DAILY DIGEST, 6/16: Drought forces state to cut off water to thousands of farms, water agencies; Can we save the San Joaquin’s salmon?; Metropolitan Water District among those hit in suspected Chinese hack; Water accessibility and COVID lessons for resilience; and more …


On the calendar today …

  • MEETING: The California Water Commission meets at 9:30am.  Agenda items include presentation and approval of the white paper, Assessing a State Role in Financing Conveyance: Presentation of White Paper; Eminent Domain Process Overview; Water Storage Investment Program: Sitesh Project Update, Los Vaqueros Reservoir Expansion Project Update, Eligibility Requirements; and a Panel Discussion on Markets and Groundwater Trading.  Click here for the full agenda and remote access instructions.
  • PUBLIC WORKSHOP: Drinking Water For Schools Round 2 Grant Program at 11am.  Self-Help Enterprises (SHE) will be holding an informational online workshop, which will provide more in-depth information about the program, the application process, availability of technical assistance, and an opportunity to ask questions.  All potential applicants are encouraged to attend.  Click here for Zoom link.
  • GRA BRANCH MEETING: The Central Valley’s ground breaking Salt and Nitrate Control Program from 12pm to 1pm.  The Central Valley’s ground breaking Salt and Nitrate Control Program became effective in mid-January 2020. Since then, the Central Valley Water Board and stakeholders have been moving quickly to implement all aspects of the program. Find out the current status of implementation for Nitrate Control Program in the 6 priority basins and the Salt Control Program that applies throughout the Central Valley.  For more information and to register, click here.
  • WEBINAR: The Use of Data to Manage Infrastructure from 12:30pm to 1:00pm.  As part of a broader Asset Management Program, Moulton Niguel Water District (MNWD) has applied established asset management principles to its buried pipeline infrastructure in a way that leverages the information they are already collecting to prioritize pipelines for condition assessment, rehabilitation, or replacement.  This enables MNWD to focus its capital planning on the most critical infrastructure, while making the best use of its workforce and financial resources for its customers.  Join us on June 16 when Rod Woods, Director of Engineering, and Todd Dmytryshyn, Engineering Manager, take us for an in-depth look at the District’s pipeline prioritization process and give valuable insight into their ongoing efforts to continually refine and utilize this information for capital planning.  Click here to register.
  • WORKSHOP: California State Adaptation Strategy 2021 Update Regional Workshops- Los Angeles Region 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. 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.  Click here to register.

In California drought news today …

‘This is how dry things are.’ California warns farmers about water cutoffs due to drought

The seriousness of California’s drought is being driven home to thousands of farmers in the Central Valley.  State regulators warned 6,600 farmers in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta watershed on Tuesday that they’re about to lose the right to pull water from the estuary’s rivers at some point this summer. The watershed covers a major swath of the Central Valley.  The written warnings from the State Water Resources Control Board don’t require the growers to stop taking water right away — but they serve as a likely precursor to the severing of water rights in the coming weeks. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: ‘This is how dry things are.’ California warns farmers about water cutoffs due to drought

Drought forces state to cut off water to thousands of farms, water agencies

Thousands of farms and water agencies that rely on flows from California’s vast delta watershed, including landowners and water suppliers in the Bay Area, are being told to stop drawing water from rivers and creeks because there’s not enough to go around.  The extraordinary directive, issued Tuesday by state regulators, means that select water users from Fresno County to the Oregon border will have to turn to sources other than surface supplies, such as wells or storage, or go without water entirely.  The move marks the latest and most drastic cuts this year under California’s water rights system. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: Drought forces state to cut off water to thousands of farms, water agencies

As drought intensifies, state warns users to stop pumping water from major rivers

In a sign of worsening drought, the state on Tuesday warned about 4,300 users to stop diverting water from the San Joaquin-Sacramento Delta watershed, stretching from Fresno to the Oregon border.  The notifications, which indicate that demand from farmers and cities is exceeding supply, are the widest-ranging move by state regulators since 2015 to restrict the use of water rights in a major watershed.  The notices follow similar warnings sent in the last several weeks to 102 water rights holders in the smaller Scott River basin in Siskiyou County, and 930 in the upper Russian River basin. … ”  Read more from Cal Matters here: As drought intensifies, state warns users to stop pumping water from major rivers

California water managers vote to cut off farmers as statewide drought intensifies

The agency that controls water allotments in the agriculture-rich Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta region told those with water rights that many of them would not get an allotment this year, reflecting the worsening drought conditions in the Golden State.  The California State Water Resources Control Board sent notices to approximately 4,300 water users in the delta urging them to cease diverting water to preserve the dwindling supply as California grapples in the aftermath of two consecutive dry winters.  “Due to severe drought in the West, the water supply in many parts of California, including the delta watershed, is not enough to meet demands,” said Erik Ekdahl, deputy director of the Division of Water Rights. “We are asking people to reduce their water use, and we recognize this can create hardships. However, it’s imperative that we manage the water we still have carefully as we prepare for months, perhaps even years, of drought conditions.” … ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service here: California water managers vote to cut off farmers as statewide drought intensifies

ICYMI: Drought conditions prompt restrictions for some Delta water right holders

With extremely dry conditions continuing throughout the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the State Water Resources Control Board today sent notices of water unavailability to approximately 4,300 right holders in the watershed, urging them to stop diverting to preserve dwindling water supply for both this year and the next. The letters also inform approximately 2,300 water users with more senior rights that continued drought later this summer could impact their ability to divert.  “Due to severe drought in the West, the water supply in many parts of California, including the Delta watershed, is not enough to meet demands,” said Erik Ekdahl, deputy director of the Division of Water Rights. “We do not come to this decision easily. We are asking people to reduce their water use, and we recognize this can create hardships. However, it’s imperative that we manage the water we still have carefully as we prepare for months, perhaps even years, of drought conditions.” … ”  Continue reading this press release from the State Water Board here: Drought conditions prompt restrictions for some Delta water right holders

SEE ALSO: PHOTO GALLERY: Drought ravages Lake Shasta, Redding Record Searchlight

California drought could result in major state power plant being temporarily shut down

If California’s Lake Oroville shrinks below 640 feet, the low water levels may force officials to close down a major state power plant for the first time. The reservoir may reach the benchmark as early as late August, adding additional stress to California’s electrical infrastructure during the hottest weather of the season, the Associated Press reported.  Lake Oroville helps irrigate about 25% of crops in the U.S. annually, in addition to playing key roles in Northern California tourism and endangered salmon conservation. A severe state drought is evaporating the water supply quicker than usual, leading officials to anticipate record low levels in the lake. … ”  Read more from Newsweek here: California drought could result in major state power plant being temporarily shut down

Drought exposes need to upgrade water facilities

Severe drought highlights the need for greater investment to improve aging California water facilities, and increases calls for allocation of federal and state resources to tackle the problem.  A national coalition that includes the California Farm Bureau urged U.S. Senate leaders last week to take action to address the shortcomings of aging water infrastructure, and to include “a broad range of water uses” in any federal infrastructure legislation. At the same time, Gov. Gavin Newsom and state legislators plan to invest at least $5 billion to address critical water needs.  Water district officials say canals that stay dry due to drought may be more prone to cracking and other damage. In addition, California Farm Bureau environmental policy analyst Justin Fredrickson said local agencies are developing plans to balance groundwater supplies under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act—making investment in water facilities even more critical. … ”  Read more from Ag Alert here: Drought exposes need to upgrade water facilities

Federal agencies announce schedule for Clear Creek emergency pulse flow for spring-run Chinook salmon

The Bureau of Reclamation, NOAA Fisheries, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced their plan today for an emergency pulse flow release from Whiskeytown Dam into Clear Creek to benefit spring-run Chinook salmon.  Pulse flows are rapid increases in dam-released flows occurring over a short time frame. During pulse flows, water levels are higher and currents are faster. Visitors should use caution when near or on Clear Creek during the pulse flow period.  Flow releases from Whiskeytown Dam will begin overnight on June 20 and reach a peak of 500 cubic feet per second June 22. Flow releases will be reduced to 150 cfs by June 24. … ”  Read more from the Bureau of Reclamation here: Federal agencies announce schedule for Clear Creek emergency pulse flow for spring-run Chinook salmon

Editorial: Water rationing is not the solution for our drought

The LA Daily News editorial board writes, “Not long after former Gov. Jerry Brown announced the end of a grueling six-year drought in 2017, the Legislature passed two controversial water-efficiency laws designed to promote even more conservation – even though residents have done a remarkable job reducing their water usage.  Those new laws required utilities to reduce daily water usage by an average of 55 gallons per person by 2023. Some commentators mistakenly claimed that the laws would lead to individual fines, even though the targets applied to water districts rather than consumers.  Conservation boosters reassured Californians that they wouldn’t be fined for overly long showers and lawn watering. But three years later, the state is facing an intense new drought. Now, officials in Northern California are imposing the type of water rationing people had feared. Southern California water agencies are better prepared, but they could ultimately proposed similar rules. … ”  Read more from the LA Daily News here: Editorial: Water rationing is not the solution for our drought

Commentary: California’s drought tests its climate goals

Liam Denning, Bloomberg Opinion columnist, writes, “I see the forecast for California is hot and dry again.  PG&E Corp., having emerged last year from bankruptcy brought on by wildfires in northern California, has sold off as summer rolls around and the risk of blazes sparked by powerlines rises once more. About 85% of California is experiencing “extreme” drought or worse, and dry conditions stretch across much of the West.  This challenge extends beyond just one utility, though. The drought is a test of California’s decarbonization plans; the sort of extreme weather those plans aim to address in the first place. … ”  Read more from Bloomberg Opinion here: Commentary: California’s drought tests its climate goals

In other California water news today …

Can we save the San Joaquin’s salmon?

Friant Dam, just outside Fresno, California, is a sprawling structure, 319 feet tall and two-thirds of a mile across. It’s not the tallest or the longest dam in the United States, but measured by the impact on the river that it constrains, it looms larger than most.  Constructed just after the Great Depression, Friant Dam was devised to control the San Joaquin River, California’s second-longest waterway. … The intensive engineering of the river exacted a huge toll on its native ecosystems. No species suffered more than the Chinook salmon, whose epic migration from the Pacific Ocean to its spawning grounds in the High Sierra was cut short by numerous choke points, not the least of which was Friant’s impenetrable barrier of concrete. … ”  Read more from the Sierra Magazine here: Can we save the San Joaquin’s salmon?

Verizon, Metropolitan Water District among those hit in suspected Chinese hack

Verizon and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California were two high-value targets hit by a suspected Chinese-backed hack that was first brought to the public’s attention in April, the Associated Press reported.  Pulse Connect Secure networking devices are used by many companies and governments to allow secure remote access to their networks and those were the targets of the hacks. The Chinese government was suspected of backing the hacks, but China has denied any role. … ”  Read more from Newsweek here: Verizon, Metropolitan Water District among those hit in suspected Chinese hack

Fact Sheet: Water Accessibility and COVID Lessons for Resilience

The Local Government Commission has released a new factsheet, Water Accessibility and COVID Lessons for Resilience, as part of our Pandemic Recovery and Beyond series.  LGC recognizes the need to develop proactive approaches that understand water as a Human Right. We must continue to promote initiatives that protect water users in the long term, even after the pandemic is over.  Our factsheet outlines the effects of water utility shutoffs on California households as well as the impacts of unpaid water bills on Water Agencies. We also highlight state actions to address water challenges exacerbated by the pandemic and provide a series of Legislative recommendations and next steps.” Download fact sheet: Water Accessibility and COVID Lessons for Resilience

Latest milestone on the SGMA timeline

As the clock slowly ticks forward on California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) deadlines, earlier this month, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) issued its first assessments of groundwater sustainability plans (GSPs). Two groundwater sustainability agencies’ (GSAs) plans were approved: Santa Cruz Mid-County Basin in Santa Cruz County and 180/400 Foot Aquifer Subbasin in Monterey County. GSPs from the Cuyama Valley Basin and Paso Robles Subbasin were deemed to “lack specific details” and were not approved. … ”  Read more from Nossaman LLP here:  Latest milestone on the SGMA timeline

Heat wave to crank temps even higher, break more records across West

As an intense and record-breaking heat wave continues to roast the American West, AccuWeather forecasters are calling for the highest temperature to occur on Wednesday at the lowest point in North America: Death Valley.  The forecast high temperature in Death Valley, California, on Wednesday is 126 degrees, with an AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperature of 129. Death Valley is the record-holder for the highest air temperature ever recorded on Earth, a sizzling 134 degrees Fahrenheit in 1913. A high temperature of 126 degrees would be within 10 degrees of that world record. … ”  Read more from AccuWeather here: Heat wave to crank temps even higher, break more records across West

California startup’s high-tech showerhead feels so indulgent it’s hard to believe it’s actually saving water

A San Francisco startup named Nebia grabbed headlines for making a showerhead that won over fans including Apple CEO Tim Cook. Problem is, it cost hundreds of dollars, making it out of reach for many potential customers. Now, the startup is introducing their least expensive version yet: the Nebia by Moen Quattro. At $99, it’s more affordable, and the company is turning to Kickstarter to help connect with buyers.  The secret to a more indulgent shower experience: a process called atomization. … ”  Read more from Channel 5 here:  California startup’s high-tech showerhead feels so indulgent it’s hard to believe it’s actually saving water

Food & Water Watch: Oil and gas industry diverted 3 billion gallons of freshwater for drilling that could have gone to households

After examining the use of water by the oil and gas industry during Gavin Newsom’s tenure as governor, Food & Water Watch research has found that on Newsom’s watch the industry used more than 3 billion gallons of freshwater for drilling operations that could have been diverted for household use.  “Fossil fuel extraction not only hastens climate change and endangers the lives of frontline communities,” said Alexandra Nagy, director of Food & Water Watch’s California campaigns. “It also takes water from Californians struggling through one of the hottest and driest droughts on record. … ”  Continue reading at Yuba Net here:  Oil and gas industry diverted 3 billion gallons of freshwater for drilling that could have gone to households 

Reclamation awards $2.6 million for Western communities to establish or expand watershed groups

The Bureau of Reclamation is awarding $2.6 million to 27 communities in the Western United States to establish or expand existing watershed management groups through WaterSMART’s Cooperative Watershed Management Program. Each group is eligible for up to $50,000 a year for two years with no federal cost-share required.   “This program encourages cooperation among diverse stakeholders to develop local solutions for their water management needs,” said Chief Engineer David Raff. “Local groups working together is the only way where we can develop sustainable water management solutions for Western communities.” ... ”  Continue reading at the Bureau of Reclamation here: Reclamation awards $2.6 million for Western communities to establish or expand watershed groups

NRCS awards $319,000 to partners in California for Conservation Innovation

The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in California is pleased to announce $319,000 in funding through Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG).  “Congratulations to American Farmland Trust, Forward Family Farming, and Scott River Watershed Council,” said Carlos Suarez, NRCS State Conservationist in California. “We are excited to see your project implementation, which benefits soil health and carbon storage for grazed lands, tillage management for rice farming operations, and provides insight into economics of soil health and water management.” … ”  Read more from the Natural Resource Conservation Service here: NRCS awards $319,000 to partners in California for Conservation Innovation

Rethinking forest fires

Misinformation, as we know, is not a recent phenomenon. It’s been used as a tool to sway public opinion for probably as long as human society has existed. In Smokescreen: Debunking Wildfire Myths to Save Our Forests and Our Climate ecologist Chad Hanson seeks to set the record straight on many of the false narratives around forest fires that have become accepted fact.  For instance, Hanson, who is the director of Earth Island Institute’s John Muir Project, explains that the widely accepted narrative of the catastrophic forest fire is a falsehood. Vested interests, notably the Forest Service and the logging industry, have for years claimed that our forests are too dense and therefore flammable and thus must be “thinned,” or in other words, logged, to keep forest fires from getting out of control, he claims. They have demonized wildfires in order to fill their pockets with the profits from logged trees. And, Hanson writes, they have rebranded logging practices with “benevolent-sounding terms, such as ‘forest health,’ ‘fuel reduction,’ and ‘restoration’” to sway public opinion, particularly under the Trump administration. … ”  Continue reading at Earth Island Journal here: Rethinking forest fires

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In regional water news and commentary today …

Redding: Possible contamination in Palermo water wells prompt town hall meeting

California is in the middle of an extreme drought emergency. Now one town also has to worry about contamination.  Butte County leaders are meeting on Tuesday to talk about how to connect homeowners with private wells to a water treatment plant.  The county said many private wells in Palermo are contaminated.  A 2007 study showed high levels of coliform and nitrates were present in a lot of homes north of Palermo Road. … ”  Read more from Action News Now here: Possible contamination in Palermo water wells prompt town hall meeting

State Water Board orders reductions in Russian River minimum flows, diversions

The California State Water Resources Control Board ordered reductions this week on minimum instream flows and diversions from the Russian River as drought conditions worsen in the river’s watershed. The temporary order, which the SWRCB issued Monday, lowers instream flow requirements from 85 cubic feet per second to 35 and requires the Sonoma County Water Agency and its contractors to reduce diversions from the river by 20 percent from last year’s usage between July 1 and mid-December 2021.  The board issued the order at Sonoma Water’s behest. Officials say it will allow Sonoma Water to preserve the stored water in Lake Sonoma, which serves as the primary drinking water source for some 600,000 people in Sonoma and Marin counties. … ”  Read more from Channel 5 here:  State Water Board orders reductions in Russian River minimum flows, diversions

Worsening drought conditions prompt emergency action in Russian River watershed

With water levels at historic lows due to drought, the State Water Resources Control Boardtoday adopted an emergency regulation authorizing the Division of Water Rights to issue curtailment notices to water right holders in the Russian River watershed to safeguard the community’s drinking water availability later this year and next year. Per the regulation, curtailment notices would be issued once water levels fall below storage targets in Lake Mendocinoorwhen flows cannot meet demands in the Lower RussianRiver.With the entire Western United States experiencing a second consecutive dry year, California is responding urgently to address acute water supply shortfalls in affected areas, including the Russian River watershed. … ”  Read more from Channel 5 here: Worsening drought conditions prompt emergency action in Russian River watershed

Supreme Court allows San Francisco, Oakland lawsuits against big oil companies to proceed

Two more ambitious lawsuits would be hard to image: in 2017 the cities of Oakland and San Francisco filed separate public nuisance lawsuits against five of the world’s biggest energy companies, seeking to hold them responsible for the local effects of sea level rise.  On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to throw the suits out of court, although the cases still face many daunting obstacles ahead. … ”  Read more from CBS Sacramento here: Supreme Court allows San Francisco, Oakland lawsuits against big oil companies to proceed

Valley Water enacts required water use cut

The Valley Water Board of Directors last week declared emergency water shortage conditions in Santa Clara County and a 15% mandatory water use reduction compared to 2019.  The action comes on the heels of the second driest back-to-back winter seasons on record, which resulted in drastic reductions to Valley Water’s allocations of imported water from the State Water Project and Central Valley Project.  Compounding the water shortage challenges, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has ordered Anderson Reservoir to be drained for public safety as Valley Water reinforces the dam. … ”  Read more from the Los Altos Crier here: Valley Water enacts required water use cut

Santa Cruz’s steelhead numbers low in midst of drought, but endangered coho spotted

Santa Cruz Water Department staff is completing its annual spring fish survey, and with it comes some important dispatches.  Steelhead numbers are low with drought conditions plaguing Santa Cruz for a second consecutive year. But coho salmon, a species at-risk of extinction, were spotted off Santa Cruz’s North Coast in the Laguna Creek estuary.  Documenting coho anywhere in Santa Cruz County is a relatively rare event, explained Chris Berry, watershed compliance manager with the city.  But for Berry, the adult age of the coho found today is even more unique. … ”  Read more from the Santa Cruz Sentinel here: Santa Cruz’s steelhead numbers low in midst of drought, but endangered coho spotted

Central Coast: Regional recycled water project in conflict; Arroyo Grande ‘demanding’ equal share

A long-planned water recycling project for the Five Cities area — Central Coast Blue — hangs in uncertainty after the City of Arroyo Grande unanimously voted on June 8th to withdraw from the project unless their demand for a shared operating agreement is met.  Central Coast Blue, spearheaded by the City of Pismo Beach, is a multi-million dollar project set to bring a reliable water source to the Five Cities area by using recycled water. But the City of Arroyo Grande is having second thoughts, after Mayor Caren Ray-Russom said their demand to have equal decision making governance over the project was ignored. … ”  Read more from KCBX here:  Central Coast: Regional recycled water project in conflict; Arroyo Grande ‘demanding’ equal share

Severe drought conditions impact Central Coast wineries as California gets closer to reopening

Wineries have been on edge for a while now. From wildfires to COVID-19, they’re recovering from a lot and now prepping for a drought and wildfire season. Wine maker and owner of Ser Winery, Nicole Walsh said, “Trying to figure out how to how to rebuild and come back from that, um, just extreme hardships on top of having a pandemic.”  It’s been one emergency after another and wineries continue doing everything they can to adapt.  Wine maker and owner of Soquel Vineyards, Peter Bargetto said, “We typically crush about 25 tons a year of Napa Valley fruit. We didn’t crush any last year.” … ”  Read more from Channel 3 here: Severe drought conditions impact Central Coast wineries as California gets closer to reopening

Tooleville water tainted with unregulated contaminant

Instead of turning on the faucet to fill her pots to cook dinner, Maria Olivera turns to her drums of state issued water sitting next to the stove at her home in Tooleville.  “Our life is not normal,” said Olivera, who’s lived in the small, unincorporated area of under 400 residents since 1974.  Tooleville spans all of two dusty dirt roads at the edge of the Friant-Kern Canal, where the blue hue of flowing water is just out of sight over raised levees. Along with it, the basic human right of having clean drinking water. Nitrates from farming fertilizers have rendered the water undrinkable in Tooleville, and the community is dependent on biweekly water deliveries. … ”  Continue reading at the Foothills Sun-Gazette here:  Tooleville water tainted with unregulated contaminant

Darwin residents ferry Crystal Geyser water to town while system is offline

The loading dock at the Crystal Geyser bottling plant in Olancha is usually full of semi-tractor trucks and trailers being loaded with pallet after pallet of the bottled spring water. But over the past two years, a different crew of drivers arriving in an assortment of pickups has also been pulling up to the plant to take on a load of water.  Most recently, a vintage 1964 International Harvester, 4-wheel-drive, three-quarter ton truck was backed into the dock and taking on water. Literally.  The driver of the pickup was Max Rosan, a resident of Dawin. He was at Crystal Geyser taking his turn to bring 292 gallon jugs of Crystal Geyser water back to Darwin. Being a retired Los Angeles Department of Water and Power mechanic and manager who last worked out of the Owens Dry Lake facility, Rosan detailed just how much his trusty old truck was hauling in a Facebook post. … ”  Read more from the Inyo Register here: Darwin residents ferry Crystal Geyser water to town while system is offline

Ridgecrest: Indian Wells Valley Water District plans lawsuit

The Indian Wells Valley Water District intends to file a water rights lawsuit it describes as a “comprehensive adjudication” intended to “determine water rights and quantities of all groundwater pumpers in the Basin,” district officials stated. … ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here: Ridgecrest: Indian Wells Valley Water District plans lawsuit

Palmdale Water District approves Urban Water Mgmt. Plan

The Palmdale Water District has the water supplies to meet projected demand for the next 25 years during “normal” years, but current supplies will not be enough in the future during droughts without supplementing supplies and increasing water conservation methods.  This scenario was presented as part of the District’s 2020 Urban Water Management Plan, which was unanimously approved, Monday, by the Board of Directors.  … ”  Read more from the Antelope Valley Press here: Palmdale Water District approves Urban Water Mgmt. Plan

Pasadena: A mission to rescue 469 doomed trout at the Arroyo Seco fans Pasadena water war

In an era of increasing drought and nearly back-to-back wildfires, state conservationists have been working overtime in the San Gabriel Mountains to rescue frogs, fish and other species facing potential oblivion by rounding up populations of threatened animals and transporting them to safer areas.  While most of these efforts have occurred in obscurity, one recent mission to save hundreds of doomed rainbow trout has touched off a heated battle between humans and fish over the clear waters of Pasadena’s Arroyo Seco. The controversy has also served to highlight the challenges wildlife biologists now face as they search for havens amid Southern California’s patchwork of urban development, wildfire scars and seasonal mudslides. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: Pasadena: A mission to rescue 469 doomed trout at the Arroyo Seco fans Pasadena water war

Las Virgenes Municipal Water District enters Stage 1 of Water Shortage Plan

The Las Virgenes Municipal Water District on Tuesday initiated Stage 1 of its Water Shortage Contingency Plan, a Water Shortage Alert, in response to worsening drought conditions.  The LVMWD serves over 75,000 residents in the cities of Agoura Hills, Calabasas, Hidden Hills, Westlake Village, and unincorporated areas of western Los Angeles County, who will be affected by the plan.  With 85% of California is experiencing extreme to exceptional drought according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, the alert “places a renewed focus on assisting, educating, and inspiring customers to use water wisely, day in and day out.” … ”  Continue reading at NBC LA here: Las Virgenes Municipal Water District enters Stage 1 of Water Shortage Plan

Toilets, streetcars, and light poles—A brief history of artificial reefs in Southern California

Off the coast of Southern California on a stretch of ocean midway between Los Angeles and San Diego, I’m with my brother Rod on his sportfishing boat, Second C, for a short tour. I’m riveted to a computer screen onboard—state-of-the-art sonar that’s telling us what we’re missing underwater, as we head south just a half-mile offshore.   The display was quiet when we first left the harbor and traveled over sandy seafloor, but then we started to see multi-colored spikes that indicated kelp below the boat. It’s a good sign for fishing because all sorts of sea life gravitate to rocky areas—especially ones with kelp—to find shelter and food. … ”  Read more from H2O Radio here: Toilets, streetcars, and light poles—A brief history of artificial reefs in Southern California

How San Diego County reservoirs levels look amid California drought

Reservoirs throughout the west are showing signs of the drought that really turned severe over the winter. There may be records set by the end of this summer as some reservoirs are down near half capacity already.  But is it all bad news? News 8’s Steve Fiorina went in search of answers regarding the status of our San Diego County lakes and reservoirs. … ”  Read more from Channel 8 here: How San Diego County reservoirs levels look amid California drought

Salton Sea: Environmental disaster, climate change solution

The first glimpse of the water driving down Highway 86 is breathtaking. From some angles, you can’t even see the other side of California’s biggest lake. It seems out of place in the vast desert expanse of the Imperial Valley, just north of the Mexican border, where it’s over 100 degrees for much of the year.  But then the car door opens, and it hits: the overwhelming smell of rotten eggs.  At the shoreline is a sign saying not to touch the toxic water. A dog died this spring after swimming in it. Stepping onto the shore is not the silent sinking of a foot into the sand, it’s a loud crunch. Because the shore is made of crushed fish bones and dead barnacles. ... ”  Read more from KCRW here: Salton Sea: Environmental disaster, climate change solution

Commentary: Salton Sea needs bold action, not more government studies

Palm Desert resident David Bryant writes, “Regarding the Salton Sea, Henny Youngman might say, “Take the pending disaster of the Salton Sea, please.”  Many in this Valley have never been to the big salty lake. Some of us of us love it, its bizarre creation, and its lumpy history. Photographers come from afar to grab images of the now fading graffiti that marked so many of the ruins bordering the western side of the sea. Not quite the site of an ancient civilization, that territory was home to lots of angry, broke, disoriented, and confident aerosol artists. It was a joy to see a free gallery of “edgy on the edge” of the big body of sometimes stinky water.  But now the Salton Sea is back in The Desert Sun. California is plagued by a powerful cult that worships government. The sea dries up, government marches on.  … ”  Read more from the Desert Sun here: Valley Voice: Salton Sea needs bold action, not more government study

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Along the Colorado River …

The drought in the west is bad and it’s gonna get worse

Heather Hansman writes, ““So just a heads-up,” said my friend Ted, who was shin-deep in the icy snowmelt of Colorado’s Roaring Fork River. “We hit the first Class III pretty quick around the corner.” He pushed off in his kayak, and I paddled close behind, planning to follow him into the first big wave train.  But instead, when we rounded the corner and the river dropped elevation, we scraped our boats over rocks and pivoted through skinny channels. “Huh, I guess there’s not much there at this level,” he said. The river, which is usually raging this time of year, was barely braiding through its bed. We knew it was low, but we didn’t know how grim it actually was until we were in it.  I spent runoff season this year chasing whitewater along the spine of the Rockies, where the impacts of a long-range megadrought feel increasingly painful and obvious. More than half of the western United States is currently experiencing extreme drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, and it’s rapidly getting worse. … ”  Read more from Outside Magazine here: The drought in the west is bad and it’s gonna get worse

Before and after images of Lake Mead show how devastating the West’s drought really is

Lake Mead is currently at historically low levels. The largest reservoir in the country is at its lowest level since being filled in 1937 after the construction of the Hoover Dam.  The western drought is to blame. Years of severe drought were compounded by rising temperatures from climate change that evaporated this year’s already sparse snowpack. And the effects are apparent as boaters are unable to put their vessels into the lake and the so-called “bathtub ring” of pale minerals grows along the lake’s coast. The line shows how high waters once were. … ”  Read more from The Weather Channel here: Before and after images of Lake Mead show how devastating the West’s drought really is

How record-low water supplies on Colorado River could impact irrigators

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation this month announced Lake Mead, a key reservoir on the Colorado River, has dipped to a record low, jeopardizing water supplies for irrigators, mainly in Arizona. Lake Powell and Lake Mead, man-made lakes along the Colorado River that store water supplying 40 million people and vast expanses of farmland, have shrunk to historic lows, prompting the federal government’s first-ever shortage declaration. “It’s very concerning,” said Patti Aaron, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation spokeswoman. … ”  Read more from the Capital Press here:  How record-low water supplies on Colorado River could impact irrigators

As Utah sweats through another drought, could technology help save the day?

With droughts persisting, reservoirs plunging and wildfires erupting, Utahns have more reasons than ever to worry about the future of water in one of the driest states in the country.  Gov. Spencer Cox’s recent emergency orders highlight the parched conditions by limiting the days state facilities can water lawns while calling on municipalities, businesses and residents to do the same.  But restrictions aren’t the only way to save water.  Technology could help ease shortages in Utah and six other states that get water from the Colorado River, a new investment group says. ... ”  Read more from the Salt Lake Tribune here: As Utah sweats through another drought, could technology help save the day?

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In national water news today …

Water quality legislation attracts bipartisan support

President Biden’s “Build Back Better” initiative proposes to invest $111 billion in rebuilding and modernizing drinking water and wastewater infrastructure, as well as funding other water quality-related priorities, including addressing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in drinking water supplies.  Legislation proposed in both the Senate and House of Representatives in the 117th Congress (2021-2022) reflects a bipartisan effort to translate the President’s goals into national policy.  Senate Bill 914 (S. 914), the “Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act of 2021,” authorizes the investment of over $35 billion over five years in U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grant programs and revolving loan funds for resource development projects associated with drinking water infrastructure under the Safe Drinking Water Act, and clean water infrastructure under the Clean Water Act.  … ”  Read more from Somach Simmons & Dunn here: Water quality legislation attracts bipartisan support

Civil society protests water’s emergence on the stock exchange

A group of civil society organizations is calling for the financialization of water to be stopped and plans to take its protestation at the launch of the world’s first water futures market to the United Nations special rapporteur on the human rights to safe water and sanitation services.  It’s important to denounce the financialization and commodification of water, Marion Veber, Indigenous people program officer at Fondation Danielle Mitterrand, told Devex. “Water is a common good so it cannot be privatized or [be] an object of speculation.”  FDM, End Water Poverty, and Coalition Eau spearheaded a petition earlier in the year, pushing for public authorities to make listing water on the commodity market illegal and for people to refuse control by financial stakeholders. ... ”  Read more from Devex here: Civil society protests water’s emergence on the stock exchange

To understand how warming is driving harmful algal blooms, look to regional patterns, not global trends

Many researchers have asserted that climate change and coastal development are increasing the worldwide frequency of blooms—sometimes called red tides because the excessive growth discolors the water. But the findings of a new, large-scale study, published June 8 in the journal Nature Communications: Earth & Environment, paint a more nuanced picture.  The researchers found that algal blooms are present around the world, causing problems wherever they develop. But rather than an increase in algal blooms globally, the study found that over the last three decades, the patterns in blooms differed among regions. Some places, like Arctic Alaska, experienced increases. In others, like Hawaii, algal blooms decreased. … ”  Read more from Inside Climate News here: To understand how warming is driving harmful algal blooms, look to regional patterns, not global trends

A full picture of the origin and nature of ocean litter

A new study published in Nature Sustainability provides the first complete diagnosis of the origin and nature of the litter dumped into the ocean. The collaboration between research institutions such as Wageningen University and Research and NGOs from 10 countries has allowed the identification of the most polluting products for the main aquatic ecosystems on a global scale. This is a much-needed information for prevention policies. The study presents a new paradigm for understanding how the ocean deals with litter accumulation through a selective delivery to coastal ecosystems and the open ocean. … ”  Read more from PhysOrg here:  A full picture of the origin and nature of ocean litter

The miracle of life on Earth hinges on a delicate balance. The sun’s rays enter the Earth’s atmosphere, warming the planet. At the same time, some of that solar energy is reflected back out to space, ensuring the planet doesn’t heat up too much.  But as humans have pumped greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, the Earth’s energy balance has tilted. Greenhouse gases prevent extra energy from radiating back out to space, causing global temperatures to rise.  This energy imbalance is “the most fundamental metric defining the status of global climate change,” scientists said in a 2016 Nature Climate Change article. Everything else about global climate change — including the warming of the planet — is a symptom the mismatch of energy in versus energy out.  Now, scientists say, the imbalance is getting more lopsided. New research published this month in Geophysical Research Letters finds it approximately doubled between 2005 and 2019. ... ”  Read more from E&E News here:  ‘Most fundamental’ climate metric takes a worrying turn

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Today’s featured articles …

FEATURE: Salinity Management: Putting Southern California’s water supply on a low sodium diet

Santa Ana River; Photo by cyclotourist

While the saying, “too much of a good thing,” sounds pleasant at its core, water managers take that very seriously when it comes to managing salt, or salinity, in the water supply. Water managers across California are responsible for providing a clean and safe drinking water supply, and salinity management plays a critical role in the quality of water that is provided to communities.

While salt is composed of natural elements commonly found in soil and water, how is salinity managed to support a diversified water resource portfolio? What programs are implemented to help maintain salt concentrations within acceptable levels?

A webinar, presented by Orange County Water District, took an in-depth look at how salinity is managed in Southern California and the Santa Ana watershed.

Click here to read this article.

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

CV-SALTS NEWSLETTER: Safe Drinking Water and Pathway Choice

WATER PLAN eNEWS: ~~ Groundwater Recharge~ Certification Rule~ Water Data~ UWMP Portal~ Ecosystem Restoration~ Museum Grants ~~

NOTICE: Delineation tools and requirements focus of next Army Corps Regulatory Program Workshop

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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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