DAILY DIGEST, 2/11: Water wars heat up; Your water heater a secret weapon in climate change fight; Report makes case for funding longer-range weather forecasting; Group claims DWR plan will cut off access to Liberty Island recreation; and more …


On the calendar today …

  • MEETING: Delta Independent Science Board from 10am to 12pm. Agenda items include current reviews, preliminary findings from the climate change vulnerability assessment and adaptation strategy conducted for the Delta and Suisun Marsh, and the Science Needs Assessment.  Click here for the meeting notice and remote access instructions.
  • FREE EVENT: Women + Water: Sustainable ecosystems with Isabelle Durance and Jared Wolfe from 10:30-12:00pm.  Click here to register.
  • FREE WEBINAR: The Path to Healthy Headwater Forests from 11am to 12pm. California’s headwater forests are increasingly vulnerable to major wildfires and droughts that threaten the benefits they provide. Proactive forest management must be greatly increased to reduce these risks—but this will require a heavy lift from private and public entities.  Click here to register.
  • FREE WEBINAR: Water Affordability in the United States from 12pm-1pm. Hear from Dr. Casey Wichman, assistant professor at Georgia Institute of Technology and former Research Director of the Energy and Environment Lab at the University of Chicago and as a Fellow at Resources for the Future. Dr. Wichman will discuss his research regarding water affordability trends and practices in the United States, as well as the value of CaDC data and analysis tools for active research projects.  Click here to register.

In California water news today …

Water wars heat up in California

Water makes the world go ‘round, and a major player in California’s breadbasket doesn’t want to part with more than they have already.  The city of Bakersfield, and the Kern County Water Agency are suing nearby water districts over their plan to skim water from Kern County sources for transport to other parts of the state — water that county officials say they need for themselves.  The Kern Fan Groundwater Storage Project is a $246 million dollar water storage project planned for California’s south San Joaquin Valley. … ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service here: Water wars heat up in California

California’s rainfall is at historic lows. That spells trouble for wildfires and farms

There’s a race on in California, and each day matters: the precipitation during winter that fuels the snowpack in the Sierra Nevadas and fills groundwater supplies has been slow to start, and faltering at best.  Northern California remains stuck in one of the worst two-year rainfall deficits seen since the 1849 Gold Rush, increasing the risk of water restrictions and potentially setting up dangerous wildfire conditions next summer. The current precipitation is only 30% to 70% of what the state would expect to have seen during a normal year – with no more big rainfall events on the horizon for February. … ”  Read more from The Guardian here: California’s rainfall is at historic lows. That spells trouble for wildfires and farms

How your water heater can be a secret weapon in the climate change fight

Nearly every home has a water heater, but people tend not to think about it until the shock of a cold shower signals its failure. To regulators, though, the ubiquitous household appliance is increasingly top of mind for the role it could play in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and weaning the power grid from fossil fuels.  High-tech electric water heaters can double as thermal batteries, storing excess production from wind and solar generators. In California, officials aim to install them in place of millions of gas water heaters throughout the state. … ”  Read more from Bloomberg here: How your water heater can be a secret weapon in the climate change fight

Report makes case for funding longer-range weather forecasting

Sub-seasonal to seasonal forecasts could someday give western water managers as much as a two-year head start in planning for either a wet or dry winter.  The scientific methodology already exists for what is known as S2S precipitation forecasting, but putting it to work requires improving weather and climate models and buying enough super-computer time to run the models to test them.  Now, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) report could spur Congress to approve the $15 million annual investment necessary to translate S2S forecasting from concept to implementation through pilot projects in the West. … ”  Read more from ACWA’s Water News here: Report makes case for funding longer-range weather forecasting

Feinstein applauds report on advanced forecasting tools, better water management

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) released the following statement on the report of the viability of Forecast Informed Reservoir Operations (FIRO) at Lake Mendocino:  “The report on Lake Mendocino shows that with modern forecasting tools, we can better manage California’s water supply to meet our state’s needs. The Forecast Informed Reservoir Operations program, or FIRO, allowed the Army Corps of Engineers to save 20 percent more water at Lake Mendocino compared to traditional forecasting methods. …

Click here to continue reading this statement from Senator Feinstein.

“FIRO uses state-of-the-art technology to better track atmospheric rivers – storms which provide nearly half of California’s precipitation, to better predict our weather patterns and in turn, manage our reservoirs. When we know what types of storms are coming, we can predict with much great accuracy when we have to release water and when we can maintain reservoir levels.

“FIRO’s success at Lake Mendocino is exactly what we hoped might happen at the program’s inception. I commend Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the Army Corps of Engineers, local water agencies and their partners that have worked collaboratively to improve forecasting and water supply management.

“Climate change is already increasing the frequency and severity of California’s droughts. We have to find new ways to save more water from the wet years to provide for the dry ones, and FIRO is key to doing just that. This report shows why we should be looking for ways to expand this program throughout the West.”

Background

  • Senator Feinstein secured $30.5 million in federal funding to improve the federal government’s ability to observe and prepare for West Coast weather storms known as “atmospheric rivers,” which are responsible for 50 percent of the annual rainfall and 90 percent of the flood events in California.
  • FIRO is a flexible water management approach that uses data from watershed monitoring and improved weather forecasting to help water managers selectively retain or release water from reservoirs for increased resilience to droughts and floods. It was first utilized at Lake Mendocino in 2019.
  • Click here to read the full report on the Forecast Informed Reservoir Operations program at Lake Mendocino.

The Cannabis Water Report: Nonprofit group to release first-of-its-kind data to help cultivators make efficient use of a precious resource

How much water does a cannabis operation use? It’s a straightforward question but getting at the answer isn’t. That would require data, and data for a substance that is still classified as a Schedule I drug by the federal government is often hard to come by.  “If you do some research, there’s usually one statistic that is cited, and it’s from basically a hypothetical model that was based on an illicit market outdoor production scenario. It quotes a rate of 6 gallons per plant per day,” said Derek Smith, executive director of the Resource Innovation Institute (RII), a nonprofit that promotes energy efficiency for cannabis growers.  Smith said that often-cited figure is unequivocally high. And how does he know that? Because in April 2020, the RII formed the Water Working Group, made up of experts from multiple fields, to gain a better understanding of cannabis water use and how geographies and cultivation methods impact usage rates. The experts included cultivators, researchers, utility officials and members of regulatory agencies. … ”  Read more from Water Tech here: The Cannabis Water Report: Nonprofit group to release first-of-its-kind data to help cultivators make efficient use of a precious resource

Commentary: Californians will not benefit from a Wall Street water casino

Tomás Rebecchi with Food & Water Watch writes, “Re “Water markets in California can reduce the costs of drought”: To say that water markets are the answer to California’s drought relegates the state’s water crisis to a casino bet. We often see the stark inability of Wall Street speculators to put people before profit, and we must not give them the ability to commodify a human right.  … ”  Read more from Cal Matters here: Commentary: Californians will not benefit from a Wall Street water casino

To counter the worsening drought, California needs healthy soils

Ellie Cohen, CEO of The Climate Center and Torri Estrada, executive director of the Carbon Cycle Institute write, “California is in the early stages of a severe multi-decadal drought, exacerbated by the climate crisis. As Dan Walters pointed out in his recent commentary, we must move quickly to prepare for water shortages and wildfires.  A potent strategy to improve the state’s water storage capacity involves an ancient technology so ubiquitous that it is often overlooked: soil. The urgency of California’s drought and wildfire risks require that we invest in soil health now. … ”  Read more from Cal Matters here: To counter the worsening drought, California needs healthy soils

Stanford analysis shows plastic ingestion by marine fish is a widespread and growing problem

The consumption of plastic by marine animals is an increasingly pervasive problem, with litter turning up in the bellies of wildlife as varied as mammals, birds, turtles and fish. However, according to a research review by ecologists at Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station and PhD student Alex McInturf at UC Davis, the problem is impacting species unevenly, with some more susceptible to eating a plastic dinner than others. With billions of people around the world relying on seafood for sustenance and financial security, this research, published Feb 9. in the journal Global Change Biology, warns that there is a growing number of species – including over 200 species of commercial importance – eating plastic. ... ”  Read more from Stanford News here:  Stanford analysis shows plastic ingestion by marine fish is a widespread and growing problem

Return to top

In regional water news and commentary today …

California water users petition to end proposed Klamath River dam demolition

A Northern California water users’ association has filed a motion against a $450 million plan to tear down four dams on the Klamath River they claim irrevocably hurts local homeowners. The motion was filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) last Wednesday by the Murphy and Buchal Law firm on behalf of the Siskiyou County Water Users Association.  It claims the interstate agreement reached by Oregon and California last year to remove the dams has incurred “irreparable damage” to lakefront home values in the COPCO Lake area as water levels are feared to decline. … ”  Continue reading at the Blue Mountain Eagle here: California water users petition to end proposed Klamath River dam demolition

Commentary: Eel River Wildlife Area slated to be poisoned, burned and bulldozed

Uri Driscoll writes, “The Eel River Wildlife Area below Table Bluff in Loleta is one of the most pristine and spectacular wildlife areas we have in Humboldt County and perhaps the state. The Eel River slough on one side and sweeping dunes and wetlands on the other. The magnificent display of raptors, rabbits, and a multitude of other local inhabitants and migrating birds has been enjoyed by many of us over the years. The waving grasses, the blooming purple lupin, the dramatic vistas are awe inspiring to say the least. Fishermen and families, horseback riders and hunters, dog walkers and paragliders all drink in the beauty of this unique estuary and dune habitat. The local Native people continue to use this area for gathering food and firewood.  Believe it or not the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has decided it now wants to burn, bulldoze and poison the Eel River Wildlife Area. … ”  Read more from the Eureka Times-Standard here: Wildlife area slated to be poisoned, burned and bulldozed

El Dorado County: Water supply found sufficient for Creekside Village development

More than 900 new homes are proposed for El Dorado Hills and El Dorado Irrigation District officials say there’s enough water to go around.  EID’s Board of Directors on Monday unanimously approved a water supply assessment for the Creekside Village Specific Plan.  Preparation of an assessment by the district is required for proposed developments consisting of more than 500 residential units. EID’s approval was needed before the water supply assessment could be incorporated into the environmental impact report being prepared by the county. … ”  Read more from the Mountain Democrat here: El Dorado County: Water supply found sufficient for Creekside Village development

Group claims DWR plan will cut off access to Liberty Island recreation

A $118.86 million habitat restoration and flood management project will breach an existing levee in nine places to create a 3,000-acre fish and wildlife tidal environment in the Cache Slough Complex.  A group, referred to as libertyislandaccess.org, has asked Solano County supervisors to stop the part of the plan that would call for the county to vacate a section of Liberty Island Road, and by doing so, the group claims, deny residents access to recreational activities such as kayaking, fishing and hiking.  “Our group is very concerned about DWR’s (the state Department of Water Resources) Lookout Slough project, which is effectively a project to restore tidal wetlands in Solano County as part of a mitigation agreement with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, etc., for Delta smelt preservation,” the leader of the group told the board Tuesday as part of a call into the teleconference meeting. … ”  Read more from the Daily Republic here: Group claims DWR plan will cut off access to Liberty Island recreation

Galt:  Winter Bird Festival finds success in virtual event

The 2021 Winter Bird Festival looked a little different this year due to COVID restrictions, but according to Special Events Coordinator Jackie Garcia, the event was still a success.  “This was a successful event and we are elated with the outcome of this event,” Garcia told The Galt Herald.  Due to the inability for large groups to gather, Garcia and her team planned virtual classes and presentations, as well as two virtual tours of the Cosumnes River Preserve. Guests were also able to download a self-guided driving tour. … ”  Read more from the Galt Herald here: Galt:  Winter Bird Festival finds success in virtual event

Crews continue cleanup after oil spill in SF Bay

Crews are working to clean up a petroleum spill in San Francisco Bay near the wharf at Chevron’s oil refinery in Richmond, authorities said Wednesday.  The spill was discovered at 3 p.m. Tuesday when a sheen was observed on the water, according to joint statements from federal, state and local agencies and Chevron. … ”  Read more from NBC Bay Area here: Crews continue cleanup after oil spill in SF Bay

Santa Clara: Provide budget feedback to the Board of Directors

Valley Water launched Balancing Act. The online budget simulation tool is a way for anyone to learn about Valley Water revenue and spending, and then provide input directly to the Board of Directors on where they think spending should be prioritized. Public input is vital to ensure Valley Water’s annual budget is designed to meet the needs of the community. You’re encouraged to try the Balancing Act tool and share your feedback.  On the Balancing Act webpage, there are three areas of information: Revenue, Spending and Where the Money Goes. … ”  Read more from Valley Water News here: Santa Clara: Provide budget feedback to the Board of Directors

PRESS RELEASE: Artist envisions flowing Kern River with coming exhibit

Andres Amador, an artist well known for large scale, temporary art installations across the US and the world, is coming to Bakersfield this week to create an installation on the canvas of the dry Kern Riverbed.  Titled “Flow,” the installation is meant to evoke the smooth lines of flowing water and the eddies created by a river’s currents. The design seeks to highlight the irony of the riverbed being dry and raise the question of “why?” … ”  Read more from SJV Water here:  PRESS RELEASE: Artist envisions flowing Kern River with coming exhibit

Isabella Lake Dam project moves forward as SR 155 returns to two-way traffic

The Isabella Lake Dam project continues with COVID-19 protocols observed, even as State Route 155 has reopened to two-way traffic with the abutment wall for the main dam “substantially complete.”  A recent update from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the project said that a draft environmental assessment for the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis of the planned U.S. Forest Service visitor center is expected by Monday, Feb. 15. … ”  Read more from the Kern Valley Sun here: Isabella Lake Dam project moves forward as SR 155 returns to two-way traffic

 

Ridgecrest: Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority may be closer to balancing basin

The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority may be one step closer to balancing the Indian Wells Valley groundwater basin, with news that all of the qualified agricultural interests have signed onto the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority’s transient pool program, according to Keith Lemieux, general counsel for the groundwater authority.  “The transient pool agreement that we worked out is the first step toward resolving all the claims and moving forward,” Lemieux — who also serves as city attorney for Ridgecrest — said Tuesday. “I am optimistic we will continue to make progress.”  … ”  Continue reading at the Ridgecrest Independent here: Ridgecrest: Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority may be closer to balancing basin

Commentary: Navigating uncharted waters in Santa Clarita Valley

Gary Martin, board president of the Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency writes, “To say that 2020 was a challenging year for us all, is putting it mildly. A global pandemic coupled with our own local challenges, in just the third year of operations as your new valleywide water provider, brought uncertainty and change as we navigated uncharted waters.  While the situations and circumstances may have been unfamiliar, SCV Water faced them with expertise, professionalism and compassion. We assessed the situation, adjusted our sails, and adapted to meet the challenges while holding fast to our mission: Providing responsible water stewardship to ensure the Santa Clarita Valley has reliable supplies of high-quality water at a reasonable cost. … ”  Read more from the Signal here: Commentary: Navigating uncharted waters in SCV

Ramona water district moves to improve transparency and community relations

Ramona Municipal Water District directors agreed Tuesday, Feb. 9, to three changes that will make them and their meetings more accessible to the public, including moving their meeting times from afternoons to evenings and setting up email accounts on the district website.  Four directors also agreed, with Director Gary Hurst abstaining, to increase the board’s involvement in community groups and discussed but postponed a vote on establishing a social media presence. … ”  Read more from the Ramona Sentinel here:  Ramona water district moves to improve transparency and community relations

Pure Water Oceanside Project reaches milestones

Pure Water Oceanside construction remains on schedule for completion in 2022, with several significant milestones recently completed. The Oceanside project will purify recycled water to create a new, local source of high-quality drinking water that is safe, drought-proof and environmentally sound.  “Construction has impacted many residents and businesses,” said Cari Dale, City of Oceanside water utilities director. “Please know the City of Oceanside appreciates your patience. We thank people for understanding the need for this project and bearing with us during these months of construction impacts. This work is temporary, but the benefits will last for generations.” ... ”  Read more from the Water News Network here: Pure Water Oceanside Project reaches milestones 

City of San Diego: Number of water main breaks down drastically

The city of San Diego says that for the fourth year in a row, the number of water main breaks in the city has gone down.  “It’s a huge project throughout the city,” Arian Collins with the City of San Diego said.  Since 2013, the city has taken around 180 miles of cast iron water pipes and replaced them with longer-lasting PVC. Last year, the city had only 33 water main breaks, compared to 131 at its peak in 2010. … ”  Read more from Channel 10 here: City of San Diego: Number of water main breaks down drastically

Return to top

Along the Colorado River …

Utah ‘behind the times’ and needs watchdog to guard interest in Colorado River, official says

Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson says the state needs to do everything it can to protect its share of water in the drought-challenged Colorado River, and the creation of a new entity would foster that protection.  “Sixty percent of the water used in Utah comes from the Colorado River,” the Republican from Kaysville told members of the House Democratic Caucus on Tuesday.  He and Senate President Stuart Adams, R-Layton, are sponsors of the Colorado River Amendments, HB297, which would set up the Colorado River Authority of Utah with $9 million in one-time money and $600,000 of ongoing money. … ”  Read more from Deseret News here: Utah ‘behind the times’ and needs watchdog to guard interest in Colorado River, official says

SEE ALSO: Proposed Colorado River Authority is secretive and invites corrpution, says Andrew Kramer

‘It’s just a free-for-all’: As water declines in rural Arizona, oversight faces resistance

On sunbaked farmlands where alfalfa and corn grow alongside pistachio orchards and grapevines, pumps hum as wells draw water from underground and send it flowing to fields.  The agriculture business around Willcox depends entirely on groundwater. And groundwater here, like most other rural areas across Arizona, remains entirely unregulated. Some state legislators want to take measures to change that, but as the law now stands, there are no rules in much of the state limiting how much water can be pumped or how many wells can be drilled. ... ”  Read more from Arizona Central here:  ‘It’s just a free-for-all’: As water declines in rural Arizona, oversight faces resistance

New study examines Colorado River flows, loss of beaches

A recent study looks at how Grand Canyon has changed since the construction of Glen Canyon Dam.  Before the dam was built, the Colorado flowed erratically, with high runoff in the spring and low flows the rest of the year. A research team led by Alan Kasprak, of Fort Lewis College in Colorado, has found that changes to the river have reduced the amount of sand by about half.  Although previous studies have shown the importance of high flows in the Colorado River ecosystem, Kasprak’s team found that low flows play an important role as well. … ”  Read more from KJZZ here: New study examines Colorado River flows, loss of beaches

Future of the Colorado River – the “Changed River” edition

Sinjin Eberle writes, “We can’t stop thinking about the line, “The Colorado River has been profoundly altered from its highest reaches to its delta,” which is something we all know, but describing it in that way is significant. There can be no argument that there has been major alteration to the river, from the highest headwaters trickling down from Poudre Pass (and the Grand Ditch, built between 1890 and 1936) all the way to the first dam built on the Colorado River, Laguna Dam near Yuma (1903) on to Morelos Dam on the Mexican border. … Is the system altered? Absolutely. But does that mean it’s dead and that we should not keep doing whatever we can to preserve it? Absolutely not. … ”  Continue reading at American Rivers here:  Future of the Colorado River – the “Changed River” edition

Return to top

In national water news today …

Interior announces plans to strengthen Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF)

The Interior Department today took steps to strengthen the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) by rescinding Trump administration policies that significantly undermined the landmark conservation program. Secretarial Order 3396 revokes an order signed on November 9, 2020 (Secretarial Order 3388) that unilaterally imposed new restrictions to inhibit the availability of LWCF funding for federal land and water acquisitions.  “The Land and Water Conservation Fund has been crucial to protecting public lands, conserving wildlife habitats, and improving access to outdoor recreation. Interior’s actions today affirm our support for one of America’s most successful and popular conservation programs,” said Shannon A. Estenoz, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary – Fish and Wildlife and Parks. “We look forward to further strengthening this successful program to ensure that all communities – from hikers and sportsmen to urban and underserved communities – have access to nature and the great outdoors.”  … ”  Read more from the Department of Interior here: Interior announces plans to strengthen Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF)

US EPA yanks toxicity assessment of PFAS contaminant, citing political interference

Political meddling and a breach of scientific integrity led the US Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider a toxicity assessment for perfluorobutanesulfonic acid (PFBS), the EPA says. PFBS is part of a family of environmentally persistent chemicals called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), many of which are toxic. PFBS has been detected widely in drinking water, wastewater, and food packaging, according to the EPA.  Invoking a Jan. 27 memo on scientific integrity and evidence-based policymaking from President Joe Biden, the EPA announced Feb. 9 that it was removing the PFBS assessment from its website and reviewing the document. … ”  Read more from Chemical & Engineering News here: US EPA yanks toxicity assessment of PFAS contaminant, citing political interference

Community forests prepare for climate change

Trees benefit residents in communities around the world by mitigating pollution and other environmental impacts of contemporary society and by broadly improving livability in cities and towns. However, many locales are feeling the heat as urban, or community, forests—defined by the U.S. Forest Service as “the aggregate of all public and private vegetation and green space within a community that provide a myriad of environmental, health and economic benefits”—struggle against a multitude of stressors stemming from climate change. … ”  Read more from EOS here: Community forests prepare for climate change

Calif. progressive plans Dems’ environmental oversight

California Democrat Ro Khanna is taking the helm of the House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Environment, offering both progressive climate ambitions and pragmatic sensibilities to a panel charged with scrutinizing environmental agencies and the energy industry.  The congressman represents the Silicon Valley area and, in just a few years in Congress, his national reputation has grown to “lion size,” to borrow a phrase from Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.).  “You’re one of these people who hits this place with an impact that is really amazing,” Booker told Khanna during a 2019 Facebook interview. … ”  Read more from E&E News here: Calif. progressive plans Dems’ environmental oversight

Return to top

Precipitation watch …

From NWS Sacramento: Unsettled weather returns to NorCal this week as Valley rain and mountain snow spread through the area today through tonight.   A Winter Weather Advisory is in effect from this afternoon through early tomorrow morning due to periods of moderate mountain snow.  Another weather system is possible Saturday.

Return to top

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

SAN JOAQUIN RIVER RESTORATION PGM: Updated 2021 Restoration Allocation & Default Flow Schedule Released and February Flow Schedule Revised

CA WATER COMMISSION increases potential funding amounts for projects in the Water Storage Investment Program

NOTICE: Public Workshop and CEQA Scoping Meeting – Delta Mercury Control Program and TMDL Review

FUNDING OPPORTUNITY: Water SMART Applied Science Grants Funding Opportunity Available

Return to top

 

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.

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
%d bloggers like this: