DAILY DIGEST, weekend edition: PPIC Brief: Water and a changing climate; Bill introduced to maximize SGMA benefits; Secret Kern River talks underway; Life-saving drinking water disinfectants have a “dark side”; and more …

In California water news and commentary this weekend …

PPIC Brief: California’s future: Water and a changing climate

The pandemic and its economic fallout are affecting many aspects of water management, while climate change has major implications. And a much-needed national conversation about racism has illuminated water equity issues—such as how we address climate change, safe drinking water, and water scarcity.  This publication is part of a briefing kit that focuses on California’s most pressing long-term policy challenges in five key areas: criminal justice, economy, education, safety net, and water and a changing climate.”  Read the brief from the PPIC here:  PPIC Brief: California’s future: Water and a changing climate

Dusty barren fields or thriving farmland and habitat? This bill creates a better vision for California’s future

“[On Friday], Assemblymembers Robert Rivas (D-Hollister), chair of the Assembly Agriculture Committee and vice-chair of the California Latino Legislative Caucus, and Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield) introduced a bill, AB 252, to help farmers and rural communities adapt to more sustainable groundwater use while simultaneously creating new benefits for people and wildlife.  AB 252, sponsored by EDF, will help create opportunities on these previously irrigated agricultural land and ease the transition to sustainable groundwater management. It will create a new program through the California Department of Conservation to provide incentive payments to landowners who voluntarily and strategically repurpose at least some portion of their agricultural land to other less water-intensive uses for at least 10 years. … ”  Read more from EDF’s Growing Returns here: Dusty barren fields or thriving farmland and habitat? This bill creates a better vision for California’s future

SEE ALSO: Assemblymembers Robert Rivas and Rudy Salas introduce legislation to maximize benefits of Sustainable Groundwater Management requirements, from Benito Link

Topsy-turvy weather pattern to bring record warmth and strong winds, but then big shift to colder/wetter conditions

Daniel Swain writes, ” … The overall pattern over the American West over the next 7-10 days is going to be highly “amplified”–meaning there will be an unusually high degree of “meridional” (north-south) upper atmospheric flow. The absence of a more typical zonal (west-east) pattern means that individual weather systems will tend to “meander”–yielding a very tricky weather forecast that numerical models will likely struggle to fully capture until the last minute.  That said: here’s what I think is likely to happen. … ”  Read more from Weather West here: Topsy-turvy weather pattern to bring record warmth and strong winds, but then big shift to colder/wetter conditions

Dave Eggerton, ACWA Executive Director: Gearing up for long-term water use efficiency

He writes, “If 2020 taught us anything, it is that ACWA member agencies are highly skilled at delivering essential services to their customers even during the most unexpected and unprecedented times. As we gear up for the new year, our members continue to impress with their collaborative and coordinated efforts on vital issues affecting California water management, including the implementation of additional long-term water use efficiency strategies to increase resiliency in dry years.  … ”  Read more from ACWA’s Water News here: Gearing up for long-term water use efficiency

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In people news this weekend …

APPOINTMENTS

From the Office of the Governor:

Amy Cordalis, 40, of McKinleyville, has been appointed to the California Water Commission. Cordalis, a member of the Yurok Tribe, has been General Counsel for the Yurok Tribe since 2016 and served as a Staff Attorney for the Tribe from 2014 to 2016. She was Staff Attorney at Berkey Williams LLP from 2012 to 2014 and at the Native American Rights Fund from 2007 to 2012. Cordalis is a member of the Klamath River Renewal Corporation Board of Directors. She earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Denver College of Law. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $100 per diem. Cordalis is a Democrat.

Kimberly Gallagher, 45, of Davis, has been appointed to the California Water Commission. Gallagher has been Farm Operations Manager at Erdman Farms since 2014 and Owner and Operator of Gallagher Farming Company since 2009. She was a Science Teacher for the Davis Unified School District from 2012 to 2014 and an Independent Study Teacher for the Elk Grove Unified School District from 2004 to 2011. Gallagher is a member of the Colusa County Resources Conservation District, Colusa Glenn Subwatershed Program and the California Rice Commission. She earned a Master of Arts degree in Christian leadership from Fuller Theological Seminary. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $100 per diem. Gallagher is a Democrat.

Fern Steiner, 71, of San Diego, has been appointed to the California Water Commission. Steiner has been an Attorney at Smith, Steiner, Vanderpool APC since 1987 and a Shareholder there since 1993. She was an Attorney at Richard D. Prochazka APC from 1984 to 1987 and an Attorney at Karmel and Rosenfeld from 1977 to 1984. Steiner is a member of the San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors and a trustee for San Diego Youth Services. She earned a Juris Doctor degree from John Marshall Law School. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $100 per diem. Steiner is a Democrat.

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Podcasts …

WATER IS A MANY SPLENDOR’ED THING PODCAST: Municipal Needs

Steve Baker writes, “The Santa Clara Water District has developed two great stabilizing components to serving their communities;  1) development of multiple water sources of various types like groundwater, canal water and water banking and 2) is developing adaptability within the public’s ability to conserve.  Water is a Many Splendor’ed Thing brings you another water relationship that has a personally significant impact to your life.”  Produced by Steven Baker, Operation Unite® Bringing People Together to Solve Water Problems, Online at www.operationunite.co


WATER & POWER LEADERSHIP PODCAST: Water will keep flowing amid financial pressure

CMUA Deputy Executive Director Danielle Blacet-Hyden explains why California water agencies are feeling the pandemic’s financial pinch. But the water will keep flowing.


LET’S TALK WATER PODCAST: Plastics are forever

Dr. Chelsea Rochman, an associate professor at the University of Toronto, says plastic, everyone’s favourite cheap and easy resource, comes with a high price. Microscopic pieces of plastic flake off every time we wield a disposable bag, or wash a polyester sweater, or any number of things. They permeate our water, air, soil, bodies, even unborn foetuses. It’s a problem that will plague humans for untold generations unless, she says, we take aggressive action to control our plastic addiction.

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In regional water news this weekend …

If Klamath dams are removed, will there be water for firefighting? KRRC says yes, with new plan

A plan to ensure there will be adequate water with which to fight wildfires if four Klamath dams are removed was unveiled Friday by the Klamath River Renewal Corporation.  According to a KRRC press release, California and Oregon fire protection agencies have “signaled support” for the draft plan and the organization plans to submit it to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission late next month, along with “several other management documents.” ... ”  Read more from the Siskiyou Daily News here: If Klamath dams are removed, will there be water for firefighting? KRRC says yes, with new plan

Humboldt Bay Water District, Trinidad Rancheria to study water deal for proposed hotel

The Trinidad Rancheria is one step closer to getting the water supply it needs to move forward on the proposed multi-story Hyatt hotel at the Cher-Ae Heights Casino.  The Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District approved a memorandum of understanding with the Cher-Ae Heights Indian Community of the Trinidad Rancheria during its board meeting on Thursday initiating a feasibility study on extending water service from McKinleyville up to the Rancheria. The tribe made the request for water service from the district in Nov. 2020 after the California Coastal Commission deemed the tribe’s water supply inadequate for the proposed hotel. … ”  Read more from the Eureka Times-Standard here:  Humboldt Bay Water District, Trinidad Rancheria to study water deal for proposed hotel

A causeway over the bay between Arcata and Eureka? Caltrans exploring adaptations for sea level rise

Motorists of the future may find themselves driving between Arcata and Eureka atop a causeway suspended over the waters of an expanded Humboldt Bay.  A raised roadway one of several potential adaptation measures being considered for this six-mile stretch of Highway 101 that runs mere feet from the rising waters of Humboldt Bay.  On Wednesday, employees with Caltrans (the California Department of Transportation) appeared before the California Coastal Commission to deliver an update on the agency’s long-term plans to deal with sea level rise on this thoroughfare. … ”  Read more from the Lost Coast Outpost here:  A causeway over the bay between Arcata and Eureka? Caltrans exploring adaptations for sea level rise

Reclamation awards $536,509 for Trinity River watershed improvement projects

The Bureau of Reclamation announces the selection of five grant recipients for watershed improvement projects as part of the Trinity River Restoration Program. The projects will help reduce fine sediment runoff into the Trinity River and improve fish habitat and passage in Trinity River tributaries.  “Reclamation is pleased to make these awards and draw on the expertise of our partners to carry out this important restoration work in the Trinity River Basin,” said Trinity River Restoration Program Executive Director Dr. Mike Dixon. “We are committed to working collaboratively to help restore, maintain and improve salmon rearing and spawning habitat.” … ”  Read more from the Bureau of Reclamation here: Reclamation awards $536,509 for Trinity River watershed improvement projects

Paradise takes next step toward sewer

The Paradise Town Council on Tuesday night took another step in its efforts to build a sewer within the town, but the most controversial part of three items regarding the sewer was the makeup of a board.  The council was asked to approve a co-operative work agreement with the city of Chico on building a pipe to Chico’s Water Pollution Control Plant. That agreement, Town Engineer Marc Mattox told the council includes $300,000 to Chico to undertake a specific scope of work as a vendor to the town of Paradise. … ”  Read more from the Oroville Mercury-Register here: Paradise takes next step toward sewer

Chico’s Cal Water gets new interim leader

There are temporary changes in leadership for Chico’s California Water Service district as of Friday.  Tavis Beynon will be the interim district manager while previous District Manager George Barber is serving as interim director of Field Operations for the utility’s Northern California region.  Barber will continue to oversee the Chico district in addition to eight other districts in Northern California. Director of Field Operations Mike Jones continues to manage the utility’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Chico’s Cal Water gets new interim leader

Legal brief:  Lead in Tahoe

In a federal complaint, California sports fishermen accuse Pacific Bell of abandoning two sets of communications cables in Lake Tahoe which contain over 3 pounds of lead per foot and are now dissolving in the water.”  Via Courthouse News.

James Haufler President of Friends of Auburn Ravine: Dams of Auburn Ravine – partnerships, problems, potential

As it flows 34 miles from the foothills around the town of Auburn to where it enters the Sacramento River near Verona, the creek known as Auburn Ravine is beset by no less than nine dams.  In a spirit of partnership, water users and water districts along Auburn Ravine have taken important steps to reduce the dangers these dams, and other water-management structures, create for migrating salmon, steelhead and Pacific lamprey.  Unfortunately, the dams still cause serious problems. There is great potential to improve most of these dams to restore Auburn Ravine to its full potential as a natural spawning stream while preserving the dams’ ability to deliver water to customers.  In this article, we will celebrate the partnerships, describe the remaining problems and highlight the potential. … ”  Read more from Gold Country Media here:  Dams of Auburn Ravine – partnerships, problems, potential

Sonoma County flirts with drought as reservoirs recede in water-poor winter

” … Sonoma County and the surrounding region are flirting with drought in the midst of a water-poor winter attributed to a La Niña weather pattern that threatens the county’s $1 billion farming sector and could fuel more catastrophic fire conditions later this year.  “If we don’t get average rainfall for the next two months we could be in a critically dry year,” said Grant Davis, head of Sonoma Water, the agency that provides water to most of Sonoma County and northern Marin.  Even that makeup rainfall might not suffice in a year that has delivered just 5.77 inches of precipitation in Santa Rosa since Oct. 1, nearly a foot shy of the 17.5-inch average by this time of the official rain year. … ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here: Sonoma County flirts with drought as reservoirs recede in water-poor winter

PG&E to rehab San Francisco harbor due to century-old pollution

After a decades-long legal battle, California utility giant Pacific Gas and Electric has agreed to pay for the cleanup of a San Francisco yacht harbor polluted by manufactured gas plants operating in the Marina district at the turn of the 20th century.  PG&E will be responsible for up to $190 million of the Marina Small Craft Harbor project cost, the San Francisco District Attorney’s office said in a statement announcing the settlement. The city sued the utility in 2001 following the discovery of toxic chemicals in the soil at the East Harbor. … ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service here: PG&E to rehab San Francisco harbor due to century-old pollution

Power & Water: Tri-Dam anchors prosperity for 64 years

Numbers don’t lie.  The Tri-Dam Project is arguably the most powerful force that has shaped the economic success of the “Almond Triangle” of Manteca-Ripon-Escalon.  It is why South San Joaquin Irrigation District has $92 million in reserves of which $50 million are earmarked for future expenditures such as capital improvement projects and paying down the shortfall in unfunded retirement costs.  But it is also a key contributing factor to the economic success of hundreds of family farming operations as well as the three cities within the district. … ”  Read more from Manteca Bulletin here: Power & Water: Tri-Dam anchors prosperity for 64 years

Secret Kern River talks underway

It’s hard to say what spurred “confidential mediation” over the Kern River that began last week.  Could it be the relentless “Bring Back the Kern!” campaign by a group of young, Bakersfield residents?  Could it be a sentence in a recent letter from the State Water Resources Control Board that said, in part, it “will schedule a hearing in the near future to address water availability with respect to the Kern River…”? Could it be both?… ”  Read more from SJV Water here: Secret Kern River talks underway

Consortium wants to cut down L.A. County Arboretum trees to make room for storm water treatment

Officials at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden are in an uproar over a plan to manage storm water and boost climate resiliency by cutting down “specimen trees” — some 70 years old and more than 100 feet tall — to make room for groundwater recharge ponds and a pump station.  The strategy was crafted by a consortium of five foothill cities and Los Angeles County Public Works. They believe a portion of the 127-acre paradise of flowering trees and shrubs in Arcadia, which draws more than 500,000 visitors each year, is conveniently located to capture, clean and store storm water pumped out of the nearby Arcadia Wash. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Consortium wants to cut down L.A. County Arboretum trees to make room for storm water treatment

SoCal: Water district board backs new candidate for controversial general manager’s position

The Water Replenishment District of Southern California may have found a temporary general manager with enough support to survive political infighting over the future of the district’s leadership.  Two committees, both chaired by board member Rob Katherman, backed recommendations this week to hire Stephan Tucker, a retired assistant general manager from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, as the district’s interim general manager, but the final decision will not come until the full board votes at its next regular meeting Jan. 21. … ”  Read more from the Daily Breeze here:  Water district board backs new candidate for controversial general manager’s position

Mother Nature delivers another blow to Capistrano Beach

Mark Olson took a break on his coastal bike ride to survey the damaged stretch of sand.  “Unbelievable,” said Olson, looking down at the battered beach from above on Thursday, Jan. 14. “I’m just blown away. I wonder what next that’s going to give?”  Mother Nature took a big bite out of Capistrano Beach, chomping away at the eroding coastline with the recent run of swell and high tides that have slammed California beaches in recent weeks.  The latest damage is yet another blow to the quaint Dana Point beach in recent years as officials, residents and beachgoers grapple with rising sea levels and continuing erosion that is quickly shrinking this small beach … ”  Read more from the OC Register here: Mother Nature delivers another blow to Capistrano Beach

San Diego County Water Authority prevails in rate litigation

The San Francisco Superior Court has ruled the San Diego County Water Authority is the prevailing party in the agency’s first two lawsuits to be heard challenging rates and charges set by the Los Angeles-based Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. The order entitles the Water Authority to recover its attorneys’ fees and costs in those cases, in addition to a $44 million damage and interest award made earlier.  “San Diego prevailed, and the judgment not only benefits its own ratepayers but all of the nearly 19 million people in Metropolitan’s service area because enforcing cost-of-service principles serves the interests of all ratepayers,” said Superior Court Judge Anne-Christine Massullo in her Jan. 13 order, which can be appealed. The exact amount of recoverable fees will be decided later. ... ”  Read more from the Water News Network here: Water Authority Prevails in Rate Litigation

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Along the Colorado River …

Is the Walmart Family capturing the Colorado River?

If there’s a dominant force in the Colorado River Basin these days, it’s the Walton Family Foundation (WWF), flush with close to $5 billion to give away.  Run by the heirs of Walmart founder Sam Walton, the foundation donates $25 million a year to nonprofits concerned about the Colorado River. It’s clear the foundation cares deeply about the river in this time of excruciating drought, and some of its money goes to river restoration or more efficient irrigation.  Yet its main interest is promoting ​demand management,” the water marketing scheme that seeks to add 500,000 acre-feet of water to declining Lake Powell by paying rural farmers to temporarily stop irrigating. ... ”  Read more from In These Times here: Is the Walmart Family capturing the Colorado River?

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In national water news today …

Life-saving drinking water disinfectants have a “dark side”

In late September 2020, officials in Wrangell, Alaska, warned residents who were elderly, pregnant or had health problems to avoid drinking the city’s tap water — unless they could filter it on their own. More than 3,000 miles (4,800 kilometers) away, the people of Scituate, Massachusetts, received a letter that same month cautioning about the same group of contaminants in their drinking water. At issue wasn’t any of the well-known and widely feared water infiltrators such as E. coli or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The culprit chemicals tainting taps from Cocoa, Florida, to the Finger Lakes of New York to a correctional facility in Only, Tennessee, are, in fact, less recognized yet more ubiquitous: disinfection by-products. … ”  Read more from Ensia here:  Life-saving drinking water disinfectants have a “dark side”

Interview:  Andrew Wheeler has some advice for Biden EPA

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler remains quick to defend the Trump EPA’s legacy, especially in comparison with its predecessor, and ready to tout agency efforts over the last four years.  In an interview with E&E News yesterday, Wheeler said that the Obama administration stalled on its response to the Flint, Mich., drinking water crisis and that the Trump EPA moved more quickly. He also touted EPA’s updating its Lead and Copper Rule to replace lead service lines, which had been left sitting for nearly 30 years, and its faster response to lead contamination found in Newark, N.J.  And, when asked, he offered some advice for the incoming administration. … ”  Read more from E&E News here: Interview:  Andrew Wheeler has some advice for Biden EPA

Groups sue EPA over ‘backwards’ lead rule

Environmental and civil rights groups are suing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over a new lead rule critics argue doesn’t do enough to remove the lead pipes that contaminate drinking water.  The December rule will speed notification to homeowners who are drinking lead-tainted water and kicks off more robust testing requirements at elementary schools and child care centers.  However, the rule does not force cities to move quickly to replace the estimated 6 million lead service lines across the country that deliver lead-tainted water into homes. ... ”  Read more from The Hill here: Groups sue EPA over ‘backwards’ lead rule

New drought.gov a one-stop NOAA resource for all things drought

NIDIS, the CPO-led National Integrated Drought Information System, has launched a redesigned U.S. Drought Portal to better serve stakeholders, decisionmakers, the media, and the public.   The new website, Drought.gov, features updated content and new interactive architecture designed to provide actionable, shareable information, and easy-to-understand graphics describing current drought conditions and forecasts by city, county, state, zip code, and at watershed to global scales. Drought.gov aggregates and presents drought impact data for economic sectors such as agriculture, energy, water utilities, tourism and recreation, bringing together interactive maps and data in one place, which you won’t find anywhere else. … ”  Read more from the NOAA here: New drought.gov a one-stop NOAA resource for all things drought

Climate fight could doom efforts to make Big Oil pay

Attorneys for Big Oil and the city of Baltimore will square off next week in a Supreme Court battle that could change the trajectory of more than a dozen closely watched U.S. climate change lawsuits.  The nation’s highest bench will hear arguments Tuesday in BP PLC v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, a case that hinges on a hyper-technical question that has been raised in a number of challenges aiming to force oil companies to pay up for local climate impacts.  Experts say the outcome of the Supreme Court case could result in substantial delays to — or the derailment of — climate liability lawsuits filed by states, counties and cities across the country. … ”  Read more from E&E News here: Climate fight could doom efforts to make Big Oil pay

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Catch up on last week’s news in the Weekly Digest …

WEEKLY WATER NEWS DIGEST for Jan 9-15: SGMA challenges and opportunities, first lawsuits over GSPs; Climate change and the Delta; plus all the top stories of the week and more …

Also on Maven’s Notebook this weekend …

FUNDING OPPORTUNITY: California Watershed Protection Fund

FREE & OPEN TO ALL: Karuk Tribe 2021 Training Series: Burning Across Boundaries Trainings

NOTICE: San Joaquin River Flows Lowered To Benefit Endangered Salmon

OPPORTUNITY TO COMMENT: Delta Adapts Public Review Draft Vulnerability Assessment

OPPORTUNITY TO COMMENT: Comment period extended for Tisdale Weir Rehabilitation and Fish Passage Project Draft Environmental Impact Report

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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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