DAILY DIGEST, 9/17: Cal Am withdraws desal project bid; Elevating NGOs and community groups in groundwater decision-making; A tale of two coastlines: desalination in China and CA; East Tule GSA to charge farmers for pumping water; and more …



On the calendar today …

The Delta Independent Science Board meets from 10:40am to 12:40pm

The Delta ISB will meet regarding its current reviews and efforts. This includes a discussion on the Delta ISB’s latest draft report: “The Science of Non-native Species in a Dynamic Delta,” which was prepared as part of the Delta ISB’s responsibility to provide scientific oversight of programs that support adaptive management of the Delta. The Delta ISB will discuss whether the latest draft report adequately addresses public comments. Based on the discussion, the Delta ISB may take action on next steps and consider approving the content of the report for submittal to the Delta Stewardship Council. As this will be the first meeting of six new members, the Delta ISB will discuss and prepare for future meetings and may take potential action on the frequency of future meetings.  Click here for the full agenda.

FREE WEBINAR: Financing Options and Strategies for Groundwater Sustainability Plan Development from 11am to 12pm

Join BB&K Partner Lutfi Kharuf as he discusses structuring fees for initial planning and GSP implementation, rate-setting issues under Propositions 26 and 218, and other funding strategies.  To register for this webinar, click here.

FREE WEBINAR: The Hidden Element: Water’s Vital Role in Economic Recovery from 11:30am to 1pm

Please join the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment on September 17 for a webinar featuring experts from Stanford, the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program, and the Water Foundation. This moderated conversation will explore national strategies that can both improve our water infrastructure and promote a stronger economic recovery. Topics will include policy objectives, funding and financing considerations, and people-centered issues around access and affordability, along with other areas of interest identified by event attendees.  Click here to register.

ONLINE MEETING: Delta Conveyance Design and Construction Authority, Board of Directors Meeting at 2pm.

For more information, click here.

ONLINE MEETING: The Delta Protection Commission meets at 4pm.

Agenda items include a report from the Delta Protection Advisory Committee, update on Metropolitan Water District owned islands, report from the Delta Watermaster, the 2020 Delta Flood Preparedness Week, and the Delta National Heritage Area management plan development.  Click here for full agenda and online access information.

PUBLIC MEETING: Anderson Dam Seismic Retrofit Project from 6pm to 8pm

Join Valley Water via a Zoom video conference to learn more about the upcoming work and impacts on the neighborhood, the environment and recreational activities. We will also answer as many of your questions as possible.  To attend the meeting, please visit: valleywater.zoom.us/j/99622557783

 

In California water news and commentary today …

Cal Am withdraws desal project bid

California American Water has withdrawn its Peninsula desalination project bid at the Coastal Commission on the eve of the commission’s special meeting, citing social and environmental justice issues.  Thursday’s special meeting had been scheduled to be devoted entirely to the Cal Am desal project but was canceled at the last minute, nine months after the first hearing.  Cal Am President Rich Svindland has said he will discuss the issues with Marina opponents and low-income customers before refiling a desal permit application at a later date. … ”  Read more from the Monterey Herald here: Cal Am withdraws desal project bid

SEE ALSO: California water company withdraws desalination proposal as battle over environmental justice heats up, from the LA Times

Q&A: Elevating NGOs and Community Groups in Groundwater Decision-Making

Through the NGO Groundwater Collaborative, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), Tribes, and California residents share information and resources to help each other participate in the state’s groundwater management programs. We spoke with Jennifer Clary, California Director for Clean Water Action California, and Emily Finnegan, Project Manager for Local Government Commission’s water programs, about the collaborative and what’s coming up for the group.  Q: Water Foundation (WF): Let’s start at the beginning. What is the NGO Groundwater Collaborative? A: Jennifer Clary (JC): We’re a group of nearly 150 environmental, environmental justice, community-based, and Tribal advocates who are interested and engaged in the sustainable and equitable management of groundwater at both the local and state level. … ”  Read more from the Water Foundation here:  Q&A: Elevating NGOs and Community Groups in Groundwater Decision-Making

Bilingual SGMA video series to foster better understanding

State and local agencies are continuing to work to implement the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). With SGMA’s far-reaching implications, Ph.D. Candidate at UC Merced, Vicky Espinoza has created a bilingual SGMA video series to help provide a better understanding of the impact of SGMA and generate more engagement. The videos are part of an overall project to develop a land-use model that will incorporate input from a broad cross-section of the community. … ”  Read more from Ag Net West here:  Bilingual SGMA video series to foster better understanding

Water board must establish a state water budget that California can afford, says Chris Shutes with the CSPA

He writes, “Former U.S. Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt writes that a “Grand Bargain” in California water is needed to end the “political culture of deferral” and allow major water projects to advance. On the contrary, what’s needed is an adult regulator that will make hard choices that water users refuse to make.  For at least five years, the state and various water users have postponed balancing the state’s water budget by promising a grand bargain.  This promised new grand bargain is not the solution to the aptly named “culture of deferral.”  The grand bargain is the current center of deferral. … ”  Read more from Cal Matters here: Water board must establish a state water budget that California can afford

A tale of two coastlines: desalination in China and California

The port city of Tianjin is in desperate need of water. The surface and groundwater supplies of this sprawling northeast Chinese metropolis have shrunk to dangerously low levels due to decades of reduced rainfall and overexploitation of the Hai River that flows through the city. According to the Tianjin Environmental Protection Bureau, the city’s per capita water resources are one-twentieth of China’s national average, far below the UN benchmark for a water-stressed region. Despite promoting water conservation and metering among residential and industrial users, Tianjin still faces shortages that drive its reliance on large-scale water-supply infrastructure like the South-North Water Transfer Project and seawater desalination.   In the United States, a similar situation is unfolding. … ”  Read more from New Security Beat here:  A tale of two coastlines: desalination in China and California

Meet the man who told Trump climate change is real

Wade Crowfoot, a California Cabinet secretary, didn’t plan on confronting President Trump on extreme heat and wildfires. Then Trump dismissed climate change.  “It’ll just start getting cooler, you just watch,” Trump said during a Monday meeting with California officials who were briefing him on the state’s catastrophic wildfires.  Crowfoot, in a response that went viral, responded: “I wish science agreed with you.”  “Well, I don’t think science knows, actually,” Trump retorted before turning away.  Crowfoot, 47, runs the state Natural Resources Agency and oversees 19,000 employees and multiple agencies. His decision to challenge Trump was spontaneous. ... ”  Read more from E&E News here: Meet the man who told Trump climate change is real

Don Jacobson, Director of Environment California: Five solutions to California’s climate crisis Gov. Newsom should implement

He writes, “Like most Californians, I have not seen blue skies for weeks. The dirty air I’m breathing hurts my lungs and stings my eyes. My kids are confined to the indoors to protect their growing lungs, though I’m concerned that even our air indoors contains dangerous pollutants.  While fire crews work to stop more loss of life and officials work to update plans for the next fire season, California must face the toughest challenge of all: How do we slow and ultimately stop the changes in our climate that are making wildfires in California even more dangerous and deadly? … ”  Read more from the Visalia Times-Delta here:  Five solutions to California’s climate crisis Gov. Newsom should implement

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California fire news …

Trump’s plan for managing forests won’t save us in a more flammable world, experts say

In California, smoke plumes spun into twisters made out of soot and flame, prompting the first-ever “fire tornado” warning. In Oregon, blazes advanced on towns so rapidly that even fire crews had to flee. Never in memory have so many fires burned so much land in so many places over such a short span of time. The smoke has enveloped the whole continent, dimming the sun in cities 2,000 miles away.  “Science knows very well what is going on here,” said Monica Turner, fire ecologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Extreme climate change has arrived in America, and it burns. … ”  Read more from the Washington Post here:  Trump’s plan for managing forests won’t save us in a more flammable world, experts say

The racist removal of Native Americans in California is often missing from wildfire discussions, experts say

Down a long, single-lane road in the most northern part of California is Karuk territory — one of the largest Indigenous tribes in the state. It’s here that Bill Tripp’s great-grandmother, who was born in the 1800s, taught him starting as a 4-year-old how to burn land on purpose.   “She took me outside — she was over 100 years old — and walked up the hill with her walker,” Tripp recalled, “and handed me a box of stick matches and told me to burn a line from this point to that point.”  Those cultural burns — or prescribed burns, as they’re often called now by fire agencies — are a form of keeping wildfire in check, a practice the state and federal agencies do use, but experts say isn’t leaned on enough as a fire prevention tactic. ... ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here:  The racist removal of Native Americans in California is often missing from wildfire discussions, experts say

Commentary: Could California use a Prop. 1 for fire prevention?

Tim Hearden writes, “Two years ago when the Carr Fire encroached on Redding, my wife and I were among the 38,000 residents to flee the city late one July evening. Our home wasn’t burned, but as is becoming an annual occurrence, many homes – and some lives – were lost.  At the time, I suggested in a column that California consider repeating the collaborative effort that led to the passage of 2014’s Proposition 1, the $7.5 billion water bond, but only this time focus on wildfire prevention. That year, the Legislature voted nearly unanimously to place the measure on the ballot, and it was supported by then-Gov. Jerry Brown, leading politicians and a wide array of organizations, including farm groups. … ”  Continue reading at the Western Farm Press here:  Could California use a Prop. 1 for fire prevention?

It’s not just the West. These places are also on fire.

Wildfires are devastating the American West, but the United States isn’t the only place on Earth that’s burning. This year, other countries have also experienced their worst wildfires in decades, if not all of recorded history.  In each case, the contributing factors are different, but an underlying theme runs through the story: Hotter, drier seasons, driven by the burning of fossil fuels, have made the world more prone to erupt in flames. ... ”  Read more from the New York Times here: It’s not just the West. These places are also on fire.

Obi Kauffman delivers a message of hope – and resilience – in his new field atlas on California’s forests

California is burning, to the point where a hellish orange glow on Sept. 9 blotted out the morning sun.  Grappling with the enormity of the fires that have ravaged more than 3.2 million acres of the state’s woodlands is difficult, but Obi Kaufmann, an Oakland artist and naturalist, has a hopeful perspective on the conflagrations. The evolutionary history of the redwoods goes back 300 million years, said Kaufmann, and they will survive both the fires — and us. ... ”  Read more from Berkeleyside here: Obi Kauffman delivers a message of hope – and resilience – in his new field atlas on California’s forests

In regional water news and commentary today …

Napa: A most ‘sustainable’ vineyard in a ‘completely unsustainable’ year

At high noon the other day, Napa Valley’s Silverado Trail, the storied wine road in the most storied wine region in the country, looked deserted and sad.  The valley’s picture postcard landscape—endless rows of grape vines on gently sloping hills, wineries as grand as castles—was cloaked under dusky sepia skies. Winds carrying smoke from the wildfires raging up and down the West Coast sent ash falling like snow flurries. An air quality index app confirmed what it felt like to breathe: Very Unhealthy! … ”  Read more from Inside Climate News here: A most ‘sustainable’ vineyard in a ‘completely unsustainable’ year

Marin County: Key Ross Valley flood control project launches at old nursery in Fairfax

Work on a long-planned effort to reduce flood risk and improve safety for businesses and residents in the Ross Valley is underway as workers move dirt and debris to create a flood retention basin at the former Sunnyside Nursery outside of Fairfax.  The new 33-acre basin will be on the site of the former nursery growing grounds at 3000 Sir Francis Drake Blvd.,  about a mile northwest of town. It will be used to divert and store floodwater from Fairfax Creek during the rainy season.  Ghilotti Bros., Inc. of San Rafael has been hired to do the $1.2 million job under the supervision of the Marin County Flood Control and Water Conservation District. … ”  Read more from the Marin Independent Journal here:  Key Ross Valley flood control project launches at old nursery in Fairfax

CZU Complex Fire damages crucial water supply pipes

The CZU Lightning Complex Fire that stretches from San Mateo County to Santa Cruz County devastated neighborhoods, roads and crucial water supply pipes.  Hundreds of families have been told not to drink the water, even if they boil it.  There’s a lot of cleaning up to do, especially at the water district facilities, and some of that cleanup includes removing damaged trees that stand 100-200 feet high. … ”  Read more from NBC Bay Area here:  CZU Complex Fire damages crucial water supply pipes

Platform connects investors with Monterey Bay storm water projects

A group of scientists and water project planners seeking to improve water quality in tributaries flowing into ecologically diverse Monterey Bay have partnered with Silicon Valley software company Aqaix to gain access to public and private funders. The group, which needs $73 million for 17 multi-partner, multi-benefit water projects, is using Aqaix’s highly innovative cloud platform to connect with “impact” investors – a new breed of funders interested in bringing about environmental and social progress through their investments. Critically, the platform – known as the Aqaix Digital Finance Marketplace – allows project planners to demonstrate the environmental benefits or ROI (return on investment) of projects aligned in an integrated, watershed-based portfolio. ... ”  Read more from Storm Water Solutions here:  Platform connects investors with Monterey Bay storm water projects

Conservation groups complete Chorro Creek restoration project, benefiting the Morro Bay watershed

For years, a stretch of Chorro Creek near Hollister Peak ran through active farmland, where its flow was diverted for irrigation and its banks were shored up by levees, blocking the water’s natural access to its floodplain.  When the California Department of Fish and Wildlife took over ownership of the 5-acre site in the early 2000s—renaming it the Chorro Creek Ecological Reserve—conservation agencies knew that the creek and its floodplain needed restoration. Among other issues, a side channel had formed at a break in the levee, which allowed excess sediment to flow in and ultimately pile up in the estuary. … ”  Read more from New Times SLO here:  Conservation groups complete Chorro Creek restoration project, benefiting the Morro Bay watershed

What ‘eerie’ wildfire smoke is doing to Lake Tahoe

” … What is all this smoke from wildfires doing to Lake Tahoe itself?  I called Dr. Geoffrey Schladow, director of the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center, to find out. Schladow is part of a group of scientists that measure and track Tahoe’s clarity. He is also on Tahoe’s Science Advisory Council, which informs decision-making government agencies of the best available science in Tahoe.  To answer my question, Schladow gave a standard scientist’s response: It’s complicated. … ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  What ‘eerie’ wildfire smoke is doing to Lake Tahoe

East Tule GSA to charge farmers for pumping water

Farmers whose only access to water is pumping from their own well will get their first glimpse at what the state’s new groundwater management law will cost them next month.  On Oct. 1, the East Tule Groundwater Sustainability Agency (ETGSA) will hold a public hearing to discuss a groundwater extraction fee for property owners who rely on groundwater to irrigate their crops. The meeting is open to the public, not just those affected by the fee or those within the boundaries of the GSA ”  Read more from the Sun-Gazette here: East Tule GSA to charge farmers for pumping water

Kern County Desert, Kern River Valley and mountains east of Tehachapi now classified in drought status

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor Report was released this morning, and for the first time in months, a portion of Kern County is now included in the state’s drought status. The Kern County Desert, Kern River Valley, and mountains east of Tehachapi are now considered to be “abnormally dry”, which is the lowest ranking of drought. … ”  Read more from KERO here:  Kern County Desert, Kern River Valley and mountains east of Tehachapi now classified in drought status

Conservationists split over Poseidon desal project’s potential to help Bolsa Chica wetlands

Along a Huntington Beach coastline dotted with oil rigs and a power plant, one of California’s largest remaining saltwater marshes has been a source of pride for local environmentalists.  But the marsh, known as the Bolsa Chica Wetlands, is endangered despite a years-long struggle to pull together sufficient public funding for its upkeep.  Nearby, the Poseidon Water Co., which has been in a decades-long, controversial fight to build a seawater desalination plant next to the AES energy station at the south end of the city, has justified its project partly with a promise to finance the wetlands’ conservation. … ”  Read more from the Voice of the OC here: Conservationists split over Poseidon desal project’s potential to help Bolsa Chica wetlands

IID files opposition in California Supreme Court battle with farmer Michael Abatti

The years-long fight between the Imperial Irrigation District and farmer Michael Abatti over control of Colorado River water could be nearing its grand finale in the California Supreme Court. After Abatti requested last month that the state’s highest judicial body take up his case, the water district filed its opposition on Monday.  Originally filed in 2013, the case began with the claim that farmers were treated unfairly in a plan IID created that would dole out scarce water during times of drought or other low flow. … ”  Read more from the Desert Sun here:  IID files opposition in California Supreme Court battle with farmer Michael Abatti

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In national water news today …

Reliability of El Niño simulation matters for predicting future climate

A new U.S. National Science Foundation-funded study led by University of Hawaii at Mānoa researchers, published in the journal Nature Communications, has revealed that correctly simulating ocean current variations hundreds of feet below the ocean surface — the so-called Pacific Equatorial Undercurrent — during El Niño events is key to reducing the uncertainty of predictions of future warming in the eastern tropical Pacific. … ”  Read more from Water Online here: Reliability of El Niño simulation matters for predicting future climate

EPA chief vows to focus on local environmentalism over climate change

During a speech to commemorate the U.S. EPA’s 50th anniversary, its leader laid out the vision for its operation during a potential second term of President Trump’s administration.  EPA Chief Andrew Wheeler denounced political opponents of Trump and their own environmental objectives — primarily the curbing of climate change — while vowing that the agency would focus on community-based environmental protections if Trump were reelected. … ”  Read more from Water Online here:  EPA chief vows to focus on local environmentalism over climate change

EPA postpones environmental justice training after White House memo

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will postpone training on environmental inequity faced by communities of color and low-income communities following a White House order calling for agencies to stop training involving what it described as “anti-American propaganda.”  Charles Lee, the EPA’s senior policy adviser for environmental justice, told employees in an email that the department would postpone an event that was part of its speaker series on structural racism and environmental justice. … ”  Read more from The Hill here:  EPA postpones environmental justice training after White House memo

Emissions could add 15 inches to 2100 sea level rise, NASA-led study finds

An international effort that brought together more than 60 ice, ocean, and atmosphere scientists from three dozen international institutions has generated new estimates of how much of an impact Earth’s melting ice sheets could have on global sea levels by 2100. If greenhouse gas emissions continue apace, Greenland and Antarctica’s ice sheets could together contribute more than 15 inches (38 centimeters) of global sea level rise – and that’s beyond the amount that has already been set in motion by Earth’s warming climate. … ”  Read more from NASA here:  Emissions could add 15 inches to 2100 sea level rise, NASA-led study finds

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Today’s featured articles …

GUEST COMMENTARY: Almond growers are committed to finding water solutions that work for people, farms, and fish

This guest commentary is written by Don Cameron of Terranova Ranch:

Back in late February and early March, California almond growers experienced what many are calling the perfect bloom. Perfect weather resulted in the abundant crop filling almond trees, uniquely suited to the state’s Mediterranean climate, up and down the Central Valley. This year’s record crop – estimated to hit 3 billion pounds – is proof that California is the best place in the world to grow almonds. Almonds account for more than 100,000 jobs in California and contribute $11 billion to the state’s GDP.

And yet, the announcement of the record crop drew an immediate attack from Marin County attorney David Zeff, a board member of the Golden State Salmon Association, who dredged up the old “fish versus farms” fallacy to attack almond growers in his July 15 guest commentary in Maven’s Notebook. …

 

Click here to continue reading this guest commentary.

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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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