DAILY DIGEST, 10/1: “Madness and arrogance” blamed for SGMA lawsuit; How to avoid lawsuits when allocating groundwater; Newsom vetoes Friant-Kern Canal fix bill; Harder’s nutria bill moves forward; Winter season forecast; and more …



In California water news today …

“Madness and arrogance” blamed for one lawsuit against desert groundwater agency

Two lawsuits accusing the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority of ramming through a plan that ignores water rights and, according to one plaintiff, is intended to “destroy agriculture” were filed this week.  At issue is a controversial $2,000-per-acre-foot fee approved by the authority last month that would be charged to certain groundwater users over a five-year period. That money is intended to raise $50 million to buy Central Valley water and, somehow, bring it over the Sierra Nevadas to replenish the overdrafted desert aquifer. … ”  Read more from SJV Water here:  “Madness and arrogance” blamed for one lawsuit against desert groundwater agency

Kern County pistachio grower seeks court action for revised and improved groundwater strategy plan in Indian Wells Valley

Mojave Pistachios, LLC (Mojave), located in Ridgecrest CA, has filed suit in Kern County against the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority (IWVGA) requesting the invalidation of groundwater sustainability plan and more than $255,000,000 in damages after IWVGA gave Mojave, an existing 1,596-acre pistachio orchard, a zero groundwater allocation. The complaint alleges, among other contentions, that the authority misused the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) to eradicate agriculture from the Valley in favor of over allocating the basin’s water to the China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station.  “The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority completely subverted the principal objective of SGMA – to develop sustainable groundwater management – by ramming through a plan that illegally prioritizes the needs of the entities that serve on its Board over agriculture and private industry under a ruse that the action was required to protect the Navy,” said the plaintiff’s attorney, Scott Slater. …

Click here to continue reading this press release from Mojave Pistachios.

The lawsuit, among other things, asserts several areas of unlawful activity by the IWVGA:

1. Despite SGMA’s charge that the GSA not affect common law water rights, the IWVGA gave a zero-groundwater allocation to Mojave as overlying landowners presently irrigating an existing 1,596-acre pistachio orchard, on the basis its rights were “inferior”.
2. The IWVGA violated SGMA by reserving the basin’s entire sustainable yield to the Navy with the knowledge that the Navy’s formal position is they need only a quarter of that amount.
3. Beginning in January 2021, the combined fees on Mojave’s future extraction of groundwater exceed $2,130 per acre-foot and will be more than $255,000,000 over the twenty-year period SGMA granted GSAs to attain sustainability.
4. IWVGA’s conditioning the extraction of groundwater upon the payment of $2,130 per AF while other beneficial uses are excluded from the fee – violates SGMA and
constitutes a physical and regulatory taking of appurtenant overlying water rights entitling them to more than $250,000,000 in damages.
5. Additionally, Mojave alleges that IWVGA also violated California’s Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) because it fails to account for the environmental impacts of the dramatic consequences of land fallowing that will result when Mojave and other agricultural properties are no longer able to farm.

“I’ve participated in the development of many GSP’s across California – all in critically over drafted basins – and reviewed many more. None I have seen are remotely as egregiously flawed as this one.” said Anthony Brown, of Aquilogic, Mojave’s consulting hydrologist.

Mojave is asking the Court to invalidate the currently flawed GSP, the Extraction Fee, the Replenishment Fee, and other implementing actions and direct the IWVGA to prepare a new GSP that complies with SGMA and constitutional requirements.

“Mojave represents what is best about farming. We are playing our part in feeding the world. We are good stewards of the land and farm under best management practices. We are amicably participating in SGMA planning across California and we have left no stone unturned here in our effort to collaborate towards achieving sustainable groundwater management plan that considers all beneficial uses, including agriculture. IWVGA’s giving our 1,596-acre orchard a zero allocation is shameful and should be terrifying to agriculture everywhere. And with a pending operative date of January 1, 2021, it is with profound sadness that we must proceed with this suit. We love and respect the Navy and have no quarrel with the importance of its mission. This suit seeks no relief against the Navy and it is made necessary by the madness and arrogance of former Navy Base Commander Mick Gleason and his intention to destroy agriculture and specifically us.” said Rod Stiefvater, owner of Mojave Pistachios.

The IWVGA lawsuit can be found here.

How groundwater managers can avoid the courts as they divvy up water

One of the biggest challenges to implementing California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act hovers around this two-part question:  Who gets to pump groundwater and how much do they get to pump? Or, put another way, who must cut their groundwater use and by how much?  As local groundwater agencies try to answer this difficult question on how to develop allocations, they face one major constraint: They can’t change groundwater rights. … ”  Read more from the Environmental Defense Fund here:  How groundwater managers can avoid the courts as they divvy up water

Researchers use satellite imaging to map groundwater use in California’s Central Valley

Researchers at the University of California San Diego report in a new study a way to improve groundwater monitoring by using a remote sensing technology (known as InSAR), in conjunction with climate and land cover data, to bridge gaps in the understanding of sustainable groundwater in California’s San Joaquin Valley.  Their work could be revolutionary for managing groundwater use in agricultural regions around the world, as groundwater monitoring and management have been notoriously difficult to carry out due to lack of reliable data. … ”  Read more from Newswise here:  Researchers use satellite imaging to map groundwater use in California’s Central Valley

OpenET project seeks to transform water management in the West

The OpenET project is a collaboration between the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Desert Research Institute (DRI), and Google. The project is centered on providing a new web application to farmers and water managers for better water management decisions. Using data from satellites and weather stations, OpenET will allow for more accurate tracking of water consumption by plants. … ” Read more from Ag Net West here:  OpenET Project Seeks to Transform Water Management in the West

Clean, reliable water: how to get a seat at the table for groundwater planning

“Healthy communities need clean, reliable water supplies. That is why your thoughts and ideas need to be shared with local water agencies as they create plans that map out how groundwater will be managed for the next 50 years.  These local plans – called groundwater sustainability plans or GSPs – will affect anyone who uses groundwater – whether at home, at school, on a farm, at their jobs, or at a business – and 85 percent of Californians depend on groundwater for some or all of their water. It is important that community members representing diverse interests have a seat at the table and get involved in planning how groundwater will be managed now and in the future. … ”  Read more from DWR News here:   Clean, reliable water: how to get a seat at the table for groundwater planning

New video series and website help tell the story of California’s vulnerable species

According to a 2019 United Nations report on species extinction, an estimated one million animal and plant species worldwide are now threatened with extinction, many within decades, more than ever before in human history. Still, there is plenty we can do to address the challenges facing listed species. Several state and federal natural resource agencies recently partnered to produce a video series and educational website highlighting successful conservation efforts to preserve some of California’s threatened and endangered species.  Saving Species Together, a joint project between the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)  Fisheries, illustrates how resource agencies, private landowners, non-profits and citizens have come together to help some of California’s vulnerable species.  A half-hour program compiled from the videos will be airing on PBS starting in November as well….

Click here to continue reading this press release from the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The four listed species to be highlighted by Saving Species Together include:

  • Western snowy plover: Resource managers and volunteers help protect and restore habitat for the western snowy plover at Point Reyes National Seashore and the Mike Thompson Wildlife Area, South Spit Humboldt Bay.
  • Coho salmon: Coho specialists from a timber company, a non-profit and NOAA Fisheries help juvenile Coho salmon in the Eel River Watershed.
  • San Joaquin kit fox: Resource managers, non-profits and a solar company find ways to protect the endangered San Joaquin kit fox in urban environments and on a 26,500-acre preserve in the Central Valley.
  • California tiger salamander: Resource managers, private developers and biological consultants work together to protect the California tiger salamander in native habitat in northern California grasslands.

The SavingSpeciesTogether.org website is hosted by CDFW. It includes the videos, information about the featured species, information on what private landowners and the public can do to help listed species, campaign outreach materials and many other resources.

The videos were produced by Full Frame Productions. The program was funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation with community service funds paid by the defendant in a securities fraud case captioned as United States of America v. Wildlife Management, LLC (N.D. California).

LEGISLATION AND BUDGET

Newsom vetoes Friant-Kern Canal fix bill

California Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed a bill that would have provided funding to fix the ever-sinking Friant-Kern Canal.  State Sen. Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger) introduced the bill back in 2018 and had strong bipartisan support, especially among her fellow Valley lawmakers.  SB 559 would have required the Department of Water Resources to report to the legislature by March 31, 2021, on federal funding approved by the federal government for the Friant Water Authority or any other government agency to restore the capacity of the Friant-Kern Canal. … ”  Read more from the San Joaquin Valley Sun here:  Newsom vetoes Friant-Kern Canal fix bill

Harder’s bill to stop giant rodent invasion passes the Senate, heads to President’s desk to be signed into law

Representative Josh Harder’s (CA-10) bill to stop the invasion of the nutria, a giant swamp rat from South America, passed the Senate last night and will be sent to President Trump to be signed into law. The bill, which passed the House of Representatives in February with unanimous, bipartisan support, will reauthorize an expired program that helped Maryland successfully run the invaders out of the Chesapeake Bay and will allocate $12 million to help all affected states. Since the invasive rat first reappeared in California in 2017, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has removed over 1,600 animals from the Central Valley.

Click here to continue reading this press release from Congressman Harder.

“Bipartisanship works! I’m glad I had the opportunity to work with Congressman Graves and Senators Kennedy and Feinstein – and President Trump – to get this done,” said Rep. Harder. “This is a win for everyone – farmers can sleep better knowing their crops and water infrastructure are safe and environmentalists can be happy that the native plants and animals being destroyed by these swamp rats will survive. We proved that you can still get things done in Washington by working across the aisle – even if it takes bringing a dead rat to the Floor of Congress.”

We’ve spent months hosting meetings with Congressman Harder and representatives of the nutria community, but no solutions have prevailed in our negotiations for their peaceful surrender. Our funds were almost depleted but our spirits remained untouched in the fight for the soul of our marsh and coastal communities,” said Rep. Graves. “With this swift action from the Commander in Chief, the states will have the resources needed to fight back the invasive species that accelerate the destruction of coastal wetlands.”

Nutria were originally introduced to the United States as part of the fur trade in the late 1800s but were eradicated from California in the 1970s. The invasive rat made a sudden reappearance in 2017. Over 1,600 have been taken from the wild since then. Nutria can devour up to 25 percent of their body weight daily and one female can lead to 200 offspring per year. These invaders threaten water infrastructure, certain crops, and indigenous wildlife.

In June of 2019, Rep. Harder introduced his bill to reauthorize the Nutria Eradication and Control Act of 2003. Since its introduction, the bill has been amended to direct $12 million to programs in nutria-impacted states, including California. The programs supported by the bill encourage habitat protection, education, research, monitoring, and capacity building to provide for the long-term protection of wetlands from destruction caused by nutria. Following today’s vote, the bill will be sent to the Senate.

Representative Harder has repeatedly pushed to pass the bill. Last year, he brought “Nellie,” a life-size taxidermy nutria to a Congressional hearing to illustrate the threat posed by the invader. In a separate hearing, he brought a graphic example of the invasion curve (colloquially referred to as a “#RatChart”) to demonstrate the need to act urgently. In February, during House debate on his bill, Rep. Harder brought Nellie back to the Capitol again – this time to the House floor –  to encourage his colleagues to support his bill.

The bill passed the House in a unanimous bipartisan vote. This week, the Senate passed the bill through the “hotline” process, which requires unanimous support from every member of the Senate. Rep. Harder was joined on the bill by Republican Garrett Graves of Louisiana as well as fellow California Representatives Jim Costa, TJ Cox, John Garamendi, Barbara Lee, and Jimmy Panetta. Identical legislation was introduced in the Senate by Senators John Kennedy and Dianne Feinstein. 

California tightens rules on rat poisons that kill mountain lions, birds, endangered wildlife

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday signed a bill widely restricting the use of certain highly potent rat poisons that are blamed for killing mountain lions, birds and endangered wildlife.  Assembly Bill 1788 bars the general use of so-called second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides, or SGARs, until the director of the state Department of Pesticide Regulation certifies that the chemicals have been reevaluated and any additional restrictions needed to limit the impact on wildlife are adopted.  No deadline was given. … ”  Read more from KABC here: California tightens rules on rat poisons that kill mountain lions, birds, endangered wildlife

Federal stimulus impasse endangers California budget relief

A new infusion of federal aid looks increasingly unlikely to materialize in the coming weeks, dimming hopes that California will restore billions of dollars state leaders trimmed from the budget as part of an agreement with Gov. Gavin Newsom.  The final budget deal included more than $11 billion in cuts and deferrals that would be restored if the state receives $14 billion in federal Covid-19 relief by Oct. 15. The budget assumed the state would receive at least $2 billion from Congress through a new stimulus package. … ”  Read more from Politico here: Federal stimulus impasse endangers California budget relief

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In regional water news and commentary today …

Can California’s wine country survive the climate crisis?

Most American wine-lovers feel a connection to California wines, widely considered to be on par with the esteemed vineyards of France and Italy in terms of quality. So the wildfire destruction of much of California’s wine country may feel particularly personal: earlier this week, the Glass Fire in Northern California’s Napa and Sonoma Counties led to tens of thousands of people being evacuated as it demolished vineyards and spewed ash on grape crops. The scale of the devastation raises questions about the ongoing viability of a vital California industry that has previously weathered droughts, earthquakes, floods, and the higher temperatures that emerged from climate change.  … ”  Read more from Salon Magazine here:  Can California’s wine country survive the climate crisis?

Reclamation announces Nimbus Fish Hatchery agreement with California Department of Fish and Wildlife

The Bureau of Reclamation has signed a five-year, $12.3 million multi-year agreement with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to continue the federally owned Nimbus Fish Hatchery facility’s operations and maintenance in Rancho Cordova.  The Nimbus Fish Hatchery was built by Reclamation to mitigate for steelhead-and-Chinook salmon habitat loss due to Nimbus Dam’s construction. Reclamation has entered into a series of agreements with CDFW since 1956 for the hatchery’s operations and maintenance. This partnership has allowed Reclamation to consistently meet its annual fish-production objectives for steelhead-and-Chinook salmon.

Click here to continue reading this press release from the Bureau of Reclamation.

Reclamation is pleased to continue our partnership with CDFW for operations of our Nimbus Fish Hatchery on the lower American River,” said Drew Lessard, Central California area office manager. “The important work of ensuring yearly fish mitigation objectives is crucial for Reclamation to continue operations of Folsom Dam and the greater Central Valley Project.”

Under this new agreement, CDFW will continue operations and maintenance of the Nimbus Fish Hatchery with the objective of meeting Reclamation’s mitigation requirements for the construction of Nimbus Dam. The Chinook-salmon smolts and steelhead yearlings produced from this process are released back into the American river and Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, helping conserve these vital fish populations.

For additional information email Sarah Perrin at sperrin@usbr.gov or call at 916-537-7063 (TTY 800-877-8339).

Agencies sign partnership agreement to provide flood risk reduction for Stockton

Representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District, Central Valley Flood Protection Board, and San Joaquin Area Flood Control Agency today signed a Project Partnership Agreement that signals the next step in efforts to reduce the flood risk for the northern and central areas of the City of Stockton.  “Executing the Project Partnership Agreement for the Lower San Joaquin River Flood Risk Management Project is a monumental step in providing critically needed improvements for the City of Stockton in the northern San Joaquin Valley,” said Col. James J. Handura, commander of the Sacramento District. “We are excited to partner with the San Joaquin Area Flood Control Agency and the state of California to reduce flood risk in the region.” …

Click here to continue reading this press release from the Army Corps of Engineers.

The plan, authorized by Congress in the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018, will provide flood risk management benefits to over 71,000 acres of mixed-use land with a current population estimated at 160,000 residents and an estimated $21 billion in property. The recommended plan includes North and Central Stockton –Delta Front, Lower Calaveras River, and San Joaquin River levee improvements. The structural features of the plan include approximately 24 miles of levee improvements, and two closure structures (Fourteen-mile Slough and Smith Canal). The non-structural measures include a comprehensive flood warning system, emergency evacuation planning and floodplain management. The project is estimated to cost $1.3 billion with annual benefits of $255 million.

“San Joaquin County has one of the Central Valley’s highest concentrations of people exposed to flood risk,” said Central Valley Flood Protection Board President Bill Edgar. “Financially, the magnitude of needed improvements to flood protection facilities is more than the state and locals can manage on their own. Partnership with the Corps, therefore, is critical to our collective ability to protect residents, more than 160 critical infrastructure sites – including the new VA hospital – and billions in damageable property.”

Currently USACE is completing design of the first planned reach TS30L, located along Tenmile Slough between West March Lane and White Slough west of Interstate 5, and beginning geotechnical analysis and pre-design for up to 10 additional reaches.

“We’re very encouraged by and appreciative of the Corps’ significant investment in the planning, design and construction of critical flood risk reduction projects to protect families, homes, businesses, and vital public facilities in our region,” said Manteca City Councilmember and San Joaquin Area Flood Control Agency Board Chair Gary Singh. “Although we still have a long road ahead of us, this first increment of design and construction will go a long way toward increasing our region’s resiliency to flood threats from ever more unpredictable storms and sea level rise.”

“The Department of Water Resources is excited to partner on this critical project to protect people and businesses in the greater Stockton region,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth. “This project aligns with the state’s commitment of making a more resilient flood system and our collective understanding that we must provide flood protection to those historically marginalized communities who have had to withstand the greatest burden of risk.”

Tracy: District Holds First Board Meeting After Historic Merger

Two century-old irrigation districts in the Tracy area have officially joined forces. In a landmark moment Tuesday, the Byron-Bethany Irrigation District (BBID) held its first regular board meeting since consolidating with the West Side Irrigation District (WSID).  In the early 1900s, the two districts kept handwritten board meeting minutes. In the midst of the COVID-
19 pandemic, this meeting was held virtually via Zoom.  “This is the culmination of several years of work to bring these two districts together, for the benefit of our growers,” said BBID General Manager Rick Gilmore. “In today’s challenging regulatory climate, this consolidation will improve water reliability, strengthen water rights, and provide greater financial flexibility to keep our water system performing well into the future.” …

Click here to continue reading this press release from BBID.

In June, the San Joaquin Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) voted unanimously in favor of consolidating the districts. The former 6,000-acre WSID service area West of Tracy was incorporated into the existing 30,000-acre service area of BBID, establishing a single 36,000-acre district. Former WSID Directors Tom Pereira and Jack Alvarez have become BBID Board Directors in newly created Divisions XIII and IX, respectively. The former boundaries of WSID are now known as the West Side Service Area. All former WSID employees have become BBID staff.

“This is a great step forward that will keep our farmers in business,” said Jack Alvarez, former WSID Board President and new BBID Board Director. “We are stronger together, with a greater ability to manage costs and provide reliable water deliveries.”

The merger has been in the works since 2016, when both districts first voted to move forward and BBID began managing WSID operations. Landowners expressed their strong support at a public meeting held at the outset of the process. Last year, LAFCO adopted a final Municipal Service Review (MSR) and Sphere of Influence (SOI) prepared by both districts, which includes an extensive review of financial information, infrastructure, and services provided.

BBID previously merged with the Plain View Water District in 2004.  Byron-Bethany Irrigation District (BBID) is a multi-county special district serving parts of Alameda, Contra Costa, and San Joaquin Counties across 55 square miles and 36,000 acres. The district serves more than 215 agricultural customers and more than 20,000 residents of the Mountain House community. For
additional media information, contact Nick Janes at 630.915.6493, or via email at n.janes@bbid.org.

San Joaquin County: Multimillion dollar tunnel to increase water reliability

A joint-supply canal put in place 110 years ago is at risk of cutting off water supplies to the cities of Manteca, Lathrop, and Tracy as well as to 52,000 acres in the South San Joaquin Irrigation District.  Landslides over the years have blocked the movement of water in the canal that runs along the northern wall of the Stanislaus River canyon from Goodwin Dam where water is diverted to a point east of Knights Ferry where the canal departs from the canyon and water ultimately flows toward the in-district Woodward Reservoir. … ”  Read more from the Escalon Times here: Multimillion dollar tunnel to increase water reliability

Industrial farms leave water wells ‘high and dry’ despite regulations, Madera residents say

The land east of Madera has changed in the 25 years since Rochelle and Michael Noblett built their home, four doors down from Rochelle’s parents, in River Road Estates.  There are more houses, more acres of irrigated agriculture and less grazing land. There’s also been a significant decline in water availability, as the level of groundwater drops below what some residents’ domestic wells can reach. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here: Industrial farms leave water wells ‘high and dry’ despite regulations, Madera residents say

Abstract art? Floating laboratory? Oakland’s buoyant ecologies float lab is both

Off the coast of Oakland’s Middle Harbor Shoreline Park floats a fiberglass structure that resembles a bulbous amoeba. About the size of a small car, the structure is defined by two hill-like mounds and an uneven corrugated surface. Seawater and rainwater have pooled in some of its valleys, and its original factory-white color has been weathered green and gray by algae.  Though hidden below the water, the underside of the structure is a mirror image of what sits above the surface—and is ultimately more important than its visible counterpart. Rather than a piece of abstract art, as it might appear to those on the shore—or perhaps in addition to this function—the structure is actually a floating laboratory exploring novel ways to adapt to climate change. … ”  Read more from Bay Nature here:  Abstract art? Floating laboratory? Oakland’s buoyant ecologies float lab is both

Santa Cruz: Pure Water Soquel addresses water woes, says Rob Duncan, general manager of Soquel Creek Water District

He writes, “A letter posed an excellent question to the Soquel Creek Water District – a question that comes up often in the community. To paraphrase: with the Mid-County groundwater basin in a state of critical overdraft, why is development that adds water users to the already over-burdened water system allowed to continue?  I appreciate that this question clearly recognizes the extremely serious water supply issues we’re facing as a community. The District is working diligently to address the overdrafting of our groundwater supply and the resulting seawater contamination through our many water conservation programs and our Pure Water Soquel groundwater replenishment project. It is important to note that recent development has not caused the overdraft (created in the 1980s) but could exacerbate it. … ”  Read more from the Santa Cruz Sentinel here: Pure Water Soquel addresses water woes

Monterey: The desal project is much needed, says Paul Bruno, chairman of the Seaside Groundwater Basin Watermaster

He writes, “In recent commentaries from Public Water Now’s Melodie Chrislock, she states Cal Am’s desal plant would “draw over 17,000 acre-feet per year from the Salinas Valley Groundwater Basin near Marina.” In fact, the desal plant will draw slightly over 18,000 acre-feet from its proposed slant wells on the coast. But 17,300 acre-feet of this will be ocean water or groundwater so contaminated by salt it cannot be used for drinking water or agriculture. The remaining 700 acre-feet of groundwater will be returned to the Salinas Valley Groundwater Basin. The basin return water will be delivered to the Castroville Community Services District in the form of treated, desalinated water to supply their customers. Castroville is experiencing significant seawater intrusion, and this new source of potable water is desperately needed to address their water crisis. This arrangement keeps the basin whole and provides a benefit by relieving pumping in Castroville. … ”  Continue reading at the Monterey Herald here: The desal project is much needed, says Paul Bruno

Pre-election meltdown at Montecito Sanitary

Some call it a “quiet revolution.” Others, a “hostile takeover.”  Either way, on the heels of a severe drought, a group of wealthy Montecitans, many of them members of the Birnam Wood and Valley Club golf courses on East Valley Road, will gain control over all aspects of water policy on November 3 and for the foreseeable future in this exclusive enclave of one-acre lots and large estates.  It’s been a five-year crusade. ... ”  Read ore from the Santa Barbara Independent here: Pre-election meltdown at Montecito Sanitary

DWR announces $37 million in awards for water resilience projects within the Los Angeles area

As part of an ongoing effort to address California’s critical water needs and build regional self-reliance in the face of a changing climate, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) today announced nearly $37 million in grant awards for water resilience projects in Los Angeles and Ventura counties.  These grant awards are funded by voter-approved Proposition 1 and administered through DWR’s Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) Program, which is designed to encourage implementation of water management solutions on a regional scale to  improve water quality and flood management, restore and enhance ecosystems, and provide more reliable surface and groundwater supplies. …

Click here to continue reading this press release from DWR.

Every Californian has the right to clean and reliable water. Although communities statewide have made considerable strides to build resilience, those with limited resources and capacity remain vulnerable to water insecurity,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth. “Only by working together and advancing state and regional partnerships can we implement long-term sustainable solutions, particularly when it comes to providing safe and reliable drinking water to underserved communities. We are proud to support these projects as they demonstrate our continued effort in advancing the human right to water.”

Among the award recipients is the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works, which received $2.25 million in grant funding to construct an oxidation-filtration treatment facility. In recent years, residents in the disadvantaged communities of Willowbrook and a portion of the City of Compton have observed brown drinking water caused by elevated levels of manganese, a natural occurring mineral. This project is a cost-effective treatment method that will successfully lower the levels of manganese in one of two drinking water wells serving over 6,800 residents, improving water quality and increasing groundwater production for domestic water distribution.

Another award recipient is an excellent example of the importance of collaboration and leveraging resources. The Calleguas Municipal Water District and Las Virgenes Municipal Water District (LVMWD)  – neighboring water agencies in Los Angeles and Ventura counties that depend entirely on imported water – received $3.5 million in funding for an interconnection project that consists of a new pipeline, pump station, and pressure reducing station to allow delivery of alternative potable water supplies from one district to the other during emergency and normal operating conditions. The project will improve operational flexibility to ensure a more reliable water supply for 660,000 Calleguas customers and 70,000 LVMWD customers.

This award builds on a previous Proposition 84 IRWM award of almost $2 million for the Las Virgenes portion of the project. Through the IRWM Program, the two water agencies are achieving solutions benefiting a much greater population than either could have achieved alone.

These awards conclude the grant solicitation period for Round 1 of DWR’s Proposition 1 IRWM Implementation Grant Program. In total, more than $212 million in grants has been awarded since April 2020, funding approximately 250 projects throughout the state. These include nearly 35 projects that serve to improve groundwater sustainability, four Flood Managed Aquifer Recharge projects, and 25 ecosystem improvement projects. More than $81 million of that funding was also awarded to projects benefiting disadvantaged and underrepresented communities, including at least four projects that will support California Tribes.

The Round 2 grant solicitation process for this grant program is planned to commence in late-2021 and will offer more than $180 million in competitive grant funding.

To learn more, visit the IRWM Grant Program webpage.

San Diego Water Works Website Offers One-Stop Shop for Water Industry Jobs

The San Diego County Water Authority and its 24 member agencies have launched a new website – SanDiegoWaterWorks.org – that provides the first comprehensive posting of regional water and wastewater industry job openings in one location. As the San Diego economy begins recovering from recession, the site features expanded job opportunities and regularly updated information about internships and training opportunities – a true one-stop-shop for anyone interested in a new career or a new role in the water industry.  …

Click here to continue reading this press release from the San Diego County Water Authority.

“San Diego Water Works was created to help meet the growing need for skilled water industry workers at a time when retirements are reducing the workforce. The site is the result of a regional water industry task force convened to address the “silver tsunami” of Baby Boomers.

“We want to fill the pipeline with new generations of talent,” said Water Authority General Manager Sandra L. Kerl. “This is an industry that can really benefit from people with a diversity of backgrounds and educational experiences.”

While some water agencies have reduced hiring during the pandemic, roughly half of the current water industry workforce in the San Diego region will be eligible to retire in the next 15 years and many of those workers are in essential positions. In just the next five years, about 1,400 water and wastewater industry jobs are expected to open across the region. In addition to engineers and plant operators, the industry relies on technicians, accountants, electricians, mechanics, information technology specialists and many other occupations.

“The water industry offers careers that are not only personally and professional rewarding but also are vital for our region,” said Christopher McKinney, the City of Escondido’s Director of Utilities, and chair of the regional task force. “This is a chance to really make a difference in our community.”

The San Diego Water Works website includes:

  • Current water and wastewater job postings in the San Diego region
  • Training and education resources, career advice and internship programs
  • Featured jobs that highlight rewarding careers in the water industry
  • Information about special training programs and internships for military veterans

The new website aligns with the priorities of water agencies in San Diego County to help military veterans find jobs in the water and wastewater industry. State legislation co-sponsored by the San Diego County Water Authority and the Otay Water District was signed into law in 2019, making it possible for veterans to receive credit for their military education and experience when applying for civilian water and wastewater system operator certifications in California.

“More than 15,000 military personnel transition from active duty each year in San Diego County, and many have the skills and experience that match the needs of regional water industry employers,” said Jose Martinez, Otay Water District general manager, U.S. Navy veteran and a member of the regional workforce development task force. “As a veteran, I understand the importance of a website like this; it is a great starting point for veterans to find jobs and training programs as well as to discover what resources are available in the industry.”

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In national water news today …

Trump Administration Announces Completion of Actions Under the Presidential Memorandum on Promoting the Reliable Supply and Delivery of Water in the West

Today, White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) Chairman Mary Neumayr joined the Departments of the Interior (Interior), Commerce (DOC), Energy (DOE), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps), and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in announcing the completion of all actions directed by the October 2018 Presidential Memorandum on Promoting the Reliable Supply and Delivery of Water in the West (Western Water PM).  Under President Trump’s directive, agencies efficiently coordinated to complete the environmental reviews of major water infrastructure projects in California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Montana, to meet the needs of agricultural communities and other water users within the region. Federal water projects in the West irrigate millions of acres of farmland, provide water and power to millions, and support tens of billions in economic activity.

Click here to continue reading this press release from the White House.

The President also directed agencies to convene experts and develop an action plan to improve forecasting of water availability and promote the expanded use of technology for improving the accuracy and reliability of water and power deliveries. The actions in the Western Water PM, which were completed in under two years, will support reliable water supplies for the American West and promote economic prosperity in the region.

“After decades of uncoordinated regulatory actions, President Trump promised that his Administration would streamline regulatory processes to support reliable water supplies for families, farmers, and communities in the West. Just two years later, we have fulfilled this promise,” said CEQ Chairman Mary Neumayr. “Thanks to the agencies’ close and efficient coordination, they have completed environmental reviews for major water projects, as well as advanced technologies to support reliable water supplies, which will benefit our economy, environment and current and future generations of Americans.”

“President Trump called on us to provide safe, reliable water for our Nation’s families, farms, and communities. In fulfilling this Presidential Memorandum, we achieved each and every directive through unmatched coordination and collaboration across Federal agencies,” said Interior Assistant Secretary for Water & Science Dr. Tim Petty. “We are modernizing our water projects, policies, science and technology, and way of doing business to better meet the demands of the American West.”

“Partners across the West Coast have worked hard to balance multiple demands on water for flood risk reduction; reliable flows for farms, families, and municipalities; dependable hydropower; and cultural needs for Native American tribes; while protecting threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead,” said retired Navy Rear Admiral Tim Gallaudet, Ph.D., Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and Deputy Administrator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). “Doing its part, NOAA collaborated with other Federal, State, and Tribal agencies, farmers, and local communities to improve information and modeling capabilities, streamline regulatory processes and ensure reliable water supplies across the West. We will continue applying our advances in science and technology to focus actions where they will make the most positive impact.”

“Water is a critical resource that is necessary for human health, agricultural productivity, and economic growth,” said DOE Assistant Secretary for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Daniel R. Simmons. “We are pleased to support the Western Water PM’s objectives to improve technology and investment in water supplies and local hydroelectric projects. Through the Water Security Grand Challenge, where we are working together with our partners to develop technological solutions to meet the need for safe, secure, and affordable water and enhance America’s economic growth and energy security.”

“In full partnership with the Bureau of Reclamation and the Bonneville Power Administration, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers expedited the completion of the Columbia River System Operations Environmental Impact Statement,” said Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works R.D. James. “Having received thousands of thoughtful comments by the public, we are able to meet the varying needs and interests of Columbia River Basin users in the context of science as envisioned by the Presidential Memorandum on Western Water.”

“EPA is proud to support our Federal partners in developing actions to help ensure a safe and reliable supply of water in the western United States,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for the Office of Water David Ross. “Through close coordination and collaboration, we are working to deliver historic water achievements, including the National Water Reuse Action Plan, which is advancing water reuse technology to diversify water supplies and ensure the viability of our water economy for generations to come.”

Background: 

On October 19, 2018, President Trump issued a Presidential Memorandum on Promoting the Reliable Supply and Delivery of Water in the West.

Pursuant to the Western Water PM, agencies completed environmental reviews required for the Central Valley Project and California State Water Project, and the Columbia River System Operations.

In addition to streamlining environmental review processes for specific projects, the Western Water PM also directed the Departments of the Interior and Commerce to convene water experts and resource managers to develop an action plan to improve information and modeling capabilities related to water availability and water infrastructure projects – this Federal Action Plan for Improving Forecasts of Water Availability was released on October 2019.

The Western Water PM also called for improving use of technologies to improve the reliability and accuracy and delivery of water and power, including enabling the use of recycled water – the National Water Reuse Action Plan was issued on Feb. 27, 2019.

For more information: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/president-donald-j-trump-working-promote-reliable-water-access-west/

The fast-moving fires that swept through Western United States have wiped out critical populations of endangered species and incinerated native habitats that may take years to recover, if they recover at all.  Fire is a critical part of ecosystems in the West, and many plants and animals depend on it to thrive, but the heat and intensity of the wildfires now ravaging California, Oregon, Washington and other Western states are so destructive that wildlife in some areas may struggle to recover. … ”  Read more from the New York Times here:  Blazes on West Coast scorch habitats for endangered species

What’s really in your bottled water?

CR recently tested 47 bottled waters, including 35 noncarbonated and 12 carbonated ones. For each product, we tested two to four samples. The tests focused on four heavy metals (arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury), plus 30 PFAS chemicals, which pose special concerns because they can linger in the environment almost indefinitely.  The federal government has issued only voluntary guidance for PFAS, saying the combined amounts for two specific PFAS compounds should be below 70 parts per trillion. A few states have set lower limits, of 12 to 20 ppt, according to American Water Works, an industry group. … ”  Read more from Consumer Reports here:  What’s really in your bottled water?

New ‘forever chemicals’ are contaminating the environment, regulators say

Earlier this year, state and federal researchers reported finding a new, potentially dangerous chemical in soil samples from multiple locations in New Jersey. The compound was a form of PFAS, a group of more than 5,000 chemicals that has raised concerns in recent years because of their potential link to learning delays in children and cancer, as well as their tendency to last in the environment for a long time.  But the new revelations, reported in the June issue of Science magazine, stoked concerns among water-quality researchers and advocacy groups for other reasons, too. … ”  Read more from Consumer Reports here: New ‘forever chemicals’ are contaminating the environment, regulators say

AccuWeather’s US winter forecast calls for a two-faced season for millions

As Americans hunker down to weather the pandemic this winter at home, nearly every facet of life will remain upended to safeguard against the coronavirus. Millions are working from home and learning remotely and even holiday gatherings will look a lot different this year. Staying closer to home may mean fewer weather worries for commutes and disruptions to daily activities, but AccuWeather has you covered on what you can expect weather-wise as we navigate uncertain times.  ... ”  Read more from AccuWeather here: AccuWeather’s US winter forecast calls for a two-faced season for millions

Arc GIS Living Atlas: Water Conflicts in International Rivers

October 24, 2020 is the deadline of the U.S water debt in which Mexico still has to release about 300 million cubic meters of water to the Rio Grande. The U.S. water debt is part of the 1944 treaty about the water utilization of the Rio Grande, Colorado and Tijuana Rivers. The situation has sparked tensions south of the border with the Mexican government struggling to meet its international commitments. The drought-impacted farmers in Chihuahua have revolted. … The current situation between the U.S. and Mexico is an example of the challenges about sharing water resources in transboundary basins. The ArcGIS platform already provides fundamental tools for spatial analysis to overcome these challenges. What’s more interesting in the past years is that near-real time layers in ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World can support hydro projects in innovative ways. … ”  Read more from ESRI’s Arc GIS blog here:  Water Conflicts in International Rivers

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Today’s featured article …

WATER BOARDS: Update on the Central Valley Water Board’s Irrigated Lands Program

Sue McConnell is the manager of the Central Valley Board’s Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program.  At the September 15 State Water Board meeting, she gave an update on the implementation of Order WQ-2018-0002, hereafter referred to as the ‘petition order’.

Click here to read this article.

 

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

YOUR INPUT WANTED: “Your Delta, Your Voice” Community Survey Launched Take the Survey Today!

FUNDING OPPORTUNITY: 2020 California Financing Coordinating Committee Virtual Funding Fair

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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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