DAILY DIGEST, 5/29: Seasonal maps provide snapshot of state groundwater levels; Newsom’s environmental budget cuts escalate tensions with activists; Water utilities ramp up lobbying for relief, broader reforms; EPA science advisers evaluate agency’s coronavirus research agenda; and more …

In California water news today …

Seasonal maps provide snapshot of state groundwater levels: “Groundwater is an important resource for Californians because rain and snowfall levels can vary dramatically from year to year. Groundwater provides 40 percent of the state’s water supply in normal years and up to 60 percent in dry years when surface water in lakes, rivers and reservoirs may be reduced.  Surface water is measurable and visually one can see if water levels are low or high or if a river has run dry, but measuring groundwater conditions is more challenging because groundwater is beneath the ground and distributed among the varied layers of aquifers. ... ”  Read more from DWR News here: Seasonal maps provide snapshot of state groundwater levels

The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act is another major disruption to treenut growers: “COVID-19 is certainly disruptive and farmers are seeing yet another very disruptive situation that is coming toward them. It’s SGMA the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.  Holly King is a Kern County Almond Producer and Chair of the Almond Board of California. “This is one of those disruptions and I think we are starting to figure out what are the questions we should be asking,” said King. “Obvious ones to me are what's going to happen in our growing regions of California? What kind of crops are going to decline, what kind of crops are going to increase? So we are figuring out what the impact is going to be. ... ”  Read more from Ag Net West here:  The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act is another major disruption to treenut growers

Data being gathered to measure benefits of cover crops:  “Cover crops are touted in many areas for the benefits they bring to soil health, but they are not widely used in annual production in California. There are likely many reasons for this, but a big one is water retention. Allocations for irrigation are so tight that watering a crop to cover soil is perceived as not a great use of the precious resource.  But research from Extension Vegetable Crops Specialist Jeff Mitchell and others indicate there are some tradeoffs to consider. … ”  Read more from Cal Ag Today here: Data being gathered to measure benefits of cover crops

Gavin Newsom’s environmental budget cuts escalate tensions with California activists:  “Fewer rebates for electric-car buyers. No new oil and gas industry regulators. Less money to preserve wildlife habitats.  Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposed spending cuts to balance a state budget mauled by the coronavirus pandemic have angered numerous progressive constituencies, but perhaps none more than environmental activists who were suspicious of him even before an estimated $54 billion deficit materialized. … ”  Read more from the SF Chronicle here: Gavin Newsom’s environmental budget cuts escalate tensions with California activists

California senate rejects Governor Newsom’s call for cuts:  “The California State Senate rejected Governor Gavin Newsom’s proposed budget cuts to sectors like education and health care Thursday, instead seeking to draw down more reserves, raise taxes on certain industries and borrow against the future to make up an estimated $54 billion shortfall.  “I hope the proposal the Senate puts forward has a positive impact, particularly when it comes to addressing the budget shortfall that does not make conditions worse for our vulnerable California residents,” said state Senator Holly Mitchell, a Democrat from Los Angeles County, during a seven-hour meeting of the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee. … ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service here: California senate rejects Governor Newsom’s call for cuts

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In national/world news today …

Water utilities ramp up lobbying for relief, broader reforms:  “The nation's water utilities, facing more than $27 billion in lost revenue from the pandemic, are ramping up their outreach to Congress as lawmakers prepare to act on infrastructure legislation and additional relief in the face of a historic pandemic.  In addition to a flurry of letters and meetings, advocacy groups and lobbyists with congressional expertise are pushing for provisions in both Water Resources Development Act bills moving through the House and Senate, and the next round of COVID-19 stimulus funds.  In the near term, the bills could be a lifeline for both residents and utilities reeling from the economic fallout of the pandemic. ... ”  Read more from E&E News here:  Utilities ramp up lobbying for relief, broader reforms

EPA science advisers evaluate agency’s coronavirus research agenda:  “The group of experts that advises the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on scientific matters submitted a draft review of the agency’s research agenda for the novel coronavirus. The review was generally complimentary of the agency’s plan.  The advisers did make some suggestions for water-related research. They recommend that the EPA lead or assist with a national program to monitor for the SARS-CoV-2 virus in wastewater and for decontaminating buildings. ... ”  Read more from Circle of Blue here: EPA science advisers evaluate agency’s coronavirus research agenda

Secretary Bernhardt announces $160 million in funding for wetland conservation projects and national wildlife refuges (press release):  “As we celebrate American Wetlands Month, hundreds of bird species will benefit from $160 million in funding for various wetland conservation projects in North America. The funding was approved by the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission, which is chaired by U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt.  Of the approved funds, the Commission allocated $22.1 million under the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its partners to conserve or restore more than 160,000 acres of wetland and associated upland habitats for waterfowl, shorebirds and other birds for 22 projects in 15 U.S. states. Partners will match these grants with an additional $50 million. ... ”  Read more from the Department of the Interior here: Secretary Bernhardt announces $160 million in funding for wetland conservation projects and national wildlife refuges

When dams cause more problems than they solve, removing them can pay off for people and nature:  “Across the United States, dams generate hydroelectric power, store water for drinking and irrigation, control flooding and create recreational opportunities such as slack-water boating and waterskiing.  But dams can also threaten public safety, especially if they are old or poorly maintained. On May 21, 2020, residents of Midland, Michigan were hastily evacuated when two aging hydropower dams on the Tittabawassee River failed, flooding the town. ... ”  Read more from Phys Org here: When dams cause more problems than they solve, removing them can pay off for people and nature

Tucson startup focused on artificial intelligence (AI) water management project helps sustain a European nation:  “The University of Arizona Center for Innovation has announced that NOAH Malta, a subsidiary of NOAH Arizona LLC, a company based on technology invented at the University of Arizona and started at the University of Arizona Center for Innovation (UACI), has been awarded a groundbreaking contract by the European Union.  The contract entitled “DEVELOPMENT OF A PREDICTIVE WATER ABSTRACTION AND PRODUCTION MODELLING FRAMEWORK,” engages NOAH Malta to study the feasibility of implementing NOAH’s patented water management decision support system on the island nation of Malta. NOAH is working in partnership with Malta’s Energy and Water Agency (EWA) and the Water Services Corporation (WSC), the water utility in Malta. … ”  Read more from TIPP News here:  Tucson startup focused on artificial intelligence (AI) water management project helps sustain a European nation

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In regional news and commentary today …

Thousands expected at ‘Shut Down and Fed Up' demonstration in Klamath Falls:  “U.S. Rep. Greg Walden will be among a long list of attendees at the “Shut Down and Fed Up” tractor rally in Midland on Friday, according spokesperson Molly Jenkins.  The route of the tractor convoy will start at 10 a.m. in Merrill, Ore., travel through downtown Klamath Falls and culminate in a rally with Walden among the various speakers, including county officials, Farm Bureau representatives and representatives of Timber Unity. ... ”  Read more from the Capital Press here:  Thousands expected at ‘Shut Down and Fed Up’ demonstration in Klamath Falls

Klamath Commentary: Restoring what never was:  Greg Walcher writes, “One of the great objectives of conservation is to restore a more natural condition to our environment, to erase the ravages of mankind’s mistakes, and put things back the way they were. I am a strong advocate for environmental restoration, and am proud of my participation in many such efforts over the years.  Once in a while, especially in debates about “restoring” healthy forests and watersheds, someone asks — properly so — exactly what “state of nature” we are trying to restore.  That is precisely the question facing the beleaguered farmers and ranchers in the Klamath Basin of southern Oregon and northern California. ... ”  Read more from The Daily Sentinel here: Restoring what never was

Copco and Iron Gate reservoir levels to remain below normal:  “PacifiCorp is advising residents and those who use Copco and Iron Gate reservoirs for recreation that both will remain noticeably below normal water levels through at least the end of June. However, both reservoirs should remain accessible for recreation, including the use of boat ramps, during that time, according to a PacifiCorp press release. ... ”  Read more from Mount Shasta News here: Copco and Iron Gate reservoir levels to remain below normal

Dry winter spurs water managers to cut Russian River flows to retain reservoir supplies:  “In a stark reminder that drought has once again taken hold on the North Coast, Sonoma County is preparing to ask state water regulators for permission to reduce water levels in the Russian River this summer to conserve water stored in Lake Mendocino and ensure minimal late-season flows for fish.  The request, to be filed with the State Water Resources Control Board as soon as this week, comes in recognition that the inland areas of Mendocino County, where Lake Mendocino retains runoff into the upper Russian River, has had less than half the normal rainfall this year. ... ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here: Dry winter spurs water managers to cut Russian River flows to retain reservoir supplies

Petaluma River watershed plan scheduled for state review:  “A plan to set new restrictions on the levels of bacteria in the Petaluma River Watershed is nearing the next stage of approval.  At a virtual meeting on Tuesday, the California State Water Resources Control Board, an oversight body which presides over nine regional water quality boards across the state, will consider a plan meant to cap and reduce the amount of bacteria getting into the Petaluma River Watershed. … ”  Read more from the Pacific Sun here: Petaluma River watershed plan scheduled for state review

Thunder, lightning could hit Bay Area in weekend storm:  “A touch of rain, possibly punctuated by thunder and lightning, could visit the Bay Area this weekend.  According to the National Weather Service, mostly cloudy weather and light winds Friday will usher showers over the North Bay by the evening, while dramatic thunderstorms could arrive by nightfall to deliver flashes of lightning and some cracks and booms. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: Thunder, lightning could hit Bay Area in weekend storm

High levels of E. coli found along American River:  “On Memorial Day Weekend, when people packed beaches, water samples from the American River show it matched the highest level of E. coli recorded in the last two years.  According to data from the Central Valley Water Board, samples collected on May 21 reveal E. coli levels at Tiscornia Beach and Discovery Park were seven times higher than EPA standards.  … ”  Read more from KCRA here:  High levels of E. coli found along American River

Trump administration seeks uranium mining near Lake Casitas and approves oil drilling in Carrizo Plain National Monument:  “In a report released in late April, a working group assembled by President Trump has recommended several steps to revive the nation’s uranium mining industry, including expanding access to uranium deposits on federal lands and fast-tracking environmental reviews to speed the permitting process, according to a statement from Los Padres ForestWatch. The report could revive past attempts to mine uranium in the Los Padres National Forest in San Luis Obispo and Ventura counties, including a tract of land near Lake Casitas in the Ojai Valley, a source of drinking water for Carpinteria Valley Water District. … ”  Read more from Coastal View here: Trump administration seeks uranium mining near Lake Casitas and approves oil drilling in Carrizo Plain National Monument

Inland Empire water agency gets $196 million loan from EPA:  “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday, May 28, gave a $196.4 million loan to the Inland Empire Utilities Agency to expand its wastewater treatment plant in Chino.  Loan dollars will be used to help finance an expansion of the IEUA’s Regional Water Recycling Plant No. 5, located at 6063 Kimball Ave., the EPA announced.  More wastewater treatment capacity is needed as Chino and neighboring cities served by the plant add residential and commercial development. Much of this involves turning dairy farms into houses, condominiums, shopping centers and logistics warehouses. ... ”  Read more from the Daily Bulletin here: Inland Empire water agency gets $196 million loan from EPA

Orange County commentary: Sue the Military for PFAS Contamination:  Pat Eder writes, “Orange County, California water districts are considering a massive lawsuit over PFAS contamination of the water supply, although they’re not likely to target the largest polluter – the US military.  Instead, they’ll probably go after 3M and DuPont and a handful of other companies that manufacture PFAS products. The municipal water folks, who have been serving PFAS-tainted water to the public for years, are now faced with a $1 billion clean-up bill and they are looking for someone to pay for it.  In any case, suing the Department of Defense for damages is a dead end. … ”  Read more from the LA Progressive here: Orange County commentary: Sue the Military for PFAS Contamination

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Along the Colorado River …

Commentary:  Upcoming EIS is a chance for Utahns to speak out against Lake Powell Pipeline:  Eric Balken writes, “On June 5, the Provo office of the Bureau of Reclamation will release a draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Lake Powell Pipeline project, opening up a 45-day public comment period. Utahns should take advantage of this opportunity to speak out against the pipeline, which would burden the state’s taxpayers for decades and increase our state’s reliance on a dwindling resource. … ”  Read more from the Salt Lake Tribune here: Commentary:  Upcoming EIS is a chance for Utahns to speak out against Lake Powell Pipeline

Pinal groundwater panel says state ‘steamrolling' management plan:  “The Groundwater Users Advisory Council for the Pinal Active Management Area is accusing the Arizona Department of Water Resources of “steamrolling” the fourth iteration of the area’s water management plan through the approval process without enough time for public comment.  The Pinal council met by video conference Wednesday with representatives from ADWR, who described the changes from the current Pinal AMA plan and the draft of the fourth plan. … ”  Read more from the Casa Grande Dispatch here: Pinal groundwater panel says state ‘steamrolling’ management plan

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National Water and Climate Report ...

The Natural Resources Conservation Service produces this weekly report using data and products from the National Water and Climate Center and other agencies. The report focuses on seasonal snowpack, precipitation, temperature, and drought conditions in the U.S.

dmrpt-20200528

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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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