DAILY DIGEST, 6/15: Final Sacramento River plan could kill up to 88% of endangered salmon run; Wall Street is thirsting for your water; New MWD GM Adel Hagekhalil commits to “One Water” agenda; San Francisco Supes approve resolution protecting the Tuolumne River; and more …


On the calendar today …

  • MEETING: The State Water Board meets beginning at 9am.  Consideration of proposed resolutions to adopt 2021-22 Clean Water State Revolving Fund Intended Use Plan, 2021-22 Drinking Water State Revolving Fund Intended Use Plan; Consideration of a proposed Resolution to adopt Emergency Regulations to address water shortagesin the Russian River Watershed; Update on monthly water production and conservation data reported by urban retail water suppliers; and a drought update.  Click here for the full agenda and remote access instructions.
  • WORKSHOP: Using Nature-Based Solutions to Advance Equity from 3pm to 6pm.  Join the California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA) for a topical workshop on opportunities to advance equity featuring a presentation of recommendations from an advisory panel and an opportunity for the public to share their perspectives and insights on the topic.  The June 15 equity workshop will explore opportunities for the State to promote equity and access through its conservation and climate smart land strategies.  Click here to register.
  • WORKSHOP: SAFER Drinking Water Program Community Workshop from 7:30pm to 8:30pm.   The workshop will cover: 1) why the SAFER drinking water program was created, 2) how the SAFER drinking water program supports communities, and 3) how the Drinking Water Needs Assessment and Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund Expenditure Plan support the SAFER drinking water program. This workshop will also provide an opportunity for State Water Board staff to hear from participants about water in their communities.  Click here for the meeting notice and remote access instructions.

In California drought news today …

Final plan for water releases into Sacramento River could kill up to 88% of endangered salmon run

The California water board has approved a plan for water releases into the Sacramento River that could kill off an entire run of endangered chinook salmon and put at risk another population that is part of the commercial salmon fishery.  The State Water Resources Control Board has informed the federal Bureau of Reclamation it would accept its final plan for managing water flows from Shasta Lake into the Sacramento River, which is both the main source of water for Central Valley farms and the spawning habitat for chinook salmon. Because the bureau’s plan involves releasing water to irrigation districts earlier in the season, the river will be lower and warmer during salmon spawning season and could result in killing as many as 88% of endangered winter-run chinook eggs and young fish. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: Final plan for water releases into Sacramento River could kill up to 88% of endangered salmon run’

California is walking a ‘tight rope’ as hydropower supply fades

The catastrophic drought that’s gripping the U.S. West is claiming a new victim: the hydropower dams that much of the region depends on for electricity supplies.  Low water levels in key reservoirs mean that hydropower supplies are declining. One of the hardest hit areas is California, where output has tumbled to the lowest in more than five years. Nationally, the U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts electricity generation from conventional hydro sources will drop about 11% this year from 2020.  That’s at a time when electric grids across the West are already forecast to be stretched this summer as heat waves send power demand surging. … ”  Read more from Bloomberg Quint here: California is walking a ‘tight rope’ as hydropower supply fades

What’s the future of droughts in California? Here’s what history tells us

No doubt, California’s history is a tale of an abundance of rain followed by droughts.  Despite January’s atmospheric river that produced vast amounts of precipitation throughout Central California, last week’s U.S. Drought Monitor increased the severity of the drought of the Central Coast from a “Severe Drought (D2)” classification to an “Extreme Drought (D3)” level, while much of the Bay Area increased to an “Exceptional (D4) Drought” condition, the most severe level. … From heavy rainfall in January to the uncharacteristically dry conditions in February, April and May, this year is a perfect example on how California’s monthly and yearly rainfall totals are often radically different from one rain season to the next, primarily due to the location of the storm track over the Eastern Pacific. … ”  Read more from the San Luis Obispo Tribune here:  What’s the future of droughts in California? Here’s what history tells us

California drought conditions remain unchanged for first time in a long time

Each and every Thursday, the US drought monitor releases new data and maps for drought conditions throughout the country.  Often in the West, and certainly for California, it’s been heavily anticipated and often predicted to get worse each week with the lack of rain. In a rare change, the maps remain unchanged giving the state a break from bad news.  This non-update however is more or less expected as the Golden State traditionally sees a drastic drop-off of precipitation in June and snow melt is well underway.  ... ”  Read more from ABC 10 here: California drought conditions remain unchanged for first time in a long time

Hurtado and Valadao urge consideration for Central Valley counties in drought decisions

Today, Senator Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger) and Congressman David G. Valadao (R-Hanford) released the following statements regarding a letter they sent to Governor Gavin Newsom and the Federal Drought Task Force to ensure that the south Central Valley will be considered in drought decisions:  “California is one state of many, including countries around the world, that is experiencing a drought unlike any other,” said Senator Hurtado. “Farmers of the Central Valley are world leaders and have been at the forefront of the fight against climate change. Support for our farmers equals support for our food—we may not be able to avoid this water crisis, but we can work to avoid a food crisis. There is no room for partisan politics in addressing this enormous challenge. Congressman Valadao, myself, and the Valley Delegation have been working tirelessly to address the needs of our constituents, farmers and farmworkers. We will continue to do so.” … ”  Continue reading at Senator Hurtado’s website here: Hurtado and Valadao urge consideration for Central Valley counties in drought decisions

Low lake levels have some people concerned

California is in the middle of a drought emergency and it’s hitting our local lakes hard.  At last check, Shasta Lake is at 41% capacity. At this time last year, the lake’s capacity was at 74%. Lake levels are so low that people can see the old head towers popping out of the lake.  Some people tell me they’re worried the low lake levels could hurt tourism.  “I worry about the economy in the area,” said Lynne Jones of Redding. … ”  Continue reading at KRCR here: Low lake levels have some people concerned

Drought dashboard helps ranchers reduce risk

When faced with developing drought, ranchers often have questions. How severe is this drought? How long could it last? Is this as bad as the last drought we experienced, or is it the worst one? What are the chances it rains enough to produce normal forage over the coming weeks or months, and how much rain would be needed for a “normal” grazing year?  These are questions frequently asked by ranchers who have taken part in drought management workshops with the National Drought Mitigation Center and partner agencies, NDMC rural sociologist Tonya Haigh says. … ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press here: Drought dashboard helps ranchers reduce risk

Severe drought is taking a toll on California and the western U.S.

California, along with much of the rest of the western United States, is once again mired in drought. In fact, California has experienced significant drought conditions in 13 of the 22 years (60%) since the turn of the century.  A 2020 study in the journal Science concluded that 2000 through 2018 was the second-driest 19-year period in the U.S. Southwest in at least the past 1,200 years, and a 2014 paper in Geophysical Research Letters found that 2012 through 2014 was the driest three-year period in California over that same timeframe.  Nearly the entire state is currently in the ‘severe’ drought category or worse, and three-quarters is experiencing ‘extreme’ to ‘exceptional’ drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. ... ”  Continue reading from EcoWatch here: Severe drought is taking a toll on California and the western U.S.

In other California water news today …

Wall Street is thirsting for your water

In 1865, the final year of the American Civil War, a man named David Noble Smith started collecting water from a spring located near a peculiar rock formation resembling an arrowhead in California’s San Bernardino mountains. At the time, this was a few days’ horseback ride from a dusty and obscure place called Los Angeles.  By drawing water from Strawberry Creek before any other white person, Smith staked a claim to owning the water, in the same way other white settlers seized rights to mine in the mountains or farm and ranch in the flatlands: simply by showing up.  Dead by the late 1880s, Smith’s legacy in 2021 is more consequential than legendary Old West robber barons like Leland Stanford. Instead of trifles like railroads and a university, Smith invested in a resource that is invaluable. You just might be drinking “his” water out of a plastic bottle as you read this story. … ”  Read more from Who What Why here: Wall Street is thirsting for your water

New MWD GM Adel Hagekhalil commits to “One Water” agenda

TPR is proud to share this timely interview with Metropolitan Water District’s newly confirmed General Manager, Adel Hagekhalil. … Adel, yesterday the MWD Board approved your contract as its new GM. It was also a day when national and global media reported the significant challenges the West and California face with respect to drought.  Share with our readers both your vision for MWD and agenda going forward to address this and related challenges?  Adel Hagekhalil: I want to first thank the Board of Directors for their trust and expressed support at the board meeting, but also all the political, water agency, environmental, labor and community leaders from across our region for testifying and submitting letters of support.  This is a critical moment in MWD’s history and a critical moment in our future. We all know life is anchored in water. Without water there is no life, no economy, and no environment. … ”  Read the full interview at The Planning Report here: New MWD GM Adel Hagekhalil commits to “One Water” agenda

Stanford scientists offer a new way to identify ‘sweet spots’ for managed aquifer recharge

Much of California’s $50 billion agricultural industry depends on groundwater. We typically see only what this water makes possible above the soil: almond and pistachio groves, citrus orchards, rows of lettuce and grapevines and cattle herds in a valley that supplies a quarter of the nation’s food even when surface water is scarce.  But a lot is happening below the surface. Deep underground, intricate channels of sand and gravel weave through tightly packed clays and silts, allowing Earth to hold water like a sponge.  Excessive pumping can squeeze out the sponge, permanently depleting an aquifer’s storage capacity and releasing toxic arsenic into water supplies. In California’s fertile Central Valley, years of rampant overdraft have led to shortages in many low-income, predominantly Latino communities and caused wells to go dry and the land surface to sink, damaging infrastructure. … ”  Read more from Stanford News here: Stanford scientists offer a new way to identify ‘sweet spots’ for managed aquifer recharge

California’s riparian woodlands at risk of decline

Riparian forests, those tree-filled regions running next to rivers and streams, host a breadth of important wildlife — but water management practices focused on meeting the needs of growing communities and agriculture may be putting their future in jeopardy.  These woodlands serve to protect water quality and stream integrity, host wildlife and control flooding along water ways, but the ecosystems they support are in danger of failing in the coming decades. While water management practices have provided a short-term boon to these ecosystems by providing water “subsidies,” the dependence on those artificial supplies could damage their long-term viability. … ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service here: California’s riparian woodlands at risk of decline

Biodiversity ‘hotspots’ imperiled along California’s streams

A study of woodland ecosystems that provide habitat for rare and endangered species along streams and rivers throughout California reveals that some of these ecologically important areas are inadvertently benefitting from water that humans are diverting for their own needs. Though it seems a short-term boon to these ecosystems, the artificial supply creates an unintended dependence on its bounty, threatens the long-term survival of natural communities and spotlights the need for changes in the way water is managed across the state.  We need to be more intentional in incorporating ecosystem water needs when we manage water—both for aquatic organisms and species on land,” said Melissa Rohde, the lead author of a study published June 14, 2021 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). … ”  Read more from PhysOrg here:  Biodiversity ‘hotspots’ imperiled along California’s streams

New pumped hydro around the world: Tried and tested long-duration storage tech makes comeback

For over 100 years, pumped-storage hydroelectric power (pumped hydro) has supported electricity consumption around the world. The principles of the technology are fairly simple, but ingenious: when electricity demand peaks, water falls from an upper reservoir into a lower reservoir, passing through turbines which generate power. The process is then reversed and water is pumped back up the hill during off-peak times when electricity is cheaper such as at night, or perhaps when there is abundant renewable energy such as solar, to drive the pumping. … Pumped hydro could provide a vital and significant share of the energy storage the US state of California needs to achieve its aggressive renewable energy targets and help ensure blackouts like that seen in August 2020 are not repeated, according to the developer of a 1,300MW pumped hydro plant with 18 hours of storage at the mountainous site of a former mining facility. The project would repurpose abandoned iron mining pits at the site into reservoirs. … ”  Read more from Energy Storage News here:  New pumped hydro around the world: Tried and tested long-duration storage tech makes comeback

Online public meetings still OK but some water agencies are pulling the plug

While most public water agencies are still mulling whether to keep an online option for their meetings, some have already clicked off Zoom and marched straight back to early 2020.  The Westlands Water District, which covers a huge swath of western Fresno County, will no longer have a public online option for the public to access its meetings starting June 15.  Growers who had been attending meetings and participating in workshops in droves through Zoom and by telephone, will now have to head to Westlands’ Fresno offices once a month for board and committee meetings which can start as early as 10 a.m. and last throughout the day. ... ”  Read more from SJV Water here: Online public meetings still OK but some water agencies are pulling the plug

How oysters and seagrass could help the California coast adapt to rising seas

On a sunny afternoon in April, Katie Nichols crouched over the edges of a small oyster reef in Newport Bay, California, peering into the mud that had been exposed by the receding tide. Where all I saw was a jumble of interchangeable shell fragments, Nichols quickly spotted what she was looking for.  “There,” she said, pointing to a small, white shell. “That’s what a native looks like.”  … Nichols, the marine restoration director of Orange County Coastkeeper, a nonprofit clean water organization in Southern California, is working on a project trying to resurrect the Olympia oyster — at least in Newport Bay — and is trying to understand whether the unassuming bivalve could be a key part of helping coastlines adapt to the impacts of climate change. … ”  Read more from The Grist here: How oysters and seagrass could help the California coast adapt to rising seas

California, battered by 2020, girds for more intense wildfires

With 2020’s disasters in mind, the state is making elaborate plans to deal with an upcoming wildfire season made potentially more deadly by drought.  The challenge is there, and it’s a big one.  Last year’s 9,639 wildfires blackened 4,397,809 acres, making 2020 the most ferocious wildfire season in California’s modern history, according to the state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.  The August Complex fire  –a”gigafire” —  burned over 1 million acres across seven counties, an area larger than the state of Rhode Island. More than  10,000 structures were destroyed at a cost of more than $12 billion. ... ”  Read more from Capitol Weekly here: California, battered by 2020, girds for more intense wildfires

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In commentary today …

Dan Walters: California Drought sharpens perpetual water conflict

Dan Walters writes, “California never has enough water to meet all demands and even when supplies are relatively robust there’s a triangular competition over their allocation.  Farmers, municipal users and environmental advocates vie for shares of water that has been captured by California’s extensive network of dams and reservoirs.  Their battles are waged in the state Capitol, in Washington, in regulatory agencies and in the courts and over time, the trend has been a subtle shift of supplies from long-dominant agriculture to protecting flows for fish and other wildlife while maintaining the relatively small amount consumed in urban areas. ... ”  Read more from Cal Matters here: Dan Walters: California Drought sharpens perpetual water conflict

Commentary: CA decides to sacrifice salmon for agribusiness profits

Doug Obegi with the NRDC writes, “Late Friday the State Water Resources Control Board appeared to tentatively approve a temperature management plan for Shasta Dam that sacrifices salmon and fishing jobs for agribusiness profits this year, violates water quality standards, and leaves California woefully unprepared if next year is also dry.   Specifically, the State Water Board indicated that they would approve a temperature management plan if it achieves 1.25 million acre feet of water in Shasta at the end of September.As the State Water Board knows, allowing storage to drop that low is estimated to kill more than 50% of the endangered winter run Chinook salmon (see slide 5, pasted below) and results in water temperatures in October and November that are so hot that they are likely to kill the vast majority of the fall run Chinook salmon that spawn in the Sacramento River later this year—just like in 2014. What’s more, it means that there will be very little water in storage at the end of the year, so California will be in far worse shape than this year if 2022 is also dry. ... ”  Read more from the NRDC here: CA decides to sacrifice salmon for agribusiness profits

Profit-thirsty Big Ag makes a bad thing worse

Ross Middlemiss, staff attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, writes, “In dry years, Californians talk about the drought as if it were a war — a battle of north versus south, haves versus have-nots, fish versus farmer.  When a critical resource is scarce, we want to fight for it. But let’s not drown in the fake narrative of environmentalists against growers. It’s a false dichotomy that distracts from the real heart of California’s water woes: an outdated system that prioritizes the financial interests of a wealthy few over the health and well-being of many. This keeps us from finding honest solutions to drought conditions that the climate crisis will only intensify.  An either-or choice ignores the central role water plays in all our lives. Keeping water in the rivers and creeks where it belongs helps more than just salmon. It helps low-income and Indigenous communities, the fishing industry and, yes, farmers too. ... ”  Read more from Cal Matters here: Profit-thirsty Big Ag makes a bad thing worse

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In regional water news and commentary today …

‘Government stole our water’: US farmers ready for standoff with feds in drought irrigation crisis, expect right-wing militia help

Outraged farmers threatened to disrupt a federal order to stop the flow of irrigation water from a lake amid a severe drought in the US state of Oregon. They warned that right-wing militias will back them in case of confrontation.  Farmers are protesting because they own the water in the Upper Klamath Lake, farmer Dan Nielsen told RT’s Ruptly video agency. He stood outside an American flag-colored tent that was set up next to the canal headgates, which control the flow of irrigation water from the lake.  “It’s ours and the federal government actually just stole it. No due process of law, no compensation,” Nielsen said, adding that federal officials had violated the locals’ property rights guaranteed by the US Constitution. … ”  Read more from RT here: ‘Government stole our water’: US farmers ready for standoff with feds in drought irrigation crisis, expect right-wing militia help

CRS Report: Drought in the Klamath River Basin

Historic drought conditions in the Klamath River Basin (Figure 1) have received national attention and have led to increased conflicts among water users and other stakeholders. The basin includes the Bureau of Reclamations Klamath Project, which delivers irrigation water to approximately 230,000 acres in Southern Oregon and Northern California. The Klamath Basin has a history of debates related to water allocation and species protection. In the past, these issues have generated conflict among farmers, Indian tribes, fishermen, water project and wildlife refuge managers, environmental groups, hydropower facility operators, and state and local governments. … ”  Read the report from the Congressional Research Service here: Drought in the Klamath River Basin

Tensions high in the Klamath Basin

The Klamath Basin is currently suffering from a water and fish crisis, and tensions are rising among the community. The severe drought the West is in is devastating farmland, wildlife, and fish that are deemed sacred to native tribes. This area, along the Oregon-California border, has a complex history. Drought and fights over water are not something new.  The Klamath fish, the rich soils, and other natural resources sustained the growth of farmers and settlers that began moving to the region more than 150 years ago. Despite this abundance, after years of competing natural resource interests, the ability of the region to support these various needs has reached its limit. In May 2021, the Bureau of Reclamation announced that it would not release any water for farmers or tribes or wildlife, all of whom depend on it. This is due to more than 90% of Klamath County being in “extreme drought,” according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. … ”  Read more from Cal Trout here:  Tensions high in the Klamath Basin

Fort Bragg: Why does the south of town stink?

Pee yew! If you’ve noticed a funky smell south of town — you’re not alone.  Over the last year, a new treatment system at the city’s wastewater facility has proved to be far more efficient in the removal of solids from the waste stream than was expected. Ultimately, the new treatment system improves the reliability and quality of treated water released into the ocean, but it means there’s a lot more… stuff… to dry out.  This is the source of the odor that many have experienced near the treatment plant facility and around the south of town. The wastewater facility is located on the Coastal Trail, so you may notice a stronger odor out on the bluffs. ... ”  Read more from the Fort Bragg Advocate News here: Why does the south of town stink?

Column: Nevada Irrigation District needs to ‘mine’ more of California’s real gold

Columnist George Boardman writes, “In most of the United Sates, people take water for granted. In the West, we take it from somebody else.  While gold and silver may have triggered the great migration West, how and where we live and work today is determined by who has been able to seize and control our most valuable resource, water. The battle continues today.  Conservationists are currently arguing with the Federal Bureau of Reclamation over how to manage water flow from Shasta Lake into the Sacramento River, spawning grounds for Chinook salmon and the main water source for Central Valley farms.  The argument is over how much water to release. If the bureau releases too much water to irrigation districts, the river level could drop low enough and become warm enough to kill off 50 percent of the eggs of winter run salmon. If too little water is released, some of the most valuable ag land in the world will be useless. … ”  Read more from The Union here: Commentary: Nevada Irrigation District needs to ‘mine’ more of California’s real gold

Commentary: How an invisible water source will help Sacramento get through the upcoming drought

Jim Piefer, executive director of the Regional Water Authority and Sacramento Groundwater Authority, writes, “One look at Folsom Lake, the Sacramento region’s primary surface water storage reservoir, says all we need to know about California’s current water situation: We’re in another drought.  Like reservoirs throughout the state, Folsom is shockingly low and won’t be refilled by snowmelt from the Sierra Nevada. Low reservoir levels are a big concern for the Lower American River, a critical habitat for salmon and steelhead.  Local water managers are working closely through the Water Forum, a coalition of water providers, environmentalists, business groups and local governments, to monitor and address the river’s conditions with our federal and state partners. Many will request voluntary conservation, as we all play a role in helping preserve as much water as possible. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: Commentary: How an invisible water source will help Sacramento get through the upcoming drought

Healdsburg orders shutdown of outdoor watering as Lake Mendocino dries up

Residents of Healdsburg have been ordered shut down all outdoor watering systems as its only source of water begins to dry up amid a worsening drought.  The Sonoma County community began asking its residents to cut water use by 20 percent back on May 3rd, when there was still some hope of rain.  But now, all landscape irrigation is banned, including drip irrigation, and residents are limited to 74 gallons per day.  Here’s why: the city gets its water exclusively from Lake Mendocino northeast of Ukiah, and it’s in a world of hurt.  At 39% of capacity, the closed boat ramp is high and dry and far from the water’s edge. … ”  Read more from CBS Sacramento here: Healdsburg orders shutdown of outdoor watering as Lake Mendocino dries up

State Board orders reduction of minimum instream flows and diversions from the Russian River

In response to worsening drought conditions in the Russia River Watershed, the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) today issued an order that will reduce minimum instream flow requirements in the lower Russian River from 85 cubic feet per second (cfs) to 35 cfs. The Temporary Urgency Change Order (TUCO) also requires that Sonoma Water and its water contractors reduce total diversions from the Russian River by 20% compared to the same period of 2020 from July 1 through mid-December, 2021. The order, issued at the request of the Sonoma County Water Agency (Sonoma Water), will allow the agency to preserve storage in Lake Sonoma, which is the primary source of drinking water for more than 600,000 people in Sonoma and Marin counties. … ”  Read more from the County of Sonoma here: State Board orders reduction of minimum instream flows and diversions from the Russian River

Lower Russian River flows to be halved under state order to preserve stored supplies

The Sonoma County water agency received permission Monday to immediately cut stream flows in the lower Russian River by more than half in an effort to conserve water stored in Lake Sonoma.  Instream flows in the upper river, above Dry Creek, which is fed by releases from Lake Sonoma, already are being maintained at a very low threshold to keep as much water as possible in Lake Mendocino, the smaller of the two reservoirs.  The state decision means Sonoma Water, the county agency, and its contractors — the cities of Santa Rosa, Sonoma, Rohnert Park, Windsor, Petaluma and Cotati, and the Valley of the Moon, Marin Municipal and North Marin water districts — will have to use 20% less water from the Russian River, as well. … ”  Read more from the Argus Courier here: Lower Russian River flows to be halved under state order to preserve stored supplies

Ninth Circuit urged to make feds change San Francisco bay dredging plan

A state’s power to regulate how the federal government maintains economically vital navigation channels is limited, a Justice Department lawyer told a Ninth Circuit panel Monday, and urged the court to reject California’s challenge to a dredging plan for the San Francisco Bay.  “The state’s authority is not unbridled, and these statutes do not give the state a blank check to direct the Corps to perform maintenance dredging,” U.S. Justice Department lawyer Ellen Durkee said.  Durkee represents the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which decided in 2015 and again in 2017 to dredge the Pinole Shoal and Outer Richmond Harbor channels less often to cut the costs of complying with California’s stricter water quality standards. Both channels are frequently traversed by oil tankers and other ships vital to commerce in the region. ... ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service here: Ninth Circuit urged to make feds change San Francisco bay dredging plan

San Francisco supervisors approve resolution protecting the Tuolumne River and clean water

On June 8, the SF Board of Supervisors unanimously adopted a resolution by Supervisor Aaron Peskin calling on the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) to work with the State to protect the Tuolumne River, the source of San Francisco’s water. The resolution was written in response to a lawsuit filed by City Attorney Dennis Herrera challenging the State’s authority to protect the Tuolumne River and others like it. Herrera filed the lawsuit on behalf of the SFPUC.  The resolution reiterates the City’s support for improved protections for the Tuolumne River, the San Joaquin River, critical salmon runs and the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary. … ”  Continue reading at YubaNet here: San Francisco supervisors approve resolution protecting the Tuolumne River and clean water 

San Francisco: Urban community farm adapts as exceptional drought hits home

At Crocker Amazon Park in the Excelsior, six acres of formerly underutilized land owned by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission has been turned into an urban farm through the efforts of People Organizing to Demand Environmental and Economic Rights, known as PODER. The urban community agriculture project, dubbed Hummingbird Farm, provides organic food as well as medicinal plants, and serves as a community and education hub in particular for young people. Tere Almaguer, an environmental justice organizer with PODER, talked with “Civic” about how the group has adapted to years of inconsistent rainfall. Almaguer said California’s exceptional drought conditions have already had visible effects on the farm, like flowering plants that grew shorter and bloomed later this year than previously. Hummingbird Farm will also be experimenting with an alternative water source: Drawing water from the air. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Public Press here: San Francisco: Urban community farm adapts as exceptional drought hits home

Dam break or dry lawns? Quake risk forces Silicon Valley to cut water use amid drought

California is known for its history of natural disasters, and in the Silicon Valley, two potential calamities — drought and earthquake risk — are converging to dry up water supplies in the hub of the state’s tech economy.  In a meeting on Wednesday, board members of the Santa Clara Valley Water District voted unanimously to declare a water shortage emergency — in part because a key county reservoir had to been drained to reduce earthquake risks highlighted by federal regulators.  County officials warned last year that the draining of Anderson Reservoir would put the region in a perilous position but were forced to drain the lake anyway, since the reservoir and dam sit atop the Calaveras fault, which could trigger a high-magnitude earthquake.  To preserve supplies, the district is calling for a mandatory 33% reduction in water use compared to 2013 and is planning to rely almost entirely on groundwater, said Tony Estremera, the valley water district’s board chair. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: Dam break or dry lawns? Quake risk forces Silicon Valley to cut water use amid drought

Carmel River floodplain project moves toward final approval

If the Monterey County Board of Supervisors votes yes tomorrow to approve the Carmel River FREE project, it will be the final stamp of approval needed on a project with massive implications that has been about 25 years in the making.  The project—formally the Carmel River Floodplain Restoration and Environmental Enhancement Project—will effectively re-create the natural floodplain at the mouth of the Carmel River. It started after disasters of long ago, going back to floods in the El Niño winter of 1997-98 when the mouth of Carmel Valley flooded, and to 1995 when the Carmel River overflowed and tore out the Highway 1 bridge.  The question: Next time the Carmel River inevitably overflows, where will all that water go? … ”  Read more from Monterey Weekly here: Carmel River floodplain project moves toward final approval

Fresno area farmers seeing decreased water supply due to drought

Growers in the Fresno Irrigation District will take whatever water they can while it’s still available.  Grapes are growing on the vine. Almonds are forming on trees.  The water normally flows to farms through September but because of the drought conditions, this year’s deliveries will last only through the month of June.  “This is one of the shortest years we have on record in over 100 years of the irrigation district,” says FID Board President Ryan Jacobsen. “Obviously, going back to 2015 was the worst ever, but this is not far behind.” … ”  Read more from KFSN here: Fresno area farmers seeing decreased water supply due to drought

Water-poor Central Valley communities have rare chance to get their broken systems fixed

Carolina Garcia, a strong advocate for clean and affordable water in her community, and Sandra Chavez, member of the Safe and Affordable Funding for Equity and Resilience (SAFER) Advisory Group, write, “As California plunges into another “historic” drought, people across the state are worried about water shortages. But the last drought never really ended for some Californians, like residents of East Porterville that still have emergency water storage tanks in their front yards.  With the state’s current financial surplus, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to fund drought preparedness and water safety in communities that have lived for decades with shallow and contaminated drinking water wells, inadequate water treatment, and other infrastructure failures that threaten their health and well-being. … ”  Continue reading at the Fresno Bee here:  Water-poor Valley communities have rare chance to get their broken systems fixed

Tulare County’s never-ending drought brings dried up wells and plenty of misery

Severe drought is gripping most of California, but its misery isn’t spread equally. While most of the state compares today’s extreme conditions to previous droughts, people in Tulare County speak of drought — in the singular, as in a continuous state of being.   “The drought has never stopped in north Tulare County. It never left,” said county Supervisor Eddie Valero. “Domestic wells are drying up at an alarming rate.”  The entire West is suffering from extreme dryness, heat and fire risk, and the small, rural towns of northern Tulare County, outside of Visalia, are caught in its vortex.  While officials around the state are devising strategies to restrict or conserve water, here in the upper San Joaquin Valley there isn’t much in the way of water to begin with. The spigot, for farms and for households, has been constricted to a trickle. For many residents, water comes in a bottle, delivered year-round by a truck from a county or social service agency. … ”  Read more from Cal Matters here: Tulare County’s never-ending drought brings dried up wells and plenty of misery

Blistering heat bearing down, with triple-digit temperatures that threaten L.A. area

A heat wave blanketing Southern California is driving blistering temperatures from the beaches to the mountaintops, triggering excessive-heat warnings and sparking fears that the hot, dry conditions are ripe for wildfires.  With temperatures expected to reach triple digits in some areas, the National Weather Service issued an excessive-heat warning from 10 a.m. Tuesday to 9 p.m. Friday in the mountains of Ventura and Los Angeles counties, not including the Santa Monica range.  The worst heat will likely bake the region Tuesday and Wednesday, with gradual cooling Thursday and into the weekend, meteorologist David Sweet with the weather service’s Oxnard office said. ... ”  Read more from the LA TImes here: Blistering heat bearing down, with triple-digit temperatures that threaten L.A. area

Multiple agencies embark on study to improve the long-term health of Lake Elsinore

To mark a step forward in the effort to restore the aquatic habitat in Lake Elsinore, California, Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District (EVMWD) met virtually with partners and stakeholders June 7 to commemorate the signing of the Feasibility Cost Sharing Agreement for the Lake Elsinore Continuing Authorities Program 206 Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration.  This agreement is between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District, with additional local partnership from the City of Lake Elsinore and the Riverside County Flood Control and Water Conservation District. … ”  Read more from ACWA’s Water News here: Multiple agencies embark on study to improve the long-term health of Lake Elsinore

One of the world’s largest lithium deposits is located at the Salton Sea—and the potential economic ramifications have drawn comparisons to Silicon Valley

The story of Lithium Valley begins in earnest on Sept. 29, 2020.  That’s the day when Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law Assembly Bill 1657, sponsored by Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia, creating a “Blue Ribbon Commission on Lithium Extraction in California.” That commission is now called the Lithium Valley Commission.  What is this all about? Oh, just the fact that up to 40% of the world’s potential future lithium supply is located under and near the Salton Sea.  In the months since the establishment of the Lithium Valley Commission, the area has become the focus of intense and optimistic attention by the media, government officials and leaders in industries ranging from clean energy to electric transportation.  What does this all mean? … ”  Read more from the Coachella Valley Independent here: One of the world’s largest lithium deposits is located at the Salton Sea—and the potential economic ramifications have drawn comparisons to Silicon Valley

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Along the Colorado River …

Lake Mead levels to drop to lowest capacity since 1930s

The effects of decades-long drought can be seen clearly on the shores of Lake Mead.  “Sometime this week, we’ll get to an elevation around 1071 feet above mean sea level. That’s the lowest the reservoir has been since it was filled in the late 1930s,” warned Doug Hendrix, the deputy public affairs director for the Bureau of Reclamation.  Overall, the Colorado River System is down below 50% capacity. The last time Lake Mead was essentially full was around 2000. … ”  Read more from Channel 13 here: Lake Mead levels to drop to lowest capacity since 1930s

Editorial: Grounded leadership needed in region brimming with water tensions

The Las Vegas Sun editorial board writes, “As the Southwest prepares for what’s forecast to be another mercilessly hot and dry summer, tensions over water scarcity are rising like the mercury.  Farmers are facing bleak growing seasons and the possibility of farm failures in several areas due to cutbacks in water allocations for irrigation, creating friction between the ag community and cities on the dwindling water supply in the region. Rural communities in Nevada and elsewhere, already wary of incursions by urban areas into their water supplies, are on high alert as the water crisis deepens.  The crisis threatens interstate relations — and even international relations — as the Sierra watershed and Rockies watershed fueling the Colorado River feed multiple states and, in the Colorado’s case, Mexico too. This pits those states against one another — Colorado, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Wyoming, New Mexico and California — and could embroil Mexico as well. And all the while, the water supply keeps dwindling. … ”  Continue reading at the Las Vegas Sun here: Editorial: Grounded leadership needed in region brimming with water tensions

Column: Metro Phoenix is losing water from the Verde River when we need it most. Can we stop it?

Opinion columnist Joanna Allhands writes, “Colorado River shortages get a lot of attention, and for good reason: They affect one of Arizona’s largest sources of renewable water.  But metro Phoenix would be much worse off if it weren’t for the Verde and Salt rivers, also a major source of renewable water for area cities, industrial users and farmers. The rivers are in far better shape than the Colorado, in large part because our water demands don’t outstrip supplies.  The reservoirs on these rivers also are smaller and easier to refill in wet years, and they aren’t nearly as reliant on the slow, steady runoff from snowpack. They can handle a lot more variability than those on the Colorado.  But that doesn’t mean the system is foolproof. … ”  Continue reading at the Arizona Republic here: Metro Phoenix is losing water from the Verde River when we need it most. Can we stop it?

Groundwater pumping can have long-term consequences: sinkholes

As the drought continues, Arizona may have to rely more on groundwater and less on the Colorado River, but groundwater pumping may have consequences.  In 2007, a fissure in Chandler Heights swallowed a 13-year-old horse named Cash. The fissures can be a byproduct of groundwater pumping. Although some aquifers are made of solid rock, others are less stable. … ”  Read more from KJZZ here: Groundwater pumping can have long-term consequences: sinkholes

As wildfire season looms, some areas still recovering from 2020 blazes

As the Western U.S. steels itself for another summer of dry, fire-prone conditions, some are turning their attention to recovering from last season’s blazes.  Just outside of Glenwood Springs, Colorado, restoration efforts are underway on the Grizzly Creek Fire burn scar. After burning more than 30,000 acres and shutting down Interstate 70 for weeks, the fire was ultimately controlled. But the charred zone left behind is full of recreation areas and just a stone’s throw away from the Colorado River. … ”  Continue reading at Cronkite News here:  As wildfire season looms, some areas still recovering from 2020 blazes

Climate crisis in Western US is worst in 1,200 years

As the population in the Western United States continues to grow, 72 percent of these states are experiencing a considerably “severe” drought, including 26 percent experiencing exceptional drought, NBC News reported – the worst drought in the region since 1,200 years ago.   As Changing America previously reported, the drought could affect about 2 million California residents as well as those who depend on the Colorado River and Lake Mead, which serve Nevada and Arizona, specifically Las Vegas and Phoenix, respectively.  Now Utah is also being considered a casualty of the drought, as Gov. Spencer Cox (R-Ut.) asked his continents to pray for water during a wildfire on Bennion Creek, although it does not look like rain will be in the forecast for some time this summer.  This year is set to be the worst drought in the West since 1977, Ernest Conant, Director of the Mid-Pacific Region of the Bureau of Reclamation, told NBC News. Before that, the second driest year took place 1,200 years ago. … ”  Read more from The Hill here: Climate crisis in Western US is worst in 1,200 years

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In national water news today …

New toolkit arrives just in time for HAB season

With harmful algal blooms (HABs) being forecast to increase, in part due to the effects of climate change, more water systems can expect to face problematic cyanotoxin conditions more frequently and for more days per year. In its efforts to mitigate the negative effects of such increases, the U.S. EPA has enhanced its information resources for water utilities by issuing a new Cyanotoxins Preparedness and Response Toolkit (CPRT).  According to the EPA website, “The Cyanotoxins Preparedness and Response Toolkit (CPRT) is an online tool to help states and tribes prepare for potential HABs in freshwater bodies and know how to respond to protect public health. The CPRT follows the EPA’s National Response Framework (NRF), a consistent nationwide framework built on the Department of Homeland Security’s National Incident Management System (NIMS). As such, the CPRT includes the essential components to prevent and respond to cyanotoxin events in drinking and recreational waters, and to update and improve preparedness and response for future cyanotoxin events.” … ”  Continue reading at Water Online here: New toolkit arrives just in time for HAB season

A ‘Bubble Barrier’ is trapping plastic waste before it can get into the sea

What do old televisions, street signs, motorbike helmets, windsurf boards, and Christmas trees have in common? They were all caught floating down Amsterdam’s Westerdok canal — by a curtain of bubbles.  “The Bubble Barrier” was developed as a simple way to stop plastic pollution flowing from waterways into the ocean. An air compressor sends air through a perforated tube running diagonally across the bottom of the canal, creating a stream of bubbles that traps waste and guides it to a catchment system.  It traps 86% of the trash that would otherwise flow to the River IJ and further on to the North Sea, according to Philip Ehrhorn, co-founder and chief technology officer of The Great Bubble Barrier, the Dutch social enterprise behind the system. … ”  Read more from CNN here: A ‘Bubble Barrier’ is trapping plastic waste before it can get into the sea

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Today’s featured articles …

BLOG ROUND-UP: Can the US survive California’s Drought?; What will become of fallowed valley farmland?; CA decides to sacrifice salmon for agribusiness profits; Science & the sacred: the duty of water in the West; and more …

Click here to read this article.

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

NOTICE to Public Drinking Water Systems: Extension of Water Shutoff Moratorium

REGISTER TODAY: 2021 California Water Boards Water Data Science Symposium

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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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