DAILY DIGEST, 10/14: Trump makes water demand of farms priority for new office; Dry days ahead for CA this year and beyond, experts say; Lessons from Camp Fire could help prevent water contamination after North Complex; Wetland advocates go to court; and more …

On the calendar today …

VIRTUAL SUMMIT: Ensuring Equitable Involvement in Regional Water Planning, Day 3 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.

WEBINAR SERIES: Forecast-Informed Reservoir Operations (FIRO): Overview and Introduction to FIRO Webinar Series from 10am to 11am

The goals, strategies and status of Forecast-Informed Reservoir Operations (FIRO) will be summarized, including major efforts at several reservoirs ranging from 0.1 to 4.0 million acre-feet storage. These projects cover a range of conditions, from rural to urban, coastal to inland, snow-dominated to rain only. Priorities range from increasing water supply reliability to enhancing flood mitigation and addressing ecosystem issues. All with an eye toward informing potential updates to water control manuals.  Click here to register.

WEBINAR: Flood-MAR and a Roadmap to Water Resiliency from 11:30am to 1:00pm

Presentation by Dr. Graham Fogg. By far the largest ‘space’ available for water storage is underground, especially in overdrafted groundwater systems. Although the history of groundwater development is characterized mainly by efforts to find and pump groundwater, the future of groundwater will hinge on working as hard on recharging groundwater as we do on pumping it. A new age of groundwater recharge and sustainable management will come easier if we more fully recognize the benefits of recharge, including the obvious benefits and some that are less obvious.  Click here for more information and to register.

SYMPOSIUM: Addressing Climate Impacts on the Sacramento Region’s Water Supplies and Environment from 1pm to 5pm

Join the Water Forum at a virtual symposium in exploring new cutting-edge science that describes the projected impacts of climate change on the Sacramento region’s water supplies and a suite of potential solutions to address increasing threats from more frequent and intense floods and droughts.  Click here to register.

In California water news today …

Trump makes water demand of farms priority for new office

President Donald Trump on Tuesday created what he called a “subcabinet” for federal water issues, with a mandate that includes water-use changes sought by corporate farm interests and oil and gas. An executive order from Trump put Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler in charge of the interagency water body.  Establishment of a water subcabinet “will streamline decision-making processes” across federal agencies, the EPA said in a statement. … ”  Read more from US News and World Report here: Trump makes water demand of farms priority for new office

Click here to read the press release from the EPA. Includes links to the Executive Order.

Today, President Trump signed an Executive Order on “Modernizing America’s Water Resource Management and Water Infrastructure.” This historic action ensures Federal coordination on water policy is standard practice now and into the future by formally establishing a Water Subcabinet of senior Federal agency officials to facilitate efficient and effective management and modernization of our water supplies and systems while also eliminating duplication between agencies. With this Executive Order, President Trump is demonstrating his bold vision for improving our Federal water infrastructure and prioritizing access to essential water supplies for all Americans.

The Water Subcabinet will be co-chaired by U.S. Department of the Interior (Interior) Secretary David Bernhardt and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler, and will include senior officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Department of Commerce (DOC), the Department of Energy (DOE), and the Department of the Army (Civil Works). The Water Subcabinet will work in close coordination with senior officials from the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), and other federal agencies as appropriate.

“Clean, reliable, and safe water supplies are essential for our communities, our economy, and our environment,” said CEQ Chairman Mary Neumayr. “By establishing the Water Subcabinet, President Trump is bringing key policymakers together who will coordinate actions to streamline needs of our Nation. Once again, the Trump Administration is taking action to deliver practical results for the American people.”

“The Trump Administration has made it a priority to ensure communities across the nation receive safe, reliable water,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt. “Today’s action by President Trump furthers our incredible efforts over the past three and a half years to cut bureaucratic red tape and improve water infrastructure.”

“The Federal Government has the responsibility to ensure all Americans, regardless of their zip code, have access to reliable sources of clean and safe water,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “By creating the Water Subcabinet, President Trump is supporting 21st century water infrastructure that will provide all Americans with safe drinking water and surface water protection.”

“From the very early days of the Administration, President Trump has recognized the importance of the energy-water nexus to U.S. economic competitiveness,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette. “Through the President’s Water Security Grand Challenge, DOE has advanced transformational technology and innovation to help meet the domestic and global need for safe, secure and affordable water through collaboration between industry and our 17 National Labs. DOE looks forward to continuing this work in coordination with the newly established Water Subcabinet.”

“The Water Subcabinet will enhance collaboration among the Federal agencies responsible for our nation’s water management, allowing for a more effective and efficient environmental and economic balance of our nation’s water resources for all users,” said R.D. James, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works. “This Administration’s focus on streamlining and reducing duplication between Federal agencies will benefit the American people by the coordinated modernization of our Nation’s water infrastructure and water resource management.”

“It is essential that Americans have access to clean, safe, and reliable water resources. Streamlining and modernizing water management will foster innovation in water forecasting and research, bolster the resilience of our water infrastructure, promote efficiency across the Federal Government, enhance public health, and create jobs. I commend President Trump’s strong leadership as well as the collective efforts across the Administration on this important issue,” said OSTP Director Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier

“President Trump is committed to making it easier for farmers be successful and to ensure they are the most innovative in the world. Today’s Executive Order is evidence of that commitment,” said USDA Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation Bill Northey. “Water is critical to farming and the success of Rural America. USDA has already taken the lead to invest in America’s wetlands through projects that inspire creative problem-solving that boosts production on farms, ranches, and private forests – ultimately improving water quality, soil health, and wildlife habitat.”

Under the Executive Order, the Water Subcabinet will:

·         Promote effective and efficient water resources management by reducing duplication between Federal agencies developing water policy;

·         Develop a national water strategy to ensure the reliability of our water supplies, water quality, water systems, and water forecasting;

·         Protect taxpayer investments and improve water infrastructure planning by promoting integrated planning and coordination for drinking water, wastewater, water reuse, water storage and delivery, and water resource management; and

·         Support and enhance workforce development to recruit, train, and retain water sector professionals.

Under the Trump Administration, Federal agencies that have primary authority for water policy have coordinated like never before, to help ensure that all Americans have access to safe drinking water, reliable rural and farm water supplies, and clean water for recreation and enjoyment. Coordination by the Water Subcabinet will streamline decision-making processes across these Federal agencies, promoting effective and efficient planning to modernize our Nation’s water infrastructure.

To view the Executive Order: https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/executive-order-modernizing-americas-water-resource-management-water-infrastructure/

To view a fact sheet: https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/201013-Final-Water-EO-Fact-Sheet-.pdf

Mike Wade, CA Farm Water Coalition: Correcting the record on Michael Hiltzik column

He writes, “LA Times columnist Michael Hiltzik recently published a column that contained an outrageous statement related to California’s water supply that is completely out-of-touch with the reality that California farmers live every day.  He stated, “Central Valley growers often talk as though only their water needs should count in California. . .” He’s either been living in a cave or is so wrapped up in his own bias he’s not able to factor in the truth. … ”  Continue reading at the California Farm Water Coalition here:   Mike Wade: Correcting the record on Michael Hiltzik column

Projects would expand state’s water storage

Warning that California needs a concerted plan to adapt its aging water system to meet “significant and steadily mounting water insecurity issues” in the 21st century, the California Farm Bureau Federation has reiterated its support for two federal reservoir-expansion proposals.  In separate comment letters, CFBF backed plans by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to increase the capacity of Lake Shasta Reservoir and San Luis Reservoir. … ”  Read more from Ag Alert here:  Projects would expand state’s water storage

Dry days ahead for California this year and beyond, experts say

Meteorologist Emily Heller says the weather lately reminds her of what Northern California saw in 2018 just before the Camp Fire set the town of Paradise ablaze. For weeks, there was no rain, excessive heat, and dry winds.  “The Camp Fire started November 8, and we hadn’t gotten any rain to that point,” said Heller, who works with the National Weather Service in Sacramento. She said the first rains typically come in October. But for the rest of this October, rain isn’t in the forecast. Fire season won’t end until rain storms fully soak the region, she says, and until then fires could spread easier because of wind, so people should do whatever they can to prevent fires from igniting. … ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here:  Dry days ahead for California this year and beyond, experts say

Lessons from Camp Fire could help prevent water contamination after North Complex

Fear of contaminating precious local water sources is one way devastating wildfires continue to be felt in communities in Butte County, where the debris of burnt homes from recent fires sits near a watershed used by many in Northern California.  Unfortunately, the same fear of contamination of local water felt after the Camp Fire is mounting after the North Complex fires devastated Berry Creek and the foothill communities near Lake Oroville.  While heat waves and high temperatures remain, there is a fear that when rains do arrive, few county resources will have had time to protect many burnt lots from passing debris into local water sources — such as the lake. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Lessons from Camp Fire could help prevent water contamination after North Complex

Wetland advocates go to court:  Grassland Water District intervenes in Clean Water Act lawsuit

Today, Grassland Water District, a water agency serving one of the largest wetlands in the West, received permission from the federal Eastern District Court of California to defend its interests in the case of Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations v. Glaser. Wetland managers rarely get involved in litigation, but in this case, the stakes are too high. The plaintiffs, commercial fishing and river advocacy groups, lost their argument that farmland drainage is subject to the strictest permitting requirements of the Clean Water Act.  In an attempt to keep the case alive, they now claim that groundwater seepage from wetlands requires a strict permit. …

Click here to continue reading this press release.

The District’s General Manager, Ricardo Ortega, explained the decision to intervene: “The Clean Water Act was intended to protect wetlands, not attack them. Unfortunately, the Grassland wetlands are caught up in this case, which could have wide-ranging implications for all wetlands. With less than 5% of freshwater wetlands remaining in California, we take all threats seriously. We reached out to the plaintiff organizations but they were unwilling to discuss the collateral damage that this lawsuit could create for wetlands everywhere. We saw no choice but to defend these issues in court.”

The lawsuit involves the Grassland Bypass Project, which routes agricultural stormwater runoff around the wetland complex to protect water quality. The project was designed to avoid the type of damage that caused an ecological disaster at Kesterson Reservoir in the 1980s. High groundwater in the low-lying San Joaquin River basin naturally seeps into canals, sloughs, creeks and rivers. Increasing regulatory costs continue to pose a threat to wetland managers, and a new “NPDES” permit requirement under the Clean Water Act could mean serious financial hardship for wetland owners. Located at a critical point on the Pacific Flyway, the wetland habitat served by the District is a recognized Wetland of International Importance under the RAMSAR Convention on Wetlands, and designated as a Wetland of Global Significance and a critical component of the Western Hemispheric Shorebird Reserve Network.

About Grassland Water District: Grassland Water District is a public agency dedicated to the protection and delivery of water to private, state, and federal wildlife refuges in the Grassland Ecological Area. Over its sixty-seven year history the District has successfully secured and managed a long-term water supply to preserve and enhance one of the nation’s most valuable wildlife resource areas. Landowners in the Grasslands, working with the District and other organizations, have been responsible for the preservation of the largest remaining freshwater marsh in the western United States.

Wildfire threat intensifying across California, officials say

Hot, dry conditions and intense winds across California are threatening to reinvigorate what has already been the worst fire season in state history, officials warned on Tuesday.  Gusty winds in California’s north and extreme heat in its south are creating conditions that could fan wildfires that began earlier in the summer as well as spark new ones, leading state and federal authorities to urge residents to prepare.  The National Weather Service issued a heat advisory for a wide swath of Southern California as temperatures topped 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius). The agency asked residents to exercise caution with any fire sources. … ”  Read more from Reuters here:  Wildfire threat intensifying across California, officials say

SEE ALSODiablo winds and low humidity will bring critical fire weather to Northern California through Friday, from ther LA Times

New maps show how climate change is making California’s “fire weather” worse

As California continues battling its worst wildfire season on record, new research shows that fall fire weather days — days with high temperatures, low humidity and high wind speeds — will double in parts of the state by the end of the century and will increase 40% by 2065. On these days all it takes is a spark from a downed power line, or a hammer hitting a metal stake. A small fire can grow into an inferno at startling speed. … ”  Read more from Pro Publica here: New maps show how climate change is making California’s “fire weather” worse

Farmers see hope in Newsom’s latest climate order

Farm groups reacted with skepticism but no great consternation to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s latest climate-change executive order — his second in as many weeks — calling for concerted action to promote biodiversity, enhance resiliency and otherwise conserve California agricultural and other lands.  The president of the Kern County Farm Bureau said local growers had already been bracing for the retirement of local farmland in the face of state groundwater regulations. He said that trend could lead to more ag easements, or deed restrictions limiting how formerly productive land is used.  But other than setting priorities to defend California against the effects of climate change, Newsom’s order appears to be little more than a call for collaboration among various stakeholders, President John C. Moore III said, “and I think that’s a good thing.” … ”  Read more from the Bakersfield Californian here:  Farmers see hope in Newsom’s latest climate order

SEE ALSOThe Western View: New Climate Strategies May Benefit Ag, from Ag Net West

Linking critical zone water storage and ecosystems

Consider a seasonally dry landscape in a hilly or mountainous region where little or no rain or snow falls for months at a time. How is it that months into the dry period, forests can remain green and productive and streams can keep flowing? The answer must be that earlier precipitation remains available, as subsurface moisture to trees and as groundwater that slowly drains to rivers. This subsurface water supply maintains not only trees and streams but also entire water-dependent terrestrial and river ecosystems. These streams also become the rivers that serve as the main water supplies for downstream hydropower and for agricultural and urban users.  All of this water storage occurs in the critical zone, the near-surface layer of Earth where coevolving geomorphic, hydrologic, geochemical, and ecological processes create dynamic, deep water-storing systems out of solid, nearly impermeable bedrock. … ”  Read more from EOS here: Linking critical zone water storage and ecosystems

Gloria Gray reelected as Chairwoman of Metropolitan Board

“Gloria D. Gray was unanimously reelected today as chairwoman of the board of directors of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. She will begin her second two-year term on Jan. 1, 2021. Gray has represented West Basin Municipal Water District on Metropolitan’s board since 2009 and was first elected by her colleagues as chairwoman in October 2018.   “I have worked hard over the past two years to bring a new voice and spirit of collaboration to our board,” Gray said following her reelection. “ We have some far-reaching decisions on the immediate horizon, decisions that will shape Metropolitan for years to come. I am grateful to have the opportunity to lead our board as we find our path forward.”

Click here to continue reading this press release.

Gray will head Metropolitan’s 38-member board as it selects a replacement for long time general manager Jeffrey Kightlinger, who announced his retirement earlier this year. The board also faces critical decisions on the agency’s rate structure, long-term water strategy, and investment priorities, including whether to advance a major regional recycled water program and to continue supporting a conveyance tunnel in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to improve supply reliability.

As the head of the agency’s board, Gray represents district policies and programs at national, state and local levels and presides over monthly meetings of the board and its executive committee. She also appoints all members of the district’s nine standing committees, as well as the leaders of any special committees or task forces. 

Gray is the first African American to lead Metropolitan’s board and only the second woman to do so in the district’s 92-year history. Before becoming a leader in the water sector, Gray served on the Inglewood Unified School District Board of Education. She retired from the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services as a health care administrator.

Welcoming the Water Data Consortium’s Inaugural Steering Committee

Tara Moran writes, “I am thrilled today to announce the California Water Data Consortium’s (Consortium) inaugural Steering Committee. Seating the Steering Committee represents another major step forward for the Consortium and for open and transparent water data in California. In partnership with our Board, the Steering Committee will guide and implement the Consortium’s programmatic objectives and priorities; oversee the development and ongoing efforts of project-specific working groups; and foster active conversation between the Consortium and the Partner Agency Team charged with implementing AB 1755. The 11-member Steering Committee represents six state agencies, academia, nongovernmental organizations, local agencies, and the private sector. Each member will serve a two-year term and brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in the collection, publication, and use of water and ecological data. ... ”  Read more from the Water Data Consortium here:  Welcoming the Water Data Consortium’s Inaugural Steering Committee

Reclamation announces $1.3 million in Water Use Efficiency grants

Today, the Bureau of Reclamation announced the selection of three California projects to receive $1.3 million total in CALFED Water Use Efficiency grants near the cities of Pittsburg, Shafter and Biggs. Combined with local cost-share contributions, these projects are expected to implement about $2.8 million in water management improvements during the next two years.  The projects will conserve an estimated 2,548 acre-feet per year of water and better manage 10,000 acre-feet, contributing to the CALFED Bay-Delta Program objectives of improving ecosystem health, water supply reliability and water quality. An acre foot is the amount of water that covers an acre one-foot deep, about the size of a football field.  “We are pleased to partner with Delta Diablo, Shafter Wasco Irrigation District and Sutter Extension Water District to help modernize their water systems,” said Regional Director Ernest Conant. “These mutually beneficial water management improvements will not only make water more reliable for their customers but also provide benefits to the Bay-Delta system.”

Click here to continue reading this press release.

Reclamation made the selection through a competitive process, giving priority consideration to projects that address CALFED goals on a statewide basis. The three selected applicants and projects include:

Delta Diablo, $364,387
Delta Diablo will upgrade their Recycled Water Facility near Pittsburg in Contra Costa County by upgrading a sand-backwash filter to a controlled-backwash filtration system. By changing from a continuous to intermittent filtration process, this 20-year project will make water deliveries more efficient. Annual water savings to California’s Bay-Delta is estimated at 1,075 acre-feet. The total project cost is $728,776 with a federal cost share of $364,387.

Shafter Wasco Irrigation District, $500,000
Located near Shafter in Kern County, the Pipeline Improvement for Bell Recharge project will improve an existing pump station and install one mile of 21-inch PVC pipeline from the Central Valley Project Friant Kern Canal to the Bell Recharge facilities. This 50-year project’s new connection will improve water conveyance for irrigation demand and recharge capacity. Annual water savings to California’s Bay-Delta is estimated at 428 acre-feet. The total project cost is $1,115,229 with a federal cost share of $500,000.

Sutter Extension Water District, $422,700
The Looney Weir Modernization Project is located in Butte County, near Biggs, along the Feather River. This 30-year project will better manage over 10,000 acre-feet of water annually by installing a new Langemann gate to increase conveyance capacity and reduce spillage. This new gate will allow for constant upstream water level control and will allow for more flexible regulation of release of deliveries. All water better managed by this project will benefit California’s Bay-Delta. The total project cost is $960,800 with a federal cost share of $422,700.

Fiscal year 2021 CALFED funding will be available through Notice of Funding Opportunity BOR-CGB-21-F001. The NOFO is anticipated to be posted on www.grants.gov in November 2020. Contact Anna Sutton for more Water Use Efficiency program information at asutton@usbr.gov or 916-978-5214 (TTY 800-877-8339).

Executive order aims to conserve land, biodiversity

A new California Biodiversity Collaborative will help determine how to carry out an executive order from Gov. Gavin Newsom aimed at conserving 30% of California’s land and marine areas by 2030—and agricultural organizations said they would participate to assure the collaborative recognizes stewardship efforts carried out on the state’s farms and ranches.  Under Newsom’s executive order, issued last week, state agencies will “deploy a number of strategies to store carbon in the state’s natural and working lands and remove it from the atmosphere.” The state Department of Natural Resources will assemble the biodiversity collaborative with the California Department of Food and Agriculture, California Environmental Protection Agency and other state agencies. … ”  Read more from Ag Alert here:  Executive order aims to conserve land, biodiversity

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In regional water news and commentary today …

Karuk Tribe leads effort to fight racism and climate change with fire

Dan Bacher writes, “The day after Indigenous Peoples Day was celebrated worldwide, the indigenous-led Western Klamath Restoration Partnership (WKRP) announced it is organizing its annual Klamath River Prescribed Fire Training Exchange (KTREX).  though organizers said it will look very different from past years.  “Organizers believe this is all the more urgent as the United States (and the World) reckon with the hard truths of how hundreds of years of ecological injustices have shaped our present threat of increasingly severe catastrophic wildfire in the West,” according to a press release from the WKRP and the Karuk Tribe.  … ”  Read more from the Daily Kos here:  Karuk Tribe leads effort to fight racism and climate change with fire

UC Santa Cruz seeks clarity on water access

UC Santa Cruz today asked a Santa Cruz County judge to settle a contractual dispute about access to water service to the entire residential Santa Cruz campus.  Following discussions to resolve the disagreement over the past several years, and as recently as August, leaders with UC Santa Cruz and the city of Santa Cruz have reached an impasse and agreed that the court needs to resolve the matter. “I strongly believe that most disagreements can be worked out if people sit down and talk things through,” Chancellor Cynthia Larive said. “Sometimes circumstances prevent people from reaching an agreement despite the best of intentions. In such cases, an outside opinion is helpful if not warranted. … ”  Read more from UC Santa Cruz here: UC Santa Cruz seeks clarity on water access

Soquel Creek Water District board failing its customers, says Becky Steinbruner

She writes, “The recent Guest Commentary by Soquel Creek Water District General Manager Ron Duncan addressing concerns of a citizen in a letter published that same day was curious. The citizen’s letter, printed Sept. 30, questioned why Soquel Creek Water District continues to grant seemingly unlimited new water service hook-ups when the aquifer is overdrafted. Mr. Duncan stated “It is important to note that recent development has not caused the overdraft (created in the 1980s) but could exacerbate it.”  So why does the district allow more? Why hasn’t the County of Santa Cruz declared a Groundwater Emergency, but Soquel Creek Water District did in 2014? … ”  Read more from the Santa Cruz Sentinel here:  Soquel Creek Water District board failing its customers

Nearly 1,000 nutria are trapped in two Valley counties this year

The nutria is a destructive pest to Valley agriculture that resurfaced in the grasslands of Merced County three years ago.  The latest progress report from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife on the battle to eliminate the rodent is encouraging.  It’s been a busy spring and summer for trapping nutria in Merced and Stanislaus counties. State Fish and Wildlife has caught nearly 1,000 nutria along the San Joaquin River corridor and in the grasslands. … ”  Read more from Channel 26 here:  Nearly 1,000 nutria are trapped in two Valley counties this year

Bobcat fire aftermath threatens endangered species in San Gabriel Mountains

Up until a few weeks ago, the West Fork of the San Gabriel River was one of the most abundant wildlife habitats in Los Angeles County, a secluded and rugged area defined by its steep peaks, lush canyons and mixture of rare and endangered species.  Recently however, a team of federal biologists and forest rangers was aghast when it visited the stream following the Bobcat fire, which has burned more than 115,000 acres in the heart of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:   Bobcat fire aftermath threatens endangered species in San Gabriel Mountains

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In commentary today …

Mike Wade, CA Farm Water Coalition: Correcting the record on Michael Hiltzik column

He writes, “LA Times columnist Michael Hiltzik recently published a column that contained an outrageous statement related to California’s water supply that is completely out-of-touch with the reality that California farmers live every day.  He stated, “Central Valley growers often talk as though only their water needs should count in California. . .” He’s either been living in a cave or is so wrapped up in his own bias he’s not able to factor in the truth. … ”  Continue reading at the California Farm Water Coalition here:   Mike Wade: Correcting the record on Michael Hiltzik column

The devastating implications from rollbacks of the Clean Water Act, says Ashley Overhouse, River Policy Manager with South Yuba River Citizens League

She writes, “Here in California, rivers are a cornerstone of our landscapes. On a recent rafting trip down Northern California’s Yuba River, I was lucky to see eagles flying overhead and salmon spawning beneath our boat. Experiences like this remind me to appreciate the protections that keep our water clean and safe, and help habitats thrive.  California is home to about 200,000 miles of rivers. Our rivers aren’t just treasured places to recreate – they’re a vital source of clean water for many households. Statewide, two-thirds of our drinking water comes from surface water sources. … ”  Read more from Cal Matters here:  The devastating implications from rollbacks of the Clean Water Act

How California will prepare its infrastructure for more climate catastrophes, says Jason Barbose, Western states policy manager with the Union of Concerned Scientists

He writes, “With climate change here and getting worse, we must adapt our lives to live with it. One change we must make is how we account for climate change in infrastructure projects. When we fail to appropriately consider climate change in the design and maintenance of infrastructure the results are not pretty: dams break, the power goes out, roads and bridges flood, and groundwater wells dry up. … ”  Read more from the Union of Concerned Scientists here:  How California will prepare its infrastructure for more climate catastrophes

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In national news today …

‘This is a war’: Cross-border fight over water erupts in Mexico

The farmers armed themselves with sticks, rocks and homemade shields, ambushed hundreds of soldiers guarding a dam and seized control of one of the border region’s most important bodies of water.  The Mexican government was sending water — their water — to Texas, leaving them next to nothing for their thirsty crops, the farmers said. So they took over the dam and have refused to allow any of the water to flow to the United States for more than a month.  “This is a war,” said Victor Velderrain, a grower who helped lead the takeover, “to survive, to continue working, to feed my family.” … ”  Read more from the New York Times here: ‘This is a war’: Cross-border fight over water erupts in Mexico

Under Trump, criminal prosecutions for pollution dropped sharply

Prosecutions of environmental crimes have “plummeted” during the Trump administration, according to a new report.  The first two years of the Trump administration had a 70 percent decrease in criminal prosecutions under the Clean Water Act and a decrease of more than 50 percent under the Clean Air Act, the Environmental Crimes Project at the University of Michigan law school found. … ”  Read more from the New York Times here: Under Trump, criminal prosecutions for pollution dropped sharply

The frightening rise of ‘forever chemicals’—and why they’re more common than you think

Like many inventions, the discovery of Teflon happened by accident. In 1938, chemists from Dupont (now Chemours) were studying refrigerant gases when, much to their surprise, one concoction solidified. Upon investigation, they found it was not only the slipperiest substance they’d ever seen–it was also noncorrosive and extremely stable and had a high melting point.  In 1954, the revolutionary “nonstick” Teflon pan was introduced. Since then, an entire class of human-made chemicals has evolved: per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, better known as PFAS. There are upward of 6,000 of these chemicals. Many are used for stain-, grease-, and waterproofing. PFAS are found in clothing, plastic, food packaging, electronics, personal care products, firefighting foams, medical devices, and numerous other products. … ”  Read more from Fast Company here:  The frightening rise of ‘forever chemicals’—and why they’re more common than you think

Extreme weather events have increased significantly in the last 20 years

There has been a “staggering rise” in the number of extreme weather events over the past 20 years, driven largely by rising global temperatures and other climatic changes, according to a new report from the United Nations. From 2000 to 2019, there were 7,348 major natural disasters around the world, killing 1.23 million people and resulting in $2.97 trillion in global economic losses.  By comparison, the previous 20-year period, 1980-1999, had 4,212 natural disasters, claiming 1.19 million lives and causing $1.63 trillion in economic losses. … ”  Read more from Yale E360 here: Extreme weather events have increased significantly in the last 20 years

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Today’s featured articles …

FEATURE: Fish predation on a landscape scale in the Delta

Fisheries Biologist Cyril Michel discusses recent predator manipulation studies done in the Delta and efforts to develop a predictive model for predation

Over the past century, populations of salmon in Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta have declined drastically, with at least one population that is locally extinct and the remaining listed as endangered, threatened, or species of concern under the Endangered Species Act.  Evidence from long‐term tagging studies suggests that the survival of juvenile salmon during outmigration has a disproportionately large impact on juvenile‐to‐adult return ratios and that low survival while transiting the Delta during outmigration due to predation may be one of the major contributors to the declines of these populations.  Predation is a challenge in the  Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta where non‐native predators are known to have substantial impacts on salmonid and other native fish populations; however, resource managers lack the knowledge of the landscape‐scale predator–prey information to mitigate these impacts.

Cyril Michel is a Fisheries Biologist with the University of California Santa Cruz and the team leader for the salmon acoustic telemetry and salmon predation programs at the University of California Santa Cruz.  He also has an affiliation with National Marine Fisheries Service Southwest Fisheries Science Center.  These two programs are both currently maturing and moving from assessing the spatial and temporal dynamics as well as environmental drivers of juvenile salmon survival and predation risk to the experimental phase with different studies testing ways to manipulate juvenile salmon survival and predation risk on a landscape scale.  At a webinar held at the end of August 2020, Mr. Michel discussed the research he and his team are doing on studying salmon predation in the Delta.

Click here to read this article.

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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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