On the calendar today …
WEBINAR: Ensuring Safe and Affordable Drinking Water for All Californians from 10am to 11:30am
Please join us to learn what the state, water agencies, and non-profits are doing to ensure all Californians have access to safe and affordable drinking water. Upon registration, you will receive a confirmation email and login instructions. Presented by Sustainable Conservation. Click here to register.
VIRTUAL EVENT: MWDOC Water Policy Forum from 10:30am to 12:00pm
MWDOC Water Policy Forum welcomes keynote speaker Michael George, Delta Watermaster, State Water Resources Control Board. Mr. George will reflect on the past year’s developments with Delta Conveyance, and discuss future projects that will enhance Southern California’s water supplies and reliability. Click here to register.
WEBINAR: Failure is Not an Option: Using Social Infrastructure for Urban Water Delivery When There’s No Engineering Solution from 11am to 12pm
Where there is a lack of funding or political will to extend formal infrastructure to such communities, water managers must find innovative ways to address people’s urgent needs for safe and sufficient water. This webinar explains how “social infrastructure”—relationships, cultural norms, and informal institutions—can amplify the impact of water self-provisioning. Covering informal solutions for water sharing, water vending, and infrastructure maintenance, this webinar will help water managers leverage social infrastructure to improve water outcomes underserved communities. Click here to register.
FREE WEBINAR: Successful Collaboration between IRWM and SGMA from 12pm to 1:30pm
Can IRWM and SGMA work together collaboratively to their mutual benefit? Join the webinar on September 23 from noon – 1:30 p.m. to hear three practitioners share their experience on the benefits of successful collaboration between Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) and Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) programs. This is the first in a series of webinars hosted by Maven’s Notebook exploring a range of topics relevant to IRWM and SGMA. Click here to register.
SO CAL WATER DIALOG: Pouring Fuel on the Fire: Why Wildfires Keep Ravaging California from 12pm to 1pm
California 2020 wildfires have already burned a record 2.3 million acres and the most dangerous part of the year is yet upon us. Dr. Keeley will speak on the causes behind the early fire season, new methods of predicting fire trajectories, how to better manage the wildland-urban interface, the prevention of powerline ignitions during extreme wind events, the contribution of climate change and drought to wildfires, and actions to protect structures (home hardening). Click here to register.
WEBINAR: Under the Sea: Observing Salmon in the Ocean from 1pm to 1:30pm
Have you ever wondered what salmon do while they are out at sea? Join special guest speaker, fish biologist Brittany Struck, from NOAA Fisheries, for a live presentation and chat about this little known part of the salmon life cycle. Watch on DWR’s YouTube Channel or register and join through Zoom to ask Brittany questions.
Delta Conveyance Authority Stakeholder Engagement Committee from 3pm to 6pm
Agenda items include DWR Updates & Environmental Justice Survey Overview, Bethany Alternative Siting, RTM Management Plan Updates, and SEC Questions or Comments on August 26th Meeting Presentation. Find the full agenda and meeting materials on this page. Click here for remote access information.
SALTON SEA: Community Input Online Meeting from 6pm to 8pm
The California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA) has released a draft Project Description for the Salton Sea Management Program Phase I: 10-Year Plan. This is the second in a series of three virtual workshops to solicit community input on the draft Project Description goals and objectives as well as the sizes, locations, and types of projects being proposed and anticipated impacts. The state is also seeking feedback about how the public would like to access the Sea and what compatible community amenities should be prioritized. More information, Zoom link, and meeting materials will be posted at this website.
In California water news and commentary today …
California not as drought-prone as you might think, says NOAA
” If asked where in the United States is most vulnerable to drought, you might point to those states in the West currently suffering under hot and dry conditions and raging wildfires. However, according to a new NOAA-funded assessment, what makes a state vulnerable is driven by more than just a lack of rain: it’s a combination of how susceptible a state is to drought and whether it’s prepared for impacts. And the most and least vulnerable states could surprise you. ... ” Continue reading at NOAA here: The U.S. drought vulnerability rankings are in: How does your state compare?
Valley Water drops lawsuit over Bay Delta Plan
In December of 2018, the State Water Board voted to increase minimum flow requirements on the Stanislaus, Merced, and Tuolumne rivers during certain months of the year. This resulted in a flurry of lawsuits, including a lawsuit filed by the Santa Clara Valley Water District asserting “the proposed plan could significantly reduce local water supplies, potentially costing the water district millions of dollars in the acquisition of alternate water supplies and increased reliance on groundwater.” (Source: AgNet West) Yesterday, the lawsuit was dismissed at Santa Clara Valley Water District’s request.
Nursing salmon on flooded farms
“In 2012 a team of salmon researchers tried a wild idea: putting pinky-sized Chinook on a rice field in the Yolo Bypass, a vast engineered floodplain designed to protect the city of Sacramento from inundation. The team found that rearing fish on farms works better than they had ever dreamed. Salmon in this managed floodplain grew so fast — averaging more than one millimeter per day — that they outpaced young Chinook elsewhere in the region. Now, after nearly a decade of testing fish in fields, a new paper in San Francisco Estuary and Watershed Science outlines lessons learned as well as next steps in managing floodplains for salmon. “There’s some urgency,” says lead author Ted Sommer, a native fish expert at the state Department of Water Resources, which manages the Yolo Bypass as a floodway. “There’s been a long-term decline in Chinook salmon.” … ” Read more from Estuary News here: Nursing salmon on flooded farms
How beavers became North America’s best firefighter
“The American West is ablaze with fires fueled by climate change and a century of misguided fire suppression. In California, wildfire has blackened more than three million acres; in Oregon, a once-in-a-generation crisis has forced half a million people to flee their homes. All the while, one of our most valuable firefighting allies has remained overlooked: The beaver. A new study concludes that, by building dams, forming ponds, and digging canals, beavers irrigate vast stream corridors and create fireproof refuges in which plants and animals can shelter. In some cases, the rodents’ engineering can even stop fire in its tracks. … ” Read more from National Geographic here: How beavers became North America’s best firefighter
California’s coastal range fires are getting significantly worse every decade, experts say
“Sherree Brose has lived in the hills west of Vacaville for a quarter of a century. Last month a lightning sparked fire surrounded her small acreage. That fire, the LNU Lightning Complex, although nearly contained, spans across five counties and has burned over 360,000 acres. After she evacuated her home — which was built in 1846 and survived three previous fires — her son-in-law went back in with a water truck as the flames surrounded her property. … ” Read more from Capital Public Radio here: California’s coastal range fires are getting significantly worse every decade, experts say
Cal Fire: Creek Fire now the largest single wildfire in California history
“The Creek Fire is now the largest single, non-complex wildfire in California history, according to an update from Cal Fire. The fire has burned 286,519 acres as of Monday night and is 32 percent contained, according to Cal Fire. The Creek Fire, which began Sept. 4, is located in Big Creek, Huntington Lake, Shaver Lake, Mammoth Pool and San Joaquin River Canyon. … ” Read more from the Visalia Times-Delta here: Cal Fire: Creek Fire now the largest single wildfire in California history
Is your tap water safe to drink?
Dale Hunter, Executive Director of the California African American Water Education Foundation writes, “Is your tap water safe to drink? For a majority of Californians, the answer is “yes.” However, in some areas, especially rural and disadvantaged communities, the drinking water does not meet state and federal drinking water standards and regulations. California has some of the strictest water quality regulations in the nation, but there is no one-size-fits-all solution for communities with challenges meeting those regulations. The quality of your drinking water depends largely on where you live. For example, if you live in Stockton, the source of your drinking water may be from local groundwater wells or from the San Joaquin River Delta. Many Southern Californians drink water from the Colorado River. … ” Read more from the Sacramento Observer here: Is your tap water safe to drink?
Friant-Kern Canal fix gets over major hump
“The plan to fix subsidence in the Friant-Kern Canal and restore water deliveries to farmers in southern Tulare County and Kern County got over a major hump last week. On Sept. 18, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which owns the Friant-Kern Canal, released final environmental documents for its plan to repair a 33-mile stretch of canal between Lindsay and McFarland. The final environmental impact report represents a significant milestone in beginning work to restore flows to the lower third of the 153-mile long canal running along the Valley’s east side. … ” Read more from the Foothills Sun-Gazette here: Friant-Kern Canal fix gets over major hump
WIFIA Improvement Act looks to assist public water projects
“The WIFIA Improvement Act of 2020 was recently introduced as a means for helping provide support for public water projects. The bipartisan legislation would make changes to the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) of 2014. The amendments would make water projects eligible for low-interest federal loans from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “The Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) applauds the introduction of the ‘WIFIA Improvement Act of 2020’ by Rep. John Garamendi,” ACWA Executive Director Dave Eggerton said in a news release. “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.” ... ” Read more from Ag Net West here: WIFIA Improvement Act looks to assist public water projects
DWR’s Division of Engineering receives International Award for Construction and Collaboration
“The Department of Water Resources’ Division of Engineering (DOE) has been named the International Partnering Institute’s (IPI) 11th annual Partnering Champion Award recipient for 2020. The award honors projects and individuals that exemplify the importance of transforming the construction industry into a culture of collaboration — a goal that has been a part of the Department of Water Resources’ (DWR) mission for decades. “We strive to utilize collaborative partnering principles on every construction project,” said Jeanne Tuttle, chief of DWR’s Division of Engineering. “Collaboration between all aspects of construction translates to successful projects, which is a benefit not only to DWR and its contractors, but also the citizens of the State of California.” … ” Read more from DWR News here: DWR’s Division of Engineering receives International Award for Construction and Collaboration
Environmentalists plan lawsuit challenging Newsom over oil and gas drilling permits
“A national environmental organization on Monday threatened to sue Gov. Gavin Newsom to halt all new permits for gas and oil wells in the state, saying the governor has failed to protect Californians and the environment from hazards and pollutants released by the state’s billion-dollar petroleum industry. In a letter sent to Newsom on Monday, the Center for Biological Diversity accused his administration of being friendly to California’s oil industry and issuing new permits without proper environmental reviews. The organization plans to take legal action unless the Democratic governor “promptly direct[s] your regulators to halt permitting.” … ” Read more from the LA Times here: Environmentalists plan lawsuit challenging Newsom over oil and gas drilling permits
Pressing for action in DC on CA public lands bills
“People who fight for public lands are taking part in a major push this week, meeting with lawmakers about legislation, called the Protecting America’s Wilderness Act. The bill would safeguard more than 1 million acres across the Golden State. Jack Dyer, founder and chief executive of Topa Topa Brewing Co. in Ventura, said his business depends on outdoor enthusiasts drawn to Los Padres National Forest. … ” Read more from the Public News Service here: Pressing for action in DC on CA public lands bills
In regional water news and commentary today …
Sonoma County conservation project receives $3.5 million in funding
“A California conservation project is receiving significant funding support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conversation Service (NRCS). … The California conservation project is being spearheaded by the Sonoma Agricultural and Open Space District and is being supported by other partners. The project, ‘Innovative Conservation: Vital Streams and Forests’ is designed to address several issues. ... ” Read more from Ag Net West here: California conservation project receives $3.5 million in funding
Marin grand jury calls for centralized climate change plan
“Marin lacks a comprehensive plan for how communities will adapt to climate change impacts, the civil grand jury concluded in a new report. In its report, titled “Climate Change: How Will Marin Adapt?,” the grand jury says local governments have done “outstanding work on climate change,” especially in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and identifying sea-level rise vulnerability. However, the county lacks a centralized strategy to prevent the causes of and adapt to climate change impacts such as rising sea levels, stressors to public health and socioeconomic changes, the report said. … ” Read more from the Marin Independent Journal here: Marin grand jury calls for centralized climate change plan
South San Joaquin Irrigation District irrigation water runs for ag ends Oct. 15
“The San Joaquin Irrigation District is ending farm water deliveries for the season on Oct. 15. The SSJID board decision made Tuesday will provide adequate time for district crews to make needed repairs to the outlet at Woodward Reservoir to avoid the potential for water delivery interruptions to the cities of Manteca, Lathrop, and Tracy as well as possibly impacting the start of the 2021 irrigation season. All three cities also pump groundwater while Manteca — to reduce stress on aquifers it taps into — typically uses only surface water during the winter. … ” Read more from the Manteca Bulletin here: South San Joaquin Irrigation District irrigation water runs for ag ends Oct. 15
Lompoc to fix deficiencies in wastewater treatment system after EPA finds violations
“The city of Lompoc has agreed to fix deficiencies in its wastewater treatment plant operations after racking up 27 violations of the Clean Water Act uncovered by a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency investigation. The violations stretch from June 2015 to June 2020 and involve effluent discharges, monitoring and reporting, operation and maintenance, pretreatment, and fats, oils and greases, according to an administrative order on consent issued by EPA Region 9. … ” Read more from the Lompoc Record here: Lompoc to fix deficiencies in wastewater treatment system after EPA finds violations
With its beaches and creeks deemed ‘impaired,’ Santa Barbara takes steps to improve water quality
“The City of Santa Barbara is taking bold steps to improve its water quality. Santa Barbara historically has suffered from poor water quality in its creeks and subsequent flow into the ocean. Runoff, including bacteria, hydrocarbons, pesticides, fertilizers, metals and other pollutant, flow down and into the city’s mostly built-out landscape, forcing beach closures. All of Santa Barbara’s beaches and creeks are designated as “impaired” under the federal Clean Water Act. … ” Read more from Noozhawk here: With its beaches and creeks deemed ‘impaired,’ Santa Barbara takes steps to improve water quality
Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve and Back Bay
“When you learn there’s a popular piece of property on the Southern California coast taking up more than 750 acres, you wouldn’t be faulted for imagining a marina, a golf course, a resort – or all three. But one piece of land and (mostly) water is important and popular for what hasn’t been built there. The Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve showcases the beautiful California coast, unspoiled and filled with wildlife, plants and fabulous scenery. The reserve is one of 749 properties carefully managed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). Located in the heart of Newport Beach, in Orange County, the reserve is completely surrounded by some of the most highly valued real estate in the country. The University of California, Irvine, isn’t far away – neither is John Wayne Airport. But that’s all forgotten when exploring the reserve on foot, by boat or paddleboard, or with binoculars. … ” Read more from the Department of Fish and Wildlife here: Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve and Back Bay
Along the Colorado River …
Nevada water rights victory: BB&K Attorney Rod Walston successful in public trust doctrine dispute in Nevada Supreme Court
“The Nevada Supreme Court adopted an argument by Roderick Walston, who is of counsel at Best Best & Krieger LLP, in deciding a much-anticipated case involving whether the public trust doctrine applies to water rights previously adjudicated in court and if the State can reallocate water rights to protect public trust uses. Rod represented two of the main defendants, Nevada’s County of Lyon and California-based Centennial Livestock, in Mineral County, et al. v. Lyon County, et al. In a decision issued Thursday, the Court held 4-2 (with one recusal) that “the public trust doctrine as implemented through our state’s comprehensive water statutes does not permit the reallocation of water rights already adjudicated and settled under the doctrine of prior appropriation.” … ” Read more from BB&K here: Nevada Water Rights Victory
Colorado River basin states request a better forum to resolve concerns with Lake Powell pipeline
“In Utah, there is a significant effort underway to build a water delivery pipeline from Lake Powell to transport part of Utah’s Colorado River entitlement to Utah’s St. George area. As the federal environmental review for the proposed Lake Powell Pipeline in Utah continues, Utah’s six fellow Colorado River Basin states weighed in as a group, cautioning that unresolved issues remain. Writing to the Department of Interior, these states urged that the proper forum to resolve their concerns is through the ongoing collaborative process among the seven basin states. Otherwise, the letter predicts litigation will ensue over the environmental review should its current trajectory remain in place. … ” Read more from Somach Simmons & Dunn here: Colorado River basin states request a better forum to resolve concerns with Lake Powell pipeline
Reservoir-release pilot project in Colorado begins this week to test possible compact call
“Beginning Wednesday, Front Range water providers will release water stored in Homestake Reservoir in an effort to test how they could get water downstream to the state line in the event of a Colorado River Compact call. Aurora Water, Colorado Springs Utilities and Pueblo Board of Water Works will each release 600 acre-feet from Homestake Reservoir, which is near the town Red Cliff, for a total of 1,800 acre-feet that will flow down Homestake Creek to the Eagle River and the Colorado River. The release, scheduled to take place Wednesday through Sept. 30, will produce additional flows ramping up to 175 cubic feet per second. … ” Read more from the Aspen Times here: Reservoir-release pilot project in Colorado begins this week to test possible compact call
In national water news today …
NOAA upgrades Global Ensemble Forecast System
“NOAA’s Global Ensemble Forecast System (GEFS) is undergoing significant upgrades to expand its capabilities and improve weather forecasting. Meteorologists at the National Weather Service use GEFS to produce medium-range weather forecasts and to issue watches and warnings during high-impact weather events, including hurricanes, blizzards, and extreme heat and cold. … ” Read more from NOAA here: NOAA upgrades Global Ensemble Forecast System
House GOP seeks to cement Trump rollback of bedrock environmental law
“House Republicans are seeking to advance a bill that would legislatively cement many of President Trump’s controversial changes to a bedrock environmental law while adding additional provisions that would make it tougher to sue over major construction projects. The bill follows the White House’s July rollback of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which for 50 years has required the government to weigh environmental and community concerns before approving pipelines, highways, drilling permits or any major action on federal lands. … ” Read more from The Hill here: House GOP seeks to cement Trump rollback of bedrock environmental law
Attorney General Becerra: Trump Administration’s new National Environmental Policy Act rules threaten to harm endangered species
“California Attorney General Xavier Becerra put the Trump Administration on notice of California’s intent to bring a claim concerning the Administration’s ongoing rollback of federal environmental protections that fly in the face of the Endangered Species Act. On July 16, 2020, the Administration’s Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) issued a rule (Final Rule) that would substantially undermine the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), a 1970 federal statute that requires federal agencies to identify and reduce potential environmental harm resulting from major infrastructure and energy projects. … ”
What a Kavanaugh court means for environmental law
“With President Trump appearing likely to have the Senate votes to pick Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s successor, court watchers are quickly zeroing in on the court’s likely new swing vote: Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Trump’s new appointee would undoubtedly move the court further right, installing a sixth conservative on the bench. Since Justice Anthony Kennedy retired in 2018, the court’s fulcrum has been Chief Justice John Roberts, who has sometimes sided with his liberal colleagues to provide the critical fifth vote in several close decisions. … ” Read more from E&E News here: What a Kavanaugh court means for environmental law
Kavanaugh Emerges as Man-in-Middle With Court Set to Shift Right
“U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh remains anathema to many liberals. The death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg means he also may soon be their best hope to save abortion rights and Obamacare. Kavanaugh, who prefers narrower rulings than some of his conservative colleagues, would find himself at the court’s ideological center if President Donald Trump succeeds in replacing Ginsburg with a staunch conservative. From there he could decide how far, and how quickly, it turns to the right on some of the country’s most divisive issues. … ” Read more from Bloomberg Law here: Kavanaugh Emerges as Man-in-Middle With Court Set to Shift Right
Supreme Court: What Trump’s finalists say about climate change
“An opponent of the social cost of carbon. A former Michigan judge backed by industry and conservative activists. And a Florida jurist who refused to acknowledge climate science. They have risen to the top of President Trump’s short list for the Supreme Court. Trump’s pick to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg could help decide how far the court moves to the right on energy policy, administrative law and other climate issues, as the bench becomes more conservative potentially for decades to come. … ” Read more from E&E News here: Supreme Court: What Trump’s finalists say about climate change
Today’s featured articles …
MET COMMITTEE: Collaboration on the Colorado River between Mexico and the US brings benefits for both countries
In 2007, Mexico and the United States agreed to establish a formal process managed by the International Boundary Waters Commission to discuss issues of mutual concern to both nations related to the Colorado River. This has resulted in increased cooperation between the two countries and ultimately led to an agreement that Mexico can store water in Lake Mead as well as how Mexico would share in shortages of Colorado River supplies.
At the September meeting of Metropolitan’s Water Planning and Stewardship Committee, Laura Lamdin, an associate engineer in water resource management, gave a presentation on how the United States and Mexico built a collaborative relationship, the many accomplishments that have come as a result, and a look at the work currently in progress.
GUEST COMMENTARY: From “Wicked” to “Complex”: A New Lead Scientist’s Outlook on Growing Our Understanding of Delta Science
By Dr. Laurel Larsen
“My first exposure to the story of water in California came through a viewing of the 1974 Jack Nicholson film “Chinatown” as part of my Water Resources Development and Management class at the University of Colorado, Boulder in 2003. I was captivated by the fictionalized noir dramatization of the events that led to southern California’s water wars, and I delved into Marc Reisner’s Cadillac Desert to learn more. I felt compelled by some of the same features that had driven me to pursue dissertation research in the Florida Everglades—recognition of the high-stakes nature of water management decisions in this complex, multi-actor environment, and the inkling that there was more to the story of water than was conveyed in the popular media. First in the Everglades and now in California, I aspired to be a part of the team of scientists peering into and unraveling that complexity, such that water management decisions could be made with improved awareness of likely outcomes.