DAILY DIGEST, 10/20: La Niña: Is California heading into another drought?; State wildfire response costs estimated to be higher than budgeted; New reservoir in Stanislaus County could move forward with approval of final study; Mega-fires arrived 30 years early, confounding scientists; and more …



On the calendar today …

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

Agenda items include an update from the Delta Lead Scientist, the North Coast Region 303(d) list, and consideration of the granting of a petition for a statutory adjudication in the Fresno River watershedFor the full agenda, click here.  Click here to watch on webcast.

WEBINAR: Navigating SGMA Groundwater Allocations & Minimizing Legal Risk from 11am to 12:30pm

One of the biggest challenges to implementing California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) centers on deciding who gets to pump how much groundwater without changing groundwater rights. To provide more clarity to groundwater agencies on how to navigate this challenge, Environmental Defense Fund partnered with four leading law experts to develop a law review article that takes a deep dive into the relationship between SGMA and  groundwater rights: “The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act and the Common Law of Groundwater Rights — Finding a Consistent Path Forward for Groundwater Allocation.”  This webinar will feature a panel presentation with the article’s authors, followed by a live discussion with the audience on navigating SGMA allocations and groundwater law.  Click here to register.

WAKC WEBINAR with Tom McCarthy, General Manager of the Kern County Water Agency from 11:30am to 1pm

Hear from the new KCWA general manager, who he is, and what he hopes to accomplish in his new role serving Kern County.  Register here:  https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_dyRNRfRjRAaqTf9i4G-lMA

ONLINE EVENT: Natural Resources at a Crossroads: Climate Change, Biodiversity, and Equity from 1pm to 2pm

Join us for a virtual conversation with Angela Barranco, Undersecretary of the California Natural Resources Agency, on the urgent crisis and dynamic opportunity we have today as we work together to conserve our lands, waters, and coast for the benefit of all Californians.  Presented by UC Berkeley’s Center for Land, Energy and Environment.  Click here to register.

CA WATER POLICY CONFERENCE: Time for Transformative Water Leadership from 2pm to 4:30pm

Join the California Water Policy Conference as we reimagine our annual conference postponed last April into a live digital forum series. Over the next few months, we’ll bring our long-anticipated panels online with all the great content you expect from us and none of the Powerpoint slides. Our first and free webinar will focus on transformative leadership. Hear from water’s most innovative leaders as they help us connect future trends and current realities to policies and practices aimed at ensuring a resilient water future for all Californians.  Click here to register.

In California water news today …

La Niña: Is California heading into another drought?

Federal scientists say that La Niña — the phenomenon where Pacific Ocean waters off South America are cooler than normal — is underway this winter.  A commonly held assumption among many Californians is that La Niña means a dry winter is coming, and in years when the opposite occurs, El Niño, a wet winter is considered more likely.  So brown lawns and water rationing are just around the corner, right? … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here: La Niña: Is California heading into another drought?

Drought in western U.S. is biggest in years and predicted to worsen during winter months

The largest and most intense drought in years is engulfing the West and threatens to grow larger and more severe in the coming months.  The drought has already been a major contributor to record wildfire activity in California and Colorado. Its continuation could also deplete rivers, stifle crops and eventually drain water supplies in some Western states. … ”  Read more from the Washington Post here:  Drought in western U.S. is biggest in years and predicted to worsen during winter months

State wildfire response costs estimated to be higher than budgeted

The Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire) is responsible for wildland fire protection in State Responsibility Areas (SRAs), which are primarily privately owned wildlands that encompass about one-third of the state. CalFire employs around 4,000 permanent and 2,500 seasonal firefighters, operates an aviation program (aircraft, helicopters, and air tankers), and runs about 250 fire stations and air attack bases. In this post, we discuss how the extreme wildfire season of 2020 is impacting the state budget. … ”  Read more from the Legislative Analyst’s Office here:  State wildfire response costs estimated to be higher than budgeted

Decades of mismanagement led to choked forests — now it’s time to clear them out, fire experts say

For decades, federal, state and local agencies have prioritized fire suppression over prevention, pouring billions of dollars into hiring and training firefighters, buying and maintaining firefighting equipment and educating the public on fire safety.  But as climate change continues to fuel dry conditions in the American West, many experts say it’s long past time to shift the focus back to managing healthy forests that can better withstand fire and add to a more sustainable future. ... ”  Read more from NBC News here:  Decades of mismanagement led to choked forests — now it’s time to clear them out, fire experts say

Study finds synthetic clothes contributed 4,000 metric tons of plastic microfibers in California

A new study from the University of California at Santa Barbara has found that synthetic clothes released about 4,000 metric tons of plastic microfibers into California’s environment in 2019.  For context, that’s about 80 million plastic rubber ducks in California, or 130,000 times as many stars as there are in the Milky Way galaxy, The Guardian reported. The Guardian received exclusive access to this study, although it has not been peer-reviewed or published. … ”  Read more from EcoWatch here:  Study finds synthetic clothes contributed 4,000 metric tons of plastic microfibers in California

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In regional water news and commentary today …

Nordic Aquafarms: Addressing fish farm concerns

There are many opinions and approaches to fish farming. Nordic Aquafarms is proposing a land-based facility at the Samoa peninsula in Humboldt County. Nordic’s fully contained design fortunately eliminates many issues and concerns associated with traditional fish farming.  Neither the farm nor the discharge will attract sea lice that can affect wild fish Scientists have repeatedly confirmed that effluent from facilities like the one proposed by Nordic will not cause any significant increase in risk of sea lice to wild salmon populations. … ”  Read more from the Mad River Union here:  Nordic Aquafarms: Addressing fish farm concerns

Novato bayside levee project nears completion

A massive, $20 million wetlands restoration project on San Pablo Bay in Marin County is expected to reach a major milestone on schedule despite the coronavirus pandemic.  Working over the last year, construction crews expect to complete a new 2-mile levee near Novato in the coming weeks. It will allow bay waters to eventually reclaim nearly 1,600 acres, or about 2.5 square miles, of former tidal marshes that had been diked and drained for agriculture and development during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. … ”  Read more from the Marin Independent Journal here:  Novato bayside levee project nears completion

‘Turtles of California’ to be discussed

Tuleyome presents its next “Nature & You” lecture as biologist Alex Fulton discusses “Turtles of California” at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 22, on Zoom. Participation is free.  How many native species are in the state? How are they doing? Where do they live? How many invasive species? Can you tell them apart? What is the likelihood that the turtle you see in Putah creek or the local irrigation canal is a native? Fulton will answer these questions and more. … ”  Read more from the Davis Enterprise here:  ‘Turtles of California’ to be discussed

Where’s the rain? Bay Area facing moderate to severe drought conditions

There’s no rain in the seven-day forecast and we need it, says ABC7 News Meteorologist Mike Nicco.  “We are sliding into our rain season and that means each day we go without rain the drought is getting worse,” said Nicco.  … ”  Read more from KGO here: Where’s the rain? Bay Area facing moderate to severe drought conditions

New reservoir in Stanislaus County could move forward with approval of final study

The Del Puerto Water District board is set to vote Wednesday on approving a final environmental impact study on a much-disputed storage reservoir in western Stanislaus County.  The proposed 800-acre reservoir just west of Patterson stirred debate among vocal opponents and supporters at public meetings before the COVID-19 crisis deflected attention away from the project. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  New reservoir in Stanislaus County could move forward with approval of final study

Montecito GSA: New shingle, new face

You may have seen the new sign hanging at 583 San Ysidro Road: Montecito Groundwater Basin GSA, but with masks being a required wardrobe item these days you probably haven’t seen the face that goes with it! Nick Kunstek is the newly appointed Groundwater Specialist for the Montecito GSA. Kunstek earned a B.S. in Geophysical Engineering from Montana Technological University. Working as a Geoscientist for more than a decade, he has gained considerable experience in exploration geology, reservoir characterization, operational procedures, data management, and technical workflows. Kunstek is described as an enthusiastic, objective, and analytical professional who looks forward to delivering results with integrity in this challenging new role. … ”  Read more from Edhat here: Montecito GSA: New shingle, new face

Lake Cahuilla recreation could be in jeopardy as county lease nears end

Lake Cahuilla is a popular area for fishing and recreation use by residents of the Coachella Valley and outside visitors, but now that could be in jeopardy as Riverside County’s lease nears its end. …  Aside from recreation, Lake Cahuilla plays an integral role in the Coachella Valley Water District’s system.  “Our agricultural distribution system ends at Lake Cahuilla, and lake Cahuilla is a reservoir for that system. It’s very important that we’re able to operate it and operate it well,” said Katie Evans, Director of Communications and Conservation at Coachella Valley Water District. … ”  Read more from Channel 3 here:  Lake Cahuilla recreation could be in jeopardy as county lease nears end

Eastern Coachella Valley residents urge the state for action on the Salton Sea

Sandra Ramirez and Christian Mendez write, “We represent a group of East Coachella Valley residents optimistic about the future of the Salton Sea and the surrounding communities. That is why we are working to ensure our communities see meaningful benefits from the sea’s restoration.  On Sept. 30, we sent a letter to state officials requesting that restoration projects coming out of the Salton Sea Management Program consider the potential impacts on nearby communities. We hope those officials will share in our vision of reforestation and green spaces around the Salton Sea, see the benefits of such projects in addressing the sea’s deteriorating environmental conditions, and act with the same urgency. … ”  Read more from Cal Matters here:  Eastern Coachella Valley residents urge the state for action on the Salton Sea

Carlsbad lagoon dredging starts soon

Seawater desalination operator Poseidon is poised to take over the Agua Hedionda Lagoon maintenance dredging that has been done by local power companies since 1954.  Permits are being obtained for the work to begin in November or early December with expectations to finish by mid-April, said Poseidon Senior Vice President Peter MacLaggan at a meeting earlier this month of the Carlsbad Beach Preservation Commission. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune here:  Carlsbad lagoon dredging starts soon

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In national water news today …

Column: The devil is in the detail: The role of digital twins in the water sector

Aging infrastructure, asset maintenance, increased flooding and water scarcity, energy costs, climate change concerns, the need for flexible adaptation of assets, the need for increased resilience of new and extant assets, social issues around water costs and affordability, water quality, pollution and how to harness the benefits of the circular economy, and how to balance conflicting demands for water from different sectors — these are just some of the hot topics in water the moment. And cutting across all of these is the concept of digital water.  Digitization of water is not just a buzzword. It is already starting to have real financial and operational impacts in the water sector.  But what is digital water, and what does it practically mean for water utilities and other water stakeholders? … ”  Read more from Water Online here:  Column: The devil is in the detail: The role of digital twins in the water sector

Hyperloops, edtech, water rights and more: These are the markets of tomorrow

The disruptions brought by the COVID-19 pandemic have emphasized the need to transform our economies and restart economic growth to make it inclusive, green and fair. Delivering on these expectations will require new “markets of tomorrow,” niches of technological and socio-institutional innovation that enable the creation and exchange of new products and assets.  The World Economic Forum identified 20 of these markets in our new report “Markets of Tomorrow: Pathways to a new economy.” Here’s a look at exciting developments in some of these markets. … ”  Read more from the World Economic Forum here:  Hyperloops, edtech, water rights and more: These are the markets of tomorrow

Scientists predicted climate change would fuel the kind of devastating wildfires that California has seen this year. Except it wasn’t expected to happen for decades.  A major analysis by state researchers projected that the amount of area burned by wildfire could jump 77% by the end of the century. Another study by UCLA warned that by 2050 fire on average would scorch twice as much land in Southern California.  A doubling happened this year, instead of three decades from now. … ”  Read more from E&E News here:  Mega-fires arrived 30 years early, confounding scientists

Trump admin starts work on climate report after outcry

The Trump administration has quietly restarted the National Climate Assessment after public outcry over its delay.  A key step in the progress of the National Climate Assessment — the solicitation for authors to work on the project — was delayed for months, E&E News has reported.  After public outcry, NASA restarted the process, publishing a Federal Register notice Thursday on behalf of the U.S. Global Change Research Program that it was seeking lead authors and researchers for the assessment. … ”  Read more from E&E News here:  Trump admin starts work on climate report after outcry

President Trump has added a false claim to his pitch to “suburban women” — maintaining that his administration already has delivered on his promises to speed up dishwashers and improve sinks and showers.  Trump, who has routinely railed against energy efficiency standards that he says make it hard to wash dishes, hands and hair, has pledged to undo several, prompting protests from environmentalists and energy efficiency advocates. … ”  Read more from E&E News here:  Trump says he ‘freed’ showers and sinks. He didn’t

Dust Bowl 2.0? Rising Great Plains dust levels stir concerns

Earlier this month, a storm front swept across the Great Plains of the United States, plowing up a wall of dust that could be seen from space, stretching from eastern Colorado into Nebraska and Kansas. It was a scene straight from the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, when farmers regularly saw soil stripped from their fields and whipped up into choking blizzards of dust.  Better get used to it. According to a new study, dust storms on the Great Plains have become more common and more intense in the past 20 years, because of more frequent droughts in the region and an expansion of croplands. “Our results suggest a tipping point is approaching, where the conditions of the 1930s could return,” says Gannet Haller, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Utah who led the study. ... ”  Read more from Science Magazine here:  Dust Bowl 2.0? Rising Great Plains dust levels stir concerns

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

BLOG ROUND-UP: DWR discovers accounting error, reduces loan for tunnel design; Trump and Delta smelt:  The twitter thread; Voluntary agreements; Limiting salmon harvests; A Craigslist for water trading; and more …

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About the Daily Digest: The Daily Digest is a collection of selected news articles, commentaries and editorials appearing in the mainstream press. Items are generally selected to follow the focus of the Notebook blog. The Daily Digest is published every weekday with a weekend edition posting on Sundays.

 

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