DAILY DIGEST, 3/15: Premature or precautionary? CA first to tackle microplastics in drinking water; California’s new drought; COVID response package includes water ratepayer assistance; and more …

On the calendar today …

WORKSHOP: Fisheries Restoration Grant Program 2021 Solicitation Workshop – South Coast Region (5) beginning at 9am.  Click here for the agendaJoin Microsoft Teams Meeting or call (916) 535-0984 Conference ID: 918 224 824#.

FREE WEBINAR: Water Wars! What are they good for? from 12pm to 1:30pm.  Join Maven and co-host Mike Antos for a fun event!  A week doesn’t go by without someone saying there are water wars underway or about to kick off in California. How we manage and govern water is critically important to people, the environment, and the economy. But, are we really at war? Really? Do we believe there are always victors and vanquished? What is the impact of telling ourselves and others this is warfare, when in reality it is simply the messiness of working together in community?  So, we’ve gathered a panel to answer the question: Water wars, what are they good for?  Click here to register.

FREE WEBINAR: Review of the Isabella Dam Project from 12pm to 1pm.   David C. Serafini is the Geosciences Branch Chief for the SPD Dam Safety Production Center.  Serafini will provide a brief project review of the Isabella Dam, an overview of modifications to the main dam, auxiliary dam, service spillway and new emergency spillway, and address the Phase ll Construction highlights and status for each feature.  No registration required.  Join us by clicking the below link on Monday, March 15th at 12 noon: https://usace1.webex.com/usace/j.php?MTID=mfd4b894f47d6684e759e689d4c043a1e

MEETING: Delta Plan Interagency Implementation Committee from 1pm to 3pm.  Agenda items include a panel on nature-based climate adaptation, Delta science lightning updates, and the Delta Science Needs Assessment.  Click here for the full agenda and remote access information.

STAKEHOLDER MEETING: General Waste Discharge Requirements for Winery Process Water from 1pm to 3pmClick here for the agenda and remote access instructions.

WORKSHOP: Fisheries Restoration Grant Program 2021 Solicitation Workshop – Bay Delta Region (3) from 1pm to 2pm.   Click here for the agendaJoin Microsoft Teams Meeting or call (916) 535-0984 Conference ID:154 442 359#

FREE EVENT: Consider This on the Klamath Basin at 5pm.  A discussion on the history and future of settlement and water use in the Klamath Basin with panelists Russell Attebery (Chairman, Karuk Tribe), Mark Bransom (CEO, Klamath River Renewal Corporation), Don Gentry (Chairman, Klamath Tribes), Becky Hyde (Klamath Basin rancher), and Joe James (Chairman, Yurok Tribe).   This event is copresented with Lewis & Clark College’s Environmental Studies Program and the Klamath River Renewal Corporation.   RSVP for this online program.

In California water news today …

Premature or precautionary? California is first to tackle microplastics in drinking water

California is poised to issue the world’s first guidelines for microplastics in drinking water despite no data on how plentiful they are in the state, no scientific agreement on how to test water for them and little research on their health risks.  The pieces of plastic — smaller than an ant, some so tiny they can be seen only with a microscope — have contaminated wildlife and human bodies through their food, air and water.  Under a 2018 state law, California must require four years of testing for microplastics in drinking water, and the state must consider guidelines to help water providers and consumers determine what levels may be safe to drink.  Now the state Water Resources Control Board is blazing a trail to issue a preliminary health-based threshold and testing methods by July 1. … ”  Read more from Cal Matters here: Premature or precautionary? California is first to tackle microplastics in drinking water

California’s new drought

As March begins to drag on with little precipitation in the forecast and few weeks left in California’s traditional wet season, we are in another dry year. This is California’s second dry year in a row since the 2012-2016 drought. Statistically, California has the most drought and flood years per average year than anywhere in the US. This statistical fact seems to becoming increasingly extreme, as predicted by many climate change models. ... ”  Continue reading at the California Water Blog here: California’s new drought

New layer of snow in Sierra prompts school closures

Monday, Northern California is seeing the tail end of a winter storm.  It will be mostly dry and cool in the Central Valley. Highs will only be in the low- to mid-50s. Any rain leftover from the storm will be spotty.  Forecasters warned of dangerous driving conditions through the mountains where the storm was expected to bring snow and much-needed rain to the area on Sunday evening. … ”  Read more from Fox 40 here: New layer of snow in Sierra prompts school closures

DWR seeks comments on groundwater update

The California Department of Water Resources released the draft California’s Groundwater – Update 2020, containing information on the condition of the state’s groundwater, which is especially important as the Golden State faces a critically dry water year.  DWR encourages community members and water managers to review the publication and provide input. … ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press here: DWR seeks comments on groundwater update

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In regional water news and commentary today …

American Challenger stuck on Marin coast until salvage funds identified

State and federal officials are wrapping up their emergency response to a wrecked fishing vessel on the northern Marin coast and say any effort to remove the boat wreckage is on hold, pending their ability to secure funding.  The $1.5 million spent so far on surveys, oil booms, environmental assessments and shoreline cleanups in the eight days since the decommissioned American Challenger ran aground was financed through the federal Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund and a similar state Oil Spill Response Fund. But neither source can be used to address salvage of the rusted, derelict vessel listing on the rocks north of Dillon Beach, where it suddenly shifted in the waves Wednesday while marine surveyors were working, suspending further onboard activity, officials said during a public meeting Saturday. ... ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here:  American Challenger stuck on Marin coast until salvage funds identified

Environmental groups urge feds to reject gas drilling project in North Bay wetland

Local political leaders and a dozen Bay Area environmental groups are urging the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to reject a permit proposal for an exploratory natural gas drilling project in Suisun Marsh.  The 88,000-acre wetland in Solano County — the largest contiguous brackish marsh on the west coast of North America — lies near the North Bay cities of Fairfield and Benicia, at the mouth of the vast Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta where the salty waters of San Francisco Bay mix with river water to create an estuary ecosystem that is home to hundreds of species of birds, fish, amphibians and mammals, including river otter, tule elk and the endangered salt marsh harvest mouse. … ”  Read more from KQED here:  Environmental groups urge feds to reject gas drilling project in North Bay wetland

San Mateo: Farm Bureau is suing to protect agriculture land

The San Mateo County Farm Bureau has filed a lawsuit against the California Coastal Commission, asking it modify its Local Coastal Program Implementation Plan Amendment, which removes some local discretionary approval requirements for public agency land divisions for public recreation purposes.  BJ Burns, San Mateo County Farm Bureau president, said in a news release that the amendment allows subdivisions without a permanent conservation easement that would protect agriculture and open space values, creating unsustainable land parcels and significantly changes coastal agricultural land and environmental resources. … ”  Read more from the Daily Journal here: San Mateo: Farm Bureau is suing to protect agriculture land

Judge rules against Los Angeles in Long Valley irrigation fight

A judge has ordered the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to continue providing historic quantities of irrigation water to lessees of its pasturelands east of Yosemite, despite the agency’s assertion that climate change is making water resources in the Sierra Nevada watershed increasingly unreliable.  Alameda County Judge Evelio Grillo’s ruling could have significant implications for water agencies statewide as they face the complex challenges of servicing ratepayers and meeting environmental requirements in a time of rising temperatures, drought, dwindling snowpack and changing water availability. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: Judge rules against Los Angeles in Long Valley irrigation fight

Los Angeles is home to heavy industry — and more federal deals not to prosecute polluters than anywhere else

In 2015, federal prosecutors in Los Angeles made a deal with the CEO of one of Southern California’s most dangerous industrial facilities, a battery recycling plant that had contaminated thousands of nearby homes with lead dust. Exide Technologies agreed to demolish its plant in Vernon and pay $50 million to cover the costs of decontaminating the site and cleaning up the mainly working-class Latino enclaves it had polluted. In return, prosecutors spared the company and its executives from criminal charges.  Neighbors cheered the plant’s closure. But five years later, Exide declared bankruptcy and a federal judge allowed it to abandon the contaminated facility. The building still stands today. The cleanup is unfinished and being financed by California taxpayers. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: Los Angeles is home to heavy industry — and more federal deals not to prosecute polluters than anywhere else

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Along the Colorado River …

Reduced water flow prepped at Lake Powell

Scientists and boatmen with the United States Geological Survey are preparing for a busy week on the Colorado River as engineers at Glen Canyon Dam prepare to reduce the water flowing out of Lake Powell substantially.  In order to conduct maintenance on the concrete apron downstream of the dam, engineers will be limiting the water that runs through the dam’s turbines starting Monday and continuing through the rest of the week.  And that has provided northern Arizona scientists with a unique opportunity said Scott Vanderkooi, chief of the Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center at USGS. ... ”  Read more from the Arizona Sun here: Reduced water flow prepped at Lake Powell

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In national water news today …

Water ratepayer, local assistance signed into law as part of colossal COVID-19 response package

COVID-19 response and economic stimulus legislation based on President Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan was signed into law last week, completing the bill’s fast-track through Congress. As enacted, the legislation (H.R. 1319) includes billions of dollars that could be used to benefit local water systems and ratepayers in the months ahead.  The enacted version of the bill left unchanged multiple provisions in the bill related to water ratepayer and community aid that had been approved by the Senate earlier this month. … ”  Read more from the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies here: Water ratepayer, local assistance signed into law as part of colossal COVID-19 response package

Extinction cascading through ecosystems could spell trouble for humans

Humans rely on nature extensively for everything from food production to coastal protection, but those contributions might be more threatened than previously thought, according to new findings from the University of Colorado Boulder.  This research, out on March 12 in Nature Communications, looked at three different coastal food webs that include those services provided to humans, or ecosystem services, and found that even if the services themselves aren’t directly threatened, they can become threatened when other species around them go extinct–often called secondary extinctions.  With human-induced threats to biodiversity and ecosystems, such as climate change and degradation, on the rise, these findings could have ripple effects not just on our management of the ecosystems themselves, but on conservation science, policy and funding broadly. … ”  Read more from the Ritz Herald here: Extinction cascading through ecosystems could spell trouble for humans

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Today’s featured articles …

GUEST ARTICLE: Wicked Is a Special Kind of Problem: What It Is and What to Do about It

This guest article was written by Lisa Beutler, Executive Facilitator at Stantec, and first appeared in the January 2021 issue of Water Resources Impact.

Wicked problems are confounding.  By-products of human behavior, they intersect, shape shift, and defy routine corrections. Calling a problem wicked, particularly in North America, speaks to scale. It ascribes excess. It proclaims that  something that has gone beyond reasonable or predictable limits. Most major societal problems—such as inequality, political instability, death, disease, or famine—are wicked. These problems are overwhelming and consequential. Centuries of effort have been unsuccessful in eradicating them. In recent years, many water issues have been described as wicked problems.

Click here to read this article.

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More news and commentary in the weekend edition …

In California water news this weekend …

  • Rain, snow to storm the West Coast early week
  • The megadrought parching 77 percent of the Western US, explained
  • ‘We’re getting hit left and right’: Dwindling salmon runs to restrict 2021 commercial season
  • Ocean salmon season reduced on much of California Coast due to low Sacramento, Klamath fish numbers
  • Meadows & fens in the Sierra
  • Tiny scoops of water are unlocking worlds of information about Oregon watersheds
  • Legal alert: State Water Board issues notification and response levels for PFBS in drinking water; DTSC to finalize carpets and rugs with PFAS as “priority products” in 2021
  • ‘A historic day’: Weed strikes deal for water source after years long battle
  • RIVERSPEAK PODCAST: Julie Rentner: Bringing Life Back to Rivers
  • MY AG LIFE PODCAST: Mike Wade on Water Needs; Vilsack on New Priorities
  • And more …

Click here to read the Daily Digest, weekend edition.

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

NOTICE: Extension of Public Meetings for State Water Project Contract Amendment for Delta Conveyance Negotiations

FUNDING OPPORTUNITY: Cannabis Restoration Grant Program 2021 Draft Watershed Remediation and Enhancement Solicitation

PUBLICATION: EPA’s Harmful Algal Bloom Newsletter for March 2021


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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