DAILY DIGEST, 7/16: La Niña could dash hopes of desperately needed rain this winter; Report: Piloting a water rights information system for California; California regulator advances historic dam removal project; Coalition blasts plans to divert Colorado River amid drought; and more …


On the calendar today …

  • PUBLIC HEARING/MEETING: The Delta Stewardship Council will meet, beginning at 9:00am. The public hearing to consider a Proposed Determination and adopt findings regarding four appeals of the certification of consistency with the Delta Plan for the Lookout Slough Tidal Habitat Restoration and Flood Improvement Project will continue on Friday (if necessary).  Afterwards, the Council will hold their regular meeting to address non-substantive issues, such as consent calendar and updates from staff.  Click here for the full meeting notice and remote access instructions.

In California water news today …

La Niña could dash hopes of desperately needed rain this winter

“The punishing drought conditions afflicting most of California are expected to endure for months, climate experts with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association said Thursday.  There is a 60% chance, NOAA experts said, of a La Niña event this winter — conditions that would likely bring about a cool and very dry winter.  NOAA climatologists presented a stark portrait of the fiercely dry conditions gripping a huge portion of the country: 46% of the contiguous U.S. is in a state of drought, they said. … ”  Read more the San Francisco Chronicle here: La Niña could dash hopes of desperately needed rain this winter

Historic drought in U.S. West will persist through October

The historic drought stretching across California and the U.S. West will likely last through October, with only minor improvements expected in parts of Arizona and New Mexico.  Drought now covers almost 95% of 11 western states, including all of California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Oregon and Idaho, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Above-normal temperatures and a dearth of rainfall is expected from August to October, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s monthly report. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here: Historic drought in U.S. West will persist through October

Devastating: Officials say ‘nearly all’ young Sacramento River winter Chinook salmon could perish this year

On July 6, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife published an update on the status of federally and state-protected Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon, which warns “it is possible that nearly all in-river juveniles will not survive this season.” This is because the cold water pool in Lake Shasta is depleted earlier than scientifically modeled for, due to increased downstream water deliveries during the hot weather.  The winter-run Chinook salmon is listed as “endangered” under both the federal Endangered Species Act and the California Endangered Species Act. The once abundant sub-species of salmon declined from a high of 117,000 in 1969, to 200 fish in 1991. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento News & Review here: Devastating: Officials say ‘nearly all’ young Sacramento River winter Chinook salmon could perish this year

SEE ALSO:

All together now? Differences in water shortage conditions across California

California is back in a drought. You’ve heard it on the news, you’ve heard it from scientists, and they’re right — 100% of the state is in at least moderate drought. Yet, California Governor Gavin Newsom has yet to declare a statewide drought emergency, instead opting for county-level declarations — 50 of 58 counties have been declared so far this year. And if you look closer at what impacts different regions are facing, and how they are responding, you see important differences in water shortage conditions across the state.  … ”  Read more from the Pacific Institute here:  All together now? Differences in water shortage conditions across California

A California farm battles drought: “We’re out here trying to survive”

An historic drought across more than 99% of the Western U.S. is threatening farms and the rural communities that rely on those farms. In California, where a $50 billion agriculture industry grows more than a third of the country’s vegetables and two-thirds of its fruits and nuts, farmers have seen wells dry up and access to state surface water allocations slashed to zero.  Terranova Ranch, a 9,000-acre farm in the state’s Central Valley that grows 25 different fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, is re-drilling two of its wells after they ran dry.  “It has affected crops. When we lose a well, we lose the water for the fields that that well serves, so we’ve been trying to move water around, where we can, to continue to keep the crops alive,” the farm’s vice president and general manager Don Cameron told Marketplace’s Sabri Ben-Achour. … ”  Read more from Marketplace here: A California farm battles drought: “We’re out here trying to survive”

Drought causing concern for local growers, higher prices for consumers

Much of the state is in that bright red color which means extreme drought. If you take a look at Kern County, the area is almost entirely dark red. That color represents an exceptional drought which covers roughly 84 percent of the county. There is a small section of Eastern Kern that remains in the extreme drought.  With such a severe water shortage you might be wondering what impact this has on our agriculture industry and farmers. … ”  Read more from KERO here: Drought causing concern for local growers, higher prices for consumers

Drought threatens to close Calif. hydropower plant for first time

A California power plant likely will shut down for the first time ever because of low water during a prolonged drought, squeezing the state’s very tight electricity supplies, state officials said yesterday.  The Edward Hyatt power plant, an underground facility next to Oroville Dam in Butte County, is expected to close in August or September, said John Yarbrough, California Department of Water Resources assistant deputy director of the State Water Project. The plant has run continuously since opening in 1967. It receives water from Lake Oroville, and that reservoir has dropped because of the drought, as CNN previously reported.  Lake Oroville is among several California reservoirs hit by drought. … ”  Read more from E&E News here:  Drought threatens to close Calif. hydropower plant for first time

Drought photo galleries

Department of the Interior rescinds memorandum completing restoration of the Central Valley

The Biden Administration’s Solicitor’s Office has begun the process of reversing a memorandum seeking to declare environmental restoration in the Central Valley mandated by a 1992 act as completed.  On June 11, Daniel Cordalis, deputy solicitor for Water Resources of the Solicitor, sent a memorandum to the Bureau of Reclamation rescinding a previous memorandum calling for the bureau to analyze restoration projects under the Central Valley Project Improvement Act (CVPIA), which among other things, provides restoration funds to west coast salmon fisheries.  The Memorandum titled, “Interpreting Central Valley Project Improvement Act Sections 3406 and 3407”, was sent out on January 14 and directed the bureau to determine if they could be considered complete under CVPIA. ... ”  Read more from The Log here:  Department of the Interior rescinds memorandum completing restoration of the Central Valley 

Could meters be the key to conserving water in California agriculture? Watsonville growers explain

As he set goals last Thursday for the Bay Area to conserve water, Gov. Gavin Newsom acknowledged the lack of metering provides no sense of how much water is used by California agriculture. Growers in the Watsonville area in Santa Cruz County, however, are metered, and the meters have resulted in significant water conservation. … This time of year, the fields around Watsonville are producing berries, lettuce, broccoli and celery — crops valued at close to $1 billion. Something else has sprouted in the fields — about one thousand meters that measure how much groundwater is being tapped to irrigate the crops. As agriculture boomed, so did concerns about the aquifer and an incursion of saltwater. ... ”  Read more from Channel 7 here: Could meters be the key to conserving water in California agriculture? Watsonville growers explain

Reading your water meter — what does it mean?

Gov. Gavin Newsom asked California residents on July 8 to cut back their water usage by 15%.  Butte County is among the 50 California counties (out of a total of 58 counties) now included in Newsom’s declaration of drought emergency. But how do you know just how much water you are using? Buried in the ground outside your home lies the answer: your water meter.  The water meter is an important tool in helping us conserve water. These are embedded in the ground and covered with a concrete plate. Most are located in the front yard of a residential property near the property line and close to the street.  To check your water usage, first locate your meter. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here: Reading your water meter — what does it mean?

Report: Piloting a water rights information system for California

California’s complex water management challenges are growing and intensifying. Systemic stressors like the more frequent and severe droughts and floods driven by climate change are only making it harder to respond. Accordingly, California needs to dramatically improve the ability of local, regional, and State entities to make agile and effective water management decisions. Doing so will require enhanced understanding of our water resources and how they align with the needs of agencies and stakeholders. Water rights data provide a crucial opportunity for advancing this understanding.  Through a multi-year process of research and engagement, we developed analytical background on how water rights data plays into water management, combined with legal and institutional analysis of the role of data in California and other states. We then designed and built the foundation of a water rights documents database, scanning, digitizing, and assigning metadata to over 130,000 pages of water rights documents from the Mono Basin. The resulting pilot provides a concrete proof of concept for a searchable digital database of legal records.  Ultimately, we find that a modernized water rights data is feasible, affordable, and can increase clarity for better decision making. Our report Piloting a Water Rights Information System for California offers a vision and roadmap for making it a reality.”  Read/download report from the Center for Law, Energy, and Environment here:  Report: Piloting a water rights information system for California

Bill would include $8 billion for Western water fixes

An energy infrastructure bill that passed a key U.S. Senate committee this week includes $8 billion for water conveyance and other Western needs.  A coalition of more than 200 farm and water groups that has been pushing this year for Western water fixes to be included in any infrastructure legislation is urging senators to bring the Energy Infrastructure Act to the floor.  The more than $100 billion bill is a bipartisan compromise promoted by centrist Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who has insisted any bill receive Republican support. Manchin chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which voted 13-7 on July 14 to favorably report out the package after adding 48 amendments. … ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press here:  Bill would include $8 billion for Western water fixes

Senators introduce bill to improve dam safety, modernize hydropower, restore rivers

Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) today introduced the Twenty-First Century Dams Act, a bill that would invest $21.1 billion to enhance the safety, grid resilience benefits and power generating capacity of America’s dams and provide historic funding to remove dams that are no longer necessary.  In the United States there are more than 90,000 dams, including 6,000 “high-hazard” dams that have poor, unsatisfactory or unknown safety ratings that without rehabilitation would pose a threat to human life if they fail. Many dams that generate hydropower are aging and need upgrades to continue providing an essential baseload source of renewable energy. Hydropower is responsible for 6 percent of U.S. electricity production and more than 90 percent of U.S. electricity storage capacity. Additionally, some of the nation’s dams have outlived their useful life and should be removed to restore rivers to their natural state. … ”  Read more from Senator Feinstein’s office here: Senators introduce bill to improve dam safety, modernize hydropower, restore rivers

Experts forecast California will produce 320 million fewer pounds of almonds this year

Experts are forecasting California will produce 320 million fewer pounds of almonds this year.  Last year was a record year for California almond production reaching 3.12 billion meat pounds. A revised USDA estimate now forecasts almond production this year to reach 2.8 billion meat pounds.  Sanger almond grower John Chandler says factors including heat and lack of water are known to make for lighter almonds crops, “The lack of water can have a big effect. If you’re shorting the almonds water that are on the tree they can lose weight. You might not have nice big plump almonds. You might have smaller, shriveled almonds. That’s a reduction in weight. That can affect it. It’s also the tree. It may not want to keep as many. We have what we call a June drop. Some growers might have seen more drop in June.” ... ”  Read more from Your Central Valley here: Experts forecast California will produce 320 million fewer pounds of almonds this year

Sierra Nevada Conservancy invests $19 million in early action wildfire resilience projects

Earlier today, our Governing Board authorized 15 forest and wildfire resilience grants totaling just over $19 million under a new Immediate Action Wildfire and Forest Resilience (IAWR) grant program.  “The Sierra Nevada covers a quarter of California and our communities, along with headwater forests rich in biodiversity and carbon, are at increasing risk from damaging wildfires,” said Angela Avery, our Executive Officer. “We could not be more pleased that our Board authorized more than $19 million in early action funding for these 15 critical wildfire resilience projects to start this summer.” ... ”  Read more from the Sierra Nevada Conservancy here: Sierra Nevada Conservancy invests $19 million in early action wildfire resilience projects

The fires this time

In San Francisco, we’re finally starting to put away our masks. With 74 percent of the city’s residents over 12 fully vaccinated, for the first time in more than a year we’re enjoying walking, shopping, and eating out, our faces naked. So I was startled when my partner reminded me that we need to buy masks again very soon — N95 masks, that is. The California wildfire season has already begun, earlier than ever, and we’ll need to protect our lungs during the months to come from the fine particulates carried in the wildfire smoke that’s been engulfing this city in recent years. … ”  Read more from the Earth Island Journal here:  The fires this time

California is heating up. Here’s what Stanford climate scientists say needs to happen.

Temperatures are up, and Stanford researchers are worried the record highs don’t bode well for the future of wildfire and drought in California. Though mitigating the effects of climate change is the only long-term solution, the researchers said there are short-term adaptations communities can make to stay safe.  This June, Stanford reached a high of 103 degrees Fahrenheit, with the Pacific Northwest recording widespread average highs over 100 degrees in the recent, record-breaking heatwave that enveloped the West. These highs are expected to continue: Having already experienced heatwaves this summer and a wildfire season that has outpaced last year’s record, the Bay Area and the West Coast are forecasted to endure more in upcoming weeks. … ”  Read more from Stanford Daily here: California is heating up. Here’s what Stanford climate scientists say needs to happen.

And lastly … They want to age wine in the ocean off Santa Barbara. The Coastal Commission is wary

Columnist Steve Lopez writes, “Even in a state known for wine innovation and a willingness to embrace new fads, it was a quirky idea: aging bottles of wine at the bottom of the ocean, about a mile off Santa Barbara.  But that is exactly what the four founders of Ocean Fathoms were doing. The company filled iron cages the size of washing machines with wines that sell in the $70 to $200 range, and lowered the bottles into the Pacific to a depth of about 70 feet. A year later, this “truly remarkable” wine, transformed by the “patented ocean aging process,” as the company’s marketing pitch says, was pulled up from the “sea cellar,” and one of the owners told me the going rate was $350 a bottle.  Or at least that is what they were doing until the California Coastal Commission got wind of the business. ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  They want to age wine in the ocean off Santa Barbara. The Coastal Commission is wary

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In commentary today …

America’s West is drying out. Here’s what we can do about it

Richard Frank, professor of environmental practice and the director of the California Environmental Law & Policy Center at the University of California, Davis School of Law, writes, “A cattle rancher in North Dakota has culled half his herd, since there’s little grass left to graze. Thousands of trees in Tucson, Arizona, are dying and an entire generation of salmon in the Klamath River could be wiped out.  The western US, which is in the throes of a “megadrought” that has been plaguing the region since 2000, has entered an era of water crisis that is unprecedented in recorded American history. Due to climate change, that drought has been getting progressively worse. Warmer winters lead to decreased snowpack and hotter summers cause drier conditions, creating a vicious cycle of heat and drought. ... ”  Read more from CNN here: America’s West is drying out. Here’s what we can do about it

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In regional water news and commentary today …

Klamath Dams: California regulator advances historic dam removal project

The largest dam removal project in U.S. history came one step closer to fruition Thursday with a California regulator’s approval of a plan to transfer ownership licenses for four Klamath River dams.  “Our decision today is another step forward to advance this historic dam removal project,” said Marybel Batjer, president of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).  The $450 million project will remake California’s second largest river and drain massive reservoirs, opening hundreds of miles of habitat previously closed to salmon and steelhead trout for the last 100 years. ... ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service here: California regulator advances historic dam removal project

The government cut off water to farmers in the Klamath Basin. It reignited a decades-old war over water and fish.

“Joey Gentry hesitates before she drives through the fields of alfalfa and wheat that line the roads in the Klamath Basin.   “Because I’m good and brown,” said Gentry, a member of the Klamath Tribes and a tribal and racial justice activist. ”It’s not safe for Natives to be out in farmland during a drought year.”  Like much of the American West, this dry, hilly, high-elevation landscape straddling the California-Oregon border is experiencing a summer of extreme drought. But when the federal government announced in May that, for the first time ever, it would cut irrigation water to about 180,000 acres of agriculture in the basin, tensions ignited between farmers and the Klamath tribes. … ”  Read more from Inside Climate News here: The government cut off water to farmers in the Klamath Basin. It reignited a decades-old war over water and fish.

Klamath River: Paddling over history

It had been a pleasant morning kayaking in the calm waters of the Klamath River at the Topsy Reservoir.  Because of the still continuing surge of forest fires, plans to paddle at Spring Creek at Collier State Park, or one of several kayaking trails near Rocky Point, were scuttled in favor of the still waters of Topsy. Just 20 miles southwest of Klamath Falls off Highway 66, the put-in at Topsy’s Pioneer Park West is close and convenient. And because it was a weekday, my friend Liane and I saw no other boaters.  It’s a historic area. Just off the highway are interpretive signs that tell about the Applegate Trail, once used in the mid-1800s by pioneer settlers traveling in wagon trains with hopes for a better life in the frontier west. … ”  Read more from the Herald & News here: Paddling over history

Video: Young Native Americans fight back as water disappears

Tensions have been escalating in a long-time dispute over water from Upper Klamath Lake, just north of the California-Oregon border.  The water war has divided indigenous people who want to protect endangered sucker fish, and family farmers who are worried about their fields amid a devastating drought.  Now, threats from far-right activists are taking the conflict to a whole new level.  L.A. Times reporter Anita Chabria shared the story.” Watch the video from the LA Times here: Video: Young Native Americans fight back as water disappears

Study: Vina faces high flood risk

The town of Vina could find itself under 2-5 feet of water in the event of a 100-year flooding event due to insufficient levees, according to a recently concluded study.  In 2018, Tehama County entered into a flood risk study for the Vina area with the goal of minimizing potential damage from overflowing waterways.  Nearly three years later, the study is almost complete and on Tuesday, the Tehama County Board of Supervisors heard a report on the findings so far. … ”  Read more from the Tehama Daily News here:  Study: Vina faces high flood risk

Willits: Brooktrails water supply at 88 percent capacity

Despite being surrounded by dire water situations, the Eel River Watershed is not under orders of curtailment by the State Waterboard at this time. Both reservoirs in Brooktrails Township, Lake Emily and Lake Ada Rose, are currently at 88% capacity, which Brooktrails Township Community Service District (BTCSD) General Manager Tamara Alaniz says is a good place to be at for July.  As of July 7, Lake Emily was down two-acre feet and Lake Ada Rose was down one-acre foot. Both reservoirs are filled through precipitation and water runoff as BTCSD has no groundwater supply to fall back on like the City of Willits or imported water to supplement. … ”  Read more from the Willits News here: Brooktrails water supply at 88 percent capacity

City of Ukiah running out of recycled water, looking at ways to increase supply

With so many other sources of water drying up, the city of Ukiah is finding its recycled water in high demand. In such high demand, in fact, that it will soon be like those other sources of water: tapped out.  “We distributed 13 million gallons of recycled water, literally four times as much recycled water as surface water, in one week,” Sean White, the city’s director of water and sewer resources, told the Ukiah City Council at its last meeting July 7. “That amount of water is not sustainable, and we’re definitely minding our storage pretty heavily at the recycled water facility.” … ”  Read more from the Ukiah Daily Journal here:  City of Ukiah running out of recycled water, looking at ways to increase supply

Lake Tahoe commentary: Aquatic invasive species threats are on the rise

Joanne S. Marchetta, the executive director of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, “As scorching heat waves bombard the Western U.S. and Lake Tahoe breaks records of its own, climate change impacts are being felt throughout the watershed.  The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center last week released a report of Tahoe’s annual clarity measurements in which the effects of escalating temperatures were front and center. Lake clarity, a key indicator of the health of the watershed, averaged 62.9 feet in 2020, and while that is within the range of the last 10 years, the pattern of clarity readings show a troubling divergence in seasonal trends. Clarity is holding steady in colder months, but summer results are worsening.  A concurrent set of recommendations from the Tahoe Science Advisory Council underscores the importance of continuing existing policies and programs that strike at the main drivers of clarity change — fine sediments and nutrients that fuel algae growth.  ... ”  Read more from Tahoe Daily Tribune here: Lake Tahoe commentary: Aquatic invasive species threats are on the rise

Regional Water Authority urges 15 percent water reductions throughout the Sacramento region

Today the Regional Water Authority (RWA) Board of Directors unanimously adopted a resolution urging its 20 water provider members to take actions to voluntarily reduce water use by a minimum of 15 percent.  The action follows RWA’s call for 10 percent conservation in May and Gov. Gavin Newsom’s July 8 executive order that expanded the drought to 50 of the state’s 58 counties and asked residents to reduce water use by 15 percent.  “This is the worst drought since 1977,” said RWA Executive Director Jim Peifer. “Water providers are doing a good job of shifting to environmentally-friendly and sustainably-managed groundwater for water supplies, but continued dry weather into winter could pose a challenge.” ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Regional Water Authority here: Regional Water Authority urges 15 percent water reductions throughout the Sacramento region

This North Bay city is enforcing new water restrictions with fines

In the North Bay, Petaluma residents who refuse to follow drought water restrictions will now face fines.  In the city of Petaluma, the city has a plan it developed during previous droughts to reduce water use. They have not activated that plan and there are stiff penalties for those who don’t follow the rules.  The city of Petaluma is now Stage 3 of their Water Shortage Contingency Plan. What that means is that residents and businesses in the city must reduce water use by 25 percent. These are mandatory reductions. ... ”  Read more from Channel 4 here: This North Bay city is enforcing new water restrictions with fines

Higher tides will threaten Bay Area roads. Highway 37 shows the challenge ahead.

It is by no means the only one. All along San Francisco Bay, low-lying roadways and rail lines face the potential of being flooded as sea levels rise and the bay expands.  “This is a much bigger thing than most people realize,” said Randy Rentschler, director of legislation for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. “The whole area is a transportation network at risk.”  That risk is the result of generations viewing the shoreline’s shallow tidelands and mudflats as easy places to build the infrastructure required by a growing region, including highways and railroad tracks lines. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: Higher tides will threaten Bay Area roads. Highway 37 shows the challenge ahead.

Amid escalating drought, Bay Area residents slow to cut back on water use

With California descending deeper into drought, Santa Rosa is getting serious about water use. So are other communities that are increasingly urging residents to conserve, sometimes asking for water reductions, sometimes mandating them. Gov. Gavin Newsom joined the cause last week, issuing a statewide plea for voluntary savings.  Still, amid the growing calls for conservation, the Bay Area’s initial response has been slow. Nearly a dozen of the region’s largest water suppliers that have sought cutbacks recently have come up short of their water-savings goals, according to water agency data reviewed by The Chronicle. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: Amid escalating drought, Bay Area residents slow to cut back on water use

Palo Alto: How resilient is our water supply?

When it comes to supplies of water, many local cities are dependent on one far-away source: the San Francisco Regional Water System, which comes from the Sierra Nevada, mainly the Hetch Hetchy reservoir. Numerous Peninsula cities get 100% of their water from this supplier.  But the West’s deepening drought and recent calls for Californians to voluntarily reduce their water use by 15% have residents starting to wonder: Just how resilient are local water systems in the event of a long-term drought or an emergency?   Data from the Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency (BAWSCA) indicates that local cities have little in the way of alternative or local sources to their imported water supply. Storage is also limited. … ”  Read more from Palo Alto Online here: Palo Alto: How resilient is our water supply?

East Bay: Recycled water fill station now open on a daily basis

Ironhouse Sanitary District has a way to help Oakley and Bethel Island residents conserve water by offering free recycled water to use in place of potable drinking water to irrigate gardens, trees, and lawns. Due to the recent heat waves and the severity of the drought in Contra Costa County, the District has extended operating hours at its Recycled Water Fill Station from two days a week to opening daily from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. … ”  Read more from The Press here: Recycled water fill station now open on a daily basis

Livermore: Zone 7 eyes $77M project

Zone 7 Water Agency directors will soon consider spending an estimated $77 million to install pipelines linking the Chain of Lakes.  The pipeline framework would help to store more water in the underground basin between Pleasanton and Livermore or send emergency drought supplies to the Del Valle Water Treatment Plant near Arroyo Road. The board is expected to make its decision about pipeline routes later this year. ... ”  Read more from the Livermore Independent here: Livermore: Zone 7 eyes $77M project

Tuolumne Utilities District board’s discussion of water conservation inconclusive in midst of extreme drought

Four of five elected Tuolumne Utilities District board members heard a water supply update Tuesday in the context of the ongoing drought and discussed a possible campaign to push for water conservation, but ultimately took no action. All of Tuolumne County — including the South Fork Stanislaus watershed that TUD relies on for snowpack and runoff — is already in extreme drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. The upper northeast section of the county, which includes the Tuolumne River watershed, is in the most dire category, exceptional drought. … ”  Read more from the Union Democrat here: Tuolumne Utilities District board’s discussion of water conservation inconclusive in midst of extreme drought

San Luis Obispo: After two years of below-seasonal rainfall, water levels at local reservoirs continue to decrease

One-hundred percent of the state of California is in a state of drought, which is impacting local reservoirs across the central coast.  A boat cruise or paddle on Lopez Lake, while peaceful on a summer morning, is actually a reminder of the reservoir’s low water levels.  “So when the lake level is full, roughly just below the chaparral line, you can see the color change or roughly 45 vertical feet down,” according to Lopez Lake Supervising Park Ranger Matt Mohl. … ”  Read more from KSBY here: After two years of below-seasonal rainfall, water levels at local reservoirs continue to decrease

Hanford ready to implement $256,000 security system at water tank sites

Hanford is preparing to install a $256,000 security system upgrade at water tank sites to protect consumers from potential tampering.  The City Council approved a contract in early July with Telestar to install security measures designed to resolve issues brought up in a federally-mandated vulnerability assessment.  Public Works Director John Doyel said the improvements will include cameras, alarms and other security measures to protect drinking water in the city from potential attacks. … ”  Read more from the Hanford Sentinel here:  Hanford ready to implement $256,000 security system at water tank sites

CDFW and partners take action against illegal cannabis operators in Southern California

During the month of May and June, wildlife officers in the Cannabis Enforcement Program took action against several illegal cannabis operators in the desert areas of Southern California. During some of the operations, wildlife officers from the surrounding areas came together for multiple days, targeting sites in sensitive habitat and priority watersheds.  California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) officers and environmental scientists were joined by investigative staff from the State Water Resources Control Board and the state licensing authority as well as other allied agencies.  In all the investigations, a thorough records check was conducted to confirm if any of the sites had taken steps to secure a state license and a county permit. None of the parcels were licensed by the state and permitted by the county for commercial cannabis cultivation. ... ”  Read more from the Department of Fish and Wildlife here:  CDFW and partners take action against illegal cannabis operators in Southern California

Redlands’ water supply is steady despite the drought

Despite the statewide drought, Redlands’ water supply remains sound.  Redlands Municipal Utilities and Engineering Director John Harris provided an update on the city’s water supply during the City Council meeting on Tuesday, July 6.  According to Harris, the State Water Project (SWP) is a robust water grid that brings freshwater to the Inland Empire. The water project includes 28 dams, 26 pumping and generating plants and 660 miles of aqueducts. Historically, the project has allocated 102,600 acre-feet of water per year. (An acre-foot contains 326,000 gallons of water, enough to fill a football field a foot deep and to satisfy the needs of three typical Southland households in a year.) … ”  Read more from the Community News here: Redlands’ water supply is steady despite the drought

Big changes to Coachella agriculture over the past 30 years

The agricultural landscape of the Coachella Valley has changed dramatically over the past 30 years. Managing Partner of Prime Time International, Mike Way said that is has been disappointing to watch growers leave the area over the years. Based in Coachella, Prime Time International is a year-round supplier of bell peppers and also grows winter vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and artichokes. Way said that lower costs of production in other areas have led many producers to leave Coachella.  “The grape business went from about 10.5 million cartons to this year – they just finished this week harvesting – it will be about 1.9 million. So, you’re looking at about eight million boxes difference,” Way explained. … ”  Read more from Ag Net West here: Big changes to Coachella agriculture over the past 30 years

East San Diego’s approach to water resiliency

Building a legacy of water innovation takes years of planning, determination, leadership, partnerships — and funding. These elements have coalesced in East San Diego County, Calif., for an innovative and collaborative water reuse project.  Scheduled to be complete in 2025, the East County Advanced Water Purification Program (East County AWP) will create a new, local, sustainable and drought-proof potable water supply using state-of-the-art technology to purify the area’s recycled water. The program will generate up to 11.5 million gallons per day (MGD) of new water — meeting approximately 30 percent of current drinking water demands for East San Diego County residents. … ”  Read more from Water World here: East San Diego’s approach to water resiliency

Can San Diego County get ahead of the climate change curve?

San Diego County is launching aggressive efforts to counter climate change, with a new climate action plan and a sweeping sustainability plan designed to reduce net carbon emissions to zero by 2035.  The County Board of Supervisors received reports on both projects Wednesday and discussed the balancing act required to slash carbon emissions while preserving jobs and expanding housing.  Both plans must “address the urgency of climate change and the urgency of putting housing in the right place,” said Board Chair Nathan Fletcher. “It’s amazing if you address those correctly, how those two can align.” … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune here:  Can San Diego County get ahead of the climate change curve?

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Along the Colorado River …

Coalition blasts plans to divert Colorado River amid drought

Farmers, environmentalists and small-town business owners gathered at the Hoover Dam on Thursday to call for a moratorium on pipelines and dams along the Colorado River that they said jeopardizes the 40 million people who rely on it as a water source.  They’re pushing for the moratoriums as parts of the U.S. West are gripped by historic drought and hotter temperatures and dry vegetation provide fuel for wildfires sweeping the region. Federal officials expect to make the first-ever water shortage declaration in the Colorado River basin next month, prompting cuts in Arizona, Nevada and Mexico. … ”  Read more from US News and World Report here: Coalition blasts plans to divert Colorado River amid drought

SEE ALSO: At shrinking Lake Mead, a new coalition says status quo on Colorado River is failing, from the Arizona Central

Opposition to Lake Powell Pipeline heats up as activists call for a federal investigation

Environmental groups opposed to the Lake Powell Pipeline project have submitted a letter to the Department of the Interior’s Inspector General asking that a federal investigation of the Central Utah Water Conservancy District (CUWCD) be launched.  Their allegations against this largest water district in the state center around what they say has been a misuse of federal funds intended to advance the Central Utah Project (CUP) as well as statewide water conservation efforts. The CUP is currently the second-largest proposed diversion system aimed at bringing Colorado River water to Utah, in this case the Wasatch Front, after the Lake Powell Pipeline, which would transport water to Washington County. ... ”  Read more from The Spectrum here: Opposition to Lake Powell Pipeline heats up as activists call for a federal investigation

Colorado River basin reservoirs begin emergency releases to prop up a troubled Lake Powell

Emergency water releases from reservoirs upstream of Lake Powell are underway to preserve the nation’s second-largest reservoir’s ability to generate hydroelectric power.  The Bureau of Reclamation started releasing additional water Thursday from Flaming Gorge reservoir in Wyoming. Additional water releases from Blue Mesa reservoir in Colorado and Navajo reservoir in New Mexico are planned to commence later this year. Emergency releases could last until at least December, and could extend into 2022.  Lake Powell is projected to hit a record low in July. It’s situated on the Colorado River, a drinking and irrigation water source for more than 40 million people in the Southwest. Spring and early summer inflows to the massive reservoir were the third lowest on record in 2021. That followed a meager runoff in 2020. … ”  Read more from KUNC here: Colorado River basin reservoirs begin emergency releases to prop up a troubled Lake Powell

In less than a month, monsoon 2021 crushed entire 2020 season

After just 29 days, Monsoon 2021 has produced more rain than the entire season in 2020.  Officially at the airport, 1.64 inches in 2021 after getting only 1.62 in 2020.  “Well, I think it’s looking pretty good,” said Christopher Castro, a professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Arizona. “We usually get about half or so of our annual precipitation during the monsoon.”  It could still stall and dry out but the models say it will remain rainy for at least the next week or so and the La Nina-like conditions in the Pacific bode well for a good, wet season. … ”  Read more from Channel 13 here: In less than a month, monsoon 2021 crushed entire 2020 season

Drought to the west matters to Colorado Springs water supply

Extreme drought to the west cannot be ignored by Colorado communities enjoying a wet year. The water status in Colorado Springs is in good shape with reservoirs at a good level and summer rain keeping water use at a manageable level. “Everything green over here, but the fact is the drought continues in Western Colorado and the rest of the Colorado River Basin,” said Colorado Springs Utilities, Water Planning Supervisor, Kalsoum Abbasi, “We do need to pay attention to that.” … ”  Read more from KOAA here: Drought to the west matters to Colorado Springs water supply

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In national water news today …

The current drought is worldwide. Here’s how different places are fighting it

The world is facing unprecedented levels of drought.  In the U.S., nearly half the mainland is currently afflicted, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association. The situation is especially dire in the Northwest, which is facing some of its driest conditions in over a century following a heat wave that killed hundreds of people.  No continent, except Antarctica, has been spared, according to the SPEI Global Drought Monitor. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: The current drought is worldwide. Here’s how different places are fighting it

Biden-Harris administration invests $307 million in rural water and wastewater infrastructure improvements

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the USDA is investing $307 million to modernize rural drinking water and wastewater infrastructure in 34 states and Puerto Rico.  “Every community needs safe, reliable and modern water and wastewater systems,” said Vilsack in the USDA news release. “The consequences of decades of disinvestment in physical infrastructure have fallen most heavily on communities of color. This is why USDA is investing in water infrastructure in rural and Tribal communities that need it most – to help them build back better, stronger and more equitably than ever before.” ... ”  Read more from Stormwater Solutions here: Biden-Harris administration invests $307 million in rural water and wastewater infrastructure improvements

Does this city’s progress on removing lead water lines show the potential for U.S.-wide replacement?

In July 2018, tests showed that the drinking water supply serving Yvette Jordan’s home in Newark, New Jersey, contained nearly 45 parts per billion (ppb) of lead — three times the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s action level for the neurotoxic heavy metal. It was a similar story for many families across her city. A lead crisis had struck Newark, and it was drawing comparisons to the tainted water that devastated Flint, Michigan, a few years earlier.  Yet what subsequently played out in Newark — for the most part, anyway — should serve as a “national model,” says Jordan, who is a high school history teacher.  … ”  Read more from Ensia here: Does this city’s progress on removing lead water lines show the potential for U.S.-wide replacement?

Nothing icky about ‘toilet-to-tap’: water recycling explained

Wastewater that recently swirled down a toilet bowl may be coming to your tap, in purified form, especially if you’re in a drought-stricken area where drinking water is increasingly scarce.  More municipal water systems in the West are considering water recycling, known in some places as “toilet-to-tap.” And Congress may begin supporting the idea as water systems scramble to find secure water supplies amid a decades-long drought driven by climate change, which may be the worst the region has experienced in more than a millennium.  Here’s a look at the context for a national discussion about water recycling, how it’s regulated, and what’s at stake. … ”  Read more from Bloomberg Law here: Nothing icky about ‘toilet-to-tap’: water recycling explained

Lawmakers, Biden officials vow action on PFAS

Lawmakers and regulators are increasingly mobilizing behind efforts to crack down on so-called forever chemicals as pressure to find a solution swells to a fever pitch.  At an inaugural conference pegged to issues around per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, EPA Administrator Michael Regan vowed to “follow the science” on the chemicals and offer a strong federal partner to local governments.  Hosted by the Environmental Working Group, the event served as a testament to how much attention the chemicals have garnered from policymakers.  “I saw firsthand the devastating effects that PFAS has on communities,” Regan said, referencing his time as North Carolina’s top environmental regulator, where he oversaw a massive deal regarding one PFAS compound, GenX. ... ”  Read more from E&E News here: Lawmakers, Biden officials vow action on PFAS

‘The time has come’: Schumer sets first infrastructure vote

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer yesterday imposed a Wednesday deadline on the parallel process Democrats are hoping will deliver President Biden’s infrastructure agenda.  The New York Democrat announced that he will take the first procedural step Monday to start votes on the yet-to-be-seen bipartisan infrastructure package agreed to by 22 senators in the White House. He will file cloture on the motion-to-proceed to a vehicle for the roughly $600 billion package, setting up the first vote for Wednesday.  “Everyone has been having productive conversations, and it’s important to keep the two-track process moving,” he announced on the Senate floor. “All parties involved in the bipartisan infrastructure bill talks must now finalize their agreement so that the Senate can begin considering that legislation next week.” ... ”  Read more from E&E News here: ‘The time has come’: Schumer sets first infrastructure vote

Half of U.S. tidal marsh areas vulnerable to rising seas

Sea level is rising worldwide, thanks in large part to climate change. Rising seas threaten coastal communities and ecosystems, including marshes that lie at the interface between salt water and freshwater. Tidal marsh ecosystems feature distinct plants and play key ecological roles, such as serving as nurseries for fish. It is known that some tidal marshes can avoid destruction by migrating inland or through formation of new soil that raises their elevation, but a better understanding of how they are affected by rising seas could inform efforts to plan for and mitigate the effects. ... ”  Read more from EOS here: Half of U.S. tidal marsh areas vulnerable to rising seas

June has become the month of climate doom, and now it stretches into July

June is never a good month for the existential doom meter, what with the kickoff of California’s traditional fire season—an increasingly anachronistic term—along with the annual reemergence of what now passes for East Coast summer weather, namely extreme heat waves followed by insane precipitation events. (And it ain’t just the East Coast.) All this is punctuated by reports of Western droughts now verging on aridification, heat waves in Canada and, uh, Siberia…you know the drill. But much like how the 1980s really lasted until around 1993, Doom June now lasts well into July. And boy, is it a big week for all that. … ”  Read more from Esquire here: June has become the month of climate doom, and now it stretches into July

Extreme heat waves are putting lakes and rivers in hot water this summer

Extreme heat waves have blanketed the Pacific Northwest, Siberia, Greece, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and other regions this summer, with temperatures approaching and exceeding 50 C.  As temperatures near outdoor survival thresholds, individuals who do not have easy access to air conditioning or cooling stations, or are unable to flee, may succumb to heat waves.  These climate extremes are becoming more frequent. But as tragic as they are to human health, they are only part of a larger climate catastrophe story — the wide-scale damage to the ecosystems that people depend upon, including agriculture, fisheries and freshwater. ... ”  Read more from The Conversation here: Extreme heat waves are putting lakes and rivers in hot water this summer

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National water and climate report …

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

dmrpt-20210715

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

DELTA PLAN eNEWS: ~~ Grant Workshop~ CWC Meeting~ Marketing Workshop~ Estuary Summit ~~

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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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