DAILY DIGEST, 10/19: Wildfire smoke can spread toxics to water, soil, and elsewhere; Prescribed burn associations are one answer to CA’s megafires; Reclamation Commissioner committed to collaboration; Six states with plenty of water; and more …



On the calendar today …

WEBINAR: Colorado River Hydrology Research Symposium Series from 11am to 1pm

Join Southern Nevada Water Authority and the Partners of the Colorado River Climate and Hydrology Work Group for the 2020 Colorado River Hydrology Research Symposium webinar series.  This webinar will focus on prospects for advancing hydroclimatic prediction at seasonal and longer timescales with contributions from Andy Wood (NCAR – Moderator), Jeff Lukas (WWA – Moderator), Liz Payton (WWA – Moderator), Matt Switanek (CIRES), Efi Foufoula Giorgio (UCI), Yoshimitsu Chikamoto (USU) and more.  Click here to register.

In California water news today …

Wildfire smoke can spread toxics to water, soil, and elsewhere

Wildfires leave behind more than scorched earth and destroyed homes: Rising smoke plumes can contain chemicals that disperse not only into the air but in soil, water, indoor dust, and even wildlife.  Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), a class of more than 100 chemicals that can cause cancer and other ailments, is one of those ingredients. As the West continues to suffer more intense and destructive wildfires, the smoke from those fires needs to get a closer look, including how PAHs factor into the load, air experts said. … ”  Read more from Bloomberg Law here:  Wildfire smoke can spread toxics to water, soil, and elsewhere

Prescribed burn associations are one answer to California’s megafires

For years, Wolfy Rougle was known as “the kale lady” at her local farmers’ market. She grew the leafy green, along with other cool-season vegetables, on her farm in the blue oak woodland foothills of Tehama County, California. The garden and greenhouse took up a small fraction of her property—she left the rest undisturbed, save for cutting firewood and harvesting wild foods.  Over time, she noticed changes to the land. The grass grew paler, and dead brush piled up. To Rougle, it looked like it was starving.  This was the result, she now believes, of years without fire. … ”  Read more from Sierra Magazine here: Prescribed burn associations are one answer to California’s megafires

How tiny beetles are killing California’s giant sequoia trees

If there was ever a David and Goliath battle, this is it. A pinhead-sized beetle, no more than a couple of millimetres long, versus a giant sequoia tree, taller than a football field and older than the Bible. And the tiny beetle, well, swarming armies of beetles, are winning. … ”  Read more from Channel 9 here:  How tiny beetles are killing California’s giant sequoia trees

Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner committed to collaboration

There is no issue more important to California agriculture than water. Among the many nuances of water in the state are the fact that two of the major systems are operated by different levels of government: the central valley project by the federal government and state water project of course by the state. … ”  Read more from Cal Ag Today here: Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner committed to collaboration

In new book, veteran journalist shows how to end California’s water wars, protect habitats and meet state’s water needs

California can end its decades-long water wars and meet the state’s water needs by promoting abundance rather than managing scarcity, writes veteran journalist Steven Greenhut in Winning the Water Wars, published today by the nonpartisan Pacific Research Institute.  Winning the Water Wars can be purchased at Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com and online booksellers.  Greenhut writes, “this book does not propose solely building more dams . . . I explain the importance of water pricing and trading, regulatory reforms, desalination, wastewater treatment, upgrading water-conveyance systems and other ideas. I’m for all of the above . . . The main focus is on creating water abundance, rather than on having political fights over a declining water supply.” … ”  Read more from Cision here:  In new book, veteran journalist shows how to end California’s water wars, protect habitats and meet state’s water needs

Resetting the mission on WIFIA

The WIFIA Loan Program recently announced that it has reset the interest rates on two undrawn loan commitments originally made in mid-2018. The fixed rate on a $135 million loan to Orange County Water District and a $614 million loan to San Diego Public Facilities Financing Authority (PFFA) were reset downward from about 3.1 percent and 3.3 percent, respectively, to around 1 percent, reflecting the steady decline in the Treasury curve since the loans’ first-rate setting.  Is this a big deal? … ”  Read more from Water Finance & Management here: Resetting the mission on WIFIA

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In commentary today …

Simple solutions aren’t always the best policy, says Tim Hearden

“By their very nature, politicians look for simple explanations with even simpler solutions for problems. The shortest line between two points is the one politicians are most likely to take. If they can use an issue to bludgeon political opponents, so much the better. And they’re legendary for never letting a crisis go to waste. … Now it appears many politicians are taking a similar approach to the West’s historic wildfire season, which has been especially devastating to our wine and livestock industries. As an example, U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris recently remarked during a trip to California that “it’s just a fact” that climate change was the culprit. … ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press here:  Simple solutions aren’t always the best policy

Crystal clean water? Not if Trump can help it, says Jeff Peterson, retired senior policy advisor at the Environmental Protection Agency

He writes, “When asked about climate change and the environment in the first presidential debate, President Trump stated, “I want crystal clean water and air.” As we mark the 48th anniversary of the 1972 Clean Water Act on Oct. 18, the president’s words ring hollow.   For most of the past 48 years, the Clean Water Act produced dramatic improvements in the quality of our nation’s rivers, lakes and coastal waters. But problems persist: In 2017, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reported that 46 percent of rivers and streams were in poor condition, contaminated with pollutants. That was also true of 21 percent of lakes and 14 percent of coastal waters.  … ”  Read more from The Hill here:  Crystal clean water? Not if Trump can help it

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In regional water news and commentary today …

Grant for septic system repairs coming to aid Camp Fire rebuild

Grant funding was just made available to begin to address the hurdles being faced by Paradise residents trying to rebuild — due to the lack of a sewer in the town.  Residents have expressed their frustrations with the town’s process for approving permits needed to move through the septic process and plans in order to rebuild, and a grant organized by North Valley Community Foundation represents much-needed funding for those who cannot currently afford to replace their septic system. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Grant for septic system repairs coming to aid Camp Fire rebuild

Environmental advocates push to restore Redwood City’s salt pond as marine sanctuary

An October court ruling has placed a key piece of San Francisco Bay Shoreline, the Cargill salt ponds, back on the restoration agenda for local environmental advocacy groups.  Many people, looking across the Cargill salt ponds in Redwood City, probably see a bleached and barren landscape, stretching from the shoreline like giant bed sheets.  But activists like Save the Bay director David Lewis are hoping this unique timing could provide a historic opportunity to transform the area into a marine sanctuary. … ”  Read more from Channel 7 here:   Environmental advocates push to restore Redwood City’s salt pond as marine sanctuary

Environmentalists win key battle over Mission Bay Park redevelopment, get $1.25M for marshland study

Local environmentalists won a key victory this week when the regional water board approved a $1.25 million study focused on transforming much of Mission Bay’s northeast corner into marshland, which could help San Diego fight sea level rise.  Environmental groups have been in a years-long battle with golfers, campers and recreation advocates over the fate of northeast Mission Bay, which became available for redevelopment five years ago when a mobile home park closed. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune here:  Environmentalists win key battle over Mission Bay Park redevelopment, get $1.25M for marshland study

We need to rethink our San Diego coast to deal with sea level rise before it’s too late, says Richard Norris, geologist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego

The recent wildfires and a coming dry winter from the developing La Niña amplify the perils of climate change for our fair city. These threats do not stop at the shore — holding back the ocean should also be on our radar. Indeed, the city of San Diego has calculated the costs of sea-level rise and storm surge on infrastructure — parks, restaurants, stormwater drains — at $528 million by 2030, just 10 years from now, and a cool $1.225 billion by 2100. Those estimates are just for state granted lands almost entirely in Mission Bay. When you consider everything else in our community — the airport, the waterfront, SeaWorld and miles of beaches, our collective liabilities from sea level rise are many, many billions of dollars. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune here:  We need to rethink our San Diego coast to deal with sea level rise before it’s too late

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In national water news today …

‘Imagine a Day Without Water’ advocacy day returns this week

The sixth annual ‘Imagine a Day Without Water,’ advocacy day is returning this Wednesday, Oct. 21, with likely thousands of individuals, companies and organizations expected to take part in highlighting the importance of water and the need for investment.  Imagine a Day Without Water is a national education campaign that brings together diverse stakeholders to illustrate how water is essential, invaluable and in need of investment. This year the day of action will include events, resolutions, student contests, social media engagement, and more, all across the country. … ”  Read more from Water Finance & Management here:  ‘Imagine a Day Without Water’ advocacy day returns this week

Water Subcabinet established

President Trump signed an executive order on “Modernizing America’s Water Resource Management and Water Infrastructure,” which ensures federal coordination on water policy and establishes a Water Subcabinet of senior federal agency officials to facilitate management and modernization of water supplies and systems while also eliminating duplication between agencies.  The Water Subcabinet will be co-chaired by U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and U.S. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, and will include senior officials from USDA, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Energy, and the Department of the Army. … ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press here: Water Subcabinet established

Despite an ongoing pandemic and economic uncertainty, energy and environmental issues remain significant factors in more than three dozen competitive House races that will likely help decide the size and makeup of the expected Democratic majority in the next Congress.  E&E News has identified 37 House races — 17 Republican, 20 Democratic seats — where issues such as climate science denial, energy jobs and toxic cleanups could become major points of contention for incumbents, their challengers or open-seat aspirants. … ”  3 California races are spotlighted.  Read more from E&E News here:  House races to watch on energy, environment

President Trump circumvented federal regulations and made an apparently unprecedented use of presidential powers Friday when he abruptly reversed his decision denying California’s request for disaster aid after deadly wildfires.  Two days after rejecting a formal request by California Gov. Gavin Newsom to have a “major disaster” declared in seven counties, Trump changed his mind after talking to Newsom, a Democrat, and House Minority Whip Kevin McCarthy, a Republican whose California district would benefit from Trump’s action. … ”  Read more from E&E News here:  Trump bypassed rules on Calif. disaster approval

‘We can never get to zero’: Organics recyclers face hard choices in responding to PFAS contamination

In January of this year, the Michigan city of Ann Arbor announced a grim discovery: traces of a notorious group of toxic chemicals had cropped up in the city’s compost facility. Samples collected by city officials several months earlier had tested positive for 13 types of PFAS.  Levels were low in the compost samples and also in water samples collected from two of the facility’s retention ponds, which yielded 12 types of PFAS. The city shared the results, tested by an independent lab, pointing to PFAS-laden items as the likely culprit. Those include grease-resistant paper and fast food containers, items prohibited by Ann Arbor’s composting program but sometimes placed in bins regardless. … ”  Read more from Waste Dive here: ‘We can never get to zero’: Organics recyclers face hard choices in responding to PFAS contamination

These six American states have plenty of water

Drought is defined as “a period of dryness especially when prolonged” Drought has plagued some portions of America, particularly states on the West Coast and Southwest for years, and in some cases decades. It has been listed as a major cause of the wildfires in Oregon and California. Crippling drought, which affects water availability and farming, runs through areas of Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico. However, there are several states which do not have a single area of drought at all. … ”  Read more from 24/7 Wall Street here: These six American states have plenty of water

This week in water podcast

Greeting cards and wrapping paper could be a threat to rivers and lakes.  Cruise ship graveyards have become a booming business.  A new Harvard study says there’s another harmful effect from fracking.  Old Faithful might not be so dependable as the planet warms.  According to a new study, to keep kids healthy, have them play in the dirt.”  Read stories or listen to podcast here:  This week in water podcast

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Weekend edition of the Daily Digest …

  • ACWA delivers roadmap to achieving voluntary agreements to state officials
  • Garamendi comes out against Scott Dam removal; demands Lake County have a seat at the table in determining future of Potter Valley Project, Lake Pillsbury
  • Missing the moisture: why 2020 has given the U.S. the worst drought in 7 years
  • Effective messaging on water conservation
  • Fire science critical for combating wildfires out West
  • Bodega Bay tide pools show effects of climate change
  • Legal brief: SF Baykeeper and US Coast Guard reach settlement over Yerba Buena Island facility
  • Huntington Beach wetlands continue to expand, following decades of degradation
  • Trump administration designates officials to implement actions for the new water subcabinet
  • And more …

Click here to read the weekend edition of the Daily Digest.

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

NOTICE: Reissuance of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nationwide Permits

COMMUNITY/SMALL WATER SYSTEMS: Opportunity for EPA training on the America’s Water Infrastructure Act (AWIA) Risk and Resiliency Assessment and Emergency Response Plan requirements

NOTICE: 2020 Clean Water Act Section 401 Certification Rule

REGISTER NOW: Army Corps Regulatory Program Workshop October 23rd on Navigable Waters Protection Rule

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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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