DAILY DIGEST, 6/30: Bill to help Central Valley water needs ‘Moves Forward’; Governor Newsom signs 2020 Budget Act; Commentary: California needs to set new objectives and protections for the Delta; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • VIRTUAL CONGRESSIONAL TOWN HALL: The Value of Federal Investment in Water Reuse from 11am to 12:30pm.  Click here to register.
  • ONLINE EVENT: VerdeXchange VX2020 Virtual Water Charrette Summer Update & Panel Discussion from 2pm to 4pm.   Click here to register.

In California water news today …

Bill to help Central Valley water needs ‘Moves Forward’: $200 million would be provided for Friant-Kern Canal:  “A major step has been taken in providing funding for Central Valley water needs, including much needed repairs to the Friant-Kern Canal.  The U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure has approved H.R. 2, the Moving Forward Act. The legislative package would provide $1.5 trillion for the nation’s infrastructure needs. Included in the bill is funding for Central Valley water needs and Friant-Kern Canal repairs.  The package is expected to be passed by the U.S. House of Representatives next week. The package would then need to be passed by the Senate and signed into law by President Trump. ... ”  Read more from the Porterville Recorder here: Bill to help Central Valley water needs ‘Moves Forward’

Should farmers meter their wells now for SGMA? With the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) is closing in on growers throughout California, there are many questions. One big one: should growers go ahead and put a meter on their pumps?  Helping the farming industry comply with SGMA, is Chris Johnson owner of Aegis Groundwater Consulting located in Fresno. He recommends that growers put flow meters on their wells. But he does understand the hesitation. … ”  Read more from Cal Ag Today here: Should farmers meter their wells now for SGMA? 

Court of Appeal reaffirms State Water Board’s broad authority to regulate unreasonable use through emergency regulations and curtailment orders, even as to riparian and pre-1914 rights, during drought conditions:  “On June 18, 2020, the Third District Court of Appeal affirmed the State Water Resources Control Board’s (“State Water Board” or “Board”) authority to regulate what it deems to be an unreasonable use of water, in this case through adoption of emergency regulations establishing minimum instream flow requirements to protect migration of threatened fish species during drought conditions. This opinion echoes the First District Court of Appeal’s recognition of the Board’s authority to adopt a regulation curtailing the exercise of water rights in order to maintain minimum instream flows for fish in times of drought, including curtailment of riparian and pre-1914 water rights, as seen in Light v. State Water Resources Control Board, (2014) 226 Cal.App.4th 1463. The regulation at issue in Light established local programs that would monitor streams and potentially require curtailments of diversions used for frost protection. The emergency regulation in this case took a step beyond Light, by directly declaring diversions that would reduce instream flows below specified minimums to be unreasonable. ... ”  Read more from the Kronick Law Firm here: Court of Appeal reaffirms State Water Board’s broad authority to regulate unreasonable use through emergency regulations and curtailment orders, even as to riparian and pre-1914 rights, during drought conditions

BUDGET

Governor Newsom signs 2020 Budget Act:  “Governor Gavin Newsom today signed the 2020 Budget Act – a $202.1 billion spending plan that strengthens emergency response, protects public health and safety, and promotes economic recovery while closing a $54.3 billion budget shortfall caused by the COVID-19 recession.  “In the face of a global pandemic that has also caused a recession across the world and here in California, our state has passed a budget that is balanced, responsible and protects public safety and health, education, and services to Californians facing the greatest hardships,” said Governor Newsom. “I thank Pro Tem Atkins, Speaker Rendon and both houses of the Legislature for their continued partnership and leadership during this challenging moment in our state’s history.” ... ”  Continue reading at the Office of the Governor here: Governor Newsom signs 2020 Budget Act

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In national/world news today …

Attorney General Becerra criticizes Trump order instructing federal agencies to circumvent critical environmental review processes:  “California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey today led a multistate coalition in expressing opposition to President Trump’s recently signed executive order instructing federal agencies to use emergency authority to bypass critical environmental review and permitting processes for infrastructure projects. In a letter to the President, the coalition argues that the use of such authority in response to a downturn in the economy is unlawful. The letter also highlights the critical need for environmental review during this period so as not to exacerbate health risks in communities that are already disproportionately affected by the coronavirus and environmental pollution.  ... ”  Read more from the Attorney General's office here: Attorney General Becerra criticizes Trump order instructing federal agencies to circumvent critical environmental review processes

EWG investigation: Across farm country, nitrate pollution of drinking water for more than 20 million Americans is getting worse:  “In much of America’s farm country, nitrate contamination of drinking water, largely caused by polluted runoff from crop fields, poses a serious health risk – and the problem is getting worse, according to an Environmental Working Group analysis of data from 10 states.  “With every glass of water, over 20 million people in mostly agricultural areas are now getting a bigger dose of nitrate than before,” said Anne Weir Schechinger, EWG senior economics analyst and author of the report. “Until farmers clean up their act, water quality in these communities is going to continue to decline, posing a growing threat to public health.” ... ”  Read more from Water Online here: EWG investigation: Across farm country, nitrate pollution of drinking water for more than 20 million Americans is getting worse

Scientists urge business & government to treat PFAS chemicals as a class: Researchers around the globe say “forever chemicals” should be avoided (press release from Green Policy Institute):  “All per- and polyfluorinated substances (PFAS) should be treated as one class and avoided for nonessential uses, according to a peer-reviewed article published today in Environmental Science & Technology Letters.  The authors—16 scientists from universities, the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the European Environment Agency, and NGOs—say the extreme persistence and known toxicity of PFAS that have been studied render traditional chemical-by-chemical management dangerously inadequate. The article lays out how businesses and government can apply a class-based approach to reduce harm from PFAS, including fluoropolymers, which are large molecules.

Click here to continue reading.

“With thousands of PFAS in existence, assessing and managing their risks individually is like trying to drink from a fire hose,” said Tom Bruton, Senior Scientist at the Green Science Policy Institute. “Phased-out PFAS that were used to make products like non-stick cookware have been replaced with other PFAS that have turned out to be similarly toxic. By avoiding the entire class of PFAS, we can avoid further rounds of replacing a banned substance with a chemical cousin which is also later banned.”

Studied PFAS have been associated with cancer, decreased fertility, endocrine disruption, immune system harms, adverse developmental effects, and other serious health problems. The authors note that people are exposed to multiple PFAS at once, and there is little research on the effects of combined exposures.

Less than one percent of PFAS have been tested for toxicity, but all PFAS are either extremely persistent in the environment or break down into extremely persistent PFAS. Cleaning up contamination can take decades to centuries or more and every time an individual “forever chemical” has been studied, it was found to be harmful.

“When it comes to harm from PFAS, it is much more than our own health that’s at stake. It is the health of our children, grandchildren and generations to come—indeed, of every creature on our planet,” said Arlene Blum, Executive Director of the Green Science Policy Institute. “The longer we continue the unnecessary use of PFAS, the more likely the overall future harm to our world will rival, or even surpass, that of the coronavirus.”

The article notes that some companies have already employed a class-based approach to PFAS. For example, IKEA phased out all PFAS in its textile products and Levi Strauss & Co. has committed to a similar phase-out.

“We’re proud that our class-based approach to chemicals has helped protect our customers and the environment, for example by removing all PFAS from IKEA’s textiles in 2016,” said Therese Lilliebladh of IKEA. “It also helps us stay ahead of the curve and avoid falling into a problematic cycle of substituting a similar chemical for one that has been phased out.”

Some government bodies have banned the entire class of PFAS for use in some products. For example, Maine and Washington have banned all PFAS in food contact materials and Denmark has banned PFAS from paper-based food packaging. The authors recommend expanding such regulation to all nonessential uses.

Contrary to recent PFAS manufacturer messaging, the authors emphasize that fluorinated polymers should be included in a class-based approach to PFAS. “These large molecule chemicals can release smaller toxic PFAS and other hazardous substances into the environment throughout their lifecycle, from production, to use, to disposal,” said author Carol Kwiatkowski, an Adjunct Assistant Professor at North Carolina State University. “Fluoropolymer microplastics also contribute to global plastic and microplastics debris.”

“PFAS are a complex class of chemicals, but there is a clear pattern of persistence and potential for health harm that unites them all,” said retired NIEHS Director Linda Birnbaum. “The use of any PFAS should be avoided whenever possible.”

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In commentary today …

Without agreements on water, California needs to set new objectives and protections for Delta, say Jon Rosenfield and Jeannette Howard:  They write, “For more than a decade, California’s governors have pushed for “voluntary agreements” to establish rules for water diversions by major urban and agricultural water districts, and to redress their environmental impacts.  Our organizations joined those discussions to craft a scientifically sound plan that would restore San Francisco Bay’s fisheries and water quality – and with the understanding that any agreement would satisfy all applicable laws, including the federal and state Clean Water Acts, as part of an update of the State Water Board’s Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan. ... ”  Read more from Cal Matters here: Without agreements on water, California needs to set new objectives and protections for Delta

Damming up water progress throws Calif.’s future into limbo, says Wayne Western:  He writes, “Get ready… here comes the true California water cycle: It begins with headlines and quotes warning of pending disaster based on what could, might, maybe, or possibly happen over the state’s water infrastructure.  It follows with attacks against a single water district, then moves to a concerted effort to convince the average Joe that making a profit in farming and being successful should be accompanied by deep regret and guilt.  It concludes with preached claims of progressive action, yet practiced regression. ... ”  Read more from the San Joaquin Valley Sun here: Damming up water progress throws Calif.’s future into limbo

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In regional news and commentary today …

Numerous environmental crimes discovered at illegal cannabis grow in Tehama County:  “On May 21, wildlife officers at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) served a search warrant in Tehama County for illegal commercial cannabis cultivation on a remote parcel approximately 30 miles west of Red Bluff.  Commercial cannabis cultivation is banned in Tehama County. The suspects had allegedly brandished firearms at nearby residents, which forced CDFW and local authorities to take immediate action.  Support was provided by CDFW Environmental Scientists, Tehama County Sheriff’s Department, State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) and Investigators from the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA). ... ”  Read more from the Department of Fish and Wildlife here:  Numerous environmental crimes discovered at illegal cannabis grow in Tehama County

Concerning Cyanotoxin levels detected at nine Clear Lake sites:  “Many Lake County residents and visitors have recently enjoyed the extraordinary complement of outdoor recreation opportunities that Clear Lake has to offer. As is the case with all large, biologically rich natural bodies of water, Clear Lake, is dynamic in water quality. Understanding what signs to look for when recreating can help ensure residents and visitors safely enjoy our County’s defining feature.  Water monitoring data is one factor that helps all of us make healthy water-based recreation choices, and lake water monitoring is regularly conducted by the Big Valley Band of Pomo Indians and Elem Indian Colony at approximately 30 Clear Lake sites. This is a valuable service for all who use our lake. … ”  Read more from the Lake County Record-Bee here: Concerning Cyanotoxin levels detected at nine Clear Lake sites

Georgetown Divide PUC moving ahead with water transfer:  “Announced at the June 9 meeting of the Georgetown Divide Public Utility District Board of Directors, the water agency is close to finishing a water transfer agreement with Westlands Water District.  The agreement will call for selling up to 2,000 acre-feet of water to Westlands, the largest agricultural water district in the United States, made up of more than 1,000 square miles of farmland in western Fresno and Kings counties. ... ”  Read more from the Georgetown Gazette here: Georgetown Divide PUC moving ahead with water transfer

Educational hub going up in Sunol next to water temple:  “After years of planning and work to preserve Indigenous artifacts, construction of the Alameda Creek Watershed Center in Sunol is finally underway, according to the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.  The utilities commission, which is heading up the project, said in a statement Friday the Watershed Center is envisioned as an educational hub for raising “awareness of the natural and cultural history of the Alameda Creek Watershed and the Hetch Hetchy Regional Water System.” … ”  Read more from the East Bay Times here: Educational hub going up in Sunol next to water temple

Recycled water project comes online in Torrance:  “The West Basin Municipal Water District announced the completion of a recycled water pipeline at Sares Regis Group’s Torrance Commerce Center on the site of the former Toyota Motor North America Inc. headquarters campus.  The pipeline will use water from the district’s water recycling facility in El Segundo instead of drinking water to irrigate the landscape surrounding three new buildings, according to the June 11 announcement. … ”  Read more from the LA Business Journal here: Recycled water project comes online in Torrance

Imperial Valley – a new frontier for people and the Earth itself:  “If you had to give a date of birth to the Imperial Valley, most people would accept the date of June 21, 1901, when canal water from the Colorado River began to irrigate the first crops.  Native Americans were actually the first settlers, though none of them found any good reason to spend the summers. Instead they moved from the ocean, to the mountains, to the great Lake Cahuilla, and to the Colorado River and beyond, following the seasons. ... ”  Read more from the Desert Review here: Imperial Valley – a new frontier for people and the Earth itself

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Along the Colorado River …

New map tool illustrates Arizona water issues:  “Dams, canals, wildlife areas, utility providers–water in Arizona is a complex topic. But a new digital tool from Arizona State University's Kyl Center for Water Policy aims to illustrate all of the layers of the state’s water issues.  The new Arizona Water Blueprint map tool allows users to explore hydrography, wildlife habitats, regulatory areas and infrastructure. It also illustrates potential future sources for augmenting the state’s water supply with groundwater or desalination projects. ... ”  Read more from KJZZ here:  New map tool illustrates Arizona water issues

We've stabilized the Colorado River – for now. But much tougher work lies ahead, say Tom Buschatzke and Ted Cooke:  They write, “When U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman hailed the Drought Contingency Plans signed last year as “historic,” we wholeheartedly agreed. The plans were the product of years of discussion, negotiation and compromises among water users throughout the Colorado River Basin.  The DCP agreements specified reductions by the seven states that share water from the Colorado River, and Mexico, would take. In order to complete and implement the agreements, Arizona developed a unique process reflecting Arizona’s diverse interests. … ”  Continue reading at Arizona Central here: We’ve stabilized the Colorado River – for now. But much tougher work lies ahead

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Today's featured articles

DELTA STEWARDSHIP COUNCIL: Delta Watermaster Update: Litigation in the Delta, Term 91, SB-88 implementation, and more …

At the June meeting of the Delta Stewardship Council, Delta Watermaster Michael George gave his quarterly update where he discussed the pandemic response, ongoing litigation in the Delta, the work being done to implement SB-88, and other issues.

Click here to read this article.


BLOG ROUND-UP: Delta legacy communities express their outrage over Delta tunnel; A case for better river flows and delta outflow in June; FERC rapidly issuing waivers on water quality certifications for CA dams; 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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