DAILY DIGEST, 8/14: West faces reckoning over water but avoids cuts for now; Friant Canal funding flows through House bill; Comments sought on Sisk Dam raise; Final judgement in San Diego-Met rate case; and more …

Good morning!

On the calendar today …

  • MEETING: Delta Independent Science Board meets from 9am to 2pm.  Agenda items include an update on the Delta Conveyance Project and reflections from outgoing board members.  Click here for the full agenda and remote access options.
  • MEETING: Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board meets beginning at 9am.  Agenda items include board member communications, State Water Board liaison report, and the executive officer’s report.  Click here for the agenda and remote access instructions.
  • Orange County Sanitation District (OCSD) Virtual Tour from 10am to 11am. Attendees will learn how we treat the water that comes from your home and businesses from 2.6 million people in central and northern Orange County.  The tour will host flyovers of our facilities, highlight the treatment processes and showcase OCSD as more than a wastewater treatment plant, but a resource recovery agency using and creating clean water, electricity, and composted biosolids.  To sign up: visit OCSD.com/Tours.


In California water news today …

West faces reckoning over water but avoids cuts for now

The white rings that wrap around two massive lakes in the U.S. West are a stark reminder of how water levels are dropping and a warning that the 40 million people who rely on the Colorado River face a much drier future.  Amid prolonged drought and climate change in a region that’s only getting thirstier, when that reckoning will arrive — and how much time remains to prepare for it — is still a guess. … ”  Read more from the Associated Press here:  West faces reckoning over water but avoids cuts for now

Friant Canal funding flows through House bill

Funding to fix the Friant-Kern Canal cleared a major hurdle two weeks ago when it passed in a House funding bill.  According to congressman TJ Cox’s office (Calif. 21), the house voted on a passed HR 7617, the fiscal year 2021 six-bill appropriations minibus. The package includes appropriations for Defense; Commerce-Justice-Science; Energy and Water Development; Financial Services and General Government; Labor-HHS-Education, and Transportation-HUD. … ”  Read more from the Foothills Sun-Gazette here:  Friant Canal funding flows through House bill

Reclamation, SLDMWA seek comments on B.F. Sisk Dam Raise and Reservoir Expansion Project

The Bureau of Reclamation and San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority seek public input on the B.F. Sisk Dam Raise and Reservoir Expansion Project’s draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report. This joint proposed project would create an additional 130,000 acre-feet of storage space in San Luis Reservoir. “California is in critical   need of additional water storage,” said Reclamation’s Commissioner Brenda Burman. “Growing demands for California’s shared water resources over the last century, combined with insufficient water storage capacity, limits our ability to meet customer needs. Reclamation is working hard to fulfill our goal of increasing water supply reliability and projects like raising B.F. Sisk Dam are a wise investment in achieving that goal.

Click here to continue reading this press release.

Reclamation and the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority partnered to investigate adding an additional 10 feet to the crest of B.F. Sisk Dam while implementing safety of dam modifications. The additional space would be used to store water that could be delivered to south-of-Delta water contractors and wildlife refuges. This water would be used to meet existing contractual obligations and not serve any new demands.

“Investigating a raise at B.F. Sisk Dam for water supply during the Safety of Dam modifications is a smart, practical decision—for Reclamation, our contractors, and the American public,” said Regional Director Ernest Conant. “We are pleased to partner with the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority on this sensible project that could produce additional water supply for 2 million acres of farmland and 200,000 acres of Pacific Flyway wetlands that use water from the reservoir.”

“Increasing water storage is a critical component of building water resilience in the face of a changing climate,” said Executive Director of the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority Federico Barajas. “We are glad to partner with Reclamation to investigate expanding San Luis Reservoir—increasing water storage capacity and improving multi-year water management for the urban and rural communities, ecosystems, and agricultural production that are reliant on water stored in San Luis Reservoir.”

A draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report was prepared in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act and California Environmental Quality Act and available for a 45-day public comment period.

View the combined draft SEIS/EIR online at https://www.usbr.gov/mp/nepa/nepa_project_details.php?Project_ID=44425. A virtual public meeting is planned for August 25 at 4 p.m.; click the link to join the meeting at that time https://bit.ly/BFSiskEIRSEISPublicMeeting. Submit comments by close of business Sept. 28 to Casey Arthur, Bureau of Reclamation, Willows Construction Office, 1140 W. Wood Street Willows, CA, 95988, via telephone at 530-892-6202 (TTY 1-800-877-8339), or via email at carthur@usbr.gov.

SEE ALSO: Bureau of Reclamation wants to raise the dam at San Luis Reservoir, from KMPH

Bureau of Reclamation releases Los Vaqueros Reservoir Expansion Project Final Feasibility Study

The Bureau of Reclamation has released the Final Feasibility Report, which documents potential costs and benefits of the Los Vaqueros Reservoir Expansion Project. As part of a continuing effort to increase storage capability throughout California, Reclamation and the Contra Costa Water District worked together on Phase 2 of the project to increase the capacity from 160,000 acre-feet up to 275,000 acre-feet and adding new conveyance facilities.  In October 2018, President Trump issued the Memorandum on Promoting the Reliable Supply and Delivery of Water in the West. Reclamation, together with its partners, is acting on that call and taking action to improve water supply reliability throughout the state.  “We are pleased to partner with CCWD on this smart expansion project that would create additional storage capacity in an existing footprint,” said Commissioner Brenda Burman. “This is a win-win for the Bay Area and the Central Valley Project.”

Click here to continue reading this press release.

This expansion could provide increased water supply reliability and operational flexibility to the Central Valley Project. In addition, the expansion would deliver water supplies to various Bay Area municipal and industrial water providers, as well as federally-recognized wildlife refuge areas and irrigation districts in the San Joaquin Valley.

“This is a significant milestone for the Los Vaqueros Reservoir Expansion Project and project partners,” said CCWD Board President Lisa Borba. “We are grateful for our partnership with Reclamation as we move forward to make this important investment in water storage a reality.”

“As a potential beneficiary of the expanded storage and improved conveyance facilities, the Del Puerto Water District commends both Reclamation and CCWD’s efforts to bring LVRE to this important milestone, said Del Puerto Water District General Manager Anthea Hansen. Water infrastructure, especially expanded storage capacity and improved connectivity between different regions of our state, are foremost on the minds of water managers in California. I am truly impressed with the excellent work of the CCWD team and look forward to hopefully being a part of this much-needed project, not only for my region but for the health and prosperity of our wonderful state.”

The LVE is a joint investigation between Reclamation and CCWD authorized by Congress in 2003. The objectives of the expansion are to develop water supplies for environmental water management, increase water supply reliability for water providers within the San Francisco Bay Area, and improve the quality of water deliveries to municipal and industrial customers. The Final Feasibility Report was transmitted to Congress on August 11. 

The Final Feasibility Report is available on Reclamation’s website at https://www.usbr.gov/mp/vaqueros/. For additional information contact Kellye Kennedy, Bureau of Reclamation, at 916-978-5067 (TTY 800-877-8339).

Furry engineers: sea otters in California’s estuaries surprise scientists

When Brent Hughes started studying the seagrass beds of Elkhorn Slough, an estuary in Monterey Bay on California’s central coast, he was surprised by what he found. In this highly polluted estuary, excessive nutrients from agricultural runoff spur the growth of algae on seagrass leaves, which kills the plants. Yet in 2010, Hughes noticed that the seagrass beds were thriving. It did not make sense.  “This is the highest nutrient concentration that I had ever seen on the planet,” says Hughes, a biologist at Sonoma State University. “Any model would suggest there should be no seagrass there and yet it was expanding.” ... ”  Read more from The Guardian here: Furry engineers: sea otters in California’s estuaries surprise scientists

Meteorologists forecast drought-producing La Niña weather pattern this winter

Federal weather forecasters on Thursday predicted the development of drought-producing La Niña pattern that could to last through the winter.  There is a 60% chance that La Niña will develop during the Northern Hemisphere fall, with a 55% chance the pattern will continue through the winter of 2020-21, the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center said in its monthly forecast. … ”  Read more from the Times of San Diego here: Meteorologists forecast drought-producing La Niña weather pattern this winter

Dangerously intense, prolonged, and humid heatwave for most of California

Earlier this week, I wrote about a “sustained warming trend and long-duration inland heatwave” that would develop this week in California. Well, that’s still true…but that language turns out to have been more than a little understated. A very intense and prolonged heatwave now appears likely for a large portion of California over the next 7-10 days, and this event will likely have wide-ranging impacts from human health, wildfire, and electricity demand perspectives. I suspect this event will probably end up being one of the most significant widespread California extreme heat events in the past decade, if not longer. … ”  Continue reading at Weather West here: Dangerously intense, prolonged, and humid heatwave for most of California

New research clarifies timber harvest impacts on watersheds

After timber harvest or fuel reduction thinning operations, sediment delivery to nearby streams and waterways can increase, potentially affecting water quality, drinking water supplies, habitat and recreational opportunities.  To effectively reduce these adverse effects of harvest, foresters first need to know the precise causes of sediment increases.  Historically, researchers investigating the effects of timber harvest on the land have considered two primary drivers: hydrologic changes following timber harvest or fuel reduction that drive sediment transport, and increased sediment supply from ground disturbances and/or mass movements that result from those harvest or fuel reduction activities.  While these causes are tightly linked, little is understood about the relative role each plays in transporting sediment from the watersheds. … ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press here:  New research clarifies timber harvest impacts on watersheds

California, U.S. Forest Service Establish Shared Long-Term Strategy to Manage Forests and Rangelands

In a key step to improve stewardship of California’s forests, the Newsom Administration and the U.S. Forest Service today announced a new joint state-federal initiative to reduce wildfire risks, restore watersheds, protect habitat and biological diversity, and help the state meet its climate objectives.  The Agreement for Shared Stewardship of California’s Forest and Rangelands includes a commitment by the federal government to match California’s goal of reducing wildfire risks on 500,000 acres of forest land per year. To protect public safety and ecology, experts agree that at least one million acres of California forest and wildlands must be treated annually across jurisdictions.

Click here to continue reading this press release from the Office of the Governor.

A historical transition toward unnaturally dense forests, a century of fire suppression and climate change resulting in warmer, hotter and drier conditions have left the majority of California’s forestland highly vulnerable to catastrophic wildfire and in need of active, science-based management. Since the federal government owns nearly 58 percent of California’s 33 million acres of forestlands, while the state owns 3 percent, joint state-federal management is crucial to California’s overall forest health and wildfire resilience. 

Improved coordination also is key since nearly half of the state dollars invested in fuels management in recent years was spent on federal land.  

“Wildfires don’t stop at jurisdictional boundaries. As we respond to wildfires in real-time this summer, improving coordination between the major stewards of California’s forested land will help us protect communities and restore forest health across California,” Governor Gavin Newsom said. “We are grateful to secure the U.S. Forest Service’s commitment to help us more effectively address the scale of California’s current wildfire crisis.”

“Collaboration between state and federal agencies on issues of forest health and resiliency is critical,” said U.S. Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen. “The Forest Service is fortunate to collaborate on restoration projects across the state and share science and research to address issues to help care for the land and serve people. We are excited to expand our partnership with California to enhance our collaboration though this Shared Stewardship agreement with California.”

The Shared Stewardship Agreement builds on existing coordination between state and federal agencies, and outlines six core principles and nine specific actions that will drive improved state-federal collaboration:

  • Prioritize public safety;
  • Use science to guide forest management;
  • Coordinate land management across jurisdictions;
  • Increase the scale and pace of forest management projects;
  • Remove barriers that slow project approvals; and
  • Work closely with all stakeholders, including tribal communities, environmental groups, academia and timber companies.

Specifically, through this agreement California and the U.S. Forest Service commit to execute the following activities together:

  • Treat one million acres of forest and wildland annually to reduce risk of catastrophic wildfire (building on the state’s existing 500,000-acre annual commitment);
  • Develop a shared 20-year plan for forest health and vegetation treatment that establishes and coordinates priority projects;
  • Expand use of ecologically sustainable techniques for vegetation treatments such as prescribed fire;
  • Increase pace and scale of forest management by improving ecologically sustainable timber harvest in California and grow jobs by tackling structural obstacles, such as workforce and equipment shortfalls and lack of access to capital;
  • Prioritize co-benefits of forest health such as carbon sequestration, biodiversity, healthy watersheds and stable rural economies;  
  • Recycle forest byproducts to avoid burning slash piles;
  • Improve sustainable recreation opportunities;
  • Enable resilient, fire-adapted communities; and
  • Share data and continue to invest in science.

The Great American Outdoors Act, signed by President Trump on August 4, will provide critical funding for the Forest Service’s work in California.


LAO: The 2020-21 Budget:  Overview of the California spending plan (preliminary version)

Each year, our office publishes the California Spending Plan to summarize the annual state budget. This publication provides an overview of the 2020‑21 Budget Act, provides a short history of the notable events in the budget process, and then highlights major features of the budget approved by the Legislature and signed by the Governor. All figures in this publication reflect the administration’s estimates of actions taken through June 30, 2020. Later this fall, we will update this publication to reflect budgetary actions taken later in the legislative session. We will also release a series of issue‑specific posts providing more detail on various programmatic aspects of the budget.

Click here to view/download report.

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In regional water news and commentary today …

Hoopa Valley Tribe Files Lawsuit to Block Federal Water Contracts with Central Valley Agribusiness

The Hoopa Valley Tribe (Tribe) has respectfully requested a federal court to block the United States Department of Interior from signing permanent water delivery contracts with agribusiness interests in California’s Central  Valley.  Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) dams and diverts water out of the Trinity River basin to contractors’ land 400 miles from the Hupa people’s homeland.  The lawsuit claims the Reclamation’s contracts violate provisions of the Central Valley Project Improvement Act (CVPIA”) and other laws and that they will irreparably harm efforts to protect Trinity River Salmon. Tribal Chairman Byron Nelson, Jr., explained why the Tribe filed the lawsuit ... ”

Click here to continue reading this press release.

“The Hupa people have a long history of fighting to protect the Trinity River, its resources and especially our salmon. Our people depend on Trinity River salmon now as we have for countless generations. These contracts evade the federal government’s responsibility to maintain Trinity River fishery resources that the United States holds in trust for our Tribe.  Salmon runs are not just important for our Tribe, but also for  other  Native peoples of the Klamath-Trinity Basin and non-tribal fisheries .”

Enacted by Congress in 1992, the CVPIA specifies that the price of Trinity River water developed by the federal government’s Central Valley Project (“CVP”) includes the cost of repairing environmental damage to fish habit downstream of the Trinity River Dam and restoring naturally produced fish populations to pre-dam levels.

Further, the Trinity River Hatchery replaces fish production that was lost from the 109 miles of anadromous fish habitat that were blocked to salmon migration when Trinity Dam was constructed in 1964. The CVPIA makes CVP contractors responsible for hatchery costs as well.

The Tribes lawsuit claims the new permanent water delivery contracts must bind contractors to recognize all fishery restoration, preservation, and propagation measures required by existing law, including the CVPIA, and pay their costs.  Reclamation’s unlawful failure to include those contract terms directly impairs the Tribe’s interests in Trinity River fish and water resources that support the Tribe’s federally reserved rights.

Tribal Attorney Thomas Schlosser also commented on the lawsuit’s filing:

“The law is clear; no Trinity water can be sent to the Central Valley at the expense of the Tribe’s fishery. Decades of mismanagement and misdealing have devastated the fishery and enriched water contractors in the process.”

The Tribe’s Fisheries Director Michael Orcutt added:

“To have healthy salmon fisheries we need healthy rivers. In the case of the Trinity River, the United States Congress promised the Hupa people that decades of CVP mismanagement would be replaced by fishery and river restoration whose costs would be paid by the contractors. We intend to enforce that promise.”  

Read or download a copy of the Hoopa Valley Tribe’s Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief at this link.

Oroville: Floating grebe nests receive help from DWR

During the summer months, a unique bird makes its home in the waters around the Oroville-Thermalito Complex, with a little help from the Department of Water Resources (DWR).  The Western and Clark’s grebes are aquatic birds with distinctive red eyes and pointed yellow beaks. During the summer, they arrive from the Pacific Ocean to nesting areas around the Thermalito Afterbay in Oroville. The grebes nest in shallow waters, attaching their floating nests to aquatic vegetation under the surface. … ”  Read more from DWR here: Oroville: Floating grebe nests receive help from DWR

Researchers blast algae, invasive plants with UV rays to keep Lake Tahoe blue

Encouraged by three years of experimentation, scientists at Lake Tahoe plan to expand the use of ultraviolet light to kill algae and other invasive plants that eat away at the clarity of the mountain water.  Researchers at the University of Nevada, Reno are monitoring the project and collecting data to study the effects of the ultraviolet-C light treatments. It’s the newest tool in a two-decade effort to restore the once-pristine waters in the lake straddling the California-Nevada line. ... ”  Read more from CBS Bay Area here: Researchers blast algae, invasive plants with UV rays to keep Lake Tahoe blue

Sonoma: Dairy restores riparian areas

Sonoma County Dairyman Jarrid Bordessa has been working with his cooperative, Organic Valley, to develop a carbon farm plan. As part of that plan, he decided to restore a riparian area on his farm.  “The carbon farm plan identified the creek restoration as being the number one impact we can do to fix carbon to our soil per acre,” said Jarrid Bordessa. … ”  Read more from Cal Ag Today here:  Dairy restores riparian areas

Ruptured pipes leave hundreds without water in East Bay

As many as 300 customers were still without water Thursday morning after more than a dozen water mains burst in west Berkeley, Emeryville, Oakland and Albany, flooding streets and sending scores of utility crews scrambling to make repairs overnight.  The East Bay Municipal Utility District reported 14 water main breaks beginning at about 8 p.m. Wednesday. They were centered in west Berkeley but reached north to Albany and south to Emeryville and North Oakland, said Christopher Tritto, an East Bay MUD spokesman. Berkeley police shut down several streets until water mains could be shut off. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: Ruptured pipes leave hundreds without water in East Bay

Bradbury Dam scheduled to make downstream releases

The Santa Ynez River Water Conservation District reports that water will soon be released into the Santa Ynez River from Lake Cachuma’s Bradbury Dam. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation will release water from Bradbury Dam starting at about 8 a.m. Aug. 31.  The release is being called for by the Santa Ynez River Water Conservation District to provide water to recharge the groundwater basins along the Santa Ynez River downstream of the dam. These groundwater basins provide an essential source of water for the cities, towns and farming interests along the Santa Ynez River and on the Lompoc Plain. … ”  Read more from Noozhawk here:  Bradbury Dam scheduled to make downstream releases

Climate change report forecasts hard times for Kern ag

A new report warns Kern County agriculture will face tough challenges in the decades ahead as climate change makes irrigation water scarcer and weather conditions more variable and intense.  The study concludes these hurdles “ultimately challenge the ability to maximize production while ensuring profitability.” But it also predicts impacts will vary by crop, with almond production benefiting somewhat while growers of pistachios, grapes, oranges and carrots face overall difficult conditions. … ”  Read more from the Bakersfield Californian here: Climate change report forecasts hard times for Kern ag

Colorado River Aqueduct project brought much-needed boon to 1930s Banning

In 1930, while the Great Depression was worsening and the impacts of it were starting to be felt nationwide, the city of Banning received some good news.  A major construction project was about to unfold in its backyard, and the city would benefit greatly.  The project was the Colorado River Aqueduct of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. Starting in the mid-1920s, there had been a series of studies done for bringing water from the Colorado River west to be used in the greater Los Angeles region. In December 1930, the district made the final decision to go with a route that included the San Gorgonio Pass and construction of a major tunnel under Mount San Jacinto. ... ”  Read more from the Riverside Press-Enterprise here:  Colorado River Aqueduct project brought much-needed boon to 1930s Banning

1,800-gallon sewage spill forces closure of stretch of Torrey Pines State Beach

The San Diego County Department of Environmental Health (DEH) warned beachgoers to avoid swimming in the waters off a small stretch of Torrey Pines State Beach due to a spill that sent 1,800 gallons of sewage into a storm drain nearby.  The DEH on Wednesday closed a stretch of Torrey Pines State Beach from Carmel Valley Road to the beach’s northern boundary due to the reported sewage spill, which the agency said was contained but could impact the water’s quality. … ”  Read more from NBC San Diego here: 1,800-gallon sewage spill forces closure of stretch of Torrey Pines State Beach

Abatti will appeal to State Supreme Court this month over IID ruling

Farmer Mike Abatti says he plans to ask the California Supreme Court to overturn a decision by the Court of Appeals in favor of the Imperial Irrigation District in his years-long lawsuit against the district over its water-management plan, according to a statement released Aug. 10 through his attorney, Cheryl Orr.  Abatti, after having his petition denied Aug. 5 to have the Fourth District Court of Appeals re-hear the successful appeal from the IID, hopes to have the entire issue filed with the state Supreme Court by the end of the month. … ”  Read more from the Holtville Tribune here:  Abatti will appeal to State Supreme Court this month over IID ruling

Final judgment entered in favor of San Diego County Water Authority in 2010-2012 rate litigation

A Superior Court judge has awarded the San Diego County Water Authority $44,373,872.29 in a final judgment for two cases covering rates paid by San Diego County ratepayers during calendar years 2011-2014. The award included $28,678.190.90 in damages for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s breach of contract for the four years at issue, plus pre-and post-judgment interest. … ”

Click here to continue reading this press release from San Diego County Water Authority.

The Water Authority has worked for more than a decade to resolve disputes with MWD in cases filed from 2010-2018. In February, the Water Authority’s Board of Directors voted to dismiss certain issues from the litigation after securing more than $350 million in local project subsidy benefits for the San Diego region, beginning late last year. In doing so, the Water Authority also acknowledged the MWD Board action to stop imposing the district’s Water Stewardship Rate as a charge for transporting the Water Authority’s independent water supplies through MWD facilities, thus resolving for now that issue in future rate years. Consistent with the Water Authority Board’s direction, its attorneys are taking the steps necessary to narrow the litigation and have recently dismissed one case in its entirety.

“Entry of final judgment caps a 10-year effort by the Water Authority Board of Directors on behalf of San Diego County ratepayers, proving once again our region is stronger together in charting our water future,” said Jim Madaffer, chair of the Water Authority’s Board of Directors. “While the damages and interest award is important, the entry of judgment will also help avoid future overcharges and thereby minimize future disputes based on rulings by the Court of Appeal.”

As the lawsuits continue to wind down, the Water Authority is working collaboratively with MWD member agencies across the district’s six-county service area to update MWD’s long-term water resource and financial planning. MWD’s Integrated Resources Plan, or IRP, will be its roadmap for the future, factoring in updated data and plans by many MWD member agencies to develop local water supplies such as the Water Authority and its member agencies have done over the past two decades and will continue to do in the future.

In its judgment, the San Francisco Superior Court:

  • Determined that MWD breached the Exchange Agreement by including its Water Stewardship Rate in the transportation rates it charged to the Water Authority. Damages for the four years at issue are awarded in the amount of $28,678,190.90, plus pre- and post-judgment interest, bringing the grand total for these four years to almost $45 million.  Such improper charges on the Exchange Agreement, if they had continued from MWD, would have cost San Diego County residents more than $500 million over the life of the Water Authority’s water delivery contract with MWD.
  • Acknowledged the required increase in the Water Authority’s preferential rights to MWD water by approximately 100,000 acre-feet a year, equivalent to about twice the annual production of the $1 billion Carlsbad Desalination Project. MWD had earlier complied with the appellate court ruling to this effect and corrected its records accordingly.
  • Confirmed that MWD had illegally barred the Water Authority from MWD’s demand management programs by the inclusion of an unlawful contract provision. MWD lifted the ban in response to the Court of Appeal ruling and has since that time approved nearly $500 million for water supply projects in San Diego County. The initial approvals of $350 million beginning late last year increased with the MWD Board’s approval in June of two more projects totaling an additional more than $115 million.
  • Granted declaratory relief that 1) the inclusion of the Water Stewardship Rate in MWD’s published wheeling rate and under the Exchange Agreement is unlawful and invalid; and 2) MWD’s “Rate Structure Integrity” clause barring the Water Authority from receiving demand management program benefits is invalid and unenforceable as an unconstitutional condition.
  • Ordered that a preemptory writ of mandate would issue, commanding MWD to enact only legal wheeling and transportation rates in the future.

The Court will retain continuing jurisdiction over the cases. A hearing will be held later this year to determine the prevailing party’s right to recover attorneys’ fees and costs.

With a judgment issued in the first two cases, the Water Authority is also working to narrow the scope of the remaining 2014, 2016 and 2018 cases (a 2017 case has already been dismissed).

“Like most court proceedings, it will take a little time to work through all the details,” said Water Authority Board Secretary Christy Guerin, who led the most recent litigation settlement efforts for the agency. “We recognize that MWD is at an important crossroads, and we look forward to working with the other MWD member agencies on charting a future course to ensure both a reliable Southern California water supply and MWD’s fiscal sustainability.”

Click here for more information about the rate case litigation, including the final judgment in the 2010 and 2012 cases.

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In national water news today …

A third of the US faces drought

As the United States moves into the last weeks of climatological summer, one-third of the country is experiencing at least a moderate level of drought. Much of the West is approaching severe drought, and New England has been unusually dry and hot. An estimated 53 million people are living in drought-affected areas.  The map above shows conditions in the continental U.S. as of August 11, 2020, as reported by the U.S. Drought Monitor program, a partnership of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. … ”  Read more at Earth Observatory here:  A third of the US faces drought

A 2007 campaign that urged homeowners unhappy with their washing machines to “send your underwear to the UnderSecretary” may yet notch a win under the Trump administration.  The Department of Energy published a proposed rule this week that would create a product class to allow for speedier washing machines and dryers.  Environmental and consumer groups charged that the move would lead to washers and dryers that waste water and energy and increase utility bills and carbon emissions.  But the anti-regulation Competitive Enterprise Institute, which launched the underwear campaign 13 years ago against what it called DOE’s “disastrous washing machine efficiency rules,” hailed the decision. ... ”  Read more from E&E News here: Conservatives get DOE win after ‘underwear’ campaign

Scientists blast trump on rollback of protections for streams and wetlands

The Trump administration’s decision to remove Clean Water Act protections for millions of miles of streams and acres of wetlands was based on distorted interpretations of scientific evidence and an uneven analysis of case law, conservation scientists and environmental law experts said in a policy article published Thursday.  The new Navigable Waters Protection Rule — initiated by President Donald Trump via executive order in 2017 — removed federal protections put in place by the Obama administration for ephemeral streams, ponds, artificial lakes and half the country’s wetlands. … ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service here: Scientists blast trump on rollback of protections for streams and wetlands

Comment on plan to combat invasive species

The Trump Administration has released a draft strategic plan for combating invasive species. The plan provides a coordinated approach to align programs and policies across the U.S. Department of the Interior and leverage more resources in addressing this important issue.  Invasive species are estimated to be a $120 billion problem. The species impact water supplies, impair hunting and fishing opportunities, interfere with energy production, exacerbate wildfires, damage America’s agriculture and drive native species to extinction. In Fiscal Year 2020, Interior alone is investing an estimated $143 million to manage invasive species. … ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press here: Comment on plan to combat invasive species

Trump administration now wants a floating border wall to seal off waterways along Mexico boundary

The Trump administration wants to install floating border barriers that could be used to wall off river crossings and reservoirs along the international boundary with Mexico or extend U.S. fencing deeper into the sea, according to a new market solicitation posted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  The “Buoy Barrier System” described in a new federal contracting bulletin seeks information from private companies capable of installing a system that could meet U.S. Customs and Border Protection requirements. Such a barrier would need to prevent swimmers from climbing onto it, “and must include a component (such as an anti-dive mesh) that would impede incursions and/or breaching via underwater diving while minimizing debris buildup,” the solicitation states. … ”  Read more from the Washington Post here: Trump administration now wants a floating border wall to seal off waterways along Mexico boundary

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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 …

TOXIC ALGAE REPORT: Updates – 8/14/2020

WATER PLAN eNEWS: ~~COVID-19 Clues~ Steering Committee~ Demand Forecasts~ Commission Meeting~ Green Infrastructure~ WestFAST Newsletter~ Webcast Demonstration ~~

DELTA eNEWS: ~~ Workshop Registration~ Science Conference~ BotD Results~ HAB Alert~ Delta Heritage ~~

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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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