DAILY DIGEST, 1/5: Harnessing rice fields to resurrect California’s endangered salmon; When wildfire burns a high mountain forest, what happens to the snow?; Four U.S. water stories to watch in 2021; and more …



On the calendar today …

In California water news today …

Harnessing rice fields to resurrect California’s endangered salmon

It’s easy to see how biologists studying the fate of California’s native fish might fall into despair. That’s how Jacob Katz felt when he and his colleagues reported in 2011 that more than three-quarters of the state’s native freshwater fish, including its iconic Chinook salmon, were in sharp decline.  But Katz, a fly-fishing ecologist who directs Central Valley operations for the conservation nonprofit California Trout, isn’t the despairing type. His eyes lit up as he recalled the moment he realized the same forces leading California’s fish to the brink of extinction could be harnessed to reel them back. … ”  Read more from Inside Climate News here:  Harnessing rice fields to resurrect California’s endangered salmon

When wildfire burns a high mountain forest, what happens to the snow?

Record-breaking wildfires in 2020 turned huge swaths of Western forests into barren burn scars. Those forests store winter snowpack that millions of people rely on for drinking and irrigation water. But with such large and wide-reaching fires, the science on the short-term and long-term effects to the region’s water supplies isn’t well understood.  To understand, and possibly predict what happens after a river’s headwaters goes up in flames, researchers are descending on newly created burn scars across the West to gather data in the hopes of lessening some of the impacts on drinking water systems. ... ”  Read more from KUER here: When wildfire burns a high mountain forest, what happens to the snow?

What do winter storms mean for fish?

A winter storm is expected to blow through Northern California, bringing much-needed rain to the Valley and snow to the Sierra.  Rain coming in waves like it is this week is huge for fish.  To date, we are really behind in precipitation across most of the state and this sustained rain does a few things … ”  Read more from Cal Trout here: What do winter storms mean for fish?

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In regional water news and commentary today …

Northern California: Water advisories for California town continue

A California town of about 250 people with a water system that’s not working. Out of the three community wells in Hornbrook, two stopped pumping water and a third quickly ran out. Hornbrook officials rushing to find another culprit a leaky pipe.  In a matter of days the Hornbrook Community Service District’s President, Bob Puckett said the town’s water supply ran out.  “We started putting out flyers, but by the time we got them out we were out of the water,” said Puckett. … ”  Read more from Fox 26 here: Water advisories for California town continue

Chico: January rain might not be enough to improve drought impacts in 2021

Despite some rain through the first days of 2021, water analysts have warned much more is needed to offset many months of drought in the north state.  Active stormy weather Monday led to warnings from National Weather Service Sacramento about impacts on traffic and newly burned areas of the state, following another wetter week. Forecasts for the north state Monday were confident in snowfall at 4,000 feet and higher into Monday evening, with eight to 16 inches of snow possible. Heavier rainfall, up to 1.5 inches in the valley and up to two inches in the foothills, also prompted concern about slick roads and flooding in areas with ash and debris from fire, such as in the North Complex burn scar. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Chico: January rain might not be enough to improve drought impacts in 2021

Nevada Irrigation District turns 100 years old

Nevada Irrigation District (NID) is celebrating a milestone in 2021, as the District enters its 100th year of operation.  NID is poised to commemorate its anniversary with events, a new website (coming soon) and special features throughout the year, although celebrations will be adjusted due to COVID-19 pandemic. … ”  Read more from YubaNet here: Nevada Irrigation District turns 100 years old

Tuolumne Utilities District efforts to acquire PG&E water rights and infrastructure ‘still on track’

Tuolumne Utilities District efforts to acquire water rights and infrastructure from Pacific Gas and Electric Co. were slowed by the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, but TUD’s general manager said Tuesday that negotiations with the utility giant are “still on track,” and he is optimistic an agreement could be reached this year.  Leaders of TUD, the water-and-sewer agency that serves more than 40,000 Tuolumne County residents, are currently in what they describe as exclusive negotiations with PG&E to acquire water rights, Pinecrest and Lyons reservoirs, the Tuolumne Main Canal flumes and ditches, and Phoenix hydropower facilities. … ”  Read more from the Union Democrat here: Tuolumne Utilities District efforts to acquire PG&E water rights and infrastructure ‘still on track’

Thousands of birds put on dazzling display for Marin crowds

Thousands upon thousands of birds have flown together in dazzling shape-shifting formations at dusk above San Rafael, Calif., over the past two weeks.  The European starlings fly in flocks called “murmurations,” and these black clouds of birds have attracted mask-wearing crowds taking in the spectacle centered over the Olivet Cemetery. … ”  Read more from SF Gate here: Thousands of birds put on dazzling display for Marin crowds

Petition against Ballona wetlands project reaches over 8,000

A petition in opposition to a Ballona Wetlands restoration project approved by the state had more than 8,800 signatures as of Monday.  “It is under threat to be bulldozed and have more than 2 million cubic yards of life-filled soils excavated, moved around and re-sculpted, as if one can play ‘Frankenstein’ with nature,” the petition states. “This plan is for an amusement-type park that would eliminate habitat for many of the rare species that rely on Ballona today … this is not a good use of public money that was meant for protection of wetlands, grasslands and other fragile habitats.” … ”  Read more from Spectrum 1 News here:  Petition against Ballona wetlands project reaches over 8,000

Water Replenishment District’s next leader in limbo

A cloud of uncertainty hangs over the Water Replenishment District as staff, board members and the district’s attorneys try to navigate a legal minefield created by controversial attempts to hire former Carson Mayor Albert Robles as the agency’s new general manager.  The Water Replenishment District’s (WRD) primary operation is based in Long Beach, supplies the city’s recycled water and protects the ground water aquifer from seawater intrusion. … ”  Read more from the Grunion here:  Water Replenishment District’s next leader in limbo

Los Cerritos Wetlands Authority to try again for EIR approval

A meeting of the Los Cerritos Wetlands Authority is set for 12:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 7, with final certification of the Program Environmental Impact Report near the end of a heavy agenda.  This is the third attempt to conduct a meeting of the Authority board to certify the PEIR. Meetings were canceled in November and December. … ”  Read more from the Grunion here: Los Cerritos Wetlands Authority to try again for EIR approval

FEMA ranks Los Angeles County as riskiest in the nation; Riverside, San Bernardino Counties in top 10

Los Angeles County is the riskiest county in the country according to a new risk index – and Riverside and San Bernardino counties are not far behind.  The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Risk Index looked at 18 kinds of natural disasters, such as coastal flooding, drought, landslides, tsunamis, earthquakes, wildfires, strong winds, volcanic activity and heat and cold waves. The ranking also takes into account economic damage and the community’s ability to recover from a disaster. … ”  Read more from CBS Los Angeles here: FEMA ranks Los Angeles County as riskiest in the nation; Riverside, San Bernardino Counties in top 10

San Diego’s climate challenges will still be here in 2021 – and beyond

Unfortunately, just because we see light at the end of one global crisis tunnel doesn’t mean we can let our guard down on another – this is true for climate change in San Diego.  The two are inextricably linked, as the suspected animal-to-human spread of COVID-19 is widely seen in the scientific community as a symptom of human caused-climate change. That’s because deforestation and intensive agriculture push wildlife out of their natural habitats and closer to interacting with us.  All the more reason for metropolises to plan well for the balance of its ecosystems and learn to live with the damage already done. Now that the hell of 2020 is officially wrapped, I’m taking a dive into some of the localized climate problems we left boiling on the back burner. … ”  Read more from the Voice of San Diego here:  San Diego’s climate challenges will still be here in 2021 – and beyond

Port of San Diego and California State Coastal Conservancy collaborate to create a native oyster living shoreline

The Port of San Diego is one step closer to creating a living shoreline to attract and establish native oyster populations while also protecting the shoreline from impacts related to future sea level rise. The first nature-based solution of its kind in San Diego Bay, the native oyster living shoreline pilot project and study is in collaboration with the California State Coastal Conservancy. … ”  Read more from San Diego News here:  Port of San Diego and California State Coastal Conservancy collaborate to create a native oyster living shoreline

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In national water news today …

Four U.S. water stories to watch in 2021

Now that the calendar has flipped to January 2021, it’s time to say goodbye to the mess of the past year, yes? The baggage from 2020 was discarded, left behind at the station when the clock struck midnight, right?  Appealing as that might be, the answer is no.  Far from being in the rearview, the upheaval of the last year will set the stage for the next 12 months and beyond. … Unanticipated storylines will undoubtedly arise — who, a year ago, expected such tumult from a virus? — but some trends are known in advance. The contours of these four stories have already taken shape. ... ”  Read more from Circle of Blue here:  Four U.S. water stories to watch in 2021

January 2021 outlook: wetter and warmer than average for much of the United States

To kick start 2021 in the United States, the January outlook from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center favors wetter- and warmer-than-average conditions for much of the country, which is particularly good news across drought- and wildfire-stricken parts of northern California.  Here’s your first reminder of the new year from Climate.gov: the climate outlook maps are not a forecast for the absolute temperature or precipitation amounts in January. Instead, they are the probability (percent chance) that January temperatures or precipitation will be in the upper, middle, or lower third of the climatological record (1981-2010) for January … ”  Read more from Climate.gov here:  January 2021 outlook: wetter and warmer than average for much of the United States

SEE ALSO2021 Weather Outlook: Is 2021 Shaping Up to Match Drought of 2012?

Enjoying new clout, environmental justice groups may press Biden

Though it may have been eclipsed in headlines and worrying by the coronavirus pandemic, the climate crisis has not gone away.  As new President Joe Biden tries to implement policies with the goal of redirecting economic development toward greenhouse gas reduction, he’ll have to contend with pressure not only from groups on the right who oppose environmental regulations, but with those on the left who may see Biden’s plans as too timid.  KQED science reporter Kevin Stark has been following the rising clout of an environmental coalition that has not always been a part of mainstream environmental thinking, but which helped derail the candidacy of California’s well-regarded environmental official Mary Nichols as head of Biden’s Environmental Protection Agency. He spoke with KQED’s Brian Watt about what these groups may want from the new administration. … ”  Read more from KQED here: Enjoying new clout, environmental justice groups may press Biden

Biden urged to flood agencies with environmental equity advisers

The time is ripe to bring a wave of environmental justice advisers into federal agencies to ensure the incoming Biden administration makes good on its pledge to improve racial equity across government, advocates and attorneys say.  Placing such advisers in high-level positions, with direct access to Cabinet secretaries and agency administrators, would elevate issues such as pollution that disproportionately affect low-income and minority populations, observers say. ... ”  Read more from Bloomberg here: Biden urged to flood agencies with environmental equity advisers

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Today’s featured articles …

DELTA AGENCY UPDATES: Carbon capture in the Delta is up; Recreation in the Delta, not so much …

The Delta Stewardship Council’s December meeting included updates from the Delta Conservancy and the Delta Protection Commission.

Click here to read this article.


BLOG ROUND-UP: Working together for a sustainable San Joaquin Valley; Delta smelt: 2020 status; Colorado River blues redux; and more …

Click here to read this article.

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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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