DAILY DIGEST, 7/13: CA’s new summer normal: use less water and electricity; Sea level rise solutions; DWR’s proposed residential outdoor water use standard; How much water would it take to get out of this drought?; and more …
FREE WEBINAR: Water Supply Reliability: Hydrological Perspectives on Planning and Implementing Projects to Improve Reliability from 9am to 10am. Using basic concepts of reliability, resiliency, and a “balanced portfolio” of water supplies, presenters will address water supply reliability from the cooperative perspectives of groundwater and surface water hydrology practitioners. Groundwater is often a foundational component of water supply systems and associated watershed functions. Surface water creates the intricate architecture of our water supply, its physical infrastructure, and its connections to ecological health. Case studies will be provided of how new tools and ideas about water supply reliability can be used to solve pressing issues. Click here to register.
FREE WEBINAR: Drought Challenges and Opportunities for the Future from 10am to 11:30am.This drought panel session will bring leaders in our water industry together to engage in an interactive dialogue on: Diversity of perspectives on drought and response throughout the county Political challenges regions face when addressing drought; How is climate change influencing drought occurrences and the community’s response; and New opportunities that have arisen because of drought. Presented by Intera. Click here to register.
FREE EVENT: Drought: The Signals of Climate Change from 12:30 to 1:45pm. Droughts are natural in the American West but are becoming more severe due to climate change. While California is no stranger to dry periods, we need to fundamentally adjust our water systems and management to more extreme weather fluctuations moving forward. Join us for a Secretary Speaker Series event where we will discuss how climate change impacts our drought cycles and how we continue to adapt to this “new normal” moving forward. Click here to register.
California’s new summer normal: use less water and electricity
“Californians once greeted hot summers by blasting the air conditioners and filling the pool. No longer. Battered by drought and heat waves that are straining the power grid, the Golden State is asking residents to make do with less water and electricity, just when they really want to use both. It’s an uncomfortable new normal for a state that used to celebrate summer. Power grid managers have sent urgent pleas on three of the past four days, begging residents to cut their electricity use to stave off blackouts. And these calls are becoming a standard part of the summer, as residents are forced to adapt their lifestyles to the changing climate. ... ” Read more from Bloomberg here: California’s new summer normal: use less water and electricity
Could already bad drought conditions get worse for California?
“In the last several decades, California has become warmer and drier. The combination of warmer years and a hit-and-miss rain cycle has resulted in a much higher fire threat and introduced higher agricultural risk state-wide. Historically, a lot has already been done to live in California’s wild weather environment. California has one of the most complicated and generally successful water management systems in the world, but now even that is strained to its limits. … ” Read more from KSBY here: Could already bad drought conditions get worse for California?
From wildfires to water supply: The threats of western drought, and the climate change connection
“The western region of the United States is drying out. Nearly 60 percent of the region is under extreme drought conditions, and one-quarter of the landmass is experiencing exceptional drought conditions, according to July data posted by the U.S. Drought Monitor. The impact of large-scale drought is massive, from increased wildfire activity to zapping the precious supply of water to the region. … ” Read more from Channel 10 here: From wildfires to water supply: The threats of western drought, and the climate change connection
American west stuck in cycle of ‘heat, drought and fire’, experts warn
“As fires propagate throughout the US west on the heels of record heatwaves, experts are warning that the region is caught in a vicious feedback cycle of extreme heat, drought and fire, all amplified by the climate crisis. Firefighters are battling blazes from Arizona to Washington state that are burning with a worrying ferocity, while officials say California is already set to outpace last year’s record-breaking fire season. Extreme heatwaves over the past few weeks – which have smashed records everywhere from southern California to Nevada and Oregon – are causing the region’s water reserves to evaporate at an alarming rate, said Jose Pablo Ortiz Partida, a climate scientist for the Union of Concerned Scientists, a non-profit advocacy group. And devoid of moisture, the landscape heats up quickly, like a hot plate, desiccating the landscape and turning vegetation into kindling. ... ” Read more from The Guardian here: American west stuck in cycle of ‘heat, drought and fire’, experts warn
Analysis: The American West’s climate hellscape is just a preview
“For the past few weeks, the American West has been confronting a hellish climate nightmare of scorching heat waves, a severe drought, and raging wildfires. And it’s not just the West—or even the United States. In typically chilly Siberia, ground temperatures reached a blistering 118 degrees Fahrenheit. The Middle East has been gripped by a searing heat wave and a drought that has especially hammered Syria. In late June, a small Canadian village was almost completely consumed by wildfire. China is also bracing for another year of extreme weather, including torrential rains and flash floods, as well as heat waves. ... ” Read more from Foreign Policy here: Analysis: The American West’s climate hellscape is just a preview
The West catches fire while the East goes under water as climate change fuels both extremes
“There were two intense areas of heavy rain in the Northeast on Monday afternoon and evening. Across Bucks and Burlington counties in southeast Pennsylvania, 6 to 12 inches of rain fell in a few hours, prompting high water rescues across the area. Farther north, radar reports estimated that 3 to 5 inches of rain had fell in western Passaic County and far western Bergen County in New Jersey. … And it’s not just the East seeing extreme weather events fueled by climate change. The West continues to bake under excessive and record-setting temperatures while the wildfire risk continues to grow. … ” Read more from NBC News here: The West catches fire while the East goes under water as climate change fuels both extremes
“For more than 60 years, California officials and experts have discussed expanding the Sacramento River bypass and levee system. The original system, designed in response to two floods in 1907 and 1909, was completed in 1955 and tested that year by its largest flood to date. Three more major floods, including the largest on record in 1986, demonstrated that more floodwater capacity and protection should be built into the system. In summer 2020, contractors broke ground on the first project to expand that capacity, the Lower Elkhorn Basin Levee Setback (LEBLS) project. … ” Read more from Engineering News-Record here: California expands floodwater capacity
Sea level rise solutions
“Communities trying to fight sea-level rise could inadvertently make flooding worse for their neighbors, according to a new study from the Stanford Natural Capital Project. The research, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows how seawalls constructed along the San Francisco Bay shoreline could increase flooding and incur hundreds of millions of dollars in damages for communities throughout the region. The researchers emphasize how non-traditional approaches, like choosing to flood certain areas of land rather than build walls, are smarter, more sustainable solutions for the Bay Area and similar coastal bay communities. ... ” Read more from Stanford News here: Sea level rise solutions
Law journal article: A Clean Water Act, if you can keep it
“The Clean Water Act has traveled a successful but tortuous path. From combustible beginnings on the Cuyahoga River; through the Lake St. Clair wetlands; to reservoirs near the Miccosukee; and eventually discharged (or “functionally” discharged) off the Maui coast. With each bend, the nearly fifty-year-old Act has proven to be not just resilient, but among our most successful environmental laws. … This article begins by posing a thesis: The Clean Water Act regulates all “waters of the United States.” It then suggests a two-part antithesis: Congress violated the nondelegation and void-for-vagueness doctrines by defining the Clean Water Act only as reaching “waters of the United States.” And it resolves the conflict with a synthesis: a call for Congress to amend the Clean Water Act by providing the statute with a more stable and intelligible jurisdictional reach. Federal oversight in water quality regulation is a necessity. But to what degree is a policy decision that Congress has yet to make.” Read the full article here: Law journal article: A Clean Water Act, if you can keep it
Keeping up with California: Green industry professionals collaborate using smart irrigation practices
“With all of its water woes, the state of California has become “ground zero” for the necessity to implement smart irrigation tactics. As the state battles both severe drought conditions and an expanding wildfire season, collaboration and innovation are spearheading smart irrigation practices. For Loren McIrvin, San Francisco-based owner of Allied Landscape, the issue of smart irrigation always starts with the landscaping community. “Farmers and golf courses have to be accountable for water use because it impacts their profits,” says McIrvin. “That is not true for most landscapers, and they act like it. We have to hold ourselves accountable first, then create the savings in water use and water costs, and we will then have more value to our clients.” … ” Read more from Irrigation & Green Industry News here: Keeping up with California: Green industry professionals collaborate using smart irrigation practices
DWR’s proposed residential outdoor water use standard
“On June 30th, 2021, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) hosted the third workshop in an ongoing series of “Standards, Methodologies, and Performance Measures” meetings. The primary goal of these meetings has been to facilitate public engagement as DWR works towards an October 1st legislative deadline to determine a standard for efficient outdoor residential water use … This outdoor water use standard (OWUS) is just one piece of the broader effort to implement SB606/AB1668, and like many of the other pieces of the implementation (indoor standard, landscape area measurement, water loss standard, CII dedicated irrigation standard, etc.) there are plenty of strong opinions to go around. And with residential outdoor water use likely to be one of the largest contributors to the overall water use objective, the State’s choice for the OWUS will have far-reaching implications for water use and efficiency in California for many years to come. … ” Read more from the California Data Collaborative here: DWR’s proposed residential outdoor water use standard
Calleguas MWD plans for emergencies with the CaDC
“For Dan Drugan, Manager of Resources at Calleguas Municipal Water District, planning for both predicted and unforeseen changes in the District’s water supply is an essential part of the job. In addition to managing the annexations of new territory to the District, water use efficiency, legislative affairs, public outreach, and other programs, Dan and his team are in the process of developing an Imported Water Outage Protocol (IWOP) to manage water access for purveyors during outage events. For Dan Drugan, Manager of Resources at Calleguas Municipal Water District, planning for both predicted and unforeseen changes in the District’s water supply is an essential part of the job. In addition to managing the annexations of new territory to the District, water use efficiency, legislative affairs, public outreach, and other programs, Dan and his team are in the process of developing an Imported Water Outage Protocol (IWOP) to manage water access for purveyors during outage events. … ” Read more from the California Data Collaborative here: Calleguas MWD plans for emergencies with the CaDC
Almond growers had expected a record Central Valley harvest. Drought just took 13%
“The worsening drought forced a 13% cut in the projected almond crop in California. The U.S. Department of Agriculture now expects about 2.8 billion pounds from the August-October harvest. The initial estimate in May was for a record 3.2 billion pounds. … Even with Monday’s revision, this year’s harvest would be the second-largest ever, topped only by the 3.12 billion pounds in 2020. The Almond Board of California, based in Modesto, noted this in a news release. … ” Read more from the Modesto Bee here: Almond growers had expected a record Central Valley harvest. Drought just took 13%
California fires are burning faster, hotter, more intensely — and getting harder to fight
“The fires have burned more than 140,000 acres, from soaring mountains along the California-Nevada border to forest north of Mt. Shasta and the gateway to Yosemite. But many of 2021’s biggest blazes have one thing in common: They are burning faster and hotter than some firefighters have seen this early in the year. A winter and spring of little rain and minimal snow runoff — followed by months of unusually warm conditions and several summer heat waves — left the vegetation primed to burn fast, giving crews little time to get a handle on the flames before they explode. … ” Read more from the LA Times here: California fires are burning faster, hotter, more intensely — and getting harder to fight
How wood products could lower the cost of forest management
“In August 2020, the state of California and the US Forest Service (USFS) agreed to vastly increase the number of forested acres they treat with mechanical thinning and prescribed burning each year. The agreement aims to reduce the risk of wildfire and improve forest health, and it came as California confronted a record-breaking wildfire year, exacerbated by drought and a dangerous build-up of fuel in the state’s forests. The new goal represents a doubling of effort by the USFS and a nearly five-fold increase in state-funded management work by 2025. One of the hurdles to realizing this goal is cost. The net cost of mechanical thinning in the Sierra Nevada—the removal of small diameter trees that increase wildfire risk—varies widely, between $500 and $1,900 per acre. The role of wood products as a potential revenue source arose repeatedly in our focus group discussions. ... ” Read more from the PPIC here: How wood products could lower the cost of forest management
State should help fund local water resilience projects
Sean Bigley, chair of the Sacramento Regional Water Authority Board, and Gary Croucher, chair of the San Diego County Water Authority Board, write, “Emergency conservation orders address short-term water shortages, but don’t move us toward the long-term goal of drought resilience. That requires strategic investments in local drought-resilient water supply projects, costs mostly borne at the local level. The state recently took a step in the right direction by approving $3.5 billion in budgeted funds for water projects, but the details of how that money will be used are still being worked out. It is important that funds are directed to local drought-resilience projects. That would go a long way toward accelerating the 21st-century water solutions we need. ... ” Continue reading at Cal Matters here: State should help fund local water resilience projects
In Delta, is Habitat Restoration an Endangered Species?
John Brennan, land manager and conservationist, writes, “Late in 2015 two sisters contacted me to help sell their family farm property in Solano County next to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. They had decided it was time. The property is marginal pastureland that was marshland until levees were constructed around 100 years ago and the land was “reclaimed”. It is located within the thin band that surround the Delta at the perfect elevation to be flooded by the daily pulse of the tides making it ideal for conversion back to intertidal wetland habitat. Creation of this category of habitat has been called for in every plan written for the Delta over the past 50 years. ... ” Continue reading this guest commentary at Maven’s Notebook here: In Delta, is Habitat Restoration an Endangered Species?
Eureka plans wastewater plant upgrades amid calls to not discharge sewage into Humboldt Bay
“For years, the city of Eureka sent treated wastewater directly into Humboldt Bay from its Elk River processing plant. But five years ago, the North Coast Regional Water Control Board ordered the city to “cease and desist” and to move to ocean discharge by 2030. The city is now seeking a resolution that would allow wastewater to continue to be discharged into the bay. The water board will meet in mid-August to decide. Whether or not the city is granted the exemption to continue, there are plans in the works to make upgrades to the Elk River wastewater facility. … ” Read more from the Eureka Times-Standard here: Eureka plans wastewater plant upgrades amid calls to not discharge sewage into Humboldt Bay
Drought exposes abandoned Gold Rush village in Folsom Lake
“As the waters of Folsom Lake recede to levels rarely seen, the remnants of a long-ago abandoned, flooded Gold Rush village are reemerging. Visitors can now see building foundations, bricks, broken pottery and rusty nails that were all once part of Mormon Island. The town was settled in the late 1840s by prospectors. By 1853, it had a population of more than 2,500 settlers, according to California archives. What was left of the town got flooded in 1955 when Folsom Dam was built. ... ” Read more from Channel 40 here: Drought exposes abandoned Gold Rush village in Folsom Lake
As drought hits Sacramento, officials make it rain cash for ditching lawns and converting landscapes
“This could be a good time to downsize the lawn. Thanks to your water provider, you may get more cash for your grass. The reason? We’re in a drought – again. But this may be no ordinary dry spell. According to the Regional Water Authority, the Sacramento region is experiencing its most severe drought in more than 20 years – the worst of this century. … Local water providers including the City of Sacramento are hoping to entice residents to use less water this summer with new or larger rebates. By rewarding water saving, water providers hope to reach their goal of reducing use by at least 10%. … ” Read more from the Sacramento News & Review here: As drought hits Sacramento, officials make it rain cash for ditching lawns and converting landscapes
“Water battery” being considered on Mokelumne River
“Earlier this year, GreenGenStorage received a renewal of their licensing period to submit Pre-Application Documents (PAD) to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for their proposed Mokelumne Pumped Storage Water Battery Project. The developer hopes to submit their PAD by the end of the year for the project, which would utilize excess solar and wind energy to power their pumped storage technology, thereby generating electricity for the grid at peak energy-usage hours. “During the midday peak of solar energy generation, we would pump water uphill to an upper reservoir,” Nicholas Sher, manager at GreenGenStorage said. “Then in the evening where energy usage is consumed the most, we would release that water downstream and it would drive a turbine, thus generating energy. Then by soaking up wind power in the evenings for release in the morning peak hours, we’re essentially just time-shifting renewable energy.” … ” Read more from the Sierra Nevada Ally here: “Water battery” being considered on Mokelumne River
City of Napa looks at drought-related water-trucking restrictions
“Amid a reservoir-sapping drought, Napa may reduce the amount of water trucked from its boundaries to rural homes and farms — a move that would hit even as rural users themselves deal with the drought. For the city, the move is about water conservation. “We’ve got to be proactive to what we do and make sure we are not letting ourselves get into an extreme situation as we go forward,” city Deputy Utilities Director Joy Eldredge said. … ” Read more from the Napa Valley Register here: City of Napa looks at drought-related water-trucking restrictions
Commentary: Don’t let the past stop Napa from moving forward
Ross Middlemiss, Staff attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, writes, “The year that brought us the Beijing Olympics, the Great Recession, and the country’s first Black president was also the year Napa County last updated its General Plan. A lot has happened since 2008. Deadly wildfires have decimated communities, the climate crisis has reached catastrophic proportions, and a parched California’s in the midst of another drought. That’s why, when considering what and where to build in Napa County, it’s a mistake to let a 2008 document be your only guide. … ” Read more from the Napa Register here: Commentary: Don’t let the past stop Napa from moving forward
Sea-level rise may worsen existing Bay Area inequities
“Rather than waiting for certainty in sea-level rise projections, policymakers can plan now for future coastal flooding by addressing existing inequities among the most vulnerable communities in flood zones, according to Stanford research. Using a methodology that incorporates socioeconomic data on neighborhood groups of about 1,500 people, scientists found that several coastal communities in San Mateo County, California – including half the households in East Palo Alto – are at risk of financial instability from existing social factors or anticipated flooding through 2060. Even with coverage from flood insurance, these residents would not be able to pay for damages from flooding, which could lead to homelessness or bankruptcy among people who are essential to the diversity and economic function of urban areas. The paper was published in the journal Earth’s Future on July 12. ... ” Read more from Stanford News here: Sea-level rise may worsen existing Bay Area inequities
Discovery Bay: Water tests positive for algal blooms
“The California State Water Boards issued a press release last week stating harmful algal blooms (HAB) had been found in and around Discovery Bay. The findings prompted Contra Costa Environmental Health to urge caution for recreational water users as the blooms can present a serious health risk to people and pets. Usually, the blooms are found in still, warm, nutrient-rich water near the shore, and look like green or brown scum floating on, or suspended in, the water. The algal blooms are not found on the fast water in the canals and rivers surrounding Discovery Bay. … ” Read more from The Press here: Discovery Bay: Water tests positive for algal blooms
Valley Water a partner in state’s effort to modernize water delivery system
” … Valley Water has been preparing for drought by investing in technology and infrastructure. Some of these efforts include the Anderson Dam Seismic Retrofit Project, upgrading and maintaining our pipelines and water treatment plants, promoting our many conservation rebates and programs, and expanding the use of recycled and purified water. Valley Water’s strategy to ensure a reliable supply of safe, clean water for today and future generations is outlined in our Water Supply Master Plan 2020. One of the key projects listed in the Water Supply Master Plan is the Delta Conveyance Project, the state of California’s proposed plan to improve the infrastructure that carries water through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. … ” Read more from Valley Water here: Valley Water a partner in state’s effort to modernize water delivery system
Valley Water presents $16M check for small salt-removal facility
“With drought on everyone’s mind, city leaders from Palo Alto and Mountain View held a brief summit on June 18 at the Regional Water Quality Control Plant to highlight a project that both cities hope will help make water consumption more sustainable for decades to come. Mayors Tom DuBois and Ellen Kamei met with Valley Water board member Gary Kremen at the Palo Alto facility to accept a $16 million check from the water district. Under the terms of the deal that the cities signed with Valley Water (formerly known as the Santa Clara Valley Water District) in 2019, the funds will be used for design and construction of a small salt-removal facility that will lower the salinity level of the recycled water at the treatment plant. … ” Read more from the Mountain View Voice here: Valley Water presents $16M check for small salt-removal facility
Crews clean up contaminated water from oil well spill in Santa Barbara County
“Crews were able to contain a contaminated water spill from an oil well in Santa Barbara County before it could reach a nearby creek. It happened Sunday on an oil lease on the 1800 block of Perkins Road in Cuyama. Santa Barbara County Fire Department officials say about 30 barrels of what’s known as produced water spilled. … ” Read more from KCLU here: Crews clean up contaminated water from oil well spill in Santa Barbara County
The Pacific Ocean is right there. So why is Southern California so hot for swimming pools?
“Here we are, living 25 miles, five miles, even a scant hundred feet from that splendid dunk known as the Pacific Ocean, and what are we known for the world over? Swimming pools. By one calculation from five years ago, there are a quarter-million private swimming pools in Los Angeles County. From the window seat of a 737, they look like flickering blue opals embedded in a matrix of dusty greenery and concrete. Our stories wouldn’t be our stories without swimming pools as image and metaphor. … ” Read more from the LA Times here: The Pacific Ocean is right there. So why is Southern California so hot for swimming pools?
17-million-gallon sewage spill at Los Angeles’ largest treatment plant closes miles of Southern California beaches
“Miles of beaches in Los Angeles were closed to swimmers Monday as 17 million gallons of sewage from the city’s largest treatment plant spilled into Santa Monica Bay the night before. A mechanical failure “at the Hyperion plant last night caused untreated sewage to be discharged into the ocean,” Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn said on Twitter. “Water samples are being tested and I’m getting more information about the scope of the problem. Beaches from El Segundo to the Dockweiler RV Park are closed for swimming.” … ” Read more from USA Today here: 17-million-gallon sewage spill at Los Angeles’ largest treatment plant closes miles of Southern California beaches
Rep. Vargas: $3.2M for Salton Sea, New River in bill
“Nearly $3.25 million in federal funding was preliminarily secured for separate project requests at the Salton Sea and the New River on Monday, July 12, according to the office of Congressman Juan Vargas, D-Chula Vista. The funding was part of a 2022 House Appropriations Energy and Water Subcommittee bill that included requests of $2.546 million for a major Salton Sea research project, $200,000 for a Salton Sea feasibility study, and $500,000 for planning and design phases for a potential New River restoration project, Vargas’ press release states. … ” Read more from the Holtville Tribune here: Rep. Vargas: $3.2M for Salton Sea, New River in bill
San Diego County is not being asked to reduce water usage. Why?
“As California continues to face a drought brought on by record-breaking temperatures, Gov. Gavin Newsom is asking residents to reduce their water usage by 15%. However, this request does not apply to San Diego County. Sandra Kerl, General Manager at the San Diego County Water Authority, joined KUSI’s Logan Byrnes on Good Evening San Diego to discuss what “America’s Finest City” is doing right. … ” Read more from KUSI here: San Diego County is not being asked to reduce water usage. Why?
Severe drought threatens Hoover dam reservoir – and water for US west
“Had the formidable white arc of the Hoover dam never held back the Colorado River, the US west would probably have no Los Angeles or Las Vegas as we know them today. … The engineering might of Hoover dam undoubtably reshaped America’s story, harnessing a raucous river to help carve huge cities and vast fields of crops into unforgiving terrain. But the wellspring of Lake Mead, created by the dam’s blocking of the Colorado River and with the capacity to hold enough water to cover the entire state of Connecticut 10ft deep, has now plummeted to an historic low. The states of the west, primarily Arizona and Nevada, now face hefty cuts in their water supplies amid a two-decade drought fiercer than anything seen in a millennium. … ” Read more from The Guardian here: Severe drought threatens Hoover dam reservoir – and water for US west
How much water would it take to get out of this drought?
“It’s going to take much more than a monsoon to even break the surface of coming out of our current drought. Stanford University professor and senior fellow Dr. Noah Diffenbaugh explains, “Think about it like if you didn’t get paid for three months and then your employer gave you a normal paycheck and said okay now we are back to normal. Well, you’re back to normal for that paycheck but you’re not back to normal for those three months.” … ” Read more from Channel 13 here: How much water would it take to get out of this drought?
California water treatment plant could benefit thirsty Las Vegas
“Someone drinking a glass of water in Las Vegas might one day owe a thanks to wastewater in California. The Southern Nevada Water Authority has offered to put $750 million into a $3.4 billion water treatment plant proposed for Southern California. In return, Nevada would be able to boost its yearly draw from Lake Mead by an additional 10 percent. The new plant would produce cleaner water than current treatment facilities, allowing water agencies to wring more use from the Colorado River. … ” Read more from KNPR here: California water treatment plant could benefit thirsty Las Vegas
Monsoonal storms lighting up the Southwest
“Following days of unseasonably hot conditions and dry weather, a more widespread portion of the parched Southwest are experiencing an uptick in thunderstorm activity this week. While an increase in precipitation will be welcome in any portion of the drought-ridden Southwest, other hazards may leave a sour taste in residents’ mouths. “Monsoon activity will get a bit of a boost from a stalled out frontal feature across the southern Plains this week,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Brandon Buckingham said. “This will aid in pulling additional moisture out of the Gulf of Mexico and the Gulf of California and focusing it across New Mexico and Arizona.” … ” Read more from AccuWeather here: Monsoonal storms lighting up the Southwest
Why remote work might worsen Southwest water woes
“As concerns flare over record-low water levels at Lake Mead, a new UNLV study shows that COVID-19 pandemic stay-at-home orders — and a subsequent societal shift to remote work — may be exacerbating the problem. The study, recently published in the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, found that Las Vegas Valley residential water use soared during the pandemic, outpacing even combined pre-pandemic usage across Southern Nevada’s three main property types (residential, commercial, and schools). That may not seem surprising, considering the intense focus on precautionary public health measures such as sheltering in place and frequent hand washing during the pandemic. But given drought conditions brought on by the already-meager water levels within Lake Mead and its Colorado River tributary, a team of UNLV economists says the data has potentially dire implications. … ” Read more from the University of Las Vegas here: Why remote work might worsen Southwest water woes
Scientists welcome caddisfly swarms along Colorado River in Laughlin
“Caddisfly swarms along the Colorado River in Laughlin are annoying most residents, but scientists see them as an opportunity. Dr. Michael Cavallaro, entomologist and pest abatement manager for Bullhead City, is working on a project to find a permanent solution to the swarms, which have become a nuisance for residents and businesses. He thinks the residents should feel honored, since caddisflies swarm only in healthy ecosystems with high-quality, clean water. “We are an ecological anomaly here. Flurries of insects that are so dense, in certain areas, it gives you the illusion it is snowing!” Cavallaro said. … ” Read more from Channel 5 here: Scientists welcome caddisfly swarms along Colorado River in Laughlin
Amid a mega drought, a water shortage will be declared along the Colorado River
“The Colorado River is tapped out. Another dry year has left the watershed that supplies 40 million people in the Southwest parched. A prolonged 21-year warming and drying trend is pushing the nation’s two largest reservoirs to record lows. For the first time, a shortage will be declared by the federal government. The 1,450-mile long waterway acts as a drinking water supply, a hydroelectric power generator, and an irrigator of desert crop fields across seven western states and two in Mexico. Scientists are increasingly certain that the only way forward is to rein in demands on the river’s water to match its decline. … ” Read more from Capital Public Radio here: Amid a mega drought, a water shortage will be declared along the Colorado River
Tribes struggle for water in Colorado River Basin as drought sears the West
“With the west in extreme drought, Lake Mead, fed by the Colorado River and formed by the Hoover Dam, reached historic lows in June. The water level continues to fall, continuing a trend that began more than 20 years ago. The Federal government is expected to declare a water shortage in the lower basin of the Colorado River by 2022 at the latest, which will trigger mandatory water cuts in Arizona and Nevada. These cuts will particularly impact farmers. But they are likely to hit indigenous communities particularly hard, as they have struggled to get their legal share of Colorado River water for years—even when those waters have been abundant. ... ” Read more from Newsweek here: Tribes struggle for water in Colorado River Basin as drought sears the West
‘The lifeline of the West’: The Colorado River’s 1,400-mile journey, explained
“The Colorado River makes an impressive 1,400-mile journey from Colorado, all the way to the U.S.-Mexico border. It starts as snowpack in Rocky Mountain National Park in Northern Colorado and makes its way westward to Utah. The Utah portion of the river course starts on the Colorado Plateau before heading to Moab, where the water sweeps by Arches and Canyonlands national parks – both amazing landscapes eroded into canyons and mesas by the Colorado and Green rivers. After those rivers combine, they head to Lake Powell, the lake formed behind the enormous Glen Canyon Dam. … ” Read more from the Denver Channel here: ‘The lifeline of the West’: The Colorado River’s 1,400-mile journey, explained
EPA identifies drinking water contaminants for potential regulation
“Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced Draft Contaminant Candidate List 5 (CCL 5), which provides the latest list of drinking water contaminants that are known or anticipated to occur in public water systems and are not currently subject to EPA drinking water regulations. As directed by the Safe Drinking Water Act, EPA’s CCL 5 identifies priority contaminants to consider for potential regulation to ensure that public health is protected. “This important step will help ensure that communities across the nation have safe water by improving EPA’s understanding of contaminants in drinking water,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox. “On PFAS, the agency is working with the scientific community to prioritize the assessment and regulatory evaluation of all chemicals as contaminants.” … ” Read more from the EPA here: EPA identifies drinking water contaminants for potential regulation
Cheap cybersecurity defenses exist, but they’re not reaching water utilities who need them
” … The vast majority of water utilities in the country serve fewer than 10,000 people, and they tend to have less resources and tighter budgets than their larger counterparts. As a result, these utilities face unique challenges in defending themselves against cyberattacks. For many, cybersecurity is the last item on a laundry list of more pressing issues. “Elevating cybersecurity at the small city council, or the local governing board meeting, is really hard to do,” said Michael Preston, a legislative policy analyst with the National Rural Water Association. “It’s not top of mind, because the big pothole in town or the water main leak off Main Street is definitely going to lead to discussion.” … ” Read more from the Circle of Blue here: Cheap cybersecurity defenses exist, but they’re not reaching water utilities who need them
Mapping extreme snowmelt and its potential dangers
“Snowmelt – the surface runoff from melting snow – is an essential water resource for communities and ecosystems. But extreme snow melt, which occurs when snow melts too rapidly over a short amount of time, can be destructive and deadly, causing floods, landslides and dam failures. To better understand the processes that drive such rapid melting, researchers set out to map extreme snowmelt events over the last 30 years. Their findings are published in a new paper in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. “When we talk about snowmelt, people want to know the basic numbers, just like the weather, but no one has ever provided anything like that before. It’s like if nobody told you the maximum and minimum temperature or record temperature in your city,” said study co-author Xubin Zeng, director of the UArizona Climate Dynamics and Hydrometeorology Center and a professor of atmospheric sciences. … ” Read more from the University of Arizona here: Mapping extreme snowmelt and its potential dangers
Goldfish dumped in lakes grow to monstrous size, threatening ecosystems
“Authorities in Minnesota have appealed to aquarium owners to stop releasing pet fish into waterways, after several huge goldfish were pulled from a local lake. Officials in Burnsville, about 15 miles south of Minneapolis, said released goldfish can grow to several times their normal size and wreak havoc on indigenous species. “Please don’t release your pet goldfish into ponds and lakes!” the city tweeted on Friday. “They grow bigger than you think and contribute to poor water quality by mucking up the bottom sediments and uprooting plants.” … ” Read more from The Guardian here: Goldfish dumped in lakes grow to monstrous size, threatening ecosystems
Meth addiction in fish poses threat to ecosystem balance, study says
“A study published in the Journal of Experimental Biology on July 6 found that drugs such as methamphetamines that make their way into the world’s waterways through human waste can actually cause fish to become addicts, thereby impacting the natural balance of ecosystems. According to authors of the study, fish have nervous systems similar to human beings and are able to develop drug addictions “such as behavioral dependencies related to the dopamine reward pathway.” … ” Read more from KTVU here: Meth addiction in fish poses threat to ecosystem balance, study says
GUEST COMMENTARY: In Delta, is Habitat Restoration an Endangered Species?
Guest commentary by John Brennan
Late in 2015 two sisters contacted me to help sell their family farm property in Solano County next to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. They had decided it was time.
The property is marginal pastureland that was marshland until levees were constructed around 100 years ago and the land was “reclaimed”. It is located within the thin band that surround the Delta at the perfect elevation to be flooded by the daily pulse of the tides making it ideal for conversion back to intertidal wetland habitat. Creation of this category of habitat has been called for in every plan written for the Delta over the past 50 years.
BLOG ROUND-UP: Low Delta outflow not keeping bay salt water out of the Delta; San Joaquin Valley water belongs to the people; Why is a Wisconsin prof using Beijing research to push water snitching in CA?; and more …
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.