DAILY DIGEST, 5/13: Fears of a massive salmon die-off this summer in Sacramento River; The Institutional Dimensions of Groundwater Recharge: A Special Collection; States ask Biden to trash Trump-era Clean Water Act change; and more …


On the calendar today …

  • FREE WEBINAR: The Sacramento River Levee Setback: Floodplain Rehabilitation Design to Enhance Ecologic Function with Consider from 11am to 12pm.  The focus of this study is on a 4-mile reach of the Sacramento River downstream of the City of Sacramento where a major levee setback has been constructed as a part of a multi-objective flood control and habitat restoration effort.  In our presentation, we will provide an update on the multi-disciplinary approach employed by cbec to integrate hydrodynamic modeling with interpretation of geomorphic response to maximize the restoration benefits that were incorporated into the design of this levee setback project.  Click here to register.
  • FREE WEBINAR: Water Supplies for a Resilient Future from 3pm to 4:30pm. Rainwater collection and reuse of on-site water are gaining in popularity. Learn from the experts at the California On-Site Water Association about how these valuable resources can safely and efficiently reduce a building’s ecological footprint and protect watersheds. Topics will include: use of rainwater, stormwater, greywater, and blackwater, including the multi-benefits of these projects.  The webinar Link is Here 

In California drought news today …

Fears of a massive salmon die-off this summer in Sacramento River water conflict

An entire run of endangered winter-run chinook salmon, as well as the fall-run salmon that make up the core of the California fishery, are in danger of being wiped out this year if the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation keeps diverting water to farmers at its current rate.  With state water resources constrained by the extreme drought, that’s the alarm that environmental, fishing and tribal groups are sounding after reports show the Sacramento River will reach dangerous temperatures during spawning season, based on federal scientific scenarios that analyze the bureau’s planned water releases. They warn of a massive die-off as bad as during the last drought, when 95% of winter-run chinook salmon eggs and young fish were wiped out in 2014 and 2015. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: Fears of a massive salmon die-off this summer in Sacramento River water conflict

As drought dries California rivers, salmon take truck rides to sea

During a typical spring, the silver young salmon swimming in long tanks at the Nimbus Fish Hatchery east of Sacramento would be released into the American River and then make their way out to the Pacific Ocean to grow to adulthood.  But with extreme drought now gripping California and much of West Coast, the rivers are too warm for the salmon to survive.  This week, the 3.5-inch (90-mm) smolt, as the young fish are known, embarked on a much different journey when they were loaded on to trucks and driven to the San Francisco Bay for release into cooler waters. ... ”  Read more from Reuters here: As drought dries California rivers, salmon take truck rides to sea

California drought declaration is affecting more than just watering your lawn

California has declared extreme drought conditions in 73% of the state.  This means livestock pastures dry out and crops bloom too early, a loss of potential hydropower energy and fire season lasts year-round.  In Butte County, farmers are already worried as they hunker down for another dry season.  “This drought is a little more worrisome than the ones we have had in the past because it is so sudden and so severe,” said Lee Heringer, PCA at M&T Chico Ranch. “The ones we have had in the past kind of came on slow and then lingered for five years or so.” … ”  Read more from Action News Now here: California drought declaration is affecting more than just watering your lawn

How state officials, farmers are preparing for the next California drought

As we enter another period of sustained drought, two questions come to mind. What lessons have carried over from the past drought and what is the state doing about it?  Curt Hoekstra is a third-generation dairy farmer near Oakdale. His family has seen drought before but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.   “Yeah, anytime where there’s a shortage of water it hurts you on your crops, on your growing,” Hoekstra said.  Prices for hay, really all feed for cows, have been steadily climbing. In drought years those prices get worse. … ”  Read more from KCRA here: How state officials, farmers are preparing for the next California drought

California’s unusually dry winter could be the new normal, according to decades of data

As Californians can tell by the already beige hills, the early fire weather warnings and the dusty umbrellas sitting deep inside closets, it’s been drier than usual this winter.   And according to decades worth of precipitation data, that’s the new normal.  What’s considered “normal” for baseline rainfall amounts is determined by a 30-year average that gets recalculated every decade. The latest recalculation, according to Jan Null, a forecaster who runs Golden Gate Weather Services, “show a noticeably drier state” through 2020 compared to the previous “normal” calculation covering 1981 through 2010.  The new normals, on average, show that weather stations in Northern California saw an 8% decrease in precipitation compared to the old normals, with Central California seeing a 5% drop and Southern saw California a 12% decline. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  California’s unusually dry winter could be the new normal, according to decades of data

Column: Shaming your neighbors is not a solution to the drought. But higher water rates might be

Columnist Jay Evensen writes, “When a severe drought held the West Coast in its clutches in 2015, some government leaders could think of no better way to get people to conserve water than to encourage them to turn on each other through drought shaming — the practice of publicly outing and humiliating perceived water wasters on social media.  The results should have been predictable.  As the Orange County Register reported, one person sarcastically posted, “Congratulations for watering the pavement,” along with a picture of a water puddle near a curb in Costa Mesa, California.  Another tweeted the photo of a bald man wearing sunglasses and watering roses in East Los Angeles. “This guy has been doing this daily since the drought began,” the post said. … Instead of uniting to tackle a common problem, people attacked each other. … ”  Continue reading at Deseret News here:  Shaming your neighbors is not a solution to the drought. But higher water rates might be

Extreme heat could again threaten California electricity supplies this year

California’s energy system is in better shape than it was last year but could still face electricity supply shortages if another severe heat wave pummels the Western United States this summer, officials said Wednesday.  The California Independent System Operator, which manages most of the state’s electric grid, said in its annual summer assessment that it expects the state will be better prepared to meet demand than it was in 2020, when widespread extreme heat led to rolling blackouts across the state on two days in August.  However, if blistering temperatures across the West once again sharply restrict California’s ability to import energy from its neighbors, the system operator said it “may still face challenges in meeting load this summer.” ... ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: Extreme heat could again threaten California electricity supplies this year

In other California water news today …

The Institutional Dimensions of Groundwater Recharge: A Special Collection

Aerial view of the Kern Water Bank, Photo by Dale Kolke / DWR

Groundwater pumping exceeds naturally occurring recharge in many regions of the world. The resulting impacts to groundwater systems adversely affect human and environmental systems. Climate change adds urgency, as the combination of more extreme flood and drought regimes coupled with intensifying demand further push groundwater resources out of balance. In many or most groundwater basins, some reduction in groundwater extraction will be necessary to reduce outflows from stressed basins. Increasing inflows to these basins through Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR) is increasingly looked to as a mechanism to help bring aquifers into sustainable balance.  In this special collection, we examine deployment of MAR in examples from around the USA to illustrate the range of institutional approaches used as well as how those relate to the drivers and objectives of MAR. The overarching impetus for this work is the recognition that water managers often anecdotally agree that institutional elements are as important, or more important, than technical challenges to MAR in many cases.”  Case studies include the Kern Water Bank, Orange County Water District, and the Pajaro Valley.  Read the articles from the University of California Press here:  The Institutional Dimensions of Groundwater Recharge: A Special Collection

Groundwater accounting platform to become available statewide

A new partnership seeks to make a groundwater accounting platform freely available to water users. The California Water Data Consortium (Consortium) and Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), and several state water agencies will be working together on the project. The purpose is to assist water users to better manage available water supplies and implement more sustainable practices. Water users will have the ability to track water supplies, create water budgets, and trade allocations of water through the platform. The use of the accounting platform will be entirely voluntary. ... ”  Read more from Ag Net West here: Groundwater accounting platform to become available statewide

Costa legislation aims to improve water quality and supply

At a time when California is facing severe drought conditions that triggered Governor Gavin Newsom’s declaring a state of emergency and providing more than $5 billion dollars for water infrastructure and drought response funding, Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) introduced bipartisan legislation to address California water supply and water quality goals:  “If we are to successfully weather repeated droughts in California, we must find new ways to store and deliver water to our communities,” said Rep. Costa. “My legislation will build our water resiliency and ensure farmers and farm communities have the water they need survive the severe impacts of climate change. The future of our state depends on it. Climate change is real and it’s happening now.” … ”  Continue reading at Congressman Jim Costa’s website here: Costa legislation aims to improve water quality and supply

Bipartisan bill introduced to reauthorize Lake Tahoe Restoration Act

Senators Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla (both D-Calif.) today joined with Senators Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen (both D-Nev.) to introduce bipartisan legislation to extend authorization of the Lake Tahoe Restoration Act.  The original Lake Tahoe Restoration Act was passed in 2000 and authorized $300 million for the restoration of the lake and surrounding basin. The current authorization, which was passed in 2016, will expire in 2024. Reauthorizing the bill will prevent an interruption in conservation and restoration planning.  Companion legislation was introduced in the House by Representatives Mark Amodei (R-Nev.), John Garamendi (D-Calif.), Dina Titus (D-Nev.), Susie Lee (D-Nev.), and Steven Horsford (D-Nev.). … ”  Read more at Senator Dianne Feinstein’s website here: Bipartisan bill introduced to reauthorize Lake Tahoe Restoration Act

A Tarnished Past: How stakeholders in the Sierra Nevada are confronting the lasting legacy of the gold rush

In January 1848, six Mormon men bunked together in a small wood cabin along the South Fork of the American River in Cullumah, as the Nisenan named the land where they had lived for thousands of years, meaning “beautiful valley.”  The men kept journals, taking meticulous notes of the days’ events. That’s how historians know with certainty the very day, Jan. 24, 1848, that sawmill foreman James W. Marshall spotted the glisten of gold settled into the crevices of bedrock as he and his workers dug a water channel. Many years later, in a recounting of his life, Marshall said this: (T)here, upon the rock, about six inches beneath the surface of the water, I DISCOVERED THE GOLD. I was entirely alone at the time. I picked up one or two pieces and examined them attentively. … ”  Continue reading at Comstock’s Magazine here:  A Tarnished Past: How stakeholders in the Sierra Nevada are confronting the lasting legacy of the gold rush

Now-banned pesticide discovered in barrels off Catalina Island is a ‘problem we still don’t understand,’ scientist says

A Los Angeles Times investigation last fall showing as many as half a million barrels of a now-banned pesticide may be sitting on the ocean floor off Catalina Island has led a local assemblyman to propose a new resolution calling on the federal government to take action to protect the island’s ecosystem. The resolution, AJR 2, authored by Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell, D-Long Beach, does not specify what action exactly should be taken regarding the toxic waste, nor is any specific funding attached. The chemical DDT, or dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane, has long been known as a cause of a host of environmental problems: sea lions have contracted an aggressive cancer, brown pelicans’ and California condors’ eggshells have thinned, and a significant accumulation of the chemical has been found in bottlenose dolphins. … ”  Read more from the Long Beach Post here: Now-banned pesticide discovered in barrels off Catalina Island is a ‘problem we still don’t understand,’ scientist says

Celebrating 50 years of internationally important wetlands

Elkhorn Slough, the largest tract of tidal salt marsh in California outside of San Francisco Bay. Credit: Elkhorn Slough NERR

May is American Wetlands Month and this year also marks the 50th anniversary of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance. This intergovernmental treaty is focused on the conservation and wise use of important wetlands and their resources. More than 2,400 wetlands around the world have been designated as “Wetlands of International Importance,” also known as Ramsar sites. Of the 41 Ramsar sites in the United States, three are co-managed by NOAA.   The NOAA Fisheries Office of Habitat Conservation works to protect and restore our coastal wetlands and the benefits they provide. Below we take a closer look at the three NOAA-managed Ramsar sites, which provide important habitats for commercially important fish and thousands of species of wildlife in California. … ”  Featured wetlands are the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve, Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, and Tomales Bay.  Read more from the NOAA here: Celebrating 50 years of internationally important wetlands

This year’s almond crop forecast to grow — again

A survey from United States Department of Agriculture predicts an increase in almond production from last year.  But while the survey foretells more acreage coming online for Fresno County’s most valuable crop, growers are already facing the reality of a drought, going so far as to pull out their years-long investments, casting a shadow of a doubt on a sunny outlook.  The USDA’s subjective forecast estimates that the 2021 harvest will increase by 3% from the previous year, yielding 3.2 billion pounds. … ”  Read more from the Business Journal here:  This year’s almond crop forecast to grow — again

SEE ALSO: USDA projects record California almond crop, but will growers have enough water?, from the Modesto Bee

One way to save a California town from wildfire: Advance work by unsung heroes

Signs of gratitude, literally, adorn the Fresno County mountain town of Shaver Lake, population 500 plus a collection of cabins, restaurants and real estate offices.  Outside of Bob’s Market, the message is: “Thank you, Creek Fire Heroes,” adjacent to a photo of firefighters.  The town today is an island of green pines, surrounded by charred hills and the burnt remains of trees. Yet the signs of gratitude, while well-deserved, could also rightly extend to a mostly unheralded group of workers who labored in advance of flames bearing down on the area from the raging Creek Fire. ... ”  Read more from KQED here: One way to save a California town from wildfire: Advance work by unsung heroes

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In commentary today …

Newsom plays politics with drought: As Californians we are not all in this together

Dennis Wyatt, editor of the Manteca Bulletin, write, “Gov. Gavin Newsom is either playing recall politics with California’s future or else it is a complete lack of understanding of how the state’s water system.  Newsom declared a drought emergency Monday on the San Joaquin, Sacramento, and Klamath river water basins. That impacts 41 of the state’s 58 counties. it also covers 30 percent of California’s nearly 40 million residents.  What it doesn’t cover is voter rich Southern California south of the Tehachapi Mountains. ... ”  Continue reading at the Manteca Bulletin here: Newsom plays politics with drought: As Californians we are not all in this together

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In regional water news and commentary today …

Extreme drought conditions force closure of Klamath Project’s “A” Canal

Increasing extreme drought conditions in combination with operations for threatened and endangered species will further reduce Klamath Project water supplies to historically low volumes in 2021. Given the insufficiency of the expected water supply, the Bureau of Reclamation announced today that Klamath Project’s “A” Canal will remain closed for the 2021 irrigation season. In coordination with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA Fisheries, Reclamation also announced that a Klamath River surface flushing flow for salmon will not be implemented this year. Reclamation will continue its process to update the Klamath Project 2021 Temporary Operations Plan to adjust project operations for threatened and endangered species.  “This year’s drought conditions are bringing unprecedented hardship to the communities of the Klamath Basin. We have closely monitored the water conditions in the area and the unfortunate deterioration of the forecasted hydrology. This has resulted in the historic consequence of not being able to operate a majority of the Klamath Project this year,” said Reclamation Deputy Commissioner Camille Calimlim Touton. “Reclamation is dedicated to working with our water users, tribes, and partners to get through this difficult year and developing long-term solutions for the basin.” ... ”  Continue reading from the Bureau of Reclamation here: Extreme drought conditions force closure of Klamath Project’s “A” Canal

Bureau of Reclamation shuts down primary canal for Klamath Project irrigators amid worsening drought

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced Wednesday that it would close the primary canal serving Klamath Project irrigators for the season, leaving them with no water this summer.  Deepening drought conditions mean a tentative plan for water distribution announced last month is scrapped. The remaining water in Upper Klamath Lake will be kept there to try to preserve two endangered fish species critical to the Klamath Tribes.  The canal, known as “A Canal,” diverts water from Upper Klamath Lake to irrigators in Klamath County in Oregon as well as Siskiyou and Modoc counties across the border in California. The federal agency says worsening drought in the region has forced their decision. … ”  Read more from OPB here: Bureau of Reclamation shuts down primary canal for Klamath Project irrigators amid worsening drought

SEE ALSO:

North Coast: Huffman hosts drought summit, water managers ask for aid, presidential emergency — rep. optimistic on Coyote Valley Dam raising study

Reps. Jared Huffman and Mike Thompson, along with prominent North Coast water managers and politicians gathered at a virtual summit yesterday morning to discuss the severe drought facing the North Coast and the entire state. At the summit (a recording of which is available on YouTube), State Senator Mike McGuire stated that the state legislature is moving forward on a several billion dollar drought relief package, which would include $1 billion in grants to help ratepayers and utilities pay off back bills and $500 million to help smaller low income communities develop enhanced drinking water supplies, among other things. Huffman also said that he is optimistic that studies on raising the Coyote Valley Dam will move forward — and that the cost-benefit rubric previously used to assess such projects has changed. ... ”  Read more from the Mendocino Voice here: Huffman hosts drought summit, water managers ask for aid, presidential emergency — rep. optimistic on Coyote Valley Dam raising study

Improving Ukiah water supply system ‘has been a massive project’

““In years of drought when the lake account is not looking good, we will switch to relying more heavily on the groundwater basin. With its highly favorable income to outflow ratio, it doesn’t have any sort of severe impact,” says Sean White, Director of Water Resources at the City of Ukiah.  The city limits is a very small area relative to the actual community, and even though your mailing address indicates that you live in Ukiah, it does not mean you receive your water from the City of Ukiah. People who live in the unincorporated areas of the valley who receive water from Millview County Water District, Rogina Water Company and Willow County Water District do not have the same resources. … ”  Read more from the Ukiah Daily Journal here: Improving Ukiah water supply system ‘has been a massive project’

Here are the restrictions for Sacramento area, so far

You can’t water your lawn more than twice a week in the city or Sacramento during summer, and never on Thursday or Friday.  For thousands of Sacramento County residents, the limit is three days a week. In Roseville, there’s no watering between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. Customers of the San Juan Water District have five days to fix leaks, and hosing down the driveway or sidewalk is off-limits in Elk Grove.  Long before Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a drought emergency for the Sacramento region — and much of the rest of California — area residents were already dealing with an assortment of restrictions on water consumption, depending on their supplier. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: Here are the restrictions for Sacramento area, so far

Sonoma County: Defining groundwater conditions in three local basins

Well owners in Santa Rosa Plain, Petaluma Valley and Sonoma Valley are invited to join community meetings on groundwater conditions and sustainable management of this critical water source.  The Santa Rosa Plain, Petaluma Valley and Sonoma Valley groundwater sustainability agencies (GSAs) are nearing completion of major plans that identify issues with current and future groundwater resources and that describe how these challenges will be addressed. The meetings will provide a preview of the proposed sustainability indicators that have been developed with stakeholder input, and that are the heart of the Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs). … ”  Read more from Sonoma County here: Sonoma County: Defining groundwater conditions in three local basins

San Francisco City ordinance seeks to conserve water supply, expand recycled water amid statewide drought conditions

As California continues to face drought conditions, a San Francisco supervisor on Tuesday proposed legislation that would not only conserve water but would also expand the city’s recycled water supply.  The ordinance, drafted by Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, would require all new large buildings in San Francisco to double the amount of water collected and reused and also calls for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission to develop a plan to expand the city’s recycled water supply.  “The climate crisis is upon us, and prolonged drought and annual wildfires have become sad and scary facts of life in California,” Mandelman said during Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Examiner here: San Francisco City ordinance seeks to conserve water supply, expand recycled water amid statewide drought conditions

Ironhouse Sanitary District opens recycled water fill station

While most of California is experiencing mild drought conditions, state officials have reported that Contra Costa County is experiencing severe drought conditions. To help residents reduce the water use in gardens, landscaping and lawns, Ironhouse Sanitary District (ISD) has decided to open its residential recycled water fill station early this year. The fill station is now open.  The open hours will be Tuesday and Thursdays, 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The fill station service is available at no charge to Oakley and Bethel Island residents. … ”  Read more from The Press here:  Ironhouse Sanitary District opens recycled water fill station

Santa Clara County residents will have to pay more for water amid ‘extreme drought’

Santa Clara County residents can expect higher water bills soon.  After getting approval from its Board of Directors, the Santa Clara Valley Water District is raising its rates 9.1% for fiscal 2022, by $4.30 to $4.82 per month for the average resident, as the region faces “extreme drought.” The changes will begin July 1 and remain in effect until June 30 next year. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  Santa Clara County residents will have to pay more for water amid ‘extreme drought’

Half Moon Bay Editorial: Drought will change life in California without larger effort

The Half Moon Bay Review editorial board writes, “This won’t be the year that we turn on the faucet in our homes and find that nothing comes out. But it may be the year we contemplate that day. If that sounds hyperbolic, consider the machinations of various local, state and national agencies in the weeks before the long, hot and very dry summer … Now, the Coastside County Water District — an agency that prides itself on having multiple sources of water in an effort to avoid just this — is expected to ask Half Moon Bay and El Granada residents to voluntarily cut back 10 percent of their outdoor water usage. … It is a start. It is also insufficient in this moment. ... ”  Read the full commentary at the Half Moon Bay Review here: Half Moon Bay Editorial: Drought will change life in California without larger effort

Fresno: Drought forces California farmers to destroy crops

With the uncertainty of water, some Central Valley farmers are destroying their crops ahead of the summer season in order to survive. It’s impacting jobs and soon possibly the grocery shelves.  Every crop at Del Bosque Farms is planted meticulously, and every drop of water is a precious commodity.  Joe Del Bosque started the family farm in 1985. He grows melons, asparagus, cherries, almonds, and corn, but the drought brings a flood of concern. … ”  Read more from Your Central Valley here: Fresno: Drought forces California farmers to destroy crops

Commentary: Lustful eyes cast on Paso Robles Water Basin

On its surface, the idea of banking water to bridge the certainty of future rain-deficient periods seems like an innovative and non-controversial planning procedure. In the end, however, it all depends on who holds the keys to the bank.  The notion of water banking has grabbed local attention lately following a controversial and divided 3-2 vote March 3 by San Luis Obispo County supervisors, a vote which numerous North County entities view as opening the door to selling and exporting county water resources to the highest outside bidder.  Supervisor Lynn Compton’s vote was the deciding one on an amendment to the county’s water policy that would, among other things, “utilize storage locations other than San Luis Reservoir as an exchange and transfer point.”  “That ‘other’ location is the Paso Robles Water Basin,” said North County businessman Erik Gorham. “There are not a lot of other places to store that water in this county.” … ”  Read more from Cal Coast News here: Commentary: Lustful eyes cast on Paso Robles Water Basin

Metropolitan validates water reliability for Southern California with new Urban Water Management Plan

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California has demonstrated its ability to meet expected water demands in the region for the next quarter century, even under drought conditions, in a long-term management plan approved Tuesday by its board of directors.  Metropolitan’s Urban Water Management Plan provides a summary of the agency’s anticipated water demands and supplies through 2045, and shows the district will meet demands under normal water years, single dry-years, and five-year drought sequences. At the center of Metropolitan’s reliability plan is its diverse portfolio of water resources, including imported supplies from the Colorado River and State Water Project; local projects offering water recycling and groundwater recovery; short- and long-term water transfers; and storage, both inside and outside of the region. Metropolitan will also continue investing in water-use efficiency measures to help lower demands across the region. … ”  Read more from the Metropolitan Water District here: Metropolitan validates water reliability for Southern California with new Urban Water Management Plan

Advocates warn about toxic fumes that could be emerging from the Salton Sea

The Salton Sea continues to be a big talker when it comes to lithium, but a long problem remains in and around the sea when it comes to toxic air.  During our extensive coverage of the Salton Sea, we learned that toxic air is not only coming from dried-up parts of the sea, but other parts of the sea are now contributing to the toxicity.  “It is not just the toxic elements that have been trapped by the water and now exposed as the sea recedes,” explained Fran Ruiz, Salton Sea Director with Audubon California.  Ruiz has been working with researchers who have been studying the toxic levels at the Salton Sea. … ”  Read more from NBC Palm Springs here:  Advocates warn about toxic fumes that could be emerging from the Salton Sea

Troubled Waters: The Salton Sea Project Part 2 – ‘Toxic Exposure’

Ask any Californian and they’ll tell you about the breathtaking beauty of Lake Tahoe or the dizzyingly good times at Lake Havasu, but ask about the Salton Sea and you’ll likely get complaints about the smell or all the dead fish.  The Salton Sea, California’s largest lake, starts at the southern end of the Coachella Valley and it’s unlike any lake you’ve seen before. 35 miles long with mesmerizing views big enough to nearly swallow up the entire Coachella Valley. Look but don’t touch.  In late April, the California State Water Resources Control Board announced harmful cyanobacteria blooms had been discovered there – and that a dog had died recently after swimming in the water. … ”  Read more from Channel 3 here: Troubled Waters: The Salton Sea Project Part 2 – ‘Toxic Exposure’

San Diego County has ‘sufficient’ water supplies through 2045

San Diego County Water Authority officials say the region has sufficient supplies to meet the needs of the region through 2045 — even through multiple dry years.  On Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom expanded a drought emergency declaration from Sonoma and Mendocino counties to 41 counties in northern and central California.  “Governor Newsom’s latest drought emergency declaration is a grim reminder of the growing water supply challenges across California — and of the value of three decades of our collective dedication to use water efficiently combined with strategic investments that protect San Diego County from dry years,” SDCWA board chair Gary Croucher said Tuesday. “Thanks to efforts of ratepayers, the water authority and our 24 member agencies, we have sufficient water supplies for 2021 and the foreseeable future.” … ”  Read more from KPBS here: San Diego County has ‘sufficient’ water supplies through 2045

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Along the Colorado River …

The Gila River Indian Community innovates for a drought-ridden future

A riverbed that has been parched since the end of the 19th century — a portion of the historic lifeblood of the Gila River Indian Community — is now coursing again with water, luring things like cattails and birds back to its shores.   “You add water and stuff just immediately starts coming back naturally. Birds have returned and it’s just such a different experience,” says Jason Hauter, an attorney and a community member. “It’s amazing how much has returned.  The revival of this small segment of the 649-mile (1045-kilometer) Gila River, which has served the tribes that make up the Gila River Indian Community — the Akimel O’odham (Pima) and the Pee-Posh (Maricopa) — for roughly 2,000 years, was an added benefit of a grassroots infrastructure overhaul, known as “managed aquifer recharge,” or MAR, which aimed to restore the local groundwater basin. The MAR project has not only secured a water supply for local agriculture, but it has also generated a stable source of income and strengthened the community’s ties to tradition. … ”  Read more from the High Country News here: The Gila River Indian Community innovates for a drought-ridden future

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In national water news today …

States ask Biden to trash Trump-era Clean Water Act change

With shrinking reservoir levels and a summer of water shortages impending, drought-ridden California on Wednesday pressed the Biden administration for more control over future infrastructure projects planned in the Golden State.  California and a collection of states urged the federal government to drop a Trump-era rule that reduced states’ authority to deny permitting and licensing for things like new water infrastructure, oil pipelines, wastewater plants or development projects in wetland areas. The states claim the rule gives them little say over projects that could ultimately harm water quality and the environment.  “As we find ourselves facing yet another drought, Californians are acutely aware of the value of water and its critical importance to sustaining our communities, ecosystems, and agriculture,” said new California Attorney General Rob Bonta in a statement. “By allowing projects to go forward without state water quality protections, the Army Corps endangers our ability to safeguard this precious resource.” ... ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service here: States ask Biden to trash Trump-era Clean Water Act change

SEE ALSO: As West Faces Drought, Attorney General Bonta Calls on Army Corps to Respect California’s Authority to Protect State Waters, press release from AG Bonta

Critical infrastructure flaws surface after years of underinvestment in energy, other sectors, analysts say

The risk to critical infrastructure is a long festering concern in the cybersecurity industry. Researchers, corporate security officers and government experts feared that energy producers, utilities and water systems lacked the manpower and investment in security.  The risk increased with the exposure of industrial control systems to the open internet and connected to IT systems through automation.  Industrial control systems had 893 vulnerability disclosures in 2020, up 25% year-over-year, according to 2021 data from industrial cybersecurity firm Claroty.   Critical manufacturing, energy — which includes electricity, oil and natural gas — and water and wastewater reported the most vulnerabilities.  … ”  Read more from Utility Dive here: Critical infrastructure flaws surface after years of underinvestment in energy, other sectors, analysts say

Let it rain: Boosting showers where water is scarce

A new method to trigger rain in places where water is scarce is being tested in the United Arab Emirates using unmanned drones that were designed and manufactured at the University of Bath. The drones carry an electric charge that is released into a cloud, giving cloud droplets the jolt they need to clump together and fall as rain. … The drones, which are being tested as part of the UAE’s rain-enhancement science-research programme, are equipped with a payload of electric-charge emission instruments and sensors. Human operators on the ground will direct them towards low-hanging clouds, where they will release their charge. Clouds naturally carry positive and negative charges. By altering the balance of these charges, it is hoped that cloud droplets can be persuaded to grow and merge, eventually producing rain. … ” Read more from Water Online here: Let it rain: Boosting showers where water is scarce

April 2021 and year to date were among Earth’s top-10 warmest

April was the world’s ninth-warmest April in 142 years of record keeping, despite unusually cool temperatures across much of North America, Europe, Australia, the eastern tropical Pacific and southern oceans.  Continuing a warm trend, the year to date ranked eight warmest on record, according to scientists from NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information.  The average global temperature in April was 1.42 degrees F (0.79 of a degree C) above the 20th-century average of 56.7 degrees F (13.7 degrees C), making April 2021 the ninth-hottest April on record.  ... ”  Continue reading from NOAA here: April 2021 and year to date were among Earth’s top-10 warmest

As the climate warms, could the U.S. Face another dust bowl?

Growing up in rural Iowa in the 1990s, Isaac Larsen remembers a unique herald of springtime. The snowbanks piled along roads, once white or gray, would turn black. The culprit was windblown dust, stirred from barren farm fields into the air.  Even as some of the region’s farmers have adopted more sustainable practices, the dust still flies. Not long ago, Larsen’s mother told her son about an encounter with a dust storm, saying “the soil was just blowing across the road — almost like a blizzard, but black.”  Larsen, a 42-year-old geoscientist at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, recently published a paper on soil loss in the U.S. Corn Belt. Since farming began, Larsen and his coauthors estimate that more than one-third of the Corn Belt — nearly 30 million acres — has lost all of its nutrient- and carbon-rich topsoil. Similar processes also are taking place on the neighboring Great Plains, a sprawling region that includes Kansas, Nebraska, and the Dakotas, as well as parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Montana, and Colorado. … ”  Read more from Yale e360 here:  As the climate warms, could the U.S. Face another dust bowl?

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NASA Snow Water Equivalent (SWE) Report …

20210511_RT_SWE_Report

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Today’s featured articles …

CA WATER COMMISSION: DSOD’s proposed new dam safety regulations

Perris Dam and Lake Perris, a terminal storage facility in Riverside County on the East Branch of the State Water Project. Photo by Florence Low / DWR

The Division of Safety of Dams (DSOD), housed within the Department of Water Resources, regulates over 1,240 dams to prevent failure, safeguard life, and protect property. While most dam owners meet regulatory requirements on time, there are dam owners that are not compliant with minimum dam safety requirements.  In the wake of the Oroville spillway crisis, the legislature passed Senate Bill 92 (SB 92) in June of 2017, which bolstered the Division’s enforcement authority for dam safety violations to include property liens, punitive reservoir restrictions, and assessment of civil penalties of up to $1,000 per day for failure to comply.

One of the statutory responsibilities of the California Water Commission is to approve Department of Water Resources’ rules and regulations not pertaining to the management and administration of the Department.  At the April meeting of the California Water Commission, commissioners were briefed on the Divison of Safety of Dam’s proposed dam safety regulations.

Division Chief Sharon Tapia provided an overview of the California dam safety program and proposed enforcement regulations.

Click here to read this article.

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

NOTICE OF WORKSHOP/OPPORTUNITY TO COMMENT: Water Unavailability Methodology for the Delta Watershed

CA WATER COMMISSION: Draft white paper released with preliminary findings, conclusions on State’s role in financing conveyance needs

NOTICE: CNRA Announces First Two Topical Workshops and Advisory Panels on Advancing 30×30 and Climate Smart Lands

VELES WEEKLY REPORT: Extreme drought conditions now encompass 73.31% of CA. NQH2O hits new all time high at $877.36

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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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