In California water news this weekend …

Small farmers shortchanged by SGMA

When governor Jerry Brown signed the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) into law in September 2014, he said that “groundwater management in California is best accomplished locally.” With the first round of plans made available for public comment this year, it appears that, while the state certainly ceded control to local management agencies, those same agencies have prioritized the interests of big agriculture and industry over small farmers and disadvantaged communities. A June 2020 paper from UC Davis published in the international journal Society & Natural Resources, as well as work done by the Fresno nonprofit Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability, have shed light on the procedural inequities. … ”  Read more from Estuary News here:  Small farmers shortchanged by SGMA

The Delta’s blooming problem

Bright-green blotches of algae have been popping up all over the Delta since early summer, from Discovery Bay to the Stockton waterfront, befouling the air and poisoning the water with toxins that can sicken or even kill humans and animals. Veteran Delta watchers believe that this year’s harmful algal blooms may be the worst ever, and worry that some features of Governor Gavin Newsom’s recently released Water Resilience Portfolio for California will aggravate the problem.  “We don’t have enough data to know if this is the worst year ever, because we haven’t been out there every single year for years and years monitoring,” says Meredith Howard, an environmental program manager with the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board. “I will say we’ve seen higher toxin numbers this year compared to the last three or four years.” … ”  Read more from Estuary News here:  The Delta’s blooming problem

A plan to settle the Ventura River litigation

Some of the largest users of the Ventura River recently released their proposal to settle litigation and potentially stave off a water-rights adjudication.  The plan includes multiple habitat restoration projects intended to help endangered steelhead trout, but largely avoids any changes to water use. Before it goes to a judge, however, other parties likely will weigh in, including the state.  Over the past year, the city of Ventura, several water districts and agricultural users negotiated to come up with a plan. Those talks started after the city filed a cross-complaint in response to a 2014 lawsuit over its own pumping from the river. … ”  Read more from the Ventura County Star here:  A plan to settle the Ventura River litigation

Delta Legacy Communities slams DWR’s $15 million loan for Delta tunnel engineering design

Dan Bacher writes, “In a year of record fires, record heat and the coronavirus pandemic in California, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) continues to fast track the Delta Tunnel Plan, potentially the most environmentally destructive and unjust public works project in California history.  On September 17, Delta Legacy Communities, Inc. sent a formal objection to the Department of Water Resources providing a $15 million loan to the Delta Conveyance Design and Construction Authority (DCA) for Delta tunnel engineering design. … ”  Read more from the Daily Kos here: Delta Legacy Communities slams DWR’s $15 million loan for Delta tunnel engineering design

In California, windy, dry weather expected to bring ‘critical’ fire conditions

In California, weeks after a heatwave intensified devastating wildfires burning throughout the state, crews are bracing for weekend weather conditions expected to hamper containment efforts.  The National Weather Service issued red flag warnings across the state as windy and dry conditions are expected to raise “fire weather concerns to critical levels across parts of both Northern and Southern California on Sunday,” the agency said. … ”  Read more from NPR here: In California, windy, dry weather expected to bring ‘critical’ fire conditions

A watershed study for wetland restoration

Where rivers meet oceans, each cycle of the tide moves water in and out of estuaries. The mixing and mingling of fresh and briny water, combined with seasonal weather, creates a unique environment for ecosystems in coastal estuaries and upstream tidal rivers.  But what does climate change mean for these wetland communities? And how might activities such as dam operations and land development affect them?  To help answer those questions, researchers at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s Marine and Coastal Research Laboratory developed a predictive framework of ecological indicators and analyses for estuarine–tidal river research and management. … ”  Read more from Pacific Northwest National Labs here:  A watershed study for wetland restoration

Why dangerous ‘forever chemicals’ are allowed in US drinking water

In 2014, residents of Horsham Township, near Philadelphia, learned that their water had been contaminated with potentially toxic chemicals linked to an array of health problems, including learning delays in children and cancer. Those residents include Frank and Lisa Penna, who allege in a lawsuit that their water was among the contaminated supplies.  Known as PFAS, for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, the chemicals in this class of approximately 5,000 substances have become notorious as much for their potential danger as for their perseverance. Because the chemical bonds that hold the compounds together don’t break down easily, they last a very long time – a reality that has led to a commonly used name for the group: “Forever chemicals.” … ”  Read more from the Guardian here:  Why dangerous ‘forever chemicals’ are allowed in US drinking water

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In people news this weekend …

Justice Ron Robie to receive Lifetime Achievement Award from the Environmental Law Section of the California State Bar

The Environmental Law Section is honored to present its seventh annual Lifetime Achievement Award to the Honorable Ronald B. Robie.  During the past 60 years, Justice Ron Robie has contributed greatly to the field of environmental law through dedicated public service spanning all three branches of government. Starting in 1960 in the Legislature, he was the key Assembly consultant in the passage of the 1967 law establishing the State Water Resources Control Board. He led the work on the landmark Porter-Cologne water quality legislation that passed in 1969. … ”  Justice Robie will receive his award at the Environmental Law Conference at Yosemite this October.  Read more at the conference website:  Justice Ron Robie to receive Lifetime Achievement Award from the Environmental Law Section of the California Lawyers Association

Ted Frink profile: Heavy lifting for fish

Ted Frink recalls watching Jacques Cousteau’s television specials when he was growing up in coastal Orange County. “I envisioned myself as Cousteau,” says Frink, a fisheries biologist with the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) now approaching retirement. “My folks encouraged my interest in science. I knew I could be a biologist.” That early inspiration sparked a long and varied career, culminating in his work as chief of DWR’s Special Restoration Initiatives Branch and his role in mitigating obstacles to salmon and steelhead passage in streams all over the state.  Frink focused on salmonids and other anadromous fish early on, graduating from Humboldt State in 1984 with a degree in fisheries ecology and a minor in hydrology. … ”  Read more from Estuary News here: Ted Frink profile: Heavy lifting for fish

Gary Croucher elected Board Chair of San Diego County Water Authority

New officers for the San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors were elected today, with Gary Croucher starting his two-year term as Board chair on Oct. 1. Croucher, vice chair of the Board for the past two years as a representative from the Otay Water District, will serve with incoming Vice Chair Christy Guerin, a Board representative from the Olivenhain Municipal Water District, and incoming Secretary Jerry Butkiewicz from the City of San Diego.  Jim Madaffer, who represents the City of San Diego on the Water Authority’s Board, served as chair the past two years. His term ends on Sept. 30. “The Water Authority is one of our region’s most important institutions, and I’m committed to continuing our long legacy of providing safe and reliable water supplies that sustain 3.3 million people and our $245 billion economy,” said Croucher. “The collaboration with our 24 member agencies is vital to ensure a clean, safe and plentiful water supply for this beautiful place we call home.” … ”  Read more from the San Diego County Water Authority here: Gary Croucher elected Board Chair of San Diego County Water Authority

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Photo feature …

A Return to Nature

It seems only fitting that award-winning nature photographer Ian Shive can trace his photographic start to time he spent in Montana and Yellowstone Park back in the mid-1990s. Originally from New Jersey, Shive wanted to share his experience out West with friends back home, but didn’t feel his early photos of the place were doing it justice. “So I began, without even knowing it, trying to create images that really captured what I was feeling when I was living there,” he says. And like that, he began developing the skills that would lead to a career photographing and filming our wildest places.  While Shive’s work has taken him around the world, he’s best known for capturing America’s public lands, beginning with our national parks. … ”  Read more and check out the slideshow at Earth Island Journal here: A Return to Nature

In regional water news this weekend …

How worms and a parasite harm salmon on the Klamath River — and how a new data portal may help

The Klamath Basin used to be the third most important salmon-bearing watershed in the Pacific Northwest. Now, only a fraction of those runs remain.  The multiple reasons for their decline are complex and interconnected, but they all have to do with how water moves through the system.  One major contributor to Chinook and coho salmon’s plight is a tiny parasite called Ceratonova shasta. It’s a natural feature of most river systems in the region, but it forms particularly nasty outbreaks in the Klamath. … ”  Read more from the Herald & News here: How worms and a parasite harm salmon on the Klamath River — and how a new data portal may help

Butte County:  Riparian restoration project in motion

California State Parks, Butte County Resource Conservation District and River Partners kicked off a Bidwell-Sacramento River State Park riparian restoration project earlier this week. The project will restore 24 acres of natural habitat adjacent to the Pine Creek Access Unit and the Sacramento River. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here: Riparian restoration project in motion

A ‘two-basin solution’ for water security

In May, the Two-Basin Partnership took an important step toward realizing the vision of a sustainable and balanced future for people and wildlife who depend on the Eel and Russian rivers for survival. The partnership, comprised of three local government agencies, a Native American tribe and a nonprofit environmental organization, is working to implement a two-basin solution. The goal is to maintain water security for Russian River water users while revitalizing the Eel River, which is recognized by state and federal agencies as a critical stronghold for salmon and steelhead. ... ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here: A ‘two-basin solution’ for water security

Sonoma County water regulators say Rodney Strong wine spill violated state, federal laws

A January spill of tens of thousands of gallons of wine into a creek leading to the Russian River – said to be the largest wine spill to reach the river in Sonoma County history – violated state and federal laws, water regulators announced this week.  It’s not known what penalties, if any, are in store for Rodney Strong Vineyards, the winery south of Healdsburg where the Jan. 22 spill of 97,000 gallons of cabernet sauvignon took place. But an official characterized the notice of violation issued by the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board on Tuesday as a minor proceeding. … ”  Read more from KTVU Channel 2 here: Sonoma County water regulators say Rodney Strong wine spill violated state, federal laws

Alameda: City to seek wetland park funding

The proposed ecological wetland park at Alameda Point, known as DePave Park, is another step closer to becoming a reality. On Sept. 15, four members of the city council gave thumbs up to moving forward with seeking a $2 million grant to pay for a master planning process.  “I am super-stoked about this project; it’s better than I ever imagined,” said Councilmember Jim Oddie, who has led recent efforts at City Hall to get action on this park. “I was really touched when I saw the drawing. I broke down in tears it was so beautiful.” … ”  Read more from the Alameda Sun here:  City to seek wetland park funding

San Francisco Bay: Match points in stormwater soup

Scientists studying environmental pollutants tend to divide them into two distinct groups. One includes “legacy” contaminants that drew attention during the early stages of the environmental movement, like mercury, PCBs, and some pesticides. The other is a much larger class of “emerging” contaminants whose production or monitoring began more recently and about whom less is known; think pharmaceuticals, plastic additives, and flame retardants.  Effluent from wastewater treatment plants is often seen as the primary source of emerging contaminants in San Francisco Bay. But a report published in July by the Regional Monitoring Program (RMP) challenges that assumption by highlighting the importance of urban stormwater runoff as another major source of some less-studied chemicals in Bay waters. … ”  Read more from Estuary News here:  San Francisco Bay: Match points in stormwater soup

Monterey:  Dave Stoldt, Guest Commentary:  Water Supply – The Testimony That Never Was

Last week on these pages, you heard the President of California American Water explain their rationale for withdrawing their application for a desalination plant from the California Coastal Commission the day before their Sept. 17 hearing. What he didn’t tell you is that there is a feasible alternative project that has less environmental impact, is more socially just, and would be less costly to ratepayers – Pure Water Monterey expansion – and that the Coastal Commission was highly likely to deny their desalination permit.  Here is a summary of the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District’s testimony that was never heard at the canceled Sept. 17 meeting. ... ”  Read more from the Monterey Herald here: Monterey:  Dave Stoldt, Guest Commentary:  Water Supply – The Testimony That Never Was

Dominos from the massive Creek Fire teetering over Central Valley farmers

When the Creek Fire erupted on Sept. 5 and chewed through the forest toward Southern California Edison’s Big Creek power system, little did anyone know how that might affect grape growers in Delano nearly a month later.  But the historic fire has put water managers along the eastern flank of the San Joaquin Valley, who depend on the Friant-Kern Canal, on alert.  That’s because Friant water comes from a series of reservoirs above Fresno that feed into Edison’s Big Creek system. ... ”  Read more from Estuary News here:  Dominos from the massive Creek Fire teetering over Central Valley farmers

Water treatment plant damage won’t delay Shaver Lake residents’ homecoming

The damage to the Shaver Lake water treatment plants is not as bad as originally thought and will not delay residents from returning home.  However, the equipment is still damaged and needs to be replaced, which could take anywhere from three to six months.  “Most of the equipment at the plant, we were able to make operational,” said Fresno Supervisor Nathan Magsig. “Some of the liners to the ponds were damaged so that is going to be a long process to get that back to normal but right now the goal of the public works is to be able to repopulate the area.” … ”  Read more from Your Central Valley here:  Water treatment plant damage won’t delay Shaver Lake residents’ homecoming

Walker Lake group to take water suit back to federal court

Lawyers representing Mineral County and the Walker Lake Working Group announced this week they intend to take a water rights case with broad implications back to federal appeals court to ask whether Nevada can adjust already allocated water rights to sustain rivers and lakes long-term.  The decades-long legal battle concerns Walker Lake in rural western Nevada. … ”  Read more from Channel 4 here:  Walker Lake group to take water suit back to federal court

Ridgecrest: Water board candidates differ on how to balance basin, protect ratepayers

Potentially the most important question popped up roughly halfway through the Indian Wells Valley Water District Board candidate forum Wednesday night. Hidden within a longer question was the key point: how do the candidates think the local water basin should be balanced and how do they plan to protect water district ratepayers while doing so?  The question is all the more significant in light of the recently-passed basin replenishment fee. According to current plans, the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority intends to use this fee to finance the purchase of water rights to import water — one estimate is that roughly 5,000 acre-feet of water a year will be needed to help balance the IWV groundwater basin, a task mandated by the state. … ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here:  Ridgecrest: Water board candidates differ on how to balance basin, protect ratepayers

Google recognized by LADWP for pioneering use of recycled water

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) recently announced Google LLC as the 2020 Recycled Water Customer of Year for their ground-breaking use of recycled water at their Google Spruce Goose facility in Playa Vista. The historic airplane hangar that was once used to construct Howard Hughes’s H-4 Hercules Spruce Goose aircraft was converted into an office facility that now houses several design and development projects for Google. It is the only privately-owned facility in Los Angeles to pioneer the use of recycled water for its cooling towers, saving 7.4 acre-feet of drinking water (over 2.4 million gallons) in 2019 alone, which is enough to cover a football field with 7.4 feet of water. … ”  Read more from the LADWP here:  Google recognized by LADWP for pioneering use of recycled water

Orange County:  Newsom signs law keeping San Onofre beach off limits to toll road

After years of successfully battling the extension of the 241 toll road to San Onofre State Beach, opponents got a major reinforcement Friday, Sept. 25, when Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill that bans outright new roads in the area.  The law goes beyond the terms of a 2016 settlement that the Transportation Corridor Agency reached with surfers and other “Save Trestles” activists, in which the toll road operator agreed not to pursue an extension in the San Onofre area. … ”  Read more from the OC Register here:  Newsom signs law keeping San Onofre beach off limits to toll road

San Diego: Lawsuit alleges Water Authority failed to deliver desalinated water to San Marcos

The Vallecitos Water District in San Marcos filed a lawsuit Thursday alleging the San Diego County Water Authority overcharged by nearly $6 million for desalinated water that was never delivered, despite an agreement to construct a pipeline for that exact purpose.  According to Vallecitos, the water district agreed to the direct delivery of desalinated water from the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant via a dedicated pipeline. The district alleges that at the time, the Water Authority was actively recruiting partners to buy into the desalination plant as part of a plan to make the plant financially viable. … ”  Read more from the Times of San Diego here: Lawsuit alleges water authority failed to deliver desalinated water to San Marcos

California mayor, Mexican governor launch war of words over cross-border sewage spills

The mayor of Imperial Beach, Calif., and the governor of Baja California are engaged in an ongoing public feud over cross-border sewage spills, which have been a problem for years and resulted in polluting local communities in the United States and making people ill.  Mexican Gov. Jaime Bonilla has held three separate news conferences this month demanding Mayor Serge Dedina apologize for his public criticisms of Mexico’s inability to stop sewage from flowing into the U.S. … ” Read more from the LA Times here:  California mayor, Mexican governor launch war of words over cross-border sewage spills

Along the Colorado River …

Utah asks U.S. to delay decision on tapping Colorado River

Facing opposition from six states that rely on the Colorado River for water for their cities and farms, Utah asked the federal government to delay a fast-track approval process for building an underground pipeline that would transport billions of gallons of water to the southwest part of the state.  Utah cited the need to consider roughly 14,000 public comments on a draft environmental impact statement, released in June by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, for the Lake Powell pipeline project. The project would deliver water 140 miles (225 km) from Lake Powell in northern Arizona to the growing area surrounding St. George, Utah. … ”  Read more from the Las Vegas Sun here:  Utah asks U.S. to delay decision on tapping Colorado River

From hero to zero: Arizona was a leader in climate policy 15 years ago. What happened?

On Labor Day weekend, the campgrounds and trailer parks around the Grand Canyon were quiet. With excessive heat warnings throughout the country and restrictions in place to slow the spread of a deadly virus, the holiday weekend was different from years past. Still, a steady stream of RVers and campers rolled in and out of the campgrounds on the South Rim.  But those who had come to see one of the nation’s most treasured natural wonders were met with a hazy view. One morning, the other side of the Canyon was barely visible. The striking definition of ridges, the red and orange palettes the Canyon is known for had been flattened by a smoky, at times opaque, haze. … ”  Read more from the Arizona Sun here:  From hero to zero: Arizona was a leader in climate policy 15 years ago. What happened?

As climate change fuels heat, fires, drought, Republic panel examines threats, solutions

As wildfires rage in the West, water supplies decline across the region, extreme temperatures bake Arizona and heat-related deaths rise in Phoenix, experts brought together by The Arizona Republic and azcentral to discuss climate change agreed that action needs to be taken.  Jennifer Vanos, assistant professor and sustainability expert at Arizona State University, said climate change-related deaths caused by issues such as extreme heat exposure are “completely avoidable” if the right steps are taken. … ”  Read more from Arizona Central here:  As climate change fuels heat, fires, drought, Republic panel examines threats, solutions

Podcasts …

THE ECONEWS REPORT: Obi Kaufmann Paints the Forests of California and Tells Their Stories

On this week’s show, we hear from the award-winning California artist-naturalist Obi Kaufmann about his latest book, The Forests of California: A California Field Atlas.  Like his two previous best sellers, The California Field Atlas and The State of Water: Understanding California’s Most Precious Resource, The Forests of California explores the Golden State’s wild places in an attempt to center those of us fortunate enough to live here. The book is a collection of hundreds of watercolor paintings and maps, woven together with philosophy and lyrical naturalism to present a story of the forests of our past, present and future.

Click here to listen or download to the EcoNews Report at the Lost Coast Outpost.


How indigenous burning practices could prevent massive wildfires

Indigenous peoples burned their land for thousands of years to prevent much larger fires. Why it might be an important part of future wildfire prevention.” 


Water at 36000 feet

Steve Baker writes, “Most of the time we tend to look up and view water falling out of the clouds or watch the snow gently floating downwards from above. An interesting contrast are experiences shared by Captain Andrew Barnes, United Airlines Pilot, during his thirty years of flying. Water creates an interesting tapestry that supports an aviator in some ways and must be carefully navigated in other ways.”  Produced by Steven Baker, Operation Unite® Bringing People Together to Solve Water Problems, Online at www.operationunite.co

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Also on Maven’s Notebook this weekend …

FREE WEBINAR SERIES for small water utilities

NOTICE OF PUBLIC WEBINAR: SAFER Aquifer Risk Map: At-Risk Domestic Wells and State Small Water Systems

NOTICE: USEPA Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) Template

FUNDING OPPORTUNITY: 45-Day Comment Period Open: Systemwide Flood Risk Reduction Program Draft Guidelines

 

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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