DAILY DIGEST, 10/8: CA water managers not ready for climate change, science group says; CA to set aside 1/3 of land and water for conservation; Coachella Valley school first to receive SAFER funding; ‘It’s Orwellian’: Native loophole lets NASA shirk cleanup; and more …



On the calendar today …

VIRTUAL SUMMIT: Ensuring Equitable Involvement in Regional Water Planning, Day 1 from 8:30am to 1:30pm

The Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority and the Local Government Commission are sponsoring a no-cost statewide summit, with support by the Department of Water Resources to share strategies for engaging marginalized communities in regional water management as learned through local implementation of the Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) Disadvantaged Communities and Tribal Involvement Program.  Click here to register.

FREE WEBINAR: Veterans in Water: Continue Serving Your Community at 11am

California’s water utilities are hiring now. They’ll hire thousands of highly-skilled professionals for water jobs this year. Your skills as a veteran could be exactly what water utilities are looking for. Dive into the California water profession. We can show you how.  The California Water Environment Association is hosting a free one hour webinar.  Click here for more information and to register.

In California water news today …

California water managers not ready for climate change, science group says

Water managers are underprepared for climate change in ways that will leave the state simultaneously at increased risk of water shortages and floods, according to a new analysis released today by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and accompanying peer-reviewed study in Climatic Change. The volatile swings from very dry to very wet years will become more intense and more frequent by late century as the climate changes. The state experienced exactly this scenario in 2017 and 2018 when bone-dry drought parched the state and left thousands without drinking water then was followed by lethal flooding and mudslides that overwhelmed communities like Santa Barbara and broke Oroville Dam’s spillways.  The UCS study analyzed climate model projections that were developed for the 4th California Climate Assessment and are widely used in state climate planning and guidance documents. The analysis, which looked at where the models’ findings converged, uncovered a troubling picture for California’s water future.

Click here to continue reading this press release.

The study found the top ten climate models used by the state government agree there will be nearly complete snowpack loss at lower elevations statewide by the end of the century, if heat-trapping emissions continue to rise as currently expected. The models agree that almost the entire state will struggle with shorter, wetter winters and longer, drier summers and experience many more very wet and very dry years. The expected changes in the length, intensity and volatility of wet seasons, coupled with a dramatically diminished snowpack will, by late century, reduce water supply and require greater and more flexible water storage, including restoration and sustainable use of groundwater aquifers, than currently exists.

The report points out that these predicted climate changes have been overlooked by water managers.

“Water managers have been overly focused for years on the question of how much more or less precipitation we’re going to get because of climate change,” said Geeta Persad, lead author of the report, and assistant professor of climate science at The University of Texas at Austin who authored the report while working as a senior climate scientist at UCS. “This analysis shows that what managers should be asking is not only ‘how much rain or snow will fall,’ but also, ‘how volatile will water flows be from one year to the next?’ and ‘can our water storage systems handle more extremes year after year?’”

According to the study, the frequency of swings between very wet and very dry years will double or triple across most of the state by the end of the century, increasing year-to-year volatility and potentially contributing to fatal mudslides, unexpected wildfire behavior and damage to water infrastructure. That situation could be made worse if the up to 20 percent increase in more extreme precipitation events that create dangerous flood conditions and hard-to-manage flows into reservoirs does occur as predicted by more than 80 percent of the state’s best climate models.

“Collectively, these findings have significant implications for everything from wildfire risk to groundwater sustainability to flood insurance policies,” said Daniel Swain, co-author of the report, and climate scientist at the University of California Los Angeles Institute of the Environment and Sustainability. “The findings also suggest that decision makers and water managers may find greater consistency in climate projections by looking beyond average conditions, and focusing specifically upon the extreme drought and flood events that are most likely to stress water systems and infrastructure in the first place.”

Rural communities throughout the state will bear the burden of the state’s slow action on climate change, according to the report, which pointed out that rural communities have less capacity to plan and adapt without state data and guidance. Communities, such as those in the San Joaquin Valley, have fewer water supply options, are located in areas more likely to flood and experience extreme heat, struggle with badly managed water systems, have less capacity to do their own climate risk planning, and often suffer from poor water quality.

“Climate change will worsen the inequities for thousands of Californians who already are at increased risk of flooding or without access to clean, drinking water,” said José Pablo Ortiz Partida, climate scientist at UCS and co-author of the study. “Water managers must do more to plan for climate change. We know enough about what to expect to start planning differently now.”

The report called for the state to prioritize climate planning across its water decisions. The state can improve the water system’s climate readiness by protecting aquifers and maximizing water managers’ ability to store water underground.

“By shifting its reliance from the dwindling snowpack to well-managed use of its massive groundwater aquifers, water managers will be better able to handle the large volumes of rainfall and snowmelt that, because of climate change, are expected to fall in shorter amounts of time,” said Persad.

In addition, water managers should start thinking about how to operate the system of dams, surface reservoirs, pipelines, tunnels and canals differently. The report recommended the state create guidelines based on future projections rather than historical data to ensure managers make better decisions about when water is released or stored.

“Without a fundamental shift in how our water is managed, we are at risk of supply shortfalls, more damage to our infrastructure, dangerous flooding, and millions of dollars in wasted investments,” said Adrienne Alvord, Western States director at UCS. “It can take years to make changes in how we allocate water and decades to upgrade or build new infrastructure. Federal, state and local water managers’ misdirected focus is wasting precious time we need to overhaul our water system, our water laws and our processes. State leaders must plan now because climate change is altering everything related to California water.”

Find out more by checking out the full report, or checking out our blog in Spanish.

Key indicators discovered of climate change’s impact on California water supply

Determining how climate change is affecting water supplies is difficult in a state like California that swings between floods and droughts, but a new study has found that climate models agree on key metrics that could help water managers in the Golden State.  In the new study, scientists at The University of Texas at Austin in collaboration with the Union of Concerned Scientists found that leading climate projections used by the state strongly agree that climate change will shift the timing and intensity of rainfall and the health of the state’s snowpack in ways that will make water management more difficult during the coming decades. … ”  Read more from University of Texas here: Key indicators discovered of climate change’s impact on California water supply

California to set aside a third of its land and water for conservation

Building on efforts to curb the effects of climate change amid a historically severe wildfire season, California Governor Gavin Newsom set a new goal Wednesday to conserve 30% of the state’s land and coastal water by 2030.  “It’s about recognizing that climate change is not just about greenhouse gas emissions emanating from tailpipes of vehicles, but it’s the opportunity to sequester in our soils these greenhouse emissions, the carbon rather, in our soils,” Newsom said during a press conference at Sierra Orchards in Solano County. … ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service here:  California to set aside a third of its land and water for conservation

Click here to read statement from the Environmental Defense Fund.

EDF applauds Gov. Newsom’s executive order to conserve 30% of the state’s land and coastal waters by 2030.

The governor’s order is noteworthy for reflecting the interconnected biodiversity, climate, economic and racial equity crises we are facing today. It is heartening that Gov. Newsom recognizes the need to accelerate the pace and scale of environmental restoration and land management efforts to address these crises.

We are pleased to see the governor recognizes the critical role that working lands can play in reducing emissions, supporting regional biodiversity, and building a resilient economy and food system, which serves populations well beyond California’s borders. We also appreciate the governor’s emphasis on expanding equitable access to the outdoors and recreation, which the pandemic has elevated even further in importance to our physical and mental well-being.”

Eric Holst, Associate Vice President, Working Lands, Environmental Defense Fund

Click here for a statement from Food and Water Action.

Food & Water Action California State Director Alexandra Nagy issued the following statement:

“Once again, Governor Newsom talks a big talk about climate change, and once again he fails to deliver. More than 2,600 fossil fuel drilling permits issued by his administration this year are contributing to climate chaos, not addressing it. Until Newsom acknowledges the urgent need to halt new oil and gas drilling instead of encouraging it, he can never be taken seriously as a climate leader.

“Governor Newsom’s plan recognizes the water scarcity crisis California faces, yet he ignores the fact that fracking for oil and gas requires vast sums of water that could otherwise be diverted to sustainable agriculture, fire prevention and many other worthwhile needs. Newsom’s hypocrisy when it comes to water management is glaring.

“Relying more deeply on California’s faulty cap-and-trade system to address climate woes is almost worse than doing nothing, as it allows for business-as-usual by the biggest fossil fuel and factory farm polluters in the state, while placing an ever-increasing health and environmental burdon specifically on low-income areas and communities of color.

“Governor Newsom needs to go back to the drawing board and tackle the state’s biggest polluters head-on. We’re losing patience with his lack of meaningful action.”

Click here for statement from Barbara Barrigan-Parilla with Restore the Delta.

After hearing some of the details of this order, we are encouraged to see Governor Newsom embrace a bold strategy to address the climate and biodiversity crises. We agree with the Governor’s emphasis on nature-based solutions for climate change and saving biodiversity, and for using the land conservation strategy as a way to improve public access to lands and natural areas for all Californians.

“We also applaud Newsom Administration efforts to work with California tribes, fishing and hunting, and environmental justice groups.  We think that the state land conservation goal of 30% by 2030 is important. 
 
“We also agree that carbon sequestration through land management is essential to achieve carbon neutrality. We applaud the forward effort to build carbon sequestration into farming practices as part of groundwater resources management and drought mitigation.  Mitigating climate change impacts and protecting biodiversity is the touchstone for protecting the San Francisco Bay-Delta for future generations, and for all Californians.”

SEE ALSO: 

Update on atmospheric rivers in the forecast

“A unique large-scale flow regime is forecast to result in the landfall of two separate but concurrent ARs over the US West Coast.  Current forecasts suggest the possibility of an AR 2/AR 3 between extreme Northern California and Washington in association with the first landfalling AR, but there is some uncertainty in the timing, duration, and magnitude of AR conditions.  The GFS and ECMWF are forecasting at least 1–3 inches of precipitation across western Washington and Oregon during the next 5 days, with higher amounts possible over the Olympic Mountains and North Cascades.  Unfortunately, little precipitation is expected in California, where many large fires are still active.”  Read more from the Center for Western Weather & Water Extremes here: CW3E AR Update: 7 October 2020 Outlook

SEE ALSO:   Forecast keeps rain in Northern California’s future… barely, from KTXL

A Craigslist for water trading? Learn how this new water management platform works

Eric Averett is general manager of the Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District in Kern County, California, which is one of 21 regions required by the state to balance groundwater demand and supply within 20 years under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.  Rosedale is home to approximately 27,500 acres of irrigated cropland and 7,500 acres of urban development. Groundwater demand there exceeds supply by approximately 5,000 acre-feet per year. … ”  Read more from EDF’s Growing Returns blog here:  A Craigslist for water trading? Learn how this new water management platform works

Research brief: Desalination and the circular economy

Stanford’s Woods Institute for the environment has published a research brief, Desalination’s Role in a Circular Economy.  Authors Meagan Mauter, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering and center fellow, and Peter Fiske, director of the Water-Energy Resilience Research Institute (WERRI) at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, examined ways to build a circular water economy that could facilitate the next revolution in distributed desalination and reuse. They also identified a suite of technologies to enable local solutions at competitive costs as well as policies that could support broader implementation efforts.”  Read the research brief here:  Research brief: Desalination’s role in the circular economy

Upton, colleagues request federal efforts to ensure clean drinking water in schools

U.S. Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) joined a bipartisan group of three dozen lawmakers in requesting that the Trump administration combat PFAS chemicals in educational and childcare facilities across the nation.  “We write to express our concerns regarding possible toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in the drinking water of our nation’s schools and childcare facilities,” wrote Rep. Upton and his colleagues in an Oct. 1 letter sent to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler, U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, and U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. … ”  Read more from the Ripon Advance here:  Upton, colleagues request federal efforts to ensure clean drinking water in schools

Coachella Valley elementary school first to receive SAFER funding

The Westside Elementary School in Thermal held a virtual groundbreaking yesterday on a water consolidation project as the first recipient of the State Water Board’s Safe and Affordable Funding for Equity and Resilience (SAFER) program. The SAFER funds secured for the project allow for a critical resource many take for granted: clean drinking water.  Children and staff at the K-6 school, where the student body is predominantly Latino and the town’s population hovers around 3,000, have had to rely on water bottles for drinking water due to issues from an aging well.  But change is here. Thanks to a $880,155 grant from the new SAFER program and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a consolidation project recently broke ground, granting Westside Elementary access to the Coachella Valley Water District and a reliable source of clean water. ...

Click here to continue reading this press release from the State Water Board.

“The state water board and its funding capacity is all too happy to provide dollars for this critical project… and in its regulatory capacity provide the certainty and incentives to ensure we continue to see communities that don’t have access to clean and safe drinking water begin to receive it,” said E. Joaquin Esquivel, Chair of the State Water Board.

The SAFER Program, which was established when Senate Bill 200 passed in 2019, provides tools, funding opportunities and regulatory support designed to ensure Californians lacking clean, safe and affordable drinking water receive it as quickly as possible.

“Thanks to this project, teachers and staff will be able to focus on education without worrying about a lack of drinking water or fire protection,” said Castulo Estrada, a SAFER advisory board member.

Westside Elementary has depended on a single well that has contained unsafe levels of hexavalent chromium. The well is also considered an unreliable fire protection source. As a result, existing buildings on the campus have been precluded from using sprinklers or fire hydrants. 

The Coachella Valley Water District has worked with Westside Elementary to secure funding for the consolidation since 2016. The problems at the school are among those the SAFER program is designed to address. The program’s goal is impacting small water systems in disadvantaged communities that are unable to deliver clean water at affordable rates due to operational and maintenance costs.

To date, an estimated one million people in California lack access to a safe water supply. Providing clean water for all Californians has been an administration priority since Governor Gavin Newsom took office in January 2019.

Groundbreaking video: https://youtu.be/95xuy9-bQwk

California water probe finds PFAS in majority of tested wells

Sixty percent of California’s public water supply wells that were tested for so-called forever chemicals contain those compounds, according to research that the State Water Resources Control Board released Wednesday.  That same investigation into contamination from per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) also found that groundwater and surface water sampled at airports far exceeded the concentrations detected in water near landfills and public supply wells. … ”  Read more from Bloomberg Law here:  California water probe finds PFAS in majority of tested wells

Attorney General Becerra slams Trump Administration plan to raise Shasta Dam

On October 5, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra sent a comment letter to David Brick of the Bureau of Reclamation opposing the Trump Administration’s effort to raise the Shasta Dam by up to 18.5 feet.  Reclamation has been pushing the dam raise proposal for years to deliver more Sacramento River water to the Westlands Water District and other wealthy agribusiness interests in the San Joaquin Valley.  The Winnemem Wintu Tribe, other California Tribes, environmental groups and fishing organizations are opposing the proposal, saying the plan would result in the destruction of imperiled salmon and steelhead populations and the inundation of the remaining sacred cultural sites of the Winnemem Wintu. … ”  Read more from the Daily Kos here: Attorney General Becerra Slams Trump Administration Plan to Raise Shasta Dam

It takes a village:  Driscoll’s dives deep into water stewardship

Driscoll’s writes: “To create high-yielding, delicious, fresh berries; you need a long period of warm days, cool nights and little precipitation — not unlike what many of us search for in our ideal vacation locations. This puts berry growing in very narrow climate belts across the globe: southern Spain, Chile, California, Baja, even parts of Florida. Yet these ideal climates often have little rainfall, requiring a heavy reliance on groundwater for agriculture production.  Because of these climatic constraints, it was clear to us early on that an investment in water stewardship was an investment in the performance and sustainability of our entire enterprise. As a company, we have prioritized water at the highest level of leadership; but our goals are often very regional in scope, to reflect the local water challenges and needs. … ”  Read more from Sustainable Brands here:  It takes a village:  Driscoll’s dives deep into water stewardship

Keeping food on the table when water is scarce is a balancing act. This new app will help.

” … In the western United States, crops and natural landscapes consume the greatest portion of water supplies. However, tracking that consumption is surprisingly complex and expensive, resulting in a major gap in the data water managers need to balance water supplies and water demands.  A recently announced web application called OpenET aims to fill this gap for farmers and water managers to build more resilient water supplies across the West and ensure a more secure food supply for our entire country. … ”  Read more from EDF’s Growing Returns here:  Keeping food on the table when water is scarce is a balancing act. This new app will help.

Newsom’s veto of Friant-Kern Canal funds rankles groups

“Farm and water groups are expressing disappointment after California Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed a bill that would have committed the state to providing 35 percent of the cost of a federal project to fix the crumbling Friant-Kern Canal.  Senate Bill 559 by state Sen. Melissa Hurtado, D-Sanger, would have required the Department of Water Resources to report to the Legislature on federal funding approved to restore the capacity of the 71-year-old canal that serves agricultural customers in the eastern San Joaquin Valley, with a proposal for the state to pay for a share of the project. … ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press here:  Newsom’s veto of Friant-Kern Canal funds rankles groups

How climate change is impacting California’s ecosystem

From intense heat to deadly fires, California has been pushed to extremes, but some of the most alarming evidence of climate change is out of view.  LA Times Columnist Steve Lopez wrote about California’s changing ecosystems, and why we need to listen to nature’s chorus to reverse it.  So much of our weather is driven by what is happening in the ocean. Lopez said he reached out to some oceanographers to find out what trends they are seeing. … ”  Read more from Spectrum 1 here: How climate change is impacting California’s ecosystem

Four million acres have burned in California. Why that’s the wrong number to focus on.

Wildfires in the West are producing a parade of chilling statistics. More than 4 million acres have burned in California, the most in recorded history. Colorado saw it’s largest wildfire and in Northern California, the August Complex has passed the one-million-acre mark, generating an entirely new term: “gigafire.”  Still, some fire scientists warn that focusing on these record-breaking numbers could do more harm than good.  Extreme fires this year have taken a massive human toll, both on those evacuated from their homes and on millions of others breathing unhealthy air. Some experts say the focus on acres burned obscures those human costs. ... ”  Read more from NPR here:  Four million acres have burned in California. Why that’s the wrong number to focus on.

How to redesign a forest: restoring California’s trees in the age of fire

Last spring, a tree-planting crew hiked into the hills near Paradise, California, to take on a challenge: What’s the best way to replant a forest when it’s very likely that it could burn again?  So far in 2020, more than 4 million acres have burned in California—an area roughly the size of Connecticut. It’s a record-breaking amount. It’s also a continuation of a long-term trend: Combine climate change that makes the state hotter and drier with decades of fire suppression, and megafires are becoming more common. The Camp Fire, which burned through Paradise in 2018, killing 85 people and leveling thousands of homes, was one of a series of fires in the area. This year, as fires raged nearby, people living there were forced to evacuate again. … ”  Read more from Fast Company here:  How to redesign a forest: restoring California’s trees in the age of fire

California’s big budget bet fizzles out — will Newsom support new taxes?

Well, it doesn’t look as though California’s big bet on a federal stimulus package that would allow the state to reverse $11 billion in budget cuts is likely to pay off.  In a Tuesday tweet that sent shock waves through Wall Street, President Donald Trump announced he was ending negotiations on a coronavirus relief package until after the November election, accusing Speaker Nancy Pelosi of trying to “bailout (sic) poorly run, high crime, Democrat States.” The move has massive implications for California, which planned to rescind cuts to state employee salaries, courts and the UC and CSU systems if the feds supplied aid by Oct. 15. (Late Tuesday night, Trump expressed support for more stimulus checks and small-business aid.) … ”  Read more from Cal Matters here: California’s big budget bet fizzles out — will Newsom support new taxes?

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In regional water news and commentary today …

River Exchange disbands after 25 years of stewardship in Dunsmuir

After nearly 25 years of unprecedented stewardship of the upper Sacramento River, including raising millions in grant money for everything from educational programs to the annual removal of countless tons of trash, the River Exchange is disbanding.  The Dunsmuir-based nonprofit made the announcement October 1, citing funding issues and the successful completion of its mission.  The group was formed in the years following the 1991 Cantara Loop railroad disaster when a Southern Pacific freight car derailed in the dark of night and dumped 19,000 gallons of metam sodium into the river. … ”  Read more from Mt. Shasta News here:  River Exchange disbands after 25 years of stewardship in Dunsmuir

Happy Valley residents fighting back against water rate increase

The way Beverly Fickes sees it, there’s more at stake than just a vote to increase water rates Monday in Happy Valley. She believes the result of that vote could change the very nature of the semi-rural area southwest of Redding.  Some elderly residents would no longer be able to afford to buy water from the Clear Creek Community Services District, and many small-scale farmers in the area with five or 10 acres would have to stop irrigating and let their pastures, fruit trees or other crops go dry, she said. … ”  Read more from the Record Searchlight here:  Happy Valley residents fighting back against water rate increase

Supervisors discuss Corning area groundwater levels

Tehama County Board of Supervisors received an update Tuesday from Flood Control and Water Resources manager Ryan Teubert and Environmental Health Director Tim Potanovic on ground water levels and well depths following reports of south county wells going dry.  “This is a study session on the declining ground water levels in the southwestern portion of the county and the development of a groundwater sustainability plan and a report from environmental health on the sealing of agricultural wells, measures undertaken to protect domestic wells and what other counties have implemented when faced with similar issues,” said Supervisor Bob Williams. … ”  Read more from the Red Bluff News here:  Supervisors discuss Corning area groundwater levels

Sacramento:  Reach B levee construction explained

An extensive construction site filled with steadily churning heavy equipment has sprung up along Garden Highway just past Radio Road. It’s large enough to make one wonder if a new housing tract is underway, but the work is a section – known as a Reach – of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District’s extensive efforts to upgrade and improve 42 miles of levee surrounding the Natomas Basin.  This particular stretch of construction, known as Natomas Reach B, includes approximately 9.5 miles of improvements, including widening the existing levee.  Okay … But what exactly does that mean? … ”  Read more from the Army Corps of Engineers here:  Sacramento:  Reach B levee construction explained

Inverness and Bolinas step up water restrictions, warn of rationing

Residents of Bolinas and Inverness must take further steps to reduce their water consumption to stave off rationing. Both the Inverness and Bolinas Community Public Utility Districts lack significant water storage capacity in their systems; recently, they put increased pressure on their customers to cut water use and warned of mandatory restrictions should they fail to comply. At a public meeting last week, BCPUD’s general manager, Jennifer Blackman, was optimistic about voluntary reductions. … ”  Read more from the Point Reyes Light here:  Inverness and Bolinas step up water restrictions, warn of rationing

Relief on the horizon for dramatically salty Point Reyes water

The water in Point Reyes Station is cloudy, thick and salty. For many, it’s undrinkable, and for some, it’s harmful.  An unprecedented intrusion of salt into the water system is stressing the region’s water supply, as residents scramble for water bottles or fill up jugs elsewhere, while the North Marin Water District bores another well away from the influence of Tomales Bay. … ”  Read more from the Point Reyes Light here:  Relief on the horizon for dramatically salty Point Reyes water

Levees south of SFO are being fortified in increments

It’s been happening over time. Inexorably, the Bay shoreline immediately south of San Francisco International Airport, is being strengthened in several areas.  Major projects to improve levees in Foster City and North Shoreview in San Mateo are gearing up.  Both are multimillion dollar construction efforts, stimulated in large measure by pressure from the federal government due to potential flooding and expensive insurance concerns. … ”  Read more from the Daily Journal here: Levees south of SFO are being fortified in increments

Ridgecrest: Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority responds to Searles Valley Minerals’ lawsuit

The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority has responded to the Searles Valley Minerals lawsuit announced last week.  “At its core, Searles’ lawsuit is nothing more than a claim that its use of water for a commercial industrial purpose should be free of all costs and given a priority over and above all other uses in the Basin,” Mick Gleason, IWVGA chairman and Kern County Supervisor, said in a press release Tuesday morning. … ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here:  Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority responds to Searles Valley Minerals’ lawsuit

After dramatically scaling back the cleanup plan for one of the country’s most contaminated areas, critics say, the Trump administration is now preparing to sidestep any remediation at all by declaring the entire near-3,000-acre former rocket and nuclear testing site near Los Angeles a culturally significant site for Native Americans.  The Santa Susana Field Laboratory, the site of a partial nuclear meltdown in 1959, contains a cave featuring Native American pictographs that has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1976.  In a short federal filing last week, NASA sought to expand its boundaries to precisely match the entire 2,850-acre field lab’s property lines — a 200-fold increase.  Veteran cleanup activists quickly suspected a sneaky motivation. … ”  Read more from E&E News here:  ‘It’s Orwellian’: Native loophole lets NASA shirk cleanup

Imperial County wants to help Rep. Vargas draft New River bill

Imperial County Supervisor Ryan Kelley wants the board to work with Congressman Juan Vargas, D-Chula Vista, and the county’s lobbyists in Washington, D.C., to draft a legislation to fully fund a wastewater treatment project to clean the New River.  “Not a binational committee to review, not a study,” District 4 Supervisor Kelley said during the Oct. 6 county board meeting. “… He can name it the Vargas New River Cleanup Bill, or we can rename the New River (after him). I have no animosity towards him. He is a nice person. We want to help him help us.” … ”  Read more from the Holtville Tribune here: Imperial County wants to help Rep. Vargas draft New River bill

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In national water news today …

Brain-eating amoeba found in Texas water supply

A particularly frightening contaminant was detected in Texas water supplies, leading to a warning for residents across a small section of the state.  “Residents of eight cities have been alerted that a brain-eating amoeba was found in a southeast Texas water supply, leading one of the towns to issue a disaster declaration,” CNN reported. “The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality [TCEQ] issued a water advisory to residents served by the Brazosport Water Authority warning customers not to use any water due to the presence of Naegleria fowleri, a brain-eating amoeba, found in the water supply.” … ”  Read more from Water Online here: Brain-eating amoeba found in Texas water supply

Smart water metering need not compromise people’s privacy

In the past decade, utility service providers (e.g., electricity, gas, and water) all around the world have been progressively installing large numbers of advanced meters, which continuously collect and transmit information on the usage of services. In the water sector, this information can enable more accurate billing and demand forecasting, as well as providing detailed feedback to consumers about their water use, potentially promoting water conservation. It also assists utilities with leak detection. … ”  Read more from AGU here: Smart water metering need not compromise people’s privacy

How a toxic chromium species could form in drinking water

The water crisis in Flint, Michigan, brought much-needed attention to the problem of potentially toxic metals being released from drinking water distribution pipes when water chemistry changes. Now, researchers reporting in ACS’ Environmental Science & Technology have investigated how hexavalent chromium, known as Cr(VI), can form in drinking water when corroded cast iron pipes interact with residual disinfectant. Their findings could suggest new strategies to control Cr(VI) formation in the water supply. ... ”  Read more from Water Online here: How a toxic chromium species could form in drinking water

U.S. hit by 16 billion-dollar disasters this year, so far

September will be remembered as a month of extremes: Historic wildfires burned across the West, unprecedented tropical activity churned up the Atlantic, and parts of the country saw record heat.  What’s more, the first nine months of 2020 brought a record-tying 16 billion-dollar weather disasters to the nation, according to scientists with NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information. Six of those events —  western wildfires, a Western/Central U.S. drought and heatwave, Hurricane Sally, Hurricane Laura, the Midwest derecho and Hurricane Isaias — have all occurred since June.  Here are the climate highlights for September and 2020 to date … ”  Read more from NOAA here:  U.S. hit by 16 billion-dollar disasters this year, so far

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And lastly …

Shipwrecked on Little Potato Slough

Chris Willson didn’t mean to end up in the delta.  The marshes, the cornfields, the dead-end levee roads, the isolation. The Santa Cruz resident wasn’t seeking any of these things when he responded to an unusual Craigslist ad offering up a cruise ship.  Yet life is known to take strange turns, especially in this watery frontier at the edge of the Bay Area. Today, up a remote river channel named Little Potato Slough, Willson and his girlfriend, along with their cat and dog, live aboard the 293-foot-long Aurora, a 65-year-old luxury liner that was once royalty of the high seas and inspiration for television’s “Love Boat.”  Now it sits idle, a giant amid the wetlands. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  Shipwrecked on Little Potato Slough

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Today’s featured articles …

DELTA LEAD SCIENTIST REPORT: Overview of paper on the 2012-2016 drought in the Delta

Dr. Laurel Larsen officially started September 1st as the new Delta Lead Scientist; however, she is finishing up a sabbatical in Finland, and so she will be part time until she returns to California in December.  At the September meeting of the Delta Stewardship Council, Dr. Larsen gave her first report to the Council, providing an overview of a recent article in the San Francisco Estuary and Watershed Science and other news and events that are happening with the Delta Science Program.

Click here to read this article.

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

WATER PLAN eNEWS: ~~ Project Grants ~ Statewide Summit~ Well Standards ~ Sacramento Symposium~ CalData~ Consortium Agenda ~~

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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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