DAILY DIGEST, 11/25: New CA standards reveal toxins in some water systems; Central Valley salmon returns down from last year; Western ag water values diverge; San Diego water agencies wrestle with weighted voting structure; and more …



In California water news today …

New California environmental standards reveal toxins in some water systems

Across California, city and county officials are finding dangerous chemicals in their drinking water wells. The chemicals are known as PFAs, which have been used for decades in non-stick pan coatings, food packaging, and the foam firefighters use to extinguish blazes. Nearly everyone has been exposed to PFAs in some form.  “They [PFAs] can build up in the body over time. And they’ve been linked to … both kidney and testicular cancer, thyroid disease, high cholesterol,” says Rachel Becker, a reporter for CalMatters with a background in scientific research. … ”  Read more from KCRW here:  New California environmental standards reveal toxins in some water systems

Numbers of fall Chinooks returning to Central Valley rivers are down from last year

Preliminary numbers of fall-run Chinook salmon reported on the Feather, Sacramento, American and Mokelumne rivers are down considerably from last year, although the complete numbers won’t be available from the Department of Fish and Wildlife until next year.  The state’s Feather River Fish Hatchery reported a total of 16,572 fall run adults and 1,490 jacks (2-year-olds) this fall. That’s less than the about 25,000 fish the hatchery saw last year, but the hatchery is still expected to meet its production goal of 6 million smolts (juvenile fish). … ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here: Numbers of fall Chinooks returning to Central Valley rivers are down from last year

Environmentalists take aim at the Del Puerto Canyon dam project

Environmental groups have filed a lawsuit trying to halt the building of a dam in the Del Puerto Canyon which would provide Valley farmers the water they need to grow crops.  A coalition of environmental groups sued the Del Puerto Water District last week for approving construction of a new dam on Del Puerto Creek.  The proposed Del Puerto Canyon Reservoir would store 82,000 acre-feet of water for downstream agricultural users. The coalition said the dam would flood an “important cultural and recreation site for the surrounding community and destroying valuable wildlife habitat.” … ”  Read more from the Turlock Journal here:  Environmentalists take aim at the Del Puerto Canyon dam project

CDFW Awards $10.7 Million for Fisheries Habitat Restoration Program projects

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) today announced the selection of 27 projects that will receive funding for the restoration, enhancement and protection of anadromous salmonid habitat in California watersheds.  The grants, which total $10.7 million, were awarded through CDFW’s Fisheries Restoration Grant Program (FRGP). Established in 1981, FRGP has included funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund since 2000. The federal fund was established by Congress in 2000 to reverse the declines of Pacific salmon and steelhead throughout California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Alaska.  “The ongoing momentum to restore California’s habitat for these historic species hasn’t stopped as we face a global pandemic and devastating wildfires,” CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham said. “Awarding these projects highlights the resilience, passion and vison for salmon recovery by our state’s restoration community, for which we are grateful.” …

Click here to continue reading this press release.

In response to the 2020 Fisheries Habitat Restoration Grant Solicitation, CDFW received 80 proposals requesting more than $40.6 million in funding. As part of the competitive grant program, proposals underwent a rigorous technical review by CDFW and NOAA scientists.

The 27 approved projects will further the objectives of state and federal fisheries recovery plans, including removing barriers to fish migration, restoring riparian habitat, monitoring of listed populations, and creating a more resilient and sustainably managed water resources system (e.g., water supply, water quality and habitat) that can better withstand drought conditions. These projects further the goals of California’s Water Action Plan and CDFW’s State Wildlife Action Plan, as well as addressing limiting factors specified in state and federal recovery plans.

The list of approved projects is available on the FRGP website.

Western agricultural water values diverge, with expansion in permanent and high-value crops

Westwater Research writes, “Recent trends in the Western U.S. toward high-value and capital-intensive crops that depend on irrigation are changing the importance and value of water in agriculture, and such changes have important implications for water trading and water market prices. WestWater compiled data on agricultural sales and irrigation water use to provide a unique spatial look at the value of water in agricultural use across the Western states.  Please enjoy a short Water Market Insider summarizing the data on agricultural water values, and feel free to take a closer look with our online GIS story-board.

Drought persists, expands in West

Drought continues to tighten its grip, with nearly half of the contiguous U.S. currently experiencing some form of drought, according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor. As of Nov. 17, the data showed that 47.3% of the U.S. is in drought, up from 46.8% on Oct. 13. Nearly 64.3% of the U.S. is experiencing some form of dryness or drought. Nearly 19% of the U.S. is in extreme to exceptional drought, up from nearly 17% on Oct. 13. The majority of the dryness remains in the western part of the country. … ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press here:  Drought persists, expands in West

DWR calls for increased collaboration in climate change fight with “moving to action” plan

California’s Mediterranean climate is highly variable – veering from drought conditions one year to flooding the next. These variable conditions are nothing new or unexpected.  What is new, is that science tells us climate change has increased the intensity and frequency of these extreme events in recent decades, which in turn can amplify risks for wildfires, our power grid, and public health and safety.  To adapt to intensifying extremes, federal, state, and local governments must be proactive in analyzing how climate change may impact California’s natural resources – as well as people and property. … ”  Read more from DWR News here: DWR calls for increased collaboration in climate change fight with “moving to action” plan

California partners with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to enlist earth-observing satellite data in climate change efforts

A new partnership with Pasadena-based Jet Propulsion Laboratory (NASA JPL) will help state agencies better understand climate change impacts and identify opportunities to build resilience, conserve biodiversity and use California’s natural and working lands to store and remove carbon from the atmosphere.  The California Natural Resources Agency, California Environmental Protection Agency and California Department of Food and Agriculture have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with JPL that will allow the state to access a growing body of data from Earth-observing satellites and other ground-based technologies. The trove of remote-sensing data – including information collected by the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite launched on November 21 – will be used to understand current conditions, predict future vulnerabilities and inform actions to boost climate resilience. … ”  Read more from the Natural Resources Agency here: California partners with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to enlist earth-observing satellite data in climate change efforts

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California wildfires …

ACWA and partners urge Congress to act on wildfire

ACWA, in coordination with several associations, water agencies, and counties, sent a letter today to Congressional leaders urging action on federal wildfire legislation.  During the second session of the 116th Congress, which is set to wrap in just a few weeks, several pieces of legislation have been introduced. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic and political jockeying have kept vital wildfire legislation from making progress in either the House or Senate. … ”  Read more from ACWA Water News here:  ACWA and partners urge Congress to act on wildfire

Farmers, ranchers seek improved wildfire policies

Calling for structural, regulatory changes, farmers and ranchers testified at a state legislative hearing about the impact of wildfires that have become hotter, faster and more destructive.  The sometimes-emotional testimony came during a hearing last week called by Assembly Member Robert Rivas, D-Salinas, who chairs the Assembly Agriculture Committee. At the hearing, farmers and ranchers provided first-person accounts of burned or damaged crops and livestock, lost homes and harrowing details about taking quick action to try to prevent destruction of property. … ”  Read more from Ag Alert here:  Farmers, ranchers seek improved wildfire policies

‘Our right to fire’: Tribes battle agencies, old policies to restore fire practices

” … Happy Camp, the capital of the Karuk Tribe with a population of about 1,100, is grieving the loss of two human lives and about 160 homes, including the tribe’s elder housing community. Also lost were cultural materials such as world-class basketry created by now-deceased weavers stored in elders’ homes, regalia used in ceremonies like the World Renewal Ceremony, carefully collected feathers and other items.  But community members also grieve for what they say is the failure of federal and state agencies to accept their deep knowledge and experience in stewarding these lands for more than 10,000 years. … ”  Read more from Arizona Central here: ‘Our right to fire’: Tribes battle agencies, old policies to restore fire practices

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In commentary today …

Commentary: Raising the Shasta Dam – completely erasing the Winnemem Wintu

In a press release dated November 19, 2020, the US Bureau of Reclamation announced that the Trump Administration had released the Shasta Lake Water Resources Investigation Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement to increase water storage capacity in the Shasta Lake reservoir.    “President Trump has again delivered on his promise to secure more water for Central Valley families and farmers,” said Congressman Devin Nunes (CA-22). “Increasing water storage is vital to making our communities drought resistant. By cutting red tape and raising the Shasta Dam, the Trump administration has taken crucial steps toward undoing the government-made drought conditions plaguing Valley communities. I want to thank President Trump and Secretary Bernhardt for their unwavering commitment to solving the California water crisis.” … ”  Read more from the Sierra Nevada Ally here:  Raising the Shasta Dam – completely erasing the Winnemem Wintu

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In regional water news and commentary today …

Lake County closes boat launch at Lucerne Harbor Park due to low water, sediment buildup

The Lake County Public Services Department has closed the boat launch at Lucerne Harbor Park, which has become impassable to boats due to sediment buildup and the low water level.  The agency said Tuesday that, in order to protect public safety and prevent damage to public and private property, it was taking the action to temporarily close the boat launch at the park, located at 6225 East Highway 20.  The condition of the harbor has been a topic of concern for the community over the last several years, and in January 2019 the Lucerne Area Town Hall passed a resolution asking the county to spend a small portion of the $2.5 million sales price from the Lucerne Hotel to dredge the harbor. … ”  Read more from Lake County News here:  Lake County closes boat launch at Lucerne Harbor Park due to low water, sediment buildup

Santa Clara County voters overwhelmingly approve Measure S, a renewal of the Safe, Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection Program

Voters in Santa Clara County overwhelmingly approved Measure S, making it clear that safe, clean water, natural flood protection and caring for the environment are priorities now and for future generations. The measure needed 66% to pass and has garnered more than 75% of votes in an election that saw a record-setting number of ballots cast.  “I am grateful for the trust voters have shown in Valley Water,” Valley Water Board Chair Nai Hsueh said. “This program was built by the people, for the people. Tens of thousands of residents, community partners and stakeholders told Valley Water what they wanted to see in Measure S. Those priorities will guide us for years to come.” … ”  Read more from Valley Water News here: Santa Clara County voters overwhelmingly approve Measure S, a renewal of the Safe, Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection Program

Tulare County water districts get millions for conservation projects

Five Tulare County water districts received a portion of $1.6 million this month to help farmers better conserve water resources.  On Nov. 12, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) awarded nearly $2 million in Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) funding as part of their WaterSMART Initiative to districts in three Central Valley counties.  … ”  Read more from the Foothills Sun-Gazette here:  Tulare County water districts get millions for conservation projects

Pixley National Wildlife Refuge: a wintertime treasure

While many people look towards the mountains for accessing beautiful nature, the San Joaquin Valley Floor is home to many amazing sights of nature and in particular, birds. Not only is Tulare County home to over 100 types of birds, it is part of the Pacific Flyway – one of the most important bird migration paths in the world.  According to Audubon California, an environmental nonprofit organization that specializes in protection of birds, “Each year at least a billion birds migrate along the Pacific Flyway, but these birds are only a fraction of those that used the flyway a century ago. Habitat loss, water shortages, diminishing food sources, and climate change all threaten the birds of the Pacific Flyway.” … ”  Continue reading at the Foothills Sun-Gazette here: Pixley National Wildlife Refuge: a wintertime treasure

SJV Water on TV talking about the Kern River

SJV Water discussed the Kern River on “Kern County In Depth,” a weekly feature on KGET Channel 17.  Anchor Jim Scott discussed a new effort by a group of Bakersfield folks to get water in the river more often.  The group, called “Bring Back the Kern,” started an online petition to bring awareness to the legal challenges facing water in the river and to encourage the State Water Resources Control Board to move forward on a lingering issue of “unappropriated water” on the river. … ”  Read more from SJV Water here:  SJV Water on TV talking about the Kern River

Commentary: Onward With Fish and Wildlife’s Ballona Project

Dr. David Kay writes, “Contrary to allegations made in Opinion (Nov. 11 Argonaut, “Gov. Newsom Shouldn’t Bulldoze LA’s Ballona Wetlands”), the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s plan for Ballona is the only means to accomplish all of the goals set for Ballona after 20 years and counting of expert studies, exhaustive stakeholder engagement and public dialogue. Any other choice falls short and is settling for half a loaf.  The opponents brand bulldozers as villains, conveniently omitting that large-scale earthmoving has been the only practical method for restoring infilled tidelands statewide, including Tijuana Estuary, San Dieguito Lagoon, Bolsa Chica, Malibu Lagoon, Carpinteria, and the list of over 200 projects goes on. … ”  Read more from The Argonaut here: Commentary: Onward With Fish and Wildlife’s Ballona Project

San Diego: Another agency wrestles with a weighted voting structure

How should power over water decisions in San Diego be divided?  Should the city of San Diego, which represents almost 40 percent of the region’s water consumers, have the most sway?  Or should smaller cities be on equal footing when the outcome of a decision could harm towns with less people and money?  That is the question facing San Diego County Water Authority once again, after the latest vote over a $5 billion duplicate pipeline to the Colorado River. … ”  Read more from the Voice of San Diego here: Another agency wrestles with a weighted voting structure

U.S. House OKs bill giving San Diego long sought relief on Point Loma sewer discharge rules

San Diego is one step closer to federal legislation that would save taxpayers millions by essentially exempting the city from having to get a Clean Water Act waiver every five years for the Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant.  The U.S. House of Representatives voted 395-4 last week in favor of legislation that supporters say is game changing. The law, the Ocean Pollution Reduction Act II, still must be approved by the U.S. Senate and then signed by President Trump. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune here:  U.S. House OKs bill giving San Diego long sought relief on Point Loma sewer discharge rules

Court of Appeal grants IID’s petition to disqualify judge

“The Fourth District Court of Appeal on Tuesday granted the Imperial Irrigation District’s petition for a writ of mandate against the trial court in the Mike Abatti v. IID litigation, directing Imperial County Superior Court Judge Brooks Anderholt to enter a new order disqualifying himself from the case.  Finding that Judge Anderholt erred when he denied the preemptory challenge IID filed against him, to which it was entitled by law, the Court observed that the relief it was granting was appropriate since, “the applicable law is settled, the District is clearly entitled to relief [and] disqualification issues require prompt resolution.” …

Click here to continue reading this press release.

IID had sought Judge Anderholt’s recusal from the case citing instances of prejudice in the administrative record, after his original decision in the water-rights litigation was largely reversed this summer by the same appellate court.  IID General Counsel Frank Oswalt said that he had been confident in the petition the District filed with the appellate court, and gratified by its ruling.

“The most difficult part of this case, the water-rights question has been resolved in the District’s favor,” Oswalt said. “What remains is the separate matter of costs and attorneys’ fees which is, as IID argued and the Court of Appeal has agreed, a new trial. Now, as a result of this ruling, there will be a new judge hearing it.”

“The Court of Appeal’s order to Judge Anderholt commanding that he remove himself from the Abatti litigation affirms the belief that this judge demonstrated a bias against the Imperial Irrigation District,” added IID Board President Norma Galindo. “That bias led him to make a number of incorrect decisions that the Court of Appeal identified in their opinion. With a new judge the IID stands a better chance of a fair outcome, one that benefits all the water users that the IID serves.”

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Along the Colorado River …

Commentary:  One more warm, dry winter could spell shortage for Lake Mead (and trouble for Arizona)

Joanna Allhands writes, “This warm, dry weather we’ve been having may be good for moving activities outside.  But it’s bad news for our water supply.  The chances are growing – and quickly – that a warm, dry winter could push Lake Powell to a trigger point about a year from now that could result in significantly less water for Lake Mead, which supplies about 40% of Arizona’s water supply.  That likely would push Mead into a first-time shortage declaration. And if the same thing were to happen the following year, it would likely plunge Mead into a more severe shortage – a depth from which the lake is unlikely to recover any time soon. … ”  Read more from Arizona Central here:  Commentary:  One more warm, dry winter could spell shortage for Lake Mead (and trouble for Arizona)

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In national water news today …

The county most at risk for coastal flooding is not in Florida, North Carolina or New Jersey, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.  It’s not even on a coast.  It’s Cowlitz County, Wash., population 102,000, about 50 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean on the Columbia River.  The ranking comes from a groundbreaking analysis by FEMA that measures disaster risk in a new way. … ”  Read more from E&E News here:  Top spot for rising seas is 50 miles from the ocean

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

WATER PLAN eNEWS: ~~Lunch-MAR~ Conveyance Workshops~ Atmospheric Rivers~ Delta Survey~ Basin Portal~ Groundwater Website~ Water Data ~~

OPPORTUNITY TO COMMENT: Tule River Spillway project document out for public review

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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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