DAILY DIGEST, 9/15: Senators to discuss bipartisan take on reducing fire risks; AR update/weather pattern shift coming; Monterey fight over desalination is now about environmental justice; How can California make water data work for decision makers?; and more …

On the calendar today …

The State Water Board meets beginning at 9:30am.

Agenda items include Board actions and responses to COVID-19, Water quality regulatory fees, Central Valley Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program Update, and a PFAS statewide investigation.   Click here for the full agenda and remote access instructions.

In California water news today …

A Senate Energy and Natural Resources subcommittee will take testimony this week on legislation pressing a more aggressive approach to managing forests for wildfire.  The hearing comes as fires rage in California and Oregon, and politicians debate whether climate change or mismanagement are the biggest culprits.  The bill, S. 4431, by Sens. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) caps months of work by their offices to craft a bipartisan solution to an environmentally divisive subject. They’ve urged a Senate vote this year, citing the spike in wildfires.  The legislation, which also has a bipartisan companion measure in the House, contains numerous provisions from members of both parties and totals 52 pages. … ”  Read more from E&E News here:  Senators to discuss bipartisan take on reducing fire risks

Trump on climate: ‘I don’t think science knows actually’

President Trump doubled down on his denial of climate change yesterday by saying that scientists are wrong and claiming that the world will “start getting cooler.”  The remarks, delivered during a brief visit to California to discuss the state’s historic wildfires, run counter to mountains of research on global warming — including reports issued by his own administration.  His comments ignored how climate change has contributed to natural disasters as the nation watches uncontrolled blazes spread across the West, causing catastrophic damage and killing more than 35 people. … ”  Read more from E&E News here: Trump on climate: ‘I don’t think science knows actually’


Update on the Atmospheric River forecast to make landfall over the Pacific Northwest

An AR that is forecast to make landfall early this week could bring much needed precipitation to parts of Washington, Oregon, and potentially Northern California.  As time has progressed closer to verification, ensemble agreement associated with AR landfall timing and initial IVT magnitude has increased. ... ” 🙂 Read more from the Center for Western Water and Weather Extremes here: CW3E AR Update: 14 September 2020 Outlook

Severe wildfire conditions will continue across California, but pattern shift will improve air quality

Even in a year that has already featured many well-justified superlatives, it is becoming genuinely difficult to articulate just how severe the ongoing wildfire emergency has become in California. The numbers were already shocking back during the August lightning bust and subsequent wildfire siege, but those August numbers now look modest in comparison to today’s astonishing statistics. … [The] good news is that the incoming low pressure system will bring a round of modest but widespread showers to the Pacific Northwest, from about the central Oregon coast northward into British Columbia. These PacNW showers will help to temporarily reduce fire intensity in these regions and clear the air. Despite much excitement over the weekend, however, it looks increasingly unlikely that substantial precipitation will fall anywhere in California from this event. … ”   🙁  Read the full post at Weather West here:  Severe wildfire conditions will continue across California, but pattern shift will improve air quality

EDF, NASA, DRI and Google announce web application to transform water management in the Western United States

Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), NASA, the Desert Research Institute (DRI) and Google announced plans today to develop a new web application called OpenET to enable western U.S. farmers and water managers to accurately track water consumption by crops and other vegetation using data from satellites and weather stations.  OpenET will fill a critical information gap in water management in the West. Today, access to accurate, timely satellite-based data on the amount of water used to grow food is fragmented and often expensive, keeping it out of the hands of many farmers and decision-makers. Water supplies in the western U.S. are critical to the health of our communities, food supply and wildlife, but they are facing increasing pressures in the face of population growth and a changing climate. … ”

Click here to continue reading this press release.

Applications of OpenET data include:

  • Informing irrigation management and scheduling practices to maximize “crop per drop” and reduce costs for water and fertilizer.
  • Enabling water and land managers to develop more accurate water budgets and innovative management programs that promote adequate water supplies for agriculture, people and ecosystems.
  • Supporting groundwater management, water trading and conservation programs that increase the economic viability of agriculture across the West.

What is evapotranspiration

The “ET” in OpenET stands for evapotranspiration — the process by which water evaporates from the land surface and transpires from plants. Evapotranspiration, a key measure of water consumed by crops and vegetation, can be tracked by satellites because the process cools plants and soil down, so irrigated fields appear cooler in satellite images. 

Using publicly available data, OpenET will make several methods for estimating evapotranspiration more widely accessible, ultimately helping to build broader trust and agreement around this information. OpenET will also make it possible to track the amount of evapotranspiration reduced when farmers change cropping patterns, invest in new technologies or adopt water-saving practices.  OpenET is expected to be available to the public in 2021.

OpenET will initially provide field-scale ET data in 17 states, with plans to expand to the entire United States and beyond. The 17 states are Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

The development of OpenET comes at a crucial time in California as local agencies are developing and implementing plans to balance groundwater budgets to comply with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. The law requires basins to balance groundwater supply and demand within the next 20 to 22 years. 

“OpenET will help fill one of the biggest data gaps in water management in the western United States. Our primary goal is to make sure we are providing evapotranspiration data that is accurate, consistent, scientifically based and useful for water management, whether for an individual agricultural field or an entire river basin,” said Forrest Melton, program scientist for the NASA Western Water Applications Office. “OpenET is being created through an innovative collaboration among a national team of scientists, technology experts, farmers, government policy-makers and environmental nonprofits.”

“OpenET is a powerful application of cloud computing that will lead to measurable results on the ground in the agriculture sector. Google is proud to support such an important new tool,” said Google Earth Engine developer advocate Tyler Erickson.

“After 10 years of working with farmers and water agencies to develop ET estimates, it couldn’t be more rewarding to be creating an application like OpenET that uses best available science and makes ET data much more affordable and accessible to all,” said Justin Huntington, a research professor at Desert Research Institute. “We also see OpenET having the potential to scale up to other regions of the world, including South America and Africa.”

“OpenET will empower farmers and water managers across the West to build more accurate water budgets and identify stress, resulting in a more resilient system for agriculture, people and ecosystems,” said Robyn Grimm, senior manager, water information systems, at EDF. “We envision OpenET leveling the playing field by providing all farmers with data that until now have not been widely accessible to everyone.”

Unprecedented collaboration 

OpenET is being developed with input from more than 100 stakeholders across the West.

NASA, EDF, DRI and HabitatSeven are the project leads for OpenET. Additional collaborators include Google Earth Engine, USGS, USDA Agricultural Research Service, California State University Monterey Bay, University of Idaho, University of Maryland, University of Nebraska-Lincoln and University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The OpenET project has received funding from the NASA Applied Sciences Program Western Water Applications Office, S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Walton Family Foundation, Water Funder Initiative, Lyda Hill Philanthropies, Delta Water Agencies, and the Windward Fund. In-kind support has been provided by Google Earth Engine and partners in the agricultural and water management communities.

Providing farmers and local water managers free ET data is a core objective of the OpenET project. For-profit entities and other organizations looking for large-scale access to OpenET data will be able to purchase it through an application programming interface (API). Revenue generated will fund continuing research and development of OpenET data services.

Support for OpenET

“The Harney Basin is running a groundwater deficit of 120,000 acre-feet to 130,000 acre-feet per year. We have used ET data to gain a better understanding of our water consumption and design more efficient irrigation systems that use about 15% less water. This could translate to a savings of 18% to 20% on electricity costs for pumping, too. With the demands on water from a growing population and feeding more people, we have to figure out how to get the best value from every drop of water. ET data is crucial to providing this information. ”
—Oregon State Rep. Mark Owens. Owens owns or manages 3,200 acres of farmland.

“Reliable water data is almost as critical to farmers and water managers as the water supply itself. With added pressure from population growth and the uncertainty that climate change impacts have on existing and future water supply, OpenET allows planning for agricultural water needs in a way that just wasn’t possible before.”
—E. Joaquin Esquivel, Chair of the California State Water Resources Control Board

“Every five years, the Bureau of Reclamation is tasked with creating a report that summarizes water use and loss for the Upper Colorado River Basin states. Currently, there are several satellite-based methodologies to measure water, many of which will be incorporated into OpenET. Consequently, OpenET will serve as a valuable tool for us to test and compare ET measurement methodologies to determine the best approach for future studies.”
—James Prairie, Hydrologic Engineer, U.S. Department of Interior, Bureau of Reclamation

“OpenET will be a valuable tool to estimate historical and current water consumed by crops across Nevada. OpenET data also will be especially useful for monitoring consumptive use to support local groundwater management plans that are needed in response to long-term groundwater level declines.”
—Adam Sullivan, P.E., Nevada Deputy State Engineer

“To comply with the new groundwater law in California, it’s imperative to have accurate, transparent water use data to serve to build a groundwater budget. But currently ET data can be very expensive to acquire from consultants or universities, and the methodologies are often inconsistent and unclear. Consequently, Rosedale turned to OpenET for accurate parcel-level ET water data at a lower cost to build an online accounting platform for our landowners to more easily manage their own groundwater budgets. Because the OpenET project has brought together a team of leading experts on several approaches for measuring ET, I’m confident it will become the de facto source of water data among landowners and water managers alike.”
—Eric Averett, General Manager, Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District (California)

“OpenET represents a game-changing leap forward for water management in the West. OpenET will give water users in the Delta a much less expensive alternative method for complying with the state requirement to monitor and report on their water diversions.  Instead of physically measuring every diversion in the Delta, farmers will be able to look up OpenET’s estimate of their crop water use. If the estimate is acceptable to the farmer, the farmer knows that it will be acceptable to us. Concurring on OpenET’s ensemble measurement will save time, money and confusion.”
—Michael George, Delta Watermaster­­­ (California)

“OpenET is a great step forward for managing water needs in a time when demand far surpasses supply. Helping our farmers and ranchers more effectively manage their water use not only helps their crop and bottom line, but creates opportunities for more water to remain in our river systems to benefit both people and nature.”
—Aaron Derwingson, Water Projects Director, Colorado River Program, The Nature Conservancy

Additional Resources:

FAQ: https://OpenETdata.org/faq.pdf

In a small California town, a fight over desalination is now about environmental justice

On a barren stretch of Monterey Bay, in a region desperate for fresh water, an oft-overlooked town has little say in whether a big water company can build a desalination operation right on its shore.  Here in Marina, where one-third of the town is low income and many speak little English, industrial facilities have long burdened the landscape. This desalination project would replace a century-old sand mine that has stripped shorebirds and rare butterflies of their home — and the community of an open space where anybody could cool off during a heat wave or enjoy a day by the sea. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  In a small California town, a fight over desalination is now about environmental justice

SEE ALSO: Coastal Commission to revisit Cal Am desal project Thursday, from the Monterey Herald

‘We’ve always known ours was contaminated’: the trouble with America’s water

Once a week, Florencia Ramos makes a special trip to the market in Lindsay, California. “If you don’t have clean water, you have to go get some,” says Ramos, a farm worker and mother of four who lives in the neighboring Central Valley town of El Rancho.  She has been purchasing water for more than a decade now. At first, the county well water that flowed through her tap contained high levels of nitrate, a pervasive health hazard across the rural US, where nitrogen-rich fertilizer and livestock manure seep into groundwater. While it never tasted bad, she recalls her water service provider instructing her not to drink it. … ”  Read more from The Guardian here:  ‘We’ve always known ours was contaminated’: the trouble with America’s water

State throws cold water on pricing scheme

Water customers in Imperial Beach and Coronado were at risk of a suspect pricing mechanism, according to a ratepayer watchdog, until state regulators stepped in late last month.  There’s a lot to unpack, so let’s dive into one of the wonkier features of the state’s water market.  After the 2008 recession, California decided to experiment with a new water pricing mechanism to promote conservation. Typically, water utilities set water prices a year in advance by trying to predict how much people will need. … ”  Read more from the Voice of San Diego here:  State throws cold water on pricing scheme

Issue brief: How can California make water data work for decision makers?

California produces immense amounts of water-related data.  Yet, California also struggles to adapt its water systems to pressures such as climate change and population growth. To meet these challenges in an informed way, decision makers need data that supports their needs.  In 2018, spurred by the Open and Transparent Water Data Act of 2016 (AB 1755), we engaged stakeholders to learn how to make water data more useful. Since then, California state agencies have worked hard to plan and implement more effective water data systems. The nonprofit California Water Data Consortium is working to foster collaboration among water data experts and stakeholders. These initiatives strive to maximize data-informed decision making.  In our latest issue brief, we focus on civic engagement in water data, which we define as participation of public, private, nonprofit, and community water data users and decision makers in issues around data availability and system design. … ”  Read more from the Legal Planet here:  How can California make water data work for decision makers?

Garamendi bill unlocks federal financing for Sites Reservoir and Central Valley Project pumps modernization

“Today, Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA03) introduced the “WIFIA Improvement Act” (H.R.8217) with the following original cosponsors: Representatives TJ Cox (D-CA21), Jim Costa (D-CA16), Doug LaMalfa (R-CA01), Josh Harder (D-CA10), and Dan Newhouse (R-WA04).  The bill is endorsed by the Family Farm Alliance, American Society of Civil Engineers, American Public Works Association, National Water Resources Association, Sites Project Joint Powers Authority, Friant Water Authority, and the San Joaquin River Exchange Contractors Water Authority. …

Click here to continue reading this press release.

This bipartisan legislation (H.R.8217) would amend the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) of 2014 to make public water projects like the off-stream Sites Reservoir Project eligible for low-interest, longer-term federal loans from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Specifically, the bill would allow water projects with longer useful lifecycles like Sites Reservoir to receive federal WIFIA financing for 55-year loan terms instead of the current 35-year loan terms, thereby lowering the capital costs for such projects.

Congressman Garamendi’s bill (H.R.8217) would also clarify that federally owned but locally maintained infrastructure for the Central Valley Project like the C.W. “Bill” Jones Pumping Plant northwest of Tracy, California, are also eligible for WIFIA loans for capital improvement and modernization costs. While maintained at local cost by the San Luis and Delta-Mendota Water Authority, the Jones Pumping Plant remains legally owned by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation as part of the Central Valley Project.

 “This bipartisan legislation would unlock nearly $6 billion in low-interest federal financing for California water projects, including to build the off-stream Sites Reservoir and to modernize the pumps for the Central Valley Project. We need all the federal and state resources we can get to meet California’s future water supply needs and achieve a truly drought-resilient water system given climate change. I thank my Congressional colleagues for their support of this critical legislation to make smart federal investments to upgrade and modernize California’s water supply,” said Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA03).

“The WIFIA Improvement Act provides needed clarity that the WIFIA program can be accessed to fund necessary improvements to critical water infrastructure facilities, like the Jones Pumping Plant, and to fund future projects like mitigating subsidence along the Delta-Mendota, San Luis, and Friant-Kern Canals or expanding water storage like San Luis Reservoir. Additionally, the legislation provides flexibility to extend loan repayment terms, allowing agencies to better manage cash flow and reduce burdens to ratepayers. The San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority appreciates the leadership of Representative Garamendi and his cosponsors on California water issues and we urge Congress to pass this legislation as quickly as possible,” said Federico Barajas, Executive Director, San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority.

“The Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) applauds the introduction of the ‘WIFIA Improvement Act of 2020’ by Rep. John Garamendi. One of ACWA’s highest priorities is updating California’s water infrastructure. By improving the WIFIA funding program, this legislation helps California’s water community move forward with critical water infrastructure investments,” said Dave Eggerton, Executive Director of the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA): ACWA’s more than 450 public water agency members provide 90% of the water used for agricultural, industrial, and municipal uses in California.

“This is a critically important piece of legislation that will help drive down the cost of essential water infrastructure investments nationwide, including Sites Reservoir,” said Fritz Durst, Chair of Sites Project Authority Board of Directors.  “This legislation will help make the Sites Project even more affordable, particularly for local, Sacramento Valley agriculture, significantly reducing the cost of water.  The annual debt service savings generated by the bill will also help spur additional local investments in other essential water infrastructure projects nationwide.”

In February 2019, Congressman Garamendi introduced bipartisan legislation (H.R.1435) directing the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to expedite the necessary federal feasibility study for the Sites Reservoir Project. To date, Congressman Garamendi has helped secure more than $1.2 billion in state and federal funding to build the off-stream reservoir.

The American Society of Civil Engineers’ 2019 scorecard gave California’s drinking water and dam infrastructure grades of C and C-, respectively.  In California alone, it’s estimated that over $2.5 billion dollars is needed to repair dams and nearly $51 billion is needed to provide reliable water supplies. Approximately $11.5 billion is available each year in low-interest federal financing from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s WIFIA loan program.

The full text of H.R.8217 can be viewed here.

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

Save Water Resources Act, is 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. ... ”  Read more from Cal Ag Today here:  Doing every possible to have water storage for drought years

Preparing for what’s ahead: the case of Sonoma County Winegrowers

” … Sonoma County Winegrowers (SCW) is an organization that has exercised vigilance and prepared for an uncertain future. It was established by local winegrowing families to nurture and sustain agriculture for future generations. It brings together more than 1,800 wine grape growers and is guided by a mission to preserve and promote this world-class winegrowing region. The organization serves an area with 18 distinct growing regions, planting 66 wine varieties for bottling by 425 local wineries and many wineries outside the Sonoma region. … ”  Read more from Wharton here:  Preparing for what’s ahead: the case of Sonoma County Winegrowers

California secede? One group got a key approval last week to try

One of the most well-known groups pushing for California to secede from the rest of the country got the OK from state officials last week to collect signatures for a secession question on a future ballot.  The news of the approval came on the heels of California’s 170th “birthday,” or anniversary marking the day it became the 31st state in the union. If the signature collection by pro-independence group Yes California is successful, residents would, in an undetermined future election, decide whether to cast a “no confidence” vote in the United States and create a commission to evaluate the Golden State’s ability to govern itself. ... ”  Read more from San Jose Inside here: California secede? One group got a key approval last week to try

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In regional water news and commentary today …

Eel River Dam Removal Webinar

” … Last month, North Coast Regional Director Darren Mierau presented about the Potter Valley Project. Two aging dams on the upper Mainstem Eel River, owned by Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), currently impede (Cape Horn Dam) or completely block (Scott Dam) migratory access to several hundred miles of habitat for federally listed Chinook salmon and Steelhead. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) license for the Potter Valley Project (PVP) expires in 2022. In 2019 PG&E made a paramount decision to not relicense the Project.  This webinar will describe the Feasibility Study Report and Project Plan submitted to FERC in May of 2020 by a coalition of five regional entities including CalTrout to acquire the license for the Potter Valley Project. … ”  More from Cal Trout here: Eel River Dam Removal Webinar

Protecting South Yuba River proves challenging amidst COVID-19

Every September for the last 22 years, the South Yuba River Citizens League has hosted a Yuba River Cleanup with the help of the California Coastal Commission. This year, the river’s need for some tender, loving care has only grown as the region reckons with more visitors, more single-use plastics and less accountability amidst the pandemic. … ” Read more from The Union here:  Protecting South Yuba River proves challenging amidst COVID-19

Citizens group begins deep dive in Napa Valley groundwater issues

A large citizens group has begun shaping a state-required plan to make certain Napa Valley groundwater serving world-famous vineyards and wineries is never sucked dry.  The Napa County Groundwater Sustainability Plan Advisory Committee — 25 people appointed by the Board of Supervisors representing such interests as farming, wineries and the environment — was in action last Thursday with a Zoom meeting. … ”  Read more from the Napa Register here:  Citizens group begins deep dive in Napa Valley groundwater issues

Water emergency for Tule Elk at Point Reyes, activists square off against U.S. Park Service

Exclusive video obtained by the ABC7 I-Team shows activists sneaking into a closed national park earlier this month to provide water to California’s native Tule Elk, after half a dozen of the animals died during drought conditions.  Now, the controversy over the Tule Elk on Pt. Reyes National Seashore is heating up, with a demonstration Sunday. A serious drought five years ago killed half of the Tule Elk on Pt. Reyes. The activists don’t want to see it happen again. … ”  Read more from KGO here:  Water emergency for Tule Elk at Point Reyes, activists square off against U.S. Park Service

Tri-Valley water districts tackle toxic chemicals in drinking water wells

At least 500 hundred drinking water wells that serve up to 9 million Californians have potentially dangerous levels of a highly toxic family of chemicals and some of the worst are right here in the Bay Area.  Surrounded by lush green fields, Pleasanton often makes the top ten list of desirable places to live. But a new list just out is nothing to boast about. … ”  Read more from KPIX here:  Tri-Valley water districts tackle toxic chemicals in drinking water wells

A new habitat conservation plan for the Calaveras River

The Calaveras River is a unique tributary of the San Joaquin River in California’s Central Valley that plays important roles for both people and fish. The Calaveras is the major water supply for the city of Stockton and provides water for agricultural and residential use in San Joaquin and Calaveras counties. The river is also home to a population of resident rainbow trout, some of which may migrate to the ocean as steelhead (a life-history form considered threatened under the Endangered Species Act). Water operations on the Calaveras River are important for delivering irrigation and drinking water, but sometimes these activities can harm or otherwise negatively impact fish. … ”  Read more from Fish Bio here:  A new habitat conservation plan for the Calaveras River

Santa Cruz:  Big Basin Redwoods State Park caretakers see opportunity in fire’s destruction

Standing in the hazy afternoon light and surrounded by burnt-out shells of what has long been a thronging hub of humanity, California State Parks officials and outdoors advocacy group leaders shared their vision of a brighter future for Big Basin Redwoods State Park.  During a press event and walk with journalists around the parks’ entrance area Thursday, Jordan Burgess, State Parks’ deputy superintendent for the Santa Cruz district, looked to the nearby historic grove of coast redwoods left standing in the wake of the 86,000 acre CZU August Lightning Complex fires for inspiration. The towering trees rely not on individual deep roots to keep them standing, Burgess said, but a wide interlocking root system. … ”  Read more from the Santa Cruz Sentinel here: Big Basin Redwoods State Park caretakers see opportunity in fire’s destruction

Monterey: Coastal Commission to revisit Cal Am desal project Thursday

A long-awaited Coastal Commission hearing on California American Water’s proposed Monterey Peninsula desalination project is shaping up to be an all-day affair.  After nine months of waiting, the desal project is set for a special remote commission meeting on Thursday in which the proposal is the lone item on the agenda.  The 12-member commission, which first considered the desal project in November before referring it to staff for more analysis, is set to consider both Cal Am’s appeal of the city of Marina’s denial of a coastal development permit for the company’s proposed desal project feeder water well field planned for the shoreline dunes at the CEMEX sand mining plant in north Marina, as well as a consolidated coastal development permit for various elements of the project in other jurisdictions in the Coastal Zone. … ”  Read more from the Monterey Herald here:  Coastal Commission to revisit Cal Am desal project Thursday

SEE ALSO: In a small California town, a fight over desalination is now about environmental justice, from the LA Times

Nation’s largest solar farm approved for Ducor area

The nation’s largest solar farm in the Ducor area could begin by the end of this year. … 8Minute Solar Energy stated the project is being constructed on low-producing farmland. Concern has been expressed as far as the Williamson Act is concerned which regulates how farmland can be used for other purposes but county officials state the project meets Williamson Act criteria.  It was also stated the project should reduce the burden of groundwater in the area which has been an obvious concern. … ”  Read more from the Porterville Recorder here:  Nation’s largest solar farm approved for Ducor area

SoCal: City supports sewer study, cautions against development

The Monte Vista Water District Board commissioned a feasibility study on Sept. 2 to replace hundreds of old septic tanks in the unincorporated area of Chino with a sewer system operated by the water district.  Sewage service would be a new area for Monte Vista Water District, which provides water services in Montclair and small pockets in northwest Chino. … ”  Read more from the Chino Champion here: City supports sewer study, cautions against development

A greater sense of urgency needed for crises at the Salton Sea, says Brandon Dawson of the Sierra Club

He writes, “The Salton Sea presents one of California’s most pressing ecological and environmental justice crises. The shrinking sea threatens habitat for millions of fish and birds, and as the sea’s shoreline recedes, a pollutant-laced dust spills into nearby communities and threatens the health of 650,000 people living nearby.  For years, our former leaders sat by as the crisis worsened. Responding to the lack of progress in 2017, the State Water Resources Control Board ordered the California Natural Resources Agency to adopt a 10-year plan to implement projects to suppress the harmful dust and restore habitat. The agency is required to complete a target amount of suppression and restoration acreage each year and update the water board on progress annually. … ”  Read more from Cal Matters here:  A greater sense of urgency needed for crises at the Salton Sea, says Brandon Dawson of the Sierra Club

Pursuing independent water sources, San Diego ignores one beneath its feet

San Diego is not well endowed with many freshwater sources to support its growing population, so some water experts are perplexed the city’s ignoring a self-replenishing local groundwater source that, though small in size, is safe from the threat of natural disasters and reliably recharged by the San Diego River.  The city’s not only overlooking the Mission Valley aquifer water as a resource – it’s planning to build a multibillion-dollar water purification project called Pure Water right over it. … ”  Read more from the Voice of San Diego here: Pursuing independent water sources, San Diego ignores one beneath its feet

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Along the Colorado River …

Arizona blessing of water transfer a big blow to river communities, says the Herald-News

They write, “Conserving water in the Colorado River is hard enough without cities in Arizona and other states taking more than their share away.  Queen Creek continues to seek transfer of more than 2,000 acre feet of water annually from Cibola-area agricultural water rights. Last week, the top water regulatory agency gave its blessing, albeit for about half the requested amount. The federal government must give final approval to the deal.  If and when the deal is done, that’s a big win for a thirsty suburb in Maricopa County and a big loss for the river communities. … ”  Read more from Today’s Herald-News here: Arizona blessing of water transfer a big blow to river communities, says the Herald-News

Lake Powell pipeline raises objections from six western states

The Trump administration is weighing whether to approve an environmental impact statement for the Lake Powell Pipeline. But water agencies in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Wyoming wrote a letter to the U.S. Department of the Interior warning of unresolved legal issues that could spark lengthy litigation. They’ve asked for more time to work out a collaborative agreement with Utah that acknowledges the region’s long-term drought and growing population. … ”  Read more from KNAU here: Lake Powell pipeline raises objections from six western states

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In national water news today …

RO provides promising win in battle against water scarcity

One of the biggest threats facing humanity is water scarcity. And when it comes to defending the security of our most precious natural resource, few solutions are as promising as wastewater reclamation, a process that minimizes our dependence on freshwater. With proven results, accelerated adoption and improved public perception, more communities have begun to consider the treatment of municipal wastewater for reuse to help maintain adequate levels of clean water. ... ”  Read more from Water World here: RO provides promising win in battle against water scarcity

Changing patterns of ocean salt levels give scientists clues to extreme weather on land

New mapping of salt concentrations in the world’s oceans confirms what physics and climate models have long suggested: Global warming is intensifying Earth’s water cycle, speeding up the rate at which water evaporates in one area and falls as rain or snow somewhere else.  That intensification has enormous implications because it worsens droughts and increases extreme rainstorms and flooding. But it has been hard to measure, because data is sparse across vast expanses of the oceans, which cover more than 70 percent of the planet’s surface. … ”  Read more from Inside Climate News here: Changing patterns of ocean salt levels give scientists clues to extreme weather on land

Northern Hemisphere just had its hottest summer on record

It’s been a remarkably steamy, record-setting last three months for Mother Earth.  Not only was August 2020 the second-warmest August on record, but the Northern Hemisphere had its warmest summer, and the globe as a whole had its third-hottest three-month season, too.  Here are highlights from NOAA’s latest monthly global climate report … ”  Read more from NOAA here:  Northern Hemisphere just had its hottest summer on record

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In commentary today …

Wayne Western column:  After delivering on Calif. water, Trump gets no respect from water execs

In the span of four years, the President of the United States has come to the Central Valley of California on three separate occasions.  Each time, he has been made aware of the continued effort by California’s leaders to maintain a man-made drought and focused on the undeniable significance of the state’s agriculture to our national security.  He did not come to spend a few minutes behind a podium to talk about climate change. He came to talk water. He came to talk agriculture.  He asked, he learned, he acted, and he delivered. … ”  Read more from the SJV Sun here:  After delivering on Calif. water, Trump gets no respect from water execs

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Today’s featured articles …

BLOG ROUND-UP: Conservation lessons learned in government work; Fire and rivers; Environmentalists and forests; Pandemic spawns dangerous relaxation of environmental regulations; and more …

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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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