DAILY DIGEST, 6/9: Central Valley water districts take aim at each other’s groundwater plans; Reclamation announces Shasta non-critical water year; Snow in Tahoe, fire below: ‘Juneuary’ in NorCal; Billions to clean up contaminated water…who’s going to pay for that? ; and more …
ONLINE PUBLIC MEETING: Franks Tract Futures from 3pm to 5pm. At this meeting, DFW will give a project update, present design concepts, and release the interactive web-based survey that allows for the public to view the current design concepts (and the no action alternative), provide comments, and rank alternatives. Click here to register.
Central Valley water districts take aim at each other’s groundwater plans: “There is no tougher playground than California’s water world. Just take a look at the zingers flying back and forth between water districts on one another’s groundwater sustainability plans posted on the Department of Water Resources’ website. “It’s like a giant game of dodgeball,” said Dana Munn, General Manager of Shafter-Wasco Irrigation District. ... ” Read more from SJV Water here: Central Valley water districts take aim at each other’s groundwater plans
Reclamation announces Shasta non-critical water year (press release): “Today, Reclamation is notifying Sacramento River Settlement contractors, San Joaquin River Exchange contractors, San Joaquin Settlement contractors and Refuge contractors that the forecasted inflow to Shasta Lake is currently projected at greater than 3.2 million acre-feet, and we are in a “Shasta Non-Critical” year. California Department of Water Resources’ Bulletin 120 was updated on June 4, showing a large increase in Shasta Lake inflow since the May 1 forecast. The forecasted inflow to Shasta Lake is currently greater than 3.2 million acre-feet, changing the previous determination of a “Shasta Critical” to “Shasta Non-Critical” water year as defined in certain Central Valley Project contracts. There are no other updates to Central Valley Project water supplies at this time. Water supply updates will be made if appropriate and posted at https://www.usbr.gov/mp/cvp-water/index.html.”
Snow in Tahoe, fire below: ‘Juneuary’ in Northern California: “Snow was falling at Lake Tahoe even as a wildfire warning was in effect west of the Sierra foothills. Snowfall at lake levels was reported Sunday, and freezing conditions remained Monday morning. Using the hashtag #Juneuary, the National Weather Service reported temperatures in the mid-20s in lakeside communities and down to 19 near Stampede Reservoir. Chain controls were in effect on Highway 431 from just above Incline Village to Mount Rose Ski Resort. … ” Read more from the Mercury News here: Snow in Tahoe, fire below: ‘Juneuary’ in Northern California
Managing freshwater ecosystems in a pandemic: “Among the many challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, the day-to-day stewardship of California’s freshwater ecosystems has remained under the radar. However, continuing the work of restoring and maintaining the health of freshwater ecosystems will have repercussions for California’s water well into the future, and is key to reducing the impact of a hotter, drier climate. To assess the range of pandemic-related issues confronting the sector, the PPIC Water Policy Center held a series of conversations with representatives from state and federal agencies, water utilities, environmental nonprofits, and businesses that specialize in restoration. The pandemic’s impact falls into three categories: disruption of monitoring and research programs, delays to restoration projects, and the threat posed by the economic downturn to funding for this work. Here are some key takeaways. … : Read more from the PPIC here: Managing freshwater ecosystems in a pandemic
Steady streams: bringing safe water to California communities: “Over the years, much attention has been given to California’s drought, but less is known about the more than one million Californians in more than 300 communities who don’t have access to clean drinking water. To address this crisis, CSU faculty and students are performing community assessments, conducting research and assisting local engineering projects, often with support from Water Resources & Policy Initiatives (WRPI, see more information below). “Our primary focus right now for external funding is working with underserved and disadvantaged communities to help them get access to clean and safe drinking water,” says WRPI Executive Director Boykin Witherspoon. ... ” Read more from Newswise here: Steady streams: bringing safe water to California communities
Trial underway in SF could remove fluoride from drinking water: “About 200 million Americans, nearly two-thirds of the population, drink water containing fluoride to fight tooth decay. That could be changed by a case now on trial in a San Francisco federal court. Consumer groups including Food and Water Watch, the Fluoride Action Network and Moms Against Fluoridation contend recent studies show that when pregnant women drink fluoridated water, their children are significantly more likely than others to suffer neurological damage, including reduced IQs and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Fluoridated toothpaste, the groups maintain, provides all of the benefits and none of the risks. … ” Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: Trial underway in SF could remove fluoride from drinking water
Reclamation completes additional Central Valley Project contract conversions, including Westlands (press release): “The Bureau of Reclamation executed another set of congressionally-mandated contract conversions with Central Valley Project contractors pursuant to the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act. These contracts provide water to families, farms and communities in their respective service areas. These completed contract conversions include the City of West Sacramento and four contract assignments for Westlands Water District. Each WIIN Act-mandated conversion contract is negotiated and completed by Reclamation’s regional career professionals. Section 4011 of the WIIN Act directs Reclamation to convert water service contracts to repayment contracts upon a contractor’s request and authorizes prepayment of outstanding CVP construction costs. Under Section 4011, full repayment is due within three years of the contract conversion. … ” Read more from the US Bureau of Reclamation here: Reclamation completes additional Central Valley Project contract conversions
C-WIN and other public advocacy groups protest Westlands attempted bond sales (press release): “In a letter sent to credit rating agency Fitch Ratings, six public advocacy groups with members throughout California criticized efforts by Westlands Water District to market revenue bonds for a controversial water contract that remains unenforceable. Westlands, the nation’s largest agricultural water district, delivers roughly twice as much water as the residents of the City of Los Angeles use in a year, chiefly to large agribusiness interests on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley. The district, much of whose land is laced with selenium, is plagued with unresolved drainage problems and a history of violations of environmental and securities laws. The groups sending the letter are the California Water Impact Network (C-WIN), AquAlliance, the Planning and Conservation League, the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, Environmental Water Caucus, and Southern California Watershed Alliance. … ” Continue reading at C-WIN here: C-WIN and other public advocacy groups protest Westlands attempted bond sales
Tiny shrimp big problem: A collaboration of science and business could rid Lake Tahoe of a major polluter: “Lake Tahoe is known for its beautiful blue waters and remarkable transparency. But its clarity is threatened by climate change and urbanization — and billions of tiny invasive shrimp. Researchers at the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center are dedicated to investigating the many factors facing the lake today, collaborating on solutions and educating the public. According to the most recent Tahoe: State of the Lake report, published yearly to present data in the context of the long-term record, efforts to restore clarity have been directed at mitigating the impacts of land-use practices and urbanization. But researchers have recently identified Mysis shrimp as a previously unconsidered major cause of clarity decline in Lake Tahoe. … ” Read more from UC Davis here: Tiny shrimp big problem
California Invasive Species Action Week 2020: “California Invasive Species Action Week, which takes place June 6 to 14, is a statewide campaign designed to educate the public on non-native species that threaten the State’s natural resources. Examples of these species include, alligator weed, nutria, phragmites, and quagga and zebra mussels. Nonnative plants and animals threaten clean water, flood prevention infrastructure, and natural ecosystems. “Hundreds of invasive species have infiltrated California and continue to multiply and spread each year,” said Gina Darin, Department of Water Resources section chief of restoration planning and science. “Collectively, these non-native plants and animals – introduced at various times by humans – degrade habitat, outcompete native species, and obstruct waterways to interfere with boating.” … ” Read more from DWR News here: California Invasive Species Action Week 2020
California’s climate refugia: mapping the stable places: “Some landscapes can hold their own against climate change better than others. A study from the University of California, Davis, maps these places, called “climate refugia,” where existing vegetation is most likely to buffer the impacts of climate change through the end of the century. It found that about 15 percent of natural lands in California serve as climate refugia for the state’s plants, including trees, shrubs, annuals and perennials. The mapping tool can help natural resource managers prioritize and plan climate-adaptive management efforts, such as wildlife habitat conservation and post-wildfire restoration. The study is published in a special issue of the journal Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution devoted to the theme of climate refugia. The issue and an accompanying website, climaterefugia.org, include other refugia related to fish and wildlife, rivers and wetlands, mountains and forests. ... ” Read more from UC Davis here: California’s climate refugia: mapping the stable places
Reclamation selects nine water recycling and reuse projects to receive $16.6 million: “The Bureau of Reclamation is providing $16.6 million to nine congressionally authorized Title XVI Water Reclamation and Reuse projects. This funding, part of the WaterSMART Program, is for the planning, design, and construction of water recycling and reuse projects in partnership with local government entities. “Title XVI projects develop and supplement urban and irrigation water supplies by reclaiming and reusing water,” said Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman. “These projects assist communities with new sources of clean water, which increases water management flexibility and makes water supply more reliable.” ... ” Read more from the Bureau of Reclamation here: Reclamation selects nine water recycling and reuse projects to receive $16.6 million
State judge tapped for seat on Eastern California federal court: “President Donald Trump on Monday announced plans to nominate a California state court judge to a seat on the federal bench. Tapped for a spot on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, Judge James Arguelles has served on the Sacramento County Superior Court since 2010, having spent time before that as a partner at the Sacramento white-collar criminal defense firm Stevens, O’Connell and Jacobs. He has also worked as a federal prosecutor and at the law firm Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher. ... ” Read more from the Courthouse News Service here: State judge tapped for seat on Eastern California federal court
White House faces suit on order lifting endangered species protections: “An environmental group on Tuesday said it will sue the White House if President Trump doesn’t walk back an executive order that waives endangered species protections along with a host of other environmental laws. The Thursday order from Trump relies on emergency authority to waive the requirements of a number of environmental laws, arguing the U.S. needs to fast track construction projects to fight the economic fallout tied to the coronavirus pandemic. ... ” Read more from The Hill here: White House faces suit on order lifting endangered species protections
As EPA steps back, states face wave of requests for environmental leniency: “Some of the country’s most polluting industries have flooded state regulators with requests to ease environmental regulations, according to an NPR review of hundreds of state environmental records. Companies across the country say the pandemic is interfering with their ability to comply with laws that protect the public from pollution. State environmental authorities are currently the only source of official information about which companies have sought regulatory relief. That’s because in March, the Environmental Protection Agency told companies that they do not need to warn federal regulators if the pandemic interferes with routine pollution monitoring or testing. …, ” Read more from NPR here: As EPA steps back, states face wave of requests for environmental leniency
PFAS cleanup backers face unexpected foe: water utilities: “After decades of inaction, the federal government has gotten serious about cleaning up PFAS, a class of compounds known as “forever chemicals” that have been linked to health problems and inhabit the bloodstream of nearly every American. Congress has introduced dozens of bills mentioning “PFAS” so far in the 2019-2020 Congress, many more than in previous years. The boom in legislation has sparked a major increase in lobbying. In 2017, only four entities mentioned the issue in government lobbying reports. In 2018, the number grew to 35, and by 2019, it rocketed to 164. ... ” Read more from Bloomberg Law here: PFAS cleanup backers face unexpected foe: water utilities
Billions to clean up contaminated water…who’s going to pay for that? “Flint, Michigan, is now synonymous with “water crisis.” Unfortunately, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. In communities across the country, countless other water crises are unfolding, though with different chemical contaminants and, in many cases, clear fingerprints pointing to those who caused the problem. The contamination of local drinking water supplies will cost billions of dollars to clean up, and a growing number of affected communities are now going to court to ensure that those responsible for the pollution are held accountable for the cleanup costs. … ” Read more from Water Finance & Management here: Legal Corner: Billions to Clean Up Contaminated Water…Who’s Going to Pay for That?
EPA’s new Clean Water Act Section 401 Certification rule limits tribal water permit power: “On June 1, 2020, the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) finalized a new rule implementing the Clean Water Act’s (“CWA”) Section 401. Under Section 401, no federal permit or license can be issued that may result in a discharge to waters of the United States unless the authorized tribe or state certifies that the discharge is consistent with its water quality requirements or waives certification. The new rule issued by EPA allows federal agencies to limit the time frame within which tribes or states are allowed to review and issue conditions on applicable federal permits to less than the one-year limit provided for under the CWA. The new rule also provides that under Section 401, tribes and states are only able to impose conditions related to “water quality requirements.” ... ” Read more from Brownstein Hyatt here: EPA’s new Clean Water Act Section 401 Certification rule limits tribal water permit power
Waters of the United States litigation: practical considerations for the regulated community: “A familiar list of states are suing the Trump administration for revising the “waters of the United States” definition that is used to create the Clean Water Act (“CWA”) regulatory programs. The lawsuit is pending before the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. California v. Andrew Wheeler, Civil Action No. 3:20-cv-03005. There is also a predicable list of the other states in the litigation supporting the “Navigable Waters Protection Rule: Definition of the United States” promulgated on April 21, 2020. 85 Fed. Reg. 22,250. While we await the impact of litigation and ruling on the request for a stay, the rule becomes effective on June 22, 2020. … ” Read more from the National Law Review here: Waters of the United States litigation: practical considerations for the regulated community
The Western View: Cease-fire ahead in the water wars? Wayne Western writes, “It’s been a year of surprises, one thing after another – a pandemic that shut down the world, a murder hornet that suddenly appeared in the north woods, rioting in the streets, and even a giant meteor just missed the earth. But there is one more startling event that not many people know about. That is: The State and the feds are actually talking to each other about our water. They’ve been figuring out how to balance the needs of fish versus farmers and settle how they will handle water deliveries to the Central Valley and Southern California. ... ” Read more from Ag Net West here: The Western View: Cease-fire ahead in the water wars?
Commentary: Klamath political attention comes from both sides of the aisle: Derrick Degroot, Tricia Hill and Dan Keppen write, “Capital Press is to be commended for its continued, professional reporting on the importance of our family farmers and ranchers, what they do for our Nation and the many challenges they face on a daily basis. Your coverage of the recent “Shut Down and Fed Up” water rally held in Klamath County on May 29 was just the latest example of your informative reporting. On that day, people within the Klamath Basin and far beyond answered the call to unity and took a stand for agriculture. Thousands of men, women, and children from all backgrounds demonstrated the enormity and essential nature of the work done by our farming and ranching communities. Over 2,200 vehicles made up a 29-mile long convoy that wound through farmland desperately in need of strong, sustainable solution for its rightful irrigation water. ... ” Read more from the Capital Press here: Commentary: Klamath political attention comes from both sides of the aisle
North Coast: Volunteer to protect and restore Northern California seabirds with the Seabird Protection Network North Coast Chapter: “Would you like to make a difference in a seabird’s life? You can. Just ask members of the North Coast Chapter of the Seabird Protection Network. They are looking for volunteers this spring and summer in Trinidad, California, to assist with Community Science. The organization needs volunteers to collect scientific data that identifies current or potential disturbances to nesting seabirds, including cormorants, murres, and gulls. Using U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service funding secured from the Natural Resources Damage Assessment process from two oil spills in Humboldt Bay in 1997 and 1999, the chapter was established in 2016. This breeding season (April-August) will be the chapter’s fourth year of monitoring human disturbances such as recreation in areas around seabird nesting habitat. … ” Read more from the US FWS here: North Coast: Volunteer to protect and restore Northern California seabirds with the Seabird Protection Network North Coast Chapter
Dream job: Kayak surveys provide important data for fish habitat on Clear Creek: “Imagine taking a kayak out on the water all day as a full-time job. Well, that’s exactly what the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employees from the Red Bluff office do for a portion of the year. The work is critical for surveying Clear Creek for the presence of steelhead, rainbow trout and late-fall Chinook salmon nests known as redds. “We primarily use this information to try and evaluate the effectiveness of our ongoing restoration projects on the creek,” said Ryan Schaefer, fish biologist for the Red Bluff office. ... ” Read more from the US FWS here: Dream job: Kayak surveys provide important data for fish habitat on Clear Creek
San Francisco Bay region issues risk-based screening levels for PFAS at cleanup sites: “California continues to develop tools for evaluating per- and polfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) at cleanup sites. In May 2020, the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board issued an “Interim Final Environmental Screening Levels (ESLs) for Per- and Polfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS): Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS) and Perfluorooctanoate (PFOA)” Memorandum setting groundwater and soil ESLs addressing direct exposure, ecotoxicity and ingestion risk levels for PFOS and PFOA. The PFAS ESLs are part of the ongoing effort by the San Francisco Regional Water Board to “provide conservative screening levels … to help expedite the identification and evaluation of potential environmental concerns at contaminated sites.” ... ” Read more from JD Supra here: San Francisco Bay region issues risk-based screening levels for PFAS at cleanup sites
Court rules Inyo County violated environmental laws in seeking to take Los Angeles’ land and water rights: “In a ruling published last week, a California Superior Court made a sweeping ruling against Inyo County’s attempted eminent domain takeover of Los Angeles’ land and water rights. The years-long pursuit by Inyo has effectively been sent back to the drawing board and will require not only a complete restart, but also comprehensive environmental review, in order for Inyo to proceed. The litigation, which Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) officials had repeatedly sought to put on hold in an effort to find a peaceful resolution that would address Inyo’s waste management needs and LADWP’s environmental and water quality concerns, may now cost Inyo as much as $2 million in damages to Los Angeles. … ” Read more from the LADWP here: Court rules Inyo County violated environmental laws in seeking to take Los Angeles’ land and water rights
Endangered status sought for Death Valley region fish: “The Center for Biological Diversity petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today to protect three populations of speckled dace in the Death Valley region under the Endangered Species Act. These small, minnow-like fish live in freshwater streams and springs in the desert and dry environments of Amargosa Canyon, Long Valley and Owens Valley, California. “The fragile desert rivers and springs that support dace are also important to many other wildlife species and people, so federal protection is crucial,” said Jeff Miller, a senior conservation advocate at the Center. “We need to rein in excessive groundwater pumping and make sure these unique fish populations don’t wink out forever. We can’t afford to lose any more of California’s unique freshwater fish species.” … ” Read more from the Center for Biological Diversity here: Endangered status sought for Death Valley region fish
Lake Powell pipeline will ‘make the river angry,’ Southern Paiutes warn as feds release analysis: “Any potential alignment of the Lake Powell pipeline would pass through lands that hold spiritual and cultural significance to Southern Paiutes, who fear the project would jeopardize their culture and upset the balance of nature. One alternative route passes through Arizona’s Kaibab Indian Reservation and the other, preferred by the water project’s Utah proponents, skirts the reservation around its southern borders by following an existing utility corridor. … ” Read more from the Salt Lake Tribune here: Lake Powell pipeline will ‘make the river angry,’ Southern Paiutes warn as feds release analysis
The Solano County Water Agency has filed an appeal with the Delta Stewardship Council regarding the consistency determination submitted by Westlands Water District for the Lower Yolo Ranch Restoration Project. The letter points out that there are numerous existing agricultural and municipal water supply intakes in the Yolo Bypass Cache Slough Complex that will be impacted with respect to water quality, endangered species, and the corresponding cumulative impacts of the more recent and significant restoration projects.
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.