On the calendar today …
- LEG HEARING: Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water beginning at 9am. The committee will hear bills on Anderson Dam, wildfires, and other natural resource issues. Click here for the agenda. To watch the livestream of the proceeding visit: www.senate.ca.gov
- FREE WEBINAR: Funding Water Infrastructure for the San Joaquin Valley, Part 2 from 10am to 12pm. Topics include Traditional Funding Approaches for Water Infrastructure Investments in California, Water Infrastructure Improvement Funding Options for the San Joaquin Valley, and Governing Strategy for Water Infrastructure Investment in the San Joaquin Valley. Click here for more information on this event. Click here to register.
- FREE WEBINAR: The San Joaquin Valley Blueprint from 12pm to 1:30pm. Panelists: Ellen Hanak, Public Policy Institute; Michael George, Delta Water Master; Tommy Esqueda, CA Water Institute, and more. A Water Wrights-Maven’s Notebook production. Click here to register.
In California water news today …
Delta water agencies file lawsuit against DWR over geotechnical drilling
On Monday, the Central Delta Water Agency, South Delta Water Agency, and the Local Agencies of the North Delta filed a lawsuit against the Department of Water Resources challenging the Department’s adoption of a Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND) for geotechnical drilling related to the Delta Conveyance Project. The lawsuit alleges, “The MND violates CEQA because, among other deficiencies, DWR: (1) failed to follow the procedural mandates of CEQA, (2) piecemealed the project from the larger DCP, and (3) failed to disclose, analyze, and mitigate the potentially significant effects of the Project. Based on the inadequate and illegal MND, DWR approved the project and filed a Notice of Determination (“NOD”) on July 9, 2020. … By basing its decision to approve the Project on a faulty MND, DWR failed to comply with the informational purposes of CEQA as well as its mandatory duties under the statute.”
Wineries worry about impact of water rules
“A new statewide order affecting how wineries dispose of water could undermine existing regional solutions, winery owners and their advocates say, and would impose new costs as the wine business struggles with tasting room closures and other measures intended to assure employee safety. Wine and farm organizations submitted comments to the State Water Resources Control Board last week, as it considers the statewide regulation. Vintner Zac Robinson of Husch Vineyards in Mendocino County said he fears the draft permit will be adopted with little concern for wineries that have been economically devastated during the pandemic. … ” Read more from Ag Alert here: Wineries worry about impact of water rules
Reclamation’s largest Dam Safety project moves forward
“Today, the Bureau of Reclamation submitted the B.F. Sisk Dam Safety of Dams Modification Report to Congress. This is Reclamation’s largest project under the 1978 Safety of Dams Act, and when complete, will modernize the structure to reduce risk to water supply and downstream communities in an earthquake. B.F. Sisk Dam is a large embankment dam in California’s Central Valley that was constructed by Reclamation and is operated in partnership with California’s Department of Water Resources. The modification report describes the need for safety modifications and proposes corrective actions, along with other pertinent technical information applicable to B.F. Sisk Dam.
New study says forecasters are overestimating future demand for water
“Californians have grown used to the idea that water is a precious commodity, one that we risk running out of without conservation. A new report by the Pacific Institute suggests Californians have learned to conserve so well that water forecasters need to rethink their approach to estimating future water demand. … ” Read more from KPBS here: New study says forecasters are overestimating future demand for water
Radio show: Less Snow and More Rainfall Spell Trouble for California
“By the 2070s, climate change will reduce snowpack and increase extreme rainfall in the Sierra Nevada and California’s reservoirs will likely be overwhelmed. That’s according to a new study by UCLA climate scientists, who predict that run-off during so-called atmospheric rivers will increase by nearly 50 percent, leading to widespread flooding across the state. We’ll talk about the impact of climate change on Sierra weather patterns and what it all means for the state’s water supply. Guests: Paul Rogers, environment reporter, San Jose Mercury News andAlex Hall, professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences and director of the Center for Climate Science, UCLA.” Listen at KQED here: Radio show: Less Snow and More Rainfall Spell Trouble for California
California initiative to fight plastic pollution submits petitions to qualify for statewide ballot
“Supporters of an initiative to reduce plastic waste today submitted more than 870,000 voter signatures to qualify the Plastics Free California initiative for the ballot – significantly more than the 623,212 signatures required. The initiative was originally on track to appear on this November’s ballot; however, signature gathering was slowed to respect and protect public health as a result of the pandemic. A court extended the original deadline, and a surge of volunteer support provided the remaining signatures needed to appear on the next general election to occur after this November – presumably in November 2022. … ” Read more from Waste 360 here: California initiative to fight plastic pollution submits petitions to qualify for statewide ballot
Delta to host Fishing League Worldwide event
“The 2020 Toyota Series Western Division is set to return to competition next week in Oakley, with the Toyota Series event at the California Delta, Aug. 19-21. Hosted by the City of Oakley, the three-day tournament will feature a return to action for the region’s best bass-fishing pros and co-anglers as they cast for a top prize of up to $65,000, plus a $35,000 bonus if the winner is a qualified Phoenix boat owner. … ” Read more from The Press here: Delta to host Fishing League Worldwide event
Failing to plan for sea level rise — even amid a pandemic — could be catastrophic, experts warn
“If California lawmakers set aside climate concerns like sea level rise, and focus only on the pandemic, the state could be setting itself up for an even worse economic hardship, the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office cautioned in a report Monday. “It’s quite tempting, justifiably, to just focus on those immediate concerns, but because we know this is looming on the horizon, we just want to ensure that the legislature and the public keeps an eye on this for the future,” said Rachel Ehlers, a principal fiscal and policy analyst with the LAO. … ” Read more from Capital Public Radio here: Failing to plan for sea level rise — even amid a pandemic — could be catastrophic, experts warn
In regional water news and commentary today …
Santa Clara Valley Water District asks voters for $682 million parcel tax for floods, dams, environmental projects
“After years marked by a historic statewide drought and devastating floods around downtown San Jose, Santa Clara County’s largest water provider has decided to ask voters to approve a parcel tax to pay for a wide variety of projects, from flood control to creek restoration, along with some costs of rebuilding the county’s largest dam at Anderson Reservoir. The measure, called the “Safe, Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection Program,” will appear on the November ballot across Santa Clara County. It would make permanent an annual tax of $67.67 per home that voters approved in 2012 and which is scheduled to expire in 2028. But it needs a two-thirds majority, and potential opposition from some environmental and taxpayer groups could make the vote close. … ” Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here: Santa Clara Valley Water District asks voters for $682 million parcel tax for floods, dams, environmental projects
New report says Santa Barbara could see significant impacts of sea level rise in as soon as a decade
“Parts of a South Coast city’s popular oceanfront boulevard could be hit by storm waves and ocean flooding in as little as a decade, according to a new report on sea level rise. The sea level rise adaptation plan looks at some of the potential impacts on the City of Santa Barbara. The report says the city could face more than six feet of sea level rise by the year 2100, and recommends actions to deal with the issue. … ” Read more from KCLU here: New report says Santa Barbara could see significant impacts of sea level rise in as soon as a decade
Matilija Dam Ecosystem Restoration Project: Restoring Salmonid Habitat with California Department of Fish and Wildlife Proposition 1 and Proposition 68 Funds
“CDFW has sponsored large portions of the Matilija Dam Ecosystem Restoration Project (MDERP), located in the Ventura River watershed. Overall, the MDERP will enhance 33.6 miles and 2,268 acres of instream and riparian habitat along the Ventura River and its tributaries. The main component of the MDERP is the removal of the defunct Matilija Dam, which is expected to have wide-ranging benefits to local biodiversity, especially the endangered southern California steelhead trout. Dam removal will also release trapped sediment allowing it to move downstream to replenish sediment-starved river sections and coastal beaches. … ” Read more from the Department of Fish and Wildlife here: Matilija Dam Ecosystem Restoration Project: Restoring Salmonid Habitat with California Department of Fish and Wildlife Proposition 1 and Proposition 68 Funds
Los Angeles Waterkeeper prevails in historic wastewater recycling lawsuit (press release)
“The Los Angeles Superior Court issued a historic ruling, in favor of Los Angeles Waterkeeper, that compels the State’s Water Resources Control Board (California’s lead water quality agency) to analyze whether it is “wasteful” and “unreasonable” to dump billions of gallons of wastewater uselessly into the sea, when it could instead be used productively to ensure the sustainability of California’s water resources. The plants – Hyperion, Tillman, Burbank and Los Angeles-Glendale — dump an average of nearly 270 million gallons of treated water into the Los Angeles River and Pacific Ocean every day. Hyperion alone discharges enough treated wastewater into the ocean to fill the Rose Bowl 2 ½ times over every day. During most days, treated discharge from sewage plants makes up the majority of flow in the LA River. … ”
In national water news today …
Utilities ordered to forgive customer water debt
” … In a basement room where she assists clients, Ollie Raven, the coalition’s director, sketched the dilemmas that clients on low and fixed incomes face. “Which bill are you going to pay: taxes, mortgage, medicine?” said Raven in an interview with Circle of Blue. For three decades she has guided applicants through the process for federal energy bill assistance. “What is most important? Stay warm? You pay your gas bill. Need your water? Pay your water bill.” Clients recently have another option for financial relief, one that promises more than a discount. On July 27, the Action Coalition began taking applications for a city program that provides low-income customers who are behind on their water bills with a path to wiping out their debt. An initiative that Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced last November, the debt relief program is the first of its kind to be implemented for a large U.S. city. ... ” Read more from the Circle of Blue here: Utilities ordered to forgive customer water debt
Why is America running out of water?
“In March 2019, storm clouds rolled across Oklahoma; rain swept down the gutters of New York; hail pummeled northern Florida; floodwaters forced evacuations in Missouri; and a blizzard brought travel to a stop in South Dakota. Across much of America, it can be easy to assume that we have more than enough water. But that same a month, as storms battered the country, a government-backed report issued a stark warning: America is running out of water. Within as little as 50 years, many regions of the United States could see their freshwater supply reduced by as much as a third, warn scientists. … ” Read more from National Geographic here: Why is America running out of water?
6 former EPA chiefs say ‘derailed’ agency needs reset after election
“Six former Environmental Protection Agency chiefs are calling for an agency reset after President Trump’s regulation-removing, industry-minded first term, backing a detailed plan by former EPA staffers that ranges from renouncing political influence in regulation to boosting climate-friendly electric vehicles. Most living former EPA heads joined in Wednesday’s appeal, with Trump’s first EPA chief, Scott Pruitt, being the notable exception. The six former chiefs — William Reilly, Lee Thomas, Carol Browner, Christine Todd Whitman, Lisa Jackson and Gina McCarthy — served under Republican and Democratic presidents. … ” Read more from the LA Times here: 6 former EPA chiefs say ‘derailed’ agency needs reset after election
“A U.S. district court struck down the legal opinion used to justify the Trump administration’s coming rollback of protections for migratory birds late Monday, writing that the Department of the Interior memo was “contrary to law.” The Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) has for over 100 years offered protections to 1,000 different types of birds, instigating penalties for companies whose projects or infrastructure harm them. … ” Read more from The Hill here: Interior memo scaling back bird protections is ‘contrary to law,’ court rules
Legal alert: NEPA Rules Rewrite: Categorical Exclusions and Environmental Assessments
“Today, we focus on changes the CEQ has made to clarify and enhance the use of categorical exclusions (CE) and environmental assessments (EA). As we noted in our previous alert, the beginning of the NEPA process comes where there is a proposed “major federal action.” When NEPA applies, agencies must first determine what level of review is required. The agency has three options: a CE, an EA and a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) or an EIS. … ” Read more from Nossaman LLP here: Legal alert: NEPA Rules Rewrite: Categorical Exclusions and Environmental Assessments
Reporting on the State of the Climate in 2019
“A new State of the Climate report confirmed that 2019 was among the three warmest years in records dating to the mid-1800s with a short-term warming, but weak, El Niño influence early in the year. The report found that the major indicators of climate change continued to reflect trends consistent with a warming planet. Several markers such as sea level and greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere once again broke records set just one year prior. … ” Read more from Climate.gov here: Reporting on the State of the Climate in 2019
In commentary today …
Is the water all right? asks Maz Ali with Earthjustice
He writes, “In a speech at the American Farm Bureau convention in 2020, President Trump declared, “I terminated one of the most ridiculous regulations of all.” The president was talking about Waters of the United States (WOTUS), or the 2015 Clean Water Rule, which the Obama administration created to better enforce the Clean Water Act, one of the country’s most essential and effective environmental laws. Like other environmental regulations, WOTUS was necessarily complex and grounded in science. But the reason for it was simple: keep U.S. waters clean. So what could be so bad about a law to stop water pollution that the Trump administration would decide to repeal it? Earthjustice is representing tribes and environmental groups in a legal challenge to this attack on water protections. I asked our experts on the matter to address the president’s remarks. … ” Continue reading at EarthJustice here: Is the water all right?
Today’s featured articles …
The California Advisory Committee on Salmon and Steelhead Trout (CAC) was re-established by the Legislature in 1983 in response to public concern about declining populations of salmon and steelhead. The role of the public committee is to advise the Director of Fish and Wildlife and the Legislature, via the Joint Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture (JCFA,) on salmon and steelhead issues within California that are of concern to the public. The CAC consists of eleven members who are appointed by the Joint Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture.
At the July meeting, committee members received an update on the Klamath Dams, Matilija Dam, and the Potter Valley Project dam removal projects.
Also on Maven’s Notebook today …