Sims Bridge, Sacramento River. Photo by Carol Underhill

DAILY DIGEST, weekend edition: Delta water flows into restored marsh for first time since 1800s; Trump signs nutria bill; Feds fall short of Trump forest protection goals; Tragedy, triage and triumph in Putah Creek; DWP begins enviro review of Grant Lake Reservoir spillway project; and more …

In California water news this weekend …

San Francisco estuary flows into restored marsh for first time since 1800s

The first phase of a highly touted tidal marsh recovery plan was completed this week when a levee was breached and the restored marsh area was reconnected to the San Francisco Bay estuary for the first time since the late 1800s.  The first phase of the Montezuma Wetlands Restored Tidal Marsh Project was completed Tuesday. … ”  Read the Daily Republic here: San Francisco estuary flows into restored marsh for first time since 1800s

Nutria — they’re big, buck-toothed and chew up California wetlands. Now feds add money to fight them

The pesky 3-foot-long, buck-toothed nutria is getting the better of California.  The large rodent is chewing up rivers and wetlands and threatening to mow down farmland and infrastructure, and the state is struggling to contain it. The animal’s dizzying rate of reproduction doesn’t help: A single female has been known to give rise to 100 offspring in a year.  Relief may be on the way. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  Nutria — they’re big, buck-toothed and chew up California wetlands. Now feds add money to fight them

SEE ALSOTrump signs law to give California more help eradicating giant swamp rodents

Federal agencies fall short of Trump forest protection goals

Nearly two years ago, President Donald Trump stood amid the smoky ruins of Paradise, California, where he blamed the deadliest wildfire in the state’s history on poor forest management.  “You’ve got to take care of the floors, you know? The floors of the forest, very important,” the president said.  He ordered the U.S. Forest Service and the Department of Interior to make federal lands less susceptible to catastrophic wildfires with measures such as removing dead trees, underbrush and other potentially flammable materials. … ”  Read more from the AP via the Star Tribune here: Federal agencies fall short of Trump forest protection goals

FERC declaratory order finding waiver of CA section 401 authority re: Merced River challenged in Ninth Circuit; New request for waiver of CWA section 401 authority filed at FERC

The California State Water Resources Control Board (Water Board) and a group of environmental organizations, including California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, Friends of the River, and Sierra Club and its Tehipite Chapter, each have filed a petition for review with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Ninth Circuit) of FERC orders finding that the Water Board waived its authority under section 401 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) to issue a water quality certification (WQC) in the ongoing relicensing of Merced Irrigation District’s (Merced) Merced River and Merced Falls Projects.  Merced filed its request for determination of waiver in response to the D.C. Circuit’s decision in Hoopa Valley Tribe v. FERC and FERC’s subsequent declaratory order in Placer County Water Agency.  FERC issued its waiver determination on June 18, 2020 and a Notice of Denial of Rehearings by Operation of Law on August 20, 2020. … ”  Read more from the National Law Review here: FERC declaratory order finding waiver of CA section 401 authority re: Merced River challenged in Ninth Circuit; New request for waiver of CWA section 401 authority filed at FERC

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Podcasts …

WATER BUFFS PODCAST:  Studying the Snowpack in a Changing Climate

Water Desk Director Mitch Tobin talks to Noah Molotch, Director of the Center for Water Earth Science & Technology (CWEST) at the University of Colorado Boulder, about the importance of snow to our water supply and what the future may hold for the American West’s snowpack.


PODCAST:  Working to restore water – latest strategies in the Mattole and Redwood Creek Watersheds

Sanctuary Forest and the Salmonid Restoration Federation radio hour on Thursday, Oct 8 to discuss outcomes from Mattole pilot water projects and current strategies for restoring flows. Tasha McKee, Water Program Director for Sanctuary Forest and Dana Stolzman, executive director for the Salmonid Restoration Federation will be joined by Joel Monschke, Engineer/Geomorphologist for Stillwater Sciences.  Topics will include lessons learned from this extreme drought and fire year of 2020 as well as the past 20 years of research and experimentation in the Mattole headwaters. Salmonid Restoration Federation will discuss their proposed Marshall Ranch Streamflow Enhancement Project and provide background on the studies that informed the design.


INGRAINED PODCAST: Refuge

Like clockwork every fall and winter, Sacramento Valley rice country welcomes millions of visitors. They’re here for several months, to rest and refuel, before continuing on their epic annual journey.  The millions of visitors are ducks, geese, shorebirds and many other birds that make the annual trek along the Pacific Flyway. Some come from as far north as Alaska and the Arctic and travel as far south as Chile and Argentina.  A fantastic way to view our seasonal visitors are wildlife refuges, and there are several outstanding options in the Sacramento Valley.”  Listen below or read here.


WATER IS A MANY SPLENDOR’ED THING PODCAST:  Water is Gold

Steve Baker writes, “A wonderful opportunity for a student is to work with scientists that have a genuine love of the earth sciences. I did this during the later years of my geologic studies while attending the Ohio State University. Years later, I had the good fortune to meet Marcia McNutt, the former director of the US Geologic Survey. She shared with me the scope of the Geologic Survey and how water fits into their mission. Water is a Many Splendor’ed Thing brings you another water relationship that has a personally significant impact to your life.”  Produced by Steven Baker, Operation Unite® Bringing People Together to Solve Water Problems, Online at www.operationunite.co


H2whOa! PODCAST: Where Does Water Come From?

In this episode of H2whOa!, hosts Dr. Elizabeth Dougherty and Dr. Ted Hullar get to the bottom of where water comes from with material physicist and Stanford Research Scientist Dr. Arianna Gleason and Native American psychologist and healer Dr. Lewis Mehl-Madrone!

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In regional water news this weekend …

2020 declared the ‘third driest water year’ for Lake Mendocino

In terms of rainfall, the year 2020 is officially the third driest year for Lake Mendocino, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers confirmed Friday.  According to USACE staff, “Water Year 2020,” which includes precipitation from Oct. 1, 2019 to Sept. 3, 2020, is “the third driest year on record for the northern part of the watershed,” or Russian River Basin. By Sept. 3, the basin had received 37.46 inches of precipitation, or 48 percent of average. … ”  Read more from the Ukiah Daily Journal here: 2020 declared the ‘third driest water year’ for Lake Mendocino

The Napa River was an ‘open cesspool’ for a century, then NapaSan came along

Napa Sanitation District is marking a county-transfiguring anniversary—it formed 75 years ago to turn the Napa River from an “open cesspool” with raw sewage into a water recreation draw.  Signs of success abound. Several kayakers launched into the Napa River on a recent day at the city of Napa’s Main Street dock. They weren’t holding their noses.  Paddleboarding and kayaking would be unappealing — not to mention unhealthy — without NapaSan’s contribution. Businesses such as Drew Dickson’s Napa Valley Paddle wouldn’t be here. … ”  Read more from the Napa Register here: The Napa River was an ‘open cesspool’ for a century, then NapaSan came along

El Dorado Irrigation District peruses $225.3 million in improvements

The El Dorado Irrigation District Board of Directors considered $225.3 million in capital improvements at Monday’s meeting that would be paid through a combination of rates and borrowing.  Funds would be spent over five years, 2021-25, although EID typically only spends 70-80% of what’s planned.  Going through infrastructure improvements planned, in 2021 Flume 30 will be replaced at a cost of $10.3 million. Other flumes slated for replacement between 2022 and 2025 are flumes 4, 45, 45A, 46A, 47A, 47B and 52A at a cost of $9.5 million. … ”  Read more from the Mountain Democrat here: El Dorado Irrigation District peruses $225.3 million in improvements

Sacramento: How testing sewage could help slow the spread of COVID-19

All across the country, counties, colleges and other communities are now testing sewage to monitor the spread of the novel coronavirus. According to experts, COVID-19 can show up in wastewater about a week before people even show symptoms.  “Just think of it as, this is a community-wide urine and fecal test,” said Craig Johnson. … ”  Read more from KCRA here: How testing sewage could help slow the spread of COVID-19

Putah Creek:  Tragedy, triage and triumph

Wildlife in the upper Putah Creek watershed was devastated by the LNU Complex Fire, which started on Aug. 17, was finally extinguished on Oct. 2, and grew to be the fourth-largest in California history. However, the oak woodlands in this region have evolved with fire, and with natural resiliency and a little support from local agencies, recovery is expected.  Ignited by lightning, the LNU Complex Fire charred 363, 220 acres. It destroyed 1,491 structures. It claimed five human lives. These statistics, related to human losses, help us understand the magnitude of the tragedy. But the tragedy wasn’t ours alone. The fire’s impact on nature is less publicized. … ”  Read more from the Winters Express here:  Tragedy, triage and triumph

Santa Cruz: ‘It’s gone to the ground’: Big Basin Water Co. struggles to recover from fire

On a brisk fall morning in downtown Boulder Creek, residents dash in and out of shops, as the sun lifts above the horizon. The air is clear, but the impact of August’s CZU Lightning Complex Fire lingers.  John Arrasjid fills two 5-gallon jugs from a water fill-up station at the San Lorenzo Valley Water District. It’s become a semi-daily routine for him and hundreds of others who lost their drinking water as a result of the wildfire.  “We’re on the edge of civilization, right by the park area, and it feels like you’re not getting all the information,” Arrasjid said. “We feel like we’ve been kind of orphaned by the government.” … ”  Read more from the Santa Cruz Sentinel here:  ‘It’s gone to the ground’: Big Basin Water Co. struggles to recover from fire

Monterey:  Public water buyout EIR certified

In a critical step for the proposed public takeover of California American Water’s Monterey-area water system, the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District’s board of directors on Thursday night certified the final environmental impact report for the effort.  But the water district board also unanimously postponed approval of proposed operations and contract management plans to allow changes before final adoption.  By a 6-1 vote, the water board agreed in Thursday’s special meeting to certify the 430-page final EIR for the potential acquisition and operation of the 40,000-customer local water system a week and a half after the board agreed to delay its consideration to allow board members more time to digest the document. … ”  Read more from the Monterey Herald here: Public water buyout EIR certified

State Water Board orders mandatory solution for East Orosi

After more than a decade of East Orosi residents struggling without clean drinking water, the State Water Board on Tuesday took a huge and critically necessary step by issuing a mandatory consolidation order for a neighboring district to connect East Orosi to safe water, ushering in the long-overdue promise of safe drinking water for the marginalized Tulare County community. … ”  Read more from the Community Water Center here:  State Water Board Orders Mandatory Solution for Central Valley Community Denied Clean Water for Years

DWP begins environmental review of Grant Lake Reservoir spillway project

Los Angeles Department of Water and Power officials Friday announced the beginning of the environmental review process of a project that would control water flow from Grant Lake Reservoir in the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains.  DWP officials said the undertaking of a new spillway gate structure to control flow from the lake through Rush Creek and into Mono Lake will be one of the largest environmental restoration projects in the Mono Basin.  “LADWP’s work in conservation and restoration provides a roadmap on how to face the challenge of preserving California’s natural resources for future generations,” said Cynthia McClain-Hill, president of the Board of Water and Power Commissioners. “We are proud to invest in innovative infrastructure, support programs that decrease water usage and prioritize environmental restoration and enhancement projects.” … ”  Read more from NBC LA here: DWP begins environmental review of Grant Lake Reservoir spillway project

Paso Robles:  Fort Hunter Liggett leads the way in Army Reserve energy and water resiliency

U.S. Army Garrison Fort Hunter Liggett (USAG FHL), the largest Army Reserve-funded installation, is positioned to achieve energy and water resilience in the next two years due to its long term planning efforts during the last decade. The garrison has won several energy and water management awards for its multi-strategic program effectiveness and annual cost avoidance of millions of dollars. … ”  Read more from the Paso Robles Daily News here: Fort Hunter Liggett leads the way in Army Reserve energy and water resiliency 

La Nina: Moderate to strong climate event predicted this year, meaning possibly drier conditions in SoCal

Global climate experts are predicting a moderate to strong La Niña weather event this year, meaning a stormy season for most parts of the world but possibly drier-than-normal conditions in Southern California.  A La Niña usually means a more active Atlantic hurricane season with potentially stronger storms.  In the eastern Pacific Ocean, La Niña is expected to be moderate to strong this season, according to the World Meteorological Organization. … ”  Read more from KABC here: La Nina: Moderate to strong climate event predicted this year, meaning possibly drier conditions in SoCal

It will feel like fall ‘quite suddenly’ next weekend in the L.A. region. Will there be rain?

The Los Angeles region will be warm, dry and breezy next week, with a significant cool-down next weekend, the National Weather Service said.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s temperature outlook favors below-normal temperatures for much of the West from November 6-10.  Generally weak offshore winds will bring brief elevated to critical fire conditions to Southern California through Monday, especially in wind-favored areas such as below passes and canyons. That will be followed by a short break, then a return to offshore winds Wednesday and Thursday, according to Tom Fisher, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  It will feel like fall ‘quite suddenly’ next weekend in the L.A. region. Will there be rain?

Fight for Ballona Wetlands pits environmental groups against gas company

Preserving and protecting the Ballona Wetlands in West Los Angeles has been a topic of discussion for decades.  With more than 95% of California’s coastal wetlands destroyed by urban development, the Ballona Wetlands have taken on deeper importance.  In the 1960s, when construction of Marina del Rey started, crews needed a place to dump more than three million cubic yards of dredge fill. The wetlands were chosen as the dumping grounds, raising the elevation in the area by as much as 15 feet and destroying more than 900 acres in the process. … ”  Read more from Spectrum News here: Fight for Ballona Wetlands pits environmental groups against gas company

Riverside County:  Is the county putting our wells at risk? asks Bill Donahue, resident of Sage

He writes, “The goal of this legislation is to develop a plan to manage our groundwater in a sustainable manner. Public water utilities such as Eastern Municipal Water District have implemented these Groundwater Sustainability Plans.  A significant portion of Riverside County residents, however, live in areas that are dependent upon well water and not covered by any of these plans. The northern end of Sage Road is both outside the boundary of the adjudicated Santa Margarita River Watershed and the jurisdiction of any public water utility. Some areas of Anza and Terwilliger are also not currently governed by any groundwater sustainability plan. Riverside County opted out of the state’s groundwater sustainability plan in 2017.  There has long been speculation that the massive number of illegal cannabis grows in the area has negatively impacted the groundwater levels. … ”  Read more from Valley News here:  Is the county putting our wells at risk?

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In commentary this weekend …

The cost of the Delta tunnel threatens SoCal’s water future, says Doug Obegi

He writes, “Amidst everything going on in the world these days, it’s easy to miss that the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (Met) is in the process of setting the course for Southern California’s water future, through a process called the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP). The IRP is intended to be a road map that will guide Met’s investments over the next 25 years, helping the Board of Directors to make choices about how to plan to meet demand for water in an environmentally responsible and cost-effective way. Encouragingly, Southern California is well positioned to thrive for the next few decades with significantly less imported water than today, by investing in local water supply projects that create drought resilient water supplies and create good paying local jobs. ... ”  Read more from the NRDC here: The cost of the Delta tunnel threatens SoCal’s water future

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In national water news this weekend …

The future’s fires are raging today, torching scientists’ earlier predictions

Scientists say the size and intensity of wildfires that we’re seeing today is alarming because it’s what they were predicting would happen 30 years down the road – not right now.   Researchers in California say this year’s wildfire destruction was expected to happen much later this century. Instead, the number of scorched acres in the state doubled from 2018. … ”  Read more from KUNR here: The future’s fires are raging today, torching scientists’ earlier predictions

Ex-official blows whistle on Army Corps’ dam program

It wasn’t long after the Army Corps of Engineers hired Judith Marshall to lead its environmental compliance that she realized she had a problem.  The Army Corps had no intention of complying with environmental laws, she said.  Marshall joined the corps’ Portland, Ore., office in 2011 to manage several projects, including the agency’s 13 dams in the Willamette River Basin.  She quickly learned that the corps was out of compliance with several major environmental laws for virtually all of them. For some, the corps analysis was four decades old.  “I’m in crazy land,” Marshall recalled thinking. … ”  Read more from E&E News here: Ex-official blows whistle on Army Corps’ dam program

USGS unveils mobile flood tool for the nation

The new USGS National Water Dashboard, or NWD, provides critical information to decision-makers, emergency managers and the public during flood events, informing decisions that can help protect lives and property.  “The National Water Dashboard is a much-needed advancement that will help keep communities across the country safe during extreme weather conditions,” said Tim Petty, Ph.D., Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary for Water and Science, from an agricultural round table with the Water Subcabinet in Janesville, Wisconsin. “The development of a comprehensive tool that can provide real-time, critical information on mobile devices is great news for areas in our country that are prone to flooding or drought. In addition to giving the public key information on what’s happening in their communities, it will also help improve the response of federal, state and local agencies during storms, floods and drought conditions.” … ”  Read more from USGS here: USGS unveils mobile flood tool for the nation

Should the public have access to documents that show why the federal government changed its stance on the impact an EPA rule would have on vulnerable species?  That’s the question the Supreme Court will set out to answer Monday in the case Fish and Wildlife Service v. Sierra Club, which deals with a Freedom of Information Act request for documents underpinning a 2014 rule for cooling water intake structures at power plants.  At the heart of the battle is a draft biological opinion in which FWS found that a proposed version of the rule would jeopardize endangered species. EPA ultimately revised the rule, and FWS determined that the new version posed no harm. ... ”  Read more from E&E News here:  Enviros and industry fight feds in Supreme Court FOIA case

Water disruption: Investment risk from multiple angles

There is a lot of talk about how regulatory reforms connected to climate change will impact financial markets. However, we firmly believe the leading issue, at the end of the day, is that we have been entrusted to look after our clients’ assets and are responsible for returning those assets in better condition than when we received them. Therefore, we have a duty to understand the full spectrum of business relevant risks that can reshape a company’s or sector’s competitive positioning in the marketplace and impact its operational resiliency. … ”  Read more from Seeking Alpha here: Water disruption: Investment risk from multiple angles

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

More on the Delta tunnel validation lawsuit: Coverage, commentary, and legal documents

And lastly …

10 of the best hot springs in the United States (2 here in CA)

No matter the season, natural hot springs offer relaxing, geothermal waters in often scenic settings. Across the country, you can find hot springs to fit every travel preference, whether you’re looking to take a dip in nature after a hike or prefer a spa-like experience. From Alaskan pools that are perfect for viewing the northern lights to the national park named for its geothermal waters, here are 10 of the best hot springs in the United States.  … ”  Read more from Travel & Leisure here: 10 of the best hot springs in the United States (2 here in CA)

 

Sunday video …

Big Sur …

Video by Andrew Julian.

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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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