DAILY DIGEST, 6/2: Dam safety; Tule Red Restoration Project; Restoring post-fire pine forests in the West; E.P.A. limits states’ power to use the Clean Water Act to oppose energy projects; and more …

On the calendar today …
  • Tribal Regional Water Management, Part 3 from 9am to 12pm.  This meeting will discuss funding and technical assistance opportunities for Tribes, improving and strengthening regional water funding coordination, identifying regional needs and reviewing needs assessment, and effective Tribal engagement in Integrated Regional Water Management.  Presented by DWR’s Office of Tribal Water Policy Advisor.  Click here to register.
  • State Water Resources Control Board meets at 9:30am. Agenda items include consideration of a proposed Resolution approving an amendment to the Water Quality Control Plan for the San Francisco Bay Basin (Basin Plan) to establish a Total Maximum Daily Load for Bacteria in the Petaluma River Watershed, an update on Recycled Water Policy Implementation, and an update on the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.  For the full agenda, click hereClick here to watch on webcast.
  • State Board of Food and Agriculture will meet from 10am to 12:30pm.  The Board will hear a water update and hold a discussion with stakeholders on federal agricultural assistance programs.  Click here to register.

In California water news today …

Dam safety and the importance of the Division of Safety of Dams with Andy Mangney:  “The California Department of Water Resources, Division of Safety of Dams (DSOD) oversees the California Dam Safety Program that regulates approximately 1,250 dams in California. At the forefront of DSOD’s oversight is public safety. DSOD inspects dams on an annual basis to ensure they are safe and are performing as intended. DSOD also conducts independent reviews of applications for dam construction, removal, alteration or repair, has inspection oversight over dam construction projects, and periodically reviews the stability of dams and their critical related structures in light of improved design approaches and requirements. DSOD works closely with dam owners to identify and correct issues on an ongoing basis. … ”  Read more from DWR News here:  Dam Safety and the Importance of the Division of Safety of Dams with Andy Mangney

Tule Red Restoration Project: “On the morning of October 15, 2019, on the northeastern side of Grizzly Bay, looking out over the bay, small waves lapped against the nearby shore with blue skies overhead. Turning south, a large excavator has already begun removing the final stretch of earth separating the tidal channel on Tule Red from Grizzly Bay. By 10 A.M., more than one-hundred people had gathered. Representatives from Westervelt Ecological Services (WES), the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), Department of Water Resources (DWR), Solano County, State and Federal Contractors Water Agency (SFCWA), Suisun Resources Conservation District and other public and private entities were present to witness the final breach of the Tule Red Tidal Restoration Project. … ”  Read more from Westervelt Ecological Services here: Tule Red Restoration Project

USDA Approves $2.5 Million for California Water Investments:  “The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced that it will be providing more than $2.5 million for California water investments through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant program.  USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Bette Brand noted that the department will be investing $281 million for 106 projects in 36 states and Puerto Rico to improve water and wastewater infrastructure.  “These investments will bring modern, reliable water and wastewater infrastructure to rural communities. They will replace deteriorating, leaking water pipes with new ones and upgrade water handling systems that are decades old,” Brand said in a news release. “These investments create jobs and improve public health and safety for our rural neighbors.” … ”  Read more from Ag Net West here: USDA Approves $2.5 Million for California Water Investments

A matter of mulch: restoring post-fire pine forests in the Western United States:  “The severe wildfires destroying forests and threatening communities in the western United States have been a devastating consequence of climate change, one that is becoming more frequent. Following severe fires, forest soils can erode, depositing sediment into nearby waterways after it rains and threatening local water quality as a result. To help combat these challenges, the Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) program, formed by the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 1974, arrives at the scene after the fire and works to identify and address soil erosion issues early on. One of the main ways that BAER does this is through applying mulch, a plant-based ground covering that is often used in gardens. … ”  Read more from EnviroBites here: A matter of mulch: restoring post-fire pine forests in the Western United States

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In national/world news today …

Sewage could hold the key to stopping new coronavirus outbreaks:  “The vast brown rivers of sludge that gush into the sewage treatment plants across Germany may hold a key to early detection of any new wave of the coronavirus, scientists tell CNN.  The Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research is leading a trial that’s sampling wastewater from plants serving some of the largest urban areas and trying to find evidence of the coronavirus.  The ultimate goal is for almost all sewage plants to install these coronavirus early warning systems so as to track the spread of Covid-19. ... ”  Read more from CBS 13 here: Sewage could hold the key to stopping new coronavirus outbreaks

Climate cases poised for bigger fights as courts clear hurdles:  “Judges have issued momentous decisions in climate-focused lawsuits in recent months, but state and local governments have a long way to go in their efforts to hold BP Plc, Exxon Mobil Corp., and others liable for the impacts of global temperature rise.  A federal appeals court last week delivered two key procedural wins for California cities and counties, allowing them to advance claims against Big Oil for its role in climate change. A court across the country cleared the path for a similar case from the city of Baltimore earlier this year.  The lawsuits are part of a nationwide campaign by state and local governments to tap oil company coffers to deal with impacts like floods, sea-level rise, and damage to roads and stormwater infrastructure. Fossil fuel use is the primary driver of climate change. ... ”  Read more from Bloomberg Law here: Climate cases poised for bigger fights as courts clear hurdles

What’s being done to restore wetlands?  “Wetlands are fun places to get muddy, enjoy the outdoors, and listen for birdsongs. They provide important habitat for wildlife, and for recreation. You’ve likely seen wetlands on the fringes of lakes, on river floodplains, along the coast, and anywhere else where water accumulates on the landscape.  Wetlands are found at the intersection of earth/soil and water ecosystems. Because of the complex interactions of land and water, they have unique properties. Despite only occupying 5% of the earth’s surface, wetlands are one of the most productive ecosystems on the planet. ... ”  Read more from Soils Matter here:  What’s being done to restore wetlands?

E.P.A. limits states’ power to use the Clean Water Act to oppose pipelines and other energy projects:  “The Environmental Protection Agency on Monday announced that it had limited states’ ability to block the construction of energy infrastructure projects, part of the Trump administration’s goal of promoting gas pipelines, coal terminals and other fossil fuel development.  The completed rule curtails sections of the U.S. Clean Water Act that New York has used to block an interstate gas pipeline, and Washington employed to oppose a coal export terminal. The move is expected to set up a legal clash with Democratic governors who have sought to block fossil fuel projects.  Specifically, it limits to one year the amount of time states and tribes can take to review a project and restricts states to taking water quality only into consideration when judging permits. The Trump administration has accused some states of blocking projects for reasons that go beyond clean water considerations, such as climate change impacts. … ”  Read more from the New York Times here: E.P.A. limits states’ power to oppose pipelines and other energy projects

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In regional news and commentary today …

Bay Area towns need to address sea-level rise. Will they? Foster City, a community of curving streets and cul-de-sacs, edges up to California’s San Francisco Bay. Built on wetlands that were drained and filled more than a century ago, the city was barely above sea level to begin with. Today, 34,000 people live in Foster City, and all that keeps water from pouring into their streets and neighborhoods is an earthen levee fortified by concrete and riprap. With climate change raising the sea level, this won’t be enough to protect the small city. So, in 2016, officials floated a plan to raise the levee.  That worried Hank Ackerman, the flood-control program manager for Alameda County, which lies just across the bay from Foster City. … ”  Read more from High Country News here: Bay Area towns need to address sea-level rise. Will they? 

Commentary: 2065: Sediment builds up in San Joaquin River while state inaction helps cue up major flooding:  Dennis Wyatt writes, “If we can take snippets of science in a rapidly evolving situation at face value during an evolving threat to public health and safety and suspend all sorts of rules that protect fish from single use plastic bags to suspending the right to peaceful assembly as we have during the COVID-19 pandemic why can’t we do the same when it comes to climate change?  The science offered up by the state Department of Water Resources contends water flow will triple in the San Joaquin River over the next 45 years due to climate change.  This has led to an upending of plans moving forward to spend $180 million for 200-year flood protection — a reference to the chances of a certain size of flooding event happening in a given year as opposed to frequency — for most of Lathrop as well as parts of Manteca and Stockton. ... ”  Read more from the Manteca Bulletin here:  2065: Sediment builds up in SJ River while state inaction helps cue up major flooding

San Luis Reservoir algal bloom at warning advisory:  “Today, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) urged people to avoid physical contact with the water at San Luis Reservoir in Merced County until further notice due to blue-green algae.  Boating is allowed, but swimming and other water-contact recreation and sporting activities are not considered safe under the warning advisory due to potential adverse health effects. O’Neill Forebay remains free from algal bloom advisories. Warning signs are posted at the Basalt Boat Launch and Dinosaur Point Boat Launch. … ”  Read more from DWR News here: San Luis Reservoir algal bloom at warning advisory

Inyo County:  Community and LADWP Reach One-Year Agreement for Water in the Eastern Sierra’s Long Valley:  “Following negotiations between lessees, Mono County, and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), a last-minute decision allowed water to flow through Long Valley in the Eastern Sierra this summer. An allocated 15,000 acre-feet of water is just enough for native wetland plants to come back to life, wildlife to flourish, and cattle to begin their annual summer pasturing in the valley.  The year’s allocation is half of last year’s 30,000 acre-feet, and 50% less than the 25-year average of 22,000. But following months of uncertainty, a diverse coalition of stakeholders including county government, recreationists, environmentalists, native tribes, and ranchers, are relieved that LADWP temporarily approved a reasonable allocation of water in Long Valley adjusting the amount based on late season snowfall. A decision to eliminate water in the valley would have significant environmental, recreation, safety, and economic implications, at a time that the region is already under an enormous amount of stress. 

Click here to continue reading.

“We’ve been engaged in a strenuous, five-year discussion with LADWP regarding irrigation in Long Valley,” said Matthew Kemp, rancher and a Long Valley lessee. “But, I believe that we’ve made some progress this year, which can be built-on to help create a water plan that will maintain the ​vibrant ecosystem that spreading water has created, while creating some stability for the region. We understand that water resources fluctuate year-to-year, and are asking for a commitment to a sustainable baseline, with the ability to adjust in years when there is a deeper snowpack.”

Looking forward to 2021 and beyond, the Keep Long Valley Green coalition is imploring LADWP to maintain baseline irrigation allotments at historic levels until the EIR has been completed and is determined to be consistent with the California Environmental Qualities Act.

“With climate change, we know that there will be increased threats to the health of this watershed that we all depend on,” said Stacy Corless, Mammoth County Supervisor. “We appreciate that LADWP agreed to a reasonable water allocation for this year, and we look forward to working with DWP on an adaptive management plan for the land and water in Long Valley.”

Multiple studies show that the recharge rate through spreading water in Long Valley ranges between 60-95%. A move to dry out the valley and direct this water to Crowley Lake would result in a significant amount to evaporation, with extremely limited gain for Los Angeles water users.

The Keep Long Valley Green coalition is comprised of a diverse group of stakeholders including Friends of the Inyo, the Sierra Club, Mammoth Lakes Recreation, Eastern Sierra Land Trust, local native tribes, and the 12 ranch families that lease LADWP land in Long and Little Round Valley for grazing.

Learn more at Keep Long Valley Green.

Commentary: Our community will have a voice in proposed hydro-electric storage project near Joshua Tree, says Steve Hernandez:  He writes, “When our Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia introduced Assembly Bill 2736 to give my community and the surrounding areas just a little voice in how a massive project in our region is developed, he was immediately met with an onslaught of opposition led by the National Parks Conservation Association and other Washington, D.C.-based, self-appointed protectors of Eastern Riverside County.  Their concern? The legislation might, just might, be a trick! A “Trojan Horse” that will be used to aid a proposed 1,300-megawatt pumped hydro-electric storage facility 50 miles east of my community, at the site of an abandoned iron-ore mine. ... ”  Read more from Cal Matters here: Our community will have a voice in proposed hydro-electric storage project near Joshua Tree

Commentary: San Diego’s southernmost beach has been closed every day this year. It’s inconceivable, says Gabriela Torres:  She writes, “I have my fingers crossed tightly. That is how I feel about the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement’s (USMCA) $300 million funding allocated to address the trans-boundary pollution that has plagued San Diego and Mexico beaches for decades.  The road to this $300 million has been long. San Diego’s southernmost beach, the Tijuana Slough Shoreline, has been closed for the entirety of 2020 due to sewage contamination runoff, which is impacting human health, the environment, and the quality of life of residents on both sides of the border. To quote my all-time favorite 1980s film, “The Princess Bride,” it is “inconceivable” that an American beach, in the year 2020, is so plagued by sewage that it has been closed. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. IN. 2020. ... ” Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune here: Commentary: San Diego’s southernmost beach has been closed every day this year. It’s inconceivable.

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Along the Colorado River …

New front opens in the fight over the Lake Powell pipeline:  “The water rights behind the proposed Lake Powell pipeline are not actually coming from the project’s namesake lake, but rather from the major reservoir upstream on the Green River.  Now, Utah water officials’ new request to overhaul those rights has handed opponents a fresh opportunity to thwart the proposed pipeline just as federal officials are about to release a long-awaited environmental review of the $1.2 billion project, which would funnel 82,000 acre-feet of water from Lake Powell to St. George. … ”  Read more from the Salt Lake Tribune here: New front opens in the fight over the Lake Powell pipeline

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Precipitation watch …

June 2020 temperature and precipitation outlook:  “Meteorological summer starts June 1 so if you’re one of those people who loves the heat: Happy Summer! If you’re the type of person who prefers the cold (myself included), well… brace yourself, as the odds favor a warmer-than-average June for much of the country. It’s time to dive into the entire monthly outlook for temperature and precipitation for June 2020 from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.  The monthly outlooks from the Climate Prediction Center are not predictions for the exact temperature and precipitation that will occur during June. Instead, the outlooks provide the probability (percent chance) that June temperatures and precipitation will be in the upper or lower third of the climatological record (defined as the 1981-2020 period) for June in a given location. … ”  Read more from Climate.gov here:  June 2020 temperature and precipitation outlook

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

LETTER: State Water Board rejects Reclamation’s Sacramento River Temperature Management Plan

Yesterday, the Executive Director of the State Water Resources Control Board sent a letter to Ernest Conant at the Bureau of Reclamation informing them that the State Water Board is rejecting Reclamation’s submitted Sacramento River Temperature Management Plan, citing insufficient information to make a well-informed decision.

Click here to read this article.

DELTA SCIENCE NEEDS: Looking at climate change impacts

To date, the Delta’s overall science enterprise has developed science focused primarily on current management challenges, but are we on the right track? What are the emerging issues? How do we build an effective forward-looking science enterprise for the Delta? To address these questions, the Delta Science Program is convening a Science Needs Assessment Workshop in October of 2020 to explore rapid environmental change facing the Delta relative to climate and other change impacts and to develop a comprehensive science needs assessment that will contribute to a long-range science strategy. The workshop will identify key science efforts that will provide answers and insights for likely management questions in the long-term; and discuss how to organize the science enterprise to address these complex and changing problems.

To prepare for the workshop, the Delta Science Program has organized a four-part discussion online discussion series to gather input to prepare for the workshop.  The first online discussion was held on April 28th, and featured Jay Lund and Steve Brandt from the Delta Independent Science Board and John Callaway, the Delta Lead Scientist, who provided background on the Delta ISB’s call for forward looking science with a focus on climate change, the purpose and need for the workshop, the advance briefing paper, and the current understanding of the changes and impacts of climate change on the Delta.

Click here to read this article.

COVID-19 Resources for Water Quality Monitoring Programs and Watershed Stewards

To combat the COVID-19 pandemic and to comply with state and local governmental stay-at-home orders, many employees and volunteers have been required to work remotely. Thank you for protecting your staff and volunteers while also helping to flatten the curve. As California starts to reopen, nonprofits and grass-root organizations are contemplating the reopening of their physical offices, services and water quality monitoring. However, as they do so, nonprofit managers are very concerned about the health and safety of their employees and volunteers as they return to the workplace. They are also concerned about how to comply with required re-opening obligations. While some citizen/community monitoring programs may decide on resuming their field activities, others may decide to use only staff, and some will further delay their monitoring programs until an unspecified later time. All these responses are valid for the program making that determination.

To assist monitoring programs in staying informed and learn how to adjust their programs, especially conducting field activities during this time of COVID-19, the Clean Water Team has compiled this list of resources.

Click here to read this article.

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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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