DAILY DIGEST, 6/11: Could the answer to groundwater resources come from high in the sky?; Farmers to get more water, but not enough; The fish food story; Recent cyber attacks highlight emerging cyber risks in the water industry; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • FREE WEBINAR: A Toolbox for Fish Passage Engineering from 9am to 10am.  Presented by Cal Fish PAC. Click here to register.
  • FREE WEBINAR: Coastal Wetland Restoration and Planning: Tools for Tidal Restriction Avoidance and Removal from 10am to 12pm.  Presented by the US EPA.  Click here to register.
  • FREE WEBINAR: History Matters: Lessons from 40 Years of California Water Policy with Tim Quinn from 10:15 to 11:45, presented by the SoCal Water Coalition.  Click here to register.

In California water news today …

Could the answer to groundwater resources come from high in the sky?  “Groundwater makes up 30 to 50 percent of California’s water supply, but until recently there were few restrictions placed on its retrieval. Then in 2014 California became the last Western state to require regulation of its groundwater. With deadlines starting this year, for the first time water managers in the nation’s premier agricultural region – the state’s Central Valley – are tasked with estimating available groundwater. It’s a daunting technological challenge.  Now a new computational approach developed by scientists at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) offers a high-tech yet simple method: it pairs high-resolution images derived by satellite with advanced computer modeling to estimate aquifer volume change from observed ground deformation. … ”  Read more from Lawrence Berkeley National Labs here:  Could the answer to groundwater resources come from high in the sky?

The past, present and future of California’s groundwater:  “A century after the state began overseeing surface water, the California legislature enacted a set of three laws regulating water below the surface. The passage of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) in 2014, granted the state official oversight authority of groundwater. However, its involvement existed long before SGMA and continues to influence current policies and regulation of the resource. A new paper published in Society and Natural Resources, examines how the state’s ongoing involvement helped shape current policies by looking at the 120-year history of California’s role in groundwater management and policy development.   Below, study lead Evan Dennis and co-author Tara Moran, discuss the state’s changing role from supporting to mandating groundwater management. ... ”  Read more from Stanford’s Water in the West here: The past, present and future of California’s groundwater

Farmers to get more water, but not enough:  “Tulare County farmers will be getting more water than expected from a dry winter but far less than is needed to avoid depleting an aquifer that is already drying up.  Following spring storms, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation issued increased water allocations on May 19 for Central Valley Project (CVP) contractors for the 2020 contract year. The bureau oversees operations of the CVP, one of the nation’s largest water conservation developments, which delivers water to nine units and divisions across 400 miles between the Cascade Mountains near Reding south to the Tehachapi Mountains near Bakersfield. … ”  Read more from the Foothills Sun-Gazette here: Farmers to get more water, but not enough

SGVMWD joins Kern County Water Agency and State Water Contractors in lawsuit against State of CA:  “The Board of Directors of the San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District (the “District”), at its May 2020 Board meeting, voted to join Kern County Water Agency and State Water Contractors (SWC) in a suit against the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) and California Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) over the Incidental Take Permit (ITP) issued on March 31, 2020, by DFW to the DWR for the long-term operation of the State Water Project. The ITP is a permit required under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA) and relates to protection of four fish species found in the Delta area. The ITP issued by DFW would restrict how much water is available from the State Water Project. ... ”  Read more from ACWA’s Water News here:  SGVMWD joins Kern County Water Agency and State Water Contractors in lawsuit against State of CA

The fish food story:  “The saying rang true when Mark Twain coined it, “Whiskey is for drinking. Water is for fighting.”  150 years later it still resonates and throughout the arid West, it is often repeated as gospel.  But in California’s Central Valley an unlikely group of partners are coming together to write a new chapter in the saga of California water. Farmers, water districts, government regulators, and conservation scientists are all putting acrimony aside and getting down to business, working alongside one another to integrate a 21st century scientific understanding of how rivers work and how fish use them into farm and water management. In so doing, they are creating multiple benefits for birds, fish, farms, and people.  The Fish Food on Flooded Farm Fields program aims to help dwindling salmon populations by recreating floodplain-like wetland habitats on winter-flooded farm fields. ... ”  Read more from The Current here: The fish food story

Models built with water:  “A couple of years ago I wrote a post using the famous quote by statistician George Box: All Models Are Wrong; Some Are Useful. In that post, I discussed paper and plastic airplanes, but mostly I talked about modeling in computers, and especially what I call the “digital illusion.” The digital illusion is the idea that signals in digital chips are ones and zeros, with timing, and not analog voltages. It is the effectiveness of this illusion that enables us to build billion-gate chips. If we had to worry about the analog behavior of each signal, it would be intractable to design a microcontroller, let alone a multicore processor. What would we do if we didn’t have computers?  One way to answer that question is simply to go back in time to the dawn of computing in the 1940s and 1950s.  In the late 1940s and early 1950s, there were various proposals to build dams on San Francisco Bay to capture water coming down the Sacramento River for drinking water and irrigation. … ”  Read more from Semiconductor Engineering here: Models built with water

Water and the pandemic: Reopening buildings after shutdowns: reducing water-related health risks:  “Under normal conditions, the flow of tap water through building water systems prevents the buildup of bacteria and metals in pipes, and hot water tanks. But after a period of shutdown, like during the coronavirus pandemic, stagnant water may breed bacteria including Legionella (the cause of Legionnaires’ disease), leach lead and other metals from pipes and plumbing, take on unpleasant tastes and odors, or build up potentially harmful disinfection by-products.  This fact sheet seeks to raise awareness of these risks and outline the steps water utilities and building managers can take to protect the public health as businesses and schools begin to reopen following COVID-related closures.”  Click here for the fact sheet.

While some farmers face new challenges amid covid-19, others have found success:  “Poli Yerena is a farmer who grows berries on 17 acres around Watsonville. We meet at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market in San Francisco in April. The next week I call him up to ask how his small family farm has been doing since California issued the shelter in place order.  “We depend mostly from the farmers market. And at this point, everybody’s suffering … from the owner to the employee,” he says.  Poli specializes in strawberries, but also grows raspberries, blackberries, and boysenberries. He sells to a couple pie bakeries and jam shops, but he doesn’t have contracts with restaurants or grocery stores. … ”  Read more from KALW here:  While some farmers face new challenges amid covid-19, others have found success

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In national/world news today …

Recent cyber attacks on critical infrastructure highlight emerging cyber risks in the water industry:  “The significant uptick in telework and spear phishing attacks related to COVID-19 has sparked a well-deserved focus on the cybersecurity of information technology networks. A recent high-profile attack against water systems in Israel is a reminder that companies should also be mindful of the cybersecurity threats facing operation technology (OT) and industrial control systems (ICS). Although regulatory frameworks addressing cybersecurity in critical infrastructure are still nascent, companies can prepare now for the operational, reputational, and litigation risks to come. ... ”  Read more from O’Melveny & Myers here: Recent cyber attacks on critical infrastructure highlight emerging cyber risks in the water industry

Concern over the “forever chemical” PFAS is high, but remedies remain remote:  “The first flyer arrived at each house in early fall. Another came in November. The message they delivered was alarming: the residents of Pleasanton, California had been relying on contaminated water sources.  What they didn’t say was where the contamination had come from. Or how exactly the city planned on handling the contamination in the long term.  Pleasanton, located in the East Bay about 25 miles east of Oakland and six miles west of Livermore, is home to an estimated 80,000 residents, nearly a quarter of them under 18. It is one of many towns around the country facing a newly recognized problem: PFAS. ... ”  Read more from Stanford’s … & the West here:  Concern over the “forever chemical” PFAS is high, but remedies remain remote

PFAS management to drive US$12.1B in water utility spend over next decade:  “Mounting public concerns and new state regulations in the U.S. are compelling water & wastewater utilities to address health risks associated with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) – a class of pervasive chemicals found in drinking water and wastewater biproducts.  According to a new report from Bluefield Research, PFAS: The Next Challenge for Water Utilities, more than US$3 billion is forecasted to be spent annually on drinking water remediation technologies by 2030. … ”  Read more from Water World here: PFAS management to drive US$12.1B in water utility spend over next decade

Intense PFAS lobbying pits greens against water utilities:  “An effort on Capitol Hill to regulate toxic “forever chemicals” is pitting environmental groups against drinking and wastewater utilities that are worried Congress could leave them vulnerable to future lawsuits and high cleanup costs.  House lawmakers are eager to attach language to regulate per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, to the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act. Policy experts say spending bills and water infrastructure legislation are also potential vehicles in the fall.  That legislative push has triggered an increase in lobbying efforts from companies that produce PFAS — as well as utilities looking to shape government oversight of the chemicals that have contaminated drinking water, soil and air across the United States. Studies have linked PFAS with multiple health issues such as thyroid problems and some cancers. … ”  Read more from E&E News here: Intense PFAS lobbying pits greens against water utilities

And lastly … Stunning photos of climate change, from CBS News

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In regional news and commentary today …

Farmers scramble for water in Klamath:  “When the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced farmers would receive just a fraction of the water they normally do in the Klamath Irrigation Project in southern Oregon, Malin, Oregon, potato farmer Tricia Hill and her family began to scramble.  Like many farm families in the Klamath River Basin facing severe drought, the 15,000-acre J&W Walker Farms had many thousands of dollars of seed and other inputs already in the ground.  Surface water is a must for potatoes.  “Thought we could rely on surface water,” she said. ... ”  Read more from Progressive Farmer here: Farmers scramble for water in Klamath

Humboldt County: A community effort to recover the Elk River:  “In December of 1849, eight forlorn gold hunters of the Josiah Gregg party arrived from the Trinity River goldfields at what is now Humboldt Bay, and after several days spent exploring the region, the men “pitched our camp near the bluff, on the top of which is now Fort Humboldt”, and hunted Elk for a Christmas Day feast. Thus, the Elk River, Humboldt Bay’s largest freshwater tributary joining the Bay at the south end of Eureka, got its name.  The Wiyot Tribe, present in the region for several millenia before the explorers arrived, called the river Iksori – their name for the village at its mouth. As a side-note, those same explorers also named the Mad River, the Van Duzen River, and the Eel River where they bartered with Native Americans for pacific lamprey. ... ”  Read more from The Current here: A community effort to recover the Elk River

The dam that created Lake Pillsbury is about to be torn down:  “Lake County has an abundance of wild land where tourists can enjoy the great outdoors. It also has five lakes, Clear Lake, Indian valley Reservoir, Blue Lakes and Lake Pillsbury. All the lakes offer excellent fishing, camping, boating plus excellent scenery. One of these lakes is about to disappear. The dam that created Lake Pillsbury is about to be torn down. When that happens a vast area will be left high and dry and one of the most popular visitor destinations in the county will disappear. ... ”  Read more from the Lake County Record-Bee here:  The dam that created Lake Pillsbury is about to be torn down

Lake County Land Trust completes acquisition of Wright wetland property:  “The Lake County Land Trust has completed its latest – and largest – acquisition of a key property that will help preserve native wetlands and other important local ecosystems.  The Land Trust said that as of June 1, the property now known as the Wright Wetland Preserve became “forever wild.” … ”  Read more from the Lake County Record Bee here: Lake County Land Trust completes acquisition of Wright wetland property

Lake Tahoe clarity report mixed for 2019:  “The clarity of Lake Tahoe has long been one of the most important indicators of the changing condition of this iconic water body. In 2019, Lake Tahoe’s clarity decreased nearly 8 feet from the previous year’s dramatic 10-foot improvement. The average annual value in 2019 was 62.7 feet. The lowest value was recorded in 2017, when clarity was 60 feet.  Such year-to-year and even day-to-day fluctuations are common. A truer picture of the clarity is often indicated by a five-year running mean, which shows a mean clarity of 67.3 feet, according to the data released by the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center. … ”  Read more from UC Davis here: Lake Tahoe clarity report mixed for 2019

Sacramento’s South County Ag Program using recycled water moves forward:  “A joint venture (JV) of Brown and Caldwell and Carollo Engineers has been selected by the Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District (Regional San) to provide capital program management services for the $375 million South Sacramento County Agriculture & Habitat Lands Recycled Water (South County Ag) Program.  The South County Ag Program was established to meet Regional San’s long-term goal of increasing its use of recycled water by using highly treated tertiary effluent as irrigation water in lieu of groundwater — representing a strong commitment to environmental stewardship. … ”  Read more from Water Finance & Management here: Sacramento’s South County Ag Program using recycled water moves forward

Manteca: The $120m question: paying for flood work:  “Existing residents in the 200-year-flood zone are not off the hook when it comes to paying for more robust protection.  They still are going to have to be part of an effort to cover roughly the two thirds of the $176 million cost to improve levees from  a point south of Mossdale Crossing along the San Joaquin River to French Camp Slough. That’s because the fees being assessed on new growth — homes, commercial and industrial concerns — being built in the flood zone only will cover a third of the bill. … ”  Read more from the Manteca Bulletin here:  The $120m question: paying for flood work

Assembly passes bill to speed rebuilding of Silicon Valley Dam:  “Today, the California State Assembly overwhelmingly passed AB 3005, the Expedited Dam Safety for Silicon Valley Act, authored by Assemblymember Robert Rivas (D-Hollister). The bill received strong bipartisan support for important changes in law that will help facilitate the expedited and expert construction of the Anderson Dam Seismic Retrofit Project in Santa Clara County – a project that is urgently needed to ensure the safety and water supply of the region.  “Today’s overwhelming vote of support on the Assembly floor underscores the critical importance of expediting the Anderson Dam project,” Assemblymember Rivas said. “The clock is ticking on a catastrophic dam failure in case of a large earthquake, and we can’t allow bureaucratic delay to increase risks to public safety, water security, and environmental protections.”

Click here to continue reading.

Built in 1950 and owned by the Santa Clara Valley Water District (Valley Water), Anderson Dam would not withstand an earthquake of magnitude 7.25 on the nearby Calaveras fault or of magnitude 6.6 on the Coyote Creek fault located directly beneath the dam. A breach of the dam at full capacity would have catastrophic consequences, flooding an area extending more than 30 miles northwest to San Francisco Bay, including the cities of San Jose, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, and Milpitas, and more than 40 miles southeast to Monterey Bay, including the cities of Morgan Hill, Gilroy, and Watsonville.

“The Anderson Dam project will not only protect Silicon Valley and South County from the devastation of a dam failure, but it also will create thousands of good-paying jobs that are so badly needed in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic,” said Valley Water Board Member John L. Varela, who represents the District (1) where Anderson Dam is located. “Getting this project construction underway as quickly as possible is Valley Water’s top priority, and that’s what AB 3005 will do.”

Beyond protecting thousands of Silicon Valley residents and local businesses from inundation, the $576 million Anderson Dam Seismic Retrofit Project will help create 5,400 good-paying jobs beginning in 2021. The project will also have a multiplying effect on regional economic activity reaching far beyond the half-billion-dollar local infrastructure investment.
AB 3005 has received enthusiastic support from local governments, labor, business, open space and environmental advocates, as well as several members of the Bay Area’s Congressional Delegation.

After passing the Assembly, the bill now heads to the California Senate for further consideration.

Money for sewage treatment along California-Mexico border on its way:  “Money has been allocated to construct and upgrade wastewater infrastructure along the Tijuana River Valley just north of the border in San Diego County.  The announcement was made Tuesday.  For decades, sewage, trash and other debris originating in Tijuana has ended up in the Tijuana River, which ultimately discharges into the Pacific Ocean, oftentimes closing beaches on the U.S. side near the border and in the community of Imperial Beach. ... ”  Read more from WGNO here: Money for sewage treatment along California-Mexico border on its way

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Along the Colorado River …

Engineering “marvel” is economic powerhouse for Arizona:  “Arizona’s engineering masterpiece, the Central Arizona Project (CAP), is celebrating 35 years of delivering Colorado River water to the state’s populous regions.  The decades-long struggle to get the canal project approved and then built in some of Arizona’s most unforgiving landscape, is legend. But its economic impact cannot be overstated.  Among the fruits of its labor? The booming Sonoran Corridor megaregion that encompasses metropolitan Phoenix and Tucson. … ”  Read more from Chamber Business News here: Engineering “marvel” is economic powerhouse for Arizona

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Today’s featured articles …

BROWN BAG SEMINAR: From Measurements, Models and Maps to Management

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. Lisamarie Windham-Myers presentation on mercury and carbon sequestration in the Delta.

Click here to read this article.


SCIENCE NEWS: Tiny shrimp, big problem; High-tech glimpse of restored wetlands; Internal compass guides salmon’s incredible journey; Mapping CA’s climate refugia; and more …

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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