DAILY DIGEST, 10/6: Redwood City salt ponds subject to environmental protections, judge rules; Update on atmospheric rivers in the forecast; Assessing water quality: Stressors to sustainable water management in CA; and more …



On the calendar today …

The State Water Resources Control Board meets at 9:30am.

Agenda items include consideration of a proposed regulation for detection limits for perchlorate, update on SAFER program, and a workshop on the revised water quality order reviewing the LA water board’s executive officer’s approval of 9 watershed management plans and one enhance watershed management program.  Click here for the full agendaClick here to watch on webcast.

WEBINAR: Time is Running Out! More Than 100 Communities are About to be Left Holding the Bag on Tainted Water from 10am to 11:30am.

Many communities across California–especially communities in the Central Valley–are negatively impacted by water contamination from 1,2,3-trichloropropane (TCP).  In this webinar, you’ll learn how groundwater contaminants like TCP and PFAS impact the health and wellness of communities across California, and how you can beat the December 31st deadline for making the polluters pay for TCP cleanup.   Click here to register.

ONLINE MEETING: State Board of Food and Agriculture from 10am to 1pm

The California State Board of Food and Agriculture will be hearing from regional water stakeholders, state officials and non-profit associations on continuing work related to water recharge and environmental restoration. Specific focus will be on the Sacramento River Science Partnership, a collaborative effort to monitor recovery and water management on the Sacramento River.   Meeting Link: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/1126786523065116687  Webinar ID:  369-008-107

WEBINAR: California hydrology from 10:30am to 11:30am

The California hydrogeology webinar, presented by W. Richard Laton, Ph.D.,PG, CPG, CHG, focuses on the state’s major aquifers, physical and geologic properties, groundwater use and availability, groundwater quality and contamination, surface water/groundwater interactions, and groundwater management issues.  Click here to register.

FREE WEBINAR: Women in Water & Power: Working on the Frontlines at 11am

Calling all women (and women supporters) who want to feel empowered in the water, wastewater and power industries! Join us if you are interested in pursuing these amazing careers. The California Water Environment Association is hosting a very special one hour webinar discussion featuring four woman who work on the frontlines of California water.  Click here to register.

WEBINAR: Introducing the Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities Program from 12pm to 1pm

Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) will support states, local communities, tribes and territories as they undertake hazard mitigation projects, reducing the risks they face from disasters and natural hazards.  This presentation will provide an overview of the BRIC program, eligibility, project types, and key dates, followed by a Q&A session.  For more information, click here.

TOMORROW 7AM:  FREE WEBINAR: International dialogue: Improving agricultural water-use efficiency (California & the Western Cape) from 7am to 9am

Please join state and provincial government officials from the Western Cape and California for a discussion on drought and water use efficiency within the agricultural sector.  Click here to register.

In California water news today …

Redwood City salt ponds subject to environmental protections, judge rules

A federal judge on Monday ruled that a sprawling collage of salt ponds in Redwood City is subject to protections under the Clean Water Act — going against a previous decision by the Environmental Protection Agency that would have eased development along the bay.  The ruling by United States District Judge William Alsup represents a victory for local environmental groups that have long sought to prevent development of the 1,365 acres of Redwood City salt ponds. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  Redwood City salt ponds subject to environmental protections, judge rules

SEE ALSO:

Rain forecast in Northern California brings hope as fire season reaches bleak milestone

The prospect of rain offered a bright spot amid California’s ongoing fire fights Monday, where progress was made even as the state marked yet another bleak milestone.  The August Complex, burning in seven counties, surpassed 1 million acres, another record-setting development in a year already full of them. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: Rain forecast in Northern California brings hope as fire season reaches bleak milestone

Update on atmospheric rivers forecast to bring precipitation to the US West Coast

A unique large-scale flow regime is forecast to result in the landfall of two separate but concurrent ARs over the USWC …  There is currently a large amount of uncertainty in the forecast, which is resulting in a large spread of potential outcomes.  The GFS, ECMWF, and NBM are forecasting different precipitation accumulations from Washington to Northern CA. Due to the numerous fires currently burning across California, this precipitation in the forecast may bring much needed relief to extremely dry conditions. … ”  Read more from the Center for Western Weather & Water Extremes here:  Update on atmospheric rivers forecast to bring precipitation to the US West Coast

Assessing water quality: Stressors to sustainable water management in California 

Water providers in California face myriad challenges in sustainably providing high quality drinking water to their customers while protecting the natural environment.  While agencies may have little direct impact on these external stressors, they have choices in how to respond and adapt to such stress to successfully supply high quality and affordable water to communities.   In this blog post, I explore the stress that surface water and groundwater quality challenges pose for California’s retail water agencies. … ”  Read more from the Pacific Institute here:  Assessing water quality: Stressors to sustainable water management in California 

Water accounting platform is working well in Kern County

A relatively new water budgeting platform appears to be working well for producers in Kern County. The Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District (District) has worked with multiple stakeholder partners to develop the Water Accounting Platform to help growers more accurately track water use. General Manager of the District, Eric Averett explained that producers in the area seem to be pleased with the functionality of the platform and what it provides. … ”  Read more from Ag Net West here:  Water accounting platform is working well in Kern County

The farm of the future might be in Compton. Inside a warehouse. And run partly by robots

From the outside, the gray and white warehouse near the corner of Oris Street and Mona Boulevard seems like a thousand other mundane Southern California buildings. But the interior, once completed, will resemble a sketch from a futurist’s daydreams. If all goes well, the 95,000-square-foot Compton facility will house rows of hydroponic towers organized into emerald walls of non-GMO, pesticide-free leafy greens. These plants won’t rely on sunlight in order to grow. Gleaming LED lamps will provide all the light the crops could ever want. Robots will transport seedlings while other machines move the towers as part of an orchestrated production process. Picture a grow room in a futuristic Martian colony and you’re probably on the right track. … ”  Read more from the LAist here:  The farm of the future might be in Compton. Inside a warehouse. And run partly by robots

Epic scale of California wildfires continues to grow

The staggering scale of California’s wildfires reached another milestone Monday: A single fire surpassed 1 million acres.  The new mark for the August Complex in the Coast Range between San Francisco and the Oregon border came a day after the total area of land burned by California wildfires this year passed 4 million acres, more than double the previous record.  Gov. Gavin Newsom said the amount of land scorched by the August Complex is larger than all of the recorded fires in California between 1932 and 1999. … ”  Read more from the AP here: Epic scale of California wildfires continues to grow 

California looking at deep cuts if coronavirus package can’t clear Congress

The big state budget bet that California officials made this summer is on the line in Washington as congressional leaders and the White House scramble to cut a coronavirus stimulus deal before the election.  Billions of dollars in funding cuts that Gov. Gavin Newsom and lawmakers hoped they would be able to reverse this fall could remain in effect if the talks that resumed in recent days in the nation’s capital end as so many others have in recent months — in failure. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  California looking at deep cuts if coronavirus package can’t clear Congress

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In commentary today …

Raising Shasta Dam is an even worse idea than we knew, says Doug Obegi

He writes, “The Trump Administration’s efforts to enlarge Shasta Dam was always a bad idea.  In addition to being illegal under California law, it’s been clear for years that raising the height of the dam would destroy Native American sacred sites, harm fish and wildlife, and provide few water supply benefits.  Those aren’t just NRDC’s concerns – these concerns have been expressed by numerous state and federal agencies over more than a decade of comments about this project, such as in this 2015 final Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act Report. ”  Read more from the NRDC here:  Raising Shasta Dam is an even worse idea than we knew

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In regional water news and commentary today …

Huffman amendment pressuring PacifiCorp to remove Klamath dams passes House, pending in Senate

On September 24, the House passed the Clean Economy Jobs and Innovation Act, sending it on to the Senate where it is pending. The act included an amendment sponsored by United States Representative Jared Huffman to hold the PacifiCorp energy company (a subsidiary of the Warren Buffett Company Berkshire Hathaway) responsible for the negative impacts of four dams on the Klamath River. The Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement Tribal Fairness Amendment is also designed to protect downstream Native communities from harm caused by the outdated dams. Huffman and others claim that the decaying dams have changed the ecology of the river and adversely impacted the salmon fishing industry and local tribal communities. … ”  Read more from the Mendocino Beacon here:  Huffman amendment pressuring PacifiCorp to remove Klamath dams passes House, pending in Senate

Groundwater regulation comes to Ukiah; local Groundwater Sustainability Agency introduced plan last week

In Ukiah, as in much of the United States, groundwater has been largely unregulated. Landowners with access to underground water have been able to pull as much water, at any rate, any time, and for any reason without worrying about protocols or following government rules.  That is about to change. … ”  Read more from the Mendocino Bulletin here:  Groundwater regulation comes to Ukiah; local Groundwater Sustainability Agency introduced plan last week

New document describes freshwater needed to maximize habitat for birds in the Sacramento Valley

The Northern California Water Association, working with our conservation partners including Ducks Unlimited, Audubon California, California Waterfowl Association, The Nature Conservancy and the California Rice Commission, have developed a comprehensive accounting of the water needed to maximize Pacific Flyway habitat in the Sacramento Valley.  The document, A Freshwater Ecosystem Budget for Birds and the Pacific Flyway, uses the habitat targets for managed wetlands (both public lands such as National Wildlife Refuges and privately held lands) and ricelands that have been developed in the 2020 Central Valley Joint Venture Implementation Plan to calculate the water needed for each of the land uses to maximize the habitat values for the Flyway in the region.  Also included in the document are descriptions of the sources of water for this habitat and the collaborative process that helps the partners to work together to manage water and land resources for the Pacific Flyway in the Sacramento Valley. … ”  Read more from the Northern California Water Association here:  New document describes freshwater needed to maximize habitat for birds in the Sacramento Valley

The 2020 vintage was already difficult in Napa Valley. It was born in a drought, matured through terrible heat spikes and had endured smoky conditions from the haze of numerous Northern California fires.  Then, on the last weekend of September — in the middle of harvest — savage wildfires seemed to attack the northern end of the valley from all directions. … ”  Read more from the New York Times here:  California fires take a deep toll on Wine Country

West Basin water board incumbent Don Dear faces questions of electioneering

Among the three candidates challenging longtime incumbent Don Dear for a seat on the West Basin Municipal Water District Board of Directors is a mechanic who until recently was camping in Dear’s backyard.  George Louie Gutierrez has no visible campaign and hasn’t answered media questions about his candidacy — but his name is on the ballot, and that’s raising eyebrows among at least one other candidate for Dear’s seat.  Hugo Rojas, the incumbent’s most formidable challenger, said he believes Dear solicited Gutierrez to run because it adds another Latino name to the ballot to take away support from him, though Dear denied that allegation. … ”  Read more from the Daily Breeze here:  West Basin water board incumbent Don Dear faces questions of electioneering

California’s Salton Sea offers chance for US battery supply chain, despite financial, policy challenges

Developing a lithium industry in California’s Salton Sea, an area that experts think could supply more than a third of lithium demand in the world today, could help set up a multi-billion dollar domestic supply chain for electric vehicle batteries, according to a new report from New Energy Nexus. But doing so will require navigating multiple financial and policy-related challenges, including receiving financial backing for demonstrating and commercializing lithium recovery projects, the report noted — without which, manufacturers could be hesitant to enter into contracts with lithium producers. … ”  Read more from Utility Dive here:  California’s Salton Sea offers chance for US battery supply chain, despite financial, policy challenges

Border Report: New State Law Requires an Action Plan for the Tijuana River

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law last week a bill that will require the state’s Environmental Protection Agency to create a Watershed Action Plan for the Tijuana River Valley.  The new state law is one of many recent efforts to reduce exposure to dangerous pathogens, limit beach closures and address water quality issues in the area.  The bill, which was written by state Sen. Ben Hueso, also aims to address some of the binational challenges in managing the watershed. The plan that the California EPA is putting together will create a framework for how California can work with the Mexican and U.S. governments. … ”  Read more from the Voice of San Diego here:  Border Report: New State Law Requires an Action Plan for the Tijuana River

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Along the Colorado River …

New Rules: As climate change and overuse reduce water supplies, the gap between “paper water” and “actual water” is widening.

” … Overton sits in the Moapa Valley, one of only a few rural farming areas left in Clark County, the state’s most populous county. Irrigation ditches line the road, built to serve the agricultural fields that are tucked behind homes, gas stations and stores. Alongside the town, the groundwater-fed Muddy River flows through a narrow channel toward Lake Mead, about a dozen miles away.  The Muddy River is the valley’s lifeblood, and it’s at risk. … ”  Read more from the Nevada Independent here: New Rules: As climate change and overuse reduce water supplies, the gap between “paper water” and “actual water” is widening. 

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In national water news today …

Reps Cox and Garamendi send letter urging for inclusion of the WIFIA Improvement Act in Bicameral Water Resources Package

Today, Reps. TJ Cox (CA-21) and John Garamendi (CA-3) sent a letter urging leaders of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to include H.R. 8217, the WIFIA Improvement Act of 2020 in any final Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), the biennial bill authorizing water projects and providing guidance to federal agencies on water resources. Rep. Cox introduced the bipartisan WIFIA Improvement Act of 2020 (H.R. 8217) with Rep. Garamendi and Reps. Jim Costa (D-CA16), Doug LaMalfa (R-CA01), Josh Harder (D-CA10), and Dan Newhouse (R-WA04) last month. The bill would amend the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) of 2014 to allow water projects with longer useful lifecycles to receive federal financing for 55-year loan terms instead of the current 35-year loan terms, lowering the capital costs for such projects. 

Click here to continue reading this press release.

The WIFIA Improvement Act of 2020 would also clarify that federally owned but locally maintained infrastructure for the Central Valley Project like the Jones Pumping Plant are also eligible for WIFIA loans for capital improvement and modernization costs.  “I’m urging for any final WRDA legislation to include the bipartisan WIFIA Improvement Act which provides the critical financing tools needed so we can get to work rebuilding and modernizing water infrastructure in the Central Valley and the rest of the United States,” said Rep. Cox.   The letter is also signed by Reps. Dan Newhouse, Jim Costa, Josh Harder, Kim Schrier, and Doug LaMalfa.  Read the full letter here.

EPA initiative to recruit and retain next generation’s water workforce

During WEFTEC Connect, the virtual 2020 WEFTEC conference, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced the next step in EPA’s effort to help address workforce challenges that are facing America’s drinking water and wastewater utilities. The new America’s Water Sector Workforce Initiative (Initiative) outlines actions that the public and private sector are committing to that will help recruit and retain the next generation of the water workforce through workforce planning, technology training, and collaboration across the federal government and the water sector. These actions will support workforce resiliency for water utilities and thereby help ensure that Americans can continue relying on safe drinking water and vital wastewater services that protect public health and the environment. … ”  Read more from Water World here:  EPA initiative to recruit and retain next generation’s water workforce

Justices hear water dispute between Texas and New Mexico

Kicking off its new term, the Supreme Court heard arguments Monday over Texas and New Mexico’s agreement to share water from the Pecos River and whether the latter state is on the hook for water that evaporated before making it across state lines.  The decades-old case centers on a compact formed in the 1940s between New Mexico and Texas, where the river starts from and flows to, respectively. Under the deal, New Mexico agreed not to deplete the river’s flow and both states pledged to maintain it. … ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service here:  Justices hear water dispute between Texas and New Mexico 

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And lastly …

Where Exactly Is Northern California?

“Where exactly is Northern California?” is a question I’ve had since moving from Butte County to Santa Cruz. I remember living there thinking, “Is this still Northern California?” What I learned from Santa Cruz locals was that they did consider themselves to be a part of Nor Cal, but they were quick to tell me that they – unlike so many of the Northern Californians I grew up with – did not use the word “hella.” ... ”  Read more from North State Public Radio here:  Where Exactly Is Northern California?

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Today’s featured articles …

TESS DUNHAM: California’s Three-Legged Stool for Improving Groundwater Quality: Porter Cologne, SGMA and the Recycled Water Policy – How Do They Work Together?

Every year, the Groundwater Resources Association of California selects two speakers for the David Keith Todd Lectureship, which named after David Keith Todd to pay tribute to his legacy as groundwater science and education leader. The objective of the series is to develop scientific educational programs that promote the understanding and effective implementation of groundwater assessment, protection, and management.

One of the speakers for the 2020 lecture series was Theresa “Tess” Dunham, an attorney with Kahn, Soares & Conway LLP, who spoke about groundwater quality and how the Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, and the state’s recycled water policy can work together.  The subject is one Ms. Dunham is exceptionally well-suited to cover, as she has spent the last 20 years specializing in legal and regulatory issues related to state and federal water quality laws, including CV-SALTs and the Irrigated Lands Program.  A farmer’s daughter, she represents a wide range of clients and coalitions devoted to resolving nitrate, salt and other water quality issues to promote long-term sustainability of California’s water resources and ensure the needs of farmers, private industries, and municipalities are balanced against environmental concerns.

At the 2020 Western Groundwater Congress, Ms. Dunham gave the following keynote speech.

Click here to read this article.

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

THE CURRENT: Reintroduction of winter-run chinook salmon to Battle Creek; Can fish eat their way out of climate change?; Restoring the Mad River Estuary; and more …

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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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