DAILY DIGEST, 7/23: Scheduling payments latest hurdle for Friant Kern Canal repairs; Pot farms using groundwater can affect stream flows; Protecting groundwater quality while practicing on-farm recharge; CA unveils health goals for PFAS; and more …


On the calendar today …

  • EVENT: Southern California Water Coalition Quarterly Luncheon (Ontario) from 12pm to 2pm.  Fostering inclusivity in our industry and our coalition helps us address issues and solve problems more creatively, and we’ll explore the topic during Southern California Water Coalition’s in-person Quarterly Luncheon on July 23, 2021 at noon at the DoubleTree Hotel (222 N. Vineyard Ave., Ontario, California).  “Equity, Access and Affordability” will feature an expert panel to discuss how we can not only recognize but celebrate the rich diversity of Southern California’s people and cultures and see clearly how we are all connected by the need for a safe, affordable and reliable water supply.  Click here to register.

In California water news today …

Fixing sinking Friant-Kern Canal is unprecedented task. The latest hurdle? Scheduling payments.

After some negotiation, the Friant Water Authority Board of Directors will vote on a repayment contract with the Bureau of Reclamation regarding the repair of a portion of the Friant-Kern Canal.  The Friant Water Authority and the Bureau of Reclamation held its second round of negotiations Thursday morning, which was a two-hour process hammering out contract language in the repayment deal.  The finalized contract will be presented to the Friant Water Authority Board at its next meeting on July 29 for a vote of approval. … ”  Read more from the San Joaquin Valley Sun here: Fixing sinking Friant-Kern Canal is unprecedented task. The latest hurdle? Scheduling payments.

Pot farms using groundwater can affect stream flows

The legalization of marijuana for recreational use has encouraged growers to expand plantings of the lucrative crop. Like any plant, cannabis requires water to grow.  A new study from the Cannabis Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley examined where cannabis growers are getting water for their crops, highlighting significant gaps in cannabis cultivation policy.  Environmental advocates have expressed concern that cannabis farms are diverting water from rivers and streams, which could harm fish and other wildlife. … ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press here: Pot farms using groundwater can affect stream flows

Audio: The great California groundwater grab

California is in the middle of a terrible drought. The rivers are running low, and most of its farmers are getting very little water this year from the state’s reservoirs and canals. And yet, farming is going on as usual.  NPR food and agriculture correspondent Dan Charles explains how farmers have been using wells and underground aquifers to water their crops. But that’s all set to change. California is about to put dramatic limits on the amount of water farmers can pump from their wells, and people have some pretty strong feelings about it.”  Listen to the radio show (12 minutes) from NPR here:  Radio show: The great California groundwater grab

SEE ALSO: (Audio) Without Enough Water To Go Around, Farmers In California Are Exhausting Aquifers, from NPR (4 minutes)

Fact sheet: Protecting groundwater quality while practicing on-farm recharge

Sustainable Conservation and our partners have developed resources that inform on-farm recharge practices that are protective of drinking water quality.  The Tool: Agricultural Managed Aquifer Recharge (AgMAR) is an important tool to increase groundwater supplies by applying water on farm fields to percolate into soils and recharge aquifers.  The Challenge: There are concerns that AgMAR could also mobilize nitrate and worsen groundwater quality. Our resources help address this issue.”

Click here to view/download fact sheet from Sustainable Conservation.

Audio: Saving birds with economics

The Pacific Flyway is one of the major bird migratory routes in the world. The wetland habitats in California are crucial to millions of birds and hundreds of bird species during the annual migration process. But more and more wetlands in California have been converted into farms. Throw increasing droughts into the equation, and it’s an increasingly life-or-death situation for many birds.  Eric Hallstein is an economist who works at The Nature Conservancy, a nonprofit environmental organization. The traditional way to conserve wetland is to purchase and restore the land, which can be very expensive.  Eric found a solution to this increasing shortage of wetland for birds: A reverse auction for rice farmers to flood their fields. … ”  Listen to radio show (9 minutes) from NPR: Audio: Saving birds with economics

Forever chemicals: California unveils health goals for contaminated drinking water

California took a major step today towards regulating dangerous “forever chemicals” in drinking water by proposing new health limits for two of the most pervasive contaminants. State environmental health officials recommended goals of one part per trillion and less — a minuscule amount 70 times smaller than the federal government’s non-binding guideline for drinking water nationwide.  Called “forever chemicals” because they persist in the environment, the contaminants are ubiquitous. Traces of two — perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) —  are in the well water of 146 public water systems serving nearly 16 million Californians, a CalMatters analysis found last fall. … ”  Read more from Cal Matters here: Forever chemicals: California unveils health goals for contaminated drinking water

California announces bold public health goals for PFOA and PFOS in drinking water

Today the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, or OEHHA, proposed bold new limits to regulate the toxic “forever chemicals” known as PFAS in drinking water.  The state’s Public Health Goals, or PHGs, submitted for public review would limit the amounts in drinking water for the two most notorious PFAS compounds: PFOA, formerly used to make DuPont’s Teflon, and PFOS, formerly an ingredient in 3M’s Scotchgard. State environmental health officials recommend a health protective limit of 7 parts per quadrillion for PFOA, and 1 part per trillion, or ppt, for PFOS. … ”  Read more from Environmental Working Group here: California announces bold public health goals for PFOA and PFOS in drinking water

Feinstein, Padilla, Huffman, Chu introduce bill making water efficiency improvement rebates non-taxable

Senators Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla and Representatives Jared Huffman and Judy Chu (all D-Calif.) today introduced the Water Conservation Rebate Tax Parity Act, a bill that would make rebates that homeowners receive from water utilities for water conservation and water runoff management improvements to their homes exempt from federal taxes. …  Water utilities around the country, especially in drought-prone areas like California, are increasingly offering rebates and incentives to homeowners who make investments to reduce their water use, reduce stormwater runoff and ease the strain on public infrastructure.  “We need to do all we can to combat severe drought in California and across the West. That’s why California issues rebates to homeowners who work to improve their homes’ water efficiency,” said Senator Feinstein. “Unfortunately, homeowners must pay income taxes on these rebates under current law. That needs to change so more Californians will invest in these critical water efficiency home improvements.” … ”  Read more from Senator Feinstein’s office here:  Feinstein, Padilla, Huffman, Chu Introduce Bill Making Water Efficiency Improvement Rebates Non-Taxable

Drought in the western United States sets a 122-year record

By one measure, almost 100 percent of the West is now in drought. And that sets an all-time 122-year record, according to David Simeral, a climatologist at the Desert Research Institute and the Western Regional Climate Center.  That measure, called the Palmer Drought Index, takes into account both moisture and temperature to provide a good view of long-term drought, as well as the impact of global warming.  Using another measure, the kind you may be accustomed to with the standard U.S. Drought Monitor, about 90 percent of the West is experiencing some level of drought, with 57 percent in extreme to exceptional drought, the two worst categories. … ”  Read more from Discover Magazine here: Drought in the western United States sets a 122-year record

The West’s historic drought in 3 maps

An unprecedented, multi-year drought continues to worsen in the West amid a period of record heat and dryness, which scientists say is a clear sign of how the climate crisis is affecting not only the weather, but water supply, food production and electricity generation.  Despite some good rainfall in Southwest, new drought numbers show worsening and expanding drought across the board in the West, according to the US Drought Monitor. More than 95 percent of the West is in some level of drought, with nearly two-thirds in extreme or exceptional drought — the two worst categories.  Six states are entirely in drought conditions. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here: The West’s historic drought in 3 maps

Lamalfa joins colleagues in highlighting the need for active forest management

Congressman Doug LaMalfa issued the following statement after joining colleagues from the House Natural Resources Committee and the Congressional Western Caucus for a Forum on Preventing Catastrophic Wildfires and Restoring Forest Health and Resiliency. Additionally, he joined House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Bruce Westerman in introducing the Resilient Federal Forests Act.  Rep. LaMalfa said, “Communities across the West are being devastated by wildfires and there will be long-term negative impacts to our forests, our water quality, and wildlife habitat. Republicans in Congress are proposing solutions that would help prevent the catastrophic wildfires we are experiencing. Democrat leadership needs to stop ignoring this issue and pass legislation that would address these wildfires. … ”  Read more from Congressman Doug LaMalfa’s website here: Lamalfa joins colleagues in highlighting the need for active forest management

How a small California farm and Tribal nation are working together to become part of the solution to climate change

The Carbon Sink Demonstration Farm located in San Diego County is working to model how small farmers can implement and benefit from carbon farming practices.  The 87-acre Carbon Sink Farm was formed through a partnership between the cooperative family farm, Solidarity Farms, and the Pauma Band of Luiseno Indians in 2017. The partnership came about after extreme heat in July that year burned and withered much of the Pauma Tribal Farms trees and crops.  “The warning was clear,” Bea Alvarez, the Climate Resilience Project Coordinator at Carbon Sink Farms tells Food Tank. “Start building resilience now or give up on a livelihood derived from agriculture.” ... ”  Read more from Food Tank here: How a small California farm and Tribal nation are working together to become part of the solution to climate change

The moon ‘wobble’ isn’t new. What’s new is the impact of climate change

So, about that moon wobble …  Last week, NASA published a new study in the journal Nature Climate Change that found rising sea levels plus higher tides caused by an oscillation in the moon’s orbit will dramatically increase the number of sunny day floods experienced in U.S. coastal communities.  The Bay Area is one of the most populous and flood-threatened shorelines of the entire West Coast. Places like San Francisco’s Embarcadero and the exit off Northbound Highway 101 toward Mill Valley already regularly flood during King Tides, along with communities like East Palo Alto in the South Bay. NASA researchers say it could get a lot worse — and sooner than expected. … ”  Read more from KQED here: The moon ‘wobble’ isn’t new. What’s new is the impact of climate change

California’s carbon mitigation efforts may be thwarted by climate change itself

To meet an ambitious goal of carbon neutrality by 2045, California’s policymakers are relying in part on forests and shrublands to remove CO2 from the atmosphere, but researchers at the University of California, Irvine warn that future climate change may limit the ecosystem’s ability to perform this service.  In a paper published today in the American Geophysical Union journal AGU Advances, the UCI Earth system scientists stressed that rising temperatures and uncertain precipitation will cause a decrease in California’s natural carbon storage capacity of as much as 16 percent under an extreme climate projection and of nearly 9 percent under a more moderate scenario. … ”  Read more from UC Irvine here: California’s carbon mitigation efforts may be thwarted by climate change itself

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In commentary today …

Sacramento bureaucrat mentality: More water storage offers little public benefit

Dennis Wyatt, editor of the Manteca Bulletin, writes, “Ground zero for the war against man — and now fish — in California can be found east of Colusa in narrow Antelope Valley in the foothills of the Coastal Range where Stone Corral Creek and Funk Creek flow.  It is reminiscent to a degree of the valley where San Luis Creek once flowed through to the northeast of Los Banos.  Antelope Valley is where the 1.8 million acre-foot Sites Reservoir is proposed. That’s enough water to meet the needs of the equivalent of 13.3 million Californians a year. It would be slightly smaller than San Luis Reservoir’s 2 million acre feet. Both are deemed off-river reservoirs designed to capture excess winter water production from rain and melting snowpack during wet years. … ”  Continue reading at the Manteca Bulletin here: Sacramento bureaucrat mentality: More water storage offers little public benefit

In regional water news and commentary today …

Transfer of four Klamath River dams approved by CPUC

Plans to remove four dams on the Klamath River have taken a step forward with the news that the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has approved a request from Pacific Power to transfer ownership of four hydroelectric dams, known as the Lower Klamath Project, to the Klamath River Renewal Corporation (KRRC).  The decision is part of the implementation of the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement between 48 parties including PacifiCorp, the states of Oregon and California, several Native American tribes, and many other groups and organizations. The settlement agreement provides a framework to decommission the four hydroelectric developments comprising the Lower Klamath Project and sets requirements related to their operation and removal. When completed, the dam removal project will address declines in fish populations, improve river health, and renew Tribal communities and cultures. … ”  Read more from International Water & Power here: Transfer of four Klamath River dams approved by CPUC

City of Ukiah may further restrict access to recycled water due to thefts

The city of Ukiah plans to further limit access to its recycled water supply due to unauthorized activity at its truck fill-up station, Sean White, the city’s director of water and sewer resources, told the Ukiah City Council this week.  White told the council at its July 21 meeting that the city has “produced about 170 million gallons of recycled water so far this season, which is equal to about 520 acre-feet, or about 20 percent of our annual use. I think we’re definitely doing a really good job of taking pressure off of the river, and subsequently Lake Mendocino.” … ”  Read more from the Ukiah Daily Journal here: City of Ukiah may further restrict access to recycled water due to thefts

Ukiah running out of recycled water

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 Anderson Valley Advertiser here: Ukiah running out of recycled water

Public officials scrambling for solutions amid water emergency on the Mendocino Coast

Water trucks are becoming almost as common as tourists in the coastal village of Mendocino this summer, as two years of critically low rainfall have taken a toll on the town’s groundwater wells and left public officials scrambling to find new supplies.  The famed community relies on mostly shallow, rain-dependent aquifers, and many of the wells are running low or even dry, forcing residents and business owners to purchase water elsewhere.  Even that has become problematic as their key supplier, the City of Fort Bragg, closed the spigot early this week to safeguard supplies for its own residents. … ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here: Public officials scrambling for solutions amid water emergency on the Mendocino Coast

Winters commentary: A city, if you can keep it: The water limitation

Richard Casavecchia, non-staff columnist, writes, “Water will be the resource that ultimately limits growth in Winters. We have a hard limit on how many new homes that can be built without depleting our water resources. Land can be converted and repurposed, bought and sold. But we can’t buy a magic wand from Diagon Alley, shout Aguamenti with a flick of our wrist and create more water.  We need to know the maximum number of homes our local water resources can support. Is it an additional 200? 1,000? 8,000 new homes? Frankly, this should be determined before we continue to spend time and money planning new developments. Measure the limiting factor before starting other movements. … ”  Read more from the Winters Express here: Winters commentary: A city, if you can keep it: The water limitation

North Marin Water District to study new water supply sources

Facing what could be another historically dry winter, North Marin Water District is set to study options to expand its water supply for Novato, including increasing reservoir capacity and considering desalination.  “We need additional supply,” district board Vice President Stephen Petterle said during a board discussion on the study this week. “There is no doubt about it.”  The $150,000 study is set to explore several possible supply options, including expanding the district’s recycled water production, which currently makes up 8% of its Novato supply; capturing stormwater runoff from nearby areas such as Bowman Canyon; increasing the capacity of its Stafford Lake reservoir by raising lake elevation by 3 feet; and groundwater banking, in which the groundwater aquifer can be recharged during wet years and drawn from during drought years. … ”  Read more from the Marin Independent Journal here: North Marin Water District to study new water supply sources

California drought killing frogs, salamanders in the East Bay

The worsening drought is causing creeks, ponds and wells to run dry across the state.  Park officials in the East Bay say it’s an emergency that’s killing off animals like frogs and salamanders, who need water to breed.  The lack of water is also pushing coyotes and deer away from their habitats and closer to ours. “When someone has a glass of water at a friend’s house and they just knock it down the sink before they leave, I get kind of upset, ‘no you could’ve watered a plant’,” said Ava Johnson of Concord. … ”  Read more from NBC Bay Area here: California drought killing frogs, salamanders in the East Bay

Projects in Merced County could get a nearly $7 million boost. Here are the ones and why

U.S. Rep. Jim Costa is working to secure nearly $15 million for central San Joaquin Valley projects, with almost $7 million potentially going to Merced County.  This is in line with a congressional appropriations bill, which allows each representative to request money for up to 10 projects in their communities for fiscal year 2022.  In April 2021, the Fresno Democrat submitted requests for the areas that he serves. If passed by the House and Senate, the bill would provide roughly $14.8 million in all for projects in Merced, Fresno and Madera counties. ... ”  Read more from the Merced Sun-Star here: Projects in Merced County could get a nearly $7 million boost. Here are the ones and why

Massive Lemoore blast: Why was there gas in water tank before deadly explosion?

“Monday’s massive water tank explosion in Lemoore, which killed one person and injured another, came as officials were putting finishing touches on a water quality project intended to bring the city into state compliance, City Manager Nathan Olson said Thursday.  It has not been determined why the explosion, which sent the 1.5 million gallon tank 70 feet in the air, took place. But Olson said it appeared some type of gas ignited as welder Dion Jones, 41, of Filanc Construction, was working on the project. Jones died and a city worker was injured in the blast. ... ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here: Massive Lemoore blast: Why was there gas in water tank before deadly explosion?

Santa Barbara County Supervisors declare drought emergency as county contends with Central Coast Water Authority lawsuit

The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors declared a local drought emergency at a July 13 meeting. The proclamation comes on the heels of Central Coast Water Authority (CCWA) filing a lawsuit against the county last month after the board put limits on the agency’s ability to sell excess water outside of the county. While board members feel this resolution was necessary to conserve the county’s meager water supply, CCWA believes it makes it harder for the agency to do its job.  CCWA is a public entity that maintains water resources in parts of Northern Santa Barbara County, Santa Ynez Valley, and the South Coast. It’s responsible for delivering water from the State Water Project to project participants, which includes the cities of Santa Maria, Guadalupe, Buellton, and Solvang. … ”  Read more from the Santa Maria Sun here: Santa Barbara County Supervisors declare drought emergency as county contends with Central Coast Water Authority lawsuit

Why LA’s fashion industry should worry about the drought

Sean Zahedi grew up in his father’s textile factory in Vernon, playing in the rows of finished fabric as a young boy. He remembers when Lafayette Textiles had some 200 employees spinning yarn, monitoring knitting machines and dyeing clothing.  But when he came back to work for his father in this 55,000 square foot factory about four years ago, he found a smaller operation on the verge of closing down.  “My father used to have his own dye house,” Zahedi says. “But because of rising labor costs, environmental regulations and water, it moved to Nicaragua.” ... ”  Read more from KRCW here: Why LA’s fashion industry should worry about the drought

Back up at water treatment plant that caused sewage spill ‘nearly catastrophic,’ officials say

The “nearly catastrophic flooding” at the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant, which led to a sewage spill that closed South Bay beaches for several days last week, has left the facility operating at less-than-full capacity and requires repairs that could take more than a month, Los Angeles sanitation officials said this week.  Those repairs have led to a stench emanating from the plant, adding another concern for residents, who had already questioned why it took most of a day before the public at large was notified about the 17-million gallons of sewage elevating bacteria in the ocean to unhealthy levels.  About a dozen of those residents protested in front of Hyperion, near El Segundo, on Thursday, July 22, the organizer of which said her child swam in the ocean within hours of the spill and heard others complain about the odor making them sick. ... ”  Read more from the Daily Breeze here: Back up at water treatment plant that caused sewage spill ‘nearly catastrophic,’ officials say

Cesar Chavez’s great-grandniece joins opponents of Ballona Wetlands restoration project

Environmental groups opposed to an approximately $200 million state project to restore Los Angeles County’s Ballona Wetlands — saying it would actually harm the biologically diverse area — enlisted this week the 14-year-old great-grandniece of Cesar Chavez, Genesis Butler.  Butler, who seems to be continuing the legacy of her famous relative — Chavez, the founder of the National Farm Workers Association, died in 1993 — was recently recognized as a “Marvel Hero” and featured in a commemorative comic book for her work raising awareness about Ballona, the county’s largest coastal wetlands. … ”  Read more from the Daily Breeze here: Cesar Chavez’s great-grandniece joins opponents of Ballona Wetlands restoration project

Imperial County stakeholders talk lithium efforts

Work is continuing to identify what the future of lithium development in Imperial County will look like.  Imperial County officials held a meeting on Tuesday, July 20 to start planning for lithium production. It was the second such meeting the county has had, the previous one having been a month ago, and the next planned for August.  The Salton Sea area is sitting atop millions of metric tons of lithium in the form of its geothermal brine, and for several years, companies, government officials, and agencies have been working to tap into that resource. There’s even a state commission, called the Blue Ribbon Commission on Lithium Extraction, that is set to study the issues surrounding drawing the hard-to-mine metal from areas near the Salton Sea. … ”  Read more from the Holtville Tribune here: Imperial County stakeholders talk lithium efforts

San Diego: Wander the wetlands to learn about Kendall-Frost Marsh Reserve

Now folks can wander the wetlands every second and fourth Saturday monthly thanks to a UC San Diego-San Diego Audubon Society partnership opening up Kendall-Frost Marsh Reserve for public education.  Starting Saturday, July 24, the field office in the coastal marsh at 2055 Pacific Beach Drive will be open every other Saturday from 9 to 11 a.m. with volunteers discussing the marsh, its ecosystem, wildlife, and future.  “We’ll have docents there and folks will be able to come in, find some solace, ask questions, and look through scopes and binoculars,” said Andrew Meyer, director of conservation for San Diego Audubon, of the new marsh education program. … ”  Read more from San Diego News here: San Diego: Wander the wetlands to learn about Kendall-Frost Marsh Reserve

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Along the Colorado River …

Waterparks and fountains in Las Vegas: A closer look at where water is going amid the drought

Despite being in the midst of the longest sustained drought we’ve ever seen, and on the verge of a federally declared water shortage, every day in Las Vegas water is used for play.  The valley is home to not one but two waterparks. Cowabunga Bay and Wet’n’Wild provide relief from the sweltering heat for hundreds of thousands of locals and tourists every summer.  And it’s not just mega-slides and lazy rivers where we get our water fix. Water plays a recreational role on the Las Vegas Strip, too. Many casinos have multiple pools or fountains, perhaps the most obvious and grandiose example being at the Bellagio.  So, are we being flippant and wasteful? Isn’t Lake Mead’s water level at its lowest point since the dam was created in the 1930s? The answer to the latter is yes, but the first question is not what it seems on the surface. … ”  Read more from KSBY here: Waterparks and fountains in Las Vegas: A closer look at where water is going amid the drought

Is it a waste of water to bring a bit of the ocean to metro Phoenix?

Why on earth, when metro Phoenix is already facing Colorado River water shortages, are there three water parks planned in Glendale, Mesa and Gilbert?  This is a common question in my inbox, and I get why. On first blush, mimicking the ocean in the desert doesn’t exactly scream “we’re trying to save water!”  But are these parks really an abomination, compared to other municipal water uses? ... ”  Read more from Arizona Central here: Is it a waste of water to bring a bit of the ocean to metro Phoenix?

Lake Powell level about to hit a historic low as West’s water crisis deepens

Lake Powell will soon hit its lowest level since Glen Canyon Dam started trapping the Colorado River’s water in 1963 — even with emergency releases of water from reservoirs upstream.  The Bureau of Reclamation announced Thursday that the lake elevation will soon drop below 3,555.1 feet above sea level, the record set in 2005, back near the start of a 20-year dry cycle plaguing the Colorado River Basin.  “Lake Powell’s elevation is expected to drop another two feet by the end of July, and will likely continue to decline until next year’s spring runoff into the Colorado River begins,” the bureau said in a news release. … ”  Read more from the Salt Lake Tribune here: Lake Powell level about to hit a historic low as West’s water crisis deepens

Glen Canyon Dam needs more water to keep producing power

The continuing drought in Utah and across the West has federal authorities releasing water from reservoirs on the Colorado River System in order to keep Lake Powell at an energy-producing level for Glen Canyon Dam.  Flaming Gorge Reservoir is the largest upstream reservoir from Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River. Its water level is now at 83%. So, the Bureau of Reclamation plans to release enough water to drop the level of Flaming Gorge Reservoir by about 4 feet.  “Lake Powell currently sits at 3,556 feet, that’s its elevation. That means it’s at 35% capacity. That’s 50 feet lower than the lake was a year ago,” said Greg Skordas, a guest host Tuesday on KSL NewsRadio’s Dave and Dujanovic. ... ”  Read more from KSL here: Glen Canyon Dam needs more water to keep producing power

Plumbing the Rockies: Vast infrastructure gets water where it’s needed

High up on Colorado’s Independence Pass, a narrow, winding road weaves through the evergreens and across mountain streams, up and over the Continental Divide at more than 10,000 feet. At one point, that alpine road crosses a canal.  It’s easy to miss if you’re not looking for it, but that canal is part of the maze of water infrastructure that makes life on Colorado’s Front Range possible.  The state has a geographical mismatch between where water shows up and where much of the population has settled.  “Wherever you are in this state, you’re either the source of the drinking water supply, you’re in the middle of the drinking water supply, or you’re at the end of the tap,” said Christina Medved, outreach director at Roaring Fork Conservancy. “So on the Western Slope, we’re at the source of the water.” … ”  Read more from Cronkite News here: Plumbing the Rockies: Vast infrastructure gets water where it’s needed

Water ‘crisis’ discussed by Interior’s Haaland, Colorado officials at Denver roundtable

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland’s visit to Colorado began on Thursday at the headquarters of Denver Water, where she met with state and local leaders to discuss federal efforts to deal with the worsening drought conditions that have spread across much of the American West.  “Being from New Mexico, I know how much climate change impacts our communities, from extended fire seasons to intense drought and water shortages,” Haaland said at a press conference. “And I know how important the Colorado River Basin is to these discussions.”  Haaland, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis and Rep. Diana DeGette, a Democrat from Denver, were among those who joined a closed-door roundtable discussion of water issues prior to Thursday’s press event. ... ”  Read more from Colorado Newsline here: Water ‘crisis’ discussed by Interior’s Haaland, Colorado officials at Denver roundtable

After 20 years of drought, Western Slope ranchers face a choice — keep adapting, or move along

On the side of a dirt road in Gunnison County, a herd of cattle is cooling off in the water of an irrigation ditch.  Doug Washburn, range manager for Spann Ranches in southwestern Colorado, points at the hills surrounding the operation’s northern headquarters.  “It’s not as bright and as green as you would think, just because the ground itself is so parched,” Washburn said.  Colorado’s Western Slope is considered a climate hot spot where temperatures are increasing faster than the global average. This warming has contributed to more than 20 years of dryness, which scientists are calling a megadrought.   Ranchers like Washburn are trying to adapt. That might mean having to give up ranching altogether.  … ”  Read more from Colorado Public Radio here: After 20 years of drought, Western Slope ranchers face a choice — keep adapting, or move along

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In national water news today …

Study examines conservation by large water users

Before a years-long, historic drought in the city of Cape Town, South Africa, the top 10% of households consumed 31% of water. The city reduced water use during the drought, and water distribution became more equal.  A research team including Washington State University’s Joseph Cook examined the correlation between income and water usage. Their research was published last month in the journal Water Resources Research.  “When water usage statistics are discussed, they’re often presented as household averages,” said Cook, associate professor in WSU’s School of Economic Sciences. “For example, if average consumption goes from 5,000 gallons a month to 4,000, we don’t know if everyone used 1,000 fewer gallons or if a few large water users significantly reduced their usage.” ... ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press here: Study examines conservation by large water users

Lawsuit challenges federal industrial stormwater permit failure to control U.S. plastic pollution

On July 1, 2021, the Center for Biological Diversity petitioned the Ninth Circuit to review EPA’s issuance of the 2021 National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Multi-Sector General Permit (MSGP) for storm water discharges from industrial activities.  This impacts thousands of industrial facilities across the country, according to the Center’s press release.  The lawsuit alleges the federal permit’s failure to: protect the aquatic environment; public health; endangered and threatened species; and critical habitat from plastic and other forms of pollution discharged through industrial storm water. … ”  Read more from Stormwater Solutions here: Lawsuit challenges federal industrial stormwater permit failure to control U.S. plastic pollution

More companies are citing water scarcity as a financial risk in regulatory filings

As climate change stokes extreme weather events like droughts, flooding and wildfire, another concern is emerging for companies and their investors: the cost and dwindling supply of water.  More companies are listing water security and scarcity among risk factors in regulatory filings and investor calls. Globally, firms cited water 43% more in 2020 than in 2019, a June report from investment bank Barclays found, citing comments gleaned from thousands of transcripts.  “It’s a concern that is becoming an area of focus for many of our clients,” said Michael Littenberg, a partner at the law firm Ropes & Gray who advises companies on Environmental, Social and Governance issues, known as ESG. … ”  Read more from CBS News here: More companies are citing water scarcity as a financial risk in regulatory filings

Democrats threaten to sink bipartisan bill over water funding

Water infrastructure is emerging as a hurdle for talks on the bipartisan infrastructure bill, with multiple Democrats threatening to vote against the legislation.  Environment and Public Works Chair Tom Carper (D-Del.) said yesterday he would withhold support for the proposal unless Senate negotiators fully incorporate the $35 billion water package that passed the Senate 89-2 in April (E&E Daily, April 28).  “We don’t get 89 votes for a lot of bills around here,” Carper told reporters. “I want to see it funded in accordance with the way we’ve written the bill.”  It’s the latest snafu for the bipartisan proposal, which failed to clear a procedural vote this week with negotiators still trying to iron out the bill text. The group of Senate negotiators are looking to include the surface transportation and water infrastructure bills that have already passed out of EPW in their roughly $600 billion proposal. … ”  Read more from E&E News here: Democrats threaten to sink bipartisan bill over water funding

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

DELTA eNEWS: ~~ Science Blog~ Delta Breeze~ DPC Video~ Gardening Tips~ Fisheries Webinar ~~

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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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