Clouds over Lake Almanor; Photo by Don DeBold

DAILY DIGEST, weekend edition: Unfinished budget business at the Capitol; Appellate court rules State Board’s emergency order during drought not unreasonable or arbitrary; Why spring- and summer-run salmonids are so damn interesting and weird; and more …

In California water news this weekend …

The Riggs Report: Unfinished budget business at the Capitol:  “For many years, budget disputes at the Capitol were a lengthy rite of summer. Conflict was the norm; budgets were routinely late. California endured IOU’s, worker furloughs and late payments to state vendors.  Budget talks were conducted for weeks by the so-called Big Five—the governor and the four legislative leaders. Reporters, including me, spent much of the summer staked out in front of the governor’s office, looking for often-insubstantial scraps of news from these closed-door negotiations.  It looks like that ritual has been revived. … ”  Read more from KCRA here:  The Riggs Report: Unfinished budget business at the Capitol

California budget deal could happen Friday, Gov. Gavin Newsom says:  “California lawmakers and Gov. Gavin Newsom could reach a deal on the state budget in the next few hours, Newsom told reporters Friday.  “We’re in final throes … so we’re hoping today,” Newsom said during a trip to Sacramento restaurant Queen Sheba where he helped cook meals for seniors. “There’s a lot of labor negotiations, a lot of pieces, a lot of moving parts. It’s a tough budget for all of us. The magnitude of the shortfall is unprecedented.” ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: California budget deal could happen Friday, Gov. Gavin Newsom says

Legal brief: Flow requirements:The California State Water Resources Control Board’s emergency orders during a drought, which set minimum water flow requirements for three tributaries of the Sacramento River, were not unreasonable or arbitrary an appeals court in the state ruled. The orders were necessary to protect Chinook salmon and steelhead trout — two threatened fish species.”  Via Courthouse News Service.

A Risky Climate Investment: Researchers find that using forests to offset carbon emissions will require a better understanding of the risks:  “Given the tremendous ability of forests to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, some governments want to plant forests to offset greenhouse gas emissions — a sort of climate investment. But if a forest goes bust, researchers say, much of that stored carbon could go up in smoke.  UC Santa Barbara terrestrial scientist Anna Trugman and her colleagues realized that we can’t simply deploy forests in the fight against climate change. “We found that there is a real need to better understand how much risk forests face due to climate-change driven mortality factors like fire, insect outbreaks and drought,” Trugman said, “before we can ensure how appropriate forest carbon storage projects are to meet ambitious aims for mitigating climate change.” … ”  Read more from UC Santa Barbara here:  A Risky Climate Investment: Researchers find that using forests to offset carbon emissions will require a better understanding of the risks

‘Trillion Trees’ plan is risky climate strategy, scientists say: “Forests, highly vulnerable to the ravages of climate change, are a risky bet for offsetting greenhouse gas emissions, according to research published Thursday in the journal Science.  That’s because any cap-and-trade program or tree-planting effort that relies on forests to slow the snowballing effects of climate change must consider how wildfire, drought, shifting climate zones and other factors will affect trees’ ability to store carbon, the study says. … ”  Read more from Bloomberg Law here: ‘Trillion Trees’ plan is risky climate strategy, scientists say

Another NorCal heatwave next week, but progressive pattern continues:  “California has experienced an unusually high number of early-season heatwaves already this season. More commonly a season of “May Gray” and “June Gloom” due to a persistent and chilly marine influence, coastal California in particular has experienced temperatures well above average over the past 60 days or so. There have been some cool spells and even some late-season precipitation interspersed between these heatwaves, but the overall effect has been to produce well above average temperatures overall across nearly the entire state this spring. The hotter-than-average conditions were even more pronounced across a wide swath of the interior West and Southwest over the past couple of months–persistent, anomalous warmth that is now contributing to a very severe wildfire season in Arizona and New Mexico.  … ”  Read more from the California Weather Blog here:  Another NorCal heatwave next week, but progressive pattern continues

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In people news this weekend …

San Gorgonio Pass Water Agency board hires new general manager:  “The San Gorgonio Pass Water Agency on Monday approved Lance Eckhart, currently the Director of Basin Management and Resource Planning for the Mojave Water Agency, as its new General Manager. In his current role at Mojave, Eckhart is responsible for leading teams of professionals to perform scientific studies, develop and lead strategic resource plans, attract grant funding, implement capital projects, and conduct policy work to help manage a 5,000 square mile service area. Prior to working for Mojave, which he has done for the past 18 years, Eckhart worked in the private sector for several environmental consulting firms. He is a licensed Professional Geologist and Certified Hydrogeologist in California. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Geology and a Master’s Degree in Environmental Science from Cal State Fullerton. … ”  Read more from ACWA News here: San Gorgonio Pass Water Agency board hires new general manager

Patricia Fontanet: From Army Corps to Peace Corps and back:  “The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers doesn’t hire people so they can run off to the far corners of the world seeking travel or cultural experiences or new challenges. They hire people because they have an open position with work that needs to be accomplished to move the Corps’ mission forward. However, many people that work for the Corps of Engineers often find that it does present a surprising array of opportunities for travel, cultural experiences and new challenges.  If anyone asked her, 27-year-old Patricia Fontanet would readily and honestly tell you that she enjoys her job as a water resources planner, that she finds the work fulfilling, and is thankful to be working for the Corps’ Sacramento District. ... ”  Read more from the Army Corps of Engineers here: Patricia Fontanet: From Army Corps to Peace Corps and back

Josh Hall: Saving California’s crayfish:  “Marin County’s landscape is a source of inspiration for many people, including Josh Hull, a Marin County native who now works for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  “I always loved nature because I was always in it,” he said. “I spent my weekends at Marin County beaches or in Muir Woods. It was an era where these places were well-known but not overcrowded.”  Today, Hull applies his passion to recovering endangered and threatened species in California, including the Shasta crayfish (Pacifastacus fortis). ... ”  Read more from the US Fish and Wildlife Service here: Saving California’s crayfish

Lewis MacAdams and the Los Angeles River:  “During the winter of 1815, the Los Angeles (LA) River washed away the original Pueblo Plaza. Again in 1825 floods returned, churning away woodlands downstream from the Pueblo and slashing a ‘new’ route draining marshlands of the river’s estuary as it emptied into the Pacific Ocean.  Back in 1790, the Los Angeles Pueblo was home to around 140 Spanish. Within 10 years, that population had more than doubled to 315. Who would have believed the population of LA could double in 10 years? We can look even further back for trends and disturbing observations. ... ”  Read more from Cal Trout here:  Lewis MacAdams and the Los Angeles River

Justice Douglas’ real roots were in the wilderness: Q&A with Judge M. Margaret McKeown:  “… If other figures in American law are celebrated for what they changed, Douglas has been celebrated for keeping things unchanged. Thanks in part to his protest hikes and legal efforts, there is no big highway along the C&O Canal in Washington, D.C., no dam across the Red River Gorge in Kentucky, and no huge Disney resort in Mineral King Valley in California’s southern Sierra Mountains.  Judge M. Margaret McKeown, a member of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco, has studied Douglas’s life and law; her book on the justice is nearing completion. At a recent talk at Stanford University’s Bill Lane Center for the American West, she described Douglas as “A loner, a non-conformist, an individualist.” His Supreme Court opinions were often dissents – 486 of them. As Judge McKeown said, “You don’t dissent for today. You dissent for the future.” … ”  Read more from the & the West blog here: Justice Douglas’ real roots were in the wilderness


Joseph M. Alioto Jr, 48, of San Francisco, has been appointed to the California State Coastal Conservancy. Alioto Jr. has been a sole practitioner at Joseph Alioto Law since 2020, specializing in antitrust, whistleblower and civil rights cases. He was a partner at Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, LLP from 2019 to 2020. He served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern District of California from 2015 to 2019 and at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona from 2012 to 2015. Alioto Jr. was an attorney at Alioto Law Firm from 2002 to 2012. He earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of California, Berkeley. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $100 per diem. Alioto Jr. is a Democrat.

Joe Kerr, 60, of Coto de Caza, has been appointed to the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board. Kerr has been a business agent at the Orange County Professional Firefighters Association since 2012. Kerr was fire captain at the Orange County Fire Authority from 1978 to 2012. He is a member of the Honor Society – Washington, D.C., and was a member of the California Workforce Investment Board from 2003 to 2004. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $250 per diem. Kerr is a Democrat.

Sahara Huazano, 29, of Coachella, has been appointed to the Colorado River Basin Regional Water Quality Control Board. Huazano has been director of programs at Alianza Coachella Valley since 2019. She held multiple positions at Building Healthy Communities, Coachella Valley from 2015 to 2018, including project manager for environmental justice and project manager for education equity. She is a fellow at Water Solutions Network and a member of the City of Coachella Planning Commission and the Disadvantaged Communities Infrastructure Committee at the Coachella Valley Water District. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $250 per diem. Huazano is registered without party preference.

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In national/world news this weekend …

Great outdoors month: exploring the waters:  “Before you go, you’ll probably check the weather. Did you know that it’s also possible to check the water conditions of your favorite river or stream? That’s thanks to the more than 8,400 USGS streamgages located in all 50 states and territories that monitor streamflow year-round.  Streamgages tell you how high the water is, how much water is flowing, and if the river is in flood or drought conditions. Although they’re helpful for knowing if conditions will be just right for your tubing excursion, these streamgages have a broader role to play in society. Information on the flow of rivers and streams is a vital national asset that safeguards lives, protects property, and helps ensure adequate water supplies for the future. ... ”  Read more from the USGS here:  Great outdoors month: exploring the waters

Low-tech water wand finds contaminated drinking water:  “Municipal water can be contaminated by electronic waste and other sources of heavy metals—but collecting, chemically preserving and transporting samples to laboratories for testing is challenging for remote communities.  To streamline the process, Emily Hanhauser, a mechanical engineer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and her colleagues created a low-tech sample-collection device that costs less than two dollars to make. It consists of a plastic handle tipped by propellerlike attachments made from polymer mesh, which contain small packets of absorbent resin beads that attract heavy metal ions. Users stir the device in water and then blot or air-dry it. Dunking the attachments in an acid solution releases the absorbed ions, which can then be measured. … ”  Read more from Scientific American here: Low-tech water wand finds contaminated drinking water

Vineyards are adapting to warming temperatures by growing trees:  “As the world warms due to climate change, winemakers are struggling to maintain the quality of their product. But in the home of wine, agroforestry researchers are showing that growing “vines among the pines” can help growers adapt.   Higher average temperatures speed up the ripening of grapes, which leads to lower acidity and increased sugars in the fruit, yielding higher alcohol levels in wine and altering other compounds in grapes that affect aroma and flavor.  “Wines are becoming fuller-bodied, more alcoholic, and riper in flavor,” as one Italian grower told Bloomberg in late 2019, and this is a problem for winemakers who want to market particular wines with established characteristics. ... ”  Read more from Earth Island Journal here: Vineyards are adapting to warming temperatures by growing trees

Rivers face ‘ecological collapse’ amid climate change and increasing population:  “Rivers are the lifeblood of many communities and host some of the world’s most diverse ecosystems. They have also become increasingly strained in recent years due to damming, diversion and sediment mining coupled with climate change.  Societies have always sprouted from major waterways because of the abundant resources they offer and the long-distance trade they enable. Those such as the Ganges, the Mekong and the Nile were the world’s first interstate freeways.  According to the authors of a new study published Friday in the journal One Earth, over three billion people worldwide currently live near a major river which provides the central source of resources, agriculture, trade and energy production for an increasing population. ... ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service here:  Rivers face ‘ecological collapse’ amid climate change and increasing population

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Sunday podcasts …

EcoNews Report Podcast:  Why spring- and summer-run salmonids are so damn interesting and weird:  “Spring-run chinook and summer-run steelhead are exceedingly strange creatures. What makes them different from their (more numerous) winter-run colleagues? Why are they an important indicator of the health of a river? What’s their future?  Scott Greacen (Friends of the Eel River) and Tom Wheeler (Environmental Protection Information Center) host a discussion on these odd fish, with Bill Tripp of the Karuk Tribe, consultant Craig Tucker and fish researcher Samantha Kannry.”  Click here to listen to the podcast.

Worst to First:  A community owned utility company that provides power, water and sewer for nearly 400,000 customers is JEA in Jacksonville, Florida. Water is provincial. Everybody needs it. Everybody is concerned about their neighbor’s use. That’s why we all need to use it wisely. Water is a Many Splendor’ed Thing brings you another water relationship that has a personally significant impact to your life.”  Podcasts here Produced by Steven Baker, Operation Unite® Bringing People Together to Solve Water Problems, Online at

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In commentary this weekend …

A social justice perspective of the Delta tunnel project:  Gary Kremen, vice chairperson of the Delta Conveyance Finance Authority and Santa Clara Valley Water District board member writes,As California confronts increasing water challenges, the most equitable statewide solution from a social justice perspective is the single-tunnel project proposed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, known as the Delta Conveyance Project.  More than 27 million Californians rely on imported drinking water conveyed through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. This imported water also serves millions of acres of local agricultural lands and vital wildlife refuges.  The reliability of that imported water supply is threatened by a variety of risks, including climate change, sea level rise, increasing regulatory restrictions, seismic risks and deteriorating ecosystem conditions. The Delta Conveyance Project will help address many of these threats. … ”  Read more from Cal Matters here:  A social justice perspective of the Delta tunnel project

An attempt to steal valley water in the dark of night:  Assemblymember Adam Gray writes,With a global pandemic, a catastrophic economic recession, and record-high unemployment numbers, one would think the state has enough issues to tackle. But proponents of a state water grab that I have been fighting since the day I was sworn into office in 2012 disagree.  Where others see turmoil and anguish, they see opportunity. Apparently, they believe in the adage, “Never let a crisis go to waste.”  With no discussion, no compromise, and no public hearings an effort is underway to insert language into the budget that would authorize the State Water Resources Control Board to impose their water grab as a condition of approving the relicensing of our local hydroelectric dams. ... ”  Read more from GV Wire here: An attempt to steal valley water in the dark of night

Now is the time to create a shared vision for water in the San Joaquin Valley, says Thomas Esqueda, Executive Director of the California Water Institute at Fresno State:  He writes, “Despite the essential nature of water, in California, water management is so broken that every attempt to improve water management ends up in court. You would think that after more than 100 years of litigation, we would find a better – more lasting – approach to manage water for the world’s fifth largest economy and most productive agricultural region.Unfortunately, this is how we have conditioned ourselves to manage water in California – litigate first, litigate last, litigate always. While the judicial system is critical to the success of our form of government, we cannot continue to rely on the courts to manage our water – yet, we continue to do so. … It is time for change; there must be a better way. ... ”  Read the full commentary here: Now is the time to create a shared-vision for water in the San Joaquin Valley

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In regional news and commentary this weekend …

Klamath statement from Deputy Regional Director Jeff Payne:Bureau of Reclamation’s Deputy Regional Director Jeff Payne released the following statement on Klamath Project Water Supply.  “Reclamation secured 140,000 acre-feet of water supply for Klamath Project water users and immediately began delivering that water supply as announced June 9. In addition, the local community may notice other changes in the river in June.  The A-Canal and river are running higher this month as Reclamation delivers water to farmers and ranchers and “pays back” water it borrowed from PacifiCorp to help all parties as we responded to the May forecast. Water management actions this month have been taken in order to provide flows in the lower Klamath River and to maintain Upper Klamath Lake levels in accordance with applicable biological opinions.  We will continue to communicate with farmers and water users and adaptively manage the limited water supply of the basin during this extreme drought year.” — Deputy Regional Director Jeff Payne

Dry weather prompts restrictions for some junior water right holders on the Scott River:  “With dry conditions resulting in low flows and threatening the survival of coho salmon, the State Water Board today sent notices of water unavailability to 110 junior water right holders in the Scott River basin in Siskiyou County, urging them to stop diverting.  The Scott River is an important Klamath River tributary for spawning and rearing coho and serves as critical habitat for Chinook salmon and steelhead trout. Low flow conditions this year are threatening the survival of coho fry emerging from gravel and juvenile coho that rely on robust seasonal flows to reach suitable summer rearing habitat. Temporarily halting diversions will leave more water instream and improve habitat and migratory conditions for salmon and steelhead in the Scott River and its tributaries.

Click here to continue reading.

“While there is an adequate supply of water in the watershed in wetter years, episodes of dry conditions are far more common,” said Jule Rizzardo, Assistant Deputy Director for Enforcement/Division of Water Rights. “Unfortunately, this is a year when water flows are insufficient to meet human demand and protect our endangered salmon population. Further action might be necessary, but at this point, the notices only affect a small percentage of right holders.”

Under California law, a water right holder can use surface water for beneficial purposes such as agriculture, municipal supply, recreation and protection and enhancement of the environment. Water use restrictions generally are determined by seniority and the type of water right. In times of shortage, those with more junior rights may be required to stop diverting from rivers and streams before restrictions are imposed on more senior water right holders. (In this instance, the restrictions apply to those whose junior rights were adjudicated in 1980).

Although only 148 of the 803 water rights in the Scott River watershed are affected, the Scott Valley Irrigation District, which is the largest right holder in the basin, is being  asked to stop diverting. Right holders under a water unavailability directive nonetheless can still access their water previously stored in reservoirs. If that option is unavailable, they will have to find alternative sources such as groundwater or purchased water.

Today’s action follows an assessment of the inflow projections, along with forecasts for future precipitation. The notices are likely to remain in effect until winter rains restore flows. Conditions will be closely monitored and junior right holders will be updated if flows improve and water becomes available. Similar directives were sent during California’s historic drought in 2013-17.

Those who illegally divert when there is insufficient water under their priority of right are subject to potential enforcement actions, including fines of up to $500 per day.

The State Water Board is encouraging diverters to collaborate on voluntary agreements that help local communities adapt to water shortages, prevent impacts to other legal water right users, and are beneficial to fish and wildlife.

More information about water rights is available on the board website.

“Amazing:” Dozens of massive blue whales spotted off Northern California coast:  “In a rare influx of the largest animals on Earth, dozens of blue whales have been spotted off the Farallon Islands over the past week, sparking excitement among scientists and a call for large ships to slow down while sailing through the area west of San Francisco.  Last Saturday over a one-hour period, researchers counted 47 blue whales around the Farallones, among the largest group of the massive marine mammals ever documented in Northern California waters since records began in 1968. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here: “Amazing:” Dozens of massive blue whales spotted off Northern California coast

Monterey Peninsula water district board opposes Cal Am desal project:  “For the first time, the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District has formally expressed opposition to the California American Water desalination project, backing the proposed Pure Water Monterey recycled water project expansion instead as a replacement and not just a backup.  At the same time, the water district took another step toward a potential acquisition of Cal Am’s Monterey water system with the release of a draft environmental impact report on the proposed public buyout effort. … ”  Read more from the Monterey Herald here: Monterey Peninsula water district board opposes Cal Am desal project

When will Pure Water Monterey start providing water?  Rick Heuer writes,It’s time to start telling the truth about Pure Water Monterey.   It’s been about eight months since the launch of the Pure Water Monterey recycled water project was lauded in this newspaper, among others. Among much celebration, a ribbon was cut to inaugurate this new project on Oct. 4. The project promised 3,500 acre-feet of new water to the Monterey Peninsula and yet, to date, not a single drop has been delivered to our taps. … ”  Continue reading from the Monterey Herald here: When will Pure Water Monterey start providing water?

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Along the Colorado River …

Remarkable drop in Colorado River water use a sign of climate adaptation:  “Use of Colorado River water in the three states of the river’s lower basin fell to a 33-year low in 2019, amid growing awareness of the precarity of the region’s water supply in a drying and warming climate.  Arizona, California, and Nevada combined to consume just over 6.5 million acre-feet last year, according to an annual audit from the Bureau of Reclamation, the federal agency that oversees the lower basin. That is about 1 million acre-feet less than the three states are entitled to use under a legal compact that divides the Colorado River’s waters.  The last time water consumption from the river was that low was in 1986, the year after an enormous canal in Arizona opened that allowed the state to lay claim to its full Colorado River entitlement. ... ”  Read more from Circle of Blue here:  Remarkable drop in Colorado River water use a sign of climate adaptation

Video: Growing Arizona metros look to rural communities for water:  “As one of the nation’s fastest-growing states, Arizona’s expanding population has pit its denser metropolitan areas against rural communities over a finite resource: access to enough water that can support their needs. In the middle of both are private companies hoping to profit off the demand. Vanessa Barchfield spoke to the stakeholders at the center of a pending water sale that would transfer water from a community of 300 in La Paz County more than 200 miles to the growing town of Queen Creek.”  Watch video here: Video: Growing Arizona metros look to rural communities for water

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Image credit: Clouds over Lake Almanor.  Photo by Don DeBold.

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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