DAILY DIGEST, 3/19: Delta Conveyance Authority names new Executive Director; New analysis shows potential for ‘solar canals’; Safe Harbor Agreement delivers win for coho salmon and for landowners; Long ignored, water systems are getting attention on Hill; and more …
WORKSHOP: Central Valley Water Board Strategic Plan Workshop from 9am to 12pm. The Central Valley Water Board is developing a Strategic Plan to guide its actions for the next 5-7 years. Please join us for a three-hour virtual workshop on Friday, March 19th to further explore some of the priorities that the Board has been discussing. Please visit the following website for additional details: https://www.waterboards.ca.gov/centralvalley/board_info/strategic_planning
PUBLIC WORKSHOP: 2020 Safe Drinking Water Plan at 1:30pm. This workshop will provide an opportunity for stakeholders to learn about,and contribute to,the State Water Board’s 2020 Safe Drinking Water Plan. The State Water Board will provide an overview of the document,highlight progress made since the 2015 Safe Drinking Water Plan,and describe the goals in the 2020 Safe Drinking Water Plan. Click here for the agenda and meeting notice.
FREE WEBINAR: Groundwater Issues and Sustainability of Irrigated Agriculture in California from 3pm to 4pm. Presentation by Isaya Kisekka, UC Davis. Click here to join webinar. Meeting ID: 937 2279 6133 Passcode: 92837
On the calendar tomorrow …
FREE WEBINAR: Refuge Rails and Tales from 1pm to 2:30pm. Behind the peaceful Don Edwards Refuge and beautiful bay are many fascinating tales: the little rail vs. the big rail, the mouse with the mighty tail, the amazing mistake that led to the discovery of the bay, the marsh named after Chicago, how the bay was nearly destroyed (twice!), how three women saved the bay, why the refuge was created, and many more! Join docent Larry Rosenblum as he recounts little-known tales that will give you an appreciation of the refuge and the bay. Click here to register.
In California water news today …
Delta Conveyance Authority Executive Director Kathryn Mallon transitions to Senior Advisor; Graham Bradner named Executive Director
Click here to read statement from DWR Director Karla Nemeth.
“Kathryn Mallon is an exceptionally talented and competent engineer. She has served the Delta Conveyance Design and Construction Authority (DCA) and the Delta Conveyance Project with creativity, efficiency and enthusiasm in a time of critical importance. Her expertise has guided the DCA to deliver the important technical information necessary to support our robust environmental planning and review process. I am grateful to Kathryn for her leadership, ingenuity and vision. The DCA will be in capable hands with Graham Bradner, and I look forward to continuing our partnership with him, the DCA staff and its Board of Directors as we advance the project.”
For green energy and water savings, put solar panels on the California Aqueduct
“Researchers on Thursday said covering California’s 3,945 miles of canals with solar panels could produce an enormous amount of clean energy every year, and slow the evaporation of valuable water. California’s system of reservoirs, canals and aqueducts is the largest water conveyance system in the world: the California Aqueduct alone spans 444 miles from Contra Costa County in the Bay Area, through the Central Valley, down to Los Angeles County in the south. Covering the length of it and canals like it in solar panels could provide much of the state with clean energy — but at what cost? … ” Read more from the Courthouse News Service here: For green energy and water savings, put solar panels on the California Aqueduct
New analysis shows potential for ‘solar canals’ in California
“UC Santa Cruz researchers published a new study—in collaboration with UC Water and the Sierra Nevada Research Institute at UC Merced—that suggests covering California’s 6,350 km network of public water delivery canals with solar panels could be an economically feasible means of advancing both renewable energy and water conservation. The concept of “solar canals” has been gaining momentum around the world as climate change increases the risk of drought in many regions. Solar panels can shade canals to help prevent water loss through evaporation, and some types of solar panels also work better over canals, because the cooler environment keeps them from overheating. … ” Read more from UC Santa Cruz here: New analysis shows potential for ‘solar canals’ in California
Shasta River Safe Harbor Agreement delivers win for coho salmon and for landowners
“Landowners, agencies, and others have made history with a landmark agreement in northern California’s Shasta Valley. The Shasta River Safe Harbor Agreement supports recovery of federally threatened coho salmon while also assuring that a working landscape of farms and ranches will live on. The voluntary agreement signed in early 2021, culminates an eight-year journey between conservation-minded landowners and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Other key partners included California Trout, The Nature Conservancy, and NOAA Fisheries. Through years of education and cooperation, the partners developed a mutual understanding of opportunities for landowners to support recovery of fish protected under the Endangered Species Act and landowners’ needs to maintain viable operations. … ” Read more from NOAA here: Shasta River Safe Harbor Agreement delivers win for coho salmon and for landowners
5 things to know about the fate of wild salmon
“It’s not too hard to find salmon on a menu in the United States, but that seeming abundance — much of it fueled by overseas fish farms — overshadows a grim reality on the ground. Many of our wild salmon, outside Alaska, are on the ropes — and have been for decades. Twenty years ago Pacific salmon were found to have disappeared from 40% of their native rivers and streams across Oregon, Washington, Idaho and California. In places where they remain, like the Columbia River system, the number of wild fish returning to streams is estimated to have plunged by as much as 98%. Today 28 populations of West Coast salmon and steelhead are listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act. ... ” Read more from The Revelator here: 5 things to know about the fate of wild salmon
Epic footage shows glowing blue waves on Southern California coast
“Saint Patrick’s Day might be all about green, but in Laguna Beach Wednesday night, March 17, it was a bright blue hue behind cheers at the beach. Photographers Mark Girardeau and Patrick Coyne waited Wednesday for waves to glow in the dark at just the right spot, a ritual they had repeated for more than a month last year when the rare bioluminescence phenomenon showed up across the Southern California coastline. ... ” Continue reading at the Mercury News here: Epic footage shows glowing blue waves on California coast
Water futures: A hedge against potential price increases or betting the farm?
“Much has been written lately about a new water futures contract market that provides a way for individuals to profit (or lose) off of fluctuating water prices in California. Based on the Nasdaq Veles Water Index (Index), buyers and sellers are able to speculate on the future price of water to either hedge against price changes if you’re a water user, or profit off of price changes if you’re a speculator who has no other interest than making money. Adding to the confusion is the interchanged use of the terms “water futures,” “water market,” and “water transfers.” … ” Read more from the CA Farm Water Coalition here: Water futures: A hedge against potential price increases or betting the farm?
Secretary Vilsack declares drought conditions in California
“U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has designated 50 counties in California as being primary natural disaster areas because of recent drought conditions. In a letter to Governor Gavin Newsom, Secretary Vilsack indicated that the classification of a natural disaster was based on readings from the U.S. Drought Monitor. According to the findings, 50 counties in California suffered severe drought for at least 8 weeks, or experienced extreme or exceptional drought at any time. … ” Read more from Ag Net West here: Secretary Vilsack declares drought conditions in California
Ag water allocations curtailed after dry winter
“West Side growers will face water challenges once again this year in the wake of a dry winter. Those in the Del Puerto Water District, which stretches along the Interstate 5 corridor from Santa Nella to Vernalis, face the most dire situation after being allocated only 5 percent of a full supply of surface irrigation water delivered through the Central Valley Project. The Central California Irrigation District (CCID), which enjoys stronger water rights than the federal Del Puerto district, will receive 75 percent its contracted supply under the “critical” water year declaration issued by the Bureau of Reclamation in late February. … ” Read more from Westside Connect here: Ag water allocations curtailed after dry winter
Voluntary agreements on rivers waters essential, yet remain elusive
Assemblyman Alan Gray writes, “Sasquatch? Loch Ness Monster? The voluntary agreements on preserving and sharing the San Joaquin Valley’s rivers? If you believe in imaginary creatures, you’re likely to also believe the voluntary agreements we’ve been working so hard to achieve might still happen. But for a lot of us involved in the process, it’s getting more difficult to believe. The people of the Northern San Joaquin Valley have offered to provide twice as much water to help fish survive. We’ve invested millions in restoring river habitat – sometimes doing the work with their own hands. We’ve given up hundreds of acres of cropland to plant native trees and shrubs, then watched proudly as those acres flooded and created food and cover for baby salmon. ... ” Continue reading at West Side Connect here: Voluntary agreements on rivers waters essential, yet remain elusive
“For the last five years, the city of Weed, California, has had to pay an Oregon-based lumber company for access to drinking water that had been nearly free for decades. The future of the city’s water supply was unclear, which led to a flurry of lawsuits. Now, Weed has struck a deal that secures guaranteed water rights indefinitely. … ” Read more from Jefferson Public Radio here: The Weed water war finally ends in a truce
North Coast tribes hail confirmation of Haaland as Interior Secretary
“The Senate’s confirmation this week of the first Native American Cabinet secretary in U.S. history is being hailed by at least two local tribes as a win-win. “The confirmation of Deb Haaland is a huge win for tribes, it’s a huge win for the environment and a huge win for every citizen of the United States,” Yurok Tribe Chairman Joseph L. James said of Haaland’s appointment to lead the U.S. Department of the Interior. … ” Read more from the Eureka Times-Herald here: North Coast tribes hail confirmation of Haaland as Interior Secretary
Tahoe Conservancy discusses climate and community resilience, commits $1.4 million to forest health projects
“At its virtual meeting today, the California Tahoe Conservancy Board discussed building community and climate resilience with state and federal partners, and authorized $1,358,500 for three projects to reduce wildfire risk and improve forest health in the Lake Tahoe Basin. California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot anchored a panel of state and federal executives for a discussion with the Conservancy Board. The panel addressed how to further integrate sustainable communities, racial equity, tribal co-management, and other state priorities into regional efforts in the Basin. … ” Read more from YubaNet here: Tahoe Conservancy discusses climate and community resilience, commits $1.4 million to forest health projects
Sacramento: Pocket-area project prepares for smoother work in year two
“Greater Sacramento, California, is considered one of the most at-risk regions in the United States for catastrophic flooding. Its location, at the confluence of the Sacramento and American Rivers, has made it necessary to rely on an aging system of levees, weirs, and passes, as well as Folsom Dam upstream, to reduce flooding. In 1997, the area experienced significant flood events, which revealed deep under-seepage issues on the Sacramento River. This included areas, that only years earlier, had been remediated with shallow cutoff walls to address through-seepage. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, along with the Central Valley Flood Protection Board, California Department of Water Resources, and the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency, worked together to significantly reduce that flood risk. … ” Read more from the Army Corps of Engineers here: Pocket-area project prepares for smoother work in year two.
Next phase of Pure Water Soquel project gets green light
“The construction of 8 miles of water pipeline that will be integral to the Pure Water Soquel project, was approved by Soquel Creek Water District Board of Directors this week. The Santa Cruz Mid-County Groundwater Basin, from which at least 50,000 residents depend on for drinking water, has been deemed critically depleted by the state. Years of intensive pumping for agriculture and drinking water has drawn out more water from the aquifer than is being replenished naturally by rainwater. That’s led to seawater seeping into underground storage and wells. The Pure Water project aims to bolster groundwater levels in the aquifer, and prevent seawater contamination, which has already been detected in some areas. … ” Read more from the Santa Cruz Sentinel here: Next phase of Pure Water Soquel project gets green light
Board approves Pure Water Monterey expansion report spending
“Acting in advance of its Pure Water Monterey expansion project partner, the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District board has agreed to spend an additional $180,000 on updating the project’s environmental document and source water analysis for the proposal. On Monday, the water district board voted 7-0 to spend $181,125 on work to update the recycled water expansion project’s supplemental environmental impact report and conduct source water modeling in an attempt to address an issue that has drawn heavy criticism and opposition. … ” Read more from the Monterey Herald here: Board approves Pure Water Monterey expansion report spending
Coastal Commission phases out off-roading at Oceano Dunes
“The California Coastal Commission tonight ordered an end to off-road vehicles at Oceano Dunes state park within three years in a decision that climaxes 40 years of acrimony and debate. The commissioners voted unanimously to approve a new coastal permit for Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area with the condition that off-roading would be phased out at the park. Oceano Dunes is one of only nine state parks in California — and the only one on a beach — that allows motorized recreation. About 1.5 million people visit the park each year, with thousands of all-terrain vehicles a day motoring across 3,600 acres of sand. … ” Read more from Cal Matters here: Coastal Commission phases out off-roading at Oceano Dunes
Dry winter conditions prompt postponing Fresno Irrigation District’s water deliveries
“The on-going dry winter weather conditions and a much below-average Sierra Nevada snowpack led the Fresno Irrigation District to postpone the start of its 2021 water deliveries. FID’s Board of Directors, after reviewing the latest runoff forecasts, decided to conserve the District’s available water supply by not offering any March or April agricultural deliveries and will not make an official decision on the start of this year’s water deliveries until early-April. The current hydrology suggests a June 1 water season start date with water deliveries lasting at least one month. … ” Read more from ACWA’s Water News here: Dry winter conditions prompt postponing FID’s water deliveries
Newman: Groundwater recharge project will bank water for future use
“Two local water agencies are moving forward with plans to fully develop a groundwater banking project near Newman. The groundwater recharge project has exceeded expectations in pilot studies, said Jarrett Martin, general manager of the Central California Irrigation District and Anthea Hansen, general manager of the Del Puerto Water District. They said plans are in the works to expand the 20-acre pilot project to an 80-acre recharge zone. … ” Read more from Westside Connect here: Newman: Groundwater recharge project will bank water for future use
Challenges persist for West Side agriculture
“Challenges are persisting for West Side agriculture as another growing season arrives. In addition to uncertain market prices for some commodities, farmers and ranchers are facing curtailed water allocations and increasing production costs. The water crisis is most severe in the federal Del Puerto Water District, which runs along the I-5 corridor from Vernalis to Santa Nella. The district has been advised that it will receive only 5 percent of a full contractual allocation of surface water supply – or about two inches per acre. … ” Read more from Westside Connect here: Challenges persist for West Side agriculture
Riverside County on track for bone-dry year
“Despite pretty green hillsides right now, last month was the third driest February on record in Riverside County, dating back 127 years, according to the National Integrated Drought Information System. … So far, there hasn’t been a March rainfall-miracle. Rainfall totals reported by Riverside County Flood Control and Water Conservation District show 5.14 inches for the region beginning July 1, 2020 through March 18, 2021 — below the annual average of 11 inches. … ” Read more from The Patch here: Riverside County on track for bone-dry year
Chino Hills State Park could gain 1,600 acres under proposed state legislation
“Legislation expanding Chino Hills State Park by about 1,600 acres approved by a key state Senate committee this week would eliminate the threat of homes popping up on the southeastern ridgelines, while preserving rare walnut trees and protecting threatened animal species. Senate Bill 266, authored by Sen. Josh Newman, D-Fullerton, would require the California Department of Parks and Recreation to incorporate purchased or donated parcels into the park, reversing a policy of not accepting additions to state parks. The measure was unanimously approved by the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water on Tuesday, March 16. … ” Read more from the Redlands Daily Facts here: Chino Hills State Park could gain 1,600 acres under proposed state legislation
Dust up over Salton Sea Project at Red Hill Bay
“When Imperial County officials broke ground on the Red Hill Bay project in 2015, it was heralded as the beginning of a new era around the Salton Sea. State officials were beginning a long-awaited restoration project that was projected to be done in two years. … This project would flood the shallow bay and keep potentially harmful dust underwater. But the restoration project remains incomplete even though it is more than five years overdue. … ” Read more from KPBS here: Dust up over Salton Sea Project at Red Hill Bay
Padre Dam Board votes to return money to customers
“Padre Dam Municipal Water District’s Board of Directors has unanimously approved using the recently received $1,157,552 rebate from the San Diego County Water Authority (CWA) to offset the District’s next pass-through rate increase from the CWA. This action will result in a direct benefit to customers by the reduction or potential elimination of a water pass through rate hike in 2022. … ” Read more from the East County Times here: Padre Dam Board votes to return money to customers
Supervisors OK large land purchase in Campo for conservation
“The San Diego County Board of Supervisors Wednesday approved the roughly $8.7 million purchase of 2,151 acres of land to preserve habitat and extend wildlife corridors in the community of Campo. County officials described the purchase from Star Ranch Enterprises LLC as the largest in a decade. ... ” Read more from NBC San Diego here: Supervisors OK large land purchase in Campo for conservation
Nonpoint Source Pollution: killing the Truckee River by degrees
“As more people move into the Truckee River watershed, demand for water is increasing while more and more nonpoint source (NPS) pollution is making its way to the river. Nearly half a million people get their water from the Truckee River, and nonpoint source pollution threatens the quality of not just the drinking water, but the greater ecosystem of the entire watershed. Nonpoint source contaminants are the largest single source of water pollution in Nevada and across the nation. … NPS pollution accumulates in the Truckee River like a snowball rolling downhill, growing with each rotation. ... ” Read more from the Sierra Nevada Ally here: Nonpoint Source Pollution: killing the Truckee River by degrees
Along the Colorado River …
Cox warns water restrictions could come early with 90% of Utah in ‘extreme drought’
“First came the COVID-19 pandemic, then a 5.7 magnitude earthquake. Utah may have so far “avoided the locusts,” Gov. Spencer Cox said Thursday, but not drought. About half the state, Cox said during his monthly PBS Utah news conference Thursday, is “in the most extreme category of drought.” Cox issued Wednesday a state of emergency due to drought conditions, with the entire state categorized in moderate drought, and about 90% of the state experiencing “extreme drought.” … ” Read more from Deseret News here: Cox warns water restrictions could come early with 90% of Utah in ‘extreme drought’
Forecast for spring: Nasty drought worsens for much of US
“With nearly two-thirds of the United States abnormally dry or worse, the government’s spring forecast offers little hope for relief, especially in the West where a devastating megadrought has taken root and worsened. Weather service and agriculture officials warned of possible water use cutbacks in California and the Southwest, increased wildfires, low levels in key reservoirs such as Lake Mead and Lake Powell and damage to wheat crops. … ” Read more from the AP here: Forecast for spring: Nasty drought worsens for much of US
ACWA advocates for federal investments in water infrastructure
“Over the past week, both the U.S. House and Senate held hearings on improving and investing in water infrastructure. These hearings, in conjunction with infrastructure meetings at the White House, set the stage for a large infrastructure package that includes water to develop this year. On March 11, the House Water, Oceans, and Wildlife Subcommittee met for a hearing titled “Build Back Better: Building Resilience for the Economy, Climate, and Ecosystems.” One of the invited witnesses was Family Farm Alliance Executive Director Dan Keppen. Keppen provided testimony to the Subcommittee which focused on the need to reauthorize the WIIN Act, address increasing drought in the west, and invest in the aging infrastructure account. … ” Read more from ACWA’s Water News here: ACWA advocates for federal investments in water infrastructure
Long ignored, water systems are getting attention on Hill
“For years, lawmakers bemoaned crumbling roads and bridges while wastewater and drinking water infrastructure crumbled largely outside the spotlight. Faced with outdated infrastructure and mounting federal requirements, water utilities struggled, often forced to pass the costs on to ratepayers ill-equipped to pay rapidly growing bills. And while the federal government offered aid to low-income Americans for heating assistance and food, there was no such federal aid for water bills, although utilities were reluctant to turn off the spigot. The federal message to those facing water shutoffs was loud and clear: You’re on your own. But the 2016 water crisis in Flint, Mich., and the COVID-19 pandemic changed the equation. ... ” Read more from Roll Call here: Long ignored, water systems are getting attention on Hill
DeFazio introduces $50B bill for wastewater treatment infrastructure
“House infrastructure advocates are laying down a marker for water infrastructure funding, proposing a five-year measure to authorize $50 billion for wastewater treatment infrastructure programs. The heart of the bill, introduced on March 16, is $40 billion over five years for Clean Water State Revolving Funds (SRFs). That program—which provides loans, not grants—has long been the main federal funding source for wastewater treatment projects. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), the bill’s sponsor, said in a statement that if enacted, the new measure would reauthorize the SRF program for the first time in more than 30 years. … ” Read more from Engineering News-Record here: DeFazio introduces $50B bill for wastewater treatment infrastructure
Biden EPA moving forward with national drinking water regulations for PFOA and PFOS
“Indicating its intention to move forward aggressively to address growing legacy chemical concerns, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in February took two steps towards regulating certain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in drinking water. First, the EPA re-proposed the Fifth Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR5) to collect data on 29 PFAS in drinking water. Second, the agency reissued the final regulatory determinations for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), confirming that it will move forward to develop enforceable drinking water standards (Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs)) for those two legacy PFAS. … ” Read more from the National Law Review here: Biden EPA moving forward with national drinking water regulations for PFOA and PFOS
UCSC professor contributes to new study showing how parts of the US will ‘tropicalize’ as climate changes
“In a new study published in Global Change Biology, a team of 16 scientists led by U.S. Geological Survey ecologist Michael Osland described how warming winters are allowing some tropical plants and animals to replace temperate communities across the eight southernmost U.S. states. UC Santa Cruz Environmental Studies Professor Michael Loik was a coauthor on the paper, and his contributions honed in on the impacts for plant communities in coastal California and in deserts across California and Arizona. In particular, Loik’s work focuses on how freezing affects plants on a cellular level. ... ” Read more from UC Santa Cruz here: UCSC professor contributes to new study showing how parts of the US will ‘tropicalize’ as climate changes
What can oceanography teach us about climate change?
“How can our relationship with shores and coastlines help bolster our understanding of climate change? Author and oceanographer Kim McCoy sets out to answer that question in an update of a classic text in the marine science genre. The book, titled “Waves and Beaches: The Powerful Dynamic of Sea and Coast,” expands on the original publication which was written by scientist Willard Bascom in 1964. McCoy said the original text was invaluable to him as a graduate student, and inspired his work in the field. … ” Read more from KPBS here: What can oceanography teach us about climate change?
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.
SCIENCE NEWS: Heating up salmon migration pathways; When ‘eradicated’ species bounce back with a vengeance; Researchers reveal the extent to which rivers across the country are losing flow to aquifers; and more …
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.