DAILY DIGEST, 6/11: Oroville set to hit lowest level ever; Multiple atmospheric rivers to hit NorCal, PNW this weekend; The danger in over-simplifying CA water conservation; Another WOTUS Revision on the way from EPA; and more …


On the calendar today …

WEBINAR: The Invasive Spartina Project: Restoring Native Tidal Marsh Habitat and Promoting Resilience in a Changing Bay Ecosystem from 12pm to 1pm.  Nestled at the center of a 5-million-person metropolis, the San Francisco Bay’s saltmarshes and tidal mudflats provide unique habitat for a range of wildlife, from resident shorebirds to migrating waterfowl along the Pacific Flyway. The State Coastal Conservancy established the Invasive Spartina Project as a coordinated regional effort among local, state, and federal organizations to protect these extraordinary biological resources by eliminating introduced species of Spartina (cordgrass) that crowd out native vegetation and change shoreline dynamics.  Since 2000, the project has reduced hybrid Spartina 96% from 805 net acres in 2005 to ~33 in 2020 and planted over 530,000 natives. This fascinating landscape-level project includes early morning bird surveys, genetic testing, and airboat rides to remote mudflats. Learn how restoration of these native tidal marshes can provide critical habitat for wildlife and act as a buffer against sea level rise for Bay shoreline communities.  Click to register

In California drought news today …

How dire is the drought? One of California’s biggest reservoirs could hit its lowest level ever

Normally at this time of year, workers at Lake Oroville’s two marinas are preparing for a deluge of visitors eager to spend the summer lazing on houseboats, zipping across the water on speed boats or cruising the sprawling lake’s rocky nooks and coves in search of salmon.  But this spring, after two years of scant rainfall, they’ve pulled about 130 houseboats out of the shallower reaches of the marinas and are closing boat launch ramps as the lake recedes, likely to record-low levels by the fall. At Lake Oroville and elsewhere in the state, shrinking reservoirs are among the most visible signs of the exceptional drought that has gripped much of California and could force water conservation measures as the hot, dry summer drags on. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: How dire is the drought? One of California’s biggest reservoirs could hit its lowest level ever

SEE ALSOPhotos: California’s Growing Drought Disaster

Multiple late season atmospheric rivers are forecast to impact Northern California and the PNW this weekend

“This first AR is forecast to make landfall on Friday while the second and potentially stronger AR is forecast to make landfall late on Saturday.  The first AR is forecast to bring weak to moderate AR conditions to far Northern California and Southern Oregon.  Several GEFS ensemble members suggest the second AR could bring strong AR conditions (IVT >750 kg m–1 s–1) to Coastal OR, but there is higher forecast uncertainty surrounding this AR compared to the first.  The WPC is forecasting as much as 2–4 inches of precipitation over some of the higher elevation locations in Northern CA, OR, and WA. … ” Read more from the Center for Western Weather & Water Extremes here: Multiple late season atmospheric rivers are forecast to impact Northern California and the PNW this weekend

Water Year 2021 snow drought conditions summary and impacts in the West

Snow drought impacts have intensified as snow melted weeks early this spring.  Remaining higher-elevation western snowpack is well below normal with the exception of Washington, parts of Montana, and the South Platte Basin that drains the Front Range of Colorado. The 2020–2021 snow drought was initially caused primarily by a lack of precipitation and storminess, and intensified after April 1. A huge, and in some cases record breaking, decline in snow water equivalent percent of normal was observed throughout April due to warm and dry conditions.  Much of the western snow melted one to four weeks early, including three to four weeks early in the Sierra. … ”  Read more from NIDIS here: Water Year 2021 snow drought conditions summary and impacts in the West 

There’s a danger in over-simplifying Calif. water conservation

You hear it every time drought returns to California: “Turn off the faucet when you brush your teeth.” “Collect shower water in a bucket before it warms up.”  While valuable, these tried and true drought resilience strategies can also deflect attention from the monumental challenges posed by droughts to natural areas, waterways, agriculture and people in California. Far-sighted and discerning management of the state’s annual precipitation and groundwater is critical, particularly as droughts become more frequent due to climate change, said Faith Kearns, the academic coordinator of UC’s California Institute for Water Resources.  “Like so many big societal problems, we don’t want to get caught up believing individual actions alone will solve this problem,” Kearns said. “Conserving water in households can help people feel activated and certainly conserve some water. But, at the same time, it’s not enough. We have big, systemic issues to deal with.” … ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press here: There’s a danger in over-simplifying Calif. water conservation

California drought leads to mandatory water restrictions for millions

Santa Clara has become the latest California county to declare a water shortage emergency because of the state’s worsening drought.  Santa Clara is in extreme drought. More than 85% of California is in extreme or exceptional drought. Gov. Gavin Newsom has declared a drought emergency for 41 of the state’s 58 counties.  He has resisted calls to declare a drought emergency for the entire state, which would trigger water reductions across the state, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.  That leaves it up to local water districts to decide on restrictions. ... ”  Read more from The Weather Channel here: California drought leads to mandatory water restrictions for millions

NRCS to invest $22,774,000 for California producers in drought-impacted areas

In response to historic drought conditions, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in California is offering $22,774,000 through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). California is one of only four states in the nation to pilot this important program to help agricultural producers, including Tribes, alleviate the immediate impacts of drought and other natural resource challenges on working lands. NRCS will make available this funding through Conservation Incentive Contracts, a new option available through EQIP. ... ”  Read more from the NCRS here: NRCS to invest $22,774,000 for California producers in drought-impacted areas 

Why this year’s drought in the Western US is historic

Scientists are ringing the alarm on climate change. Right now, there is a record-breaking drought happening across the western part of the US. According to the US Drought Monitor, all or most of Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and more are dealing with disastrous drought conditions and their effects.  Droughts are nothing new for this part of the country. (Think: California’s last drought lasted from December 2011 to March 2019.) But water has long been an issue for the region. And experts say climate change is making the situation worse. Like other extreme weather events, it’s causing droughts to be more intense and frequent. Researchers say that a decades-long megadrought is starting to happen in the West – particularly in the Southwest. … ”  Read more from The Skimm here: Why this year’s drought in the Western US is historic

In other California water news today …

Delta Adapts: Equity Through Adaptation

Avery Livengood, environmental program manager at the Delta Stewardship Council, writes, “In Executive Officer Jessica R. Pearson’s December blog on the Delta Adapts Initiative, she wrote that “anticipating and preparing for the climate crisis has always been integral to pursuing our agency’s mission” and recognized that, due to socio-economic inequities, not all communities will be impacted equally by the climate crisis. In phase one of our Delta Adapts Initiative, the Vulnerability Assessment, we sought to understand the factors driving increased climate change vulnerability and to identify the most vulnerable communities. As we move into phase two of the Initiative, the Adaptation Strategy, we seek to address this imbalance by prioritizing the concerns and input of communities that are most vulnerable to climate change.  At the Council, we are tasked with overseeing the implementation of the Delta Plan. Chapter 5 of the Delta Plan includes five core strategies, one of which is to “protect the Delta’s lands and communities.” ... ”  Continue reading at the Delta Stewardship Council here: Delta Adapts: Equity Through Adaptation

Reclamation continues increased flow releases from New Melones Reservoir for Bay-Delta requirements

The Bureau of Reclamation is continuing increased flow releases from New Melones Reservoir to assist with Delta salinity and outflow requirements.  Additional flow releases began on the lower Stanislaus River on June 10. The increased flow of 1,500 cubic feet per second will occur for an extended duration.  Increased river flow can create hazardous conditions including higher water levels, fast currents, colder water, and potential entrapment. Portions of the lower Stanislaus River have limited cell phone coverage and hazardous terrain that can delay rescue efforts. Recreationists and visitors should take safety precautions when near or on the lower Stanislaus River during these increased flows.  For more information on Central Valley Project operations, visit https://www.usbr.gov/mp/cvo/ .”

California’s salmon economy and environment might hinge on trucking project

The salmon industry is an important part of the Golden State’s economy. With a yearly economic impact to the tune of $900 million, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, a collapse of the species would not only mean further danger to the already-fragile environment, but a hit to the state’s bottom line as well. With the western drought the worst that its been in a millennium, that is putting all of that in real danger.  In an effort to help combat the problem, the state will be releasing almost 17 million of the anadromous fish (those that live part of their lives in freshwater, part in the ocean) into the San Francisco Bay. Sending them straight into the Bay’s cold waters, allowing them to bypass California’s drying up rivers, should maximize their survival rate. … ”  Read more from Forbes Magazine here:  California’s salmon economy and environment might hinge on trucking project

California to transport 17m salmon to the sea by truck as drought bites

Baby Chinook salmon from California’s Central Valley typically have a long swim downriver to the ocean to survive into the next stage of life. This year, they are getting a helping hand in the form of a fleet of tanker trucks set to carry almost 17 million of the fish to the sea.  It’s all part of a flurry of steps across western US states to keep tens of millions of endangered salmon from suffering in a year of historic drought for the region.  This isn’t the first time wildlife managers have trucked salmon downstream, but this year the drought is drying up rivers earlier than usual and making them too hot for the salmon to survive. That means that giant tanker trucks, traveling 50 to 100 miles downstream to the coast around San Francisco, are a lifeline. … ”  Read more from the Guardian here: California to transport 17m salmon to the sea by truck as drought bites

17 million fish to be released into San Francisco Bay

With Western states on the verge of a permanent drought, California is attempting to save its salmon population by releasing 17 million salmon into the San Francisco Bay.  Hot, dry conditions are causing water temperatures to surge and diminishing currents the salmon rely on. To bypass the difficulties, chinook salmon from four Central Valley hatcheries will be transported to sites around the San Pablo, San Francisco, Half Moon, and Monterey bays in hopes of increasing their chances at survival as these bay areas contain colder water and stronger currents downstream.  The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is “utilizing lessons learned from the past 15 or more years of salmon releases and the last drought to maximize release success,” said Jason Julienne, the CDFW’s North Central Region Hatchery supervisor. … ” Read more from The Hill here: 17 million fish to be released into San Francisco Bay

Erin Brockovich: the real story of the town three decades later

Despite inspiring an Oscar-winning movie, the story of Hinkley, California, did not have the Hollywood ending viewers may have expected. Hinkley’s story shot Erin Brockovich to stardom and she has continued to crusade for access to safe water.  Hinkley is a small southern California community in the Mojave Desert. Since the 1950s, utility company Pacific Gas & Electric has operated a natural gas pumping station. Until 1966, the company used a chemical called chromium 6 to prevent rust. The toxic chemical eventually seeped into Hinkley’s water supply.  In 1993, Erin Brockovich — a divorced, unemployed single mother — became a activist for clean water after she spoke out against PG&E. … ”  Continue reading at ABC News here: Erin Brockovich: the real story of the town three decades later

Wildfire smoke alters lake ecosystems on regional scale

The wildfire season has arrived in North America, and recent research highlights that the impacts of wildfire smoke emissions can alter aquatic ecosystems far away from the sources of the fire.  In the summer of 2018, intense smoke from six major wildfires covered Castle Lake, west of Mt. Shasta California, for 55 days. Researchers from the University of Nevada, Reno, which co-facilitates research operations at the 50-acre lake, showed a significant change to the biology, chemistry and physical dynamics in the lake.  “The most significant aspect of this study is that wildfire can modify ecosystems hundreds of miles away from locations that are burning, and the impacts from smoke remain well after the smoke disappears” Facundo Scordo, a researcher with the University’s Global Water Center and Department of Biology and lead author of the study, said. … ”  Read more from Nevada Today here: Wildfire smoke alters lake ecosystems on regional scale

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In regional water news and commentary today …

A reservoir shutdown pits neighbor against neighbor. One group is threatening to reopen it by force

Tricia Hill tears up when she talks about the emotional toll the water shut-off in southern Oregon has had on her family.  Amid historic, climate change-driven drought, the federal government in May shut down the water supply from the Upper Klamath Basin on the California-Oregon border to protect native fish species on the verge of extinction. As a result, Hill and other farmers like her in the region have been cut off from water they have used for decades.  The drought has “definitely made it a lot harder for us to get by year after year, and it’s making an already tight margin a lot tighter,” Hill, a fourth-generation farmer, told CNN. “For all of us, we’ve got families, employees, customers — people we have to figure out how to take care of.” … ”  Read more from CNN here: A reservoir shutdown pits neighbor against neighbor. One group is threatening to reopen it by force

Placer County: How a NorCal water agency is sweetening the pot to pay for curbing water use

The Placer County Water Agency is increasing the financial incentive to curb unnecessary water use during another drier than normal season.  The agency is expanding its water efficiency rebate program for the remainder of 2021.  “While it is always important to use water efficiently, the dry conditions this spring have increased our customers’ interest in making their homes and businesses more water-efficient,” Andy Fecko, PCWA general manager said. … ”  Read more from Placer County Water Agency here: Placer County: How a NorCal water agency is sweetening the pot to pay for curbing water use

Manteca: Alternatives send dry levee more to the south

A controversial dryland levee needed to provide state-mandated 200-year flood protection for a large swath of southwest Manteca as well as part of Lathrop could go farther south than originally envisioned.  Engineers working with the San Joaquin Area Flood Control Agency (SJAFCA) have devised four additional alternatives for the cross-levee designed to hold back floodwaters for a 200-year flood when the San Joaquin and Stanislaus rivers fail south of Manteca.  Those river levees have failed 11 times since 1929 creating several 100-year floods including the 1997 event that brought flood waters lapping to the top of the existing dry levee that runs south of Woodward Avenue and ends west of Airport Way. Those flood waters that inundated 80 square miles between Manteca and Tracy came within dozens of yards of the Nile School campus. … ”  Continue reading at the Manteca Bulletin here: Manteca: Alternatives send dry levee more to the south

Solano County Commentary: Meeting California’s water needs for a resilient future

Roland Sanford, General Manager of the Solano County Water Agency, writes, “California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment finds that our average temperatures are warming, heat waves are becoming more frequent, and precipitation will be more highly variable compared to recent history. This makes securing our state’s water supply resiliency, accessibility, and reliability more important than ever. Improving the resilience of existing water supply infrastructure in the face of climate change demands forward-thinking investments that prepare us for California’s future. … At the Solano County Water Agency (SCWA), we couldn’t agree more with this conclusion and goal. This is why we are pursuing the WATER+ project to create a resilient future for our region’s water supply while also creating ecosystem and fishery benefits and protecting against sea-level rise. … ”  Read the full commentary at the Daily Reporter here: Commentary: Meeting California’s water needs for a resilient future

Nearly all the Bay Area is now in ‘exceptional’ drought category – and the outlook’s grim

A persistent lack of precipitation has landed most of the Bay Area in the worst drought category, according to data released Thursday.  The U.S. Drought Monitor shows that seven of the Bay Area’s nine counties moved to the “exceptional” drought category in the last week. San Mateo and Santa Clara counties remained in “extreme” drought, the second-worst category, as of Tuesday. “California continued to see the impacts of drought increase,” meteorologists wrote in their summary of the latest drought data, with much Northern and Central California increasing to “extreme” and “exceptional” drought conditions. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: Nearly all the Bay Area is now in ‘exceptional’ drought category – and the outlook’s grim

Editorial: Gavin Newsom’s swollen budget is still short on cash to protect the Bay Area from rising seas

The San Francisco Chronicle editorial board writes, “San Francisco Bay tides likely will rise more than a foot and a half by century’s end, according to the California Ocean Protection Council, with a substantial risk that over 4 feet of shoreline will be submerged. A special Chronicle report detailed the alarming and costly consequences for San Francisco’s Mission Creek and airport, suburbs such as Foster City and Hayward, and other neighborhoods, infrastructure and environments around the bay.  Gov. Gavin Newsom’s otherwise generous budget proposal doesn’t rise to the level of this challenge to the region he calls home. While Newsom’s spending plan is swollen with a $38 billion surplus he plans to spend on cash payments to middle-income households and more, it doesn’t specify any funding for restoring Bay Area wetlands and otherwise protecting the region against the inevitability of rising seas. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  Editorial: Gavin Newsom’s swollen budget is still short on cash to protect the Bay Area from rising seas

The refuge on the wild side of Silicon Valley

Hilary Clark writes, “I hear a melodic chirping.  I turn to see the flashy red patch of the male red-winged blackbird by the entry to the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Fremont. Established in 1974 as the country’s first and largest urban national wildlife refuge, Don Edwards spans over 30,000 acres of wetlands, marshes, ponds, vernal pools, and upland habitat in the South Bay. Observers have sighted over 280 species of birds here. In the winter, millions of birds stop to rest and refuel in the refuge after their long journeys along the Pacific Flyway.  Over 30 miles of trails run through the refuge, portions of which are in East Palo Alto, Alviso, and Redwood City. I walk down the 1.8-mile Tidelands Trail to Newark Slough–a slow-moving channel of water that snakes around marshes adjacent to the Bay. … ”  Read more from Bay Nature here: The refuge on the wild side of Silicon Valley

San Lorenzo Valley Water District awarded state grant for fire fuels reduction

The San Lorenzo Valley Water District has been awarded a $200,000 grant from the State Coastal Conservancy to clear vegetation and fire fuels surrounding drinking water infrastructure.  The funds come as Cal Fire has stated summer and fall look ripe for high fire risk conditions locally, and statewide.  “That really struck us after last year, and this is really giving us a push to try and make some progress before it gets really hot and dry,” Carly Blanchard, an environmental planner with the San Lorenzo Valley Water District said.  The district’s project to reduce fire risk was chosen among 32 others statewide, as part of the Conservancy’s Wildfire Resilience Program. … ”  Read more from the Santa Cruz Sentinel here:  San Lorenzo Valley Water District awarded state grant for fire fuels reduction

Santa Cruz editorial: Our new water reality: It’s dry and getting drier

The Santa Cruz Sentinel editorial board writes, “The ground is really dry and we’re three weeks this side of summer.  What this means locally is that Santa Cruz County in early May was added to the counties that find themselves in the dismal dry conditions afflicting most of California – AKA “extreme drought.”  The lack of rainfall, dwindling stream flows and dropping reservoir levels also mean that county water districts have had to get an early start on various water restrictions. A lack of rain here would be alarming since the county doesn’t share in statewide water projects or benefit from the melting Sierra snowpack– but this year counties that do depend on these may be hurting even more than ours. … ”  Read more from the Santa Cruz Sentinel here: Our new water reality: It’s dry and getting drier

Drought taking a toll on West Side agriculture

West Side agriculture is facing a drought crisis, with surface water allocations reduced to the Central California Irrigation District and eliminated altogether in small federal districts such as the Del Puerto Water District.  Some growers are leaving open ground fallow and abandoning older orchards, particularly in districts such as Del Puerto, to concentrate what little water they have on fewer acres of permanent plantings or higher-value crops.  Comparisons are being drawn to the four-year drought which started in 2012. … ”  Read more from Westside Connect here:  Drought taking a toll on West Side agriculture

Drought is back. How cities and irrigation districts in Stanislaus are limiting water

The drought won’t force sudden cuts in water use by city residents in Stanislaus County, because they are in conservation mode all the time.  You know the drill: Water only on the assigned days of the week, and never in the afternoon. Irrigate the lawn, not the sidewalk. And wash the car with a hose valve that you can turn on and off readily.  Over the years, those rules have helped sustain groundwater, the main source for residential users in the county. And they have stretched the Tuolumne River water that makes up much of the city of Modesto’s supply. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here: Drought is back. How cities and irrigation districts in Stanislaus are limiting water

Newman: Conservation area project clears milestones

The proposed Newman Community Conservation Area, which includes a nature park and hiking trails, cleared two milestones recently with City Council approval of a master plan and environmental studies on the project.  The project, located north of Brazo Road and east of Canal School Road on city-owned property within Merced County, includes four distinct components.  Some serve a functional purpose through a system of constructed wetlands and vegetation that serves as a natural filter for storm drain run-off, while other aspects are recreational and educational in nature. … ”  Read more from Westside Connect here: Newman: Conservation area project clears milestones

Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority: Mojave Pistachios must pay or quit pumping, Searles gets reprieve until July 1

The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority voted to take action against Mojave Pistachios for not paying the GA’s replenishment fee.  The agency also voted to take action against Searles Valley Minerals, but not right away.  Neither decision was unanimous.  The actions were taken at a virtual meeting Wednesday that was troubled by technical difficulties with the live stream, which caused the meeting to halt at least once.  The authority approved an order for Mojave Pistachios to either pay the GA’s the $2,130 per acre-foot replenishment fee or stop pumping, effective immediately. If they fail to do one or the other, the GA can then seek a court order for enforcement. … ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here: Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority: Mojave Pistachios must pay or quit pumping, Searles gets reprieve until July 1

Metropolitan helps advance stormwater capture and recycling project

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is helping advance two local supply projects that will further diversify and strengthen the region’s water reliability, under two agreements approved Tuesday by the district’s board of directors. The board approved an agreement with the Municipal Water District of Orange County and the Santa Margarita Water District to provide funding for a recycled water project. It also approved an agreement with the Inland Empire Utilities Agencies to help fund a stormwater capture project as part of a Metropolitan pilot program that helps measure the potential benefits of such projects for the region. “The impacts of climate change require us to continue to adapt our imported water supply facilities and strategies while finding ways to develop new sources, such as recycled water and stormwater capture,” said Chairwoman Gloria D. Gray. “This is what Metropolitan does – we constantly respond to what our region needs and are proud to partner with our member agencies to produce far-ranging benefits for all of Southern California. … ”  Continue reading at the Metropolitan Water District here: Metropolitan helps advance stormwater capture and recycling project

Central Basin project will save 38m gallons of potable water every year

With former disgraced GM Kevin Hunt, his puppet Finance Director Andrew Hamilton, and several other questionable employee’s departure, the administrative and financial turnaround continues at Commerce-based Central Basin (CB) Municipal Water.  Sales are up, bogus expenses projected by Hunt and Hamilton have been found – substantially cutting expenses – and now water reliability projects are beginning to gush forth.  One of the projects includes the Recycled Water Customer Conversion for Disadvantage Communities Project (DAC). … ” Read more from HMG Media here: Central Basin project will save 38m gallons of potable water every year 

Orange County Water District receives $100,000 research grant to pilot test flow-reversal reverse osmosis technology

Building on its long history of innovation and research initiatives, the Orange County Water District (OCWD; the District) recently received a $100,000 grant from the Southern California Salinity Coalition (SCSC) to study ways to expand water reuse and further improve water quality. An 18-month pilot study will evaluate the feasibility of flow-reversal reverse osmosis (FR-RO)for municipal potable reuse at OCWD. This test will be the first time that FR-RO, a ROTEC LTD technology collaborating in the United States with AdEdge Water Technology, has been piloted for this application in the country. The primary goal of the study is to evaluate whether FR-RO technology can create more clean water from the District’s Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS) at two intermediate process points: microfiltration (MF) effluent, and RO concentrate. … ”  Read more from the Orange County Water District here: Orange County Water District receives $100,000 research grant to pilot test flow-reversal reverse osmosis technology

San Juan Capistrano: Southern steelhead recovery gets a boost

CalTrout’s South Coast efforts to revitalize the endangered Southern steelhead population recently reached a milestone. The project involves removing barriers to fish passage at the Metrolink railroad bridge and the I-5 bridge array on Trabuco Creek; the barrier location is in the heart of San Juan Capistrano in Orange County, on the Trabuco tributary to San Juan Creek. Remediation of these barriers will restore access to over 15 miles of steelhead spawning and rearing habitat.  We’re proud to report that with the immense help of partners and funders, this complex project has moved into the final design phase, with scaled-down models of the passages tested in laboratories and completion of actual construction expected in three to five years, according to Sandra Jacobson, CalTrout’s South Coast Director. ... ”  Read more from Cal Trout here: Southern steelhead recovery gets a boost

California Coastal Commission approves Solana Beach seawall

After twice previously denying the application, the California Coastal Commission unanimously approved construction of a Solana Beach seawall Thursday with a number of modifications, including a $140,000 donation to improve beach access.  The financial contribution was among the conditions in a legal settlement approved by Coastal Commission Executive Director John Ainsworth with the four adjacent Pacific Avenue homeowners who submitted the application for a third time.  The homeowners — Richard A. Schrager, Mark Van Oene, Robert E. DeSimone and Eron Jokipii — filed a lawsuit Oct. 19, 2020, in San Diego Superior Court to overturn the commission’s denial. The settlement, signed in late March, was contingent upon the commission’s approval of the seawall application. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  California Coastal Commission approves Solana Beach seawall

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Along the Colorado River …

‘Red alert’: Lake Mead falls to record-low level, a milestone in Colorado River’s crisis

Lake Mead has declined to its lowest level since the reservoir was filled in the 1930s following the construction of Hoover Dam, marking a new milestone for the water-starved Colorado River in a downward spiral that shows no sign of letting up.  The reservoir near Las Vegas holds water for cities, farms and tribal lands in Arizona, Nevada, California and Mexico. Years of unrelenting drought and temperatures pushed higher by climate change are shrinking the flow into the lake, contributing to the large mismatch between the demands for water and the Colorado’s diminishing supply.  The lake’s rapid decline has been outpacing projections from just a few months ago. … ”  Read more from the Arizona Republic here: ‘Red alert’: Lake Mead falls to record-low level, a milestone in Colorado River’s crisis

As water levels drop at Lake Mead, Phoenix works to reduce its dependence on Colorado River water

For the first time ever, the federal government is expected, later this summer, to declare a drought emergency on the lower Colorado River.  Water levels at Lake Mead, which feeds the Colorado River, have dropped 130 feet since 2000. The lake is now at its lowest level since the construction of the Hoover Dam.   Phoenix is one of the many beneficiaries of water from Lake Mead with 400,000 residents relying on Colorado River water. It amounts to 40% of the city’s supply.  “It’s something that gives us pause,” said Cynthia Campbell, the city of Phoenix Water Resource Management Advisor. “But it’s not something we haven’t prepared for.” … ”  Read more from ABC 15 here: As water levels drop at Lake Mead, Phoenix works to reduce its dependence on Colorado River water

Report: Arizona ‘not all that close’ to achieving safe-yield on groundwater

Arizona has a groundwater problem. Outlined in a new report, called “The Myth of Safe Yield,” the authors note that if we could see our groundwater aquifers underground, many would look like the images we’ve seen of Lake Mead, with its bathtub ring indicating falling water levels.  The state has regulated groundwater for more than 40 years under the 1980 Groundwater Management Act. Among other provisions, it set a goal of safe-yield by 2025; that means the amount of groundwater being pumped out would be roughly the same amount of recharge going into the aquifers.  But that’s not happening, and while other water sources, like the Colorado River, have reduced our dependence on groundwater, those sources are also under stress.  Kathleen Ferris is senior research fellow at the Kyl Center for Water Policy at the ASU Morrison Institute for Public Policy, and is also an author of this report. She has been working on groundwater management issues for more than four decades.  The Show spoke with her to learn how many issues we predicted and what ones were unforeseen.” Listen to the radio spot at KJZZ here: Report: Arizona ‘not all that close’ to achieving safe-yield on groundwater

Report: Colorado River Basin Tribes lack clean, reliable water

It’s estimated that more than seven hundred thousand Native Americans in the U.S. are living without access to clean and reliable water.  A recent report from the Water & Tribes Initiative surveyed thirty tribes in the Colorado River Basin and found widespread problems with lack of water access and contaminated supplies. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny spoke with the report’s lead author, Heather Tanana, a Navajo Nation citizen and assistant professor at the University of Utah. … ”  Read/listen at KNAU here: Report: Colorado River Basin Tribes lack clean, reliable water 

Record heat forecast to bake Southwest next week, amid worsening drought

The first extreme heat wave of the year is set to sizzle in the Southwest next week, with temperatures topping 120 degrees in spots. Excessive heat watches and warnings already blanket portions of Arizona, California and Nevada.  The heat wave, predicted to last many days, will only intensify record-setting drought conditions plaguing many locations in the West.  Temperatures at least 20 degrees above average are possible for several days next week, and could persist even longer. Conditions this hot are “rare, dangerous and deadly,” wrote the National Weather Service in Phoenix.  The exceptional temperatures will bolster wildfire risk and exacerbate the potential for a long and significant fire season in the West as the heat saps more moisture from the ground. ... ”  Read more from the Washington Post here: Record heat forecast to bake Southwest next week, amid worsening drought

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In national water news today …

WOTUS woes continue: EPA to modify the navigable waters protection rule

“Proposed regulatory changes will increase the extent of lands throughout the country that will be designated, and regulated, as wetlands. On June 9, 2021, the Department of the Army and the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) (together, “the Agencies”) announced their intent to replace the Trump administration’s Navigable Waters Protection Rule (“NWPR”). The Agencies intend to restore the protections in place prior to the Obama-era 2015 Clean Water Rule and establish a more “durable” definition of “waters of the United States.” This action follows President Joe Biden’s Executive Order 13990, Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis (Jan. 20, 2021), which revoked the Trump administration’s executive order that resulted in the promulgation of the Trump administration’s NWPR and directed the Agencies to “take action to address . . . Federal regulations and other actions during the last four years that conflict with these important national objectives.” … ”  Read more from Brownstein Hyatt here: WOTUS woes continue: EPA to modify the navigable waters protection rule

Another WOTUS Revision on the way from EPA

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of the Army intend to update the definition of “waters of the United States” (WOTUS). The WOTUS revision comes after declaring the 2020 Navigable Waters Protection Rule as being insufficient in its purpose. Federal officials assert that the Trump-era rule was substantially reducing clean water protections.  “After reviewing the Navigable Waters Protection Rule as directed by President Biden, the EPA and Department of the Army have determined that this rule is leading to significant environmental degradation,” EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan said in a press release. “We are committed to establishing a durable definition of ‘waters of the United States’ based on Supreme Court precedent and drawing from the lessons learned from the current and previous regulations, as well as input from a wide array of stakeholders, so we can better protect our nation’s waters, foster economic growth, and support thriving communities.” … ”  Read more from Ag Net West here: Another WOTUS Revision on the way from EPA

LaMalfa: Biden’s New WOTUS Rule Disaster for Agriculture, Timber

Congressman Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry, released the following statement after the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of the Army announced the intent to establish a new definition of “Waters of the United States,” or WOTUS.  LaMalfa said, “As we fight drought in the West, the Biden administration is returning to the type of micro-managing regulations where every puddle and man-made irrigation or drainage ditch goes back under the thumb of the federal government. Regressing to previous WOTUS policy would be a disaster for agriculture, timber and all families whose lives depend on natural resources and the products they become that we use in everyday life. In reigniting Obama’s war on the West and the productive Americans who feed, clothe, and house the people, the Biden administration reveals it has no clue how food, fiber, and material are actually made and delivered in America. This policy will only result in lost domestic jobs and industry, more foreign imports, a less reliable supply chain of usable goods, and higher costs to our citizens. This burden will fall on all working Americans and their families.

Biden regulatory playbook revives more active government

President Joe Biden laid out his first regulatory to-do list Friday, detailing his ambitions to dramatically expand the scope of the federal government’s involvement in education, healthcare, and the environment, among other areas.  Tougher regulation to prevent discrimination in health care, boost wages for tipped workers, and provide relief for student loan borrowers is on the agenda that outlines each federal agency’s regulatory priorities for the coming months. The agenda includes agency plans to revise Trump-era rules on pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and public lands. And it includes proposals that would strengthen protections for immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children alter which asylum-seekers are allowed into the U.S. … ”  Read more from Bloomberg Law here: Biden regulatory playbook revives more active government

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National water and climate update …

The Natural Resources Conservation Service produces this weekly report using data and products from the National Water and Climate Center and other agencies. The report focuses on seasonal snowpack, precipitation, temperature, and drought conditions in the U.S.

dmrpt-20210610

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

ANNOUNCEMENT: Delta Conveyance Project to Host Informational Webinars

DELTA eNEWS: ~~ CWC Meeting~ ISB Meeting~ Office Hours~ Marketing Workshop~ Drought Barrier ~~

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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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