DAILY DIGEST, 6/23: Supreme Court won’t consider Klamath farmers’ water fight; CA still benefits from wet 2018-19; Marking ten years of the Delta Stewardship Council; Newsom, California lawmakers agree how to close deficit; and more …

On the calendar today …
  • WEBINAR: Understanding the human dimensions of agro-ecological systems: What motivates farmer decision-making and policy change? from 11:30am to 12:45pm.  This series of public webinars on the human dimensions of California water and environmental management and policy issues is part of the hiring process for a California Sea Grant Extension Specialist based at the Delta Stewardship Council.  The candidate is Jessica Rudnick, Ph.D. Candidate at UC Davis.  Click here for the Zoom link.
  • FREE WEBINAR: Revitalizing watersheds through the Urban Waters Federal Partnership from 12pm to 1pm.  This webinar will provide an overview of the Urban Waters Federal Partnership as a collaborative model, demonstrate the importance of the Watershed Ambassador, and showcase how partners are creating a healthy Los Angeles River Watershed for all.  Click here to register.

In California water news and commentary today …

Supreme Court won’t consider Klamath farmers’ water fight:  “The Supreme Court today declined to consider whether federal regulators violated farmers’ constitutional rights when they cut off irrigation water to save fish in the Pacific Northwest. Facing drought in 2001, the George W. Bush administration shut off water deliveries from the Bureau of Reclamation’s Klamath River project to farms in south-central Oregon and Northern California. The goal was to provide water to threatened salmon species downriver.  The farmers revolted. They stormed irrigation canals, and one group took a blowtorch to a diversion head gate. .. ” Read more from E&E News here: Supreme Court won’t consider Klamath farmers’ water fight

Supreme Court declines to reconsider tribes’ water rights at Klamath River:  “Native American tribes’ water rights at the Klamath River received another boost Monday as the U.S. Supreme Court declined to overturn a court decision guaranteeing that tribes can reserve enough water in the river to protect fish populations and beyond.  Farmers who divert water from the Klamath for agricultural purposes had sued the federal government in 2001, challenging the notion that tribes have senior rights over the river water. Late last year, an appeals court upheld a decision rejecting the farmers’ claim.  Now the Supreme Court has solidified the tribes as the Klamath’s first priority by declining to review the farmers’ latest appeal. ... ”  Read more from the Times-Herald here: Supreme Court declines to reconsider tribes’ water rights at Klamath River


California still benefits from wet 2018-19:  “Reservoirs still relatively flush from the wet winter of 2018-19 have so far saved California from having to formally declare another drought, a veteran National Weather Service forecaster says.  After a promising start to the winter last December, a lack of rain and snow in early 2020 has left the Sierra Nevada with about two-thirds of normal precipitation in the current water year, noted Cindy Matthews, an NWS meteorologist in Sacramento. … ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press here: California still benefits from wet 2018-19

An experiment in governance: marking ten years of the Delta Stewardship Council:  Jessica Pearson, Executive Officer of the Delta Stewardship Council, writes: “Earlier this year, the Delta Stewardship Council quietly hit a significant milestone. Ten years ago, on April 1, 2010, the newly-formed, seven-member Council met for the first time to discuss its mandated duties set forth in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Reform Act of 2009.  The creation of the Council was, in many ways, an experiment in governance by the California State Legislature and Schwarzenegger administration to address years of gridlock over how to manage the Delta’s limited natural resources and chart a science-based path forward for future management. After ten years with the Council, I can say, with conviction, the experiment is working. The Council’s central role in Delta policy and science is becoming more apparent, and more apparently necessary, with each passing year. Without a vision and a common blueprint for the Delta, we are only managing around the edges of a challenge that demands our collective best. Without strong governance and leadership, the experiment will fail. … ” Read more from the Delta Stewardship Council here: An experiment in governance: marking ten years of the Delta Stewardship Council

DWR relaunches its research vessel monitoring program after covid-19 delays:  “After being docked for three months due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) relaunched its research vessel monitoring program, the Sentinel. It was the first time since the 1970s that DWR didn’t have a monitoring vessel taking field samples in the waters of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and San Francisco Estuaries.  “It feels great to be back on the water,” said Eric Santos, Sentinel Captain and DWR chief fisheries vessel engineer. “I am excited about continuing our commitment and ensuring that water quality data is provided in a timely matter to the scientific community. Good water quality is essential for maintaining healthy ecosystems and meeting the needs of millions of Californians.”  … ”  Read more from DWR News here: DWR relaunches its research vessel monitoring program after covid-19 delays

Groundwater plans could cause up to 12,000 drinking water wells to run dry:  “If all goes according to plan — actually 26 groundwater sustainability plans — between 46,000 and nearly 130,000 Central Valley residents could be out of water by 2040, according to a new report released by the Water Foundation.  Those sustainability plans are supposed to bring the valley’s depleted aquifers into balance, per the state’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.  But, the Water Foundation report asserts, groundwater sustainability agencies, governed mostly by members of agricultural water districts, are planning for water tables to decline to the point they could dry up between 4,000 and 12,000 domestic wells over the next 20 years. ... ”  Read more from SJV Water here: Groundwater plans could cause up to 12,000 drinking water wells to run dry


UCR wins $10 million to develop AI for sustainable agriculture:  “The University of California, Riverside, has won a $10 million grant to develop artificial intelligence that will increase the environmental and economic stability of agriculture in the Western U.S.   This Sustainable Agricultural Systems grant is one of nine given by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, or NIFA, annually to shape the future of U.S. agriculture toward environmental, economic, and socially sustainable food production. It is the third-largest grant in UCR history.   This project will focus on the Colorado River Basin and Salinas River Valley areas, which employ more than 500,000 people and generate roughly $12 billion annually in revenue. … ”  Read more from the University of California Riverside here:  UCR wins $10 million to develop AI for sustainable agriculture

Report: Urban and Agricultural Water Use in California, 1960 -2015:  “Water is the lifeblood of California, providing for the household needs of 40 million people and supporting one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world, various commercial and industrial activities, and the health and viability of the state’s aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems.  This report examines statewide urban and agricultural water-use trends from 1960 to 2015. It finds that during this period California experienced a dramatic decoupling between water use and growth, due to improvements in urban and agricultural efficiency, as well as a shift to higher-value crops and less water-intensive commercial and industrial activities. ... ”  Read more from the Pacific Institute here: Report: Urban and Agricultural Water Use in California, 1960 -2015

No-till saves water, increases yield:  ” … Reduced disturbance tillage, or no-till, however, also offers an under-utilized strategy for increasing agricultural water use efficiency in California. There has been very little research and there is very little information available to farmers on no-till production systems for the diverse array of crops that have been produced in the state historically.  UC Cooperative Extension cropping systems specialist Jeff Mitchell led a diverse team of ANR, farmer, private sector and other public agency partners to evaluate the potential for producing sorghum and garbanzos, using high residue, no-till techniques in the San Joaquin Valley in a four-year study conducted at ANR’s ag experiment station in Five Points, Calif. … ”  Read the full story at Cal Ag Today here: No-till saves water, increases yield


Here’s what climate change means for wildfires in the West:  “Exploding saguaros in Arizona have signaled an ominous start to wildfire season. The Big Horn Fire outside of Tucson — just one of dozens of blazes underway across western states — has grown to more than 52,000 acres and may have killed at least 2,000 slow-growing saguaros, which usually don’t burn.  Western states have seen an increase in large fires in recent years, sometimes with devastating losses of human life and massive economic damages.  While there are numerous factors that can lead to increased wildfire risk, a growing body of scientific evidence finds that climate change is a wildfire “threat multiplier,” amplifying both natural and human risk factors.  But how climate will influence western communities and ecosystems varies considerably. Two recent studies in California and the Pacific Northwest help to bring some of this into better focus. … ”  Continue reading at The Revelator here: Here’s what climate change means for wildfires in the West

Spikes in power costs and pollution linked to California’s worst drought:  “A recent study conducted by a team of researchers analyzed the impact of a 2012-2016 California drought on the power sector.  History shows that this calamity that occurred from 2012-2016 was considered as the worst drought that hit the state. For communities that depend on water for electricity and power generation, a drought means higher electricity costs and pollution-related to hydropower supplies loss. … ”  Read more from SJV Water here: Spikes in power costs and pollution linked to California’s worst drought


Newsom, legislators reach California budget deal that counts on federal bailout:  “Gov. Gavin Newsom and legislative leaders said Monday they have reached a budget deal that will allow California to close the multibillion-dollar deficit that has opened up during the coronavirus pandemic.  The deal avoids for at least a year the steep cuts to education and safety net programs that Newsom proposed last month, but makes reductions to other public services and state worker pay unless a federal bailout materializes. ... ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: Newsom, legislators reach California budget deal that counts on federal bailout

Newsom, California lawmakers agree how to close deficit:  “California will make up its estimated $54.3 billion budget deficit in part by delaying payments to public schools and imposing pay cuts on state workers, according to an agreement announced Monday by Gov. Gavin Newsom and legislative leaders.  The agreement avoids billions of dollars in permanent cuts to public schools and health care programs, including proposals from Newsom that would have made fewer low-income older adults eligible for government funded health insurance and would have eliminated programs aimed at keeping people out of nursing homes where the coronavirus has spread with deadly consequences. ... ”  Continue reading from the AP via KCRA here: Newsom, California lawmakers agree how to close deficit

Sacramento leaders hand Congress $11 billion construction wish list. Here’s what’s on it:  “Glimpsing a silver lining in the coronavirus cloud, Sacramento leaders on Monday handed their Congressional representatives an $11 billion list of ready-to-build infrastructure projects for potential federal funding that would help modernize the region and add thousands of jobs for residents hit by the coronavirus pandemic.  The Trump administration and Congress have indicated they may be willing to make good on long-stalled promises to inject trillions of dollars nationally into building roads, rails, water treatment, flood control, improved emergency preparedness, affordable housing and high-speed internet, among other infrastructure. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: Sacramento leaders hand Congress $11 billion construction wish list. Here’s what’s on it

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In national/world news today …

Revealed: millions of Americans can’t afford water as bills rise 80% in a decade:  “Millions of ordinary Americans are facing rising and unaffordable bills for running water, and risk being disconnected or losing their homes if they cannot pay, a landmark Guardian investigation has found.  Exclusive analysis of 12 US cities shows the combined price of water and sewage increased by an average of 80% between 2010 and 2018, with more than two-fifths of residents in some cities living in neighbourhoods with unaffordable bills.  In the first nationwide research of its kind, our findings reveal the painful impact of America’s expanding water poverty crisis as aging infrastructure, environmental clean-ups, changing demographics and the climate emergency fuel exponential price hikes in almost every corner of the country. ... ”  Read more from The Guardian here: Revealed: millions of Americans can’t afford water as bills rise 80% in a decade

Water sector asks Senate for aid in next relief package:  “The Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA) and National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), two organizations representing municipally-owned utilities, recently asked Senate leaders to include public sector aid in the next round of COVID-19 relief legislation.  Pointing to estimates that drinking water and wastewater systems could lose as much as $30 billion in revenues over the next year due to the pandemic, the letter signed by AMWA, NACWA and the American Public Gas Association, said it is “imperative [that] Congress provide federal assistance to municipal utilities to help offset their revenue losses as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.” … ”  Read more from Water Finance and Management here:  Water sector asks Senate for aid in next relief package

New USGS geonarrative pinpoints domestic well locations in United States:  “A new U.S. Geological Survey geonarrative illustrates where domestic (private) water wells are located and how many people are using them, based on the results of a 2019 USGS study. Nearly 40 million people in the United States rely on a domestic well for their drinking-water supply.  The geonarrative displays interactive maps that allow the user to view the number of people who rely on domestic wells per square kilometer, and the number and percentage of people by state using domestic wells. Users can zoom in on any area, although the maps are not intended to be used at the scale of a single house. … ”  Read more from the USGS here: New USGS geonarrative pinpoints domestic well locations in United States

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In regional news and commentary today …

El Dorado Irrigation District kicks off big project at Folsom Lake:  “It was a big day for the El Dorado Irrigation District as members of the board, staff members and other officials gathered Friday above Folsom Lake to celebrate the kick-off of a major infrastructure project.  Benefitting tens of thousands of residents in El Dorado Hills, in February the EID Board of Directors unanimously approved spending $42 million dollars to replace critical components of the Folsom Lake water intake and restore needed reliability and capacity that has been lost to mechanical failure over the years. … ”  Read more from the Mountain Democrat here: El Dorado Irrigation District kicks off big project at Folsom Lake

Water may not flow in Dos Palos for 3 days due to algae problem:  “The City of Dos Palos is shutting down water for its residents for at least three days to treat after its water treatment plant became clogged with algae.  The city says water is currently being used faster than it can be treated and sent out, so residents should prepare for water to stop flowing.  “We have a water shutdown that was caused by a concentration of algae that came into our system from the California Aqueduct and we are trying our best for many days to keep that rolling through our system but it finally clogged our system to the point where the filtration system came to a halt,” says city manager Darrell Fonseca. ... ”  Read more from KFSN here: Water may not flow in Dos Palos for 3 days due to algae problem

Santa Barbara: Montecito Water District board nears historic vote:  “Promising to “drought-proof” Montecito and banish rationing — if not forever, at least for the foreseeable future — the Montecito Water District board on Thursday is poised to approve the purchase of a multi-million-dollar supply of water from the City of Santa Barbara, every year for the next 50 years; and sign off on a five-year schedule of rate increases to help pay for it.  Under the proposed “Water Supply Agreement” with Santa Barbara, which is six years in the making, the district’s 11,400 ratepayers, primarily in Montecito but also in Summerland and Toro Canyon, would effectively fund 46 percent, or $33 million, of the city’s $72 million desalination plant over 50 years, plus interest and a share of the plant’s operation and maintenance costs. … ”  Read more from the Santa Barbara Independent here: Montecito Water District board nears historic vote

Report: Potable water system likely cause of sewage spill in March at San Onofre nuclear plant:  “A large influx from the potable water system into the sewage treatment plant on the grounds of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station is the likely reason as much as 7,000 gallons of non-radiological wastewater were released into the ocean in late March.  That’s the conclusion of a report submitted to the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board last week by the plant’s operator, Southern California Edison. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune here:  Report: Potable water system likely cause of sewage spill in March at San Onofre nuclear plant

Upgrades planned for Tijuana River infrastructure in Mexico:  “As a result of efforts by the Mexican government’s interagency work group, the Mexican Section of the International Boundary and Water Commission, United States and Mexico (IBWC) has received 83.982 million pesos (about 3.6 million U.S. dollars) from Mexico’s National Water Commission (Conagua) to rehabilitate Pump Station CILA in Tijuana, Baja California. These resources represent the first payments from the plan announced by the Mexican government last October to address the problem of transboundary wastewater spills in the Tijuana River. … ”  Read more from the Coronado Eagle & Journal here: Upgrades planned for Tijuana River infrastructure in Mexico

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Along the Colorado River …

Colorado: When it comes to water rights, this once-a-decade list details who will ‘use it or lose it’:  “Use it or lose it.  That saying is at the heart of how access to water is managed in the western U.S. Laws that govern water in more arid states, like Colorado, incentivize users to always take their full share from rivers and streams, or risk the state rescinding it. The threat comes in the form of a once-a-decade document that lists those users on the brink of losing their access to one of the region’s most precious resources. ... ”  Read more from KUNC here: When it comes to water rights, this once-a-decade list details who will ‘use it or lose it’

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Today’s featured content

BROWN BAG SEMINAR: Franks Tract Futures: Using map based public surveys to inform a participatory multi-benefit design project

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BLOG ROUND-UP: Delta tunnel and an eastern alignment; Delta governance; Water policies and food production; Making your water bill affordable; Enviros v. Cost-benefit analysis; and more …

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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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