DAILY DIGEST, 1/26: How a water war on the Kings River could alter the Valley as we know it; Advocates for fish, and canoeing, win a round in debate over Tuolumne River flows; CA salmon deaths traced to thiamine deficiency; Big storm arrives tonight; and more …


On the calendar today …

  • FREE WEBINAR: Subsidence – What Groundwater Users and Managers Need to Know from 10am to 11am.  Discussion topics include the basics of compaction and subsidence; Case study: subsidence in the Greater Houston Area; new tools for modeling and monitoring subsidence for groundwater users and managers; and subsidence and frontier water resources – brackish groundwater and ASR.  Presented by Intera.  Click here to register.
  • PUBLIC WORKSHOP: Central California conveyance workshop from 2:30 to 5pm.  You are invited to a California Water Commission Central 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 Central 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 …

How a water war on the Kings River could alter the Valley as we know it


Though it doesn’t hold historical contentiousness like its counterpart along the Central Valley Project, the Kings River has its own tale to tell.  Serving as a lifeline of sorts for three of the central San Joaquin Valley’s five major counties, the Kings is filled with its own universe of water agencies run by engineers, lawyers, farmers, and politicos jockeying to manage the state’s most precious resource on one stream.  But, in the midst of a global pandemic, locals argue that their source of water is serving as a warning sign more than anything else – one with modern-day echoes of the Owens Valley.  It all centers on what they posit serves as their own apocalyptic battle. This one, unlike the water wars focused on the Delta, doesn’t concern itself with fish. ... ” Read more from the San Joaquin Valley Sun here: How a water war on the Kings River could alter the Valley as we know it

Advocates for fish, and canoeing, win a round in debate over Tuolumne River flows

A federal agency has ruled that the state can continue to seek higher flows on the Tuolumne River than planned by the Modesto and Turlock irrigation districts.  The Jan. 19 ruling drew cheers from environmental and fishing groups that have long sought larger releases from Don Pedro Reservoir into the lower river.  MID and TID vowed to appeal the ruling within the required 30 days. It involves a pending license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to operate Don Pedro for up to 50 more years. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  Advocates for fish, and canoeing, win a round in debate over Tuolumne River flows

California salmon deaths traced to thiamine deficiency

The biologists working in a fish hatchery near Shasta Dam grew increasingly concerned last year when newly hatched salmon fry began to act strangely — swimming around and around, in tight, corkscrewing motions, before spiraling to their deaths at the bottom of the tanks.  Certain runs of chinook salmon in California are imperiled; the hatcheries and the fry raised there are the federal government’s last-ditch effort to sustain these ecologically and economically vital fish populations.  So, when scientists observed the young salmon’s screwball behavior, they reached out to their networks in oceanography, ecology and fisheries: Had anyone seen anything similar? Did anybody know what was going on? … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: Something was killing baby salmon. Scientists traced it to a food-web mystery

California banned indiscriminate fishing nets.  Now these porpoises are on the rebound

Around the world, fishermen use low-cost nets that sit like fences on coastal seafloors. Known as set gill nets, this type of gear is highly effective at catching fish when the mesh snags them by their gills.  But gill nets also catch a host of other species by mistake.  In California, decades of commercial sea bass and halibut fishing killed thousands of other coastal animals. Outraged by the deaths of sea otters and diving seabirds, voters in the state banned many of the nets from near-coastal waters starting in 1994. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: California banned indiscriminate fishing nets.  Now these porpoises are on the rebound

As storm sets up to pummel Tahoe, meteorologists forecast a future without snow

As the year’s first major storm arrived in Lake Tahoe, meteorologists and climate scientists convened on the South Shore this week for the 24th Operation Sierra Storm, a leading nationwide conference about weather. Due to the pandemic, attendance was limited to 25 people, with panels and speakers livestreamed on Facebook. The conference opened Monday morning with a panel about climate change in California and Lake Tahoe.  Panelists forecast a grim outlook for the rest of the century. Climate models predict that storms like the one arriving this week will deliver more rain than snow to Lake Tahoe, a warming trend that will wreak havoc on future ski days. … ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  As storm sets up to pummel Tahoe, meteorologists forecast a future without snow

‘The most basic form of PPE’: 1.6 million households face water shutoffs

The first thing Deborah Bell-Holt does each morning is check whether water still flows from her bathroom faucet.  It always does, thanks to an April executive order from Gov. Gavin Newsom banning water disconnections during the pandemic. But that didn’t stop her utility debt from snowballing to nearly $15,000.  “They say you’re safe,” said the 67-year-old retired nurse, who manages finances for her household of twelve in South Los Angeles. “But you see that bill. How is that supposed to make you feel? You’re scared to death.” … ”  Read more from Cal Matters here: ‘The most basic form of PPE’: 1.6 million households face water shutoffs

Federal bill proposes fracking, drilling halt on California’s Central Coast, Bay Area

U.S. Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.) reintroduced legislation today to create a moratorium on fracking and drilling along California’s Central Coast and in the Bay Area.  The bill would stop the Bureau of Land Management from acting on the Trump administration’s 2019 decision to allow fracking and drilling on 725,500 acres of public lands and mineral estate.  It would require the agency to complete and circulate for public comment a supplemental environmental review of the lands across 11 affected counties: Alameda, Contra Costa, Fresno, Merced, Monterey, San Benito, San Joaquin, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and Stanislaus. … ”  Continue reading this press release from the Center for Biological Diversity here:  Federal bill proposes fracking, drilling halt on California’s Central Coast, Bay Area

Drought conditions could impact power generation in the West

Ongoing drought in parts of the West could trigger water conservation measures across seven states this year.  It would mark the first time that cutbacks outlined in drought contingency plans drafted two years ago have been put in place.  Everything from hydroelectric power generation to agricultural production to the bubbling fountains at Las Vegas casinos could be impacted.  Impacts on hydro generation could have ripple effects across the Southwest, including solar and energy storage. … ”  Read more from PV Magazine here: Drought conditions could impact power generation in the West

Environment experts to Newsom: Now’s your moment

Back in September, while wildfires raged and the pandemic wore on, California Gov. Gavin Newsom held a virtual press conference to announce a bold new climate goal. By 2035, he said, all new cars and trucks sold in California would be zero-emission, in order to seriously curtail climate warming-emissions.  “We are marking a new course, we are setting a new marker,” Newsom told a camera while standing in front of a few electric cars at Cal Expo in Sacramento. California is poised to lead the rest of the world in the “collective cause” of mitigating climate change, Newsom declared. … ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here: Environment experts to Newsom: Now’s your moment 

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Big storm arrives tonight …

California atmospheric river to bring threat of flooding, debris flows and feet of Sierra snow

An atmospheric river is poised to take aim at California beginning late Tuesday with drenching rains that could trigger debris flows and flooding while feet of snow pile up in the Sierra Nevada.  A pattern change late last week opened the door for an active storm track to bring much-needed rain and mountain snowfall to California and other parts of the Southwest. Two weather systems have impacted the region over the last few days, but neither produced widespread, heavy rainfall given their cold origin from the North Pacific. … ”  Read more from The Weather Channel here: California atmospheric river to bring threat of flooding, debris flows and feet of Sierra snow

Atmospheric River: 5,000 ordered to evacuate in Santa Cruz Mountains, rainfall estimates increase across Bay Area

A powerful atmospheric river storm barreling toward the Bay Area and Central Coast is expected to drench the region starting Tuesday night with more rain than earlier anticipated, forecasters say, raising the risk of power outages, downed trees and potentially deadly mudslides in the days ahead.  Evacuation orders were already underway Monday for about 5,000 people in the Santa Cruz Mountains, an ominous beginning to what could be one of the wettest weeks in years. … ”  Read more from the Mercury News here: Atmospheric River: 5,000 ordered to evacuate in Santa Cruz Mountains, rainfall estimates increase across Bay Area

SEE ALSO:   Strong atmospheric river may bring several hydrologic impacts to large portion of California early this week, from the Center for Western Weather & Water Extremes

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In commentary today …

San Francisco: Save the river you drink from, say Kate Poole, water lead for the Natural Resources Defense Council, and John McManus, president of the Golden State Salmon Association

They write, ” … Of all of the major rivers in the Bay-Delta watershed, San Francisco’s Tuolumne is among the worst off. Eighty percent of the Tuolumne’s flow is routinely diverted, and more than 90% in the worst years, leaving only a trickle in the river for fish and other wildlife in most years. Unsurprisingly, native fish on the Tuolumne have all but disappeared, including the salmon runs that sustain fishing industry jobs from Morro Bay to Fisherman’s Wharf and into Oregon. For San Franciscans, it is not acceptable that our river is among the most damaged in the state, undermining our credibility as an environmental leader. … ”  Read more from the SF Chronicle here: San Francisco: Save the river you drink from

California must change course to avoid water shortages, says Daniel Kolkey, Pacific Research Institute Board Member

He writes, “Californians have recently endured increasingly aggressive wildfires, rolling power outages, and smoke-filled air for days. Unless the state government changes course, we can add water shortages to this list.  According to the U.S. Geological Survey, California has already suffered three droughts during this century – 2001-2002, 2007-2009, and 2012-2016. To address this reality, the state has enacted legislation to require urban water agencies, under penalty of $1,000 fines per day, to increasingly reduce average water use by residents and businesses, without requiring any significant steps to increase water capture and storage during wet years. ... ”  Read more from the San Bernardino Sun here:  California must change course to avoid water shortages

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In regional water news and commentary today …

Video: The Klamath River is the lifeblood of the Yurok Tribe

Guardians of the River, produced by American Rivers and Swiftwater Films, focuses on the hard-won efforts of leaders of the Yuroks. Frankie Joe Myers, vice chair of the tribe; Sammy Gensaw, director of the Ancestral Guard; Barry McCovey, fisheries biologist with the tribe; and members of the Ancestral Guard and Klamath Justice Coalition share why removing four dams across southern Oregon and Northern California is vital to restoring clean water, food sovereignty, and justice for the Klamath River. After decades of advocacy, state officials have signed an agreement for the dams’ removal; scheduled for 2023, it will be the largest such removal project in U.S. history.”  Watch video from Outside here: Video: The Klamath River is the lifeblood of the Yurok Tribe

Trinidad to consider joining feasibility study for a pipeline extension from Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District

The Trinidad City Council on Tuesday will consider whether to participate in a feasibility study for a project that would bring a steady flow of water to the city from the Mad River via a new pipeline.  The Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District (HBMWD), which supplies water to Eureka, Arcata, McKinleyville, Blue Lake and other area communities, is in the early stages of researching the possibility of expanding its service area north via a waterline extension at least as far north as the Trinidad Rancheria, where tribal leaders have been searching for a reliable water source to supply a proposed five-story, 100-room hotel near Cher-Ae Heights Casino. … ”  Read more from the Lost Coast Outpost here: Trinidad to consider joining feasibility study for a pipeline extension from Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District

Salmon count in Putah Creek drops from 2019, 2018

The official salmon count for Putah Creek revealed just 140 individuals for the winter run.  That was down from 550 reported last year and close to the same number the year before that, and is considerably lower than the peak of nearly 2,000 fish during the 2017 run.  One count put the number for the 2019 report at closer to 1,500 fish.  Rich Marovich, the streamkeeper for the Lower Putah Creek Coordinating Committee and the Solano County Water Agency, said the issue is when the fish are allowed into the creek. … ”  Read more from the Daily Republic here: Salmon count in Putah Creek drops from 2019, 2018

Protecting the natural wonders and resources of the Cosumnes River Watershed

The Sacramento Valley Conservancy’s land acquisition program continues to make progress towards several goals, despite the challenges created by the Covid-19 pandemic. Last April, Resources Legacy Fund’s Land-Sea Connection program awarded SVC, in partnership with the Cosumnes Coalition and the American River Conservancy, a grant to help fund a full-time Acquisition position to support an increased focus on land acquisition projects throughout the Cosumnes River watershed. This watershed is home to important natural resources and productive agricultural lands.  At the end of October 2020, SVC and Sacramento County Flood Control Agency (SAFCA) finalized the purchase of a 130-acre agricultural/grazing property located along the Cosumnes River where SVC holds a previously recorded (2018) Swainson’s hawk easement. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Valley Conservancy here: Protecting the natural wonders and resources of the Cosumnes River Watershed

Asm. Robert Rivas introduces bill to assist timely, expert completion of Anderson Dam Project

In a move to protect the Silicon Valley area and Assembly District 30 from potential flooding and destruction, Assemblymember Robert Rivas (D-Hollister) introduced today Assembly Bill 271 to assist the revitalization and earthquake retrofitting of Anderson Dam, located in Morgan Hill. With Anderson Dam having been deemed an “unacceptably high” seismic risk by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, it is critical that this project be completed in a timely, safe, and expert way—and AB 271 helps ensure that will happen.  “As it stands today, the Anderson Dam is over 70 years old and was built before engineers knew about the two nearby fault lines, including one directly under the dam,” Asm. Rivas said. ... ”  Read more from Assemblymember Robert Rivas here:  Asm. Robert Rivas introduces bill to assist timely, expert completion of Anderson Dam Project

Atmospheric river in Central California could help drought conditions

Central California will experience the cold before the storm as frigid air starts to move in.  Meteorologists are calling for an atmospheric river to arrive by Wednesday.  “This actually looks like a very spectacular storm,” says Fresno County Farm Bureau CEO Ryan Jacobsen. “You don’t want to count it before it has actually dropped but as of right now the projections, particularly for the snowpack up the Sierra Nevada, look very healthy.” ... ”  Read more from KFSN here: Atmospheric river in Central California could help drought conditions

Kern County: Court approves Cummings Basin amended, restated judgment

A Kern County Superior Court judge recently approved an updated water management plan for the Cummings Basin groundwater west of Tehachapi. “The goal is to ensure that sufficient, safe and clean drinking water will be available for decades to come,” said TCCWD General Manager Tom Neisler. On Jan. 5, Judge Stephen Schuett approved the Cummings Basin Amended and Restated Judgment and Physical Solution, which was prepared and presented by the Tehachapi-Cummings County Water District. … ”  Read more from the Tehachapi News here:  Court approves Cummings Basin amended, restated judgment

San Bernardino Groundwater Council featured on cover of CSDA magazine


The California Special Districts Association has featured the San Bernardino Basin Groundwater Council as its cover story for the November-December issue.  Winner of the CSDA 2020 Award for Innovative Project of the Year, the Groundwater Council  is an innovative, voluntary partnership among area water agencies and cities to work together to enhance local water storage in the region.  Record levels of water were captured and stored in the San Bernardino Basin in 2019, due in large part to the collaboration of the group. The ongoing collaboration of the council ensures continued recharge successes long into the future. … ”  Read more from the San Bernardino Water Conservation District here: San Bernardino Groundwater Council featured on cover of CSDA magazine

‘It’s working’: Boom system set up in Tijuana stops piles of trash from flowing into California

It’s been raining in the Tijuana-San Diego region since Friday and as it always happens, much of the runoff flows from south of the border through canyons into the U.S. bringing with it tons of trash, debris and plastics.  Only this time, not as much is making its way north thanks to a trash collecting boom system that was set up in Tijuana last week.  It was installed by WILDCOAST, an environmental group based in Imperial Beach, Calif. ... ”  Read more from Fox 5 here: ‘It’s working’: Boom system set up in Tijuana stops piles of trash from flowing into California

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In national water news today …

Biden administration: Tide shifting on climate change discussion

The last time there was a significant debate on a climate bill in Congress was 2009, and it failed. Some have even attributed the agricultural sector’s opposition as part of the reason. Fast forward to 2021, and agriculture is no longer seen as the major emitter of greenhouse gas emissions but as part of a potential solution. Climate regulations or stipulations could quickly find their way woven into anything coming out of the White House or advanced in Congress.  Climate is already emerging as a cornerstone issue for the Biden administration, with more than a dozen executive orders and memos setting the agenda on the climate. Ensuring any regulatory or legislative approach that does not harm, but rather incentivizes, good practices will be the lynchpin for the agriculture community to support any action. ... ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press here:  Biden administration: Tide shifting on climate change discussion

Ag groups supportive of EPA nominee

A diverse group of 23 agricultural groups wrote Senate Environment and Public Works leaders in support of Michael Regan who’s been nominated to serve as the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Currently, a nomination hearing date has not been set for Regan.   “As Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, Michael Regan has an established record of listening to all stakeholders, including farmers and ranchers,” states the letter to incoming EPW Chairman Tom Carper, D-Del., and Ranking Member Shelly Moore Capito, R-W.Va. “During his tenure, he has worked to find practical, sound solutions to myriad environmental issues in the state, while ensuring science and data guided his decisions. He also understood the impact those decisions would have on rural communities and the families that live and work there.” … ”  Read more from Beef Magazine here: Ag groups supportive of EPA nominee

Dam old: Around the world, long-in-the-tooth large dams pose a growing risk

Ageing dams will pose a growing risk over the next few decades, warns an analysis from United Nations University’s Canada-based Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH) – and the threat will be exacerbated by climate change.  The 20th century saw a dam-building boom that peaked in the 1960s and ’70s, with tens of thousands constructed around the globe to store and control water. Their uses vary by region, from water supply to irrigation, flood control to hydropower.  According to the UNU report released late last week, 58,700 of the world’s large dams were built between 1930 and 1970. By 2050, most of the global population will live downstream of them.  But dams don’t last forever. Most have a design life of 50–100 years, which means many are already operating at or past their estimated life expectancy. … ”  Read more from Cosmos here: Dam old: Around the world, long-in-the-tooth large dams pose a growing risk

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Today’s featured articles …

WATER ASSN OF KERN COUNTY: DWR Director Karla Nemeth gives an update on the Delta Conveyance Project

The Delta Conveyance Project is the Newsom Administration’s plan to construct a tunnel and other facilities that would carry water from the Sacramento River to State Water Project facilities in the south Delta.

Kern County, the second-largest participant in the State Water Project with a contract for 982,730 acre-feet of water per year, recently voted to participate in the project.  In January of 2021, the Water Association of Kern County hosted a webinar with Karla Nemeth, the Director of the Department of Water Resources.  She gave an update on the Delta Conveyance Project, as well as touched on other efforts of interest to Kern County.


BLOG ROUND-UP: Sac Valley water managers prepare for a dry year; A Swiss cheese model for fish conservation in California; A tale of two movies: Brave Blue World and Dark Waters; and more …

Click here to read the blog round-up.

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PICTURE CREDIT: Consumnes River by Johnathan

 

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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