DAILY DIGEST, 1/19: Westlands weighs options to fill vacancy on board of directors; The ongoing collapse of the world’s aquifers; State Water Board to consider winery regs tomorrow; A ‘forever chemical’ surprise awaits Biden’s EPA; and more …



On the calendar today …

In California water news today …

Westlands weighs options to fill vacancy on board of directors

Westlands Water District, a powerful player in the San Joaquin Valley’s water landscape, is about to see the second personnel change on its board in two years.  Tuesday, the water district’s board will vote to either appoint a new member of its Board of Directors or initiate a special election this year. ... ”  Read more from the San Joaquin Valley Sun here:  Westlands weighs options to fill vacancy on board of directors

WHAT’S GOING ON?  Don Wright listened to the meeting and has the scoop here:  Don Wright’s mixed bag of information (regarding white areas, Westlands)

The ongoing collapse of the world’s aquifers

As California’s economy skyrocketed during the 20th century, its land headed in the opposite direction. A booming agricultural industry in the state’s San Joaquin Valley, combined with punishing droughts, led to the over-extraction of water from aquifers. Like huge, empty water bottles, the aquifers crumpled, a phenomenon geologists call subsidence. By 1970, the land had sunk as much as 28 feet in the valley, with less-than-ideal consequences for the humans and infrastructure above the aquifers.  The San Joaquin Valley was geologically primed for collapse, but its plight is not unique. ... ”  Read more from Wired Magazine here: The ongoing collapse of the world’s aquifers

Adoption of statewide winery process water order considered at Jan. 20 hearing

The California State Water Resources Control Board will consider adoption of a statewide General Order for winery process water at a hearing on Jan. 20. The Order will require wineries to notify their Regional Water Boards of their process water management systems and meet certain water quality standards to remain in compliance.  … ”  Read more from Wine Business here:  Adoption of statewide winery process water order considered at Jan. 20 hearing 

Managing groundwater overdraft – combining crop and water decisions (without salinity)

” … This post summarizes some recent research examining conjunctive water management for agriculture integrating hydro-economic optimization models on two timescales, neglecting for now salinity effects on crop yield: an intermediate term 10-year stochastic model of water and crop management spanning dry and wet years, and a far horizon (100 years of 10-year stages) management model which embeds intermediate-term model to represent longer-term aquifer targets (Yao 2020). The modeling was applied for conditions similar to California’s San Joaquin Valley.  Integrated economically-driven optimization of permanent and annual crop acreages and water management for these two timescales identifies some economically-promising strategies considering both crop decisions and water management to mitigate groundwater overdraft. … ”  Read more from the California Water Blog here:  Managing groundwater overdraft – combining crop and water decisions (without salinity)

Lawsuit challenges Trump administration’s failure to protect rare LA fish known for elaborate mating rituals

The Center for Biological Diversity sued the Trump administration today for failing to protect Southern California’s unarmored threespine stickleback, a tiny scaleless fish known for its elaborate mating rituals.  These critically endangered fish used to inhabit the Los Angeles River and other nearby streams, but they now survive only in the upper Santa Clara River watershed near the Angeles National Forest and a single creek in Santa Barbara County.  Yet the Trump administration has failed to prepare an updated recovery plan or take other urgent steps to preserve the species.  “These little fish have survived for millennia in Los Angeles-area streams, but the Trump administration’s inaction has helped push these living icons of California to the brink,” said J.P. Rose, a Center attorney. “Habitat destruction and water pollution are wiping them out. Without immediate and ambitious new safeguards, these fish will be relegated to history books and museums.” … ”  Read more from the Center for Biodiversity here:  Lawsuit challenges Trump administration’s failure to protect rare LA fish known for elaborate mating rituals

Analysis: Water becomes a commodity

For almost 230 years, agricultural commodities have been bought and sold in New York’s finance district.  Now the NASDAQ stock exchange – which celebrates 50 years of activity next month – has put a price on our most vital substance: water contracts for five water districts in drought-prone California are being bought and sold.  The new water futures contract allows buyers and sellers to barter a fixed price for the delivery of fixed quantity of water at a future date. … ”  Read more from RNZ here: Analysis: Water becomes a commodity

New Zealand: Concern as Canterbury fish crisis mirrored on other side of the world

Anglers fear a tiny, cucumber-scented fish could be teetering on the verge of extinction after a survey of its American counterpart yielded disastrous results.  Stokell’s smelt is native to the east coast of the South Island – usually found from North Canterbury’s Waiau River to North Otago’s Waitaki River – and is officially classified as “at risk”.  New Zealand Federation of Freshwater Anglers president Peter Trolove, who is a fish vet, said recreational fishers had noticed a drastic decline in the once-common species.  He was particularly concerned after learning the California Department of Fish and Wildlife was unable to find any of the fish’s northern hemisphere​ cousins – the delta smelt – during its 2020 Fall Midwater Trawl Survey. ... ”  Read more from Stuff here:  Concern as Canterbury fish crisis mirrored on other side of the world

Biden climate plan to address worsening Western wildfires, but it will take years

If every person in the United States started driving electric cars powered by wind turbines tomorrow, and each country on earth agreed to dramatically reduce greenhouse emissions, the West Coast would still see catastrophic wildfires in the coming years and decades.  Climate change has tilted the future toward more fire and that’s unlikely to change in the short term, experts say, even as President-elect Joe Biden unveils a climate plan aimed at combating human-caused warming of the planet. … ”  Read more from the Statesman Journal here:  Biden climate plan to address worsening Western wildfires, but it will take years

UCI researchers: Climate change will alter the position of the Earth’s tropical rain belt

Future climate change will cause a regionally uneven shifting of the tropical rain belt – a narrow band of heavy precipitation near the equator – according to researchers at the University of California, Irvine and other institutions. This development may threaten food security for billions of people.  In a study published today in Nature Climate Change, the interdisciplinary team of environmental engineers, Earth system scientists and data science experts stressed that not all parts of the tropics will be affected equally. For instance, the rain belt will move north in parts of the Eastern Hemisphere but will move south in areas in the Western Hemisphere. ... ”  Read more from UC Irvine here: UCI researchers: Climate change will alter the position of the Earth’s tropical rain belt

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In regional water news and commentary today …

El Dorado County:  How low will they go? Local lakes shrinking

Water supplies in El Dorado County lakes are dropping.  In a report to the El Dorado Irrigation District Board of Directors Monday Operations Director Dan Corcoran said the water agency expects to have adequate water supplies for 2021 but continues to be diligent regarding signs of a possible multiyear rainfall shortage. ... ”  Read more from the Mountain Democrat here: El Dorado County:  How low will they go? Local lakes shrinking

Santa Barbara sets its sights on landmark restoration of Andree Clark Bird Refuge

One of Santa Barbara’s long-neglected iconic natural landmarks is finally getting some love.  The City of Santa Barbara wants to restore the Andree Clark Bird Refuge to improve the quality of the water, invite more birds and reduce the foul odor that often arises because of the poor circulation of the water.  “This project will improve the water quality, smell, and storm protections of the area while creating usable outdoor recreational space,” said Councilwoman Kristen Sneddon, who teaches geology at Santa Barbara City College. “It really is a benefit for the whole area, and I am looking foward to it.” … ”  Read more from Noozhawk here:  Santa Barbara sets its sights on landmark restoration of Andree Clark Bird Refuge

Western, EMWD partner to enhance water reliability for March Air Reserve Base

Western Municipal Water District (Western) and Eastern Municipal Water District (EMWD) entered into an interagency agreement this month to partner on efforts to enhance water supply reliability for March Air Reserve Base (March ARB).  The North Perris Groundwater Basin Program participation agreement between Western and EMWD supports a commitment to remedy and protect groundwater resources, providing a new local water supply for the area. ... ”  Read more from Water World here:  Western, EMWD partner to enhance water reliability for March Air Reserve Base

Dana Point landslide drama likely to be replayed elsewhere along California coast

Some 60 oceanview homes in Dana Point sit precariously on a landslide-prone bluff, but efforts to upgrade the protective boulder wall lining the beach below have been rebuffed — even as the cliff becomes increasingly vulnerable to rising seas and pounding winter waves.  The county is drawing up a third set of plans to submit to the state Coastal Commission, which rejected previous permit applications in 2012 and again last February. But it’s far from certain those plans will be approved by the commission or what recourse homeowners have if an ocean-generated landslide takes their properties. … ”  Read more from the East Bay Times here:  Dana Point landslide drama likely to be replayed elsewhere along California coast

San Diego County Water Authority prevails in two rate cases against Metropolitan

A San Francisco Superior Court judge ruled the San Diego County Water Authority is the prevailing party in the first of two lawsuits 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. … ”  Read more from the Times of San Diego here: San Diego County Water Authority prevails in two rate cases against Metropolitan

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Along the Colorado River …

Commentary: Lasting Colorado River solutions come from Main Street, not Wall Street

Dan Keppen, executive director of Family Farm Alliance; Scott Yates, director of Trout Unlimited’s Western Water & Habitat Program; and Taylor Hawes, Colorado River Program director for The Nature Conservancy, write: “Sensational headlines, like those speculating that Wall Street will make billions off the Colorado River or that West Slope farmers should pack it in now, certainly attracts readers. Unfortunately, these articles wholly fail to convey the reality of the water challenges facing the Colorado River Basin.  As representatives of irrigated agriculture and conservation organizations, we deal with these issues every day. Often times, we do so through working partnerships with each other. Increasingly, we find these relationships are necessary to ensure that farms and ranches thrive and that rivers continue to support fish, wildlife, and recreation. ... ”  Read more from the Grand Junction Sentinel here: Commentary: Lasting Colorado River solutions come from Main Street, not Wall Street

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In national water news today …

A ‘forever chemical’ surprise awaits Biden’s EPA

President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to address so-called forever chemicals that have been found in Americans’ drinking water and linked to many adverse health effects.  But the scope of the contamination may be larger than previously understood given the EPA finding this week that such compounds have been leaching from storage containers into at least one pesticide used to control disease-spreading mosquitos.  The manufacturer of the pesticide has voluntarily halted shipments of product in such containers, but it’s unclear how many other companies are using similar ones. … ”  Read more from Roll Call here:  A ‘forever chemical’ surprise awaits Biden’s EPA

Attorney General Becerra files motion for summary judgment in lawsuit challenging Trump Administration rollback of Endangered Species Act protections

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, and Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh today led a multistate coalition in filing a motion for summary judgment in their lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s rollback of federal Endangered Species Act protections. In 2019, the Trump Administration finalized three rules revising numerous key requirements of the Endangered Species Act’s implementing regulations at the behest of industry groups. The multistate coalition filed their lawsuit shortly after. In today’s motion, the coalition argues that the final rules violate the Endangered Species Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act, and should be vacated immediately. … ”  Continue reading this press release here: Attorney General Becerra files motion for summary judgment in lawsuit challenging Trump Administration rollback of Endangered Species Act protections

Biden: Five ways he will reverse Trump on the environment

The nation’s attention is focused on COVID and security at the U.S. Capitol. But when Joe Biden and Kamala Harris take office Wednesday, one of their other top priorities will be to immediately start dismantling Donald Trump’s legacy on the environment.  From the first few hours of their new administration, America is expected to see a major shift from the last four years, including on key issues affecting offshore oil drilling, wildlife, the type of vehicles people drive and how electricity is generated.  “It’s going to be like night and day,” said law professor Dan Farber, director of UC Berkeley’s Center for Law, Energy, and Environment. “They could not be more different. ... ”  Read more from the Mercury News here: Biden: Five ways he will reverse Trump on the environment

Senate majority offers Biden new avenues on Trump environmental rollbacks

The incoming Senate Democratic majority opens new avenues for the incoming Biden administration to reverse a host of last-minute environmental rollbacks by President Trump.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other agencies have finalized numerous rules in the last several months of Trump’s presidency, but Democrats can now consider going the legislative route to essentially rollback the rollbacks, sidestepping the lengthier rulemaking process. … ”  Read more from The Hill here: Senate majority offers Biden new avenues on Trump environmental rollbacks

Majority of Democrats and Republicans support policies to combat climate change, survey finds

Republicans and Democrats both show broad support for more environmentally-friendly laws amid the climate crisis that threatens to displace millions of people, according to a new survey.  In a survey released Friday by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication, a majority of Americans said they support clean energy policies that can reduce carbon pollution.  The study, which surveyed 949 Americans Dec. 3 – 16, found that 53% of registered voters said global warming should be a “high or very high priority for the president and Congress.” When it comes to developing sources of clean energy, 66% of registered voters said it also should be a top priority. … ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service here: Majority of Democrats and Republicans support policies to combat climate change, survey finds

The future of wine: Israel’s desert vineyards show us how to cope with a changing climate

In the Negev Desert, the sun beams down onto desolate earth. The air is dry and the land arid.  But up on a mountain ridge near the town of Mitzpe Ramon, rows of vines sprout from the scorched soil – the only glimmer of green in a barren landscape.  This is no desert mirage. Those sprouts are part of an experimental vineyard where researchers are investigating how grapes can grow under the extreme conditions that dominate this region in southern Israel.  The Negev, meaning “the dry” in Hebrew, only receives about 10 centimetres of rain each year, much of which disappears in flash floods. Temperatures can reach 38 degrees Celsius during the day and drop below zero during winter nights. Still, more than two dozen wineries have sprung up in the area over the last decade or so, along with a thriving wine tourism business. … ”  Read more from EuroNews here:  The future of wine: Israel’s desert vineyards show us how to cope with a changing climate

Climate change could take weather patterns back to the Pliocene

The West Coast drinks from the wind. When westerly gales carry humid air from the Pacific Ocean into the Sierra Nevada and the Cascade mountain ranges, the West turns green, orchards blossom, and reservoirs swell. When those westerlies deflect to the north, hills turn brown, cities ban sprinklers, and forest fires flare.  There are consistent bands of westerly winds at about 40 degrees latitude in both hemispheres — near San Francisco in the northern hemisphere, and near Concepción, Chile, in the south. Over the past few decades scientists have seen these westerlies creeping toward the poles. If this shift is a result of climate change and continues, it could have profound implications: Over the next century, Seattle might become as dry as Los Angeles, and California could settle into an era of unending drought. … ”  Read more from Salon Magazine here:  Climate change could take weather patterns back to the Pliocene

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And lastly …

Flat earthers’ attempt to sail to the edge of the world ends in massive disappointment

” … Despite Italy’s lockdown, a couple from Venice recently set out to prove Earth’s flatness once and for all by sailing to the edge of the world, which they believed to be somewhere near Sicily. It’s amazing how people who live locally never visit famous tourist attractions, like the leaning tower of Piza or the edge of the Earth where the sea meets the infinite void. … ” Thank you, Dan Bacher, for this.  Read more from IFL Science! here: Flat earthers’ attempt to sail to the edge of the world ends in massive disappointment

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Today’s featured article …

BLOG ROUND-UP: Delta smelt remain on the brink of extinction; Decades of dedication; Regulations falling behind science; and more …

Click here for the blog round-up.


Weekend Daily Digest …

In California water news this weekend …

  • 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
  • Topsy-turvy weather pattern to bring record warmth and strong winds, but then big shift to colder/wetter conditions
  • 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
  • A causeway over the bay between Arcata and Eureka? Caltrans exploring adaptations for sea level rise
  • Sonoma County flirts with drought as reservoirs recede in water-poor winter
  • Secret Kern River talks underway
  • San Diego County Water Authority prevails in rate litigation
  • Life-saving drinking water disinfectants have a “dark side”
  • And more …

Click here to read the weekend edition of the Daily Digest.

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

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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