DAILY DIGEST, 6/4: State, feds in talks over water; In a dry year, Valley water sales get an extra dose of scrutiny; State Water Board gives Reclamation an ‘F’ grade for refusing to save salmon; Below the Great Pacific Garbage Patch: More garbage; and more …

On the calendar today …
  • WEBINAR: Principles of Riverscape Health & Low-Tech Process-Based Restoration from 9am to 10am.  In this webinar we will immerse you deeper into reading riverscapes; specifically, we will introduce the principles of riverscape health. Click here to register.
  • FREE STORMS Weminar: Reported Stormwater Program Spending in California from 1:30pm to 3:00pm.  Click here to register.
  • The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board meets today and tomorrow beginning at 9am. Thursday agenda items include City of Sacramento NPDES permit and Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program, Enrollment Activities Update. Friday agenda items include enforcement, Executive Officer’s report, and strategic planning.  Click here for full agenda and webcast instructions.

In California water news today …

State, feds in talks over water:  “California and federal water regulators are trying to quickly resolve their legal dispute over competing biological opinions governing the management of their respective water projects, a top state official says.  The talks are proceeding after Gov. Gavin Newsom filed suit in February to nullify new federal opinions that would ease restrictions on surface water for San Joaquin Valley growers. … ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press here:  State, feds in talks over water

In a dry year, Valley water sales get an extra dose of scrutiny:  “As California navigates a critically dry water year, many business-as-usual elements are getting a second look.  One such transaction is a proposed water sale by the Merced Irrigation District.  The district, which utilizes New Exchequer Dam and its corresponding Lake McClure to supply water users in Merced County, filed an application with the State Water Resources Control Board in March to transfer as much as 45,000 acre-feet of water to a bevy of water districts across the state. ... ”  Read more from the San Joaquin Valley Sun here: In a dry year, Valley water sales get an extra dose of scrutiny

State Water Board gives Reclamation an ‘F’ grade for refusing to save salmon:  Dan Bacher writes, “In a letter, “as scathing as bureaucrats write,” the State Water Resources Control Board is “taking the Trump administration’s Bureau of Reclamation to the woodshed over its refusal to take meaningful steps to avoid annihilating California’s salmon runs this fall,” according to a statement from the Golden State Salmon Association (GSSA).  … The GSSA said the State Board’s action “follows months of advocacy” by the Golden State Salmon Association calling attention to the impending overheating of the upper Sacramento River spawning grounds this fall due to release of too much Lake Shasta water during the irrigation season. … ”  Read more from the Daily Kos here:  State Water Board gives Reclamation an ‘F’ grade for refusing to save salmon


Patterson’s bill to ban high-speed rail subsidies killed without hearing:  “Efforts to keep high-speed rail from relying on operating subsidies have been squandered in the state legislature.  State Asm. Jim Patterson (R–Fresno) introduced Assembly Bill 3278 earlier this year, which would uphold the no-subsidy requirement that voters approved in 2008 in Prop 1A – the high-speed rail bond.  The bill passed through the Transportation Committee in May with bipartisan support. … ”  Read more from San Joaquin Valley Sun here: Patterson’s bill to ban high-speed rail subsidies killed without hearing

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In national/world news today …

Epidemic of wipes and masks plague sewers, storm drains:  ““When everyone rushed out to get toilet paper and there was none … people were using whatever they could,” said Pamela Mooring, spokeswoman for DC Water, the system in the nation’s capital. Sanitary sewer overflows jumped 33% between February and March in Houston because of clogs from rags, tissues, paper towels and wipes, said public works department spokeswoman Erin Jones.  In Murfreesboro, Tennessee, crews are cleaning sewage pumping stations a couple of times a week that previously needed it once a month, said John Strickland, manager of the treatment facility. ... ”  Read more from the AP here: Epidemic of wipes and masks plague sewers, storm drains

Big corporations contribute to water shortages — how can they fix it?  “Big corporations are big for a reason. They are the powerful companies behind the names you hear every day, like Google, Amazon, Walmart or Coca-Cola. Due to this all-encompassing nature, however, they also use up significant amounts of resources — one of them being water.  As big corporations consume mass amounts of water, the smaller, local communities near the plants, factories and corporate offices have fewer resources. Water shortages then become prevalent as the corporation continues to use up the nearby sources. Water privatization and siphoning are two major issues when it comes to shortages. In order to make a meaningful change for smaller communities, big corporations will need to work on alternatives. ... ”  Read more from Environmental Protection here: Big corporations contribute to water shortages — how can they fix it?

EPA makes ‘contorted’ legal argument for permit rule:  “EPA’s final rule that curtails states’ authority over Clean Water Act permitting of pipelines, hydroelectric dams and other energy projects could run afoul of a 1994 Supreme Court ruling that originally granted states that oversight power.  “That’s their biggest vulnerability,” said Mark Ryan, a former Clean Water Act attorney in EPA’s Seattle-based Region 10 office. “This is a fairly significant restriction of states’ rights, which is rather interesting because this administration is all about states’ rights until they’re not.”  The rule unveiled yesterday would limit the scope of state water quality reviews — barring governors from considering other concerns like climate change — and places a one-year deadline on state action. … ”  Read more from E&E News here: EPA makes ‘contorted’ legal argument for permit rule

Oil platforms’ fishy future:  “Biologists and fishermen alike know that offshore oil platforms function as de facto habitats for fish. The structures climb hundreds of feet into the water column, creating a prefab reef out in open water. But many of these platforms will soon be decommissioned, and government agencies are considering the potential ecological effects in deciding how this will be done.  UC Santa Barbara postdoctoral scholar Erin Meyer-Gutbrod and her colleagues have focused their research on predicting how different decommissioning scenarios will affect the productivity of the surrounding waters. … ”  Read more from UC Santa Barbara here: Oil platforms’ fishy future

Below the Great Pacific Garbage Patch: More garbage:  “Scientists have found a new monster lurking in the deep: plastic. Discarded plastic floating in the ocean has been a recognized issue for decades, but the extent to which it might be polluting beneath the waves has largely been unknown. New research is finding there is more plastic than what appears on the surface.  “We have a very limited understanding of where all the plastic and stuff that’s being put into the ocean ends up,” said Matthias Egger, the lead scientist behind the new study and a researcher with The Ocean Cleanup. “We know roughly there’s tens of millions of tons of plastics going into the ocean. A large part of that should be afloat, but it’s not.” … ”  Read more from EOS here: Below the Great Pacific Garbage Patch: More garbage

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In regional news and commentary today …

Monterey: Equal representation on a critical water board is denied due to political fighting:  “Thousands of people in Marina are being blocked from full representation on the board of a regional water agency, a casualty of a larger battle over the water future of the Monterey Peninsula.  The agency is Monterey One Water, and it is responsible for treating sewage. For a while, the 10-member board of M1W was united, supporting the Pure Water Monterey project, a new cutting-edge facility that promised to help alleviate a chronic local water shortage by cleaning wastewater and recycling into the drinking supply. … ” Read more from the Monterey County Weekly here: Monterey: Equal representation on a critical water board is denied due to political fighting

Saving endangered coho salmon in Central California:  “Coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch), also known as silver salmon, have lived in California’s coastal watersheds for thousands of years. Today their populations have declined to just a fraction of historical levels, endangered by a wide range of factors. In Central California in particular, the situation is dire, with the species listed as endangered under both the state and federal Endangered Species Acts. Many populations are in danger of declining to the point of local extinction.  Recognizing the recovery of Coho salmon in central California’s streams and rivers as a high priority, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is collaborating with NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), and other partner agencies and non-governmental organizations to develop and implement recovery actions. The tricky part is that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to saving the species. … ”  Read more from the Department of Fish and Wildlife here: Saving endangered coho salmon in Central California

San Diego: More money allocated to secure tracks on Del Mar bluffs:  “With an additional $11.6 million secured last month, a transportation official said Tuesday that most of the money needed has been obtained for the next phase of construction to safeguard the railroad tracks on the eroding Del Mar bluffs.  Phase 5 of the bluff stabilization project is expected to cost about $66 million in all, said an official at the San Diego Association of Governments, the area’s regional planning agency. The money will come from a combination of federal, state and local sources.  State Sen. Toni Atkins announced a year ago the allocation of $6.1 million a year ago for the planning and design of Phase 5. The $11.6 million announced last week by U.S. Rep. Mike Levin, D-San Juan Capistrano, will be used for construction. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune here:  San Diego: More money allocated to secure tracks on Del Mar bluffs

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Along the Colorado River …

Cash Flows: How investors are banking on the West’s water scarcity:  “In the arid West, scarce water supplies are growing scarcer. Climate change is shrinking snowpack in river basins throughout the region, leaving the future water supplies for cities, industries and farmers uncertain.  Throughout the region, farmers hold rights to the vast majority of available water, while the demand for new supplies is in growing cities or industries. To try and solve that problem, and make some money in the process, a new actor has emerged in some water-stressed pockets of the West: the private investor. ... ”  Read more from KUNC here: Cash Flows: How investors are banking on the West’s water scarcity

Company’s bid to build dams on tribal land a step closer:  “Federal regulators have accepted a Phoenix-based company’s application for a preliminary permit to look further into building hydro-powered dams on tribal land.  The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission confirmed the acceptance in a letter Tuesday to Pumped Hydro Storage LLC, opening the door for public comment on the controversial proposal on the Navajo Nation.  The move by the commission gives the company three years to study the site in Big Canyon west of Tuba City but doesn’t authorize land disturbance. … ”  Read more from KNAU here: Company’s bid to build dams on tribal land a step closer

Commentary: Massive Lake Powell Pipeline project affects all Utahns, not just Washington County, says Paul Van Dam:  He writes, “People generally think of the Lake Powell Pipeline (LPP) as a southern Utah project, which it is. But we should not forget that the project, first conceived in 1995 and mandated by the 2006 Lake Powell Pipeline Development Act, would burden all Utahns.  Utah would bond for 50 years or more and Washington County would repay, only slowly, tying up much needed state funds at a time when the our ability to balance the budget will be challenging. ... ”  Read more from the Salt Lake Tribune here: Massive Lake Powell Pipeline project affects all Utahns, not just Washington County

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Precipitation watch …

BROWN BAG SEMINAR: Predicting, Detecting, Understanding: Science to Inform Decision Making

The USGS and the Delta Stewardship Council are recruiting the next Delta Lead Scientist who is appointed by the Council based on a recommendation from the Delta Independent Science Board. As part of the process, each candidate was invited to give a brown bag seminar presentation of their research and experience, as well as their vision for the Delta Science Program. Ultimately another candidate was chosen, but here is Dr. Denise Reed’s brown bag seminar which discussed using models to make prediction and improve decision making.

Click here to read this article.

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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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