DAILY DIGEST, 2/16: Why are our cities sinking?; Adaptation can compound climate change impacts on energy and water; Ag lender perspective on water futures; How water utilities are responding to covid-19 with GIS; and more …


On the calendar today …

  • The State Water Board meets today beginning at 9am.  Agenda items include an update on dry year Bay-Delta hydrologic and fisheries conditions from state and federal water projects and fisheries agencies; Water rights drought effort review (WARDER) summary report, and proposed actions for water rights response to climate change.  Click here for the full agenda and remote access instructions.

In California water news today …

Why are our cities sinking and what does it have to do with climate change?

The world’s cities are at risk of collapsing under their own weight, according to a new study.  New research shows that the growth of large urban areas exerts increased pressure on the Earth’s surface.  Geophysicist Tom Parsons, from the United States Geological Survey (UGCS), chose San Francisco as a case study to measure how and why these areas are sinking.  San Francisco bay region has over 7.7 million inhabitants and is the cultural, commercial, and financial centre of Northern California. Parsons discovered that the city may have sunk by 80 millimetres (3.1 inches) as it has grown substantially over time. This is called the level of subsidence (the sudden sinking or gradual downward settling of the ground’s surface). ... ”  Read more from Euronews here:  Why are our cities sinking and what does it have to do with climate change?

Adaptation can compound climate change impacts on energy and water

In 2014, as California was in the midst of one of the worst droughts in its recorded history, Julia Szinai was working for an electric utility. The worst years of the drought were still ahead, but the impacts of the dry spell on California’s energy system were already clear to Szinai. As water levels dropped, so too did hydropower generation—an energy gap that was filled by fossil fuels. … In a recent study published in Environmental Research Letters, Szinai and her colleagues present a framework that outlines the links between and vulnerabilities of the state’s energy and water systems. The findings can be used to evaluate how both climate change and our adaptation decisions might affect the interconnected systems.” … ”  Read more from EOS here:  Adaptation can compound climate change impacts on energy and water

Ag lender perspective on water futures and groundwater trading

Water futures and groundwater trading was the central focus of the most recent meeting of the California State Board of Food and Agriculture. Several panelists and speakers weighed in on how a water trade system like that would impact farmers and ranchers. Leader of the RaboResearch Food and Agribusiness team in North America, Roland Fumasi said that that system is designed to reduce variability in water costs, which could be a good thing for industry members. … ”  Read more from Ag Net West here: Ag lender perspective on water futures and groundwater trading

San Francisco assemblyman’s bill boosts building wind farms off California coast

California Assemblymember David Chiu introduced a bill to the legislature on Thursday intending to shift the state’s energy sources to rely more on offshore wind power.  Assembly bill 525, if passed, would set a state goal of producing 10 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2040, and would direct state agencies to work on approving the construction of offshore wind infrastructure, such as turbines. … ”  Read more from CBS San Francisco here: San Francisco assemblyman’s bill boosts building wind farms off California coast

RENEW WIIN Act introduced in congress by Central Valley lawmaker

Legislation introduced by Representative David Valadao seeks to enhance certain aspects of the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act. The Responsible, No-Cost Extension of Western Water Infrastructure Improvements (RENEW WIIN) Act is Valadao’s first legislative action since his return to Congress. The legislation is designed to extend the general and operations provisions of the WIIN Act. … ”  Read more from Ag Net West here: RENEW WIIN Act introduced in congress by Central Valley lawmaker

Eyes in the sky aid streamside ecosystems

Washington State University researchers are using satellites and drones to help local conservation districts monitor areas near rivers and streams to help improve agricultural sustainability.  The BIOAg project, part of WSU’s Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources, is aimed at helping counties included in Washington’s Voluntary Stewardship Program monitor and report compliance and participation in helping riparian, or streamside, ecosystems.  “The state’s program is really a bottom-up approach, where the state encourages local stewardship to improve riparian areas and monitor them,” said Alexander Fremier, an associate professor in WSU’s School of the Environment (SOE). … ”  Continue reading at the Western Farm Press here:  Eyes in the sky aid streamside ecosystems

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In regional water news and commentary today …

Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District, Trinidad Rancheria move forward on water study

The Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District and the Trinidad Rancheria are moving forward with a feasibility study to investigate the possibility of extending water service from McKinleyville up to the Rancheria.  The Trinidad City Council and the Westhaven Community Services District declined to participate in the study last month, citing risks of overdevelopment.  … ”  Read more from the Eureka Times-Standard here: Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District, Trinidad Rancheria move forward on water study

City of St. Helena reaches agreement with water watchdog group

The City of St. Helena has agreed to monitor local groundwater levels and stream flows, averting a potential lawsuit from an environmental advocacy group. Following months of negotiations, the city and Water Audit California released a joint statement Friday announcing the city will collect monthly water levels and annual extraction totals for local wells and provide a public, “scientifically useful” summary of the data. … ”  Read more from the Napa Register here:  City of St. Helena reaches agreement with water watchdog group

Light showers do little to reduce Sonoma County rainfall deficit

The smidgen of rain falling from Sunday into Monday and another band of showers later in the week will have scant impact on Sonoma County’s rainfall deficit, and the long-range forecast calls for below normal precipitation statewide through April.  “It’s not looking super-favorable at this point,” Brooke Bingaman, a National Weather Service meteorologist, said Sunday. … ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here:  Light showers do little to reduce Sonoma County rainfall deficit

Sausalito general plan clears, but housing rifts remain

After four years, hundreds of hours of meetings and nearly $1 million spent on consulting fees, the Sausalito City Council has completed its general plan update for the next 20 years.  The unanimous vote on Tuesday, however, does not reflect the disagreement among the council members over whether the plan should include language on a citywide zoning overlay.  Critics say an overlay will be used to build housing in the Marinship area — a light industrial, applied arts and maritime zone. The area, once a World War II shipyard, has contaminated soil and is vulnerable to subsidence and sea level rise. ... ”  Read more from the Marin Independent Journal here: Sausalito general plan clears, but housing rifts remain

Scientists still waiting to prove a Putah Creek-born ‘race’ of salmon

“Scientists studying annual salmon runs in Putah Creek are still waiting for the absolute proof that fry born in the creek and leave for the ocean as juveniles are returning to spawn.  However, since identifying one spawning fish in 2017 that was identified with a Putah Creek-Feather River origin, the University of California, Davis, and NOAA scientists have been collecting additional samples each year for analysis. … ”  Read more from the Daily Republic here: Scientists still waiting to prove a Putah Creek-born ‘race’ of salmon

California parks plan would turn refinery land into a coastal 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. … ”  Read more from the Merced Sun-Star here: California parks plan would turn refinery land into a coastal off-road playground

Water Association of Kern County commemorates Kern’s water legacy with campaign

Water is an essential part of our livelihoods and economy. Water is not just a valuable tool to grow the world’s food, or a resource in aiding the valuable oil industry, and it is not just an element to keep our yards and cities looking their finest. Water has become an expected resource when we turn on our faucets to do our dishes, run a load of laundry, take a shower or brush our teeth.  Just as diverse as our uses of water around Kern County, the Water Association of Kern County has a wide array of members. … ”  Read more from the Bakersfield Californian here:  Water Association of Kern County commemorates Kern’s water legacy with campaign

Long Beach to build new groundwater treatment facility in upper Westside

The Long Beach Water Department approved an agreement this month to acquire two properties near an existing well site in West Long Beach as it aims to build a new potable water treatment facility that would treat groundwater there.  The two acquired properties on Delta Avenue between Wardlow Road and Cameron Street, which were authorized for purchase for no more than $1 million, will now allow the construction of the facility, starting with the existing well dubbed the West Coast Basin Well No. 1, which was drilled in 2017 and is immediately adjacent to the properties, according to water department documents. … ”  Read more from the Long Beach Post here:  Long Beach to build new groundwater treatment facility in upper Westside

State launches Salton Sea restoration effort

California is poised to begin the first major restoration project at the Salton Sea.  The state is investing more than $200 million in a project that will create flooded ponds and other habitats on the exposed lakebed at the southern edge of the lake.  “We’ll complete the work over the next two-and-a-half years, I believe completing the project in 2023,” said Wade Crowfoot, secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency. … ”  Read more from KPBS here: State launches Salton Sea restoration effort

Water agencies disagree on how much water San Diego needs

The San Diego Water Authority thinks the region is going to need way more water over the next few decades, but the smaller agencies that buy water from them aren’t so sure.  They think the Water Authority is projecting too much growth in future water demand, and they’re worried that if they’re right, residents are going to end up paying for it, even as they curtail their own water usage.  “If demand is inaccurate, we underset rates and then we have a deficit,” said Sarah Davis, a management analyst for Oceanside’s Water Utilities Department. “But if we overestimate, we can get into a situation where rates are set too high.” ... ”  Read more from the Voice of San Diego here: Water agencies disagree on how much water San Diego needs

San Diego launches campaign to make city more resilient to climate change

Faced with several recent studies showing climate change will make San Diego highly vulnerable to sea level rise and severe wildfires, city officials are launching a campaign to make the city more resilient and better prepared.  The campaign, called Climate Resilient SD, will create a variety of adaptation strategies, determine which strategies to prioritize in which parts of the city and contemplate how to pay for them with grants and other resources. ... ”  Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune here: San Diego launches campaign to make city more resilient to climate change

Port of San Diego gets approval for native oyster ‘living shoreline’ project

The California Coastal Commission has voted unanimously to allow for the Port of San Diego to pilot a native oyster living shoreline adjacent to the Chula Vista Wildlife Refuge in south San Diego Bay.  The objective of the living shoreline, the first of its kind in San Diego Bay, is to increase biodiversity and protect the shoreline from future sea level rise. … ”  Read more from the Times of San Diego here: Port of San Diego gets approval for native oyster ‘living shoreline’ project

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Next door in Nevada …

Months before a company lobbied the Legislature to create its own county, it purchased faraway water rights that could fuel future growth

Near the edge of the Black Rock Desert, where thousands of visitors travel to the Burning Man Festival each fall, irrigation systems stand idle on a fallow field in February. The land looks like many other agricultural operations in the state — but looks can be deceiving. The titles to the water underneath farmland in this rural area are now held by Blockchains LLC, a company touted by Democratic Gov. and lobbying lawmakers for a new statute that could effectively give the private cryptocurrency business the sovereign powers of a county. … ”  Read more from the Nevada Independent here: Months before a company lobbied the Legislature to create its own county, it purchased faraway water rights that could fuel future growth

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In national water news today …

How water utilities are responding to covid-19 with GIS

” … Many water utilities use geographic information every day to help manage their assets, monitor their operations, analyze their systems, and make more informed decisions. In today’s environment, the same issues and challenges exist but with the added complexities of the pandemic. Many organizations are turning to their geographic information system (GIS) for support. Esri provides a variety of data layers, apps, and solutions that can be used to meet a number of challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.  … ”  Read more from ESRI via Water Online here: How water utilities are responding to covid-19 with GIS

Biden’s presidency could mean action on toxic “forever chemicals”

Industrial “forever chemicals” found in hundreds of consumer goods and linked to adverse health effects may face new regulations under the Biden administration.  Why it matters: Environmental groups and members of Congress are calling on President Biden to follow through with his promise to designate the long-ignored and largely unregulated synthetic chemicals, which can last for hundreds of years without breaking down, as hazardous substances. ... ”  Read more from Axios here: Biden’s presidency could mean action on toxic “forever chemicals”

The Senate Democratic takeover and several retirements will make the Appropriations Committee fertile ground over the next two years for some of the sharpest debates over President Biden’s energy and environmental agenda.  Nine of 12 subcommittee chairs (cardinals in Washington-speak) will be new party leaders on their respective panels. In other words, they were not ranking members last year. … As a divided Congress has struggled to pass major legislation in recent years, spending bills have taken on increased importance. They have become the venue for high-profile fights over climate change and the boundaries of energy exploration. … ”  Read more from E&E News here:  Committee set to become energy, environment battleground

Lawsuit launched over Army Corps’ failure to protect endangered wildlife from nationwide permit program

The Center for Biological Diversity, Waterkeeper Alliance and allies issued a formal notice today of their intent to sue the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for failing to ensure that Nationwide Permits reissued during the final days of the Trump administration will not jeopardize endangered species and critical habitat across the country. These Nationwide Permits allow for streamlined industrial development such as oil pipelines, coal mines, and marine aquaculture facilities through waterways across the country, resulting in the destruction of tens of thousands of acres of streams, rivers and wetlands.  “The Trump administration flagrantly violated bedrock environmental laws when it reissued the Nationwide Permits, without regard for the people, places or wildlife that are affected by this deeply flawed program,” said Jared Margolis, a senior attorney at the Center. … ”  Read more from Water Online here: Lawsuit launched over Army Corps’ failure to protect endangered wildlife from nationwide permit program

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More news and commentary in the weekend edition of the Daily Digest …

In California water news this weekend …

  • Trump’s California water plan troubled federal biologists. They were sidelined
  • New Study: Wetlands restoration can improve water quality in Central Valley
  • If you look deep into the eyes of a fish, it will tell you its life story
  • California now has a futures market for water. Some farmers are skeptical
  • Double blast of lawsuits fired at proposed Kern groundwater bank
  • Nearly a foot of snow fell in Sierra and another storm is coming, weather service says
  • State Water Board awards $97.9 million for stormwater projects
  • Anticipating the extremes: Birch Aquarium lecture looks at atmospheric rivers and California’s climate
  • FEMA releases more funds for reimbursing Oroville Dam spillway repair costs
  • California’s rainy season is starting about a month later than it did in the 1960s, researchers say
  • THE ECONEWS REPORT: Busting Myths about the Klamath Dam Removal
  • Regulators on Poseidon desalination plant received calls that are likely prohibited
  • And more …

Click here to read the Daily Digest, weekend edition.

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Today’s featured article …

BLOG ROUND-UP: Dry year myths revisited; A swiss cheese model for fish conservation; Sacramento River salmon redd dewatering; How to Save the Colorado River; and more …

Click here to read this article.

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

NOTICE: New Cybersecurity Advisory on Compromise of Florida Water Treatment Facility

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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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