DAILY DIGEST, 6/3: Improving atmospheric forecasts with machine learning; Where the worst wildfire activity is expected this summer; Sea otters used to live in the bay — should we bring them back?; Construction to begin soon on Schafer Dam; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • FREE WEBINAR: Water and food security in the face of COVID-19: Finding robust solutions: This webinar will explore the implications of COVID-19 on global water and food security, and how water planning can best incorporate the critical uncertainties that pandemics bring.   Presented by the Stockholm Environment Institute.  Click here to register.
  • ONLINE WORKSHOP: Delta Science Needs Assessment Pre-Workshop Discussion Series, Pt. 2 begins at 9:15am with a panel discussion among Paul Souza (US Fish and Wildlife Service), Jennifer Pierre (State Water Contractors), and Campbell Ingram (Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Conservancy) on what decision-makers and stakeholders need to know in the future, as well as the implications of future changes on management needs.   Join via MS Teams.  If you do not have a Microsoft or Office 365 account, please click “Join on the Web instead”, or join by phone phone: +1 916-432-5700 (Conference ID: 308 969 830#).
  • FREE WEBINAR: Drought Decision-Making Tools You Can Use from 11am to 12pm.  Learn about two toolkits that support drought monitoring and drought decision-making across the lower 48 states: the Integrated Water Portal and The Climate Toolbox.  Click here to register.
  • FREE WEBINAR: Water Wednesdays: Delta Invaders from 1pm to 1:30pm. Join DWR scientist Gina Darin at our next Water Wednesdays livestream to discover what might happen if an animal or plant species is moved out of its native habitat and into a new environment. Learn about invasive species in the Delta, the problems they are causing, and what you can do to help. View on Zoom or YouTube.

In California water news today …

Improving atmospheric forecasts with machine learning:  “Weather forecasting has improved significantly in recent decades. Thanks to advances in monitoring and computing technology, today’s 5-day forecasts are as accurate as 1-day forecasts were in 1980. Artificial intelligence could revolutionize weather forecasts again. In a new study, Arcomano et al. present a machine learning model that forecasts weather in the same format as classic numerical weather prediction models. … ”  Read more from EOS here: Improving atmospheric forecasts with machine learning

DWR awards $65.8 million in grants to support local water resilience projects around the state:  “A water treatment expansion project that will serve more than 1 million Californians is just one of the many projects to receive grant funding from the Department of Water Resources (DWR) as part of a continued effort to support local agencies in building long-term water resilience for their communities.  The $65.8 million in grants awarded today will help fund projects such as groundwater replenishment and habitat restoration within the Colorado River, Lahontan, San Francisco Bay Area and Santa Ana Proposition 1 funding areas. ... ”  Read more from DWR News here:  DWR awards $65.8 million in grants to support local water resilience projects around the state

Legislation seeks to address San Joaquin Valley canals:  “New legislation was recently introduced that will address several issues facing San Joaquin Valley Canals. The Restoration of Essential Conveyance Act was introduced by Senator Dianne as a means for repainting water conveyance damaged by subsidence.  The bill would authorize a total of $800 million to be used for the repair of three canals, as well as a habitat restoration project.  “We have to find better ways to use the water we have,” Feinstein said in a press release. “Restoring the San Joaquin Valley’s canals is one of the most efficient ways to improve the sustainability of California’s water supply. It would allow us to capture more winter storm floodwaters and use that extra water to offset necessary reductions in groundwater pumping. This bill would give our farmers a fighting chance.” … ”  Read more from Ag Net West here: Legislation seeks to address San Joaquin Valley canals

Budget: Legislators take long look at stripping down, scrapping Calif.’s high-speed rail:  “High-speed rail is taking quite a tremendous hit due to the coronavirus pandemic.  Last week, California Asms. Vince Fong (R–Bakersfield) and Kevin Kiley (R–Rocklin) proposed a bill that would halt high-speed rail funding for two years.  The more than $3 billion in budget savings from high-speed rail spending would help the state manage its coronavirus-driven $54 billion deficit and counteract Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposed cuts to K-12 education. ... ”  Read more from the San Joaquin Valley Sun here: Budget: Legislators take long look at stripping down, scrapping Calif.’s high-speed rail

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In national/world news today …

New study shows global warming intensifying extreme rainstorms over North America:  “New research showing how global warming intensifies extreme rainfall at the regional level could help communities better prepare for storms that in the decades ahead threaten to swamp cities and farms.  The likelihood of intense storms is rising rapidly in North America, and the study, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, projects big increases in such deluges. “The longer you have the warming, the stronger the signal gets, and the more you can separate it from random natural variability,” said co-author Megan Kirchmeier-Young, a climate scientist with Environment Canada.  … ”  Read more from Inside Climate News here:  New study shows global warming intensifying extreme rainstorms over North America

Where the worst wildfire activity is expected this summer:  “Hot, dry weather and increasing drought conditions across the western United States this summer may result in above-average wildfire potential into September, according to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) outlook released Monday.  June through early July is the peak season for fires in the Southwest, before the onset of the summer monsoon in mid-July. Summer is the dry season for the rest of the West, making June through September the peak of the fire season there. … ”  Read more from The Weather Channel here: Where the worst wildfire activity is expected this summer

The world’s forests are growing younger:  “Researchers from Berkeley Lab and 20 other institutions have found that land use and atmospheric changes are altering forest structure around the world, resulting in fewer of the mature trees that are better at storing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.  The scientists evaluated data and observations from more than 160 previous studies designed to capture how interactions between forest vegetation, climate changes, and disturbance such as drought provoke ecosystem responses including increased tree mortality and decreased forest age. Results of their work, led by researchers at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, were published recently in the journal Science. … ”  Read more from Berkeley Labs here: The world’s forests are growing younger

‘Gutted' Interior agency moves out West with top posts unfilled:  “The Interior Department is struggling to fill top positions at the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) despite assurances from officials that the agency's relocation from Washington to Colorado is helping recruit top talent, according to an analysis by The Hill.  Interior Department leaders have told Congress that moving the public lands bureau to new headquarters out West has helped recruit more and better qualified candidates than ever before. But a review of more than 100 job postings finds the agency has failed to fill several top posts just a month before it plans to finish the relocation. … ”  Read more from The Hill here: ‘Gutted’ Interior agency moves out West with top posts unfilled

Australia’s water is vanishing:  “Whyte, who has reddish-brown hair, sheltered his ruddy, sun-weathered face beneath a battered bush hat. He raises livestock, mostly sheep and some cattle, on nearly 80,000 acres. Normally he’d run about 7,500 sheep, but he was down to 2,000. There wasn’t enough water for more. “I can’t remember it being this dry,” he said. “It’s disheartening to see a landscape like this. You hate it. This is where I was born and grew up, and it means the world to me.”  … Today the Murray-Darling is at the leading edge of something very different: a series of crises that could soon envelop river systems in Africa, South Asia, and the American West, as temperatures rise and economies compete for strained supplies. … ”  Read the story at Bloomberg Green here:  Australia’s water is vanishing

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In regional news and commentary today …

Klamath farmers protest early water cutoff: “In two weeks or less, farmers and ranchers near the California-Oregon border will see their water supplies run dry, after operators of the federal Klamath Water Project unexpectedly cut allocations in response to concerns about protected fish.  Klamath Basin farmers say crops planted in response to an earlier allocation from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation will wither without enough water to complete the season.  “It's going to be heartbreaking,” said farmer Scott Seus of Tulelake. “We're at a weak state of the economy because of COVID and you go throw this on top of it, this is something that no community should have to weather.” … ”  Read more from Ag Alert here: Klamath farmers protest early water cutoff

Spot near McCloud is wettest place in state:  “For the second year in a row, the McCloud River watershed ranks No. 1 in precipitation in California as June arrives with the start of summer.  A weather station operated by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation at Stouts Meadow certified 61.40 inches of precipitation for the season, edging the traditional No. 1 site, Gasquet on the Smith River, at 61.08 inches. Another site in Plumas National Forest, Four Trees, located roughly near Bucks Lake, is at 59.84 inches. ... ”  Read more from the Mount Shasta News here: Spot near McCloud is wettest place in state

Grimes receiving grant under flood risk protection program:  “Grimes and Knights Landing are among three projects that have been selected to receive grant funding under the second phase of the Small Communities Flood Risk Reduction Program, according to the California Department of Water Resources.  The Grimes project, sponsored by the Sacramento River West Side Levee District, includes rehabilitation of 1.5 miles of Sacramento River levees and elevation of local residences to increase flood protection from 40-year to 100-year levels for almost 400 residents in the community of Grimes. … ”  Read more from the Colusa Sun-Herald here: Grimes receiving grant under flood risk protection program

California allotted $1.4 million for Novato wetlands restoration:  “A new habitat project intends to create workforce training and education for Marin County residents.  The California Coastal Conservancy backed the project this month with a more than $1.4 million allocation of Proposition 68 funds.  This is part of the larger Hamilton Wetlands Restoration Project, a project at the former Hamilton Air Force Base site and adjacent Bel Marin Keys shoreline, in Marin County, California.   After the project completes restoration of 2,600 acres of wetland and tideland marsh habitat near Hamilton and Bel Marin Keys, work will still need to continue, according to the Marin Independent Journal.  ... ”  Read more from Stormwater Solutions here: California allotted $1.4 million for Novato wetlands restoration

Sea otters used to live in the bay — should we bring them back? When most people think of sea otters, they picture these charismatic creatures wrapped in kelp as they float on their backs in the ocean. But this iconic image is only part of the story. Sea otters also once abounded in the San Francisco Bay and other coastal estuaries. Now, a team of sea otter experts is raising the idea of bringing sea otters back to our bay.  “We’re moving the conservation needle forward,” said Brent Hughes, a Sonoma State University ecologist and lead author on a 2019 PeerJ paper that makes the case for reintroducing California sea otters to estuaries. These sheltered habitats form where freshwater from rivers mixes with salty water from the sea, and are bursting with life. ... ”  Read more from the Bay Area Monitor here: Sea otters used to live in the bay — should we bring them back? 

Construction to begin soon on Schafer Dam:  “Construction will begin soon at Lake Success to increase flood protection in the Porterville area by widening and reinforcing Schafer Dam.  On May 18, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) awarded a contract for up to $30 million to Central Environmental Incorporated in Anchorage, Alaska to begin construction on Phase I of the Success Reservoir Enlargement Project. Phase I will not only widen the right side of the dam but will also address seepage issues and relocate a road at the Richard L. Schafer Dam. Phase II will raise the existing emergency spillway at Schafer Dam by 10 feet. … ”  Read more from the Foothills Sun-Gazette here: Construction to begin soon on Schafer Dam

Fresno Irrigation District video celebrating its centennial (and then some):  “The Fresno Irrigation District has been quietly celebrating its 100 year anniversary during the global pandemic.  Though several events had to be canceled for safety concerns, the district put together an informative video to help folks understand just how momentous bringing controlled irrigation and drinking water to the valley was. … ”  More at SJV Water here: Fresno Irrigation District video celebrating its centennial (and then some)

Cadiz finds new focus:  “Downtown-based water infrastructure company Cadiz Inc. has codified through a management reorganization a shift in focus for its massive Mojave Desert land holding.  The company’s long-term goal is still to complete a project to allow the transfer of up to 1.6 billion gallons of water a year from an aquifer under its land to six Southern California water agencies.  But for the short-term, Cadiz is looking toward agricultural development on its 45,000 acres of land about 30 miles northeast of Joshua Tree National Park. … ”  Read more from the LA Business Journal here: Cadiz finds new focus

San Diego and Tijuana’s shared sewage problem has a long history: “In January, President Trump signed the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) into law, replacing the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The new trade pact is set to go into full effect July 1. Thanks to House Democrats from Southern California, the legislative act governing its implementation in the United States will provide $300 million for infrastructure to stop the chronic flow of sewage across the international border from Tijuana, Mexico — an ecological peril highlighted on a recent episode of “60 Minutes.” Although this figure falls short of the $400 million local authorities believe will be necessary, the funding offers some hope for San Diego communities downstream along the Tijuana River, where the problem has lowered the quality of life since the 1930s. … ”  Read more from the Washington Post here: San Diego and Tijuana’s shared sewage problem has a long history

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Along the Colorado River …

Water investment in the West: Humboldt River, Nevada:  “Twenty-two miles outside of the nearest town (Wells, pop. 1,246), graffiti on a crumbling hotel wall reads: “Home on the Strange.” Down a dirt road, there’s an abandoned car. An arch stands at the entrance of a dilapidated school. It’s what is left of a town that lost most of its water rights.  Around the turn of the last century, New York investors established Metropolis, Nevada as a farming community. By 1912, they had constructed a dam. They built a hotel, a school and an events center. The Southern Pacific Railroad constructed an office and built a line to the town.  Then the water ran dry. ... ”  Read more from the Nevada Independent here: Water investment in the West: Humboldt River, Nevada

Western Colorado water purchases are stirring up worries about the future of farming:  “For five years, Zay Lopez tended vegetables, hayfields and cornfields, chickens, and a small flock of sheep here on the western edge of Colorado's Grand Valley – farming made possible by water from the Colorado River.  Lopez has a passion for agriculture, and for a while, he carved out a niche with his business, The Produce Peddler, trucking veggies seven hours away to a farmers market in Pinedale, Wyoming.  Lopez also moonlights as a Realtor, with his finger on the pulse of the local real estate market. A few years ago, he noticed a strange new phenomenon. Much of the irrigated agricultural land sold in the valley – such as parcels just down the road from his farm – wasn't being bought by another farmer. ... ”  Read more from KUNC here: Western Colorado water purchases are stirring up worries about the future of farming

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Also on Maven's Notebook today …

FEATURE: Water rights 101

California water law is complex, governed by both state and federal law, part property law and part environmental law. The system incorporates a traditional water rights riparian system with the appropriative system found elsewhere in the West with the result being confusion that often leads to more questions than certainty.

At a recent staff training session at the State Water Board, Senior Staff Counsel Dana Heinrich gave this introduction to water rights in California where she explained the legal distinction between surface water and groundwater, the different types of surface water rights and groundwater rights, the public trust doctrine, the prohibition against the waste and unreasonable use of water, water right change petitions, the water board’s enforcement authority, and statutory stream adjudications.

Click here to read this article.


The late-spring and summer months have arrived, and the WY enters its high demand period. Despite a little end-of-month precipitation, annual totals across the State remain significantly below average (e.g., roughly 60% of normal in the north State). This has not changed throughout much of the preceding winter/spring season. And yet total north CVP reservoir storage (e.g., Trinity, Shasta, Folsom, New Melones, and San Luis) still stands at 100% of its 15-year average for this date.

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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