DAILY DIGEST, 5/12: Sierra snowpack gone already, adding to drought and fire worries; State agencies, NGOs partner on groundwater accounting platform; Editorial: Newsom — end water wars for state and Stanislaus fish and farmers; 3 enviro groups take 3 positions on Poseidon desal plant; and more …


On the calendar today …

  • DWR Water Wednesday: California’s Human Right to Water from 1pm to 1:30pm. In 2012, California became the first state in the nation to establish water as a basic human right. Join DWR environmental scientist, Jordi Vasquez, to learn about this groundbreaking legislation and how DWR is working to improve access to clean, safe, affordable water throughout California.  Watch on YouTube or register through Zoom to ask Jordi questions.
  • FREE WEBINAR: Feeding the Future – Can Dairies be Environmentally Sustainable? from 3pm to 4pm.  In the fourth webinar in our Feeding the Future series, we will explore the dairy industry and ponder the question: Can Dairies Be Environmentally Sustainable? Join us as we shed light on the complex world of dairying. Our panel of experts will discuss the controversy over dairies’ contribution to greenhouse gas emissions, other important environmental considerations, and what California dairies are doing to address these challenges.  Click here to register.

In California drought news today …

Sierra snowpack is already ‘wiped out’ this year, adding to California drought and fire worries

The Sierra Nevada snowpack, a crucial water source for California’s cities and farms, has already dwindled to next to nothing this year, adding to the state’s worsening drought situation.  The latest data from the state Department of Water Resources on Tuesday showed California’s snowpack was just 6% of normal for May 11, and 4% of the normal average for April 1. That date is typically when California’s snowpack is the deepest and has the highest snow water equivalent — the depth of water that would result if the snow melted upon falling.  The data represented a worrisome decline from 15% of normal recorded just a week earlier on May 4, and an even more alarming drop from 59% of normal on April 1. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: Sierra snowpack is already ‘wiped out’ this year, adding to California drought and fire worries

Extremely dry conditions spill across the American West

Spring is generally a time of renewal for the watersheds of the western United States.  Warmed by the lengthening days, the region’s towering mountain ranges shed their mantle of snow, releasing freshets of water into welcoming streams and reservoirs.  This year, though, the cycle is in disarray. Outside of the Olympic and Cascade ranges of Washington state, winter snows were subpar. The spring melt has been a dud. From the Klamath to the Colorado and Rio Grande, watersheds are under stress once again, and water managers face difficult tradeoffs between farms, fisheries, and at-home uses. The main thing being renewed is concern over the seeming inadequacy of the region’s water supply. … ”  Read more from Circle of Blue here:  Extremely Dry Conditions Spill Across the American West

Farmers grapple with implications of water cuts

In water-stressed farming areas of California, farmers removed productive trees and idled other land to divert what little water they have to other crops, as the reality of the 2021 drought became ever more apparent.  “We’re removing 15-year-old, prime-production almond trees,” said Daniel Hartwig of Woolf Farming in Fresno County. “We’re pulling out almost 400 acres, simply because there’s not enough water in the system to irrigate them, and long term, we have no confidence that there would be water in the future.”  Woolf Farming buys water from the Westlands Water District, a contractor of the federal Central Valley Project. Two consecutive dry winters, combined with environmental requirements on the CVP, led the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to allocate only 5% water supplies to Westlands and other contractors in February—and then to suspend even that amount a few weeks later. … ”  Read more from Ag Alert here:  Farmers grapple with implications of water cuts

Water shortages will reduce rice plantings

Dry weather this spring has created ideal planting conditions for California rice farmers, but lack of available irrigation water has forced cutbacks to how much they can grow.  Unhindered by spring rains and soggy fields that typically slow planting progress, Brian McKenzie, who farms rice in Sacramento, Sutter, Placer and Yolo counties, said he expects to finish 20 days ahead of his normal schedule, which bodes well for the crop. Delayed plantings usually push harvest into the autumn rainy season, raising the prospect of lower yields.  “As a grower, I feel fortunate to have such a dry spring, even though we needed the rain,” he said. … ”  Read more from Ag Alert here: Water shortages will reduce rice plantings

SEE ALSO: California Rice Acreage to Decline by One-Fifth Due to Drought, from Ag Net West

In the wake of Oroville Dam debacle, new drought hits the Sacramento Valley particularly hard

After experiencing a prolonged drought between 2012 and 2016, California enjoyed less than two years of plentiful rains before descending right back into the same arid conditions plaguing it before. Experts held a virtual meeting on May 6 to discuss what the initial data suggests about this re-emerging drought – and their message was especially bleak for the Sacramento Valley.  The now-infamous failure of the Oroville Dam spillway in 2017 is also making the region’s challenges worse than they would have been.  The impromptu water summit was organized by the Public Policy Institute of California. One of PPIC’s water policy experts, research fellow Alvar Escriva-Bou, stressed that the state’s current drought is already off to a fierce start. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento News & Review here: In the wake of Oroville Dam debacle, new drought hits the Sacramento Valley particularly hard

What another drought in California means for its dairy producers

The skies might be blue, but the mood of some central California dairy producers has turned grey, as another season of drought returns to The Golden State.  Recently California Governor Gavin Newsome expanded the drought emergency to 41 counties, including the Klamath River, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and Tulare Lake Watershed counties.  Warm temperatures in April and early May divide this critically dry year from previous drought years. The early warm temperatures and extremely dry soils have further depleted the expected runoff water from the Sierra-Cascade snowpack, resulting in historic reductions in the amount of water flowing to major reservoirs. … ”  Read more from Ag Web here: What another drought in California means for its dairy producers

Sod farms see demand shifts from pandemic and drought

With California beginning to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic but sliding deeper into drought, the people who operate sod farms have found two powerful forces buffeting their businesses.  John Marman of Palm Desert-based West Coast Turf describes doing business in COVID times as “interesting.” His business covers residential, commercial and municipal customers.  “We really shut down initially with the pandemic,” Marman said, noting that professional sports suffered one of the worst effects. Football stadiums, for example, typically resod after hosting non-football events such as motocross races and concerts, Marman said—events sidelined by the COVID-19 pandemic. ... ”  Read more from Ag Alert here:  Sod farms see demand shifts from pandemic and drought

New tool lets well users in California see drought’s impact on their water supply

The state is facing major water impacts, but for those reliant on water wells — in mobile home parks, rural communities, and areas where water district access is limited — the concern is growing.  The Department of Water Resources has created a website that can help those who rely on well water to figure out just how much at-risk they are of a water shortage.  The site was created after the last drought, but with California’s drought only recently worsening, it had not been widely used or needed until now.  The interactive map allows users to explore their area and keep tabs on their well water situation. … ”  Read more from ABC 10 here:  New tool lets well users in California see drought’s impact on their water supply

Explaining reservoirs’ importance in California

California’s water supply can vary greatly from year to year to the need to manage what we get is a high priority in the Golden State.  The Central Valley Project was devised in 1933 as a way to manage water and transport it areas considered more water-rich to the more water-scarce areas in the Central Valley by a series of canals, aqueducts and pump plants.  Reservoirs play an important role in the project, feeding the canals that transport water from the far southern end of the valley. … ”  Read more from KCRA Channel 3 here: Explaining reservoirs’ importance in California

More reactions to Newsom’s drought declaration …

Food & Water Watch: Newsom expands California drought emergency, commits $5.1 billion to water infrastructure and debt relief

Governor Gavin Newsom announced an expansion of the drought emergency to 41 of the state’s 58 counties, dedicating $5.1 billion to boost water infrastructure and an additional $1 billion to paying off nearly the entirety of Californian household water debt. Yet, while the governor’s plan includes $150 million for groundwater cleanup and water recycling measures, it does nothing to speed up the process to bring overdrafted water basins into full and sustainable operation. The deadline is currently 2040 for critically overdrafted basins and 2042 for remaining high and medium priority basins.  “It’s gratifying to see Governor Newsom addressing the critical water supply issues in our state and providing much-needed water debt relief, but ultimately his drought relief plan mirrors his approach to oil and gas drilling,” said Food & Water Watch California Director Alexandra Nagy. … ”  Read more from Food & Water Watch here: Newsom expands California drought emergency, commits $5.1 billion to water infrastructure and debt relief

Friant Water Authority on Gov. Newsom’s $5.1 Billion Water Investment Proposal

Yesterday, Governor Newsom expanded his emergency drought proclamation to cover most of California, including all counties in the San Joaquin Valley, and released a $5.1 billion proposal for state investments in water infrastructure and climate resiliency. We appreciate that the Governor and his Administration recognize the importance of restoring lost conveyance capacity in the Friant-Kern Canal, California Aqueduct, Delta-Mendota Canal, and San Luis Canal, especially as it relates to water security for communities and farms – the fabric that holds the Valley together. The conveyance infrastructure poised to receive funding as a result of the Governor’s announcement are the same facilities that are proposed for funding in State Senator Melissa Hurtado’s Senate Bill 559, which, if enacted, would make the state an equal funding partner with the federal government and the local water users.

FWA views the Governor’s proposal as a good first step for California toward becoming a true partner with federal and local agencies to pursue the infrastructure improvements that will support human and environmental needs in the San Joaquin Valley while also achieving state goals and policies related to clean drinking water and sustainable groundwater management. We look forward to continuing to work with the Administration and under Senator Hurtado’s leadership to ensure the objectives of SB 559 are pursued for the benefit of long-term vitality of the San Joaquin Valley’s communities and businesses.

Congressman Josh Harder reacts to Governor Newsom’s drought emergency expansion

““We all know that we’ve got another drought on our hands and I’m glad to see our state taking that seriously,” said Rep. Harder. “I’m calling on the Governor to ensure that the Central Valley has a seat at the table when every decision on water gets made. This drought should serve as a wakeup call to politicians across the country. The best time to invest in our water infrastructure was yesterday. The second best time to do it is today.”

Northern California Water Association: Drought proclamation and infrastructure plan bring focus to managing water in a dry year

California’s water resources managers are proactively working with our various partners through the harshest dry year we have seen in recent memory. I have the pleasure to work with the leaders in the Sacramento River Basin, who are cultivating a shared vision for a vibrant way of life by working hard to serve the people, fish and wildlife that inhabit our region’s unique mosaic of farmlands, cities and rural communities, wildlife refuges, and meandering rivers. We are encouraged that the Governor’s drought proclamation will bring important focus on our precious water resources and inspire balanced approaches that will allow water resources managers (state, federal and local) to creatively manage our limited water supplies this year for multiple benefits. … ”  Read more from the NCWA here:  Drought proclamation and infrastructure plan bring focus to managing water in a dry year

Restore the Delta: Gov. Newsom expands drought proclamation

On May 10, 2021, Governor Newsom expanded his drought emergency declaration to 39 additional counties, now 41 in all. His latest declaration tears pages from the playbook Governor Brown used in 2013 and 2014.  There will be at least one, and perhaps more, salinity barriers in the Delta to be installed by the California Department of Water Resources. This will disrupt waterways, create stagnant pools, and with established algae concentrations, more and probably larger harmful algal blooms (HABs) throughout the summer and fall. HABs pose dangers to public health through water contact to people and dogs, but also from emission of airborne contaminants.  There is as of yet no timeline for the Delta salinity barriers. … ”  Read more from Restore the Delta here: Restore the Delta: Gov. Newsom expands drought proclamation

In other California water news today …

State water agencies, CA water data consortium and EDF partner on groundwater accounting platform and data standards

State water agencies, the California Water Data Consortium (Consortium) and Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) announced a new partnership today to make an open-source groundwater accounting platform freely available to help groundwater sustainability agencies manage the transition to sustainable supplies.  Collaborative efforts are underway among the Department of Water Resources (DWR), the State Water Resources Control Board (Water Board), the Consortium and EDF to adapt and scale the groundwater accounting platform that was co-developed by EDF and Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District with technical support from Sitka Technology Group, OpenET, WestWater Research, and Olsson Engineering and funding from the Water Foundation, among other supporters. Use of the groundwater accounting platform is entirely voluntary. ... ”  Read more from the Department of Water Resources here: State water agencies, CA water data consortium and EDF partner on groundwater accounting platform and data standards

SEE ALSO:  3 ways this accounting platform will help California groundwater agencies transition to sustainable supplies, from Tara Moran, president and CEO of the California Water Data Consortium, and Christina Babbitt, Senior Manager of the California Groundwater Program at EDF

Imperial County officials applaud new Salton Sea funding

Newly announced state funding for the Salton Sea is expected to maximize habitat outcomes and provide immediate economic relief to the community.  Gov. Gavin Newsom’s $5.1 billion water infrastructure, drought response and climate resilience proposal, which he announced Monday as part of his $100 billion “California Comeback Plan,” includes $220 million for the Salton Sea.  At Tuesday’s Imperial County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, District 1 Supervisor Jesus Eduardo Escobar wanted to know what is meant by providing immediate economic relief to the community and how this would occur.  He also asked if the $220 million was part of the master plan and whether the funds would be used for restoration purposes. ... ”  Read more from the Imperial Valley Press here: Imperial County officials applaud new Salton Sea funding

Microplastics are everywhere. A Nevada researcher wants to know how they spread.

Tiny specks of degraded plastics have been documented in the snowpack around Lake Tahoe — and in the lake itself. They have been found in the Las Vegas Wash. The phenomenon is not unique to Nevada. Microplastics, the end product of our plastic consumption, have been found in ecosystems across the world, even in remote areas.  Microplastics are small — less than 5 millimeters — but they are not uniform. They can have different shapes and vary in size. Microplastics from clothing can appear as synthetic fibers, whereas degraded plastic from bags or water bottles might take on a different composition.  That is what we know, and it’s a trend that researchers have documented for many years now. But there are a lot of open questions when it comes to microplastics. Where exactly do they come from? How do they spread throughout the environment? And how harmful are they? … ”  Read more from the Nevada Independent here: Microplastics are everywhere. A Nevada researcher wants to know how they spread.

Third District affirms judgment upholding State Lands Commission’s supplemental EIR for desalination plant lease modification, rejects CEQA claims that commission piecemealed review and should have assumed lead agency status and prepared a subsequent EIR

In a lengthy opinion filed April 8, and ordered published on May 7, 2021, the Third District Court of Appeal affirmed a judgment rejecting a number of CEQA challenges to the California State Land Commission’s (Lands Commission) supplemental EIR for and related approval of a lease modification to facilitate a desalination plant in Huntington Beach.  California Coastkeeper Alliance v. State Lands Commission (Poseidon Resources (Surfside) LLC, Real Party in Interest) (2021) ___ Cal.App.5th ___.  In holding that the Commission properly elected to prepare a supplemental (rather than subsequent) EIR, did not err in refusing to assume lead agency status, and did not unlawfully piecemeal environmental review, the Court provided guidance on a number of significant CEQA issues. … ”  Read more from Miller Starr Regalia here: Third District affirms judgment upholding State Lands Commission’s supplemental EIR for desalination plant lease modification

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In columns and commentary today …

Column: Careful what you wish for with Calif. drought emergency

Columnist Wayne Western writes, “Well, we finally have that much sought-after statewide drought emergency from Gov. Gavin Newsom.  Now it’s time to realize what this really means.  Do you think there was some sort of epiphany on the part of his administration that additional major above ground storage could possibly be the answer to securing water supply during dry years? No.  Maybe our top water managers are huddled in a room in order to better manage the supply we do have in order to make it through the year without destroying agriculture or water quality to your home? No.  What about the calls for more fresh water flows for fish we constantly hear about? Apparently, not that either. ... ”  Continue reading at the San Joaquin Valley Sun here: Column: Careful what you wish for with Calif. drought emergency

Editorial: Do your job, Gov. Newsom — end water wars for state and Stanislaus fish and farmers

The Modesto Bee editorial board writes, “Don’t be fooled. Governor Gavin Newsom’s decision Monday to declare drought in most of California, including here, is no reason for most farmers in Stanislaus County to break out the party hats.  They know full well that words on a declaration will not generate an extra drop of water for their orchards and row crops. … What we most need is for Newsom to summon the courage to implement voluntary agreements negotiated more than two years ago with federal agencies and our irrigation boards, whose patience so far has been rewarded with little more than supreme frustration. … ”  Read the full commentary at the Modesto Bee here: Editorial: Do your job, Gov. Newsom — end water wars for state and Stanislaus fish and farmers

Commentary: California’s drought is back as environmental interests dictate the flow of water

Zachary Faria, Commentary Fellow, writes, “California Gov. Gavin Newsom has expanded his state’s drought emergency to several additional counties. As it turns out, there are drawbacks to outsourcing your state’s water policies to environmental zealots who want to flush it all out to sea.  The emergency declaration now covers 41 of the state’s 58 counties. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, 98% of the state is facing drought conditions. Newsom predictably blamed climate change, absolving the state of a water crisis that is entirely of its own making.  Around 50% of the state’s water is for environmental uses, while 40% is used for agriculture and 10% for urban usage. Agriculture’s cut makes sense — California’s Central Valley makes up less than 1% of U.S. farmland but produces 25% of the nation’s food, including 40% of America’s fruits and nuts. But that’s too much water for environmentalists, who are constantly demanding to add to the 50% of the water that the state already lets flow out to sea. … ”  Read more from the Washington Examiner here: Commentary: California’s drought is back as environmental interests dictate the flow of water

Column: Watch out, State Assembly wants to help us

Columnist Ron Fink writes, “AB-377, is a proposed state Assembly bill titled Water Quality: Impaired Waters. The premise of this legislation seems to be that local authorities are responsible for all the dirty water in local waterways. While the goal of “cleaning up the water” is commendable the proposed solution is problematic. … All legislators want to make a name for themselves while in elective office. Assemblyman Robert Rivas, sponsor of AB-377, represents a district that includes a large portion of Monterey County and a long stretch of the Salinas River. Rivas is the chair of the Assembly Agricultural Committee and has only been in office three years.  Why Rivas chose to champion legislation that would harm the small rural communities and farmer/ranchers in his district and the rest of California is an unanswered question. … ”  Read more from Noozhawk here:  Column: Watch out, State Assembly wants to help us

Six factors will ensure California agriculture’s future

Robert Rivas writes, “I am proud to be a part of California agriculture. Our state has the impressive responsibility of feeding our country—and even the world. We have led the nation in agricultural production for the past 60 years due to our richly productive land and climate.  Yet, our agriculture industry now faces serious and urgent challenges, from recovering from last year’s multiple crises to the ever-increasing competition in the global market.  As newly appointed chair of the Assembly Agriculture Committee, I recently took a two-month tour to survey our state’s agricultural sector. I met with an array of farmers and ranchers, workers, industry and union leaders, scientists and academics, and elected officials. We visited more than 50 sites, from the Central Coast to the Central Valley, from the Bay Area to Los Angeles, the Inland Empire, San Diego and more. After the tour, my office and I produced a report that summarized our findings from meetings with more than 70 stakeholders. ... ”  Read more from Ag Alert here: Six factors will ensure California agriculture’s future

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In regional water news and commentary today …

Klamath Basin water crisis: A microcosm for climate change in the West

A conflict over access to water in the Klamath Basin is signaling the way climate change could play out across the western United States. After a drier-than-normal spring, farmers and indigenous tribes in the Klamath Basin are at odds over water in Upper Klamath Lake.  According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, the Klamath Basin is experiencing “extreme drought,” while the rest of Oregon is experiencing some level of drought or abnormal dryness.  The Klamath Basin stretches across Southern Oregon and into Northern California. Centuries ago, the area was wetlands; but in the early 20th century, the land was opened up to agriculture. Members of the Klamath Tribes say tree removal and drainage hastened drying as the climate warmed. … ”  Read more from Channel 8 here:  Klamath Basin water crisis: A microcosm for climate change in the West

Shasta: Fish and Wildlife Service finds salamanders do not warrant endangered species act protection

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) recently announced its finding that three salamander species do not warrant listing as endangered or threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Service’s announcement follows a court-approved settlement agreement in which the Service agreed to make a 12-month finding for the Shasta salamander (Hydromantes shastae), Samwel salamander (H. samweli), and Wintu salamander (H. wintu). The finding comes despite concerns from some environmental groups that a proposed project to raise the height of the Shasta Dam and enlarge the reservoir would impact the three species due to inundation and loss of habitat. … ”  Continue reading at Nossaman’s Endangered Species Law here: Shasta: Fish and Wildlife Service finds salamanders do not warrant endangered species act protection

In a time of drought, Ukiah has plenty of water

In the midst of a drought-stricken county, with three-fourths of the state in extreme drought, with all the major state reservoirs below historical levels and with most of the western half of the United States undergoing a persistent drought, the 6,000 or so customers served by the City of Ukiah will have more than an adequate supply of water to sustain them quite comfortably throughout the year.  According to “Characterization of the Ukiah Valley Groundwater Basin,” a highly-reputable, long-term report prepared for the city by the University of California Davis Land, Air and Water Resource Department in June of 2017, on average, the water bearing unit in the UVGB, a Holocene alluvium, receives an annual aquifer recharge of about 25,300-acre feet per year (23,000 afy from precipitation and irrigation recharge; 2,200 afy from percolation ponds at the Wastewater Treatment Plant and 42 afy from percolation pond recharge at the Calpella County Water District) and the annual expenditure of aquifer extraction is about 3,400 afy year leaving a substantial annual surplus. … ”  Read more from the Ukiah Daily Journal here: In a time of drought, Ukiah has plenty of water

After dismal winter, Lake Tahoe’s water levels drop more than 2 feet

Amid drought conditions across the Sierra Nevada and California, Lake Tahoe is 2.5 feet lower than it was at this time last year, according to water data collected in Tahoe City on May 11.  “That’s definitely a significant drop,” said U.S. District Court Water Master Chad Blanchard, who is based in Reno, Nevada.  Lake Tahoe’s water typically gets a boost from spring’s snowmelt. But as of May 11, the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada has virtually melted, and Lake Tahoe’s water levels are the lowest they’ve been in five years, according to USGS data. Snow surveys on May 11 indicate California’s snowpack is just 6% of average for this date. ... ”  Read more from SF Gate here: After dismal winter, Lake Tahoe’s water levels drop more than 2 feet

Sonoma County officials to cut pumping from Russian River by 20% amid deepening drought

Sonoma County supervisors are expected to offer their formal support Tuesday for a plan to pump 20% less water than normal from the Russian River for the remainder of the year, preserving dwindling supplies in local reservoirs but making less water available to more than 600,000 consumers in Sonoma and northern Marin counties.  The move means communities that rely partly or fully on Sonoma Water, the county agency that serves as the region’s main wholesaler, will have to find ways to live with at least 20% less water than a year ago, depending how much worse the drought gets. The reduced diversion level also applies to Healdsburg and Camp Meeker, who take water under Sonoma Water water rights. … ”  Read more from the North Bay Business Journal here: Sonoma County officials to cut pumping from Russian River by 20% amid deepening drought

Marin left out of Newsom’s drought emergency proclamation

Local water managers were caught off guard this week when Marin – the first in the Bay Area to adopt mandatory water restrictions amid record low rainfall – was not included in the governor’s drought emergency declaration.  “I was absolutely shocked,” said Jack Gibson, longtime board member of Marin Municipal Water District after learning Gov. Gavin Newsom did not include Marin among the 41 counties in his latest declaration on Monday.  “The thought that crossed my mind is you should give them a free subscription to the IJ because he’s clearly not in tune with what’s going on up here,” he said. … ”  Read more from the Marin Independent Journal here: Marin left out of Newsom’s drought emergency proclamation

Recycled water investment paying off for North Marin Water District

This is shaping up to be a long, dry summer and water managers across the state are looking for new sources to meet their demand.  But one small district in Marin County placed a bet on a drought-proof supply of water that may pay off big this year.  The town of Novato relies on Lake Stafford for its summer water supply and like most reservoirs this year, it is dangerously low. However, the local water district actually has more water than it can even use – but there’s a catch: most of it is recycled. … ”  Read more from Channel 5 here: Recycled water investment paying off for North Marin Water District

Commentary: Fed plan to extend Point Reyes ranch leases, kill tule elk, moves forward

George Wuerthner writes, “Fences. Everywhere I went during a recent trip to Point Reyes National Seashore, I encountered fences. There are 300 miles of these barriers throughout the 71,000-acre national seashore. Why are there fences in a national park unit? The National Park Service (NPS) would say they are part of a “cultural heritage” that needs to be protected. But these fences are symbolic of a controversy at Point Reyes. They exist to facilitate the private use of public lands, for the personal profit of the cattle industry, with the full blessing of the park service charged to preserve the area’s natural values. … ”  Read more from Earth Island Journal here: Commentary: Fed plan to extend Point Reyes ranch leases, kill tule elk, moves forward

Amid drought concerns, S.F. supervisor wants new large buildings to recycle and use less water

As California struggles with an intensifying drought, new San Francisco legislation would seek to make large buildings consume less water after they’re occupied.  Supervisor Rafael Mandelman introduced an ordinance Tuesday that would expand the types of buildings subject to city requirements for treating and reusing wastewater, lowering the threshold from 250,0000 square feet to 100,000 square feet or more.  Starting Jan. 1, the ordinance would also make new large commercial developments treat more types of wastewater and make new large residential developments reuse the wastewater they would already be required to collect for additional purposes. ... ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  Amid drought concerns, S.F. supervisor wants new large buildings to recycle and use less water

East Bay MUD water experts tackle conservation, water quality, as drought advances

EMBUD’s director of water and natural resources Mike Tognolini says “California’s history can be told from the perspective of water.”  “That story is always evolving,” Tognolini said last week, during a virtual chat with the public, hosted by Local News Matters. “There are many interesting stories to be told about innovation in the water industry, water efficiency, competing uses, etc.”  “But to me, I think what has been interesting for me is to watch the shift in how problems are solved.” … ”  Read more from Danville San Ramon here: East Bay MUD water experts tackle conservation, water quality, as drought advances

South Bay water officials vote for rate hike to pay for infrastructure, conservation projects

Water officials voted unanimously to greenlight a series of rate hikes to pay for water projects in the South Bay and begin preliminary studies on the contentious Pacheco Dam Project, on Tuesday.  The Santa Clara Valley Water District says the 9.1 percent increase for Fiscal Year 2022, “will help pay for emergency water needed this year to meet demand and keep groundwater at normal levels,” as well as water conversation programs, expanded recycled water use, and the Anderson Dam Seismic Retrofit Project. … ”  Read more from Channel 5 here: South Bay water officials vote for rate hike to pay for infrastructure, conservation projects

McKinney Ranch In Madera County Foothills added to conservation easement

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 Sierra News Online here: McKinney Ranch In Madera County Foothills added to conservation easement

The entire Bay Area is in extreme drought. Here’s what your local water supplier is doing

On Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom expanded the drought emergency he declared on April 21 to an additional 39 counties, widening the official order to 41 counties representing 30% of the state’s population. In the Bay Area, Contra Costa, Napa, Solano and Sonoma counties are now covered by the declaration. Over the last couple of weeks, the entire Bay Area, has jumped from moderate to extreme drought conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. But what that means for residents across the region depends on where you live. … The city of Napa has asked residents to voluntarily cut 15% of their water use. Sonoma County is asking for 20%, and Grant Davis, general manager for Sonoma Water, says he’ll be asking the state to reduce flows along the Russian River by 20% to conserve water in Lake Sonoma and Lake Mendocino. … ”  Read more from KQED here: The entire Bay Area is in extreme drought. Here’s what your local water supplier is doing

Fail: Tule Basin drinking water plan kicked back for a revise

” …  Chavez and her family have relied on bottled water since they found out their well water was unsafe in 2015. But sometimes they don’t have enough and are forced to drink the contaminated water. So when Chavez found out about a new program providing free bottled water delivery for families with nitrate-contaminated wells, she was frustrated she hadn’t been contacted.  “They’re the ones responsible for reaching out to my family and families that have the same issue as mine,” said Chavez. “It’s very negligent of them.”  She referred to the Tule Basin Management Zone, a new organization created to carry out requirements issued last year by the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board to get rural residents with nitrate-laden wells clean drinking water immediately and then work on a longer term fix. … ”  Continue reading at SJV Water here: Fail: Tule Basin drinking water plan kicked back for a revise

Kern supervisors declare local emergency due to water shortage

Supervisors declared a local emergency Tuesday due to a severe water shortage.  The resolution, approved 4-0 Tuesday, came after Gov. Gavin Newsom expanded a statewide drought emergency Monday to include 41 of the state’s 58 counties, including Kern. Experts have said early warm temperatures and dry soil led to less snowpack runoff across the state, which in turn led to less water in major reservoirs. ... ”  Continue reading from Channel 12 here:  Kern supervisors declare local emergency due to water shortage

Metropolitan invests in Santa Monica Water Recycling Project

A recycled water and groundwater recovery project that will produce up to 750 million gallons of water a year for the city of Santa Monica will receive up to $19.6 million from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, following a vote today by the agency’s board of directors.  With funding from Metropolitan’s Local Resources Program, Santa Monica’s Sustainable Water Supply Project will increase the availability of local drinking water supplies and strengthen the region’s resiliency to drought, climate change and emergencies.  The project is expected to produce 2,300 acre-feet per year of recycled water that will be injected into the local groundwater basin and ultimately used as drinking water, beginning in 2023. An acre-foot is enough water to serve roughly three Southern California families for a year. … ” Click here to continue reading this press release from Metropolitan Water District here: Metropolitan invests in Santa Monica Water Recycling Project

Judge makes preliminary ruling against Apple Valley taking over water system

A San Bernardino Superior Court judge has made a ruling against the Town of Apple Valley in its attempt to take over its largest supplier of water.  In a tentative decision issued Friday, Judge Donald Alvarez found that Liberty Utilities had “disproved” the town’s arguments that its acquisition of the company’s water system would be in the public’s interest and a necessity.  Liberty also disproved that the “Town’s project is planned in the manner that will be most compatible with the greatest public good … (and) the use for which the Town seeks to take Liberty’s property is a more necessary public use than the use to which Liberty’s property is presently devoted,” Alvarez wrote. … ”  Read more from the Victorville Daily Press here: Judge makes preliminary ruling against Apple Valley taking over water system

Huntington Beach: 3 environmental groups take 3 positions on Poseidon desalination plant

Among attributes of the controversial Poseidon desalination plant proposed for Huntington Beach is the $1.5 million or so it would spend annually to keep the tidal inlet open at the Bolsa Chica wetlands, five miles up the coast from the project site.  But as much as the money is needed there, the three non-profit groups dedicated to the wetlands’ preservation clash when it comes to support for the desalter plant. ... ”  Continue reading at the Long Beach Press Telegram here: Huntington Beach: 3 environmental groups take 3 positions on Poseidon desalination plant

San Diego County Water Authority: Region has sufficient water supply for ‘foreseeable future’

On the heels of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s latest drought emergency declaration, the San Diego County Water Authority says the region has enough water supplies for this year and “the foreseeable future.”  Newsom expanded his emergency declaration on Monday, covering 41 of the state’s 58 counties, covering about 30% of the state’s population. That doesn’t include San Diego County.  Newsom’s declaration was made after several factors led to “reduced expected water supplies by more than 500,000-acre feet, enough to supply up to one million households with water for a year. … ”  Read more from Channel 10 here: San Diego County Water Authority: Region has sufficient water supply for ‘foreseeable future’

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Along the Colorado River …

Column: Most of the work we did in 2001 on groundwater was DOA. What to learn from that now

Columnist Joanna Allhands writes, “If it feels like we’ve been down this road with groundwater before, you’re not imagining it.  We have.  It was two decades ago, when dozens of water professionals spent 2½ years finalizing a plan to address unsustainable pumping that – surprise! – still exists today.  The governor’s water committee offered roughly 50 recommendations, on everything from restricting the size of exempt wells to creating incentives to develop on farmland instead of raw desert, to creating a comprehensive plan to preserve groundwater in Pinal. … ”  Continue reading at Arizona Central here: Most of the work we did in 2001 on groundwater was DOA. What to learn from that now

Researchers spelunk the Grand Canyon to document its beautiful, confounding springs

Ben Tobin has questions about the Grand Canyon’s caves.  The University of Kentucky geologist started learning about caves as a young man, in part because his mother was a geologist, and a childhood fascination grew over time.  “Caves are a really special place in many ways,” Tobin said.  When he was in college, an internship in Arkansas doing cave tours got him hooked, and eventually his work brought him out West, to Grand Canyon National Park. … ”  Continue reading at Cronkite News here: Researchers spelunk the Grand Canyon to document its beautiful, confounding springs

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Today’s featured articles …

CA WATER COMMISSION: Advancing Flood-MAR: What are the possibilities?

Great Egret in a flooded agricultural field. Photo by Kelly M. Grow/ DWR

Dr. Graham Fogg and DWR’s Jenny Marr discuss the efforts underway to assess the potential for Flood Managed Aquifer Recharge (or Flood MAR)

At the April meeting of the California Water Commission, the Commission continued examining the state’s role in conveyance projects by hearing from two experts on flood-managed aquifer recharge, or Flood MAR.  First, Dr. Graham Fogg, UC David professor emeritus of Hydrogeology, discussed scaling up Flood MAR and how that will likely present new conveyance needs.  Then, Jenny Marr, Supervising Engineer at the Department of Water Resources, outlined the state’s approach to Flood Mar.

Click here to read this article.

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

WATER PLAN eNEWS: ~~ Next Generation~ EPA Funding~ National Parks~ Water Debt~ Water Bootcamp~ Reclamation Reports~ Data Survey ~~

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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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