DAILY DIGEST, 9/2: Delta residents unite against tunnel; Court rules Delta duck-hunting club violated Clean Water Act; California farmer perspectives on groundwater management; CA Supreme Court rules on well permits; and more …

On the calendar today …

FREE WEBINAR: Water budgeting from 10 to 11:30am.

Is your state or region wrestling with the development of a water budget or water accounting?The California Department of Water Resources has developed a Draft Handbook for Water Budget Development: With or Without Models that provides a conceptual framework and guidance on water budgeting that is applicable to any state or region.  In this webinar, the Water Budget Handbook authors Abdul Khan, Todd Hillaire, and Paul Shipman will present an overview of the Water Budget Handbook, answer questions about water budgeting, and solicit feedback. Click here to register.

In California water news today …

Delta on the edge: In a California landscape defined — and divided — by water, a single issue unites the people who live here: digging in against the tunnel

” …  The delta is an unlikely frontier, and an even more improbable battleground. So close to the Bay Area, but apart. Hidden beyond freeways and tucked beneath the wide open of the Central Valley. Vital to the future, yet wrapped in the past.  This sleepy place, though, is waking, reluctantly and resoundingly, jolted by the state’s modern-day demand for water.  Those who live here, where family farms span generations and a postman still delivers mail by boat, fear that looming changes could wipe out this singular slice of California and turn their figurative backwater into a literal one.  The stakes could hardly be higher. ... ”  It’s hard to excerpt this one as it’s so nicely written and the visuals are stunning, it just doesn’t do it justice. Read more at the San Francisco Chronicle:  Delta on the edge

Legal brief:  Delta duck-hunting club violated Clean Water Act

A federal court in California ruled that a man who operates a duck-hunting club and kite-surfing business on his tidal island in the San Francisco Bay Delta estuary violated the Clean Water Act with his unpermitted construction of a levee and additions of pollutants.  Via Courthouse News Service.

Research Briefs: California farmer perspectives on groundwater management

California has started to implement its Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) with a goal of reaching groundwater sustainability in over-pumped basins by 2040 or 2042, depending on the basin.  For decades, the responsibility of caring for California land has been shared by many farmers, farmworkers, and families. Through this stewardship, farms have been able to reduce water use while still increasing crop outputs and revenue.  Producing food requires large water resources, and in California, thousands of farms are mostly or solely reliant on groundwater sources. While farmers are integral stakeholders in sustainable groundwater management, the perceptions of individual farmers regarding water policy and management are not well understood. … ”  Read more from the Water Foundation here: Research Briefs: CA Farmer Perspectives on Groundwater Management

Tainted valley groundwater could stymie banking deals

The big kahuna of California water — Metropolitan Water District of Southern California — has stopped taking supplies from one Kern County groundwater bank because the water is heavily tainted with a cancer-causing agent that is pervasive in Central Valley’s aquifers.  While only one banking program has been affected so far, the emergence of this issue could have huge implications for water storage and movement in the Central Valley.  Increased underground storage has been key for agricultural water districts scrambling to comply with the state’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, which mandates balanced aquifers by 2040. … ”  Read more from SJV Water here:  Tainted valley groundwater could stymie banking deals

California Supreme Court clarifies ministerial vs. discretionary actions under CEQA for well construction permits

In a long-awaited decision, the California Supreme Court addressed the circumstances under which a public agency may characterize the issuance of well construction permits as “ministerial,” and hence not subject to California Environmental Quality Act, versus “discretionary,” in which case CEQA applies.  Under CEQA, ministerial approvals are those that involve little or no discretion, merely apply a checklist or clear requirements to the facts as presented and are often issued over-the-counter by county staff. In contrast, discretionary approvals are those that involve judgment or deliberation, allow a county to use discretion to decide whether to issue the approvals and how best to shape or condition those approvals to avoid environmental issues and are often issued by an appointed or elected decision-making body. CEQA review only applies to discretionary approvals. … ”  Read more from Best Best & Krieger here:  California Supreme Court clarifies ministerial vs. discretionary actions under CEQA for well construction permits

The San Diego County Water Authority is resurrecting its pipe dream – again

After almost 80 years of suckling the proverbial teat that brings fresh water from the Colorado River and Sierra Nevadas to San Diego, the local water manager is hatching a plan to unlatch.  And like a child that’s been dependent on a mother figure that long, the relationship between these two warring water authorities has become fraught over the years.  The San Diego County Water Authority depends on river water from the north and east, so it’s been tied to the L.A.-based Metropolitan Water District, which controls the system that transports it. San Diego can’t afford to turn away from those water sources that supported its growth from a small farming mission to a sprawling metropolis. … ”  Read more from the Voice of San Diego here:  The San Diego County Water Authority is resurrecting its pipe dream – again

Update on Delta Conveyance Project validation action

Last month, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) filed a “validation action” with the Sacramento County Superior Court regarding DWR’s authority to, among other things, issue revenue bonds to finance the planning, design, construction and other capital costs of the proposed Delta Conveyance Project. Since the original filing, the court has issued a summons and a public notice is now available. These documents and the validation complaint can be found here.

Click here to read the public notice.

Public Notice

The information below relates to a judicial validation proceeding for the proposed revenue bond financing for the environmental review, planning, and if ultimately approved, construction of such conveyance facilities. 

The Department operates facilities which store, transport and deliver water to urban and agricultural water agencies throughout the State. Since 1960, the Department has approved, planned and constructed a system of water storage and transportation and power generation facilities (the Project). Currently, Project water is conveyed across the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (Delta) through the natural channels of the Delta formed by the confluence of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers, as those channels have been modified over the past 150 years. 

The Department is currently undertaking environmental review and related planning and design activities regarding new Delta conveyance facilities. The facilities under review would transport water from new intake points on the Sacramento River at the northern edge of the Delta through an underground tunnel running below the natural waterways of the Delta to export facilities at the southern edge of the Delta. The revenue bond financing mechanism involved in the validation action is intended to finance these review and planning activities, and subject to specific conditions precedent, construction of such facilities. Bonds for construction cannot be issued unless those conditions precedent are satisfied, which include regulatory and statutory requirements regarding the physical and environmental aspects of approving, constructing, and operating Delta conveyance facilities. 

A validation action is a judicial proceeding in which a governmental agency, like the Department, can confirm the validity of a proposed financial transaction before it commits to or undertakes the transaction. The most common use of a validation action is to confirm the validity of an agency’s bonds and the official actions authorizing bonds before the bonds are issued. The legal effect of a validation action is limited to the bonds and bond authorizations. Matters such as compliance with environmental and other regulatory requirements that may be applicable to a physical project will not be determined in the validation action. 

The Department has initiated the validation action in Sacramento County Superior Court (Case No. 34-2020-00283112). The Department seeks a judgment confirming the validity of revenue bonds the Department authorized to pay for the environmental review, planning and design, and if approved and subject to the specific conditions precedent, construction of Delta conveyance facilities. The Department is not seeking in the validation proceeding a determination that it has complied with all legal prerequisites that may apply to approval and/or implementation of any Delta conveyance facility. 

Any interested person may appear and contest a validation action, subject to specific time limits and procedural requirements. In the Department’s validation proceeding, interested persons must appear, in conformance with applicable legal and procedural requirements, not later than October 30, 2020. 

Copies of the Department’s validation complaint and the legal summons that corresponds to the complaint are available on the Department’s website, at this link: https://water.ca.gov/Programs/State-Water-Project/Delta-Conveyance/Public-Information.

Josh Harder:  Doing every possible to have water storage for drought years

Save Water Resources Act, written by Congressman Josh Harder representing the Modesto area, the Act will fund the construction or upgrades of several water storage areas such as Sites Reservoir, Del Puerto Canyon Reservoir, Los Vaqueros and San Luis Reservoirs and provides $100 million in storage funding.  It’s all about helping Californian’s including the farmers during drought. “That’s right. I mean, we know that we are having more and more droughts. We had recent one. We know the next one is around the corner and we know what we have to do in order to address it,” said Harder. … ”  Read more from Ag Net West here:  Doing every possible to have water storage for drought years

Q/A: How studying carcasses gives insight into California salmon populations

“When salmon spawn, it marks the end of their lifecycle. But it doesn’t mark the end of DWR’s salmon research. DWR studies the carcasses to learn about salmon populations and assess their numbers in the Feather River.  Casey Campos, an environmental scientist with DWR’s Feather River Program, leads the Chinook Salmon Escapement Survey study. This year’s study starts September 1 and will go on for 16 weeks. Find out more about Casey’s work below, and be sure to check out his recent talk on YouTube as part of DWR’s Water Wednesdays series for more information on Chinook salmon.  Q:What can we learn from salmon carcasses? … ”  Read more from DWR News here:  How studying carcasses gives insight into California salmon populations

Record heat possible once again Labor Day weekend; wildfire risk to worsen following reprieve

Daniel Swain writes, “Well, the best news I have to report is that the “second wave” of widespread dry lightning I discussed in the last post was–to a large degree–“a bust.” Dry lightning did occur, but it was focused mainly across inland portions of California (vs. the coast), and the number of strikes was only in the low hundreds (vs. nearly 15,000 during the mid-August event). As a result, only a few new fires were sparked (rather than hundreds), and existing fires were not substantially exacerbated. This is one time I’m very glad the stated 1-in-3 chance that it would fall apart actually came to pass!  Since then, conditions have remained warmer than average inland but have cooled to near-average levels near the coast, with the return of a fairly robust coastal marine layer in NorCal. … ”  Read more from Weather West here: Record heat possible once again Labor Day weekend; wildfire risk to worsen following reprieve

Using fire for good on tribal land

Indigenous peoples have been using fire to maintain the land for millennia. Such practices have cultural and ecological benefits, and help keep reservations and surrounding communities safer from wildfire. We talked to Margo Robbins, a member of the Yurok tribe and executive director of the Cultural Fire Management Council, about the use of fire in their community.  PPIC: Talk about the importance of fire in tribal culture.  MARGO ROBBINS: For thousands of years we used fire on a regular basis to maintain a healthy, productive, and balanced ecosystem. Before humans lived here there were spirit beings that went into the sky and stole fire. They passed it from one animal to the next to bring it to humans to use. That is how we got fire. … ”  Read more from the PPIC here:  Using fire for good on tribal land

How indigenous farming methods could save the west from wildfires

It seems counterintuitive to many of us — in order to keep our landscape healthy, we need to let it burn sometimes. That’s the lesson that many indigenous leaders are hoping we can learn in order to help our wildfire-ravaged forests and grasslands in the West recover. For tens of thousands of years before Western settlers came to California and Arizona, indigenous peoples cared for the land and made it thrive — often using fire as a tool. And today, there are efforts underway to relearn those lessons and restore our land. I spoke with Debra Utacia Krol, indigenous affairs reporter at the Arizona Republic, more about it. … ”  Read or listen to podcast from KJZZ here:  How indigenous farming methods could save the west from wildfires

Toxics agency overhaul ordered by California legislature

California’s beleaguered toxics oversight agency could at last get an overhaul under a bill heading to the desk of Gov. Gavin Newsom.  In the final hours of the 2-year legislative session the Senate and Assembly on Monday approved AB 995, which would create an oversight board for the state Department of Toxic Substances Control, among other actions.  Newsom (D) has 30 days to sign or veto the bill. His office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. … ”  Read more from Bloomberg Law here: Toxics agency overhaul ordered by California legislature

Dan Walters: Legislature leaves much undone

When the Legislature reconvened in January, the stage was seemingly set for a year of sweeping action on California’s most vexing political issues, such as a chronic housing shortage, homelessness and an embarrassingly high poverty rate.  Democrats enjoyed overwhelming majorities in both legislative houses, the Democratic governor, Gavin Newsom, was fond of pursuing “big hairy, audacious goals” in contrast with cautious predecessor Jerry Brown, and the state’s roaring economy was pouring billions of extra dollars into the state treasury. … ”  Read more from Cal Matters here:  Dan Walters: Legislature leaves much undone

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In commentary today …

It’s time to re-envision the California water system, says Justin Fredrickson with the California Farm Bureau Federation

He writes, “Recent years have brought a taste of extreme weather and the destructive power in nature that’s always just around the corner here in California.  At the same time, numerous crises have highlighted our many vulnerabilities: drought, new groundwater restrictions, endless stumbling blocks in the way of system repairs and upgrades, regulatory restrictions to protect declining fish, and elusive voluntary agreements in lieu of “unimpaired flow” standards for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta from the state water board that would be ineffective and would cripple regional economies.  And yet, in recent times, we’ve seen progress on at least a few major water infrastructure projects. … ”  Read more from Ag Alert here:  It’s time to re-envision the California water system

To achieve sustainable groundwater management, California needs a bigger, inclusive table, says Alesandra Nájera and Mike Myatt

They write, “We believe everyone has a right to clean, reliable water, and we want that right to last for future generations. To make this vision more than aspirational, we must protect the land, rivers, and underground aquifers that nourish people and nature and support millions of jobs and countless industries, from agriculture and manufacturing to watershed restoration and recreation.  In California, much like other parts of the western US, groundwater is the sole water source for many communities and wildlife. Yet, when we look at the state of groundwater today, we know things aren’t right. ... ”  Read more from the Water Foundation here:  To achieve sustainable groundwater management, California needs a bigger, inclusive table

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In regional water news and commentary today …

Inside Klamath Refuge’s ‘Duck Hospital’: Crews save 2,000 birds infected with avian botulism

In the past month, crews in airboats on Tule Lake in the Klamath National Wildlife Refuge have rescued roughly 2,000 birds infected with avian botulism, in an outbreak that is threatening millions of water and shorebirds. The infected birds have been rehabilitated and released near the refuge’s small inflow of freshwater.  By noon each day, the rescue teams have often filled their crates with birds in various stages of botulism poisoning. At the boat ramp, the birds are not unloaded. Rather, the rescue teams load the boats onto trailers and tow them straight to the rehabilitation site on the edge of the refuge, which they call the “Duck Hospital.” … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  Inside Klamath Refuge’s ‘Duck Hospital’: Crews save 2,000 birds infected with avian botulism

Upper Mokelumne River Watershed Authority Marks 20th Year

A partnership of Northern California water districts and regional county governments is celebrating 20 years of protecting the watershed of the wild and scenic Mokelumne River, an important salmon fishery and the source of water for 1.5 million Californians in Alameda, Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, and Contra Costa counties.   “UMRWA’s efforts on water supply reliability, watershed health and education have benefited the region and local and downstream water users and served to create stronger and more collaborative relationships between the member agencies and the local, state and federal entities that we regularly work with,” said John Coleman, UMRWA Board Chair and one of two board members who have been in place since UMRWA was established. … ”  Read more from the Amador Ledger-Dispatch here:  Upper Mokelumne River Watershed Authority Marks 20th Year

Sacramento levee maintenance work to start this week

City crews will be working on shoring up levees and critical waterways ahead of the rainy season.  Over the next few weeks, Sacramento utility crews will be working on five different locations around the city. The first one scheduled for maintenance is Lower Morrison Creek off Franklin Boulevard, near Cosumnes River Boulevard. … ”  Read more from CBS Sacramento here: Sacramento levee maintenance work to start this week

Online Putah Creek Council event to explore watershed soils

Soils and how they are linked to the larger landscape in the lower Putah Creek Watershed will be the topic of the next CreekSpeak, the Putah Creek Council’s third such offering of the year.  The 7 p.m. Sept. 17 event will be held on Zoom, the virtual meeting platform, and feature research soil scientist Vic Claassen. He will discuss the influence weather patterns, water-flow patterns, and the past and current effects on the watershed of geological materials found in Northern Inner Coast. The Putah Creek Watershed begins on the east side of Cobb Mountain and includes Lake Berryessa and the Yolo Bypass. … ”  Read more from The Reporter here:  Online Putah Creek Council event to explore watershed soils

Alameda: Wetlands project moves forward

On Aug. 7, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded a service contract to Adanta, Inc. of Napa to expand and enhance an existing wetland on the Veterans Affairs (VA) property at Alameda Point. The wetlands project is being implemented to offset impacts to wetlands areas elsewhere on the VA property where a health clinic, offices and a columbarium cemetery will be built. … ”  Read more from the Alameda Sun here:  Alameda: Wetlands project moves forward

Zone 7 unveils new ozone treatment system

Zone 7 Water Agency is now treating its water supply with ozone, replacing chlorine as the main disinfecting treatment and “enhancing quality of finished water” for customers, officials announced on Tuesday.  The agency’s mostly completed $49 million ozonation project is now up and running at the Del Valle Water Treatment Plant in Livermore, which has been upgraded in recent years to make use of ozone as a powerful water disinfectant. … ”  Read more from Pleasanton Weekly here: Zone 7 unveils new ozone treatment system

Court slows Resnick push to halt Assemis’ Tulare Co. pistachio plant

A push by the billionaire Stewart Resnick and the Wonderful Company to expedite legal process aiming to halt the expansion of a Tulare County-based pistachio plant owned by Fresno’s Assemi family has come up short.  Tuesday, Tulare County Superior Court Judge Bret Hillman issued a tentative ruling denying a motion, filed by the Wonderful Company, to enter judgment against the Assemis. … ”  Read more from the SJV Sun here:  Court slows Resnick push to halt Assemis’ Tulare Co. pistachio plant

Aging power plants in Southern California won’t close as scheduled

California’s desire to phase out fossil fuels is apparently bigger than its ability to do so.  Plans to shut down outdated gas-fired power generators this year in Huntington Beach, Long Beach, Redondo Beach and Oxnard are being postponed, with the state Water Resources Control Board voting 4-0 on Tuesday, Sept. 1, to endorse the move.  It’s the final approval needed, with shutdowns to be delayed as long as three years beyond the original closure date of Dec. 31, 2020. … ”  Read more from the Inland Daily Bulletin here:  Aging power plants in Southern California won’t close as scheduled

Click here for the press release from the State Water Board.

[Yesterday], the State Water Resources Control Board approved an amendment to its Once-Through Cooling (OTC) Policy for four power plants along the coast. The amendment extends compliance or phase-out dates for the facilities, all of which use ocean waters for cooling as part of the power generation process.  The amendment is responsive to a request by the state’s energy, utility, and grid operators and regulators to maintain, for a definitive period, four OCT plants as power choices. The plants are needed to provide more energy grid stability and reliability, as additional energy and storage resources are built over the next three years.  “Once-through cooling power plant operations impose heavy environmental impacts on our oceans and communities, and an extension of these compliance dates aren’t without significant consideration,” said E. Joaquin Esquivel, Chair of the State Water Board. “The Board is called to balance the complex and overarching needs of the state, and here appropriately weigh energy reliability considerations even in the pursuit of these important policies.” …

The amendment extends Once-Through Cooling Policy compliance or phase-out dates at four fossil fuel power plants, of an original nineteen facilities when the policy was adopted in 2010. The plants and extensions are as follows:

  • A three-year extension of the compliance date for Alamitos, Huntington Beach and Ormond Beach generating stations to Dec. 31, 2023
  • A one-year extension of the compliance date for Redondo Beach Generating Station to Dec. 31, 2021

Additionally, the amendment revises compliance dates at the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant to conform the Once-Through Cooling Policy expiration dates for each unit to those in the corresponding nuclear operating license.

California’s Once-Through Cooling policy, which became effective October 1, 2010, seeks to protect marine life when water from the ocean or estuaries is used for cooling at power plants. Using ocean water for once-through cooling kills millions of fish, larvae, eggs, seals, sea lions, turtles, and other creatures each year when they are either trapped against screens or drawn into the cooling system and exposed to pressure and high heat. Power plants are required to either reduce the velocity of ocean water intake flows or reduce impacts by other comparable means.  Many power plants have chosen to comply by stopping use of once-through cooling operations. 

The policy acknowledges that compliance date changes may be necessary to support grid reliability.  The Board created the multi-agency Statewide Advisory Committee on Cooling Water Intake Structures (SACCWIS) to regularly monitor grid reliability and provide recommendations to the Board if extensions are necessary. 

The committee identified possible grid reliability issues in March 2019, and, in January 2020, recommended the Board consider extending the compliance dates of the four fossil-fuels power plants.  The amendment is based on the SACCWIS recommendation.

The amendment was prompted by changes in California’s energy demands since 2019. These include a shift in peak energy demand to later in the day and later in the year, when solar and wind resources are not as reliably available to meet demand. The amendment also addresses other energy related factors, including a lower qualifying capacity for wind and solar power than previously determined, a significant increase in projected reliance on imported electricity over historical levels, and earlier-than-expected closures of some inland power plants.

As the recent extreme heat event in California has shown, more power is needed for peak usage on hot days until 2023, when renewable energy sources are scheduled to be online to cover anticipated demand.

The State Water Resources Control Board is charged with implementing federal Clean Water Act Section 316(b), which states that the location, design, construction and capacity of cooling water intake structures must reflect the best technology available to protect aquatic life. The power plants operate under National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits, which the nine regional water boards will modify to implement the amendment to the OTC Policy. The public is invited to participate in the permitting process.

Please see the OTC Policy’s Official Policy Documentation. A Once Through Cooling Fact Sheet has additional information on the history of this policy, documenting efforts by the energy industry to stay in compliance.

Contaminated water under north O.C. to get Superfund money for cleanup

A five-square-mile plume of contaminated groundwater in north Orange County has been placed on the federal Superfund list, making it eligible for cleanup money and other aid, the U.S. Environmental Protect Agency announced Tuesday.  The plume — which runs from the 91 Freeway and touches south Fullerton, some parts of Anaheim and west Placentia — is tainted with chlorinated solvents and other manufacturing chemicals that were used for decades starting in the 1950s. … ”  Read more from the OC Register here:  Contaminated water under north O.C. to get Superfund money for cleanup

Click here to read the press release from the EPA.

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the addition of six sites, including the Orange County North Basin site in southern California to the Superfund National Priorities List (NPL). Releases of contamination at this site pose human health and environmental risks.  Under the Trump Administration, the Superfund program has re-emerged as a priority to fulfill the agency’s mission. EPA’s renewed focus has spurred action to clean up some of the nation’s most contaminated sites, protect the health of communities, and return contaminated land to safe and productive reuse for future generations. … “

Communities with sites on the National Priorities List are a true national priority under the Trump Administration,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Many of the sites we are adding today are in vulnerable, low-income, and minority communities that deserve our attention. EPA is demonstrating our commitment to assist overburdened communities in becoming cleaner, healthier, and more prosperous places to live, work, and go to school.”

“By placing the Orange County North Basin Site on the National Priorities List, EPA is showing its commitment to clean up groundwater contamination in northern Orange County,” said EPA Regional Administrator John Busterud. “Today’s action is a big step forward in protecting an essential drinking water source for generations to come.”

The Orange County North Basin includes parts of Anaheim, Fullerton and Placentia, and is part of the larger Orange County Groundwater Basin. The groundwater plume is contaminated with chlorinated solvents and other contaminants covering approximately five square miles. Seventy percent of the water served in Orange County is from groundwater, making the basin a critical water resource for 2.4 million residents in 22 cities. All drinking water currently served by water purveyors meets federal and state drinking water standards.

For more information on the Orange County North Basin Supefund Site, please visit: http://epa.gov/superfund/orange-county-north-basin

San Diego water managers seek better rain forecast information

San Diego water managers are working with local researchers to understand how atmospheric rivers bring water to the region.  The moisture-laden storm systems bring rain to Southern California, but too much rain can be damaging.  Scripps Institution of Oceanography researchers are working to better understand atmospheric rivers, or ARs, so they can predict when and where the weather systems will hit. … ”  Read more from KPBS here:  San Diego water managers seek better rain forecast information

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In national water news today …

Buildings reopening after coronavirus may face tainted water systems

The coronavirus pandemic has shuttered many buildings. As prospects for reopening rise, so too does the need to contend with water systems potentially contaminated during the shutdown.  Stagnant water in pipes or tanks can breed microorganisms like Legionella pneumophila, the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease.  Heavy metals like lead and copper also can build up, as can byproducts of chlorination by water utilities. … ”  Read more from KJZZ here:  Buildings reopening after coronavirus may face tainted water systems

Reclamation seeks to streamline National Historic Preservation Act compliance for water delivery structures

The Bureau of Reclamation is taking steps to simplify cultural resources compliance on canals and ditches. Reclamation is requesting that the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation , which oversees the federal historic preservation process, grant a “program comment” to document the historic significance of water distribution systems as a whole, instead of on a case-by-case basis.  “As the nation’s largest wholesale water supplier with more than 8,000 miles of canals, Reclamation is in the unique position to address streamlining compliance for these water distribution systems,” Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman said. “This updated process will improve the cultural resources review and compliance for Reclamation, water districts and state review agencies.” …

Click here to continue reading this press release.

The “program comment” is an alternative approach to streamline compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act by reducing the repetitive nature of recording historic sites. It will also allow Reclamation to focus its cultural resource efforts on sites in the most need of further recording, protection and interpretation.

Under the current process, whenever there is a federal action, there is a requirement to review the potential effect to all historic properties eligible for or listed on the National Register of Historic Places, irrespective of their abundance or purpose. This has the potential to add time and cost to proposed federal water projects.

Over the next 45 days, Reclamation will be conducting public outreach and seeking public comment on the proposed ACHP program comment. To learn more or comment, visit www.usbr.gov/cultural.

Drones a source of disturbance for wintering water birds

New findings published Tuesday suggest that the improvements and more widespread use of drone technology is affecting well-known wintering water birds, scaring them away from their normal migration grounds.  The term water bird refers to a group of extremely diverse aquatic birds, including ducks, geese, swans, herons and more. Flocks choose various locations to hunker down for the winter, but for the study published Tuesday in the journal Bird Study, researchers at the British Trst for Ornithology (BTO) in Scotland chose to investigate the flocks that travel down to Britain from the Arctic. … ”  Read more from the Courthouse News here:  Drones a source of disturbance for wintering water birds

Common sunscreen ingredients prove dangerous for freshwater ecosystems

The active ingredients found in sunscreen have detrimental effects on freshwater ecosystems, according to new research by University of Alberta biologists.  The results show that long-term exposure to ultraviolet (UV) filters — including avobenzone, oxybenzone, and octocrylene — is lethal for some organisms living in freshwater environments. One of the largest sources of UV-filter contamination in both marine and freshwater environments is from sunscreen leaching off of the skin while swimming. … ”  Read more from Science Daily here: Common sunscreen ingredients prove dangerous for freshwater ecosystems

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September climate outlook …

September 2020 U.S. climate outlook: late season heat wave across the West, with potential frosts and freezes across the Northern Plains

Good news for those who don’t prefer the summer heat: Meteorological autumn is officially here! Be forewarned, though. Septembers can bring a wide variety of weather across the country, ranging from the peak of the hurricane season in the Atlantic, to late-season heat waves, or even frosts and freezes.  The September 2020 outlook from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is a perfect example of that atmospheric grab-bag. … ”  Read more from Climate.gov here:  September 2020 U.S. climate outlook


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Today’s featured articles …

DELTA COUNCIL: Progress report on implementing AB 1668 and SB 606: Making conservation a California way of life

In 2018, the legislature passed AB 1668 and SB 606, which establish guidelines and standards for urban and agricultural water use efficiency and conservation and a framework to implement those standards and provide oversight.  The primary goals of the legislation are to use water more wisely, eliminate water waste, strengthen local drought resilience, and improve agricultural water use efficiency and drought planning.  To implement the legislation, DWR and the Water Board are working together to develop a framework of new standards for indoor and outdoor residential water use; commercial, industrial, and institutional (CII) water use for landscape irrigation with dedicated meters; and water loss from distribution systems.

At the August meeting of the Delta Stewardship Council, council members received an update on the State Water Board’s ongoing efforts to implement the legislation from Charlotte Ely, a Supervising Senior Environmental Scientist at the Water Board, who gave an overview of the legislation and an update on the development of the water efficiency standards.

Click here to read this article.

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

OPPORTUNITY TO COMMENT: Planning tool for local water managers released for public comment

NOTICE: Department of Conservation SGMA Watershed Coordinator Grant Program Application Deadline Extended

INPUT WANTED: Community Input Sought for Habitat Restoration and Dust Suppression Projects at Salton Sea

WATER STORAGE INVESTMENT PROGRAM: Emergency regulations approved


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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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