DAILY DIGEST, 9/29: Trump admin fights farmers’ multimillion-dollar water claim; Strange bacteria are attacking the state’s trout supply; When the West Coast wildfires are out, can mushrooms help with the cleanup?; and more …



On the calendar today …

Two-Basin Partnership Initial Study Report Meeting on Future of Potter Valley Project from 9am to 4pm

The members of the Two-Basin Partnership will hold a meeting with interested parties and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission staff to answer questions about the results and status of studies underway to inform the future operations and management of the Potter Valley Project, and to answer questions about proposed new or modified studies. Members of the public are welcome to attend and ask questions.  Register in advance: https://cbuilding.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_z53eSlqNSVG5KU-UI3Jsow

FREE WEBINAR: Wildfires and Resulting Impacts to Water Bodies Used as Drinking Water Sources from 11am to 12:30pm

Detritus material in forest watersheds is the major terrestrial source of dissolved organic matter (DOM) and disinfection byproduct (DBP) precursors in water bodies used as drinking water sources and is also a fuel that can ignite wildfires. In these watersheds, hot temperatures and dry conditions increase the likelihood of high-severity wildfires. To help reduce this risk, low-severity prescribed burning is used as a forest management practice to reduce fuel loads from forest floor detritus material. In either high- or low-severity fires, DOM exported to source waters from managed watersheds is likely to have different characteristics and treatability compared to DOM exported from unburned watersheds. These potential source water quality changes may require that drinking water utilities adapt their treatment processes to account for these changes. Modeling and decision support tools can help explore treatability and adaptation strategies for these impacted water systems.  Click here to register.

Improving Enforcement in Wetland Regulatory Programs from 12pm to 1:30pm

This webinar will discuss the need for enforcement mechanisms in wetland regulatory programs. After painting the broader background of need, the webinar will share some of the most common compliance and enforcement tools and their pros, cons and contexts for successful application.  The webinar will go on to discuss the relationship between states and tribes with the Corps in terms of coordination of enforcement activities. This portion of the webinar explore the different scenarios across the country from the Corps conducting all enforcement in a state to working to actively coordinate state enforcement with multiple districts.  The webinar will conclude with details about how to build enforcement capacity at the state/tribal level through Wetland Program Plans, specifically how these planning activities can develop systems or be designed to include enforcement in the future.  Presented by the Association of State Wetland Managers.  Click here for more information and to register.

In California water news today …

Trump admin fights farmers’ multimillion-dollar water claim

The Trump administration is urging a federal court to reject a multimillion-dollar claim over water rights from California farmers, in the latest round of a politically sensitive and long-running lawsuit.  At issue is a decadeslong case from major farmers claiming that the Bureau of Reclamation has failed to build a drainage system in the San Joaquin Valley’s Westlands Water District.  Farmers in the district claim that the lack of drainage system has amounted to an unconstitutional taking of their property without compensation under the Fifth Amendment because it has reduced their crop yields. … ”  Read more from E&E News here:  Trump admin fights farmers’ multimillion-dollar water claim

Strange bacteria are attacking the state’s trout supply

On a Friday in late July, Tamara Jimenez waded into one of the many glimmering lakes dotting the Eastern Sierra. Behind her, on a small beach, her grandson filled a plastic bucket with sand.  “It just feels safer out here, like we’re away from it all,” said Ms. Jimenez, who’d traveled from her home in Orange County.  Surrounded by snow-capped peaks, aspens and avalanche scars, Ms. Jimenez felt the anxiety of the previous four months fade away.  Suddenly, she let out a startled shout. Beside her, bloated and nose up in the water, floated a dead fish. … ”  Read more from the New York Times here:  Strange bacteria are attacking the state’s trout supply

When the West Coast wildfires are out, can mushrooms help with the cleanup?

When the worst wildfire season on record in the West finally subsides, it will give way to another potentially devastating environmental crisis: toxins from charred and melted plastics, electronics, and other household materials leaching into watersheds, endangering residents, agriculture, and ecosystems.  It’s a challenge that cleanup crews struggle to contain, but this year a group of mushroom farmers and ecologists hope to prove that fungi can provide an effective and environmentally safe new tool. They plan to use fungi as filters throughout burn zones in California, trapping toxic waste as water flows through mycelium networks. … ”  Read more from Fern’s Ag Insider here: When the West Coast wildfires are out, can mushrooms help with the cleanup?

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In regional water news and commentary today …

‘Make Noise:’ Yurok Tribe water analyst discusses PacifiCorp’s new stance on Klamath Dam Removal

The day after Congress passed a bill that included potential consequences to PacifiCorp if it reneged on an agreement to remove four Klamath River dams, the Yurok Tribe’s senior water policy analyst urged people to “make noise in anyway that you can.”  Speaking at a Salmonid Restoration Federation webinar Friday, Mike Belchik said the most effective way for those who don’t live along the Klamath River to support dam removal is to make the utility as uncomfortable as they can. Belchik encouraged attendees to write their Congressman, write letters to the editor and “make noise.” … ”  Read more from the Lost Coast Outpost here: ‘Make Noise:’ Yurok Tribe water analyst discusses PacifiCorp’s new stance on Klamath Dam Removal

Humboldt County: Researchers: Offshore wind farm would alter ecosystem

There’s still a lot of uncertainty surrounding how an offshore wind farm would impact specific species off the coast, but researchers say it will change the area’s ecosystem.  Wildlife in the area may be impacted by the noise potentially being generated by the turbines, the vessel traffic that also creates noise and increases the chance of a collision, and the change in the ocean floor substrate from soft to hard, Sharon Kramer, project researcher at ecological consultants H.T. Harvey and Associates, said at an offshore wind energy webinar on Sept. 21. … ”  Read more from the Eureka Times-Standard here: Researchers: Offshore wind farm would alter ecosystem

York Creek dam removal sets stage for environmental restoration in Napa

In a quiet corner of Napa County, tucked away in the hills above its famous valley, a bucolic trickle of a creek is now flowing free after languishing behind a dam for more than a century.  The waters of York Creek began their unabated journey to the Napa River on Sept. 14 for the first time since the latter part of the 1800s, when they were corralled in order to irrigate thirsty vineyards and provide drinking water to the little town of St. Helena about 1.5 miles downstream. … ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  York Creek dam removal sets stage for environmental restoration in Napa

Sonoma County: Ledson certified California Sustainable Vineyard & Winery

“Ledson Winery & Vineyards, one of Sonoma County’s top destinations and home to some of the region’s highest-scoring wines, is certified by the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance (CSWA). According to CSWA, being a sustainable winegrower and winemaker means the vineyard and winery produce high quality grapes and wine, protect the environment and enhance the communities in which they live and work by implementing sustainable winegrowing practices that are environmentally sound, socially equitable and economically viable. “This is a great achievement for our company and for me personally,” said winemaker and founder Steve Ledson. “Making world-class wines while protecting the environment and being a good neighbor and employer helps safeguard the longevity of our family business for future generations.” … ”

Click here to continue reading this press release.

About Ledson Winery & Vineyards

Steve Ledson’s family has been farming in Sonoma County since 1868. Based in Kenwood, Ledson Winery & Vineyards produces more than 70 different wines annually, representing the most diverse ultra-premium wine portfolio of any family-owned winery in the United States. At upwards of 20 different varietals and blends, from as many as 20 appellations, ranging in price from $18 to $250, there is a Ledson wine for every palate and every pocketbook. Ledson is known for showcasing absolutely some of the best that Sonoma County has to offer. Most recently, 14 of Ledson’s wines have scored between 95 and 99 points; three of them have achieved recognition as ‘Wine of the Year’ at prestigious international wine competitions. “The Ledson Winery has been spitting out wines of such irresistible charm that they may have eclipsed the Castle as the Ledson winery draw,” wine critic Robert Whitley enthused.  Learn more at our website: www.ledson.com

Creek Fire: Water deliveries from dams might be affected due to evacuations

Among the people forced to flee the Creek Fire were workers who keep the vast network of hydroelectric dams running.  Eric Quinley is general manager of the Delano-Earlimart Irrigation District. He said reservoir releases were reduced to minimum levels.  Friant Dam, located at the end of the water delivery network, was at just 30% capacity right now. … ”  Read more from ABC 30 here:  Creek Fire: Water deliveries from dams might be affected due to evacuations

California’s Eastern Sierra reminds us there’s life after disaster

How will Californians ever recover from this year of apocalypse and conflict, of pandemic and fire, when landscapes and lives were broken, seemingly forever? Where can we find a miracle?  In California’s Miracle Country.  Miracle Country is the title of Kendra Atleework’s new and magical memoir about her life in the Eastern Sierra. The book begins with the 2015 fire that decimated her 200-person hometown, Swall Meadows, north of Bishop and 7,000 feet above sea level (“marking the border between desert and sky”). And it is full of unforgettable stories about how disaster shaped and reshaped the Eastern Sierra broadly, and the Owens Valley in particular. … ”  Read more from Zocalo Public Square here: California’s Eastern Sierra reminds us there’s life after disaster

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. Tourists once flocked to the lake to fish Lahontan cutthroat trout and observe thousands of migrating loons taking a pit-stop en route northward. But flows from the Walker River needed to sustain lake levels have gradually dwindled due to natural environmental patterns, drought and human activity. … ”  Read more from the San Luis Tribune here:  Walker Lake group to take water suit back to federal court

These teens paddled across the Salton Sea to bring awareness to the lake’s plight

Three Coachella Valley High Schoolers kayaked across the Salton Sea Saturday to raise awareness about the social and ecological crisis unfolding as California’s largest lake continues to shrink and toxic dust from its shores pollutes the air.  The trio of students got up around 4 a.m. Saturday, drove to Thermal and embarked on a journey to paddle the approximately 18 miles across the vast inland sea, which has a surface area of about 370 square miles spanning Riverside and Imperial counties. … ”  Read more from the Desert Sun here: These teens paddled across the Salton Sea to bring awareness to the lake’s plight

San Diego County Water Authority sets agricultural water discount in exchange for reliability

The San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors approved a permanent special agricultural water rate structure Monday that offers lower water rates to farmers in exchange for lower water supply reliability.  The program will take effect Jan. 1, 2021, and the water authority will work with its 24 member agencies to implement the program by providing program details, such as qualifying criteria and the signup process. … ”  Read more from KPBS here: San Diego County Water Authority sets agricultural water discount in exchange for reliability

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Along the Colorado River …

After insisting on expedited review, Utah now asks feds to delay Lake Powell pipeline decision

Utah’s proposed Lake Powell pipeline had been on a fast track for approval, but on Thursday state water officials asked the Interior Department to slow down the controversial billion-dollar project’s review.  The state cited as a reason the 14,000 public comments submitted in response to a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) released in June. … ”  Read more from the Salt Lake Tribune here: After insisting on expedited review, Utah now asks feds to delay Lake Powell pipeline decision

After Clean Water Act change, uncertainty reigns over water protections

In June, the Trump administration’s new version of which waters are protected under the Clean Water Act took effect. The new rule is an about-face from the Obama-era regulations, and Arizona state regulators are trying to make sense of it.  The Trump administration significantly narrowed the definition of what qualifies for protection under the Clean Water Act, which means the majority of waterways in Arizona–those that flow only after rain or snow–no longer get such protection. ... ”  Read more from Arizona Public Media here:  After Clean Water Act change, uncertainty reigns over water protections

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In national water news today …

Conflict over U.S.-Mexico water treaty escalates as farmers take La Boquilla Dam

Tensions between Mexico and the United States over water intensified this month as hundreds of Mexican farmers seized control of La Boquilla dam in protest over mandatory water releases.  The protesters came from parched Chihuahua state, nearly 100 square miles of land pressed against the U.S. border, where farmers are opposing the delivery of over 100 billion gallons of water to the United States by October 24. … ”  Read more from Circle of Blue here:  Conflict over U.S.-Mexico water treaty escalates as farmers take La Boquilla Dam

Supreme court environmental cases could stretch to climate, coal

The U.S. Supreme Court launches its new term with a light environmental docket and a heavy air of uncertainty, with a nomination battle raging and a global pandemic continuing to disrupt the institution’s normal order.  The court sits for its first environmental case on the opening day of oral arguments Oct. 5, wading into a water war between Texas and New Mexico. A month later, it’s set to hear a dispute over endangered species records. … ”  Read more from Bloomberg here:  Supreme court environmental cases could stretch to climate, coal

What Trump’s Supreme Court pick could mean for science

Over the weekend, US President Donald Trump nominated Amy Coney Barrett, a conservative legal scholar, appeals-court judge and law professor, for a seat on the country’s Supreme Court. If approved by the Senate, Barrett would tilt the already conservative-majority bench further to the right. That in turn could limit the federal government’s power in environmental regulation, temper the influence of federal science agencies in highly technical court cases and change the transparency required of such agencies, say legal scholars interviewed by Nature. … ”  Read more from Nature here: What Trump’s Supreme Court pick could mean for science

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Today’s featured articles …

BLOG ROUND-UP: DWR is suing everyone for a blank check for a Delta tunnel; Climate change and the economic value of water; New state standard needed for July-August Delta outflow; and more …

Click here to read this article.

 

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

NOTICE: Notice of lifting of curtailments under standard water right term 91

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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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