WEEKLY WATER NEWS DIGEST for Jan 17-22: Water Supply Reliability Estimation: an overview; Results from the 2019 recycled water volumetric report; Plus all the top water news of the week

A wrap-up of posts published on Maven’s Notebook this week …

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This week’s featured articles …

DELTA ISB: Water Supply Reliability Estimation: an overview

Water supply reliability. It’s half of the co-equal goals of “providing a more reliable water supply for California and protecting, restoring, and enhancing the Delta ecosystem. The co-equal goals shall be achieved in a manner that protects and enhances the unique cultural, recreational, natural resource, and agricultural values of the Delta as an evolving place.” (Water Code 85054)  But what exactly does it mean? And how do you measure it?

At the October meeting of the Delta Independent Science Board, Dr. Jay Lund gave an overview of water supply reliability.  His presentation discussed water system portfolios, water demands, what factors can make water systems unreliable, the approaches to estimating water supply reliability, and the metrics used.

Click here to read this article.


STATE WATER BOARD: Results from the 2019 Volumetric Annual Report of Wastewater and Recycled Water in California

At the January 5 meeting of the State Water Board, Rebecca Greenwood, an engineering geologist with the recycled water and desalination unit in the State Water Board’s Division of Water Quality, presented the results from the first year of reporting for wastewater and recycled water facilities statewide.

Click here to read this article.

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In California water news this week …

Wetter pattern to bring much-needed mountain snow for drought-plagued West, including California

A weather pattern change in the West will deliver rain and mountain snow not just for the waterlogged Northwest, but also for drought-suffering California, the Desert Southwest and Rockies into next week. …  The jet stream will take a sharp, southward nosedive near the West Coast, in response to a warm dome of high pressure aloft poking north toward Alaska’s Aleutian Islands.  This U-shaped jet stream trough may hold for a while and will guide a series of Pacific frontal systems into the West Coast over the next week or so. … ”  Read more from the Weather Channel here:  Wetter pattern to bring much-needed mountain snow for drought-plagued West, including California

SEE ALSO:

Column: Meet the new folks who will determine how much water trickles down to the Valley

Wayne Western, Jr. writes, “Obviously, the transition of power in Washington D.C. was timely and unhindered.  Within hours of inauguration, government websites were completely changed and lists of appointees put in place. For federal water users in California, all eyes are on the Department of Interior. On Dec. 17, Biden chose Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) to serve as Secretary of Interior, among others.  In a statement, he said of this class of appointees: “They share my belief that we have no time to waste to confront the climate crisis, protect our air and drinking water, and deliver justice to communities that have long shouldered the burdens of environmental harms.” ... ”  Read more from the San Joaquin Valley Sun here: Meet the new folks who will determine how much water trickles down to the Valley

California households owe $1 billion in water-bill debt

Household water-bill debt in California has soared in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, worsening a water affordability crisis that has hit the state’s low-income residents and communities of color the hardest.  A survey by the state’s water regulator estimates that about 1.6 million households have a combined water debt of $1 billion, which is growing by about $100 million each month. The State Water Resources Control Board also found that 155,000 households are deep in debt, owing more than $1,000 to their water departments. Many of those deep-debt households are in poorer areas of southern and central Los Angeles County, the data showed. … ”  Read more from Circle of Blue here: California households owe $1 billion in water-bill debt

State Water Boards adopts new rule for winery wastewater processing and discharging

The State Water Resources Control Board adopted a general order for how wastewater is processed and discharged at winery locations in an ongoing effort to safeguard groundwater and surface water from wastewater discharges. The order protects groundwater and surface water quality while giving wineries the flexibility to select compliance methods that best fit their site-specific situation, including tiering the compliance requirements to the winery size and associated threat to water quality. Under regulatory authority of existing Water Code Sections 13260 and 13263, the order also streamline statewide permitting of currently unregulated winery process water discharges and establishes statewide consistency, while allowing regional water boards to focus their resources on compliance. … ”  Read more from the State Water Board here:  State Water Boards adopts new rule for winery wastewater processing and discharging

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

Reclamation releases water reliability in the West report

The Bureau of Reclamation released a summary report providing an assessment of climate change impacts to water uses in the West, including adding a new set of West-wide information based on paleohydrology. The Water Reliability in the West – 2021 SECURE Water Act Report discusses changes and innovative actions across the eight basins identified in the SECURE Water Act.  The report describes Reclamation’s collaborative actions to increase water and power delivery reliability since the last SECURE Water Act Report in 2016, including science and research, planning, infrastructure sustainability, efficient hydropower production and on-the-ground activities to meet irrigation needs and water needed for municipalities, power, tribes and the environment. ... ”  Read more from the Bureau of Reclamation here: Reclamation releases water reliability in the West report

California agricultural developer agrees to pay Clean Water Act fines, mitigate impacts to sensitive streams and wetlands

A California agricultural developer has agreed to pay a civil penalty, preserve streams and wetlands, effect mitigation, and be subject to a prohibitory injunction to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA) on property near the Sacramento River located in Tehama County, California, the Justice Department announced today.   Roger J. LaPant Jr. purchased the property in this case in 2011 and sold it in 2012 to Duarte Nursery Inc. which, in turn, sold it that same year to Goose Pond Ag Inc.  Goose Pond’s activities on the property were the subject of a settlement announced by the Justice Department in September 2018 and approved by a federal judge in June 2019.  Duarte’s activities on an adjoining site were the subject of a settlement agreement announced by the Justice Department in August 2017 and approved by a federal judge in December 2017.  “Today’s settlement involving the unpermitted filling of streams and wetlands, if approved by the court, will conclude the long-running Clean Water Act litigation involving these properties near the Sacramento River in Tehama County,” said Jonathan D. Brightbill, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. … ”  Read more at the Department of Justice here:  California agricultural developer agrees to pay Clean Water Act fines, mitigate impacts to sensitive streams and wetlands

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In regional water news this week …

Bureau of Reclamation updates its approach to ESA Section 7 consultations for Klamath Project operations, applying recent legal authorities and new solicitor guidance

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) released three documents related to its consultation obligations under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for its operation of the Klamath Project (Project) in south-central Oregon and northern California. The analysis and conclusions contained in these comprehensive and technical documents significantly change Reclamation’s approach to ESA compliance when operating the Project. The new analysis was issued in response to a November 12, 2020 letter by the Secretary of Interior calling for a review of contracts with Project water users and other legal authorities governing the Project, as well as an October 28, 2020 memorandum (October 2020 Solicitor Guidance) from the U.S. Department of Interior Office of Solicitor (Solicitor) giving preliminary guidance on questions concerning Reclamation’s authority with respect to certain components of Project operations. ... ”  Read more from the Bureau of Reclamation here:  Bureau of Reclamation updates its approach to ESA Section 7 consultations for Klamath Project operations, applying recent legal authorities and new solicitor guidance

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

Hat Creek:  Creating a model for wild trout management

Hat Creek rises clear and cold in Lassen Volcanic National Park and runs north through the Hat Creek Valley to meet the Pit River at Lake Britton. The lower three miles, below Hat Creek Powerhouse Two, form the renowned spring creek waters that have challenged anglers for over 50 years with abundant insect hatches and highly selective trout. Today, this hallowed ground is now officially designated Wild Trout Water, although that’s a CalTrout story for another day. … ”  Read more from Cal Trout here: Hat Creek:  Creating a model for wild trout management

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

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

New salmon habitat created along the Sacramento River near Anderson

An oasis of meandering waterways with deep pools, shallow gravel beds, protective log overhangs, oxygenating riffles and a cooling canopy of willows and cottonwood trees is being created for salmon and steelhead along the banks of the Sacramento River on CDFW-owned property near the city of Anderson in Shasta County.  Three new side channels off the Sacramento River have been carved from a dense, 40-acre riparian zone and floodplain that is being reconnected to the river adjacent to the Anderson River Park. The new habitat will serve as a protective nursery for juvenile salmon and steelhead off the main river while providing additional spawning habitat for adult fish. ... ”  Read more from the Department of Fish and Wildlife here: New salmon habitat created along the Sacramento River near Anderson

Lightning Complex fires caused significant damage to Bay Area drinking water infrastructure

As the CZU Lightning Complex fire bore down on Gail Mahood’s tree-shrouded Felton neighborhood last August, she gathered what possessions she could and fled.  “As I drove away and saw how fast the fire was moving, I didn’t have much hope for my home,” Mahood recalled.  Thankfully, fire crews saved the little community of 20 or so houses, stopping the blaze within a half-mile of Mahood’s home in the Santa Cruz Mountains, but the pipes that delivered drinking water from a spring just up the hill were completely destroyed. … ”  Read more from KTVU Channel 2 here: Lightning Complex fires caused significant damage to Bay Area drinking water infrastructure

Central Coast: Time is running out for further Ag Order 4.0 revisions

The deadline to make any further Ag Order 4.0 revisions is quickly approaching. The Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board is currently working on another draft of the measure. The Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program known as Ag Order 4.0 has already undergone several draft revisions. Industry members are concerned that with the adoption deadline coming up soon there will be limited time to make any further changes. ... ”  Read more from Ag Net West here:  Central Coast: Time is running out for further Ag Order 4.0 revisions

Water games: Madera farmers set to test market

Madera County farmers are getting ready to play what could be the “game” of their livelihoods.  The county groundwater sustainability agency will launch a groundwater market simulation, or game, next month as a way for growers to see if selling and trading their groundwater helps make the most of what will become a severely limited resource in coming years.  Groundwater markets have emerged throughout the San Joaquin Valley as potential tools to help reduce groundwater pumping per the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. … ”  Read more from SJV Water here: Water games: Madera farmers set to test market

GSA, Friant Water settle on subsidence payments

A major portion of funding to repair subsidence in the Friant-Kern Canal was secured last week in a settlement between the canal’s operator, the groundwater agency where subsidence is taking place and the irrigation district most affected by the lack of conveyance.  On Jan. 7, the Eastern Tule Groundwater Sustainability Agency (ETGSA) Board of Directors approved an agreement with the Friant Water Authority (FWA) and Arvin Edison Water Storage District where the GSA would pay up to $220 million to repair the section of the canal between Lindsay and McFarland where overdrafting groundwater has played a significant role in the subsidence of the canal, according to hydrological studies. The board reported the vote following a closed session on the settlement. ... ”  Read more from the Foothills Sun-Gazette here:  GSA, Friant Water settle on subsidence payments

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

From dust to pupfish: Salton Sea Species Conservation Habitat project breaks ground

Last week a fleet of bulldozers and other heavy equipment began the enormous task of moving roughly 5 million cubic yards of soil around a 4,110-acre area of dry lakebed at the southern end of the Salton Sea as part of the Species Conservation Habitat Project. The Species Conservation Habitat project is the first step toward achieving DWR’s Salton Sea Management Program’s goal of creating thousands of acres of new wildlife habitat and reducing windblown toxic dust.  “The Salton Sea is a very important stopover for millions of birds on the Pacific Flyway and after 10 years of planning we’re finally breaking ground on this major habitat restoration project,” said Vivien Maisonneuve, DWR program manager and project lead. “This is the first time that we’re building this kind of habitat, especially in this very challenging environment.” … ”  Read more from DWR News here: From dust to pupfish: Salton Sea Species Conservation Habitat project breaks ground

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Along the Colorado River …

Lakes Mead and Powell could drop to lowest ever; Colorado River drought plan triggered

Increasingly bleak forecasts for the Colorado River have for the first time put into action elements of the 2019 Upper Basin drought contingency plan.  The 24-month study released in January by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which projects two years of operations at the river’s biggest reservoirs, showed Lake Powell possibly dipping below an elevation of 3,525 feet above sea level in 2022. That elevation was designated as a critical threshold in a 2019 agreement to preserve the ability to produce hydropower at Glen Canyon Dam. … ”  Read more from Cronkite News here: Lakes Mead and Powell could drop to lowest ever; Colorado River drought plan triggered

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?

In national water news this week …

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”

At dawn of Biden administration, opportunities for water systems

President Joe Biden has made his priorities clear: subduing the pandemic, economic recovery, climate action, and racial equity.  He reiterated those national challenges once again on Wednesday following his swearing-in ceremony at the U.S. Capitol.  “We will be judged, you and I, for how we resolve the cascading crises of our era,” Biden said in his inaugural speech, after naming each of the four priorities.  Now comes the hard part — converting rhetoric into policy and policy into practice. … ”  Read more from Circle of Blue here:  At dawn of Biden administration, opportunities for water systems 

Biden’s executive orders

President Joe Biden issued a number of executive orders yesterday, including: Revocation of Certain Executive Orders Concerning Federal Regulation, Regulatory Freeze Pending Review, Modernizing Regulatory Review, and Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis.

Ins and outs of Congressional Review Act and climate change rules

The obstacles the Trump administration has placed on environmental rulemaking and, by extension, on stemming climate change have been well-documented by organizations from mainstream media outlets to multiple academic institutions.  Those obstacles are numerous, well more than 100 plus a cascade of end-of-term parting shots, many designed to complicate life for the incoming Biden administration, which is expected to reverse as many as it can, as quickly as it can.  As a result of Democratic victories in the January 5 Senate runoffs in Georgia – giving Biden’s Democratic party a razor-thin Senate majority – there is an extra tool in the toolbox: the Congressional Review Act (CRA). … ”  Read more from Yale Climate Connections here:  Ins and outs of Congressional Review Act and climate change rules

Weekly features …

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.

 

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Announcements, notices, and funding opportunities …

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