DAILY DIGEST, 7/8: State Water Board launches 10-yr effort to improve access to safe drinking water; Disease novel to CA killing thousands of fish at hatchery; Ruling avoids additional CVP supply cuts; and more …

On the calendar today …

In California water news today …

State Water Board launches 10-year effort to improve access to healthy drinking water:  “Moving ahead with an ambitious 10-year commitment to bring vulnerable Californian communities access to safe and affordable drinking water, the State Water Resources Control Board approved today the 2020-21 Fund Expenditure Plan that prioritizes up to $130 million to numerous projects over the next 12 months.

Click here to continue reading this press release.

The Board action will allow the SAFER (Safe and Affordable Funding for Equity and Resilience) Program to undertake several initiatives to ensure safe and reliable drinking water across the state. These funds will address community and school water systems that are out of compliance with health standards, assist disadvantaged communities throughout the state that lack access to safe drinking water, tackle contaminated private wells and state small water systems, and accelerate consolidations for water systems that are at-risk of failing to provide safe drinking water and out of compliance for contaminants and other water quality issues.

“Ensuring all Californians have access to clean, safe and affordable drinking water is a generational challenge,” said E. Joaquin Esquivel, Chair of the State Water Board. “This first year’s adoption of the fund’s annual expenditure plan is a key milestone, with much work ahead. We’re fortunate for the continued collaboration and opportunity to bring these long-needed resources to communities and water systems struggling to provide safe drinking water in California.”

Within days of taking office last year, Gov. Gavin Newsom outlined a vision to ensure all Californians have access to safe, clean and affordable water and pledged to remedy longstanding access issues over the coming decade. The State Water Board is charged with implementing that vision and shepherding it from start to finish.

Assisted by the 19-member SAFER Advisory Group composed of stakeholders and community members, the State Water Board is preparing a comprehensive needs analysis and establishing project priorities. The Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund was established as part of Senate Bill 200, signed into law in July 2019. The fund provides up to $130 million per year to assist struggling water systems sustainably and affordably provide safe drinking water to their customers. On May 5, the Board adopted a Policy that guides how this fund is administered.

The fund complements the State Water Board’s existing suite of financial assistance programs, generally limited to addressing capital infrastructure. It widens the net for entities and types of projects eligible for funding. This includes building local technical and managerial capacity, consolidating small systems to achieve economies of scale, and supporting critical operations and maintenance functions.

To learn more about the SAFER program, a website has been established that is updated regularly. To learn more about the Policy and Plan, a fact sheet provides greater detail.

What happens when a California town’s drinking water system fails? Ask Earlimart:  “Residents in Earlimart, California, lost water service when a 50-year-old well on Mary Ann Avenue failed in late May.  When it came back on, the main source of drinking water for more than 8,000 residents became a well contaminated with a chemical from banned pesticides. And most residents didn’t know.  The Tulare County town’s water system is failing, in a lot of ways. ... ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here: What happens when a California town’s drinking water system fails? Ask Earlimart

Disease novel to California killing thousands of fish at Victorville’s Mojave River Hatchery:  “As coronavirus infections and deaths continue to rise throughout the United States, state officials are fighting a battle against a separate outbreak that has killed up to 60,000 fish at the Mojave River Hatchery.  The culprit, a bacteria known as Lactococcus garvieae, has never before been seen in the state until it was detected at the Victorville facility in April, said Jay Rowan, an environmental program manager of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. ... ”  Read more from the Victorville Press here: Disease novel to California killing thousands of fish at Victorville’s Mojave River Hatchery

Ruling avoids additional CVP supply cuts:  “In the ongoing struggle over management of water supplies in the Sacramento-San Joaquin river system, farmers who rely on deliveries from the federal Central Valley Project have earned an initial victory from a federal judge, pending further legal action later this year.  U.S. District Court Judge Dale Drozd of the Eastern District of California, who is based in Fresno, denied environmental groups’ request for an injunction that would have required the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which operates the CVP, to reduce water allocations as needed to manage water temperatures in the Sacramento River below Shasta Dam. The groups sought more cold water for spring- and winter-run chinook salmon. ... ”  Read more from Ag Alert here: Ruling avoids additional CVP supply cuts

Farmland values hinge on future water availability:  “Availability of water and the impact of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act continue to be a main focus when California agricultural appraisers determine land values, particularly in water-short regions.  During a business conference held virtually last week, the California Chapter of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers also touched on other issues affecting land values, including supply-and-demand dynamics for various crops and market conditions, especially under COVID-19. … ”  Read more from Ag Alert here: Farmland values hinge on future water availability

House subcommittee approves water, energy bill: Funding for Friant-Kern Canal included in bill:  “Much needed funding for the Friant-Kern Canal took one more step to becoming reality as the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development approved its fiscal year 2021 bill.  The bill next heads to full Committee for markup in which amendments can be added and the legislation can be rewritten. The bill includes $49.6 billion for energy and water development projects.  Included in the bill is $71 million for repairs to the Friant-Kern Canal as requested by the Department of Interior for the 2021 fiscal year. ... ”  Read more from the Porterville Recorder here: House subcommittee approves water, energy bill: Funding for Friant-Kern Canal included in bill

Farmers need to serve on water district boards:  “William Bourdeau is executive vice president of Harris Farms in Southwest Fresno County. Harris Farms is a diversified operation, farming, almonds, pistachios and vegetable crops. Bourdeau is very busy, but he does take the time to serve on different water district boards.  “I’m the vice chairman of the board of the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority, and a director for Westlands Water District,” said Bourdeau. … ” Read more from Cal Ag Today here: Farmers need to serve on water district boards

Report details losses to California farms and ranches due to pandemic:  “Pandemic-related losses to California farms, ranches and agricultural businesses will range between $5.9 billion and $8.6 billion this year, according to an economic study released last week. The analysis says the state’s agricultural sector has already suffered $2 billion in losses so far, from disrupted markets and rising production costs related to the COVID-19 outbreak.  Financial impacts of the pandemic vary widely among different parts of the agricultural economy, the study says, depending in part on how much a particular crop or commodity relies on sales to food service and how much it has been affected by shifts in retail demand and changes in costs of production and processing. … ”  Read more from the Foothills Sun-Gazette here: Report details losses to California farms and ranches due to pandemic

Climate-change research provides tools for farmers:  “Farmers are already seeing the effects of warmer winter nights and hotter summer days on their crops. Climate change is gradual, but increasing overall temperatures affect many aspects of farming, including where and how crops are grown.  Tapan Pathak, University of California Cooperative Extension specialist based at UC Merced, is doing applied research that farmers and ranchers can use to adapt to new conditions created by a variable and changing climate. ... ” Read more from the Western Farm Press here: Climate-change research provides tools for farmers

Stream gages help Californians better understand water resources:  “Stream gages are critical for managing California’s water resources. The devices help with early flood warning and generate important data used by the Department of Water Resources (DWR), and other state and federal agencies.  A stream gage is a structure installed beside a river or stream containing equipment that measures and records the water level of the stream. Stream flow is then computed. In winter and spring, the total flow is essential in calculating potential downstream flooding and allows emergency managers to provide early flood warning. … ”  Read more from DWR News here:  Stream gages help Californians better understand water resources

New software tool to model the economic and environmental impacts of California drought:  “Drought may mean restrictions for watering lawns, crop losses for farmers and an increased risk of wildfires. But it can also hit power companies in the wallet.  In communities that rely on water for power generation, a drought can mean higher electricity costs linked to the loss of hydropower supplies.  In a recent study published in Environmental Research Letters, a National Science Foundation-funded team led by a researcher from North Carolina State University analyzed the effects of a drought in California. The drought happened from 2012-2016 and was one of the worst in the state’s history. … ”  Read more from the National Science Foundation here:  New software tool to model the economic and environmental impacts of California drought

Warming trend in California, but most intense heat remains across the interior Southwest. And what about the autumn to come? It has been an unusually warm spring and start to summer across most of California. But despite some pretty intense early-season heatwaves, the warmth over the past couple of weeks has been much more subtle–and even absent in coastal SoCal, where temperatures have been near or even slightly below average in recent days. This pattern is likely to reverse itself over the coming week–with interior SoCal experiencing a significant heatwave while NorCal merely edges upward into “somewhat warmer than average” territory. ... ”  Read more from the California Weather Blog here:  Warming trend in California, but most intense heat remains across the interior Southwest. And what about the autumn to come?

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In national/world news today …

INSIGHT: NEPA suspension, infrastructure bill put wetlands at risk:  “Rollbacks of the Clean Water Act and the executive order to suspend the National Environmental Policy Act are meant to save costs and cut red tape. However, Jeremy Schewe, professional wetland scientist, explains these efforts will ultimately lead to far greater expense to business, society, and the planet, especially when combined with the House proposed infrastructure stimulus package. … ”  Read more from Bloomberg Law here: INSIGHT: NEPA suspension, infrastructure bill put wetlands at risk

Children who drink water from private wells at higher risk of lead exposure:  “American children whose homes rely on private wells for drinking water are 25% more likely to have high lead levels in their blood than those with access to regulated community water services, according to new research.  The lead exposure is worse for poor and black children due to historic discriminatory public policies.  Lead, a heavy metal which has no smell and is invisible to the naked eye, is a suspected carcinogen and highly toxic to the brain and nervous system, as well as most other organs. … ”  Read more from The Guardian here: Children who drink water from private wells at higher risk of lead exposure

Climate refugia: protecting biodiversity in the face of climate change:  “For more than a century, the famous formation of long, symmetric columns of basalt have drawn tourists to marvel at the geology of Devils Postpile National Monument near Mammoth Lakes, California.  But recently scientists have found another interesting natural feature in the park. A valley with high walls and a north-south alignment blocks sunlight and traps cold air, creating cool temperatures that, they believe, may become a kind of refuge for plants and animals facing a warming world.  All across the world rising temperatures are changing ecosystems and threatening some of the species evolved to live in those places, forcing them to try to adapt or move. That’s why scientists are focusing attention on a field of study — climate-change refugia — that could help improve conservation and minimize biodiversity loss in the face of climate change. … ”  Read more from The Revelator here: Climate refugia: protecting biodiversity in the face of climate change

Dozens of Trump veterans cash out on K St. despite ‘drain the swamp’ vow:  “On a February morning in 2018, representatives of several California water agencies arrived at a meeting at the Interior Department’s austere Washington headquarters to discuss a long-sought goal: weakening the Endangered Species Act so more water could be diverted for farming.  Less than three months later, one of the Interior officials at the meeting, Jason Larrabee, stepped down from his government post. Word reached one of the water agencies he’d met with that he was “considering various offers from lobbying shops in D.C.,” as one lawyer put it. … ”  Read more from Politco here:  Dozens of Trump veterans cash out on K St. despite ‘drain the swamp’ vow

Study: Global temperatures may take decades to respond to emissions reductions: “A warming planet will not shake off centuries of human-caused pollution overnight, according to a new study that cautions reductions in human-caused emissions now will take decades to show detectable changes in global surface temperatures.   While the peak of the ongoing pandemic helped to mitigate global carbon emissions, policymakers will need to be patient with the follow-through, according to researchers from the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research, also known as CICERO. … ”  Read more from Courthouse News here: Study: Global temperatures may take decades to respond to emissions reductions

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In regional news and commentary today …

Ag at Large Column: Rice crop anchors Sacramento Valley:  Don Curlee writes, “Californians who have not had the pleasure of touring the four counties immediately north of the State Capitol – Butte, Colusa, Glenn and Sutter – have not enjoyed the area’s 550,000 acres dedicated to the production of rice. Neither have they experienced the area’s unique connection with the rest of the world.  But touring isn’t necessary for them to learn that rice is a beautiful crop. … ” Read more from the Hanford Sentinel here:  Ag at Large: Rice crop anchors Sacramento Valley

Tahoe Regional Planning Agency looks for feedback on Tahoe Keys aquatic weeds test project:  “The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board are seeking community input on the Tahoe Keys aquatic weeds test project environmental review.  The test project, proposed by the Tahoe Keys Property Owners Association, will analyze a combination of treatment methods to control aquatic weeds in the Tahoe Keys. … ”  Read more from the Tahoe Daily Tribune here: Tahoe Regional Planning Agency looks for feedback on Tahoe Keys aquatic weeds test project

Yuba Water Agency approves nearly $14 million for water supply and infrastructure improvements:  “Yuba Water Agency’s Board of Directors today committed approximately $14 million in grants and loans for water infrastructure upgrades, levee maintenance and Yuba County’s annual California Public Employees’ Retirement System payment. ... ”  Read more from the Yuba Water Agency here: Yuba Water Agency approves nearly $14 million for water supply and infrastructure improvements

Placer Land Trust permanently protects 192 acres on Foresthill Divide:  “Placer Land Trust has permanently protected the 192-acre Spring Garden Preserve on Foresthill Divide near the community of Foresthill.  Spanning the canyons and watersheds of the North Fork and Middle Fork of the American River, the property was initially marketed for development, given its easy access, gentle topography, views of the rivers, and proximity to other residential developments. Instead, the landowners, Foresthill Land Company LLC, worked with Placer Land Trust to ensure that this forested land will continue to be open space forever. The preservation of forests, clean water sources, cultural history, and wildlife habitat will benefit the public for generations to come. … ”  Read more from YubaNet here: Placer Land Trust permanently protects 192 acres on Foresthill Divide

Sacramento region plans to store water underground as a climate change adaptation strategy:  “The Sacramento region is preparing for the long term impacts of the climate crisis when it comes to water supply. Central to the plan is a groundwater storage program with two to three times the space of Folsom Lake.  As the climate warms it’ll likely become harder to fill up reservoirs, because the snowpack could be small for multiple years. Think of the nearly empty reservoirs across California during the most recent drought.  “We’re expecting in the future to have more severe droughts and potential for Folsom Reservoir to not fill up with the frequency that it does,” said James Peifer, executive director of the Regional Water Authority.  ... ” Read more from Capital Public Radio here:  Sacramento region plans to store water underground as a climate change adaptation strategy

Santa Clara Valley: Empowered to take water conversation to the next level:  “Work didn’t stop with retirement for Swanee Edwards, it just got more meaningful and possibly even busier, especially after she completed Valley Water’s Water 101 Academy. The south county resident found ways to use her vast experience and expertise from her construction management career to make an impact in her community through activism.  In 2019, Valley Water, formerly known as the Santa Clara Valley Water District, launched the Water 101 Academy.  The program educates the community about the inside workings of Valley Water through a series of free workshops, empowering them to become Water Ambassadors within their communities. Since access to safe, clean and reliable water is a priority for Silicon Valley, this program helps deliver vital information to the community. ... ”  Read more from Valley Water News here: Santa Clara Valley: Empowered to take water conversation to the next level

Merced County warns public to stay out of Merced River below Lake McClure:  “Merced County officials and the Merced Irrigation District are warning the public to avoid the Merced River below Lake McClure beginning Thursday, as there will be a significant increase the river’s flow, according to a news release.  The county said the warning includes all areas above and below the community of Snelling. ... ”  Read more from the Merced Sun-Star here: Merced County warns public to stay out of Merced River below Lake McClure

Importing water to save the Salton Sea can work. Let’s prove and do it now, say Chuck Parker and Feliz Nunez:  They write, ” … Projects to import ocean water to refill the drying Salton Sea in order to prevent wind spreading toxic dust were accepted by the Salton Sea Management Plan (SSMP) in 2018. Our nine Coachella Valley City Councils and over 4,000 community members of the Coachella Valley supported this idea.  These state-accepted Water Import Proposals have been shelved because last November the SSMP decided that an independent feasibility study of ocean water import was needed. It was supposed to be ready by November 2020, but now will be delayed until late 2021.  History has proven that importing water is feasible. … ”  Continue reading at The Desert Sun here: Importing water to save the Salton Sea can work. Let’s prove and do it now

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Today’s featured article …

GSA SUMMIT: Lessons learned from the 2020 GSPs: Perspectives from the critically overdrafted basins

The implementation phase of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act has now begun for the basins designated as critically-overdrafted. Getting to this point has been an unparalleled journey as communities, farmers, water suppliers, and others navigated through uncharted territory to develop local solutions for sustainable groundwater management. At the Groundwater Resources Association Third Annual Groundwater Sustainability Agency Summit held online in June, a panel of managers from four of the critically overdrafted basins reflected on the hard work of developing and adopting a groundwater sustainability plan.

Seated on the panel were Gary Petersen from the Salinas Valley Basin GSA; Eric Osterling from the Mid Kaweah GSA; Deanna Jackson from TriCounty GSA; and Patricia Poire from the Kern Groundwater Authority.  Collectively, these GSAs are having to deal with all six of the undesirable results, from subsidence to groundwater levels to seawater intrusion, and they overly five of the 21 critically overdrafted basins.

Each panelist then discussed the process that they went through in developing their plans, the lessons they learned, and their advice for those developing the plans that will be due in January of 2022.

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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