DAILY DIGEST, 1/7: Researchers propose a framework for evaluating impacts of climate change on CA’s water, power; Delta Conveyance Project alternatives screening process; Sacramento: Flood board makes no-fence policy official; and more …



In California water news today …

Researchers propose a framework for evaluating impacts of climate change on California’s water and energy systems

As the planet continues to warm, the twin challenges of diminishing water supply and growing energy demand will intensify. But water and energy are inextricably linked. For instance, nearly a fifth of California’s energy goes toward water-related activities, while more than a tenth of the state’s electricity comes from hydropower. As society tries to adapt to one challenge, it needs to ensure it doesn’t worsen the other.  To this end, researchers from UC Santa Barbara, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and UC Berkeley have developed a framework to evaluate how different climate adaptations may impact this water-energy nexus. Their research appears in the open access journal Environmental Research Letters. … ”  Read more from The Current here: Researchers propose a framework for evaluating impacts of climate change on California’s water and energy systems

Delta Conveyance Project alternatives screening process

Selection of alternatives to evaluate in an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) is an important component of public agency project planning and is typically a required as part of the environmental review decision-making process. The Department of Water Resources (DWR) has initiated this process for the proposed Delta Conveyance Project and is currently preparing a Draft EIR in compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).  With regard to alternatives, CEQA directs that an EIR must analyze a reasonable range of potentially feasible alternatives that meet most of the project’s objectives and avoid or reduce potential significant environmental impacts of the proposed project. … ”  Read more from DWR News here: Delta Conveyance Project alternatives screening process

Delta Conveyance Project: Introduction to community benefits program development

Large infrastructure projects typically develop a set of commitments made by the project proponent as a “community benefits program” that is created in coordination with the local community. These commitments are usually made separate from, and in addition to, permit terms or environmental mitigation required of the project as a condition of agency approval and can include a wide range of benefits.  The purpose of a community benefits program goes beyond traditional concepts of “mitigation” and is to demonstrate goodwill and a concern regarding potential adverse effects that communities may endure through construction of major capital construction works. This type of program attempts to provide greater flexibility in addressing these potential effects than what is afforded in existing regulatory processes. … ”  Read more from DWR News here: Delta Conveyance Project: Introduction to community benefits program development

Delta Conveyance Project Public engagement outlook for 2021-2022

As the planning process for the proposed Delta Conveyance Project continues to move forward, public information and community engagement will remain a central and important focus. Looking ahead to the next few years and release of a Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for public review in mid-2022, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) has prepared a public outreach plan that identifies information and engagement opportunities and milestones. … ” Read more from DWR News here: Delta Conveyance Project Public engagement outlook for 2021-2022

Dungeness crab fishing industry adapts to climate shock event

An unprecedented marine heat wave that led to a massive harmful algal bloom and a lengthy closure of the West Coast Dungeness crab fishery significantly altered the use of ocean resources across seven California crab-fishing communities. … That event, which is considered a “climate shock” because of its severity and impact, tested the resilience of California’s fishing communities, researchers from Oregon State University, the University of Washington and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center found. … ”  Read more from the Del Norte Triplicate here: Dungeness crab fishing industry adapts to climate shock event

California’s sequoias and redwoods can survive climate change—if we help them

On a rolling granite hill in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, on a hot August night, tree scientist Kristen Shive camped beneath a giant sequoia tree she estimated could be a thousand years old.  Her employer, the nonprofit Save the Redwoods League, had just bought the property on which the tree stood, a 530-acre forest outside Sequoia National Park packed with ancient trees. Plans for how to preserve them spun through her head as she stared up at the stars through the tree’s frilly foliage. … ”  Read more from National Geographic here: California’s sequoias and redwoods can survive climate change—if we help them

ACWA requests water workers receive early covid-19 vaccination

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) on Jan. 4 announced California’s COVID-19 vaccine plan, which includes those at risk of exposure at work in the water and wastewater sector in Phase 1C.  “I am pleased that CDPH recognized that the water sector provides essential services and needed to be prioritized for vaccines,” said ACWA Executive Director Dave Eggerton. … ”  Read more from ACWA’s Water News here:  ACWA requests water workers receive early covid-19 vaccination

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In regional water news and commentary today …

McKinleyville could help supply Trinidad water

The McKinleyville Community Services District Board of Directors may decide tonight, Jan. 6 whether to participate in a feasibility study that would look at constructing a water line from McKinleyville to the Trinidad Rancheria. … Under the proposal, the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District would sell water directly to the Trinidad Rancheria, but the water would pass through McKinleyville’s pipelines, which extend to the Dow’s Prairie area. A new pipeline would need to be built from the northern end of McKinleyville up the casino, located south of Trinidad. ... ”  Read more from the Mad River Union here: McKinleyville could help supply Trinidad water

Prominent Ukiah area water managers jockey for seat at the table as Water Board considers drought management

Last water year was the third driest on record in the upper Russian River watershed. In downtown San Francisco, the 2020 calendar year was the second driest since record keeping began in 1850, and forecasts are showing a dry January on the horizon.  Needless to say, we may be barreling towards drought in 2021, which could lead to curtailments in water use like we saw in 2014. … ”  Read more from the Mendocino Voice here: Prominent Ukiah area water managers jockey for seat at the table as Water Board considers drought management

CC Harbor, Rowdy Creek Fish Hatchery explores potential chinook rearing project using net pens at port

The Crescent City Harbor may become a nursery for juvenile chinook salmon if a partnership with the Rowdy Creek Fish Hatchery moves forward.  Commissioners on Tuesday discussed working with the Smith River-based hatchery and its parent entity, the Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation, as a path forward for establishing net pens at the harbor. Those pens would provide refuge for fingerling salmon from the hatchery, protecting them from birds and sea lions and acclimatizing them to life in the ocean, according to Commissioner Rick Shepherd. … ”  Read more from the Lost Coast Outpost here: CC Harbor, Rowdy Creek Fish Hatchery explores potential chinook rearing project using net pens at port

Businesses, residents support Tahoe underwater cleanup, meet $100,000 match

The Tahoe Fund announced Tuesday that Tahoe Blue Vodka’s $100,000 match has been met, allowing the nonprofit Clean Up The Lake to begin its massive effort to remove trash around all 72-miles of Lake Tahoe this spring.  Support to meet the match was overwhelming, with more than 135 businesses and people donating to the cause, including $25,000 from Vail Resorts.  Beneath the surface of Lake Tahoe, long known for its famed clarity and brilliant blue waters, thousands of pounds of trash are breaking apart and impacting the lake’s aquatic habitats. ... ”  Read more from the Tahoe Daily Tribune here: Businesses, residents support Tahoe underwater cleanup, meet $100,000 match

Plan proposes first ever use of herbicides in Lake Tahoe

In the Tahoe Keys—a neighborhood of houses and artificial lagoons with easy boat access to Lake Tahoe, one of America’s least polluted lakes—the water is not blue but a murky mass of green, filled with invasive weeds. Dogs have died from swimming in the canals, which is prone to toxic algae blooms. Activists want to wall the Keys off from the lake.  The neighborhood association is proposing to tackle the problem with herbicides, which have never been used before in Lake Tahoe. The lake enjoys an Outstanding National Resource Water designation, granting it special legal water quality protections that environmentalists say would be violated by the use of herbicides. In order to justify their use, all other options must be exhausted, and the most obvious solution has yet to be tried: Eliminate the conditions in which the weeds grow and restore the area to natural and beneficial marsh. … ”  Read more from Sierra Magazine here: Plan proposes first ever use of herbicides in Lake Tahoe

Three-story tall mural celebrates the beauty of the Lower American River

On a cold, cloudy December day, high above the Sacramento County Administration Building plaza in downtown Sacramento, two men begin the process of installing a new three-story-tall work of art.  Commissioned by the Sacramento Water Forum for its 20th Anniversary, the artwork celebrates the beauty and wonder of the Lower American River, the Sacramento region’s crown jewel and the only nationally designated Wild and Scenic River running through a major metropolitan area.  Slowly over the next three days, the two men would transform an expansive blank brick canvas into a startling image teeming with Chinook salmon, steelhead trout, beaver, otter, raccoon, coyote and people enjoying the river as the walk, bicycle and play along the shore. … ”  Read more from ACWA’s Water News here:  Three-story tall mural celebrates the beauty of the Lower American River

Sacramento: Flood board makes no-fence policy official

The weight of public authority continues to crush a handful of property owners who fought for decades to keep people away from the Sacramento River levee in Pocket, Greenhaven and Little Pocket. The latest victory for public access comes from the Central Valley Flood Protection Board, the state agency that owns and controls the levees. In November, the flood board formally canceled its 1996 policy that permitted nine private fences and gates to block the levee. The old policy allowed property owners to seal off public access and create private playgrounds for themselves along the waterfront. The vote to drop the policy was unanimous. … ”  Read more from Inside Sacramento here: Flood board makes no-fence policy official

State of California approves Yolo County conservation plan

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife recently approved the Yolo Habitat Conservancy’s Regional Conservation Investment Strategy/Local Conservation Plan — which identifies priorities to guide public and private conservation actions.  The RCIS/LCP is a voluntary, landscape-scale conservation plan in order to guide conservation actions such as habitat restoration and protection. According to a statement from Yolo County Public Information Officer, Jenny Tan, it will “encourage further non-regulatory conservation in Yolo County to meet species needs not already addressed by the Yolo Habitat Conservancy’s ongoing conservation activities through the Yolo Habitat Conservation Plan/Natural Community Conservation Plan.” … ”  Read more from the Woodland Daily Democrat here: State of California approves Yolo County conservation plan

Point Reyes: California Coastal Commission signals concern over testing in park

A process for monitoring water quality should be better fleshed out in the National Park Service’s plan for managing ranchlands in the Point Reyes National Seashore, the California Coastal Commission states.  The commission is one of a handful of regulatory agencies tasked with reviewing the seashore’s general management plan amendment, which will govern the historic ranching operations and tule elk herds across 28,000 acres. Although the coastal commission does not have jurisdiction over federal lands, it considered the 20-year plan for the spillover effects on coastal resources, looking for consistency with the California Coastal Act. On Jan. 14, the commission will hold a public hearing to present its findings, and the park service will respond. … ”  Read more from the Point Reyes Light here: California Coastal Commission signals concern over testing in park

Santa Clara: Work on Valley Water’s largest reservoir moves forward

The Santa Clara Valley Water District has been lowering the water level on the Anderson Dam since Oct. 1 to keep the region safe from potentially catastrophic flooding in the event of a major earthquake.  The Anderson Reservoir can hold up to 90,000 acre-feet of water and is now at three percent capacity, which is the lowest feasible level given the position of the existing outlet tunnel. At its current level, even a heavy rainy season would not pose dam failure and flooding risk; keeping some water in the reservoir helps preserve some wildlife habitat. Beyond immediate safety, one of the main reasons for lowering the water level is to allow for construction to begin on a major seismic retrofit project for the dam. … ”  Read more from Silicon Valley Voice here: Work on Valley Water’s largest reservoir moves forward

State water board worries Paso Robles groundwater decline will impact domestic wells

As North County water stakeholders wait for the state’s approval of a 20-year Paso Robles Groundwater Basin sustainability plan, the State Water Resources Control Board recently expressed concerns about whether that plan does enough to reverse the basin’s decline and protect domestic well users.  The water board’s Dec. 8 comments list several qualms about the basin and the plan, including that shallower domestic wells could “experience substantial impacts” if groundwater trends continue. It says the plan does not address the extent to which domestic wells—as well as public water systems—could be impacted. … ”  Read more from New Times SLO here: State water board worries Paso Robles groundwater decline will impact domestic wells 

Curtin Maritime to dredge the Port of Hueneme

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Los Angeles District is beginning a dredging project at the Port of Hueneme main channel to maintain the proper channel depth.  According to the Army Corps, Curtin Maritime Corp. will dredge the main channel starting Jan. 5 with a projected completion date of March 27. … ”  Read more from Dredging Today here: Curtin Maritime to dredge the Port of Hueneme

Bakersfield: Reservoir proposal above lake prompts concerns

A proposal for a new reservoir above Lake Isabella has surprised some residents who have expressed some initial concerns about the project’s impact on water flow on the Kern River.  Premium Energy Holdings asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for permission to build a “pumped storage” electric power plant above Lake Isabella. … “The Isabella Pumped Storage Project would use the existing Isabella reservoir as a lower pool and proposes a new reservoir in the Greenhorn Mountains or the Piute Mountains, to serve as upper pool,” Premium said in its application. “The filling of these reservoirs would be done through the seasonal high flow of the existing Kern River.” … ”  Read more from the Kern Valley Sun here: Bakersfield: Reservoir proposal above lake prompts concerns

Pasadena: Arroyo Seco Foundation opposes canyon project

In a letter to the city’s Hearing Officer, the Arroyo Seco (ASF) Foundation said it opposes plans by the Pasadena Water and Power Department (PWP) to upgrade facilities in the Upper Arroyo Seco damaged by the 2009 Station Fire.  Damage to the structures has greatly reduced the city’s capacity to divert water from the Arroyo Seco for spreading and pumping.  According to the city, the Arroyo Seco Canyon Project would improve infrastructure at the Arroyo Seco in order to boost PWP’s local supply resources and capacity for more robust water supply goals. … ”  Read more from Pasadena Now here: Pasadena: Arroyo Seco Foundation opposes canyon project

Long Beach moving forward with sweeping climate plan that’s been years in the making

The City Council on Tuesday took a procedural step toward enacting a plan to drastically reduce local greenhouse gas emissions in the hopes of mitigating the worst effects of climate change, including  extreme heat and sea level rise, that could have a dire impact on Long Beach.  City staff delivered a report Tuesday night about the plan, which has been in the works for years. Staffers said they’ve devised methods to help lessen the expected impacts of climate change, meet state-mandated greenhouse gas emissions standards by 2030 and put the city on a course for a more aspirational goal of carbon neutrality by 2045. … ” Read more from the Long Beach Post here: Long Beach moving forward with sweeping climate plan that’s been years in the making

Doheny Ocean Desalination Project awarded $11.7m in federal funding

South Coast Water District’s Doheny Ocean Desalination Project has achieved a major funding milestone with the passage of the 2021 federal spending bill. With its passage, Congress has appropriated roughly $17.6 million for local water projects including $11.7 million for the Doheny Ocean Desalination Project in Dana Point, California.  “Congress has recognized the important need that our region and District has for a reliable, diverse water supply for our future,” said Rick Shintaku, District General Manager. … ”  Read more from ACWA’s Water News here:  Doheny Ocean Desalination Project awarded $11.7m in federal funding

Southern California:  Trashed bathrooms, discarded masks, broken sleds: Revelers make a mess in the mountains

Residents of Julian, Mount Laguna and the Cleveland National Forest in Southern California are asking people who visit the mountain areas to revel in the snow to do what the signs say: “Pack it in. Pack it out.”  Photos shared by the U.S. Forest Service over the past few days show dirty public restrooms, toppled trash cans, and boxes, bags and broken sleds left behind, apparently by visitors who came to play in the region’s higher elevations last week. ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here: Trashed bathrooms, discarded masks, broken sleds: Revelers make a mess in the mountains

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Along the Colorado River …

Desert pipeline tests Colorado River’s future

West of Lake Powell, along the Utah-Arizona border, lies a sparsely populated territory of high desert, deeply scored canyons and barren mesas. Here, Utah officials want to build a 140-mile-long pipeline to bring precious Colorado River water west to the thriving town of St. George, in the state’s far southwestern corner.  In an era of perennial drought, when the future of the Colorado River watershed, the lifeline of the U.S. Southwest, is the subject of fierce debate in state capitols across the region, the idea of bringing more than 26 billion gallons of water a year to a community of fewer than 200,000 people on the edge of the Mojave Desert strikes many as folly. To officials in Washington County, of which St. George is the county seat, though, it is a critical resource for the future. … ”  Read more from S&P Global Market Intelligence here: Desert pipeline tests Colorado River’s future

Western Slope needs to suspend irrigation to avert water shortage catastrophe, says Brian Richter, president of Sustainable Waters

He writes, “Among the important lessons learned from the COVID pandemic is that we need to be ever vigilant in monitoring for big emerging threats. And we must be poised to respond when risks escalate.  Given the dangerous water shortage risks mounting in the Colorado River basin, Colorado’s political leaders and water managers must heed those lessons and act quickly. … ”  Read more from the Denver Post here: Western Slope needs to suspend irrigation to avert water shortage catastrophe, says Brian Richter, president of Sustainable Waters

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In national water news today …

Drought is the sleeper weather story you’ll hear more about in 2021

Drought is an insidious climate threat — by the time it has a hold of a region, impacts on ecosystems and water supplies can be locked in. It may not grab extreme weather headlines like the disrupted polar vortex or record hurricane season, but drought during 2020 and heading into 2021 is a looming story likely to grow in importance.  The above map shows drought conditions across North America, including parts of Canada and Mexico, valid on Dec. 10.  Nowhere is this more true than in the Southwest, population growth and years of drought conditions are putting the region on a collision course with drastic water management decisions. … ”  Read more from the Washington Post here: Drought is the sleeper weather story you’ll hear more about in 2021

Q&A: Water recommendations for the next administration

With so much going on in the world right now, why should water be a priority for the Biden administration?  The fact is that water challenges in the U.S. are severe and worsening. As the COVID-19 pandemic revealed, poor water infrastructure and the failure to provide universal access to safe water and sanitation threaten public health. Water shortages, poor management, and antiquated water systems threaten the nation’s food supply, ecosystems, and economy. Conflicts over water around the globe threaten our national security. Worsening climate changes are increasing these risks, and the failure to act now will only make solving these issues harder.  With this urgency in mind, we released a set of water recommendations for the next U.S. presidential administration, Water Recommendations to the Next President. … ” Read more from Pacific Institute here:  Q&A: Water recommendations for the next administration

A wish list for water collaboration with the Biden‒Harris administration

Cooperation between California and the federal government was at a low ebb over the past four years. With a new administration in the nation’s capital, what should be top water priorities for collaboration between the state and the federal government? The PPIC Water Policy Center recently discussed this issue with a diverse group of experts … Here is a summary of some of their remarks. … ”  Read more at the PPIC here: A wish list for water collaboration with the Biden‒Harris administration

New year, new EPA: How the Biden administration can catalyze PFAS action in 2021

During the past four years, awareness about per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) has been heightened, but not because of notable government successes. Instead, communities across the country have worked with scientists, legal teams, nonprofit organizations, members of Congress, and even film production companies to raise awareness about the need for remedies. With their leadership, there has been progress made, with dozens of pieces of PFAS legislation introduced and the passage of PFAS provisions in the 2020 and 2021 defense authorization bills, but there’s much more work to do to help us understand the extent of the PFAS public health threat, limit current PFAS pollution, and require polluters to pay for cleanup of legacy contamination. … ”  Read more from the Union of Concerned Scientists here: New year, new EPA: How the Biden administration can catalyze PFAS action in 2021

World map shows land subsidence due to groundwater extraction

Subsidence caused by the extraction of groundwater is expected to affect 19 per cent of the world’s population, according to a new study led by researchers of the Geological and Mining Institute of Spain and funded by UNESCO.  An international team have recently completed the world’s largest study on land subsidence. In it, scientists have developed a model that explains where this phenomenon can occur. Anyone in the world can have access to the map free of charge and find out whether the area in which they live, work or intend to live, work or build may have or may eventually have a subsidy problem, explains the University of Alicante in a recent press release. ... ”  Read more from Smart Water Magazine here: World map shows land subsidence due to groundwater extraction

Shedding light on one of environmental policy’s most under-the-radar strategies

In the leadup to this month’s presidential inauguration, environmental advocates across the country are theorizing about how a new administration might advance policy on issues like climate change and biodiversity. But UC Santa Cruz associate professor of environmental studies Sikina Jinnah says there’s one particular channel that’s typically overlooked by both advocates and policymakers alike: trade agreements. … ”  Read more from the University of Santa Cruz here: Shedding light on one of environmental policy’s most under-the-radar strategies

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Today’s featured articles …

DELTA LEAD SCIENTIST REPORT: Climate change and California’s water resources

Dr. Laurel Larson, the new Delta Lead Scientist, is in the process of moving from Finland to California, so at the December meeting of the Delta Stewardship Council, Dr. Louise Conrad provided the report to the Council on Dr. Larson’s behalf.

The article chosen for this month’s lead scientist report is a technical report by the Union of Concerned Scientists, titled ‘Troubled Waters: Preparing for Climate Threats to California’s Water System.’

Click here to read this article.

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

WATER PLAN eNEWS: ~~UWMP Webinars~ Groundwater Grants~ River Assessment~ weADAPT~ Monterey RCIS~ Spring Conference ~~

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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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