DAILY DIGEST, 4/12: California’s costly, uphill battle against invasive species; Western U.S. may be entering its most severe drought in modern history; Suisun Marsh gas drilling plan runs into environmental buzz saw; Wildfires, hurricanes … Is anywhere safe from the climate crisis?; and more …
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In California water news today …
Unwelcome and tough to evict: California’s costly, uphill battle against invasive species
“It’s nothing less than an invasion. Interlopers are coming into California by land, by sea…and by FedEx. That’s what happened with the European green crab, a voracious cannibal that stowed away in packages of worms sent by overnight delivery to commercial fisherman in California. Unknown to anyone, the tiny crustaceans were concealed in seaweed that wrapped the cargo and were freed into the Pacific when fishermen tossed it overboard. Then the green crabs, which a century ago decimated the East Coast’s shellfish industry, began to dine out in the Pacific, munching nearly everything in sight. Authorities made plans to rid the ocean of the pests. But, as a research team from UC Davis discovered, invasive species don’t go quietly. ... ” Read more from Cal Matters here: Unwelcome and tough to evict: California’s costly, uphill battle against invasive species
Western U.S. may be entering its most severe drought in modern history
“Extreme drought across the Western U.S. has become as reliable as a summer afternoon thunderstorm in Florida. And news headlines about drought in the West can seem a bit like a broken record, with some scientists saying the region is on the precipice of permanent drought. That’s because in 2000, the Western U.S. entered the beginning of what scientists call a megadrought — the second worst in 1,200 years — triggered by a combination of a natural dry cycle and human-caused climate change. In the past 20 years, the two worst stretches of drought came in 2003 and 2013 — but what is happening right now appears to be the beginning stages of something even more severe. … ” Read more from CBS News here: Western U.S. may be entering its most severe drought in modern history
Valley congressman Costa urges Newsom to declare a statewide water emergency after rejecting state lawmakers request
“The water wars in California is once again top billing in Sacramento. On Thursday Governor Newsom rejected a bipartisan request lead by state senator Andreas Borgeas to declare a statewide water emergency. In an exclusive interview with Alexan Balekian on Sunday Morning Matters, Valley congressman Jim Costa urged the governor to make it an emergency as the state department has cut water allocation from 10% to 5%. Costa also addresses President Biden’s infrastructure plan and the crisis at the border. ... ” Read more from Your Central Valley here: Valley congressman Costa urges Newsom to declare a statewide water emergency after rejecting state lawmakers request
Column: Pot and water theft and environmental harms in the US and Mexico
Vanda Felbab-Brown writes, “The government of Mexico is on the verge of legalizing cannabis for industrial, medical, and recreational purposes, legislation that would make Mexico only the third country to legalize all aspects of cannabis production and all types of the plant’s use. … In this column, I focus on the widely unacknowledged negative environmental impacts of cannabis cultivation, such as the massive use and depletion of water. Cannabis is a very water-intensive plant, and its legal and illegal cultivation on a large scale easily results in water depletion. From environmental protection and public policy perspectives, large-scale illegal cultivation of any crop, especially water thirsty crops like marijuana, often has correlative bad environmental impacts. … ” Read more from the Brookings Institute here: Pot and water theft and environmental harms in the US and Mexico
Increasing groundwater salinity changes water and crop management over long timescales
“Salinity has often become a major limit for irrigated agriculture in semi-arid regions, from ancient Mesopotamia to parts of California today. A previous blog post showed that conjunctive use with more saline groundwater can differ fundamentally from freshwater aquifers. Higher salinity limits groundwater use for irrigation during dry years, when less surface water is available to dilute groundwater salinity, and increases aquifer pumping in wetter years to avoid water-logging. Brackish groundwater can no longer serves as drought storage, but becomes a supplemental water supply in all years, limited by availability of fresh surface water for diluting salts. This greatly reduces groundwater’s ability to support permanent crops and increases variability in annual crop acreage across different water years, thus reducing profit. ... ” Read more from the California Water Blog here: Increasing groundwater salinity changes water and crop management over long timescales
Column: Today’s breakfast is brought to you by pollinators and farmers
Laurie Davies Adams. President and CEO of the Pollinator Partnership, and Josette Lewis, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer with the Almond Board of California, write, “Today at breakfast, you have most likely eaten something brought to you by two of America’s hardest workers – pollinators and California farmers. That apple juice, fresh cream cheese, sesame seed bagel or almond croissant came to you by way of a partnership nearly invisible to most folks. But that partnership stepped into the spotlight last week with the announcement of a profoundly important coalition formed to promote sustainability for native and managed pollinators as well as California farms and ranches. … ” Read more from the Modesto Bee here: Column: Today’s breakfast is brought to you by pollinators and farmers
7 million Californians live near oil and gas wells. This bill could change that.
“Despite its green reputation, California has a big fossil fuel problem on its hands: neighborhood oil and gas drilling. In California, there’s nothing preventing frackers or drillers from setting up shop right next to your home, school, or hospital — and indeed, this is the reality for 7.4 million Californians currently living within 1 mile of oil and gas drilling operations, who are disproportionately non-white and low-income. Now, a new state bill called S.B. 467, slated for a hearing in the California Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water on Tuesday, may reshape the lives of frontline communities by eliminating fracking and instituting mandatory buffer zones between oil and gas extraction and places where Californians live, work, and study. … ” Read more from Grist here: 7 million Californians live near oil and gas wells. This bill could change that.
California wildfires. Hurricanes on the coast. Is anywhere safe from the climate crisis?
“Tracy thought she’d built her forever home. She and her 5-year-old granddaughter live in an energy-efficient house in Northern California that Tracy designed — by a pond that’s frequented by otters, ducks and herons (oh my!). Then came the fires, the smoke, the evacuations, the days when the sky turned red and they were unable to see the sun. … Because of this, Tracy made the difficult decision to leave. Then came more questions that seemed even trickier. Where to go? Is anywhere safe from the climate emergency? ... ” Continue reading at CNN here: California wildfires. Hurricanes on the coast. Is anywhere safe from the climate crisis?
Gov. Gavin Newsom and the State Water Resources Control Board must adopt a comprehensive, science-based plan to restore San Francisco Bay
Jon Rosenfeld, Senior Scientist with Baykeeper, writes, “San Francisco Bay’s life support systems are unraveling quickly, and a wealth of science indicates that unsustainable water diversions are driving this estuary’s demise. Yet, with another drought looming, federal and state water managers still plan to divert large amounts of water to their contractors and drain upstream reservoirs this summer. Meanwhile, the state’s most powerful water districts are preparing yet another proposal to maintain excessive water diversions for the long-term. By delaying reforms that the law requires and that science indicates are necessary, Gov. Gavin Newsom encourages wasteful water practices that jeopardize the Bay and make the state’s water future precarious. … ” Read more at the San Francisco Chronicle here: Gov. Gavin Newsom and the State Water Resources Control Board must adopt a comprehensive, science-based plan to restore San Francisco Bay
Setback measure for oil and gas extraction sites are this doctor’s prescription
Dr. Saba Malik, senior family medicine resident at Harbor UCLA Medical Center, writes, “Every morning, I drive to the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center on a clogged stretch of the 710 Freeway that overlooks the diesel-choked Port of Long Beach. The road cuts beneath the shadows of the Marathon and Valero oil refineries, their smokestacks belching toxic benzene. Pumpjacks bob near the highway off-ramp. Most of the patients I see live at the intersection of these inauspicious landmarks, in the corridor of working-class Wilmington, Los Angeles – home to some of the worst air pollution in the country. Many live steps from an oil well. The people I treat, many of them poor, speaking little or no English, come to the clinic with lungs wheezing, feet ulcerated from late-stage diabetes. Their maladies vary but they share a common bond – they are neighbors to toxic pollution. Last year, they suffered more than ever. ... ” Continue reading at Cal Matters here: Setback measure for oil and gas extraction sites are this doctor’s prescription
Op-Ed: How to save beaches and coastlines from climate change disasters
Michael W. Beck, a research professor in the Institute of Marine Sciences at UC Santa Cruz, writes, “The frequency of natural disasters has soared in recent decades. Total damage topped $210 billion worldwide in 2020. With climate change, the costs attributed to coastal storms will increase dramatically. At the same time, coastal habitats such as wetlands and reefs are being lost rapidly. Some 20% of the world’s mangroves were lost over the last four decades. More than half of the Great Barrier Reef was degraded by bleaching in 2020 alone. In California, we have lost more than 90% of our coastal marshes. Coastal habitats serve as a critical first line of defense, and their loss puts communities at even greater risk from coastal flooding. … ” Read more from the LA Times here: Op-Ed: How to save beaches and coastlines from climate change disasters
Protesters demand removal of fence after 100+ tule elk die in Point Reyes
“Dozens of people gathered at Point Reyes National Seashore Saturday to protest after the deaths of more than 100 rare tule elk. Last week, the National Park Service announced 152 elk in a fenced preserve died in 2020 because of overpopulation and drought conditions.The drought has reduced the amount of water in the area, leading to limited access and malnutrition. … ” Read more from KGO here: Protesters demand removal of fence after 100+ tule elk die in Point Reyes
Suisun Marsh gas drilling plan runs into environmental buzz saw
“The Suisun Marsh — known as the largest swath of contiguous wetlands on the West Coast and a haven for thousands of migrating waterfowl — has become the Bay Area’s latest battleground between fossil fuel producers and environmentalists hellbent on fighting climate change. A Brentwood company, Sunset Exploration Inc., announced in January it wants to explore for natural gas by drilling a section of the 116,000-acre marshland about 9 miles southwest of Suisun City in an area known as Hunter’s Point, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Sunset proposes to construct a gravel drilling pad almost an acre large and drop a volleyball-sized drill bit about a half-mile into the sandstone ground, probing to see if there’s enough gas worth extracting. This first-phase process would last several weeks. … ” Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here: Suisun Marsh gas drilling plan runs into environmental buzz saw
Ballona wetlands fire: The ecological story
“The Patch reports the Fire Department investigation found the source of the March 23rd brush fire in the Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve to be a homeless encampment in the area of origin. The fire was accelerated by strong winds. While the causes of these incidents are always concerning, there is another important part of the story: an ecological and historical one. Why did an intense brush fire burn at all in a wetland? After all, wetlands are supposed to be wet. The reason is that Ballona is different, thanks to a century of human interference that has altered the natural ecology, creating a cascade of increasing fire and endangered species risk. … ” Read more from The Patch here: Ballona wetlands fire: The ecological story
Malibu resident advocates for clean water for all
“Many of us who live in the paradise called Malibu may sometimes take our Eden for granted. Yet often behind the scenes are stewards helping to secure our eco environment to ensure paradise is not lost. Malibu’s Madelyn Glickfeld not only works to build a clean environment locally, she’s advocating for less fortunate areas in Los Angeles that are in desperate need for basics—mainly clean drinking water. It’s hard to believe, because when we turn on our taps we generally get clean, clear potable water. But that’s not the case in many neighborhoods just miles away elsewhere in Los Angeles County. Often residents in Southeast LA including Maywood, Compton, Willowbrook and Cudahy open faucets to find brown, stinky water, more than likely filled with contaminants. This often affects communities in urban areas located near industrial centers. ... ” Read more from the Malibu Times here: Malibu resident advocates for clean water for all
Cadiz faces new suit over water pipeline
“Another legal challenge has been launched against a project by downtown-based water infrastructure company Cadiz Inc. to pump and transport water from its desert aquifer to connect with existing water conveyance systems. This latest lawsuit was filed March 23 against the Bureau of Land Management by the Center for Biological Diversity, Earthjustice and the Sierra Club. It asks the federal court to overturn a December BLM decision to approve the conversion of an idle oil and gas pipeline to carry water from Cadiz’s desert aquifer. Cadiz is not a direct party to the lawsuit but would be impacted by a decision resulting from the suit. … ” Read more from the LA Business Journal here: Cadiz faces new suit over water pipeline
Las Vegas pushes to become first to ban ornamental grass
“A desert city built on a reputation for excess and indulgence wants to become a model for restraint and conservation with a first-in-the-nation policy banning grass that nobody walks on. Las Vegas-area water officials have spent two decades trying to get people to replace thirsty greenery with desert plants, and now they’re asking the Nevada Legislature to outlaw roughly 40% of the turf that’s left. ... ” Read more from the Independent here: Las Vegas pushes to become first to ban ornamental grass
‘Record-breaking’ temperatures to engulf Southwest, with ‘critical’ fire weather conditions possible
“It might be only April, but summer weather is already baking the desert Southwest and bringing triple-digit heat. Phoenix could hit 100 degrees this weekend as a record-breaking air mass brings dangerous heat and fire weather concerns to the region. The heat is in sharp contrast to the unusually cold weather dominating the eastern United States yesterday and today. The National Weather Service is warning of “critical fire weather conditions,” the exceptional early-season heat combining with single-digit humidity to transform the already-parched landscape into a tinder box. … ” Read more from the Washington Post here: ‘Record-breaking’ temperatures to engulf Southwest, with ‘critical’ fire weather conditions possible
Extreme rainfall statistics may shift as U.S. climate warms
“As the Earth warms, extreme rainfall events are intensifying, thanks in part to the fundamental thermodynamic properties of air. This intensification will likely affect ecosystems and flooding around the world. However, to prepare for it, communities need a clearer understanding of how the timing, duration, and intensity of rainfall extremes will change. A new study by Moustakis et al. presents a comprehensive assessment of future changes in the statistics of rainfall extremes across the contiguous United States, confirming that extreme events are likely to intensify, and their duration and seasonal timing will shift. … ” Read more from EOS here: Extreme rainfall statistics may shift as U.S. climate warms
Crypto-Conservation: An Arizona high schooler uses blockchain to save a critically endangered species
“As a ninth grader at BASIS Scottsdale, a STEM-heavy public charter in Scottsdale, Arizona, Ethan Wilk became interested in bitcoin. He studied blockchain, the technology that makes bitcoin possible and soon realized its advantages, including its immunity to hacks and transparency of data. That led him to start imagining how blockchain could be applied to conservation. Today, Wilk, who is set to graduate high school this spring, is the founder and director of the Xenia Project, a nonprofit organization that seeks to preserve marine wildlife through the use of innovative technology. ... ” Read more from Earth Island Journal here: Crypto-Conservation: An Arizona high schooler uses blockchain to save a critically endangered species
Biden’s EPA set to take up issue of dangerous “forever” poisons
“Hope Grosse grew up across the street from a military airbase just north of Philadelphia where she and her friends would watch firefighters practice putting out fires on old military planes. At night they would climb the fence to the base and sit in a plane, pretending they were flying. “It was like a show for us,” Grosse said. The chemicals in the foam firefighters used at the Naval Air Warfare Center Warminster are now known to be linked to cancer, thyroid disease and lowered immunity. The Trump administration sat on a proposed rule that would designate two of the chemicals as “hazardous substances” under our nation’s Superfund law and give the Environmental Protection Agency more power to clean up these sites. … ” Read more from Salon here: Biden’s EPA set to take up issue of dangerous “forever” poisons
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.