DAILY DIGEST, 5/21: As California beaches reopen, seawall construction becomes legislative battleground; Tiny bugs can clean Valley drinking water but at what price?; Less water could sustain more Californians if we make every drop count; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • ONLINE COURSE: Introduction to Groundwater, Watersheds, and Groundwater Sustainability Plans begins at 9am.  This is the first of a six session class.  There is still time to register as you will be provided a video for sessions you missed.  Reasonably priced!  Click here to register.
  • FREE VIRTUAL EVENT: A Review of San Joaquin Valley Groundwater Sustainability Plans from 11am to 12pm.  Presented by the PPIC.  Click here to register.
  • FREE WEBINAR: Urban Water Management Plans 101 from 11am to 12pm.  Presented by the WaterNow Alliance.  Click here to register.
  • ONLINE MEETING: Delta Conveyance Design and Construction Authority, Board of Directors Meeting from 2pm to 5:30pm. Click here for materials and webcast information.
  • ONLINE MEETING:  Delta Protection Commission meets from 4pm to 6pm.  Agenda items include consideration of appointments to the Delta Protection Advisory Committee and and update on the Franks Tract Futures project.  Click here for the agenda and sign-on information.

In California water news today …

As California beaches reopen, seawall construction becomes legislative battleground:  “California’s beaches may feel off-limits right now, but the coronavirus has not stopped the sea from rising. With every tide and storm, this slow-moving disaster continues to creep closer to shore — toppling bluffs, eroding our beaches and threatening homes and major infrastructure.  Also on the rise is a heated battle over what gets saved — and who actually benefits — along the California coast.  In a move this month that outraged environmentalists and caught coastal regulators off guard, a Republican senator pushed forward legislation that would revise a key section in the state’s landmark Coastal Act and allow homeowners in San Diego and Orange counties to build seawalls by right. These changes would set a precedent of sidestepping the required (and often tough) oversight of the California Coastal Commission, which for decades has walked the contentious line between protecting private property and preserving the very beaches that make California, well, California. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  As California beaches reopen, seawall construction becomes legislative battleground

Tiny bugs can clean Valley drinking water but at what price?  “If you have a small, drinking water system in the Central Valley that’s full of nitrates, and there are plenty, a company has some bugs to sell you.  Specifically, a company called Microvi is looking for a demonstration project in the valley to show that its “biological denitrification” process is feasible for small systems.  Bio denitrification runs water through media embedded with microbes that “eat” nitrates and convert the chemical to nitrogen gas. … ”  Read more from SJV Water here: Tiny bugs can clean Valley drinking water but at what price?

Less water could sustain more Californians if we make every drop count:  “California isn’t running out of water,” says Richard Luthy. “It’s running out of cheap water. But the state can’t keep doing what it’s been doing for the past 100 years.”  Luthy knows. As a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford, as well as director of a National Science Foundation center to re-invent urban water supply (known as ReNUWIt), he has spent decades studying the state’s metropolitan areas.  In a new journal article, he argues that California cities can no longer rely on their three traditional water-coping strategies: over-drafting groundwater, depleting streams and importing water from far away. ... ”  Read more from Phys Org here: Less water could sustain more Californians if we make every drop count

ICYMI: Lawsuit Challenges Federal Water Contracts That Imperil Delta, Fish, Wildlife:  “Three environmental groups sued the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation today to dispute the award of permanent federal water contracts to water users supplied by the Central Valley ProjectThe Central Valley Project is one of the world’s largest water storage and delivery systems. It includes 20 reservoirs, about 500 miles of canals and aqueducts, and two pumping plants. The project has caused widespread environmental damage by reducing freshwater flows in the San Francisco Bay-Delta, blocking salmon migration and killing wildlife with toxic runoff from irrigated farmland. Such diversions “reduce freshwater flows through the Delta causing and worsening harmful algal blooms (HABs) which threaten the public health of those drinking, fishing in, or swimming in, Delta waters, or inhaling the air near Delta waters,” the complaint states. … ”  Read more from Maven’s Notebook here: ICYMI: Lawsuit Challenges Federal Water Contracts That Imperil Delta, Fish, Wildlife

Modesto Irrigation District Board approves ongoing legal action in MID V. Robinson-Tanaka riparian rights case:  “On May 12th, the Modesto Irrigation District (“MID”) Board of Directors approved ongoing legal action in the recent riparian rights case Modesto Irrigation District v. Heather Robinson Tanaka (“MID v. Tanaka”) in which MID asserted unauthorized water diversions by Tanaka from the Middle River in the Delta. MID’s Board authorized staff to explore legal options, up to and including a petition for review of the case by the California Supreme Court.  MID v. Tanaka concerns islands in the middle of the California Delta which were converted via drainage and reclamation works from marsh and swampland into agricultural land in the latter half of the 19th century. Morton Fisher purchased part of one such island, Roberts Island, in 1877. … ”  Read more from the Kronick law firm here: Modesto Irrigation District Board approves ongoing legal action in MID V. Robinson-Tanaka riparian rights case

DWR continues to protect native species and habitats during COVID-19:  “While adapting to social distancing guidelines and recommendations surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, Department of Water Resources (DWR) staff have been continuing reliable water delivery to 27 million people through the State Water Project (SWP).  Staff in DWR’s Environmental Compliance and Evaluation Branch, within the Division of Environmental Services (DES), ensure that project activities associated with operations, maintenance and/or construction along the SWP, and associated facilities, comply with all environmental regulations. … ”  Read more from DWR News here: DWR continues to protect native species and habitats during COVID-19

Poll reveals public support for voluntary agreements, litigation continues:  “Despite multiple legal and regulatory actions, Voluntary Agreements remain a viable path forward on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay-Delta, one strongly supported by ACWA and a majority of Californians.  ACWA retained Probolsky Research to conduct a bilingual statewide survey of 900 California voters during March. The results showed that a majority of respondents ­­­– 62% – support Voluntary Agreements as an approach under development by a coalition of California interests including cities, conservation organizations, farmers and state and federal agencies. … ”  Read more from ACWA News here:  Poll reveals public support for voluntary agreements, litigation continues

Spring storms prompt boost in CVP allocations:  “Following spring storms, the Bureau of Reclamation today issued updated allocations for Central Valley Project contractors for the 2020 contract year.  The allocation for south-of-Delta agricultural water service contractors is increased from 15% to 20% of their contract total. Municipal and Industrial water service contractors south-of-Delta are now allocated 70% of their historic use, up from 65%, or health and safety needs, whichever is greater. … ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press here: Spring storms prompt boost in CVP allocations

Record-breaking California 2020 almond crop predicted:  “The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) is predicting a record California almond crop for the third straight year. The USDA-NASS 2020 California Almond Subjective Forecast estimates California almond orchards will produce 3.0 billion pounds of nuts this year, up 17.6 percent from last year’s 2.55 billion-pound crop. Forecasted yield is expected to reach 2,380 pounds per acre, 10.2 percent greater than the 2019 yield of 2,160 per acre. ... ”  Read more from the Escalon Times here: Record-breaking California 2020 almond crop predicted

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In national/world news today …

CSC, EPA change building reopening guidance after acknowledging error:  “Two federal agencies charged with protecting the health of U.S. residents during the coronavirus pandemic have acknowledged that their guidance for safely reopening buildings that were closed because of state shutdown orders was flawed and that they have revised it.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Environmental Protection Agency incorrectly stated the proper temperature setting for water heaters in offices, hotels, restaurants, schools, and other large buildings with complex plumbing systems.  The errors, now corrected, put people at risk of contracting Legionnaires’ disease, plumbing experts said. Legionnaires’ disease is a deadly respiratory illness that is spread by inhaling contaminated droplets from cooling towers, showers, fountains, hot tubs, and other water fixtures that create airborne particles. … ”  Read more from Circle of Blue here: CSC, EPA change building reopening guidance after acknowledging error

PFAS limits in drinking water to take more than a year, EPA says:  “The EPA won’t be able to set drinking water limits for two PFAS chemicals in the next year, agency administrator Andrew Wheeler told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Wednesday.  The Environmental Protection Agency determined that it’ll set maximum contaminant levels (MCL) for the two chemicals—PFOA and PFOS—in drinking water, but hasn’t proposed what those limits should be. … ”  Read more from Bloomberg Law here: PFAS limits in drinking water to take more than a year, EPA says

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In regional news and commentary today …

Klamath farmers and ranchers plan ‘convoy’ to protest water limits:  “Farmers and ranchers in the Klamath Basin are reportedly planning a rally to protest the water use limits enforced by the federal government to protect fish populations.  According to the Oregon Farm Bureau, members of the Klamath Irrigation Project are issuing a “Call to Unity” for supporters to join them at 10 a.m. on May 19 in Merrill. Organizers plan to lead a two-hour tractor convoy through the farmlands of the Klamath Project, down Main Street in Klamath Falls, ending in a farmer’s field near Midland. … ”  Read more from KDRV here: Klamath farmers and ranchers plan ‘convoy’ to protest water limits

Farming and wetlands coexist in the Klamath Basin:  “From the top of Wild Horse Butte in southeastern Oregon, the Klamath River snakes through tule bulrush and cattails on Furber Marsh to the north. In the opposite direction, Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) stretches out to the mountains on the southern horizon, its flooded parcels glinting in the afternoon sunlight. This vantage makes it easy to imagine the Klamath Basin’s massive value to migratory birds, including about 80 percent of the Pacific Flyway’s wetland-dependent birds that use the Basin and surrounding agricultural landscapes each year.  ... ”  Read more from the Intermountain West Joint Venture here: Farming and wetlands coexist in the Klamath Basin

Laying the SLAPPback Down:  “In 2019, the city of Weed, California, gave up its fight for water rights with Roseburg Forest Products after dealing with unending legal costs. But another legal battle has begun, this time on their behalf.  On April 22, Lauren Regan, executive director and chief counsel of Civil Liberties Defense Center, filed a lawsuit in the Superior Court of the State of California County of Siskiyou against the law firm that the suit says initiated a strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) against nine Weed residents. … ”  Read more from Eugene Weekly here:  Laying the SLAPPback Down

Mendocino City Community Services District Board adopts groundwater ordinance, contingency plan:  “The Mendocino City Community Services District Board held a special meeting May 18 to vote on their groundwater extraction permit and water shortage contingency plan ordinances.  The vote followed familiar lines, with Board President Harold Hauck, Vice President Jim Sullivan and board member Jean Arnold voting yes, and board member Otto Rice voting no.  Rice said that he agreed with the concept of managing groundwater and sharing resources but remained unhappy about the process the board has taken. The process is dictated by California Water Law. The reason the ordinances were voided last year is that the law was not followed when the ordinances were passed over a decade ago. … ”  Read more from the Mendocino Beacon here: Mendocino City Community Services District Board adopts groundwater ordinance, contingency plan

Placer County: GDPUD decides to get in on water sales:  “Taking the opportunity to bring in some extra revenue, last week the Georgetown Divide Public Utility District Board of Directors approved the sale of up to 2,000 acre-feet of water to Westlands Water District at a price of $350 an acre-foot.  Interim General Manager Jeff Nelson explained that the potential $700,000 in revenue, less $100,000 in consulting and legal fees, could be used toward capital improvements. … ”  Read more from the Mountain Democrat here:  GDPUD decides to get in on water sales

Understanding why Carpinteria’s water costs what it does:  ” … The south coast of Santa Barbara County is an amazing place to live but a few of the things that make it so wonderful are the same things that make it expensive to maintain a water supply. The geographic distance from major cities, the lower population density and the rural nature of Carpinteria requires that we import water from as far away as Northern California to reliably supply water to Carpinteria Valley. In fact, imported water generally flows from north to south in Santa Barbara County, so Carpinteria is at the end of the pipeline.  … ”  Read more from Coastal View here: Understanding why Carpinteria’s water costs what it does

Red tide’s end may be near as foam builds along San Diego coast:  “First, the red tide brought bioluminescence waves to San Diego’s shore. Then, a funky smell to coastal cities. Now, the algae bloom has produced foam gathering on shore.  San Diegans have posted several photos online showing the foamy buildup along the shoreline in some areas.  The foam is product of the red tide that has remained along the county’s coast for more than a month, according to Allison Cusick, of Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. … ”  Read more from Channel 10 here: Red tide’s end may be near as foam builds along San Diego coast

San Diego supervisors OK agreement for water treatment project: “The San Diego County Board of Supervisors Wednesday unanimously approved a service agreement for an East County water project.  East County Advanced Water Purification is a regional project that includes the county Sanitation District, Padre Dam Municipal Water District, the city of El Cajon and Helix Water District. Those entities are also part of a joint powers authority, which was formed last November. … ”  Read more from KPBS here: San Diego supervisors OK agreement for water treatment project

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Today’s Featured Articles

GUEST COMMENTARY: Leave it to Beavers: significant partners in dealing with climate change

Guest commentary by Gail Sredanovic in consultation with Heidi Perryman:

“Think a babbling clear stream is the only healthy one? Think again. Once hunted almost to extinction, beaver were once much, much more numerous, and their ponds and wetlands created a very different waterscape of a  kind far better adapted to climate change and drought. There is abundant research to document this.  Here is what the Water Institute of the Occidental Art and Ecology Center has to say:

“Extensive research has recently heightened recognition of the important role beaver (Castor canadensis) can play in watershed health and climate change resiliency. The species’ ecological services include enhanced water storage, erosion control, habitat restoration and creation, listed species recovery, the maintenance of stream flows during the dry summer period, and other beneficial adaptations to our changing climate conditions. … “

Click here to read this guest commentary.

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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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