DAILY DIGEST, 5/10: How ‘sustainable’ is California’s groundwater sustainability act?; No statewide water wasting rules heading into drought; Meet the Press on CA’s water scarcity; GOP slams 30×30: ‘Dense on tag lines … light on content’; and more …


On the calendar today …

  • OROVILLE DAM CASES PRETRIAL HEARING streaming from the Sacramento Superior Court at 9am here: Department 30 YouTube link  The pretrial order is here: Oroville Dam cases pretrial order
  • FREE RECLAIM THE SIERRA WORKSHOP: The Sierra Fund’s Model: Informed Assessment Methods from 11am to 1pm.  Click here to register.
  • FREE WEBINAR: Drought in the West—Research and scientific tools for coping with climate change from 6pm to 7pm.  Join California Nevada Climate Applications (CNAP) program manager Julie Kalansky to learn about the science of drought and how this Scripps-based consortium of institutions works to provide drought tracking and early warning in support of drought preparedness and resilience in the face of a changing climate.  Click here to register.

In California water news today …

How ‘sustainable’ is California’s groundwater sustainability act?

Beneath the almond and citrus fields of the San Joaquin Valley lies an enormous system of aquifers that feeds some of the world’s most productive farmland. Hundreds of miles north and east, along the Nevada border, is the Surprise Valley, a remote, high-desert region undergirded by cone-shaped hollows of sediment that hold deposits of water. Both of these water systems, along with every other groundwater basin in California — a whopping 515 entities — must create individually tailored plans to manage their water use more sustainably. In scale and ambition, California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) has few parallels. And the work becomes increasingly urgent as the climate crisis makes water shortages increasingly severe. … ”  Read more from High Country News here:  How ‘sustainable’ is California’s groundwater sustainability act?

Hosing down the driveway? Why California has no statewide water wasting rules as it heads into a new drought

Anyone who lived through California’s last big drought from 2012 to 2016 remembers the rules.  You couldn’t water your yard so much that the water ran off into the street or sidewalk. Or hose down a driveway. Hotels had to put up signs telling customers they could choose not to have sheets and towels washed every day. Ornamental fountains were prohibited unless they recycled water. Watering landscaping within 48 hours of rain was forbidden. Cities couldn’t water grass on street medians. And if you washed a car with a hose, it had to have a nozzle.  Now California is entering a new drought with dwindling reservoir levels. But so far, there are no statewide prohibitions against wasting water. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  Hosing down the driveway? Why California has no statewide water wasting rules as it heads into a new drought

Video: Fish vs Farmers – CA senator Borgeas: I’m not looking to start a water war, the science and data justifies drought emergency

The California senator spearheading a drought emergency declaration says the governor is out of time and needs to act now. Republican state senator Andreas Borgeas has teamed up with his colleagues on the other side of the aisle, along with six Valley counties to declare a drought emergency over the last few weeks and says Newsom still has yet to respond to any of their letters or requests. Borgeas joined Alexan Balekian on Sunday Morning Matters to say he’s not wanting to start a water war but it’s becoming clear the governor’s priority is not for the farmers.”  Watch news spot from Your Central Valley here: Fish vs Farmers – CA senator Borgeas: I’m not looking to start a water war, the science and data justifies drought emergency

Meet the Press: California’s water scarcity issue: ‘Where rivers ran, now dust’

Meet the Press Reports: Water Security delves into the growing issue of water scarcity. NBC News chief environmental affairs correspondent Anne Thompson discusses the issue of access to water.”  Watch video here:  California’s water scarcity issue: ‘Where rivers ran, now dust’

Video: Panel: Could absence of a drought declaration come back to haunt Newsom in the recall race?

California governor Gavin Newsom remains silent following a number of drought declarations from six Central Valley counties and Valley lawmakers from both sides of the aisle. The Sunday Morning Matters panel with KMJ host Ray Appleton and state democratic delegate and regional director Humberto Gomez Jr. weigh in on the drought emergency and the governor’s lack of recognizing it.”  Watch video from Your Central Valley here: Panel: Could absence of a drought declaration come back to haunt Newsom in the recall race?

In California’s farm country, climate change is likely to trigger more pesticide use, fouling waterways

Every spring, California farmers brace themselves for signs of wriggling organisms destined to launch multigenerational attacks on their crops.  Many insect species survive the winter as eggs or larvae and then emerge in early spring as the first generation to feed and breed on millions of acres of California vineyards, orchards and row crops. Climate change will complicate farmers’ efforts to control these pests in complex and unpredictable ways.  The most alarming consequence is apt to be ramping up pesticide applications, with broad implications for the safety of California’s waterways—just as the state gears up for a future filled with drought. ... ”  Read more from Inside Climate News here: In California’s farm country, climate change is likely to trigger more pesticide use, fouling waterways

Radio show: Terra verde – California drought and water equity

Camille Pannu, a professor of law and community development at UC Irvine and community water rights in California for nearly a decade, and Nataly Escobedo Garcia, water program policy coordinator for Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability, talk with Earth Island Journal editor and Terra Verde host Maureen Nandini Mitra about the impending drought in California and how it impacts low-income, rural communities.”  Listen to the radio show here: Terra verde – California drought and water equity

Column: Regardless of Newsom’s motive, bid to end California oil production is a game-changer

George Skelton writes, “There are three ways to look at Gov. Gavin Newsom’s recently announced phaseout of fracking and desire to end all California oil production.  The first two are both credible and the third is fact.  One, it’s in Newsom’s DNA to be the first to do things, such as issuing a statewide stay-at-home order at the start of the pandemic. Now he’s the first governor planning to ban oil production.  It also reasserts California’s governor — whether it’s Newsom, Jerry Brown or Arnold Schwarzenegger — as the nation’s leading state executive in fighting climate change. Newsom seems to sincerely believe fossil fuel is crippling the planet, as did his predecessors. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Column: Regardless of Newsom’s motive, bid to end California oil production is a game-changer

Heat wave forecast in Southwest as drought-fueled wildfires rage

A heat wave is expected to overtake parts of the Southwest this week, worsening already severe drought conditions and increasing the risk for wildfires.  As AccuWeather forecasters predict another bad fire season in the West, fires are already raging across Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico and even Colorado.  The Tussock Fire was burning out of control early Monday morning in Arizona, scorching about 3,500 acres north of Phoenix. The Copper Canyon Fire also raged to the west of the city and northeast of Globe, Arizona. It has been active since last Friday, forcing officials to close parts of U.S. Highway 60. … ”  Read more from AccuWeather here: Heat wave forecast in Southwest as drought-fueled wildfires rage

Return to top

In regional water news and commentary today …

Turning off the tap: Siskiyou County hopes to dry up illegal cannabis grows by limiting water supply

California’s Siskiyou County has identified a novel way to evaporate the growing number of illegal cannabis farms sprouting up in a state that seems to forever be on the brink of drought: restrict where water trucks can go.  After green-lighting the new ordinance under the Sikiyou County Code earlier this month, the Board of Supervisors issued a notice of a public hearing to gather additional input “relating to water trucks and regulating their use upon certain county roads.” That meeting is scheduled for June 1 or as soon thereafter as possible in response to COVID-19 infection rates at the time. ... ”  Read more from the London Free Press here: Turning off the tap: California county hopes to dry up illegal cannabis grows by limiting water supply

Napa Valley grape growers say dry year survivable but fear prolonged drought

Most farmers are worried about their crops as they head into the second straight dry year. Vineyard owners say they may be the lucky ones because, at this point, grapes don’t need a lot water — just warm sunshine.  That would change with a prolonged drought.  “Of all the crops that are grown, grapevines are remarkably resistant,” said Kendall Hoxsey-Onysko, owner of the Napa Wine Company.  Hoxsey-Onysko is a fifth-generation Napa Valley grape grower and her family knows all about droughts and their impact on the wine industry. Grapevines can thrive without a lot of water but productivity depends on how long the drought lasts. … ”  Read more from KPIX Channel 5 here:  Napa Valley grape growers say dry year survivable but fear prolonged drought

West Marin water well project challenged by environmentalists

The North Marin Water District failed to adequately study whether there will be enough water for endangered fish in Lagunitas Creek if it builds a new well in West Marin, an environmental group alleges.  The well is intended to address worsening saltwater contamination in the water supply. Save Our Seashore, a nonprofit in Inverness, filed an appeal against the project with the Marin County Planning Commission.  “I’m a North Marin customer myself,” said Gordon Bennett, president of Save Our Seashore. “My wife and I depend on that water and I know the community does too. I think that North Marin can pump the water with certain precautions in place to protect the fish.” … ”  Read more from the Marin Independent Journal here:  West Marin water well project challenged by environmentalists

Los Padres wilderness and rivers bill introduced in Senate

Last week, Senator Alex Padilla (D-Ca) announced the introduction of a bill that will protect special places in the Los Padres National Forest and Carrizo Plain National Monument for their ecological, cultural, and recreational values. The bill also prohibits future oil drilling in certain places, improves equitable access to the outdoors, and benefits local and statewide economies.  The bill is a companion to Representative Salud Carbajal’s Central Coast Heritage Protection Act, which passed the House of Representatives in February. It designates more than 245,000 acres of wilderness and 400 miles of the Condor National Scenic Trail, and creates two scenic areas encompassing 34,500 acres and safeguards about 159 miles of wild and scenic rivers. … ”  Read more from the Paso Robles Daily News here:  Los Padres wilderness and rivers bill introduced in Senate

United Water Conservation District reaches $1M settlement with Ventura over water rates

A water district locked in a long-running legal battle over residential rates with the city of Ventura recently agreed to pay $1 million, but the fight does not appear to be over.  City Attorney Gregory Diaz said Friday he expected the United Water Conservation District to exercise its option to appeal.  Ventura has filed lawsuits every year against the water district since the agency implemented increased charges in 2011-12. This settlement is for fiscal year 2019-20.  The district charged residential customers three times more than agricultural customers for groundwater, and the city challenged its methodology. … ”  Read more from the Ventura County Star here:  United Water Conservation District reaches $1M settlement with Ventura over water rates

Coachella Valley:  ‘If you build it, they will come’: California desert cashes in on early cannabis investment

Along a hot, dusty stretch of freeway in California’s Coachella Valley, a green rush is booming that not even the coronavirus pandemic can slow.  Desert Hot Springs, once a sleepy retirement community overshadowed by its more glamorous neighbor, Palm Springs, to the south, is transforming into a cannabis-growing capital as businesses lured by tax incentives and a 420-friendly local government pour into the small city.  “It’s fun times right now to be the mayor,” said Mayor Scott Matas, who has been in city government since 2007 and once voted to implement a moratorium on cannabis businesses. … ”  Read more from NBC News here: ‘If you build it, they will come’: California desert cashes in on early cannabis investment

The Salton Sea: The worst lake you’ve never heard of

“In 2020, the Salton Sea was described by Palm Springs Life Magazine as “the biggest environmental disaster in California history.” With the largest lake in California holding such a bleak title, it’s amazing how obscure its legacy is.  … Trying to figure out the exact history of what happened to the Salton Sea is as difficult as seeing what’s beneath the surface of its murky, toxic and algae-infested waters. Throughout its strange history, there are contradictions, errors built upon errors, disagreements, bureaucratic bottlenecks and a continued argument about what exactly people should do next. There seems to be no solution to the massive problem of the Salton Sea, and for decades it has sat, semi-abandoned, accumulating more and more complications. … ”  Read more from the Salinas Californian here: The Salton Sea: The worst lake you’ve never heard of

South Bay residents, officials call for faster action on Tijuana-San Diego sewage problem

Chula Vista resident and Imperial Beach lifeguard Lillian Burkhart still remembers the sting on her skin after surfing in Imperial Beach waters one day last summer. Within 24 hours, she fell ill with a gastrointestinal infection, she said.  “As the day went on after I left the water, I could really smell it. It was pungent. It smelled like sewage,” she said. “The next day I woke up feeling awful and I just threw up for 12 hours straight. I’ve never been that sick in my entire life.”  Burkhart’s experience is commonplace and a reminder of the decadeslong struggle to address the recurring sewage spills from Tijuana that pollute the South Bay shoreline. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune here: South Bay residents, officials call for faster action on Tijuana-San Diego sewage problem

Return to top

In national water news and commentary today …

How water poverty impacts public health in the US

On August 3, 2010, the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) recognized access to clean water and sanitation as a human right alongside other fundamental rights, such as life and liberty, freedom of expression, and education.  Untreated water contains pathogens such as the bacteria that cause diarrhea and the parasitic worms that cause schistosomiasisTrusted Source (snail fever).  These pathogens spread far and wide when untreated human waste contaminates groundwater and open water that people use for drinking, irrigation, bathing, and washing utensils.  In recent decades, there has been progress toward realizing the universal right to clean water and sanitation. ... ”  Red more from Medical News Today here:  How water poverty impacts public health in the US

PFAS Commentary: Love may be forever, but chemicals are not

Susan Goldhaber MPH, an environmental toxicologist , writes, “PFAS is the acronym for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, a large group of approximately 4,700 chemicals. Their principal use is as processing agents in products that resist heat, oil, stains, grease, and water. They have been used in the production of nonstick cookware, such as Teflon, stain-resistant repellants, such as Scotch-Gard, food packaging materials, and foams used in fire-fighting. … ACSH has written about PFOAs in 20052006, and published a booklet on the subject, “Teflon and Human Health, do the Charges Stick.” Why is this relevant? Because PFOA is a longer-chain PFAS and is the chemical that started it all.   Over the last ten years or so, various advocacy groups, including the EWG, realized that they had a winning issue with the PFAS chemicals. … ”  Read the full commentary at the American Council on Science and Health here:  PFAS Commentary: Love may be forever, but chemicals are not 

GOP slams 30×30: ‘Dense on tag lines … light on content’

The Biden administration’s rebranding of a sweeping conservation effort and attempts to reassure property owners that they won’t be subject to mass federal “land grabs” have done little to quell anxiety among conservatives on Capitol Hill.  Congressional Republicans remain skeptical about the goal of conserving 30% of all U.S. lands and waters by 2030 — a road map now being called the “America the Beautiful” initiative that had long been known more simply as “30×30.”  Indeed, yesterday’s release of a 24-page report outlining the administration’s strategy for moving forward with the framework left Republicans demanding more details.  “It’s vital that the administration gets past high-level talking points and defines their policies,” said Rep. Bruce Westerman of Arkansas, the top Republican on the House Natural Resources Committee. “Up until now, we have received little to no guidance on how this initiative would be enacted.” ... ”  Read more from E&E News here:  GOP slams 30×30: ‘Dense on tag lines … light on content’

What does ‘conserved’ environment mean? Interior seeks an answer

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said Thursday that her department is pushing forward with its efforts to conserve 30 percent of U.S. land and waters by 2030, even as the administration’s own findings highlight the need to define what it means for an area to be considered conserved.  Haaland cited a recent move by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to expand hunting and fishing opportunities and previewed an upcoming announcement of $150 million for a program that builds parks in underserved communities.  “This is one way that we can help ensure that all Americans have access to the great outdoors,” Haaland said. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: What does ‘conserved’ environment mean? Interior seeks an answer

Return to top

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

In California water news this weekend …

  • ‘We got unlucky.’ Why melting Sierra snow won’t save California from extreme drought
  • Eye opening 20 year drought data
  • ‘Megadrought’ persists in western U.S., as another extremely dry year develops
  • The sun may offer key to predicting El Niño, groundbreaking study finds
  • Remembering Peter Nils Brostrom, Byron Alan Clark, P.E.
  • Klamath, Modoc, Siskiyou County leaders throw support behind Basin ag
  • City of Ukiah waiting to see how much water it can share with neighbors
  • Kern farmers make do under drought conditions
  • Imperial Valley: Abatti and friends knock on the U.S. Supreme Court door
  • New projections show a key Colorado River reservoir could sink to a record low later this year
  • EPA administrator won’t return to Obama-era WOTUS rule
  • And more …

Click here for the weekend edition of the Daily Digest.

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

OPPORTUNITY TO COMMENT: Preliminary DRAFT Resolution for Managed Wetlands in the Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program

Return to top

 

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.

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
%d bloggers like this: