On the calendar today …
- STATE WATER BOARD WORKSHOP: Phase 1 of the Salton Sea Management Program beginning at 9:30am. The State Water Board will hold a Public Workshop on the Status of Phase 1 of the Salton Sea Management Program. Click here for agenda and remote access instructions. Click here for the staff report.
- ONLINE MEETING: The California Water Commission meets beginning at 9:30am. Commission staff will present its progress on the program modifications directed by the Commission at its July meeting. The Commission will consider adopting emergency regulations that will provide WSIP applicants, who did not receive early funding in 2018, an additional opportunity to apply for early funding. Other agenda items include the Water Resilience Portfolio and an update on the progress of the State Water Project’s southern power facilities relicensing efforts. Click here for the full agenda and remote access instructions.
- ONLINE MEETING: Healthy Watershed Partnerships from 9:30am to 12:00pm. Agenda items include an update on the Healthy Watershed Partnerhsip portal webpage, an update on the watershed assessment and dashboard, and a discussion on the watershed assessment indicator aggregation. Click here to join Microsoft Teams meeting.
- WELL Webinar: How Has COVID-19 Impacted the Water Sector? from 10am to 11:30am. All over the state, water infrastructure projects and conservation efforts have had to be paused or cancelled altogether as water districts face shrinking budgets. In this WELL Webinar, we invite expert panelists to examine what these various impacts are and what lasting effects they may have on the water sector overall. Click here to register.
- WEBINAR: Understanding PFAS In our Water Cycle: Sources, Regulations, and Mitigation Solutions from 10am to 11am. Presented by the American Water Resources Association. Click here to register.
- WEBINAR: Pure Water Oceanside: Diversifying the City’s Water Supply While Reducing Imported Water by over 30% from 12:30pm to 1:00pm. Webinar presented by the Orange County Water Association. Click here to register.
- GRA SAN DIEGO: A New Groundwater Basin for Sustainable Management of the San Diego Formation from 6pm to 8:30pm. Click here for more information and to register. This event is free.
In California water news today …
“North Coast elected officials rang alarm bells Tuesday around what the region’s congressional representative called a “slow-walk” on the removal of four Klamath River dams that have threatened fish populations and led to pollution. The effort to remove the hydroelectric dams was making steady progress until a federal agency in July ordered the energy company PacifiCorp to remain a licensee for the dams, an unwelcome move for both PacifiCorp and a nonprofit group that had sought to take over the license. In an emotional, often confrontational panel Tuesday, the North Coast’s elected officials pressed a PacifiCorp higher-up to give concrete answers about the company’s willingness to go forward with dam removal. … ” Read more from the North Coast Journal here: North Coast reps grill PacifiCorp on Klamath dams removal, tribal chairs stress urgency
A Company at a Crossroads: Huffman’s Klamath forum wraps with sharp questioning of power company executive
“North Coast Congressmember Jared Huffman hosted a forum of the Water, Oceans and Wildlife Subcommittee he chairs this afternoon, orchestrating a two-hour panel discussion focused on the stalled agreement to remove four hydroelectric dams from the ailing Klamath River. The forum began with heartfelt testimony from the Karuk and Yurok tribal chairs and ended with lawmakers grilling a representative of PacifiCorp, the Berkshire Hathaway-owned power company that owns and operates the dams on the upper river. … ” Read more from the North Coast Journal here: A Company at a Crossroads: Huffman’s Klamath forum wraps with sharp questioning of power company executive
- Democrats to PacifiCorp: Get a move-on with dam removal, from the Herald & News
- Commentary: Warren Buffett can save the Klamath River Basin. Will he?, written by Jacques Leslie
Forecasters: Odds improve for La Nina by fall
“Odds increasingly favor a La Nina weather pattern taking hold by fall, upping the chances for a cold and wet Northwest winter, the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center says. The center pegged at 60% the chances of a La Nina prevailing in November, December and January. A month ago, the center put the chances at 53%. Since then, the Pacific Ocean has resumed a cooling trend that started last spring but paused in June and early July, according to the center. … ” Read more from the Capital Press here: Forecasters: Odds improve for La Nina by fall
California’s cap-and-trade program pays for clean water fund
“Under California law, everyone in the state has a right to clean and affordable drinking water. But many disadvantaged communities still rely on contaminated water – either from private wells or public water sources. “Our groundwater in the Central Valley in California has been highly polluted … and it’s running through old and dilapidated infrastructure getting to people’s taps,” says Susana De Anda, co-founder of the Community Water Center, an environmental justice organization. … ” Read more from Yale Climate Connections here: California’s cap-and-trade program pays for clean water fund
Radio show: State urges officials not to postpone planning for sea-level rise
“A report from the California Legislative Analyst’s Office has sobering reminders of what sea-level rise will do to our coastline, our economy and to our public and private property. The report urges local and state governments not to get distracted by COVID-19 from planning ahead for the rising seas. … ” Read more from KPBS here: Radio show: State urges officials not to postpone planning for sea-level rise
Conservation at work: benefits of irrigation water management
“The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) can provide valuable assistance for producers looking to improve irrigation water management. NRCS staff can help craft an efficient irrigation plan to maximize the value of an irrigation system. The ‘Irrigation Water Management’ episode of NRCS’s Conservation at Work video series details some of the benefits that can be gained by refining water management in an agricultural operation. ... ” Read more from Ag Net West here: Conservation at work: benefits of irrigation water management
California farming country buckles under COVID-19. Will pandemic make or break the Valley?
“She was afraid of catching the coronavirus – so fearful, in fact, that she switched jobs to pack tomatoes for an employer who seemed to be taking the right precautions. But Maria Claudia Garcia got sick anyway. A farmworker from Venezuela living in the San Joaquin Valley town of Mendota, she came down with a harsh case of COVID-19. She experienced intense fevers and headaches. She lost her sense of smell and taste. Her husband, also a farmworker, got sick as well. Speaking in Spanish, she summed up the ravages of the coronavirus this way: “It’s like your body isn’t yours anymore.” … ” Read more from Cal Matters here: California farming country buckles under COVID-19. Will pandemic make or break the Valley?
In California’s brutal climate loop, heatwaves raise fire risk
“The current heatwave broiling Californians like no event in decades is also elevating the risk for another potential disaster in the weeks ahead: wildfires. While heat and dry conditions have contributed to the Lake and Ranch fires burning now in Los Angeles County, fear of larger blazes looms in the weeks ahead. As a result of climate change, California sees more than twice as many fall days with “fire weather” as it did a generation ago. The current heatwave raises the odds of “wildfires later in 2020, that’s for sure,” says Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at UCLA and the National Center for Atmospheric Research … ” Read more from Bloomberg Green here: In California’s brutal climate loop, heatwaves raise fire risk
In commentary today …
How far we’ve come: A reflection by outgoingDelta Lead Scientist Dr. John Callaway
He writes, “As my three years as Delta lead scientist come to a close, I must say that I feel incredibly lucky to have had the chance to work in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and to learn from such an outstanding group of people who are committed to improving the region: the Delta Stewardship Council and Delta Science Program; the Delta Independent Science Board (Delta ISB); the Delta Plan Interagency Implementation Committee (DPIIC) member agencies; and all of the non-governmental entities, academia, and stakeholders involved in Delta science and management. Despite the ongoing challenges that remain in the Delta, we have made progress over the last three years. I say we because it’s the exceptional staff and broader Delta community who have made such progress possible. Whether it be through collaborating, funding science, integrating social science, embarking on climate change initiatives, conducting independent peer reviews, or communicating scientific findings, oh how far we’ve come. ... ” Continue reading at the Delta Stewardship Council website here: How far we’ve come: A reflection by outgoingDelta Lead Scientist Dr. John Callaway
Forest thinning, fire can boost Western watersheds, says Dan Keppen
He writes, “Today’s wildfires are often larger and more catastrophic than in the past. Decades of fire suppression and an inability to manage forests through controlled burns, thinning, and pest and insect control play a big role in this. Today, on average 7 million to 8 million acres of forests and grasslands burn annually, double the figure from three decades ago. We know there are ways to actively manage our Western forests to improve water quality, provide for jobs, reduce the cost of firefighting and increase forest resiliency. Now we have new tools to assess how proper management of watershed vegetation can increase water yield. … ” Continue reading at the Western Farm Press here: Forest thinning, fire can boost Western watersheds
In regional water news and commentary today …
Humboldt County: Nordic Aquafarms begins permitting process for California land-based salmon farm
“Land-based seafood firm Nordic Aquafarms has submitted its first permit application for the construction of its new land-based salmon farm in Humboldt, California, the company said on Tuesday. The company submitted its NPDES permit application for a discharge permit, to the Regional Water Quality Control Board. The discharge from the farm will be sent through an already existing pipe into open waters where effective dilution is achieved, with no impairment of waters identified, the company said. … ” Read more from IntraFish here: Nordic Aquafarms begins permitting process for California land-based salmon farm
Oroville Dam has “no risks” of damage as Potters Fire burns
“There are no current risks to the Oroville Dam as the Potters Fire burns close by, according to the Department of Water Resources (DWR). In a statement to KRCR, DWR says that they are working with CAL FIRE and local responders to protect critical infrastructure, like the high voltage transmission lines that provide generation to the California electrical grid. They add that their operations continue with essential staff on site. … ” Read more from KRCR here: Oroville Dam has “no risks” of damage as Potters Fire burns
Nevada County: Lake Wildwood water safe following retardant drop
“Nevada Irrigation District crews took quick action yesterday to ensure fire retardant from nearby firefighting efforts did not affect water entering its Lake Wildwood Treatment Plant. Yesterday afternoon, NID became aware that fire retardant dropped on the nearby Jones fire was also released into one of its canals that delivers water to its Lake Wildwood Treatment Plant. Fortunately, NID crews were able to close the intake from the canal hours ahead of the impacted water reaching the plant. … ” Read more from YubaNet here: Lake Wildwood water safe following retardant drop
Edwin Pattison, Tuolumne Utilities District: Responsible and Prudent Water Management
He writes, “A recent newspaper article in the August 12th edition of The Union Democrat, prompted me to offer an inside view of what the newspaper called the “Battle for Pinecrest.” Tuolumne Utilities District (TUD) doesn’t believe differing opinions about finite resources, like water, are “battles.” Differing opinions are simply the result when you ask any group how to prioritize the use of a finite resource when need outstrips supply. This isn’t a battle; it is simply a collection of different priorities. In situations involving the allocation of scarce resources, such as this one, our system of laws establishes a system of priority in order to achieve the greatest good. California Water Code section 106 states: “It is hereby declared to be the established policy of this State that the use of water for domestic purposes is the highest use of water and that the next highest use is for irrigation.” Therefore, the decision issued by the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) is consistent with law and the priorities established by our government. … ” Read more from My Mother Lode here: Responsible and Prudent Water Management
Alameda: Blackout impacts west end, leads to sewage overflow
“The East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) is urging people to stay out of the Oakland-Alameda Estuary after 50,000 gallons of untreated sewage was released into the water Saturday, Aug. 15. EDMUD posted about 20 signs along the estuary Saturday morning alerting people not to swim, boat or make any bodily contact with the water due to the high bacteria levels caused by the sewage. The utility district also reached out to Bay Area news outlets; San Francisco Baykeeper, a San Francisco Bay advocacy group; local rowing clubs and the California Canoe & Kayak retail shop in Jack London Square to notify them of the potential danger in the estuary. … ” Read more from the Alameda Sun here: Alameda: Blackout impacts west end, leads to sewage overflow
San Jose: Valley Water refills ponds near Penitencia Creek Trail after repairs to concrete spillway
“Community members who use the Penitencia Creek Trail can once again enjoy water-filled percolation ponds near Toyon Avenue in San José. In April, Valley Water drained two of the five Dr. Robert W. Gross Recharge Ponds along the trail to make repairs to an aging concrete spillway. Despite some challenges with late-season rain and the COVID-19 pandemic, Valley Water finished repairs to the spillway on July 2. During construction, we maintained water in the three smaller ponds and installed a pump to divert water to the City of San Jose’s City Park Pond in Penitencia Creek Park, located next to the percolation ponds. … ” Read more from Valley Water News here: Valley Water refills ponds near Penitencia Creek Trail after repairs to concrete spillway
City of Galt agrees to six-figure settlement in sewage spill case
“The city of Galt has agreed to pay $110,715 to settle a case that began two years ago when 301,000 gallons of untreated sewage overflowed into Dead Man Gulch, a tributary of South Laguna Creek. The spill occurred during a power outage when a faulty alarm system failed to alert city staff about malfunctioning pumps at a sewage lift station. … ” Read more from CWEA News here: City of Galt agrees to six-figure settlement in sewage spill case
Eastern Tule Groundwater Sustainability Agency proposes groundwater extraction fee
“The Eastern Tule Groundwater Sustainability Agency has proposed a groundwater extraction fee to be charged to property owners within its district. The ETGSA board approved providing its water rate study for public review at its meeting on August 6. The proposed fee is included in that water rate study. A public hearing videoconference on the proposed fee will be held at 2 p.m. October 1. … ” Read more from the Porterville Recorder here: Eastern Tule Groundwater Sustainability Agency proposes groundwater extraction fee
Paso Robles: SLO County and USGS ask landowners for help to study Adelaida groundwater
“San Luis Obispo County and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) are set to study the groundwater conditions in the Adelaida region of North County for the first time—and they’re asking local landowners for help. The two agencies inked a partnership last year to undergo the study, which will collect and analyze data on the water supply, land uses, and groundwater flow over the mostly rural region west of Highway 101—north to Lake Nacimiento and south to Atascadero. … ” Read more from New Times SLO here: SLO County and USGS ask landowners for help to study Adelaida groundwater
Ridgecrest: Replenishment fee, ag buyouts on the agenda for Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority
“The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority’s basin replenishment fee public hearing at 10 a.m. Friday, August 21 at City Hall will be a virtual meeting, with the public unable to attend in person. The meeting will be live streamed on the city of Ridgecrest Youtube channel. The public hearing will technically be part two of the regular IWVGA open session virtual meeting scheduled for 11 a.m. Thursday, August 20. … ” Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here: Replenishment fee, ag buyouts on the agenda for Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority
“Today, the Save Searles campaign was launched to try and save the Searles Valley Minerals company (Searles) – an economic bedrock of the local community for over 140 years – from the devastating economic impacts of a new water fee proposed by the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority (Authority). Today’s Save Searles campaign launch comes just days before the Authority’s virtual public hearing at 10 a.m. on Friday, August 21 to discuss the proposed “replenishment fee,” which would increase Searles’ water costs by 7,000% or approximately $6 million per year, pushing the company and the local community towards extinction. ... ”
The problem with proportionality: The effect of Proposition 218 on retail water rates for community gardens in Los Angeles
“Community gardens in Los Angeles County have seen water rates increase from a flat rate of $1.41 per hundred cubic feet (HCF) in March 2016 to $2.095/HCF plus variable adjustments in July 2019 – a 289 percent increase. As a result, some community gardens have been forced to quadruple their member gardeners’ monthly dues to cover the increasing cost of water. In three years, this increase in the price of water has made gardening significantly more expensive and has priced out low-income, largely immigrant community members who rely on these gardens to supplement their diets with fresh produce. Community gardens across Los Angeles now face the choice of either having their membership change from subsisters who rely on the gardens for dietary needs to hobby gardeners who can pay more to fund the gardens or, alternatively, closing their operations. Either result increases food insecurity for the most vulnerable members of the gardens’ communities. … ” Read more from the California Water Law Journal here: The problem with proportionality: The effect of Proposition 218 on retail water rates for community gardens in Los Angeles
Groundwater cleanup at Los Angeles superfund sites awarded $56.6M settlement
“The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Department of Justice and the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) have reached a $56.6 million settlement with Montrose Chemical Corporation of California, Bayer CropScience, Inc., TFCF America, Inc., Stauffer Management Company LLC, and JCI Jones Chemicals, Inc. for further cleanup work of contaminated groundwater at the Dual Site Groundwater Operable Unit of the Montrose Chemical Corp. and Del Amo Superfund Sites (also known as the Dual Site) in Los Angeles County, California. … ” Read more from Water World here: Groundwater cleanup at Los Angeles superfund sites awarded $56.6M settlement
$1.5 million settlement for multiple sewage spills to Mojave River tributaries
“A settlement agreement between the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board and the city of Victorville has been reached and imposes a $1.5 million fine on the City for violating the State Water Resources Control Board’s (SWRCB) general waste discharge requirements. The $1.5 million settlement fine addresses violations from six untreated sewage spills to Mojave River tributaries, which posed a serious threat to public health and groundwater quality. … ” Read more from CWEA News here: $1.5 million settlement for multiple sewage spills to Mojave River tributaries
“To support statewide emergency energy conservation efforts, Poseidon Water and the San Diego County Water Authority are temporarily reducing water production at the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant. While the plant uses less than 1% of peak energy demand in San Diego Gas & Electric’s service territory, Poseidon and the Water Authority are committed to supporting electrical reliability while ensuring continued delivery of safe and reliable water supplies. … ”
San Diego County water agencies help address California energy shortages
“Water agencies across San Diego County are doing their part to stabilize the state’s power grid during this week’s heatwave by generating hydropower and altering operations to trim electricity demands – and they are offering long-term solutions to reduce future energy shortages. The California Independent System Operator issued a statewide Flex Alert from Sunday through Wednesday, calling for reduced electricity use in the afternoon and evening to limit power outages. Blackouts could affect hundreds of thousands of San Diego County residents, if extreme heat persists. … ” Read more from the Water News Network here: Water agencies help address California energy shortages
Sen. Feinstein wants EPA to clean up Tijuana River sewage
“U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, wants the Environmental Protection Agency to take over clean up efforts along the Tijuana River. For decades, untreated sewage from Mexico has flowed into U.S. territory and out to sea devastating an ecological preserve and beaches in south San Diego County, especially the city of Imperial Beach. … ” Read more from Channel 13 here: Sen. Feinstein wants EPA to clean up Tijuana River sewage
Along the Colorado River …
Forecast: Plenty of CAP water for Tucson and AZ for now despite overheated drought
“Everywhere you look, news about heat and drought in the West is bad. Tucson and Phoenix residents are coping with record summer heat and scarce monsoon rains. California residents are dealing with power blackouts due to an extreme heat wave. Death Valley just hit 130 degrees, possibly the hottest temperature ever recorded on Earth. … But none of that poses an immediate threat to the Central Arizona Project — Tucson’s drinking water supply. … ” Read more from Arizona Central here: Forecast: Plenty of CAP water for Tucson and AZ for now despite overheated drought
Climate change hits home in Colorado with raging wildfires, shrinking water flows and record heat
“Climate change hit home in Colorado this week, exacerbating multiple environmental calamities: wildfires burning across 135,423 acres, stream flows shrinking to where state officials urged limits on fishing, drought wilting crops, and record temperatures baking heat-absorbing cities. This is what scientists, for decades, have been warning would happen. … ” Read more from the Denver Post here: Climate change hits home in Colorado with raging wildfires, shrinking water flows and record heat
In national water news today …
CDC launches National Wastewater Surveillance System to track COVID-19 infections
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in collaboration with agencies throughout the federal government, are initiating the National Wastewater Surveillance System (NWSS) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The data generated by NWSS will help public health officials to better understand the extent of COVID-19 infections in communities. CDC is currently developing a portal for state, tribal, local, and territorial health departments to submit wastewater testing data into a national database for use in summarizing and interpreting data for public health action. Participation in a national database will ensure data comparability across jurisdictions. … ” Read more from CWEA News here: CDC Launches National Wastewater Surveillance System to Track COVID-19 Infections
Legal alert: NEPA rules rewrite: Content of NEPA documents under new CEQ rules
” … In this eAlert, we focus on changes the CEQ has made to the required contents of an EIS. The primary changes that the CEQ made in its revisions to regulations governing the contents of an EIS simply codify common agency practice; however, a number of the changes are a departure from the prior regulations and are not necessarily common in agency procedures. Below, we provide a description of some of the notable changes to the required contents of an EIS and point out where opponents of the Final Regulations have already cried foul. … ” Read more from Nossaman here: NEPA rules rewrite: Content of NEPA documents under new CEQ rules
Today’s featured articles …
GSA SUMMIT: Addressing environment, disadvantaged communities, and domestic wells in the 2022 Groundwater Sustainability Plans
The groundwater sustainability plans that were submitted to the Department of Water Resources in January of 2020 were the first of the groundwater sustainability plans to be completed. Public review of these plans has revealed some important lessons to be learned to be considered for those preparing the plans that will be due in January of 2022. At the 3rd Annual Groundwater Sustainability Agency Summit hosted by the Groundwater Resources Association online in June, a panel of NGOs that had completed a review of the plans summarized their findings from the perspective of underrepresented beneficial users and with respect to stakeholder engagement, providing insights and recommendations for the upcoming plans.
Also on Maven’s Notebook today …