In California water news this weekend …

Restore the Delta sends letter to DWR, asks for cessation of all Delta Conveyance Project activity during pandemic:  Restore the Delta writes, “Today, Restore the Delta and Sierra Club California sent a letter to Karla Nemeth, Director of California Department of Water Resources, and Wade Crowfoot, Secretary of California Natural Resources Agency, to demand—respectfully—that the California Natural Resources Agency and DWR suspend and cease all Delta Conveyance Project (DCP) activity that entails actions by state and federal agencies on the DCP during the duration of the Novel Coronavirus Pandemic emergency. There is plenty of other work that may proceed in the absence of such actions from other agencies. But there is no justification for DCP to seek and receive benefit of other agencies’ actions for which public participation is critical, and during the pandemic, scarce and distracted.  Read the full letter here.

Here’s what happens to science when California’s researchers shelter in place:  ” … With California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s order for Californians to shelter in place, university campuses across the state began gauging the risk of letting research continue. And scientists are finding their work, plans and lives upended by the spread of the novel coronavirus.  Some, like Miller, are switching gears to fight the virus — but for others, research is grinding to a halt, including critical medical research. Still more are caught in limbo, waiting to find out if they can continue important studies without endangering themselves, or others. … ”  Read more from Cal Matters here: Here’s what happens to science when California’s researchers shelter in place

Freshwater species are disappearing fast — this year is critical for saving them:  “We’ve all seen photos of clear-cut forests with swathes of razed trees or deep scars in the ground from an open-pit mine. The damage to the species that live in these habitats isn’t hard to imagine.  But the damage we’ve done to freshwater ecosystems isn’t so visible. In rivers or lakes, trouble often lurks out of view beneath the surface of the water — as with dams that block migratory fish or choke off needed nutrients and sediment.  Some experts believe we’re losing freshwater species faster than any others for one main reason: out of sight, out of mind.  A new study by more than two dozen expert scientists and policymakers aims to change that. … ”  Read more from The Revelator here: Freshwater species are disappearing fast — this year is critical for saving them

Webinar: Utility actions to sustain operations during covid-19:  “This webinar is designed to share practices that utilities have implemented to prepare and respond to COVID-19. This includes a discussion of workforce issues, facility access and supply chain conditions. In addition, a summary of state primacy agency actions with be provided. Templates that a utility might use to support pandemic planning efforts will also be shared.”  Watch webinar from the American Water Works Association here: Webinar: Utility actions to sustain operations during covid-19

Citing coronavirus, EPA suspends enforcement of environmental laws:  “A sweeping decision by the Environmental Protection Agency to suspend enforcement on a range of health and environmental protections due to the spread of the coronavirus has prompted heavy criticism from California regulators, local health officers and environmentalists.  “The severity of the COVID-19 crisis should not be used as an excuse by the EPA to relax enforcement of federal environmental laws designed to protect public health and safety,” said Serge Dedina, mayor of Imperial Beach, whose city, on the Mexican border, is under constant siege from pollution. “This crisis has only underscored why protecting public health and safety and our environment is more critical than ever.” ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Citing coronavirus, EPA suspends enforcement of environmental laws

EPA’s relaxed enforcement amid virus draws mixed state reaction:  “State regulators are giving mixed responses to the EPA’s relaxed enforcement on a range of environmental obligations by facilities affected by the coronavirus pandemic.  The Environmental Protection Agency said this week it wouldn’t seek penalties for violations covered by the emergency policy.  But most states are involved in the actual day-to-day-work of enforcing environmental permitting programs based on federal rules and policies. So while some states plan to defer to the EPA’s latest guidance, others indicated they will not. ... ”  Read more from Bloomberg Environment here: EPA’s relaxed enforcement amid virus draws mixed state reaction

Designing an end to a toxic American obsession: The Lawn:  “Lawns are an American obsession. Since the mass proliferation of suburbs in the 1950s and ’60s, these pristine carpets of green turf have been meticulously maintained by suburbanites, with grass length and other aesthetic considerations enforced with bylaws and by homeowner associations.  But for nature, lawns offer little. Their maintenance produces more greenhouse gases than they absorb, and they are biodiversity deserts that have contributed to vanishing insect populations. Residential lawns cover 2% of US land and require more irrigation than any agricultural crop grown in the country. Across California, more than half of household water is used outside of the house.  If attitudes toward lawn care are shifted, however, these grassy green patches represent a gigantic opportunity. ... ”  Read more from CNN here: Designing an end to a toxic American obsession: The Lawn

If a warm U.S. winter was ‘a preview of global warming,’ what part did a polar vortex play?  “The winter that just ended was the sixth-warmest on record in the contiguous United States, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. And one feature of that winter was a strong zonal, west-to-east flowing polar vortex.  Wait, what?  Usually when we hear about a polar vortex, it’s in news stories about frigid temperatures enveloping the U.S. ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here: If a warm U.S. winter was ‘a preview of global warming,’ what part did a polar vortex play?

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In people news this weekend …

Jerry Brown selected as Executive Director for Sites Reservoir:  “Following a comprehensive outreach and recruitment effort, the Sites Project Authority Board of Directors has selected Jerry Brown as the Executive Director for Sites Reservoir.  Jerry Brown previously served as general manager of Contra Costa Water District where he oversaw the operations and management of a large water system that served more than 500,000 customers. In this role, he also oversaw development of the first Los Vaqueros Reservoir expansion in 2012. Since leaving CCWD in 2019, he has been working closely with Bay Area water agencies, refuge managers and Central Valley water users to develop the second expansion of Los Vaqueros as a regional asset funded by Prop 1, similar to Sites Reservoir. … “

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 As we enter the next phase of developing Sites Reservoir, the Authority Board was looking for someone with experience navigating the complexity of water storage development that could accelerate the pace of development. Among a well-qualified pool of candidates, Mr. Brown stood out as the person we needed to take the project through the next stage,” said Fritz Durst, chairman of the Sites Project Authority.

 Last year, in response to a comprehensive organizational assessment directed by the Sites Project Authority and Reservoir Committee membership, the Sites Project Authority began recruitment for an executive director who could meet the needs of the project throughout the next phase of development. Mr. Brown will assume this role effective March 30, 2020.

 “I’m looking forward to this exciting opportunity, especially working with the Authority Board and the local community which is so vital to the success of the project.  My skills and experience along with the amazing team of professionals already working on the project make-up a strong, dedicated group that share in the commitment to get this project done in a manner that protects and enhances fish and wildlife and water reliability,” said incoming executive director Jerry Brown.

Located 10 miles west of the town of Maxwell in rural Glenn and Colusa counties, the Sites Reservoir would be an off-stream storage facility that captures and stores stormwater flows in the Sacramento River—after all other water rights and regulatory requirements are met—for release in dry and critical years for environmental use and for California communities, farms and businesses when it is so desperately needed.

Now more than ever, California needs to address its statewide water management challenges by implementing innovative solutions that address the need for a sustainable and affordable water supply. Sites Reservoir will provide a new water supply for both people and the environment, and significantly improve the state’s water management system in drier periods and restore much needed flexibility and reliability in the system.

Sites is an off-river reservoir proposed north of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, where it would provide unique water supply and environmental benefits during dry and critical water years, and especially during extended drought periods. Additional information can be found at: https://www.sitesproject.org. Follow the Sites Project on social media @SitesProject.

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Sunday podcasts …

Sustainable Groundwater: Do you think your water supply is like a bank account? Andrew Stone, American Ground Water Trust, explains how sustainability of water is very much the same as deposits and withdraws in your home or business bank account? Now, superimpose public expectation for daily water and a high temporal variability in groundwater recharge and suddenly maintaining a healthy water bank account becomes a bit of a challenge. 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 www.operationunite.co

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In regional news and commentary this weekend …

NID completes the first phase crucial canal replacement project – under budget, ahead of schedule:  “Keeping infrastructure intact and functioning is important to efficient water delivery. For nearly 100 years the Nevada Irrigation District (NID) has kept the water flowing.  It was an especially good day for local water deliveries on Tuesday, March 24, when the first flow of water was sent through a stretch of new pipeline, vital infrastructure that will transport more than half of the District’s water deliveries from below the Combie Reservoir to customers in southern Nevada and western Placer counties. What’s more, the project came in under budget and ahead of schedule. … ”  Read more from ACWA’s Water News here: NID completes the first phase crucial canal replacement project – under budget, ahead of schedule

‘We’re in bad shape’: Valley lags in rainfall, despite storms this week:  “The past week brought much-needed showers to Tulare County — but not enough to catch up to the amount of rain the area should have by this time in the water year.  The next round of rain likely won’t hit until about April 5, according to Scott Borgioli, WeatherAg chief meteorologist.  But, he said, future rainfall this spring probably can’t make up the difference, as storms start to roll in fewer and farther between. … ”  Read more from the Visalia Times-Delta here: ‘We’re in bad shape’: Valley lags in rainfall, despite storms this week

San Marcos launches long-awaited Creek District construction:  “San Marcos has launched construction of long-awaited improvements to the city’s Creek District, despite closures that have shuttered many other operations.  The $100 million Creek District project will improve streets, add bridges and build a new park in the area adjacent to San Marcos Creek, which goes through seasonal flooding during rains. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune here: San Marcos launches long-awaited Creek District construction

7,000 gallons of sewage from San Onofre nuclear plant spills a mile into the ocean:  “A sudden influx of water at the sewage treatment facility at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station early Wednesday morning led to about 7,000 gallons of partially treated wastewater being released about a mile into the Pacific.  Officials at Southern California Edison, the plant’s operator, said the sewage amounted to a “non-radiological release” that entered the ocean through a conduit from Unit 2 at the facility, also known as SONGS. The plant has not produced electricity since 2012. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune here: 7,000 gallons of sewage from San Onofre nuclear plant spills a mile into the ocean

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And lastly …

Virtual Dives: An immersive 360 view of your national marine sanctuaries:  “Immerse yourself in the ocean and your national marine sanctuaries without getting wet! These virtual reality voyages use 360-degree images to highlight the amazing habitats, animals, and cultural resources you can find in each national marine sanctuary.”  View at NOAA here:  Virtual Dives

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Precipitation watch …

From NWS Sacramento: A few inches of additional snow are expected today into this evening, which will bring mountain travel delays and chain controls at times.

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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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