DAILY DIGEST, 11/19: New habitat project completed to benefit Delta smelt; Delta smelt get a review, but no change in status; Kern farmers tapped for $14M to study delta tunnel; Lawsuit says water district responsible for Naya Rivera’s drowning; and more …



On the calendar today …

    • ONLINE MEETING: Delta Stewardship Council meets beginning at 9am.  Agenda items include a presentation on the draft findings of the Delta Adapts Vulnerability Assessment, an update on the Delta Levee Investment Strategy, and the Delta Lead Scientist Report.  Click here for the full agenda.
    • PUBLIC WORKSHOP: Residential Landscape Area Measurement Study 4th Quarter Technical Work Group meets from 9am to 1pm.  At this meeting, DWR will describe the Landscape Area Measurement data reports that are being delivered to water districts, review how water districts will use the web portal to access their data, and how to use the data. Attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions of the DWR technical team presenting the information. Register for the meeting by clicking this link: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/5039638344911813131.
    • ONLINE EVENT: Building a Water-Resilient California, part 3: Priorities for a water-resilient California from 11am to 12pm.  Priorities to improve the system’s ability to weather future disruptions.  Click here to register
    • WEBINAR: Microplastic Pollution: Structural Pollutant Meets Endocrine Disrupting Contaminant from 11am to 12pmClick here for more information and to register.
    • ONLINE MEETING, GRA NorCal: A Tale of Two Waters? Groundwater and Surface Water-an Interconnected Resource from 12pm to 1pm.  Groundwater and surface water are often treated as two different water resources, but groundwater and surface water regularly interact with one another, and should be managed as a single interconnected resource.  Click here for more information and to register.
    • MEETING: Delta Conveyance Design and Construction Authority, Board of Directors meets at 2pm.  For more information, click here.
    • ONLINE MEETING: The Delta Protection Commission meets at 4:00pm.   Agenda items include an update on the activities of the Delta Stewardship Council, Delta National Heritage Area, a report on Economic Sustainability Plan-Recreation and Tourism Chapter update and consideration of recommendations, and a report on DWR Proposition 1 Delta Levees funding and consider approval of letter to Delta legislators.  Click here for the full agenda and remote access instructions.
    • WEBINAR: Tijuana’s Transborder Wastewater Crisis and Managed Aquifer Recharge at 5pm.  Tony Daus from GSI Environmental Inc. will be presenting a talk titled Tijuana’s Transborder Wastewater Crisis And Managed Aquifer Recharge. Tony will provide an overview of the project and the hurdles to overcome in making the project a success. Click here for more information and to register.
    • Public Town Hall on the recruitment of Metropolitan Water District’s General Manager at 6pm.  Metropolitan Water District’s Board of Directors invites the public to help shape its search for a new general manager through participation in two virtual meetings.  The open forums are part of a broad engagement plan aimed at gathering input from the public, member agencies, businesses, environmental groups, employees and other stakeholders on the background, experience and qualities desired to successfully lead Metropolitan following the retirement of longtime General Manager Jeffrey Kightlinger. Register to attend one of the meetings here.

In California water news today …

Zero Delta smelt found in latest search. New habitat hopes to change that.

An annual search for a tiny endangered and contentious fish in the sprawling California Delta has once again come up empty.  The state’s annual Fall Midwater Trawl Survey found no delta smelt in September’s sampling of the critical waterway. The last time the rare fish turned up in a survey was in October 2017 when just two were found.  Hoping to reverse the recent trend, the Westlands Water District and the California Department of Water Resources announced the completion of a Delta habitat restoration project on Wednesday. … ”  Read more from GV Wire here:  Zero Delta smelt found in latest search. New habitat hopes to change that.

Westlands celebrates habitat restoration following third straight year of finding zero Delta Smelt

Westlands Water District announced Wednesday that it recently completed the Lower Yolo Restoration Project, which restored the habitat for fish and other wildlife species in part of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.  Westlands – which is based in Fresno and is the largest agricultural water district in the country – worked with the California Department of Water Resources and the Hallmark Group, a program management organization, to restore about 2,100 acres in the Lower Yolo Bypass. … ”  Read more from the San Joaquin Valley Sun here:  Westlands celebrates habitat restoration following third straight year of finding zero Delta Smelt

SEE ALSO:   Westlands completes wetland restoration in Yolo County, from The Business Journal

Delta smelt get a review, but no change in status

On November 16, 2020, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“USFWS”) published its annual review of species that are candidates for listing as either threatened or endangered species, its findings on resubmitted petitions for listing actions, and its annual description of progress on pending listing actions.  Among those pending listing actions are two petitions that are highly relevant for water agencies and water users in California – a petition to reclassify the delta smelt (Hypomesus transpacificus) and the pending listing of the longfin smelt (Spirinchus thaleichthys). … ”  Read more from Nossaman LLP here:  Delta smelt get a review, but no change in status

Kern farmers tapped for $14 million to study delta tunnel

Kern County farmers on Wednesday agreed to chip in $14 million over the next two years to kick off another attempt to move water through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta via tunnel.  The Kern County Water Agency board of directors voted unanimously to approve an agreement with the Department of Water Resources to pay $14 million over 2021 and 2020 as its initial share of the early planning and design phase for what’s now being called the Delta Conveyance Facility. … ”  Read more from SJV Water here:  Kern farmers tapped for $14 million to study delta tunnel

Q/A: How would the proposed Delta Conveyance Project address climate change in California?

In the third episode in the Delta Conveyance Deep Dive video series, we asked DWR climate change experts to explain the ways in which the Delta Conveyance Project addresses the challenges of a warming climate.  State climatologist Michael Anderson joined DWR as a river forecaster in the Division of Flood Management in 2005 and continues to work with the Hydrology and Flood Operations to this day.  … John Andrew is Assistant Deputy Director of the California Department of Water Resources. … The conversation was moderated by Patricia Clark, Associate Governmental Program Analyst in the Delta Conveyance Office. … ”  Read more or watch video from DWR here:  Q/A: How would the proposed Delta Conveyance Project address climate change in California?

Water district officials and others were negligent in Naya Rivera’s drowning, lawsuit says

As the actress Naya Rivera and her young son swam in Lake Piru in July, gusts of wind and currents likely pushed her rented boat away from her as she struggled to swim and eventually drowned, according to a wrongful-death lawsuit filed this week by the boy’s father and others.  Ryan Dorsey, Rivera’s former boyfriend, filed the lawsuit Tuesday on behalf of the boy, who was four at the time. In it, he claims the United Water Conservation District, which operates the lake, as well as Ventura County and the boat rental company failed to properly warn against the dangers of swimming in the lake and to provide adequate safety equipment on the rented pontoon boat. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: Water district officials and others were negligent in Naya Rivera’s drowning, lawsuit says

Well water throughout California contaminated with ‘forever chemicals’

In the weeks before the coronavirus began tearing through California, the city of Commerce made an expensive decision: It shut down part of its water supply.  Like nearly 150 other public water systems in California, the small city on the outskirts of Los Angeles had detected “forever chemicals” in its well water.   Used for decades to make non-stick and waterproof coatings, firefighting foams and food packaging, these industrial chemicals — per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances or PFAS — have been linked to kidney cancer and other serious health conditions.  … The discovery forced Commerce to choose between two bad options: keep serving the contaminated water, or shut the well down and import water at more than double the cost. … ”  Read more from Cal Matters here:  Well water throughout California contaminated with ‘forever chemicals’

What happens when a rural area’s only well is contaminated?

In the spring of 2013, Jocelyn Walters moved Nativearth, her family’s small shoe business, into a warehouse in Mariposa Industrial Park that gave them more space to grow.  But there was one quirk of the new space she hadn’t foreseen. … ”  Read more from Cal Matters here:  What happens when a rural area’s only well is contaminated?

Grazing and riparian restoration are compatible when you put in the work

With a little time and effort, rangeland managers can have a dramatic impact on the resilience of California’s riparian areas, which are important to the state’s human, environmental and economic well-being. Rangeland ecologists at the University of California, Davis, found that when ranchers invest even one week a year in practices that keep cows away from creeks — like herding, fencing and providing supplemental nutrition and water — they can improve riparian health by as much as 53 percent. … ”  Read more from UC Davis here:  Grazing and riparian restoration are compatible when you put in the work

Wildlife Conservation Board funds Environmental Improvement and Acquisition Projects

At its Nov. 18, 2020 quarterly meeting, the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) approved approximately $19 million in grants to help restore and protect fish and wildlife habitat throughout California. Some of the 26 approved projects will benefit fish and wildlife — including some endangered species — while others will provide public access to important natural resources. Several projects will also demonstrate the importance of protecting working landscapes that integrate economic, social and environmental stewardship practices beneficial to the environment, landowners and the local community. … ”  Read more from the Department of Fish and Wildlife here: Wildlife Conservation Board funds Environmental Improvement and Acquisition Projects

Reclaiming, restoring and preserving indigenous relationship with the land

“The third and final season of “Tending Nature” connects us back to the Earth. It brings us to diverse environments across California, including the northern coastal prairies, springs in the Mojave Desert, fertile soil in the Capay Valley, and even the Presidio of San Francisco, an oasis of green space flanked by urban neighborhoods. Native tribal leaders, scientists, activists, and elders demonstrate how traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) helps protect and restore culturally and ecologically significant landscapes and how it provides a critical perspective when examining today’s environmental challenges, including climate change, development, and sustainable farming. … ”  Read more from KCET here: Reclaiming, restoring and preserving indigenous relationship with the land

Higher atmospheric thirst from climate change to increase fire danger and drought in California and Nevada

Since the start of the 21st century California and Nevada have suffered extreme wildland fires and droughts that have caused devastating impacts to ecosystems and society. A common feature of these events has been very high evaporative demand—the “thirst” of the atmosphere—which has largely been driven by increased air temperatures caused by anthropogenic climate change. New research, funded by the National Integrated Drought Information System and the California-Nevada Applications Program (CNAP), a CPO RISA team, shows that climate change projections point to increases in evaporative demand, fire danger and drought in California and Nevada. … ”  Read more from the Climate Program Office here: Higher atmospheric thirst from climate change to increase fire danger and drought in California and Nevada

Amid destruction on West Coast, Senate looks at wildfire-prevention bills

This summer, smoke from wildfires that burned hundreds of thousands of acres on the West Coast, stained midday skies across America in a hazy orange hue. Wednesday, U.S. Senators heard testimony from experts on how to prevent those aggressive flames from devastating future communities.  The Senate subcommittee focused on oversight of the nation’s lands and forest and mining operations met to hear testimony on more than a dozen pending bills, chief among them being the National Prescribed Fire Act of 2020. … ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service here:  Amid destruction on West Coast, Senate looks at wildfire-prevention bills

Trump administration reduces wildfire risk by record 5.4 million acres

The Department of the Interior announced today that it has once again made substantial progress in Fiscal Year 2020 to reduce the risk of wildfire nationwide by treating a ten-year best 1.5 million acres of public lands. In continued efforts to reduce wildfire risk across much of the United States, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has exceeded yearly milestones to ensure National Wildlife Refuge System lands remain healthy, resilient and accessible to the public. The Service completed a significant amount of fuels treatments in FY2020 to reduce hazardous fuel loads, provide wildfire suppression efforts across the country, and increase protection of local communities surrounding fire-prone areas. … ”  Read more from the US FWS here:  Trump administration reduces wildfire risk by record 5.4 million acres

Trump administration strengthens rapid response to invasive mussels to protect Western waters

The Trump Administration today announced a new interagency conservation agreement to protect western water supplies, power generation, outdoor recreation and aquatic ecosystems by strengthening efforts to combat invasive mussels.  A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) among the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, and six Department of the Interior bureaus focuses on boosting federal coordination, communication and collaboration to enhance the capacity of federal, state and tribal agencies to rapidly respond to discoveries of invasive mussels in western states. … ”  Read more from the Department of the Interior here: Trump administration strengthens rapid response to invasive mussels to protect Western waters

EPA invites California to apply for $695 million in water infrastructure loans

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is inviting three state agencies to apply for a total of $695 million in Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loans through EPA’s new state infrastructure financing authority WIFIA (SWIFIA) program. This funding will help states finance infrastructure projects to improve water quality and protect public health in communities across the United States. For this round, California, Iowa, and Rhode Island are invited to apply for funding.  “The SWIFIA program will help finance over $3.2 billion in water infrastructure investments across the states of California, Iowa, and Rhode Island, while creating more than 2,000 jobs,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “It’s another example of the Trump Administration’s commitment to building clean water infrastructure across the country.” … ”  Read more from the US EPA here:  EPA invites California to apply for $695 million in water infrastructure loans

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In regional water news and commentary today …

America’s largest dam removal project has been brought back to life with a new agreement among California, Oregon, tribes and a utility owned by billionaire Warren Buffett.  The decadeslong effort to remove four dams on the Klamath River in Northern California that have had a devastating impact on salmon runs had appeared in danger following an unexpected July regulatory order. But in an emotional and triumphant online press conference yesterday, major stakeholders praised a new agreement that could mean the dams start coming down in 2023. … ”  Read more from E&E News here:  Historic deal refreshes plans for Klamath dam removal

Heavy snowfall, 100 mph winds batter Lake Tahoe area

The winter storm front that brought rain to the San Francisco Bay Area was triggering high winds, slow travel and as much as a foot of new snow in the Lake Tahoe region on Wednesday.  The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning for the Tahoe basin and the surrounding ski resorts until at least 6 p.m. Wednesday. … ”  Read more from KPIX here: Heavy snowfall, 100 mph winds batter Lake Tahoe area

Bay Area:  First rain of season unveils a new pollution problem: masks and gloves — pandemic PPE

The Bay Area’s first rain of the season is washing away worries of wildfire and drought. But it’s also bringing a new concern: gobs of face masks flooding San Francisco Bay.  Early season storms typically sweep a slurry of debris from streets and sidewalks into rivers, creeks and bays. This year, the fall flush not only contains the usual gunk, waste experts say, but a whole lot of discarded PPE — or personal protective equipment, the detritus of the pandemic. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  Bay Area:  First rain of season unveils a new pollution problem: masks and gloves — pandemic PPE

Santa Clara County: Valley Water releases draft master plan for water reuse

Each year record-setting temperatures and extreme weather alert us to the impacts of climate change. Unanticipated lightning storms in August 2020 incited wildfires across the Bay Area region impacting thousands of people. It has never been more evident that California’s changing climate threatens our natural resources. As the water resource manager for Santa Clara County, Valley Water works diligently to secure a safe, reliable water supply for Silicon Valley in a sustainable manner that protects our environment. That’s why water reuse is a critical strategy to the agency’s future water supply outlook. … ”  Read more from Valley Water here:  Santa Clara County: Valley Water releases draft master plan for water reuse

San Luis Obispo County removes 37,000 acres from Paso groundwater pumping moratorium

Fewer properties over the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin will be subject to severe water restrictions after the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors voted on Nov. 17 to revise the basin’s “area of severe decline,” eliminating roughly 37,000 acres.  The map change means that those properties removed from the “red zone” are now eligible to pump up to 5 acre-feet of groundwater per year (AFY) as an exception to a basin-wide moratorium on new pumping. … ”  Read more from New Times SLO here:  San Luis Obispo County removes 37,000 acres from Paso groundwater pumping moratorium

Montecito Planning Commission supports plan to keep debris nets in creeks through 2023

The Montecito Planning Commission on Wednesday unanimously supported a development plan to keep debris nets in Montecito creeks for three additional years, which could protect the community against future debris flows in burn areas while the fire-scarred vegetation within the watershed recovers.  Six debris control nets now are scheduled to be removed by Dec. 21, 2023. … ”  Read more from Noozhawk here:  Montecito Planning Commission supports plan to keep debris nets in creeks through 2023

Rindge Dam removal one step closer

More good news in the dam removal world for Rindge Dam comes today following the monumental decision yesterday when PacifiCorp and Warren Buffet have agreed to the full terms of dam removal on the Klamath River, thus clearing a major obstacle in the long, concerted effort to restore one of California’s largest watershedsThe Commanding General of the US Army Corp of Engineers recently signed the Malibu Creek Ecosystem Restoration project cheif’s report which elevates the report to the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, U.S. Office of Management and Budget, and to Congress for consideration of project authorization. … ”  Read more from Cal Trout here:  Rindge Dam removal one step closer

Major changes to Poway’s water system in works

The Poway City Council approved several initial steps at Tuesday night’s meeting which could lead to a massive water improvement program for the city.  The improvement program, if completed, would be the largest capital improvement program Poway has ever undertaken, said Shadi Sami, principal civil engineer for the city.  The program consists of several parts, but would ultimately replace the city’s existing, decades-old clear well with new storage reservoirs. … ”  Read more from he San Diego Union-Tribune here:  Major changes to Poway’s water system in works

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Along the Colorado River …

Colorado River users expect Biden to put focus on climate change

The incoming Biden administration will lead efforts to craft a new water-management regime for the seven-state Colorado River Basin, and people involved in the process expect any changes to reflect the impact of climate change in the basin.  The Bureau of Reclamation, under the Interior Department, will lead negotiations to replace 13-year-old interim guidelines used to operate the basin’s two major reservoirs, Lake Powell and Lake Mead. The Interior secretary also manages the lower basin, containing all the water below Hoover Dam. … ”  Read more from Bloomberg Law here:  Colorado River users expect Biden to put focus on climate change

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In national water news today …

Different models, different answers in water resource planning

Effective management of water resources depends on accurately predicting future water supplies and demands that regularly fluctuate because of population growth, climate change, and many other factors. To deal with large uncertainties in these considerations, water resource planners often use what is known as a scenario-neutral approach in their projections.  In contrast to scenario-driven methods, which assess the potential effects of specific, model-derived conditions, a scenario-neutral approach uses sensitivity analysis to determine which input factors, such as seasonal precipitation and population growth, most affect performance. … Now Quinn et al. question whether this approach is truly scenario neutral.  … ”  Read more from EOS here: Different models, different answers in water resource planning

Who will lead Biden’s EPA?

Farm Futures blogger Gary Baise, an Illinois farmer and trial attorney at the law firm Olsson Frank Weeda Terman Matz PLC who served as the chief of staff to the first EPA administrator, previewed President-Elect Joe Biden’s EPA review team in a recent column. We decided to check the web to see who was being considered for the top seat at the agency now lead by Administrator Andrew Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist. Baise, by the law, organized President Trump’s agricultural team of advisers. … ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press here:  Who will lead Biden’s EPA?

Trump pushes new environmental rollbacks on way out the door

Down to its final weeks, the Trump administration is working to push through dozens of environmental rollbacks that could weaken century-old protections for migratory birds, expand Arctic drilling and hamstring future regulation of public health threats.  The pending changes, which benefit oil and gas and other industries, deepen the challenges for President-elect Joe Biden, who made restoring and advancing protections for the environment, climate and public health a core piece of his campaign. … ”  Read more from the Associated Press here:  Trump pushes new environmental rollbacks on way out the door

Three-pronged approach to protecting water resources

When thinking about conserving and keeping our limited freshwater supplies safe, three types of solutions spring to mind. Street sweepers, winter maintenance equipment and sewer cleaning tanker trucks are all good solutions.  Why not use all three to turn good into extraordinary? … ”  Read more from Stormwater Solutions here:  Three-pronged approach to protecting water resources

New Trump administration rules could allow more logging and roadbuilding in the nation’s forests

In a last minute change before leaving office, the Trump administration finalized a rule Wednesday that will allow the U.S. Forest Service to log and otherwise manage 2,800 acres of forest in the West without an environmental review.  Agriculture Department Secretary Sonny Perdue said in a statement that the Forest Service, which he oversees, needs the rule change to “improve our ability to maintain and repair the infrastructure people depend on to use and enjoy their national forests — such as roads, trails, campgrounds and other facilities.” … ”  Read more from the Washington Post here: New Trump administration rules could allow more logging and roadbuilding in the nation’s forests

The economics of outdoor recreation

Access to the outdoors is valuable now more than ever. In a time where we cannot gather indoors due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are grateful for our public lands and the ability to go outside.  Studies have shown that spending time outside and participating in outdoor recreation like fly fishing has inherent benefits such as improving your health and happiness.  An article titled, “The Economics of Outdoor Recreation” from the National Parks Traveler lists statistics from a 2019 report from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis that quantified the economic benefits of the outdoor recreation industry. … ”  Read more from Cal Trout here:  The economics of outdoor recreation

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Today’s featured articles …

WATER COMMISSION: Merced River Watershed Flood MAR Study

Kamyar Guivetchi, Manager of DWR’s Division of Planning has often referred to Flood Managed Aquifer Recharge (or Flood MAR) as a “moon shot” for recharging depleted groundwater basins, but just how much Flood MAR can contribute to groundwater recharge in a watershed is unknown.  However, the Department of Water Resources’ Integrated Watershed Management staff is underway with a pilot study to look at the potential for Flood MAR in the Merced River watershed.

At the October meeting of the California Water Commission, Mr. Guivetchi and David Arrate, Senior Water Resources Engineer with the Department of Water Resources, gave a presentation on the study and shared some of the preliminary results.

Click here to read this article.

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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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