DAILY DIGEST, 10/13: How wildfires could affect the water in Lake Oroville; Restoring CA’s forests to reduce wildfire risks will take time, billions of dollars and a broad commitment; Environmentalists and dam operators, at war for years, start making peace; and more …



On the calendar today …

VIRTUAL SUMMIT: Ensuring Equitable Involvement in Regional Water Planning, Day 2 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.  The 3-day summit will highlight best practices and resources developed through this program, and elevate how lessons learned from IRWM underrepresented community engagement can be shared across other water planning efforts.  Click here to register.

PUBLIC WORKSHOP: SAFER: identifying at-risk public water systems –selecting risk indicators from 9:00 am to 11:00 am

The State Water Resources Control Board will hold a public webinar to receive input from interested persons concerning the development of the Risk Assessment methodology for public water systems with 3,300 service connections or less.  This workshop will provide an opportunity for stakeholders to learn about and contribute to the State Water Board’s approach to developing a more robust Risk Assessment for public water systems that aligns with the goals of the Human Right to Water. The State Water Board will provide a timeline and vision for the development of Version 2.0 of the Risk Assessment and beyond.  Register at: https://waterboards.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_WDJtKssxRIaSRzFbi2vF0g

WEBINAR: Beaver Restoration from 12pm to 1:30pm

The Association of State Wetland Managers (ASWM) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) have collaborated to develop a series of webinars introducing the topic of restoration of aquatic ecosystems through the reintroduction of beavers, the use of beaver dam analogues (BDAs) or restoration designed to attract beavers to an area to contribute to changing hydrology and restoring ecosystem services.  Click here to register.

PUBLIC MEETING for Systemwide Flood Risk Reduction Program Draft Guidelines from 2pm to 3pm

DWR is pleased to announce the opening of a 45-day public comment period for the Systemwide Flood Risk Reduction Program Draft Guidelines.  The draft guidelines are available at https://water.ca.gov/Programs/Flood-Management/Flood-Projects/Systemwide-Flood-Risk-Reduction.  Comments can be submitted to SystemwideFRR@water.ca.gov before or after the webinars. The public comment period will end at 5:00 p.m. on October 30, 2020.  Click here to register.

In California water news today …

How wildfires could affect the water in Lake Oroville

The North Complex Fire has burned a large portion of Lake Oroville’s watershed. This could lead to hazardous water quality after winter rains run all of that sediment into the lake and the effects could last decades. However, how water quality could be affected by the fire is still largely unknown.  The North Complex Fire which burned in both Butte & Plumas counties destroyed many structures and vast swaths of forest. All of that ash & debris will likely run off into the rivers and into Lake Oroville. The main tributaries into Lake Oroville are the North, Middle and South Forks of the Feather River and the West Branch. … ”  Read more from Action News Now here:  How wildfires could affect the water in Lake Oroville

Restoring California’s forests to reduce wildfire risks will take time, billions of dollars and a broad commitment

As California contends with its worst wildfire season in history, it’s more evident than ever that land management practices in the state’s forested mountains need major changes.  Many of California’s 33 million acres of forests face widespread threats stemming from past management choices. Today the U.S. Forest Service estimates that of the 20 million acres it manages in California, 6-9 million acres need to be restored. … ”  Read more from The Conversation here:  Restoring California’s forests to reduce wildfire risks will take time, billions of dollars and a broad commitment

Ensuring water equity and utility solvency: Lessons from Phoenix

Water utilities increasingly face a dilemma in these recessionary times: the challenge is to take in enough money to operate and maintain complex water systems while also providing safe and affordable water to all their customers—even those who have trouble paying. We talked to Kathryn Sorensen of Phoenix Water Services about Phoenix’s equity innovations. ... ”  Read more from the PPIC here:  Ensuring water equity and utility solvency: Lessons from Phoenix

Another vague decree from Newsom, says Dan Walters

“Gavin Newsom is fond — overly so — of declaring “big hairy, audacious goals” and doing something that implies he’s striving to achieve them. … The second, issued last week, directed state agencies to devise ways to “protect” 30% of California’s land and coastal waters by 2030 to reduce greenhouse gases and promote biodiversity, boasting that California would be the first state to adopt the “30-by-30” program being advocated globally. … ”  Read more from GV Wire here: Another vague decree from Newsom, says Dan Walters

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In regional water news and commentary today …

Butte County Supervisors to appoint Rock Creek Reclamation District trustees after election gets canceled

The Butte County Board of Supervisors will be asked to appoint board of trustees for the Rock Creek Reclamation District at Tuesday’s meeting, reversing an earlier action that established a time and place to hold a special election for the district.  Landowners within the Rock Creek Reclamation District filed a petition through the Clerk of the Board’s office on May 14 to hold a special election for the unexpired terms of the current serving trustees. Seven current serving trustees — Elvin Bentz, Hal Crain, Jonathan Lavy, Bruce McGowan, Dan Paiva, Darren Rice, and James Strong — were nominated in the petition. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Butte County Supervisors to appoint Rock Creek Reclamation District trustees after election gets canceled

Santa Rosa neighborhood faces water crisis after fire evacuations

Apart from wildfires, residents in one Santa Rosa neighborhood are dealing with another crisis: it could be weeks before people have access to  safe drinking water.  The flames were coming over a ridge when a group of men, led by a retired Cal Fire firefighter, saved more than 35 homes in the Stonegate neighborhood on Brand Road just off Hwy 12. They held off the flames until a full strike team arrived to take over. … ”  Read more from CBS San Francisco here:  Santa Rosa neighborhood faces water crisis after fire evacuations

Earthquake swarm rattles ground near new Calaveras Dam

A magnitude-1.9 tremor on October 8 was the latest in a series of small earthquakes near Northern California’s Calaveras Dam, located about 38 miles (61 kilometers) southeast of San Francisco. It’s the latest quake in an ongoing swarm that started ramping up on August 17, 2020. More than 35 quakes ranging as high as a magnitude-3.5 have been recorded by the U.S. Geological Survey since September 27. … ”  Read more from Temblor here:  Earthquake swarm rattles ground near new Calaveras Dam

Morro Bay holds its first tour of water facility project site

Several Morro Bay City Council members, the mayor, and city manager joined members of the media and others for the first tour of the city’s water reclamation facility on Oct. 12.  As construction crews and trucks continued their work at the site on South Bay Boulevard north of Highway 1, a small opposition group held signs at the site’s entrance that read, “cut the crap, not the ribbon.” Many project opponents are critical of the project’s price tag, estimated at $126 million. … ”  Read more from New Times SLO here:  Morro Bay holds its first tour of water facility project site

Toxic chemicals found at community center in southwest Fresno. Here’s what you need to know

The Maxie Parks Community Center in southwest Fresno has been evacuated and barred to the public since Sept. 3, after testing found contamination in and around the building, likely from toxic chemicals used by Imperial Cleaners, a former dry cleaning business.  City officials say the health risk is low. But, the West Fresno Family Resource Center, which operates from the Maxie Parks Community Center, built in the 2000s, will not move back into the building on California Avenue until the pollution has been removed. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here: Toxic chemicals found at community center in southwest Fresno. Here’s what you need to know

Santa Clarita:  SCV Water awarded $10 mil in grants

The Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency received $10.5 million in grants from the California Department of Water Resources to fund five local projects related to recycling and water-quality improvements.  Granted through the DWR Integrated Regional Water Management, SCV Water received Proposition 1 grant funds, which was part of a $37 million award given to Los Angeles and Ventura County meant to address California’s critical water needs and build regional self-reliance. … ”  Read more from The Signal here:  Santa Clarita:  SCV Water awarded $10 mil in grants

Water tech companies are springing up in LA

In many areas of the world, there may be no more precious commodity than water — and that’s especially true in Los Angeles.   So, it’s probably not surprising that L.A. has become a font of activity for companies looking to tap the water market in myriad ways.  “I think Los Angeles is definitely a hub of water innovation because we have to (be),” said Matt Petersen, president and chief executive at downtown-based Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator.  … ”  Read more from the LA Business Journal here: Water tech companies are springing up in LA

Los Angeles: Supervisors mull motion for wildfire recovery

“The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday will consider a motion by Supervisor Kathryn Barger to activate the Recovery Section of the County Emergency Operations Center to begin the recovery phase for communities impacted by the Lake and Bobcat fires. … “With the significant loss of vegetation resulting from the fire, there is a substantially heightened risk of flooding, debris flows, and mudslides from the burned areas during rain events in the upcoming rainy season and beyond, until the vegetation in the burn areas has recovered,” the motion said. “This creates a significant hazard for communities near the burn areas, which includes direct impacts on properties due to debris flows may require mitigation measures.” … ”  Read more from the Antelope Valley Press here: Los Angeles: Supervisors mull motion for wildfire recovery

West Valley Water District announces ambitious water filtration facility expansion

Due to unprecedented population growth and rising peak summer usage, the West Valley Water District (WVWD) announced that it will expand treatment capacity for the region by 16 million gallons per day through the ambitious Oliver P. Roemer Water Filtration Facility Expansion Project.  WVWD selected GHD Inc., a global infrastructure engineering firm with extensive treatment facility experience, to assist with the planning and construction of the Roemer expansion project. … ”  Read more from Inland Empire Community News here:  West Valley Water District announces ambitious water filtration facility expansion

San Diego County Water Authority to host public session on economics of regional conveyance study

The San Diego County Water Authority will host an online public information session on Oct. 27 about economic considerations related to the proposed Regional Conveyance System. The virtual event will run from 10 a.m. to noon.  Meeting participants can learn about alternatives the Water Authority Board of Directors is studying to secure San Diego County’s future water supplies, ask the experts about key issues, understand the feasibility and costs of building a conveyance system to deliver San Diego County’s Colorado River supplies, and discuss potential next steps. … ”  Read more from the Water News Network here: San Diego County Water Authority to host public session on economics of regional conveyance study

San Diego: La Niña and California’s New Water Year

It’s that time of the year in California, when water managers, climatologists and meteorologists look at the factors that determine what the winter will bring during Water Year 2020-21 (October 1, 2020 – September 30, 2021).  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently said that La Niña conditions are present in the tropical Pacific, “with an approximately 85% chance of La Niña lasting through the winter.” Forecasters currently think this La Niña will be on the stronger side. For California, those conditions typically mean a drier winter, with increasingly dry conditions heading into 2021.  Fortunately for the San Diego region, any impacts from La Niña will be mitigated as a result of the region’s development of a diversified water supply portfolio. Following a record number of acres burned from wildfires in 2020, La Niña would only increase fire danger. ... ”  Read more from the Water News Network here:  La Niña and California’s New Water Year

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In national water news today …

Water has become a big issue for Big Tech. But Microsoft has a plan

When Brian Janous started at Microsoft in 2011 as a data center utility architect, he joined at a time when energy and sustainability issues were still nascent.  “I was the first person that was brought into the organization to work on energy and sustainability issues. This was back in the time when it … certainly wasn’t clear to me why a company like Microsoft even needed someone like me,” Janous told CNBC by phone.  “And the person that was hiring me, (said), ‘I really think this whole cloud thing is going to be a big deal. And I think energy is going to be really important to the future of our company.’ And he was clearly correct. … ”  Read more from CNBC here:  Water has become a big issue for Big Tech. But Microsoft has a plan

Environmentalists and dam operators, at war for years, start making peace

The industry that operates America’s hydroelectric dams and several environmental groups announced an unusual agreement Tuesday to work together to get more clean energy from hydropower while reducing the environmental harm from dams, in a sign that the threat of climate change is spurring both sides to rethink their decades-long battle over a large but contentious source of renewable power. … ”  Read more from the New York Times here: Environmentalists and dam operators, at war for years, start making peace

SEE ALSO: Balancing healthy rivers and hydropower

Supreme Court set to oversee more water disputes than ever

Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court began its term with a case that could have significant ramifications for the country’s water systems and could also mark the beginning of a growing trend in legal battles for the land’s highest judicial authority.  The court heard oral arguments via telephone for Texas v. New Mexico, a state showdown over shared water resources that are becoming increasingly stressed. Though Supreme Court justices have historically been opposed to overseeing such technical issues, experts believe this type of legal dispute will become increasingly prevalent and require their attention more often. … ”  Read more from Water Online here: Supreme Court set to oversee more water disputes than ever

What’s green, soggy and fights climate change?

Protecting intact peatlands and restoring degraded ones are crucial steps if the world is to counter climate change, European researchers said Friday.  In a study, they said peat bogs, wetlands that contain large amounts of carbon in the form of decaying vegetation that has built up over centuries, could help the world achieve climate goals like the limit of 2 degrees Celsius of postindustrial warming that is part of the 2015 Paris agreement. ... ”  Read more from the New York Times here:  What’s green, soggy and fights climate change?

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And lastly …

Bringing perfect waves to the masses

A surfer on a five-foot wave, crouched and grabbing the board’s edge, emerged from behind the curl of the water to onlookers’ cheers.  Who did he have to thank for the perfect swell? Tom Lochtefeld, who stood at the water’s edge — a hundred miles from the ocean.  At a shuttered water park in the desert landscape of Coachella Valley in Southern California, Lochtefeld has transformed a pool into a surf spot. For decades, inventors like Lochtefeld have struggled to mimic the ocean’s swells. In recent years, commercial projects and proof-of-concept pools have made good on the dream. … ”  Read more from the New York Times here: Bringing perfect waves to the masses

Photo feature:  Lake Tahoe: A look through the lens at California’s winter throwback

“Tahoe, an off-grid tourist attraction which acts as a supreme winter holiday destination for the city dwellers of California in need of a nature-filled escape, continues to maintain the core elements of local life with unique and breathtaking natural beauty.  The location has famously become the home to winter sports and summer outdoor activities in recent years, offering a slower pace of life while immersed deep within some of the finest nature North America has to offer. … ”  Read more from Far Out Magazine here:  Lake Tahoe: A look through the lens at California’s winter throwback

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Today’s featured articles …

As groundwater sustainability agencies prepare their plans to meet the requirements of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), they will likely utilize a variety of tools to achieve sustainability.  In many subbasins, groundwater overdraft conditions will require GSAs to impose reductions in pumping in order to achieve sustainable conditions in the subbasin. To do this, GSAs will need set a limit or “cap” on the overall amount of groundwater that is removed from the subbasin, assigning portions of this capped amount to groundwater pumpers in the form of a pumping allocation.

RELATED EVENT: Webinar: Navigating SGMA Groundwater Allocations & Minimizing Legal Risk, October 20.  Click here for more information.

Making pumping allocation decisions will be a difficult task for GSAs, as it will require restricting access to groundwater resources upon which the agricultural community, cities and towns, and others depend.  Adding further complexity to the task, SGMA explicitly states that it does not alter water rights, which means groundwater sustainability agencies have to carefully navigate between the confines of water rights and SGMA requirements in developing and implementing their groundwater sustainability plans.

At the 3rd annual Western Groundwater Congress, hosted online by the Groundwater Resources Association of California in September of 2020, Dr. William Blomquist, a Professor of Political Science and more at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, gave a presentation of ongoing research he is doing with Dr. Christina Babbitt, California Groundwater Manager at the Environmental Defense Fund looking at how other groundwater basins have developed groundwater allocations.

Click here to read this article.


BLOG ROUND-UP: Flows wasted to sea to protect Delta smelt; Delta tunnel design disputed; Court ruling on water challenges Central Valley water districts; and more …

Click here to read the blog round-up.

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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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