DAILY DIGEST, 3/5: New report: U.S. dams, levees get D grades; How bad is the drought? Depends on who you ask; Prioritizing forest management; Are clean rivers too expensive? Ninth circuit will decide; and more …


On the calendar today …

FREE EVENT: 2021 Western Water Symposium from 9am to 12:30pm.  This event will feature speakers to address various issues (e.g. history, present, and future) relating to water in California today. Presentations will be conducted via the Zoom remote conferencing platform, and will be approximately 30 minutes followed by a question and answer period. Sessions will be recorded and made available after the event.  Click here to register.

FREE WEBINAR: Colorado River Basin Water Supply Webinar from 9am to 10am. The National Weather Service Colorado Basin River Forecast Center (CBRFC) produces water supply forecasts for the Colorado River Basin and the eastern Great Basin. CBRFC conducts these webinars through the run-off season, explaining the forecasts and current conditions.  Click here to register.

In California water news today …

New report: U.S. dams, levees get D grades, need $115 billion in upgrades

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gave America’s infrastructure a C- grade in its quadrennial assessment issued March 3. ASCE gave the nation’s flood control infrastructure – dams and levees – a D grade. This is a highly concerning assessment, given that climate change is increasingly stressing dams and levees as increased evaporation from the oceans drives heavier precipitation events.  The group’s 2021 report card gave the nation’s 91,000-plus dams a D grade, just as they had received in each of its assessments since the first one was issued in 1998. … ”  Read more from Yale Climate Connections here: New report: U.S. dams, levees get D grades, need $115 billion in upgrades

How bad is the drought in California? Depends on who you ask

Talking about drought conditions in California has become commonplace, but did you know there are several types of drought?  The drought you hear discussed on T.V. is meteorological drought — which is based on rainfall deficit and the length of the deficit — but drought also affects water resource management, farmers, and even everyday people like you and me. … ”  Read more from Spectrum 1 News here: How bad is the drought in California? Depends on who you ask

Small snowpack in Sierra could bring a shortage of water this summer

March snow surveys are coming up with about half the average for snow depth and water content throughout the state.  At the Lassen Volcanic National Park in Tehama and Shasta Counties, surveyors recently measured 96 inches of snow with 35.5 inches of water content. That’s 61 percent of average snow depth and 46 percent of average water content at the Lower Lassen Peak survey site. Located at 8,300 feet, this site has the deepest snowpack measurement in the state. … ”  Read more from KRCR here: Small snowpack in Sierra could bring a shortage of water this summer

Persistent dryness in the West is exacerbating region’s ‘megadrought’

Much of the western U.S. continues to endure a long-term drought, one that threatens the region’s water supplies and agriculture and could worsen wildfires this year.  In fact, some scientists are calling the dryness in the West a “megadrought,”  defined as an intense drought that lasts for decades or longer.  Overall, about 90% of the West is now either abnormally dry or in a drought, which is among the highest percentages in the past 20 years, according to this week’s U.S. Drought Monitor.  ... ” Read more from USA Today here: Persistent dryness in the West is exacerbating region’s ‘megadrought’

Garcia introduces bill that would reauthorize WIIN Act provisions

California may have extended water provisions to prepare for dry years ahead under a new bill introduced by Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Santa Clarita.  The bill, which has not yet received a number, would elongate the authorities under the 2016 Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act from Jan. 1 of this year to Jan. 1, 2028, by “providing operational flexibility, drought relief and other benefits to the state.”  … ”  Read more from The Signal here: Garcia introduces bill that would reauthorize WIIN Act provisions

Prioritizing forest management

Governor Newsom included a $1 billion suite of forest resilience initiatives in his proposed 2021-22 budget. About half the money would go toward building resilience in California’s wildlands against wildfire, including thinning forests, replanting trees, and using prescribed fire. A third of the funding would go toward strategic fuel breaks, building on the success of the 35 high priority projects the Commission has previously highlighted in this blog.  Other pieces of the package include:  $38 million for defensible space education, outreach, and home-hardening retrofits for lower-income Californians; $39 million for remote sensing, research, and science-based monitoring to increase wildfire and forest resilience; and $76 million for economic development and workforce preparedness by expanding the wood products industry through low-interest lending and guaranteed supply chains via the state’s Climate Catalyst Fund and working with the California Conservation Corps, community colleges, and vocational programs to foster careers in forest management and the wood products industry. … ”  Read more from the Little Hoover Commission here: Prioritizing forest management

New tech ‘The Guardian’ to help prevent wildfire devastation in California

Fire season is looming in 2021 and California-based firefighting technology companies are hoping state and federal officials take advantage of new resources available.  A Fresno-based company, Caylym, is the creator of ‘The Guardian’ that has been used to fight wildfires overseas like Australia, Greece, and Peru to name a few.  The Guardian is a biodegradable container that can be assembled by just two people and can hold 264 gallons of liquid. … ”  Read more from KRCR here:  New tech ‘The Guardian’ to help prevent wildfire devastation in California

UCSC leads multicampus initiative on coastal resilience and climate adaptation

Experts in coastal science and policy at UC Santa Cruz are teaming up with researchers at UC Santa Barbara, UC San Diego, and the U.S. Geological Survey to address the many challenges of adapting to climate change along California’s coast.  The UC Coastal Resilience and Climate Adaptation Initiative is one of 15 research projects funded by UC’s 2021 Multicampus Research Programs and Initiatives (MRPI) competition. These biannual awards are made by the UC Office of the President to support research and discoveries in fields important to UC and to the people, environment, and economy of California. ... ”  Read more from UC Santa Cruz here: UCSC leads multicampus initiative on coastal resilience and climate adaptation

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In regional water news and commentary today …

Oregon tribe wins ruling on water rights but Klamath Basin irrigators challenge allocation

The Klamath County Circuit Court upheld a majority of decisions concerning the Oregon water rights of the Klamath Tribes last week, but basin irrigators say there could be changes in how those rights are enforced down the road.  Using treaty language wherein the U.S. government promised adequate resources for hunting and fishing on the former Klamath Indian Reservation, the tribes had successfully proved the existence of their time immemorial water rights in federal court in the 1970s and 1980s. But that litigation required their participation in the Klamath Basin Adjudication in order to quantify those rights. … ”  Read more from Oregon Live here: Oregon tribe wins ruling on water rights but Klamath Basin irrigators challenge allocation

Sonoma County: Innovative partnership tackles homelessness while also protecting waterways

A new collaboration between Sonoma State University, water agencies, cities and social service organizations is working on new solutions for complex challenges surrounding homelessness and water quality.  Homelessness in Sonoma County is a complex issue and one that does not have a simple solution. Most people experiencing homelessness in Sonoma County are long-time residents of the area. As they struggle to find new shelter, many find solace and privacy in the trees and shrubs bordering waterways. This has put them into direct conflict with state water regulations surrounding trash, plastics, pathogens and other waste. ... ”  Read more from Sonoma State University here:  Innovative partnership tackles homelessness while also protecting waterways

Bolinas Lagoon flood project aims to redirect creek

“Marin County plans to reroute a Bolinas Lagoon creek as part of an effort to prevent flooding along Highway 1, prepare for sea-level rise and restore habitat for threatened species.  The county’s Bolinas Lagoon Wye Wetlands Project aims to redirect Lewis Gulch Creek closer to its historic route and raise a nearby road to allow the creek more room to wind and flow during winter storms. The project would also restore floodplains at the northern end of the 1,100-acre Bolinas Lagoon that were lost over more than a century as wetlands made way for roads and pastures. ... ”  Read more from the Marin Independent Journal here:  Bolinas Lagoon flood project aims to redirect creek

‘Dirt broker’s’ sentence for dumping construction debris near Bay in Newark overturned

A federal appeals court overturned a self-described “dirt broker’s” convictions and 2½-year prison sentence Thursday for dumping truckloads of construction debris on land in Newark near San Francisco Bay, saying jurors should have been asked to decide whether he knew he was on wetlands or that the debris would reach the water.  James Philip Lucero of Carmel was convicted by an Oakland federal jury in 2018 of three charges of violating the Clean Water Act by discharging pollutants into U.S. waters. Prosecutors said Lucero was paid by trucking companies and contractors to make land available for depositing about 1,800 truckloads of dirt and debris on lands near Mowry Slough, without a federal permit or permission from the private landowner. ... ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  ‘Dirt broker’s’ sentence for dumping construction debris near Bay in Newark overturned

Disease outbreak appears to be killing Bay Area trees

A mass tree dieback has spread through the East Bay hills and Peninsula over the last several months, affecting both native and nonnative trees. Though plants of all kinds in California are showing the stress of an extremely dry winter, in at least one tree species, the blackwood acacia, the dieback seems to be the work of fungal pathogens, said UC Berkeley forest pathologist Matteo Garbelotto. … ”  Read more from Bay Nature here: Disease outbreak appears to be killing Bay Area trees

Newman lands $6.4 million grant for wetlands project

The city’s vision for a multi-faceted community conservation area moved a step closer to fruition recently when Newman was awarded a $6.4 million grant to build one component of the project.  Kathryn Reyes, the city’s public works director, told Mattos Newspapers that the Proposition 1 grant will fund construction of the Newman Environmental Wetlands System, which is a series of treatment cells which will remove sediment and contaminants from the city’s wastewater as it flows to the San Joaquin River. Vegetation serves as a natural filter for the storm drain runoff, she noted. … ”  Read more from Westside Connect here: Newman lands $6.4 million grant for wetlands project

Fresno hasn’t been this dry in 50 years. ‘Miracle March’ storms would be needed to catch up

Fresno had one of its driest Februaries on record.  The central San Joaquin Valley city received 0.29 inches of rain last month. The last time February rainfall was that low in Fresno was 50 years ago, in 1971, said meteorologist Jim Dudley with the National Weather Service at Hanford.  That 0.29 ranks as Fresno’s 17th driest February ever since 1881, the earliest weather data NWS has for the city. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here: Fresno hasn’t been this dry in 50 years. ‘Miracle March’ storms would be needed to catch up

Commentary: Save water for Visalia’s future, follow conservation rules

Maile Melkonian, chair of the Visalia Environmental Committee writes, ““We’re all in this together,” has been our national and local mantra throughout the pandemic.  Lost in the events of the past year is something that, given normal circumstances, would have headlined our local news: in August, Cal Water’s bimonthly report to the City of Visalia revealed that our groundwater broke historic levels for a new low of minus 143 feet. This affects every one of us.  Our groundwater has been in overdraft since the 1940s, and our population has increased 14-fold during that time. ‘ … ”  Read more from the Visalia Times-Delta here:  Save water for Visalia’s future, follow conservation rules

Santa Barbara: Bright light from barge ‘invades’ at night

An intensely bright light that can be seen for miles blaring from offshore is emanating from a barge acting as a floating platform for divers who are inspecting, repairing, and doing maintenance for Santa Barbara’s desalination plant.  The light off Santa Barbara’s East Beach is keeping some residents up at night, said one in a letter to the Independent, describing the lights as “intensely invasive.” … ”  Read more from the Independent here: Bright light from barge ‘invades’ at night

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Along the Colorado River …

Column: Colorado River Compact adjustments are needed

Columnist Bryan Whiting writes, “Legislation may need to be adjusted to maintain its validity.  The passage of time, a change in need, the wisdom of hindsight, practicality and fairness can all create the necessity for adjusting legislation if it is to continue to be effective and accomplish its intended purpose.  The Colorado River Compact is a prime example. When signed in 1922, the Colorado River drainage was divided into two divisions; Upper: Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, Utah; Lower: Arizona, California, Nevada. At that time, it was felt the total average annual flow was 16.4 million acre feet. As a result, each basin was assigned 50%, or 7.5 million acre feet, with the 1.4 million acre feet surplus allocated to Mexico. ... ”  Read more from the Post Independent here: Colorado River Compact adjustments are needed

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In national water news today …

Why access to safe, clean water is a wellness issue

When Malini Ranganathan, PhD, an associate professor at American University and interim faculty director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center, conducted research in Exeter, a flourishing agriculture town in California’s Central Valley, she didn’t expect to see similar conditions to what she’d witnessed in India’s low-income housing areas. Residents in one of the world’s richest states were depending on bore water and water tankers to drink because tap water was unsafe. When her research later brought her to Flint, Michigan, homeowners reported that they felt sick after drinking tap water.  Dishearteningly, what Dr. Ranganathan witnessed in the 2010s persists to this day.  ... ”  Read more from Well & Good here: Why access to safe, clean water is a wellness issue

Are clean rivers too expensive? Ninth circuit will decide

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency let Montana excuse itself from requirements to protect world-class trout streams from pollution that creates toxic algal blooms. The reason? It would simply cost too much to protect rivers to the degree the law requires, attorneys told judges for the Ninth Circuit on Thursday. ... ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service here: Are clean rivers too expensive? Ninth circuit will decide

10th Circuit rules against Colorado in ‘Waters of the US’ dispute

The federal government should not be blocked from implementing in Colorado a Trump-era regulation defining what waters are protected by the Clean Water Act, a 10th Circuit panel ruled Tuesday.  In April 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers defined what constitutes “waters of the United States” in a regulation called the Navigable Waters Protection Rule. The definition clarifies which waters are protected by the Clean Water Act and require permits for the discharge of pollution. … ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service here: 10th Circuit rules against Colorado in ‘Waters of the US’ dispute

Video:  The story of water in Texas

WATER, TEXAS reports about the state’s vulnerability to a changing climate and the government’s uncertain capacity to adjust.  A deep freeze confirmed that finding in early 2021.  The freeze caused power failures and severe water shortages across all of Texas. The story of water in Texas is the state’s devout allegiance to the principle that mankind has dominion over nature. Climate disruption, along with booming population and economic growth, is writing a much different story of vulnerability — to nature’s bullying and to the government’s uncertain capacity to adjust. … ”  Read more from the Circle of Blue here: Video:  The story of water in Texas

ASCE’s 2021 report card marks the nation’s infrastructure progress

Change rarely happens overnight in the world of traditional infrastructure, where such assets as a bridge, a dam, or a drinking water treatment plant are ­often designed and constructed to last decades. But ASCE’s 2021 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, released on March 3, signals a gradual move forward for the nation’s infrastructure. Prepared by the Society every four years as a means of assessing the overall condition of civil infrastructure nationwide, the 2021 report card accords America’s infrastructure an overall cumulative grade of C–. While room for improvement obviously remains, the achievement marks the best overall score since ASCE issued its first report card in 1998. … ”  Read more from Civil Engineering Source here: ASCE’s 2021 report card marks the nation’s infrastructure progress

New research shows just how many fish are eating plastic

Each year the amount of plastic swirling in ocean gyres and surfing the tide toward coastal beaches seems to increase. So too does the amount of plastic particles being consumed by fish — including species that help feed billions of people around the world.  A new study published in the journal Global Change Biology revealed that the rate of plastic consumption by marine fish has doubled in the last decade and is increasing by more than 2% a year.  The study also revealed new information about what species are most affected and where the risks are greatest. … ”  Read more from The Revelator here: New research shows just how many fish are eating plastic

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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-20210304

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And lastly …

10 Cool Hikes in Northern California

Most of us think of hiking as a fair-weather endeavor, but this winter, the best—and safest—cure for your pandemic-induced cabin fever might just be an unseasonable expedition into the great outdoors. Luckily, our region’s topographical riches and relatively temperate temperatures (even in the dead of January) mean there’s something for every kind of cold-season walker, whether you’re an indoorsy urbanite jonesing for a riverside stroll, a history buff in search of a summit view, or an adventurous ambler looking for a snow day. To help us answer the call of the wild, Sactown’s resident hiking expert has rounded up a dectet of soul-warming treks around town. Now’s the perfect time to walk a mile (or 2 or 10) in her shoes. ... ”  Check it out at SacTown here: 10 Cool Hikes in Northern California 

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

PUBLIC WORKSHOP: Overview of the peer review of the proposed water loss standards

DELTA eNEWS: ~~ New Grants~ Bridge Closures~ Delta Adapts~ CWC Meeting~ DPC Meeting ~~

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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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