DAILY DIGEST, 7/9: Money to repair Friant-Kern Canal in House bill, but large funding gap remains; McCarthy commends federal action to restore water capacity; In parched southwest, warm spring renews threat of ‘megadrought’; and more …

On the calendar today …
  • FREE WEBINAR: Ensuring Equitable Public Engagement Through Coordinated Planning from 9am to 10:30am.  Presented by the Local Government Commission.  Click here to register.
  • FREE WEBINAR: Policy innovations to secure drinking water for all from 11am to 12pmClick here to register.
  • FREE WEBINAR: The Business of Water in a Time of Pandemic, Climate Change, and Fraught Politics: Significant Opportunities and Challenges from 12pm to 1pm.  Presented by O’Melveney.  Click here to register.

In California water news today …

Money to repair Central Valley canal in House bill, but a large funding gap remains:  “South San Joaquin Valley farmers have a reason to celebrate this week: Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives appropriated $200 million to fix the Friant-Kern Canal.  The bill also includes funding to repair the Delta-Mendota Canal and for two Northern California reservoirs.  “This bill represents the full federal share of what’s needed to fix Friant-Kern, and it will take a big bite out of other major water problems afflicting the Valley,” said Rep. T.J. Cox, a Democrat who represents portions of Fresno, Kings, Tulare, and Kern counties. ... ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here: Money to repair Central Valley canal in House bill. A large funding gap remains

McCarthy commends federal action to restore water capacity in California communities:  “Recent action by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation marks a critically important step forward in restoring lost water capacity to the California communities served by eight irrigation and water districts along the Friant-Kern Canal (FKC), said U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).  “There is still work to be done, but Reclamation’s actions today represent a significant milestone in supporting the more than one million acres of farmland that provide sustenance to the United States and across the globe,” Rep. McCarthy said on July 6 when the bureau released a feasibility report outlining repairs for the FKC. ... ”  Read more from the Ripon Advance here: McCarthy commends federal action to restore water capacity in California communities

DWR awards $11 million in grants for fish habitat restoration & enhancement projects:  “The Department of Water Resources (DWR) today awarded $11 million in grants to five projects that will improve the habitat and chances of survival for native fish species within the lower San Joaquin River watershed.  These grant awards are part of DWR’s San Joaquin Fish Population Enhancement Program (SJFPEP) and are funded by Proposition 13, the Safe Drinking Water, Clean Water, Watershed Protection, and Flood Protection Act of 2000. The program provides financial and technical assistance for projects that improve habitat conditions for salmon, steelhead, and other native fish species in the lower San Joaquin River watershed.

Click here to continue reading this press release from DWR.

“DWR is committed to supporting these pivotal restoration projects that will ensure the long-term health of the San Joaquin River and its native fish and wildlife species,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth. “Projects like these will mitigate impacts to the natural environment and protect migratory salmon populations in the Central Valley and Bay-Delta using the best available science and innovative solutions.”

The grant awards include:

  • A $2.1 million grant for the Tuolumne River Conservancy for the Bobcat Flat Phase III Construction project, which will restore spawning and rearing habitat nine miles downstream of La Grange Dam. The project will reconnect 50 acres of floodplain to the river, restore 2,900 feet of riffles and side-channel habitats, fill instream gravel pits to reduce non-native fish habitat, and augment coarse sediment to expand spawning and riffle habitats.
  • The Merced Irrigation District was awarded $2.4 million for the Merced River Salmonid Habitat Restoration Project, which will restore natural processes and improve spawning and rearing habitat upstream of Henderson Park. The project includes dredger tailing removal, opening the river corridor for flood releases, and creating 10 acres of seasonally-flooded off-channel riparian habitat.
  • The Tuolumne River Preservation Trust and the Tuolumne River Conservancy received $3.7 million for the Basso/La Grange Reach Floodplain Restoration Project. This project will restore spawning and rearing habitat by removing infrastructure debris from the channel, creating 129 acres of floodplain, and by restoring spawning beds two miles downstream of La Grange Dam.
  • More than $500,000 in funding was awarded to the Turlock Irrigation District for the Harding and Nielsen Drain Fish Barrier Project, which will install fish exclusionary structures at two drain outfalls. The barriers will improve upstream migration by preventing straying into the drainage systems. They are estimated to last 50 years and will save an estimated 1,000 adult salmon during that period.
  • Tuolumne River Preservation Trust and the City of Modesto was awarded $2.1 million for the Tuolumne River Regional Park Carpenter Road Floodplain Restoration Project, which will restore 9.5 acres of floodplain rearing habitat. In 2018, DWR’s Urban Streams Restoration Program partnered with the award recipient to remove Dennett Dam to improve salmon migration and reduce public safety hazards for boaters and swimmers.

Awarded projects include those that align with Ecosystem Restoration Stage 1 Actions identified in the CALFED Bay-Delta Program Implementation Plan; the NOAA Fisheries Recovery Plan for winter-run Chinook Salmon, spring-run Chinook Salmon, and Central Valley Steelhead; and Voluntary Agreements that may be identified as part of the State Water Resources Control Board’s Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan.

The San Joaquin Fish Population Enhancement Program is one of three sub-programs managed by DWR’s Riverine Stewardship Program. Other sub-programs include the Fish Passage Improvement Program and the Urban Streams Restoration Program.

These awards conclude the grant solicitation for the San Joaquin Fish Population Enhancement Program until additional funding becomes available.

FARM act to support climate change fight:  “In action on Monday, July 6, Representative Josh Harder (CA-10) introduced the Future of Agricultural Resiliency and Modernization (FARM) Act, which would help farmers across the country to more effectively fight climate change. The bill would establish two new climate-focused initiatives to support the efforts of farmers on the ground. The first would provide over $2.5 billion in funding to help farmers reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, increase carbon sequestration, improve air, water and soil quality, and convert agriculture byproducts to efficient uses. The second would establish a first-of-its-kind Pyrolysis grant program to help tree nut farmers convert byproducts into climate-friendly biocarbon products. … ”  Read more from the Escalon Times here: FARM act to support climate change fight

California’s pollution regulators go toe-to-toe with Trump. Watchdog says they come up short:  “A California environmental advocacy group urged the state’s air pollution regulator and agriculture department to do more for minority communities in an annual report card it published last week.  That report card, compiled by the California Environmental Justice Alliance, issued environmental justice grades to eight agencies, with a statewide C average.  Six agencies received what could be considered a passing grade, A- to C-. Three of those six — the Geologic Energy Management Division and Departments of Pesticide Regulation and Toxic Substances Control — went from failing grades in 2018 to passing grades last year. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: California’s pollution regulators go toe-to-toe with Trump. Watchdog says they come up short

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In national/world news today …

Senator Harris Introduces Legislation to Ensure Nation’s Water Sustainability:  “U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) on Tuesday announced the introduction of the Water for Tomorrow Act, legislation that ensures the nation’s water supply is safe and sustainable. The threat of climate change, which has a disproportionate impact on low-income communities and communities of color, will continue to intensify water scarcity and extreme weather conditions, particularly in California and the West. The Water for Tomorrow Act combines the water sustainability measures from Sen. Harris’ Water Justice Act with key measures from the FUTURE Drought Resiliency Act, led in the House of Representatives by Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA).  “Every American has the right to clean water,” said Sen. Harris. “Unfortunately, our nation was already facing a water safety and affordability crisis. As our country continues to respond to COVID-19, Congress must prioritize a comprehensive investment in a sustainable water supply. This legislation will bring us one step closer making safe, clean, and affordable water a reality for all.”

Click here to continue reading.

Specifically, the legislation will make a nearly $3 billion investment in:

  • Water Infrastructure and Sustainability
    • Financing program to fund water infrastructure projects including storage, transport, desalination projects, and stormwater capture projects. Allows for access to federally-backed, low-cost loans. Prioritizes projects that will benefit low-income communities and communities impacted by climate change. Requires that projects provide fisheries or ecosystem benefits or improvements that are greater than mitigation and compliance. 
    • Grant program to help disadvantaged communities facing declines in drinking water quality or quantity. Led in the House by Rep. Cox.
    • Increased funding for water recycling and reuse. Led in the House by Rep. Napolitano.
    • Increased funding for water management improvement.
    • Reauthorization and increased funding for rural water supply.
  • Ecosystem Protection and Restoration
    • Grant program to improve watershed health and mitigate against climate change. 
    • Funding for the Cooperative Watershed Management Program, adding a focus on disadvantaged communities and projects that provide environmental benefits.
    • Support for refuge water deliveries, drought planning for fisheries, and aquatic ecosystem restoration.
  • Improved Technology and Data
    • Utilization of data from technologies like LIDAR to measure water availability in snowpack.
    • Study to examine the climate change vulnerabilities of Federal dams.

For bill text, click here.

For further background, click here.

Storms cause extended, elevated contaminant concentrations in urban streams:  “Each fall in Puget Sound, coho salmon leave the salt water and swim up freshwater streams. They head upstream to spawn: lay their eggs and die.  Death is always the end of this journey for coho salmon, but in streams now running through urban areas, stormwater runoff kills them before they can spawn.  This phenomenon, called Urban Runoff Mortality Syndrome, can kill up to 70-90% of coho salmon in an affected area.  “‘Woah’ is a pretty common response,” said Kathy Peter, a research scientist formerly at University of Washington Tacoma and the Center for Urban Waters.  This phenomenon adds pressure to the Puget Sound population, already considered a species of concern by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service under the Endangered Species Act.  In new research published in Environmental Science and Technology, Peter and a team of researchers show that the issue of runoff can be more complicated than previously thought. … ”  Read more from Environmental Monitor here: Storms cause extended, elevated contaminant concentrations in urban streams

Healthy rivers key to nation’s economic recovery:  “An answer to our nation’s current economic downturn is flowing through cities, towns, fields and forests across the nation. A new report, “Rivers as Economic Engines: Investing in rivers, clean water, communities and our future” presents a vision for positive, transformational change.  The report by American Rivers makes the case for boosting federal water infrastructure and river restoration spending and suggests a framework for equitable investment that will strengthen communities nationwide. American Rivers called on Congress to invest $500B over ten years in water infrastructure and river restoration. ... ”  Read more from Water Online here: Healthy rivers key to nation’s economic recovery

This vertical farm could be the answer to a future without water:  “Specifically, you wouldn’t expect to find a farm down the road from Newark Airport, where it’s 100 degrees in the shade and the scenery consists of trucks and parking lots. But I haven’t come here to find a bucolic green field, I’ve come here to learn about the future of farming.   Inside a nondescript warehouse, behind locked doors and accessible through a decontamination room, is the headquarters of Bowery Farming. This is 21st century farming, and it looks nothing like the wide open field your grandparents worked in. ... ”  Read more from MSN here: This vertical farm could be the answer to a future without water

Environmentalists see path to trial for climate nuisance cases after latest Big Oil loss:  “ExxonMobil and other oil majors’ attempts to move climate lawsuits brought by cities and counties to federal court have repeatedly backfired, a setback environmentalist attorneys say all but guarantees at least one of the cases will go the distance.  Cities and counties from San Francisco to Boulder to Baltimore are seeking billions in damages to compensate for adapting to climate change effects, including sea level rise, intensified storms, and worsening wildfires.  The number of cases, already over a dozen, is growing, and environmental attorneys say the cities’ recent wins in the court venue fights could embolden more legal action. … ”  Read more from the Washington Examiner here:  Environmentalists see path to trial for climate nuisance cases after latest Big Oil loss

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In regional news and commentary today …

Marin County: Water supply dwindling for small districts:  “The streams and creeks that supply West Marin are running low after the extraordinarily dry winter, and local water system managers are sounding the alarm. The Bolinas Community Public Utility District and North Marin Water District have already imposed water-use reductions, and the Inverness Public Utility District may do so later this month.  While larger providers in the county rely primarily on reservoirs and are still operating at capacity thanks to the wet winter two years ago, smaller water systems on the coast that have less storage are hit hard by a dry year. … ”  Read more from the Point Reyes Light here: Water supply dwindling for small districts

Agriculture generates $5.7 billion for San Joaquin County economy:  “Agriculture in San Joaquin County represented 7.1 percent of the county’s total economic output in 2018, generating $5.732 billion when production, processing, multiplier effects and employment are taken into account, according to a recent report.  That’s a new way of looking at the importance of what farmers and ranchers add to San Joaquin County’s economy, county Agricultural Commissioner Tim Pelican said at Tuesday’s County Board of Supervisors meeting. … ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here: Agriculture generates $5.7 billion for San Joaquin County economy

Do you live in Earlimart? Here’s what you need to know about the water:  “Do you have questions about tap water in Earlimart, California?  Here’s what you need to know about water quality, a recent boil-water notice, and who to call when you have a problem with your drinking water.  Reporters with The Fresno Bee created this guide to frequently asked questions after residents said they lacked clear information about their water. ... ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here: Do you live in Earlimart? Here’s what you need to know about the water

Proposed changes to Paso Robles Groundwater Basin boundaries draw anger and skepticism from landowners:  “After seven years of water restrictions over the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin, San Luis Obispo County is redrawing the basin’s boundaries, which will subject hundreds of new property owners to a moratorium on irrigating and other rules.   The revised map is part of a package of changes to the county ordinance that regulates the 684-square-mile aquifer in North County. Passed in 2013 amid an ongoing drought, the ordinance was recently extended to 2022 to buy time for the Paso Groundwater Sustainability Plan—which is currently being reviewed by the state—to get implemented. … ”  Read more from New Times SLO here:  Proposed changes to Paso Robles Groundwater Basin boundaries draw anger and skepticism from landowners

After Paso Robles riverbed fire, work underway on long-term management plan:  “A fire in Paso Robles on June 22 destroyed two homes, damaged nine others and forced a third of the city to evacuate. The nonfatal wildfire started in a small stretch of the Salinas River, in an area where city officials consider dry grasses and brush an ongoing fire danger.  Now, Paso Robles and the regional water board have agreed on an emergency plan to clear out the vegetation. This comes after Paso Robles Mayor Steve Martin and two other local politicians penned a letter to CalEPA demanding the water board let them use mechanized tools to cut back the overgrowth. ... ”  Read more from KCBX here: After Paso Robles riverbed fire, work underway on long-term management plan

State awards $15 million for San Diego regional water projects:  “The California Department of Water Resources has awarded more than $15 million in grant funds to advance several regional water projects in San Diego County, ranging from water recycling and reuse to water conservation.  The San Diego County Water Authority submitted the funding request on behalf of the San Diego Integrated Regional Water Management Program, or IRWM. The San Diego IRWM Program began in 2005 as an effort by water agencies, wastewater agencies, stormwater and flood managers, watershed groups, business leaders, disadvantaged communities, tribes, agriculture, and nonprofit stakeholders to improve water resources planning in the region.  The statewide IRWM Program is supported by bond funding from the California Department of Water Resources to fund competitive grants for projects that improve water resources management. ... ”  Read more from the Water News Network here:  State Awards $15 Million for San Diego Regional Water Projects

Audit alleges US corporations stealing water, contributing to Tijuana sewage problem:  “An independent audit of Baja California’s water agency has found that many international companies with operations in Baja California have paid for only a fraction of the water they have used for years and have dumped waste without approval into the overburdened Tijuana sewage system, while water agency officials looked the other way. … ”  Read more from KPBS here:  Audit alleges US corporations stealing water, contributing to Tijuana sewage problem

Local groups pause Tijuana sewage lawsuits, but solutions are still far off:  “Californians are pushing pause on federal lawsuits against the International Boundary Water Commission, the agency that’s supposed to deal with sewage-filled stormwater rolling into the U.S. from the Tijuana cliffs under a treaty between the two countries.  The city of Imperial Beach, environmental advocacy group Surfrider Foundation and the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board agreed to put down their proverbial legal swords for a period of 12 months while the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency puts a stack of cash to work on the decades-long sewage issue plaguing the Tijuana River watershed. ... ”  Read more from the Voice of San Diego here: Local groups pause Tijuana sewage lawsuits, but solutions are still far off

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Along the Colorado River …

In parched southwest, warm spring renews threat of ‘megadrought’:  “Here at 12,000 feet on the Continental Divide, only vestiges of the winter snowpack remain, scattered white patches that have yet to melt and feed the upper Colorado River, 50 miles away.  That’s normal for mid-June in the Rockies. What’s unusual this year is the speed at which the snow went. And with it went hopes for a drought-free year in the Southwest. “We had a really warm spring,” said Graham Sexstone, a hydrologist with the United States Geological Survey. “Everything this year has melted really fast.” … ”  Read more from the New York Times here:  In parched southwest, warm spring renews threat of ‘megadrought’

Colorado river stakeholders to face tribal rights, environmental protection and climate change:  “Charismatic is hardly the best word to describe the humpback chub, a fish with a frowny eel face jammed onto a sportfish body in a way that suggests evolution has a sense of humor. Nor did tastiness build a fan base for this “trash fish” across its natural habitat throughout the Colorado River Basin. But, in 1973, the humpback chub became famous by winning federal protection under the Endangered Species Act.  Researchers in the Grand Canyon now spend weeks at a time, several times a year, monitoring humpback chub, which has become central to an ecosystem science program with implications for millions of westerners who rely on Colorado River water. ... ”  Read more from Inside Climate News here:  Colorado river stakeholders to face tribal rights, environmental protection and climate change

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And lastly …

Travel across land and water in James Bond-style aqua tricycle and see world in innovative new floating home:  “Adventure lovers can sail the 007 seas in a James Bond-style aqua tricycle.  The electric-powered Z-Triton can travel across land and sea, like the Lotus Esprit from The Spy Who Loved Me.  It may not be as glam but the £8,000 prototype also has a kitchen and space to sleep two.  Designer Aigars Lauzis, came up with the eccentric vehicle after spending four years travelling from London to Tokyo on his bike. … ”   Read more from the Scottish Sun here:  Travel across land and water in James Bond-style aqua tricycle and see world in innovative new floating home

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

SCIENCE NEWS: Scientists launch two-pronged approach to map cyanotoxins in Bay-Delta; Restoration at Liberty Island; The story behind a uniquely dark wetland soil; Does DNA in the water tell us how many fish are there?; and more …

BROWN BAG SEMINAR: Building Socioecological Resilience by Confronting Environmental Injustice: A Participatory Approach

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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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