DAILY DIGEST, 5/27: Feds say Tule groundwater could continue to sink; Lean but still green; Controversial effort to address seawalls to be reconsidered; The give and take of enterprise offers hope in wildfire crisis; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • ONLINE WORKSHOP: The County Drought Advisory Group meets from 9am to 12pm.  The purpose of this CDAG meeting is to review, clarify, discuss, and receive comments on the drought and water shortage risk scoring and tool. Click here for more information and to register.
  • ONLINE MEETING: The Delta Conservancy Board meets from 9am to 1pm.  Agenda items include updates on Prop 1, Prop 68, Delta Mercury Exposure Reduction Program, Delta Stewardship Council, Delta Protection Commission, Delta Conveyance, and EcoRestore.  More information by clicking here.
  • FREE WEBINAR:  Coping With Megadrought in the Colorado River Basin from 11am to 12pm.  Presentation by John Fleck.  Click here to register.
  • FREE WEBINAR: EPA Expands Research on COVID-19 in the Environment from 11am to 12pm.  Register by clicking here.
  • WEBINAR: Assessing Existing Wells to Expand GSP Monitoring Networks from 12pm to 1pm.  Click here for more information and to register.

In California water news today …

Feds say Tule groundwater could continue to sink:  “Without the construction of the 152-mile Friant-Kern Canal in 1951 at the cost of $61 million, many of the best producing ag areas along the east side of the San Joaquin Valley would be out of business. That’s because farmers had pumped themselves dry by the late 1940s. Productive citrus growing areas like Orange Cove, Lindsay and Terra Bella have little groundwater available to this day.  The canal serves farms and communities from Chowchilla in the north to Arvin Edison near the Grapevine in the south. Its waters boost the area’s economy to the tune of millions of dollars.  As the Valley moves forward on sustainable groundwater monitoring plans and proposed pumping restrictions by district, the gravity-fed canal that is key to survival for 15,000 east side farms continues to be impacted by subsidence. ... ” Read more from the Foothills News-Gazette here: Feds say Tule groundwater could continue to sink

ENVIRO DOCS: A look at the Friant Kern Canal Middle Reach Capacity Correction Project:  “On May 8, the Bureau of Reclamation and Friant Water Authority released a draft environmental impact statement/environmental impact report for the project to repair a 33-mile stretch of the Friant-Kern Canal in the eastern San Joaquin Valley which has been damaged by subsidence. This has reduced capacity of the canal, resulting in a reduction of water deliveries of up to 300,000 acre-feet in certain water years. The Friant Kern Canal Middle Reach Capacity Correction Project would restore capacity from the current estimated 1,600 cfs to the original design capacity of 4,000 cfs.  The release of the documents starts a public comment period that will end at 5 p.m. on June 22. The Bureau of Reclamation and the Friant Water Authority will host an online public meeting on June 8 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. to collect public comments. ... ”  Continue reading at Maven's Notebook here:  ENVIRO DOCS: A look at the Friant Kern Canal Middle Reach Capacity Correction Project

Lean but still green:  “When Bernadette Balics opened Ecological Landscape Design in Davis in 2001, she was one of just a few businesses in the Capital Region that designed landscapes according to eco-friendly and water-efficient principles. Today, she has lots of competitors, and there’s plenty of business for everyone.   Balics’ industry is at the forefront of a major shift in how California is responding to a limited water supply as demands increase and climate change brings more extreme weather events like droughts that further destabilize the water supply. … ”  Read more from Comstock's here: Lean but still green

Controversial effort to address seawalls to be reconsidered:  “A proposed state bill that environmentalists worry would make it easier for homeowners and others to build seawalls in Orange and San Diego counties — and accelerate the loss of beaches — is headed back to the drawing board after a Tuesday committee hearing.  State Sen. Pat Bates, R-Laguna Niguel, said her bill is intended to prevent accidents like the bluff collapse in Encinitas that in August killed three beachgoers. She said she expects to continue discussions with lawmakers and those involved with coastal protection to produce a proposal that will streamline approval processes for addressing coastal erosion. … ”  Read more from the OC Register here:  Controversial effort to address seawalls to be reconsidered

The give and take of enterprise offers hope in California’s wildfire crisis:  “The damage from California’s wildfire crisis has been painful and relentless. The state has lost lives, property, natural resources, and health and well-being, while solutions are proving elusive and costly.  Among the innovations currently under way to address these challenges is an “enterprise-driven” approach being tested in an area of the state where wildfires have hit again and again: The North Bay counties of Sonoma, Napa, Lake, and Mendocino. The goal is to promote safer, healthier landscapes by quantifying the benefits for nature and people that would come through new economic activities, partnerships, and investments to support large-scale wildfire resilience work. … ”  Read more from California Forward here: The give and take of enterprise offers hope in California’s wildfire crisis

Tracking the tinderbox: Stanford scientists map wildfire fuel moisture across western U.S.:  “As California and the American West head into fire season amid the coronavirus pandemic, scientists are harnessing artificial intelligence and new satellite data to help predict blazes across the region.  Anticipating where a fire is likely to ignite and how it might spread requires information about how much burnable plant material exists on the landscape and its dryness. Yet this information is surprisingly difficult to gather at the scale and speed necessary to aid wildfire management. … ”  Read more from Stanford News here:  Tracking the tinderbox: Stanford scientists map wildfire fuel moisture across western U.S.

Climate lawsuits by California cities, counties transferred to state court in victory over oil companies:  “A panel of federal judges on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Pasadena handed major fossil fuel companies a setback in two climate-related cases brought by California cities and counties.  The two unanimous rulings by the three-judge panel move the cases back to state court, where they were initially filed, clearing a major hurdle for the litigation following a string of setbacks that included the transfer of the cases to federal court. … ”  Read more from KQED here: Climate lawsuits by California cities, counties transferred to state court in victory over oil companies

Biochar: the vineyard's next big thing:  “A lot of viticulturists are talking about biochar these days but most people haven’t a clue what it even is.  Biochar is a soil amendment that is gaining popularity in agriculture, though it remains on the cutting edge in viticulture. It's essentially pulverized charcoal. It has the ability to build organic matter in poor or depleted soils, boost microbial populations and lower a vineyard's need for nutrient and water inputs – allowing for less human intervention, as well as lowering both grower's cost of production and carbon footprint. This means healthier soils, healthier vines, healthier environment, and happier grower. ... ”  Read more from Wine Searcher here: Biochar: the vineyard’s next big thing

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In national/world news today …

Water, highway bills among must-pass legislation, Hoyer says:  “House Democrats will focus this summer on passing essential legislation, including the Water Resources Development Act, a highway reauthorization bill, and appropriations measures, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Tuesday.  “My major focus at this time is getting the committees up and working” on hearings before turning to markups under the new remote work rules the chamber passed recently, Hoyer told reporters during his weekly briefing.  “There are a number of pieces of legislation” that are must-pass and have looming deadlines in the fall, including the National Defense Authorization Act, a surface transportation package, WRDA, and spending bills to keep the government open past Sept. 30, Hoyer said. … ”  Read more from Bloomberg Law here: Water, highway bills among must-pass legislation, Hoyer says

AquaSat gives water quality researchers new eyes in the sky:  “Nandita Basu studies how human activity can impact water quality, specifically how nutrient runoff can impact large areas. Think of the Mississippi River basin or the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Much of the work Basu, a professor of water sustainability and ecohydrology at the University of Waterloo in Canada, does looks at nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations in streams and rivers and then links them to sources in the landscape, such as agricultural land use.  It’s work that necessarily depends on physical sampling of water in the field, but as Basu notes, researchers quickly find fundamental limits in this type of work.  “When you work with these water quality data, one thing that immediately becomes really evident is the lack of data. There are millions of streams, and there are only so many that we can go take samples from all the time,” she said. ... ”  Read more from EOS here: AquaSat gives water quality researchers new eyes in the sky

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In regional news and commentary today …

Tractor rally to protest looming Klamath water shutoffs:  “Growers facing water shutoffs in the Klamath Basin straddling the California-Oregon state line are planning a giant tractor rally on Friday reminiscent of the region's 2001 water protests that gained national media attention.  The “Call to Unity” tractor convoy will travel about 20 miles, starting on a farm at about 10 a.m. and continuing through downtown Klamath Falls, Ore., and past the head gates of the Klamath Irrigation Project's main canal, the Klamath Falls Herald and News reports. ... ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press here: Tractor rally to protest looming Klamath water shutoffs

Butte County: Local leaders discuss next steps for Paradise Irrigation District funding: “Guaranteeing a second year of backfill funding from the state for Paradise Irrigation District will take “tough negotiations” with the governor’s office, local lawmakers and leaders said in press conference Tuesday morning.  Gov. Gavin Newsom’s latest budget proposal reverts $7.3 million originally set aside for PID to the general fund, amid other cuts related to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. ... ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Butte County: Local leaders discuss next steps for Paradise Irrigation District funding

Weeds and algae are just part of living on Clear Lake: “Clear Lake is one of the richest lakes in the state when it comes to nutrients. That is one reason we have algae blooms as well as a massive amount of aquatic weeds. Some of the species of aquatic weeds have been in the lake for more than a million years and others only a few years. These new arrivals are classed as foreign invasive weeds. For example, the well known weed, hydrilla, is classed as an invasive weed and originally came from India. It was actually imported as an aquarium plant back in the early 1950s. In fact, at one time you could buy hydrilla plants from garden shops in Lake County. It is believed to got into Clear Lake by someone emptying an aquarium containing hydrilla off their dock into the lake. There is so much concern about hydrilla that the State of California keeps an eradication crew assigned to the lake full time. … ” Read more from the Record-Bee here: Weeds and algae are just part of living on Clear Lake

San Francisco ordered downtown office buildings shut. Now it worries about safety of the water within them:  “Before San Francisco office workers start streaming back to downtown high-rises again, property owners and managers need to make sure those buildings are safe. Not just from the threat of coronavirus circulating among cubicles, but from medical problems that can be caused when water in buildings sits stagnant for months.  Plumbing systems — the vast network of pipes that connect the city’s water system to cooling towers, showers, sinks, toilets and urinals — require a consistent water flow in order for water to stay safe. When there are no workers around to flush toilets or wash their hands, water stagnates in pipes. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: San Francisco ordered downtown office buildings shut. Now it worries about safety of the water within them

Activists’ plan to filibuster Monterey One Water meeting is scuttled by a leak:  “Over email, local water activists concocted a secret plan to derail a vote that would potentially kill one water project and bolster the prospects of another. The idea was to stage a “filibuster” of the Monterey One Water board meeting scheduled for Tuesday, May 26.  The board is considering whether to deny an environmental certification for an expansion of the Pure Water Monterey facility, the brand-new water reclamation project near Marina. Without water supply from the expansion, the activists’ nemesis, California American Water, would be more likely to secure permits for a massive desalination plant. ... ”  Read more from Monterey Weekly here: Activists’ plan to filibuster Monterey One Water meeting is scuttled by a leak

Trump Administration OKs drilling in California’s largest grassland:  “The Trump administration announced plans to allow oil and gas development on a national monument that is home to endangered species and unspoiled wilderness stashed in between the most populous parts of the state.  The Bureau of Land Management approved a new oil well and pipeline in the Carrizo Plain National Monument, located in the southeastern part of San Luis Obispo County about four hours north of Los Angeles.   “The selected alternative is consistent with the intent of [Mineral Leasing Act] to promote the mining of oil and gas on the public domain,” the BLM said in its approval of the oil and gas lease released last Friday. … ”  Read more from Courthouse News here: Trump Administration OKs drilling in California’s largest grassland

Stockton: Floating data center firm Nautilus secures $100m loan from Orion Energy Partners:  “Nautilus Data Technologies has secured a loan from investment firm Orion Energy Partners to finish ongoing projects including a 6MW data center in the Port of Stockton, California.  Nautilus specializes in building water-borne facilities that rest upon a moored barge and are cooled by water. The $100m debt facility will cover the costs of finishing projects including the Stockton data center which is expected online in late 2020. ... ”  Read more from Data Center Dynamics here:  Stockton: Floating data center firm Nautilus secures $100m loan from Orion Energy Partners

Southern California: San Juan and Santiago Watershed Selected as one of 2020’s 10 Waters to Watch:  “The San Juan and Santiago Watershed has been selected to the National Fish Habitat Partnership’s (NFHP) 2020 list of 10 Waters to Watch. This annual list represents a collection of strategic conservation efforts implemented on rivers, streams, estuaries, and lakes to protect, restore, or enhance fish habitat. … ” Read more from Cal Trout here: Southern California: San Juan and Santiago Watershed Selected as one of 2020’s 10 Waters to Watch

Board of Supervisors should listen to experts to help Salton Sea, says Susan St. Louis:  She writes, “On May 9, the Riverside Board of Supervisors decided to overrule the recommendations of their Public Health Officer, Dr. Cameron Kaiser, and made mask-wearing in public suggested but not mandatory, even though studies confirm that wearing face coverings helps to protect everyone. The supervisors are pushing hard to re-open businesses and retail operations, but they are downplaying public health standards that would keep people involved in those activities safer. … ”  Read more from The Desert Sun here: Board of Supervisors should listen to experts to help Salton Sea

San Diego region on track to receive $15 million for water projects:  “Several regional water supply projects in San Diego County are on track to receive a total of more than $15 million from the California Department of Water Resources, pending a final decision on the grants this summer.  Money for the projects has been recommended by DWR, which will make the awards after a public comment period.  In San Diego County, the grant funds would support local agencies to advance conservation, environmental enhancements, water purification and other initiatives. ... ”  Read more from the Water News Network here: San Diego region on track to receive $15 million for water projects

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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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