DAILY DIGEST, 5/5: Newsom drought declaration would trigger new war; Biologists say predators eat half of salmon; A case is made for colocating data centers … with water infrastructure; How Reclamation plans to operate during the Klamath Basin’s driest summer ever; and more …


On the calendar today …

  • IRWM SUMMIT: Watershed Health and People Experiencing Homelessness: Spotlight on the Central Coast and Ventura Counties, Statewide Impact from 8:30am – 12:00pm.  This event brings together key elected leaders, agency leaders, professionals and practitioners in California and at the Federal level to discuss challenges, opportunities and successes around this important and complex topic. This event is being sponsored by the Santa Barbara County IRWM, Santa Cruz IRWM, Santa Clara Valley Water District, Pajaro River Watershed IRWM, City of Watsonville, County of Santa Barbara, Watersheds Coalition of Ventura County and the Local Government Commission.  Click here to register.
  • FREE WEBINAR: Can habitat restoration increase salmon resilience to climate? from 10am to 11am.  A pressing question for managing recovery of depressed or declining species is: “How can habitat restoration increase resilience to climate change?” We addressed this question for salmon populations with varying life histories, where resilience was defined as maintaining or increasing population size despite climate change effects. Previous studies indicate that several interrelated mechanisms may influence salmon resilience to climate change.   Presented by Dr. Tim Beechie, Watershed Program, NOAA NWFSC.  Remote Access: https://noaanmfs-meets.webex.com/noaanmfs-meets/j.php?MTID=m1057b1e24ab938d4f6b7801fbe053454; Password (if needed): p8WXqHE3rf4.
  • WEBINAR: Meeting the Bay Area’s Water Demand from 12:30pm to 1:30pm.  The population of the Bay Area will grow significantly in the coming decades and it is imperative that we add more homes in order to accommodate. That growth comes with a cost, however: water use. Our region is no stranger to drought conditions; will we have enough water to meet future demand? Where will it come from? What top-down policies must be implemented across the Bay Area to ensure that people and the environment will have the water they need to not just survive, but thrive? Hear from experts whose research answers these critical questions and offers the solutions necessary for a water resilient future that can accommodate all. Click here for more information and to register.
  • LEG HEARING: Assembly Water, Parks, and Wildlife: Is California Prepared for Another Drought? beginning at 1:30pm.  Click here for more information and remote access instructions.
  • PUBLIC WORKSHOP: Los Angeles 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 Los Angeles 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 May 5th Los Angeles regional workshop encompasses Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, and the western parts of San Bernardino and Riverside counties. All meetings are open to the public, regardless of you or your organization’s geographic location.  Click here to register.
  • FREE EVENT: Indigenous Peoples of the Delta from 7pm to 8:30pm.  The Mill Valley Historical Society will hold a virtual meeting later this week in which it will explore the San Joaquin Delta’s past with an emphasis on the role of indigenous people in shaping the region.  Anthropologist and museum director David Stuart will provide an overview region’s and history in the development of California and bring light to the many Native American nations that lived there for thousands of years.  Click here to register.

In California water news today …

Fish or farmers? Newsom drought declaration would trigger new war over California water

When a bipartisan group of state legislators held a press conference last week to demand that Gov. Gavin Newsom declare a statewide drought emergency, they assembled at a withered farm field east of Fresno, complete with piles of dead trees in the background.  The choice was no accident. With California already experiencing drought-like conditions, Central Valley farmers and their elected representatives are the ones putting the most political pressure on Newsom to make it official. … Experts say a statewide drought declaration would help drive home the need for conservation to Californians. But its impact would go well beyond symbolism and communications; it could bring significant consequences for the regulatory structure governing California’s complicated water-delivery system. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: Fish or farmers? Newsom drought declaration would trigger new war over California water

Fresno County leaders declare local drought emergency. One says drought is ‘man-made’

The Fresno County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday passed a resolution proclaiming a local drought emergency.  The vote on the resolution during Tuesday’s special meeting was unanimous. The resolution comes after Fresno leaders joined officials from three other Central Valley counties on Friday to declare a regional drought emergency and urge Gov. Gavin Newsom to do the same statewide.  Fresno County Chairman Steve Brandau said the drought “is a crisis that we are putting upon ourselves.” He said he’s not a water expert, but it has been “painful” for him to watch “as water flows out into the ocean unused for human resources.” … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here: Fresno County leaders declare local drought emergency. One says drought is ‘man-made’

Anticipating and addressing the impacts of the drought

California’s current drought is already off to a strong start, with some major challenges already looming just two years in. Compared to the drought of 2012‒16, the normally wetter Sacramento and North Coast regions have been hit much harder than the rest of the state. Beyond the local challenges this poses, drought in the Sacramento region is already having statewide implications, given its key role in supplying water to farms and cities further south.  The 2012–16 experience showed that some sectors were better prepared to handle drought. Cities and farms had significant capacity to adapt, while small well-dependent communities and freshwater ecosystems were especially vulnerable. Although these patterns are still present, some important policy changes—most notably the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA)—could change the way we respond this time around. … ”  Read more from the PPIC here: Anticipating and addressing the impacts of the drought

Biologists say predators eat half of salmon

Boosting flows on San Joaquin River tributaries may not bring the desired benefits to populations of protected salmon—because predatory bass in the rivers apparently eat half or more of juvenile salmon, regardless of river flow, according to studies by a fisheries consulting firm.  The work on the lower Stanislaus River by the firm FISHBIO ties into a long-running debate about whether more water must be retained in the rivers, and therefore unavailable for human use, to benefit protected fish. In late 2018, the State Water Resources Control Board adopted a plan that would require water users to leave “unimpaired flows” of 30% to 50% in three San Joaquin tributaries: the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers. … ”  Read more from Ag Alert here: Biologists say predators eat half of salmon

Some rural California residents doubt they’ll ever get clean water

When Ramona Hernandez turns on her kitchen faucet in El Adobe, an unincorporated town just a few miles southeast of Bakersfield, the water that splashes out looks clean and inviting. But she doesn’t dare drink it.  “You worry about your health,” she said in Spanish as she sat in her tranquil front yard one morning early this spring, her elderly mother-in-law working in the garden behind her.  “I’m scared,” Hernandez said, “of getting sick from the water.”  …  Contaminated drinking water affects an estimated 1 million people in California, many of whom rely on private wells or small community water systems like El Adobe’s. A majority of these residents live in the Central and Salinas valleys. ... ”  Read more from Circle of Blue here:   Some rural California residents doubt they’ll ever get clean water

Public health crisis looms as California identifies 600 communities at risk of water-system failures

It was only four years ago when a winter of torrential rain finally wrestled the state out of its last major drought, which had dragged on for five years and left thousands of domestic wells coughing up dust.  That drinking-water crisis made national headlines and helped shine a light on another long-simmering water crisis in California: More than 300 communities have chronically unsafe drinking water containing contaminants that can come with serious health consequences, including cancer. …  California took a step toward addressing the problem back in 2012 when it passed the country’s first state law declaring the human right to water. That was followed by a 2019 bill to help meet that mandate by establishing the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund.  But just how much cash is needed to address the problem? … ”  Read more from the Revelator here: Public health crisis looms as California identifies 600 communities at risk of water-system failures

‘New normal’ for U.S. climate is officially hotter – and experts see trouble for California

The official “new normal” for the U.S. climate is warmer than ever before — and the changes are ominous for California, experts say.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Tuesday released its new climate averages, based on the 30-year period from 1991 to 2020. The averages, known as “climate normals,” are updated every 10 years, and they show most of the country, including California, heating up.  “The influence of long-term global warming is obvious,” the NOAA said in announcing the updates to its averages. The official numbers are used in many contexts, from setting utility rates to comparing a day’s temperature to the norm in weather forecasts. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: ‘New normal’ for U.S. climate is officially hotter – and experts see trouble for California

Long-term monitoring shows successful restoration of mining-polluted streams

Pile of tailings left to erode at the abandoned New Idria mine

Many miles of streams and rivers in the United States and elsewhere are polluted by toxic metals in acidic runoff draining from abandoned mining sites, and major investments have been made to clean up acid mine drainage at some sites. A new study based on long-term monitoring data from four sites in the western United States shows that cleanup efforts can allow affected streams to recover to near natural conditions within 10 to 15 years after the start of abatement work.  The four mining-impacted watersheds—located in mountain mining regions of California, Colorado, Idaho, and Montana—were all designated as Superfund sites under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), which helps fund the cleanup of toxic-waste sites in the United States. They are among the few acid mine drainage sites where scientists have conducted extended studies to monitor the effectiveness of the remediation efforts. ... ”  Read more from UC Santa Cruz here: Long-term monitoring shows successful restoration of mining-polluted streams

What’s the role of regulation in wastewater innovation?

Water and wastewater utilities are having a hard time keeping up with climate change, aging infrastructure, and urban population growth. Decades of reliance on the same technologies and approaches reflect an innovation deficit. Innovation could improve utilities’ resilience and effectiveness, but regulated wastewater utilities often tend to stick to the tried-and-true. One reason for this is the perception that the regulatory process stands in the way of innovation. Empirical research calls into question a common assumption that utilities and regulators are generally at odds with each other in their views on innovation. We conducted a nationwide survey of wastewater utility managers and regulators, and the results suggest that utility managers and regulators generally agree about how regulation gates innovation in the wastewater sector, and how innovation could be encouraged. These findings matter because the successful adoption of new technologies requires buy-in from both regulators and utilities. This new research emphasizes the potential for regulators and utilities to work together to identify and implement innovative solutions to wastewater treatment, and points to policy actions geared towards improving regulatory relationships.”  Find out more about the study findings and possible steps forward in the paper posted at Environmental Research Communications here: Regulators and utility managers agree about barriers and opportunities for innovation in the municipal wastewater sector

FOR MORE INFO: Examining the complex relationship between innovation and regulation through a survey of wastewater utility managers, at Science Direct

A case is made for colocating data centers … with water infrastructure

On Tuesday, Tomorrow Water, the California sustainable water technology firm that is wholly owned by Korean wastewater infrastructure company BKT Co. Ltd, said it is pursuing patent protection of a concept to build data centers at water resource recovery facilities (WRRFs). The concept is part of Tomorrow Water’s strategy to synergistically cut the energy costs and environmental impacts of wastewater treatment and electricity-intensive data centers by colocating them on reclaimed space previously occupied by the primary clarifiers used to hold municipal wastewater. According to BKT, which along with its 143 global registered patents developed the “BBF/Proteus biofiltration” technology that exchanges and reuses wastewater and heat between WRRF and on-site data centers (an approach is pioneered in Seoul, South Korea), the concept is particularly well suited for the U.S., home to the world’s largest number of data centers. … ”  Read more from Investible Universe here: A case is made for colocating data centers … with water infrastructure

NQH2O: Nasdaq Veles Water Index April 2021 Market Update

” …  the State Water Project and Central Valley Project (for South of the Delta agricultural users) reacted to deteriorating conditions with significant reductions to annual allocations, both matching a historically low 5% of the maximum allowable entitlement. As our partners at West Water Research recently explained, nearly 27 million residents and 750,000 acres of farmland are to be impacted by the decision, bringing users to the spot market to make up for the difference. As expected, the impact of these developments to the spot water market has been abrupt and extreme.  Reflecting the shifting supply shortage, the Nasdaq Veles California Index (NQH2O) has, as a result, reached new highs in an uncharacteristically short period of time … ”  Read more from Nasdaq here:  NQH2O: Nasdaq Veles Water Index April 2021 Market Update

Research inside hill slopes could help wildfire and drought prediction

A U.S. National Science Foundation-funded study led by University of Texas at Austin scientists has found that rock weathering and water storage appear to follow a similar pattern across undulating landscapes, where hills rise and fall for miles.  The findings are important because they suggest that these patterns could improve predictions of wildfire, landslide risk, and the effects of drought, since weathering and water storage influence how water and nutrients flow through landscapes.  … The research site is in Northern California. The scientists drilled 35 boreholes across a series of hill slopes and their valleys to collect subsurface samples. They also collected a core sample at the peak of each hill slope that captured the entire height of the hill — a distance that varied from 34 to 57 feet (10.5 to 17.5 meters).  … ”  Read more from the National Science Foundation here:  Research inside hill slopes could help wildfire and drought prediction

Evaluation of the subseasonal forecast skill of floods associated with atmospheric rivers in coastal Western US watersheds

UCLA and now CW3E post-doc, Qian Cao, along with UCSB researcher Shraddhanand Shukla, CW3E researcher Michael J. DeFlorio, CW3E Director F. Martin Ralph, and UCLA Professor Dennis Lettenmaier, recently published a paper in the Journal of Hydrometeorology titled “Evaluation of the subseasonal forecast skill of floods associated with atmospheric rivers in coastal Western US watersheds” ( Cao et al., 2021). The research aligns with the Subseasonal to Seasonal Prediction of Extreme Weather Priority Area within CW3E’s 2019-2024 Strategic Plan because it evaluates the NOAA’s SubX-driven AR-related flood forecast skill along the U.S. West Coast. ... ”  Read more from the Center for Western Weather & Water Extremes here:  Evaluation of the subseasonal forecast skill of floods associated with atmospheric rivers in coastal Western US watersheds

California’s wildfire season is off to an early start

Fire weather is coming early to California this year.  For the first time since 2014, parts of Northern California are seeing a May “red flag” fire warning due to dry and windy conditions. “It’s crazy, May and a red-flag warning,” Craig Clements, San Jose State University Wildfire Interdisciplinary Research Center director, told The Mercury News.  The warning coverage area extends from Redding in the north to Modesto in the south, and includes portions of the Central Valley and the state capital of Sacramento. The warning also extends to the eastern edges of the Bay Area, The Mercury News reported. The warning, first announced Sunday, is expected to last through 5 p.m. PT Tuesday afternoon. … ”  Read more from Eco Watch here: California’s wildfire season is off to an early start

Beavers are firefighters who work for free

“Since Kenneth McDarment was a kid in the 1980s, he’s seen the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains change. As a councilman of the Tule River Tribe, a sovereign nation of around 1,000 members living in 56,000-odd acres in the foothills of the Sierras, McDarment deals with everything water-related on the reservation. Today there’s less rain and less snow than there was even a decade ago, which means that the land in the foothills was dangerously dry during last fire season, when wildfires were sweeping across the state. “If you don’t got water,” says McDarment. “We don’t got nothing.”  So, in 2014, McDarment began looking into getting ahold of some beavers. McDarment hoped that beaver dams would create soggy areas on tribal lands that wouldn’t dry out during heat waves. “We’re hoping that means our land will be less likely to burn during fire season,” he says. “Beavers were here originally,” he says. “So why not bring them back and let them do the work they do naturally?” ... ”  Read more from the Sierra Club here:  Beavers are firefighters who work for free

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In commentary today …

Water investments would help to assure essential farming jobs

Jamie Johansson, president of the California Farm Bureau Federation, writes, “One thing that’s been re-emphasized, time and again, during the pandemic travails of the past 14 months: Farming is essential. During the coming few months, as California struggles through another drought, we’ll learn whether our elected and appointed public officials feel the same way.  As farms and ranches continue to operate through the pandemic, there’s been a lot of focus—understandably so—on the men and women who have worked to harvest, pack and process California food and farm products: Are they being sufficiently protected from COVID-19? Are they gaining access to vaccines?  Farm Bureau has advocated tirelessly, in every available forum, for supplies, equipment, vaccines and information to help farmers and their employees through the pandemic. We have also pointed to long-term, structural problems that need to be addressed, for example in providing affordable housing. … ”  Read more from Ag Alert here: Water investments would help to assure essential farming jobs

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In regional water news and commentary today …

How Reclamation plans to operate during the Klamath Basin’s driest summer ever

The Bureau of Reclamation has officially released temporary operating procedures for this spring and summer, acknowledging that there’s not enough water in the Klamath Basin to fulfill the agency’s obligations under the Endangered Species Act, let alone provide meaningful irrigation diversions to the Klamath Project.  “There is no question that this will be one of the most challenging years in decades, but we are devoted to supporting a community-driven approach that directly address the needs of irrigators, Klamath Tribes, and stakeholders in the Basin,” said deputy commissioner of Reclamation Camille Calimlim Touton. … ”  Read more from the Herald & News here:  How Reclamation plans to operate during the Klamath Basin’s driest summer ever

The flows tell the story: Klamath River Coho Salmon are in Dire Condition

Felice Pace writes, “So far this spring only 36 Coho Salmon age 1+ have been trapped by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) while exiting the Shasta River Basin and only 21 Coho Salmon age 0+, 3 Coho Salmon age 1+have been trapped on their way out from the Scott River.  These are dismal numbers and indicate that Klamath River Coho continue on the slide to extinction. The Shasta and Scott should be the top producers of Klamath River Coho but they are not because of poorly regulated irrigation using surface flows. Irrigation in the Shasta and Scott prevents Coho from reaching the best spawning grounds and kills the juveniles before they can get out to Klamath River. Then disease gets most of them descending the Klamath.  Meanwhile DFW and the State Water Board allow this to go unchallenged and NMFS is giving Shasta ranchers a Safe Harbor Agreement that allows them to kill Coho salmon. … ”  Read more from Counter Punch here:  The Flows Tell the Story: Klamath River Coho Salmon are in Dire Condition

Feds deny protection for salamanders threatened by dam

The Fish and Wildlife Service said today it will deny federal protections to three salamander species that environmentalists fear could be put in danger by a proposed California dam project.  Pressed by a lawsuit to make a decision, the federal agency concluded the Shasta salamander, Samwel Shasta salamander and Wintu Shasta salamander don’t need to be listed under the Endangered Species Act even if plans proceed to expand the Shasta Dam by raising it.  “Although the potential raising of Shasta Dam would affect individuals and inundate or remove additional habitat for the three species, the extent of the potential loss of known detection sites and habitat areas that can support individuals is very limited relative to the overall number of detection sites and remaining available suitable habitat in each species’ range,” FWS said. ... ”  Read more from E&E News here: Feds deny protection for salamanders threatened by dam

Marin:  Chilling signs as severe drought sees reservoirs drop to alarming levels

A stolen car has just been recovered from a reservoir in Marin County in California, 25 years after it was dumped there.  They only spotted it because the water level has dropped so low – a chilling sign of what the authorities say is a “historic” drought and the impacts of climate change.  The reasons are simple. “2020 was the driest year in 90 years, it is alarming,” said Cynthia Koehler, the founder of the WaterNow Alliance and president of the board of directors of the Marin Municipal Water District. … ”  Read more from Sky News here:  Marin:  Chilling signs as severe drought sees reservoirs drop to alarming levels

Sierra foothill easement newest addition to growing legacy of CA conservation easements

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in California proudly adds the biodiverse 3,602-acre McKinney Ranch in Madera County to its roster of conservation easements, bringing the 28-year state total to 211,856 acres. California’s easement acreage nests within the national total of 5 million acres—a milestone announced in early April by the Agency.   The Sierra Foothill Conservancy partnered with NRCS, the California Department of Conservation and the Bureau of Reclamation to acquire the voluntary easement on the Madera ranch, owned by Scott and Cherisse McKinney. ... ”  Read more from Natural Resources Conservation Service here: Sierra foothill easement newest addition to growing legacy of CA conservation easements 

Visalia area braces for ‘just-below-record’ heat as Tulare County declares drought emergency

The mercury is set to soar in Visalia and Tulare, with daytime temperatures climbing up to 15 degrees above average as a worsening drought consumes Tulare County and the San Joaquin Valley — again.  Wednesday highs are expected to hit 96 in the Visalia area, according to the National Weather Service Hanford substation. The May average for the region is 82.6.  “Expect just-below-record values in Visalia,” NWS meteorologist Carlos Molina said. A high-pressure ridge moving across the west is blanketing the San Joaquin Valley in a heatwave with temperatures more typical of June. ... ”  Read more from Visalia Times-Delta here:  Visalia area braces for ‘just-below-record’ heat as Tulare County declares drought emergency

Farmersville ready for growth with new wastewater facility

Farmersville is opening the floodgates for growth upon the completion of the wastewater treatment facility expansion, the most expensive public works project in the city’s history.  The newly-updated wastewater treatment facility comes in at about $23 million, switching from percolating basins to updated technology like digesters and clarifiers to meet the city’s growing population and updated state requirements. City manager Jennifer Gomez said she’s excited to see the project of over 10 years come to completion.  “Now that it’s done and operating, we are totally ready to take on new development,” Gomez said. “Whether it’s residential, commercial or industrial we no longer will have a capacity issue with the new plant, and that’s something I’m excited to see.” ... ”  Read more from the Foothills Sun-Gazette here:  Farmersville ready for growth with new wastewater facility

Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority to discuss Searles nonpayment Thursday

The fate of Searles Valley Minerals may hinge on a special virtual meeting of the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority later this week, at least according to SVM’s Camille Anderson.  The meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday. At it, the IWVGA will discuss how to respond to SVM’s non-payment of the authority’s groundwater replenishment fee.  The agenda lists a public hearing on the subject as well as a possible order on SVM for failure to pay and report on its replenishment fees. One presumed action may include shutting off water service to Searles for non-payment.  The decision could mean life or death for Searles, according to Anderson.  “If they cut off our water we would go out of business,” Anderson told the DI Tuesday. ... ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here:  Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority to discuss Searles nonpayment Thursday

City of Paso Robles employs goats to clear Salinas Riverbed of overgrown brush

The City of Paso Robles is turning hungry animals loose in the Salinas Riverbed to reduce the wildfire risk.  Goats will be grazing over the next month or so. They’re starting from the north and going south, clearing two to three acres a day.  On Tuesday, there were upwards of 100 goats munching away at the overgrown, fire-ready grasses in the fire-prone hot spot of the Salinas Riverbed. … ”  Read more from KSBY here:  City of Paso Robles employs goats to clear Salinas Riverbed of overgrown brush

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Along the Colorado River …

Western tribes already lacked water access. Now there’s a megadrought.

In 2021, access to running water and clean drinking water is a given for most Americans. The Census Bureau has even considered dropping a question on plumbing access from the U.S. census questionnaire. But many of the nation’s tribes still lack running water, access to clean water, and even flushing toilets. Native American households are 19 times more likely than white households to lack indoor plumbing, according to the U.S. Water Alliance, and more likely to lack piped water services than any other racial group.  That problem is at an inflection point for the Navajo Nation and 29 other tribes in the Colorado River Basin, which stretches from the Rocky Mountains to Mexico. … ”  Read more from The Grist here:  Western tribes already lacked water access. Now there’s a megadrought.

Arizona’s Gov. Ducey calls on Department Of Defense to address groundwater contamination

Gov. Doug Ducey has asked the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) to address groundwater contamination near military installations in Arizona.  In an Apr. 27 letter to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Gov. Ducey requested DOD to identify and treat water in Arizona contaminated in the areas surrounding four DOD installations and to prevent additional human exposure to per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) from other DOD facilities in Arizona, which impact the groundwater.  The bases are Luke Air Force Base, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Morris Air National Guard Base and the former Williams Air Force Base, according to Arizona’s Governor’s website. These bases are located in the two most populous metropolitan areas in Arizona and each is surrounded by thousands of Arizonans who rely on clean groundwater for drinking water purposes. … ”  Read more from Water & Wastes Digest here: Arizona’s Gov. Ducey calls on Department Of Defense to address groundwater contamination

Colorado is examining water speculation, and finding it’s ‘all the problems’ in one

Melting snow and flowing irrigation ditches mean spring has finally arrived at the base of Grand Mesa in western Colorado.  Harts Basin Ranch, a 3,400-acre expanse of hayfields and pasture just south of Cedaredge, in Delta County, is coming back to life with the return of water.  The ranch has the No. 1 priority water right — meaning the oldest, which comes with the ability to use the creek’s water first — dating to 1881.  What makes the ranch unique among its Grand Mesa-area neighbors is its owner. Conscience Bay Company, a Boulder-based private real estate investment firm, bought the property in 2017.  That fact alone has brought its owners scrutiny from neighbors and Western Slope water managers. Conscience Bay and its president, Eli Feldman, have been accused of water speculation — which means buying up the ranch just for its senior water rights and hoarding them for a future profit. … ”  Read more from Aspen Journalism here:  Colorado is examining water speculation, and finding it’s ‘all the problems’ in one

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In national water news today …

More U.S. Rivers deserve ‘outstanding’ designation

In many American communities, rivers irrigate the farms that feed families, quench people’s thirst—rivers are the source of more than two-thirds of the drinking water in the U.S.—sustain wildlife habitat, and provide an economic boost for communities. Yet only a very small portion of those waterways are protected from threats ranging from pollution to damming, which would wreck the water’s natural flow.  Increasing that percentage can happen in several ways. The most common tool is to designate waterways under the federal Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, which currently covers less than 1% of river miles in the country. A less widely known, but also effective, tool is for states and tribes to designate Outstanding National Resource Waters (ONRWs). … ”  Read more from the Pew Charitable Trust here: More U.S. Rivers deserve ‘outstanding’ designation 

Commentary: Water utilities should seek a deeper understanding of customers

Rachel Olson writes, “Water utilities are rightly concerned about managing their business through the course of winter 2021 and into the hot summer months. This is especially true as the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic keep some of their customers’ finances suspended, just as many consumer prices continue to rise, and disconnections of non-payers may be prohibited in some localities.  Water utilities can benefit from a focused understanding of the potential impact on their business. Last year, more than half of U.S. consumers had their income negatively impacted by the pandemic. According to the TransUnion Consumer Financial Hardship survey (Nov. 30, 2020), 57 percent of U.S. households indicated that their income has been negatively impacted. … ”  Read more from Water Finance & Management here: Commentary: Water utilities should seek a deeper understanding of customers

Where has it gotten warmer in the US? Just about everywhere

America’s new normal temperature is a degree hotter than it was just two decades ago.  Scientists have long talked about climate change — hotter temperatures, changes in rain and snowfall and more extreme weather — being the “new normal.” Data released Tuesday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration put hard figures on the cliche.  The new United States normal is not just hotter, but wetter in the eastern and central parts of the nation and considerably drier in the West than just a decade earlier. … For the entire nation, the yearly normal temperature is now 53.3 degrees (11.8 degrees Celsius) based on weather station data from 1991 to 2020, nearly half a degree warmer than a decade ago. Twenty years ago, normal was 52.3 degrees (11.3 degrees Celsius) based on data from 1971 to 2000. The average U.S. temperature for the 20th century was 52 degrees (11.1 degrees Celsius). ... ”  Read more from KQED here: Where has it gotten warmer in the US? Just about everywhere

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Today’s featured articles …

CA WATER COMMISSION: Conveyance and water rights; Considerations for conveyance across the Delta

Delta Watermaster: It’s physically, ecologically, and economically impossible to squeeze water out of the Delta for export.

Aerial view of the historic district of Locke. Photo by Paul Hames / DWR

At the April meeting of the California Water Commission, as part of their continuing work on examining the state’s role in financing conveyance projects that could help meet needs in a changing climate, the Commissioners heard from a panel of speakers about state policy considerations for conveyance and the cross-cutting issues of flood-managed aquifer recharge (flood-MAR), green infrastructure, collaborative partnerships and governance, and innovation.

The objective for the panel presentations is to help the Commission better understand the implications of water rights and reduced Delta reliance on conveyance projects, and make recommendations specific to how policy-makers should consider Flood-MAR, green infrastructure, partnerships and governance, and innovation when applying state financing to water conveyance projects.

This panel will be posted in three parts.  In this installment, Erik Ekdahl, Deputy Director of the Division of Water Rights, State Water Resources Control Board, provided some high-level considerations for conveyance and how it can integrate with the state’s existing water rights system.

Then Michael George, Delta Watermaster, discussed considerations for conveying or transferring water across the Delta, including the state policy of reducing reliance on the Delta.  During his presentation, Mr. George pointed out that it’s physically, ecologically, and economically impossible to squeeze water out of the Delta for export.  “ My view, developed over my six years as Delta Watermaster, is that it’s an impossible thing to do,” he said.

Click here to read this article.

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

NOTICE of Water Right Application for 74,350 acre-feet from the San Joaquin River stream system

NOTICE of Water Right Application for 10,000 acre-feet from the San Joaquin River stream system

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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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