DAILY DIGEST, 7/10: Fishing groups sue feds for awarding CVP permanent repayment contracts without enviro review; Delta Conveyance enviro planning update; 350 facilities skip reporting water pollution under temporary EPA rule; and more …

On the calendar today …
  • ONLINE MEETING: Delta Independent Science Board from 9am to 12pm.  Agenda items include updates on current reviews and efforts, a discussion on the Delta ISB’s latest draft report on its review of the adequacy of science to predict and explain the effects of non-native species in Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta ecosystems, and the potential for controlling current and future invaders.  Click here for the full agenda and remote access information
  • VIRTUAL TOUR: Orange County’s Groundwater Replenishment System from 10am to 11:30am.  The Virtual Tour features General Manager Mike Markus leading a video tour of the GWRS facility followed by a live Q & A session with staff.  Click here to register.

In California water news today …

Legal brief:  Fishing groups sue feds for awarding CVP permanent repayment contracts without environmental review:  North Coast Rivers Alliance, California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, Pacific Coast Federation Of Fishermen’s Associations, San Francisco Crab Boat Owners Association, Inc., and Institute For Fisheries Resources sue Department of the Interior and  Bureau Of Reclamation over the awarding of permanent repayment (or “conversion”) contracts with Westlands Water District, East Bay Municipal Utility District, City of Folsom, Placer County Water Agency, City of Roseville, Sacramento County Water Agency, Sacramento Municipal Utility District, and San Juan Water District without conducting the environmental review as required by NEPA and the CVPIA and without requiring the contractors to first obtain and provide court judgments validating the repayment contracts as required under 43 U.S.C. §§ 423e and 511, among other things.   Click here to read the legal filing.

Delta Conveyance environmental planning update: (Received from DWR via email) “Below are a few Delta Conveyance Project environmental planning updates, including: Adoption of a Mitigated Negative Declaration and Approval of Soil Collection Activities and Announcement of Federal Environmental Review.

Click here to read this update from DWR.

DWR Adopts Mitigated Negative Declaration and Approves Soil Collection Activities
Today, consistent with the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the Department of Water Resources (DWR) adopted the Final Initial Study/Mitigated Negative Declaration (IS/MND) for soil investigations in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (Delta). As part of the CEQA process, DWR also formally approved the action and adopted a Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Plan (MMRP). Soil investigations will include data collection, soil samples and surveys in support of DWR’s efforts to better understand the region’s geology to support the future evaluation of potential activities, including the proposed Delta Conveyance Project. As identified in the Final IS/MND, any potential significant impact will be avoided or otherwise mitigated with implementation of mitigation adopted as part of the project approval process. To access a copy of the Notice of Determination and Final IS/MND, which includes responses to comments and the adopted MMRP, visit the Delta Conveyance Environmental Planning page on DWR’s website.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement Under the National Environmental Policy Act

 The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has informed DWR that it will conduct federal environmental review of the proposed Delta Conveyance Project. USACE, which has regulatory authority over certain actions within specifically defined waters in the United States, will prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) under the National Environmental Policy Act. Later this summer, USACE will issue a Notice of Intent officially announcing the start of preparation of the EIS. USACE’s letter to DWR can be found here

Fremont Weir upgrade successfully balances need for infrastructure and ecosystem preservation:  “The Fremont Weir Adult Fish Passage Modification Project, which began modified operations in January of 2019, successfully allowed thousands of migrating fish to pass between the Sacramento River and Yolo Bypass in its first year of operations.  The Project, located in the Yolo Bypass, modernizes the structure of the century old Fremont Weir by widening and deepening the channel that fish swim through. This upgrade makes it easier for fish to pass to upstream habitats, reduces the likelihood of them getting stranded, and is accessible to multiple fish species. ... ”  Read more from DWR News here: Fremont Weir upgrade successfully balances need for infrastructure and ecosystem preservation

Fish tags identify spring-run chinook salmon broodstock:  “The California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Feather River Fish Hatchery in Butte County recently completed the tagging of 2,746 spring-run Chinook salmon in May and June.  The fish were early arrivals to the hatchery. After being outfitted with two external Hallprint, spaghetti-style fish tags on either side of their dorsal fin – two tags in case one comes out and is lost – the fish were returned to the Feather River. Unlike Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) tags injected into many Chinook salmon smolts in order to monitor their movements, returns and hatcheries of origin, the external Hallprint tags are intended to provide visual identification to hatchery staff of returning spring-run Chinook salmon. … ”  Read more from CDFW here: Fish tags identify spring-run chinook salmon broodstock

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In national/world news today …

350 facilities skip reporting water pollution under temporary EPA rule:  “More than 350 facilities nationwide have taken advantage of a temporary Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule that lets companies forgo monitoring their water pollution during the pandemic.  A total of 352 facilities, including fossil fuel companies, water treatment plants, schools and even a Waffle House location, made use of the EPA’s relaxation of Clean Water Act requirements, according to a list the agency shared with The Hill. At least one company on the list recently settled with the EPA to resolve allegations of Clean Water Act violations dating back to 2016. … ”  Read more from The Hill here: 350 facilities skip reporting water pollution under temporary EPA rule

EPA Administrator Wheeler statement on House Democrats’ FY21 appropriations bill defunding water infrastructure, key programs (press release):  “Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler issued the following statement on the Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Interior-Environment Appropriations bill.  “I would recommend President Trump veto this bill. The Democrats’ FY21 Interior-Environment Appropriations bill fails to include funding for vital programs necessary to ensure EPA can carry out its core mission.

Click here to continue reading the press release from the EPA.

At a time when countless cities across America are facing financial difficulties, Democrats have completely gutted the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA), a popular loan program which has provided nearly $12 billion in water infrastructure projects and created 25,000 jobs under President Trump. Since the onset of the pandemic, WIFIA has saved taxpayers over a billion dollars while continuing to move critical infrastructure projects forward in cities including: San Francisco, CA, Seattle, WA, Miami, FL, Courtland, NY, Wichita, KS, and numerous other cities across the country. … ” 

“House Democrats are blackmailing the agency on the basis of their arbitrary response deadlines for congressional letters. In an election year gimmick they are attempting to penalize the agency by threatening to withhold funds for an alleged failure to provide information regarding my predecessor that was shared with the Appropriations Committee more than a year ago.  

“The House Majority is trying to score political points instead of putting forward a realistic appropriations bill. They are trying to undo common-sense regulations put forth by the Trump Administration that update Section 401 of the Clean Water Act and make lawful methane adjustments that have saved taxpayers millions of dollars while protecting human health and the environment, and allowing American businesses to flourish.

“Rather than looking out for the health and safety of Americans and the environment, House Democrats are playing politics at the expense of both communities across the country and EPA career employees.”

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In regional news and commentary today …

Interior officials tour Klamath Basin, promise solutions:  “Parched farms in the Klamath Basin straddling the Oregon-California state line got plenty of sympathy — but few specific solutions — from two top federal officials who toured the region Thursday.  U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman promised to seek a resolution to the decades-long water conflicts in the basin after meeting with growers, local water officials and other affected parties. … ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press here:  Interior officials tour Klamath Basin, promise solutions

SEE ALSO: Klamath Falls visited by Rep. Walden, Interior Secretary for water shortage discussion

Mendocino City Community Services District sets moratorium on new permits, declares drought:  “At the monthly Mendocino City Community Services District meeting the board declared a Stage 4 drought, which automatically cuts water allotments by 40 percent, and hashed out the process for selecting the groundwater committee members.  As of June 23, rainfall totals for the current rain year are 50 percent of normal. Mendocino has received 20.32 inches during the current water year. The forty-year average for this time of year is twice that at 40.04 inches. ... ”  Read more from the Mendocino Beacon here: Mendocino City Community Services District sets moratorium on new permits, declares drought

Sonoma County workshops provide residents an opportunity to share groundwater concerns:  “Sonoma County’s three groundwater sustainability agencies are holding “virtual” community workshops in July. The meetings are an opportunity for well owners, farmers and others in Petaluma Valley, Sonoma Valley and Santa Rosa Plain to learn about groundwater in these basins and to help define local, sustainable groundwater management. … ”  Read more from Patch here: Sonoma County workshops provide residents an opportunity to share groundwater concerns

Brentwood: Marsh Creek restoration project underway:  “Work is flowing ahead on a multi-faceted improvement project along Brentwood’s Marsh Creek to reduce flood risk, increase wildlife habitat and enhance recreational users’ experience.  Crews working along a nearly 1-mile stretch of the Marsh Creek channel and adjacent areas, from Sungold Park to Dainty Avenue, are expected to dot the area with trees and vegetation aimed at protecting the community and infrastructure from floods. … ”  Read more from The Press here: Marsh Creek restoration project underway

720,000 baby salmon released in Half Moon Bay harbor:  “In Half Moon Bay, a volunteer fishing group released 720,000 salmon smolts from pens last week at Pillar Point Harbor, bringing the number of salmon they have released to 4.7 million in the past nine years.  “To be sure, we have made a difference in helping sustain a healthy sport and commercial salmon fishery close to our home ports,” said Doug Laughlin, one the architects of the program with the Coastside Fishing Club. ... ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: 720,000 baby salmon released in Half Moon Bay harbor

Monterey: Coastal Commission hearing on Cal Am desal pushed to September:  “Coastal Commission staff has again postponed a hearing on California American Water’s proposed Monterey Peninsula desalination project, this time to September. The hearing would be held just days before a state deadline for a commission decision on the project and less than two weeks from the next Carmel River pumping cutback order milestone deadline.  Commission official Tom Luster told The Herald Tuesday afternoon the Cal Am desal project will now be considered by the commission at a special Sept. 17 meeting, to be held remotely, where the proposal will be the lone item on the agenda. … ”  Read more from the Monterey Herald here: Coastal Commission hearing on Cal Am desal pushed to September

After lengthy legal battle, Pasadena groups victorious at Devil’s Gate Dam:  “Pasadena conservationist groups secured a major victory on Tuesday when the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a settlement agreement, ending a protracted legal battle centered on the removal of 1.7 million cubic yards of sediment from the Devil’s Gate Dam and its potential environmental impacts.  Tim Brick, managing director of the Arroyo Seco Foundation, one of two groups behind the conservation effort, said the settlement “was a culmination of a long campaign in order to get more environmentally sensitive management of the Hahamongna area.” ... ”  Read more from the Pasadena Star News here:  After lengthy legal battle, Pasadena groups victorious at Devil’s Gate Dam

West Valley Water District joins Regional Groundwater Council:  “On behalf of the San Bernardino Basin area Groundwater Council, the San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District (SBVMWD) announced that the West Valley Water District (WVWD) will join the basin area council.  The San Bernardino Valley has experienced historically low rainfall over the past 20 years, resulting in ongoing and sustained drought. This has resulted in groundwater storage levels in the San Bernardino Basin being at a historic low. Due to our tendency to long periods of drought, ensuring water supply reliability and long-term groundwater sustainability is even more important in this region. ... ”  Read more from the Community News here: West Valley Water District joins Regional Groundwater Council

Huntington Beach desalination plant to preserve, enhance and restore Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve (press release from Poseidon):  “In conjunction with the operation of its proposed Huntington Beach Desalination Project, the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board issued a final draft permit on June 30th that requires Poseidon Water to assume responsibility for the preservation, enhancement and restoration of the Ecological Reserve (Bolsa Chica) wetlands. The Regional Board is scheduled to vote on the Permit July 30th.  This preservation action – helping maintain a functioning ocean inlet – is the lifeblood of the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve wetlands, which is the largest saltwater marsh between Monterey Bay and the Tijuana River Estuary and home to two state-designated Marine Life Protection Areas. Additional enhancement and restoration plans implemented by Poseidon will expand the footprint and function of the historic wetlands. … ”  Read more from Cision here: Huntington Beach desalination plant to preserve, enhance and restore Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve

Salton Sea Partnership:  “The Salton Sea, California’s largest inland water body and one of six water bodies in the Salton Sea Transboundary Watershed, is a unique and vital natural resource. The Sea lies in the southeast corner of the state, in a region that has been home to Indigenous populations for over 10,000 years and now has about 650,000 residents. The current iteration of this prehistoric sea formed in 1905 when the Colorado River temporarily broke through a canal and water from the Colorado River flooded the basin. Since then, the Sea’s primary source of water has been runoff from nearby farms. Because more water evaporates from the Sea than flows into it, the lake has been gradually shrinking, destroying habitat for fish and birds, concentrating water pollution, and leaving behind a growing layer of toxic dust. … ”  Read more from the Water Foundation here:  Salton Sea Partnership

California city drops ‘sewage’ lawsuit against federal government:  “With a new avenue to address the decades-long problem of raw sewage flowing from Tijuana, Mexico into the Tijuana River Valley north of the border, the Califonia city of Imperial Beach has placed a stay on its lawsuit against the International Boundary Water Commission.  The lawsuit was intended to force the IBWC — the federal agency in charge of regulating and monitoring water issues along the southern border — to comply with the Clean Water Act and the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. … ”  Read more from Channel 5 here: California city drops ‘sewage’ lawsuit against federal government

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National Water and Climate Update

The Natural Resources Conservation Service produces this weekly report using data and products from the National Water and Climate Center and other agencies. The report focuses on seasonal snowpack, precipitation, temperature, and drought conditions in the U.S.


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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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