DAILY DIGEST, 3/23: Continued dry conditions prompt State Board early warning about potential water shortages; Water use in California; Aquatic invasive species control begins in the Delta; 20 hotspots to start fixing nitrogen pollution in ag; and more …


On the calendar today …

FREE WEBINAR: Taking the Plunge: Lessons Learned from Water System Consolidations from 11am to 12:15pm.  With a wide patchwork of water systems servicing residents across California, there have been ongoing efforts by the Legislature to encourage the consolidation of smaller water systems to take advantage of scale economies and improve system reliability and compliance with drinking water standards. Join Nossaman to learn about California Water Providers and the role of water system consolidations; Consolidation challenges following wildfires and other potential issues; Local Agency Formation Commissions’ (LAFCO) key role in regional water planning; and The State Water Resources Control Board’s authority and activities in water system consolidation programs.  Click here to register.

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.

VIRTUAL EVENT: Water Wars Beyond the Delta – River’s End Panel at 5:00pm. The film, River’s End, uses current conflicts over Central Valley water to illustrate water crises that are becoming more common. A panel will build on this theme by covering the history and likely future of water conflicts across the state and the globe.  Panelists Include: Dr. Jon Rosenfield – Senior Scientist, San Francisco Baykeeper (moderator); Alan Bacock – Big Pine Paiute Tribe; Dr. Peter Gleick – President Emeritus, Pacific Institute; Kate Poole – Senior Director, Water Division, NRDC; Jacob Morrison – Director, River’s End.  Watch on YouTube by clicking here.

GRA MEETING: California’s groundwater update 2020 California’s groundwater (Bulletin 118) from 6pm to 8:30pm.  California’s Groundwater Update 2020 California’s Groundwater (Bulletin 118) is an inventory and assessment of available information on the occurrence and nature of California’s groundwater to inform decisions affecting the protection, use, and management of the resource. With the passage of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) in 2014, the report now serves an additional role by providing Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) with important groundwater related data, including remote sensed land use and subsidence, climate data, and modeling.  Click here for more information and to register.

In California water news today …

Continued dry conditions prompt early warning about potential water shortages

As dry conditions persist throughout California, the State Water Resources Control Board today mailed early warning notices to approximately 40,000 water right holders, urging them to plan for potential shortages by reducing water use and adopting practical conservation measures.  Reservoir and groundwater levels are significantly below average, and despite recent storms, snowpack is only 63% of average as of March 10. After two years of below average precipitation, officials don’t expect the April 1 snow survey to reveal significant improvement in the water supply outlook this year. … “Planting crops and other decisions that are dictated by water supply are made early in the year, so early warnings are vital,” said Erik Ekdahl, deputy director for the Water Board’s Division of Water Rights. “These letters give water users time to prepare and help minimize the impacts of reduced supplies on businesses, farms and homes.” … ”  Read more from the State Water Board here: Continued dry conditions prompt early warning about potential water shortages

Click here to read the letter from the State Water Board.

Video: Water use in California

California’s water use varies dramatically across regions and sectors, and between wet and dry years. With the possibility of another drought looming, knowing how water is allocated across the state can make it easier to understand the difficult tradeoffs the state’s water managers must make in times of scarcity.  The good news is that we’ve been using less over time, both in cities and on farms. While there are still ways to cut use further to manage droughts, it won’t always be easy or cheap to do so. California’s freshwater ecosystems are at particular risk of drought, when environmental water use often sees large cuts. … ”  To watch the video from the PPIC, go here:  Video: Water use in California

Division of Boating and Waterways begins control efforts in the Delta for aquatic invasive plants

The Division of Boating and Waterways (DBW) today announced plans for this year’s control efforts for aquatic invasive plants in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and its southern tributaries. Consistent with COVID-19 safety protocols, DBW personnel started herbicide treatments today to help control several invasive plants found in the Delta.  Treatment start dates and treatment sites may change depending on weather conditions, plant growth and movement, waterway traffic, location of sensitive species, presence of sensitive crops in adjacent lands, and other conditions. … ”  Read more from the Division of Boating and Waterways here: Division of Boating and Waterways begins control efforts in the Delta for aquatic invasive plants

20 hotspots to start fixing nitrogen pollution in agriculture

Nitrogen pollution is one of agriculture’s biggest and most intractable problems. Crops can’t grow without the critical nutrient, and because sources of nitrogen are easy to come by—synthetic fertilizer is cheap and manure from large animal agriculture operations is plentiful—farmers often apply too much, to try to ensure the highest yields.  Because plants can’t use it all, the excess makes its way into groundwater and washes into waterways where it contaminates drinking water and creates vast dead zones in oceans and lakes. Excess nitrogen is also released into the air as nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas that is 300 times more powerful than carbon dioxide in its ability to drive climate change. … ”  Read more from Civil Eats here: 20 hotspots to start fixing nitrogen pollution in agriculture

Threatened waters: What the science shows

According to USGS, 56 percent of streams sampled had one or more pesticides in water that exceeded at least one aquatic-life federal standard. Many of these pesticides are also linked to a range of human and environmental health effects including cancer, birth defects, neurological and reproductive health impacts. The research below highlights the impact of pesticides on water quality, human health, and the environment.  … ”  Read more from Beyond Pesticides here: Threatened waters: What the science shows

Irrigation canals covered in solar panels are an unusually powerful combination

Shading California’s irrigation canals with solar panels could reduce pollution from diesel irrigation pumps while saving a quarter of a billion cubic meters of water annually in an increasingly drought-prone state, a new study suggests.  Pilot studies in India and small simulations have shown that so-called “solar canals” have lots of potential benefits: Shading the water with solar panels reduces water loss from evaporation and keeps aquatic weeds down. Meanwhile, the water creates a cooler microclimate that increases the efficiency of certain types of solar panels. Combining irrigation and renewable energy installations is also an efficient use of space, reducing the pressure on agricultural and natural landscapes. … ”  Read more from Anthropocene here: Irrigation canals covered in solar panels are an unusually powerful combination

SEE ALSO: Installing Solar Panels Over Canals Could Save California Gallons of Water, from EcoWatch

Environmental groups challenge Trump’s decision to lease federal land for fracking

“A new lawsuit brought by environmental groups against the Bureau of Land Management seeks to rescind leases for seven parcels of federal land auctioned to energy companies in the waning days of the Trump administration.  They are the first federal land oil and gas leases of their kind to be sold in nearly a decade and would open vast tracts to oil exploration and fracking. The land in question sits in California’s Central Valley, an agricultural region that already experiences some of the worst air and water quality in the country. … ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service here: Environmental groups challenge Trump’s decision to lease federal land for fracking 

California lawmakers push for collaborative action on sea level rise

California lawmakers are hopeful that the Sea Level Rise Mitigation and Adaptation Act, could force quicker and more effective action on sea level rise — a problem that threatens more than 70% of the state’s residents, who live on more than 3,400 miles of coastline.  Senator John Laird, who represents Santa Cruz County, parts of the Monterey Bay Area and south to San Luis Obispo, spoke at a press conference on the bill, Monday morning.  “I have personally watched the slow march of sea level rise and its impact on California’s coast over the past decades. … “With SB-1, we can finally do away with a patchwork of efforts and address one of the greatest climate threats we know.” … ”  Read more from the Santa Cruz Sentinel here:  California lawmakers push for collaborative action on sea level rise

Stanford researchers explore how shifts in federal approaches can turn the tide of destructive wildfires

It wipes out entire communities in a matter of moments, weakens our lungs and even taints our drinking water, yet federal strategy to combat wildfires remains outdated and largely ineffective. The Biden Administration has an opportunity to rewrite the playbook on combatting wildfires, according to Stanford University science and policy experts whose research on a range of related issues points toward bipartisan solutions.  “We have a wildfire pandemic,” said Michael Wara, director of the Climate and Energy Policy Program at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. “The most important thing we need to recognize is that our natural lands require investment and active management to be thriving ecosystems and provide the nature-based services we depend on them for. We have disinvested and neglected these lands for too long and are paying the price today.” … ”  Read more from Stanford News here: Stanford researchers explore how shifts in federal approaches can turn the tide of destructive wildfires

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In regional water news and commentary today …

Fish and Wildlife Service completes initial review on Endangered Species Act petitions for Shasta snow-wreath

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has completed initial reviews on petitions to list three species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the Rio Grande shiner, Shasta snow-wreath and threecorner milkvetch. After reviewing the information in the petitions for each of these species, the Service has found that there is substantial information that listing under the ESA may be warranted. … The Shasta snow-wreath is a deciduous shrub reaching up to eight feet in height and is found only around the perimeter of Shasta Lake in western Shasta County in northern California. It is a rare species of shrub in the rose family, and was not known to science until 1992, when it was discovered east of Redding, California. The inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms are one of the potential threats to the snow-wreath. … ”  Read more from the US Fish & Wildlife Service here: Fish and Wildlife Service completes initial review on Endangered Species Act petitions for Shasta snow-wreath

The National Forest Foundation and Tahoe National Forest accomplish 600 acres of prescribed fire

In the aftermath of a historic fire season that saw 10,062 wildfires burn nearly 4.2 million acres across California, Governor Newsom recently created the Wildfire and Forest Resilience Action Plan. This Plan will address the key drivers of catastrophic fires, significantly increase the pace and scale of forest management, and improve the resilience of increasingly threatened communities.  The Plan also outlines a strategy to meet a new target of the state: implement forest resilience projects on 500,000 acres annually by 2025 and expand the use of beneficial prescribed fire. … ”  Read more from YubaNet here: The National Forest Foundation and Tahoe National Forest accomplish 600 acres of prescribed fire

Boat launches, campgrounds open as Lake Oroville rises

California State Parks has closed portions of two trails around Lake Oroville and part of a campground, but other trails, campsites and launch ramps are open as the lake slowly fills.  A one-mile stretch of the Roy Rogers Trail is closed Monday through Friday through the end of April, according to a news release from the state Department of Water Resources. The entire four-mile hiking and horse trail is fully open on Saturdays and Sundays. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here: Boat launches, campgrounds open as Lake Oroville rises

Lake Mendocino hits record low for March; water managers plead for inland residents to conserve

Lake Mendocino and Lake Pillsbury are the lowest they have been for this time of year since they were constructed, rainfall is between six and seven inches behind this time in 1977, and the forecast for the next two weeks has little to offer in terms of precipitation. To summarize, things are looking grim.   In light of low water supplies and a dismal rain forecast, the Russian River Flood Control and Water Conservation Improvement District declared a reduced water supply alert earlier this month, calling for Water District customers “to follow their water conservation plans and begin water shortage contingency planning.” … ”  Read more from the Mendocino Beacon here: Lake Mendocino hits record low for March; water managers plead for inland residents to conserve

Opportunity for Santa Rosa Plain groundwater users to view and correct information

Starting Monday, March 22, groundwater users who own property in the Santa Rosa Plain area will have an opportunity to review and update their water use information. The new Groundwater User Information Data Exchange (GUIDE) Program is being launched by the Santa Rosa Plain Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) to improve understanding of how groundwater is used, and the number and types of water wells in the Santa Rosa Plain basin. … ”  Read more from Sonoma County here: Opportunity for Santa Rosa Plain groundwater users to view and correct information

The $25 million question: how Sonoma County can spend vegetation management funds to bolster wildfire resilience

How would you spend $25 million to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire through vegetation management? Sonoma County leaders found themselves facing this question and enlisted UC Berkeley School of Law’s Center for Law, Energy and the Environment (CLEE) for help. Today, CLEE is releasing a report with specific recommendations for Sonoma County, which we hope can serve as a model for other local and state governments and community groups as they work to address the increasing risk from wildfires. … ”  To read more and download the report from CLEE, go here: The $25 million question: how Sonoma County can spend vegetation management funds to bolster wildfire resilience

San Jose pumps the brakes on Valley Water water-recycling plan

In an effort to address drought and increase local groundwater supply, the Santa Clara County Valley Water District is fast-tracking a plan to purify and recycle more water in San Jose.  But city elected leaders — concerned for the environment and limited staff resources due to COVID-19 — are pumping the brakes and want more time to negotiate. Councilmembers met Friday with Valley Water’s board of directors for a special meeting to hash out the issue. … ”  Continue reading at The Patch here: San Jose pumps the brakes on Valley Water water-recycling plan

San Diego: Project Clean Water launches public outreach campaign

On World Water Day, March 22, government agencies, nonprofits, organizations and individual citizens came together in support of clean water and healthy communities for the launch of Project Clean Water’s public outreach campaign. Project Clean Water is a county-wide initiative dedicated to protecting water quality in San Diego County. The public outreach campaign aims to raise awareness of stormwater issues and encourage behaviors that promote water quality. … ”  Continue reading at the Del Mar Times here: San Diego: Project Clean Water launches public outreach campaign

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In national water news today …

Q&A: Stanford water experts outline how the Biden administration can secure safe drinking water for all

” … As the nation already wrestles with water shortages, contamination and aging infrastructure, experts warn more frequent supercharged climate-induced events will exacerbate the pressing issue of safe drinking water.  It’s no surprise that the Biden-Harris administration has identified safe drinking water as one of the nation’s top priorities. Below, Stanford water experts Rosemary Knight, Newsha Ajami and Felicia Marcus discuss safeguarding drinking water from climate-driven disasters; emphasizing a modern approach to infrastructure investments; and focusing on watershed and water source protection. … ”  Read more from Stanford News here:  Q&A: Stanford water experts outline how the Biden administration can secure safe drinking water for all

Make it rain: US states embrace ‘cloud seeding’ to try to conquer drought

The stresses of drought, upon water supplies for drinking and to supply the west’s vast agricultural systems, have prompted eight states to look to a form of weather modification called cloud seeding to stave off the worst.  Cloud seeding involves using aircraft or drones to add small particles of silver iodide, which have a structure similar to ice, to clouds. Water droplets cluster around the particles, modifying the structure of the clouds and increasing the chance of precipitation.  “With drought still a major concern, cloud seeding is an encouraged technology for Wyoming to use based on our drought contingency plan,” said Julie Gondzar, project manager for the state’s water development office. “It is an inexpensive way to help add water to our basins, in small, incremental amounts over long periods of time.” … ”  Read the full story at the Guardian here:  Make it rain: US states embrace ‘cloud seeding’ to try to conquer drought

Why are natural disasters intensifying?

With annual fires in the west, hurricanes and floods in the east, and extreme colds in the south of the United States, climate catastrophes seem to occur more frequently and at a higher caliber each year. … Paul Ullrich, associate professor of regional climate modeling at UC Davis, studies climate change’s influence on extreme weather events and atmospheric dynamics. Here, he describes the ecological factors contributing to the range of climate disasters America has recently encountered. ... ”  Read more from UC Davis here:  Why are natural disasters intensifying?

Which mountain snowpacks are most vulnerable to global warming?

As Earth heats up thanks to human-caused climate change, scientists expect that winter snowpacks will melt increasingly earlier in the spring. According to a new NOAA-funded study, these impacts are already underway, but global warming isn’t impacting every region equally. While snowpack in some regions has been relatively unaffected, snowpack in other regions is melting nearly a month earlier than usual. … ”  Read more from Climate.gov here: Which mountain snowpacks are most vulnerable to global warming?

‘Big structural change’: What greens want on infrastructure

Environmental groups are calling for massive spending on an infrastructure package they view as a generational opportunity to address climate change, ramping up pressure on Democrats to deliver on campaign trail promises on clean energy and environmental justice.  As Democrats call for bipartisanship and Republicans demand a narrower and cheaper bill, greens will be warning the new congressional majority against giving in to GOP demands.  That tension came to a head yesterday when reports emerged in The New York Times and The Washington Post that White House aides were working on an ambitious $3 trillion infrastructure legislative effort encompassing climate, taxes and income inequality. … ”  Read more from E&E News here: ‘Big structural change’: What greens want on infrastructure

Department of Energy  awards $27.5 million to 16 teams working to decarbonize US water infrastructure

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced awards totaling $27.5 million for 16 water infrastructure projects. Modern technology has the potential to reduce energy use in aging water infrastructure, particularly in wastewater treatment, which demands up to 2% of domestic electricity use each year. These projects, operating in 13 states, have the potential to reduce carbon emissions and water-treatment costs while improving water quality and equity of distribution nationwide. Each team will work to bring new water and wastewater-treatment technologies from the applied research and development stage to commercial readiness. … “  Read more from the Department of Energy here: Department of Energy  awards $27.5 million to 16 teams working to decarbonize US water infrastructure

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And lastly …

Innovating action on climate change and water quality through classical music

Numbers and data models are commonplace when it comes to the science of climate change, but adding music to the mix could be the secret to driving the message home.  This is why Dr. Madjid Mohseni, the scientific director at UBC-based RES’EAU Centre for Mobilizing Innovation, is partnering up with the Italy-based symphony Bazzini Consort in an innovative approach towards tackling climate change and its impact on water.  This World Water Day, March 22, they present a series of four short video vignettes featuring musicians playing excerpts from Antonio Vivaldi’s masterpiece, The Four Seasons. Vivaldi had an affinity for nature, and for Dr. Mohseni and Bazzini Consort conductor Aram Khacheh, this classical music piece was the perfect vehicle for thinking about the environment in new ways. … ”  Read more and watch videos at UBC here: Innovating action on climate change and water quality through classical music

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Today’s featured articles …

Mother Earth; by Dennis Jarvis

BLOG ROUND-UP: Progress on the human right to water, Tunnel tricks, Models and the ESA, SGMA and land value, and more …

Click here to read more.

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

NOTICE: Petitions filed to transfer up to 183,418 acre-feet from water right holders in the Sacramento Valley to various SWP and CVP Contractors

OPPORTUNITY TO COMMENT: Addendum to Proposed Framework for Regulating Direct Potable Reuse in California

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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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