DAILY DIGEST, 11/20: Pre-construction underway on Delta Conveyance Project; Trump Admin finalizes Shasta Dam raise plan; Joint project with USAF opens spawning habitat for steelhead; San Diego CWA Board approves next phase of regional water conveyance system study; and more …



On the calendar today …

  • ONLINE MEETING: The Central Valley Flood Protection Board meets at 9am.  Agenda items include 2022 Central Valle7 Flood Protection Plan update, Tribal update, Lookout Slough restoration project; an action item on the levee and gate master plan for Pocket Area, Title 23 update, and the Sacramento San Joaquin Drainage District study update.  Click here for the full agenda and remote access instructions.
  • STATE WATER BOARD WORKSHOP: Cost Assessment Webinar on In-Depth Cost Model Methodology beginning at 9am.  The State Water Board is seeking stakeholder feedback on the development of a cost model for estimating costs associated with the implementation of interim and long-term solutions for failing and at-risk systems. This webinar will provide an in-depth overview of the model’s methodology, embedded assumptions, and cost data. Click here to register.
  • WEBINAR: A Glass Half Empty: Limited Voices, Limited Groundwater Security for California from 3pm to 4pm.  Presenter is Leigh Bernacchi, UC Merced.  Click here to join via Zoom.  Meeting ID: 937 2279 6133  Passcode: 92837

On the calendar tomorrow …

  • Public Town Hall on the recruitment of Metropolitan Water District’s General Manager at 10am.  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 …

What’s that digging in the Delta? Pre-construction underway on Delta Conveyance Project

Along the scenic Sacramento River, two worlds are in conflict.  The first world is comprised of farmers, making a living off the land. The other world is construction activity, with digging now underway in the Sacramento River Delta.  The ambitious, multi-billion-dollar tunnel project is moving forward, with plenty of controversy in the Sacramento River Delta. … ”  Read more from KCRA Channel 3 here:  Pre-construction underway on Delta Conveyance Project

Current estimates of young salmon lost to the south Delta pumps are based on a smattering of studies from the 1970s and should be updated, according to a new analysis.

“”They don’t represent current operations,” says Ukiah-based consultant Andrew Jahn, lead author of the analysis reported in the September 2020 issue of San Francisco Estuary and Watershed Science. Current operations at the State Water Project (SWP) and the Central Valley Project (CVP) can reverse flows in the Old and Middle rivers, diverting salmon on their way to the ocean towards the projects.  … ”  Read more from Estuary News here:  Current estimates of young salmon lost to the south Delta pumps are based on a smattering of studies from the 1970s and should be updated, according to a new analysis.

Trump Administration finalizes Shasta Dam raise plan to increase water storage for Californians and the environment

The Trump Administration today released the Shasta Lake Water Resources Investigation Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement to increase water storage capacity in the Shasta Lake reservoir by 634,000 acre-feet, or more than 200 billion gallons. This is enough water to support more than 6 million Californians annually.  “President Trump has made investing in our existing infrastructure a top priority. Raising Shasta Dam is one of the smartest and most cost-effective opportunities we have before us,” said Commissioner Brenda Burman. … ”  Read more from the Bureau of Reclamation here: Trump Administration finalizes Shasta Dam raise plan to increase water storage for Californians and the environment

Commentary: Selling water to buy it back?

Todd Fitchette writes, ” … What are we doing to ensure its availability to farms, homes, businesses, and the environment? I don’t mean just one “or” the other, but all four at the same time. When do we stop subdividing water into special interest groups armed with attorneys and full of victims?  One of the latest stories to make me scratch my head deals with a proposal in Kern County, Calif. to sell some state project water to fund a Delta conveyance system to move northern California water under the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta through a single tunnel and, to you guessed it: Kern County. … ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press here:  Selling water to buy it back?

Restoring Dry Creek: Joint project with U.S. Air Force opens spawning habitat for threatened steelhead

In 1943 the Army completed a dam on Camp Beale so its soldiers could fish, swim and jump off the dam’s diving platform. Nearly 80 years later, the Air Force is giving Dry Creek back to the original tenants: its fish.  “The dam was built to provide recreation,” said Paul Cadrett, a fish biologist and habitat restoration coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Lodi, California. “Then in the ’80s someone said, ‘Hey, there are fish banging their heads at the bottom of this dam,’ so they built a fish ladder. But it didn’t work very well, and most fish weren’t able to navigate it.” … ”  Read more from the USFWS here:  Restoring Dry Creek: Joint project with U.S. Air Force opens spawning habitat for threatened steelhead

In California, 1 million people lack access to clean water

When Sara Gallego* turns on her faucet, she’s never sure what will come out. “In the mornings, it’s the color of coffee,” she said. At other times, “It’s super yellow.”  Gallego is one of the roughly 1,900 residents of the Oasis Mobile Home Park, a community of 220 dilapidated trailers in the unincorporated community of Thermal, California. Located on Torres Martinez Indigenous land, Oasis is home to low-income people with few other housing options. Many are farmworkers, and many are also undocumented. … ”  Read more from High Country News here: In California, 1 million people lack access to clean water

A robot that tells growers when to water crops is on the way

Every backyard gardener knows how hard it can be to tell when to water the plants. Multiply that by tens or hundreds of acres and it’s easy to see the challenges growers face keeping their crops healthy while managing water resources wisely.  To determine water needs accurately, growers 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 growers can only reach so many areas of a field each day and cannot test as frequently as needed to accurately determine optimal irrigation scheduling patterns. … ”  Read more from UC Riverside here:  A robot that tells growers when to water crops is on the way

The fire that devastated a Sierra town created a pyrocumulus cloud. What does that mean?

A deadly wind-driven fire that started Tuesday largely destroyed the small community of Walker, Calif., and has burned nearly 21,000 acres. It also gave rise to a dramatic pyrocumulus cloud.  “It was a remarkable wind event that caused multiple destructive wildfires,” said Alex Hoon, an incident meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Reno. “The winds were like a freight train. Winds of this magnitude are uncontainable.” … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  The fire that devastated a Sierra town created a pyrocumulus cloud. What does that mean?

New NASA mission to map sea level rise may help California adapt to changing coastline

NASA has collected data on how seas are rising across the planet for more than 25 years. A new mission is launching this weekend, which will extend that data for five years and may help places like California adapt as seas rise. But the data also poses some major concerns.  “The sea level rise we see today is unlikely to ever be reversed in our lifetimes,” said Josh Willis, the mission’s project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. “Right now, we have about one inch per decade of sea level rise, but it’s widely predicted that this rate of rise will increase.” … ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here: New NASA mission to map sea level rise may help California adapt to changing coastline

Climate change and “atmospheric thirst” to increase fire danger and drought in Nevada and California

Climate change and a “thirsty atmosphere” will bring more extreme wildfire danger and multi-year droughts to Nevada and California by the end of this century, according to new research from the Desert Research Institute (DRI), the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, and the University of California, Merced.  In a new study published in Earth’s Future, scientists looked at future projections of evaporative demand – a measure of how dry the air is – in California and Nevada through the end of the 21st century.  … ”  Read more from Desert Research Institute here: Climate change and “atmospheric thirst” to increase fire danger and drought in Nevada and California

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In regional water news and commentary today …

Klamath River dam removal causes concerns

An agreement was reached yesterday to remove the 4 dams along the Klamath River in Klamath and Siskiyou Counties.  While the states and affected tribes are behind the move, some ranchers are not. … ”  Read more from KMPH here:  Klamath River dam removal causes concerns

Sacramento Valley salmon reclamation project gets boost

Nearly five years ago, a Chico State research team led by Mandy Banet, an aquatic ecologist in the Department of Biological Sciences, joined a multi-agency project funded by a $16.9 million grant to re-establish juvenile salmon and salmonid habitats along the Sacramento River.  Recently, Chico State Enterprises received a $10 million grant from the United States Bureau of Reclamation over five years to help restore 47.3 acres of juvenile salmon habitat and 4.3 acres of spawning habitat along the upper Sacramento River. ... ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Salmon reclamation project gets boost

North Yuba Forest Partnership receives $1.13 million for Forest Health & Wildfire Resilience Projects in the Yuba Watershed

The North Yuba Forest Partnership has entered into an agreement to receive $1.13 million to plan future forest health and wildfire resilience treatments within the North Yuba River watershed. This funding originated from the US Forest Service’s Fireshed Program.  “We are absolutely thrilled,” said Melinda Booth, Executive Director for the South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL). SYRCL is one of the Partnership’s leading organizations for restoration planning and project management. ... ”  Read more from the South Yuba River Citizens League here:  North Yuba Forest Partnership receives $1.13 million for Forest Health & Wildfire Resilience Projects in the Yuba Watershed

Want to save sea otters? The key might be moving them into San Francisco Bay — away from great white sharks

When most people think of California sea otters, the kelp beds of Monterey Bay and Big Sur’s rocky shoreline often frame the backdrop.  But an increasing amount of scientific research is suggesting that if the fuzzy, frolicking mascots of the Central Coast are ever going to expand their population enough to be removed from the endangered species list, some of them may need to be relocated north, to a new home inside the protected confines of San Francisco Bay. … ”  Read more from the Mercury News here:  Want to save sea otters? The key might be moving them into San Francisco Bay — away from great white sharks

Monterey: State water board official urges Cal Am to seek water supply resolution

A top State Water Resources Control Board administrator is “strongly encouraging” California American Water to “resolve disputes” and pursue both short-term and long-term water supply solutions for the Monterey Peninsula while pointing out that the Carmel River aquifer pumping cutback order deadline at the end of next year is approaching with no additional water supply project expected to be operational by then.  In a letter sent Tuesday, state water board Executive Director Eileen Sobeck urged Cal Am officials to “continue to engage collaboratively with other Applicants and interested parties to resolve disputes, to secure other near-term solutions for ending Cal-Am’s unauthorized Carmel River diversions by December 31, 2021, and to develop longer-term water supply solutions for meeting the Monterey Peninsula’s and the broader region’s economic, social, and environmental needs in the decades to come.” … ” Read more from the Monterey Herald here: Monterey: State water board official urges Cal Am to seek water supply resolution

McMullin Area GSA video provides narrative for achieving sustainability

The McMullin Area Groundwater Sustainability Agency (MAGSA), in collaboration with J Comm, Inc., have created a visually engaging video highlighting MAGSA growers’ vision for achieving groundwater sustainability. The inspirational video features General Manager Matt Hurley and local MAGSA landowners. … ”  Read more from ACWA News here: McMullin Area GSA video provides narrative for achieving sustainability

Goleta’s first creek and watershed management plan adopted by city council

The City of Goleta has its first ever Creek and Watershed Management Plan (CWMP). After extensive public comment at Tuesday night’s Council meeting, the Goleta City Council unanimously adopted the plan. Staff has made sure to involve the public through all stages. There were three public workshops from February – November 2020, Technical Advisory Committee meetings, and the public was asked to review the draft CWMP prior to last night’s Council meeting. … ”  Read more from the Santa Barbara Independent here:  Goleta’s first creek and watershed management plan adopted by city council

Energy department to remove eight toxic buildings from Santa Susana site near Simi Valley

The U.S. Department of Energy has reached an agreement with the state to demolish its remaining eight buildings at the contaminated Santa Susana Field Laboratory as part of the much-delayed cleanup of the site.  The eight buildings are at the department’s former Energy Technology and Engineering Center, which, starting in the 1960s, served as a premiere research facility for the United States during the Cold War. … ”  Read more from the Ventura County Star here: Energy department to remove eight toxic buildings from Santa Susana site near Simi Valley

The case of Pasadena’s incredibly shrinking water supply

Groundwater from the Raymond Basin has been pumped at an unsustainable rate for more than 100 years, according to a 2018 report for Pasadena Water & Power.  Unsustainable pumping has caused the groundwater level to fall by 300 feet. The document also notes that cancer-causing contaminants in the aquifer emanating from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory threaten to make water pumped from the basin unfit for drinking unless they are cleaned up and better managed.  Morey Wolfson, former Pasadena Environmental Advisory Commission member, outlined the situation Wednesday evening at an online meeting organized by the Arroyo Seco Foundation. … ”  Read more from Colorado Boulevard here: The case of Pasadena’s incredibly shrinking water supply

As SoCalGas begins well removal in Ballona Wetlands, uncertainty about future restoration project remains

New signs have popped up along Jefferson Boulevard adjacent to the Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve in Playa del Rey. “Equipment removal in progress,” states one. “SoCal Gas supports wetland restoration,” proclaims another. The Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas), which has operated a natural gas storage facility within the Ballona Wetlands since the early 1950s, recently announced plans to remove 16 of their wells in the area as part of a larger restoration project. Work to remove the first of these commenced in September and is scheduled to be completed around December, according to Christine Detz, a spokesperson for SoCalGas. Detz said SoCalGas does have plans to install new equipment at the Playa del Rey facility, however it will be outside the official ecological reserve boundary and there will be an “overall decrease in the amount of SoCalGas infrastructure associated with the Playa del Rey facility.” … ”  Read more from The Loyalon here: As SoCalGas begins well removal in Ballona Wetlands, uncertainty about future restoration project remains

Rep. Ruiz introduces Salton Sea bill in Congress to provide funding, increase air quality requirements

Southern California Democrats Rep. Raul Ruiz and Rep. Juan Vargas introduced a new bill on Thursday that would force the federal government to take a more active role in funding and managing Salton Sea habitat restoration and dust suppression.  HR 8775, the Salton Sea Public Health and Environmental Protection Act, would create an interagency working group called the Salton Sea Management Council to coordinate projects around the lake’s receding shoreline. … ”  Read more from the Desert Sun here:  Rep. Ruiz introduces Salton Sea bill in Congress to provide funding, increase air quality requirements

Fallbrook Public Utilities District board, others tour Conjunctive Use Project progress

The Fallbrook Public Utility District held a Nov. 10 tour of the Santa Margarita Conjunctive Use Project.  All five FPUD board members participated in the tour. If a majority of board members are present, an activity must be noticed as a public meeting, and members of the public were also invited to join the tour. … ”  Read more from the Village News here:  Fallbrook Public Utilities District board, others tour Conjunctive Use Project progress

Oceanside receives $175k grant to boost restoration of Loma Alta slough

The National Fish & Wildlife Foundation awarded Oceanside’s water utilities department a $175,000 grant to assist with the city’s Loma Alta Slough wetlands project, officials said Thursday.  The project is intended to restore and enhance approximately six acres of coastal wetland and upland habitat near Buccaneer Beach in south Oceanside. … ”  Read more from the Times of San Diego here: Oceanside receives $175k grant to boost restoration of Loma Alta slough

San Diego County Water Authority Board approves next phase of regional water conveyance system study

The San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors today authorized staff to launch the next phase of a study assessing options for long-term water deliveries to sustain the region’s economy and quality of life.  The decision follows months of community dialogue about Phase A of the Regional Conveyance System Study, which was released in August. The study demonstrated the technical viability and economic competitiveness of two routes for an aqueduct to transport the Water Authority’s independent, high-priority Colorado River water to San Diego County. ... ”  Read more from the Water News Network here: San Diego County Water Authority Board approves next phase of regional water conveyance system study

Two companies see a golden opportunity in the Tijuana River’s brown waters

We’re letting millions of gallons of sewage-contaminated Tijuana River water go to waste by tossing it to the Pacific Ocean.  That’s the opinion of two competing forces – one from the United States and another from Mexico – that are rethinking the region’s oldest and dirtiest problem, imagining it instead as a moneymaking opportunity.  “Why would you throw it away when you can sell it?” said Kurt Tetzlaff, president of WinWerks, a San Diego-based company that pitched a Tijuana River wastewater recycling project this month to the International Boundary and Water Commission, an international agency that executes border- and water-related treaties between the U.S. and Mexico. … ”  Read more from the Voice of San Diego here: Two companies see a golden opportunity in the Tijuana River’s brown waters

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In national water news today …

Half of US mired in drought

Nearly half of the lower 48 states are in some level of drought, according to federal climate scientists who aren’t optimistic about winter rains improving the situation — particularly in the hard-hit American West.  About 47% of the contiguous United States have plunged into dry conditions as a combination of the lack of precipitation and higher than average temperatures, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s monthly report. … ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service here: Half of US mired in drought

Federal water rule expected to stay murky through Biden term

A Biden administration won’t be able to untangle the legal and regulatory “mess” under part of the Clean Water Act that determines which streams, wetlands and other waters get federal protection, legal scholars and litigators say.  Any move the Biden administration takes to clarify the definition of Waters of the United States, known as WOTUS, will continue the decades-long “merry-go-round” of administrative rule changes and litigation, said Larry Liebesman, a former Justice Department environmental lawyer who is now a senior adviser at the environmental and water permitting firm of Dawson & Associates. … ”  Read more from Bloomberg Law here:  Federal water rule expected to stay murky through Biden term

Curious about the Biden/Harris environmental regulatory agenda? Look no further than California

With the 2020 election now called, though yet to be conceded, questions abound as to what the environmental regulatory landscape may look like under a Biden/Harris administration. For California, we don’t expect much of a change from the well-ensconced “Resistance.” Nationally, however, we should not be surprised to see many California strategies and priorities begin to sweep across the national landscape. … ”  Read more from JD Supra here: Curious about the Biden/Harris environmental regulatory agenda? Look no further than California

President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team is searching for a long-term career official to lead the Bureau of Land Management on an acting basis through the first six months or more of next year.  And it appears to be targeting Steve Ellis, who served as BLM’s deputy director of operations until retiring after more than three decades with the bureau and the Forest Service in the final months of the Obama administration, according to sources. … ”  Read more from E&E News here:  Obama-era official could lead Biden’s BLM

Wetlands legal saga reaches Ninth Circuit again, a decade later

The EPA faced tough questioning Thursday as federal appeals judges weighed the latest phase in a long-running wetlands enforcement clash that once reached the U.S. Supreme Court.  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit is considering whether to reverse a lower court’s ruling last year that Chantell and Michael Sackett’s Idaho property contained wetlands protected by the Clean Water Act. The appeals court issued its first decision on related issues in the case a decade ago, only to have the Supreme Court reverse it. … ”  Read more from Bloomberg Law here:  Wetlands legal saga reaches Ninth Circuit again, a decade later

Exposure to toxic “forever” chemicals could hinder the effectiveness of a COVID-19 vaccine, with outsize implications for some communities and workers.  Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) — a family of thousands of toxic chemicals found in an array of everyday household items — have been shown to weaken immune systems. They have also been linked to decreased antibody production in people given certain vaccines. Environmental and public health groups worry that could have implications for recipients of a long-awaited coronavirus vaccine, particularly for some people of color and essential workers. … ”  Read more from E&E News here:  PFAS exposure could hinder vaccine for hard-hit communities

No, we haven’t reached a climate “point of no return.”  That’s the overwhelming message from climate scientists in response to an alarming climate study that many experts described as flawed when it splashed across social media last week.  Yes, there’s still hope to prevent catastrophic global warming. And yes, reducing greenhouse gas emissions to zero could still halt climate change, they said.  Published in the journal Scientific Reports, the paper suggests the world has crossed an irreversible climate threshold. Even if all greenhouse gas emissions were stopped tomorrow, it concludes, the world would continue warming for hundreds of years. Indeed, the authors said that emissions would have had to stop in the 1960s to prevent runaway warming. … ”  Read more from E&E News here: Doomsday climate study debunked by researchers

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National water and climate update …

The Natural Resources Conservation Service produces this weekly report using data and products from the National Water and Climate Center and other agencies. The report focuses on seasonal snowpack, precipitation, temperature, and drought conditions in the U.S.

dmrpt-20201119

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

SCIENCE NEWS: Is climate change making fish age faster?; Project opens spawning habitat for threatened steelhead; Podcast: Wall to wall sampling in the Delta; and more …

DELTA eNEWS: ~~ Haggin Exhibition~ CVFP Meeting~ Proposal Solicitation~ Delta EIR~ Fishing Licenses ~~

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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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