DAILY DIGEST, 10/22: Mapping ‘fossil water’ helps achieve sustainable groundwater management in CA; Patterson reservoir enviro docs approved; Wildfires can cause dangerous debris flows; Dismantling dams can help address US infrastructure problems; and more …



On the calendar today …

ONLINE MEETING: The Delta Stewardship Council meets at 9am.

Agenda items include the Delta Lead Scientist report, an update from the Delta Watermaster, and an informational item on DWR’s Division of Multi-Benefit Initiatives.  Click here for the full agenda and remote access information.

WEBINAR: Quantifying Conservation Effects on Multiple Wetland Ecosystem Services: Understanding Tradeoffs is the Name of the Game from 12pm to 1:30pm.

This webinar will explore wetland ecosystem services, conservation benefits, and the tradeoffs inherent in conservation practice implementation and wetlands restoration.  Access the webinar [https://nrcs.adobeconnect.com/ceap2/] a few minutes before the webinar starts.  Closed captioning is available.  Click here for more information.

ONLINE EVENT: CA Water Data Consortium Meeting & Happy Hour: Steering Committee Launch from 2pm to 4:30pm

Please join the California Water Data Consortium for a virtual public meeting and happy hour. Participants will meet members of the Consortium’s newly formed Steering Committee, which will develop programmatic objectives for the Consortium; hear about the Consortium’s recent work and pilot projects to further advance open and transparent water data in California; learn ways to bring resources and your involvement into the Consortium; and brainstorm in small groups on specific topics to frame and launch Consortium task groups  Click here to view the draft agenda.  Click here to register.

In California water news today …

Mapping ‘fossil water’ helps achieve sustainable groundwater management in California

Identifying the areas where paleowater or “fossil water” – water that recharged before the Holocene started 12,000 years ago – is pumped for drinking water supply helps managers decide whether groundwater can sustainably meet future demands.  This type of groundwater recharged during rainy periods under cooler and wetter conditions that ended about 10,000 years ago. Since the hydrologic conditions were quite different from those that are currently replenishing groundwater, pre-Holocene groundwater is considered a non-renewable groundwater resource.  In a recent study, researchers from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), CSU East Bay and UC Santa Barbara identified paleowater using three key isotopic indicators of groundwater residence time: tritium, radiocarbon and radiogenic helium-4. … ”  Read more from Mirage News here:  Mapping ‘fossil water’ helps achieve sustainable groundwater management in California

West side dam project approved. New Diablo Grande owner plans thousands of homes

Del Puerto Water District directors approved a final environment study Wednesday on a 800-acre storage reservoir near Patterson.  The 6-0 vote, with director Zach Maring absent, followed 30 minutes of discussion that foreshadowed more developments for the water storage project and for western Stanislaus County. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here: West side dam project approved. New Diablo Grande owner plans thousands of homes

Special districts push for slice of California’s coronavirus relief pie

The prickly issue of financial help for state and local governments — hammered by COVID-related dips in tax revenue — has been like rocks in the dance shoes of Democrats and Republicans as they execute the latest coronavirus-relief minuet.  While Democrats want $436 billion for state and local governments, Republicans refuse to “bail out” what they call “poorly run” and “mismanaged governments,” many of which happen to be in blue states. … ”  Read more from the Whittier Daily News here:  Special districts push for slice of California’s coronavirus relief pie

WILDFIRES

Wildfires can cause dangerous debris flows

Wildfires don’t stop being dangerous after the flames go out. Even one modest rainfall after a fire can cause a deadly landslide, according to new UC Riverside research.  “When fire moves through a watershed, it creates waxy seals that don’t allow water to penetrate the soil anymore,” explained environmental science doctoral student and study author James Guilinger.  Instead, the rainwater runs off the soil surface causing debris flows, which are fast-moving landslides that usually start on steep hills and accelerate as they move. … ”  Read more from UC Riverside here:  Wildfires can cause dangerous debris flows

With the worst wildfire season in California history, wildfire experts call for $2 billion investment in prevention

With California’s worst wildfire season on record still raging, experts from across the state are calling for a $2 billion investment in the next year on prevention tactics like prescribed burns and more year-round forest management jobs.   Organizations like the Sierra Business Council say this money will directly impact mountain regions of the state impacted by wildfire year after year, said Brittany Benesi, the nonprofit’s government and community affairs director.  “We have a need and we have an opportunity to increase community safety, decrease the rate of climate change, enhance environmental resilience and create good jobs and communities that need them,” Benesi said. … ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here:  With the worst wildfire season in California history, wildfire experts call for $2 billion investment in prevention

Increasing more targeted cattle grazing is a ‘win-win-win opportunity’

A team of ten researchers looked closely at cattle grazing in California and determined that the practice has a great deal of potential in combatting catastrophic wildfires. Cattle are exceptionally efficient at reducing the amount of fine fuels that may be present that present hazards for wildfire if left unattended. The team first set out to understand how many cattle were in California and what their current consumption rate was. … ”  Read more from Ag Net West here: Increasing more targeted cattle grazing is a ‘win-win-win opportunity’

The case for restoring California indigenous burning practices

There is no denying that the scale and intensity of California wildfires is increasing. According to the National Interagency Fire Center, the top ten costliest wildland fires in the United States have all occurred in California within the last thirty years. More than a dozen fires are currently active in California, collectively dominating approximately 2.5 million acres of landscape. … ”  Read more from Progressive here:  The case for restoring California indigenous burning practices

West Coast farmers had a hellish summer. It might not be an aberration.

Larry Tristano is looking out over what used to be his lush 13-acre farm in Santa Rosa, California. Less than a month ago, the fields were full, and he and his small team at Triple T Farm were harvesting cherry tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and squash.  Now, there’s nothing but burnt ground. On Sept. 27, two raging Northern California wildfires, the Glass and Shady fires, converged, rapidly burning thousands of acres. The family homes on the property—where he and two more generations of his family lived—were burnt into ash; so were the barns, tools, livestock, an SUV and more. ... ”  Read more from Time Magazine here: West Coast farmers had a hellish summer. It might not be an aberration.

Two years after Paradise burned, the focus is on prevention, rebuilding

Two years after California’s deadliest wildfire ripped through his town, killing 85 people and torching 19,000 structures, former Paradise Mayor Woody Culleton said he never questioned whether he would return to rebuild. Fearful of another blaze, some residents moved, but Culleton said that homeowners and governments can take steps to make the community more resilient.  “This is my forever home,” he said. “This is where I will die, but hopefully from natural causes — not from fire.” … ”  Read more from Cal Matters here:  Two years after Paradise burned, the focus is on prevention, rebuilding

CLIMATE CHANGE

Boiling Point: Want to stop climate change? Look to farms, forests and wetlands

Building housing in city centers, rather than carving new subdivisions into undisturbed landscapes. Planting nonmarketable cover crops on farms during fallow seasons. Restoring coastal wetlands that have been dredged, filled and paved over. Thinning forests and setting prescribed burns to reduce the severity of later fires. All those ideas have something important in common: They would reduce planet-warming emissions. And together, they could play a huge role in California’s efforts to lead the world in fighting climate change, according to a report released today by scientists at the Nature Conservancy. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Boiling Point: Want to stop climate change? Look to farms, forests and wetlands

Story map: Nature-based climate solutions

“California has shown its climate leadership since 2006 with innovation, bipartisanship, and comprehensive policy action to reduce greenhouse gases and other emissions. Through these actions, the state is making significant gains to address global warming and is charting a path to become carbon neutral by 2045. In spite of California’s efforts, its diverse and iconic landscapes face multiple threats as global temperatures continue to rise. California’s natural and working lands – its forests, grasslands, wetlands, farmlands, rangeland, and urban green spaces – provide Californians with numerous environmental, social, and economic benefits, including greenhouse gas reductions (e.g., carbon sequestration). … ”  More from The Nature Conservancy here:  Story map: Nature-based climate solutions

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In regional water news and commentary today …

Severe drought affecting Eel River flow and fish life

The Eel River Recovery Project (ERRP) is conducting fall flow reconnaissance while collecting automated water temperature gauges and recently surveyed three important northern Mendocino County tributaries: Outlet Creek, Tenmile Creek and the upper South Fork Eel. The lack of rainfall in February 2020 and low rainfall in the southern part of the Eel River watershed through the rest of last winter are resulting in extensive dry stream reaches and record low flows downstream at South Fork Eel River gauges. … ”  Read more from the Redheaded Blackbelt here:  Severe drought affecting Eel River flow and fish life

About one-quarter of Sonoma County winegrapes will go unpicked

Here are a few quick updates of agriculture around the state, courtesy of the California Farm Bureau Federation.  About one-quarter of the winegrapes in Sonoma County will go unpicked this year, according to an estimate released Tuesday. … ”  Read more from Cal Ag Today here: About one-quarter of Sonoma County winegrapes will go unpicked

City of Folsom adds new water treatment to mitigate copper pipe leaks

Water in Folsom comes from Folsom Lake. It is treated first and then ends up in homes and businesses. But somewhere in between the water getting from the lake to people’s pipes, the water’s PH levels are causing leaks costing residents thousands of dollars.  More than 1,000 people have reported pinhole-sized leaks in copper pipes in Folsom. ... ”  Read more from KXTV here:  City of Folsom adds new water treatment to mitigate copper pipe leaks

An artist’s reflections on water on display at Big Break Regional Shoreline Visitor Center

Ceci Bowman’s art installation, currently on display at the Big Break Regional Shoreline Visitor Center in Oakley, reflects the intimate knowledge of water that only comes from a life lived close to rivers.  “A lot of my art comes from spending the bulk of my summers on the Sacramento and Trinity rivers,” said Bowman. “There’s a lot of pictures and photos of my family on those rivers. This series comes from growing up on the river. We always call it our happy place. The great thing about rivers is that you know them, almost like they’re your home town.” … ”  Read more from The Press here:  An artist’s reflections on water on display at Big Break Regional Shoreline Visitor Center

Oakley council briefed on flooding concerns

County Flood Control Division officials told the Oakley City Council recently that they’re still assessing the issues of concern caused by beavers that built a dam in an area of Marsh Creek near Creekside Park earlier this year. At the time, the city and county received a lot of backlash from the community and beyond because the county’s answer to the problem was to kill two beavers that built the dam. … ”  Read more from the East Bay Times here: Oakley council briefed on flooding concerns

Impact to Soquel Creek water bills unclear with federal EPA grant

Soquel Creek Water District announced this month its approval to lean on a low-interest $89 million federal loan as backup funding for its Pure Water Soquel project.  For water district customers who have seen rising water bills for the past four years, however, the specific benefit to their wallets remains unclear.  “The entire (Pure Water Soquel) project cost, including the upper-end estimate, has been secured through grants and low-interest loans,” wrote district Special Projects-Communications Manager Melanie Mow Schumacher in an emailed response to questions. … ”  Read more from the Santa Cruz Sentinel here:  Impact to Soquel Creek water bills unclear with federal EPA grant

Does your drinking water meet health standards? Check this Fresno-area map to find out

If you live in the central San Joaquin Valley, there’s a chance your tap water is unsafe to drink.  Nearly 180,000 people in the region get their water from systems that do not meet drinking water standards — and it’s hard, as a resident, to learn more and find out what to do to keep yourself and your family safe.  That’s why The Fresno Bee created a guide to the region’s drinking water … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Does your drinking water meet health standards? Check this Fresno-area map to find out

Is your drinking water safe? Here’s a guide to common Central California contaminants

Do you know whether your drinking water is polluted with a contaminant?  If so, this guide provides a summary of known health risks of contaminants, and how you can protect you and your family if your water is known to be polluted. ... ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Is your drinking water safe? Here’s a guide to common Central California contaminants

Eastern Sierra Land Trust secures conservation easement for historic Hunewill Ranch

Garnering the support of local, state, and federal agencies over the course of years, the not-for-profit Eastern Sierra Land Trust (ESLT) secured a conservation easement in perpetuity for the historic Hunewill Ranch (est. 1861). As a result, the working ranch located in the heart of beautiful, expansive Bridgeport Valley framed by the mountain peaks of Yosemite National Park is now preserved for wildlife and sustainable ranching. This historic agreement marks ESLT’s largest conservation easement to date and ensures a bright, secure future for Bridgeport Valley. … ”  Read more from the Sierra Wave here: Eastern Sierra Land Trust secures conservation easement for historic Hunewill Ranch

Isabella Dam on track to reach proper flood level

Construction on the Lake Isabella auxiliary dam is on track to reach a flood-elevation level of 2,570 feet by November 2020, just in time for the beginning of flood season, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) said.  Work on the auxiliary dam is part of a larger $600 million Dam Safety Modification Project in Kern County, where both Lake Isabella dams are to be raised by 16 feet in order to prevent over-topping. … ”  Read more from the Kern Valley Sun here: Isabella Dam on track to reach proper flood level

Gov. Newsom ousts key Poseidon desal critic from water board ahead of project’s approval

One of the most vocal critics of a controversial seawater desalting plant, proposed for the Huntington Beach coastline, will no longer be on the state’s local water board when it votes to approve the project later this year.  That’s because Gov. Gavin Newsom — who appoints all the directors of the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board — just ousted him.  … ”  Read more from the Voice of the OC here:  Gov. Newsom ousts key Poseidon desal critic from water board ahead of project’s approval

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Along the Colorado River …

Study: Water use dropping in Western cities even while population grows

Many western cities have been able to shrink their total water use in recent decades, even as their populations grew. That’s the finding of a new study published in the journal Water last week. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny spoke with lead author Brian Richter about how simple water conservation measures could be a cost-effective way to combat shortages in the Colorado River Basin. … ”  Read more from KNAU here: Study: Water use dropping in Western cities even while population grows

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In national water news today …

Dismantling dams can help address US infrastructure problems

Dam failure, though rare, can cause catastrophic destruction of property and lives. Repairing hazardous dams can help, but simply removing them can be a better, more cost-effective option with accompanying environmental benefits. Why, then, do so few dam owners and decisionmakers consider removal as an option? … ”  Read more from Resources Magazine here:  Dismantling dams can help address US infrastructure problems

The hidden role of water infrastructure in driving a COVID-19 recovery

The COVID-19 pandemic has not only disrupted the social and economic realities of our communities, but also undermined some of the basic infrastructure we depend on. Our water infrastructure has been at the heart of this realization; its importance to health, hygiene, and safety has never been more obvious, yet millions of disadvantaged and vulnerable households still lack reliable and affordable access to water. Meanwhile, climate change has fueled extreme droughts, fires, and floods that have disrupted or destroyed this essential infrastructure. COVID-19 has exposed the continued neglect of our water infrastructure, magnifying long-standing social and environmental stressors as well as economic inequities. … ”  Read more from the Brookings Institute here:  The hidden role of water infrastructure in driving a COVID-19 recovery

Will climate change increase the presence of pathogens in drinking water?

Many people assume that the water that flows from our taps is free of harmful microorganisms. But each year thousands of Americans in rural areas, small towns and even some cities are sickened by living pathogens that can flourish in untreated or inadequately treated water from private wells and municipal systems.  An increase in heavy precipitation with climate change means the risk of drinking water contamination by bacteria, viruses and other microbes could also increase, especially in places where reliance on groundwater, proximity to agricultural operations and certain types of geology increase vulnerability. … ”  Read more from Ensia here:  Will climate change increase the presence of pathogens in drinking water?

After jokes at its expense, Connecticut city renames sewage plant after comedian John Oliver

A wastewater treatment plant in Connecticut has officially been named after a celebrity who was engaged with its community, but not for the reasons you might think.  The Danbury City Council voted nearly unanimously to rename their facility this month in honor of comedian John Oliver, who picked a fight with the city on his show. … ”  Read more from Water Online here: After jokes at its expense, Connecticut city renames sewage plant after comedian John Oliver

President Trump signs executive order to establish water subcabinet

Efficiency in federal water issues is a goal sought by many different users across all political and user spectrums.  On October 13, 2020, President Trump issued an Executive Order (Order) creating a Water Subcabinet to promote coordination across federal agencies on water-related issues, and to increase engagement with state, local, tribal, and territorial governments on water supply issues.  The Order has implications for Western water projects with federal components, and includes projects in California, Colorado, and Oregon, as well as in other Western states, especially as such projects relate to storage and drought resiliency. … ”  Read more from Somach Simmons & Dunn here:  President Trump signs executive order to establish water subcabinet

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And lastly …

California’s 10 best hiking trails

Ever since Native Americans blazed the first trails through the wilderness, Californians have been hikers. Oceanside rambles, desert palm oases, skyscraping peaks and silent forests await. Here are 10 of California’s best hiking trails. … ”  Check it out from the Lonely Planet here:  California’s 10 best hiking trails

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Today’s featured articles …

WESTERN GROUNDWATER CONGRESS: California Water Transfer Price Forecast

At the Western Groundwater Congress hosted online by the Groundwater Resources Association, Audrey Arnao, an associate with WestWater Research, gave the following presentation on California’s surface water market, covering prices and trading activity in recent years and providing a forecast of spot market transfer prices in 2021.

Click here to read this article.

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

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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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