DAILY DIGEST, 6/17: FERC decision pushes Klamath dam removal forward; Radiation detectors provide deeper dive into groundwater; Madera ranchers circle the wagons over county groundwater plan; and more …


On the calendar today …

  • LEG HEARING: Assembly Committee on Water, Parks, and Wildlife will meet 30 minutes after adjournment of Assembly session.  Bills to be heard include the Yolo Bypass Cache Slough Partnership Multibenefit Program; Water resources: permit to appropriate: application procedure: mining use; Environmental Equity and Outdoor Access Act; and the Delta Independent Science BoardClick here for more information and audio link.
  • MEETING:  The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board will meet beginning at 9am. Agenda items include a status update on wastewater consolidation efforts under Senate Bill 1215; Sacramento Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant EchoWater Project update; Proposed process for designating Tribal Beneficial Uses; and Consideration of Proposed Regional Board Strategic Objectives.  Click here for the full agenda and remote access instructions.
  • WORKSHOP: SAFER Program: Tribal Drinking Water (Northern California) from 9am to 11am.  The State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) invites you to attend a workshop to learn about the Safe and Affordable Funding for Equity and Resilience (SAFER) drinking water program and the opportunities available to California Native American Tribes. The purpose of these workshops are to provide information on the SAFER drinking water program, including the draft Fund Expenditure Plan and funding opportunities available to California Native American Tribes; and to discuss the opportunity of including Tribal drinking water data in statewide water system needs assessments.  Zoom link: bit.ly/SAFERNorcal
  • MEETING: The Delta Independent Science Board meets from 10am to 12:30pm.  The Delta Independent Science Board (Delta ISB) will meet to share updates on the Science Needs Assessment, the Water Supply Reliability Review, and the Monitoring Enterprise Review and to hear a presentation from California Sea Grant State Fellow Jennica Moffat. The Delta ISB will also discuss future reviews and activities.  Click here for the meeting notice and remote access instructions.
  • EVENT: Delta Lead Scientist “Ask me anything” office hours from 12pm to 1pm.  Join Dr. Larsen and Delta Stewardship Council Program Manager Dylan Stern on June 17 at 12:00 PM for a discussion of how science gets funded in the Delta, including who offers funding, which categories get funded, what funding mechanisms exist, and how prospective principal investigators (including students) can find more info. Questions? Drop them in the comments during the live session.  Watch and participate on Instagram (@deltastewardshipcouncil) and with #asktheleadscientist.  Click here for a flyer.
  • PUBLIC NEGOTIATING SESSION: Reclamation, Dept. of Fish and Wildlife regarding San Joaquin River restoration flows from 1pm to 4pm.  The Bureau of Reclamation and California Department of Fish and Wildlife are announcing a public teleconference negotiation session regarding San Joaquin River flows to benefit fish from the San Joaquin Fish Hatchery. This negotiation session is for a 25-year contract renewal for the same amount of water (55 cubic feet per second); no additional water is under consideration. This water delivery will be used for re-introduction of spring-run Chinook salmon to the San Joaquin River in support of San Joaquin River Restoration Settlement Act implementation.  The negotiations will address CDFW’s request to increase San Joaquin River flows for Chinook salmon. Call 1-877-939-7420 and, when prompted, type in participant passcode 5614871#  The public is welcome to listen during the teleconferencing negotiations and comment after the negotiations close.
  • PUBLIC MEETING: Delta Conveyance Design and Construction Authority: Board of Directors from 1:30pm to 5:00pmClick here for more information.
  • FREE SYMPOSIUM: Reducing California’s Fire Risk” w/ Sustainability and Fire Prevention from 2pm to 7pm.  The U.S. Green Building Council-Los Angeles Chapter (USGBC-LA) will host its quarterly Thought Leadership event, a 5-hour symposium on “Reducing California’s Fire Risk” online Thursday, June 17th.  The event will begin with virtual tours and expert interviews provided by local green building chapters in Northern and Southern California, leading to multiple keynotes from state leaders, feature panels from industry experts addressing the issues from a community and building level, and then conclude with networking and meeting space in a virtual environment. Registration required:  bit.ly/cafirerisk
  • WORKSHOP: California State Adapatation Strategy 2021 Update Regional Workshops- San Diego 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 other California water news today …

FERC decision pushes Klamath dam removal forward

The effort to remove four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River cleared another regulatory hurdle Thursday after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission allowed the dams’ original owner to exit its license to operate the facilities.  Specifically, FERC accepted a joint application to transfer the dams’ license from PacifiCorp to the Klamath River Renewal Corporation and the states of Oregon and California.  KRRC, a nonprofit, will now direct contractors to remove the dams and restore the river within the reservoir footprints. ... ”  Read more from the Herald & News here:  FERC decision pushes Klamath dam removal forward

Commentary: Removing Klamath dams is loss of huge investment

Charles Ehlers writes, “There is a process underway to remove four hydroelectric facilities from the Klamath River.  The first, starting upriver, is John C. Boyle. Originally named the Big Bend Development, the project was completed on October 1, 1958 with a rated capacity of 88 megawatts. The cost: $70 million.  The second, Copco 1, was placed into operation in the spring of 1918 with a rated capacity of 20 megawatts. By the end of 1922 the second Copco generator No. 1A was placed into operation at 20 megawatts. The cost: $3 million. Copco No. 2 was placed into operation at a rated capacity of 30 megawatts in July 1925. … ”  Read more from the Herald & News here: Commentary: Removing Klamath dams is loss of huge investment

Ultra-sensitive radiation detectors provide deeper dive into groundwater

Scientists are gaining deeper insights into how agricultural practices affect groundwater, thanks in part to an isotope groundwater age-dating technique made possible by ultra-sensitive radiation measurements at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL).  In a recent study published in Science Advances magazine, physicists from PNNL partnered with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, U.S. Geological Survey, and Argonne National Laboratory to use isotope dating to estimate the age of groundwater samples from California’s San Joaquin Valley.  Groundwater ages can reveal important clues about potential contaminants in the aquifer, and how often and from which sources the water table replenishes. … ”  Read more from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory here: Ultra-sensitive radiation detectors provide deeper dive into groundwater

Biodiversity Imperiled: Intensive water management in California promotes “live fast, die young” cycle in floodplain forests

Woodlands along streams and rivers are an important part of California’s diverse ecology. They are biodiversity hotspots, providing various ecosystem services including carbon sequestration and critical habitat for threatened and endangered species. But our land and water use have significantly impacted these ecosystems, sometimes in unexpected ways.  A team of researchers, including two at UC Santa Barbara, discovered that some riparian woodlands are benefitting from water that humans divert for our own needs. Although it seems like a boon to these ecosystems, the artificial supply of water begets an unintended dependence on this bounty, threatening the long-term survival of natural forest communities. … ”  Read more from UC Santa Barbara here: Biodiversity Imperiled: Intensive water management in California promotes “live fast, die young” cycle in floodplain forests

Nichole S. Morgan appointed to the State Water Resources Control Board; awaits Senate confirmation

From the Office of the Governor: “Nichole S. Morgan, 46, of Sacramento, has been appointed to the State Water Resources Control Board, where she has been Assistant Deputy Director of Financial Assistance since 2019 and served in several positions from 2009 to 2019, including Supervising Water Resources Control Engineer in the Division of Financial Assistance, Water Resources Control Engineer in the Division of Water Rights and in the Office of the Delta Water Master, and Water Resources Control Engineer in the Division of Financial Assistance. Morgan held multiple positions at the California Regional Water Quality Control Board, Central Valley from 2011 to 2014, including Supervising Water Resources Control Engineer and Senior Water Resources Control Engineer. She was Project Manager VII at URS Corporation in 2009 and Project Manager III and Operations Manager at RMC Water and Environment from 2006 to 2009. Morgan was Project Engineer at Kimley-Horn and Associates from 2005 to 2006. She was Senior Civil Engineer and Departmental Construction and Maintenance Supervisor at the California Department of Parks and Recreation from 2004 to 2005. Morgan was Project Manager at Psomas from 2001 to 2004 and Assistant Civil Engineer at the Sacramento County Regional Sanitation District from 1999 to 2001. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $159,068. Morgan is a Democrat.”

Sen. Dodd’s Water Access & Equity Bill clears Committee

Legislation from Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, that would help hundreds of thousands of Californians who have fallen behind on their water bills and are at risk of being disconnected from water service cleared a key committee today.  “Keeping Californians connected to drinking water is essential, regardless of their income level or economic status,” Sen. Dodd said. “My bill ensures families will be able to pay for water services needed to protect their health and safety. I thank committee members for maintaining access to this vital service.”  Sen. Dodd’s legislation comes as the State Water Resources Control Board heard results of a survey that found water debt in California climbed to about $1 billion. The survey estimated 12% of California households are behind on their water bills with an average debt of $500 per household. Many of those people are on the brink of service disconnection. … ”  Read more from Senator Dodd’s office here: Sen. Dodd’s Water Access & Equity Bill clears Committee

Garamendi votes to advance bill to modernize water infrastructure and create good-paying jobs

Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA), a senior member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, voted to pass the “Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act of 2021” (H.R.1915) in the Committee. This legislation reauthorizes the Clean Water Act’s State Revolving Funds and related U.S. EPA water programs. The legislation passed the Committee on a bipartisan vote of 42 to 25 and is expected to be passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in the coming weeks.  Garamendi successfully added three amendments to the legislation during the markup.  “This bipartisan legislation makes desperately needed investments in America’s crumbling and outdated water infrastructure,” Garamendi said. “This bill will help deliver clean water, invest in natural infrastructure for better water management, establish grants to address Per-and Polyfluoroalkyl Substance (PFAS) contamination, create good-paying middle-class jobs, and much more. This legislation also takes steps to address the burgeoning drought conditions we are witnessing in our Congressional District and throughout California by investing in alternative water supplies from water recycling and reuse as well as groundwater recharge. … ”  Continue reading this statement from Congressman Garamendi here: Garamendi votes to advance bill to modernize water infrastructure and create good-paying jobs

CDFW awards $39 million for ecosystem and watershed restoration, protection and scientific study projects statewide

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) today announced the selection of 28 projects to receive funding for projects to restore and protect multi-benefit ecosystem restoration and protection projects under its Proposition 1 grant programs.  The awards, totaling $39 million, were made under CDFW’s 2021 Proposition 1 Watershed Restoration Grant & Delta Water Quality and Ecosystem Restoration Grant Program Proposal Solicitation Notice.  Of the $39 million, approximately $32 million was awarded to 18 projects statewide through the Proposition 1 Watershed Restoration Grant Program. Approximately $7 million was awarded to 10 projects through the Proposition 1 Delta Water Quality and Ecosystem Restoration Grant Program to projects that directly benefit the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.  CDFW is also preparing the release another Prop. 1 solicitation this summer, focusing on coho salmon recovery in North Coast watersheds, under its current “Cutting the Green Tape” initiative. … ”  Continue reading at the Department of Fish & Wildlife here: CDFW awards $39 million for ecosystem and watershed restoration, protection and scientific study projects statewide+

Climate change batters the west before summer even begins

A heat dome is baking Arizona and Nevada, where temperatures have soared past 115 degrees this week and doctors are warning that people can get third-degree burns from the sizzling asphalt.  At Lake Mead, which supplies water for 25 million people in three southwestern states and Mexico, water levels have plunged to their lowest point since the reservoir was filled in the 1930s. In California, farmers are abandoning their thirstiest crops to save others, and communities are debating whether to ration tap water.  In Texas, electricity grids are under strain as residents crank their air-conditioners, with utilities begging customers to turn off appliances to help avert blackouts. In Arizona, Montana and Utah, wildfires are blazing.  And it’s not even summer yet. … ”  Read more from the New York Times here: Climate change batters the west before summer even begins

In California drought news today …

As a hot, dry summer begins in California, more water wells are failing

On Memorial Day, while many Californians were celebrating the unofficial start to summer, the owners of the home off of County Road 200 were contemplating a loss.  That day, the homeowners in northern Glenn County submitted an anonymous report to a state database indicating that their drinking water well was on the verge of sputtering out. The flow of the shallow well, only 75 feet deep, had slowed to a trickle. The property, located outside the town of Orland, is in an agricultural valley some 100 miles north of Sacramento, an area covered by almond, walnut, and olive orchards.  The failing well was not an isolated case — and not a quick fix either, as the incident report went on to recount:  “Everyone around us and neighbors are having the same problems and with our water table being so low we will have to drill the well deeper but the wait list in Orland and Glenn County is months out and we cannot afford that cost.” … ”  Read more from Circle of Blue here: As a hot, dry summer begins in California, more water wells are failing

The last thing California needed: Drought adds to electricity woes as hydro power dries up

California’s shaky power grid is on a collision course with an epic drought that’s depleting a major source of supply: hydroelectricity.  The Western heatwave that began Wednesday has the manager of the state’s grid, the California Independent System Operator, warning of potential power shortages through the weekend. Although the organization stopped short of predicting another round of rolling blackouts, it appealed to Californians to conserve energy to get the state through a tough week. The National Weather Service said temperatures are expected to reach 110 degrees Thursday.  “Conservation may be needed to stabilize the grid,” Marybel Batjer, the president of the Public Utilities Commission, told a legislative committee Wednesday. The Independent System Operator issued a Flex Alert for Thursday, calling on Californians to save electricity. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: The last thing California needed: Drought adds to electricity woes as hydro power dries up

SEE ALSOHeat wave already straining Western power grids. What can California expect this summer?, from the San Francisco Chronicle

4,300 junior water rights holders told to stop diverting

About 4,300 junior water rights holders in California have been told to stop diverting water because there isn’t enough to go around, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.  The State Water Resources Control Board on June 15 issued the directive, which will affect growers and others from Fresno County to the Oregon state line.   Regulators told the Chronicle that they’re likely to broaden the directive before the end of summer as drought conditions continue to worsen.  “This really emphasizes the seriousness of the circumstances we find ourselves in during this drought,” water board chairman Joaquin Esquivel told the newspaper. “It’s about responding to the drought itself and the curtailment (of water) that Mother Nature is imposing upon us.” … ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press here: 4,300 junior water rights holders told to stop diverting

Calif. farmers making tough decisions because of drought

In drought years past, some California farmers could find irrigation water on the spot market to limp along. Not so this year.  Ryan Jacobsen, chief executive officer of the Fresno County Farm Bureau, says the water simply does not exist, and what precious few drops may exist somewhere in somebody’s account, those prices are too costly for farmers to purchase. For the most part, there is no water to sell as reservoirs could dry up later this year. With the higher likelihood of long-lasting drought conditions into next year, this will be disastrous for farming across the West. … ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press here: Calif. farmers making tough decisions because of drought

The West’s historic drought in 3 maps

Vast swaths of the West are experiencing a historic and unrelenting drought, the worst in the region in at least 20 years.  Climate change is playing a key role in these compounding crises: Drought and extreme heat are fueling wildfires; reduced snowpack and the lack of substantial precipitation are exacerbating water demands for millions of people, as well as agriculture, ecosystems and deteriorating infrastructure.  In addition to mandatory water restrictions already in place, even stricter cuts are looming amid the drought in some states as water levels plummet along the Colorado River. … ”  Read more from CNN here: The West’s historic drought in 3 maps

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In regional water news and commentary today …

Sacramento: High levels of E. coli found at Tiscornia Beach

Hot temperatures are drawing people to the cool water of Tiscornia Beach, but what many there may not know, there are high levels of E.coli found in the water.  “I think it’s disgusting,” one woman told FOX40.  “I’ve heard about it before. That’s why I’m not wet,” laughed one man.  Spouses Robert and Mary Beth Metcalf have been testing samples of water along the American River every Saturday for nearly a year. ... ”  Read more from Fox 40 here: Sacramento: High levels of E. coli found at Tiscornia Beach

Regulators approve emergency rules to allow halt of Russian River diversions for thousands of water right holders

The state water board has unanimously approved emergency regulations behind a move to halt Russian River diversions for up to 2,400 water right holders, part of a wider effort to conserve dwindling supplies in Lake Sonoma and Lake Mendocino.  The 5-0 vote of the State Water Resources Control Board late Tuesday came over the objections raised by agricultural interests and allies who argued the new rule was too blunt a tool to use to address the worsening drought. … ”  Read more from the North Bay Journal here: Regulators approve emergency rules to allow halt of Russian River diversions for thousands of water right holders

SFPUC endorses City Attorney Dennis Herrera as next S.F. water, power and sewer chief

Mayor London Breed could announce a new city attorney within weeks, following the San Francisco Public Utility Commission’s Wednesday decision to formally recommend the city’s top lawyer, Dennis Herrera, as the agency’s next general manager.  Breed nominated Herrera to the position in April, months after the FBI charged the previous general manager, Harlan Kelly, with allegedly accepting bribes from a city contractor and permit consultant. Kelly resigned in November.  Before Herrera’s appointment is official, he must finalize his contract with the commission. Then he must officially step down from his current job, which he has held since 2001. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: SFPUC endorses City Attorney Dennis Herrera as next S.F. water, power and sewer chief

Editorial: State restrictions reflect urgent need to conserve water

The Mercury News editorial board writes, “The state’s decision this week to cut off Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta access to thousands of farmers and water agencies highlights the need for serious and immediate conservation throughout the Bay Area and California.  It’s been obvious for months that the state faces its most serious water shortage since the historic 2012-16 drought. Bay Area water agencies should be imposing mandatory water restrictions on users now. … ”  Continue reading this editorial from the San Jose Mercury News here: Editorial: State restrictions reflect urgent need to conserve water

Bay Area: Water efficiency is energy efficiency, too, expert says

With droughts expected to continue and worsen in coming years, water managers are exploring conservation approaches. Laura Feinstein, sustainability and resilience policy director at the urban think tank SPUR, explained the difficult choice between attempting to create separate drinking and nonpotable water systems, or developing robust wastewater recycling systems on “Civic.”  “I think we’re kind of at a point right now where people are realizing that we need to change our system of water management, but we haven’t quite figured out what direction to go yet,” Feinstein said. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Public Press here: Water efficiency is energy efficiency, too, expert says

Monterey County officials greenlight Carmel River restoration

Monterey County elected officials on Tuesday gave an enthusiastic thumbs up to a $45 million restoration project at the mouth of the Carmel River that will provide a host of environmental benefits, including natural flood control for an area that has historically been hit hard by river flooding.  The Monterey County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a resolution that will move the project, called the Carmel River Floodplain Restoration and Environmental Enhancement, forward with the nonprofit Big Sur Land Trust as its key partner.  The next leg of the effort will now be to secure additional grant funding for the project, such as from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which generally supports flood control projects. … ”  Read more from the Monterey Herald here: Monterey County officials greenlight Carmel River restoration

Stanislaus River: High river flow expected through September

While typically the water flow in the Stanislaus River slows during the summer, that’s not likely to happen this year, so recreational users of the river are urged to observe safety precautions to avoid tragedy.  Why is the river running so high?  Oakdale Irrigation District Manager Steve Knell explained, “Call it an unexpected condition of an unexpected runoff year but over-commitment of water in Shasta and Folsom Dams, both federal facilities, and in Oroville Dam, a state facility, in the spring have stressed those facilities and necessitated the unprecedented call for water out of New Melones.” … ”  Read more from the Escalon Times here: Stanislaus River: High river flow expected through September

Madera ranchers circle the wagons over county groundwater plan

Central Valley cattle ranchers are gearing up for a fight against what they see as groundwater rustling.  Their fear is that newly formed groundwater agencies in some areas could devalue their land by not giving them a fair share of their own groundwater.  Ranchers believe those fears were realized on June 8 when the Madera County Board of Supervisors approved a groundwater allocation that will partially exclude rangeland. Ranchers who own rangeland that has never been irrigated won’t receive a share of the county’s “transitional water” allotment.  This is all part of the county’s attempt to comply with the state’s new Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, which requires aquifers in overdrafted areas come into balance by 2040. That means more water can’t be pumped out than goes back in. … ”  Read more from SJV Water here: Madera ranchers circle the wagons over county groundwater plan

Ridgecrest: Mojave Pistachio Statement Regarding Court of Appeal Decision

Mojave Pistachios’ counsel, Scott Slater of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, LLP, issued the following statement regarding the Fourth District Court of Appeals order which preliminarily denied their request for an extraordinary writ enjoining the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority (IWVGA) from collecting the $2,130 per acre-foot Basin Replenishment Fee.  “The Court took great care to indicate that while it is denying our writ seeking to prevent IWVGA from collecting this unprecedented fee “at this time”, the Court of Appeal will be watching and prepared to involve itself further if the Authority takes legal action to enforce its June 9, 2021 Resolution. Until that time the order makes it clear that the Court of Appeal understands the importance of the matter and will entertain further requests for relief, including a stay as may be required by IWVGA actions.

Click here for the court document.

Protection sought for fish species found in SoCal river systems

A tiny fish native to Southern California streams will be studied to determine if it qualifies for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act, a conservation group said Wednesday.  The Center for Biological Diversity said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it will begin a status review of the Santa Ana speckled dace in response to a petition filed by the group last year.  The minnow is found in the Santa Ana, San Jacinto, San Gabriel and Los Angeles river systems.  According to the center, dams, water diversions and urbanization have eliminated Santa Ana speckled dace from three-quarters of their former stream habitats and they face continuing threats including drought, fires, invasive species and climate change. ... ”  Read more from KTLA here: Protection sought for fish species found in SoCal river systems

Radio show: Could importing seawater save the Salton Sea? We discuss the implications

Salton Sea water levels continue to go down and that poses a number of problems for nearby communities and the organisms living in the water. A number of proposals being considered are focusing on the idea of importing seawater across the state’s desert to solve the problem.  Environment reporter Mark Odalde’s new piece looks at the proposed plans. The California Natural Resources Agency is tasked with coming with a long-term fix, but the deadline is approaching. Odalde says the agency owes the state a plan by the end of 2022.  Today on AirTalk, we break down what’s happening with the Salton Sea, the proposals being considered and the various implications. … ”  Read more from the Salton Sea here: Radio show: Could importing seawater save the Salton Sea? We discuss the implications

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Along the Colorado River …

Water deliveries to dry delta along U.S.-Mexico border to support wildlife, vegetation

The mighty Colorado River used to flow freely all the way to the Sea of Cortez in Mexico. But over the years, its delta and various ecosystems have dried up.  Thanks to an agreement between the U.S. and Mexico, the delta will receive water deliveries for environmental purposes from now until October. This will help restore a landscape that once supported a rich diversity of life because, as scientists have discovered, life returns if you add some water.  “When this has water, it’s going to be very different,” said Gabriela Gonzalez Olimon, Sonoran Institute’s environmental education coordinator. “We expect to see a lot more birds and a lot more life around here.” … ”  Read more from Spectrum 1 here: Water deliveries to dry delta along U.S.-Mexico border to support wildlife, vegetation

The shocking numbers behind the Lake Mead drought crisis

The United States’ largest reservoir is draining rapidly. Plagued by extreme, climate change-fueled drought and increasing demand for water, Lake Mead on Wednesday registered its lowest level on record since the reservoir was filled in the 1930s.  Lake Mead, a Colorado River reservoir just east of Las Vegas on the Nevada-Arizona border, is poised to become the focal point of one of the country’s most significant climate crises: water shortages in the West. Millions of people will be affected in the coming years and decades by the Colorado River shortage alone, researchers say, with some being forced to make painful water cuts.  It’s not a threat on the horizon; new projections show the first-ever water shortage along the Colorado River is all but certain to be declared later this year. … ”  Read more from CNN here: The shocking numbers behind the Lake Mead drought crisis

Phoenix: As fire crews face water problems, officials detail water contingency plans

As the Telegraph Fire and several other fires continue to burn across the state, lawmakers are holding a special session at the Arizona State Capitol in Downtown Phoenix to discuss funding for wildfire recovery and prevention. It took about four and a half hours, but ultimately, the House and Senate Natural Resources Committees voted to advance a fire suppression bill.  The $100 million bill aims to help fight devastating wildfires in Arizona, and fund resources to clear hazardous brush, but during the special session, a hot-button issue – Climate Change – was addressed and debated on. … ”  Read more from Fox News here: Phoenix: As fire crews face water problems, officials detail water contingency plans

The West has all the ingredients for another terrible wildfire season

Summer has not officially started yet, but wildfire season has already arrived in the US. Now an intense heat wave coupled with extreme drought is threatening to make things worse.  Large wildfires have already burned 981,000 acres this year to date, more than the 766,000 acres burned by the same time last year, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.  In Arizona, more than 208,000 acres have burned, sending smoke into Colorado. The 123,000-acre Telegraph Fire is now in Arizona’s top 10 largest fires in history.  In Utah, blazes have charred more than 25,000 acres, with a new fire ignited every day for three weeks. California has seen a fourfold increase in year-to-date area burned compared to 2020. … ”  Read more from Vox here: The West has all the ingredients for another terrible wildfire season

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In national water news today …

Senate confirms Radhika Fox to lead EPA’s water office

The Senate voted 55-43 Wednesday to confirm Radhika Fox as head of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Water.  Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.), in remarks on the Senate floor, praised Fox’s record and highlighted the organizations endorsing her for the position. These include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Family Farm Alliance and the U.S. Water Alliance, where she previously served as CEO.  “What those organizations have said — again and again — about Radhika Fox is that she is an exceptional leader who will work day and night to come up with practical solutions to our country’s serious water challenges,” Carper said Wednesday. … ”  Read more from The Hill here: Senate confirms Radhika Fox to lead EPA’s water office

Most rivers run dry – now and then

A new study led by researchers from McGill University and INRAE found that between 51-60% of the 64 million kilometres of rivers and streams on Earth that they investigated stop flowing periodically, or run dry for part of the year. It is the first-ever empirically grounded effort to quantify the global distribution of non-perennial rivers and streams. The research, which was published today in Nature, calls for a paradigm shift in river science and management by revising foundational concepts which traditionally assumed year-round water flow in rivers and streams. The map of non-perennial rivers resulting from this study, the first of its kind, also provides crucial baseline information for the assessment of future changes in river flow intermittence and for determining and monitoring the role of these rivers and streams in global water and biochemical cycles, as well as in supporting biological diversity. … ”  Read more from McGill University here: Most rivers run dry – now and then

Double whammy: Heat, toxic algae bedevil water sector

One of the two rivers flowing into the heart of Iowa that provide 500,000 residents with drinking water is slowly being infiltrated by toxic algae as temperatures climb.  The other river is drying up and dipping to dangerously low levels as a historic drought grips the United States.  The Hawkeye State’s plight underscores why climate change is seen as a threat multiplier for the drinking water sector — from cratering water levels and drought to floods and extreme weather. And then there are toxic algal blooms that can kill fish, foul water, and threaten human and ecosystem health. Water providers across the West are grappling with historic drought conditions, with officials in California announcing water restrictions to protect groundwater and guard against subsidence and wells going dry. In Idaho, water managers are cutting off irrigation flows to farms, and wildlife officials are scrambling to move fish to safer waters. ... ”  Read more from E&E News here: Double whammy: Heat, toxic algae bedevil water sector

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Today’s featured articles …

DELTA ISB: 21st Century Science For 21st Century Environmental Decision Making: The Challenges And Opportunities Of Near-term Iterative Ecological Forecasting

What if we could predict changes to ecosystems in the same way we can predict the weather?  An emerging field of science is working towards making that a reality.

In areas such as fisheries, wildlife, algal blooms, wildfire, and human disease, we often need to know how ecosystems and the services they provide might change in the future and how human activities can affect those trajectories.  An ecological forecast uses multiple scientific disciplines, such as physics, ecology, and biology, to predict how ecosystems will change in the future in response to environmental drivers such as climate variability, extreme weather conditions, pollution, or habitat change.

Among the recommendations that the Delta Independent Science Board (DISB) is making to the Delta Plan Interagency Implementation Committee (DPIIC) is to include the use of ecological forecasting as a way to better integrate science across agencies and departments.

To learn more about this emerging field, the May meeting of the Delta Independent Science Board (DISB) featured a presentation from Dr. Michael Dietze on the emerging field of near-term ecological forecasting.

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

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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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