DAILY DIGEST, 10/29: New reports on SoCal-Central Valley partnerships, wildfire costs, underperforming drinking water systems; Researchers probe deaths of Central Valley chinook; Atmospheric rivers and their impact on California’s reservoirs; and more …



On the calendar today …

ONLINE MEETING: California Advisory Committee on Salmon and Steelhead Trout from 10am to 2:30pm

Agenda items include the steelhead report card and restoration program update, commercial fishing updates, Sacramento River operations, and salmonid abundance estimates.  Join Microsoft Teams Meeting Or call (916) 535-0984 – Conference ID: 421 609 313#  Click here for the agenda.

ONLINE EVENT: Climate Risks to the US Financial System: Urgent & Decisive Action Needed from 11am to 12pm

Climate change poses a systemic risk to the U.S. financial system, concludes the recently released and first-ever comprehensive report on climate risk sponsored by a U.S. financial regulator, Managing Climate Risks to the US Financial System.  Commissioner Rostin Behnam of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), the report’s sponsor, will share key findings. Dave Jones, Director of CLEE’s Climate Risk Initiative, Divya Mankikar, Investment Manager, CalPERs, and Ilmi Granoff,  Director, Sustainable Finance, Climate Works Foundation, will discuss the report’s recommendations for US financial regulators and financial institutions to urgently and decisively address climate risk. Join us for this timely discussion on climate change-related risks and opportunities for the financial sector.  Click here to register.

WEBINAR: What Strikes Fear in the Hearts of Arizona Water and Wastewater Utilities? Brine Management from 11am to 12pm.

There has been a perception that brine management is a “down the road” issue for water providers in Arizona. However, for the Phoenix Metro West Valley and the Tucson area water suppliers, that is not the case. The “Easy button” to discharge to the sanitary sewer system is a short term fix that is not working. Brine ponds smell and are expensive. Regional solutions may be required. An update on the Central Arizona Salinity Study options and new options will be reviewed with associated costs presented. This update can provide a basis for the continuing collaborative brine management conversation.  Click here to register.

WEBINAR: Soaking Up Success Symposium Series: Green Infrastructure – Integration & Innovation from 3pm to 5:30pm

State, regional, and private investments are setting the scene for green infrastructure solutions in Los Angeles. This panel will discuss challenges and opportunities to improve coordination and leverage funding among agencies to equitably distribute the ecological, economic, and social benefits of green infrastructure.  Click here to register.

In California water news today …

NEW REPORTS

PPIC Report: Water partnerships between cities and farms in Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley

Partnerships between Southern California cities and San Joaquin Valley farms could help alleviate groundwater overdraft in the valley while building drought resilience in Southern California. More flexible supplies can help agencies adapt to changing conditions. By coordinating the location of infrastructure investments, agencies can use partnerships to bring the water where and when it is most needed, at least cost.  This report explores a variety of solutions that could benefit both regions. For the San Joaquin Valley, we look for ways to augment water supplies to ease the transition to groundwater sustainability, while for Southern California we explore options that would increase cities’ ability to deal effectively with extended droughts. … ” Read more and download report from the PPIC here: Water partnerships between cities and farms in Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley

CCST Report: The costs of wildfire in California

This report, undertaken by CCST and made possible with support from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, summarizes the state of knowledge regarding wildfire losses and their associated costs across key sectors. It challenges the assumptions underlying current fire management policies and proposes a novel framework for understanding the total cost of wildfire in California.  The results of this study suggest opportunities for policymakers to improve the effectiveness of wildfire management in California by enabling regional approaches, increasing investments in mitigation and resilience strategies, and accounting for the cumulative public health impacts of exposure to multiple fire events—including the interacting effects of wildfire smoke and COVID-19. In delivering a comprehensive framework to assess wildfire costs in California, the study finds that a full statewide calculation of wildfire costs is not possible with currently available data. Furthermore, the study finds that the costs associated with unquantified categories of loss (e.g., health impacts, loss of ecosystem services) likely exceed the reported costs. A more accurate accounting may result in more than double the currently reported costs. … ”  Read more and download report from the California Council on Science and Technology here: The costs of wildfire in California

Pacific Institute Report:  Solutions for underperforming drinking water systems in California

This report examines underperforming water systems in California that fail to provide safe drinking water, identifies potential solutions, and looks at lessons learned that can be applied to the rest of the nation. It concludes that a state-level strategy to improve the drinking water quality of small water systems would optimize resources and improve results. Additionally, assessing water quality issues holistically would enable stakeholders to make significant improvements to drinking water quality for small water systems. … ”  Read more and download report from the Pacific Institute here:  Solutions for underperforming drinking water systems in California

Nature Conservancy report: Evaluating and protecting environmental water assets: A guide for land conservation practitioners

This guide provides land trust staff and other land acquisition practitioners with information about key aspects of water rights.  It presents a suite of important tools to protect environmental water assets in order to maximize the ecological
outcomes of lands acquired and/or managed for conservation purposes.  Like land, water rights are real property that can be bought, sold, and encumbered. If an organization acquires a land interest (e.g., through a conservation easement or fee simple acquisition of a property) with conservation values that depend on water resources which are impacted by the way water is used, it is important to understand the type and status of water resources and water rights associated with the property and the surrounding watershed. In addition, it is becoming imperative to take action and utilize tools to align water and land management, to ensure that properties protected in perpetuity are resilient enough to endure the increasing pressures of climate change and the human population on the landscape. … ”  Download report here:  Evaluating and protecting environmental water assets

Report: Ensuring One Water delivers for healthy waterways: a framework for incorporating healthy waterways into One Water plans and projects

As forward-thinking cities become increasingly adept at capturing and reusing wastewater, stormwater, and greywater, essential river systems may be at risk. The “One Water” approach to water management emphasizes an integrated planning and implementation approach that acknowledges the finite nature of water resources and prioritizes long-term resilience and reliability.  This report provides city planners that have adopted or are considering the “One Water” approach with much-needed practical guidance on how to build a community-driven water vision that takes into account the needs of local residents as well as downstream cities and ecosystems that depend on a healthy flow of water.  The report was produced by the National Wildlife Federation, the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment at Texas State University, and the Pacific Institute.” Read more and download report from the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment here: Ensuring One Water delivers for healthy waterways: a framework for incorporating healthy waterways into One Water plans and projects

OTHER STATEWIDE NEWS

Researchers probe deaths of Central Valley chinook, with possible ties to ocean changes

Scientists from several fish and wildlife agencies have launched a rapid research and response effort for deficiency of thiamine, or Vitamin B1. This deficiency was recently found to be increasing juvenile mortality among Chinook salmon in California’s Central Valley.  The magnitude of its effect is not clear. However, it could be a risk to Chinook stocks, including endangered winter-run Chinook salmon and the fishery for fall-run Chinook salmon.  In early 2020, staff at state and federal salmon hatcheries in California’s Central Valley observed newly hatched offspring of adult Chinook salmon that spawned in 2019. They were swimming in corkscrew patterns and dying at unusually high rates. Researchers at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s California-Nevada Fish Health Center eliminated infectious diseases as the cause. Then, they noticed that a bath of thiamine immediately revived the ailing juveniles. … ”  Read more from NOAA here:  Researchers probe deaths of Central Valley chinook, with possible ties to ocean changes

Trump Administration awards $40 million for Sacramento River salmon habitat improvements

The Bureau of Reclamation announces the selection of four funding award recipients to implement $40 million in salmon habitat improvement projects along the Sacramento River. The restoration projects will enhance and improve spawning and rearing habitat for salmon at approximately 25 different locations across 132 river miles.  Each award is for approximately $10 million over a five-year period. Elements of the salmon habitat improvement projects include gravel and coarse sediment additions, side channel and floodplain restoration and enhancement, woody material and boulder additions and riparian plantings. Project locations are along the Sacramento River from Keswick Dam down to the Feather River confluence. …

Click here to continue reading this press release.

Reclamation is pleased to make these awards and draw on the expertise of our partners to carry out this important restoration work on the Sacramento River,” said Reclamation Regional Director Ernest Conant. “Our water operations along the Sacramento River are closely intertwined with the health of Chinook salmon populations. We are committed to the restoration actions laid out in our current operating plan to help restore, maintain and improve rearing and spawning habitat.”

The recipients selected by Reclamation through a competitive process are:

Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District $9,999,423 Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District, on behalf of the Sacramento River Settlement Contractors, will implement seven habitat restoration activities to help restore, maintain, and improve Sacramento River salmon rearing habitat. The projects include increasing access to rearing habitat and implementing habitat restoration activities.

Reclamation District 108 $9,999,495 Reclamation District 108, on behalf of the Sacramento River Settlement Contractors, will implement seven projects to help restore, maintain, and improve Sacramento River salmon spawning habitat. Project elements include gravel augmentation along the Sacramento River and side channel restoration activities.

River Partners $9,999,968 River Partners, a non-profit organization, will improve spawning and rearing habitat for salmon at six individual project locations along the Sacramento River. Each project will restore side channels, floodplains and spawning habitats to improve adult spawning and juvenile rearing habitat.

Chico State Enterprises $9,999,997 Chico State Enterprises, an auxiliary organization of California State University Chico, will restore 47.3 acres of juvenile salmon habitat and 4.3 acres of spawning habitat along the Sacramento River near the Battle Creek confluence.

“On behalf of the Sacramento River Settlement Contractors, we are elated that Reclamation selected us to implement these projects which have been identified in Central Valley Project Improvement Act workplans,” said Thaddeus Bettner, Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District general manager. “This effort will expand on projects we have been doing since 2014 and are vital to Sacramento River salmon spawning and rearing habitat. With more restoration projects completed the last several years, we continue to see larger populations of out-migrating juvenile fish, and this investment by Reclamation will continue to improve on that trend.”

“Reclamation 108, on behalf of the Sacramento River Settlement Contractors, is proud to partner with the Bureau of Reclamation and fellow recipients to continue the important restoration work we have been carrying out on the Sacramento River,” said Lewis Bair, Reclamation 108 general manager. “The work on the upper Sacramento River along with the teamwork advancing floodplain restoration on the lower Sacramento River provide salmon with a promising future.”

Susan Strachan, project manager for the CSU Chico Geographical Information Center and Jane Dolan, executive director of the Sacramento River Forum stated, “We are so thankful for our partnership with Reclamation and our state, local and nonprofit collaborators who make these projects successful. We look forward to implementing more habitat restoration and a robust monitoring program for the benefit of Chinook salmon and steelhead on the Upper Sacramento River.”

“For decades, River Partners has worked with many conservation partners to recover wildlife habitat for the benefit of people and the environment along the Sacramento River,” said River Partners President Julie Rentner. “This investment from Reclamation represents a tremendous opportunity to improve habitat conditions for dwindling Chinook salmon populations and realize the goals of the Central Valley Project Improvement Act for water users, Sacramento Valley communities, endangered freshwater ecosystems, and millions of Californians.”

The projects are being implemented in accordance with the Central Valley Project Improvement Act and the 2019 Biological Opinions for the Coordinated Operation of the Central Valley Project and State Water Project.

Delta Cross Channel to close Wednesday for fish migration

A critical part of the Central Valley Water Project will close Wednesday to help migrating salmon find their way home.  The Delta Cross Channel is a 6,000-foot-long, 245-foot-wide canal that connects the Sacramento River to the Mokelumne River. The canal carries critical water supplies from the Sacramento River into the San Joaquin section of the Sacramento River Delta for farming and to prevent saltwater intrusion into the delta. … ”  Read more from KCRA Channel 3 here:  Delta Cross Channel to close Wednesday for fish migration

Q&A: Atmospheric rivers and their impact on California’s reservoirs

Q&A with DWR Climate Change Program Section Chief, Elissa Lynn:  “Q: What is your role with DWR?  A: I am the Program Manager for climate change adaptation, supervising 10 full-time climate staff across the Department. They are engineers and scientists who help assess the vulnerability of DWR and the State’s water sector to changing hydrology, including reduced snowpack, a transition from snow to rain, higher flood and drought risk, and warmer temperatures. … ”  Read more from DWR News here: Q&A: Atmospheric rivers and their impact on California’s reservoirs

Distribution of landfalling atmospheric rivers over the U.S. West Coast During Water Year 2020: End of water year summary

View the pdf from the Center for Western Water and Weather Extremes.

California could do better to ease the burdens of wildfires if we knew how much they actually cost

Amid a record-breaking fire year, a new report out Thursday says the state lacks a grasp on the true costs of wildfires. The report is from the California Council on Science and Technology, an independent nonprofit organization established to offer state leaders objective advice from scientists and research institutions.  Ahead of the CCST’s public briefing, set for today at 12:30 p.m., KQED spoke with Michael Wara, director of Stanford’s Climate and Energy Policy Program. Wara led the team that assessed wildfire costs in the state.  … ”  Read more from KQED here: California could do better to ease the burdens of wildfires if we knew how much they actually cost

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In commentary today …

Climate change is central to California’s wildfires, say Rebecca Miller, Katharine Mach, and Chris Field

They write, “As the toll from California’s wildfires grows higher year after year, the state’s future appears fiery and hazy with smoke. For conservative columnists like Ben Shapiro, Niall Ferguson and Tyler O’Neil, it’s clear who is responsible: California Democrats. In recent opinion pieces, they acknowledge that climate change might play a role in these fires, but they blame Democratic leadership for exacerbating fuel buildups through poor land management. As proof, they reference a study from early this year in Nature Sustainability.  We wrote that study. These columnists are wrong. … ”  Read more from Scientific American here:

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In regional water news and commentary today …

Salinas: Split county board OKs cannabis cash for Salinas Valley well destruction

By a narrow margin, the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday agreed to spend about $2.66 million in cannabis tax revenue over three years to cover the local cash match for a Salinas Valley well destruction program.  A split board voted 3-2 to tap the county’s cannabis account. The majority argued the well destruction program would have a broad community benefit by battling seawater intrusion threatening Salinas Valley agricultural and residential water supplies. … ”  Read more from the Monterey Herald here: Salinas: Split county board OKs cannabis cash for Salinas Valley well destruction

Kern County’s water accounting platform tracks use like finances

The value of water is taken for granted by most and held in the utmost respect by those who make a living off the land.  The Water Accounting Platform developed by the Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District along with stakeholder partners have allowed growers to keep track of water usage much like they would financial information. District General Manager Eric Averett provided an explanation of the system and how it is used. … ”  Read more from the Kern Valley Sun here: Kern County’s water accounting platform tracks use like finances

Federal grant sets stage for project to try to prevent more dangerous debris flows in Montecito

FEMA has awarded Santa Barbara County more than $13 million dollars towards building a new debris basin to try to prevent more disastrous mud and debris flows in Montecito.  In January of 2018, the community was devastated by an avalanche of rock, mud, water, and debris which swept through the community after nearby mountain slopes were stripped bare by the Thomas wildfire. 23 people died. … ” Read more from KCLU here: Federal grant sets stage for project to try to prevent more dangerous debris flows in Montecito

Santa Clarita: SCV Water sues PFAS makers over toxic chemicals in local water

The Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency has filed a lawsuit against 3M Company, Chemours, DuPont and several other companies for their roles in introducing toxic chemicals into the local water supply.  The lawsuit alleges the agency’s water has been contaminated by PFAS chemicals that were discharged into the environment by-products manufactured by these defendants. … ”  Read more from SCV News here: SCV Water sues PFAS makers over toxic chemicals in local water

Santa Clarita:  SCV Water undertaking multiple planning efforts to enhance water reliability

SCV Water is undertaking multiple planning efforts designed to effectively manage the water supply for our customers, ensuring they have access to reliable water today and tomorrow.  These efforts, part of a multi-year process, will advance several regional water plans and programs that enhance water reliability, quality, environmental sustainability, and delivery. … ”  Read more from SCV News here: SCV Water undertaking multiple planning efforts to enhance water reliability

SoCal: Lawsuit launched to force feds to update recovery plan for endangered California fish

The Center for Biological Diversity filed a notice today of its intent to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to force it to update an inadequate, 35-year-old recovery plan for a tiny, scaleless fish called the unarmored threespine stickleback. These critically endangered fish are only found in a few Southern California streams in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara counties.  Even though the species was protected under the Endangered Species Act more than 50 years ago, stickleback populations are increasingly threatened by habitat destruction, water pollution, groundwater withdrawals, wildfire and non-native predators. Among these sticklebacks, males are the nest-builders and egg guardians, ejecting females from their nests after they’ve laid the eggs and fiercely defending their young. … ”  Read more from the Center for Biological Diversity here: Lawsuit launched to force feds to update recovery plan for endangered California fish

California Supreme Court refuses to review farmer Michael Abatti’s case against IID

The tumultuous, years-long legal fight between farmer Michael Abatti and the Imperial Irrigation District — two of Southern California’s powerbrokers — is now finished.  On Wednesday, the California Supreme Court declined Abatti’s petition for review, leaving in place an appellate court’s decision that declared IID the rightful owner of a massive allotment of Colorado River water. … ”  Read more from the Desert Sun here:  California Supreme Court refuses to review farmer Michael Abatti’s case against IID

Imperial Valley commentary:  An agreement to sell water is not about selling water?

JB Hanby writes, “One of Belgian surrealist painter Rene Magritte’s most famous paintings depicts a tobacco pipe with cursive script below it reading, “Ceci n’est pas une pipe,” which translated from French means, “This is not a pipe.”  Imperial Valley has recently spawned its own surrealists in the style of Magritte who state that an agreement to sell water is not about selling water and that the San Diego Pipeline is not a pipe.  Confused? That appears to be by design. … ”  Read more from the Desert Review here: Imperial Valley commentary:  An agreement to sell water is not about selling water?

San Diego: ‘A big day’: Supervisors ok draft of North County Multi-species Conservation Plan

The Board of Supervisors Wednesday unanimously approved a draft version of a North County region conservation plan. A final draft of the plan is expected for board consideration by 2024 or 2025.  Supervisors voted to receive the revised North County Multiple Species Conservation Plan, which according to the Parks and Recreation Department would provide the greatest environmental benefits. … ”  Read more from the Times of San Diego here: San Diego: ‘A big day’: Supervisors ok draft of North County Multi-species Conservation Plan

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Along the Colorado River …

Rivers, clean air, imperiled species: How Trump’s environmental rollbacks affect Arizona

The San Pedro river seeps out of the foothills of the Sierra Madre mountain range in northern Mexico then flows north into Arizona. It winds through desert landscapes, grasslands, and forests. It swells with the rains and at times descends below ground, meandering past mining operations, cattle ranches and thirsty cities whose growth depends on water.  The river has been battered for decades by development, livestock grazing, groundwater pumping and construction of the border wall, in addition to the worsening threats of drought and climate change.  … ”  Read more from Arizona Central here:  Rivers, clean air, imperiled species: How Trump’s environmental rollbacks affect Arizona

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In national water news today …

When the Trump administration finalized a key Clean Water Act rule last year, it slammed media outlets for citing federal data showing it would erase protections for more than half the nation’s wetlands and 18% of streams.  The National Wetlands Inventory, EPA wrote in a press release at the time, was so unreliable that it “doesn’t map wetlands that are there and maps wetlands that are no longer there.”  “Most importantly, it doesn’t map the jurisdictional waters,” EPA wrote in a press release specifically criticizing articles from E&E News, Politico, the Los Angeles Times and The Guardian. … ”  Read more from E&E News here:  Army Corps banks on wetland data EPA deemed ‘unreliable’

Microplastics in groundwater (and our drinking water) present unknown risk

Microplastics (plastics <5mm) and their negative health impacts have been studied in oceans, rivers, and even soils, and scientists are beginning to grapple with the myriad human health impacts their presence might have. One understudied, but critical, link in the cycle is groundwater, which is often a source of drinking water. … ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  Microplastics in groundwater (and our drinking water) present unknown risk

Over 100 irrigation systems left exposed online without a password

More than 100 smart irrigation systems were left exposed online without a password last month, allowing anyone to access and tamper with water irrigation programs for crops, tree plantations, cities, and building complexes.  The exposed irrigation systems were discovered by Security Joes, a small boutique security firm based in Israel. … ”  Read more from ZD Net here: Over 100 irrigation systems left exposed online without a password

First-of-its-kind surface water Atlas brings together 35 years of satellite data

The Atlas of Global Surface Water Dynamics created by the European Commission’s Joint Research Center (JRC) illustrates the changes in the Earth’s lakes, rivers and wetlands over time. The atlas provides a better understanding of the consequences climate change and human actions have for the planet’s surface water resources. … Building on a project that combined thousands of years of computer time with millions of satellite images, the JRC’s Atlas of Global Surface Water Dynamics describes the important role that surface water plays for our planet’s climate and biodiversity, as well as virtually every aspect of our daily lives. … ”  Read more from Phys Org here:  First-of-its-kind surface water Atlas brings together 35 years of satellite data

Globalized economy making water, energy and land insecurity worse: study

The first large-scale study of the risks that countries face from dependence on water, energy and land resources has found that globalisation may be decreasing, rather than increasing, the security of global supply chains.  Countries meet their needs for goods and services through domestic production and international trade. As a result, countries place pressures on natural resources both within and beyond their borders. … ”  Read more from Phys Org here: Globalized economy making water, energy and land insecurity worse: study

WaterWorld: America’s first water sommelier believes that the more we think about what we drink, the more we will care about the planet. But first, he has to get people to take him seriously.

” … there’s another man in Hollywood talking about water and the ways we can learn from it. The ways we should—must!—pay attention to it. Sure, how these men discuss one of Earth’s most precious natural resources is more different than alike, and yes, one man is known for a hand in the shape of a fist while the other has his around a glass. But like Lee, that man wasn’t raised in the United States. Like Lee, that man has sometimes been the subject of jokes. And unfortunately for him, the jokes come easily when they hear that he, Martin Riese, is America’s first water sommelier, curating menus and tastings around what he calls “the most important beverage on the planet.” … ”  Read more from AFAR here:  WaterWorld: America’s first water sommelier believes that the more we think about what we drink, the more we will care about the planet. But first, he has to get people to take him seriously.

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

WATER PLAN eNEWS: ~~Water Resilience~ Resiliency Program~ RISE Website~ Peer Network~ Groundwater Exchange~ RCIS Symposium~~

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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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