DAILY DIGEST, 6/24: California’s 21st century megadrought; In letter to Congress, water agencies call for drinking water relief funding; California re-evaluating its landmark climate strategy; How 200 Trump judges could shape environmental policy; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • WEBINAR: Current and Emerging Technologies for PFAS Treatment and Lessons Learned from 10:00 am – 11:30 am.  This webinar is designed to inform the audience about current technologies for the treatment of PFAS, especially for drinking water applications.  Presented by the American Water Works Association. Click here to register.
  • WEBINAR: Genes, Genetics and Genomics: Leveraging technology to solve old problems from 10:30 to 12:00pm.  Dr. Jeff Rodzen will provide a brief overview of Genetics 101 and conservation genetics topics, and will describe some of the newest technological and statistical tools available to us and how we can leverage those to provide new insights into fisheries management questions.  Click here to register
  • GRA SoCAL BRANCH ONLINE MEETING: Developing and Implementing a Robust, Deep Nested Groundwater Monitoring Program in Southern Los Angeles County, California from 4:30pm to 5:45.  Click here to register.

In California water news today …

California’s 21st century megadrought:  “A recent paper on climate change in California and the West has been in the news and raising concerns. Based on extensive analysis of tree ring data—a good measure of summer soil moisture—the authors postulate that most of the region is in an unfolding “megadrought” that began in 2000 and is the second worst in the past 1,200 years.  What does this mean for California water management? If the state is in a megadrought, it means a great deal. We should plan accordingly.  … ”  Read more from the PPIC here:  California’s 21st century megadrought

How DWR research is improving forecasting for California's variable climate:  “California has the most variable weather conditions in the United States, often varying between extremes such as drought and flood. Our ability to forecast variable weather conditions well in advance is a driving factor in how water managers maximize the benefits and minimize the hazards of each storm.  Precipitation variability in California is due to our Mediterranean climate, characterized by long, dry summers and mild, rainy winters. Typically, we rely on five to seven significant storms for the bulk of our annual precipitation. … ”  Read more from DWR News here: How DWR research is improving forecasting for California’s variable climate

As potential mega-drought looms, Stanford researchers explore desalination system:  “Researchers at Stanford are working on a technology that may be needed more than ever over the next decade, especially if new predictions are accurate.  Researchers have recently warned of a potential mega-drought in the western United States – Conditions so dry that our drinking water supplies could be facing historic pressures. Experts say keeping the taps flowing could require a patchwork of solutions, including potentially increasing use of desalination, turning saltwater into drinking water. ... ”  Read more from KGO here: As potential mega-drought looms, Stanford researchers explore desalination system

In letter to Congress, water agencies call for drinking water relief funding:  “In March, the COVID-19 relief bill known as the CARES Act set aside $900 million to help Americans pay their utility bills. Earlier this week, a broad coalition of water agencies delivered a letter to Congress advocating for more funding. The letter, submitted Monday to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and other California Congressional delegates, argues that billions of federal dollars are still needed for water infrastructure maintenance and assistance with water bills. ... ”  Read more from KVPR here: In letter to Congress, water agencies call for drinking water relief funding

Effort aims to protect access to safe water:  “Following on the heels of Governor Newsom’s statewide order on wearing masks in public and the House’s introduction of a new bill that includes proposed water funding (HR 2), major agriculture and business leaders have now joined a growing coalition of clean water advocates urging Congress to support the HEROES Act and fund critical water needs to keep families safe and healthy.  “In this time of crisis, we have come together to urge the California Congressional Delegation to include funding for urgent water infrastructure and water affordability needs as part of the next federal stimulus package or other pending Congressional actions,” said the coalition in a joint letter delivered to California Congressional leaders on June 23. … ”  Read more from the Escalon Times here: Effort aims to protect access to safe water

Column: How the Friant Water Authority recaptured control of its destiny to fix the Friant-Kern Canal:  Wayne Western writes, “No sensible person questions the importance of water infrastructure in California.  The state that boasts the fifth-largest economy on the planet would be significantly inhabitable without it. Maintaining that infrastructure so that it operates the same as the day after its construction should be a priority with water users and politicians.  The issue of subsidence on the Friant-Kern Canal, the attention it has garnered, and accompanying solutions are apparently void of the usual partisanship experienced in California’s water world as both state and Federal legislation has been introduced to authorize significant funding for the project.  ... ”  Read more from the San Joaquin Valley Sun here: Column: How the Friant Water Authority recaptured control of its destiny to fix the Friant-Kern Canal

California re-evaluating its landmark climate strategy:  “As the coronavirus pandemic and recession hits California, the governor’s top environmental official has launched a comprehensive review of the cap and trade program that has been the cornerstone of the state’s strategy to fight climate change.  California has been relying on its carbon trading program for nearly half of the greenhouse gas reductions it has promised by 2030. Now, in a letter obtained by CalMatters, California EPA Secretary Jared Blumenfeld laid out plans for re-examining the program and whether it’s likely to meet its goals. ... ”  Read more from Cal Matters here:  California re-evaluating its landmark climate strategy

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In national/world news today …

How 200 Trump judges could shape environmental policy:  “With the Senate poised to confirm an additional judicial nominee this morning, President Trump is on the verge of officially filling all of the nation's vacant circuit court seats.  Cory Wilson, who is slated to sit on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, would be Trump's 200th confirmed pick for a lifetime appointment to a federal bench and the 53rd for one of the dozen courts that serve as the last stop for most lawsuits, including challenges on environmental issues.  The Judiciary Committee approved Wilson on June 11 on a strict party-line vote. Many of Trump's nominees have experienced a similar fate before the full Senate, and Wilson is expected to be approved along a similar margin. ... ”  Read more from E&E News here:  How 200 Trump judges could shape environmental policy

Tribes, environmentalists sue to stop rollback of Clean Water Act protections:  “A coalition of tribal governments, environmentalists and labor advocates has sued to stop implementation of a new federal rule that weakens protections for streams and wetlands.    The Environmental Protection Agency’s new Navigable Waters Protection Rule, which which took effect on Monday, rolls back clean-water regulation of intermittent waterways, arroyos and washes.   The litigation follows two decisions last week in which one federal court rejected a request by 17 states to block the Trump administration's new rule and another court issued a stay in Colorado. The rule sets aside protections for intermittent and ephemeral streams by eliminating them from the “waters of the United States” designation of the Clean Water Act. ... ”  Read more from Arizona Central here: Tribes, environmentalists sue to stop rollback of Clean Water Act protections

Proposals to watch in Democrats' infrastructure behemoth:  “House Democrats yesterday unveiled the details of a massive $1.5 trillion infrastructure package that has several sections focused on energy and environmental priorities.  H.R. 2 and its 2,309 pages of provisions may become the most significant action taken by the House to promote a clean energy and climate-focused economic transformation this Congress.  The package may also provide a tax and spending reauthorization lifeline to renewable and energy efficiency businesses that have had to lay off some 620,000 workers during the past three months in the face of a coronavirus pandemic slowdown. … ”  Read more from E&E News here: Proposals to watch in Democrats’ infrastructure behemoth

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In regional news and commentary today …

Casteel: Feasibility study for Scott Dam removal has ‘frighteningly misguided’ conclusions:  “We have had a chance to review the feasibility study for the removal of the Potter Valley Project’s Scott Dam and find the conclusions used to be frighteningly misguided.  George Santayana must have had the NOI parties – Mendocino County Inland Water and Power Commission, Sonoma County Water Agency, California Trout and the county of Humboldt – in this project in mind when he made the famous quote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”  The first step in the process of the future of this project should be to consider why it was ever built in the first place. ... ”  Read more from Lake County News here: Casteel: Feasibility study for Scott Dam removal has ‘frighteningly misguided’ conclusions

Fair Oaks Water District: Keeping the water flowing:  “Recently, a field team member of the Fair Oaks Water District was reading water meters in Fair Oaks Village, the town center, and noticed water bubbling up from the ground near a home. Seeing that it was a leak, he turned off the home’s water at the meter, following normal protocol.  Our customer service team immediately reached out to the homeowner and learned that the woman, in her 80s and recently widowed, was confused about finding a plumber to fix the leak quickly. She was rightfully worried about going without water, especially during the coronavirus emergency. … ”  Read more from Comstock's Magazine here: Fair Oaks Water District: Keeping the water flowing

South Sacramento: Water recycling project promises supply for farms:  “Planning efforts with farmers and preliminary designs are underway for what is expected to be one of the largest water recycling projects in California.  The Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District is constructing the $375 million South Sacramento County Agriculture & Habitat Lands Recycled Water Program, or the South County Ag Program. As part of the wastewater provider's $2 billion treatment plant upgrade, the district—known as Regional San—will construct new transmission and distribution pipelines to deliver recycled water from its treatment facility in Elk Grove to irrigation systems in southern Sacramento County. … ”  Read more from Ag Alert here: South Sacramento: Water recycling project promises supply for farms

Radio show: Central Coast: Riparian setbacks other big issue with Ag Order 4.0:  “The Ag Order 4.0 that is aiming to protect water sources along the Central Coast, just closed its public comment period. Aside from fertilizer limitations that AgNet West reported earlier this week, what the regulation is calling ‘Riparian Setbacks’ will have a significant impact on some farms near waterways.   Monterey County Farm Bureau Executive Director Norm Groot said they checked in with one grower who borders a waterway, and the potential farmland loss in some cases could be substantial.”  Listen to the radio report from Ag Net West here: Riparian setbacks other big issue with Ag Order 4.0

Central California town without water for days due to algae:  “Residents of a town in central California won’t have water for several days after the town’s water treatment plant became clogged with algae, officials said.  The water outage in Dos Palos started Monday, when the city declared a water emergency and urged the town’s 5,000 residents to use only boiled tap water for drinking and cooking to avoid stomach or intestinal illness. ... ”  Read more from the AP here: Central California town without water for days due to algae

Pistachio war spreads to Tulare County:  “What is expected to be one of the largest California pistachio crops this fall has stimulated the competitive juices of rival growers in the Central Valley over the past six months. Now we see it spilling over to Tulare County.  The world’s largest pistachio handler, The Wonderful Company, owned by Los Angeles-based Stewart Resnick, already grows or processes about half the state volume of the valuable nut. Resnick, considered the state’s richest farmer, is also top grower of citrus, pomegranates and almonds and owns Fiji Water, Justin Vineyards and the flower delivery company Teleflora. ... ”  Read more from the Foothills Sun-Gazette here: Pistachio war spreads to Tulare County

Paso Robles hoping for ease in state restrictions to help further mitigate fire risks in Salinas Riverbed:  “Now that the Paso Robles River Fire is 100-percent contained, many eyes are now on what the city will be doing to prevent another fire in the riverbed from happening.  There are several regulatory agencies, however, like the state's water board and California Fish and Wildlife, that have a hand in controlling the riverbed, making it complicated for the city to coordinate plans on how to mitigate the fire risks. ... ”  Read more from KSBY here: Paso Robles hoping for ease in state restrictions to help further mitigate fire risks in Salinas Riverbed

Montecito Water District Board nears vote to purchase yearly water supply from Santa Barbara:  “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. ... ”  Read more from KEYT here:  Montecito Water District Board nears vote to purchase yearly water supply from Santa Barbara

Sewage spill closes bay water in Huntington Harbour:  “All of the Huntington Harbour bay water area in Huntington Beach is closed until further notice to swimming, surfing and diving due to a sewage spill, officials announced Monday night.  The spill was caused by a cracked force main, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency’s Environmental Health Division. The date the main cracked was not immediately disclosed. ... ”  Read more from the OC Register here:  Sewage spill closes bay water in Huntington Harbour

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Along the Colorado River …

State leaders discuss Arizona's major water challenges:  “Finding a solution to Arizona’s water problems is going to take input from everyone, according to panelists at the University of Arizona Water Resources Research Center’s annual conference.  That includes state, federal and local governments, the public, environmental organizations, agriculture and business and may require sacrifices from all in order to be successful, officials said.  The two-day event over the weekend focused on the next 40 years of water use in the state. It included panels of former Arizona Department of Water Resources managers, federal, city and state government officials, tribal members, economists, experts on water, legislators and environmental groups. ... ”  Read more from Pinal Central here:  State leaders discuss Arizona’s major water challenges

How protecting birds can save Western rivers:  “Some call the yellow-billed cuckoo the “rain crow,” based on a belief that its singing announces a coming storm. That’s just a myth, says Peter Tallman, an “opportunistic birder” and the only plumber for 100 miles in the southern New Mexico town where he lives. Work takes him through lots of backyards, where he pauses to listen or watch for the cuckoo’s characteristic swoop and spotted tail among the branches.  What is true, Tallman notes after six decades of watching birds, two of them in the Southwest, is that yellow-billed cuckoos are almost always found in the forested areas along waterways. He knows that from walking through those bosques or stopping for lunch at a riverbank, places with a density reminiscent of their former numbers. ... ”  Read more from Earth Island Journal here: How protecting birds can save Western rivers

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Today's featured articles …

LETTER: Letter sent to Congressional subcommittee requesting funding for California water storage projects under the WIIN Act

Funding requested for Shasta Dam enlargement, Friant-Kern Canal, Delta Mendota Canal, and others

On Monday, Interior Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Timothy Petty sent a letter to Marcy Kaptur, Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies, requesting $108.7 million in funding for surface water storage projects in California under the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act of 2016.

Click here to read this article.

Dr. Thomas Harter provides a basic understanding of groundwater – what it is, how much groundwater is out there, how fast groundwater moves, and where it comes from and where it goes

Groundwater is an important part of California’s – and the nation’s water supply.   Nationwide, groundwater makes up on average 26% of the water supply.  In California, that number is significantly higher – groundwater provides nearly 40% of the water used by California’s farms and cities, and significantly more in dry years.  But what is groundwater?  In this post based on the first segment of the UC Davis shortcourse on groundwater, Dr. Thomas Harter, who is the Robert M. Hagan Endowed Chair for Water Resources Management and Policy at the University of California, Davis as well as Professor and Cooperative Extension Specialist in the Department of Land, Air, and Water Resources (among many other things), provides a basic understanding of groundwater – what it is, how much groundwater is out there, how fast groundwater moves, and where it comes from and where it goes.

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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