water Online here: Q&A: Lessons in future-focused utility management

How DWR is continuing critical operations through ongoing public health emergency:  “The Department of Water Resources (DWR) continues operations to maintain critical functions while modifying the way we work in the face of the coronavirus to protect our staff. Following guidance from Governor Newsom and California Department of Public Health, DWR has made several changes in response to the dynamic situation.  DWR continues to provide the state of California its core services of water delivery, flood protection, dam safety and infrastructure maintenance. … ”  Read more from DWR News here: How DWR is continuing critical operations through ongoing public health emergency

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In national/world news this weekend …

Column: Water from air: a pipe dream or new frontier?  “Make no mistake about it — We are facing a global water crisis. Increasing water volatility and drought, emerging contaminants, plastic pollution, and crumbling infrastructure all play a part. … A frequently referenced report by the World Bank and McKinsey suggests the world is facing a 40 percent gap between the supply and demand of water.3 This gap is the result of a growing population, increasing demand, decreasing source water quality, and the readily available volume of freshwater on the planet.  But what if we have the math wrong? ... ”  Read more from Water Online here: Water from air: a pipe dream or new frontier?

U.S. Spring Outlook forecasts wide-spread river flooding and above-average temperatures from coast to coast:  “NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is forecasting above-average temperatures across the country this spring, as well as above-average precipitation in the central and eastern United States. Significant rainfall events could trigger flood conditions on top of already saturated soils.  “NOAA stands ready to provide timely and accurate forecasts and warnings throughout the spring,” said Neil Jacobs, Ph.D., acting NOAA administrator. “The dedicated employees of the National Weather Service continue to apply their skills and the latest technology to monitor additional rainfall, rising river levels, and the threat of severe weather to keep the public ahead of any weather hazard.”  … ”  Read more from NOAA here:  U.S. Spring Outlook forecasts wide-spread river flooding and above-average temperatures from coast to coast

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Sunday podcasts …

Lock Tender:  Steve Baker writes, “Don Zeiler is the Locks Master and Emsworth Locks and Dams located six miles below Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  He maintains traffic across the dam that separates the different parts of the Ohio River. If you take away the locks there would be no traffic between sections of the Ohio River. We can comfortably say that the landscape and lifestyles of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania could not exist without locks. Water is a Many Splendor’ed Thing brings you another water relationship that has a personally significant impact to your life.”  Produced by Steven Baker, Operation Unite® Bringing People Together to Solve Water Problems, Online at


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In commentary this weekend …

Homeless camps damage California’s levees; proposed legislation would protect the barriers, say Jeff Harris, Sacramento’s vice mayor, and Elena Lee Reeder, a trustee for Reclamation District 1000:  They write, “California’s homeless crisis is one of the state’s top issues, but the least discussed aspect of this broad problem is the damage these homeless encampments cause to our levees.  Too often unauthorized encampments threaten not just the environment, but many California communities. Large trenches dug into the side of levees impact the integrity and stability of our protective barriers that are engineered to keep our homes and community from flooding.  Reclamation District 1000, which provides flood protection for more than 60,000 acres in the Natomas Basin with over 100,000 residents in Sacramento and Sutter counties, is experiencing a rapid and unprecedented increase in encampments along the district’s levee system. … ”  Read more from Cal Matters here: Homeless camps damage California’s levees; proposed legislation would protect the barriers

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In regional news and commentary this weekend …

Opening the mouth of Walnut Creek:  “Paul Detjens is driving us from his Martinez office to a restoration site near the mouth of Walnut Creek on Suisun Bay, a project he spearheads as an engineer for the Contra Costa County Flood Control District. These lower reaches of the creek — straightened, widened, and leveed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers — have been a sluggish, silt-filled problem for more than half a century. Detjens has worked to find a solution for the last 17 years.  Now that the district has taken the unusual approach of parting ways with the Corps in favor of local control, a fix is finally in sight. … ”  Read more from Estuary News here: Opening the mouth of Walnut Creek

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) continues waste dumps into Mule Creek:  “The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) dumped an additional 121,984 gallons of industrial waste containing Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and Semivolitile Organic Compounds (SVOCs) into Mule Creek in Ione from March 6-8, 2020, bringing the total to 7,951,458 gallons in the latest four-month period.  The Central Valley Water Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB) that regulates the CDCR and Mule Creek State Prison (MCSP) facility confirmed the discharges that flow into Mule Creek are not just storm water or irrigation water, but actually gray water, sewage and industrial waste from prison industries, or a mixture, back in January of 2018.  However, little if anything has been done to stop the illegal discharges … ”  Read more from the Amador Ledger-Dispatch here:  CDCR continues waste dumps into Mule Creek

Santa Maria: Overturned tanker spills 6K gallons oil near California dam:  “A tanker truck overturned down an embankment Saturday, spilling more than 6,600 gallons of crude oil into a river that flows into a dam and reservoir near the city of Santa Maria, authorities said.  The driver was not injured and the cause of the single-vehicle crash on State Route 166 was under investigation, said Santa Barbara County Fire Capt. Nikki Stevens. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: Overturned tanker spills 6K gallons oil near California dam

Sediment deposit operations planned at Goleta Beach:  “The Santa Barbara County Public Works Department will begin sediment deposit operations as early as today at Goleta Beach due to recent rainfall and the increased chance of future storms.  The operations will continue as needed until facilities have been cleared and are scheduled to occur Monday through Friday. County officials have formerly used upland disposal sites and other county property for debris management, however there is currently inadequate space for continued efforts. ... ”  Read more from the Santa Barbara News-Press here: Sediment deposit operations planned at Goleta Beach

Get outside (but keep your distance!) at L.A.’s hidden marsh:  “Madrona Marsh Preserve is having a moment. The seasonal wetland that takes up a square block in Torrance is flush with water and wildflowers right now. It’s a good place to take an easy, short walk while still respecting California’s “Safer at Home” order.  By the way, the governor’s order allows Californians to walk, hike and bike outdoors. Obviously, you cannot go in a group, you cannot go out if you are sick, and you must remain socially distant from other walkers. All that is possible at the little park that offers a welcome breath of spring. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Get outside (but keep your distance!) at L.A.’s hidden marsh

Carlsbad desal plant workers begin shelter-in-place:  “As of Friday, 10 workers are quarantined inside the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plan for the next three weeks, monitoring and adjusting gauges and switches, watching for leaks, and doing whatever is needed to safeguard San Diego County’s only significant local source of drinking water.  “We asked some employees to be locked down at the plant for 21 days to isolate the risk of infection,” said Gilad Cohen, CEO of IDE Americas, the global company that operates the Carlsbad plant and others around the world. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune here: Carlsbad desal plant workers begin shelter-in-place

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Precipitation watch …

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Also on Maven’s Notebook this weekend …

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Image credit: Mount Shasta, photo by Susan Stienstra via Flickr.

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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