DAILY DIGEST, 12/22: Feinstein: CA water priorities well-represented in omnibus funding bill; Scientists use new methods to better forecast atmospheric rivers; Lessons from San Diego’s approach to wildfires; and more …

In California water news today …

Feinstein: California water priorities well-represented in omnibus funding bill

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today applauded the inclusion of California water priorities in the federal funding bill for fiscal 2021 including Feinstein provisions to improve dam safety and establish an airborne snow observatory and measurement program within the Department of the Interior.   “Modernizing our water infrastructure is one of the most important investments we can make in California’s future,” Feinstein said. “We know climate change is real and that it’s having tangible effects now. We see it in wildfires every year, and we see it in the dry weather and droughts that plague us. We have to do more to save water from the wet years to use in the dry years, and this bill moves us toward that goal. It also makes critical investments in dam safety and climate change research, and I’m proud to support it.” … ”  Read more from Senator Feinstein here:  Feinstein: California Water Priorities Well-Represented in Omnibus Funding Bill

Friant-Kern Canal Repairs Receive $206 Million in 2021 Federal Appropriations Bill

The Friant-Kern Canal Middle Reach Capacity Correction Project will receive $206 million in funding as part of the Fiscal Year 2021 appropriations and COVID-relief package passed by Congress. Once signed by President Trump, the appropriations would provide timely funding for the project as construction is expected to start in early 2021.  Earlier this year, the Department of the Interior initially requested $71 million in project funding, which is authorized under the Water Infrastructure Investments for the Nation Act of 2016 (WIIN Act), as part of the Bureau of Reclamation’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 recommended projects list required by the WIIN Act. But, in early December, the Department augmented that request by $135 million for a total budget request of $206 million, which is nearly half of the Friant-Kern Canal Middle Reach Capacity Correction Project’s estimated cost of about $500 million. …

Click here to continue reading this press release.

Since we began working to restore the Friant-Kern Canal’s capacity more than three years ago, one of the most common questions we’ve been asked is how we plan to finance the project, and whether the Federal government would be a meaningful funding partner for fixing this Federally-owned facility,” said Friant Water Authority (FWA) Chief Executive Officer Jason Phillips. “Today, the answer to that question became clear. Once again, we’ve seen the President and his administration prioritize and follow through with actions and projects that will deliver actual water supply benefits for the San Joaquin Valley’s communities and farms.”

“Speaking on behalf of our members and the more than 15,000 farms and dozens of communities who rely on the Friant-Kern Canal, I want to extend deep gratitude and appreciation to our representatives in Congress, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Rep. Devin Nunes, Senator Dianne Feinstein, Rep. Jim Costa and Rep. TJ Cox for their work to advocate for and advance the needs of the Friant Division,” said FWA Chairman Chris Tantau. “This funding will keep FWA on schedule to award a construction contract and begin implementing the project early next year.”

The Friant-Kern Canal was planned and constructed in the mid-20th century to supply San Joaquin River water to cities and irrigators and to stabilize regional groundwater aquifers that had been in overdraft for several decades. The canal’s middle reach has lost more than half of its carrying capacity due to regional land subsidence, jeopardizing both the canal’s ability to achieve its original purposes and to help achieve long-term sustainability under the state’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. The Friant-Kern Canal Middle Reach Capacity Correction Project will restore the canal’s design capacity through 30 miles of its most conveyance-restricted section, which runs from around the city of Porterville to Delano.  State and Federal environmental reviews for the project were completed in September 2020 and the project’s Record of Decision was signed on November 4, 2020.

Scientists use new methods to better forecast atmospheric rivers

Earlier this year, the Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes (CW3E) launched a new sub-seasonal to seasonal (S2S) forecast product to better predict the influence atmospheric rivers will have on the Western United States. Better and more accurate forecasting tools for atmospheric rivers are critical for a number of community uses, including water management, agriculture, insurance and commodities trading, to name a few.  The demand for better atmospheric forecasting tools has facilitated the development of the new S2S forecasting products launched by CW3E this year. … ”  Read more from the Sierra Nevada Ally here:  Scientists use new methods to better forecast atmospheric rivers

A soil moisture monitoring network to assess controls on runoff generation during atmospheric river events

CW3E hydrologist Edwin Sumargo, CW3E affiliate Hilary McMillan, CW3E mesoscale modeler Rachel Weihs, CW3E field researcher Carly Ellis, CW3E field research manager Anna Wilson, and CW3E Director F. Martin Ralph published a paper in the Hydrological Processes, titled “A soil moisture monitoring network to assess controls on runoff generation during atmospheric river events” (Sumargo et al. 2020). As part of CW3E’s 2019-2024 Strategic Plan to support Forecast Informed Reservoir Operations (FIRO), CW3E researches the impacts of atmospheric rivers (ARs) on water management and public safety in order to improve the prediction capability. This study highlights the role of soil moisture in runoff generation from precipitation during AR events and the value-added for hydrologic model design and calibration. Ultimately, this work supports ongoing collaborations involving CW3E, California Department of Water Resources, NOAA, Sonoma Water, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to improve streamflow predictions and develop situational awareness tools for FIRO at Lake Mendocino. … ”  Read more from the Center for Western Weather & Water Extremes here:  A soil moisture monitoring network to assess controls on runoff generation during atmospheric river events

Lessons from San Diego’s approach to wildfires

California’s record-shattering 2020 fire season capped a string devastating seasons that began in 2017 and saw both ends of the state by plagued by massive blazes. This year’s fires spread quickly, blanketed cities and countryside with choking smoke and disrupted the daily lives of Californians for much of the summer and fall. And the risk has continued into winter: Winds this week could bring heightened fire danger to Southern California, which hasn’t yet received enough rain to end the fire season. But San Diego has largely escaped the conflagrations seen in other parts of California over the last several years. This fact has not gone unnoticed by those who study fire. Crystal Kolden, a fire scientist at the University of California at Merced, and her colleagues have actually wondered: Is San Diego just lucky? Or is it doing something right? … ”  Read more from the Voice of San Diego here:  Lessons from San Diego’s approach to wildfires

Picture this research – a photo blog from the Center for Watershed Sciences

Holidays are a natural time of introspection on who we are, what we do, and why. Towards a bit of our own self-reflection, some researchers from UC Davis’ Center for Watershed Sciences (CWS) have each contributed a photo and short description of their work. We hope you enjoy reading about us and learning even more about us. It is hopefully a soft bookend to a wild 2020!”  Check it out at the California Water Blog here:  Picture this research – a photo blog from the Center for Watershed Sciences

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In regional water news and commentary today …

Klamath Basin:  When water dries up, it can be deadly

In Oregon, the Klamath Basin wildlife refuges have fallen into their winter silence now. The huge, clamorous flocks of geese that fill the sky during migration have moved south.  This summer, a different silence gripped the Basin. A dead silence. The 90,000 acres of marshes and open water that make up the Lower Klamath and Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuges are a small remnant of vast wetlands that once filled this region on the Oregon-California border.  With over 75% of those wetlands now converted to agriculture, the refuges are a last precious oasis for nesting waterfowl and other marsh birds. For this oasis to burst with life, it simply needs water. Sadly, nothing is simple about water in the Klamath Basin. And this summer, that led to tragedy. … ”  Read more from the Steamboat Pilot here:  When water dries up, it can be deadly

South Cypress Island Side Channel Restoration Project completed in Redding

Restoration work on the South Cypress Island Side Channel along the Sacramento River has been completed, marking yet another important milestone in continuing work on salmon recovery programs in the Sacramento Valley. Located immediately downstream of the Cypress Street Bridge in Redding, the project provides 4.8 acres of rearing side channel/pond habitat and almost an acre of spawning gravel for Chinook salmon and steelhead in the Sacramento River, including the endangered winter-run Chinook. The project connected existing ponds and low-lying areas within Henderson Open Space to establish a continuously flowing cold-water side channel.  … ”

Click here to continue reading this press release.

Construction began on the side channel portion of the project in early November, with equipment operators from a number of Sacramento River Settlement Contractor (SRSC) districts performing the work. More than 13,000 cubic yards of material were excavated during the project, and 3,000 cubic yards were put back into the river for spawning habitat. Now that the channel work has been completed, two pedestrian bridges will be constructed to maintain access, public safety and enhance recreational opportunities. This work is expected to be completed in March.

“This project is kind of a home makeover for Sacramento River’s Chinook Salmon,” said John Hannon, Fish Biologist with the Bureau of Reclamation. “We constructed the side channel for juvenile fish so they will have a place to grow, feed and be safe from predators before they head down the river to the ocean.”

The South Cypress Island Side Channel, designed to function even at the lowest allowable Sacramento River flows (3,250 cubic feet per second), creates a much needed ‘fish nursery’ refuge for juvenile salmonids before they migrate out to the ocean. The project includes native riparian planting and other habitat features that will provide protective cover, slower flows, and sources of food.

Like other salmon recovery projects along the Upper Sacramento River, this project has a wide variety of partners including: the Sacramento River Forum, Chico State Enterprises, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, River Partners, and the Sacramento River Settlement Contractors (SRSC). The SRSC, led by Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District and Reclamation District 108, provided 11 equipment operators for the side channel construction. Consultant expertise was used for the restoration design and special materials handling. Participating SRSC districts included the City of Redding, Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District, Reclamation District 108, Reclamation District 787, Reclamation District 1004, Reclamation District 1500, and the Tehama-Colusa Canal Authority.

Funding for the project is provided through the Central Valley Project Improvement Act Restoration Fund, which is co-managed by the Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The project supports objectives contained in the California Natural Resources Agency Sacramento Valley Salmon Resiliency Strategy, NOAA Fisheries Central Valley Salmon and Steelhead Recovery Plan, the Sacramento Valley Salmon Recovery Program, and the Upper Sacramento River Anadromous Fish Habitat Restoration Program.

Antioch approves $87 million bid for brackish water desalination plant

Shimmick Construction Co. has been awarded a nearly $87 million contract to build Antioch’s brackish water desalination plant.  The City Council unanimously approved the company’s bid during a special meeting Friday after rejecting a protest bid from C. Overaa & Co., which also wanted the job. The $86,689,000 contract with Shimmick will include a 5% contingency of $4,334,450 in case of unforeseen costs for a total of $91,023,450. … ”  Read more from the East Bay Times here:  Antioch approves $87 million bid for brackish water desalination plant

After 51 years, you can finally hike this Bay Area park. I did, and it made me furious.

I’m blinded by seething rage as I pass by the entrance kiosk of Palo Alto’s Foothills Park.  “Look at this f—king lake. It’s beautiful,” I mutter under my breath. “Jesus, are those docks? And of course there’s a god damn meadow, is that a deer? Oh my god, are those baby deer? And this is the bathroom? Did the Ahwahnee design this s—t? COME ON.”  To understand my rage, you need to understand the history of Foothills Park. … ”  Read more from SF Gate here: After 51 years, you can finally hike this Bay Area park. I did, and it made me furious.

Waves off Central Coast contain clues about changing climate. Is California due for drought?

The waves along the Central Coast can tell you a lot about our changing climate, and here’s why.  The Diablo Canyon Power Plant’s Waverider Buoy has measured wave heights and periods since June 1983 and directions since June 1996 and is one of the longest continuous-wave monitoring stations along the West Coast.  Scripps Institute of Oceanography’s Coastal Data Information Program (CDIP) maintains an extensive network of buoys that monitor waves along the coastlines of the United States. … ”  Read more from the San Luis Obispo Tribune here: Waves off Central Coast contain clues about changing climate. Is California due for drought?

Santa Barbara: Storm impact map unveiled

Significant regrowth has occurred in the foothills and canyons above Montecito, Summerland and Carpinteria three years after the devastating Thomas Fire and subsequent debris flow, though the areas are still at risk for future events.  Last week, county emergency officials were joined by fire, flood control and weather specialists to discuss the ongoing potential for disaster, while also outlining the progress that has occurred in these areas.  Kevin Cooper, a biologist with the Montecito Fire Protection District who has been tracking the vegetation growth in the burn scar for the past several years, shared a series of images that showed the recovery in areas above the coastal communities. … ”  Read more from the Visalia Times Delta here:  Santa Barbara: Storm impact map unveiled

Eastern Municipal Water District kicks off Perris North Groundwater Program

Eastern Municipal Water District (EMWD) this week kicked off its Perris North Groundwater Program with the construction of two groundwater wells in northern Moreno Valley.  The program is a long-term solution to improve groundwater quality in the Perris North Groundwater Basin, located in the Moreno Valley area. The program will not only address groundwater contamination, but it will also provide safe drinking water for approximately 15,000 households annually. … ”  Read more from Eastern Municipal Water District here:  Eastern Municipal Water District kicks off Perris North Groundwater Program

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In national water news today …

Where are lead service lines? Look for older homes and poverty

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency can do more to help water utilities and the public identify neighborhoods that are more likely to have lead drinking water pipes, according to a Government Accountability Office report.  The GAO, a watchdog agency that works for Congress, concluded that the EPA has not met the requirements of a 2016 law intended to improve the agency’s public communication of lead pipe risks.  In written comments to the GAO, David Ross, the EPA assistant administrator for water, said that the agency “disagrees with many of the findings” and rejected three of the GAO’s four recommendations. Ross said the EPA could not elaborate because the agency is still finalizing revisions to federal rules for lead in drinking water that it expects to publish by the end of the year. … ”  Read more from Circle of Blue here: Where are lead service lines? Look for older homes and poverty 

‘Forever chemicals’ pollute water from Alaska to Florida

Tom Kennedy learned about the long-term contamination of his family’s drinking water about two months after he was told that his breast cancer had metastasized to his brain and was terminal.  The troubles tainting his tap: per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a broad category of chemicals invented in the mid-1900s to add desirable properties such as stain-proofing and anti-sticking to shoes, cookware and other everyday objects. … ”  Read more from the Guardian here:  ‘Forever chemicals’ pollute water from Alaska to Florida

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Today’s featured articles …

DELTA WATERMASTER: Preparing for possible dry times ahead in the Delta

At the December meeting of the State Water Board, Delta Watermaster Michael George gave his semi-annual update to the Board.  His presentation focused on the Office of the Delta Watermaster‘s efforts and the Division of Water Rights to prepare for administering water rights in the Delta during the next drought, which given the dry fall so far, could come as soon as this summer.

I really want to take most of the time today to take a deep dive into the challenges of administering Delta water rights,” he said.  “I do so at this moment because 2020 has been a dry year, and we are heading into 2021, which has also been dry, and current forecasts suggest that dry period may continue.  So we’ve all been very focused on the need to be ready when we are challenged by the next shortage in the Delta by capturing what we’ve learned from previous droughts and recognizing what we could have done better.  And that’s a large part of what I’m talking about a deeper dive on administering water rights in the Delta.”

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BLOG ROUND-UP: Sacramento Valley blessings: water + land + sunlight; Lessons in American River hatchery management; The truth behind big, beautiful reforestation initiatives; and more …

Click here to read the blog round-up.

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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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