DAILY DIGEST, 10/27: USBR, partners synchronize Sacramento River water diversions to benefit salmon; CA tribes oppose proposed water tunnel; Water Commission public workshops to focus on conveyance needs; Crash off Garden Highway reignites tree debate with Army Corps; and more …



In California water news today …

Reclamation and partners synchronize Sacramento River water diversions to benefit salmon

Reclamation, working with the Sacramento River Settlement Contractors and federal and state fish and wildlife agencies, are implementing fall water operations to benefit salmon populations in the Sacramento River.  Reclamation is coordinating with the Sacramento River Settlement Contractors to voluntarily delay a portion of their water diversions from October 16-31 until November 1-23, allowing Reclamation to further reduce flows in the Sacramento River in mid-October. The delayed water diversions and corresponding early flow reductions are anticipated to prevent the dewatering of 2.2% of fall-run Chinook salmon redds (group of eggs in gravel nests), which is approximately 200 redds or 1 million eggs.  In turn, the revised schedule allows the Sacramento River Settlement Contractors to prolong the time period for rice decomposition in Sacramento Valley rice fields. Rice decomposition is an essential food source for Pacific Flyway waterfowl. …

Click here to continue reading this press release from the Bureau of Reclamation.

“This fall diversion schedule was coordinated in close collaboration with federal and state agencies as well as the Sacramento River Settlement Contractors; it highlights the importance of partnerships in water resource management,” said Regional Director Ernest Conant. “Reclamation greatly appreciates the teamwork and commitment necessary to act in real-time and deliver water in a manner that not only benefits fish and wildlife but also preserves cold water in Shasta Reservoir through the end of October for temperature requirements.”

The fall water operation is being implemented in accordance with the 2019 Biological Opinions for the Coordinated Operation of the Central Valley Project and State Water Project.

“I applaud the Sacramento River Settlement Contractors and our agency partners for developing this plan to quickly adapt to changing water conditions in a way that ensures efficient water supply management and benefits fish and wildlife habitat,” said Paul Souza, Regional Director of Fish and Wildlife Service’s Pacific Southwest division. “This is truly a win-win situation.”

In addition to delaying water diversions to November for salmon populations, the Sacramento River Settlement Contractors are helping nearby National Wildlife Refuges. Water for Sacramento, Delevan, and Colusa National Wildlife Refuges is being delivered through the Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District facilities as birds migrate down the Pacific Flyway into the Sacramento Valley.

“The Sacramento River Settlement Contractors are fully committed to multi-benefit water management along the Sacramento River,” said President Roger Cornwell. “We appreciate the collaboration and coordination with Reclamation and the fishery agencies to carefully manage water for the benefit of both winter- and fall-run salmon as part of our salmon recovery efforts and to serve important water for birds along the Pacific Flyway.”

California tribes oppose proposed water tunnel

In early March, just weeks before California shut down due to COVID-19, more than 200 tribal citizens, environmentalists and others gathered in the city of Redding to protest a proposed massive water tunnel in the state.  Members of the Yurok, Hoopa Valley, Karuk, Pit River, Winnemem Wintu, Pomo and Miwok nations held an outdoor rally before speaking at a meeting on the Delta Tunnel Conveyance project, saying it would destroy water quality and devastate the state’s salmon population and other important fish species in the San Joaquin Delta estuary. … ”  Read more from Indian Country Today here:  California tribes oppose proposed water tunnel

California Water Commission public workshops to focus on conveyance needs, funding options

In coming months, the California Water Commission will conduct a series of public workshops to explore the state’s role in funding water conveyance projects. Governor Newsom’s Water Resilience Portfolio, released in July, directs the Commission to assess a state role in financing conveyance projects that could help meet needs in a changing climate.  Many California water conveyance structures are aging, damaged by subsidence, and in need of repair. Adapting to climate change will require improved and new connections designed for different purposes than our historic infrastructure. As directed by the Water Resilience Portfolio, the Commission proposes to produce a white paper for state policymakers that will describe characteristics of resilient water conveyance projects that meet the needs of a changing climate, the potential public benefits of such projects, and the implications of various financing options. The paper will focus on conveyance other than the pending proposal to improve State Water Project conveyance through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.  …

Click here to continue reading from the California Water Commission.

Commission staff has interviewed stakeholders representing the water industry, agriculture, environmental groups, under-represented communities, academia, and other interests to help frame the discussion of the role conveyance may play in strengthening the ability of regions to withstand drought, flood, warmer average temperatures, and changing precipitation patterns. 

To continue the conversation, the Commission seeks public input through a series of virtual workshops that focus on specific regions of California. Participants from each region are encouraged to discuss conveyance infrastructure needs, a potential state role in funding such infrastructure, and potential sources of financing.  

The Commission will use the information gathered at the regional workshops to help formulate a policy paper with recommendations on a state role in financing climate-resilient conveyance. The draft paper will be available for public comment before it is finalized and presented to the Administration in mid-2021. A complete schedule and details on how to take part in the workshops will be posted at a later date. 

Crash off Garden Highway reignites tree debate among neighbors and Army Corps of Engineers

” … “I’ve lived here since 1993. And there have been multiple times when vehicles have run off the road and the trees have protected the people in the vehicles as well as the homeowners,” Dawn Grinstain, a neighbor, said.  And homeowners hope these green guardians stay rooted here.  The Army Corps of Engineers plans to work on a flood prevention plan for this levee near La Lima Way and other sections in Natomas. The plan does include the removal or trimming of trees for construction equipment to be able to do the work for the flood prevention plan. … ”  Read more from CBS 13 here: Crash off Garden Highway reignites tree debate among neighbors and Army Corps of Engineers

Engage with your local Groundwater Sustainability Agency

The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, or SGMA, was a landmark legislation whose effects will be felt over the decades that it is phased into implementation. With the long time horizon it may be easy for some to lose sight of what’s happening now.  And, what’s happening is local authorities are creating Groundwater Sustainability Plans. Or as Rosedale Rio Bravo Water Storage District General Manager Eric Averett likes to call them, water budgets. ... ”  Read more from Cal Ag Today here: Engage with your local Groundwater Sustainability Agency

EPA awards $252.8 million for infrastructure to protect surface waters and drinking water in California

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is awarding $2.7 billion nationwide in support to water infrastructure via State Revolving Funds (SRFs), including $252,873,000 for California. SRF funding assists states, tribes and  territories with infrastructure projects that protect surface water and provide safe drinking water to communities across the United States. In addition to the SRF award, $42,000,000 was awarded to California this year under the Additional Supplemental Appropriation for Disaster Relief Act (ASADRA). The one-time ASADRA funds will provide funding for wastewater treatment works and drinking water facilities impacted by wildfires in 2018.  “EPA is delivering on its commitment to modernize water infrastructure and improve public health and environmental protections in the Pacific Southwest,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator John Busterud. “EPA’s $346.8 million contribution to the State Revolving Funds in the region will enable more communities to make the investments needed to ensure safe drinking water and sanitation.” … ”  Read more from the EPA here: EPA awards $252.8 million for infrastructure to protect surface waters and drinking water in California

Nevada researcher part of multi-state team studying Earth’s critical zone

The layer of Earth where life exists, from the top of the tallest trees to the bottom of the groundwater table, is called the “critical zone.” What happens to this zone in the face of natural and human disturbance, and climate change, can greatly impact our ecosystems and natural resources, including water. University of Nevada, Reno’s Adrian Harpold is part of two five-year, multi-state, interdisciplinary research projects recently funded by the National Science Foundation to shed more light on water in the critical zone and its fate in mountain forests. … ”  Read more from Nevada Today here:  Nevada researcher part of multi-state team studying Earth’s critical zone

Experts to Western states: time to finally fight wildfires with more fire

Earlier this month California Gov. Gavin Newsom, looking uncharacteristically wan and frustrated, stood in the burnt ruins of an elementary school in Napa County obliterated by yet another catastrophic blaze.  It’s a scene the governor acknowledged has become painfully familiar across the Golden State.  “Regions that have been torn asunder by wildfires seemingly every single year, this drum beat where people are exhausted, concerned, anxious about their fate and their future not just their safety,” Newsom said, adding with a hint of exhaustion, “so clearly we have our work cut out for us to deal with not only suppression, but prevention strategies.” … ”  Read more from Valley Public Radio here:  Experts to Western states: time to finally fight wildfires with more fire

Has the forest service been making wildfires worse?

The Bear fire was one of the largest of the over 8,000 wildfires that have beset California this year. Now incorporated into the still-burning North Complex Fire, the Bear started in the Plumas National Forest, sparked by a series of lightning strikes on August 17 across the northern Sierra Nevada. It burned slowly at first, taking three weeks to grow to 12,000 acres. Then, on September 9, it transformed, traveling with such ferocity that it engulfed 183,000 acres in less than 24 hours, moving as fast as three miles an hour. “This is unheard-of,” Chad Hanson, a wildfire ecologist who has spent two decades studying fire in California, told me. “Most fires move at one-fiftieth that speed.” … ”  Read more from New Republic here: Has the forest service been making wildfires worse?

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In commentary today …

Setting aside environmental water for the San Joaquin River

Jeffrey Mount, Ted Grantham, Brian Gray, and Ellen Hanak write, “Protecting the health of California’s rivers, estuaries, and wetlands has been the grandest—and perhaps thorniest—of the many challenges facing the state’s water managers. The San Joaquin River watershed, the state’s third largest and an important water source for irrigating farmland in the San Joaquin Valley, epitomizes this challenge. Yet California is making progress here, bringing a glimmer of hope.  If we can find a way to restore the health of San Joaquin River while preserving the region’s social and economic vitality, we can do it anywhere in the state. … ”  Read more from the PPIC blog here: Setting aside environmental water for the San Joaquin River

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In regional water news and commentary today …

Paradise: Picking up the pieces after a disaster

Ron Howard’s Rebuilding Paradise is a tour de force depicting how a small town is engulfed and impacted by the climate crisis. This well-directed National Geographic Documentary Films production opens with sweeping aerial vistas of Paradise, a scenic, rustic haven in Northern California, and a glimpse of a wooden welcome sign stating: “May you find Paradise to be all its name implies.” However, the Arcadian ambiance is swiftly swept away in a lengthy, harrowing sequence showing how the 2018 Camp Fire rapidly spread through the town, transforming Paradise into hell on Earth. … ”  Read more from Earth Island Journal here: Picking up the pieces after a disaster

Some of Big Basin’s most stunning waterfall trails were scorched by fire and may not reopen for a while

In the backcountry of Big Basin Redwoods State Park, trail crews have found one of the prettiest sites in Northern California – the remote canyon where Berry Creek Falls, Silver Falls and the Golden Cascade all flow – scorched and ravaged in the wake of this summer’s massive CZU Lightning Complex Fires.  “The entire Berry Creek drainage burned over and there is extensive damage to the viewing platform and railings and trails,” said Joanne Kerbavaz, a senior environmental scientist for California State Parks who inspected the area this past week after hearing from a district trail crew. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  Some of Big Basin’s most stunning waterfall trails were scorched by fire and may not reopen for a while

Berkeley: Jewel Lake in Tilden Park is ‘a ghost of what it once was’

On Sept. 19, the first day of Rosh Hashanah, Joshua Kayman went to Jewel Lake in Tilden Park with family and friends to perform Tashlich, a Jewish New Year’s tradition. The ritual requires a running body of water, preferably one where fish live.  “We came to cast away our sins into a body of water,” he said. “We came here to do this at this body of water, because we need a big living body of water.” ... ”  Read more from Berkeleyside here: Berkeley: Jewel Lake in Tilden Park is ‘a ghost of what it once was’

Supporters of Santa Clara Valley Water District clean water measure raise nearly $340K

A clean water and flood protection measure that would extend an existing Santa Clara Valley Water District program indefinitely has nearly $340,000 in its campaign coffers. A bulk of donations have come from unions, the construction and engineering sectors and political action committees, according to the latest financial statements filed with the state. ... ”  Read more from Palo Alto Online here:  Supporters of Santa Clara Valley Water District clean water measure raise nearly $340K

Monterey: Public water buyout EIR review postponed to Thursday

Monterey Peninsula Water Management District board members are getting a little extra time to consider a lengthy final environmental impact report for a potential public buyout and takeover of California American Water’s local water system.  After deciding last week to postpone review of the crucial 430-page document, the board is set to conduct a special meeting on Thursday to consider certification of the final EIR for the potential public acquisition and operation of Cal Am’s Monterey district system. … ”  Read more from the Monterey Herald here:  Monterey: Public water buyout EIR review postponed to Thursday

Morro Bay: Despite progress, innovative California water reclamation plant faces political backlash

With significant stress on source-water supplies throughout the region, it would seem that California desperately needs more infrastructure that utilizes these limited resources as efficiently as possible. However, a local water reclamation facility that’s already started construction could face some significant political barriers that prevent its opening.  “After about six months of construction, Morro Bay’s new water reclamation facility is well underway — and it remains politically divisive this election season, with three candidates talking about halting or undoing the project, which is the largest-ever infrastructure project in city history,” The Tribune explained. … ”  Read more from Water Online here: Morro Bay: Despite progress, innovative California water reclamation plant faces political backlash

Arroyo Seco Canyon project supporters hope to create local reliance on water supply

The Pasadena City Council’s Municipal Services Committee will review updates on the Arroyo Seco Canyon Project (ASCP), an investment in infrastructure that will increase reliance on local water supply, during a special virtual meeting at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Oct 27.  Backers of the project also hope to enhance recreation and habitat by better using Pasadena’s longstanding water rights and adding management tools to enhance the groundwater basin. … ”  Read more from Pasadena Now here: Arroyo Seco Canyon project supporters hope to create local reliance on water supply

Ahead of rain, Beaumont plans for unprecedented flooding

It won’t take much, and the Pass Area as we know it may look dramatically different come wet weather this fall and winter. That’s according to public safety officials from various Riverside County agencies who are working to get the word out about the danger of “flood after fire.”  Residents of Beaumont, Banning and Cherry Valley are all being encouraged to plan ahead for the scary scenarios of damaging storms that can send massive amounts of debris down the charred hillsides affected by the El Dorado and Apple fires. … ”  Read more from The Patch here:  Ahead of rain, Beaumont plans for unprecedented flooding

San Diego: Hauck Mesa Storage Reservoir to improve water reliability

The San Diego County Water Authority is gearing up to construct a 2.1 million-gallon drinking water reservoir on the Valley Center Pipeline to enhance service reliability throughout the region. The Hauck Mesa Storage Reservoir project in northern San Diego County is part of the Water Authority’s Capital Improvement Program.  Construction work is scheduled to begin in early 2021 and is estimated to be completed in the winter of 2022. The project includes demolition of an abandoned steel tank, and construction of a new 2.1 million-gallon concrete reservoir, isolation vault, and underground flow control facility, as well as other site improvements. … ”  Read more from the Water News Network here: Hauck Mesa Storage Reservoir to improve water reliability 

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In national water news today …

Google collaborates with NOAA to use artificial intelligence for weather forecasting, research

Google and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have signed a three-year deal to use the tech giant’s artificial intelligence and machine learning to enhance the agency’s environmental monitoring, weather forecasting and climate research, according to a joint announcement released Tuesday. Research under the deal initially focused on developing small-scale artificial intelligence and machine learning systems, and based on the results, NOAA and Google Cloud will focus on executing full-scale prototypes the agency could use across its organization. … ”  Read more from The Hill here:  Google collaborates with NOAA to use artificial intelligence for weather forecasting, research

Elevating houses can protect against damaging floods. But how high is high enough?

Millions of Americans have properties facing the threat of destructive floods, with a cost of up to $25,000 in damages for just one inch of floodwater. To manage that risk, people who live in areas designated as river flood zones often seek to raise their homes—but exactly how high to elevate their homes is both a critical and complicated decision.  Now new research supported by NOAA’s Climate Program Office (CPO) and led by Penn State University suggests that, in the face of economic, engineering, and environmental uncertainties, homeowners would reduce the most damage by raising their homes beyond the minimum guidelines recommended by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The findings were reported today in Nature Communications. … ”  Read more from Climate.gov here:  Elevating houses can protect against damaging floods. But how high is high enough?

Trump administration faces lawsuit over hunting expansion at nearly 150 wildlife refuges, hatcheries

The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) faces a forthcoming lawsuit over its decision to open up or expand hunting at 147 national wildlife refuges and fish hatcheries.  The Center for Biological Diversity filed a notice of intent to sue the agency on Tuesday, arguing that the government didn’t fully analyze the impacts of the decision to endangered species including birds and jaguars.  “We’re going to court to ensure that our nation’s wildlife refuges can actually provide refuges for wildlife,” said Collette Adkins, the center’s carnivore conservation director, in a statement. … ”  Read more from The Hill here:  Trump administration faces lawsuit over hunting expansion at nearly 150 wildlife refuges, hatcheries

Not dried up: US-Mexico water cooperation

For weeks, a water dispute between the Mexican government and Mexican farmers and between the United States and Mexico was brewing and escalating. October 24 was the deadline by which Mexico was supposed to have provided the United States with all of the water from the Rio Grande it owes the United States every five years. But this year’s expected water delivery set off months-long protests in Chihuahua, where drought-stricken farmers took over the Boquilla dam and opposed the water disbursement to the United States, fearing that even more of their livestock and crops would perish. Unlike previous Mexican administrations that since mid-1990s habitually failed to deliver the Rio Grande water to the United States on time, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) has been determined to send the water to the United States. He even deployed the Mexican National Guard to confront the farmers and protestors, with the Guard killing one of them. At the last minute, a deal was struck between the two countries to resolve the latest immediate water crisis. … ”  Read more from Brookings here:  Not dried up: US-Mexico water cooperation

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Today’s featured articles …

MEETING: State Water Board grants petition for statutory adjudication of the Fresno River watershed

At the October 20 meeting of the State Water Board, one of the agenda items was the consideration of a proposed resolution granting a petition by Madera Irrigation District for the statutory adjudication of water rights in the Fresno River watershed.

Click here to read this article.


BLOG ROUND-UP: DWR’s validation action; Saving water for a drier day; Feather River fall-run salmon update; Newsom replaces OC Water Board member over desal plant; and more …

Click here to read the blog round-up.

 

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

 

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