DAILY DIGEST, 4/2: Winterlike storm to bring rain and snow this weekend; California’s snowpack is about half of normal; CA groundwater wells receive grades for improvement and degradation; As temperatures rise, Arizona sinks; and more …

In California water news today …

Winterlike storm to target California with rain and mountain snow this weekend:  “A one-two punch of wet and winterlike weather will target the Golden State this weekend, helping to chip away at the snowfall deficit in place across the Sierra. While the latter half of January and all of February featured nearly bone-dry conditions across California, a series of late-season events has helped to minimize concerns for the dry season ahead.  Courtesy of a southern shift in the storm track, a wetter-than-normal March across California has brought the average snow water equivalent statewide above 50% compared to average for April 1. … ”  Read more from Accu-Weather here: Winterlike storm to target California with rain and mountain snow this weekend

As April begins, California’s snowpack is about half of normal:  “California water officials announced Wednesday that snowpack across the Sierra Nevada is measuring 53 percent of the historical average for the start of April.  The state’s Department of Water Resources (DWR) conducted the fourth monthly snow survey of the season today at Phillips Station snow course south of Lake Tahoe.  DWR spokesman Chris Orrock says the region experienced a handful of big snow storms in March, but they weren’t enough to make up for a dry January and one of the driest Februaries on record.  “This year we’re probably going to have one of the 10 worst snowpacks in California history,” says Orrock. … ”  Read more from KQED here: As April begins, California’s snowpack is about half of normal


Countering Feds, California rolls out sweeping changes to water deliveries: “In a move likely spurred by the Trump administration’s adoption of new environmental guidelines governing its operation of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the Newsom administration announced Tuesday it was taking action to reorient its share of managing the Delta.  Concatenated in bureaucratic documents, a clear message has arrived: the era of coordination between the state and Federal government is likely over. … ”  Read more from the San Joaquin Valley Sun here: Countering Feds, California rolls out sweeping changes to water deliveries

Sound science is needed regarding outflows from the Sacramento Delta:  “Matt Efird is Walnut grower in Fresno County, as well as the president of the Fresno County Farm Bureau. “Keep having the conversation with the establishment of more sound science and in looking at what the outflows are, and coming up with policies that would allow us more flexibility to take advantage of, of hypos flows and, and you know, getting those to the farms. I think that’s ultimately going to be the, the end game for us,” said Efird. ... ”  Read more from Ag Info here: Sound science is needed regarding outflows from the Sacramento Delta

Coronavirus: How water agencies plan to keep drinking water plants running:  “As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread, water agencies across the Bay Area and California are taking unprecedented steps to keep the water flowing that millions of people need for drinking and washing their hands, but which is also critical for fighting fires, serving hospitals, running sewer systems and other vital uses.  The main goal: Preventing the workers who run the drinking water treatment plants from getting sick. ... ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here: How water agencies plan to keep drinking water plants running

Environmental risks visualized through new online tools:  “Scientists funded by the NIEHS Superfund Research Program (SRP) developed online tools to inform local communities about potential environmental health risks. The researchers hail from the University of California at Berkeley (UCB) and Texas A&M University (TAMU). … SRP-funded scientists at UCB launched the Drinking Water Tool in collaboration with the Community Water Center of Visalia, California. The interactive website helps people in the state identify areas where water quality may be of concern. ... ”  Read more from Environmental Factor here: Environmental risks visualized through new online tools

California groundwater wells receive grades for improvement and degradation:  “In California, groundwater is a major source for drinking and other uses. Identifying where groundwater quality is getting better or worse is essential for managing groundwater resources.  A new study conducted by a team from the California Water Science Center, led by Research Hydrologist Bryant Jurgens, assessed areas of improving and degrading groundwater-quality by using a new metric for scoring. The scoring was based on how high chemical concentrations were and whether they were getting better or worse and how rapidly or slowly they were changing. This work was conducted in nine hydrogeologic provinces throughout California. The location of the provinces generally corresponded to groundwater basins identified by the California Department of Water Resources. ... ”  Read more from the USGS here: California groundwater wells receive grades for improvement and degradation

Ecosystem, watershed restoration projects receive grant awards: “The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) recently 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 Escalon Times here: Ecosystem, watershed restoration projects receive grant awards

Reclamation releases draft repayment contract for Central Valley Project Delta Division – C.W. “Bill” Jones Pumping Plant (press release):  “The Bureau of Reclamation released today a draft repayment contract for public review for extraordinary maintenance on the C.W. “Bill” Jones Pumping Plant. The draft repayment contract is between the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority and Reclamation.  The draft repayment contract establishes terms for SLDMWA’s repayment of a Reclamation loan for costs related to extraordinary maintenance work on the C.W. “Bill” Jones Pumping Plant. The draft repayment contract was developed based on public negotiation sessions between SLDMWA and Reclamation on March 23 and 24, 2020. The draft repayment contract is available at https://www.usbr.gov/mp/sccao/water-contracting.html.  Mail comments by close of business on May 29, 2020, to Travis Buttelman, Bureau of Reclamation, CGB-440, 2800 Cottage Way, Sacramento, CA 95825-1898, or fax to 916-978-5292, or email to jbuttelman@usbr.gov. For more information, contact Travis Buttelman at 916-978-5247 or jbuttelman@usbr.gov (TTY 800-877-8339).”


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In national/world news today …

April 2020 temperature and precipitation outlook:  “It may be hard to believe, but the interminable March is over. The 31 days of the month felt like a thousand, but we’ve moved onto April. That means we should take a look at NOAA Climate Prediction Center’s monthly outlook for temperature and precipitation during April 2020.  The information in these outlooks is not the prediction of the exact temperature or precipitation amounts. Instead, the outlooks predict the probability (percent chance) that April temperatures and precipitation will be in the upper or lower third of the climatological record (defined as 1981-2010) for April in a given location. ... ”  Read more from Climate.gov here:  April 2020 temperature and precipitation outlook

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In regional news and commentary today …

Reclamation seeks public input on proposed Klamath Project interim operations:  “The Bureau of Reclamation invites public comment on a draft environmental assessment that evaluates a proposed water management approach for the Klamath Project. The Project provides irrigation for approximately 230,000 acres of farmed lands in the Klamath Basin.  “The proposed Interim Operations Plan strives to balance the water needs in the Klamath Basin in an environmentally sound manner,” said Reclamation’s Area Manager Jeff Nettleton. “The proposed plan provides increased water flows in the Klamath River for Endangered Species Act-listed coho, as well as Chinook salmon, and maintains Upper Klamath Lake elevations that are important for endangered Lost River and shortnose suckers.”  The proposed Interim Operations Plan would be in place while Reclamation, NOAA Fisheries and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service conduct a longer-term environmental consultation for a new water management plan. The longer-term consultation process is expected to culminate in coordinated biological opinions from NOAA and USFWS by the fall of 2022 with transition to the new water management plan anticipated in spring of 2023.  The draft EA is available at https://www.usbr.gov/mp/nepa/nepa_project_details.php?Project_ID=42926. Comments must be received by 4:30 p.m. PDT April 10, 2020, and may be sent via email to BOR-SHA-KBO-KlamathBasin@usbr.gov, or by hard copy to Tara Jane Campbell Miranda, Bureau of Reclamation, 6600 Washburn Way, Klamath Falls, Oregon 97603.”

Colusa County: Family Water Alliance selected for $895,701 in grant funding:  “Family Water Alliance, the Colusa based non-profit agricultural education organization, has been selected to receive $895,701 for the implementation of the Llano Seco/M&T Ranch Cone Fish Screen Project.  Ashley Indrieri, FWA project manager, said that sediment deposition poses a threat to the normal operation of the fish screen at the Llano Seco/M&T Ranch diversion and, with an encroaching gravel bar migrating at an unpredictable rate to the vicinity of the fish screened diversion, the intake screens are no longer receiving sweeping flows which makes them inconsistent with National Marine Fisheries Service and the California Department of Fish and Game fish screen criteria. ... ”  Read more from the Sun-Herald here:  Colusa County: Family Water Alliance selected for $895,701 in grant funding

Levin raises questions about San Onofre nuclear waste transfers, sewage spill:  “Rep. Mike Levin, who made his concerns about nuclear waste at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station a prong in his successful 2018 congressional campaign, has sent a letter to the CEO of the parent company of the utility that operates the plant posing questions about two separate events disclosed last week.  Levin’s letter submitted four queries following a decision by Southern California Edison, amid restrictions put into place during the COVID-19 crisis, to continue having workers move heavy canisters filled with used-up nuclear fuel from one area of the plant to another. ... ”  Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune here: Levin raises questions about San Onofre nuclear waste transfers, sewage spill

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Along the Colorado River …

As temperatures rise, Arizona sinks:  “Arizona is sinking. The combination of groundwater pumping and warmer temperatures is shrinking aquifers and lowering water tables. And as the land subsides, fissures open, 2-mile wounds that devour infrastructure and swallow livestock. Four of Arizona’s five economic pillars — cattle, cotton, citrus and copper — use huge amounts of water, while the fifth, the state’s climate, is changing, making water scarcer.  Development and growth are intensifying the problem, despite relief from state laws and the existence of the Central Arizona Project, which began delivering Colorado River water to Phoenix and Tucson in the 1980s. Today, where subsidence is worst, groundwater pumping isn’t even monitored, and big agricultural and anti-regulatory ideologues try to stymie any efforts to keep tabs on how much water is being pumped.  … ”  Read more from High Country News here:  As temperatures rise, Arizona sinks

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Today’s featured article ...

WESTERN GROUNDWATER CONGRESS: Quantifying surface water depletion from groundwater pumping

Surface water commonly is hydraulically connected to ground water, but the interactions are difficult to observe and measure and have largely been ignored in water-management considerations and policies.  However, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), passed in 2014, is California’s first statewide law that explicitly reflects the fact that surface water and groundwater are frequently interconnected and that groundwater management can impact groundwater-dependent ecosystems, surface water flows, and the beneficial uses of those flows.  The challenge of quantifying these interactions has led to the development of several techniques. 

At the 2019 Western Groundwater Congress, Gilbert Barth, PhD is an Associate and Senior Hydrologist with S.S. Papadopulos & Associates in their Boulder office, gave an overview of groundwater-surface water interactions and discussed some of the tools and techniques that he has helped develop. Dr. Barth provides quantitative assessments of groundwater resources to address questions associated with water planning, and specializes in model development and calibration with a focus on quantifying changes between surface water and groundwater systems.  He’s developed and applied models throughout the Western US for regional, interstate, and international deliberations.

Click here to read this article.

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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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