DAILY DIGEST, weekend edition: Central Coast water regulation raises concerns; Rising toxic groundwater in the Bay Area; The human right to water in SoCal communities; Colorado River outlook darkens dramatically in new study; and more …

In California water news this weekend …

Central Coast water regulation raises concerns

Farm groups say a proposed regulatory permit known as the Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program for Central Coast agriculture, which regulates waste discharge from irrigated lands throughout the Central Coast, would make it more difficult for farmers to achieve the desired results, while harming the region’s agricultural economy.  The Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board posted revisions to the draft program last week. Known informally as Ag Order 4.0, it expands monitoring and reporting requirements and also sets a limit on the amount of nitrogen farmers can apply to crops.  Agricultural groups expressed disappointment regarding the revisions to the draft Ag Order 4.0, because it no longer contains incentives for individual farmers who take a collective or third-party approach to meeting the regulations. … ”  Read more from Ag Alert here: Central Coast water regulation raises concerns

Radio show: There’s rising toxic groundwater in the bay. But it’s not too late to address it.

The climate crisis isn’t just about big tropical storms and deadlier wildfires. Rising sea levels — as a result of climate change — are forcing contaminated groundwater to the surface in parts of the Bay Area. And the neighborhoods in most danger are places where there was once heavy industry, including areas that were once redlined.”  Click here to listen or read transcript of the radio show.

Video: Building resilience for cities and farms with water partnerships

Moving from competition to cooperation can help solve water problems facing farms in the San Joaquin Valley and cities in Southern California, and better prepare both for a changing climate. At a virtual event last week, PPIC research fellow Alvar Escriva-Bou summarized a new PPIC report showing how cooperative investments in new supplies and water-sharing agreements can help address both regions’ needs.  While the two regions face very different water challenges—addressing groundwater sustainability in the San Joaquin Valley, and managing drought in Southern California—these are “complementary water problems” said Escriva-Bou. … ”  Read more from the PPIC here: Video: Building resilience for cities and farms with water partnerships

The human right to water in poor communities of color: Southern Los Angeles County

Disadvantaged communities concentrated in southern Los Angeles County lack fair options when it comes to water supply. When served by public utilities, aging infrastructure, water quality problems, and other complications can translate into sacrifices in quality or reliability. When supplied by investor-owned utilities, they receive reliable water supply but pay more than affluent communities.  This report examines the case study of Sativa County Water District, a cautionary tale of a failed water system in southern LA County. It then analyzes the 29 existing disadvantaged water systems and makes recommendations regarding possibilities for consolidation and other solutions to bring more water equity to California’s water supply.”  Read more from UCLA Institute of Environment & Sustainability here:  The human right to water in poor communities of color: Southern Los Angeles County

Drought status update for California-Nevada

Moderate-to-Extreme Drought remains across California and Nevada, which typically receive about half of their precipitation in December through February.  Recent storms have brought some relief to the region, increasing snow pack and moistening soils. The storms were not enough to remove long-term drought conditions and impacts.  Preparation for continued drought impacts (e.g., pasture conditions, water supply, fire risk) should be considered, especially in the driest areas. Recent improvements may be temporary as dryness returns and long-term water deficits in the region continue. … ”  Continue reading at NIDIS here: Drought status update for California-Nevada

Conservation of inland trout populations in California

Native fish conservation and recovery is an onerous task.  While there are many threats, hybridization has played an integral role in the demise of numerous inland trout species throughout the western United States.  Nowhere is this more evident than California where introduced rainbow trout have threatened the genetic integrity of California golden trout, Little Kern golden trout, Kern River rainbow trout, Paiute cutthroat trout, and Lahontan cutthroat trout.  Species recovery, however, is challenging.  Managers must often balance short-term goals of reversing a trend towards extinction with long-term species persistence.  These objectives rarely align, in part because they operate at different time scales, but also because threats can shift through time as a result of management intervention.  … ”  Read more from Cal Trout here:  Conservation of inland trout populations in California

CDFW to host virtual public meeting on ocean salmon fisheries

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) invites the public to attend its upcoming annual Salmon Information Meeting. The meeting will feature the outlook for this year’s sport and commercial ocean salmon fisheries, in addition to a review of last year’s salmon fisheries and spawning escapement.  The meeting will be held Thursday, Feb. 25 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. via webinar.  Stakeholders are encouraged to provide input on potential fishing seasons to a panel of California salmon scientists, managers and fishery representatives who will be directly involved in the upcoming Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) meetings in March and April. … ”  Read more from CDFW here:  CDFW to host virtual public meeting on ocean salmon fisheries

LAO Report: The 2021-22 Budget: Wildfire Resilience Package—Analysis of Individual Programs

The LAO report, The 2021-22 Budget: Wildfire Resilience Package, provides an overview and the LAO’s initial comments on the Governor’s 2021-22 package of proposals—totaling $1 billion—to reduce the risk of severe and damaging wildfires. The LAO report, The 2021-22 Budget: Wildfire Resilience Package—Analysis of Individual Programs, provides detailed information and the LAO’s initial comments on each component of the Governor’s 2021-22 package of proposals to reduce the risk of severe and damaging wildfires.

California lawmakers rush to address the effects of rising sea

The flood of state bills addressing sea-level rise this year is surging faster than the ocean itself, as legislators recognize the urgency to prepare for the consequences expected in the decades ahead.  Among at least nine sea-level rise bills introduced so far, one would study the idea of relocating coastal railroad tracks, another would provide low-interest loans for cities to buy threatened coastal homes, and a third would investigate an early warning system for coastal bluff collapses. … ”  Read more from the LA Daily News here:  California lawmakers rush to address the effects of rising sea

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In people news this weekend …

San Joaquin Engineers Council 2021 Engineer of the Year Award


The San Joaquin Engineers Council is pleased to announce Mr. Christopher H. Neudeck, P.E. as the recipient of the 2021 Engineer of the Year Award.  The award is for meritorious and altruistic service to the engineering profession and to the community. The recipient of this award must have dedicated their professional knowledge and skills to the advancement of human welfare, lived and worked according to the highest standards of professional conduct; to have served with the honor and standing of their profession before personal advantage, and the public welfare above all other considerations. … ”  Read more from Caravan News here: San Joaquin Engineers Council 2021 Engineer of the Year Award

Teen scientist seeks solution to water crisis

Shreya Ramachandran, 17, remembers witnessing California’s water crisis firsthand on a visit to Tulare County in 2014, when she was still a preteen. Tulare spans a large swath of farmland in California’s Central Valley, and at that time, locals were facing dire water shortages amid an ongoing drought made worse by climate change.  “I was talking to some of the people in the area whose wells completely ran dry, and they were left without water because they weren’t connected to the central water grid. They were trucking water in for even basic needs,” she said. “I was really affected by their stories, and I wanted to do something to help.” … ”  Read more from Eco Watch here: Teen scientist seeks solution to water crisis

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Podcasts …

TALK + WATER PODCAST: Christina Babbitt – Groundwater Sustainability in California

Texas+Water Editor-in-Chief Dr. Todd Votteler talks with Christina Babbitt, senior manager of the California Groundwater Program at Environmental Defense Fund. She is working to advance and scale groundwater sustainability policies and practices across California’s Central Valley and beyond. In these efforts, Babbitt works to build partnerships and collaboration among the agricultural community, NGOs, agencies and water districts. 


WATER IS A MANY SPLENDOR’ED THING: An Atmospheric River

Steve Baker writes, “Rivers have always been associated with a large natural stream that eventually empties into the ocean, lake or other body of water. That’s easy to visualize but can you imagine an atmospheric river. Water is a Many Splendor’ed Thing brings you another water relationship that has a personally significant impact to your life.”  Produced by Steven Baker, Operation Unite® Bringing People Together to Solve Water Problems, Online at www.operationunite.co


INGRAINED PODCAST:  History, Tradition and Compassion

Jim Morris writes, “Life moves at an ever faster pace. And sometimes we don’t take the time to take a deeper view. For example, how does classic Russian literature intersect with compassionate service in Guatemala, longstanding Swedish traditions in a tight-knit family in the Sacramento Valley? You’re about to find it.”  More resources here.

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In regional water news this weekend …

City of Ukiah contributes another $50,000 to Potter Valley Project efforts

Continuing expenditures that are expected to total about $100,000 a year for the next few years, the Ukiah City Council Wednesday approved giving the Mendocino County Inland Water and Power Commission another $50,000 toward its ongoing efforts to keep water flowing from the Potter Valley Project into Lake Mendocino.  “It is totally essential that we figure out how to maintain the Potter Valley Project, not only for water supply, but for our economy, because our economy relies on the water supply,” said Council member Mari Rodin, who was sworn in at the beginning of the council’s Feb. 3 meeting to serve the remainder of Maureen Mulheren’s term. “But, how long will our $50,000 contribution last? What’s the plan and the budget?” … ”  Read more from the Ukiah Daily Journal here: City of Ukiah contributes another $50,000 to Potter Valley Project efforts

Bay Area forecast: Dry conditions to persist for weeks as window to make up for arid winter starts closing

In recent weeks, meteorological models gave the Bay Area a glimmer of hope that some much-needed precipitation was on its way, bringing a bit of relief to a parched region.  But those hopes — like much of California itself — have dried up.  The Bay Area and most of the Golden State are bracing for several more rain-free weeks, adding to what has already been an abnormally dry rainy season, meteorologists said.  “That’s been the pattern this winter so far,” said Anna Schneider, a National Weather Service meteorologist. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  Bay Area forecast: Dry conditions to persist for weeks as window to make up for arid winter starts closing

Video: CalTrans workers pull trash from San Francisco Bay

It’s not what normally comes to mind when you think of Caltrans. A fleet of boats navigating the waters of the San Francisco Bay Area. The department has a fleet of four boats used to transport engineers, biologists, and maintenance crews to the seven Bay Area bridges. But when they’re not transporting Caltrans personnel, the crew that operates these boats remove litter from the water. This News Flash takes you on the water to observe their litter removal operation and show you what kinds of things they pull from the water daily.”  Watch video from CalTrans here:  Caltrans Trash Abatement Boat – Caltrans News Flash #230

‘Green streets’ mean cleaner water for San Mateo C/CAG

When Matt Fabry looks at a street in San Mateo County, he doesn’t just see a surface that conveys cars. He sees an entire system of water travel – stormwater travel, to be precise.  Fabry leads one of the most innovative stormwater management programs in California, housed at the City/County Association of Governments of San Mateo County (C/CAG). It’s the only association of governments in California to handle both stormwater and traffic congestion management. Fabry’s job is to ensure that streets help reduce pollution flowing to the San Francisco Bay. … ”  Read more from the California Council of Governments here: ‘Green streets’ mean cleaner water for San Mateo C/CAG

Santa Cruz: Farmers led water quality gains at watershed scale

Columnist Ross Clark writes, “In the early part of the 20th century the central coast was changing fast. Early focus on grazing and timber was transitioning toward agriculture to feed the growing San Francisco Bay Area and the nation. County, state and federal agencies helped these farmers increase their yields by straightening creeks and rivers, and “reclaiming” wetlands for agricultural uses.  … Today there are many laws, policies, programs and funding to remedy these historical practices and “reclaim” some or our lost water features and degraded water quality. … ”  Read more from the Santa Cruz Sentinel here: Santa Cruz: Farmers led water quality gains at watershed scale

Hetch Hetchy Water & Power plans five-year $140M Mountain Tunnel project

The City and County of San Francisco and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission are planning a five-year $140 million project beginning next year to repair, rehabilitate and upgrade the 19-mile-long Mountain Tunnel, a key component of the Hetch Hetchy Water System that takes water from Tuolumne County and sends it to San Francisco.  The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, which is a part of the City and County of San Francisco, owns and operates Hetch Hetchy Water and Power. The system is named for the former Hetch Hetchy Valley, which is now underwater in Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, held back by the O’Shaughnessy Dam that impounds the Tuolumne River inside Yosemite National Park. The system also includes the company town of Moccasin. ... ”  Read more from the Union Democrat here: Hetch Hetchy Water & Power plans five-year $140M Mountain Tunnel project

The Wild and Scenic Mokelumne River: The fight to save the Moke

Historically, the Mokelumne is a large fish producing river that once supported one of the most abundant runs of Chinook and coho salmon in the Sierra Nevada.  In turn, this fish population supports one of the largest networks of native people, the Miwok Nation that stretches from the Coast up the Delta and follows the Mokelumne all the way up to the headwaters at Ebbitts and Carson Passes.  The name Mokelumne means “people of the fishing nets” in Mewuk. They are the band of Mewuk peoples that dip netted salmon on the Mokelumne. ... ”  Read more from Cal Trout here:  The Wild and Scenic Mokelumne River: The fight to save the Moke

Visalians ‘spoiled’ by majestic Sierra Nevada views. How long will they last?

When George Landis was a boy growing up in Ivanhoe and Visalia, the majestic backdrop of the Sierra Nevada and its snowy peaks were a sight he says he took for granted.  Now 64, Landis says the views that spoiled him as a boy are fewer and farther between as more people — and pollution — flock to the San Joaquin Valley floor.  “With more people, more cars, more everything — the air is just not as clean anymore,” Landis said. “It takes a few days of rain to get the nice, clean view that I took for granted when I was smaller.” … ”  Read more from the Visalia Times-Delta here: Visalians ‘spoiled’ by majestic Sierra Nevada views. How long will they last?

Search for the Kern River rainbow

It’s a river to nowhere.  With a remote source in the backwater of California’s high Sierra, the Kern begins at an altitude of around 13,600 ft (4100m). Framed beneath a large glacial cirque, to the west, the Kaweah Peaks rise, dark and ragged. To the north rises the wall of the Kings-Kern Divide. To the east is the Sierra Crest itself, including Mt Whitney, the highest peak in the contiguous United States.  Below, the water carves into a granite Yosemite like gorge over 8,000 ft deep. … ”  Read more from Cal Trout here: Search for the Kern River rainbow

Santa Barbara: Rain did little to restock Lake Cachuma

Torrential rain soaked most of the South and Central Coasts last week. Reports of up to 13 inches of rain near Gaviota from farmers’ yard samplings. And the National Weather Service stating 6.7 inches of rain fell in Lompoc. However, not much of it made its way into the Central Coast’s reservoir Lake Cachuma. … ”  Read more from KEYT here:  Santa Barbara: Rain did little to restock Lake Cachuma

Ojai: State attorney general slams city of Ventura for water suit

The state of California is urging lawyers for the city of Ventura not to rush into litigation in the Santa Barbara Channelkeeper case that involves thousands of Ojai Valley and Ventura residents.  Writing Jan. 26 on behalf of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the State Water Resources Control Board, state Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s Office asked attorneys to wait on requesting a schedule for holding an evidentiary hearing in the case.  The hearing would decide whether Los Angeles County Superior Court should enter a proposed physical solution as a judgement in the case.  A negotiated settlement, rather than litigation, is in all parties’ best interest, the letter stated. … ”  Read more from the Ojai Valley News here: Ojai: State attorney general slams city of Ventura for water suit

Laguna Beach reaches settlement with San Diego water board after 2019 wastewater spill

The city of Laguna Beach announced Thursday it reached a settlement agreement with the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board in response to a Thanksgiving sewage spill.  The 1.4-million-gallon spill occurred in 2019 and originated from the Laguna Beach city sewage system. City staff that December said that it occurred about 3,600 feet from Coast Highway, near Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park. The cause was later determined to be a corroded 3-inch valve stem on a sewage pipe. It closed about 16 miles of Orange County coastal waters over Thanksgiving weekend. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: Laguna Beach reaches settlement with San Diego water board after 2019 wastewater spill

Reporter notebook: San Diego’s water war with L.A. is almost a century old

I thought I knew most of the basic history when I started reporting on a proposed $5 billion water pipeline between San Diego and Imperial Valley.  I’ve written in the past about the San Diego County Water Authority’s efforts to divest from its parent agency the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. That includes the bad blood between the two agencies stemming from MWD’s water cutbacks to San Diego in 1991, and how local leaders felt they were mistreated.  What I didn’t realize was just how far back the tension goes between San Diego leaders and MWD. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune here: Reporter notebook: San Diego’s water war with L.A. is almost a century old

Along the Colorado River …

Hedge funds eye water markets that could net billions, as levels drop in Lake Powell

As the level in Lake Powell dwindles, many on the river worry the reservoir is headed towards ‘dead pool’.  ” … The question, and the point where consensus begins to fracture, is what to do.  Many see a need to continue what’s always been done in the river basin: the hashing out of differences in board meetings and conference halls, or, more likely for the near future, Zoom meetings. Others hear a death knell for Glen Canyon Dam.  But another controversial vision has roared back to life in recent months that would upend nearly a century and a half of precedent. Hedge funds and other Wall Street interests want to rewrite the “Law of the River” in the Colorado River Basin and use the free market to solve the problem of scarcity — while potentially raking in immense profits. … ”  Read the full story at the Salt Lake Tribune here: Hedge funds eye water markets that could net billions, as levels drop in Lake Powell

Colorado River outlook darkens dramatically in new study

In the gloomiest long-term forecast yet for the drought-stricken Colorado River, a new study warns that lower river basin states including Arizona may have to slash their take from the river up to 40% by the 2050s to keep reservoirs from falling too low. Such a cut would amount to about twice as much as the three Lower Basin states — Arizona, California and Nevada — agreed to absorb under the drought contingency plan they approved in early 2019. Overall, the study warned that managing the river sustainably will require substantially larger cuts in use by Lower Basin states than currently envisioned, along with curbs on future diversions by Upper Basin states. … ”  Read more from Tucson.com here: Colorado River outlook darkens dramatically in new study

Nevada could get some of California’s share of Lake Mead. Here’s how.

A proposed water recycling project in Southern California could result in Nevada getting some of the Golden State’s share of water from the Colorado River.  The Southern Nevada Water Authority could invest up to $750 million into the water treatment project. In return for the investment, it could get a share of California’s water in Lake Mead.  If built, the project would give the region another tool to protect itself against the ongoing strain of drought conditions on the Colorado River. … ”  Read more from the Las Vegas Review-Journal here: Nevada could get some of California’s share of Lake Mead. Here’s how.

In national water news this weekend …

What is flash drought? What can we do about it?

Flash drought has serious real-world implications. The 2017 Northern Plains flash drought resulted in fires that burned 4.8 million acres and U.S. agricultural losses in excess of $2.6 billion dollars.  Neither the drought’s swift onset nor its severity were forecasted. Episodes like this have sparked intense interest in flash drought in both the research community and the end user/applications community. Clear conceptualization of flash drought is important to both communities as there are differing understandings and confusion on what flash drought is and how it differs from other droughts. To address this need, NIDIS held a virtual workshop in December 2020 that convened researchers and end users to begin developing a shared understanding/definition of flash drought, and to identify research and tools needed to improve flash drought early warning. … ”  Read more from NIDIS here: What is flash drought? What can we do about it?

DOJ ditches Trump policies, restores focus on polluters

In one fell swoop, the Justice Department yesterday dismantled a set of Trump-era policy changes that squeezed the federal government’s environmental enforcement efforts.  A memo issued yesterday by DOJ’s temporary environment chief said the changes are aligned with President Biden’s Jan. 20 executive order declaring a renewed focus on polluter accountability, especially in communities of color and low-income neighborhoods.  The Trump administration’s policies, which included eliminating a popular settlement tool and setting a higher bar for prosecuting corporate polluters, “are inconsistent with longstanding Division policy and practice and … may impede the full exercise of enforcement discretion in the Division’s cases,” wrote career attorney Jean Williams, who is currently leading DOJ’s Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD). … ”  Read more from E&E News here: DOJ ditches Trump policies, restores focus on polluters

Home sales need better disclosure of flood risk, experts say

An expert federal panel has added its voice to the growing campaign for laws requiring homebuyers to be informed about a property’s flood history, calling current disclosure practices “not adequate.”  A Federal Emergency Management Agency advisory panel says in a new report that prospective buyers cannot “make a fully informed decision” about whether to buy a property in states that do not require sellers to disclose flood history. The disclosure can help buyers determine whether a property has been previously damaged by flooding, is at risk of future flood damage and whether new owners should buy flood insurance. … ”  Read more from Scientific American here: Home sales need better disclosure of flood risk, experts say

NASA Snow Water Equivalent (SWE) Report …

20210201_RT_SWE_Report

Catch up on last week’s news in the Weekly Digest …

WEEKLY WATER NEWS DIGEST for Jan 31 – Feb 5: The pros and cons of the voluntary agreements; How different genetically are fall-run and spring-run chinook salmon?; plus all the week’s top water news and more …

Also on Maven’s Notebook this weekend …

PUBLIC HEARING/OPPORTUNITY TO COMMENT: State Wetland Definition and Procedures

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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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