DAILY DIGEST, 4/1: The state’s new Delta water rules don’t end conflict with Washington; South San Joaquin Valley demands Newsom boost water supplies; Hoopa Tribe strikes at Westlands Water District deal; After a dry winter, the outlook calls for a wet start to April; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • The Wildlife Conservation Board will meet at 10:00 a.m. to discuss Stream Flow Enhancement Program projects.  Note this Board meeting will be available via Skype.  Click here for full agenda and Skype information.
  • A State Water Project contract extension for Delta conveyance negotiation session will be held from 10am to 3pm.  For webcast information, click here.
  • Free webinar: Overview of the Coronavirus, Transmission and Operations Planning Webinar at 11am, hosted by the California Water Environment Association.  Click here to register.

In California water news today …

The state’s new Delta water rules don’t end conflict with Washington:  “When the Trump administration rolled back endangered species protections in the Bay Area delta that serves as the hub of California’s water-supply system, the state decided to go its own way.  It sued the federal government and also set about drafting its own delta rules under the California Endangered Species Act.  The new rules, released Tuesday, were immediately greeted by threats of lawsuits and — depending on who was talking — complaints that the regulations were too weak or too strong. … ” Read more from the LA Times here: The state’s new Delta water rules don’t end conflict with Washington

California moves forward with water project without federal guidance:  “In the latest break between the Trump administration and California on environmental policy, officials cemented plans Tuesday that will give the state unprecedented control over a project that delivers water to more than 27 million residents.  For decades California and the federal government have collaborated on rules intended to supply farmers, fish and cities with enough water to survive the state’s boom and bust rainy seasons. As managing partners of California’s intricate water infrastructure — the feds largely keep farmers’ fields green while the state focuses on parched cities like Los Angeles and San Diego — the two sides routinely cooperated on a framework to ensure the survival of Chinook salmon and other endangered species. … ”  Read more from Courthouse News Service here: California moves forward with water project without federal guidance

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Facing ag demand, South Valley demands Newsom boost water supplies:  “Facing growing demands for food nationwide, south Valley water users and Kings County officials are pushing Gov. Gavin Newsom to increase water allocations via the State Water Project.  In a letter issued to Newsom on Monday, the group of water users and government agencies sought an increase in water allocation from the current 15 percent of the contracted amount to 35 percent. … ”  Read more from the San Joaquin Valley Sun here: Facing ag demand, South Valley demands Newsom boost water supplies

Hoopa Tribe strikes at interiors coveted Westlands Water District corporate deal: “The Hoopa Valley Tribe applauded Fresno County Superior Court’s refusal to validate a proposed contract between Westlands Water District and the Bureau of Reclamation.  According to Hoopa Valley Tribe Vice Chairman Oscar Billings, the contract would have allocated up to 1,150,000 acre-feet of Northern California water annually to Westlands, most of which would be imported from the Trinity River, which has sustained the Hupa people since time immemorial. … ”  Read more from KRCR here: Hoopa Tribe strikes at interiors coveted Westlands Water District corporate deal

After a dry winter, the outlook calls for a wet start to April in all of California:  “An extended forecast for California shows an above-normal probability of precipitation during the week of April 6-10, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center.  After a disappointingly dry winter that has left most of the state with below-normal precipitation, that’s good news, although it would take a lot of rain and snow to make up for the shortfall.  “This is a decent storm system,” said senior meteorologist Todd Hall with the National Weather Service in Oxnard. “It’s cold with potential for snow in the Sierra.” ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here: After a dry winter, the outlook calls for a wet start to April in all of California

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CalTrout Awarded additional ~$1M to Restore Estuaries (press release):  “The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announced earlier this month a new selection of multi-benefit ecosystem restoration and protection projects to receive funding under its Proposition 1 grant program. CalTrout received a $996,986 award from CDFW Proposition 1 Watershed Grant Program for the Cochran Creek Fish Passage and Habitat Rehabilitation Implementation Project.   Earlier in February, CalTrout received $4.9M to Pursue Reconnect Habitat and Protect the Best Projects across the state from the CDFW voter-approved Prop 68 grant program. … ”  Read more from Cal Trout here: CalTrout Awarded additional ~$1M to Restore Estuaries

Report: Economic Evaluation of Stormwater Capture and Its Multiple Benefits in California:  “Urban stormwater is becoming an increasingly important alternative water supply in California. However, current economic analyses do not adequately evaluate co-benefits provided by different stormwater investments. As a result, urban stormwater capture is undervalued.  This research from the Pacific Institute demonstrates that urban stormwater capture investments may be more economically feasible than expected, especially when capitalizing on economies of scale and incorporating co-benefits of projects. ... ”  Read more from the Pacific Institute here:  Report: Economic Evaluation of Stormwater Capture and Its Multiple Benefits in California

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In national/world news today …

Trump’s environmental rollbacks find opposition within: Staff scientists:  “President Trump has made rolling back environmental regulations a centerpiece of his administration, moving to erase Obama-era efforts ranging from landmark fuel efficiency standards and coal industry controls to more routine rules on paint solvents and industrial soot.  But all along, scientists and lawyers inside the federal government have embedded statistics and data in regulatory documents that make the rules vulnerable to legal challenges. These facts, often in the technical supporting documents, may hand ammunition to environmental lawyers working to block the president’s policies. ... ”  Read more from the New York Times here: Trump’s environmental rollbacks find opposition within: Staff scientists

How dead trees help forests tolerate drought:  “Researchers used the US Forest Service Forest Inventory and Analysis database to study how the traits of tree communities have shifted across the contiguous United States.  The results indicate that communities, particularly in more arid regions, have become more drought tolerant, primarily through the death of less hardy trees.  To understand what might drive changes in forests’ ability to cope with climate change, the researchers considered two main physiological traits: a species’ average tolerance to water stress and how close this was to its maximum tolerance (essentially how much wiggle room it had when dealing with water stress). … ”  Read more fro Futurity here:  How dead trees help forests tolerate drought

NASA releases new global groundwater maps and US drought forecasts:  “NASA researchers have developed new satellite-based, weekly global maps of soil moisture and groundwater wetness conditions and one to three-month U.S. forecasts of each product. While maps of current dry/wet conditions for the United States have been available since 2012, this is the first time they have been available globally.  “The global products are important because there are so few worldwide drought maps out there,” said hydrologist and project lead Matt Rodell of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “Droughts are usually well known when they happen in developed nations. But when there’s a drought in central Africa, for example, it may not be noticed until it causes a humanitarian crisis. So it’s valuable to have a product like this where people can say, wow, it’s really dry there and no one’s reporting it.” ... ”  Read more from NASA here:  NASA releases new global groundwater maps and US drought forecasts

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In commentary today …

Now is the time to comment on groundwater plans, says Sunshine Saldivar:  She writes, “Farmers across California have become very familiar with SGMA. To some, it is just an acronym but to others, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act can and will reshape how farming is carried out throughout the state. Now, farmers have the opportunity to continue shaping the first set of local groundwater sustainability plans created under SGMA.  California enacted SGMA in 2014—a landmark law to regulate groundwater. Historically, landowners overlying groundwater basins were limited to the reasonable, beneficial use of the water; this water availability helped create the robust farming economy for which California is known and on which the world relies. Today, SGMA is the law of the land, but it cannot change existing water rights or regulations. … ”  Read more from Ag Alert here: Now is the time to comment on groundwater plans

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In regional news and commentary today …

Agreement buys time on new Klamath Project Ops Plan:  “A federal judge has approved a proposal to withdraw a legal action that could have potentially sent an additional 50,000 acre-feet (AF) of Upper Klamath Lake downstream, avoiding a potential “worst-case” scenario for local irrigators.  On March 27, parties in a federal lawsuit brought by the Yurok Tribe and Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Association filed documents that put the case on hold and withdraw a motion for a preliminary injunction that otherwise would have been decided before this irrigation season.  Federal District Court Judge William Orrick approved the stipulation the same day.  ... ”  Read more from the Klamath Falls News here:  Agreement buys time on new Klamath Project Ops Plan

Programs to assist Klamath Basin Irrigators in progress:  “USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has programs to assist growers planting cover crops on land that will not be irrigated in 2020, according to Klamath Water Users Association.  KWUA Deputy Director Mark Johnson said that applications are being taken now at the NRCS Tulelake office for Modoc and Siskiyou Counties through April 14, and the application period will open late this week for Klamath County. ... ”  Read more from the Klamath Falls News here: Programs to assist Klamath Basin Irrigators in progress

Misselbeck Dam emergency declared over: “The local emergency at Misselbeck Dam in western Shasta County is over, according to Shasta County officials.  Two 30-inch outlet pipes in the dam had been plugged with debris since last spring, forcing the lake to rise and wash over a spillway that state officials have deemed unsafe.  But by early February, water was again flowing out of the pipes, allowing the lake to drop to a safe level, according to a Shasta County Sheriff’s Office report. … ”  Read more from the Redding Record Searchlight here: Misselbeck Dam emergency declared over

PG&E sells Narrows hydroelectric facility to Yuba Water Agency (press release):  “Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) has sold its Narrows Hydroelectric Project to Yuba Water Agency.  Escrow closed and the sale finalized today on this facility in Nevada County, which includes the 12-megawatt Narrows No. 1 Powerhouse located on the Yuba River below Englebright Dam, along with associated water conveyance and infrastructure and 23 acres of land, for $507,500. Narrows 1 has been generating clean, renewable energy since its construction in 1942. … ”  Read more from the Yuba Water Agency here:  PG&E sells Narrows hydroelectric facility to Yuba Water Agency

Rising seas threaten Bay Area economy, infrastructure, environment, says most detailed study yet:  “A 48-inch increase in the bay’s water level in coming decades could cause more than 100,000 Bay Area jobs to be relocated. Nearly 30,000 lower-income residents might be displaced, and 68,000 acres of ecologically valuable shoreline habitat could be lost.  These are among the findings in the most detailed study yet on how sea level rise could alter the Bay Area. The newly released, 700-page official report argues that without a far-sighted, nine-county response, the region’s economic and transportation systems could be undermined along with the environment. ... ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: Rising seas threaten Bay Area economy, infrastructure, environment, says most detailed study yet

Bay Area: Coronavirus cruise ship is still anchored on the bay. Handling its sewage is a chore:  “Over the past two weeks, crews have pumped more than 1 million gallons of raw sewage from the Grand Princess cruise ship and dumped it in East Bay sanitary sewers for treatment.  Workers for the company Marine Express are regularly removing waste from the ship, which is still anchored in San Francisco Bay after becoming the scene of one of the world’s most notorious coronavirus outbreaks.  The effluent is hauled ashore on barges, hit with a dose of disinfectant, then deposited into a huge East Bay Municipal Utility District sewer main called the Alameda Interceptor. From there, the material joins the underground river of everything else that’s been flushed down local toilets and flows to the agency’s wastewater treatment plant at the foot of the Bay Bridge. ... ” Read more from KQED here: Coronavirus cruise ship is still anchored on the bay. Handling its sewage is a chore

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Along the Colorado River …

The closure of Colorado coal-fired powerplants is freeing up water for thirsty cities:  “Colorado’s rapid switch to renewable energy is having a surprising side effect: The closure of coal-fired power plants is freeing up precious water.  Any newfound source of water is a blessing in a state routinely stricken by drought and wildfire, where rural residents can be kept from washing a car or watering a garden in summer, and where farm fields dry up after cities buy their water rights.  State water planners long assumed that the amount of water needed to cool major power plants would increase with the booming population. Planners in 2010 predicted that, within 25 years, major power plants would be consuming 104,000 acre-feet per year of their own water. The Colorado Sun found that their annual consumption will end up closer to 10% of that figure. … ”  Read more from the Colorado Sun here:  The closure of Colorado coal-fired powerplants is freeing up water for thirsty cities

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And lastly ...

MWDC Proposes Overarching Delta Solution:  Nestle J. Frobish writes, “Today the Megalopolitan Water District of California (a consortium of southern California and Bay Area urban water suppliers) proposed building a new aqueduct to take water from the Sacramento River to Bay Area and southern California cities. The aqueduct, depicted below, would avoid the subsurface uncertainties of a Delta tunnel, ease monitoring and inspections, and avoid interference with fish and wildlife migrations in and through the Delta. ... ”  Read more from the California Water Blog here:  MWDC Proposes Overarching Delta Solution

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

KERN COUNTY WATER SUMMIT: The magic water wand

If you had a magic wand that could give you unlimited funding, could change any law, write any new law, and/or modify any regulation, what would you do to improve California’s water?

That was the question posed to panelists at the 2020 Kern County Water Summit. Seated on the panel was Dr. Jerry Meral, Director of the California Water Program at the National Heritage Institute; Randy Fiorini, Vice Chair of the Delta Stewardship Council; Tim Quinn, former Executive Director of the Association of California Water Agencies; and Felicia Marcus, former Chair of the State Water Resources Control Board.

Here’s what they had to say.

Click here to read this article.

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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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