DAILY DIGEST, 4/21: Much-needed precip eyes CA as drought spreads water shortages throughout state; Friant Authority Board approves funding plan for canal repairs; Two sources of U.S.-Mexico sewage flows fight for one pot of money; and more …


On the calendar today …

  • PUBLIC WORKSHOP: 2021 Sacramento River Temperature Management at 9am.  At the workshop, the State Water Board will receive information regarding the Sacramento River temperature management process, including current hydrologic conditions, fisheries conditions, evaluation of key factors influencing temperature related mortality, and development of Reclamation’s draft TMP from a panel of State and federal agencies including staff from the State Water Board, Reclamation, NMFS, the Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Department of Water Resources. After presentations by those agencies, the Board will receive information from other groups that request to make a presentation, followed by public comments.  Click here for the full workshop notice and remote access instructions.
  • MEETING: The California Water Commission meets at 9am.  Agenda items include consideration of a Water Storage Investment Program early funding request from the Harvest Water (Regional San) project;  Panel Discussion on assessing a State Role in Financing Conveyance:  State Considerations and Cross-Cutting Issues; and Briefing on Division of Safety of Dams Enforcement Regulations.  Click here for agenda, meeting materials, and webcast link.
  • EPA WATERSHED ACADEMY: Addressing and Managing Plastic Pollution from 11am to 1pm.  This webcast will explore findings from Pew’s Breaking the Plastic Wave report and discuss the Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act. The webcast will also touch on government tools for plastic management highlighting the Interagency Marine Debris Coordinating Committee, NOAA’s Marine Debris Program, and EPA’s Trash Free Waters Program.  Join this webinar to learn more about managing plastic pollution. After providing a broad introduction on plastic pollution and its resulting impacts, speakers will discuss the need for systemic change as well as solutions and initiatives that can be implemented to combat this urgent issue. Additionally, speakers will discuss current and anticipated federal strategies to address plastic pollution.  View the Webcast Flyer for more information.  Click here to register.
  • WORKSHOP: Implementation of the adopted general waste discharge requirements for winery process water from 12pm to 1:30pm.  Topics include: enrollment eligibility, compliance timelines, and an overview of the requirements. Registration is not required.  More information here.  Click here to participate via Zoom.
  • WEBINAR: Utilizing Design-Build : An OCWA Webinar from 12:30pm to 1:00pm.  Traditionally, the delivery method of choice for projects at the City of Anaheim has been Design-Bid-Build (DBB). In this traditional method of delivery, the City contracted with separate entities for the design and construction of each project.  Recently, however, the City has successfully used the Design-Build (DB) delivery method. Undertaken mainly to save time, the City has found DB to be useful for many additional reasons.  Click here to register.
  • PUBLIC WORKSHOP: San Francisco Bay Area Regional Workshop on Expanding Nature-Based Solutions and Advancing 30×30 from 4pm to 6pm.  Join the California Natural Resources Agency and our partners for a San Francisco Bay Area regional workshop to provide input on meeting the State’s commitment to conserve 30 percent of California’s lands and coastal waters by 2030 and accelerate nature-based solutions to address climate change.  The April 21st San Francisco Bay Area regional workshop encompasses San Francisco, Marin, Contra Costa, Alameda, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Sonoma, Napa, and the western half of Solano counties. All meetings are open to the public, regardless of you or your organization’s geographic location.  Click here to register.
  • VIRTUAL TOUR: Grasslands Regional Park Vernal Pool from 6:30pm to 7:30pm.  Yolo Basin Foundation is now offering virtual Vernal Pool Tours of the restored vernal pool habitats onsite of Grasslands Regional Park. These areas are protected and off limits to the public due to the various plants and animals present retaining an endangered or threatened status. Explore these crucial, incredible habitats with Yolo Basin Foundation staff and volunteers through a virtual experience. Discover how vernal pools are naturally created, restored, and special. Zoom in more closely to view amazing wildflowers and small creatures that call the vernal pools home.  Click here to register.

In California water news today …

Much-needed precipitation to eye parched California

Even though the tail end of the rainy season is at hand in California, there is some hope for late-season rain and mountain snow in the coming days and weeks as AccuWeather meteorologists say storms from the Pacific are about to take a jog much farther south. … Rain and mountain snow are expected to begin in the western portions of Washington and Oregon Saturday before wet weather expands southward into Northern California Sunday and Monday, AccuWeather Long-Range Meteorologist Brandon Buckingham said.  “This could prove to be very beneficial for the northern and central portions of the Sierra Nevada, Coast Ranges and valleys, although it could come at the risk of flash flooding in some spots,” Buckingham stated. … ” Read more from AccuWeather here: Much-needed precipitation to eye parched California

Drought spreads water shortages throughout state

The 2020-21 California drought has led to significant water cutbacks, compelling farmers to fallow ground and public officials to respond with legislation intended to address the state’s chronic water shortages.  Farmers in more parts of the state have learned in recent days just how little water they will have available to them this summer, as water suppliers from the Oregon border to the North Coast to the San Joaquin Valley announced low allocations.  One-fourth of the state’s irrigated farmland—about 2 million acres—will have only 5% of full surface water supply, according to the California Farm Water Coalition, which added that other areas have had water supplies cut by 25% or more.  California Farm Bureau President Jamie Johansson said drought has affected farms and communities from the Oregon border to the Mexican border. ... ”  Read more from the Ag Alert here:  Drought spreads water shortages throughout state

A dry wrap-up to the wet season

The first half of Water Year 2021 is over, and California’s wet season is almost finished. The first six months of the water year rank as the fourth driest of record based on statewide precipitation. Water Year 2020 was dry in the northern two-thirds of the state. The cumulative effects of these dry conditions are seen in these precipitation percentages of average for stations in the selected cities. ... ”  Read more from DWR News here:  A dry wrap-up to the wet season

“We’ve been here before”: Valley counties pile on Newsom to declare drought emergency

A coalition of Central Valley counties is urging Gov. Gavin Newsom to declare an emergency declaration in response to the drought crisis.  The chairs of the Board of Supervisors for Fresno, Madera, Stanislaus, Tulare, San Joaquin, Kings, Kern and Merced counties sent a joint letter to the governor in support of a letter from a bipartisan mix of Valley legislators spurring a yet-to-be-issued emergency declaration.  “We’ve been here before,” said Steve Brandau, Fresno County Board of Supervisors Chairman, in a statement. “This time we need to get ahead of the crisis. A declaration of drought emergency would be a good start.” … ”  Read more from the San Joaquin Valley Sun here: “We’ve been here before”: Valley counties pile on Newsom to declare drought emergency

Newsom to announce California’s actions to fight drought, support vulnerable communities

With California and much of the West experiencing a second consecutive dry year, Gov. Gavin Newsom said he will announce state action to “bolster California’s resilience to drought and support vulnerable communities, local economies and ecosystems.”  His comments will come days after the Associated Press reported that the man-made lakes that store water supplying millions of people in the U.S. West and Mexico are projected to shrink to historic lows in the coming months, dropping to levels that could trigger the federal government’s first-ever official shortage declaration and prompt cuts in Arizona and Nevada. … ”  Read more from Fox 11 here: Newsom to announce California’s actions to fight drought, support vulnerable communities

Radio Show: Extended dry period suggests state could be in ‘mega drought’

With consecutive years of record high temperatures and scarce rainfall, some climate researchers are hinting at the possibility that California has actually been in a protracted state of “mega drought,” which means the impact of climate change could be much more severe across the state.  As residents continue to adjust to a warmer, drier days and nights and increasingly devastating fire seasons, climate experts warn that the sustained extreme weather will have a severe impact on both the region’s urban area and agricultural sectors.  Daniel Cayan, a researcher of climate, atmospheric science and physical oceanography at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, joined Midday Edition on Tuesday to discuss the issue.”  LIsten to the radio show here:  Extended dry period suggests state could be in ‘mega drought’

Central Valley canals primed to receive support for failing infrastructure

Concurrent efforts to address the needs of Central Valley canals are moving forward. The Canal Conveyance Capacity Restoration Act aims to restore the capacity of here San Joaquin Valley canals. The legislation was introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein and Representatives Jim Costa, John Garamendi, and Josh Harder last week. More than $653 million in federal funding would be provided to support repairs of the Friant-Kern Canal, the Delta Mendota Canal, and the California Aqueduct.  “A severe lack of water is causing land to sink throughout California. One harmful effect of this subsidence is the damage it has caused to canals throughout the San Joaquin Valley, significantly reducing their capacity to carry water,” Senator Feinstein said in a press release. … ”  Read more from Ag Net West here: Central Valley canals primed to receive support for failing infrastructure

Friant Authority Board approves funding plan for canal repairs

A plan to fund much needed and long overdue repairs for the Friant-Kern Canal is now in place.  After being neglected for so long, there are now a number of proposed sources of funding to fully repair the canal. On Thursday, the Board of Directors for the Friant Water Authority, which oversees the canal, approved a funding plan that clears the way for a contractor to be selected for the project.  The board’s action which the Friant Water Authority referred to as an “important milestone” now allows the Bureau of Reclamation to solicit construction bids to begin repairs on the canal. It’s hoped a contractor will be selected this summer. … ”  Read more from the Porterville Recorder here: Friant Authority Board approves funding plan for canal repairs

Canal repairs could begin this summer

Work to repair the primary water source for the Valley’s east side farms and communities could begin as early as this summer.  Last week, Friant Water Authority, whose board of directors oversees water deliveries of the Friant-Kern Canal, finalized a cost-share agreement with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the federal entity that operates the canal, which details funding to restore the canal’s capacity. Reaching the important milestone in the process clears the path for Reclamation to solicit construction bids with the goal of having a contractor selected sometime this summer. Construction on Phase 1 of the project is expected to be completed in 2024. … ” Read more from the Foothills Gazette-Journal here:  Canal repairs could begin this summer

Report: California’s water systems are in deep trouble

A new report is highlighting the gaps in California’s water infrastructure — and how much money the state will need to fix it.   The report, published by the state’s Water Resources Control Board, found that 620 public water systems and 80,000 domestic wells are at risk of failing to provide affordable and uncontaminated water, a problem that California will need $4.7 billion of extra funding to solve. The report includes the first-ever analysis of the state’s domestic wells — a common water source for rural communities. Threats to these systems are often poorly understood due to lack of good data. … ”  Read more from the Grist here: Report: California’s water systems are in deep trouble

Virginia Madueño appointed to the Delta Stewardship Council

California Governor Gavin Newsom has appointed Virginia Madueño to serve as a member of the Delta Stewardship Council (Council) effective April 14, 2021. The compensation for this position is $50,497. A resident of Riverbank, Madueño has been a managing partner at SanGuard LLC since 2020, a co-owner and the director of marketing communications at World Tile Design and Showroom since 2014, and the president and CEO at Imagen LLC since 2003.  She was a member of the Riverbank City Council from 2005 to 2012 and served as mayor from 2009 to 2012. Madueño was a community organizer at Clean Water Action from 2009 to 2011 and a public information officer for Stanislaus County from 1989 to 2001. She serves as a member of the Boating and Waterways Commission and on the Board of Trustees of Gallo Center for the Arts. ... ”  Continue reading at the Delta Stewardship Council here: Virginia Madueño appointed to the Delta Stewardship Council

High-performance computing makes a splash in water cycle science

The San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (Scripps), both located at UC San Diego, have forded a stream between high-performance computing (HPC) and water cycle science.  This summer, SDSC’s petascale Comet supercomputer—which can perform nearly 3 quadrillion operations per second—will conclude formal service as a National Science Foundation (NSF) resource and transition to exclusive use by Scripps’ Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes (CW3E). The transition enables CW3E researchers to leverage Comet’s computing capabilities to improve weather and hydrological forecasts with the goal of enhancing the decision-making process associated with reservoir management over California, which could result in increased water supply and reduced flood risk over the region. … ”  Read more from Newswise here:  High-performance computing makes a splash in water cycle science

Nautilus Data Technologies proves data centers do not have to waste drinking water and energy

Nautilus Data Technologies, Inc. (“Nautilus”) commissioned its first high-performance, water-cooled data center at the Port of Stockton in California, proving its patented TRUE™ cooling system delivers all the benefits of emerging computing innovations without wasting water and energy. Typical data centers guzzle local drinking water to keep systems cool. By one estimate, traditional evaporative air-cooling annually consumes up to eight million gallons of water for each megawatt (MW) of energy needed to run the facility. Silicon Valley alone is home to 411 MWs of data center capacity – with those estimates, it would be more than three billion gallons of water wasted per year in one of the most drought-stricken areas of the country.  … ”  Continue reading this press release at Business Wire here: Nautilus Data Technologies proves data centers do not have to waste drinking water and energy

Ross, Johansson discuss key topics during webinar

Drought, climate policy, environmental regulation and research funding dominated the discussion as California Secretary of Food and Agriculture Karen Ross sat down with California Farm Bureau President Jamie Johansson for the first edition of Farm Bureau Extension, a new series of virtual presentations for Farm Bureau members.  The ongoing drought took center stage as Ross and Johansson discussed the present and future of farming in the Golden State.  “When you look at another drought situation, farmers do cringe and ranchers do cringe, because we see more of a burden placed on us,” Johansson said, noting the 40,000 curtailment-warning notices sent by the State Water Resources Control Board and the shortage of water in reservoirs. … ”  Read more from Ag Alert here: Ross, Johansson discuss key topics during webinar

Experts say climate change threatens America’s food supply. Can farmers in the Mississippi Delta save it?

If the Midwest is the breadbasket of America, then California is its produce section. Two-thirds of the nation’s fruits and nuts and more than one-third of its vegetables are produced in the Golden State. But California’s abundance is threatened by wildfires, extreme weather and chronic drought — the effects of climate change.  Over the next five years, companies such as Walmart and Kellogg face up to $120 billion globally in costs from environmental risks in their supply chains, according to a 2020 report. In that time, the food, beverage and agriculture sector could lose up to $17 billion in climate-related losses, assuming the most risk behind manufacturing. … ”  Read more from CBS News here:  Experts say climate change threatens America’s food supply. Can farmers in the Mississippi Delta save it?

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In regional water news and commentary today …

Drought turns Klamath Basin into a political tinderbox

President Biden’s first major water supply crisis is unfolding in southern Oregon, testing how the administration will balance the needs of farmers, tribes and endangered fish in the parched West.  At least one irrigation district in the Klamath River Basin is keeping its canals open, directly disobeying Bureau of Reclamation orders to halt water deliveries.  Irrigators say they have a state right to that water, a contention that recently received some support in a state order.  Last week, Reclamation announced one of the lowest water delivery allocations in the history of the Klamath Project, rattling farmers who use that water to irrigate about 230,000 acres of cropland. ... ”  Read more from E&E News here: Drought turns Klamath Basin into a political tinderbox

Klamath water users brace for tough conditions with low allocation

Klamath water users have expressed disappointment for the amount of water they will be receiving this year. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced that farmers and ranchers who rely on the Klamath Project will be receiving between six and eight percent of what is needed. The initial allocation calls for just 33,000 acre-feet of water. Deliveries have also been delayed this year. Water supplies to recharge canals and to be used as limited irrigation will begin no earlier than May 15. The remaining water supply deliveries will not begin until June 1. … ”  Read more from Ag Net West here: Klamath water users brace for tough conditions with low allocation

Oroville Wildlife Area promotes migratory and native bird habitat

The nearly 12,000-acre Oroville Wildlife Area (OWA) in Butte County is a popular stopping place on the Pacific Flyway for migrating and native birds. After the Oroville Dam was completed in 1968, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) contracted with the then California Department of Fish and Game to operate the Oroville Wildlife Area for the preservation of fish and wildlife habitat. The OWA also includes DWR’s Thermalito Afterbay reservoir, a prime habitat for migrating waterfowl as well as several different Endangered Species.   “The partnership between DWR and CDFW to manage this area for wildlife habitat has been a tremendous success”, said Eric See, chief of the License Coordination Branch of DWR’s Oroville Field Division. ... ”  Read more from DWR News here: Oroville Wildlife Area promotes migratory and native bird habitat

As drought worsens Ukiah is well prepared, Fort Bragg anticipates water shortages (Water Security Series)

It’s no secret that our county, along with the entire state, is in a drought. Lake Mendocino is at a historic low, Fort Bragg’s main source of water is flowing at half its normal level, and Ukiah water manager reckons that parts of the Russian River may run dry towards the end of the drought year.  But what will that mean for Mendocino County residents? The short answer is that it depends where you live and who supplies your water. But if you want the long answer, you can keep reading. Here at The Mendocino Voice, we’re speaking to every water district manager in the county to find out what water security looks like from the hills to the ocean. In this story, an update on water security in Fort Bragg and Ukiah. ... ”  Read more from the Mendocino Beacon here: As drought worsens Ukiah is well prepared, Fort Bragg anticipates water shortages (Water Security Series)

Point Reyes ranch, elk plan nears key state vote

A major controversy brewing for nearly a decade at the Point Reyes National Seashore is coming to a head this week.  A National Park Service proposal, which includes whether to give cattle ranchers who rent the park’s land longer leases and a plan to reduce the size of the park’s iconic tule elk herd by killing some animals, is set to undergo a key vote before the California Coastal Commission at a special meeting Thursday.  The meeting will be one of the only times the plan will be vetted in a public hearing before the Biden administration renders a decision before its mid-July deadline. … ”  Read more from the Marin Independent Journal here: Point Reyes ranch, elk plan nears key state vote

Bay Area county on brink of imposing strict water restrictions with drought looming

The water district in Marin County is on the brink of imposing mandatory water use restrictions on all customers, another sign drought is looming in California after two consecutive winters marked by historically low precipitation.  If the Marin Municipal Water District’s board of directors approves a program to implement a list of water use restrictions at Tuesday night’s meeting, the district will be the first major water agency in the Bay Area to declare a water shortage emergency. … ”  Read more from SF Gate here: Bay Area county on brink of imposing strict water restrictions with drought looming

Bay Area weather: Rain forecast for this weekend — not a joke!

It won’t solve California’s drought problems, but it’s better than nothing.  The first rain in a month could wet the Bay Area and much of Northern California this weekend, forecasters say, as a late-season storm from the Gulf of Alaska appears to be headed toward the region.  Computer models show the rain will begin late Saturday in the North Bay, spreading across the wider Bay Area and Santa Cruz Mountains on Sunday.  Forecasters said the system — which would be the first significant rain since March 18 in the Bay Area — appears to be on track to deliver about .25 of an inch along the coast and to Bay Area cities, with about half an inch in the Santa Cruz Mountains and up to 1 inch in the North Bay Hills. ... ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here: Bay Area weather: Rain forecast for this weekend — not a joke!

East Bay Municipal Utilities District seeks public input on water supply plan

The East Bay Municipal Utility District is asking for public input from residents of Alameda and Contra Costa counties for an update of its water supply plan, which is updated every five years.  The plan assesses water supplies against expected water needs for a 30-year planning horizon.  A virtual public comment meeting will be held April 29 and a virtual public hearing on May 11, during the regularly scheduled EBMUD board of directors meeting. ... ”  Read more from Danville-San Ramon here: East Bay Municipal Utilities District seeks public input on water supply plan

Water board committee recommends advancing Pure Water Monterey expansion

A committee for the Monterey One Water Board has recommended final certification of an environmental report crucial to the expansion of Pure Water Monterey, signaling increased momentum for the recycled water project.  The five-member Recycled Water Committee of the Monterey One Water Board of Directors voted 4-0-1 on April 15 to recommend the board of directors certify the completed supplemental environmental impact report, or SEIR, needed for the expansion.  Committee members Ron Stefani of the Castroville Community Services District, Tom Moore of Marina Coast Water District, Tyller Williamson of Monterey and Nick Smith of Pacific Grove voted in favor while John Phillips of Salinas, abstained. Phillips said he abstained from the approval because he did not have time to read the updated SEIR. … ”  Read more from Monterey Weekly here: Water board committee recommends advancing Pure Water Monterey expansion

Program will provide clean water to Turlockers impacted by nitrate-laden wells

Turlock residents impacted by nitrate groundwater contamination will soon be supplied with safe drinking water as the state seeks out more permanent solutions.  The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board is leading the charge on a program which will provide bottled water deliveries or bottle-filling kiosks to six geographic zones deemed to have the most-serious groundwater contamination issues. The Turlock Subbasin has been identified as a Priority 1 zone by the board and is one of the two largest zones included in the program. The Valley Water Collaborative recently established the Turlock Management Zone to achieve three nitrate management goals as part of the Board’s Nitrate Control Program: ensuring a safe drinking water supply, reducing nitrate loading and implementing long-term, managed restoration of impaired water bodies. … ”  Read more from the Turlock Journal here: Program will provide clean water to Turlockers impacted by nitrate-laden wells

Santa Maria providing customers with groundwater due to drought

The City of Santa Maria is providing all of its customers with groundwater supplies, due to the drought.  The City says it’s meeting all drinking water standards, but customers may notice a difference in the water due to the increased hardness and mineral content.  The exclusive use of local groundwater will continue through May, and the City anticipates again relying solely on the groundwater basin for November and December. … ”  Read more from KEYT here:  Santa Maria providing customers with groundwater due to drought

Cal City votes for digital mapping system of water infrastructure

California City’s Public Works Department will get a digital mapping system of the city’s water infrastructure.  The City Council agreed via a 4-1 vote, with Mayor Jeanie O’Laughlin dissenting, to enter a Public Service Agreement with Arrow Engineering Services, Inc. of Lancaster, to locate and inventory the city’s water system. That information will then be compiled into a computer-aided drafting (CAD) and geographic information system (GIS) during its April 13 meeting.  Public Works Director Joe Barragan and a panel consisting of other Public Works staff and Councilmembers Jim Creighton and Kelly Kulikoff, reviewed 11 bids from the City’s Request For Proposal, approved at the Council’s Dec. 8 meeting, and recommended Arrow’s bid of $312,583, be split between two budget cycles (2020/2021 and 2021/2022) from the Water Fund. … ”  Read more from the Antelope Valley Press here: Cal City votes for digital mapping system of water infrastructure

SoCal: Surprising recharacterization of earthquake risk along a strand of the San Andreas

The San Andreas Fault is as close to a celebrity as geological features can get — it even has a movie named in its honor. Since its formal identification in the late 19th century, the fault has been analyzed, dated, mapped and modeled by thousands of scientists. But its southernmost section, which is divided into strands like the frayed ends of a rope, still puzzles scientists. … A recent study published in Science Advances suggests that the Mission Creek strand of the San Andreas, which runs along the northeastern side of the Coachella Valley, is the dominant fault at this latitude, accounting for about 90% of the overall slip rate of the southern San Andreas Fault system. That means the Mission Creek strand — not the strands previously identified as accumulating the most strain — could host the next major earthquake on the southern San Andreas. … ”  Read more from Temblor here: Surprising recharacterization of earthquake risk along a strand of the San Andreas

Public weighs potential fixes to plug sewage problem at US-Mexico border

The San Diego region last year secured $300 million to plug a decades-long wastewater pollution crises in waters that snake across the U.S.-Mexico border and dump raw sewage, trash and sediment into the Pacific Ocean.  On Tuesday, Environmental Protection Agency officials held a virtual public meeting attended by more than 130 people to reveal 10 project proposals being considered to fix crumbing wastewater infrastructure at the border using the $300 million earmarked by the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).  On April 5, the EPA published a Notice of Intent in the Federal Register to prepare an environmental impact statement for the proposed project, triggering a 45-day public comment period for people to weigh in on possible solutions.  “We recognize no one project addresses all of the problems,” EPA engineer Doug Eberhardt told meeting attendees. ... ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service here: Public weighs potential fixes to plug sewage problem at US-Mexico border

Two sources of U.S.-Mexico sewage flows are fighting for one pot of money

If the San Diego-Tijuana region were a human body, it’d have the stomach flu: Bad stuff is coming out of both ends. But instead of tackling the complicated source of the infection, the border towns are fighting over where to put a Band-Aid.  Six miles from the U.S.-Mexico border lie three giant ponds full of really old poo that regularly flush into the Pacific Ocean and flow north along the Southern California coast during summer tourist season.  The ponds are supposed to be a functioning component of a wastewater treatment plant called Punta Bandera run by the state of Baja California’s water department, commonly called CESPT. But the aeration and treatment machines floating atop the stagnant water (emitting a stench so strong even mouth breathing cannot resolve) sit dead. ... ”  Read more from the Voice of San Diego here: Two sources of U.S.-Mexico sewage flows are fighting for one pot of money

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Along the Colorado River …

This stunning timelapse shows the megadrought’s toll on the West’s largest reservoir

Just how bad is the drought in the Western US? The shrinking of Lake Mead, the country’s largest reservoir, is a troubling indicator.  The massive man-made lake, which straddles the border of Arizona and Nevada, is now only at 39 percent of its full capacity, down from 44 percent in April 2020. That’s equivalent to a 10-foot drop in the water level, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Reclamation. Which means mandatory restrictions on the amount of water surrounding states draw from Lake Mead could be triggered in the next few months. … ”  Read more from Vox here: This stunning timelapse shows the megadrought’s toll on the West’s largest reservoir

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In national water news today …

Downstream consequences: how NASA satellites track harmful algal blooms

Fertilizers used in farming contain high amounts of nutrients, such as phosphorous, to help crops grow. But these same nutrients can cause unwanted plant growth and potentially harm ecosystems miles away if agricultural runoff flows into nearby rivers, lakes, or coastal waters.  These effects represent one of the many ways that the different parts of the Earth system are connected. Waterways like rivers and streams are natural highways that connect areas hundreds to thousands of miles apart. They are also essential ecosystems for fish and other aquatic life, as well as sources of drinking water and recreational areas for people. Earth-observing satellites from NASA and its partners have a unique perspective from which to study the links between water and other parts of the Earth system – and are uniquely poised to help researchers address the consequences of those links, namely water quality. ... ”  Read more from NASA here: Downstream consequences: how NASA satellites track harmful algal blooms

‘Water warriors’: the US women banding together to fight for water justice

Deanna Miller Berry first learned of the scores of complaints about Denmark, South Carolina’s water supply, during her 2017 mayoral campaign.  For at least a decade, residents of the rural, predominantly Black and lower-income town “knew something was happening” and tried to sound the alarm, said Berry. “A lot of folks [were] complaining that they were starting to get sick, hair loss and skin issues.” Berry lost that mayoral race, but has continued to fight for access to clean water and sanitation.  ... ”  Read more from The Guardian here: ‘Water warriors’: the US women banding together to fight for water justice

Tracing water from river to aquifer

A new technique using dissolved noble gas tracers sheds light on how water moves through an aquifer, with implications for water resources and their vulnerability to climate change.   The Food and Agriculture Organization, an agency of the United Nations, has referred to mountains as the “water towers of the world.” Globally, mountainous regions supply freshwater to billions of people through snowmelt and glaciers. Yet the 21st century is poised to strain these water resources. … ”  Click here to read more from PhysOrg here:  Tracing water from river to aquifer

The good news about climate change: there’s still hope

When ecologist Craig Allen looks across the brown, grassy shrublands on the east flank of the Jemez Mountains in northern New Mexico, he feels no satisfaction that he was right.  Right that the world was warming. Right that warming would spur such large, severe fires that the forest he studied for decades would disappear. And right that increasing temperatures here—and across the globe—have made it too warm for conifer trees to regain even a toehold across many of their old landscapes.  “It’s hard not to feel…well, it has felt like failure there,” says Allen, who recently retired from the U.S. Geological Survey, and has monitored landscape change in these mountains since he was a Ph.D. student in the late 1970s. “We saw the vulnerability. But we could not act substantively enough, quickly enough to deal with it.” ... ”  Read more from Capitol & Main here: The good news about climate change: there’s still hope

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In commentary today …

California quietly slides into a drought while officials say to build for 1.34 million more thirsty residents

Alyssa Erdley writes, “Our legislators’ hunger for more and more housing units in the region ignores one remarkably significant limiting factor: water supply. Over recorded history in the region, California has suffered multiple droughts, many of the more recent episodes requiring strict rationing of residential water supply.  Los Angeles is currently at only 46% of average rainfall for the Water Year according to the California Department of Water Resources (DWR). Riverside is at 50%, and other area cities hover near the halfway mark. The DWR explains that drought is a “recurring feature of our climate.” Drought is a condition to be expected a large percent of the time.  So why did California’s State Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) decide that the Southern California region should plan for an additional 1.34 million residents over the next nine years? … ”  Read more from the Santa Monica Observer here: California quietly slides into a drought while officials say to build for 1.34 million more thirsty residents

California law needs to catch up to sea level rise

David Helvarg, author and founder of Blue Frontier, an ocean conservation group, writes, “Last year, California’s massive wildfires were impossible to ignore. Four million acres burned. People and animals died, homes were lost, power faltered for days at a time, air quality deteriorated, the sky over San Francisco turned orange.  And yet as massive a challenge as wildfire presents — especially as we face another drought year — a different climate crisis could rival it as a destroyer of the California dream: sea level rise.  Most of California’s economy and its people — over $2 trillion in GDP; 68% of the population — are located in its coastal counties. Rising seas pose “a serious and costly threat” for those counties, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office, which in 2019 estimated a 7-foot rise by the end of the century. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: California law needs to catch up to sea level rise

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NASA Snow Water Equivalent Report …

20210419_RT_SWE_Report

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Today’s featured articles …

FEATURE: Water wars! What are they good for?

A recap of the webinar featuring Tim Quinn, formerly with ACWA, Tracy Quinn with the NRDC, and author John Fleck

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 read this article.

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

WATER PLAN eNEWS: ~~Drought Brochure~ UWMP Materials~ Intended Use~ Storage Funding~ Watershed Study~ Federal Policies~ P3 Summit ~~

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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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