DAILY DIGEST, 3/1: Some precip on the way; Water Data 101; Fishing groups urge reversal of Trump’s CVP policy changes; Uncovering patterns in California’s blazing wildfires; and more …

On the calendar today …

WORKSHOP: Delta Adapts Climate Change Adaptation Workshop from 4pm to 5pm. The Delta Stewardship Council is beginning the next phase of Delta Adapts to prepare an adaptation strategy and we need your thoughts on the scope! We will start the workshop with a short presentation but devote most of the time to hearing your thoughts.  To receive a link to join the event, please register here.

FREE WEBINAR: Ballona Wetlands: Webinar on the State’s Restoration Project at 5pm. Friends of Ballona Wetlands, a 501(c)(3) non-profit environmental group located in Playa Del Rey, is hosting a free webinar to present updates on the state’s Ballona Wetlands Restoration Project, now that a full tidal restoration plan (Alternative 1) was selected and the Environmental Impact Report has been certified by the State of California. Click here to register.

WEBINAR: Understanding Microplastic Pollution at 6pm.  Hear from an EPA representative on practices for sample collection and analytical approaches to address microplastic pollution. Click here to register.

In California water news today …

Some hope on the way for parched Southern Calif., Desert Southwest this week

Following a February that ranked among one of the driest on record for several major cities in the Southwest, AccuWeather meteorologists are tracking a storm that will bring needed precipitation to the region and, for some, the first meaningful rainfall since late January.  Any news of precipitation is good news after a lackluster winter season led to no dents being made in the widespread severe to exceptional drought conditions in place.  … Forecasters say that these unusual dry streaks will come to an end around the middle of the week as a storm system sweeps in from the Pacific Ocean. … ”  Continue reading at Accu-Weather here: Some hope on the way for parched Southern Calif., Desert Southwest this week

Rainy season peters out in another moisture-starved year for S.F.

A too-dry February left San Francisco with only 38% of normal rainfall for the month, and forecasters say residents should get used to it: With the wet season ending, it’s almost impossible to see the water year ending with anything close to a normal soaking.  San Francisco’s rain total for February — typically the heart of the rainy season along with December and January — was just 1.71 inches, compared to the 4.46 inches that’s considered normal, National Weather Service Bay Area officials said. A year ago it was even worse: February 2020 brought no rain to San Francisco. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: Rainy season peters out in another moisture-starved year for S.F.

Water Data 101

As nations, states, and cities plan for the future, water will need to be thoughtfully allocated, conservatively used, carefully managed, intentionally reused, and thoroughly monitored and understood to ensure the water needs of current and future generations are met and prepared for. To do so, we need to enable leaders and water managers to make educated decisions regarding water resources. To enable sustainable, efficient, water management, we need to answer three key questions: How much water is available?; how is it being used?; and what is its quality?   Water data is essential for answering these questions. But first, what is water data? What does it look like? Where does it come from? Well, as all good questions should be answered, that depends. … ”  Read more from the Internet of Water here: Water data 101

CSPA & PCFFA urge reversal of harmful & unlawful Trump actions on the Central Valley Project

The California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA) and the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations (PCFFA) sent a joint letter on February 16, 2021 to the Biden Administration and Secretary of Interior designate Debra Haaland, urging them to withdraw or rescind four major policy changes to the Central Valley Project (CVP). These changes were last-minute actions of the Trump Administration made by former Interior Secretary Bernhardt, who was previously employed by one of the biggest beneficiaries of these actions: Westlands Water District. If implemented, the actions would lead to extremely adverse environmental, cultural, and economic impacts within California. … ”  Read more from CSPA here: CSPA & PCFFA urge reversal of harmful & unlawful Trump actions on the Central Valley Project

Reclaimed water could be the solution to farming in a drier future

On a Saturday in late October, Carolyn Phinney is hip-deep in a half-acre of vegetables, at the nucleus of what will one day be 15 acres of productive farmland.  “You can’t even see the pathways,” she says, surrounded by the literal fruits of her labors. The patch is a wealth of herbs, tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, kale, winter squash, and zucchini. So much zucchini—fruits the size of bowling pins hidden under leaves as big as umbrellas. “Zucchini plants are supposed to be 30 inches across. Ours are 8 feet,” she says. “Everything looks like it’s on steroids.”  Phinney is the farmer behind CoCo San Sustainable Farm of Martinez, California, a farm built on reclaimed land, using reclaimed water, and started with a simple mission: to get kids to eat more vegetables. … ”  Read more from Yes! here: Reclaimed water could be the solution to farming in a drier future

Uncovering patterns in California’s blazing wildfires

California’s 2020 wildfire season was unprecedented, the latest tragedy in a decades-long trend of increasing fire. Six of the 20 largest fires in state history burned during the calendar year. In August, a 14,000-strike “lightning siege” sparked 900 fires, and by the end of the year, roughly 17,200 square kilometers had burned across the state.  In California and elsewhere, the environmental context, including topography and vegetation, combines with climate to dictate fire probabilities at any given location. Humans play a role too. Past research shows, for example, that population density and distance to the wildland-urban interface help explain fire frequency. … ”  Read more from EOS here: Uncovering patterns in California’s blazing wildfires

Return to top

In regional water news and commentary today …

Caltrans: Section of Highway 1 that washed away near Big Sur to be repaired by this summer

Repairs on the chunk of Scenic Highway 1 near Big Sur that crumbled into the Pacific Ocean after a rainstorm last month are expected to be completed early this summer, Caltrans officials said.  But the announcement came with a warning: Any additional storms on the tail end of California’s rainy season could delay repairs. A torrential storm dumped several inches of rain over the area on Jan. 28, causing debris from the Dolan Fire burn scar to wash out a 150-foot portion of the highway, about 15 miles south of the center of Big Sur and about 30 miles north of the Monterey-San Luis Obsipo County line. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  Caltrans: Section of Highway 1 that washed away near Big Sur to be repaired by this summer

Folsom Lake water level below average

California water managers are pinning their hopes on the month of March to turn around a below-average water year.  Many California reservoirs are still well below average as we start, what typically is, the last big wet month of the season.  Folsom Lake has 345,609 acre feet of water between its shores — just 64% of where it should be for this time of year and just over a third of the lake’s capacity. … ”  Read more from KCRA here: Folsom Lake water level below average

South Sonoma Valley wells will provide new information

While the county’s Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) has been monitoring groundwater through residential and commercial wells volunteered for the program since 2017, four new wells specifically designed to capture a broad range of information will soon be expanding the available data.  The Sonoma Valley Fire District approved the installation of the first of four new groundwater monitoring wells on a small piece of their property on Felder Road, just off Arnold Drive. It is expected to be producing results by this year. … ”  Read more from the Kenwood Press here:  South Sonoma Valley wells will provide new information

Judge declines to toss Marinwood pollution lawsuit

After years of litigation, a Marin judge declined to dismiss a lawsuit over alleged contamination on farmland and church-owned property in northern San Rafael.  The ruling is a win for Silveira Ranch and Catholic Charities of San Francisco, which sued the current and former owners of the Marinwood Plaza shopping center near Highway 101. The plaintiffs are seeking damages and relief for alleged PCE discharges into the ranch and the St. Vincent’s School for Boys. … ”  Read more from the Marin Independent Journal here:  Judge declines to toss Marinwood pollution lawsuit

Reconfigured Monterey One Water board moves forward with an expanded Pure Water Monterey project

Monterey One Water just celebrated the one-year anniversary of delivering recycled wastewater via the Pure Water Monterey project. The advanced filtration system is used on treated sewage water, which is then injected deep underground where the new supply will be mixed with the existing water supply.  Even before phase one of the Pure Water Monterey project was online, the board of M1W began debating an expansion of the project. But that expansion has been on ice for months, after the M1W board voted 11-10 (on a weighted vote) in April of 2020 not to proceed.  It’s about to come back. … ”  Read more from the Monterey Weekly here:  Reconfigured Monterey One Water board moves forward with an expanded Pure Water Monterey project

Unarmored three-spine stickleback, Southern California’s small, endangered fish

Southern California’s unarmored three-spine stickleback has made headlines periodically, most recently over a lawsuit that was filed on Jan. 18 by the Center for Biological Diversity against the Trump Administration for allegedly failing to take measures to protect the endangered fish. What is the three-spine stickleback and what is going on with the fish? … ”  Read more from The Log here:  Unarmored three-spine stickleback, Southern California’s small, endangered fish

State project takes aim at restoring Salton Sea, alleviating health risks

California is spending more than $200 million to keep an unfolding ecological crisis from getting worse. The state wants to stabilize habitat along the southern bank of the Salton Sea, the state’s largest lake.  That is good news for nearby residents concerned about their health, but the restoration could also affect everyone who draws water from the Colorado River.  At issue is the wide swaths of exposed lakebed that have been uncovered as the thirsty lake’s water evaporates in the desert air. The lake bottom is typically a deep layer of fine silt. … ”  Read more from KPBS here:  State project takes aim at restoring Salton Sea, alleviating health risks

SEE ALSO: Restoring The Salton Sea, from KPBS

Return to top

In national water news today …

HotSpots H2O: Florida-Georgia water dispute returns to Supreme Court

The long-running dispute between Florida and Georgia over water resources reached the U.S. Supreme Court last week. The court will decide whether Georgia must cap its water use from the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint basin and allow more water to flow downstream to Florida.  The dispute began in the 1990s and has been entangled ever since by contentious negotiations and numerous court dates. The ACF basin, which empties into the Gulf of Mexico, is a hard-working watershed. … ”  Read more from Circle of Blue here: HotSpots H2O: Florida-Georgia Water Dispute Returns to Supreme Court

Water sector applauds House leadership for affordability program boost

On Friday, the House of Representatives passed the American Rescue Plan Act, legislation to deliver additional COVID-19 relief that contains $500 million for low-income water utility bill assistance. This new funding for low-income water assistance comes in addition to the initial $638 million provided in the December 2020 FY21 Consolidated Appropriations Act.  The National Association of Clean Water Agencies and the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies issued the following joint statement: “The public water sector is grateful to the U.S. House of Representatives for including $500 million in additional assistance to low-income water customers in the American Rescue Plan Act. This funding recognizes the critical role of public drinking water and clean water services and the increased strain many households are facing in paying their water bills as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing economic downturn. … ”  Read more from Water Finance & Management here:  Water sector applauds House leadership for affordability program boost

Flood risks growing for US homeowners

The cost of federal flood insurance will need to increase significantly across much of the country to meet the growing risks of climate change and that could affect a thousand or more Woodland and Yolo County residents.  New data suggests that the National Flood Insurance Program, which provides a majority of U.S. flood insurance policies, would have to quadruple premiums on high-risk homes inside floodplains to reflect the risks they already face, according to a report issued recently by the First Street Foundation, a group of academics and experts that models flood risks. The information was first reported by The New York Times and CNN. ... ”  Read more from the Daily Democrat here:  Flood risks growing for US homeowners

How climate change may influence deadly avalanches

Big dumps of powder snow are a precious gift in the best of times around the West, where 40 or 50 feet can fall during a winter, forming frozen mountain water towers that slowly melt and sustain the region through hot, dry summers with life-giving water.  When the snow falls faster than the mountains can hold it, though, big storms can also be deadly. During the first week of February, avalanches killed 14 people across the United States, the highest weekly avalanche death toll in more than 100 years. Halfway through the season, 31 people have died across the nation this winter—more than the annual average of 27 deaths. ... ”  Read more from Scientific American here: How climate change may influence deadly avalanches

Big wilderness protection bill passes U.S. House, heads to Senate

A massive public-lands bill, now headed to the U.S. Senate, would better protect more than three million acres of public land, including one million acres in California.  The Protecting America’s Wilderness and Public Lands Act combines eight pieces of legislation, including four that cover the Golden State.  Belinda Faustinos, executive director of the nonprofit Nature for All, said bills like the San Gabriel Mountains Foothills and Rivers Protection Act will make the wilderness experience much more accessible to families. … ”  Read more from the Public News Service here: Big wilderness protection bill passes U.S. House, heads to Senate

Mass transit, aviation, water and wastewater receive early attention in Congress

As the Biden administration’s cabinet takes shape and Congress addresses some of the emergency requests called for by the White House, a clearer picture is emerging of the infrastructure sectors likely to receive attention this year in Washington, D.C.  Mass transit, aviation, passenger rail, and drinking water and wastewater treatment have all been the subjects of early legislative efforts on Capitol Hill. Waiting in the wings, meanwhile, is the pending reauthorization of the surface transportation program, representing a key opportunity for infrastructure advocates looking to boost federal support for highways, bridges, and highway safety efforts. … ”  Read more from Civil Engineering Source here: Mass transit, aviation, water and wastewater receive early attention in Congress

Biden’s all-of-government climate pledge begins to take shape

The Biden Administration’s decision to throw out the Trump White House’s method for calculating the social cost of carbon was one of the first tangible actions on the president’s lengthy climate change to-do list as he works to convince the world that the White House is once again serious about a global response to warming temperatures.  The approach, announced Friday, pegs the social cost of carbon at $51 a ton for 2021 after adjusting for inflation at a 3% discount rate. The Biden plan, which replaces a Trump-era method that was as low as $1, will be used on an interim basis. A higher dollar figure makes it harder for agencies to issue new regulations that are more permissive to industry because it more starkly shows the benefits of tough rules outweigh the costs. … ”  Read more from Bloomberg here: Biden’s all-of-government climate pledge begins to take shape

Return to top

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

In California water news this weekend …

  • Water security vs. water marketing: Should state water supplies be sold outside the county?
  • East Orosi: ‘It’s a toxic blend’: where the kids are warned not to swallow the bath water
  • EPA abandons plan to appeal ruling protecting Redwood City salt ponds from development
  • Congress passes Garamendi bill to expand Delta National Heritage Area into Rio Vista
  • Drought status update for California-Nevada
  • House approves bill to create 1.5 million acres of new wilderness in California, other states
  • Fact check: Is the French Laundry lobbyist swaying Newsom’s stance on a proposed water plant?
  • New Lead Scientist primed for Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta’s challenges after a lifetime surrounded by water
  • Michael Preston: Helping sacred water heal people, land, spirits and salmon
  • LET’S TALK ABOUT WATER PODCAST: Liquid Assets: Water on Wall Street
  • Skeptical about Klamath River dam removal, Harbor District, Del Norte County seek protection against potential damages
  • Healdsburg completes country’s largest floating solar array project
  • New drilling project in Bay Area wetlands meets resistance
  • A potential flood threat is hidden in the East Bay Hills — Chabot Dam
  • The real reason why Bill Gates is now the US’ biggest farmland owner
  • And more …

Click here to read the Daily Digest, weekend edition.

Return to top

Today’s featured articles …


Prepared Exclusively for Maven’s Notebook by Robert Shibatani

The much-anticipated storms of February have come and gone.  Despite early optimism, the storms were modest at best, providing only temporary hydrologic relief.  Precipitation and accumulated reservoir inflows-to-date as well as current reservoir storage remain below average.

Click here to read this article.

Return to top

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

OPPORTUNITY TO COMMENT: Draft Cycle 5 Proposition 1 Grant Guidelines

Return to top


About the Daily Digest: The Daily Digest is a collection of selected news articles, commentaries and editorials appearing in the mainstream press. Items are generally selected to follow the focus of the Notebook blog. The Daily Digest is published every weekday with a weekend edition posting on Sundays.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email