In California water news this weekend …

Watch for La Nina, federal forecast says:  “The federal Climate Prediction Center issued a La Nina watch Thursday, indicating the odds favor the Pacific Ocean cooling in the next six months and enhancing the chances for a cold and wet upcoming winter in the Northwest.  The outlook confirmed a trend toward lower-than-average sea-surface temperatures along the equator. A cool ocean triggers atmospheric patterns that form a La Nina.  La Nina’s effects in the Northwest are strongest in the winter as snowpack builds for summer irrigation. … ”  Read more from the Capital Press here: Watch for La Nina, federal forecast says

Location, location, location: New tool shows where groundwater recharge will maximize benefits:  “Recharging groundwater with rain and snowmelt is one strategy water managers are embracing to help balance groundwater supply and demand and comply with the California Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.  Depending on the location, recharge can also deliver other valuable benefits, such as additional habitat for wildlife and a more resilient water supply for people. … ”  Read more from the Environmental Defense Fund here: Location, location, location: New tool shows where groundwater recharge will maximize benefits

ICYMI: Delta Conveyance Project scoping summary report now available:  “The Department of Water Resources (DWR) has published a Scoping Summary Report for the proposed Delta Conveyance Project. This scoping report is a summary of the public scoping period that concluded in April. It includes all public comments received. The information collected during scoping will help inform the ongoing environmental analysis. … ”  Continue reading here:  THIS JUST IN … Delta Conveyance Project Scoping Summary Report Now Available

Lack of plumbing makes fighting COVID-19 difficult:  “For most Californians, handwashing is a matter of turning on their home faucet. And while it is no substitute for other guidelines, handwashing is a surprisingly effective measure against the coronavirus. Unfortunately, not everyone can implement this public health guidance. The state’s homeless population has difficulties, and so do residents with inadequate plumbing.  Nationally, plumbing issues—such as lack of running water—can make regular handwashing almost impossible, and California is no exception. The American Community Survey, conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, collects national- and state-representative information about housing characteristics. In more than 6,300 housing units in California, people lack adequate plumbing, meaning they have no piped hot and cold water, no bathtub or shower, or no flush toilet. … ”  Read more from the PPIC here: Lack of plumbing makes fighting COVID-19 difficult

DWR awards $28 million in grants for local flood risk reduction projects in small communities:  “Three small disadvantaged communities in the Central Valley will receive $28 million in grant funding as part of the California Department of Water Resources’ (DWR) commitment to support projects that reduce flood risk to people and property.  “There are communities within the Central Valley where the flood infrastructure does not meet current levee performance standards,” said Jeremy Arrich, chief of DWR’s Division of Flood Management. “The Small Communities Flood Risk Reduction Program provides grant funding for local agencies to develop flood risk reduction projects that address their specific needs.” … “

Click here to continue reading this press release from DWR.

The Small Communities Flood Risk Reduction Program (SCFRR) supports projects identified by local communities to protect homes and prevent loss of life from flood-related disasters, including levee failures, flash floods and mudslides. The following communities will receive grant awards as part of the flood risk reduction program:

  • The community of Grimes in Colusa County will leverage a $3 million grant award to increase flood protection to almost 400 residents by repairing and improving 1.5 miles of existing levees on the Sacramento River. 
  • Increasing flood protection to nearly 6,000 residents, Franklin-Beachwood in Merced County will construct a new 300-acre flood detention basin with its $9.7 million grant award.
  • Knights Landing in Yolo County will focus on modernizing and improving the flood management infrastructure for the community with a grant award of $15 million. This project includes the construction of a new cross levee for increased flood protection to the almost 1,200 residents in the surrounding communities.

A complete description of each project and the benefits provided to these communities can be found on the SCFRR webpage. The SCFRR grant program is funded by Proposition 1E, the $4.09 billion bond approved by California voters in 2006. Through the program’s multiple funding phases, approximately $45 million in funding has been awarded to 35 communities.

CalEPA funds local, grassroots efforts to fight pollution from the ground up:  Turning Bay Area youth into climate change evangelists. Training refugees and immigrants working at nail salons how to reduce their exposure to toxic chemicals. Helping Black expectant mothers and their health workers in Fresno understand how reducing air pollution can improve prenatal care.  These are just three of 28 projects the California Environmental Protection Agency is supporting this year through its 2020 Environmental Justice Small Grants program. Today, the agency announced the recipients of over $1M in grants to non-profit organizations and federally recognized tribal governments for environmental justice projects across the State. 

Click here to continue reading this press release from Cal EPA.

The grants support creative solutions to local environmental justice challenges in California’s diverse and often disproportionately burdened and vulnerable communities.  This year, as the impacts of COVID-19 have also disproportionately impacted Black, Indigenous and other communities of color, the grants are more critical than ever.

“These grants may be small in size, but they have huge impacts in the community. The community-led projects they fund address real problems our vulnerable communities are facing today in terms of both equity and economic recovery,” said Jared Blumenfeld, California Secretary for Environmental Protection.

Projects funded through the grants address a variety of issues, including improving climate resiliency, ensuring safe and affordable drinking water, and building community capacity to participate in planning and land-use decision-making, among others. Many projects focus on providing information to residents of disproportionately burdened communities and enabling more robust and meaningful participation in environmental decision-making at local, state and federal levels.

Since the grant program’s inception, CalEPA has awarded over $5.4 million to nearly 200 projects focused on environmental justice issues statewide. This year’s grant recipients are located throughout the state, including northern, southern and central California, as well as inland and coastal communities.

Projects funded include:

  • $50,000 to California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative to train at least 2,500 nail salon workers and owners in San Francisco, Alameda and Los Angeles counties, many of them Vietnamese refugees and immigrants, how to reduce their exposure to toxic chemicals and COVID-19.
  • $49,242 to Earth Team in Contra Costa and Alameda counties to develop climate hazards action plans at four Title 1 high schools. The project will train 56 high school students to become informed leaders of influence to spur action to reduce climate change.
  • $49,985 to the Conservation Corps of Long Beach to train Long Beach youth how to provide low-income households along the I-710 corridor with new, drought-tolerant garden landscapes and teach both youth and residents about environmental restoration, the importance of climate resilience and green job opportunities.
  • $48,000 to the Fresno Metro Black Chamber Foundation to address birth outcome disparities in African American Fresno County communities through creation of training curriculum and a toolkit that highlights the importance of prenatal health, air quality, and the impact of climate change and the reduction of greenhouse gases in the environment on prenatal care.

A complete list of recipients is on CalEPA’s 2020 Environmental Justice Small Grant Project Summaries website.

U.S. Supreme Court affirms creek reservation status, upholding treaty obligations and recognizing Indian country for jurisdictional purposes:  “The latest Supreme Court opinion on Indian law could have implications for jurisdiction over water rights administration and other natural resources in the West.  In the 5-4 decision McGirt v. Oklahoma, No. 18-9526, issued on July 9, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a significant portion of Eastern Oklahoma resides within “Indian country” because Congress had not acted to withdraw or disestablish the reservation that it created with its treaties with the Creek Nation.  The decision soundly affirms that Congress must act to change Native American treaty rights and reservation status, not states, and that no matter how inconvenient the outcome, Congress must be held to its “promises.”  Justice Gorsuch concluded the opinion by writing:  “If Congress wishes to withdraw its promises, it must say so.  Unlawful acts, performed long enough and with sufficient vigor, are never enough to amend the law.” ... ”  Continue reading at Somach Simmons & Dunn here: U.S. Supreme Court affirms creek reservation status, upholding treaty obligations and recognizing Indian country for jurisdictional purposes

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In people news this weekend …

Phil Isenberg: Challenging conventional water wisdom:  “In five decades of public service Phil Isenberg has served as mayor of Sacramento, a member of the Assembly, a lobbyist, chairs of the Marine Life Protection Blue Ribbon Task Force, the Delta Vision Blue Ribbon Task Force, and, until 2016, the Delta Stewardship Council. He earned a reputation as an independent and courageous thinker and a skilled negotiator. Taking on the future of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is one of California’s greatest challenges. In a two-part oral history with Chris Austin, editor of Maven’s Notebook, Isenberg details the myths and complexities of California water politics.”  Click here to watch videos at Capitol Weekly.

Reclamation selects Mary Lee Knecht as Public Affairs Officer for California-Great Basin Region:  “Reclamation Regional Director Ernest Conant announced the selection of Mary Lee Knecht as the California-Great Basin Region’s Public Affairs Officer. Knecht will manage the region’s public affairs including public involvement, internal communications, and congressional and media relations.  “Mary Lee has more than 20 years of experience in California water and public affairs and has worked on some of the most high-profile water management projects in the state,” said Regional Director Conant. “She understands Reclamation’s issues and priorities and will be a great spokesperson for our region; we are happy to have her in this role.”  Knecht served as the California-Great Basin’s regional liaison to Reclamation’s Washington D.C. office and program manager in Reclamation’s Bay-Delta Office. Prior to her eight years at Reclamation, Knecht served as the executive director for the Sacramento River Watershed Program and worked in the private sector as a program manager and public affairs professional for prominent water projects in the state.  Knecht holds a Bachelor of Science in environmental policy from University of California, Berkeley.”


Kasey D. Schimke, 49, of Sacramento, has been reappointed deputy director of legislative affairs at the Department of Water Resources, where he has served since 2007. Schimke was legislative staff in the Office of State Senator Denise Ducheny from 2005 to 2006. He held multiple positions in the California State Assembly from 1997 to 2005, including committee consultant for the Assembly Committee on Budget and legislative aide in the Office of State Assemblymember Carole Migden and State Assemblymember Virginia Strom-Martin. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $128,652. Schimke is a Democrat.

Mary Jane Griego, 62, of Olivehurst, has been appointed to the Central Valley Flood Protection Board. Griego has been senior district representative in the Office of Congressman John Garamendi and a member of the Board of Directors of the Olivehurst Public Utility District since 2017. She has been owner of Duke’s Diner since 2012. Griego was a member of the Yuba County Board of Supervisors from 2001 to 2017. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $50,497. Griego is a Democrat.

Shaunna McCovey, 48, of McKinleyville, has been appointed to the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board. McCovey has been director of natural resources and governmental affairs for the Resighini Rancheria since 2020. She was deputy chief executive officer at Trinidad Rancheria from 2019 to 2020, compact negotiator at the Department of the Interior, Indian Affairs, Office of Self-Governance from 2015 to 2019, and a marine planning associate and integrated solutions specialist at Point 97 from 2013 to 2014. McCovey was tribal affairs policy associate at Ecotrust from 2012 to 2013, policy manager for marine spatial planning at Ocean Conservancy from 2010 to 2012 and held multiple positions for the Yurok Tribe from 2006 to 2010, including acting executive director, deputy executive director, self-governance officer and staff attorney. McCovey was associate professor at Humboldt State University from 2003 to 2005. She earned a Juris Doctor degree and a Master of Studies in Environmental Law degree from Vermont Law School and a Master of Social Work degree from Arizona State University. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $250 per diem. McCovey is a Democrat.

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Sunday podcasts …

Evapotranspiration: “It’s easy enough to measure rainfall, and nearly as easy to measure streamflow. Calculating the efficiency of water use through the metric of evapotranspiration (ET) – evaporation off the Earth’s surface and transpiration from the leaves of plants – is a far trickier proposal. In this episode, we hear how scientists use satellites like Landsat to measure ET, and how those measurements help guide water management decisions in the U.S. and around the world.” Podcast produced by USGS.

More on Evapotranspiration

The Indispensable Resource of a Firefighter:  Steve Baker writes, “Water is the primary material that a firefighter uses to put out a fire. Even the foams used to put out fires are water-based products.  Without water, firefighters don’t put out the fires. That is why water conservation is taught as one of the main tenets to all firefighters. Water and life go hand in hand. Ask any firefighter. Water is a Many Splendor’ed Thing brings you another water relationship that has a personally significant impact to your life.”  Podcasts here Produced by Steven Baker, Operation Unite® Bringing People Together to Solve Water Problems, Online at

In commentary this weekend …

California is a long ways away from the finish line in the fight against climate pollution, says Fran Pavley:  She writes, “For nearly 30 years, as a mayor, legislator and educator, I’ve made the environment and clean energy my top priority.  While we’ve made critical progress in fighting climate pollution and cleaning up California’s air, we are still a long way off from achieving the goals needed to keep our communities healthy and safe.  Like all crises, the climate crisis requires bold leadership. California’s largest utility company, PG&E, and the Public Utility Commission (PUC), should be leading on this issue, and making our communities more resilient to the dire impacts of drought, wildfires and climate change. Which makes it incredibly frustrating and disappointing that earlier this month the PUC voted to allow PG&E to increase the use of diesel-powered generators when power is turned off during Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS). ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: California is a long ways away from the finish line in the fight against climate pollution

EPA chief: ‘We’ve done more than Obama’Paul Bedard writes,The media has had a field day covering President Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency, which turns 50 in December.  It helped drive the first, scandal-battered administrator out of office, broke records in filing Freedom of Information Act requests, and hyped every deregulation of Obama-era rules as a rollback to the days of sooty air and poisonous water that President Richard Nixon targeted in founding the agency in December 1970.  But inside the agency, officials and staff, including seven from its first days, have pushed ahead to do more to clean the environment while creating jobs.  “We are the gold standard worldwide,” EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler told Secrets. “President Trump does not get the recognition that he deserves,” he added. … ”  Read more from the Washington Examiner here:  EPA chief: ‘We’ve done more than Obama’

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In regional news and commentary this weekend …

Tribes critical of meeting with Interior Secretary, Reclamation Commissioner:  “While farmers lauded Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman’s historic joint visit to the Klamath Basin on Thursday, area tribes expressed concern that their perspective on water issues had not been adequately heard.  Don Gentry, Chairman of the Klamath Tribes, said he was appreciative of the federal officials’ willingness to have a dialogue with tribal stakeholders, but the late notice and inability to have a larger body of tribal members (such as the entire tribal council) attend the meeting detracted from its purpose. … ”  Read more from the Herald & News here:  Tribes critical of meeting with Interior Secretary, Reclamation Commissioner

SEE ALSO: Trump Administration Visits Oregon and Washington State, Secretary Bernhardt Highlights Actions that Impact Conservation, Timber Production and Water Management, press release from the Department of the Interior

Napa County-wide agency proposed to deal with all water issues:  “Napa County’s water world is a blur of agencies serving busy cities and remote, rural subdivisions, prompting a new study to recommend a degree of unity to face such challenges as water shortages.  A draft Napa Countywide Water and Wastewater study released by the county Local Agency Formation Commission is meant to be a conversation-starter. Discussions begin with a virtual community workshop at 2 p.m. Monday. ... ”  Read more from the Napa Register here: Napa County-wide agency proposed to deal with all water issues

San Francisco gets $513 million WIFIA loan for wastewater:  “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced a $513 million Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan to the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) in California to help finance needed pretreatment and other related improvements to its Southeast Treatment Plant, which treats 80 percent of San Francisco’s wastewater.  This action marks the second WIFIA loan supporting San Francisco’s Southeast Treatment Plant and represents the latest effort by EPA to help protect public health and the environment in the Bay Area.  “Not only will this project provide environmental and public health benefits, it will create more than 3,000 jobs in the Bay Area,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator John Busterud. “Rebuilding our aging water infrastructure at low cost to communities is a top priority for EPA.” … ”  Read more from Water Finance & Management here:  San Francisco gets $513 million WIFIA loan for wastewater

San Clemente City Council approves supplemental funding to complete pier bacteria study:  “A city-sanctioned study to identify and abate the root cause of bacteria exceedances found in the waters around the San Clemente Pier will continue to move forward as the city council on Tuesday, July 7, approved a nearly $78,000 appropriation to complete the work.  The additional monies, according to the city, are necessary to complete the Pier Bacteria Source Characterization Study, which last year detected human-based bacteria from the storm drain system that empties into the sand beneath the pier. … ” Read more from the San Clemente Times here: San Clemente City Council approves supplemental funding to complete pier bacteria study

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Along the Colorado River …

IID files opening brief in CEQA challenge to DCP:  On July 8, 2020, the Imperial Irrigation District filed its opening brief in the Superior Court of Los Angeles County alleging violations of the California Environmental Quality Act by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. IID’s brief calls on the court to suspend the March 2019 approval of agreements for the Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan until such time that an appropriate CEQA analysis and process has been completed. 

Click here to continue reading this press release from IID.

“The legal challenge filed by the district is reflective of the objections we raised leading up to the vote taken by MWD to approve the DCP under a CEQA exemption,” said Norma S. Galindo, IID board president. “IID maintains that the Salton Sea is an integral part of the Colorado River system and its decline presents a severe public health and environmental crisis not only to the Imperial and Coachella Valleys but the greater Southern California region.”

IID’s brief states that MWD violated CEQA requirements by relying on an exemption for entering into agreements, on behalf of itself and all other California contractors, which commit MWD to forgo diverting and contribute to Lake Mead up to hundreds of thousands of acre-feet of Colorado River water without considering the environmental impacts, including to the Salton Sea, or consideration of how it will make up the shortfall within California.

Read/download brief below:


‘The need is there’: Officials take questions on proposed Lake Powell Pipeline:  “The second of two online meetings held to answer questions about the Bureau of Reclamation’s recent Lake Powell Pipeline draft environmental impact statement took place Thursday with attendees sending a flurry of questions to the BOR’s project manager.  Over 100 people logged into the Bureau’s online meeting to learn more about the pipeline project and have questions about the recently published draft EIS answered by Rick Baxter, the BOR’s Provo Area Office project manager. In addition to educating the public about the project, the meeting was also held to encourage people to submit formal comments to the Bureau during the draft study’s public comment period which concludes Sept. 8. … ”  Read more from the St. George Spectrum here: ‘The need is there’: Officials take questions on proposed Lake Powell Pipeline

And lastly … CA’s ultimate outdoor bucket list

California’s ultimate outdoor bucket list: 45 natural wonders:  “The California Sun reached out to leading outdoor experts in each of nine California regions and asked the same question: If you had to name your absolute top 5 not-to-be-missed day outings, what would they be?  Listed below are their picks, 45 in all, roughly north to south. … ”  Check it out at the California Sun: California’s ultimate outdoor bucket list: 45 natural wonders

Also on Maven’s Notebook this weekend …

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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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