DAILY DIGEST, 6/9: After a bitter fight, Metropolitan has a new General Manager; State releases its first reviews of local SGMA plans; Woman sues over getting stuck in fish trap; Abatti responds to IID’s Supreme Court filing; and more …

Dear readers: This aggregation (as big as it is) is a little short this morning, as I have a personal matter to attend to. I’ll make up for it tomorrow morning, so be sure to grab a jumbo-sized coffee cup!  –Regards, Maven

On the calendar today …

  • FREE WEBINAR: State Water Board Direct Potable Reuse Research Part 2: Chemicals, from 10am to 11:30am.  This webcast, held in cooperation with SWB, will present findings from another project funded under the grant: Defining Potential Chemical Peaks and Management Options (4991). This research evaluated the potential for certain chemicals to persist through advanced water treatment systems and options for the detection of chemical peaks. Attendees will also hear from the SWB Division of Drinking Water on the importance of this research and how it will lead to their draft regulations.  Click here to register.
  • FREE WEBINAR: Multiple Benefits of Stormwater Capture and Reuse Projects from 11am to 1pm.  Please join us for the third in a series of web-based events associated with the national Water Reuse Action Plan (WRAP) Action Item 2.3.3., which focuses on opportunities and challenges related to urban stormwater capture and use. This webcast will highlight stormwater capture and reuse projects from around the country. This free webcast explores how these projects can be designed to provide benefit far beyond the management of stormwater. Speakers will discuss the drivers for these projects, life cycle considerations, and lessons learned.  This event is hosted by the Water Environment Federation and co-sponsored by U.S. EPA, the WateReuse Association, the National Municipal Stormwater Alliance (NMSA), and the Johnson Foundation at Wingspread.  Click here to register.
  • WEBINAR: Eyes on the Lake – Leveraging the power of citizen science to Keep Tahoe Blue from 12pm to 1pm.  Millions of people recreating at Lake Tahoe can protect while they play by joining Keep Tahoe Blue’s citizen science programs like Eyes on the Lake. Learn how these efforts by volunteers can complement Tahoe’s Environmental Improvement Program to manage aquatic invasive species and engage a vast range of visitors and locals in shared stewardship.  Click to register

In California water news today …

After a bitter fight, Southern California’s water kingpin has a new leader

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California has hired Adel Hagekhalil as its next general manager, following a bitter power struggle over the future of an agency that delivers hundreds of billions of gallons each year from the Colorado River and Northern California to a region that otherwise wouldn’t have nearly enough water to support 19 million people.  Hagekhalil was previously second in command at the Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation, where he helped develop strategies for cutting the city’s use of imported water — and therefore its reliance on Metropolitan. He said he’ll bring a shift in focus to the agency, putting more emphasis on recycling sewage water, capturing rainwater and cleaning up groundwater aquifers. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: After a bitter fight, Southern California’s water kingpin has a new leader

After rancorous meeting, Metropolitan Water District board hires new general manager

Bitterly divided board members blasted one another for “constant manipulations,” leaking information to the media, “deliberate and outrageous beaches of confidentiality” and other transgressions at a marathon seven-hour meeting of the mighty Metropolitan Water District of Southern California on Tuesday, June 8.  Despite the tension and rancor, Met’s 38-member board ultimately approved the employment contract of Adel Hagekhalil, making him the new general manager of America’s most massive drinking water agency. And despite the tension and rancor, Hagekhalil accepted.  “I’m a person who brings people together, defuses the tension in the room and puts people behind the goal,” he said during an extended question-and-answer session that some likened to an extra, last-minute job interview. “What we need to do now is come together. … We have to focus on what unites us rather than what divides us. We have huge challenges ahead of us.” ... ”  Read more from the Pasadena Star News here: After rancorous meeting, Metropolitan Water District board hires new general manager

State releases its first reviews of local SGMA plans

Against the backdrop of what’s shaping up as a devastating drought year, the California Department of Water Resources has released its first assessments of groundwater sustainability plans developed by local agencies to meet the requirements of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.  The department released reviews of four local plans, approving two but sending the other two back to local groundwater sustainability agencies, saying the plans need more work.  Under SGMA, the local groundwater sustainability agencies must develop plans to guide management of groundwater in basins and subbasins statewide. This first round of assessments pertains to agencies overseeing critically overdrafted basins and that were required to submit plans by Jan. 31. ... ”  Read more from Ag Alert here: State releases its first reviews of local SGMA plans

Long Beach researchers to study how rising sea levels could pollute fresh groundwater

Researchers from Cal State Long Beach and Cal State Northridge will kick off a two-year study starting on July 1 that will analyze how rising sea levels could cause underground fresh water to become contaminated with toxins further inland.  Their findings will then be used to create mapping tools to identify which low-income communities in California are most at risk of having their water contaminated in the near future. The goal is to bring awareness to state planners of the neighborhoods most impacted and how they can use the data to make better decisions when dealing with environmental planning. … ”  Read more from the Long Beach Post here: Long Beach researchers to study how rising sea levels could pollute fresh groundwater

Woman sues over getting stuck in fish trap while tubing in Sacramento

A Sacramento woman says she nearly drowned and her son was traumatized when she got stuck in a fish trap while floating on the American River.  A lawsuit filed Friday in Superior Court seeks damages from state and federal wildlife agencies and Sacramento County over the incident, on June 10, 2020, just west of the Watt Avenue bridge in Sacramento.  The woman and her son had been floating on inner tubes for less than a quarter-mile, the complaint says, when hers was pulled toward a “rotary screw trap” — a floating device intended to capture salmon for monitoring purposes. … ”  Read more from the Mercury News here: Woman sues over getting stuck in fish trap while tubing in Sacramento

Feds could restrict west coast salmon fishing to help orcas

Federal officials are proposing to curtail nontribal salmon fishing along the West Coast in especially bad years to help the Northwest’s endangered killer whales.  NOAA Fisheries is taking public comment on the plan, which calls for restricting commercial and recreational salmon fishing when Chinook salmon forecasts are especially low.  The southern resident killer whales — the endangered orcas that spend much of their time in the waters between Washington state and British Columbia — depend heavily on depleted runs of fatty Chinook. Recent research has affirmed how important Chinook are to the whales year-round, as they cruise the outer coast, and not just when they forage in Washington’s inland waters in the summertime. … ”  Read more from CBS Sacramento here: Feds could restrict west coast salmon fishing to help orcas

California sea lions are facing a deadly, ‘unprecedented’ health crisis

Sea lions off the California coast are increasingly facing a terminal diagnosis, one potentially linked to toxic, human-made chemicals from generations ago.  A report from Reuters found that California sea lions are increasingly being diagnosed with urogenital carcinoma, a startlingly common form of vital cancer among these water mammals. These creatures have the highest rates of cancer among any mammal, including humans. ... ”  Read more from SF Gate here: California sea lions are facing a deadly, ‘unprecedented’ health crisis

In California drought news today …

Pulling out trees, trucking water for cows: California farmers take drastic measures in drought

Normally, the biggest vegetable grower in Sonoma County, Humberto Castañeda Produce, grows heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, corn, watermelons and other crops on 180 acres outside of Santa Rosa. But this year, Humberto Castañeda and his son, Gabriel, are farming only 17 acres after receiving a fraction of their normal allotment of water from the city of Santa Rosa.  “I could plant the whole farm and have water that might last me for a month,” said Gabriel, 27, who is managing the farm Humberto founded in the 1980s for the first time this season. “After that the plants are going to die.”  The Castañedas are among countless farmers across the state taking drastic measures to deal with the drought, either because they’re not getting their usual irrigation allotments or because the ponds they normally rely on are drying up in the second year of California’s drought. ... ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: Pulling out trees, trucking water for cows: California farmers take drastic measures in drought

Video: Farmer on California drought: ‘We’ve never been in this kind of uncertainty before’

100 percent of California is experiencing a drought and farmers have been left with thousands of acres of dried-up land. NBC News’ Steve Patterson spoke with one struggling farmer who said he has “never been in this kind of uncertainty before.”  Watch video at Yahoo News here: Video: Farmer on California drought: ‘We’ve never been in this kind of uncertainty before’

A hotter climate is shrinking the water supply in the Western U.S.

Severe drought is spreading after a record dry year in the Western United States. Climate change is only making water shortages worse.  Drought is intensifying across the West. Almost half the country’s population is facing dry conditions, but it’s more than just one bad year. A hotter climate is also shrinking water supplies, and that is posing a fundamental threat to water systems that millions of people rely on. NPR’s Lauren Sommer has more. … ”  Listen to radio spot or read transcript here: A hotter climate is shrinking the water supply in the Western U.S.

Livestock owners see hay supplies cut due to drought

Poor crop yields and less hay being grown in California have diminished availability of the fodder, with dairy farmers and livestock ranchers facing sticker shock as they scramble to secure enough supply to feed their animals.  Farmers and brokers say organic hay has been particularly hard to find, due to higher demand from organic dairy farmers in the North Bay, whose grazing season has been cut short by drought and dry pastures.  Neal Carstensen, who grows organic hay in Marin County, said he has warned customers who may still be shopping around that the price of hay will surely continue to climb, “because there is no stock.”  “My hay-hauling friends over here are very, very busy right now, because the dairies are trying to buy up anything they can out there early, before it’s gone,” he said. “I think most dairies understand the need to get it now, because it’s not going to be there later.” ... ”  Read more from Ag Alert here: Livestock owners see hay supplies cut due to drought

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In regional water news and commentary today …

NorCal conservationists float emergency water plan to save salmon

After years of drought, salmon in Northern California are facing extinction. Conservation groups in the region have drafted a water management plan that, if adopted, would send less water to Central Valley farmers and keep more cold water for fish.  Last week, fishery advocates in Northern California submitted their temperature management plan to the State Water Resources Control Board. They want to change water operations in the Shasta, Trinity, Sacramento and Lower Klamath Rivers so the region’s salmon runs have enough cold water to survive. Tom Stokely is with Save California Salmon and co-authored the plan. He said the Bureau of Reclamation’s current practices are a recipe for disaster. … ”  Read more from Jefferson Public Radio here: NorCal conservationists float emergency water plan to save salmon

Upcoming workshop deals with groundwater management for Sutter Subbasin GSP

Next week marks the continuation of public workshops by the Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) of Sutter Groundwater Subbasin in preparing a Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) in response to the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).   This remote meeting will be held Tuesday evening, June 15, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. by the nine GSAs of the Sutter Groundwater Subbasin. … ”  Read more from California Rice News here: Upcoming workshop deals with groundwater management for Sutter Subbasin GSP

Nevada Irrigation District releases Draft Urban Water Management Plan (UWMP)

The Nevada Irrigation District (NID) has released its Public Draft 2020 Urban Water Management Plan (UWMP). The public can review it on the NID website at nidwater.com  A Board Workshop to review the Public Draft UWMP will be held during its June 23 Board of Directors meeting at approximately 9:00 a.m. A second Board Workshop will be held on June 24 at 6:00 p.m. In addition, a Public Hearing is scheduled on the UWMP at the July 14 Board of Directors meeting. … ”  Read more from Nevada Irrigation District here: Nevada Irrigation District releases Draft Urban Water Management Plan (UWMP)

Grass Valley commentary: Facts matter — Don’t be a victim of mining fiction

Ben Mossman, president of Rise Grass Valley and CEO of Rise Gold Corporation, writes, “The Union has printed several opinion pieces by Idaho-Maryland Mine Project opponents. The majority of these columns present “information” that’s either biased or misleading and based neither on science nor logic.  Here are the facts. Rise Gold Corp. and its subsidiary, Rise Grass Valley Inc., are American companies incorporated in Nevada. Rise Grass Valley proposes to create more than 600 local jobs by reopening the historic Idaho-Maryland Mine. The mine is projected to employ 312 people at full operation, with two-thirds of these positions projected to be filled by existing local residents.  New local spending of $50 million per year will create an additional 300 indirect jobs in our community and bolster local businesses. … ”  Read more from The Union here: Grass Valley commentary: Facts matter — Don’t be a victim of mining fiction

Whose water is it? Lake Tahoe water levels dropping quickly as demand increases

Those watching the level of Lake Tahoe know it is dropping quickly, and it’s not just because of a lack of snowfall this year and another year of drought.  Understanding why the lake drops, and who causes it to drop (yes, there is a person – the watermaster), is key to knowing why the lake should be at its natural rim of 6,223 feet above sea level by the beginning of August. As of June 8 the lake is two feet above that rim.  The surface of Lake Tahoe is 22 miles long and 12 miles wide and 191 square miles. The shoreline length is 75 miles and with an average depth of 1,000 feet, there is a lot of water in this jewel of the Sierra, 36.15 cubic miles or 39,000,000,000 (trillion) gallons of it, in fact. ... ”  Read more from South Tahoe Now here: Whose water is it? Lake Tahoe water levels dropping quickly as demand increases

California drought: Sonoma City Council declares stage 1 water shortage

City officials in Sonoma on Tuesday declared a Stage 1 Water Shortage and are seeking voluntary conservation from residents and businesses.  According to a press release issued by the city, all Sonoma water service area customers are urged to reduce their water usage.  Faced with extreme drought conditions and no relief from rain until possibly the fall, the Sonoma City Council unanimously voted this week to enact the initial phase of the city’s Water Shortage Contingency Plan (WSCP) to ensure a continuous supply of high-quality water. ... ”  Read more from CBS Sacramento here: California drought: Sonoma City Council declares stage 1 water shortage

State water regulators to consider emergency limits on at least 1,600 Russian River users

State regulators are considering sweeping drought emergency rules that would let them suspend the diversion of water from the Russian River to at least 1,600 homes, businesses and other users. The proposal, which would cover both the upper and lower parts of the watershed, could greatly extend the list of more than 900 water suppliers, agricultural producers and property owners already notified there has been too little rainfall for them to exercise their water rights this year.  The draft regulation goes before the water board next Tuesday and could account for substantial monthly savings, depending when diversions are limited, Erik Ekdahl, deputy director of the state water board’s Division of Water Rights, said during a virtual Sonoma County Town Hall on the drought last week. … ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here:  State water regulators to consider emergency limits on at least 1,600 Russian River users

Marin businesses adapt to endure drought restrictions

After a winter of season of record-low rainfall, Corte Madera business owner Paul Burrous knew water restrictions were imminent. That’s when he decided to invest in a water truck.  While it costs Burrous several thousand dollars a month to rent and insure, the 2,000-gallon truck allows his business, the Marin Wood Restoration and Painting Co., to continue one of its most demanded services, power-washing, even during what is likely to be the county’s worst drought on record.  The Marin Municipal Water District prohibits using potable water for power washing on decks and hard surfaces as part of a suite of restrictions it approved earlier this year. … ”  Continue reading from the Marin Independent Journal here:  Marin businesses adapt to endure drought restrictions

Valley Water set to require usage cuts

The local water district and cities in Santa Clara County are preparing to implement mandatory conservation measures in the face of an ongoing drought that threatens to severely diminish water supplies, according to authorities.  The Valley Water board of directors at the June 9 meeting will consider formally declaring a water shortage emergency condition and imposing mandatory use restrictions on the district’s retailers throughout the county. Specifically, Valley Water recommends that the board require water use reductions of 15 percent from 2019 consumption levels. That’s about 33 percent of water consumption in 2013—the year that preceded the last significant, prolonged drought in California. … ”  Read more from the Gilroy Dispatch here: Valley Water set to require usage cuts

Droughts and water shortages unlikely to affect Mountain View’s rapid housing and job growth

Water agencies and cities across the Bay Area are preparing for another significant drought, bringing back mandatory water rationing and raising all-too-familiar concerns over dwindling water supplies.  And while the recent dry spell will mean shorter showers and yellow lawns, California’s latest drought emergency doesn’t appear to be a factor in Mountain View’s plans to grow over the next two decades. With the backdrop of two successive dry winters and statewide drought declarations, city officials believe water demand is still low and flexible enough to support a vast increase in new residents and jobs. … ”  Read more from the Mountain View Voice here: Droughts and water shortages unlikely to affect Mountain View’s rapid housing and job growth

Commentary: San Joaquin Valley needs to stop waiting to be rescued from droughts

Cordie Qualle, interim director of the California Water Institute at Fresno State, writes, “The Bureau of Reclamation recently issued its update of water allocations for the Central Valley Project for agricultural, municipal and industrial users. These cuts reduced agricultural water deliveries from 5% to 0% and municipal and industrial water deliveries from 55% to 25%, essentially forcing these water users to shift to groundwater or to severely curtail their use.  The last time we had 0% delivered to farmers and only 25% delivered to municipal and industrial users was in 2015. Unlike in 2015, we are faced today with a trifecta of bad conditions: decreased snowpack water content, reduced groundwater availability and possibly another year of drought ahead of us. Of the three, the reduced availability of groundwater will be the most devastating. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  San Joaquin Valley needs to stop waiting to be rescued from droughts

Groundwater authority to discuss Searles Valley Minerals, Mojave Pistachios nonpayment Wed

The fate of Searles Valley Minerals and Mojave Pistachios — at least in terms of water — may be decided at the groundwater authority meeting Wednesday.  The regular meeting is set for no earlier than 11 a.m. Wednesday. Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority officials will discuss how to respond to both companies’ failure to pay the IWVGA’s replenishment fee.  The topic will be discussed at two public hearings, but the meeting will be virtual, meaning the public cannot attend in person and participation has to take place via phone, email or letters. … ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here: Groundwater authority to discuss Searles Valley Minerals, Mojave Pistachios nonpayment Wed

SoCal: Lawmakers warned of potential widespread effects of DDT dump site

Off the coast of California, 3,000 feet under the ocean, lies a massive DDT waste site that was only discovered last year. But, next to nothing is known about the 100,000 pieces of debris and 27,000 barrel-like objects that were dumped there decades ago — and its effects may be more severe than we think.  In a House Natural Resource Committee hearing on Tuesday, scientists told lawmakers that a thorough and organized scientific assessment of the dump site is needed to understand the environmental and health impacts.  “We are only at the beginning of understanding the severity of this situation,” said Representative Jared Huffman of California, the chairman of the committee. “We don’t know the full extent of this dumping or what all of the impacts are to marine life, ecosystems or even human health.” … ”  Read more from Courthouse News here: SoCal: Lawmakers warned of potential widespread effects of DDT dump site

Coachella Valley Water District approves steep water bill hikes for small homeowners

The Coachella Valley Water District board voted Tuesday to approve a rate hike — the first of potentially several over the next five years — that includes steep increases for small homeowners beginning July 1.  “It’s never a joy to increase rates… but I look across the (Coachella) valley and into Riverside and I think we’re competitive,” Director Peter Nelson said.  While a few customers objected by phone and Zoom before the vote, and 166 written protests against the increases were received, a whopping 64,906 written protests would have been needed to stop the vote per state law. ... ”  Read more from the Coachella Valley Water District here: Coachella Valley Water District approves steep water bill hikes for small homeowners

Abatti responds to Imperial Irrigation District’s Supreme Court filing

Imperial Valley grower, landowner and former elected official Michael Abatti has responded to the Imperial Irrigation District’s official filing in his U.S. Supreme Court petition. In March, Abatti filed for a “writ of certiorari” with the U.S. Supreme Court seeking review of the California Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District’s decision in Abatti v. Imperial Irrigation District, to which the district was ordered by the High Court to provide a formal response last month. … Abatti is seeking to overturn a previous appellate court ruling that asserts Imperial Irrigation District is the “sole owner” of water rights in the Valley, and farmers do “not (have) an appurtenant water right” but rather are entitled merely to “water service” that is subject to modification by the district at its discretion. … ”  Read more from the Holtville Tribune here: Abatti responds to Imperial Irrigation District’s Supreme Court filing

Del Mar declines to seek Coastal Commission certification for sea level rise plan

The Del Mar City Council decided to withdraw its sea level rise adaptation plan from a June 10 hearing in front of the California Coastal Commission, which leaves the plan uncertified after years of discussions between the two sides.  The city’s plan, adopted in 2018, will remain in effect without Coastal Commission certification, but that could create complications in new public and private development. The commission oversees development throughout the state’s coastal zone, which includes the entire city of Del Mar. Sand replenishment and other efforts to counter the rising sea in Del Mar will continue. … ”  Read more from the Del Mar Times here: Del Mar declines to seek Coastal Commission certification for sea level rise plan

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Along the Colorado River …

Lake Mead at the Hoover Dam to reach lowest water level in decades

A crippling drought in the western US is dropping the water level at Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam to a historically low level, putting pressure on the region’s drinking water supply and the dam’s electric capacity.  By Thursday, Lake Mead’s water level is expected to sink to the lowest it’s been since it began filling during construction of the Hoover Dam, according to Bureau of Reclamation spokeswoman Patricia Aaron.  “Lake Mead will most likely hit elevation 1,071.61 (feet) on Thursday, June 10. That will match the previous lowest elevation on record since the 1930s,” Aaron said. … ”  Read more from CNN here: Lake Mead at the Hoover Dam to reach lowest water level in decades

The Southwest U.S. Is facing huge water shortages as Colorado’s snowpacks are thinning

As global temperatures rise, many of Colorado’s snowpacks are getting increasingly thinner. The snowpacks are the main source of water for millions of people in the western U.S., as the melting snow runs into streams, rivers, and eventually reservoirs.  In southwest Colorado (which is already experiencing a drought) the snowpack is 40% of its normal levels, and reservoirs on the Colorado River, such as Lake Powell and Lake Mead, are expected to reach historically low levels. Recreational and ranching businesses, as well as small towns, are trying to prepare for the effects of drought, while the government prepares for longer and harsher fire seasons. … ”  Read more from Now This here: The Southwest U.S. Is facing huge water shortages as Colorado’s snowpacks are thinning

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In national water news today …

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Today’s featured articles …

KERN COUNTY WATER SUMMIT: SGMA Implementation Update

At the Kern County Water Summit held last week, hosted by the Water Association of Kern County, Acting Deputy Director of the Department of Water Resources Statewide Groundwater Management Program Steven Springhorn provided an update on the Department’s progress on SGMA implementation, including the Department’s review of the submitted Groundwater Sustainability Plans and the existing and proposed SGMA-related assistance.

He began by noting the considerable amount of work that has been done the past six years since the law went into effect, includes establishing regulations for the forming Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (or GSAs) and for developing Groundwater Sustainability Plans (or GSPs).


WEBINAR: Managing California’s Groundwater: Interconnected Surface Waters & Environmental Users

The Local Government Commission and the Groundwater Exchange are excited to launch a three-part webinar series to share key learnings from the Groundwater Leadership Forum’s 2020 Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) review and provide detailed guidance about how GSPs can address specific areas of interest.  This first webinar discussion focused on interconnected surface waters, groundwater dependent ecosystems, and engaging environmental stakeholders in groundwater planning.  Our expert presenters were Charlotte Stanley and Melissa Rohde with The Nature Conservancy.

Watch webinar here.

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

NOTICE: Issuance of Water Quality Certification for 2021 Emergency Drought Salinity Barrier Project

NOW AVAILABLE: Equity Advisory Panel Releases Summary Document, Virtual Workshop June 15

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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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