DAILY DIGEST, 6/10: State agencies call on water managers to promote water conservation; Agricultural land donation promotes salmon recovery in the San Joaquin River; State knocks ‘Deficiencies’ in Cuyama Valley groundwater plan; Lake Mead at the Hoover Dam to reach lowest water level in decades; and more …


On the calendar today …

  • FREE WEBINAR: Advancing Water Reuse in Small and Disadvantaged Communities from 10am to 11am.  Many water recycling success stories are in larger cities. These outreach and listening webcasts will introduce water recycling opportunities that make sense for smaller communities. Equally important, we want to learn from you about your communities’ interests in water recycling and your needs for support to enable you to pursue recycling projects. We will follow up these webcasts with online training tailored for small and disadvantaged communities and set up pilot projects to assist individual communities with recycling project development. Whether you are reusing water now or just thinking about it, this webcast is designed for you!  To register for the June 10th webcast, please visit this page:  https://www.zoomgov.com/meeting/register/vJIsc-quqDMvHNFJuSJTURwGXFRyDTrygEg
  • FREE WEBINAR: Invasive species from 10am to 11am.  Find out what an invasive species is and how to fight back against its spread in this free Zoom webinar presented by the Nimbus Hatchery. To register, please visit us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_HeWVG24cQruDD3qAgkvkUg.
  • FREE WEBINAR: Can participatory science help to monitor invasive shothole borers? from 12pm to 1pm.  Some pests are easier to observe and recognize than others. Pests that spend most of their lives inside a tree are a special challenge, since we rarely see them and must rely on signs and symptoms to determine if the tree is infested.  Such is the case of the invasive shothole borers: tiny invasive beetles that tunnel into trees and vector a tree disease called Fusarium dieback. These beetles are responsible for the decline and death of thousands of trees in Southern California.  Detecting infestations early is key for successful management and to prevent the spread of this dangerous pest. Given the challenges of accurately identifying infestations, can participatory science with volunteer observers still be a good tool to monitor for this pest?  Can participatory science help to monitor invasive shothole borers?  Click to register
  • FREE WORKSHOP: California State Adaptation Strategy 2021 Update Regional Workshops- San Joaquin Valley from 4pm to 6pm.  The Newsom Administration is updating California’s State Adaptation Strategy (Strategy) this year. Our goal is to deliver a 2021 Strategy that outlines the state’s key climate resilience priorities, includes specific and measurable steps, and serves as a framework for action across sectors and regions in California.  Help us map the next statewide roadmap to a climate-resilient California for all.  We want your help to ensure the state’s Strategy reflects and reinforces regional priorities; draws connections among our collective efforts; and serves as a useful resource for all Californians. Please join us virtually for a regional workshop of your choice.    Click here to register.
  • Getting to the Heart of Science Communication: In Conversation with Faith Kearns at 5:30pm.  The event is based around a new science communication book, Getting to the Heart of Science Communication: A Guide for Effective Engagement, by Faith Kearns, who works for UCANR and has had a long career working in scicomm on tough topics like climate change, fire, and drought. The book looks at how the field of science communication has changed and how we might begin to rethink scicomm to better account for the emotions and conflict that are tied to so many science topics. The conversation will cover similar ideas, and you do not need to have read the book in advance to join. Our panel will also include Priya Shukla, Yanna Lambrinidou, and Evelyn Valdez-Ward, whose experiences are shared in the book. We’ll have a guided conversation followed by audience Q&A/open discussion.  Click here to register.

In California drought news today …

State agencies call on water managers to promote water conservation

With California experiencing its second consecutive dry year, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board), and the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) called on local and regional water suppliers to increase their conservation efforts, develop a contingency plan in the event of water supply problems, and urge Californians to save water amid ongoing dry conditions.  Sustained preparation and drought planning are critical to meeting the challenges posed by ongoing dry conditions, which have been exacerbated by the effects of climate change. Most of California’s water systems were able to manage drought impacts and maintain the high quality of water delivered to their customers during the last drought by taking actions early.

Click here to view/download full press release.

Nearly 2 million Northern Californians are under a water shortage emergency as state grapples with severe drought

Northern California residents, from those living by the Bay to those living on lake houseboats, are coming under threat as a severe drought continues to intensify.  Nearly two million people in the San Francisco Bay Area have been placed under a water shortage emergency Wednesday as the state grapples with worsening drought conditions.  Mandatory water restrictions have been issued for Santa Clara County as officials said the move is necessary to combat low water supply.  “We can’t afford to wait to act as our water supplies are being threatened locally and across California,” Tony Estremera, director of the Santa Clara Valley Water District, said in a news release. “To better deal with these threats and the emergency they are causing, today my fellow Board Members and I unanimously declared a water shortage emergency condition in Santa Clara County.” … ”  Read more from CNN here:  Nearly 2 million Northern Californians are under a water shortage emergency as state grapples with severe drought

Feinstein secures Biden Administration commitment to request more drought funds

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today questioned Bureau of Reclamation Deputy Commissioner David Palumbo on the need to request additional funding to address the severe drought in the Western United States. Senator Feinstein has been pressing the bureau for months to request the ability to use funds for drought mitigation that Congress had initially set aside for other less urgently needed programs.  During the exchange, the deputy commissioner committed to requesting additional funding for drought mitigation. The Western United States is experiencing one of the worst droughts in history, with more than 72 percent of the region in a severe, extreme, or exceptional drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. In California, 95 percent of the state is under a severe, extreme or exceptional drought. … ”  Read more from Senator Feinstein’s website here:  Feinstein Secures Biden Administration Commitment to Request More Drought Funds

California’s latest bid to bolster its economy? Releasing 17 million fish into the San Francisco Bay.

Photo by Steve Martarano

California is rolling out a fresh strategy to keep its economy afloat — releasing 17 million salmon into the San Francisco Bay.  Millions of Chinook salmon raised in hatcheries will bypass California’s drought-stricken riverbanks to be released directly into colder, downstream sites in the San Francisco Bay, in an attempt to maximize their survival rate amid some of the most extreme environmental conditions the state has ever faced.  By the end of June, around 16.8 million young adult salmon, also called smolt, will travel more than 30,000 miles by truck from hatcheries to direct release sites around the coastline. ... ”  Read more from The Insider here:  California’s latest bid to bolster its economy? Releasing 17 million fish into the San Francisco Bay.

NOTE: Trucking juvenile fish to the San Francisco Bay is not new; the state has done this before, most notably during the drought in 2014-15.  It’s probably necessary in a year such as this, but it is not without consequences.  A presentation from the 2018 Bay Delta Science Conference detailed those consequences:  Harvest, Hatchery Returns, and Straying of Salmon Released at Bay and Delta sites during California’s Drought

How California’s ‘megadrought’ could affect your grocery prices

California is no stranger to droughts, but the state is currently facing its worst one in four years. According to Boss Magazine, Farmers are slowly leaving areas of their fields unseeded due to a lack of water. Currently, this is a bad sign as the state carries a $50 billion agriculture industry that provides over 25% of food nationwide. Business Insider explains that the driest season has only just started, and the state was classified as in “extreme drought.” According to the National Centers for Environmental Information, this means that “major crop and pasture losses are common, fire risk is extreme, and widespread water shortages can be expected requiring restrictions.” ... ”  Read more from Mashed here: How California’s ‘megadrought’ could affect your grocery prices

Lack of surface water and groundwater is making dairy farming much more challenging

California’s water situation has not been good for a long time; however, this year could prove to be even worse. With little to no snowpack in the mountains and less water flowing down the California Water Project, farmers and cities alike are facing the repercussions of poor water management combined with consecutive dry years. With the scarcity of water this year, it is only fitting that we throw one more hurdle in the mix and make farming even more difficult. The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) is now in full play and is already changing the way farms are managing their water and funds. … ”  Read more from Hoard’s Dairyman here:  Lack of surface water and groundwater is making dairy farming much more challenging

Western cotton acreage shrinks to lowest levels in decades

Cotton acreage in the West is in sharp decline due largely to drought and irrigation water availability.  California, which once boasted well over one million acres of Pima cotton alone, is not projected to have 100,000 acres of the premium, extra-long-staple varieties this season. Preliminary figures from the California Cotton Growers and Ginners Association suggest just over 91,000 acres of Pima cotton was planted in 2021. … ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press here: Western cotton acreage shrinks to lowest levels in decades

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In California water news today …

Agricultural land donation promotes salmon recovery in the San Joaquin River

Connley Clayton, a third-generation farmer in California’s Central Valley, stood surveying the San Joaquin River flowing past Sack Dam, a century-old irrigation diversion. He could see that the river, and its salmon, are on their way to recovery.  “We are so happy that the river is running again,” said Connley, 75, who lives about 10 miles north of the property in El Nido with his wife. Specifically, Connley references the stretch of river below Sack Dam, which would often run dry when flow is diverted for agricultural uses. Then in 2016, the San Joaquin River Restoration Program started releasing water specifically for river restoration.  … To help foster the restoration program, Connley deeded 8.1 acres of the Clayton Ranch to the Bureau of Reclamation last December. The riverfront site will eventually become a natural fishway that will allow migrating spring-run Chinook salmon to navigate around Sack Dam. … ”  Read more from NOAA Fisheries here: Agricultural land donation promotes salmon recovery in the San Joaquin River

Report: Stacked incentives: Co-funding water customer incentive programs

Water utilities throughout the United States offer customer incentives to motivate action and foster engagement with their customers. These incentive programs can take many forms, from rebates for high-efficiency fixtures and appliances to technical assistance for installing cisterns and rain gardens. In addition to providing water-related benefits, many of these programs generate additional co-benefits, including reductions in energy use for heating or treating water and wastewater, increased carbon sequestration in landscapes, enhancements to local biodiversity, and more. These co-benefits present water utilities with an opportunity to build collaborative partnerships and co-funding for customer incentive programs through “stacked incentives.” …  This report defines stacked incentives, highlights successful examples throughout the United States, and identifies best practices for water utilities and other organizations to collaborate on these programs.”   Download report or summary from the Pacific Institute here: Report: Stacked incentives: Co-funding water customer incentive programs

Metropolitan board confirms Adel Hagekhalil as new general manager

Adel Hagekhalil, a national water and infrastructure leader, will take the helm of the nation’s largest drinking water provider – the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California– following a vote Tuesday evening by the agency’s board of directors. The 38-member board approved Hagekhalil’s contract, making him the 14th general manager in the district’s 93-year history. “Mr. Hagekhalil is a highly respected leader on wastewater and water reuse who will help Metropolitan continue on its path to invest in sustainable water supplies. His commitment to innovation, sustainability and working together, as a united Metropolitan board, will be critical as we face the challenges climate change is bringing to Southern California’s water supplies,” Chairwoman Gloria D. Gray said. … ”  Read more from the Metropolitan Water District here:  Metropolitan board confirms Adel Hagekhalil as new general manager

Metropolitan Water District board hires Adel Hagekhalil as new general manager

Dan Bacher writes, ” … His appointment comes at a crucial time for the district as a record drought parches California and a coalition of Southern California water ratepayers, environmental justice groups, Tribal leaders, conservation organizations and community groups oppose the controversial Delta Tunnel that the previous general manager, Jeffrey Kightlinger, was an ardent supporter of.  Sierra Club California, who joined with the L.A. Waterkeeper, Azul, Restore the Delta and other environmental groups in supporting Hagenhalil’s hiring, noted that vote came after nearly two hours of public comment.  A total of 64 members of the public, including district residents and representatives of labor, environmental justice, and conservation groups, called into the meeting in support of Mr. Hagekhalil. No members of the public called in to oppose his hiring. … ”  Read more from the Daily Kos here:  Metropolitan Water District Board Hires Adel Hagekhalil As New General Manager

San Diego County Water Authority congratulates new MWD GM Adel Hagekhalil

” … The San Diego County Water Authority issued the following statement by Board Chair Gary Croucher: “It is with great pleasure that I congratulate Chairwoman Gloria Gray and the MWD Board of Directors on the selection of Adel Hagekhalil to serve as the district’s next General Manager. Adel is exactly the kind of person and visionary leader Southern California needs, especially as we experience another period of sustained drought, to help guide MWD as it faces important near- and long-term planning decisions impacting its water supply resources and water rates and charges. ... ”  Continue reading at the Water News Network here:  Water Authority Congratulates New MWD GM Adel Hagekhalil

First assessments of Groundwater Sustainability Plans released by DWR

The first assessments of groundwater sustainability plans have been released by the California Department of Water Resources (DWR). In lieu of waiting until the end of the two-year review period, DWR has decided to release assessments as they are completed. Assessments have been completed for the Santa Cruz Mid-County Basin in Santa Cruz County and 180/400 Foot Aquifer Subbasin in Monterey County. Assessments for the Cuyama Valley Basin and Paso Robles Subbasin have also been completed.  “Local management, including development of solutions for the long-term reliability of groundwater, is the cornerstone of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act,” DWR Director Karla Nemeth said in a press release. … ”  Read more from Ag Net West here:  First assessments of Groundwater Sustainability Plans released by DWR

Water: Amazing new map shows the path of every raindrop that hits the United States

Water is like electricity. Most people don’t think about it much until it’s gone.  Now, as California and other Western states find themselves heading into a severe and worsening drought, a new interactive map is providing a breathtaking journey that shows where America’s water comes from and ends up.  The project is called River Runner. It allows anyone to click on any place where a raindrop would fall in the United States, and then track its path through watersheds, into creeks, rivers, lakes and ultimately the ocean.  “It has implications for where our pollution goes, and how everyone lives downstream of somewhere else,” said Sam Learner, a 27-year-old web developer who built the map in nine days using massive databases from the U.S. Geological Survey. … ” Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here: Water: Amazing new map shows the path of every raindrop that hits the United States

UC experts convene to discuss innovative solutions to California’s wildfires

Wildfires have had a devastating impact on California over the last four years, and with the state in severe drought, another dangerous fire season looms.  Fires are burning hotter and growing bigger than ever before. The Castle Fire that raged through Sequoia National Park last year, for example, is estimated to have destroyed at least 10 percent of the world’s giant sequoias – trees that for thousands of years withstood less intense forest fires. California is on pace for another deadly year: In the first six months the Golden State has had more than 3,100 wildfires – and ‘fire season’ usually doesn’t start until late summer.  Against that grim backdrop, the University of California on June 4 convened a research symposium focused on enhancing the state’s resiliency to wildfire, extreme drought, and climate change. … ”  Read more from UC California here: UC experts convene to discuss innovative solutions to California’s wildfires

In commentary today …

Water board choice is key to providing clean water for all

Belinda Faustina, strategic advisor with Los Angeles Waterkeeper and  Barbara Barrigan-Parilla, executive director of Restore the Delta, write, “California’s drought highlights the importance of an appointment sitting on Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk – filling the final seat on the State Water Resources Control Board. This is a critical agency appointment at a critical time.  The drought highlights many inequities in California water policy.  Disadvantaged communities in Stockton face the prospect of a drought summer plagued by harmful algae blooms in Delta rivers. Those algae outbreaks, which can harm children and kill pets, are caused by excessive nutrients and inadequate freshwater flow. Think what it means for a parent to be afraid for their child’s health if they swim in a river on a hot summer day. … ”  Continue reading at the Mercury News here: Water board choice is key to providing clean water for all

How better data can help California avoid a drinking water crisis

Rich Pauloo, hydrologist, data scientist, and co-founder of the Water Data Lab, and Alva Escriva-Bou, a research fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California Water Policy Center, write, “Drought is here — and we’re beginning to feel the effects.  A majority of affected households during the last drought were in the San Joaquin Valley and these same communities are among the most vulnerable this time. As California faces a second year of drought, many are left to wonder, “What can be done to help?”  Last time, small rural communities reliant on shallow wells — many of them communities of color — were among the most affected. More than 2,600 households reported losing access to water because their wells went dry between 2012–16. (That number is likely an undercount as reporting was voluntary.) Much has changed however since the 2012–16 drought. … ”  Read more from Cal Matters here: How better data can help California avoid a drinking water crisis’

They’re ’moo-ving’ from California as drought continues to tighten its grip

Dennis Wyatt, editor of the Manteca Bulletin, writes, “The cattle are gone.  Hundreds of Mike Giammona’s beef cattle have been shipped to a buyer in Colorado.  Given they are on average 100 pounds underweight, Giammona’s once-a-year paycheck might just be a wash with his expenses.  Had this been a “normal year”, the cattle would still be grazing in the lush green grass in the hillside of his West Marin County ranch near Millerton. Instead the grass is dry and the ground drier creating perfect fuel for wildfires.  Giammona is not alone. Other coastal cattle ranchers as well as those with grassy spreads nudged up against the hills surrounding the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys are either thinning or selling their herds. … ”  Read more from the Manteca Bulletin here: They’re ’moo-ving’ from California as drought continues to tighten its grip

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In regional water news and commentary today …

Shasta River dangerously low on water: conservation group

The drought in Northern California, combined with agricultural water use, is shrinking the Shasta River, according to a conservation group in Siskiyou County. During normal summers an unobstructed, spring-fed Shasta River flows at 150-200 cubic feet per second, according to Bruce Shoemaker with Friends of the Shasta River. But in recent weeks, he says, it’s been reduced to just three cubic feet per second.  “It’s just been virtually, completely captured,” says Shoemaker who is a local property owner and member of the conservation group’s board. Friends of the Shasta River, a grassroots group of citizens in the Shasta River Basin, is worried that diversions for agriculture could cause the river to go dry this summer.  … ” Continue reading at Jefferson Public Radio here: Shasta River dangerously low on water: conservation group

Seeking a balanced plan: Sacramento River operations for 2021

Lewis Bair, the Reclamation District 108 General Manager, and Thad Bettner, Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District (GCID) General Manager, write, With the harshest dry year in recent memory, the Sacramento River Settlement Contractors (Settlement Contractors) are working closely with federal and state agencies, as well as our conservation partners, to continually improve our operations and serve water for multiple benefits, including water for cities and rural communities, farms, birds, fish, and recreation.  The following 2021 operations plan balances the multiple beneficial uses of water in California dependent upon the Sacramento River and the various requirements that govern these operations. The Governor in his April drought proclamation set the tone for these operations—“to prepare for potential impacts of drought conditions on species, the Water Board and the Department of Fish and Wildlife shall work with federal agency partners to manage temperature conditions for the preservation of fish in the Sacramento River downstream of Shasta Dam while balancing water supply needs.” … ”  Read more from the Northern California Water Association here:  Seeking a balanced plan: Sacramento River operations for 2021

Mendocino County Board of Supervisors create standalone water agency

During the budget hearings on June 8, the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a proposal for a standalone water agency to combat water insecurity in Mendocino County. This water agency will immediately focus on the local drought emergency and work on other water-related projects, such as water curtailment and groundwater management, in the future.  Prior to 2011, the water agency was a stand-alone entity. Due to financial constraints, the board voted to integrate the water agency into the Department of Transportation in 2011. Over the past decade, the DOT has overseen all water-related action plans, including droughts, in Mendocino County. ... ”  Read more from the Fort Bragg Advocate here: Mendocino County: Board of Supervisors create standalone water agency

Humboldt County warned that drought is the ‘new normal’

“​Humboldt County is in moderate to severe drought but the Board of Supervisors has been advised to view the situation as something even more concerning – the steady advance of climate change.  ​At the May 25 board meeting, Supervisor Mike Wilson sponsored an agenda item titled “drought conditions and implications for fire risk and water availability.” But in introducing the presentations, Wilson said, “Some are calling it drought but I think there are many of us who will say that we’re getting into climate change – this is deeper of an issue than we’ve seen before.” … ”  Continue reading at the Mad River Union here: Humboldt County warned that drought is the ‘new normal’

Glenn County Supervisors declare local drought emergency

Glenn County Supervisors have declared a local drought emergency as the county looks into funding options for homeowners experiencing a water shortage.  Supervisor Grant Carmon said there are at least 40 dry wells in the county and it’s putting a strain on farmers who depend on wells to hydrate their animals, water their crops or do everyday routines.  With this local emergency in place, supervisors are hoping to create a resource for people to get portable tanks or delivery services.  “Also look into the options of being able to provide grants for people to drill a new well,” Carmon said. “From what we’re hearing it’s anywhere from $30,000 to $40,000 right now to have a new domestic well done.” ... ”  Read more from Action News Now here: Glenn County Supervisors declare local drought emergency

Colusa County urges drought preparedness, reporting

Officials in Colusa County are urging residents to prepare and report conditions in the early stages of drought during this very dry summer season.  “Access to safe, clean, and readily available water is important for public health, and it is important to prepare for potential drought-related well problems so you are not caught off- guard,” said Colusa County Sheriff’s Office Lieutenant Russ Jones. “While the area south of Williams and around Arbuckle are at higher risk of dry wells, we all play a role in conservation during these crucial months.” … ”  Read more from the Appeal Democrat here: Colusa County urges drought preparedness, reporting

Five charts — and dramatic photos — show how California drought has drained Folsom Lake

“Folsom Lake hasn’t been this dry at this point in the year since 1977.  From 1956 to 2020, Folsom Lake contained, on average, about 830,000 acre-feet of water at the end of May, equivalent to 85% of capacity, state records show.  At the end of May this year, Folsom Lake contained just 361,000 acre-feet of water, equivalent to 37% of capacity.  The only other time the lake was this dry at the end of May was in 1977, when the lake contained about 303,000 acre-feet of water. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: Five charts — and dramatic photos — show how California drought has drained Folsom Lake

North Marin Water misses mark with drought plan, rate hike

Gordon Bennett, member and former chair of the Lagunitas Creek Technical Advisory Committee, writes, “West Marin customers should vote no on North Marin Water District’s proposed water rate increase and urge the district to revisit its drought plan. The rate increase, which will be considered at a June 22 hearing, hinges on a structure that encourages excessive landscape use that draws salt into the lower wells. By failing to create conservation tiers that reflect a sustainable yield, the district is able to use salt intrusion as a false justification for rushing to build another well—one whose potential impacts have not been adequately studied.  The drought plan discriminates against those already conserving and growing families by mandating a universal 25 percent reduction from 2013 levels—that year being the last so-called normal year. Has your household size increased since 2013? If we have to go back eight years to find a “normal” year, how can that be normal? Drought is the new normal. ... ”  Read more from the Point Reyes Light here:  North Marin Water misses mark with drought plan, rate hike

Marin officials: Bridge water pipeline could be permanent

Officials are raising the prospect of a permanent water pipeline over the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge as a potential drought-fighting strategy for Marin County.  “We currently have less than a year of water supply, and that’s a perilous position for a water agency to be in,” said Ben Horenstein, the general manager of the Marin Municipal Water District.  Horenstein was among the participants of a teleconference on drought and wildfires organized by Assemblyman Marc Levine on Wednesday.  “Climate change is challenging all of that planning, and what we’ve seen this year is that we’re at levels we’d typically see at year three of a drought and not in year two,” Levine said. “So you can’t say that we should have seen this coming and that it snuck up on us. This is a different type of animal in this year two of the drought.” ... ”  Read more from the Marin Independent Journal here: Marin officials: Bridge water pipeline could be permanent

A microscopic killer lives in SF’s waters

Outside the Golden Gate Bridge, in California’s coastal waters, lives a killer much smaller than the Great White shark.  A certain microscopic algae, termed Pseudo-nitzschia diatoms, generate a neurotoxin called domoic acid. These diatoms bloom naturally during the spring and summer and can poison marine life and humans that consume contaminated fish and shellfish. While blooms typically disappear by fall, a massive one persisted much longer in 2015 and was responsible for the closure of California’s Dungeness crab season.  Now, new research offers proof that this “abnormal” will happen more in the future, thanks to climate change. ... ”  Read more from the San Francisco Examiner here: A microscopic killer lives in SF’s waters

Bay Area drought: Here are the water restrictions in your county

One of the largest water districts in the San Francisco Bay Area announced mandatory restrictions Wednesday and declared a water shortage emergency, signaling the seriousness of drought conditions across the region and state after two consecutive dry winters.  The Board of Directors for Santa Clara Valley Water District, which serves 2 million customers, unanimously approved a resolution requiring customers to reduce water use by 15% compared with 2019 levels. The board is also urging Santa Clara County to proclaim a local emergency. … ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  Bay Area drought: Here are the water restrictions in your county

Suisun Bay island owner must restore land he disturbed to make room for duck hunters

The state Supreme Court rejected the appeal Wednesday of the owner of an island in Suisun Bay who has been ordered to pay millions of dollars in penalties and restore landfill he discharged into marsh waters to make room for duck hunters and a kite-surfing club.  John Sweeney purchased the 39-acre island, Point Buckler, on the eastern edge of Grizzly Bay in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in 2011. It had been used by duck hunters for many decades until the 1990s, but regulatory agencies said levee breaches and neglect of the site had turned it into a tidal marsh. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  Suisun Bay island owner must restore land he disturbed to make room for duck hunters

EBMUD to charge more for water, but won’t force customers to use less

Higher bills will soon be on the way for the roughly 1.4 million people who get their water from the East Bay Municipal Utility District, but at least for now they won’t be required to cut their water use despite the drought.  Beginning July 1, the agency will charge customers 4% more for both water and sewer services. And a year later, on July 1, 2022, the rate will climb another 4%.  The district’s board of directors unanimously approved the rate increases at its meeting Tuesday as part of the $2.25 billion budget it adopted for the next two fiscal years. ... ” Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here: EBMUD to charge more for water, but won’t force customers to use less

EBMUD Board approves rate increases vital to water and wastewater system improvements

Today the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) Board of Directors adopted a two-year, $2.25 billion budget that will pay for critical improvements to the water and wastewater systems essential to supporting the community and protecting public health not just during the COVID-19 pandemic but every day. The Board voted 7-0 to approve the water and wastewater rates.  Water and wastewater rates will increase 4 percent each in the first year, starting July 1, 2021, and an additional 4 percent each in the second year, starting July 1, 2022.  “We have carefully threaded the needle to meet the challenges facing our customers and our needs to invest in our critical infrastructure,” said Board President Doug Linney. “Today, we adopted water rates that are lower than previously projected and wastewater rates that were on target, while advancing upgrades to respond to aging infrastructure and climate change.” … ”  Read more from the Ledger-Dispatch here: EBMUD Board approves rate increases vital to water and wastewater system improvements

Drought conditions force 500K steelhead to Mokelumne River Hatchery

Severe drought conditions have forced 500,000 juvenile steelhead to be moved from the Nimbus hatchery to the Mokelumne River hatchery, officials announced Wednesday.  The move took place last week and was due to several factors, California Department of Fish and Wildlife officials said.  “We did this because drought conditions have pushed Folsom reservoir levels and cold water storage to historically low levels,” said Peter Tira, spokesman for the department.  Due to these conditions, officials forecast warm water temperatures at the Nimbus Fish Hatchery this summer. … ”  Read more from KCRA Channel 3 here: Drought conditions force 500K steelhead to Mokelumne River Hatchery

Drought: Mandatory water restrictions approved for 2 million residents of Santa Clara County

Santa Clara County on Wednesday became the most populous county in California to impose mandatory water restrictions, as water officials set a target of reducing water use 33% countywide from 2013 levels, and said the worsening drought poses a significant threat to the groundwater supplies in and around San Jose that provide nearly half the drinking water for the county’s 2 million residents.  On a 7-0 vote, the Santa Clara Valley Water District board declared an emergency water shortage. The district, a government agency based in San Jose which serves as the county’s wholesale water provider, also urged cities and private water companies who buy its water to put in place water wasting rules and other mandates, including limiting lawn watering to no more than three days a week. As in the last drought, the rules are likely to include monthly water allocations for each home beyond which financial penalties would apply. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here: Drought: Mandatory water restrictions approved for 2 million residents of Santa Clara County

RELATED: Valley Water Board Chair Tony Estremera statement on declaration of water shortage emergency condition

Lodi: UC Davis works to help wine industry overcome drought conditions

Susan Tipton likes to talk about her award-winning wines produced at Acquiesce Winery in Acampo just outside Lodi, but these days she keeps a close watch on the current drought conditions as well.  Tipton took a big hit last year when winter rains didn’t materialize.  “We actually had a 25% reduction in cropload,” she told FOX40.  That 25% amounts to around a $300,000 loss for the boutique winery that specializes in rare white wine varietals. … ”  Read more from Fox 40 here: Lodi: UC Davis works to help wine industry overcome drought conditions

Pistachio processing facility in Tulare County will pay $221,440 fine for odor violations

A Central Valley pistachio processing plant whose wastewater ponds triggered numerous odor complaints from nearby residents will pay a $221,440 fine, a portion of which will fund improved ventilation at two public schools in the area. The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board (Central Valley Water Board) fined Setton Pistachio after determining the company had violated the terms of an August 2020 cease and desist order (CDO) directing it to immediately eliminate objectionable odors coming from ponds at its plant in Terra Bella in Tulare County. The order also directed the company to produce technical reports documenting how it resolved the issue. … ”  Continue reading this press release from the Central Valley Regional Water Board here: Pistachio processing facility in Tulare County will pay $221,440 fine for odor violations

State knocks ‘Deficiencies’ in Cuyama Valley groundwater plan

Siding with Cuyama Valley conservationists, the state Department of Water Resources this month sent a local agency back to the drawing board to revise its 20-year plan for replenishing the groundwater basin, now severely depleted after decades of water-intensive, industrial-scale farming.  In a June 3 letter to the Cuyama Basin Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA), the department praised its “aggressive approach” in proposing to reduce agricultural pumping in the valley by up to two-thirds by the year 2040. But the department also identified a long list of “deficiencies” in the plan and suggested “corrective actions” to address them.  It was a victory of sorts for the community organizations and small-scale farmers who have long argued that a 20-year plan was too little, too late. … ”  Read more from the Santa Barbara Independent here: State knocks ‘Deficiencies’ in Cuyama Valley groundwater plan

Antelope Valley-East Kern Water Agency plans to tap underground water

Water suppliers will rely on water stored underground during wet years to ensure adequate supplies for the Valley during dry years, according to a plan presented Tuesday.  The Antelope Valley-East Kern Water Agency, a water wholesaler which supplies State Water Project water to providers across the Valley, detailed its projected demand and supplies for the next 25 years in the Urban Water Management Plan. The plan is required by the state to be updated every five years, and is accompanied by a Water Shortage Contingency Plan that may be updated more frequently. … ”  Read more from the Antelope Valley Press here: AVEK plans to tap underground water

Luring steelhead trout from ocean to O.C. waterways

After nearly two decades of efforts, the endangered steelhead trout appear on the verge of returning to Orange County streams and rivers.  The oceangoing fish return to freshwater to spawn as part of a dramatic and almost magical cycle, in which their offspring are often rainbow trout. Twenty percent or less of those rainbow trout then seek ocean water downstream and transform into the larger, silvery steelheads as they adapt to the saltwater.  But Southern California’s steelheads are endangered, with limited access to spawning grounds once they get south of Malibu Creek. That’s primarily because the rivers and streams they traditionally used in Orange and San Diego counties have been obstructed by manmade barriers. … ”  Read more from the Whittier Daily News here: Luring steelhead trout from ocean to O.C. waterways

Laguna Beach reaches $1.5 million settlement for wastewater collection system failure

The city of Laguna Beach has agreed to pay a $1.5 million penalty for a wastewater collection system failure that spilled 1.7 million gallons of raw sewage into Aliso Creek and the Pacific Ocean shoreline in 2019, contaminating protected marine habitat and recreational waters. In a settlement approved today by the San Diego Water Quality Control Board, the city will pay $785,780 in fines and, within three years, use the remaining $748,278 to partially fund a project that minimizes the risk of similar spills.“It’s encouraging to see these funds applied to wastewater infrastructure improvements,” said Chiara Clemente, the San Diego Water Board’s enforcement coordinator. “Having the proposed project in place will be a valuable asset while the city develops and implements its broader plans for improving wastewater management and protecting public health and the environment.” … ”  Continue reading this press release from the San Diego Regional Water Board here: Laguna Beach reaches $1.5 million settlement for wastewater collection system failure

San Diego: Coastal Commission deciding on Fiesta Island options

A decision over Fiesta Island could be settled as the California Coastal Commission will likely choose on June 10 between two options for re-configuring the island: one favored by off-leash dog owners and the other by water users and environmentalists.  Government agencies have gone back-and-forth on choosing between two alternatives proposed as an amendment to the Mission Bay Park Master Plan to update the land uses and vision for 470-acre, multi-use Fiesta Island. … ”  Read more from San Diego News here: San Diego: Coastal Commission deciding on Fiesta Island options

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Along the Colorado River …

Lake Mead in 2015. Photo by John Fleck.

Key reservoir on Colorado River expected to match record low

A key reservoir on the Colorado River is expected to dip to its record low Thursday in the latest showing of the drought’s grip on the region.  The surface elevation of Lake Mead along the Nevada-Arizona border is projected to be at 1071.61 feet (326.63 meters) — a measure that was hit in 2016. It’s the lowest level since Lake Mead was filled in the 1930s.  “We’re expecting the reservoir to keep declining until November, then it should start to rebound,” said U.S. Bureau of Reclamation spokeswoman Patti Aaron.  The water level affects the recreation industry at what is one of the largest man-made reservoirs in the country and the efficiency of hydropower generation at Hoover Dam. … ”  Read more from the Associated Press here: Key reservoir on Colorado River expected to match record low

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

Radio spot: Water experts warn of Colorado River’s limits

Diminishing aquifers, drying rivers, and lingering droughts are the headlines in the West this year. Experts in science and policy say it’s urgent Arizonans plan for a future with much less water. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny spoke with John Fleck of the University of New Mexico’s Water Resources Program about how warnings about the Colorado River’s limits have been ringing out for more than a century. ... ”  Read more from KNAU here: Radio spot: Water experts warn of Colorado River’s limits

Decisions, decisions: Climate change and water

While a drought grips the southwestern United States and water supplies dwindle, decision-makers face increasingly difficult decisions about who, or what, gets water.  “With climate change, river flows will likely decrease—there will be winners and losers. Who gets the water and who’s willing to pay the most for it?” said Rajiv Prasad, an Earth scientist and hydrologist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL).  As part of a multi-phased effort to provide data-backed solutions for competing tradeoffs, researchers are not only projecting flow declines in places like the Colorado River, but also developing solutions to help make those decisions more equitable. The Framework for Assessment of Complex Environmental Tradeoffs (FACET) was designed to navigate and rigorously evaluate competing environmental, economic, and social impacts.  In an example scenario prepared using publicly available data, FACET was applied to predict tradeoffs facing the Colorado River and to balance competing demands of river flow and temperature, along with withdrawals for cities, crop irrigation, and power generation. The goal is to help navigate and plan for increasingly complex resource decisions in a balanced, transparent way. … ”  Read more from Newswise here: Decisions, decisions: Climate change and water

Commentary: The Southwest’s water problems are about to get much worse

Peter Annin, director of the Mary Griggs Burke Center for Freshwater Innovation at Northland College in Ashland, Wis., and author of “The Great Lakes Water Wars,” writes, “Lake Mead, America’s largest reservoir, is a lifeblood for 25 million people in the Southwest. But for the third time in six years, it’s about to hit a record low. Water levels have fallen more than 140 feet since 2000, leaving the reservoir only 36 percent full.  Today, Mead is rimmed by a broad white bathtub ring marking how far water levels have fallen during the Colorado River’s 22-year megadrought. The Bureau of Reclamation says the new low record will be set on Thursday, a sober climate-change milestone. Mead has always managed to bounce back from prior lows. But the Bureau’s latest 24-month forecast shows the reservoir stubbornly staying in record territory through year’s end. That has never happened since Hoover Dam was built in the 1930s. … ”  Read more from the Washington Post here: Commentary: The Southwest’s water problems are about to get much worse

Climate change, corporate development threaten groundwater wells in Texas and across US

Soft music rolled over the hills and through the mountain laurels, from a neighbor’s backyard to Trisha and Jeremiah Escamilla’s expensive new water storage tank. “Under the rocks and stones, there is water underground,” the Talking Heads’ David Byrne crooned.  About a year ago, 550 feet under the rocks, stones and rolling hills of their Bandera property, there was no water underground. The dry spell lasted two weeks, and the waitlist to get the well serviced was months-long.  “It was not fun having to go get jugs of water from my mom’s and bring them back to flush toilets and stuff,” Trisha said. … ”  Read more from Texas Public Radio here: Climate change, corporate development threaten groundwater wells in Texas and across US

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In national water news today …

Feds release first slice of water bill assistance funds

The Department of Health and Human Services released $166.6 million in federal funds for a program to help low-income residents pay off their past-due water bills or to reduce their water rates.  The new program — temporary for now, though some Democrats want permanent status — is called LIHWAP. Congress provided more than $1.1 billion to the first-ever federal water bill assistance program in separate appropriations in December and March.  Not all the money will go to people in need. The funding released last week represents about 15 percent of the total. Fifteen percent is the amount that Congress allowed to be used for administrative costs in setting up the program at the state and local levels. This initial distribution is intended for that purpose. ... ”  Read more from the Circle of Blue here: Feds release first slice of water bill assistance funds

U.S. Senate, House hold four hearings on ACWA priority issues

Today, both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives held hearings and mark-ups on the Biden Administration’s budget, water contaminants and threats to public health, as well as potential legislation to be included in an infrastructure package.  Two Senate Appropriations Subcommittees held hearings on the president’s budget request, listening to officials from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), and the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation). Also in the Senate, witnesses before the Environment and Public Works Committee shared their experiences with PFAS. Finally, across the Capitol rotunda, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee met to markup two pieces of legislation that may be included in an infrastructure package negotiation.”  Read the full article at ACWA”s Water News here: U.S. Senate, House hold four hearings on ACWA priority issues

Farm groups seek $49 billion for Western water, forests

Even as a federal infrastructure bill teeters on the brink of failure, more than 200 Western farm and water organizations pushing for canal and reservoir repairs are proposing nearly $49 billion for projects improving water conveyance, dam safety and forest health. In a letter June 9 to Chairman Joe Manchin and Ranking Member John Barrasso of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, organizations ranging from Western Growers to the Idaho Potato Commission cited an “acute and critical need” magnified by another all-too-familiar drought. … ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press here: Farm groups seek $49 billion for Western water, forests

National Groundwater Association urges Congress to utilize water wells as part of infrastructure bills

NGWA and 18 state groundwater associations from across the country have sent a letter to congressional leaders urging them to consider utilizing water wells in any future infrastructure legislation. The letter outlines the important role water wells play in U.S. infrastructure and their ability to efficiently provide safe and clean water to rural and underserved areas. … As an initial proposal to increase water quality and access, NGWA is urging Congress to expand grant eligibility within the Safe Drinking Water Act to fund the rehabilitation, deepening, or replacement of water wells in small and disadvantaged communities. … ”  Read more from the Water Well Journal here: National Groundwater Association urges Congress to utilize water wells as part of infrastructure bills

Weather adds stress to America’s crumbling infrastructure

As President Joe Biden and Senate Republicans grapple with determining the cost and layout of a new infrastructure plan, experts that AccuWeather spoke with explained how both a lack of upkeep as well as upward trends in damaging weather have cumulated into an “infrastructure crisis.”  Dr. Marccus Hendricks told AccuWeather in an interview that the current infrastructure crisis the U.S. is facing stems mostly from prioritizing new infrastructure and focusing on initial construction and installation without attention to maintenance and management over the lifecycle of these assets. ... ”  Read more from AccuWeather here: Weather adds stress to America’s crumbling infrastructure

Biden EPA pulls plug on Trump-era water rule

The Biden administration announced plans Wednesday to reverse a Trump-era rule that cut back on the number of waterways and wetlands under federal protection and left tens of thousands of miles of waterways vulnerable to pollution and development.   Though the Obama administration expanded federal authority to protect wetlands and waterways from development, former President Donald Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency reversed course last year in a boon to developers, landowners and oil drillers that faced onerous permitting requirements under the Clean Water Rule of 2015. … ”  Read more from Courthouse News Service here: Biden EPA pulls plug on Trump-era water rule

Biden administration begins rewrite of water rule

In an action on Wednesday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of the Army announced their intent to revise the definition of “waters of the United States,” claiming a broad array of stakeholders are seeing “destructive impacts to critical water bodies under the 2020 rule established under the Trump administration.”  Under the Obama administration in 2015, the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a new water rule that gave EPA broad jurisdiction over U.S. waters to include upstream waters and intermittent and ephemeral streams. The WOTUS rule was immediately challenged in court and subject to several preliminary injunctions. In 2019, the Trump administration repealed the 2015 rule and in June 2020, replaced it with the new Navigable Waters Protection Rule which was more widely supported by agricultural groups. … ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press here: Biden administration begins rewrite of water rule

SEE ALSO: EPA, Army Announce Intent to Revise Definition of WOTUS, press release from the EPA

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Today’s featured article …

SCIENCE NEWS: Assessing portfolios of actions for winter-run salmon in the Sacramento Valley; Reading the bones: ancient chinook salmon DNA challenges modern assumptions; Salt marshes trap microplastics in their sediments; and more …

Click here to read this article.

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

VELES WEEKLY WATER INDEX REPORT: Light rain possible in N CA. Lake Mead water conservation ICS project working. NQH2O Sep Futures offer $35 below the July bid price.

REPORT: The Science of Non-native Species in a Dynamic Delta

SAN FRANCISCO ESTUARY & WATERSHED SCIENCE: Preparing for a fast-forward future; Salinity variation in the estuary; Juvenile salmon entrainment; Use of the SmeltCam for surveys; and more …

NOTICE: Consideration of adoption of emergency regulations for the Russian River Watershed & information on submitting public comments

WATER PLAN eNEWS: ~~GSP Assessments ~MAR Abstracts ~Coastal Projects ~White Paper ~Snow Measurement ~Climate Report ~AWWA Conference ~~

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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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