DAILY DIGEST, 3/27: Dry winter plunges much of CA into drought; Five things for CA water agencies to know about COVID-19; Good fire on the Klamath; Delta Council approves $1M in science funding and path forward for Delta levees; National Water and climate update; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • The Central Valley Flood Protection Board meets at 9am.  Agenda items include Army Corps Levee Inspection Results; DWR Monthly Report, and consideration of a reprieve on permitting time requirements due to the declared state of emergency.  Public is encouraged to attend via webcast.  Click here for the agenda and webcast information.

In California water news today …

Dry winter plunges much of California into drought:  “Much of California remains in abnormally dry conditions and several regions in the north state are experiencing drought, according to a Thursday report from the U.S. Drought Monitor.  Despite a series of late-season storms giving the thirsty state much needed precipitation during March, it was not enough to make up for the rain and snow deficit run up during the inordinately dry winter.  “While the late-season precipitation has reduced irrigation demands and has provided a nice boost in soil moisture and snowpack, the moisture is generally too late for drought-stressed rangeland that has already lost forage yield potential due to winter drought,” the agency reported. … ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service here: Dry winter plunges much of California into drought

SEE ALSO: Impressive March Rains Continue, but Is Drought Ahead?, from GV Wire

Five things for California water agencies to know about COVID-19:  “This first alert provides a summary of five important issues and regulatory actions that may impact California water and wastewater agencies’ operations and management. ... ”  Read more from Somach Simmons & Dunn here: Five things for California water agencies to know about COVID-19

Good Fire on the Klamath: Indigenous-led fire training exchanges support Native rights, open dialogue about wildfire management in California:  “After a day of learning how to use drip torches, cut fireline, and read mobile weather meters, a group of about 40 prescribed fire trainees gathered to listen to a traditional Yurok story in the gym at the Morek Won Community Center, near the Klamath River in northwest California. Margo Robbins, executive director of the Cultural Fire Management Council, related the complex tale of the theft of fire, an account of a relay among a series of animals carrying a glowing ember across the landscape, one after another, until Frog is at last able to dive into the Klamath with the firebrand and safely stow it in the roots of a willow tree. Thus the trainees learned something of the web of ecological interrelationships in Yurok country and, as Robbins explained at the end of the story, how “fire is always connected with water.”  “Whenever we burn a hillside, we see more water running at the base of the hill,” she says. ... ”  Read more from Earth Island Journal here: Good Fire on the Klamath

Delta Council approves $1 million in science funding and path forward for Delta levees at March 26 Meeting: “In actions at today’s Delta Stewardship Council (Council) meeting, the Council committed nearly $1 million to fund critical science in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and adopted a path forward for the Delta Levees Investment Strategy (DLIS).  The Council’s actions support three new science investigations and authorize amendments on two additional research contracts: …”

Click here to read more.

Operation Baseline: Three new studies will build upon previous work to understand baseline conditions in the Delta and prepare for changes resulting from Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District’s wastewater treatment plant upgrades, slated for completion in 2021. The framework, tools, and technologies from this work will improve our understanding of potential shifts in nutrients and food webs in the Delta and inform management decisions related to priority ecosystem restoration and invasive aquatic vegetation control.  “Without this support, we’d lose a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to truly understand wholesale changes to the nutrient load in the Delta,” said Louise Conrad, Deputy Executive Officer for Science.

Salmon Survival: An amendment to a contract with the University of California, Davis, will allow scientists to complete salmon tracking research that informs best practices for the reintroduction of Chinook salmon to the San Joaquin River. The additional funds will cover tagging, release, and tracking of survival through critical junctures in the Delta that may have high mortality rates. This critical science investigation supports the San Joaquin River Restoration Program’s reintroduction of spring-run Chinook salmon.

Data Integration and Science Synthesis: A new subcontract with the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center at the University of Maryland for a post-doctorate researcher will support the integration, analysis, and publication of data from numerous studies. This synthesis will provide new insight into how fish species respond to changing environmental conditions and water management practices, including operations of the Central Valley and State water projects.

Also at today’s meeting, the Council discussed new information that could impact the estimation of risks to state interests in the Delta. Based on staff recommendations, the Council adopted a resolution to withdraw the current regulatory adoption process for Delta Plan Policy RR P1, and directed staff to evaluate if this new information could change the prioritization of Delta levees and tracts in the DLIS. The Council also approved a contract amendment with Stantec to update the DLIS based on new island and tract levee elevation data and will report back to the Council at a future date.

Access the materials from today’s meeting at deltacouncil.ca.gov/council-meetings.

UCSC grad students win funding for research on salmon and coastal resilience:  “California Sea Grant has awarded funding to two UC Santa Cruz graduate students for research projects involving restoration of salmon populations and management strategies for resilient coastal communities.  This year, for the first time, California Sea Grant solicited project proposals directly from graduate students as well as from established faculty members. Ann Beulke and Rae Taylor-Burns, both graduate students in the Department of Ocean Sciences, lead two of the 19 research projects throughout the state that will receive a total of $900,000 in federal funding. … ”  Read more from the University of Santa Cruz here: UCSC grad students win funding for research on salmon and coastal resilience

Imperial Valley farmers step up harvesting during coronavirus pandemic:  “With the world struggling through the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, vegetable growers in the Imperial Valley are continuing to harvest vegetables.  Agriculture remains an essential service not only to serve California, but the nation and the world. The vegetable harvest is ongoing as the Imperial Valley heads toward the final weeks of the winter vegetable crops.  “We have not to this point been impacted,” said farmer Scott Howington, president of the Imperial Valley Vegetable Growers Association. Howington’s farm operation, Oasis Farming Inc., focuses on organic crops.  But Howington said for his own operation, food safety protocols already in place are even more critical in light of the coronavirus. ... ”  Read more from the Water News Network here: Imperial Valley Farmers Step Up Harvesting During Coronavirus Pandemic

Return to top

In national/world news today …

National Water and climate update: NOAA releases its flood outlook for the spring:  “The Natural Resources Conservation Service produces this weekly report using data and products from the National Water and Climate Center and other agencies. The report focuses on seasonal snowpack, precipitation, temperature, and drought conditions in the U.S.  Widespread minor flooding this spring is expected in the Midwest, resulting from months of ongoing rainfall with saturated soils. From the NOAA press release: “The greatest risk for major and moderate flood conditions includes the upper and middle Mississippi River basins, the Missouri River basin and the Red River of the North. Moderate flooding is anticipated in the Ohio, Cumberland, Tennessee, and Missouri River basins, as well as the lower Mississippi River basin and its tributaries.” Forecasts for a wet spring in some areas will contribute to any flooding conditions.”  Read the report here: National Water and climate update: NOAA releases its flood outlook for the spring

‘It’s just despair’: Many Americans face coronavirus with no water to wash their hands“The cold winter months were grueling for Valaria Griffin.  The city of Detroit shut off her water late last fall because of unpaid bills and a broken plumbing valve that she couldn’t afford to fix. Griffin, 55, was forced to rely on donated bottled water to drink, cook and bathe. She used space heaters to warm her home; without running water, the boiler didn’t work.  Then the coronavirus hit. Governors and public health officials across the country ordered people to stay in their homes and — most importantly — to wash their hands.  But like millions of other people across the country who have their water shut off each year, Griffin can’t easily do that — and now she worries that her life could be in danger. ... ”  Read more from NBC News here: ‘It’s just despair’: Many Americans face coronavirus with no water to wash their hands

Virus-related delays cause states to rethink water permit compliance:  “States around the country say they won’t penalize water and wastewater utilities for failing to meet Clean Water Act permit requirements due to delays caused by the deadly coronavirus if those delays are justified and documented.  Delays, for example, could be caused by utility staff who test and monitor water quality—or lab workers who analyze it—being quarantined with Covid-19.  “We can and will use reasonable enforcement discretion,” Melanie Davenport, water permitting division director for the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, said last week at a webinar by the Water Environment Federation on how the pandemic is affecting permit holders. … ”  Read more from Bloomberg Environmental here: Virus-related delays cause states to rethink water permit compliance

EPA relaxes environmental enforcement during coronavirus emergency:  “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will relax enforcement of civil penalties for noncompliance with industrial air and water pollution laws during the coronavirus outbreak, the agency announced on Thursday.  Quarantines and illness may limit staff availability and cause a facility to violate the terms of its permits, wrote Susan Bodine, the EPA assistant administrator for enforcement and compliance assurance. That includes monitoring air emissions, sampling wastewater discharges, and filing reports.  The policy states that, in the water sector, continued operation of drinking water treatment is the highest priority. If there is a staff shortage, emphasis should be placed on monitoring water supplies for microbial pathogens, nitrate, and lead. … ”  Read more from the Circle of Blue here: EPA relaxes environmental enforcement during coronavirus emergency

Stimulus package excludes financial relief for water sector:  “Congress released a massive stimulus package Wednesday evening that included significant funding for a variety of private industries, but financial relief for the clean water sector was not included, according to the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA).  “While Congress’s recently passed stimulus package will provide significant help to many families, organizations and businesses in desperate need in the wake of COVID-19, it failed to offer support to one of the most fundamental services that everyday citizens need now more than ever – clean water,” said NACWA CEO Adam Krantz. … ”  Read more from Water Finance & Management here: Stimulus package excludes financial relief for water sector

Return to top

Precipitation watch ...

From NWS Sacramento: Showers possible in the Central Valley and foothills this weekend with 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: