DAILY DIGEST, 1/11: Is 2021 the year Delta smelt go extinct?; Dry weather pattern to continue with no rain in sight; Plan to upgrade the L.A. River seeks to atone for past injustices; In Trump admin’s final days, Army Corps reduces stream protections; and more …



On the calendar today …

WORKSHOP: MWELO Guidebook and Local Agency Updates from 10am to 1pm.  This DWR workshop will walk through draft Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance (MWELO) Guidebook for Local Agencies, and offer opportunity for public to ask questions and provide comment, and review new Online Reporting Portal for Cities and Counties, active for 2020 reporting in January 2021.  Click here for agenda and remote access information.

In California water news today …

2021: Is this the year that wild delta smelt become extinct?

2020 was a bad year for delta smelt. No smelt were found in the standard fish sampling programs (fall midwater trawl, summer townet survey). Surveys designed specifically to catch smelt (Spring Kodiak Trawl, Enhanced Delta Smelt Monitoring Program) caught just two of them despite many long hours of sampling. The program to net adult delta smelt for captive brood stock caught just one smelt in over 151 tries. All signs point to the Delta smelt as disappearing from the wild this year, or, perhaps, 2022. … ”  Read more from the California Water Blog here:  2021: Is this the year that wild delta smelt become extinct?

Dry weather pattern comes on heels of one of the driest, warmest falls on record

December through February is historically when some of the biggest weather systems arrive in Northern California with big rain and snow totals. While March can also be a big snow month, the window of opportunity for big rain and snow totals starts to narrow.  Now, long range outlooks are calling for a week and half long stretch of unseasonably dry and warm weather. … ”  Read more from ABC 10 here:  Dry weather pattern comes on heels of one of the driest, warmest falls on record

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 Arizona Public Media:  When wildfire burns a high mountain forest, what happens to the snow?

Press release: Schuil & Associates, Inc. and New Current Water and Land, LLC collaborate to counsel investors on land purchases in Westlands Water District

Schuil & Associates, an industry-leading, family-operated ag real estate firm, today announced a cooperative relationship with New Current Water and Land, LLC – a Fresno-based firm specializing in the assessment, development, management, acquisition, and banking of water supplies throughout the Western U.S. – to counsel those interested in purchasing farmland in the San Joaquin Valley including, importantly, the fertile Westlands Water District of California. ... ”  Read more from PR Newswire here:  Schuil & Associates, Inc. and New Current Water and Land, LLC collaborate to counsel investors on land purchases in Westlands Water District 

SGMA and land use workshops happening this week

Two online workshops focused on the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) are taking place later this week. The Zoom workshops will be offered in both English and Spanish. They are designed for San Joaquin Valley farmers and community members to voice concerns about SGMA and share their visions of future landscapes in their community. … ”  Read more from Ag Net West here:  SGMA and land use workshops happening this week

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In regional water news and commentary today …

Santa Ana winds raise fire risk in Southern California as temperatures climb

Santa Ana winds will elevate brush fire dangers in pockets of Southern California through Monday, while higher temperatures and lower humidity are forecast for the week.  Extreme fire conditions should be contained to western portions of the San Fernando Valley and the Santa Monica Mountains in Los Angeles County, and mountain regions of Riverside County, National Weather Service Meteorologists Rich Thompson and Samantha Connolly said. … ”  Read more from the Daily News here:  Santa Ana winds raise fire risk in Southern California as temperatures climb

Frank Gehry’s bold plan to upgrade the L.A. River seeks to atone for past injustices

In the decades since engineers first blanketed the Los Angeles River with concrete, working-class communities along its armored banks have struggled with blight, poverty and crowding — unintended consequences perhaps of an epic bid to control Mother Nature.  Now, as many of these neighborhoods suffer disproportionately higher rates of infection from COVID-19 — and as the nation seeks to atone for racial and institutional injustices laid bare in the police killing of George Floyd — famed architect Frank Gehry has unveiled a bold plan to transform the river into more than just a concrete flood channel and establish it as an unprecedented system of open space. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: Frank Gehry’s bold plan to upgrade the L.A. River seeks to atone for past injustices

Orange County: Water board, Surfrider want the county to look into the berm breaches at Aliso Beach

“A regional water board has asked Orange County officials to look into the ongoing breaches of a sand berm at Aliso Beach, which environmental advocates argue is a continued source of ocean contamination and a threat to public health.  The berm is a raised section of beach at the mouth of Aliso Creek that naturally forms when creek water pushes sand toward the ocean, and waves push sand toward the creek. Its shape continuously changes with tidal conditions and creek flow. ... ”  Read more from the OC Register here: Water board, Surfrider want the county to look into the berm breaches at Aliso Beach

Researchers exploring how San Diego County wetlands can be part of climate-saving strategies

Buried in San Diego County’s lagoons are centuries worth of carbon, cached in muddy stockpiles that scientists say could help combat climate change.  Recently, scientists with the conservation organization Wildcoast and Scripps Institution of Oceanography started studying how much carbon coastal wetlands can capture, and how to restore these environments to boost that capacity.  “They are the best ecosystems on the planet for taking carbon out of the atmosphere and storing it in the ground for a long time,” said Matt Costa, a postdoctoral researcher with the Center for Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation, as he took sediment samples from a corner of San Dieguito Lagoon on an overcast day earlier this month. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune here: Researchers exploring how San Diego County wetlands can be part of climate-saving strategies

Who owns the Tijuana River – and who needs its water most

On a stormy day, 1 billion gallons of water can rage down the river crossing from Tijuana to San Diego.  None of that water is captured for reuse now among the two desert cities it splits, which are regularly prone to drought, because it’s considered polluted by sewage spills on the Mexican side. If successfully recycled, that water could prove to be valuable as the Southwest grows more water-uncertain due to climate change. ... Read more from the Voice of San Diego here:  Who owns the Tijuana River – and who needs its water most

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In national water news today …

Building resilience & addressing inequities in small, underperforming drinking water systems

Approximately 25 million people in the United States are served by water systems that regularly fail to meet federal safe drinking water standards. In addition, systems with poor water quality are more likely to serve low‐income and semi‐rural communities, as well as people of color. Internationally, other developed nations like Canada and Australia also struggle with delivering safe drinking water universally, particularly to rural, indigenous communities.  As technology for detecting contaminants and our understanding of the health impacts of contaminants improve, water quality standards become more stringent. More rigorous standards combined with increasing water quality challenges will make it even more difficult for systems with limited capacity to meet drinking water requirements. … ”  Read more from Meeting of the Minds here: Building resilience & addressing inequities in small, underperforming drinking water systems

Freshened groundwater in the sub-seafloor

Offshore freshened groundwater (OFG) is water hosted in sediments and rocks below the seafloor. It can be found offshore of most continents around the world and could possibly become a source of potable water for human populations living near the coast. A recent article in Reviews of Geophysics describes a range of geochemical, geophysical, and modeling approaches that have been used to investigate OFG systems. Here, the lead author gives an overview of what we know about OFG and where it occurs, and what research questions remain. … ”  Read more from EOS here: Freshened groundwater in the sub-seafloor

Water sector weighs in on COVID vaccine prioritization

The Water Sector Coordinating Council (WSCC) released a December 14 memo encouraging water and wastewater utilities to contact their state and local public health agencies about prioritization of their staff for COVID-19 vaccinations.  The WSCC is is a policy, strategy and coordination mechanism for the U.S. Water and Wastewater Systems Sector in interactions with the government and other sectors on critical infrastructure security and resilience issues. ... ”  Read more from Water Finance & Management here:  Water sector weighs in on COVID vaccine prioritization

In Trump administration’s final-days deregulatory push, Army Corps reduces stream protections

The Army Corps of Engineers finalized a rule on January 4 that further retracts federal protections for the nation’s smallest streams.  The revisions to the nationwide permits, which authorize the filling and dredging of waterways, are one of a flurry of environmental deregulatory actions federal agencies are taking in the final days of the Trump administration, even though there is the possibility with a Democratic Congress that the Biden administration will reverse them. … ”  Read more from the Circle of Blue here: In Trump administration’s final-days deregulatory push, Army Corps reduces stream protections

Trump environmental record marked by big losses, undecided cases

In October 2017, President Donald Trump’s critics were celebrating. They’d won their latest fight against the new administration’s industry-friendly environmental agenda, and were confident in racking up more victories.  “It was very gratifying, but it was not unexpected,” Center for Biological Diversity attorney Michael Saul said, recalling the district court decision that revived Obama-era methane restrictions for the oil and gas industry. ... ”  Read more from Bloomberg here: Trump environmental record marked by big losses, undecided cases

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Weekend Daily Digest …

In California water news this weekend …

    • ‘Fossil water’ may be vanishing from California
    • Dry conditions to persist for weeks as window to make up for arid winter starts closing
    • Farmers make crop plans amid dry early winter
    • California North Coast farmers fear dry winter amid dismal snow survey
    • Q&A: ‘Informed communities build healthier communities’
    • Legal brief: CEQA does not limit agencies’ authority to impose mitigation pursuant to other laws
    • SPECIAL SECTION: What’s next for the community of Borrego Springs and the future of Borrego’s water and land-use planning?
    • Here’s how Newsom’s proposing to spend $4.1 billion on the climate and environment
    • No more flooding threat to Jenner as mouth of Russian River opens
    • Pure Water Monterey project bolstered by federal grant
    • Eastern Tule Groundwater Sustainability Agency approves $22,000 contribution to Water Blueprint for the San Joaquin Valley
    • What’s in that water? ‘Geochemical Santa Claus’ offers new data to climate modelers
    • And more …

Click here for the Weekend Daily Digest.

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

FUNDING: Ten Conservation Practices Prioritized for Accelerated Funding in California

NOTICE: NRCS announces extended application deadline for California wildfire disaster recovery funding

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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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