DAILY DIGEST, 5/6: The state of the salmonids in California; Why not a western alignment for Delta conveyance?; Term 91 curtailments expected; other water rights curtailments unlikely; State Water Board adopts safe and affordable drinking water fund policy; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • WEBINAR: Lagunitas Creek Habitat Restoration from 10am to11am.  This webinar will focus on The Lagunitas Creek restoration project that was completed by the Salmon Protection and Watershed Network (SPAWN), an initiative of Turtle Island Restoration Network. The project restores lost floodplains and native riparian forest to improve habitat for endangered Coho salmon, threatened steelhead trout, and numerous other wildlife species.  Presented by Sustainable Conservation.  Click here to register.
  • WEBINAR: A framework for climate-smart restoration from 1oam to 11am.  The presentation will provide an overview of Point Blue’s climate-smart restoration framework and demonstrate how it can be used to inform planning and design for various restoration projects, drawing on examples from various riparian and wetland systems in California.  Presented by the Society for Ecological Restoration. Click here to register
  • WEBINAR: What’s New with Cyanobacteria and Cyanotoxins: A Review of Leading Research from 10am to 11am.  Harmful algal blooms (HABs) are occurring more frequently and more extensively in drinking water sources across the globe. Cyanobacteria can produce toxins—including microcystins, nodularins, anatoxins, and/or cylindrospermopsin—as secondary metabolites, which have deleterious health effects. This webinar series features three leading researchers in the industry discussing the occurrence, detection, analysis, treatment, and control of cyanobacteria and their toxins in drinking water sources.  Presented by the American Water Works Association.  Click here to register.
  • WEBINAR: Natural Processes for the Restoration of Drastically Disturbed Sites from 12pm to 1pm.  Join Dave Polster as he discusses the restoration of drastically disturbed sites using natural processes. Learn how we can take advantage of processes that have developed over millions of years to aid in the restoration of difficult-to-restore sites. How can we develop restoration practices that work with the natural world?  Presented by the Society for Ecological Restoration.  Click here to register.


Today’s featured articles …

FEATURE: The state of the salmonids in California

Webinar takes a deep dive into the state of salmon and steelhead, and provides recommendations for resiliency

In 2005, the California Legislature passed SB 857 requiring CalTrans to locate, assess, and remediate fish passage barriers on the State Highway System and to report progress annually to the legislature.  In the October 2019 annual report, Cal Trans reported remediating 47 barriers, opening up an estimated 792 miles of improved access to salmon and steelhead habitat with five of those projects completed in 2018.  CalTrans is currently developing projects to remediate 27 active fish passage barriers, which are estimated to improve access to an estimated additional 166 miles of salmon and steelhead habitat.

Improving fish passage on the State Highway System requires a comprehensive approach using science and data, engineering, training, permitting, research, funding, multi-species benefits, and partnerships, because of complex considerations associated with successful barrier remediation.  To facilitate that, the California Fish Passage Advisory Committee (Cal Fish PAC) was formed between the California Department of Transportation, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, National Marine Fisheries Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and other interested stakeholders to share science and data related to known fish barriers and develop cost efficient and effective methods to prioritize both assessments and biological priorities for remediation.  They currently have about 200 members.

The science and data collected by Fish PAC members is entered into the Fish Passage Assessment Database, which informs strategic investments in barrier remediation.  The outcomes of Fish PAC efforts, many of which are full-span solutions that minimize interference between infrastructure and channel processes, enhance connectivity for all native species, including anadromous species and threatened and endangered wildlife.

NOTE:  There is a wealth of information regarding bridges, road crossings, and culverts in the training section on the Cal Fish PAC website.

In the spring of 2020, Cal Fish PAC sponsored a webinar covering the 2017 State of the Salmonids report reviewing the findings and discussing how to improve resiliency in salmonids moving forward.

Click here to read this article.

DELTA CONVEYANCE PROJECT: Why not a western alignment?

An aerial view looking east toward two ships docked along the Sacramento River Deep Water Ship Channel near Industrial Blvd. in West Sacramento, California. Photo by Paul Hames / DWR
Congressman Garamendi pushes for consideration of a western alignment for Delta conveyance; DWR responds

In his scoping comments for the Notice of Preparation for the reformulated Delta Conveyance Project, Congressman John Garamendi expresses his disappointment that the State is not considering a potential western alignment for the tunnel.  In his view, a western alignment could be less expensive and would certainly avoid impacts to the Delta’s historic communities, the ecosystem, and productive agricultural land.

In the Department of Water Resources’ response to Congressman Garamendi dated March 27, Carrie Buckman, Environmental Program Manager for Delta Conveyance, references an upcoming meeting with Congressman Garamendi to discuss the issue, and provides a power point which summarizes the findings of a western corridor.

Click here to read this article.

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In California water news today …

Term 91 curtailments expected; other water rights curtailments unlikely:  “During the May 5, 2020 State Water Resources Control Board Meeting, Staff and Board members provided an update on prospective water rights curtailments for 2020. … First, Staff discussed the potential for Term 91 curtailments.  Term 91 is included in permits and licenses granted after 1965 for diversion and use of water within the Delta watershed.  It allows the Board to give notice that water is not available for use under subject permits and licenses, thus requiring rights-holders to cease diverting waters. ... ”  Read more from Somach Simmons & Dunn here: Term 91 curtailments expected; other water rights curtailments unlikely

Adoption of policy will set priorities and guide safe and affordable drinking water fund for next decade:  “The State Water Resources Control Board today adopted a policy that will serve as a template for how the Board will identify communities and areas of the state at risk of not having adequate safe drinking water and how investment priorities will be established over a 10-year funding program.  The SAFER (Safe and Affordable Funding for Equity and Resilience) program is a set of tools, funding sources and regulatory authorities designed to ensure reliable and safe drinking water is delivered to those most in need.  This new policy will direct the Board’s efforts to administer the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund to address long-standing challenges confronting an estimated one million people without safe drinking water throughout the state. ... ”  Read more from the State Water Resources Control Board here: Adoption of policy will set priorities and guide safe and affordable drinking water fund for next decade

Crops grown with oilfield water safe, panel finds:  “Fruits and vegetables grown with recycled oilfield water in Kern County got a final stamp of approval last month, nearly five years after the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board began what it thought was going to be a three-month process investigating the water’s safety.  Findings from numerous, wide-ranging studies commissioned by a Food Safety Advisory Panel assembled by the Water Quality board showed “no red flags” in crops grown with the water, according to Water Quality board chair Karl Longley. … ”  Read more from SJV Water here: Crops grown with oilfield water safe, panel finds

Radio show: Water infrastructure investment a waste with state, federal fight?Funding for water infrastructure won’t matter much if the clash between California and the U.S. leadership continues. Recent studies have shown that the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act goals are not feasible in some regions of the state with the current water system. Western Growers President and CEO Dave Puglia said that investment, however, could be pointless if the feud between the state and federal levels over biological opinions persists. “It really begs the question of whether any investment in infrastructure is really going to help when we can’t put the infrastructure we already have to it’s smartest use,” Puglia said. … ” Listen at AgNet West here: Radio show: Water infrastructure investment a waste with state, federal fight?

Twenty-two environmental groups and nineteen jurisdictions file suit in three district courts challenging the 2020 WOTUS rule:  “Last week, environmental groups, states, and cities filed three complaints in differing federal district court challenging The Navigable Waters Protection Rule: Definition of Waters of the United States (“WOTUS”) (“2020 WOTUS Rule”), which was published in the Federal Register on April 21, 2020, and is currently scheduled to become effective on June 22, 2020.  Pursuant to the Supreme Court’s ruling in National Association of Manufacturers v. U.S. Dep’t of Defense, 138 S.Ct. 617, challenges to the 2020 WOTUS Rule must be brought in the federal district courts.  The challenges, therefore, can and likely will simultaneously make their way through various circuits, perhaps with different results, dashing hopes that the 2020 WOTUS Rule would finally provide the regulated community with clarity and consistency regarding the scope of waters regulated under the Clean Water Act (“CWA”). … ”  Read more from Downey Brand here: Twenty-two environmental groups and nineteen jurisdictions file suit in three district courts challenging the 2020 WOTUS rule

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In regional news and commentary today …

Supervisors agree to form groundwater agency for Eel River Basin:  “The last item on the agenda, following a lengthy closed session, was a public hearing to consider forming a Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) for the Eel River basin.  Hank Seemann, the county’s deputy director of environmental services, explained that local officials don’t really want to form such an agency because they don’t believe one is really necessary. County staff had submitted a Groundwater Sustainability Plan Alternative, in lieu of a full plan, to the California Department of Water Resources, arguing that the precious groundwater in that basin is not at risk of drying up under the current uses and conditions. … ”  Read more from the Lost Coast Outpost here: Supervisors agree to form groundwater agency for Eel River Basin

San Francisco to provide more sinks & toilets for homeless during pandemic:  “As part of an ongoing effort to protect San Francisco’s homeless population from Covid-19 infection, the city’s Board of Supervisors passed an emergency ordinance Tuesday requiring more restrooms and hand-washing stations for those living on the street.  The unanimously approved ordinance mandates that the city install at least one restroom and one handwashing station for every 50 unsheltered people. ... ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service here:  San Francisco to provide more sinks & toilets for homeless during pandemic

Monterey: Michael DeLapa, Guest Commentary: How to waste $1 billion in less than a minute:  “Why would a public agency support an unnecessary and risky billion-dollar desalination plant and let a private utility profit hundreds of millions of dollars at the public’s expense? Here’s the story.  In 2009, the State of California ordered California American Water to stop illegal overpumping from the Carmel River. Cal Am made a mad dash for the costliest capital improvement project anyone could imagine: a massive desalination plant. They had an obvious motive. Cal Am’s profits hinge on capital investment. They lose money on conservation. They lose money on public projects. And Cal Am is all about making money. ... ”  Read more from the Monterey Herald here:  Monterey: Michael DeLapa, Guest Commentary: How to waste $1 billion in less than a minute

Monterey County growers face ‘unprecedented losses’ amid pandemic:  “Nearly 40% of Monterey County growers reported financial losses related to the coronavirus-prompted shutdown. Faced with a drop in demand, they plowed under lettuce, broccoli, artichokes, cauliflower, cilantro, wine grapes, spinach, arugula and more, according to the Monterey County Agricultural Commissioner’s office.  The $8.5 billion dollar agricultural industry has taken a hit during the pandemic as school cafeterias, restaurants and cafés have shut down nationwide. An April survey conducted by the Monterey County Agricultural Commissioner’s office showed that vegetable growers are reporting the highest losses so far. ... ”  Read more from the Salinas Californian here:  Monterey County growers face ‘unprecedented losses’ amid pandemic

Millions in public works projects set to begin in Tulare County:  “Major publicly-funded construction projects are on tap in Tulare County in coming months. Plans are in motion to make much needed infrastructure improvements just as the local economy could use a boost.  A long awaited $74 million project to enlarge the Success Reservoir­­—renamed for R.L. Schafer as of October 2019—will expand water storage along the Tule from 82,000 to 110,000 acre feet and provide additional flood protection for residents of Porterville and surrounding communities. … ”  Read more from the Foothills Sun-Gazette here: Millions in public works projects set to begin in Tulare County

Double Trouble: San Diego’s problematic water meter program may cost twice as much:  “The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing the city of San Diego to make millions of dollars worth of budget cuts. One project that is not facing cuts is the city’s smart water meter program, or advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), which instead has asked to nearly double its budget request.  The mayor’s approved 2020 budget already included $67 million for the program, but the mayor’s proposed 2021 budget shows the costs of the program rising to $125 million. ... ”  Read more from NBC7 here: Double Trouble: San Diego’s problematic water meter program may cost twice as much

San Diego: Red tide causes big stink along local beaches:  “For the last two weeks, an algae bloom has dazzled crowds and lit up waves in Southern California. But now, scientists say it’s turning deadly for some fish, and they want to know why.  Scientists say there are a few possibilities that might explain the reason for a foul odor. … ”  Read more from Fox 5 here: Red tide causes big stink along local beaches

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Along the Colorado River …

Expected spring runoff into Colorado River plunges after dry April:  “A dry April caused the expected spring-summer runoff into Lake Powell to plunge dramatically, with the water-flow forecast down the Colorado River declining as much in one month as Tucson Water customers use in 10 years.  May’s monthly runoff prediction for the April-through-July period was 65% of average, or 4.6 million acre-feet. That’s 1 million acre-feet less than the April forecast predicted. Tucson Water customers typically use close to 100,000 acre-feet a year. ... ”  Read more from Tucson.com here: Expected spring runoff into Colorado River plunges after dry April

Column: Colorado River keeps flowing — so do concerns about its future:  “It seems like the pandemic has soaked up most of the newsprint lately, but even now, when so much has come to a standstill, our rivers keep flowing. As Jim Pokrandt pointed out in a recent op-ed, our canals have started flowing, too, as Grand Valley farmers begin the annual ritual of putting water on the land to reap a harvest, and an income, later in the year.  Another annual ritual, monitoring the forecasts for how much spring snowmelt will flow down the rivers, has also begun. This year, we have an above-average snowpack in the mountains that feed the Colorado River, but below-average runoff into Lake Powell is expected. Parched soils from last year’s dry summer are expected to soak up much of the water before it can make it into the river. ... ”  Read more from the Daily Sentinel here: Colorado River keeps flowing — so do concerns about its future

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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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