DAILY DIGEST, 5/3: CA’s wildfire season is expanding as the wet season becomes compressed; Red flag warning in May; Wild donkeys and horses dig wells; A supermoon with a twist; and more …


On the calendar today …

  • FREE RECLAIM THE SIERRA WORKSHOP: Actions to Increase the Pace & Scale of Mine Remediation from 11am to 1pm.  The first of four workshops regarding new report from The Sierra Fund available here:  Executive Summary and Full Report. Click here to register.

In California water news today …

California’s wildfire season is expanding as the wet season becomes compressed

In California, raging wildfires seem to materialize like clockwork every summer and fall, damaging property and claiming lives. What was once traditionally the “wet season” is no longer immune from bouts of dangerous fire weather. California’s wildfire season is expanding, and human-induced climate change is a leading cause. … The greatest risk for wildfires comes between August and November, when parched vegetation left in the wake of summer’s warmth provides ample kindling at a time of year when seasonably strong winds fan any flames. But in recent years, that dry season has been swelling, the threat of fires lingering when winter rains are delayed.  We looked at the data to reveal just how conditions have evolved in the past 60 years as climate change and other factors alter California’s weather. … ”  Read more from the Washington Post here: California’s wildfire season is expanding as the wet season becomes compressed

Red flag warning in May? Fire season arrives early in Northern California

Last year’s devastating wildfire season was barely in the rear-view mirror when the red flag warning hit Sunday for a large swath of Northern California.  In another example of the Golden State’s new normal, the National Weather Service issued a surprisingly early-in-the-year fire alert for the area from Shasta Dam to just north of Los Banos, touching on the eastern fringes of the Bay Area.  By Sunday afternoon, an eerie reminder of the potential danger could be found inside Big Basin Redwoods State Park, where crews battled a small blaze. Big Basin remains closed after 97% of California’s oldest state park was charred last August during the CZU Lightning Complex fire.  The state’s persistent drought, combined with low humidity and strong northeasterly winds Sunday, signaled an early start to the fire season even without the triple-digit temperatures of late summer. ... ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  Red flag warning in May? Fire season arrives early in Northern California

Installing solar panels over California’s canals could yield water, land, air and climate payoffs

Climate change and water scarcity are front and center in the western U.S. The region’s climate is warming, a severe multi-year drought is underway and groundwater supplies are being overpumped in many locations.  Western states are pursuing many strategies to adapt to these stresses and prepare for the future. These include measures to promote renewable energy development, conserve water, and manage natural and working lands more sustainably.  As engineers working on climate-smart solutions, we’ve found an easy win-win for both water and climate in California with what we call the “solar canal solution.” … ”  Read more from The Conversation here:  Installing solar panels over California’s canals could yield water, land, air and climate payoffs

Wild donkeys and horses dig wells that provide water for a host of desert species

Wild horses and donkeys are often considered a problem in the American West, but new research suggests their penchant for digging wells with their hooves offers benefits to the ecosystems they inhabit, reports Douglas Main for National Geographic.  The study, published this week in the journal Science, shows that when wild or feral horses and donkeys dig wells, they increase the availability of water for other species living in the parched desert landscape. These wells can be up to six feet deep and provide access to groundwater to species including badgers, mountain lions, deer and birds. ... ”  Read more from Inside Climate News here: Wild donkeys and horses dig wells that provide water for a host of desert species

This supermoon has a twist – expect flooding, but a lunar cycle is masking effects of sea level rise

Another “super full moon” is coming May 26, 2021, and coastal cities like Miami know that means one thing: a heightened risk of tidal flooding.  Exceptionally high tides are common when the moon is closest to the Earth, known as perigee, and when it’s either full or new. In the case of what’s informally known as a super full moon, it’s both full and at perigee.  But something else is going on with the way the moon orbits the Earth that people should be aware of. It’s called the lunar nodal cycle, and it’s presently hiding a looming risk that can’t be ignored. … ”  Read more from The Conversation here:  This supermoon has a twist – expect flooding, but a lunar cycle is masking effects of sea level rise

When it comes to earthquakes, size matters but so does the terrain

Earthquakes can be like Jell-O. A simple, yet often used analogy is that if you’re sitting in a valley or basin, it acts like a bowl of gelatin and it will shake more than surrounding rock.  But not all earthquakes are created equal and the ground you walk on can make all the difference.  “The local geology definitely matters — what you’re sitting on,” said Dr. Susan Hough, a geophysicist with the US Geological Survey. “What the topography is, it definitely matters.” ... ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here: When it comes to earthquakes, size matters but so does the terrain

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In regional water news and commentary today …

Coho Salmon numbers dropping in Shasta and Scott Rivers

According to reports collected by Cal DFW, a low amount of Coho Salmon, age 0+ and 1+, have been trapped this spring while exiting the Shasta River Basin and Scott River.  So far this spring, Cal DFW says that only 36 Coho Salmon, age 1+, have been trapped before exiting the Shasta River Basin. Over at Scoot River, Cal DFW says that it has trapped only 21 Coho Salmon, age 0+, and three Coho Salmon age 1+. ... ”  Read more from KDRV here:  Coho Salmon numbers dropping in Shasta and Scott Rivers 

Wells may run dry this year in Mendocino town — district board likely to declare stage 4 water shortage in May

The town of Mendocino is already at a stage three water shortage and eyeing a stage four, which would trigger mandatory 40% reductions in water allotments for all users, according to district superintendent Ryan Rhoades. The Mendocino Community Services District Board is holding a meeting May 3, at which they are expected to raise the drought level.  This year, the town of Mendocino received less than half of their average rainfall — only around 18 inches. Usually, closer to 40 inches of rainfall. To make matters worse, this is the second dry year in a row for Mendocino, and all of California. Last year, the town of Mendocino recorded just over 20 inches of rainfall. … ”  Continue reading at the Mendocino Voice here:  Wells may run dry this year in Mendocino town — district board likely to declare stage 4 water shortage in May

Northern California winemakers shift practices amid drought emergency

“Drought conditions are not new for local growers, unfortunately. Many continue to adjust their viticultural practices to adapt to the ever-changing climate.  Following the 2020 Glass Fire, Elizabeth Tagney, viticulturist and winemaker at Cornell Vineyards, spent the last eight months revitalizing the mountain-top property in the Fountaingrove AVA in Sonoma Valley. Due to various levels of heat damage, 11 of the estate’s 20 blocks are scheduled for a replant.  Now, Tagney must find ways to make the vineyard more drought tolerant. New plantings will have more spacing between rows to facilitate wider cross-arms (up to 20 inches at the peak), which will help promote shading. She’s carefully selecting drought-tolerant rootstocks (1103 Paulsen and 140R) that are more capable of establishing deeper root systems quicker, and decided to plant a new variety, Carmenère. Late-ripening with thick skins, the grape benefits from warm, sunny sites. … ”  Read more from Wine Enthusiast here: Northern California winemakers shift practices amid drought emergency

Napa prepares city water use curbs in pursuit of 15% consumption cut after dry California winter

Irrigation curbs, car washing restrictions and the shutoff of fountains may return in the city of Napa amid shrinking water supplies on the tail of a dry California winter.  Tuesday night, the City Council is scheduled to vote on a “moderate water shortage” declaration intended to cut consumption by 15%. Approval would mark the return of water-use restrictions last rolled out in the mid-2010s when a six-year drought led California to mandate across-the-board cutbacks statewide. ... ”  Read more from the Napa Register here: Napa prepares city water use curbs in pursuit of 15% consumption cut after dry California winter

San Francisco Public Utilities Commission asks irrigation customers to reduce water use 10%

In light of dry weather conditions throughout California, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission on Thursday called for irrigation customers and city departments to voluntarily reduce their water use by 10 percent.  According to the agency, the SFPUC’s water reservoirs are currently filled at 76.8 percent of their maximum storage capacity — slightly lower than the historical average of 81 percent around this time of year. ... ”  Read more from the San Mateo Daily Journal here: San Francisco Public Utilities Commission asks irrigation customers to reduce water use 10%

Putting Dennis Herrera atop the PUC is weird. But San Francisco is a weird town.

It’s been a week since Mayor London Breed tapped City Attorney Dennis Herrera to lead the Public Utilities Commission, a massive, billion-dollar entity providing San Franciscans — and, in fact, millions of nearby locals — with water and/or power.  It’s been a week, and nobody seems to be saying it, so we’ll say it: This is weird.   It would be weird if the mayor transferred a hypothetical general manager of the Public Utilities Commission — with a background touching on engineering and water and wastewater and sewage treatment and hydroelectric power generation and distribution — into leading the City Attorney’s office. The reverse is weird, too.   So, it’s a weird move. But this is a weird place. … ”  Read more from Mission Local here: Putting Dennis Herrera atop the PUC is weird. But San Francisco is a weird town.

Drill baby, drill! Geothermal monitoring well in Mammoth Lakes

Crews from the U.S. Geological Survey Research Drilling Unit, working on behalf of the Bureau of Land Management Bishop Field Office, have started installing a geothermal monitoring well in Mammoth Lakes on National Forest System lands in the northwest portion of the Old Shady Rest Campground.  Residents and visitors should anticipate increased activity at and near the well site, including increased vehicle traffic on State Route 203 (Main Street, Sawmill Cutoff Road and Forest Trail Road), as USGS mobilizes and works to complete the well. ... ”  Read more from the Sierra Wave here: Drill baby, drill! Geothermal monitoring well in Mammoth Lakes

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Along the Colorado River …

Severe water cuts are coming for Arizona. The rest of the Southwest is next.

Two months ago, researchers at Utah State University estimated that Arizona, California, and Nevada would collectively have to cut their intake of Colorado River water by 40 percent over the next three decades due to drought. At a public meeting last Thursday, the Arizona Department of Water Resources confirmed the warnings: The cutbacks are coming, and soon.  Arizona will serve as a testing ground for how seriously and how quickly the states and tribal nations in the upper and lower Colorado River basins can tackle the water crisis. ... ”  Read more from The New Republic here: Severe water cuts are coming for Arizona. The rest of the Southwest is next.

This restaurant-led agriculture effort wants to help farmers and ranchers fight climate change

On an early weekday morning in Longmont, the co-owners of the boutique catering company Whistling Boar are busy in the kitchen getting their weekly meal boxes ready for delivery. David Pitula and Debbie Seaford-Pitula moved to Colorado from Brooklyn five years ago with dreams of living closer to the farms they worked with.  “We wanted to be more personal with the farms,” Seaford-Pitula said. “We have farmers who now grow for us specifically, [asking] ‘What do you need this season?’”  The two said that part of that farm-restaurant relationship should be supporting farmers and ranchers in their efforts to reduce their carbon footprints. Agriculture emits more than 10 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gasses, and reducing that number is vital to addressing climate change. … ”  Read more from Colorado Public Radio here:  This restaurant-led agriculture effort wants to help farmers and ranchers fight climate change

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More news and commentary in the weekend edition of the Daily Digest …

In California water news this weekend …

  • Will Gavin Newsom make emergency drought declaration statewide? Valley lawmakers say it’s a must
  • In rare showing, Valley lawmakers ramp up drought pressure on Newsom
  • Marin drought brings echoes of 1976-77 water crisis
  • Letters to the editor: Massive water pipelines, veganism and other reader ideas for fighting the drought
  • Pandemic lockdown exposes the vulnerability some Californians face keeping up with water bills
  • Sen. Dodd’s water access & equity bills advance
  • Report: “Due Diligence in the Sierra Nevada Gold Country: New Tools to Remediate California’s Abandoned Mine Lands (AMLs)
  • DAN WALTERS: Is Newsom making any difference on fracking?
  • California lawmakers seek cleanup of old dumped DDT barrels
  • Newsom’s $1-billion wildfire plan favors logging over homeowners, critics say
  • ‘Firefighters out there in the snow’: Wildfires rage early in parched west
  • WATER TALK PODCAST: The Human Right to Drinking Water & SGMA
  • And more …

Click here to read the weekend edition of the Daily Digest.

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Today’s featured articles …

MONTHLY RESERVOIR REPORT for May 1, 2021

Click here to read this article.


ESTUARY PEARLS: Climate change takeaways from the Bay Delta Science Program

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

WORKSHOP NOTICE/PUBLIC COMMENT: 2021 Triennial Review Of The Water Quality Control Plan For The San Francisco Bay Basin

NOW AVAILABLE: Video Recording for April 22 Public Workshop on 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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