DAILY DIGEST, 4/29: Bernhardt: Newsom’s water gambit “potentially unlawful”; State’s low water allocation prompts frustration, suspicion; The world is on lockdown. So where are all the carbon emissions coming from?; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • WEBINAR: Carbon is not the Enemy – Ecological Restoration Through the Soil Carbon Sponge from 10am to 11am:  Brittney Clements, co-founder of Carbon Culture Mushrooms, will discuss the soil carbon sponge and regenerative land management practices as a solution to ecological restoration. This talk will offer viable solutions for the most pressing issues we face globally through the lens of regenerative earth stewardship.  Click here to register.
  • FREE WEBINAR: Innovation Roadmap for Utilities from 11am to 12pm: Join us for an overview of AWWA’s volunteer-led Innovation Initiative and learn about the key concepts that provide the foundation for the Utility Innovation Roadmap Guidance document. The guidance document is designed to help utilities of all sizes prioritize their needs and adopt innovative ideas, methods, and products to improve customer service and address their most pressing issues.  Click here to register.
  • PUBLIC NEGOTIATION SESSION for State Water Project contract extension for Delta conveyance from 10am to 3pm.  They will be discussing the PWA 8th offers available hereClick here for webinar information.
  • FREE WEBINAR: Water Treatment Modeling Tools for Removing PFAS and Other Contaminants from 11am to 12pm:  Presented by the EPA.  Click here to register.
  • FREE WEBINAR: Water Week 2020 from 11am to 12:30pm:  Join WateReuse to hear the latest water policy developments from EPA senior staff, messages from Members of Congress about the value of water sector advocacy, and updates from key Water Week partners. Click here to register.
  • FREE WEBINAR: Industrial Stormwater Monitoring – A Community Approach from 11:30 to 12:30pmClick here for more information and webcast information.

In California water news today …

Bernhardt: Newsom’s water gambit “potentially unlawful”:  “U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt isn’t shying away from reminding Californians who reigns supreme in its water wars.  In a letter issued Tuesday, Bernhardt reminded California leaders that its ability to act unilaterally in enacting restrictive rules governing the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is limited and could violate the law. … ”  Read more from the San Joaquin Sun here: Bernhardt: Newsom’s water gambit “potentially unlawful”

SEE ALSO:  Secretary Bernhardt responds to Congressional letters received regarding Delta water project operations, yesterday’s breaking news

ICYMI: Central Valley Project contractors file lawsuit against the state (yesterday’s breaking news):  “[Yesterday], a coalition of water providers filed suit to protect the Central Valley Project (CVP) and the farms, businesses, residents and wildlife refuges it serves in 17 California counties. … the State of California recently filed suit challenging the operations of the CVP and now, through its Incidental Take Permit (ITP), the State could further limit the ability of the CVP to deliver water to its customers. These actions have compelled today’s legal filing in Fresno County Superior Court, which reflects concerns by the water suppliers and citizens that depend upon the CVP that the State’s Environmental Impact Report (EIR) supporting the ITP does not address impacts to the CVP. The lawsuit also reflects concerns that implementation of the ITP will lead to disruptions in water deliveries and prevent meaningful progress on collaborative efforts to secure long-term water supply reliability for millions of Californians while also achieving the reasonable protection of fish and wildlife beneficial uses in the Bay-Delta watershed. ... ”  Read the full press release here:  SLDMWA, FWA & TCCA Statement on Lawsuit to Protect the Central Valley Project

ICYMI: Democratic Congressmembers applaud California leadership efforts to uphold strict science-based policymaking (yesterday’s breaking news):  “[Yesterday], Congressman Jerry McNerney (CA-09) led a letter to California Governor Gavin Newsom and Attorney General Xavier Becerra alongside Representatives Jared Huffman, Raúl M. Grijalva, Alan Lowenthal, Mike Thompson, and Doris Matsui, expressing support for the State’s legal challenge to the Trump Administration’s scientifically unsound biological opinions for water project operations in the Bay-Delta.  In the letter, the Members wrote, “We strongly agree with your Administration’s determination that the Trump Administration’s 2019 biological opinions ‘are not scientifically adequate and fall short of protecting species and the state’s interests.’ That conclusion is consistent with the findings of independent scientific peer reviews of the biological opinions and whistleblowers from federal agencies who publicly disclosed the National Marine Fisheries Services’ July 1, 2019 biological opinion, which concluded that these proposed operations jeopardize the continued existence of endangered and threatened salmon and steelhead in the Bay-Delta.” … ”  Read the letter here: Democratic Congressmembers applaud California leadership efforts to uphold strict science-based policymaking

State’s low water allocation prompts frustration, suspicion:  “Is the State Water Project’s extremely low water allocation based on California’s fickle climate? Or politics?  A growing chorus of frustrated water managers are wondering.  After a dry January, the Department of Water Resources announced it would only be able to deliver 15 percent of contracted water amounts to farms and cities.  That number hasn’t changed despite a spate of storms in late March and April. … ”  Read more from SJV Water here:  State’s low water allocation prompts frustration, suspicion

Back off the beach and the rising sea? No way, California cities say:  “The view from high up in Del Mar’s 17th Street lifeguard station is a visit-California poster:  a sweeping curve of sand, dramatic coastal bluffs, a welcoming sea. What scientists see, though, is somewhat more sobering: the Pacific Ocean as seething menace, a marine battering ram born of climate change that will inexorably claim more and more land and whatever sits upon it. With rising seas now posing a greater threat to California’s economy than wildfires or severe earthquakes, state authorities are cautioning those who live along some of the Golden State’s famous beaches to do what they’re loath to do: retreat. Turn their backs to the sea and move homes, businesses, schools and critical infrastructure out of harm’s way. … ”  Read more from Cal Matters here: Back off the beach and the rising sea? No way, California cities say

How is the pandemic affecting wildfire preparedness? California has experienced catastrophic wildfires and widespread tree death in recent years that have accelerated its efforts to reduce wildfire threats to communities and improve forest health. Fortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic is not deterring these efforts—though it could complicate the work. Activities must be carried out in ways that limit the risk of infection to workers, which can be difficult when managing fire and working with ground crews over days or weeks. Here we explore the impact of the pandemic on wildfire risk reduction. … ”  Read more from the PPIC here: How is the pandemic affecting wildfire preparedness? 

‘Borrowing from the future’: What an emerging megadrought means for the Southwest:  “It’s the early 1990s, and Park Williams stands in the middle of Folsom Lake, at the base of the Sierra Nevada foothills in Northern California. He’s not walking on water; severe drought has exposed the lakebed.  “I remember being very impressed by the incredible variability of water in the West and how it’s very rare that we actually have just enough water,” said Williams, who went on to become a climate scientist at Columbia University. “It’s often the case there’s either too much or too little.”  Williams is the lead author on a report out this month in the journal Science detailing the extent of drought conditions in the American West. ... ”  Read more from Cronkite News here: ‘Borrowing from the future’: What an emerging megadrought means for the Southwest

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In national/world news today …

Poll: 84 percent of Americans want investment in water:  “A new poll by the Value of Water Campaign released today shows that 84 percent of American voters want state and federal leaders to invest in water infrastructure. The near-unanimous support amid the COVID-19 pandemic reveals that voters value water and want elected officials to prioritize investing in infrastructure — specifically, drinking water and wastewater infrastructure. ... ”  Read more from Water Finance & Management here:  Poll: 84 percent of Americans want investment in water

Green groups sue over Trump rollback of Obama-era waterway protections:  “A coalition of environmental groups sued the Trump administration on Wednesday, challenging a rollback of protections for the nation’s waterways.  The Navigable Waters Protection Rule finalized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in January limits federal protections for smaller bodies of water, a move critics say risks contamination of larger ones used for drinking water. … ”  Read more from The Hill here:  Green groups sue over Trump rollback of Obama-era waterway protections

The world is on lockdown. So where are all the carbon emissions coming from?  “Pedestrians have taken over city streets, people have almost entirely stopped flying, skies are blue (even in Los Angeles!) for the first time in decades, and global CO2 emissions are on-track to drop by … about 5.5 percent.  Wait, what? Even with the global economy at a near-standstill, the best analysis suggests that the world is still on track to release 95 percent of the carbon dioxide emitted in a typical year, continuing to heat up the planet and driving climate change even as we’re stuck at home. … ”  Read more from Grist here: The world is on lockdown. So where are all the carbon emissions coming from?

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In commentary today …

California and federal government need to resolve differences on water supply issues, says Mike Wade:  He writes, “Dan Walters’ column does a good job describing a potential water battle that all Californians should want to avoid.  The historic cooperation between the state and federal governments that has managed California’s water supply is threatened by this looming battle. We can’t let that happen. ... ”  Read more from the California Farm Water Coalition here: California and federal government need to resolve differences on water supply issues

Peter Gleick: The Environment, Climate, and a Global Pandemic:  He writes, “The 2020 Coronavirus Pandemic is having the unexpected and unintended effect of teaching us lessons about both the vulnerability and the resilience of our natural ecosystems and environment. As of this writing in late April, we are still in the middle of it, with no obvious end in sight, as the virus continues to spread around the world. Some of the regions where it first struck are trying to emerge from the crisis after imposing strict and widespread testing and quarantines. Other regions that failed to react quickly or effectively are still, or will soon, be suffering even worse consequences. … It is also having a range of environmental consequences, both good and bad. … ”  Read more from the Pacific Institute here:  Peter Gleick: The Environment, Climate, and a Global Pandemic

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In regional news and commentary today …

$11.5M project to restore the Upper Truckee Marsh now underway:  “The largest wetland restoration project in the history of the Lake Tahoe Basin is now underway in the Upper Truckee River Marsh. The major project to restore the marsh in South Lake Tahoe has been years in the making to fix the environmental damage done by the creation of the Tahoe Keys.  The California Tahoe Conservancy (CTC) began acquiring land at the marsh in 1988 for the project to restore what remained of the Sierra Nevada’s largest wetland complex after the adjacent Tahoe Keys neighborhood and marina was built in the 1960s. … ”  Read more from South Tahoe Now here: $11.5M project to restore the Upper Truckee Marsh now underway

El Dorado Irrigation District hosting scoping meeting on water right permit:  “The El Dorado Irrigation District will conduct a public scoping meeting April 30 at 5 p.m. in advance of preparing an Environmental Impact Report for its proposed modification of Water Right Permit 21112.  The meeting is designed to inform interested parties about the project and provide the public and agencies with the opportunity to comment on the scope and content of the EIR.  Water Right Permit 21112 allows the district to directly divert or re-divert water from Folsom Reservoir. ... ”  Read more from the Mountain Democrat here: El Dorado Irrigation District hosting scoping meeting on water right permit

DWR to pay $750K for final phases of Cache Slough habitat plan:  “Solano County will receive $750,000 from the state Department of Water Resources for the development of a Cache Slough Habitat Conservation Plan.  The Board of Supervisors were expected Tuesday to approve the agreement with the state, and authorize County Administrator Birgitta Corsello to contract with ICF Jones & Stokes Inc. of Bakersfield to complete the second and third phases of the three-phase project. ... ”  Read more from the Daily Republic here: DWR to pay $750K for final phases of Cache Slough habitat plan

Watching the flow of water through oak woodlands at Arbor Creek Experimental Watershed:  “Foothill oak woodlands are among the most familiar ecosystems in California. Supporting deer and squirrels, acorn woodpeckers and oak moths, these habitats occupy tens of thousands of acres across the state. Yet change is coming to these widespread habitats. Like much of the West, California’s foothills are predicted to experience shifts in climate in coming decades. Shifts in the amount and timing of precipitation, together with warming weather, are likely to affect how fast local soils will erode, how much water is stored below ground, and even whether oaks can survive where they are found today.  To understand how these beloved woodlands will fare in a rapidly warming climate, UC Santa Cruz researchers are putting a headwaters stream in the Diablo Range under a hydrological microscope. ... ”  Read more from the Santa Cruz Sentinel here:  Watching the flow of water through oak woodlands at Arbor Creek Experimental Watershed

Pure Water Monterey expansion environmental report rejected:  “A proposed Pure Water Monterey expansion at the center of a contentious debate over the future of the Monterey Peninsula’s water supply hit a huge roadblock on Monday night, leaving its future in serious doubt.  After an hours-long public hearing, a split Monterey One Water board voted to reject certification of the project’s supplemental environmental impact report by a single “weighted” vote. By an 11-10 weighted vote tally based on population, the 10-member board voted down Marina Coast Water District representative Tom Moore’s substitute motion to certify the project’s supplemental EIR, leaving the proposal on life support if not entirely dead. … ”  Read more from the Monterey Herald here: Pure Water Monterey expansion environmental report rejected

Monterey: Desalination proponents mark a win against alternative water recycling project. The most popular live-streamed content in Monterey County on Monday night, April 27, might have been the virtual board meeting of the local water treatment agency. At one point, during a heated debate over the finer points of the California Environmental Quality Act, 155 people were tuned in to the Zoom meeting of the Monterey One Water board.  On a technical level, the board members were discussing whether to certify a supplemental environmental impact report for a water recycling project. But what was potentially at stake—and why so many people cared to participate—was hundreds of millions of dollars in public infrastructure projects and the future of development on the Monterey Peninsula.  … ”  Read more from Monterey Weekly here: Desalination proponents mark a win against alternative water recycling project.

Tulare County: Water shutoff protections become permanent:  “Many of the consumer protections helping residents avoid water shut offs during the pandemic will be extended beyond the economic crisis resulting from the coronavirus.  Last week, Farmersville and Woodlake were the last cities in Tulare County to approve permanent changes to their water service disconnection policies for low-income residents struggling to pay their bills. Water systems serving more than 3,000 connections were required by the state to adopt the provisions by Feb. 1 and smaller water systems had to comply by April 1. … ”  Read more from the Foothills Sun-Gazette here: Water shutoff protections become permanent

San Diego: Construction Begins on Essential Water Project in Mission Trails Regional Park:  “The San Diego County Water Authority is making progress on the construction of a new 5 million gallon underground reservoir in Mission Trails Regional Park. The underground reservoir is also known as a flow regulatory structure.  Classified as a “critical or essential” infrastructure project during the COVID-19 response, the project is moving forward to stay on schedule. Water Authority and contractor staff are taking heath protection precautions to maintain public safety by following COVID-19 safety guidelines, including wearing face masks, using hand sanitizers, and disinfecting fencing, work tools and equipment.  … ” Read more from the Water News Network here:  Construction Begins on Essential Water Project in Mission Trails Regional Park

South Bay leaders call for emergency repairs to Tijuana sewage system:  “South Bay leaders are once again calling for action to fix cross border pollution.  People in Imperial Beach have been experience on and off water closures for years due to sewage spills in the Tijuana River Valley from across the border in Tijuana.  Tuesday, Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina told FOX 5 that the Tijuana sewage system has collapsed and is spewing about 60 million gallons of untreated sewage each day in the river.  “When you step into the water when IB is closed, it’s like stepping into a toilet, “ said Dedina. … ”  Read more from Fox 5 here: South Bay leaders call for emergency repairs to Tijuana sewage system

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Along the Colorado River …

Buckeye’s plan reveals an inconvenient truth: We’re all after the same water, says Joanna Allhands:  “Give Buckeye props for creating a water plan to help it grow more sustainably.  But many sources contemplated in the plan aren’t that sustainable. Or guaranteed.  A lot of other users are eyeing these same pots of water – including those in Pinal County, where overreliance on groundwater has created unmet demand that threatens to stop growth. … ”  Read more from Arizona Central here: Buckeye’s plan reveals an inconvenient truth: We’re all after the same water, says Joanna Allhands

Facing a drier future, water managers turn to science:  “A growing body of research shows that the Upper Colorado River Basin is growing warmer on average. In fact, the national hot spot centers on Western Colorado and much of the Southwest.  A result: a significant reduction in the snowpack that makes up the Southwest’s main water supply.  In the Colorado River District’s “Know Your Snow” webinar, Deputy Chief Engineer Dave Kanzer and National Snow and Ice Data Center researcher Jeff Deems explored how water managers and snow scientists are studying and adapting to the changes to our snowpack and water supply. ... ”  Read more from the Herald Times here: Facing a drier future, water managers turn to science

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And lastly …

California ghost town famous for riches and rowdiness prepares to welcome guests:  “Dotting a rugged slope in the Inyo Mountains are the remains of one of early California’s great engines of prosperity. … Like dozens of California ghost towns whose fortunes rose and fell with the mines, Cerro Gordo was all but abandoned by the 1950s, its tin and wooden structures left to decay in the high desert wind. But now it’s attracting dreamers once again.  … ”  Read more and view pictures from the California Sun here: California ghost town famous for riches and rowdiness prepares to welcome guests



NASA Near-real time SWE report:  “The April 25, 2020  Real time SWE Report (in PDF format) for the Sierra Nevada Mountains is now available. The regional summary map (first figure in the report) shows the mean SWE above 5000′ elevation for three major regions of the Sierra Nevada. As of April 25th regional average SWE remains below average across the Sierra, with percent of average SWE highest in the south (65%), central (60%) and lowest in the north (34%).


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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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