DAILY DIGEST, 1/25: Atmospheric river means massive snow coming to the West; The Klamath River and the grassroots movement to save it; Feds reassess Klamath Project water delivery obligations; Biden administration: Will farmers see another WOTUS redo?; and more …


On the calendar today …

  • WORKSHOP: California-Nevada Drought & Climate Outlook from 11am to 12:00pm.  The California-Nevada Drought Early Warning System (CA-NV DEWS) January 2021 Drought & Climate Outlook Webinar is part of a series of regular drought and climate outlook webinars designed to provide stakeholders and other interested parties in the region with timely information on current drought status and impacts, as well as a preview of current and developing climatic events (i.e., El Niño and La Niña).  Click here to register.

Big storm headed towards California …

Atmospheric river means massive snow coming to the West

In what has been the worst fire season in recorded history in California, with twice the burned acreage of any season prior and fires burning months past the end of traditional wildfire season — some just days ago — fortune is about to shift, but to another extreme. A rip-roaring jet stream with embedded atmospheric rivers is primed to pummel California with heavy rain and massive snow over the coming week.  With the flip of a switch, California and the Southwest U.S., will go from the driest six-month stretch in state history to the potential for flash flooding, landslides and snow so deep in the elevations, avalanches will become a danger. … ”  Read more from CBS News here: Atmospheric river means massive snow coming to the West

Wild weather week ahead: widespread heavy rainfall with fire scar flood threat, plus epic Sierra Nevada snowfall

” … Well, get ready for another pretty dramatic change in the weather statewide this week. Another weak but cold storm Monday will bring widespread showers and isolated thunderstorms, with snow levels locally as low as 2,000 feet. But the main event is still slated for mid-week–from late Tuesday into Thursday. A very strong, cold storm system will drop southeastward toward California on Tuesday. As a surface low deepens well north of California, a powerful cold front will strengthen quickly as it progresses southward from the North Coast toward the San Francisco Bay Area. Given a favorable upper jet structure and a pre-existing cold airmass, this system will have some pretty impressive dynamics to work with–and will feature a much sharper surface temperature differential than is common in California winter storms. … ”  Read more from Weather West here:  Wild weather week ahead: widespread heavy rainfall with fire scar flood threat, plus epic Sierra Nevada snowfall

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In California water news today …

‘In every memory’: The Klamath River and the grassroots movement to save it

In late August in northern California as Berkshire Hathaway Energy and PacifiCorp executives made their way up the Klamath River by boat for a tour of the waters below their dams, local community members forced them to a stop with a blockade formed of their own canoes and boats. The confrontation was a long time coming.  “We kept up our end of the bargain to the detriment of our credibility in our communities,” said Chook-Chook Hillman, member of the Karuk tribe, to the executives in audio recorded by others in the blockade. He was referring to the deal struck 10 years before between the tribe and the energy companies to remove the dams, a deal that was in jeopardy. “Our kids have never known a dam-free river,” he added. … ” Continue reading at the Eureka Times-Standard here: ‘In every memory’: The Klamath River and the grassroots movement to save it

A swiss cheese model for fish conservation in California

Andrew L. Rypel, Peter B. Moyle, and Jay Lund write, “We read with great interest Nicholas Chistakis’s piece outlining a “Swiss Cheese Model For Combating Covid-19” in the Wall Street Journal. Christakis presents a model for considering the individual steps needed to achieve a larger goal, and how each step should fit into a larger strategy. He points out that each action used to limit the spread of Covid (handwashing, mask wearing, social distancing) creates a layer of imperfect defense akin to a slice of Swiss cheese. No action alone is 100% effective – there are holes. Yet in combination, multiple layers of the Swiss cheese become increasingly effective in limiting virus spread. This powerful analogy might be applied to other problems, from drinking water quality to fish conservation. … ”  Read more from the California Water Blog here: A swiss cheese model for fish conservation in California

What Biden’s presidency means for California’s environment

Like a defeated and retreating army, Trump administration officials left Washington, D.C., burning and shredding environmental laws and policies even as they walked out the door.  The scorched earth policy of unraveling Obama-era initiatives in favor of widespread deregulation began four years ago, and entailed many dozens of rules and policies. Included are rollbacks of regulations that protect endangered wildlife, migratory birds and wetlands, and regulate clean air, planet-warming gases and energy efficiency.  California Environmental Protection Secretary Jared Blumenfeld called it “vandalism.”   “We thought the world had ended after (President George W.) Bush, but it looks like a picnic compared to what Trump’s done,” Blumenfeld told CalMatters. “It’s been very surgical, very intentional and incredibly comprehensive.” … ”  Read more from Cal Matters here:   What Biden’s presidency means for California’s environment

Biden administration: Will farmers see another WOTUS redo?

” … Over the past four decades, all three branches of government have struggled with how to interpret the meaning of WOTUS, which has resulted in extensive litigation and confusion on the county level. And an April 2020 Supreme Court ruling also looks to cause additional uncertainties over which navigable waters are within federal jurisdiction and require additional permitting.  Don Parrish, AFBF senior director of regulatory relations, says he sees no legislative path on defining what constitutes a navigable water, so he expects Biden to take action administratively. Parrish expects this administration would want to expand the definition of what constitutes a navigable water, but maybe not as far as the 2015 rule tried. … ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press here: Biden administration: Will farmers see another WOTUS redo?

Biden administration begins comprehensive review of Trump-era environmental rules

On his first day in office, President Joe Biden issued an Executive Order titled “Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis.” The Executive Order directs the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) and other agencies to undertake the immediate review of agency actions taken between January 20, 2017, and January 20, 2021. In addition, the Executive Order directs these agencies to consider revisions to vehicle fuel economy and emissions standards, methane emissions rules, and appliance and building efficiency standards. In conjunction with the Executive Order, the Biden White House published a “List of Agency Actions for Review,” referencing more than 100 regulations and other executive actions issued by the Trump Administration that the new administration will scrutinize over the coming days. Climate change and environmental justice were key pillars of President Biden’s campaign platform, and the Executive Order demonstrates the Biden Administration’s intention to move quickly on those issues and other environmental regulatory rollbacks of the Trump Administration. … ”  Read more from JD Supra here: Biden administration begins comprehensive review of Trump-era environmental rules

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In regional water news and commentary today …

Feds reassess Klamath Project water delivery obligations

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has no legal right to curtail water deliveries contracted for irrigators in the Klamath Project to protect endangered fish, according to an analysis spearheaded by outgoing Interior Secretary David Bernhardt.  The findings, outlined in a 41-page “reassessment” of Klamath Project operations under the Endangered Species Act, could prove to be a game-changer for basin farmers, said Paul Simmons, executive director of the Klamath Water Users Association. … ”  Read more from the Capital Press here:  Feds reassess Klamath Project water delivery obligations

These 3 women will shoot a film while journeying from the Sacramento River to the ocean

Two Mount Shasta women are part of a three-woman team who will make a documentary film and podcast while they raft and kayak down the Sacramento River, exiting through San Francisco Bay to the ocean.  Their plan is to take the source-to-sea packrafting and kayaking trip in spring, stopping on along the way to film people who make their living from the river, and those who want to conserve it. … ”  Read more from the Siskiyou Daily News here: These 3 women will shoot a film while journeying from the Sacramento River to the ocean

New plan will reduce wildfire risk, improve forest health at Tahoe

2020 was a record wildfire year and as thick smoke filled the air throughout the summer as historic, destructive fires ran rampant in California.  Last year featured five of California’s six largest wildfires, and all were burning at the same time. More than four million acres burned across the state, which is double the previous record.  California’s Wildfire and Forest Resilience Action Plan was released on Jan. 8 to give a comprehensive and direct action plan for the state to reduce wildfire risk, improve the health of forests and wildlands along with battling climate change. … ”  Read more from the Tahoe Daily Tribune here:  New plan will reduce wildfire risk, improve forest health at Tahoe

Valley water directors move ahead with Pacheco Pass dam as price skyrockets

Valley Water leaders are moving forward with developing a new dam at Pacheco Pass in south Santa Clara County, despite recently learning that the price tag had doubled since 2019.  “It seems to me that the directors of the water district need to take every extreme measure we can find to continue this project, moving it forward and working with environmental groups as we always do,” said Santa Clara Valley Water District Director John Varela. “(We need to be) finding the solution, finding the resources to bring this to fruition and make it happen.” … ”  Read more from KTVU here:  Valley water directors move ahead with Pacheco Pass dam as price skyrockets

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Along the Colorado River …

Record low Lake Powell and bad 2021 drought forecast sets stage for water cuts

The dry 2020 and the lack of snow this season has water managers in seven states preparing for the first time for cutbacks outlined in drought contingency plans drafted two years ago.  A sobering forecast released this week by the Bureau of Reclamation shows the federally owned Lake Mead and Lake Powell — the nation’s two largest reservoirs and critical storage for Colorado River water and its 40 million users — dipping near-record-low levels. If those levels continue dropping as expected, long-negotiated agreements reached by the seven Colorado River Basin states in 2019 will go into effect, with water deliveries curtailed to prevent the federal government from stepping in and making hard water cuts. … ”  Read more from the Colorado Sun here: Record low Lake Powell and bad 2021 drought forecast sets stage for water cuts

More news and commentary in the Daily Digest, weekend edition …

In California water news this weekend …

  • Atmospheric river: Biggest storm of the year heading for Bay Area
  • Storm next week expected to bring ‘significant rain and mountain snow’ to Southland, forecasters say
  • California to impose first statewide rules for winery wastewater, marking new era
  • Small winery operators fear new California wastewater rules will cork profits
  • As Californians rack up $1 billion in water debt, advocates fear relief could come too late
  • Michelle Banonis selected as Regional Water Authority Manager of Strategic Affairs
  • Radhika Fox appointed to lead EPA’s Office of Water
  • Environmental turnaround — 8 issues that will pivot in California’s favor under Biden
  • ‘Mass aging’ of dams a global safety and financial risk, UN report says
  • And more …

Click here for the weekend Daily Digest.

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

SAN JOAQUIN RIVER RESTORATION PROGRAM: Initial 2021 Restoration Allocation & Default Flow Schedule Released

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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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