DAILY DIGEST, 1/12: CA lawmakers should invest one-time budget funds into projects with long-term benefits, experts suggest; Turning the page on a disruptive year in the water world; Napa County faces predicted sea level rise challenges; and more …



On the calendar today …

UWMP WEBINAR: Baselines and Targets for SBX7-7 from 10am to 12pm:  DWR will host its sixth topic-specific webinar to support training those preparing Urban Water Management Plans, due July 1, 2021. This webinar will walk-through who needs to calculate or recalculate their baselines and targets for SBX7-7, and how to do these calculations.  Click here for more information and remote access instructions.

FREE WEBINAR: Data for COVID: Wastewater Surveillance from 11am to 12pm.  Talk with peers in other states who are developing data work flows and infrastructure for wastewater surveillance for COVID early warning.  Presented by the Internet of Water.  Click here for more information and to register.

WORKSHOP: Northern California conveyance workshop from 2:30pm to 5:00pm.  You are invited to a California Water Commission Northern California workshop on the potential state role in financing conveyance infrastructure projects to meet climate-driven regional needs. The focus of this session will be on the conveyance needs for Northern California. All types of conveyance options are being considered, including constructed and natural infrastructure, as well as governance.  Click here to register.

In California water news today …

California lawmakers should invest one-time budget funds into projects with long-term benefits, experts suggest

Thanks to a $15 billion surplus, environmental issues like wildfire and climate change are being considered to receive $4.1 billion in spending in Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposed budget. This comes less than a year after the administration and legislature had to forgo ideas that could have helped curb the climate crisis and wildfire prevention tactics because of the pandemic.   Wade Crowfoot, California Secretary for Natural Resources, applauds the potential infusion of cash, in part because of the devastating nature of the 2020 fire season, in which more than 4 million acres burned.   “Catastrophic wildfires represent a severe and worsening threat that requires bold action,” Crowfoot said. “We need to shift our paradigm and invest in a scaled-up, cohesive strategy built on science to restore landscapes and protect communities.” … ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here:  California lawmakers should invest one-time budget funds into projects with long-term benefits, experts suggest 

Turning the page on a disruptive year in the water world

Ellen Hanak, Director of the PPIC’s Water Center, writes, “Last year was one for the record books, with the pandemic, a statewide wildfire emergency, ongoing drought, and a lingering recession roiling California’s water landscape. These crises have exacerbated longstanding inequities in access to water services, and made it that much harder to accomplish important work to improve the resilience of the state’s water system and vulnerable ecosystems. Yet despite all the setbacks, the essential work of providing drinking water and wastewater services proceeded without a hitch—to which we all owe water workers a debt of gratitude.  Here’s a rundown of some of the year’s more pressing water-world challenges, and the PPIC Water Policy Center’s response to them … ”  Read more from the PPIC here: Turning the page on a disruptive year in the water world

Water use in the West can hurt…or help…the energy sector, report says

A team of researchers have developed a framework to evaluate complex connections between water and energy, and options for adaptations in response to an evolving climate. … Although many studies have been done on how climate change could affect the water and energy sectors, those studies were not typically looking at interactions and feedbacks between the two, said lead author Julia Szinai of Berkeley Lab’s Climate and Ecosystem Sciences Division. … ”  Read more from PV Magazine here: Water use in the West can hurt…or help…the energy sector, report says

Ocean acidification is transforming California mussel shells

The large mollusk known as the California mussel makes its home in the rocky shoreline along the Pacific Coast from Mexico to Alaska. Considered a “foundational” animal, Mytilus californianus provides homes for hundreds of other species and offers a rich food source for species ranging from spiny lobsters to humans.  As the waters off our coasts change due to human influences, scientists at the University of California San Diego are finding that the composition of California mussel shells is weakening as it becomes more tolerant of acidic conditions. … ”  Read more from UC San Diego here:  Ocean acidification is transforming California mussel shells

Climate change causing one-third of flood damage in United States, Stanford study finds

Increasingly strong storms are responsible for more than a third of the nation’s flood costs, swelling the tab by billions of dollars a year as climate change continues to fuel more extreme weather, according to new research at Stanford University.  The research, which is among the first to put a price tag on heavier rainfall, found that the changing weather is responsible for $75 billion of the cumulative $199 billion of U.S. flood damage between 1998 and 2017. Many of the losses over that period were in California. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  Climate change causing one-third of flood damage in United States, Stanford study finds

Radio show: Magic forests after fires

While much of the public, and many politicians, believe that high-severity fires destroy wildlife habitat and promote insect infestations, the science proves otherwise. But this false assumption that fire and insects are destructive to wildlife is providing the underlying basis for increased logging. And yet thinning in the name of fire reduction and salvage logging of burned trees is actually the greatest threat to the forest ecosystem.  Today we talk with Monica Bond, a wildlife biologist and biodiversity advocate with the Wild Nature Institute, about the wonders of post-fire forests and why logging them prior to or after a burn causes more harm than good. … ”  Read more and listen to radio show at KBOO here: Magic forests after fires

Study: Wildfires produced up to half of pollution in US West

Wildfire smoke accounted for up to half of all health-damaging small particle air pollution in the western U.S. in recent years as warming temperatures fueled more destructive blazes, according to a study released Monday.  Even as pollution emissions declined from other sources, including vehicle exhaust and power plants, the amount from fires increased sharply, said researchers at Stanford University and the University of California, San Diego. Their findings underscore the growing public health threat posed by climate change as it contributes to catastrophic wildfires, such as those that charred huge areas of California and the Pacific Northwest in 2020. ... ”  Read more from Fox News here:  Study: Wildfires produced up to half of pollution in US West

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In regional water news and commentary today …

Coastal flood, high surf advisories, as Sonoma County digs beach channel to stop Russian River floods

Coastal flood and high surf advisories will take effect in the North Bay Tuesday morning, as Sonoma County officials are set to dig a channel near the sand-blocked mouth of the Russian River to prevent water from spilling over the banks into the town of Jenner.  The advisories were triggered by extremely high king tides and expected large breaking waves of up to 30 feet, according to the National Weather Service. ... ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here:  Coastal flood, high surf advisories, as Sonoma County digs beach channel to stop Russian River floods

Napa County faces predicted sea level rise challenges

Kennedy Park, the rural Edgerley Island community and wetlands wildlife habitat are among Napa County areas that research shows are vulnerable to sea level rise in coming decades. Studies by the Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) try to find the Bay Area’s weak spots. Then communities can take steps avoid being flooded.  “I will say that in Napa County compared to other counties, it’s not so bad, especially in terms of the impacts to people,” said Dana Brechwald of BCDC. … ”  Read more from the Napa Register here: Napa County faces predicted sea level rise challenges

South Tahoe Public Utility District seeks input on groundwater management plan

The South Tahoe Public Utility District is seeking input as they update the groundwater management plan for the greater South Lake Tahoe area.  Groundwater is the primary source of drinking water for more than 90% of the public and private water systems located throughout this area. Seeking input from beneficial uses and users of groundwater ensures the region’s Groundwater Management Plan assess current groundwater conditions, reflects local groundwater concerns and offers an appropriate long-term management plan to ensure our community has a sustainable source of clean water supply. … ”  Read more from the Tahoe Daily Tribune here: South Tahoe Public Utility District seeks input on groundwater management plan

Update to proposed expansion of Pacheco Reservoir includes changes to dam, spillway and increased costs

In 2017, Valley Water moved forward with plans to expand Pacheco Reservoir in South Santa Clara County. As part of a partnership with the San Benito County Water District and Pacheco Pass Water District, the project would increase the reservoir’s capacity from 5,500 to up to 140,000 acre-feet, enough water to supply up to 1.4 million residents for a year.  To help pay for this major infrastructure project, Valley Water in the same year applied to receive state funding from the Water Storage Investment Program (WSIP). In the application, Valley Water included an initial cost estimate of about $969 million for the proposed project. This cost estimate was based on 2015 dollars, which was a requirement for the application. … ”  Read more from Valley Water News here:  Update to proposed expansion of Pacheco Reservoir includes changes to dam, spillway and increased costs

New solar farm helping Conjeo Valley Water District go green, saving millions in the process

A Conejo Valley water district is going green in a way which will reduce pollution and save millions of dollars. A new five-megawatt solar farm is cutting power consumption by the Los Virgenes Municipal Water District. … ”  Read more from KCLU here: New solar farm helping Conjeo Valley Water District go green, saving millions in the process

Long Beach coastal beaches open again after sewage spill, rains

Long Beach coastal beaches are now within California water quality standards after a sewage spill and rainstorm in late December made the water unsanitary for weeks. Long Beach Health Officer Dr. Anissa Davis lifted the closure order Monday for the coastal beaches, where consecutive lab tests showed the water quality was within state standards, but Colorado Lagoon West will remain closed until further notice, officials said. … ”  Read more from the Long Beach Post here: Long Beach coastal beaches open again after sewage spill, rains

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Along the Colorado River …

Drought-stricken Colorado River Basin could see additional 20% drop in water flow by 2050

Colorado is no stranger to drought. The current one is closing in on 20 years, and a rainy or snowy season here and there won’t change the trajectory.  This is what climate change has brought.  “Aridification” is what Bradley Udall formally calls the situation in the western U.S. But perhaps more accurately, he calls it hot drought – heat-induced lack of water due to climate change. That was the core of research released in 2017 by Udall, a senior climate and water scientist at Colorado State University’s Colorado Water Center, and Jonathan Overpeck at the University of Michigan. ... ”  Read more from Yale Climate Connections here: Drought-stricken Colorado River Basin could see additional 20% drop in water flow by 2050

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In national water news today …

Two-thirds of Earth’s land is on pace to lose water as the climate warms – that’s a problem for people, crops and forests

The world watched with a sense of dread in 2018 as Cape Town, South Africa, counted down the days until the city would run out of water. The region’s surface reservoirs were going dry amid its worst drought on record, and the public countdown was a plea for help.  By drastically cutting their water use, Cape Town residents and farmers were able to push back “Day Zero” until the rain came, but the close call showed just how precarious water security can be. California also faced severe water restrictions during its recent multiyear drought. And Mexico City is now facing water restrictions after a year with little rain. … ”  Read more from The Conversation here: Two-thirds of Earth’s land is on pace to lose water as the climate warms – that’s a problem for people, crops and forests

Sunlight powers portable, inexpensive systems to produce drinking water

In an increasingly hot and crowded world, clean water is becoming a precious commodity. Two thirds of the global population will have problems accessing fresh water by 2025, and removing salt and contaminants from the oceans and groundwater is one way to slake humanity’s thirst. Today’s large desalination plants, though, cost millions of dollars to build. … So researchers are trying to use the sun’s heat more directly to remove salt and other contaminants. ... ”  Read more from Scientific American here:  Sunlight powers portable, inexpensive systems to produce drinking water

Managing salt pollution to protect drinking water resources and freshwater ecosystems

Doctors often tell us, “cut back on your salt.” And just as too much dietary salt is bad for blood pressure, too much salt in our nation’s streams, lakes, and reservoirs threatens ecosystem health and the security of our nation’s drinking water and food supplies.  “Salt levels are rising fast in freshwater across the United States,” said Stanley Grant, a civil and environmental engineer at Virginia Tech and the principal investigator on a U.S. National Science Foundation-funded project to look at new ways of addressing the problem. … ”  Read more from Water Online here: Managing salt pollution to protect drinking water resources and freshwater ecosystems

Pollutants cause quick growth, leave less for the future

Adding more nutrients to bodies of water leads to the rapid growth of organic matter plants and animals use for fuel, according to a new analysis of global rivers and streams.  But long-term exposure to elevated levels of nitrogen and phosphorus can cause unexpected changes and even declines in plants and animals, according to an analysis of 184 studies and 885 experiments where researchers added nitrogen and phosphorus to streams and rivers.  The analysis showed that production and consumption rates climbed. More algae grew. More leaves decomposed. More microbes ate up oxygen in the water. This happened consistently across the planet, especially where light was more prevalent and temperatures were higher. … ”  Read more from Water Online here: Pollutants cause quick growth, leave less for the future

Attorney General Becerra joins multistate effort to hold polluters accountable under the Clean Water Act

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today, as part of a 12-state coalition, submitted comments to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) arguing that its new draft guidance misinterprets the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in County of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund. In County of Maui, the Supreme Court established a new standard to determine if the indirect discharge of wastewater through groundwater or another similar conduit into waters of the United States is subject to a Clean Water Act permit. In the comment letter, the coalition argues that the EPA’s draft guidance tips the scales in favor of polluters by providing them with additional arguments to avoid regulation under the Clean Water Act, contravenes the purpose of the Act, and conflicts with the Court’s decision in County of Maui. … ”  Read more from AG Becerra here: Attorney General Becerra joins multistate effort to hold polluters accountable under the Clean Water Act

EPA invites 55 new projects to apply for WIFIA loans to improve water quality

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that 55 new projects in 20 states are being invited to apply for approximately $5.1 billion in Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loans. This funding will help finance over $12 billion in clean water and drinking water infrastructure projects to protect public health and improve water quality in communities across the United States.  “EPA built one of the greatest financing tools for investing in America’s water infrastructure in history when it stood up the WIFIA program in 2018,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “These 55 new projects will facilitate $12 billion in water infrastructure to help address some of the most pressing challenges faced by water systems across this country.” … ”  Many California projects awarded funding.  Read the full EPA press release here: EPA invites 55 new projects to apply for WIFIA loans to improve water quality

White House readies new lame-duck gut of endangered species rules

Under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the agencies must consult with U.S. Fish and Wildlife to review development projects to ensure they’re consistent with land management plans and won’t harm endangered or threatened species protected by the law.  But under the proposed rule, agencies would no longer be required to ensure compliance with land management plans “if new information reveals effects of the plan on listed species or critical habitat in a manner or to an extent not previously considered, provided that any subsequent actions taken pursuant to the plan will be subject to a separate Section 7 consultation if those actions may affect listed species or critical habitat.” … ” Read more from the Courthouse News Service here: White House readies new lame-duck gut of endangered species rules

SEE ALSO: Trump Administration Proposes Revisions to Endangered Species Act Section 7 “Cottonwood” Consultation Regulations, press release from the US FWS

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Today’s featured articles …

DELTA ADAPTS: Climate change vulnerability assessment looks at climate impacts to Delta as a place, agriculture, recreation, and infrastructure

Delta Adapts: Creating a Climate Resilient Future is the Delta Stewardship Council’s effort to conduct the first-ever climate change vulnerability assessment and adaptation strategy for the Delta and Suisun Marsh. At the November 2020 Council meeting, Council staff presented selected key findings from the draft vulnerability assessment.  At the December Council meeting, Assistant Planning Director Harriett Ross presented additional initial findings from phase one of the Delta Adapts climate vulnerability assessment, including the economics analysis and the impacts to the Delta’s people, places, agriculture, recreation, and infrastructure.

Click here to read this article.

 

BLOG ROUND-UP: Governor’s budget prioritizes climate adaptation, protecting vulnerable communities; Salmon recovery work in the Sacramento Valley shows promise; Can Wall Street profit off the Colorado River?; and more …

Click here to read this article.

 

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

FUNDING OPPORTUNITY: CDFW Endangered Species Conservation and Recovery Grant Program

FUNDING OPPORTUNITY: CDFW Accepting Applications for Prop 1 Ecosystem Restoration Grant Program

NOTICE: Available for Public Comment – Westlands Water Quality Coalition MPIR Templates and SQMP/GQMP Addendums

YOUR INPUT WANTED on the Central Valley Water Board’s Strategic Plan

NOTICE: Approval of Order to Reinitiate Consultation with Native American Tribes for the McCloud-Pit Hydroelectric Project

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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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