DAILY DIGEST, 12/1: CA likely headed toward multi-year drought; Addressing water affordability in urban California; Can satellites fill gaps in agricultural water monitoring?; Five extreme weather patterns to look for this winter; and more …



On the calendar today …

  • ONLINE MEETING: The State Water Board will meet beginning at 9am.  The main agenda item is consideration of a proposed Resolution establishing the Water Quality Control Plan for Inland Surface Waters, Enclosed Bays, and Estuaries of California; and Toxicity Provisions.  Click here for the full agenda and remote access instructions.
  • FREE WEBINAR: The Why, What, and How of Groundwater Modeling from 10am to 11am.  Learn how groundwater models can be used to answer key questions for planning, basin management, and engineering design; what types of modeling frameworks to use for answering certain types of questions; how model scale, settings, and parameters influence their ability to provide answers; what kinds of questions or uncertainties groundwater models cannot resolve, and hear about case-studies of types of models and how these were applied to answer key questions.  Presented by Intera.  Click here to register.
  • WEBINAR: 15 Strategies for Communicating Science and Data to Non-Scientists from 10am to 11:30am. Do you speak at conferences, public meetings, or other events where you need to convey a specific message? Have you ever felt like you couldn’t quite hold the attention of your audience members? Would you like to learn a simpler, more effective way to design your slides? Join presentation coach and trainer, Cathy Angell, for a fast-paced and entertaining class that will show you how to: Present visuals that have impact; Deliver data in a way that sticks in people’s brains; and Transform the way you do PowerPoint.  Click here to register.
  • PUBLIC LISTENING SESSION: Racial Equity Listening Session 2 from 3pm to 5pm. The State and Regional Water Boards will hold public listening sessions to hear public input on how best to ensure the Water Boards’ programs and policies preserve, protect and restore California’s drinking water and water resources equitably for people of all races.  This input will be used to guide the development of racial equity resolutions and action plans.  This is the second of four sessions. Register online at https://bit.ly/32tpnl3For more information, click here.
  • FREE WEBINAR: Klamath Dams Q&A with Cal Trout from 5:30pm to 6:30pm. Last week, a historic agreement was reached to revive the plan to remove four dams on the Klamath River. Curious about the overall plan? Confused about the latest developments with PacifiCorp? Concerned about what happens next with the largest dam removal project in US history?  Our expert panel is here to help. In addition to answering your questions, the panel will provide an overview of the project history and timeline, the river restoration and monitoring plan, and the cultural and environmental case for removing these obsolete barriers to a free-flowing Klamath River.  Click here to register.

In California water news today …

Is California heading for a multi-year drought? The odds aren’t in our favor, experts say.

With no rain in the forecast for the rest of 2020 — thanks to a La Niña weather pattern pushing storms north of the state — the probability of California entering a multi-year drought is increasing.   “We did fortunately get some rain in November,” said Michelle Mead, a warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sacramento. “However, since that time, it has been drying, and we even had some wind events. So we’re very quickly back into fire season.” … ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here: Is California heading for a multi-year drought? The odds aren’t in our favor, experts say.

It might be almost December but fire concerns haven’t subsided. Here’s why

A dry start to the North State’s rainy season is raising fire concerns.  After no rain in October, Redding received just 1.5 inches of precipitation in November and hasn’t received any measurable rainfall since May.  That has fire officials warning residents that it’s still fire season. Moreover, the National Interagency Fire Center shows a significant potential for wildfire in the North State and portions of Southern California. … ”  Read more from the Redding Record Searchlight here: It might be almost December but fire concerns haven’t subsided. Here’s why

Addressing water affordability in urban California

In the midst of the pandemic and recession, the cost of delivering safe drinking water continues to rise across California, creating a crisis of affordability for water users and a revenue problem for water suppliers. We talked to Robert Shaver—board chair for the California Urban Water Agencies (CUWA) and general manager of the Alameda County Water District—about how the state’s largest public water agencies are thinking about this issue.  PPIC: How big of an issue is water affordability for customers of CUWA agencies?  ROBERT SHAVER: Our 11 member agencies serve 26 million people and our research shows that about a third of our customer base falls into the state’s definition of low income (at or below 200% of the federal poverty level). … ”  Read more from the PPIC here:  Addressing water affordability in urban California

Army ends plan to dredge regional waterways for oil tankers

A four-year battle over a plan to dredge 13 miles of waterways to clear San Francisco Bay for larger oil tankers ended Monday, with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announcing it was scuttling the project.  The announcement came officially as a notice of intent to not move forward, published in the Federal Register and dated Nov. 30.  “The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is issuing this notice to advise Federal, State and local governmental agencies and the public that USACE is terminating the San Francisco Bay to Stockton California Navigation Study and withdrawing its Notice of Intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for said study,” it said, in a summary. … ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  Army ends plan to dredge regional waterways for oil tankers

State audit report calls for fixing oil-review procedures

A yearlong state audit of California’s process for reviewing certain kinds of oilfield projects common in Kern County has identified bureaucratic shortfalls but found that regulators “generally complied” with proper procedures before handing out approvals.  In a report issued last week and based on regulatory actions from 2019, the California Department of Finance’s Office of State Audits and Evaluations recommended standardizing and bringing a new level of transparency to regulatory processes it said have not been carried out consistently.  … ”  Read more from the Bakersfield Californian here:  State audit report calls for fixing oil-review procedures

In California, rethinking who ‘owns’ wildfire

Even before this year’s record wildfires in California, Lenya Quinn-Davidson was pushing for a new approach to addressing fire risks. A fire area adviser with the University of California system, she has traversed the state since 2018 to promote the idea that controlled fires can help curb uncontrolled ones.  With her help, private landowners and others are learning how to use prescribed fires to thin the accumulated vegetation in woodlands.  But the challenge is formidable. … ”  Read more from the Christian Science Monitor here:  In California, rethinking who ‘owns’ wildfire

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In commentary today …

Delta tunnel would be a costly and ill-conceived response to today’s challenges, say Kathy Miller and Chuck Winn, San Joaquin County Supervisors

Re “Delta tunnel project would secure California’s water future” Commentary, Nov. 2, 2020, they write, “Jennifer Pierre’s commentary is disguising another ill-conceived water grab.   The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta tunnel plan has nothing to do with ecosystem restoration or environmental justice. It would burden environmental justice communities and increase water bills in the State Water Project service areas. Another massive over-budget state mega-project based on 19th century thinking cannot address current challenges. Persisting in this $16 billion-plus, 20-year construction folly will only further degrade our waterways, ecosystems and communities.  ... ”  Read more from Cal Matters here: Delta tunnel would be costly and ill-conceived response to today’s challenges

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In regional water news and commentary today …

Reclamation, Biggs-West Gridley Water District and Ducks Unlimited complete major milestone in Gray Lodge Wildlife Area water supply project

The Bureau of Reclamation, Ducks Unlimited, Inc. and Biggs-West Gridley Water District completed the second phase of a five-phase construction project to improve water conveyance for the Gray Lodge Wildlife Area. This milestone includes increasing capacity of two major canals that feed water to the Gray Lodge Wildlife Area, home to more than a million waterfowl annually.  Gray Lodge Wildlife Area is a 9,100-acre preserve located 55 miles northwest of Sacramento in Gridley. It is managed for wildlife and supports more than 300 species of resident and migrant birds and mammals.  “The completion of this project’s stage helps solidify a positive agricultural-and-environmental partnership that will serve the surrounding areas, as well as maximize water supplies needed to maintain mandated wetland refuge water supply,” said California-Great Basin Regional Direct Ernest Conant.” … ”  Read more from the Bureau of Reclamation here: Reclamation, Biggs-West Gridley Water District and Ducks Unlimited complete major milestone in Gray Lodge Wildlife Area water supply project

Tahoe Regional Planning Agency starts work to remove invasive plants in Taylor, Tallac creeks

Crews began work this month in the marsh system of Taylor and Tallac creeks in the southwest portion of the Lake Tahoe Basin to remove aquatic invasive plants from an abundant and impacted marsh ecosystem, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency said today.  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 Tahoe Daily Tribune here: Tahoe Regional Planning Agency starts work to remove invasive plants in Taylor, Tallac creeks

San Franciso: Changes in leadership at SFPUC spark concern, hope for future water policy

” …  The City’s powerful utilities agency is supporting agricultural irrigation districts’ work. The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) has joined them in resisting regulations designed to protect salmon by reducing diversions from the Tuolumne River, which feeds into the City’s Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in Yosemite. The City’s resistance doesn’t reflect San Francisco’s values nor is it necessary. Water demand from the Tuolumne River has dropped thanks to conservation, upgrades to city systems and new local supplies.  Now, leadership at the SFPUC is changing — two commissioners recently left and Mayor London Breed has only filled one position. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Examiner here: Changes in leadership at SFPUC spark concern, hope for future water policy

Bay Point Regional Shoreline reopened with improved visitor facilities, Delta water access

Bay Point Regional Shoreline reopened to the public Friday, November 20, 2020, after being closed for 14 months to restore habitat and construct public access improvements. The project, officially known as the Bay Point Regional Shoreline Habitat Restoration and Public Access Project, includes additional parking, bathrooms, picnic areas, drinking fountains, elevated walking and hiking trails, and a kayak launch.  Bay Point Regional Shoreline provides access to open space and marsh habitat in an area surrounded by residential, military, and industrial development. … ”  Read more from East County Today here: Bay Point Regional Shoreline reopened with improved visitor facilities, Delta water access

Metropolitan Water District COO to discuss making system more resilient to ‘catastrophic scenarios’ at virtual Pasadena Rotary meeting

The COO and assistant general manager of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, where Pasadena sources a significant amount of its water, will be discussing ways to strengthen the water system against “catastrophic scenarios” ranging from earthquakes and floods to climate change and shifting regulations.  Deven Upadhyay is scheduled to host the forum “The Metropolitan Water District — Planning for Resilience” in partnership with the Rotary Club of Pasadena online at noon Wednesday. … ”  Read more from Pasadena Now here: Metropolitan Water District COO to discuss making system more resilient to ‘catastrophic scenarios’ at virtual Pasadena Rotary meeting

Elsinore Valley MWD receives funding to develop Local Hazard Mitigation Plan

Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District has received a $125,000 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency toward the development of a Local Hazard Mitigation Plan.  FEMA’s Pre-Disaster Mitigation grant program provides funding assistance for states, tribal governments, territories and local communities to implement natural hazard mitigation programs. These programs help agencies like EVMWD to reduce the vulnerability of their communities, promote public safety and rapidly recover from any natural disasters. … ”  Read more from Valley News here: Elsinore Valley MWD receives funding to develop Local Hazard Mitigation Plan

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Along the Colorado River …

Colorado River Indian Tribes want to lease water for non-tribal use

The Colorado River Indian Tribes on the western edge of Arizona have the largest share of first-priority Colorado River water rights in the state. Now, the tribal council is proposing to lease some of its water for non-tribal use.   Colorado River Indian Tribes chairman Dennis Patch thinks tribal water can be a valuable tool in Arizona drought mitigation. … ”  Read more from KJZZ here: Colorado River Indian Tribes want to lease water for non-tribal use

NAU alum authors research into groundwater, an often overlooked, but essential factor in Colorado River management practices

The Colorado River is the seventh-largest river in the United States, and its basin spans seven U.S. and two Mexican states. It currently supplies water to 50 million people with an expected increase of 23 million by 2030. Because it winds its way through several different regions, the policies regulating it are complex, but without close management and monitoring, demands on this water source could outweigh its supply by 2060.  To address these concerns, Riley Swanson, a recent master’s graduate of geology who studied under the direction of Abraham Springer, professor in the School of Earth and Sustainability, led the study titled, “Quantifying the base flow of the Colorado River: its importance in sustaining perennial flow in northern Arizona and southern Utah (USA)” published in Hydrogeology Journal. … ”  Read more from NAU here: NAU alum authors research into groundwater, an often overlooked, but essential factor in Colorado River management practices

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In national water news today …

Can satellites fill gaps in agricultural water monitoring?

“As Earth’s population continues to rise and anthropogenic climate change threatens the habitability of parts of our planet, freshwater management is becoming a life-or-death issue for millions. Agriculture uses more of Earth’s freshwater than any other sector, primarily for crop irrigation. In places where water is scarce, policymakers are eager to regulate water usage and incentivize more conscientious practices. Key to advancing these goals, however, is accurately measuring how much water farmers are using. Installing metering devices on irrigation wells is one potential solution, but farmers may be disincentivized to cooperate with these efforts for fear of being charged for drawing too much water. As a result, metering remains rare in rich countries and is almost nonexistent in low-income areas.  … ”  Read more from EOS here: Can satellites fill gaps in agricultural water monitoring? 

As meteorological winter begins, here are 5 extreme weather patterns to look for

The start of December marks the transition into meteorological winter, and that means parts of the United States could face crippling snowstorms, ice storms and severe cold blasts in the months ahead.  Forecasters look for certain large-scale weather patterns that can sometimes signal the arrival of extreme winter weather conditions to give time for people to prepare.  Here are a few of the weather patterns we watch. … ”  Read more from The Weather Channel here: As meteorological winter begins, here are 5 extreme weather patterns to look for 

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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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