DAILY DIGEST, 11/27: Fishing and enviro groups criticize Trump Admin plan to raise Shasta Dam; Zone 7, San Gorgonio Pass vote to participate in Delta Conveyance; Top CA air, climate regulator hopes to run Biden EPA; and more …



In California water news today …

Fishing and enviro groups criticize Trump Administration plan to raise Shasta Dam

While Republican members of Congress praised the most recent step toward approving raising the height of Shasta Dam, fishing and environmental groups criticized it as the illegal actions of a “lame duck federal agency.”  The Trump Administration last week issued its final supplemental environmental impact statement on the proposal to raise the height of the dam 18½ feet.  A press release about the action included praise from several GOP members of Congress, including representatives from the San Joaquin Valley. … ”  Read more from the Redding Record Searchlight here: ‘Lame duck:’ Groups bash Trump Administration report on raising the height of Shasta Dam

Zone 7 to spend $2.8M on Delta Conveyance Project

In a 5-2 vote, the Zone 7 Water Agency Board approved the expenditure of $2.8 million as the agency’s share for the next phase of planning on the Delta Conveyance.  The conveyance, a Gov. Gavin Newsom proposal, would reduce his predecessor Gov. Jerry Brown’s Twin Tunnels project to one tunnel under the Delta. On Brown’s Twin Tunnels project, Zone 7 paid $280,000 as a placeholder to be sure the agency reserved a spot if the agency wanted to take part. It was a very preliminary head count to see which State Water Contractors might be interested in Brown’s plan.  Many environmental groups have opposed both the Twin Tunnels and the single tunnel. … ”  Read more from Zone 7 here:  Zone 7 to spend $2.8M on Delta Conveyance Project

San Gorgonio Pass Water Agency votes to participate in Delta Conveyance

As the San Gorgonio Pass Water Agency (SGPWA) approaches its 60th anniversary in 2021, the Board of Directors made a historic decision to ensure necessary long term imported water supplies to the region. On November 16, 2020 the SGPWA Board voted unanimously to support the Delta Conveyance Project (DCP). This is a major infrastructure project slated to begin construction around 2030 that will greatly enhance the operations and reliability of the State Water Project (SWP). …

Click here to read the press release.

Top California air, climate regulator hopes to run Biden EPA

Over four decades, Mary Nichols has been the regulator behind some of the nation’s most ambitious climate policies and, in recent years, she’s been their staunchest defender against President Donald Trump’s effort to dismantle them.  With Joe Biden heading to the White House, Nichols hopes she is not done yet. … ”  Read more from the AP via WTOP here: Top California air, climate regulator hopes to run Biden EPA

Attorney General Becerra files motion for summary judgment in lawsuit challenging Trump Administration assault on Clean Water Act protections

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and New York Attorney General Letitia James, leading a multistate coalition, filed a motion for summary judgment in their lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s unlawful final rule redefining “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act. Under the new rule, more than half of all wetlands and at least 18 percent of all streams are left without federal protections. Western states like California are even harder hit, with 35 percent of all streams deprived of federal protections as a result of the region’s dry climate. In the filing, the coalition argues that the rule is arbitrary and capricious, contrary to the text and primary objective of the Clean Water Act, and should be vacated.  … ”  Read more from the Attorney General here: Attorney General Becerra files motion for summary judgment in lawsuit challenging Trump Administration assault on Clean Water Act protections

Attorney General Becerra adds Endangered Species Act Claim to lawsuit challenging Trump Administration’s revisions to the National Environmental Policy Act

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson today, leading a multistate coalition, amended their complaint challenging the Trump Administration’s unlawful revised regulations implementing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to allege the regulations also violated the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). On July 15, 2020, the Trump Administration’s Council on Environmental Quality announced a final rule upending NEPA’s requirement that federal agencies comprehensively evaluate the impacts of their actions on the environment and public health. Shortly after, the coalition filed a lawsuit arguing that the rule abandoned informed decision making, public participation, and environmental and public health protections in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act and NEPA. Today, the coalition argues that the Trump Administration also violated the ESA by failing to consult with federal wildlife agencies to assess impacts to listed species during the rulemaking process.  … ” Read more from the Attorney General Becerra here: Attorney General Becerra adds Endangered Species Act Claim to lawsuit challenging Trump Administration’s revisions to the National Environmental Policy Act

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In regional water news and commentary today …

Lake Tahoe: Invasive species removal begins in Taylor Creek Marsh

Crews began work this month in the marsh system of Taylor and Tallac creeks in the Southwest portion of the Tahoe Basin to remove aquatic invasive plants from an abundant and impacted marsh ecosystem, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) announced.  In partnership with the USDA Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, crews will remove vegetation from the marsh this fall in preparation for the laying of bottom barriers next spring, according to TRPA. Bottom barriers are mats laid underwater to deprive weeds of sunlight they need to grow. Visitors to the area should expect to see field crews at work in and around the marsh with all-terrain vehicles, skiffs, and vegetation management tools. This work is expected to continue as long as the weather allows. … ”  Read more from the Sierra Sun here: Lake Tahoe: Invasive species removal begins in Taylor Creek Marsh

$15 million credit line will help Antioch build desalination plant

Antioch’s plan to build a desalination plant to clear up the city’s brackish water got another boost this week when the City Council unanimously approved $15 million in interim financing.  The almost $70 million project aims to develop a reliable, drought-resistant water supply so the city doesn’t have to depend so much on buying water and can use Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta water year-round. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  $15 million credit line will help Antioch build desalination plant

Fresno County agriculture remains number one in the U.S.

Fresno County agriculture remains the top producer in the United States according to a recent report. The Fresno County Department of Agriculture recently presented the 2019 Crop and Livestock Report to the Board of Supervisors. Overall, the report showed that the 2019 agricultural production value in the county totaled $7.717 billion. The report included data on more than 300 different agricultural commodities produced in the county which are exported to nearly 90 countries across the world. … ”  Read more from Ag Net West here:  Fresno County agriculture remains number one in the U.S.

Ridgecrest City Council, IWVGA agree on recycled water

If an options agreement between the city council and the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority comes to fruition, recycled water from the city’s wastewater facility could help balance the groundwater basin — and could potentially help Searles Valley Minerals stay in business. Sources at SVM, however, have said that while they are open to ideas “at this juncture recycled water for Searles is only a concept.”  Both the council and the groundwater authorities at their respective meetings last week approved the option agreement between the two parties for recycled wastewater. … “  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here: Ridgecrest City Council, IWVGA agree on recycled water

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Along the Colorado River …

Experts: Arizona seeing major increase in drought conditions

The U.S. Drought Monitor released their weekly outlook today and drought in Arizona is getting worse.  The entire state is still in drought, but we are now seeing a dramatic shift from the Moderate and Severe drought categories to the higher drought categories called Extreme and Exceptional. … ”  Read more from Channel 15 here: Experts: Arizona seeing major increase in drought conditions

Reclassifying Arizona waterways is among the items on the Biden administration’s agenda

The incoming Biden Administration is promising to make the environment one of its top priorities. University of Arizona Environmental Law professor Justin Pidot commented on the potential changes in federal policy, beginning with how complicated it might be to restore regulations that the Trump administration worked to eliminate. … ”  Read more from Arizona Public Media here: Reclassifying Arizona waterways is among the items on the Biden administration’s agenda

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In national water news today …

Trump administration races to finish environmental rules, actions

The Trump administration is quickly putting out new rules and regulations with a little more than 50 days to go before it leaves office as it seeks to put a deeper stamp on the government.  In just the last two weeks, the administration has finalized a rule allowing the Forest Service to use exemptions to avoid certain requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act, which critics say will quicken approvals for logging, roads and pipelines on Forest Service land. ... ”  Read more from The Hill here: Trump administration races to finish environmental rules, actions

Billion birds at risk as U.S. preps final migratory bird rule

Companies whose wastewater pits, oil spills, and other operations accidentally kill more than 1 billion migratory birds a year could avoid fines under regulations the Interior Department is moving to finalize.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Friday published its final environmental review for a proposed rule that would codify a 2017 interpretation of the century-old Migratory Bird Treat Act so that only intentional migratory bird killings would result in fines. … ”  Read more from Bloomberg Law here:  Billion birds at risk as U.S. Preps final migratory bird rule

20 signs that the climate crisis has come home to roost

In September, President Donald Trump visited fire-ravaged California and declared that the wildfires that had already burned across millions of acres were the result of forest mismanagement, not a warming climate. “When trees fall down after a short period of time, they become very dry — really like a matchstick. No more water pouring through, and they can explode,” he said. “Also leaves. When you have dried leaves on the ground, it’s just fuel for the fires.”  Trump is right about one thing: Global warming isn’t the only reason the West is burning. … ”  Read more from High Country News here: 20 signs that the climate crisis has come home to roost

What to expect this winter: November update to NOAA’s 2020-21 Winter Outlook

In a year when many traditions have been disrupted, I’m happy to say one remains intact—my annual blog post on NOAA’s Winter Outlook! This year is a bit different from some of my recent winter outlook posts because there’s no need to wait around to see if either El Niño or La Niña will develop in time to impact winter. Instead, the tropical Pacific is already taking center stage, and it doesn’t want to give up the spotlight any time soon. La Niña developed during late summer and has strengthened, leaving virtually no doubt that it will persist through the winter. So, what does that mean for temperature and precipitation across the United States over the next 3 months? ... ”  Read more from Climate.gov here: What to expect this winter: November update to NOAA’s 2020-21 Winter Outlook

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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-20201125

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

NOTICE: Agenda and workbook now online for Water Conveyance Public Workshops

FUNDING OPPORTUNITY: NRCS Announces Application Deadline for California Wildfire Disaster Recovery Funding

OPPORTUNITY TO COMMENT/WORKSHOPS: Hexavalent Chromium Maximum Contaminant Level Estimates of Costs

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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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