DAILY DIGEST, 2/19: Is this winter’s sketchy snowpack the new normal?; Using vineyards to recharge California’s groundwater; What CA needs to do to avoid a Texas-style electricity crisis; Private trout farm in NorCal works with Service, others for conservation; and more …


On the calendar today …

  • FREE WEBINAR: Water Quality Matters: Understanding and Addressing PFAS in our Water from 10am to 11:30am.  This Southern California Water Coalition program will explore PFAS, what it is, how we can treat the existing conditions and explore long-term solutions that replace these chemicals to ensure the protection of future generations’ access to water today and for tomorrow.  Click here to register.
  • FREE WEBINAR: Restoring the Los Angeles River for Ecosystems and People from 3pm to 4pm. Presentation by Sabrina Drill, UC Cooperative Extension (abstract)  Meeting ID: 937 2279 6133  Passcode: 92837 Join here: https://ucmerced.zoom.us/j/93722796133?pwd=a2FsKzBTUGVtOEovSTNVanRSNjZMdz09

In California water news today …

Is this winter’s sketchy snowpack the new normal?

On Saturday, skiing the fall line of Crystal Mountain’s Right Angle Trees in Washington’s Cascade Range, I made turns without hitting bottom for the first time this season, and felt that perfect zero-G float of powder skiing. This past week has felt like a reprieve: snowy, cold, and deep. The winter I’ve been waiting for finally showed up.  But of course, there was a bottom to the snowpack. And the better-late-than-never storms have had a real dark side. Like almost everyone who backcountry-skis, I’ve been spending a lot of the past few weeks thinking about the layers in this year’s skinny snowpack, and how snow, or the lack thereof, stacks up to become dangerous. … ”  Read more from Outside Online here: Is this winter’s sketchy snowpack the new normal?

Video: Using vineyards to recharge California’s groundwater

Drought has become an issue in California, and one way to help that are vineyards. California Ag Net explains how researchers are using farmland to recharge groundwater.” Watch video segment from RFD TV here: Using vineyards to recharge California’s groundwater

California lawmakers propose ban on fracking, other oil drilling methods

Two state lawmakers unveiled a proposal Wednesday that would gradually bring to a halt drilling methods that have produced about a fourth of California’s petroleum production in its oil fields.  The bill, authored by state Sens. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, and Monique Limón, D-Santa Barbara, would prohibit new permits for hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, and block companies from renewing existing permits for the controversial technique. … ”  Read more from KQED here: California lawmakers propose ban on fracking, other oil drilling methods

What California needs to do to avoid a Texas-style electricity crisis

California and Texas, the country’s two most populous states, have each faced major energy crises within the past six months that share a primary cause: extreme weather.  This week, millions of Texans lost power amid a historic winter storm that blanketed the state in snow and ice and sent temperatures plunging to uncommonly frigid depths. … The Lone Star State’s plight is many orders of magnitude worse than the rolling blackouts Californians endured over two blistering days in August. Yet both situations have exposed the extent to which the United States’ vital energy infrastructure is threatened by erratic and extreme weather conditions that are becoming increasingly common as climate change advances. ... ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: What California needs to do to avoid a Texas-style electricity crisis

‘California and Texas are warnings’: blackouts show US deeply unprepared for the climate crisis

When California saw widespread power blackouts last year during wildfires and a summer “heat storm”, Republican lawmakers from Texas were quick to deride the coastal state’s energy policies. “California is now unable to perform even basic functions of civilization, like having reliable electricity,” tweeted Senator Ted Cruz during the record-breaking heatwave in August.  Those Republicans, including Cruz, had to swallow their words this week as a massive winter storm took out the Lone Star state’s power grid, leaving nearly 4 million people without electricity and heat amid polar temperatures.  The crises in California and Texas are different, in scale and severity. One faced fire, the other an ice storm. But experts say the power outages in both states make one thing clear: neither is prepared for the chaos of the climate crisis. ... ”  Read more from The Guardian here: ‘California and Texas are warnings’: blackouts show US deeply unprepared for the climate crisis

Commentary: California needs a more flexible approach for planning for sea level rise across the state

Robert Lempert, a senior scientist at RAND Corp. and a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and David Behar, climate program director at the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission write, “The state of California has changed its sea level rise guidance for state agencies and coastal communities, now advising in new “Principles for Aligned State Action” that Californians employ a single sea level rise target — plan for 3.5 feet by 2050 — as opposed to the more flexible approach the state used in the past. But this single sea level rise number does not represent the best available science and could make California less resilient to climate change.  … ”  Continue reading at the San Diego Union-Tribune here: California needs a more flexible approach for planning for sea level rise across the state

Commentary:  Farmers can help in battle against climate change

A. G. Kawamura, a farmer from Orange County and former CA Secretary of Food and Ag and Roger Johnson, a farmer from North Dakota and former commissioner of the North Dakota Department of Agriculture write, “President Joe Biden’s decision to rejoin the landmark Paris Agreement takes effect on Feb. 19, formally marking the reemergence of U.S. climate leadership on the world stage.  … The next challenge will be for the White House to develop concrete commitments, called nationally determined contributions, that will prove to the world that the U.S. is serious about achieving a net-zero economy by 2050.  Fortunately, when Biden makes those pledges in Glasgow, he’ll be coming to the table with unprecedented support from American farmers, who are leading their own battle against climate change. … ”  Read more from Cal Matters here: Commentary:  Farmers can help in battle against climate change

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In regional water news and commentary today …

Upper Klamath Lake forecast looking poor for fish and farms

Citing a dismal outlook on water year 2021, the Klamath Tribes have filed a notice of intent, saying they will sue the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation for violating the Endangered Species Act if Upper Klamath Lake dips below levels outlined in the 2020 biological opinion this spring. The letter, which will allow the Tribes to file suit more quickly if they decide to pursue litigation, was sent to the principal deputy commissioner of Reclamation and the acting secretary of the Interior. It asserts that the Bureau violated the 2020 biological opinion by diverting too much of the lake’s water to Klamath Project irrigators at the beginning of last summer. ... ”  Read more from the Herald & News here: Upper Klamath Lake forecast looking poor for fish and farms

Northern California: Private trout farm works with Service, others for conservation

When you think of a private fish farm, you don’t typically think of conservation, but through a new partnership that is changing.  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Coleman National Fish Hatchery and Mt. Lassen Trout Farm have come together to raise endangered Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon and release them into Battle Creek as part of the Jumpstart Project aimed at reintroducing winter-run to the watershed.  Phil Mackey has been raising trout for nearly 50 years at the trout farm, so when biologists approached him about using one of their hatcheries as a location to raise endangered winter-run Chinook salmon he didn’t hesitate. ... ”  Read more from the US FWS here:  Private trout farm works with Service, others for conservation

Marin: Water district adopts drought resolution, urges conservation

While the year isn’t even two months old, the Marin Municipal Water District on Tuesday declared it is in the early stages of a drought and is encouraging customers to reduce water use, citing low rainfall and reservoir storage levels.  A resolution approved by the board adopts initial drought conservation actions and outlines voluntary conservation steps recommended for customers. … ”  Read more from SF Gate here: Marin: Water district adopts drought resolution, urges conservation

San Francisco Bay Area sinking under its own weight – 3.5 trillion pounds

It’s not just San Francisco’s Millennium Tower that’s sinking.  The entire Bay Area is plunging downward under the weight of its own sprawl. And that’s a concern as sea levels rise and cities try to figure out how they’ll stay above water in the coming decades.  Tom Parsons, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey, documented the problem recently. He calculated the weight of every building in the Bay Area and found the total to be so great, about 3.5 trillion pounds or the equivalent of more than 7 million Boeing 747s, that it’s pushing the Earth’s surface down. … ”  Continue reading at the San Francisco Chronicle here:  San Francisco Bay Area sinking under its own weight – 3.5 trillion pounds

SEE ALSOPhoto feature: The sinking city: Pressing business

Delta Stewardship Council holds resilience scavenger hunt

Climate change is impacting the whole Earth, including the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. There are some big challenges ahead as the region changes over the next 30 years. In order to adapt to a world with increased flooding, drought, wildfire and intense heat, we need to start by understanding what’s going on. But where to begin? … ”  Read more from The Press here: Delta Stewardship Council holds resilience scavenger hunt

Livermore Commentary:  Water is a critical issue

Kelly Cousins writes, “Mayor Brown and Councilmembers Arkin and Testa rejected spending $300,000 of city funds to study and market ‘potable reuse’ water (also known as toilet-to-tap). On a 3:2 vote at the Feb. 2 city council meeting, the mayor reminded others about an advisory vote in 2000, when Pleasanton voters strongly rejected programs for ‘potable reuse.’ The no vote carried by a margin of 72%, with only 28% in favor of the controversial water program. Additionally, the city’s guiding document, the General Plan, prohibits using of potable reuse in our drinking water. Finally, the cost of this type of water is estimated to be four times higher than current water supplies. ... ”  Read more from the Livermore Independent here: Livermore: Water is a critical issue

Livermore Commentary: A poor decision to stop planning for the future

Tim Hunt writes, “After working together with Livermore Valley agencies for seven years, the majority of the Pleasanton City Council scrapped funding to study reusing potable water.  Mayor Karla Brown cited toilet-to-tap as a key rationale along with expending money to clean up Perfluoroalkyl substances in one well that currently is not in use. … The chemical provided a convenient excuse to pullout of the valley-wide consortium. … ”  Read more from Pleasanton Weekly here: A poor decision to stop planning for the future

Officials call for Redwood City’s salt pond protections

Bay Area political leaders and organizations have come together to encourage the new Biden administration to protect Redwood City’s salt ponds from future development by withdrawing a Trump era appeal of a federal district court ruling deeming the wetlands federally protected.  “This is a great indication there’s strong political support at all levels for the EPA to withdraw Trump’s appeal,” said David Lewis, executive director of the environmental nonprofit Save the Bay. … ”  Read more from the Daily Journal here: Officials call for Redwood City’s salt pond protections

Commentary: Valley Water gathering feedback on expansion of Pacheco Reservoir

Valley Water board members s write, “Valley Water remains focused on preparing for future wet and dry years through various projects and programs, including the proposed expansion of Pacheco Reservoir in southern Santa Clara County. A partnership with the San Benito County Water District and Pacheco Pass Water District, the Pacheco project will increase the reservoir’s capacity from 5,500 acre-feet to up to 140,000 acre-feet, enough water to supply up to 1.4 million residents for one year during an emergency. … ”  Read more from the Gilroy Dispatch here:  Valley Water gathering feedback on expansion of Pacheco Reservoir

State Ocean Protection Council awards $1.3 million to Elkhorn Slough restoration

The state’s Ocean Protection Council has awarded $1.3 million to preserving and safeguarding estuary habitat at Elkhorn Slough, which boasts the second-largest tidal salt marsh in California.  The wetland, once degraded by farming activities such as diking, is at-risk of impacts from climate change — particularly rising sea levels.  “We all know that climate change is going to change a lot, and so we’re doing all we can to make sure that these habitats remain valuable for wildlife and for people too,” Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve Manager Dave Feliz said. … ”  Read more from the Santa Cruz Sentinel here:  State Ocean Protection Council awards $1.3 million to Elkhorn Slough restoration

South Monterey County Interlake Tunnel fish screen grant pact back on

In two key developments for proposed Lake Nacimiento and Lake San Antonio water projects, a $17 million state grant for fish screens as part of the Interlake Tunnel project is in the works again while a draft engineer’s report for a long list of maintenance and repair work at the Monterey County-owned reservoirs has been released.  On Tuesday, the county Water Resources Agency board recommended the Board of Supervisors authorize water agency General Manager Brent Buche to enter into a grant agreement for the $17 million with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. … ”  Read more from the Monterey Herald here:  South Monterey County Interlake Tunnel fish screen grant pact back on

Tuolumne Utilities District moving closer to acquiring water rights and infrastructure

The Tuolumne Utilities District hosted a joint meeting to provide local stakeholders an update on efforts to acquire PG&E assets like Pinecrest Reservoir and Lyons Dam, and water rights from New Melones.  The informational meeting included the Tuolumne County Supervisors, Sonora City Council and local tribal representatives.  TUD Board Chair Barbara Balen opened by stating, “I’d like us to think about what local control of water could mean to the people who live here,” and moving from “uncertainty and fear of not having enough water for fire protection, or even fire insurance, to the direction of certainty, and local control.” … “  Read more from My Mother Lode here: Tuolumne Utilities District moving closer to acquiring water rights and infrastructure

Lower Tuolumne River accessible again: Dennett Dam removal restores 52 miles of fish habitat, revitalizes community

” … Dennett Dam was built in 1935 to create a swimming hole for local community members. However, the structure gave out twice soon after and created a significant physical hazard for people – not to mention an impenetrable barrier for fish. Additionally, the stagnant water became a perfect breeding ground for water hyacinth, a destructive and invasive aquatic plant that regularly causes havoc in most of the Sacramento Delta. The dam needed to go, and TRT got to work over a decade to raise funding for, permit, and ultimately restore the river. … ”  Read more from Sustainable Conservation here: Lower Tuolumne River Accessible Again: Dennett Dam Removal Restores 52 Miles of Fish Habitat, Revitalizes Community

Growers and researchers refine date palm irrigation

California’s $86 million date industry produces more than half of the nation’s dates. Most of the fruit is grown in the arid Coachella Valley. Despite efforts by growers to conserve water, data was lacking on date palms’ actual water use to refine the best irrigation management for the crop until a recent research project led by Ali Montazar, UC Cooperative Extension irrigation and water management advisor for Imperial and Riverside counties.  “California dates are grown in the hottest and most arid climate in North America and require substantial amounts of water in order to bring a successful crop to fruition,” Albert Keck, Coachella Valley date grower and chairman of the California Date Commission, wrote in a letter of support for this project. “In addition, there is scant modern research specifically and technically focused on growing dates in North America.” … ”  Read more from The Confluence here: Growers and researchers refine date palm irrigation

Carlsbad sand dredging project protects beaches, water supply

Heavy equipment will dominate a stretch of Carlsbad’s beach near the old Encina Power Plant for the next month.  Crews are funneling thousands of cubic yards of sand per day onto the beach, not only to protect the shoreline, but also the water supply.  Poseidon Water, which runs the desalination plant adjacent to the old power plant is running the project. … ”  Read more from Channel 10 here: Carlsbad sand dredging project protects beaches, water supply

Column: Mexico’s effort will be key in reducing sewage spills; U.S. can’t do it alone

Columnist Michael Smolens writes, “Big projects aimed at stemming the toxic sewage flowing from Tijuana into Imperial Beach and the surrounding region are on the horizon and that’s a welcome development.  But any such improvements come with a nagging question based on historical experience: How long will this fix last?  Cross-border pollution has been a problem for the better part of a century and has defied past efforts to solve it. It’s not that previous actions didn’t help. Some did, and they greatly diminished the health and environmental threat — and reduced beach closures. … ”  Continue reading at the San Diego Union-Tribune here: Column: Mexico’s effort will be key in reducing sewage spills; U.S. can’t do it alone

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In national water news today …

Warming ocean will challenge Snake River salmon survival in coming decades, new research shows

The Pacific salmon life cycle is a struggle for survival. It is likely to grow even more so for Snake River salmon populations if the ocean warms, as other previous research indicates that it will in coming decades.  NOAA Fisheries’ Northwest Fisheries Science Center is using life-cycle modeling to better understand threatened Snake River spring/summer Chinook salmon. The model projects that the species will experience starkly lower survival rates during their years in the ocean in the future compared to now. Recent years may provide a preview. Unusually warm temperatures—including a 2014-2015 marine heatwave—depressed salmon returns to many West Coast rivers, including the Snake and Columbia. … ”  Read more from NOAA here: Warming ocean will challenge Snake River salmon survival in coming decades, new research shows

How can the Biden administration deliver on environmental justice pledges?

Low-income neighborhoods and communities of color bear the burden of pollution and endure inadequate public services like water and sewer. These are environmental injustices, and President Joe Biden came into office pledging to correct them.  Biden said that 40 percent of the benefits of his climate investment will flow to these communities. How will those communities be identified, progress be monitored, and success be measured?  Circle of Blue reporter Brett Walton spoke with two veterans of the U.S. environmental justice movement — Mustafa Santiago Ali, the vice president of environmental justice, climate, and community revitalization at the National Wildlife Federation, and Monica Lewis-Patrick, the president and CEO of We the People of Detroit, a group looking to build a more just and democratic city — about the opportunities and challenges facing the Biden administration as it focuses on marginalized communities. … ”  Read more from the Circle of Blue here: How can the Biden administration deliver on environmental justice pledges? 

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National water and climate update …

The Natural Resources Conservation Service produces this weekly report using data and products from the National Water and Climate Center and other agencies. The report focuses on seasonal snowpack, precipitation, temperature, and drought conditions in the U.S.

dmrpt-20210218

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Today’s featured articles …

SCIENCE NEWS: Private trout farm works with Fish & Wildlife Service, others for conservation; If you look deep into the eyes of a fish, it will tell you its life story; New method to track salmon, trout genetic diversity; How an atlas of SF Bay is helping deal with sea level rise; and more …

Click here to read this article.

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

DELTA eNEWS: ~~ Engineering Pioneer~ Ferry Closure~ Delta Internet~ DSC Meeting~ NHA Meeting~ Delta Voice~~

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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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