DAILY DIGEST: Billions in possible damages turn to zero in 14-year legal battle over water pipe; How permitting slows ecosystem recovery and climate resilience projects; The state budget includes $47 million for the Salton Sea, here’s how it will be spent; and more …

On the calendar today …

In California water news today …

Billions in possible damages turn to zero in 14-year legal battle over water pipe:  “The headlines blared after the whistleblower lawsuit against JM Eagle was unsealed, and then three years later in 2013, after a jury found the world’s largest plastic pipe manufacturer had made false claims about the quality of its products.  The Los Angeles company was said by the law firm representing three states and 42 cities and water districts to be on the hook for “billions of dollars” of potential damages because of leaky pipes that would have to be replaced “much sooner than expected” — the result of “shoddy manufacturing” and a focus on the bottom line. ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here: Billions in possible damages turn to zero in 14-year legal battle over water pipe

How permitting slows ecosystem recovery and climate resilience projects:  “Ecosystem restoration projects in California require permits, just as development projects that can harm the environment do. But the cumbersome permitting process slows efforts to restore ecosystems at a time when healthy natural systems are needed more than ever to help fight the effects of climate change. We talked to Letitia Grenier—an adjunct fellow at the PPIC Water Policy Center research network and a senior scientist at the San Francisco Estuary Institute—about how to improve the permitting process. Grenier was recently appointed as the second PPIC CalTrout Ecosystem Fellow.  PPIC: How does California’s permitting process affect environmental projects? ... ”  Read more from the PPIC here: How permitting slows ecosystem recovery and climate resilience projects

The state budget includes $47 million for the Salton Sea, here’s how it will be spent:  “California’s state budget includes $47 million to help the Salton Sea. The new budget was signed by Governor Newsom last month.  The ongoing crisis at the Salton Sea has created environmental and human health concerns that have been discussed for decades.  “Already we have the largest rate of pediatric asthma hospitalization in the entire state,” said Congressman Dr. Raul Ruiz, 36th district.  … ”  Read more from KESQ here:  The state budget includes $47 million for the Salton Sea, here’s how it will be spent

The water is contaminated. But California bottled water program isn’t helping this town: “The cost of buying cases of bottled water for cooking and drinking is adding up for residents of Earlimart, where a contaminated well became the main source of tap water for more than 8,000 people there in late May.  The state Water Resources Control Board that is responsible for drinking water has a program to provide financial assistance for bottled water to help communities in crisis. It has not been available in Earlimart — and it is unclear why. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here: The water is contaminated. But California bottled water program isn’t helping this town

Study aims to bolster California’s safe-water efforts at child care facilities:  “Efforts to ensure safe drinking water for children need further support to reach their intended audience, according to an analysis of California’s mandate requiring child care facilities to test their water for lead, known as AB 2370.  The finding from the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation is part of a new report and policy brief that examine strategies for developing and implementing the state’s testing and remediation program for those sites. Among its recommendations, the report stresses the need for a dedicated funding stream to ensure the program’s success. ... ”  Read more from the UCLA Newsroom here: Study aims to bolster California’s safe-water efforts at child care facilities

State Water Board encouraging grazing survey participation:  “Members of the rangeland and livestock community are being encouraged to provide feedback in the form of a grazing survey. The State Water Resources Control Board is developing a new guidance document and is asking industry members to take an on-line survey to help provide perspective and knowledge regarding grazing. ... ”  Read more from Ag Net West here: State Water Board encouraging grazing survey participation

A big California quake just got ‘a little likelier’:  “An analysis of recent changes along earthquake faults in Southern California suggests there is an increased possibility of a major quake on the San Andreas Fault, researchers said Monday.  The changes in fault stresses, resulting from a pair of strong earthquakes last July, increase the likelihood of a quake on a stretch of the San Andreas in the next 12 months to about 1 percent, or three to five times the probability of earlier forecasts, the researchers said. … ”  Read more from the New York Times here: A big California quake just got ‘a little likelier’

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In national/world news today …

A dam comes down — and tribes, cities, salmon and orcas could all benefit:  “The conclusion to decades of work to remove a dam on the Middle Fork Nooksack River east of Bellingham, Washington began with a bang yesterday as crews breached the dam with a carefully planned detonation. This explosive denouement is also a beginning.  Over the next couple of weeks, crews will fully remove the 125-foot-wide, 25-foot-tall dam, allowing the Middle Fork Nooksack to run free for the first time in 60 years. With the dam’s removal, 16 miles of river and tributary habitat will open up to help boost populations of three threatened Puget Sound fish species: Chinook salmon, steelhead and bull trout. ... ”  Read more from The Revelator here: A dam comes down — and tribes, cities, salmon and orcas could all benefit

To dam or not to dam:  “For the past two decades, dams have been falling across the United States in a bid to reverse a legacy of destruction of fish and their habitat. American Rivers, a nonprofit advocacy organization, estimates that 1,200 dams were dismantled nationwide from 1999 to 2019, including major dams on the Elwha and White Salmon Rivers in Washington State.  But in southwestern Washington, a local flood control district is going against the flow by proposing a major new dam on the Chehalis River. At close to 200 kilometers long, the free-flowing Chehalis River drains 7,000 square kilometers before emptying into Grays Harbor on the Pacific Ocean. The Chehalis is a critical salmon stream and the largest river system fully contained within the state’s boundaries. … ”  Read more from Hakai Magazine here: To dam or not to dam

EPA limits states’ power to review projects that affect water quality:  “For almost 50 years, states and tribal governments have played an outsized role in deciding whether projects that can harm water quality should receive federal permits — a role that is about to change under a new rule finalized by the Trump administration Monday.  The “Clean Water Act 401 Certification Rule” narrows what issues state and tribal governments may consider when determining if a project, such as one that involves discharging pollution into a river or stream, will comply with state water quality standards. State or tribal approval is a prerequisite for obtaining a federal permit under the Clean Water Act. … ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service here: EPA limits states’ power to review projects that affect water quality

Reclamation launches prize competition seeking innovative sediment removal solutions:  “The Bureau of Reclamation is launching a new prize competition that is seeking crowdsourced ideas that will lead to innovative sediment removal solutions for water infrastructure. The “Guardians of the Reservoir” challenge seeks ideas to remove or transport the amount of sediment building up in the reservoirs, replacing available space for water storage, that provide critical water supplies for the country. There will be up to a total of $550,000 in cash prizes available for the three-phase the competition.  “Reclamation is the largest water wholesaler in the country, reliably delivering water and power in an environmentally and economically sustainable manner,” Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman said. “We are excited for this prize competition and the new ideas that it will bring as we seek to better manage sedimentation at our facilities.” … “

Click here to continue reading this press release.

This competition delivers on the Department of the Interior and Reclamation’s commitment to address challenges shared by Reclamation and its water customers and stakeholders for many years – how to extend the service life of our reservoirs in the face of accumulating reservoir sediments.

Sedimentation in reservoirs occurs when faster moving rivers transport sediment into slower moving water in reservoirs where it falls out and begins to fill the reservoir. Sedimentation reduces the amount of storage available in a reservoir, impacting the ability of reservoir owners to store water or reduce the risk of floods.

Reclamation is partnering with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, NASA Tournament Lab and HeroX on this crowdsourcing competition. To learn more about this competition, please visit https://www.usbr.gov/research/challenges/sediment-removal.html.

Reclamation conducts prize competitions to spur innovation by engaging a non-traditional, problem solver community. Through prize competitions, Reclamation complements traditional design research to target the most persistent science and technology challenges. It has awarded more than $1,000,000 in prizes through 22 competitions in the past 6 years. Please visit Reclamation’s Water Prize Competition Center to learn more.

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In commentary today …

Affordability must be a priority as California charts a course for economic recovery, say Danielle Blacet-Hyden and Patrick Welch with the California Mutual Utilities Association:  They write, “There’s no doubt California has been hard hit by the recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The state’s unemployment rate is north of 15% and millions of households are struggling to pay their bills, whether it be the monthly rent or mortgage, a car payment or their utility bills.  Even before COVID-19 arrived, what Californians paid for water and electricity service was increasing at a faster pace than the national average. ... ”  Read more from Cal Matters here: Affordability must be a priority as California charts a course for economic recovery

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In regional news and commentary today …

Federal officials visit Klamath Basin to talk about water:  “A slew officials, most notably U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, converged in the Klamath Basin last week to talk about water and how it should be split between farmers, Native American tribes, and natural resources.  Also in attendance at the July 9 “roundtable” were Congressman Doug LaMalfa; U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman; State Assemblywoman Megan Dahle; Oregon Congressman Greg Walden; and representatives from local tribes and farmers in the area. … ”  Read more from Mt. Shasta News here: Federal officials visit Klamath Basin to talk about water

Forest service: water activities prohibited during Karuk tribe’s world renewal ceremonies:  “The Karuk Tribe is set to hold its World Renewal Ceremonies in Six Rivers and Klamath national forests from July through late September. In honor of these long-standing tribal traditions, outsiders will be prohibited from entering the water or launching watercraft during the ceremonies, the U.S. Forest Service has announced in a press release. ... ”  Read more from the North Coast Journal here: Forest service: water activities prohibited during Karuk tribe’s world renewal ceremonies

Paradise Irrigation District continues to recover and provide clean water for Paradise:  “The Paradise Irrigation District is continuing to recover and provide clean water for the people living and moving back to the town.  District Manager Kevin Phillips said over 1500 meters in Paradise now have clean drinkable water, crews have recovered 97 percent of the water mains. … ”  Read more from Action News Now here: Paradise Irrigation District continues to recover and provide clean water for Paradise

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.  In summer the aquatic weed infestation covers over 90% of the over 170 acres the Tahoe Keys lagoons encompass. … ”  Read more from the Mountain Democrat here: Tahoe Regional Planning Agency looks for feedback on Tahoe Keys aquatic weeds test project

Santa Maria water supply affected by harmless algae that may affect odor, taste:  “Santa Maria residents may notice an “earthy” or “musty” odor or taste to their drinking water due to harmless algae compounds present in the state’s water supply, city spokesman Mark van de Kamp announced Monday. ... ”  Read more from the Santa Maria Times here: Santa Maria water supply affected by harmless algae that may affect odor, taste

San Bernardino Valley Water Conservation District granted 30-year permit for complex Habitat Conservation Plan:  “A vision first formed in the early 1990s finally came to fruition on Monday, July 13, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) gave the San Bernardino Valley Water Conservation District (SBVWCD) authority to manage a long-awaited project that will benefit water, environmental, economic and community interests in the Upper Santa Ana River Wash.  In what is considered the final step in a lengthy process, the USFWS posted a Record of Decision for the Upper Santa Ana River Wash Plan and its Habitat Conservation Plan. … ”  Read more from the Highland Community News here: San Bernardino Valley Water Conservation District granted 30-year permit for complex Habitat Conservation Plan

Plan to inspect San Onofre’s aging nuclear waste expected to spark debate at Coastal Commission meeting:  “As debate continues to blister over San Onofre’s “nuclear waste dump by the sea,” an independent analysis concludes that the giant canisters housing that waste — and the program Southern California Edison has created to monitor and potentially repair them — will keep everything safe at least through 2035.  Edison’s inspection and maintenance plan for its Holtec dry storage system — the “concrete monolith” now holding 69 of the 73 radioactive waste canisters it will hold by summer’s end, when all radioactive waste is finally removed from its spent fuel pools — is unveiled years earlier than the California Coastal Commission originally envisioned. … ”  Read more from the OC Register here: Plan to inspect San Onofre’s aging nuclear waste expected to spark debate at Coastal Commission meeting

Mexico says help is on the way for communities suffering from cross border pollution flows:  “Mexican officials say there may be relief soon for San Diego South Bay residents living with massive daily sewage flows from Tijuana.  The sewage-tainted flows routinely hit 25 million gallons a day. Some days earlier this year, the flow topped 70 million gallons. ... ”  Read more from KPBS here: Mexico says help is on the way for communities suffering from cross border pollution flows

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And lastly …

The 2020 Audubon Photography Awards: Winners:  “Every spring, the judges of the Audubon Photography Awards gather at Audubon’s headquarters in Manhattan to review their favorite images and select the finalists. But as with much of life in 2020, this year’s awards had to be handled differently due to pandemic-related travel, work, and social-distancing restrictions. So, for our 11th annual awards, which saw more than 6,000 submissions, the judges assembled in an epic day-long Zoom meeting to winnow down the remaining pool to just the 10 winners and honorable mentions shown here. … ”  Check out the winning shots here: The 2020 Audubon Photography Awards: Winners

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

BLOG ROUND-UP: Harmful algal blooms in the Delta are a pandemic; New tool shows where groundwater recharge will maximize benefits; Protecting clean water; and more …

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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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