DAILY DIGEST, 3/3: This year likely to be critically dry, officials say; Will scandal save Delta communities?; Many opposing views on California’s new water futures market; 2021-2022 CA Environmental Legislation: What’s Been Introduced?; and more …
FREE WEBINAR: Snowmelt to Streamflow: The Importance of Groundwater in Mountain Hydrology at 11am. Presentation by Rosemary W.H. Carroll, Ph.D., associate research professor at the Desert Research Institute. Click here to register.
FREE WEBINAR: California Ag Land and Water Market Outlook: The Decade Ahead from 12pm to 1:30pm. Join WestWater Research for a conversation with some of the state’s foremost farmland and water experts to hear their perspectives on navigating the changing agricultural real estate, regulatory, and water market landscapes in the decade ahead. Click here to register.
FREE WEBINAR: The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA): Challenges and Opportunities from 12pm to 1pm. Based on more than three years of mixed methods social science research on SGMA implementation, Kristin Dobbin’s talk will explore the successes and challenges of integrating drinking water and environmental justice needs into SGMA and opportunities for improving policy alignment between these two critically important state water priorities. Click here for more information and to register.
FREE WEBINAR: Ecological Drought: Drought, Wildfire, and Recovery from 1pm to 2pm. Drought can exacerbate wildfire frequency, intensity, and severity. This webinar will explore wildfire management approaches based on ecological principles, including those that embed traditional ecological knowledge. Click here to register.
California likely faces a critically dry year, with reservoirs and Sierra snowpack already well below average
“California will likely face a critically dry year with much less runoff from the Sierra Nevada snowpack than normal and reservoirs that already are showing the impact of winter precipitation that is well below average, state water authorities said Tuesday. The state Department of Water Resources’ latest survey from a network of electronic stations found that the water content of the overall snowpack was 61% of the historical March 2 average and 54% of the average on April 1, when it is historically at its maximum. … ” Read more from KTLA here: California likely faces a critically dry year, with reservoirs and Sierra snowpack already well below average
This year will likely be critically dry for California, state officials say
“The winter storms that dumped heavy snow and rain across California early in 2021 are likely not enough to negate what will be a critically dry year, state water officials believe. California’s Department of Water Resources on Tuesday recorded a snow depth of 56 inches and water content of 21 inches at Phillips Station in the Sierra Nevada. The water content of the overall snowpack was 61% of the average for March 2 and 54% of the average for April 1, when it is historically at its maximum. … ” Read more from the LA Times here: This year will likely be critically dry for California, state officials say
Barring ‘miracle,’ farm water will be in short supply
“”We need a Miracle March,” Kern County almond grower Don Davis says, expressing the concern of many farmers as California drops deeper into drought. The U.S. Drought Monitor said last week 85% of the state is experiencing moderate to exceptional drought and, on the same day, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced low initial allocations for customers of its Central Valley Project. The bureau said it had allocated 5% supplies to its agricultural service contractors both north and south of the delta. Davis buys water through a Class 1 contract with the CVP Friant Division and would receive a 20% supply. “That allocation means they will give me about 20% of my normal usage, so the other 80% is going to have to come from wells,” he said. ... ” Read more from Ag Alert here: Barring ‘miracle,’ farm water will be in short supply
So where did all our water go? Likely here … Washington forms healthy snowpack after snowiest February recorded in 20 years
Will major scandal at Metropolitan Water District save Delta communities from the tunnel?
“Metropolitan Water District, the driving financial and political force behind the proposed Delta tunnel, has suddenly found itself on the verge of losing one of its most important customers – the City of Los Angeles. The possibility of a break between California’s largest city and its largest water contractor comes after a host of women and members of the LGBTQ community said they were victims of sexual harassment, intimidation and retaliation while working for the latter. The revelation has drawn MWD into a new arena of fire, one that’s separate from its ongoing standoff with conservationists, indigenous tribes, regional farmers, tax watchdogs and Northern California’s fishing industry about the future of the Delta. … ” Read more from the Sacramento News & Review here: Will major scandal at Metropolitan Water District save Delta communities from the tunnel?
Many opposing views on California’s new water futures market
“As of December 7, 2020, water has been included as a traded commodity on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (“the Merc”). According to a recent Chicago magazine article, “Now cities and farmers can buy futures in California’s water, meaning they can hedge against (or bet on) rising water prices out west, based on the Nasdaq Veles California Water Index [ticker symbol: NQH2O], which tracks the current market price of the five largest water supplies in the state…So far, only the Golden State’s water supply is being traded; it’s sort of a test run.” … ” Read more from Nossaman here: Many opposing views on California’s new water futures market
Valadao hopes to pump funding into water infrastructure
“Despite taking two years off from Congress, David Valadao (R—Hanford) is getting back to work by introducing new legislation to help keep water flowing in the Central Valley. Early this month, Valadao introduced the Responsible, No-Cost Extension of Western Water Infrastructure Improvements, or RENEW WIIN, Act, a no-cost, clean extension of operations and storage provisions of the WIIN Act. … ” Read more from the Foothills Sun-Gazette here: Valadao hopes to pump funding into water infrastructure
Attractive and beneficial: Groundwater recharge basins can be both for people and wildlife
“With the lack of rain this fall and winter, comes anxiety about California’s water future for people, wildlife, and agriculture in California’s Central Valley. Our rainfall not only produces benefits at the surface like wildlife habitat and food crops, but it also recharges our stores of water below ground, otherwise known as groundwater aquifers. Even though we can’t see groundwater, and many of us don’t quite understand what it is, we all depend on it for the fresh water that we drink and use to grow our food. California is facing one of the largest resource challenges ever: how to recharge or refill a depleted water table in the Central Valley, a hugely important region for wildlife and agriculture. … ” Read more from Point Blue here: Attractive and beneficial: Groundwater recharge basins can be both for people and wildlife
Court ruling upholds $2.8 million penalty, protects sensitive marsh land in Suisun Bay
“In a ruling that could strengthen vital wetlands protections throughout California, the First District Court of Appeal has upheld a cleanup and abatement order and a $2.8 million fine issued by the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board (San Francisco Bay Water Board) for unauthorized levee construction and other activities in the Suisun Marsh. Located in Solano County, Suisun Marsh is the largest contiguous, brackish marsh on the west coast of North America and a critical part of the Bay-Delta estuary. The case centers around activity dating to 2014 and 2015, when John Sweeney and Point Buckler Club constructed nearly a mile of levee around Point Buckler Island without obtaining permits or approvals from the San Francisco Bay Water Board and other agencies. The levee blocked off all tidal channels, killing the tidal marshland vegetation and preventing salmon and other sensitive fish species from entering the channels to forage for food. … ” Read more from the State Water Board here: Court ruling upholds $2.8 million penalty, protects sensitive marsh land in Suisun Bay
Restricted season likely with poor Sacramento and Klamath river salmon abundance
“A forecast of relatively low numbers of Sacramento and Klamath River fall Chinook salmon now swimming in the ocean off the California coast points to restricted ocean and river salmon fishing seasons in 2021. State and federal fishery managers during the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s salmon fishery information on-line meeting on February 25 forecast an ocean abundance this year of 271,000 adult Sacramento Valley fall Chinook salmon, about 200,000 fish lower than the 2020 estimate. … ” Read more from the Stockton Record here: Restricted season likely with poor Sacramento and Klamath river salmon abundance
How cloud seeding can boost mountain snowpack
“In the spring, melting snowpack in the Rocky Mountains feeds the Colorado River, which supplies drinking water to 40 million people across seven states. But as the climate warms, snowpack is shrinking, prompting concerns over water shortages. One technique that can help increase precipitation is called cloud seeding. It’s been used in some areas since the 1950s. A machine or airplane releases particles, such as silver iodide, into developing storm clouds. The particles attract molecules of water vapor, and if the conditions are right, those droplets form more rain or snow. ... ” Read more from Yale Climate Connections here: How cloud seeding can boost mountain snowpack
Water conservation programs show potential to save water, energy and greenhouse gas emissions
“In an innovative time where power and energy have evolved tremendously in the past few decades, efficiency and conservation have become new focal points, constantly being optimized in balance with costs. A study conducted by UC Davis’ Center for Water-Energy Efficiency illuminates the possibility of saving not only water but also energy and greenhouse gas emissions through water conservation programs. Edward Spang—an assistant professor at UC Davis’ food science and technology department who played a pivotal role in starting the Center for Water-Energy Efficiency—explains the findings of a previous statewide study following the urban water conservation mandate back in 2015. Due to the mandate, all urban water utilities were required to reduce water usage by 25%. … ” Read more from The Aggie here: Water conservation programs show potential to save water, energy and greenhouse gas emissions
2021-2022 California Environmental Legislation: What’s Been Introduced?
“The California State Legislature is back in session, and legislators have introduced thousands of bills. The 2021-2022 session kicks off a new two-year legislative cycle, which means bills that are not passed in this session have the opportunity to be considered and passed in the subsequent session. While legislators will likely spend a significant amount of time addressing the Covid-19 pandemic, there are a number of time-sensitive environmental and environmental justice issues that also demand their attention, including climate change, wildfires, and water safety. The Senate and the Assembly are both working on versions of a 2022 Natural Resources Bond (SB-45 and AB-1500), which presents a critical opportunity for funding the State’s environmental initiatives. … ” Read more from the Legal Planet here: 2021-2022 California Environmental Legislation: What’s Been Introduced?
Irrigators hope to benefit from Klamath re-quantification ruling
“Water rights held by the Klamath Tribes must be re-quantified under a recent court decision that’s offered hope to irrigators facing water shut-offs in the region. The ruling has largely upheld a determination by the Oregon Water Resources Department that the Klamath Tribes have “time immemorial” in-stream water rights that haven’t been diminished or abandoned. However, Klamath County Circuit Judge Cameron Wogan has agreed with Upper Klamath Basin irrigators that OWRD must re-quantify the Klamath Tribes’ water rights because the agency didn’t consider their “moderate living standard.” … ” Read more from the Capital Press here: Klamath Irrigators hope to benefit from Klamath re-quantification ruling
Here’s the latest on how Redding’s Sundial Bridge affects endangered salmon
“For many years, lights at the Sundial Bridge in Redding were blamed for possibly causing the deaths of young endangered salmon in the Sacramento River. But a new study conducted by a team of scientists may get the bridge off the hook. California fish and wildlife officials had thought the lights attracted large groups of juvenile salmon that became prey to bigger fish when the little ones congregated under the Sundial Bridge lights. … But in a study conducted last year, scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the University of California, Santa Cruz Institute of Marine Sciences found no evidence the bridge lights were causing larger fish to eat young winter-run chinook salmon. … ” Read more from the Redding Record-Searchlight here: Here’s the latest on how Redding’s Sundial Bridge affects endangered salmon
Appeal of 8.5-acre cannabis project along the Eel River triggers debate about weed grows in remote Humboldt
” … Andrew Machata owns a sprawling 7,110-acre ranch on the banks of the Eel River near the remote community of McCann…. Sixteen years later, Machata is hoping to finally turn a profit off the property. In 2016 he nearly sold it for $15 million to The Wildlands Conservancy, a nonprofit that specializes in converting undeveloped properties into nature preserves, but the deal fell apart after a higher bid came in, only to fall through. So instead, Machata applied for six conditional use permits to develop an 8.5-acre commercial cannabis operation — despite a lack of expertise. … ” Read more from the Lost Coast Outpost here: Appeal of 8.5-acre cannabis project along the Eel River triggers debate about weed grows in remote Humboldt
St. Helena City Council to discuss penalties for water wasters
“The city of St. Helena strongly encouraged all residents and businesses this week to join efforts to conserve its water supply, particularly water used for outdoor irrigation. “The more pro-active customers are now at conserving water, the better the City will be able to manage long-term if the water shortage becomes an extended situation,” said Martin Beltran, a management analyst for the city’s Public Works Department. … ” Read more from The Patch here: St. Helena City Council to discuss penalties for water wasters
Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods advocates to ‘leave no trace’
“Founded in 1985, nonprofit organization Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods aims to preserve and restore the North Bay’s most precious natural and cultural resources. Aligning with California State Parks, the Stewards maintain and monitor the Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve, Austin Creek State Recreation Area and Sonoma Coast State Beach, including the Willow Creek watershed. The Stewards also take the time to educate the public on how to safely and ethically appreciate the outdoors. … ” Read more from the Bohemian here: Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods advocates to ‘leave no trace’
Nevada Irrigation District to release Draft 2020 Ag Management Plan at board workshop on March 10
“The Nevada Irrigation District (NID) today announced that it has cancelled the planned evening meetings on the Agricultural Water Management Plan (AWMP) previously scheduled for March 3 and 4th. Instead a Board Workshop will be held to review the draft 2020 AWMP at the March 10th Board of Directors Meeting at approximately 9:00 a.m. Final adoption of the AWMP is planned for a public hearing at the March 24th Board Meeting. … ” Read more from YubaNet here: Nevada Irrigation District to release Draft 2020 Ag Management Plan at board workshop on March 10
Falling water levels at Folsom Lake reveal Gold Rush-era remnants
“On what is normally a portion of the Folsom lakebed, remnants of Gold Rush-era settlements are now reemerging. The community of Salmon Falls was established in 1848 and, according to the Folsom Historical Society, once had a population of 2,500 gold rush settlers. Remnants of their way of life are now visible, including the old Salmon Falls Bridge, a fascinating site for families who made the hike on this beautiful day. … ” Read more from Fox 40 here: Falling water levels at Folsom Lake reveal Gold Rush-era remnants
Solano County: Online public meeting planned to discuss groundwater sustainability
“A part of the natural water cycle, groundwater is an important element of California’s water supply, especially in the Central Valley, where one in four people rely on it entirely. It is an especially important resource in the Solano Subbasin, a geographic area that includes Dixon, parts of Vacaville, Elmira, Rio Vista, unincorporated Winters, Davis, the Montezuma Hills, Isleton, Sherman Island and Walnut Grove. And every quarter, the Solano Subbasin Groundwater Sustainability Agency Collaborative, aka the Solano Collaborative, hosts a Community Advisory Committee meeting and will so again from 3 to 5 p.m. Wednesday. … ” Read more from The Reporter here: Online public meeting planned to discuss groundwater sustainability
Lessons from past droughts drive decisions at Marin County Water District
“It’s no secret that this has been a dry winter. In Novato, they’ve had the lowest level of rainfall ever recorded. But water officials there say the community has learned to be more water-conscious, and that may help a lot this time. The North Marin Water District will begin discussing water conservation measures at its meeting Tuesday night. It’s one of the many lessons learned from previous droughts: don’t assume next year will be better. ... ” Read more from KPIX here: Lessons from past droughts drive decisions at Marin County Water District
California’s Pacific Coast Highway is falling into the ocean. Is this the end of the road for one of America’s most scenic drives?
“Soaring mountains on one side of the road and the Pacific Ocean on the other: It was 1956 and Gary Griggs was experiencing California State Route 1 for the first time. He was a child, but in the following decades he would drive this scenic stretch of road, called the Pacific Coast Highway, dozens of times. He’d also learn how fragile it is. In 2017, Griggs consulted on a major repair to the highway as an erosion expert. Now, he says the iconic road’s days may be numbered – at least in its current form. … ” Read more from USA Today here: California’s Pacific Coast Highway is falling into the ocean. Is this the end of the road for one of America’s most scenic drives?
Santa Cruz County faces potential water rationing
“January’s big storm brought some much needed rain to the central coast. But prior to the storm, water supply in Santa Cruz County and surrounding areas was looking rough, sparking a conversation of a possible water rationing mandate. The last time a significant water ration was implemented in the city was in 2014 and 2015, back when California saw exceptional drought conditions. The recent storm, and the splash of showers since, has helped to make a dent in the water supply. … ” Read more from KION here: Santa Cruz County faces potential water rationing
Owens Valley: Inyo/LA standing committee looks at run-off, projects and urban water management plan
“The Standing Committee is an interesting beast. Established by the Long Term Water Agreement, it brings together the elected officials and staff from Inyo County and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. It’s been a while since the two parties met, but come together they did, virtually, on Monday morning. Maybe the news value is that the meeting was “cordial.” The March meetings traditionally give the parties the first look at the runoff numbers and this year’s weren’t good. LADWP’s Water Engineer Eric Tillemans reported the precipitation numbers were 48-percent of the average snowpack, 58-percent of normal to date. … ” Read more from the Sierra Wave here: Owens Valley: Inyo/LA standing committee looks at run-off, projects and urban water management plan
Malibu: Judge tosses California coastline signpost suit
“A federal judge on Monday dismissed a Southern California couple’s claims that their speech is restricted by a law barring them from posting property demarcation signs on publicly owned coastline without a permit. Retired attorney Dennis Seider and his wife, Leah Seider, own an oceanfront home in pricey Malibu, California, that extends toward the ocean up to the mean high-tide line. Under Golden State law, the 25-foot stretch of sand from the high-tide line to the sea is governed by an access easement designed to ensure that the public can enjoy the coastline without impediment from coastal property owners. … ” Read more from the Courthouse News Service here: Malibu: Judge tosses California coastline signpost suit
Los Cerritos wetlands restoration plan available for comment
“A draft restoration plan for the Los Cerritos Wetlands is available for review. The plan complies with the final Program Environmental Impact Report (PEIR) approved Jan. 7 by the Los Cerritos Wetlands Authority (LCWA) board. The plan now includes more details about how near term restoration projects will take place. … ” Read more from The Grunion here: Los Cerritos wetlands restoration plan available for comment
San Diego seeks public input on plan to produce 50% of water locally by 2045
“The City of San Diego plans to develop more than half of its water locally under a plan introduced by Mayor Todd Gloria. The plan intends to develop more than 50% of the city’s locally by 2045. A major factor in this goal will be the city’s Pure Water recycling program, which purifies recycled water to be used as safe drinking water. The project is expected to be fully implemented by the end of 2035 and have the capacity to create 83 million gallons of water daily. … ” Read more from Channel 10 here: San Diego seeks public input on plan to produce 50% of water locally by 2045
In rapidly warming Colorado River Basin, the negotiating table is being set
“Anyone who has hosted a good dinner party knows that the guest list, table setting and topic of conversation play a big role in determining whether the night is a hit or the guests leave angry and unsatisfied. That concept is about to get a true test on the Colorado River, where chairs are being pulled up to a negotiating table to start a new round of talks that could define how the river system adapts to a changing climate for the next generation. … ” Read more from Arizona Public Media here: In rapidly warming Colorado River Basin, the negotiating table is being set
The biggest coal power plant in the American West closed. What happens with the Colorado River water it used?
“An emblem of coal power in the United States — and a symbol of coal’s tight bond with water — is being dismantled, piece by piece. Navajo Generating Station was the largest coal-fired power plant in the American West, a testament to the political bargaining generations ago that divvied up the region’s land, minerals, and water. But the facility’s time is now up. … In the end, Navajo Generating Station will be little more than a memory. But it also leaves behind an unsettled legacy. Besides a few scattered buildings, a transmission line, and a rail line, what will remain after the facility is decommissioned is a water rights dispute. … ” Read more from the Circle of Blue here: The biggest coal power plant in the American West closed. What happens with the Colorado River water it used?
Arizona careening toward water shortage crisis
“Payson’s 20-year struggle to secure a “forever” water supply stored in the C.C. Cragin Reservoir looks more and more like a stroke of genius as the state’s 20-year mega-drought continues and the reservoirs on the Colorado River dwindle. Arizona’s now facing a water crisis that could dry up rural areas all over the state and confront the Valley with a crippling water shortage in the coming decades, according to a recently completed study by the Center for Colorado River Studies. The Valley and Tucson as well as farmers in Pinal County will likely have to reduce their use of Colorado River water by 40% in coming years — and that’s likely the best case scenario, the study concluded. … ” Read more from the Payson Roundup here: Arizona careening toward water shortage crisis
March 2021 outlook: A warm start to meteorological spring for the central and eastern United States
“Welcome to meteorological spring! For me, that means focusing on blooming flowers rather than snowstorms. So what does the March 2021 outlook from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center show? For the central/eastern United States, a warmer-than-average month is forecast, with a higher likelihood for drier conditions across the southern United States into the western Plains. … There’s a lot of red on the temperature outlook map for March, indicating that for much of the country, March is favored to be much warmer than average. In fact, from the Rocky Mountains on east, there is a tilt in the odds towards a warmer month. The highest likelihood (50-60%) of a warmer-than-average March is over the Great Lakes and Southeast United States. In contrast, the West Coast stretching north to coastal Alaska is forecast to observe a colder-than-average month. ... ” Read more from Climate.gov here: March 2021 outlook: A warm start to meteorological spring for the central and eastern United States
Plumbers from around the U.S. volunteer to aid a struggling Texas
“Plumbers have begun to descend on Texas volunteering to help the state as it struggles to recover from a debilitating winter storm that left huge swaths with serious and long-term plumbing damage. Texas became the center of an electricity and plumbing crisis when a record-shattering winter storm crossed the Southern and Central U.S in February. The state’s primary electric grid was unable to keep up with the huge demand as Texans tried to heat their homes. To make matters worse, nonwinterized homes and utilities cracked under the freezing temperatures. Burst pipes and service disruptions due to the cold affected 14.4 million Texans at one point. … ” Continue reading at NBC News here: Plumbers from around the U.S. volunteer to aid a struggling Texas
Humans have completely transformed how water is stored on earth
“Human fingerprints are all over the world’s freshwater. A new study published Wednesday in the journal Nature shows that while human-controlled freshwater sources make up a minimal portion of the world’s ponds, lakes, and rivers, they are responsible more than half of all changes to the Earth’s water system. The study used new satellite laser technology to take a closer look at freshwater sources across the world and monitor their water levels through different seasons. Using NASA’s ICESat-2 satellite, researchers monitored more than 227,000 bodies of freshwater–ranging in size from the Great Lakes to tiny ponds over period spanning roughly a year and a half. Researchers found that 57% of global seasonal water storage variability occurs in human-controlled reservoirs. … ” Read more from Earther here: Humans have completely transformed how water is stored on earth
Vilsack pushes for new farm income streams
“An estimated 89.6% of American farmers today do not make a majority of their income from their farming operation, which Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack says offers him motivation to work creatively and innovatively to establish new sources of income for farmers not just solely dependent on the sale of bulk commodities. In speaking before the National Farmers Union virtually at their annual meeting March 1, Vilsack details how he plans to enter into his recently confirmed role at USDA. He says he will lead an “active and proactive USDA” that will make sure to develop new markets and engage with the farming community. … ” Read more from the Western Farm Press here: Vilsack pushes for new farm income streams
CA WATER COMMISSION: Regional conveyance workshop overview; Financing mechanisms
In recent months, the California Water Commission has been gathering public and expert input related to conveyance projects as part of their work in assessing the state’s role in financing water conveyance projects that can help meet needs in a changing climate, a task assigned to the Commission in action 19.4 in the Water Resilience Portfolio.
At the February Commission meeting, Commissioners received a briefing on the recent regional public conveyance workshops and heard from an expert panel on funding mechanisms and challenges.
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.