DAILY DIGEST, 2/12: Rain, snow on the way; Regulatory changes on the horizon for State Water Board; Stormwater could become an important water source; Salton Sea: Could ocean water import be long-term fix?; and more …


On the calendar today …

  • FLOOD BOARD WORKSHOP: New regulations submitted to the Office of Administrative Law beginning at 10am.  Board staff and a select consultant team will update the Board, stakeholders and public on recent efforts to modify and modernize the Board’s existing regulations, including permitting standards and definitions. After extensive public outreach and partner engagement, the Board has successfully submitted a rulemaking package to the Office of Administrative Law with an anticipated publish date of April 2021.  This briefing and discussion will inform the Board and stakeholders about many of the substantive revisions to the California Code of Regulations Title 23, Division 1, Article 2 – Definitions and Article 8 – Standards, the anticipated effects on Board permitting going forward, and next steps.  Click here for the workshop notice and remote access information.

In California water news today …

Rain in the Bay Area, snow in Tahoe: Here’s when storms are forecast to hit

A series of storms will usher in a wet holiday weekend across Northern California, threatening to put a damper on outdoor activities and cause driving delays for holiday travelers.  The soaking rains that doused much of the Bay Area on Thursday were anticipated to dissipate by sunrise on Friday, according to the National Weather Service. But more wet weather is expected to arrive Saturday and Monday, bringing light to moderate rains and cooler temperatures. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: Rain in the Bay Area, snow in Tahoe: Here’s when storms are forecast to hit

Legal alert: Regulatory changes on the horizon for State Water Resources Control Board

On December 17, 2020, the Sacramento County Superior Court issued a ruling limiting the ability of the California State Water Resources Control Board (“State Board”) to implement its adopted statewide wetlands and Waters of the State (“WOTS”) regulations. The State Board enacted the WOTS regulations on a statewide basis as amendments to the State Board’s statewide water quality control plan. The court ruled that the State Board could not implement statewide regulations through a statewide water quality control plan for non-federal waters because the Porter Cologne Water Quality Act does not authorize the State Board to do so. This aspect of the decision potentially has broader implications for other regulations that the State Board has adopted as amendments to the statewide water quality control plan. Those broader implications are important to consider now because the State Board issued a Notice on February 3, 2021 stating that it will reconsider the WOTS regulations in response to the court’s ruling in a hearing scheduled for April 6, 2021. … ”  Read more from Nossaman LLP here: Regulatory changes on the horizon for State Water Resources Control Board

Stormwater could become an important water source — if we stopped ignoring it

Climate change and other environmental pressures are already putting the pinch on water resources in California, the Southwest and other arid parts of the world. Over-tapped groundwater, rivers and lakes are forcing water managers to find new supplies.  Some of these can be costly, like treating wastewater for drinking water. Or they can come with a hefty price tag and outsized environmental footprint, like desalination or new dams.  There’s another option on the table, though: stormwater. If we do the accounting right, runoff from precipitation is a cost-effective supplementary water resource, experts say. But it’s often overlooked because we don’t know how to fully assess the economics of its many benefits, finds a report by Sarah E. Diringer, Morgan Shimabuku and Heather Cooley of the global water think-tank the Pacific Institute. … ”  Read more from The Revelator here: Stormwater could become an important water source — if we stopped ignoring it

Snow drought current conditions and impacts in the West

Snow drought remains across the western U.S. even as recent atmospheric rivers and storminess improved snowpack in some areas, such as the Sierra Nevada. As of early February, dry snow drought conditions are focused in northeast Nevada, Utah, and western Colorado, and a warm snow drought signal is emerging in parts of Oregon. ... ”  Read more from NIDIS here: Snow drought current conditions and impacts in the West 

Distribution of landfalling atmospheric rivers over the U.S. West Coast during Water Year 2021: Quarter year summary

The 4 months of Water Year 2021 experienced a total of 35 landfalling ARs over the U.S. West Coast, 6 more than the first 4 months of Water Year 2020.  Read more from the Center for Western Water & Weather Extremes here:  Distribution of landfalling atmospheric rivers over the U.S. West Coast during Water Year 2021: Quarter year summary

Estimating benefits of Forecast-Informed Reservoir Operations (FIRO): Lake Mendocino case-study and transferable Decision Support Tool

Tom Corringham (CW3E) helped develop economic methodologies for assessing benefits of FIRO for a study sponsored by the US Bureau of Reclamation and Sonoma Water. The study was led by economists Dr. Lou Nadeau and Tess Hubbard at Eastern Research Group (ERG), who estimated Lake Mendocino FIRO benefits at over $9Million annually. ... ”  Find out more from the Center for Western Weather & Water Extremes here: Estimating benefits of Forecast-Informed Reservoir Operations (FIRO): Lake Mendocino case-study and transferable Decision Support Tool

Innovative bill would promote regenerative ranching in California

“California state Sen. John Laird (D-Santa Cruz) today, along with a number of Senate and Assembly coauthors, introduced a groundbreaking bill this week that would offer financial incentives from the California Department of Conservation to ranchers and other private landowners to implement grazing practices that restore grassland habitat, soil health and biodiversity on some of California’s most endangered and sensitive landscapes. Senate Bill 322 would establish the California Conservation Ranching Incentive Program as part of the existing California Farmland Conservancy Program to contract with ranchers on lands deemed especially important to preserving grassland birds and other wildlife. … ”  Read ore from Audubon here: Innovative bill would promote regenerative ranching in California

Understanding the water consumption of treenut orchards

Tools such a SWIIM–which stands for Sustainable Water and Innovative Irrigation Management provids a new standard in water measurement that allows growers to receive an accurate accounting of the water both delivered and consumed by their orchards.  Kevin France, is the CEO and one of the Cofounders of SWIIM. “If you start looking at water from an accounting standpoint, like your CPA looks at your financials, and if you utilize your tools and grower relations team to help get your arms around what you are doing well and you keep doing it and you can quantify that,” said France. … ”  Read more from Ag Net West here: Understanding the water consumption of treenut orchards

California Fish and Game Commission meets remotely

At its February meeting, the California Fish and Game Commission acted on a number of issues affecting California’s natural resources. The following are just a few items of interest from yesterday’s meeting. The Commission elected Peter Silva to succeed Eric Sklar as Commission President, a position Sklar has held for five years. The Commission also re-elected Samantha Murray as Commission Vice President. … ”  Read more from the Department of Fish and Wildlife here: California Fish and Game Commission meets remotely

Reclamation investing $15.4 million to help communities mitigate drought and climate change impacts in West

The Bureau of Reclamation is awarding $15.4 million for projects in the West to prepare for and respond to drought. The WaterSMART Drought Program funding will leverage $54.9 million in non-federal cost-share to complete projects in seven Western states.  “More than 50 percent of the Western United States is in a severe drought or worse,” said Chief Engineer David Raff. “The projects selected will help communities prepare for the increased risk of a drought by increasing the reliability of water supplies and improving water management.” … ”  Read more from the Bureau of Reclamation here: Reclamation investing $15.4 million to help communities mitigate drought and climate change impacts in Western United States

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In regional water news and commentary today …

French Creek restoration: If you restore it, they will return

a stream with large logs placed in it.Imagine a serene setting in a lush river valley over 300 hundred years ago. Beavers maintained swaths of wetlands, their dams creating thickets of willows and cottonwoods attracting billions of beneficial native insects. In spring, the calls of birds and frogs filled the air. Western pond turtles basked above pools on fallen logs and schools of young salmon darted below. Salamanders lurked under rocks and ring-necked snakes patrolled for bite-sized morsels. Now picture this scene completely transformed, still and quiet, devoid of most plants and wildlife.  This is what happened in the Scott Valley of northern California when the fur trade arrived in the 1820s followed by the gold rush three decades later. … However, thanks to recent efforts by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Yreka Habitat Restoration branch and a willing private landowner, the landscape along a stretch of French Creek, a major tributary to the Scott River, has begun to heal. … ”  Read more from the US FWS here:  French Creek restoration: If you restore it, they will return

Save the Redwoods League protects nearly 15,000 acres in Mendocino County

On Feb. 9, 2021 Save the Redwoods League announced the successful protection of Mailliard Ranch, a 14,838-acre property in southern Mendocino County and the largest coast redwood forest left in private family hands. The $24.7 million project secures three conservation easements across the entire property, which safeguard the land from subdivision and development, regardless of future ownership. In addition to protecting sustainable working forests across nearly 14,000 acres, the easement protects nearly 1,000 acres of reserves, including old-growth coast redwoods, mature mixed-conifer forest and salmon-bearing streams. … ”  Read more from Willits News here: Save the Redwoods League protects nearly 15,000 acres in Mendocino County

Why the pandemic may be causing a rising tide of abandoned boats in the San Francisco Bay

In early November, two boats washed ashore on the rocks just off the Safe Harbor Emeryville. Days of strong gales from the Pacific coast delivered the pair — one a white recreational sailboat with a sharp green stripe across its bow, the other an open-air fishing trawler with blotchy paint and fading block letters faintly spelling “AUDREY” across the hull — within 48 hours of each other. The mysterious appearance of captainless boats on the rocks has many baygoers intrigued.  The battered boats are not so mysterious, however, to Sejal Choksi-Chugh, executive director at SF Baykeeper, a nonprofit that patrols the bay monitoring for pollution and environmental threats. ... ”  Read more from SF Gate here: Why the pandemic may be causing a rising tide of abandoned boats in the San Francisco Bay

Chevron Richmond refinery spill: as crews mop up, investigators move in

Federal, state and local agencies are continuing to investigate a spill from a wharf at Chevron’s Richmond refinery that spread for several miles across San Francisco Bay, prompted a health advisory for nearby residents and led to the closure of a local beach.  A California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman said late Wednesday that up to 750 gallons of low sulfur diesel fuel mixed with water was released from a pipeline on the Chevron Long Wharf on Tuesday. The wharf extends 4,000 feet into the bay from the refinery complex. … ”  Read more from KQED here: Chevron Richmond refinery spill: as crews mop up, investigators move in

‘A clear danger’: oil spill in California city revives calls to cut ties with Chevron

Emergency crews in Richmond, California, are rushing to clean up an estimated 600 gallons of oil that spilled from a Chevron refinery into the San Francisco Bay. Details on the spill are still scant, but the emergency has reinvigorated calls from residents and environmentalists for the city to change its relationship with the refinery.  The spill at the Chevron Wharf, which poured unabated for nearly two hours on Tuesday, cast a brownish sheen across the waters of the north-eastern part of the bay where harbor seals haul out, migratory birds skim the water, and residents live and recreate. ... ”  Read more from The Guardian here:  ‘A clear danger’: oil spill in California city revives calls to cut ties with Chevron

Tensions boil over in San Lorenzo Valley water merger meeting

In a tense, two-and-a-half-hour board meeting on Feb. 4 that included more than 100 attendees, San Lorenzo Valley Water District (SLVWD) broached the subject of a potential merger with Scotts Valley Water District (SVWD).  The reaction from those who attended the Zoom meeting was anything but subtle: the majority opposed the idea, and representatives of SLVWD found themselves back on their heels from the opening salvo. … ”  Read more from the Press Banner here: Tensions boil over in San Lorenzo Valley water merger meeting

Oceano Dunes plan would turn refinery land into a massive new off-road playground

California State Parks has announced plans for a massive recreational development on the Phillips 66 Santa Maria oil refinery property, even though the oil company will not cease operations at the plant near Arroyo Grande for another two years.  Those plans, proposed by State Parks in its Public Works Plan and subsequent environmental impact report, hinge on whether the agency buys or leases the property from Phillips 66.  Additionally, State Parks would have to wait until the property has been remediated from the environmental damage caused by the oil refinery before it could begin construction, according to the Public Works Plan. ... ”  Read more from the San Luis Obispo Tribune here:  Oceano Dunes plan would turn refinery land into a massive new off-road playground

Ag-backed study says potential water cutbacks in Paso Robles could cost thousands of local jobs

In the debate over how to bring the overpumped Paso Robles Groundwater Basin back into sustainability, two diverging paths have emerged.  There are locals and officials who’d like to see policies that force the North County wine and agricultural industries to reduce their groundwater pumping. And there are others who say those cutbacks would be economically disastrous and should only serve as a last resort, preferring solutions like securing supplemental water. … ”  Read more from New Times SLO here: Ag-backed study says potential water cutbacks in Paso Robles could cost thousands of local jobs

Art installation in Bakersfield’s sandy riverbed hopes to bring ‘Flow’ back to the Kern

Stephen Yaws points to banks of the Kern River near Beach Park and imagines what the scene might have looked like a few generations ago before the flow was diverted, turning this stretch into a sandy riverbed.  “This used to be a thick forest along the river, not that long ago,” he said. “But years of it not having water, it’s been denuded, there’s hardly anything growing.”  Yaws and other volunteers were working hard Thursday putting together an art installation called “Flow” that calls attention to the lack of water running through a portion of the riverbed that goes right through the heart of Bakersfield. But it’s also imagining what it used to be and what it could look like one day: a lush, beautiful wetland ecosystem. … ”  Read more from the Bakersfield Californian here:  Art installation in Bakersfield’s sandy riverbed hopes to bring ‘Flow’ back to the Kern

Kern County ag looks to spotlight its climate-friendly profile

The Kern County Farm Bureau issued a “call to action” this week asking local growers and ranchers to participate in a series of upcoming meetings that will influence the role California’s agricultural lands will be expected to play, or continue to play, in fighting climate change. Besides asking members to speak up at a series of online meetings the state is hosting this month, the bureau is collecting data it hopes will illustrate local ag producers’ “climate-conscious nature” with an eye toward ensuring private industry will continue managing its property “on a voluntary basis,” bureau President John C. Moore III said by email. … ”  Read more from the Bakersfield Californian here: Kern County ag looks to spotlight its climate-friendly profile

SoCal: Women said they faced harassment, bullying in California water district’s apprentice program

Miranda Grow loves the challenge of working with her hands. She’d had experience in carpentry and construction, and fulfilled a career dream when she was accepted as a mechanic apprentice at a large water district, relishing the behind-the-scenes work to deliver clean water to faucets and shower heads across Southern California.  But she said that dream shattered one day on a van ride with a group of co-workers — all men — traveling home from a water treatment plant operated by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: SoCal: Women said they faced harassment, bullying in California water district’s apprentice program

Long Beach: Coastal Commission approves Long Beach’s Belmont Beach and Aquatic Center

The California Coastal Commission has approved Long Beach’s plans for a long-debated successor to the demolished Belmont Olympic Plaza Pool, though several members of the public agency said they were concerned that its location would not equitably serve the city’s diverse population.  The commission approved the $85 million Belmont Beach and Aquatics Center project 10 to 1 Thursday, Feb. 11, a major step that could see the facility — a potential site for some events during the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics — open in two to three years, according to City Manager Tom Modica. Shelly Luce of Santa Monica, who has a doctorate in environmental science and is the CEO of Heal the Bay, dissented. … ”  Read more from the Long Beach Press-Telegram here: Long Beach: Coastal Commission approves Long Beach’s Belmont Beach and Aquatic Center

Salton Sea: Could ocean water import be long-term fix?

In many ways, California has stepped up in its commitments to the Salton Sea as tens of millions of dollars have flowed toward restoration efforts for smaller-scale projects planned over the next 10 years. Those projects will largely address potentially hazardous conditions to human and animal life brought on by exposed seabed and loss of bird habitat from ever-shrinking inflows of water.  Yet the reality is, these efforts are but baby steps and Band-Aids to the larger crisis of overall elevation of the sea and a lack of water to replenish a large landlocked lake that has no natural inlet or outside tributaries aside from a pair of agricultural drains in the New and Alamo rivers. … ”  Continue reading at the Holtville Tribune here: Salton Sea: Could ocean water import be long-term fix?

All set for Carlsbad dredging project

Carlsbad beaches will soon have more sand as a result of the Agua Hedionda Lagoon dredging project – starting this February until mid April, informs the City of Carlsbad, California.  The lagoon has been dredged every one to four years since 1954 as part of the Encina power plant operations. The last time the lagoon was dredged was three years ago, in 2018.  Now that the Encina plant has been retired, Poseidon Water is taking over the dredging, as part of an agreement when the seawater desalination plant was built and came online in 2015. ... ”  Read more from Dredging Today here:  All set for Carlsbad dredging project

North San Diego County: New reservoir to protect local drinking water deliveries

A major construction project to improve drinking water supply reliability in North County will start in February after the San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors January 28 approved an $11.4 million contract for the work to Pacific Hydrotech Corporation of Perris, California.  The Hauck Mesa Storage Reservoir project includes demolition of an abandoned steel tank, building a 2.1 million-gallon storage reservoir connected to the Valley Center Pipeline, and construction of an isolation vault and an underground flow control facility. The project is expected to be completed by winter 2022. ... ”  Read more from the Valley Roadrunner here: North San Diego County: New reservoir to protect local drinking water deliveries

Scripps Oceanography gets share of California Energy Commission contract to simulate climate change

The California Energy Commission has awarded a $1.5 million contract to three University of California campuses, including UC San Diego, that will work in tandem to better simulate climate change scenarios that can be used by utilities and others to anticipate the effects.  The contract, split among UCLA, UC Berkeley and UCSD’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, will be used to “provide what are called downscaled climate simulations over the state of California,” said Dan Cayan, a climate scientist at SIO and principal investigator for the project. ... ”  Read more from the Del Mar Times here: Scripps Oceanography gets share of California Energy Commission contract to simulate climate change

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Along the Colorado River …

Commentary: Why is Arizona growing when groundwater is shrinking? We’re finally having this debate

Joanna Allhands, opinion columnist writes, “If our water supply is dwindling, why is Arizona still growing?  I get this question almost every time I write about groundwater. Readers say we should be doing a lot more to slow – or even cut off – the construction of new homes and farms.  That’s not likely to happen any time soon. But smart people are diving into the weeds of how we use this finite resource to fuel growth, and that makes me cautiously optimistic. … ”  Read more from the Arizona Republic here: Why is Arizona growing when groundwater is shrinking? We’re finally having this debate

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In national water news today …

Safe drinking water in America: Not everyone has it

When the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak swept across the United States, toilet paper, hand sanitiser and Clorox wipes flew off store shelves. But shopping carts have also been full of something that most Americans get supplied straight to their home: Water.  Shoppers emptied store shelves of bottled water while stockpiling during the initial months of the pandemic. Even Amazon ran out of most brands of bottled water by mid-March. That month ended with an increase in sales of bottled water by 57 per cent compared to the same time in 2019. … ”  Read more from Down to Earth here:  Safe drinking water in America: Not everyone has it

Biden administration reverses Trump changes it says ‘undermined’ conservation program

The Biden administration is reversing course on changes the Trump administration made to the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), arguing the changes “undermined” the program.  Acting Interior Secretary Scott de la Vega in an order issued Thursday revoked an order by then-Secretary David Bernhardt that required a “written expression of support” for land acquired through the LWCF from both governors and local governments, effectively allowing these officials to veto any land purchases. … ”  Read more from The Hill here: Biden administration reverses Trump changes it says ‘undermined’ conservation program

Interior announces series of Tribal consultations in recognition of the importance of nation-to-nation relationship

The Department of the Interior announced today that it will host initial consultations with Tribal leaders next month. In addition to honoring and strengthening the nation-to-nation relationship, these steps will help ensure that future White House and Interior efforts at addressing the four converging crises of our time – COVID-19, economic security, racial justice and climate change – are inclusive of Tribal Nations’ priorities and recommendations.   Today’s actions open a new chapter with Tribal governments following President Biden’s January 26 memorandum, which noted that respect for Tribal sovereignty and self-governance, fulfilling Federal trust and treaty responsibilities to Tribal Nations, and regular, meaningful and robust consultation with Tribal officials are of the utmost priority for the Administration. Interior has invited federal agencies to send representatives to listen to the sessions to inform how they might facilitate their own agency-specific consultations. ... ”  Read more from the Department of the Interior here: Interior announces series of Tribal consultations in recognition of the importance of nation-to-nation relationship

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National water and climate update …

dmrpt-20210211

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Today’s featured article …

SCIENCE NEWS: French Creek restoration: If you restore it, they will return; A beginner’s guide to PIT tags; Why indigenous knowledge matters to the future of fisheries; and more …

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

CDFW GRANTS: Cutting the Green Tape Workshops

DELTA eNEWS: ~~ Public Comments~ Meeting Cancelled~ Open House~ Restoration Project~ Smelt Replacement~ Volunteer Dockwalkers ~~

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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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