DAILY DIGEST, 2/23: Newsom pushes Huntington Beach desal plant; Smoothing the bumps in the road to ecosystem restoration; A dam good example of collaboration on CA water issues; and more …


On the calendar today …

  • FREE WEBINAR: Towards Rapid, Reproducible, and Robust Modeling from 10am to 11amModern decision-support environmental modeling is difficult! This difficulty can be attributed to the breadth of topical knowledge required and the associated cognitive load Using some concepts from software development paired with new and existing open-source tools presents a path out of this difficulty.  Presented by Intera.  Click here to register.
  • FREE WEBINAR: Treatment Standards for Stormwater Capture and Use: How Are We Doing? from 11am to 1pm.  Public agencies and researchers are working to identify treatment needed to safely use captured stormwater and rainwater. This free webcast explores how agencies are tackling this issue now and reviews current efforts to establish treatment standards tailored to stormwater and rainwater use. The webinar is designed to help identify future research and development priorities addressing stormwater capture treatment standards.  Presented by WateReuse.  Click here to register.
  • FREE EVENT: Paradigm Shift: Strengthening Our Wildfire Resilience from 12:30pm to 2:00pm.  Secretary Crowfoot hosts monthly discussions with leaders and big thinkers from across California to discuss emerging natural resources issues. Following the most destructive wildfire season in the state’s history, Governor Newsom and legislators are working together to take unprecedented actions to protect Californians from catastrophic wildfire risks. The Governor has proposed $1 billion investment in regionally-prioritized work to harden homes, build protective fuel breaks and complete projects to improve the health of the state’s forests and diverse landscapes. This proposed investment is built on California’s new Wildfire and Forest Resilience Action Plan.  Click here to register.

In California water news today …

Newsom pushes private seawater desalting plant over local and environmental opposition

When Gov. Gavin Newsom was photographed dining at an opulent Napa Valley restaurant during a surge in coronavirus cases, many Californians saw it as hypocrisy. For opponents of a planned $1-billion desalination plant along the Orange County coast, however, the optics were menacing.  The unmasked Newsom was celebrating the birthday of a lobbyist for Poseidon Water, which is close to obtaining final government approval for one of the country’s biggest seawater desalination plants. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: Newsom pushes private seawater desalting plant over local and environmental opposition

California’s wet season hasn’t brought much drought relief and the outlook isn’t promising

California’s wet season has not brought much relief so far and the outlook is not promising.  The water year, which runs from October through April, started off slowly. October was the second driest on record for California. Later, strong systems – including an atmospheric river in late January that caused flooding, debris flows and feet of snow in the Sierra – brought needed moisture to the Golden State.  Just under 58% of the state was in severe drought Feb. 16 compared to just over 74% on Jan. 5.  However, 99% of California is still at least abnormally dry. … ”  Read more from The Weather Channel here: California’s wet season hasn’t brought much drought relief and the outlook isn’t promising

SEE ALSO:

Smoothing the bumps in the road to ecosystem restoration

California’s environmental permitting system was developed to prevent bad things from happening to the environment, but it often slows efforts to do good things, too. How can California improve regulatory processes to make them more efficient and effective? The PPIC Water Policy Center recently discussed these issues with a group of experts … Here are some highlights from the conversation. … ”  Read more at the PPIC here: Smoothing the bumps in the road to ecosystem restoration

Report shows how nuts and managed vegetation are a winning combination for California growers

California is an agricultural powerhouse, producing billions of pounds of nuts in 2020 and tree nut acreage continuing to increase year after year.  The bountiful Central Valley provides fruit and nuts to the majority of the U.S., but these orchards offer additional potential that growers have yet to reap.  A new report, Managing Vegetation for Agronomic and Ecological Benefits in California Nut Orchards [PDF], details opportunities for growers to build a more resilient agricultural system in California — with both sustainability and profitability in mind. … ”  Read more from EDF’s Growing Returns here: Report shows how nuts and managed vegetation are a winning combination for California growers

Wildfire, landslides threaten California’s endangered black abalone

In late January, a heavy rainstorm soaked the Big Sur coast, a place recently scarred by California’s worst fire season on record. As the water washed over charred soil, it picked up debris. Rocks and boulders formed what looked like a bulky head, a tail of murky water the consistency of wet cement following behind. Upon reaching the shore, several of these slides, known as “debris flows,” rushed into rocky intertidal habitats.  A few weeks after the storm, in early February, eight scientists with a research consortium called the Multi-Agency Rocky Intertidal Network, or MARINe, hiked towards a beach smothered by one of the Big Sur debris flows. … ”  Read more from Earth Island Journal here: Wildfire, landslides threaten California’s endangered black abalone

Winter controlled burns reduce wildfire risk

When conditions are right, winter can be a good time to conduct prescribed burns for forest management, says Rob York, University of California Cooperative Extension forestry specialist.  “A huge issue we have in California is fire severity. We know from research that prescribed fire can be a very good tool for reducing fire severity,” York said. “For forest landowners or foresters who want to do their own prescribed burning, winter burning can be a good entry point.” … ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press here:  Winter controlled burns reduce wildfire risk

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In regional water news and commentary today …

A dam good example of collaboration on California water issues

The largest dam removal in United States history is set to take place along the Klamath River by 2023, but getting to this point was neither easy nor quick. Water management, especially in densely populated and water-scarce places like California, is a challenge from practically every aspect: ownership and operations of water infrastructure, local politics, maintenance costs, and sustainability concerns.  … But thanks to a collaboration between WSN, an organization focused on bringing together various actors in the field, and leadership training nonprofit Coro Northern California, all actors in the water management ecosystem will now have a voice and the opportunity to use their expertise to help move water projects like this one forward with far less friction in the future. ... ”  Continue reading at Grist here: A dam good example of collaboration on California water issues

NCRA railbanking vote clears major hurdle for Great Redwood Trail

After nine months of no news, planning for the proposed Great Redwood Trail is back in motion. During a virtual town hall discussion, North Coast State Sen. Mike McGuire announced the North Coast Railroad Authority board of directors’ decision to railbank a significant section of the railbed between Humboldt and Mendocino Counties bringing the trail one step closer to reality.  “Imagine a strip of land roughly 50 feet wide and running for 320 miles,” said McGuire, asking more than 1,000 town hall participants to close their eyes and envision the sprawling trail. “From the edge of the San Francisco Bay in Marin County through the vineyards of Sonoma County, showcasing the stunning beauty of Mendocino County through the redwood and oak-studded hills of the Eel River Canyon, and then you’re gonna end your hiking adventure on the fog-shrouded shores of Humboldt Bay.” ... ”  Read more from the Eureka Times-Standard here:  NCRA railbanking vote clears major hurdle for Great Redwood Trail

Over 430,000 trout released into Feather River

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) released more than 430,000 steelhead trout into the Feather River.  Over the last two weeks, the staff at the Feather River Fish Hatchery moved the steelhead trout raised last year into the Feather River, located below Yuba City. An additional 10,000 trout went into the Thermalito Afterbay to support the popular recreational fishery. … ”  Read more from Action News Now here: Over 430,000 trout released into Feather River

Tuolumne Utilities District, other agencies discuss progress to acquire PG&E water rights, infrastructure

Tuolumne Utilities District provided an update on Thursday regarding negotiations to acquire Pacific Gas and Electric Co. assets in the South Fork Stanislaus River watershed and rights to water in New Melones Reservoir, though the possible costs remain unclear due to a confidentiality agreement. The TUD Board of Directors hosted a rare joint meeting via video with the county Board of Supervisors, Sonora City Council, local Me-Wuk Indian tribes, and other stakeholders, during which members spoke about the need for community-wide cooperation and collaboration due to the scope of the undertaking. … ”  Read more from the Union Democrat here:  Tuolumne Utilities District, other agencies discuss progress to acquire PG&E water rights, infrastructure

Lack of rain could potentially impact crops in the Central Valley

Crops are now blooming here in the San Joaquin Valley, which marks the beginning of harvest season for farmers.  As a drier-than-usual wet season continues to unfold, many are worried about how current drought conditions will impact this year’s crop.  Ryan Jacobsen is the C.E.O. of the Fresno County Farm Bureau.  “It’s blooming time here in the San Joaquin Valley, this is an incredibly important part of our season when it comes to what we produce here,” said Jacobsen. … ”  Read more from KFSN here: Lack of rain could potentially impact crops in the Central Valley

Santa Clara: Learn about the wonders of water in a virtual world

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Valley Water’s Education Outreach team spent most days visiting classrooms, leading outdoor tours, and engaging with members of the public at community events. Like you, we needed to adapt to the new reality. The team transitioned our in-person lessons into virtual presentations and we now offer our education programs online for students of all ages. Pivoting to distance learning has provided us an opportunity to reach more students than ever before. So far, we’ve worked with 9,000 students online and our innovative lessons have been well received by both educators and parents. … ” Read more from Valley Water News here: Learn about the wonders of water in a virtual world

Santa Cruz, Soquel Creek water propose extending pilot program

The Santa Cruz City Council is poised to approve a 5-year extension between the City and Soquel Creek Water Districts on a pilot program that would funnel excess surface water to Soquel Creek during winter months, in hopes of bolstering overdrawn groundwater supply there.  That surface water, on average, is projected to be around 115 million gallons delivered by Santa Cruz Water to Soquel Creek during the wet season, which would take strain off pumping the Santa Cruz Mid-County Groundwater Basin. If formalized, the agreement could allow that aquifer to refill naturally, and armor against seawater infiltrating underground water supply. That would theoretically also boost the City’s drinking water supply, in the long-term. … ”  Read more from the Santa Cruz Sentinel here:  Santa Cruz, Soquel Creek water propose extending pilot program

San Juan Bautista moves ahead with water compliance projects

San Juan Bautista made progress on its water compliance projects on Feb. 16 as the City Council unanimously approved contracts for moving wastewater out of the city, financing, and a formalized agreement with the San Benito County Water District to provide water.  On Oct. 15, the city opted to send its wastewater to the Hollister Wastewater Treatment Plant and to acquire potable water from San Benito County Water District’s West Hills Water Treatment Plant. On Feb. 1, SJB City Manager Don Reynolds went before the Hollister City Council to request collaboration on moving water to and from the city. … ”  Read more from Benito Link here: San Juan Bautista moves ahead with water compliance projects

Salinas college and ag group hold summit on new technology

There’s nothing like holding one of the largest agriculture conferences in the region over Zoom to make it a truly international gathering.  Over March 18-19, Western Growers and Hartnell College’s Eighth Annual Salinas Ag Tech Summit will cover policies, best practices and developing technologies that are coming online during one of the most critical times in agriculture history. ... ”  Read more from the Monterey Herald here:  Salinas college and ag group hold summit on new technology

Santa Barbara:  Group calls for state to investigate Gaviota Creek

A local environmental group is urging the State Water Board to investigate alleged water diversion from Gaviota Creek, an action they assert is being done illegally and threatening the population of endangered Southern Steelhead fish.  Coastal Ranches Conservancy, an environmental protection group that operates along the Gaviota Coast, sent a petition to the State Water Board back in June 2020, requesting that officials examine water removal from Gaviota Creek. The CRC alleges that the water diversion is happening illegally to provide water to Gaviota rest stops. ... ”  Read more from the Santa Barbara News Press here: Group calls for state to investigate Gaviota Creek

Santa Clarita Valley Water announces extension to comment period, second public meeting

The Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency has extended its public comment period for the Saugus Formation Aquifer to March 19, with the addition of a second virtual public meeting.  The meeting is expected to provide community members with an additional opportunity to learn more about how the agency is keeping its water safe for drinking water consumption through minimizing and reducing the public health and environmental effects of hazardous substances that have been identified in the aquifer, as well as treatments that could allow several wells to return to service. … ”  Read more from The Signal here: Santa Clarita Valley Water announces extension to comment period, second public meeting

San Juan Capistrano lets non-equestrian operators bid to operate riding park

” … In the wake of a 2017 lawsuit by Orange County Coastkeepers alleging clean water violations, the city agreed to a settlement that requires upwards of $9 million in improvements to keep runoff out of the creek.  The city put out a request for bids to find an equestrian operator in 2019 that hinged on the tenant undertaking approximately $7 million of the cost.  After receiving what it deemed inadequate proposals, including one from the existing tenant, the City Council voted 3-1 to reopen the bid process, expanding it to include non-equestrian operators. … ”  Read more from the OC Register here:  San Juan Capistrano lets non-equestrian operators bid to operate riding park

Orange County:  Tiny red crabs are close to the coast — but will they wash up on local beaches again?

On the sonar screen that shows the bottom of the ocean from the Dana Wharf fishing boat above, the masses of tiny crabs packed close together look like big red clouds.  Countless pelagic crabs, tiny critters also called tuna crabs, are hanging out just a few miles from the Orange County coastline.  Last time these mini creatures were spotted around here, they washed up on local beaches in the millions – making a stinky mess the region’s coastal caretakers had to figure out how to haul away from the sand.  But this time, the sea conditions are different, and it’s unclear if they’ll end up washing onto local beaches again. … ”  Read more from the OC Register here: Tiny red crabs are close to the coast — but will they wash up on local beaches again?

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Along the Colorado River …

The Colorado River basin’s worsening dryness in five numbers

Dry conditions are the worst they’ve been in almost 20 years across the Colorado River watershed, which acts as the drinking and irrigation water supply for 40 million people in the American Southwest.  As the latest round of federal forecasts for the river’s flow shows, it’s plausible, maybe even likely, that the situation could get much worse this year.  Understanding and explaining the depth of the dryness is up to climate scientists throughout the basin. We called several of them and asked for discrete numbers that capture the current state of the Colorado River basin. … ”  Read more from Nevada Public Radio here: The Colorado River basin’s worsening dryness in five numbers

FERC gives preliminary permit to 2.2 GW storage project that would use Navajo coal plant power lines

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission last week issued a preliminary permit for a proposed 2.2 GW pumped-storage hydropower project that would use the existing transmission infrastructure of the now-retired Navajo Generating Station coal plant.  The proposed $3.6 billion project, called the Navajo Energy Storage Station, would draw on water from Lake Powell and deliver 10 hours of renewable energy daily to markets in California, Arizona and Nevada, according to project developer Daybreak Power. “We believe this is the type of project that’ll ensure reliability and flexibility and deep integration of renewables throughout the region. This project is a scale that just dwarfs anything else that’s out there — and that’s what we need,” Jim Day, CEO of Daybreak Power, said. … ”  Read more from Utility Dive here: FERC gives preliminary permit to 2.2 GW storage project that would use Navajo coal plant power lines

Commentary:  Utah’s designs on Colorado River water would ignore the facts and evade the law

Claire Geddes,  a consumer advocate and former director of Utah Legislative Watch, writes, “Utah House Bill 297 is a dangerous spending bill that provides its benefactors with exemptions to conflict-of-interest laws that raises serious moral questions about what is happening at the Utah Legislature. The bill creates another heavily-funded and secretive government agency — the Colorado River Authority — that would receive an initial $9 million, plus $600,000 per year thereafter, in addition to collecting unknown sums of money from other agencies. This funding can be spent on anything and everything lobbyists dream up, especially litigating and lobbying to make the drafters of this bill rich on a quixotic quest against climate change. … ”  Read more from the Salt Lake Tribune here: Claire Geddes: Utah’s designs on Colorado River water would ignore the facts and evade the law (sltrib.com)

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In national water news today …

Like developing nations, Texas confronts lingering water crisis

By Saturday, as the deep freeze lifted and temperatures across Texas warmed to near normal for this time of year, water poured from broken lines beneath streets. Fountains of water sprayed from valves and cracks in building exteriors. Indoor waterfalls spilled from caved-in ceilings in schools and homes and hospitals. Homeowners gathered up the last remnants of melting snow and stored them in buckets and bathtubs.  “Where do you want to start?” said Ty Edwards, general manager of the Middle Pecos Groundwater Conservation District in Fort Stockton. Edwards explained why the power outages across the state triggered a water crisis. … ”  Read more from the Circle of Blue here: Like developing nations, Texas confronts lingering water crisis

Supreme court weighs blame in Georgia, Florida water war

The U.S. Supreme Court appears hesitant to side with Florida in a bitter water dispute that pits state’s oystermen against Georgia farmers.  The justices heard oral argument on Monday on Florida’s latest plea for a cap on Georgia’s use of a shared river basin. The case is an original jurisdiction proceeding, a rare type of dispute that goes straight to the Supreme Court rather than working through lower benches first.  “Denying relief in these circumstances not only would be a death sentence for Apalachicola but would extinguish Florida’s equal right to the reasonable use of the waters at issue,” Latham & Watkins LLP lawyer Gregory G. Garre, representing Florida, told the justices, referring to the epicenter of the state’s wild oyster industry. … ”  Read more from Bloomberg Law here: Supreme court weighs blame in Georgia, Florida water war

Should drinking water and wastewater utility employees receive covid-19 vaccine priority?

As limited doses of approved COVID-19 vaccines are distributed around the country, vulnerable populations and frontline workers have been given priority to receive them. And in certain pockets of the U.S., drinking water and wastewater employees have made the case that they should be included in the priority grouping.  “The water districts and sewer districts are the first line of defense for health,” Scott Abbattoni, a water director in Maine who is advocating for his fellow employees to be put on a higher vaccine priority list, told News Center Maine. “You don’t hear of people getting cholera or dysentery, because that stuff is taken care of. But what happens if people are out?” … ”  Read more from Water Online here: Should drinking water and wastewater utility employees receive covid-19 vaccine priority?

On demand webinar: Extending the lifecycle of your storm water system: how preventative maintenance can save in costly repairs

Local governments and commercial property owners face an unprecedented period when it comes to budget cuts and resource allocation for stormwater management during a global pandemic. When major rehabs and repairs may not be in the budget for property owners, this webinar will present solutions that can extend the life cycle of your Stormwater Control Measures (SCMs).   Aging infrastructure continues to strain stormwater assets with unexpected repair costs and impending future needs of significant rehabilitation. We will address common failures that can be avoided with simple solutions that require minimal investment but will keep extensive repairs at bay for some time.  Innovative solutions are emerging in the storm water industry. We will discuss technology advancements during the webinar that can aid in allocating appropriate retrofit costs to aging infrastructure and alerting you to potential repairs before a failure occurs. ... ”  Read more and access webinar from Stormwater Solutions here: On demand webinar: Extending the lifecycle of your storm water system: how preventative maintenance can save in costly repairs

EPA takes action to address PFAS in drinking water

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued two actions to protect public health by addressing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in drinking water, highlighting the agency’s commitment to address these long-lasting “forever chemicals” that can enter drinking water supplies and impact communities across the United States. The Biden-Harris administration is committed to addressing PFAS in the nation’s drinking water and will build on these actions by advancing science and using the agency’s authorities to protect public health and the environment.  “All people need access to clean and safe drinking water. One way that EPA is committed to keeping our communities safe is by addressing PFAS,” said EPA Acting Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox. “These actions will underpin better science, better future regulation, and improved public health protections.” ... ”  Read more from the EPA here: EPA takes action to address PFAS in drinking water

5G’s society-changing promise carries ‘forever chemicals’ price

Hank Schwedes was driving in heavy traffic near his Morrisville, Pa., home when the car ahead of him suddenly stopped—and to Schwedes’ surprise, so did his.  “I wasn’t stopping quickly enough, so my car reacted before I did,” said Schwedes, who hadn’t known until that moment that his new Subaru Outback was equipped with a futuristic crash prevention system. “It’s a good safety feature.”  The feature relies on information traveling instantaneously to the car’s braking system, the type of data-transfer speed that will allow nascent 5G wireless networks to transform how we work, play, and make money.  But key to delivering data at lightning speed are members of the PFAS family of synthetic compounds linked to health problems and lawsuits. And that’s an issue for some who study the so-called forever chemicals. … ”  Read more from Bloomberg here: 5G’s society-changing promise carries ‘forever chemicals’ price

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And lastly …

‘Move Oregon’s Border for a Greater Idaho’ movement to go on ballot in May

Tired of living in a blue state, some Oregonians want to change the map to join Idaho.  They say they want to maintain their rural values and join a Republican majority state.  If approved, Southern and Eastern Oregon, as well as the Northernmost part of California would join the Gem State. ... ”  Read more from Channel 2 here: ‘Move Oregon’s Border for a Greater Idaho’ movement to go on ballot in May

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Today’s featured articles …

CA IRRIGATION INSTITUTE: Secretary Crowfoot on the Newsom Administration’s water priorities

At the 2021 California Irrigation Institute Conference, the keynote speaker was Wade Crowfoot, the Secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency.  For the last two years, Secretary Crowfoot has overseen California’s forests and natural lands, rivers and waterways, coast and ocean, fish and wildlife, and energy development. As a member of the Governor’s cabinet, he advises the Governor on natural resources and environmental issues. Before leading the Natural Resources Agency, he served as the Chief Executive Officer for the Water Foundation, a nonprofit that builds shared water solutions across the American West.

Here’s what Secretary Crowfoot had to say, in his own words …

Click here to read this article.


BLOG ROUND-UP: DCA submits final Delta tunnel corridor designs to DWR; SoCal MPAs, Delta threatened by oil & gas wells; Will barons of blue water be more equitable than those of black oil?; and more …

Click here to read this article.

 

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

GRANT OPPORTUNITY: Quagga and Zebra Mussel Infestation Prevention Grants

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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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