DAILY DIGEST, 11/2: How four years of Trump reshaped food and farming; Forest management: easier said than done; Near-record warmth to bake Southwest ahead of big cooldown; The opportunity of non-revenue water; and more …



In California water news today …

How four years of Trump reshaped food and farming

In the midst of a global pandemic, a rushed Supreme Court confirmation, and a reckoning with racial justice, food and farming have been on the back burner in the 2020 presidential election.  And yet, many of the policies that determine how we produce and access food are inextricably linked to the issues that are in the spotlight. COVID-19 has had devastating impacts on farm and meatpacking workers, for example, and its effects on the economy have increased food insecurity, especially in communities of color, to unprecedented levels. … ”  Read more from Civil Eats here: How four years of Trump reshaped food and farming

Why is prime agricultural land important, and what measures are in place to keep it?

Prime agricultural land is a broad term that means different things to different regulatory agencies. To one, it means high-quality soil suitable for cultivation. To another, it’s high-quality farmland that is actively irrigated and cultivated. And to a third, it’s farmland that exceeds a production threshold of as low as $200 an acre annually.  But regardless of the nitty-gritty definition, prime agricultural land is a big part of the rural character of places with long histories of agricultural production—like San Benito County.  The benefits of prime agricultural land are not strictly related to the cultivation of crops. Agricultural land provides a watershed for groundwater, a habitat for many species, and can act as a carbon reservoir. It can also provide more immediate benefits to the community. … ”  Read more from Benito Link here: Why is prime agricultural land important, and what measures are in place to keep it?

New precision ag project would help farmers measure plant moisture

One of the biggest challenges in managing crops, especially in large fields, is knowing how much water each section of a field needs. Determining that accurately is a cumbersome process that requires people to hand-pluck individual leaves from plants, put them in pressure chambers and apply air pressure to see when water begins to leak from the leaf stems.  That kind of testing is time consuming and means that farmers can only reach so many areas of a field each day and cannot test as frequently as they should. … ”  Read more from UC Merced here: New precision ag project would help farmers measure plant moisture

As Western fires burn, focus narrows on forest management. But it’s easier said than done

In June of 2002, nearly half a million acres burned in the Arizona high country. At the time, the Rodeo-Chediski Fire was the largest wildfire in the state’s history. There was too much fuel in the forest, a buildup that began more than a century ago. Enough people saw the record-breaking fire and agreed that something needed to be done to prevent the next big fire.  But correcting mistakes of the past is often tougher than it sounds. Almost two decades later, those involved in responding to the Rodeo-Chediski say they’re still learning what it will take to get ahead of wildfires, and the effects they have on headwater forests. … ”  Read more from KPBS here: As Western fires burn, focus narrows on forest management. But it’s easier said than done

Near-record warmth to bake southwestern US this week ahead of big cooldown

“The above-average warmth sweeping across a large part of the United States this week will be most intense across the Southwest, where records will be challenged for consecutive days. But, the clock is ticking on how long the heat will stick around.  Air conditioners will continue to get a workout across the region through the first week of November as temperatures climb 10-15 degrees Fahrenheit above average. … ”  Read more from Yahoo News here:  Near-record warmth to bake southwestern US this week ahead of big cooldown

The politics of climate change largely set aside in pandemic year

California is enduring unprecedented wildfires. San Diego’s Valley Fire was the largest locally, with scores of homes and 16,000 acres left blackened by the flames.  “Warmer temperatures, drier fuels led to these extreme fires seasons,” said Tom Corringham, a researcher at the Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.  “This year being an example in the western U.S.,” Corringham said. “We still have fires burning now in Colorado. We have fires in California at historical levels of acres burned.” … ”  Read more from KPBS here: The politics of climate change largely set aside in pandemic year

In regional water news this weekend …

Marin salmon monitors get new tracking tool

Marin County biologists have obtained a new antenna they say will bolster recovery efforts for the critically endangered and largest remaining population of Central California Coast coho salmon.  Using a system of radio tags and electrical fields, the equipment is expected to give researchers more accurate counts of coho salmon that will return to Lagunitas Creek to spawn beginning later this month as well as the young salmon leaving the creek and entering the ocean in the spring. … ”  Read more from the Marin Independent Journal here: Marin salmon monitors get new tracking tool

Bay Area:  Agency approves 2 new Measure AA projects for Solano region

The $1.61 million Montezuma Wetlands Restoration Project was the first to receive a Measure AA grant from the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority.  That was back in April 2018, and that project reached a milestone this week when a levee was breached to connect the wetlands area to the San Francisco Bay estuary.  Two more projects in the Solano County area have now been funded through the authority this year. … ”  Read more from the Daily Republic here:  Agency approves 2 new Measure AA projects for Solano region

Monterey Bay Research Institute nets part of $53 million science grant

The Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute is among key universities and science institutions splitting a $53 million grant to study the health of the world’s oceans.  The National Science Foundation approved a $53 million grant to a consortium of the country’s top ocean-research institutions to build a global network of chemical and biological sensors that will monitor ocean health. … ”  Read more from the Mercury News here:  Monterey Bay Research Institute nets part of $53 million science grant

A salamander vanishes: Disappearance of a species forecasts a desert-like future for the Central Coast

Have you ever imagined the Central Coast as a desert? If you stick around long enough, you may not have to: Climate change has already started painting a picture of a region where heat-trapping emissions reign, and the ecosystem has no choice but to adapt.  Scientists warn that if we remain on our current trajectory, what is now a dynamic stretch of the Pacific coast with a Mediterranean climate, vibrant tidepools and decades-old oak woodlands is on track to becoming a California desert tortoise sanctuary, where there are more days on average per year of temperatures exceeding 100 degrees than Las Vegas has now. … ”  Read more from Voices of Monterey Bay here:  A salamander vanishes: Disappearance of a species forecasts a desert-like future for the Central Coast

Assemis score another early win over Wonderful in Fresno-based pistachio case

Fresno Superior Court Judge Kimberly Gaab issued a 6-page ruling against the Wonderful Pistachios and Almonds company on Thursday saying the company, “engaged in unfair conduct that significantly harmed or threatened to harm competition in the (pistachio) industry.”  A lawsuit brought by Assemi Brothers, LLC. alleges Wonderful threatened to not only harm their pistachio growing business, but to harm or threaten competition in the pistachio industry as a whole. … ”  Read more from the San Joaquin Valley Sun here: Assemis score another early win over Wonderful in Fresno-based pistachio case

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In commentary today …

Delta tunnel project would secure California’s water future, says Jennifer Pierre, General Manager of the State Water Contractors

The Delta Conveyance Project is a necessary investment to secure California’s water future. Let’s face it, our climate is changing rapidly and becoming more unpredictable – wildfires are larger and more frequent, the seas are rising, droughts are lasting longer and storms are fiercer. The need for this project has never been clearer.  Delta conveyance is the movement of water through the network of waterways in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the hub of the State Water Project – California’s most critical water delivery infrastructure. … ”  Read more from Cal Matters here:  Delta tunnel project would secure California’s water future

State Senator Robert Hertzberg: What California can learn from Cape Town about water policy

Two years ago, Cape Town, South Africa, a city of 4 million people, informed its shocked citizens that the city was just a few months away from running out of water due to drought. It was a wake-up call for all of us to become much better stewards of our own water. Luckily, for Cape Towners, innovative water conservation and efficiency measures, smarter data use, expanded water storage, and help from Mother Nature all combined to help them avoid a major water shutoff.  California of course continues to have its own foreboding water challenges. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  What California can learn from Cape Town about water policy

Fight climate change, preserve nature in one stroke, says Jonathan Parfrey, Executive Director of Climate Resolve

He writes, “This week, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a first-in-the-nation pledge to protect 30% of the state’s land and water by 2030. This historic executive order will require significant conservation action from our leaders. Thankfully, numerous members of Congress are currently working to pass legislation to protect critical public lands and waters across the state which would help California meet our new “30×30” target. This legislation would in one stroke help safeguard biodiversity, contain wildfires, protect Californians, and sink carbon.  The Protecting America’s Wilderness Act (H.R. 2546) would protect and restore over one million acres of public lands and well over 500 miles of rivers throughout the state, including in Northwest California’s wild lands and along the Central Coast. … ”  Read more from Capitol Weekly here:  Fight climate change, preserve nature in one stroke

We must prepare for ARkStorm, says Crispin B. Hollinshead

He writes, “We may be heading into another drought, but must prepare for the alternative as well.  In November and December of 1861, heavy snowfall had covered the Sierra Nevada mountains of California. Beginning in late December, months of heavy warm rainfall, over 100″ in some areas, quickly melted the snow, flooding the entire Central Valley. A shallow inland sea formed, hundreds of miles long by dozens of miles wide, putting Sacramento under 10′ of water. During the 6 months it took for the water to subside, the capital moved to San Francisco, and California went bankrupt. Whites had never experienced this kind of flooding in California, but the native people moved out of the valley some weeks before the storms started. … ”  Read more at the Ukiah Journal here: We must prepare for ARkStorm

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In national water news today …

Non-revenue water: an opportunity for water utilities, now more than ever

It is no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the water industry. Revenue shortfalls from a decline in commercial and industrial water use and some residential customers struggling to pay bills are affecting utilities across the country. The service must go on, but in some cases the revenue lags. Conservative estimates from the National Association of Clean Water Agencies suggest the industry as a whole is expected to lose at least $12.5 billion due to the coronavirus when all is said and done.  Revenue concerns are spurring utilities to find new infrastructure investments that can help offset shortfalls. The persistent problem of non-revenue water (NRW) is a good place to start. … ”  Read more from Water Finance & Management here: Non-revenue water: an opportunity for water utilities, now more than ever

New report underscores cost impact of PFAS on POTWs, biosolids facilities

The National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) has released a new report by CDM Smith in collaboration with NACWA, the Water Environment Federation (WEF) and the North East Biosolids and Residuals Association (NEBRA) that quantifies the cost impacts of PFAS policies and regulations at 29 publicly owned treatment works (POTWs) and biosolids management facilities mainly located in the New England region but also in several other states throughout the country.  The report presents a comprehensive analysis of an in-depth survey created to help quantify these costs and operational impacts. … ”  Read more from Water Finance & Management here:  New report underscores cost impact of PFAS on POTWs, biosolids facilities

U.S. is a larger source of plastic pollution than previously thought, report finds

The United States generates more plastic waste than any other country in the world — producing 42 million metric tons, or 286 pounds per person, in 2016 alone, according to a new study published in the journal Science Advances. The research also found that the U.S. is the third-largest contributor of plastic pollution in coastal environments.  … ”  Read more from Yale E360 here: U.S. is a larger source of plastic pollution than previously thought, report finds

Weekend Daily Digest …

In California water news this weekend …

  • 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
  • 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
  • 2020 declared the ‘third driest water year’ for Lake Mendocino
  • The Napa River was an ‘open cesspool’ for a century, then NapaSan came along
  • Putah Creek: Tragedy, triage and triumph
  • State Water Board orders mandatory solution for East Orosi
  • DWP begins environmental review of Grant Lake Reservoir spillway project
  • Fight for Ballona Wetlands pits environmental groups against gas company
  • And more …

Click here for the weekend Daily Digest.

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National Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook …

monthly_seasonal_outlook

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

MONTHLY RESERVOIR REPORT for November 1st

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

FUNDING OPPORTUNITY: 2020 Pacific Flyway Conservation Proposal Solicitation Notice

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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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