DAILY DIGEST, 3/26: NorCal early April precipitation is expected to be below normal; San Joaquin Valley water district sues to stop salty water exchange; Reclamation, DWR to perform exploratory work near B.F. Sisk Dam; Water utilities’ biggest coronavirus concern is staffing; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • Delta Stewardship Council meets beginning at 9am via webcast only:  Agenda items include approving contracts for Operation Baseline, acoustic telemetry, Chinook salmon reintroduction investigations, and the ecosystem amendment, and an update on the Delta Levee Investment Strategy.  View full agenda here.

In California water news today …

Early April precipitation is expected to be below normal where it is most needed in Northern California:  “April showers may be more scarce than normal north of Point Conception in California, according to an outlook produced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  This area where the probability of precipitation is below normal includes virtually all of Northern California and the crucial northern Sierra Nevada, where the state’s largest reservoirs are located.  While snow cover has increased thanks to a series of March storms, the Northern Sierra 8-Station Index stands at 56% of normal for the season. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: Early April precipitation is expected to be below normal where it is most needed in Northern California

San Joaquin Valley: District sues to stop salty water exchange:  “The James Irrigation District in western Fresno County has sued the Westlands Water District over its plan to let farmers pump salty groundwater into the Mendota Pool in exchange for water from the San Luis Reservoir.  The lawsuit could scuttle Westlands’ plans to create a certain supply for its farmers as they, and farmers throughout the Central Valley, adapt to new water uncertainties under the state’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, a measure to restrict groundwater pumping. … ”  Read more from SJV Water here:  San Joaquin Valley: District sues to stop salty water exchange

Initiative aims to speed coho salmon recovery in California coastal watersheds from Santa Cruz to Mendocino counties:  “Coho salmon are getting a boost from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) strategic plan to prioritize salmon restoration and habitat improvement projects in coastal watersheds from Santa Cruz to Mendocino counties. In most of these watersheds, coho salmon are in severe decline or locally extinct due to human alterations to land and water resources.  The Priority Action Coho Team (PACT) is designed to focus much needed restoration to help maintain, stabilize and increase localized coho salmon populations. The approach of the PACT initiative is to identify and implement specific short-term actions, drawing from existing state and federal coho salmon recovery plans, to bring immediate benefits. … ”  Read more from CDFW here: Initiative aims to speed coho salmon recovery in California coastal watersheds from Santa Cruz to Mendocino counties

CDFW awards $37 million for ecosystem and watershed restoration, protection and scientific study projects:  “The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) today announced the selection of 40 multi-benefit ecosystem restoration and protection projects to receive funding under its Proposition 1 and Proposition 68 grant programs.  The awards, totaling $37 million, were made under CDFW’s 2020 Proposition 1 and Proposition 68 Grant Opportunities Proposal Solicitation Notice. … ”  Read more from the Department of Fish and Wildlife here:  CDFW awards $37 million for ecosystem and watershed restoration, protection and scientific study projects

Reclamation, DWR to perform exploratory work near B.F. Sisk Dam:  “The Bureau of Reclamation and the California Department of Water Resources are conducting exploratory work, including clearing, excavation and controlled blasting of rock material in the Basalt Hill area near B.F. Sisk Dam, located between Los Banos and Gilroy, between 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. during April and May.  The exploratory findings on Reclamation lands will help identify size and quality of granular material for the planned construction of a Safety of Dams Modification project.  The joint project between Reclamation and DWR will add stability berms and other physical features to the existing 3.5-mile-long earthen B.F. Sisk Dam to reduce risks associated with a large seismic event. ... ”  Read more from the Bureau of Reclamation here:  Reclamation, DWR to perform exploratory work near B.F. Sisk Dam

How the coronavirus pandemic is crippling California's efforts to prevent catastrophic wildfires:  “California’s ability to prepare for a dry and potentially dangerous fire season this year is being crippled as the coronavirus pandemic prompts fire agencies across the West to cancel or delay programs aimed at preventing catastrophic wildfire.  From clearing out undergrowth in forests to training firefighters to tamp out flames, local, state and federal fire forces are trying to move forward within new social distancing guidelines, as well as with potentially sick employees, but that’s making their work harder and sometimes impossible to do. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  How the coronavirus pandemic is crippling California’s efforts to prevent catastrophic wildfires

Western water data coming to new online platform:  “Evapotranspiration data has historically been limited in scope and expensive to access. A new project seeks to change that.  Researchers from NASA, the Desert Research Institute and the Environmental Defense Fund, with support from Google Earth Engine technology, are working to create an online platform with free, accessible, satellite-based water data open to anyone.  Farmers have expressed both excitement and concern about the prospect. Industry leaders and water experts say the project will have a profound impact on water management in the West. ... ”  Read more from the Capital Press here: Western water data coming to new online platform

Return to top

In national/world news today …

Water utilities’ biggest coronavirus concern is staffing:  “Keeping the water flowing, even in times of emergency, requires certified workers to operate treatment plants. But operators cannot work when they are sick.  As the coronavirus spreads across the country, water utility leaders say that potential staffing shortages due to illness and quarantine are their biggest current concern in the Covid-19 pandemic.  That conclusion comes from interviews with water utility representatives and data from an American Water Works Association survey of several hundred water utilities about challenges they expect to face as a result of the outbreak, which has now touched every state.  Staffing concerns are especially acute for small utilities, which have fewer immediate resources to draw upon than their urban counterparts. … ”  Read more from Circle of Blue here: Water utilities’ biggest coronavirus concern is staffing

Coronavirus outbreak tests resilience of Western water workforce:  “Water agencies throughout the West are changing their operations during the coronavirus outbreak to make sure cities and farms don't run dry.  Their responses range from extreme measures to modest adjustments to ensure their most critical workers don't succumb to the virus.  In San Diego, leadership at the Carlsbad desalination plant asked staff to volunteer for a 21-day isolated stay at the facility. A second set of workers are self-isolating at home to arrive on site for their stay at the treatment plant should the outbreak extend beyond the initial 21-day period. … ”  Read more from KUNC here: Coronavirus outbreak tests resilience of Western water workforce

Pros and cons of wastewater treatment methods: coagulation and disinfection:  “Every stage in a wastewater treatment process is important to achieve the desired treatment results. However, primary treatment and tertiary are critical to the overall process. In the primary treatment process, solids are reduced to a large extent. Without this step, subsequent treatment would be less effective. In tertiary treatment, harmful microbiological matter is rendered killed or inactive so that it will not cause sickness to those organisms that encounter it. ... ”  Read more from Water Online here: Pros and cons of wastewater treatment methods: coagulation and disinfection

Why marine protected areas are often not where they should be:  “There's no denying the grandeur and allure of a nature reserve or marine protected area. The concept is easy to understand: limit human activity there and marine ecosystems will thrive.  But while the number of marine protected areas is increasing, so too is the number of threatened species, and the health of marine ecosystems is in decline.  Why? Our research shows it's because marine protected areas are often placed where there's already low human activity, rather than in places with high biodiversity that need it most. … ”  Read more from PhysOrg here:  Why marine protected areas are often not where they should be

PFAS found in landfills; no clear path on what to do about it:  “When Joe Fusco looks at a landfill, he sees the result of decades of consumer demand for waterproof, nonstick, and stain-resistant products, a soup of “forever chemicals” that could make their way into the water supply.  “The chemicals are so prevalent in society,” said Fusco, who is vice president at Vermont-based Casella Waste Systems Inc. “You’re going to find it in every landfill. You’re going to find it in every wastewater treatment plant.”  The chemicals, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), are also popping up in drinking water supplies across the country. But finding the chemicals is just the first step. Determining their source, and what steps to take next, is less clear. ... ”  Read more from Bloomberg Environment here: PFAS found in landfills; no clear path on what to do about it

Return to top

In regional news and commentary today …

Klamath dam removal a ‘bright spot,’ says Matt Cox, The COVID-19 virus outbreak is affecting us all, whether we live in a big city or rural Siskiyou County. The economy is grinding to a halt and governments are planning a massive response to keep money flowing to small businesses and employees – the lifeblood of the entire economy.  It is through this lens that I encourage Klamath Basin residents to view KRRC’s dam removal and river restoration project – as an economic bright spot. Dam removal will bring local investments and opportunities, including an estimated 400 jobs through contracts and direct hiring and an estimated 1,400 additional jobs in support industries like hospitality and restaurants, all at a time when we will need it the most. ... ”  Read more from the Taft Midway Driller here: Klamath dam removal a ‘bright spot’

Sonoma County: Frost advisory has farmers scrambling for frost protection for vineyards:  “Below freezing temperatures that swept through Sonoma County on Wednesday had local grape growers turning on their fans and sprinklers to protect the tiny buds that have emerged on vineyards across the region.  The low Wednesday morning at Charles M. Schulz–Sonoma County Airport was 31 degrees and a frost advisory was scheduled from 2 a.m. to 9 a.m. Thursday for the North Bay as the temperatures were expected to drop to freezing, said Scott Rowe, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. The high Wednesday was 55 degrees. ... ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here: Frost advisory has farmers scrambling for frost protection for vineyards

Kettleman City can finally clean its water – if it receives any.  Wayne Western writes, “Great news everyone: a new water quality treatment plant in Kettleman City is up and running and has passed its water quality tests!  Situated on the far west side of Kings County, Kettleman is a small farming community of about 1,500 people, best known to Californians as a waypoint at the intersection of Interstate 5 and Highway 41. … The problem? The water that will run through this new water quality treatment plant is being tied up at the center of hotly-contested litigation waged by the Newsom Administration ... ”  Read more from the San Joaquin Valley Sun here:  A Valley community can finally clean its water – if it receives any.

Ridgecrest: Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority approves metering standards, requirements:  “The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority signed off on an ordinance and related resolution officially requiring all major pumpers needing metering on all groundwater extraction facilities and pumps during a board meeting on Thursday.  The board met in mostly empty council chambers, fielding questions and comments from a small crowd or remotely due to the ongoing novel coronavirus outbreak to help curb the outbreak. … ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here:  Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority approves metering standards, requirements

Return to top

Today's featured article …

WESTERN GROUNDWATER CONGRESS: Depletion of interconnected surface waters: Not that simple

Sierra Ryan is a water resources planner with the County of Santa Cruz.  In this presentation from the Groundwater Resources Association‘s 2019 Western Groundwater Congress, Ms. Ryan tells the story of how the Santa Cruz Mid-County Groundwater Agency balanced the various perspectives, authorities, and interpretations of the DWR regulations in writing the portion of their Groundwater Sustainability Plan that pertained to the depletion of interconnected surface water (sustainability indicator or undesirable result #6).

I promise you that it was not as simple as we thought it was to begin with, so for those of you in the medium and high priority basins that have the 2022 deadlines, I hope you’re thinking about this now,” Ms. Ryan advised.

The Santa Cruz Mid-County groundwater basin is a critically-overdrafted basin located along the Central Coast where a history of overpumping has led to areas of seawater intrusion.  Projections are that there will be less groundwater recharge due to climate change, so the concern is to maintain pumping and take other actions to ensure that the seawater intrusion doesn’t increase.

Click here to read this article.

Return to top

Precipitation watch ...

From NWS Sacramento: Unsettled weather expected over the weekend with showers possible in the Central Valley and foothills and snow showers in the mountains.

Return to top

Also on Maven's Notebook today …

Return to top

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.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: