DAILY DIGEST, 5/13: Delta tunnel advisory committee working through pandemic; Coalition urges Congress to fund critical water needs amid pandemic; Reactions to preliminary injunction; Drought, water shortages return to much of state; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • ONLINE MEETING: Healthy Watersheds Partnership from 9:30am to 11:30am. Agenda items include a HWP Portal Webpage Update and a Watershed Assessment and Dashboard Update.  Click here for the agenda and sign-on information.
  • ONLINE WORKSHOP: Public Stakeholder Webinar and Material on Water Loss Performance Standards from 10am to 2:30pm.  For more information, click here.
  • FREE WEBINAR: Impact of Anthropogenic Warming on an Emerging North American Megadrought from 11am to 12pm.  Click here to register.
  • WEBINAR: Digital Water Applications for System Reliability in Water Reuse Systems from 11am to 12pm.  Presented by WateReuse.  Click here for more information and to register.
  • FREE WEBINAR: Cyanobacteria Assessment Network (CyAN) App Training Webinar from 11am to 12pm.  Presented by the EPA.  Click here to register.
  • WEBCAST: Fate and Transport of Viruses in Groundwater from 12pm to 1pm.  Presented by the Groundwater Resources Association.  Click here to register.
  • FREE WEBINAR: What’s Bugging You? Invertebrates of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta from 1pm to 1:30pm.  Join DWR’s unofficial Chief Bug Wrangler, Rosemary Hartman, Ph.D., as she takes you into the world of the tiny critters that live in the waters of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. This live, family-friendly program will allow you to see into the water and mud without needing a microscope or getting wet.  Watch on YouTube or register through Zoom to ask questions.
  • FREE WEBINAR: Systems Management from 4pm to 5pm, speaker is Josue Medellin, presented by UCANR.  Click here for sign-on information.


In California water news today …

Delta tunnel advisory committee compelled to work through the pandemic:  “Members of a committee designed to ensure Delta communities and tribal groups have their say in a proposed, life-changing tunnel project have been told to work through the coronavirus pandemic—or be left out of the process. Some committee members also claim that state officials misrepresented that fact to one of the most important commissions monitoring their efforts.  The dust-up has caused Sacramento County Supervisor Don Nottoli to challenge one state official about transparency, while the Delta Protection Commission has officially asked California planners to halt their work on the tunnel during the virus outbreak.  So far, that hasn’t happened. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento News & Review here: Delta tunnel advisory committee compelled to work through the pandemic

Unprecedented coalition of water stakeholders urges Congress to fund critical water needs amid COVID-19 pandemic:  “In a letter to congressional leaders, a diverse coalition of water advocates today called on Congress to fund critical water needs that are impacting Californians amid the COVID-19 pandemic.The letter was addressed to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and U.S. Senators Diane Feinstein and Kamala Harris.  The coalition of 59 broad-based organizations, which collectively represents both California frontline communities as well as more than 450 California water agencies and multiple other water and environmental stakeholders, is urging the California Congressional Delegation to include funding for urgent water infrastructure and water affordability needs as part of the next federal stimulus package or other pending Congressional actions. … ”  Read press release here:  Unprecedented coalition of water stakeholders urges Congress to fund critical water needs amid COVID-19 pandemic

Storm Chasers: Real-time weather forecasting is helping to balance the need to store more water while still preventing floods:  “One rainy morning last December, John James stood outside holding a big white balloon, which looked like a perfect target for a lightning strike. Next to him, Carly Ellis, a field researcher with the UC San Diego Scripps Institution of Oceanography, asked a group of spectators if they were ready. Then, all together, they counted down: “Five, four, three, two, one.”  Not a second later, James, water operations projects manager for the Yuba Water Agency, released the balloon. “Whew, that went fast!” said an onlooker as the balloon shot up, snatched by the winds, and flew into gray clouds, the attached sensor flapping like a tail. ... ”  Read more from Comstock’s Magazine here: Storm Chasers:Real-time weather forecasting is helping to balance the need to store more water while still preventing floods

Drought, water shortages return to much of state:  “The return of drought to California has been widespread—58% of the state now experiences some level of dryness, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor—with extreme drought concentrated in 4% of the state, primarily in the northwestern region of Siskiyou, Trinity and Humboldt counties.  That’s the region where Jim Morris raises livestock and field crops.  “Most of the hills, lower-elevation hills, the grass is all gone—never really grew this year,” said Morris, who farms near Etna in Siskiyou County. … ”  Read more from Ag Alert here: Drought, water shortages return to much of state

SEE ALSO: Drought Monitor: How This Week’s Rain Impacts Northern CA’s Severe Conditions, video from NBC Bay Area

Rethinking (waste)water and conservation:  “A team of UCR water economists finds certain types of water conservation could have unintended consequences:  “When it comes to water conservation in cities that depend on wastewater reuse, even the best intentions can have unintended consequences.  That’s the main message to be gleaned from new findings from a team of water economists and engineers led by Kurt Schwabe, a professor of environmental economics and policy and the associate dean of the School of Public Policy at the University of California, Riverside.  In an article published this week in the journal Nature Sustainability, Schwabe and his co-researchers take a close look at how water conservation measures taken in Southern California in the wake of a major drought affected the availability and quality of regional wastewater. ... ”  Read more from UC Riverside here:  Rethinking (waste)water and conservation

Changing snowmelt threatens valley ag, way of life:  “The San Joaquin Valley — with all its agriculture and the hundreds of thousands of jobs that go with it — is one of the places most at risk because of changing snowmelt patterns, a new study shows.  California is the No. 1 producer of food in the nation, and agriculture in the state is a $50 billion-a-year industry. Valley crops provide more than a third of the country’s produce, including 95 percent of the fruit and nuts, and they depend on water coming from the Sierra Nevada snowpack. In fact, most of the Valley’s primary crops, including grapes and nuts, get a third or more of their irrigation from snowmelt. ... ”  Read more from UC Merced here: Changing snowmelt threatens valley ag, way of life

Ag groups call for more certainty for California’s water supply:  “A group of more than 70 agricultural organizations is asking Governor Gavin Newsom to bring about more certainty for California’s water supply.  The coalition is urging the Newsom Administration to reconsider how the water system is being managed both in terms of regulatory restraint and litigation related to the federal biological opinions.  “I think there are two primary areas of focus of the letter, said Mike Wade, Executive Director of the California Farm Water Coalition (CFWC). … ”  Read more from Ag Net West here: Ag groups call for more certainty for California’s water supply

California almond growers project 3 billion pound crop:  “California almond growers believe they will crack another milestone this year when they harvest a record three billion pounds of nuts. If it holds, this will be over 17 percent more than the 2.55 billion pounds of almonds harvested last year.  While the subjective almond forecast is a first peek into what the industry expects, it is typically not exact. Still, mild temperatures during bloom, young trees that are hitting their production stride and higher-than-ever acreage should combine for a big number later this year. … ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press here: California almond growers project 3 billion pound crop

People want beef. Ranchers have cows. Here’s what’s going wrong:  “There’s no shortage of demand for beef.  Prices are up. Grocery stores are limiting how much each customer can buy. Last week more than 1,000 Wendy’s restaurants ran out of hamburgers.  There’s also no shortage of cattle earmarked to be turned into beef.  But prices for those animals have dropped. Sales are down. At a recent livestock auction in the San Joaquin Valley, just a handful of buyers bothered to make an appearance. ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  People want beef. Ranchers have cows. Here’s what’s going wrong

Farmers, ranchers dispute legal limits of revamped water rule:  “Cattlemen in the West are gearing up for a legal battle over the Trump administration’s revamped water jurisdiction rule, even as a national trade association of farmers that touts itself as the “unified voice of agriculture” supports the change.  Ranchers in New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington state want no federal control of any body of water that crosses their lands. They’ve asked the Pacific Legal Foundation, a conservative nonprofit legal firm, to sue on their behalf to fix what they see as lingering “federal overreach” problems with the most recent definition of the waters of the U.S., or WOTUS. … ”  Read more from Bloomberg Law here: Farmers, ranchers dispute legal limits of revamped water rule

Double-whammy weather:  “Like an undulating seesaw, weather in some regions swings from drought to heavy rain under the weight of climate-induced changes, a new study finds. The analysis, published in Geophysical Research Letters, finds a link between droughts followed by heavy rain events, along with an increased rate of these successive extreme weather occurrences. The research could inform more effective climate adaptation planning and policies by identifying where these swings are likely to exacerbate conditions, especially for vulnerable populations and ecosystems. Australia’s recent swing from massive drought-driven wildfires to landslide-causing heavy rains is a prime example. … ”  Read more from Stanford’s Water in the West here: Double-whammy weather

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Reactions to preliminary injunction …

A federal court on Monday temporarily blocked the Trump administration’s efforts to pump more water from the Delta.  Here’s what conservation groups and legislators had to say:

From the Golden State Salmon Association:

“This is a major victory for salmon fishing families, California’s environment, and the coastal and inland communities that depend on salmon to survive,” said John McManus, president of the Golden State Salmon Association.  “The Trump administration is trying to drain Northern California salmon rivers and the Delta in violation of the law, at great cost to California’s salmon runs, and our court case is putting a brake on those efforts.”

From Congressmen Kevin McCarthy, Devin Nunes, Ken Calvert, Tom McClintock, Doug LaMalfa, and Paul Cook:

“With yesterday’s temporary court ruling, the Newsom Administration was successful in denying California communities over 50,000 acre-feet of much-needed water in the month of May alone. Their actions prioritize politics over the needs of working Californians across our state. Even after the Trump Administration spent months consulting state agencies on the updated biological opinions, Governor Newsom has still decided to sue the federal government and issue its own state permit to block water supplies.

“Newsom’s reckless political games are placing some of the state’s most vulnerable communities at risk of running out of water. The Governor should immediately drop this litigation and begin working with the federal government to implement policies that protect our state’s cities, farms, and communities.”

From Doug Obegi at the Natural Resources Defense Council:

“The court’s decision to limit pumping for the rest of the month is a much-needed temporary reprieve for salmon and other endangered and threatened species in the Bay-Delta. We will continue to fight the Trump Administration’s illegal actions in the Bay-Delta until they stop their blatant disregard for the law and science that should be guiding policy on this front.”

From Barbara Barrigan-Parilla at Restore the Delta:

“We are grateful to Attorney General Becerra’s office and our friends at NRDC for this temporary protection of California’s vanishing salmon runs. While this course of litigation is on the right track, it is still in process. Despite claims by industrial agricultural growers and the Trump Administration that environmental flows are ‘wasted water,’ in federal court, science, facts, and rational truth still matter for the health of the San Francisco Bay-Delta.”

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In commentary today …

Doug Obegi: Federal court enjoins Trump Admin’s Delta pumping in May:  He writes, “Yesterday, the federal Court for the Eastern District of California issued a ruling granting in part the motions for preliminary injunction filed against the Trump Administration by the State of California in The California Natural Resources Agency v. Ross and a coalition of fishing and conservation groups (including NRDC) in PCFFA v. Ross. Today’s ruling gives a brief – but vital – reprieve to salmon and other imperiled native fish in the Bay-Delta, and it’s an encouraging sign that Plaintiffs will eventually succeed in overturning these biological opinions.  Our coalition sought a preliminary injunction to prevent implementation of these unlawful biological opinions this year, and instead to require the Trump Administration to continue to implement the prior (2008/2009) biological opinions until the Court issues a final judgment in the case. ... ”  Read more from the NRDC here: Doug Obegi: Federal court enjoins Trump Admin’s Delta pumping in May

Richard Cole: We simply cannot continue destroying California’s river systems:  He writes, “The State Water Contractors’ commentary on California water policy discusses compacts, cooperation and agreements. What it does not talk about is Northern California’s disappearing water supply and the fatal damage it is doing to our ecosystem.  Two generations ago, salmon were so abundant on the Trinity River that residents say you could almost literally walk across their backs to the opposite bank during the spawning seasons. It is now very possible, even likely, that salmon will completely disappear from the Trinity and Klamath rivers over the next two decades. … ” Read more from Cal Matters here: Richard Cole: We simply cannot continue destroying California’s river systems

Laurie Wayburn: Forests can help boost California’s economic recovery:  She writes, “As California begins its recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, the Legislature has a short window to simultaneously address both our current economic losses and ongoing climate challenges. Although these remain unprecedented times, it is also an opportunity to envision a better future and a different way of doing things, particularly regarding fire, drought, water reliability, forest health and how these are entwined with our economic recovery. … ”  Red more at the San Francisco Chronicle here:  Forests can help boost California’s economic recovery

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In regional news and commentary today …

Coalition to take major step in acquiring Potter Valley project from PG&E:  “A partnership of numerous Northern California agencies intends to file an initial plan on Wednesday to acquire the Potter Valley project from the Pacific Gas and Electric Co., multiple sources confirmed.  The coalition will submit a document — no more than 12 pages long — to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for its consideration. If approved, the group may be able to form a partnered ownership of complex water infrastructure dividing the Eel and Russian rivers. … ”  Read more from the Redwood Times here: Coalition to take major step in acquiring Potter Valley project from PG&E

Sacramento Valley: Logistics, water supplies affect rice planting:  “Ideal planting conditions should have allowed rice farmers throughout the Sacramento Valley plenty of time to prepare and seed their fields this spring, but short supplies of a liquid fertilizer have slowed their progress, leaving some of them scrambling to make last-minute adjustments.  Most rice farmers use aqua-ammonia, a key source of nitrogen for their crop. The liquid fertilizer is typically injected into the soil before water is released onto the field for planting. With fertilizer distributors and dealers running low on aqua-ammonia at the height of rice-planting season, farmers say they have had to make some tough decisions on whether to wait for new shipments to arrive or switch to different and oftentimes more-expensive fertilizers that they’re not used to using. … ”  Read more from Ag Alert here: Logistics, water supplies affect rice planting

Neon blue flash gives way to rotting stench as red tide sweeps California coast:  “As if to celebrate the reopening of Southern California beaches, the Pacific Ocean threw a party, complete with a light show.  Then it left behind a smelly mess of dying algae.  The microorganisms produce stunning bioluminescence that has illuminated the surf up and down the coast for several weeks. Red tides occur when they reproduce en masse, staining seawater rusty brown with as many as 20 million cells per liter.  A photochemical reaction in the cells when they are jostled by waves emits a flash of electric blue, in a sort of southern, aquatic version of the aurora borealis. As the bloom dies out, however, the unpleasant scent of decay can travel miles from shore. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Neon blue flash gives way to rotting stench as red tide sweeps California coast

San Diego researchers looking into possibility of toxic algae in SoCal ocean:  “People throughout California’s coast started smelling the stench of a red tide at the end of April and now, well into May, the smell continues.  Microorganisms in the water make the waves look brown during the day, giving it its name, and glow blue at night. Researchers agree this will probably be the largest bloom on record and are now finding there could be potentially dangerous toxins with this current bloom. The organism bringing this spectacle is no stranger to San Diego or Southern California, however it’s usually benign in this area. It can, however, be toxic in other areas of the world. … ”  Read more from Channel 10 here:  San Diego researchers looking into possibility of toxic algae in SoCal ocean

San Diego secures $300m to address Tijuana sewage seepage:  “The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed dedicating its entire $300 million budget for infrastructure projects along the U.S.-Mexico Border to combat sewage pollution in the Tijuana River Valley.  United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) was modified in Dec. 2019 to include millions in funds for the Border Water Infrastructure Program (BWIP).  Local Congressional leaders said Tuesday the full $300 million had been secured for projects in the San Diego region. … ”  Read more from Channel 7 here: San Diego secures $300m to address Tijuana sewage seepage

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Today’s featured article …

WATER RESOURCES MANAGEMENT: Developing a water budget

With water availability being an important concern, water managers often use water budgets to quantify and manage water resources. A water budget is an accounting of the rates of the inflows, outflows, and changes in water storage in a specific area; however, as simple as that might sound, developing an accurate water budget can be a difficult and challenging endeavor.

To address this problem, the Department of Water Resources has developed a water budget handbook, which is intended to demystify the process of developing a water budget by distilling the process down into specific steps, providing guidance as well as specific advice on how to determine a water budget, with or without the use of models. In the spring of 2020, Department staff held a webinar to introduce water managers and interested stakeholders to the content in the water budget handbook.

Click here to read this article.

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NASA SWE Report …

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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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