DAILY DIGEST, 3/24: Relentless storms continue to soak CA with rain, snow; Worker at San Jose wastewater plant tests positive for COVID-19; Kids at home? DWR provides free, fun water education materials; Reclamation streamlines process for transferring facilities to local water users; and more …

On the calendar today …

In California water news today …

Relentless storms continue to soak Golden State with rain, mountain snow:  “While California will not receive a soaking rain similar to what occurred at the beginning of the week, residents across the state can expect unsettled weather to stick around through Wednesday.  As the storm system came ashore Sunday evening across Southern California, moderate to heavy rain targeted included places like Los Angeles, Santa Maria, and San Luis Obispo.  … There will be limited downtime in terms of wet weather across California as the next storm in the series will bring wet weather back into the forecast on Tuesday. … ”  Read more from Accu-Weather here: Relentless storms continue to soak Golden State with rain, mountain snow

Coronavirus: Worker at San Jose wastewater plant tests positive; 17 quarantined:  “Highlighting the threat that coronavirus poses to basic public health systems around California and the nation, a worker at San Jose’s wastewater treatment plant — a facility that treats the sewage from 1.5 million people in San Jose and seven other cities — has tested positive for COVID-19.  The employee is a janitor working as part of a contract company. The massive plant, located in Alviso, has 17 employees in self-quarantine as a result and is running at about 70% staffing. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here: Coronavirus: Worker at San Jose wastewater plant tests positive; 17 quarantined

California water pumping suits moved to Eastern District Court:  “Two lawsuits challenging the Trump administration’s authorization of plans to increase water pumping from the Sacramento and San Joaquin watersheds will be moved from the Northern District of California to the Eastern District of California, a federal judge ruled.  The lawsuit filed by a coalition of fishermen and environmental groups, and a related case filed by California and its state agencies, allege the National Marine Fisheries Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service adopted two biological opinions for the water projects that put endangered or threatened salmon, steelhead, and Delta smelt at risk. … ”  Read more from Bloomberg Environment here: California water pumping suits moved to Eastern District Court

Kids at home? DWR provides free, fun water education materials:  “Looking for fun and free activities to do with your kids at home? Check out the Department of Water Resources (DWR) education materials webpage for free educational activities.  For more than 30 years, DWR has helped educators – from classroom teachers to scout leaders to homeschool parents – teach California’s young people about water. Now, we are helping those at home due to the Coronavirus national health emergency get access to these same educational materials.  Whether you seek independent work activities like coloring sheets for your little one, a workbook for your tween, or you are ready to roll up your sleeves and lead simple hands-on science experiments, DWR can help. ... ”  Read more from DWR News here: DWR provides free, fun water education materials

As climate change messes with temperature and precipitation, California newts suffer: “California didn’t get much of a break.  Just three years after the 2011–2017 drought, one of the severest in recorded history for the state, the driest February in 150 years has spurred discussion of whether we’re in another drought — or if the last one even ended.  That’s bad news for Los Angeles’ only newt, California newt, Taricha torosa, and other newts in the Taricha genus, particularly in the southern half of the state south of Big Sur. A UCLA-led study, in the Nature journal Scientific Reports examined body condition of newts across their entire range, from San Diego to Mendocino. In the south, researchers discovered that body condition — a measure of health that compares weight to length — decreased by an average of 20% from 2008–2016.  … ”  Read more from the UCLA Newsroom here: As climate change messes with temperature and precipitation, California newts suffer

SGMA to dry up one-fifth of irrigated SJ Valley farmland:  “The cost of fallowing upwards of one million acres of farmland across California will be measured in the billions of dollars to the state’s economy as an estimated 85,000 jobs are lost and farm income declines by more than $7 billion annually, according to a university report.  An economic analysis of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), a law passed by the Legislature in 2014 to make groundwater supplies sustainable after decades of over-pumping, paints a grim economic picture for California as the first hurdle towards groundwater sustainability was reached earlier this year. … ” Read more from the Western Farm Press here:  SGMA to dry up one-fifth of irrigated SJ Valley farmland

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In national/world news today …

Reclamation streamlines process for transferring facilities to local water users (press release):  “Today, the Bureau of Reclamation released its final guidelines to streamline the transfer of eligible Reclamation facilities to local ownership. Title transfer is a voluntary conveyance of federal ownership of water projects or facilities, such as small dams, canals and associated lands, to local water users. Local ownership can leverage more capital funding and reduce federal paperwork requirements and costs while reducing federal liability.  “This Administration’s title transfer process embodies the President’s goals of streamlining bureaucratic processes and making our government more efficient and accountable,” said Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt. ... ”  Read more from the Bureau of Reclamation here: Reclamation streamlines process for transferring facilities to local water users

We can no longer rely on historical data to predict extreme weather:  “Floods and other dangerous weather extremes are only getting more intense and more frequent as our climate warms. Historically, we’ve always been able to predict these extremes by looking at how often they occurred in the past. But a new study published Wednesday in Science Advances reveals just how many of those forecasts actually fall short. In just a decade, the findings suggest, the climate has shifted so drastically that the frequency of past extreme events is no longer a reliable predictor.  These predictions help us draw floodplain maps and design infrastructure so that it can withstand even intense events. But if our predictions are wrong, that means we can no longer plan new housing, roads, and bridges based on the storms of the past. Increasing extremes—such as tropical cyclones, heat waves, and heavy storms—will force us to change our plans and design structures that can endure these changes. … ”  Read more from Popular Science here: We can no longer rely on historical data to predict extreme weather

Trump pushes legal limits with virus disaster declaration:  “President Trump has become the first U.S. president to declare a health epidemic a “major disaster” in his recent decisions to approve requests for that designation from the governors of California, New York and Washington in their battles against COVID-19.  In doing so, Trump took an expansive and legally questionable view of federal disaster law that will place new demands on the Federal Emergency Management Agency as it leads the administration’s response to the pandemic.  … ” Read more from E&E News here: Trump pushes legal limits with virus disaster declaration

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In regional news and commentary today …

Mendocino County moving forward with Redwood Valley Water Infrastructure Project:  “Mendocino County is moving forward with the construction of the Redwood Valley Water Infrastructure Retrofit Project to improve water infrastructure in the valley. The Infrastructure Retrofit Project would mitigate earthquake hazards currently threatening the Redwood Valley County Water District and protect infrastructure against significant damage in the future. The 2017 Redwood Complex fire also destroyed parts of the water infrastructure in the valley and increased the need for the reconstruction project. … ”  Read more from the Mendocino News here:  Mendocino County moving forward with Redwood Valley Water Infrastructure Project

Heavy rain triggers mudslide, shatters Los Angeles County rainfall records:  “Heavy rain that pounded the Southland overnight shattered rainfall records across Los Angeles County and triggered a mudslide in Sherman Oaks that damaged at least one home.  A low-pressure system that originated in the Gulf of Alaska dumped half an inch to nearly 3 inches of rain across Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties between Sunday afternoon and Monday morning, said Kristen Stewart, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: Heavy rain triggers mudslide, shatters Los Angeles County rainfall records

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Along the Colorado River …

Arizona: Groundwater aquifers can expect a boost from March rains:  “March rain has left Salt River Project reservoirs as full as they’ve been in a decade. The company is discharging water to make room for the runoff, providing a boost to the underlying aquifers.  The utility says the Salt and Verde river systems are at a combined 94% of capacity, almost 20 points higher than last year. Theodore Roosevelt Lake holds about two-thirds of SRP’s stored water and is over 90 percent full.  The utility is sending discharge from the reservoirs, called “spillage,” down the Salt River. … ”  Read more from KJZZ here: Arizona: Groundwater aquifers can expect a boost from March rains

Colorado: New law strengthens historical agricultural water uses:  “A bill that cleared the Colorado legislature with bipartisan support March 4 seeks to resolve an eight-year debate over how ranchers and other water users can maintain their historical water use when dry conditions trigger cutbacks to protect streamflows.  House Bill 1159, which passed the House with a unanimous 63-0 vote and the Senate with a 31-1 vote, authorizes state water officials to confirm historical usages, such as water used for livestock, whether or not it’s held in an official water right. This allows ranchers’ uses to stay first in line for water ahead of the stream protections, known as instream-flow rights. ... ”  Read more from Aspen Journalism here: New law strengthens historical agricultural water uses

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Precipitation watch ...

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

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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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