DAILY DIGEST, 2/8: Can Newsom end the water wars?; Can Japanese smelt replace Delta smelt?; Climate change ravaged the West last year and 2021 could be worse; The conundrum of water affordability; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • FREE WEBINAR: Collaboration Across IRWM and SGMA: Coordinating Project Development from 12pm to 1:30pm.  Listen to real stories of how Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSA) work with Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) regions to develop and select multi-benefits projects. This is the second of a series of webinars exploring a range of topics relevant to IRWM and SGMA.  Click here to register.
  • FREE WEBINAR: The Art and Science of Atmospheric Rivers and the Changing Hydroclimate of the West from 6pm to 7pm.  California’s precipitation regime is the most volatile in the country. These large natural swings between drought and extremely rainy years make water resource management in California notoriously difficult. Global climate change is expected to exacerbate the volatility by decreasing the frequency of regional precipitation while increasing its intensity. Join meteorologist Alexander Gershunov to learn about the mechanisms behind these projected changes, their anticipated impacts on California, as well as how art can help convey the science.  Presented by San Diego’s Birch Aquarium.  Click here to register.

In California water news today …

Newsom promised to end California’s water wars. Now that Trump is gone, can he do it?

Shortly after taking office two years ago, Gov. Gavin Newsom promised to deliver a massive compromise deal on the water rushing through California’s major rivers and the critically-important Delta — and bring lasting peace to the incessant water war between farmers, cities, anglers and environmentalists. To emphasize his point, Newsom announced at his first State of the State address that he was replacing a key regulator who hadn’t bowed to the peace process. Later, he vetoed a bill that would have obligated California to battle the Trump administration on practically any environmental issue, including Trump’s desire to pump more water from the Sacrament-San Joaquin Delta, the fragile hub of the state’s water delivery system. Since then? Not much. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: Newsom promised to end California’s water wars. Now that Trump is gone, can he do it?

Near coasts, rising seas could also push up long-buried toxic contamination

Marquita Price grew up spending lots of time at her grandmother’s one-story lavender house in Deep East Oakland. It’s a place she’s always considered home, and where her grandmother still lives. So Price, an urban planner, was upset to learn about a lesser-known aspect of climate change fueled by sea level rise: it could cause the groundwater beneath this formerly-industrial community to rise, and wreak slow-motion havoc in the process.  “How is that going to affect my family?” Price thought. “And my community and the assets that we worked so hard to hold?” … ”  Read more from Valley Public Radio here: Near coasts, rising seas could also push up long-buried toxic contamination

Peter Moyle:  Can Japanese smelt replace Delta smelt?

A question I get asked on occasion is: Why all this fuss about endangered delta smelt when there is another smelt that looks just the same that can takes its place? The smelt being referenced is the wakasagi (Hypomesus nipponensis), which is indeed similar to the delta smelt (Hypomesus transpacificus). In fact, both species were once thought to be a single species (H. olidus), the pond smelt, with populations scattered along the Pacific Rim, from California to Japan. In 1963, Don McAllister, a Canadian ichthyologist and smelt expert, examined all populations and concluded that the populations in Japan and California were different from the intervening populations. But he also concluded that the two comprised just one species, with the scientific name noting their trans-Pacific distribution. … ”  Continue reading at the California Water Blog here:  Can Japanese smelt replace Delta smelt?

John Lindsey:  Decreasing amounts of rainfall may be attributed to climate change

I have often been asked the average yearly amount of rainfall for a particular location and how it is calculated.  I saw a tweet from Jan Null last week that answered this question. He has been a meteorologist in the San Francisco Bay Area for over four decades and runs an informative website called Golden Gate Weather Services, ggweather.com.  Null’s site stated, “Every decade, the 30-year normals that are the de facto climatological standard, are recalculated. Sometime within the next six months, an update from the 1981-2010 normals to the 1991-2020 normals will be published by NOAA and other agencies around the world. … ”  Continue reading at the Lompoc Record here: Decreasing amounts of rainfall may be attributed to climate change

Paradise was ‘well-prepared’ for deadly Camp Fire. But it wasn’t enough, new study finds

“Paradise had geared up for disaster. The Butte County town had an evacuation plan and emergency-notification systems. Paradise, neighboring communities and the county had undertaken “vegetation management” programs to reduce wildfire hazards.  Yet for all its preparation, Paradise wasn’t truly ready for something like the Camp Fire. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here: Paradise was ‘well-prepared’ for deadly Camp Fire. But it wasn’t enough, new study finds

Climate change ravaged the West last year and 2021 could be worse

If there were any doubts that the climate is changing in the Colorado River Basin, 2020 went a long way toward dispelling them, thanks to yet another year of extreme weather. Unprecedented wildfires, deadly heat waves and withering drought ravaged the landscape, claiming dozens of lives and causing billions of dollars in damage. They’re among the many markers of the climate mayhem that scientists have been warning about for years.  … And, although the final climate data for 2020 just arrived and the new year is just weeks old, forecasters are already filled with apprehension about what lies ahead for the West this year. … ”  Read more from the Sal Lake Tribune here: Climate change ravaged the West last year and 2021 could be worse

Toxic algae blooms are killing sea otters in their prime, study finds

Heart disease isn’t just the leading cause of death for humans in the United States. It’s also increasingly killing sea otters, especially adults in their prime — and now scientists know why.  Long-term exposure to domoic acid, which leaches from algae during toxic blooms commonly known as “red tides” and accumulates in sea otters’ favorite seafoods, is to blame, the researchers say. Algae blooms are becoming more frequent as climate change drives ocean temperatures up. … ”  Read more from the Mercury News here:  Toxic algae blooms are killing sea otters in their prime, study finds

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In regional water news and commentary today …

Carlsbad lagoon dredging to begin next week

Sand replenishment from the dredging of Agua Hedionda Lagoon in Carlsbad will start later and finish sooner than expected, a Poseidon Water official said.  Pacific Dredge Co. of San Diego has begun placing pipes and equipment along Carlsbad Boulevard in preparation for the work, said Peter MacLaggan, senior vice president of Poseidon, the company that owns and operates the Carlsbad desalination plant. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune here:  Carlsbad lagoon dredging to begin next week

San Diego’s infrastructure deficit is really a stormwater deficit

The infrastructure deficit that has hung over San Diego politics for years without meaningful intervention is perhaps better understood as a stormwater deficit.  Eight years ago, Mayor Todd Gloria, then Council president, pledged to craft an infrastructure-focused ballot measure for the 2016 ballot, to address the city’s crumbling roads, sidewalks, pipes and drains. That never happened, and the problem has only gotten worse. But the city now appears to be serious about pursing a measure to fund a specific, and massive, piece of the city’s infrastructure failure: its stormwater system. ... ”  Read more from the Voice of San Diego here: San Diego’s infrastructure deficit is really a stormwater deficit

Farmers want to create San Diego’s carbon dumps

Bea Alvarez pierced the Pauma Valley earth with the metallic bit of her cylindrical soil tester.  She’s been tracking the amount of carbon her farm retains if she adds compost and rarely tills the land. Tilling exposes carbon from dead plants to oxygen in the air, creating carbon dioxide, which is the planet’s most troublesome climate-changing gas.  “The ultimate goal is to restore the cycles of nature,” Alvarez said. “We don’t have time to have these decades-long conversations to prove it can work. It’s not rocket science. The soil is getting healthier.” ... ”  Read more from the Voice of San Diego here: Farmers want to create San Diego’s carbon dumps

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In national water news today …

The conundrum of water affordability: What’s at stake?

The U.S. water industry has worked hard in recent years to remind people that potable water is not free. Procuring, treating, and distributing water is costly, and utilities need to cover their costs to make sure customers have safe drinking water, delivered at adequate pressure for on-demand needs at affordable prices. But what is “affordable?” The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged what we all view as normal and taken water planning and standard practices to new levels.  For water utilities, financial impacts depend on customer demographics (split of residential and non-residential customers), poverty level (whether affordability is a large problem), and delinquency rates (tied to customer affordability). The impact due to no-shutoff moratoriums depends on these problems. ... ”  Read more from Water Finance & Management here:  The Conundrum of Water Affordability: What’s at Stake?

States clash with Pentagon on PFAS water limits, polluted sites

Six states with drinking water standards for so-called “forever chemicals” are now wrestling with what those limits mean when water contamination from Department of Defense sites seep into their communities.  Members of Congress from both parties are starting to vent their frustration at military foot-dragging even as the states take different paths to address the contamination. One state is suing. Another must wait years for an investigation to end. A third is keeping a watchful eye on the Biden administration.  The crux of the issue is that PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances—barely talked about a few decades go—are showing up in water, air, and food nationwide. Some of the contamination has also been linked to PFAS-laced firefighting foam used on military bases. … ”  Read more from Bl0omberg Law here: States clash with Pentagon on PFAS water limits, polluted sites

How to save saltwater wetlands from rising seas

America’s coastal saltwater wetlands are on a course toward functional extinction in the coming decades. Their demise will come at the hands of steadily accelerating sea-level rise and relentless coastal development. As these wetlands disappear, they will take with them habitat, storm buffering and carbon sequestration benefits of tremendous value.  Fortunately, there is still time to change course. A determined and coordinated effort by local, state and federal governments — led by the Biden administration — could dramatically increase the number of saltwater wetlands that survive and go a long way to maintaining their ecological and societal benefits into the future. ... ”  Read more from The Revelator here: How to save saltwater wetlands from rising seas

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Precipitation watch …

From NWS Sacramento: A pattern change is in store for next weekend. Wet, cooler weather looks to be on the way.

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More news and commentary in the weekend edition …

This weekend in California water news …

  • 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.
  • Video: Building resilience for cities and farms with water partnerships
  • The human right to water in poor communities of color: Southern Los Angeles County
  • Drought status update for California-Nevada
  • LAO Report: The 2021-22 Budget: Wildfire Resilience Package—Analysis of Individual Programs
  • California lawmakers rush to address the effects of rising sea
  • TALK + WATER PODCAST: Christina Babbitt – Groundwater Sustainability in California
  • Hetch Hetchy Water & Power plans five-year $140M Mountain Tunnel project
  • The Wild and Scenic Mokelumne River: The fight to save the Moke
  • Ojai: State attorney general slams city of Ventura for water suit
  • Hedge funds eye water markets that could net billions, as levels drop in Lake Powell
  • Colorado River outlook darkens dramatically in new study
  • What is flash drought? What can we do about it?
  • And more …

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

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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