DAILY DIGEST, 5/7: While Calif.’s water wars head to court, Feds show they’re still at the table; Water rate hike in rural town becomes tax battle royale; Prediction tool shows how forest thinning may increase snowpack; Regulating microplastics in drinking water; and more …
WEBINAR: Implementation Guidance for the State Wetland Definition and Procedures for the Discharges of Dredged or Fill Material to Waters of the State from 1pm to 3pm. State Water Resources Control Board staff will hold a public training via webinar on the State Wetland Definition and Procedures for the Discharges of Dredged or Fill Material to Waters of the State adopted in April of 2019. Click here for the meeting notice.
In California water news today …
Column: While Calif.’s water wars head to court, Feds show they’re still at the table: “Amid an ever-deepening water war in California, Federal water authorities are making one thing clear to all who will listen: we’re still at the table working to strike a balance with California leaders on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. In a letter sent to California Democrats on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman pointed to the fact that Federal and State water agencies have participated in more than 100 collaborative meetings since mid-February, when the U.S. Department of Interior formally adopted new environmental rules – or biological opinions – for pumping water from the Delta through the Central Valley project. ... ” Read more from the San Joaquin Valley Sun here: Column: While Calif.’s water wars head to court, Feds show they’re still at the table
ICYMI: DOI Press Release: Governor Newsom Continues to Recklessly Jeopardize the Water Supply and Security of Millions of Californians (yesterday’s breaking news): “Today, the U.S. Department of the Interior issued this press release: “This morning, Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation Brenda Burman sent a letter to Senator Dianne Feinstein and the California Delegation regarding the Central Valley Project (CVP) and Governor Newsom’s lawsuit, reiterating the Department’s full commitment to continue coordinated efforts to implement the 2019 biological opinions and to ensure a safe and reliable water source for the State of California. This letter follows Secretary Bernhardt’s letter to Senator Feinstein on April 28th. ... ” Read more at Maven’s Notebook here: DOI Press Release: Governor Newsom Continues to Recklessly Jeopardize the Water Supply and Security of Millions of Californians
McCarthy, Nunes, Calvert, McClintock, LaMalfa, and Cook denounce Newsom Administration lawsuit that will reduce California water supplies: “[Yesterday] morning, Representatives Kevin McCarthy, Devin Nunes (CA-22), Ken Calvert (CA-42), Tom McClintock (CA-04), Doug LaMalfa (CA-01), and Paul Cook (CA-08) sent a letter to California Governor Newsom calling on him to withdraw the state’s lawsuit against the recently finalized Federal biological opinions, including a pending preliminary injunction designed to block implementation of the biological opinions. The Representatives urged the Governor to instead issue a consistency determination under the California Endangered Species Act so the State Water Project (SWP) and Federal Central Valley Project (CVP) can operate in a coordinated manner as they have for decades. The letter follows a previous letter the Representatives sent Governor Newsom in early April that he has ignored. ... ” Read more from Congressman Kevin McCarthy’s website here: McCarthy, Nunes, Calvert, McClintock, LaMalfa, and Cook denounce Newsom Administration lawsuit that will reduce California water supplies
Water rate hike in rural town becomes tax battle royale: “A referendum challenging a rural northern California town’s water rate hike rests on whether the California Supreme Court considers it a tax or a fee. Since 1911, California’s constitution has exempted “tax levies” from the people’s referendum. It’s an exemption that Dunsmuir, a town of about 1,600 residents in Siskiyou County, is trying to apply to its aging water system. In 2016, the town decided to begin increasing water rates over a six-year period to replace the town’s 105-year-old water storage tank, along with miles of sewer pipes that have fallen into disrepair. … ” Read more from Courthouse News Service here: Water rate hike in rural town becomes tax battle royale
Prediction tool shows how forest thinning may increase snowpack: “The Sierra Nevada forest is an important resource for the surrounding communities in Nevada and California. Thinning the forest by removing trees by hand or using heavy machinery is one of the few tools available to manage forests. However, finding the best way to thin forests by removing select trees to maximize the forest’s benefits for water quantity, water quality, wildfire risk and wildlife habitat remains a challenge for resource managers. The U.S. Forest Service is leading an effort to balance all these challenges in landscape-scale forest restoration planning as part of the Lake Tahoe West Restoration Partnership. As part of this effort, University of Nevada, Reno’s Adrian Harpold recently led a team in developing a modeling tool to focus on the issue of water quantity. … ” Read more from the Tahoe Daily Tribune here: Prediction tool shows how forest thinning may increase snowpack
Beneficiaries of headwater forests can be key partners in developing more resilient California: “The gifts of headwater forests – trees in abundance, water supplies, wildlife habitat, recreational assets and more – benefit not only those who live nearby but people throughout California. As a new report by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) explains, the state urgently needs to accelerate forest management practices that can protect those benefits in the face of increasing wildfires and other threats. During an online event attended by 500 people last week, the authors of the report, “The Benefits of Headwater Forest Management,” described how California’s headwater forests have become more homogeneous and overgrown, with fewer large trees and more small trees, and thus more vulnerable to major wildfires and droughts. ... ” Read more from California Forward here: Beneficiaries of headwater forests can be key partners in developing more resilient California
Regulating microplastics in drinking water: California retains its vanguard status: “The California State Water Resources Control Board (“State Board”) is poised to become “the first regulatory agency in the world to specifically define ‘Microplastics in Drinking Water.’” In September 2018, the California legislature adopted Health and Safety Code section 116376 via Senate Bill No. 1422, adding microplastics regulations to California’s Safe Drinking Water Act (“SDWA”). This provision requires the State Board to adopt a definition for Microplastics in Drinking Water by July 1, 2020. ... ” Read more from the National Law Review here: Regulating microplastics in drinking water: California retains its vanguard status
State Water Board adopts regulations to elevate data quality for CA communities: “The State Water Resources Control Board today adopted comprehensive regulations to modernize the Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program (ELAP), which oversees more than 650 laboratories that regulate testing of drinking water, wastewater discharges and hazardous waste cleanup sites throughout California. The new regulations require accredited laboratories to implement a nationally accepted standard, called the NELAC Institute (TNI) Standard, for managing all factors that potentially can affect the quality of lab results-from the quality of supplies and equipment to the training of laboratory staff. ... ” Continue reading at the State Water Board website here: State Water Board adopts regulations to elevate data quality for CA communities
California just revealed a $54.3 billion deficit — worse than the Great Recession: “California finance officials just revealed a $54.3 billion deficit in the first economic assessment of the coronavirus pandemic’s devastating blow to the fifth-largest economy in the world. That figure is higher than the deficit during the Great Recession and obliterates the state’s once-healthy reserves. Without sugar-coating how hard the prolonged shutdown of businesses and job losses will hit the state, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration released bleak projections on key statewide indicators: 18% unemployment rate for the year, 21% drop in new housing permits and nearly 9% decline in California personal income. ... ” Read more from CalMatters here: California just revealed a $54.3 billion deficit — worse than the Great Recession
Americans are told to wash hands to fight coronavirus. But some don’t trust the tap. “For the Chavez family and many others in California’s fertile San Joaquin Valley, bottled water is the toilet paper of their coronavirus pandemic — an everyday necessity that vanished from supermarket shelves. In the Navajo Nation, where about a third of the population lacks indoor plumbing, volunteers are creating public hand-washing stations by repurposing detergent bottles as makeshift faucets. And Jessica Endicott, who lives in the tiny community of Turkey Creek in eastern Kentucky, said the virus has exacerbated distrust of the local water, which leaves her skin red and itchy every time she bathes. … ” Read more from the Washington Post here: Americans are told to wash hands to fight coronavirus. But some don’t trust the tap.
The road to reopening America runs through the bathroom: “In the past few months, Americans have discovered the astonishing variety of things that can happen in a parking lot. Teach a seminar? Yes. Get married? Yes. Go to church? Amen. This may not surprise anyone who has been to a college football tailgate, which proves that only your imagination can limit what happens in the parking lot. But there is one way that we cannot turn America into one big tailgate while we wait out the pandemic: We are not going to spend the summer peeing on asphalt. … ” Read more from Slate Magazine here: The road to reopening America runs through the bathroom
Senate panel moves major water bills, adding PFAS actions: “The Senate’s environment panel pushed through two major water infrastructure bills Wednesday, rejecting a GOP member’s attempt to give Western states more authority over water supplies but agreeing to direct the EPA to set drinking water limits for “forever chemicals” known as PFAS. The water packages, (S. 3591) and (S. 3590), developed by the top Republican and Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, will now go to the full Senate. It’s unclear how soon the chamber will consider the legislation while it focuses on the coronavirus pandemic. ... ” Read more from Bloomberg Law here: Senate panel moves major water bills, adding PFAS actions
Above average temps lead to dramatic snowpack changes in Siskiyou County: “These measurements are a part of the statewide California Cooperative Snow Survey program, which helps the state forecast the amount of water available for agriculture, power generation, recreation, and stream flow releases later in the year. Above average temperatures and little precipitation in April has melted much of the area’s winter snowpack, the Klamath National Forest announced last week. While some snow lingers at the higher elevations, lower locations and sites exposed to the sun have largely lost their snow cover. ... ” Read more from the Taft Midway Driller here: Above average temps lead to dramatic snowpack changes in Siskiyou County
Weed citizens file suit against Sacramento law firm: “A group of Weed citizens have filed a lawsuit in the Siskiyou County Court against a Sacramento lawfirm and two of its attorneys for “malicious and unlawful conduct” related to a lawsuit filed against them in 2017. Churchwell White LLP filed the lawsuit on behalf of Roseburg Forest Products against nine Weed activists and their community organization Water for Citizens of Weed, California, known as WCWC. The new complaint, filed April 22, asserts that Churchwell White lawyers used the lawsuit to “silence, intimidate, and prevent WCWC from engaging in conduct that is protected under the U.S. and California constitutions.” ... ” Read more from Mt. Shasta News here: Weed citizens file suit against Sacramento law firm
El Dorado Irrigation District OK’s flume replacement, talks water sales: “The El Dorado Irrigation District Board of Directors has approved funding to replace of flumes 38 and 39/40. The flumes convey one-third of the district’s drinking water supply and are showing their age. The water is also used to generate power. Located above the South Fork of the American River between Ice House Road and Bull Creek Road, both flumes are constructed of wood. Flume 38 was last replaced in 1990. Flume 39/40 was built in 1948 and last worked on in 2012. ... ” Read more from the Mountain Democrat here: El Dorado Irrigation District OK’s flume replacement, talks water sales
Monterey Regional Airport delivers a report on PFAS contamination in groundwater.: “The coating on your frying pan that allows omelettes to slide off belongs to the same family of chemicals, known as PFAS, that are used to put out aircraft fires. In 2007, an emergency crew at the Monterey Regional Airport sprayed foam containing PFAS on a Cirrus aircraft that had caught on fire while being towed. The foam burst out at a rate of 300 gallons per minute and quickly smothered the flames. Earlier this year, a team of environmental investigators drilled holes at the site of the crash and sampled the groundwater at a depth of a few dozen feet. The water, they discovered following laboratory tests, was contaminated with PFOA, one of dozens of known PFAS compounds. … ” Read more from Monterey Now here: Monterey Regional Airport delivers a report on PFAS contamination in groundwater.
Land Trust conservation on Lompoc farm receives state funds: “In early April, the Land Trust for Santa Barbara County purchased a 118-acre conservation easement near Lompoc from the Bob Campbell family, protecting critical habitat for federally endangered California tiger salamanders. California Department of Fish and Wildlife earmarked nearly $2 million in state conservation funding for the acquisition. The easement is a legal agreement between the Campbells and the Land Trust to permanently conserve a portion of the Campbell Home Ranch with habitat vital to California tiger salamanders. The Campbell’s ownership of their land remains unchanged, and they are free to continue the historic cattle operations they have undertaken for five generations. ... ” Read more from EdHat here: Land Trust conservation on Lompoc farm receives state funds
Rialto: California appeals court revives water pollution lawsuit: “A California appellate court has revived a lawsuit Wednesday from the city of Riverside who claim Black & Decker and several other companies contaminated the local drinking water with chemicals used to make explosive cartridges, flares and rocket fuel. Nearly a decade after the case was filed, the city was given the green light to move ahead with their case, which revolves around a 160-acre lot in the city of Rialto, about 10 miles north of Riverside. … ” Read more from Courthouse News Service here: California appeals court revives water pollution lawsuit
Reports show increasing groundwater levels in the Coachella Valley: “A new article by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) calls efforts to mitigate land subsidence in the Coachella Valley “an emerging success story,” a finding that is echoed by analysis completed by local water agencies. The USGS article, published in the Proceedings of the International Association of Hydrological Studies, notes Coachella Valley Water District (CVWD) has been concerned about land subsidence due to groundwater use since the mid-1990s. The USGS found that three projects in particular – replacing groundwater extraction with surface water from the Colorado River and recycled water (Mid-Valley Pipeline project), reducing water usage by tiered-rate costs, and increasing groundwater recharge at the Thomas E. Levy Groundwater Replenishment Facility – are potentially linked to markedly improved groundwater levels and subsidence conditions. The improvement includes some of the historically most overdrafted areas in the southern Coachella Valley. ... ” Read more from the Coachella Valley Water District here: Reports show increasing groundwater levels in the Coachella Valley
Supercharged by climate change, ‘megadrought’ points to drier future in the West: “Since 2000, the West has been stricken by a dry spell so severe that it ranks among the biggest “megadroughts” of the past 1,200 years. But scientists have found that unlike the decades-long droughts of centuries ago, this one has been supercharged by humanity’s heating of the planet. Researchers analyzed the dry and wet cycles that have swept across western North America over centuries by examining the ancient records inscribed in the growth rings of trees. ... ” Read more from the Arizona Republic here: Supercharged by climate change, ‘megadrought’ points to drier future in the West
Thirsty future for American West, as ”megadrought” grips some of the fastest-growing U.S. cities: “In 2002, Utah was reeling from four years of dry conditions that turned the state ‘’into a parched tinderbox,’’ as the Associated Press reported at the time. “Drought Could Last Another 1-2 years,” the headline proclaimed. Right on time, in 2004, the Salt Lake Tribune ran a similar article, on “Coming To Terms with Utah’s Six-Year Drought,” that was “believed to be the worst to strike the Southwest in half a millennium.” Almost two decades later, the drought has raged on. In October 2019, the water supplier for St. George, a rapidly growing resort and retirement community in southwest Utah, released a statement declaring the city’s longest-ever dry spell: 122 days without rain. ... ” Read more from Fair Warning here: Thirsty future for American West, as ”megadrought” grips some of the fastest-growing U.S. cities
NASA Near Real Time SWE Report from UC Colorado: “The May 1, 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 May 1st regional average SWE remains below average across the Sierra, with percent of average SWE highest in the south (49%), central (38%) and lowest in the north (18%). Detailed SWE maps (in JPG format) and summaries of SWE (in excel format) in each elevation band by individual basin and elevation band accompany the report and are publicly available on our FTP site. “
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.