DAILY DIGEST, 5/28: Delta outflow explained; Farmers must diversify in a post-pandemic world; What does CA’s budget crisis mean for water management; Researchers race to understand what drought means for the world’s trees; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • The County Drought Advisory Group meets from 9am to 12pm.  Click here for more information and to register.
  • FREE WEBINAR: What’s In A Drop of Water: Debunking the Myths Surrounding Tap & Bottled Water from 10am to 11am.  Presented by the Orange County Water District.  Click here to register.
  • FREE WEBINAR: Money Matters: Infrastructure Financing During the Coronavirus Crisis from 10:15 to 11:15am.  Presented by the Southern California Water Coalition.  Register for the free webinar here.
  • CEQA SCOPING ONLINE MEETING: Proposed ecosystem amendment for the Delta Plan from 4 to 5:30pm.  Click here for the Notice of Preparation.
  • VIRTUAL PUBLIC MEETING: Anderson Dam Seismic Retrofit Project from 5:30pm to 7:30pm.  Presented by Valley Water.  Please RSVP to tmercado@valleywater.org.  Details for joining online will be posted on the project webpage.  Click here for the project webpage.

In California water news and commentary today …

What’s at the heart of California’s water wars? Delta outflow explained:  Jeff Mount and Greg Gartrell write, “The latest dustup In California’s water wars, as noted in Dan Walters’ commentary, revolves principally around the federal government’s efforts to increase the amount of water supplied to farms and cities by the Central Valley Project, and a breakdown in cooperation between the state and federal government.  It seems like everyone is suing each other.  But what are they really fighting over?  … ”  Read more from Cal Matters here:  What’s at the heart of California’s water wars? Delta outflow explained

Delta smelt on the verge: efforts to save smelt have far-reaching impact:  Dennis Wyatt writes, “It smells like cucumbers.  It tops out at 4 inches in length.  It is a luminous silvery blue color.  That is what a Delta smelt looks and smells like in a nutshell.  At one point the fish that have a one-year life cycle were so plentiful that they were caught and sold commercially.  Today the fish that are unique to the San Joaquin-Sacramento Delta are on the verge of extinction in the wild. … ”  Read more from the Oakdale Leader here: Delta smelt on the verge: efforts to save smelt have far-reaching impact

Column: America’s food supply has never mattered more. Why threaten it with lawsuits? Wayne Western writes, “The list of plaintiffs who want to litigate water and food production against the world’s food supply grew a little bit last week.  The latest to join the litigation train are three environmental groups – the Center for Biological Diversity, Restore the Delta, and the Planning and Conservation League.  Apparently, they are suing the United States Bureau of Reclamation for awarding permanent contracts to fourteen of the Bureau’s water users.  Of course, the water they are trying to stop flows to farmers who produce food for much of the world, flows through the Central Valley Project of California, and is federally managed. … ”  Read more from the San Joaquin Sun here: Column: America’s food supply has never mattered more. Why threaten it with lawsuits? 

Farmers must diversify in a post-pandemic world, ag experts say:  “Amid the coronavirus pandemic, few industries have been quite as essential to the nation as agriculture.  From pickers crouching for nine hours a day to scoop up strawberries to CEOs making handshake deals to keep their companies afloat, hundreds of thousands of workers are feeding America. But, in many ways, the pandemic is forcing farmers to reevaluate how they do business.  Across California, nearly 60% of farmers have lost significant revenue, washing their milk down drains, beefing their dairy cows and ploughing under their lettuce and other crops, according to surveys carried out by the California Farm Bureau Federation and the Monterey County Office of Agriculture. ... ” Read more from Cal Matters here: Farmers must diversify in a post-pandemic world, ag experts say

The COVID crisis is slashing California’s state budget. What does it mean for water management?It goes without saying that California today, in the throes of the coronavirus pandemic, looks very different from the California of January 2020. Governor Gavin Newsom’s May Revisions to the 2020-2021 state budget reflect this drastic change in circumstance, announcing a $54.3 billion budget deficit and proposing $18 billion in cuts to State funds expenditures. The dramatic slide from a $6 billion surplus to a $54.3 billion deficit is due to COVID-19, both the State’s mobilization to address the crisis and the economic downturn the pandemic has caused.  Several of these cuts will directly affect the availability of funding to manage California’s water resources, from safe drinking water, to groundwater sustainability, to stream restoration, and more.... ”  Read more from the Pacific Institute here: The COVID crisis is slashing California’s state budget. What does it mean for water management?

Pyramid Dam Modernization Program Team completes spillways investigations:  “As part of an effort to modernize Pyramid Dam located in Los Angeles County, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) recently completed assessments for the dam’s gated and emergency spillways. The Pyramid Dam Modernization Program is now entering the investigations phase, which includes structural and hydraulic analyses for the gated spillway and erodibility analysis for the emergency spillway. ... ”  Read more from DWR News here: Pyramid Dam Modernization Program Team completes spillways investigations

DWR unveils new benchmark toward reducing carbon emissions:  “The Department of Water Resources has released California's first-ever greenhouse gas emissions performance metric to help the Department reduce its carbon footprint and help the public track the ‘carbon intensity’ of water moving across California.  The metric identifies the amount of carbon dioxide per acre foot of water transported by the State Water Project. Water districts receiving water from the SWP can use this metric to understand the emissions of their water supply chains, and customers can better understand the ‘carbon intensity’ of the water they purchase. The Department’s score is currently 0.25 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions per acre foot of water delivered via the SWP. … ”  Read more from DWR News here:  DWR unveils new benchmark toward reducing carbon emissions

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In national/world news today …

Small-scale mining for gold has produced long-lasting toxic pollution, from 1860s California to modern Peru:  “Gold is everywhere in modern life, from jewelry to electronics to smartphones. The global electronics industry alone uses 280 tons annually. And that demand keeps growing.  But most people know little about the environmental impacts of gold mining. About 15% of world gold production is from artisanal and small-scale mining in over 70 countries throughout Asia, Africa and South America. These operations employ 10 to 19 million workers. They often are poorly policed and weakly regulated. ... ”  Read more from Phys Org here: Small-scale mining for gold has produced long-lasting toxic pollution, from 1860s California to modern Peru

Forests vs. climate change: Researchers race to understand what drought means for the world’s trees:  “Much of the world watched in horror as Australian wildfires that burned late last year and into the beginning of 2020 incinerated an area the size of Wisconsin, killing 33 people and, by some estimates, more than a billion birds, mammals and reptiles.  But the area of forest that burned pales in comparison to the total area affected by drought worldwide, says Tim Brodribb, a professor of plant physiology at the University of Tasmania. That could lead to a larger, though less headline-grabbing, crisis — and one that’s not confined to just Australia. ... ”  Read more from The Revelator here: Forests vs. climate change: Researchers race to understand what drought means for the world’s trees

Conservative group wants Trump to go further in rolling back key environmental law:  “An influential conservative group wants the Trump administration to be more aggressive with its proposed rollback of a key environmental law that dates back to 1970.  Club for Growth President David McIntosh said Wednesday he would like to see additional changes to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), a 50-year-old law that requires federal agencies to analyze the environmental impact of construction projects.  The White House in January proposed a major rollback of NEPA, and President Trump this month signed an executive order taking aim at regulations that “inhibit economic recovery.” ... ”  Read more from The Hill here: Conservative group wants Trump to go further in rolling back key environmental law

The problem America has neglected for too long: deteriorating dams:  “Aging and undermaintained infrastructure in the United States, combined with changing climate over the coming decades, is setting the stage for more dam disasters like the one that struck Midland, Michigan, last week.  More than 91,000 dams dot the nation—and roughly 15,500 of them could cause fatalities if they failed, according to the National Inventory of Dams. Most of these dams were built many decades ago. By 2025, 70 percent of them will be more than a half century old, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers. … ”  Read more from National Geographic here:  The problem America has neglected for too long: deteriorating dams

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In regional news and commentary today …

Klamath: Dry year, court decision disappoint Oregon salmon advocates:  “With the Klamath Basin expected to see one of the driest years on record, struggles for salmon in southern Oregon are piling up this year.  The Yurok Tribe and commercial fishing groups tried to convince a federal court that an emergency motion to increase flow in the river was necessary for the fish species. But Judge William Orrick of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California denied that motion last week.  Frankie Myers, the Yurok Tribe's vice chairman, says ocean conditions already are bad for the salmon. … ”  Read more from the Public News Service here: Dry year, court decision disappoint Oregon salmon advocates

American River in Sacramento still tainted with feces, despite new parkway bathrooms:  “Over the scorching hot Memorial Day weekend, hundreds of people headed to Tiscornia Beach near the confluence of the American and Sacramento rivers, one of the region’s most popular swimming areas.  A few days earlier, state scientists had collected water samples with rates of E. coli bacteria that reached the highest limits the testing equipment could detect. The samples on May 12 and May 21 at Tiscornia Beach were at least seven times higher than state and federal standards for E. coli in a waterway. … ” Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: American River in Sacramento still tainted with feces, despite new parkway bathrooms

Pure Water Monterey expansion remains afloat:  “A Pure Water Monterey expansion proposal has narrowly survived another attempt to shelve it indefinitely even as the main recycled water project struggles with operational and cost issues that have further postponed its water delivery date and hampered its capacity.  For the second time in a month, the Monterey One Water board rejected a bid to formally deny certification of the expansion proposal’s supplemental environmental impact report and postpone further work on the proposal until “feasibility” is proved. Again it was Boronda representative Linda Grier casting the deciding vote. … ”  Read more from the Monterey Herald here:  Pure Water Monterey expansion remains afloat

Review begins for Los Cerritos wetlands restoration's environmental impact:  “A draft Environmental Impact Report is being reviewed as part of an ambitious restoration plan for the Los Cerritos Wetlands in southeast Long Beach.  A first public webinar in the review process took place last Thursday, May 21. The next meeting, also online, will be next Thursday, June 4.  “I'm pleased with the process so far,” Long Beach's Third District City Councilman Suzie Price said. Price serves as chair of the Los Cerritos Wetlands Authority (LCWA), the agency responsible for the EIR process. … ”  Read more from The Grunion here: Review begins for Los Cerritos wetlands restoration’s environmental impact

Orange County: Poseidon Water’s desalination plan: are there cracks in the armor?  “Marine life mitigation, the need for desalinated water in Orange County and the overall merits of Poseidon Water’s plan to build a $1 billion desalination plant in Huntington Beach were some of the main talking points of a 10-hour virtual workshop, held on May 15. Highlighting the marathon of a workshop: pointed questions about the merits of Poseidon’s proposal and its value to Orange County Water District’s (OCWD) member agencies.  The Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Board, or Water Board, was supposed to hold this workshop in March, but it was delayed to May 15 because of the Coronavirus pandemic. … ”  Read more from The Log here: Orange County: Poseidon Water’s desalination plan: are there cracks in the armor?

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Today's featured article ...

CA WATER COMMISSION: The 2019 State Water Project Review

Pastoria Siphon, Twin 16 feet steel pipes, part of the California State Water Project, that run from north to south across the Tehachapi Mountains.  Photo by Ken James / DWR

Water Code section 165 requires the California Water Commission to conduct an annual review of the construction and operation of the State Water Project (SWP) and to report its findings and recommendations to the Director of the Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the State Legislature. At the May meeting of the California Water Commission, Assistant Executive Officer Jennifer Ruffolo presented the draft of the 2019 Annual Review of the Construction and Operation of the State Water Project for the Commission’s consideration and possible approval. Once approved, Commission staff will distribute the review to DWR and the Legislature.

Ms. Ruffolo began by noting that this was the first year the Commission staff worked closely with the State Water Project to develop the report; there were eight presentations by staff throughout the year covering a wide range of issues that set the stage for this report.

Click here to read this 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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