DAILY DIGEST, 2/5: High-tech forecasting model scores scientific win at Lake Mendocino; CA’s rainy season now starts a month later than it used to; San Diego’s quest for pipeline from Imperial Valley; EPA nominee Regan talks future of WOTUS; and more …


On the calendar today …

In California water news today …

High-tech forecasting model scores scientific win at Lake Mendocino, showing promise for western reservoirs

Sandbars are spreading across rain-starved Lake Mendocino, the reservoir near Ukiah that is 35 feet lower than it was a year ago, a grim wintertime sight for the second major source of water for more than 655,000 people in Sonoma, Mendocino and Marin counties.  But the situation would be considerably worse without the payoff from a six-year, $50 million project applying high-tech weather forecasting to management of the reservoir behind Coyote Valley Dam built on the East Fork of the Russian River in 1958.  Thanks to the project, which replaces an inflexible dam operations manual with meteorological science unknown six decades ago, there is 20% more water — nearly 12,000 acre feet — now in Lake Mendocino as the North Bay teeters on the brink of drought. … ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here:  High-tech forecasting model scores scientific win at Lake Mendocino, showing promise for western reservoirs

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CW3E field team installs new meteorological stations ahead of WY2021

The CW3E Field Team installed two new observation sites and added additional instrumentation and performed maintenance on existing stations in the Yuba watershed between August-November 2020. The two new sites installed are soil meteorology (SMOIL) stations: North Star Meadow (NSM) and Lower Bath House (LBH). The sites are located near Strawberry Valley, CA and at San Francisco State University’s Sierra Nevada Field Campus near Bassetts, CA, respectively. These are two regions of the watershed previously lacking soil moisture observational data and add to the four existing CW3E stations installed for the Yuba-Feather Forecast Informed Reservoir Operations (FIRO) project,which researches opportunities at Lake Oroville and New Bullards Bar reservoir to improve reservoir operations and reduce flood risks by improving weather and runoff forecasts. … ”  Read more from the Center for Western Weather & Water Extremes here:  CW3E field team installs new meteorological stations ahead of WY2021

California’s rainy season now starts a month later than it used to

The start of California’s rainy season has been getting progressively later in recent decades, and now begins a month after it did just 60 years ago, shifting from November to December, according to a new study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. Scientists say the delay in the start of the rain has prolonged the state’s wildfire season and exacerbated water shortages.  Last year was California’s worst wildfire season on record, with nearly 10,000 fires burning more than 4.2 million acres.  “What we’ve shown is that it will not happen in the future, it’s happening already,” Jelena Luković, a climate scientist at the University of Belgrade in Serbia and lead author of the new study, said in a statement. … ”  Read more from Yale e360 here:  California’s rainy season now starts a month later than it used to

A $5 billion water project could drill through Anza-Borrego park. Is it a pipe dream?

It would be arguably the most ambitious public works project in San Diego history.  The envisioned pipeline would carry Colorado River water more than 130 miles from the Imperial Valley — through the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, tunneling under the Cuyamaca Mountains, and passing through the Cleveland National Forest — to eventually connect with a water-treatment plant in San Marcos.  An alternative route would run through the desert to the south, boring under Mt. Laguna before emptying into the San Vicente Reservoir in Lakeside.  Estimated cost: roughly $5 billion. New water delivered: None. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune here: A $5 billion water project could drill through Anza-Borrego park. Is it a pipe dream?

What role can vineyards play in conserving California’s biodiversity?

“At Gamble Family Vineyards in Napa, California, the beavers are becoming a problem. “I’m speaking about it calmly right now,” Tom Gamble laughs. “On my worst days, I’m more like Bill Murray in ‘Caddyshack.’”For years, Gamble Vineyards has worked to create a more biodiverse habitat on vineyard land, including establishing animal sanctuaries throughout the property and donating acreage to the Napa River Restoration project. Now the river’s growing beaver population is chewing the trees that Gamble has planted over the last 20 years. ... ”  Read more from Civil Eats here: What role can vineyards play in conserving California’s biodiversity?

Saving water saves energy and reduces greenhouse gas emissions

Conserving water goes beyond just saving water; it plays a vital role in conserving energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). This is one of the main conclusions of a study conducted by UC Davis in collaboration with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP).  The study, published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, shows that customer-focused water conservation programs are just as cost-effective (and in some cases, are more cost-effective) as energy efficiency programs in reducing electricity use, GHGs and other energy-intensive operations. … ” Read more from UC Davis here: Saving water saves energy and reduces greenhouse gas emissions

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In regional water news and commentary today …

‘Better days ahead’: Restoration deal signed to revive Klamath River after dam removal

The Klamath River Renewal Corporation last week signed an agreement with Resource Environmental Solutions, a Texas-based ecological restoration company, to provide restoration services following the removal of four dams on the Klamath River. The agreement with RES brings North Coast tribes one step closer to their decades-long goal of dam removal.  “We’re really excited,” Yurok Vice-Chairman Frankie Myers said. “One of the things that we always look for in anyone that we’re doing business with is we try to see if they have the same shared values at their core. I think one of the things that we found out about RES is they really do share our very same values of stewardship as well as the thought of having the responsibility to leave the earth better than you found it.” … ”  Read more from the Eureka Times-Standard here: ‘Better days ahead’: Restoration deal signed to revive Klamath River after dam removal

Hat Creek, California

California Trout was founded on the daring idea that healthy, functional rivers could sustain resilient wild trout populations without the help of hatcheries. By 1971, state fisheries managers had nearly given up on the preposterous concept of sensitive cold-water fish reproducing naturally.  Consequently, when founding CalTrout member Richard May approached the Fish and Game Commission that same year with delusions of radically rethinking the way we manage rivers and fish in California, few imagined his vision would galvanize a new conservation ethic around fly-fishing and springboard CalTrout towards 50-years of storied existence and profound impact. ... ”  Read more from Cal Trout here:  Hat Creek, California

Yolo Habitat Conservancy’s habitat conservation plans approved by California Department of Fish and Wildlife

In November 2020, Yolo Habitat Conservancy’s Regional Conservation Investment Strategy/Local Conservation Plan (RCIS/LCP) was approved by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, becoming only the second approved plan in the state.  The Yolo Habitat Conservancy is a joint powers agency dedicated to the conservation of natural and working landscapes as well as wildlife throughout Yolo County. According to a press release, Yolo Habitat Conservancy’s RCIS/LCP is a voluntary, non-regulatory conservation plan that guides both private and public conservation actions and investment including habitat restoration and protection. … ”  Read more from The Aggie here: Yolo Habitat Conservancy’s habitat conservation plans approved by California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Bay Area remains in a drought following storms, likely will not reach seasonal average for rainfall

Unless the region gets walloped by a parade of crazy rainstorms in the next month or two, Northern California isn’t likely to make up for the deficit of precipitation that our dry November, December and early January left us with.  Sure, we just saw a lot of rain get dumped on us — some places more than others — but we need a whole lot more, as meteorologists around the Bay Area keep saying.  “The storm did make a dent in the precipitation deficit, but it definitely did not erase it,” says National Weather Service forecaster Drew Peterson, speaking to SFGate. … ”  Read more from SFist here: Bay Area remains in a drought following storms, likely will not reach seasonal average for rainfall

Future of Monterey Peninsula water could be determined by new board appointees

Four new Monterey Peninsula representatives on key local water and wastewater agency boards could have a big say on the future of two Monterey Peninsula water issues — the proposed California American Water public takeover and the Pure Water Monterey expansion proposal.  Last week, Monterey architect Safwat Malek was unanimously chosen to replace Molly Evans as Monterey Peninsula Water Management Agency Division 3 director from a slate of five candidates during a special water district board meeting on Jan. 28. … ”  Read more from the Monterey Herald here:  Future of Monterey Peninsula water could be determined by new board appointees

Lake Nacimiento water level rises almost 26 feet from recent storms

The recent storms helped significantly raise the water levels at Lake Nacimiento and Lake San Antonio. The area experienced at least seven inches of rain over the past week. The Monterey County Water Resources Agency, which manages the lakes, reports that Lake Nacimiento rose almost 26 feet and Lake San Antonio rose more than eight feet. … ”  Read more from the Paso Robles Daily News here: Lake Nacimiento water level rises almost 26 feet from recent storms

San Luis Obispo city water recovery system performs well during storms

Although the Central Coast recently experienced intense storm systems, the City of San Luis Obispo’s proactive preparation reportedly allowed for minimal disruptions to regular services. This was exemplified by measures taken by the City’s Water Resource Recovery Facility (WRRF), where a comprehensive upgrade to the facility—called SLO Water Plus—is currently underway while also maintaining full operational capacity. … ”  Read more from the Paso Robles Daily News here: San Luis Obispo city water recovery system performs well during storms

Ventura County: Recent storms may dampen fire risk but did little to help the water supply. Here’s why

Despite last week’s storm, January ended up drier than normal in Ventura County, and in some spots, it was one of the driest in recent years.  The series of storms at the end of the month helped dampen fire risk but did little for the local rivers, creeks and streams.  Even with the boost, the county continues to fall under 50% of normal rainfall for the water year, which runs from October through September. Experts say the likelihood of making up the shortfall this rainy season is a long shot. … ”  Read more from the Ventura County Star here:  Ventura County: Recent storms may dampen fire risk but did little to help the water supply. Here’s why

Rindge Dam Removal and Malibu Creek Ecosystem Restoration

Dams built along the Pacific Coast over the past 150 years were constructed for flood protection, water security and energy, yet the magnitude and scope of their disruption to ecosystems has been slow to realize and reverse. Some dam removal projects – such as the Klamath Dams – affect not only watershed processes but interweave environmental, geographical, political, cultural and economic issues.  Removal of Rindge Dam in Malibu Creek, an obsolete structure that has not functioned as intended for 80 years, is a less complicated case. The dam removal project is now poised to proceed into design phase, following recent authorization of the project’s feasibility study led by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and pending formal approval in Congress. … ”  Read more from Cal Trout here: Rindge Dam Removal and Malibu Creek Ecosystem Restoration

Santa Clarita Valley Water to host meeting on hazardous materials in Saugus Aquifer

Santa Clarita Valley Water has scheduled a virtual public meeting for the community to learn more about how the agency is keeping its water safe for drinking by addressing the public health and environmental effects of hazardous substances that have been identified in the Saugus Formation Aquifer.  Set for Feb. 11, the agency will provide an overview of project objectives and alternatives for removal of the hazardous substances. Officials announced installing such treatment could allow for the return of several wells to service. … ”  Read more from The Signal here: Santa Clarita Valley Water to host meeting on hazardous materials in Saugus Aquifer

City of Laguna Beach reaches settlement with Regional Water Board

The City of Laguna Beach has reached a settlement agreement with the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board, resolving an Administrative Civil Liability (ACL) related to a November 2019 wastewater spill near Aliso and Woods Canyon Wilderness Park. As a result of the City’s immediate response to the spill and proven ongoing diligence to improve its wastewater system over the last 20 years, a settlement was reached. … ”  Read more from the Laguna Beach Patch here: City of Laguna Beach reaches settlement with Regional Water Board

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Along the Colorado River …

Nevada: 9th Circuit to District Court: Consider ‘public trust’ remedies in Walker Lake case

A legal effort to bring more water to Walker Lake will stay afloat.  In a ruling last week, a federal appellate court said Mineral County could continue to pursue its claim to require policymakers to restore the shrunken lake. It’s a major development in a case that is being closely watched by environmental groups and water users across the state. “It’s a victory for us,” said Simeon Herskovits, an attorney representing Mineral County.  The litigation centers on the Walker River, which is fed by snowmelt from the eastern Sierra and snakes through Nevada, emptying into Walker Lake along U.S. 95, just outside of Hawthorne. … ”  Read more from the Nevada Independent here: Nevada: 9th Circuit to District Court: Consider ‘public trust’ remedies in Walker Lake case

Proposed river authority would assert Utah’s claims to the Colorado’s dwindling water

Utah legislative leaders on Thursday unveiled plans for a new $9 million state agency to advance Utah’s claims to the Colorado River in hopes of wrangling more of the river’s diminishing flows, potentially at the expense of six neighboring states that also tap the river.  Without any prior public involvement or notice, lawmakers assembled legislation to create a six-member entity called the Colorado River Authority of Utah, charged with implementing “a management plan to ensure that Utah can protect and develop the Colorado River system.” … ”  Read more from the Salt Lake Tribune here: Proposed river authority would assert Utah’s claims to the Colorado’s dwindling water

A deep rethink of the Colorado River

Much has been said about a “new normal” in the Colorado River Basin. The phrase describes reduced flows in the 21st century as compared to those during much of the 20th century.  Authors of a new study contemplate something beyond, what they call a “new abnormal.”  The future, they say, might be far dryer than water managers have been planning for. This needs to change.  In the white paper, Kevin Wheeler and 11 others affiliated with the Utah State University-based Center for Colorado River Studies argue for the need for “wide-ranging and innovative thinking about how to sustainably manage the water supply, while simultaneously encouraging the negotiators of new agreements to consider their effects on ecosystems.” ... ”  Read more from the Mountain Times here:  A deep rethink of the Colorado River

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In national water news today …

Water equity and climate resilience caucus

Issue:  A changing climate is impacting the water cycle in unprecedented ways, and we’re already living with the effects: prolonged droughts, chronic flooding, and more dangerous storms and wildfires. Warming temperatures dry soils, increase water evaporation, and reduce mountain snowpack, further threatening water supplies for millions of people and nature. … For most people, climate change will be felt through water, whether it’s too little, too much, or unsafe. In addition to water pollution, many communities also increasingly face unaffordable water bills. The urgency to adapt and tackle the compounding climate and affordability emergencies encircle and underpins the work of community leaders and environmental and water justice advocates across the country.  While water challenges, like those described above, have not always been addressed with a climate lens, advocates and communities are elevating these connections. ... ”  Read more from the Water Foundation here: Water equity and climate resilience caucus

EPA nominee Regan talks future of WOTUS, RFS

While sitting before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Wednesday afternoon, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator nominee Michael Regan again confirmed he would work together with stakeholders to try to strike the right regulatory balance for those in agriculture.  He says his experience starting as a career staffer at EPA and most recently as secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality offers a track record of convening stakeholders and fostering an open dialogue with a commitment to build consensus. ... ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press here:  EPA nominee Regan talks future of WOTUS, RFS

EPA nominee Regan touts collaboration during senate confirmation hearing

The Senate confirmation hearing for Michael Regan, President Joe Biden’s nominee to lead the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, proceeded on February 3 with many lines of questioning but few serious objections to his qualifications for the job.  Regan has been the secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality since 2017. Though he has a long history of working on water issues in that state, discussion of those topics took a backseat during the three-hour hearing. What came to the forefront was how Regan would approach being the country’s top environmental regulator.  … ”  Read more from Circle of Blue here: EPA nominee Regan touts collaboration during senate confirmation hearing

Mapping environmental justice in the Biden-Harris administration

Addressing environmental justice is a top priority of the Biden-Harris administration.  Just one week after his inauguration, President Joe Biden designated January 27 Climate Day at the White House and signed a number of executive orders, including one aimed to “Secure Environmental Justice and Spur Economic Opportunity.” Under this executive order, President Biden took the first steps to make good on his campaign’s environmental justice commitments, which align closely with the Equitable and Just National Climate Platform—a national climate agenda co-authored by environmental justice and national environmental organizations and co-signed by more than 300 groups, including the Center for American Progress.  Notably, the executive order takes two critical steps in identifying and targeting benefits to disadvantaged communities. … ”  Read more from the Center for American Progress here: Mapping environmental justice in the Biden-Harris administration

Justice department tosses Trump-era environmental directives

The Justice Department has withdrawn a series of Trump-era policies that constrain the agency’s environmental enforcement tools.  Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jean E. Williams, a career official who is currently leading DOJ’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, issued a memo Thursday eliminating a series of directives from Trump appointees, including an unpopular ban on settlement devices called a supplemental environmental projects, or SEPs.  The move is part of a major shift expected in how the Justice Department enforces the nation’s environmental statutes. … ”  Read more from Bloomberg Law here: Justice department tosses Trump-era environmental directives

Biden poised to revive wild bird protections slashed by Trump

The Biden administration appears set to roll back another of President Donald Trump’s environmental policies, announcing Thursday it will delay a federal rule that severely hampers the government’s authority to enforce protections for migratory birds.  In the last days of the Trump administration, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) finalized a rule limiting the scope of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), one of the oldest wildlife conservation laws that protects migrating birds, their nests and their eggs from illegal capture and trading. … ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service here:  Biden poised to revive wild bird protections slashed by Trump

In a massive Australian water market, both promise and peril for those who follow suit

For farmer Carly Marriott, in Barooga, Australia, selling water is as easy as selling a couch on Craigslist.  “Here’s our account,” she said, opening a website on her smartphone last February. “We want to sell 85 megaliters and we put a price on it of $600.” …  Marriott usually grows wheat. But when water is scarce, it becomes expensive, and that means it’s not worth it for them to buy enough water to grow wheat.   “Water at the price it’s at, we can’t make money off it,” she said at the time. “So we sell it.”  It’s a market. And that’s an idea that leaders in some Western U.S. watersheds are eyeing, with proponents saying that, as the New York Times has reported, “water is underpriced and consequently overused.” Australia, meanwhile, has had just such a system for years – revealing the tradeoffs involved. … ”  Read more from Boise Public Radio here: In a massive Australian water market, both promise and peril for those who follow suit

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National Water and Climate Update …

dmrpt-20210204

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

THE CURRENT: Rewinding through Cal Trout’s history; Rindge Dam removal, Hat Creek: From past to present; Search for the Kern River rainbow; and more …

WATER INNOVATIONS: Pandemic concerns; Co-digesting food waste and wastewater solids; Acoustic leak detection; and more …

DELTA eNEWS: ~~ DPC Audio~ ISB Meeting~ Canceled Meeting~ Scavenger Hunt~ Annual Report ~~

NOTICE: New prize competition seeks to improve reliability of water deliveries for America’s crops by reducing water seeping from canals

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IMAGE CREDIT: Lake Mendocino photo by Martin Hapl

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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