DAILY DIGEST, 3/25: Nation’s biggest water supplier isolating staff over virus; Family’s 18-year fight with Butte County over water rights tossed; Tulare County Supervisors oppose state over surface water; New Klamath TMDLs: An impossible standard?; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • The Delta Conservancy Board will meet via conference call from 9am to 1pm.  Agenda items include updates on Prop 1 and Prop 68 programs, the 2020 implementation plan, grant awards for several ecosystem projects, and the Conservancy’s 2020 implementation plan.  For the full agenda and meeting materials, click here.
  • WEBINAR: Effective PFAS Treatment: Challenges and Solutions for Potable Reuse from 11am to 12pm:  This webcast focuses on the fate of PFAS in recycled water destined for potable reuse, and will include results from different advanced treatment processes ranging from bench-scale evaluations to permanent potable reuse treatment demonstration projects. Click here to register.

In California water news today …

Nation’s biggest water supplier isolating staff over virus:  “The nation’s largest treated water supply district is isolating workers, reducing the number of on-site employees, and giving its executive director broad powers, in the wake of stay-at-home orders and health concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.  The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is also recasting technology upgrades to focus more on laptop than desktop computers so that staff can work at home during this outbreak and future emergencies.  The district delivers water to 26 public agencies serving 19 million Californians, or 1 in 17 Americans. ... ”  Read more from Bloomberg here: Nation’s biggest water supplier isolating staff over virus

Family’s 18-year fight with Butte County over water rights tossed:  “Sealing a baffling fight over a ditch that involved dead cows, helicopters and a criminal trial, a federal judge ruled Tuesday that a California county didn’t trample a rural cattle rancher’s rights in its curious attempt to sabotage his water rights permit.  In the latest from a nearly 20-year water rights war between Irvine Leen and Butte County officials, U.S. District Judge Troy Nunley dismissed Leen’s civil rights lawsuit without leave to amend. ... ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service here:  Family’s 18-year fight with county over water rights tossed

Tulare County Supervisors oppose state over surface water:  “The Tulare County Board of Supervisors is urging the Governor and attorney general to drop their lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s easing of water restrictions on the San Joaquin River used to protect endangered fish.  At its March 17 meeting, the Supervisors unanimously approved a resolution opposing California’s lawsuit, titled “The California Natural Resources Agency, etc. vs. Wilbur Ross, etc., which was filed on Feb. 20 in federal court. Ross, who is the secretary of commerce, is named in the lawsuit because President Donald Trump issued a presidential memorandum in October 2018 directing Ross and Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt, who oversees the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, “to minimize unnecessary regulatory burdens and foster more efficient decision-making so that water projects are better able to meet the demands of their authorized purposes.” ... ”  Read more from the Foothills Sun-Gazette here: Tulare County Supervisors oppose state over surface water

New Klamath TMDLs: An impossible standard? During a week full of COVID-19-related uncertainty, a pair of new lawsuits are a reminder of one constant: disputes over Klamath Basin water. This past week, PacifiCorp and Klamath Water Users Association each filed petitions for review of Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) for temperature in the Upper Klamath and Lost River subbasins. Both petitions argue that the TMDLs, issued by Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), set unachievable standards and are unlawfully based on California standards, among other arguments.  In the Upper Klamath TMDLs, DEQ set temperature standards for various portions of the Upper Klamath River and its tributaries at levels intended to protect certain cold-water fish species, such as salmon, which generally cannot survive high water temperatures. … ”  Read more from JD Supra here: New Klamath TMDLs: An impossible standard? 

Research tests how rice fields can benefit fish:  “Winter-flooded rice fields already provide essential habitat for migratory birds, but could they also provide benefits to help the state's salmon populations?  Scientists at the University of California, Davis, are finalizing their fieldwork on an experiment to find out what management practices farmers might adopt in their fields to maximize fish survival.  At River Garden Farms in Knights Landing last week, researchers waded through a water-supply canal where young chinook salmon were being held in cages. The scientists were getting ready to implant about 1,000 of the 12,000 fish with microtransmitters for tracking. … ”  Read more from Ag Alert here: Research tests how rice fields can benefit fish

Witness trees tell how ecosystems of Silicon Valley have changed:  “Picture the street where you live. Maybe you see single-family homes, or apartment blocks, a road running alongside, sidewalks, a nearby park. Now imagine time running in reverse: buildings and stores change their faces one by one, people and cars pass in vintage styles. As the clock winds backward, the street becomes a dirt road trod on by horses pulling people in carriages; a little further and you may be standing in a field of corn, or a pasture dotted with cows. Go far enough back, and the place where your house stood may have been a forest of beech trees, or a sandy desert of blooming cacti. A new study by Erin B. Beller and colleagues for the first time scientifically tackles an important aspect of the story of our urban landscape: how do ecosystems change from the time prior to first permanent settlement to today, after growing into a densely developed modern city? ... ”  Read more from EnviroBites here: Witness trees tell how ecosystems of Silicon Valley have changed

California isn’t testing enough children for lead, prompting legislation:  “In some parts of California, a higher percentage of children who were tested had elevated levels of toxic lead in their blood than in Flint, Michigan, during the height of that city’s water crisis.  More than 5% of children under age 6 in nine mostly rural California counties had blood lead levels in 2015 that put them above state and federal reporting guidelines for lead exposure — at least 4.5 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood — according to the most detailed data from the California Department of Public Health. Across the state, 1.4% of children who were tested, or about 7,650 kids, had elevated blood lead levels that year. ... ”  Read more from Heathline here: California isn’t testing enough children for lead, prompting legislation

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In national/world news today …

Understanding ocean changes and climate just got harder:  “A new study shows that two important indicators for understanding and predicting the effects of climate variability on eastern North Pacific marine ecosystems are less reliable than they were historically. This finding has important implications for fisheries and ecosystem management from Alaska to California.  Until recently, oceanographers and fishery biologists summarized and understood complex and long-term relationships between regional fish stock productivity and ocean climate patterns using the Pacific Decadal Oscillation index (PDO) and the North Pacific Gyre Oscillation (NPGO). … ”  Read more from NOAA here: Understanding ocean changes and climate just got harder

Glacier over world's deepest canyon faces irreversible melt:  “Scientists have identified another Antarctic glacier that could be more vulnerable to climate change than previously suspected.  Denman Glacier in East Antarctica has largely flown under the radar until now. Much of the focus at the South Pole has centered on rapidly melting glaciers in West Antarctica, where the rate of ice loss is the highest.  The enormous Thwaites Glacier, for instance — which is currently pouring around 50 billion tons of ice into the ocean each year — is the subject of an ongoing, multiyear international research project spearheaded by U.S. and British science agencies. … ”  Read more from E&E News here:  Glacier over world’s deepest canyon faces irreversible melt

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In commentary today …

Building upon 50 years of interagency ecological science in the Bay-Delta:  Interagency Ecological Program Lead Scientist Steven Culberson writes, “This year marks a significant milestone for the Interagency Ecological Program (IEP) – now nine state and federal agencies that first joined forces 50 years ago for cooperative ecological monitoring and coordination in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and San Francisco Bay Estuary. As the IEP Lead Scientist, I have been reflecting on who we are, how we’ve evolved, and what we need to do to ensure we’re still working collaboratively for another 50 years.  The IEP was born from a need to understand the ecological impacts of state and federal water projects on the Delta and the overall health of fish and wildlife throughout the estuary. Its early work – outlined in a Memorandum of Understanding among the California Department of Fish and Game, the California Department of Water Resources, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation – helped establish some of the first biological standards in the country and set standards for long-term ecological monitoring and research in the Bay-Delta. … “  Read more from the Delta Stewardship Council here: Building upon 50 years of interagency ecological science in the Bay-Delta

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Today's featured article …

ECOSYSTEM-BASED MANAGEMENT: A new paradigm for managing California’s freshwater ecosystems

Californians rely on the state’s myriad of rivers and streams for things such as water supply, hydropower, recreation, fisheries, biodiversity, and more. These ecosystems and the benefits they provide are part of the state’s natural infrastructure. 

But these ecosystems are changing in undesirable ways in response to water and land use, pollution, non-native species, and a changing climate, and numerous species are now protected by state and federal endangered species acts with many times more species likely to need protection in future. 

To maintain the benefits that Californians derive from their freshwater ecosystems—and arrest the decline of native biodiversity—the authors of a new report by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) say a new approach is needed, one that is based on the principles and practices of ecosystem-based management.

Click here to read this article.

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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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