DAILY DIGEST, weekend edition: State Water Board releases draft drought emergency regulation for Delta watershed, thousands could be cutoff; Tulare County officials say state red tape made water crisis worse for Teviston; Latest pictures from Lake Oroville; Secretary Crowfoot wins award; and more …

In California water news this weekend …

State Water Board releases draft drought emergency regulation for Delta watershed

“With water levels in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta at historic lows due to the extreme effects of climate change, the State Water Resources Control Board today released a draft curtailment and reporting regulation and scheduled a public workshop on potential measures to preserve stored water for threatened drinking water supplies, prevent salinity intrusion and minimize impacts to fisheries and the environment.  The draft drought emergency regulation (below) prohibits diversions when water supplies are not available under a water user’s priority of right, and allows the State Water Board to require additional information related to their diversions and use. Currently, water is unavailable for approximately 5,700 right holders and claimants. As supplies and demands evolve, diversion requirements would change accordingly. … ”  Continue reading this press release from the State Water Board here:  State Water Board releases draft drought emergency regulation for Delta watershed

Click here for the draft drought regulation.

Thousands of water rights holders could be cut off from rivers

California water regulators are preparing to do what they’ve been warning about for months – cut the spigot to thousands of water rights holders.  The State Water Resources Control Board will consider an emergency order at its August 3 meeting that would bar farmers, cities and others from continuing to tap into rivers that feed the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.  If approved, the order would go into effect Aug. 16. … Because river curtailments of this magnitude would be an unprecedented step — something not done during California’s devastating 2012-2016 drought — the Water Board began sending a series of warning notices to rights holders in March, said Eileen Sobeck, Executive Director of the State Water Board. … ”  Read more from SJV Water here: Thousands of water rights holders could be cut off from rivers

Thousands of Central Valley farmers may lose access to surface water amid worsening drought

As California endures an increasingly brutal second year of drought, state water regulators are considering an emergency order that would bar thousands of Central Valley farmers from using stream and river water to irrigate their crops.  On Friday, the State Water Resources Control Board released a draft “emergency curtailment” order for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta watershed. The measure, which was first reported by the Sacramento Bee, would bar some water rights holders from diverting surface water for agricultural and other purposes.  The proposed regulation underscores just how dire matters have become as drought squeezes the American West. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: Thousands of Central Valley farmers may lose access to surface water amid worsening drought

California moves to cut off water to thousands of farmers, as drought dries up rivers

Forced to reckon with a worsening drought, California’s water regulators are preparing to forbid thousands of farmers from tapping into the state’s major rivers and streams.  It’s an extraordinary step — and one that regulators didn’t take during the last drought, which was considered one of the worst on record.  The State Water Resources Control Board on Friday released an “emergency curtailment” order that would cut thousands off from rivers and streams in the Sacramento and San Joaquin river watersheds. The five-person board still has to vote on the order Aug. 3, and it would take effect about two weeks later. … ” Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: California moves to cut off water to thousands of farmers, as drought dries up rivers

Valley farmers might face harshest ever water restrictions due to drought

Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, farmers in the Central Valley are now facing more uncertainty.  “Not only is this year already bad, it’s about to get worse,” said Fresno County Farm Bureau CEO Ryan Jacobsen.   Most of California is under a drought state of emergency.  On Friday, the State Water Board released a draft ’emergency curtailment’ order for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta watershed where there’s an extreme water shortage.  “We’re looking at one of the tightest years on record,” said Jacobsen. … ”  Read more from KFSN here: Valley farmers might face harshest ever water restrictions due to drought

Statement from Byron Bethany Irrigation District

““Byron-Bethany Irrigation District (BBID) is aware of the emergency Notice of Water Unavailability impacting senior, pre-1914 water rights, including the District’s, issued by the State Water Resources Control Board [Friday] afternoon.  We will vigorously defend our water rights and maintain that the best available data does not support such an extraordinary action by the SWRCB, whose methodology for determining water availability is deeply flawed.  In the coming days and weeks, BBID’s team of legal, engineering, and hydrological experts will seek remedies to protect the customers we serve, including the multi-generational farming families who rely upon the water we provide.” – Rick Gilmore, General Manager

Tulare County officials say state red tape made water crisis, suffering worse for Teviston

The state’s response to the water crisis that gripped tiny Teviston, California, earlier this summer should have been a no-brainer, according to Tulare County officials.  The rural central San Joaquin Valley county, with help from the state, had seen wells go dry en masse during the 2012-2016 drought leaving hundreds of families without water for months on end.  The county and state had seemingly worked out a game plan for that disaster and Tulare County had even regrouped its local drought task force this spring as it saw this summer shaping up to be especially dry. So, county officials and Teviston residents were more than a little frustrated by what they said was the state’s flat-footed response when Teviston’s well broke down June 9, leaving the town dry, as a brutal heat wave swept over the state. … ”  Continue reading at the Fresno Bee here: Tulare County officials say state red tape made water crisis, suffering worse for Teviston

Another valley town on the brink of going dry

The small, rural community of Tooleville is on the brink of going dry after one of its two wells went down Friday morning. It’s the second community in Tulare County to suffer water problems in the last two months as California struggles through the grip of a devastating drought.  The only well in the town of Teviston, also in rural Tulare County, broke down June 9 leaving residents there dry until the pump was fixed July 16.  Tooleville, population 340, has one primary and one back up well, according to Andi Galdamez, community development specialist with Visalia-based nonprofit Self-Help Enterprises. Self-Help works with disadvantaged communities on housing and water needs. … ”  Read more from SJV Water here:  Another valley town on the brink of going dry

Lake Oroville shows the shocking face of California’s drought

California has descended deep into one of the worst droughts in its recorded history. And perhaps no single location shows more starkly how deep that really is than Lake Oroville, the state’s second-largest reservoir and a crucial source of water supply for the state’s farm and city water users alike.  San Francisco-based Getty Images photographer Justin Sullivan has been visiting the lake off and on since the driest days of our last severe drought, in 2014.  “Lake Oroville provided the most stunning and visible evidence of loss of water” during that five-year drought, Sullivan said in an interview with KQED Friday. … ”  Read more from KQED here: Lake Oroville shows the shocking face of California’s drought

California’s drought drying up Lake Oroville, shutting down power plant at wildfire season peak

California’s drought is drying up the second-largest reservoir in the state: Lake Oroville.  When it’s full, the lake sits around 900 feet. But water levels have been dropping fast in recent weeks. Now it’s down to 655 feet. The record low was reached back in 1977 and the lake is only about 12 feet from that point.  The Department of Water Resources says the Edward Hyatt Hydroelectric power plant will likely shut down by August. It could take months, and a major rain system before it turns back on. … ”  Read more from CBS 13 here: California’s drought drying up Lake Oroville, shutting down power plant at wildfire season peak

Overdeveloped land, subsidence, large populations: California’s water crisis

Through fierce reporting and captivating prose, journalist Mark Arax paints a vivid and complex portrait of California and its water. Born into a family of farmers in Fresno, Arax has witnessed firsthand the cyclical nature of droughts and floods in the state. He delves into the history and future of agriculture and water in his 2019 book “The Dreamt Land.” Arax joins Evan Kleiman to talk about the lessons gleaned from the state’s fraught water history, and what they might mean for its present and future. ... ”  Read more or listen from KCRW here: Overdeveloped land, subsidence, large populations: California’s water crisis

California senators press Congress for $1 billion to prep for future drought

With rural wells running dry and reservoir levels dwindling amid the Western drought, California senators are pressing Congress for an infusion of cash to renovate the state’s collapsing drinking water system.  But instead of new dams or desalination plants, Senators Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla want the state to take a more innovative approach in prepping for future megadroughts experts predict will only worsen due to global warming.  In new legislation introduced Friday, the lawmakers are seeking $1 billion to boost stormwater capture, groundwater recharge and water recycling efforts in the Golden State and throughout the U.S. … ”  Read more from Courthouse News Service here: California senators press Congress for $1 billion to prep for future drought

Video: How the Western ‘megadrought’ could cause more ‘water wars’

Tourism, landscaping, homebuilding and farming are just some of the businesses that get hurt because of one of the worst droughts the West Coast has ever experienced. In 2020, wildfires and drought cost the U.S. $21 billion. With lower water levels and higher temperatures, the wildfire risk runs hotter, according to the National Centers for Environmental information. In the West climate region alone, which includes California and Nevada, wildfires caused $12.1 billion in damage in 2020. With fires, political feuds and a changing climate, water is becoming more important to the U.S. economy than ever.”  Watch the video from CNBC here: Video: How the Western ‘megadrought’ could cause more ‘water wars’

Senators propose more money for water sources

While California deals with its drought, U.S. Sens. Alex Padilla and Dianne Feinstein are seeking more money for water sources.  The California Democrats on Friday introduced legislation to boost funding for the Environmental Protection Agency’s pilot program for grants for alternative water sources.  According to Sen. Padilla’s office, the funding would help to promote groundwater recharge, stormwater capture and reuse, and water recycling projects. … ”  Read more from the Santa Barbara News-Press here: Senators propose more money for water sources

California drafts safe limits for PFOA and PFOS in drinking water

In a draft report, California says only extremely low levels of two toxic “forever chemicals” are safe for humans to drink in water. A July 22 draft report from the California Environmental Protection Agency would set a science-based safe level­—called a public health goal—of 0.007 part per trillion for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and 1 ppt for perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) in drinking water. The two compounds are the two most common per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)—a group of environmentally persistent synthetic molecules—found as contaminants in drinking water. PFOA and PFOS were used commercially for decades but phased out in the US by 2015. Exposure to them is linked to cancer and other serious health problems. … ”  Read more from Chemical and Engineering News here:  California drafts safe limits for PFOA and PFOS in drinking water

California platers begin sampling of PFAS pursuant to water board orders

The California State Water Control Board recently issued an order to chromium platers in California to sample for PFAS compounds. NASF and its California Chapters negotiated a model Work Plan for facilities to use in conducting sampling. The Work Plan that was reviewed and approved by the State and Regional Water Boards included a phased approach to sampling. Under this approach, facilities would first sample wastewater and stormwater to determine if PFAS were present. These sampling results would determine if it was necessary to conduct the more expensive soil and groundwater sampling. … ”  Read more from Product Finishing here: California platers begin sampling of PFAS pursuant to water board orders

New technology plays growing role in predicting, corralling western wildfires

As drought- and wind-driven wildfires have become more dangerous across the American West in recent years, firefighters have tried to become smarter in how they prepare.  They’re using new technology and better positioning of resources in a bid to keep small blazes from erupting into mega-fires like the ones that torched a record 4% of California last year, or the nation’s biggest wildfire this year that has charred a section of Oregon, half the size of Rhode Island.  There have been 730 more wildfires in California so far this year than last, an increase of about 16%. But nearly triple the area has burned — 470 square miles (1,200 square kilometers).  Catching fires more quickly gives firefighters a better chance of keeping them small. … ”  Read more from KTLA Channel 5 here: New technology plays growing role in predicting, corralling western wildfires

Let your profits flow with these top 5 water stocks

Water could be one of the biggest investing themes over the next several decades. An increasing global population is only going to cause demand for water to rise in the future.  And, given the fact that water is a necessity of human life, demand for water should hold up extremely well, even during the worst recessions. Therefore, investors with a longer time horizon should consider water stocks.  These factors make water stocks appealing for risk-averse investors looking for stability from their stock investments. In addition, all the water stocks on this list pay dividends and are likely to increase their dividends for many years in the future. … ”  Read more from Forbes here: Let your profits flow with these top 5 water stocks

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In commentary …

It’s up to us to make the voluntary approach the right approach to water use reduction

Steve Lamar, president of ACWA, and Pamela Tobin, vice-president of ACWA, write, “On July 8, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an Executive Order that called on Californians to voluntarily reduce their water use by 15% from what they used in 2020.  The Governor’s use of a voluntary approach strongly encourages Californians to do their part in using water wisely. At the same time, this approach also provides local water managers with an appropriate level of discretion based on the actual water supply conditions in their communities.  His approach deserves our strong support. … ”  Read more from ACWA’s Water News here: It’s up to us to make the voluntary approach the right approach to water use reduction

Shasta Dam releases caused harm on several levels

Julie Winter, member of the Redding City Council, writes, “As a member of the Redding City Council, I also serve as a Commissioner of the Northern California Power Agency (NCPA). NCPA is a nonprofit agency of locally owned electric utilities that makes joint investments to provide affordable, reliable, and clean energy to its communities. It’s an impressive group that has yielded tremendous benefit to Redding Electric Utility (REU) customers. REU and the other NCPA members all purchase power from the Central Valley Project (CVP).  During a recent NCPA Commission meeting, I learned that the Bureau of Reclamation, the agency that operates Shasta Dam, released a substantial amount of water from the Shasta Dam spillway, bypassing the power plant which produces hydropower generation. These releases occurred over five weeks in April and May and were not subject to prior National Environmental Policy Act review. … ”  Read more from the Redding Record-Searchlight here:  Shasta Dam releases caused harm on several levels

Northern California hurt when wildfire efforts are undermined by federal action

Mark Hofer, policy research associate at the Independent Institute, writes, “As the drought began to set in, Governor Newsom, anticipating another season of more than usual wildfires, approved $536 million in spending on prevention. Relatively speaking, California has seemingly been more proactive lately in searching for fire policy reforms. Over thirty of the proposed bills in the California Legislature 2021-2022 Session pertain to wildfires and fire protection related issues. But an unfortunate truth is that much of this wildfire preparation is jeopardized by poor policies at the Federal level of government, and this is especially true for the northernmost counties.  … ”  Read more from the Siskiyou Daily News here: Northern California hurt when wildfire efforts are undermined by federal action

Western cities’ water shortages show we have little time to waste

The Las Vegas Sun editorial board writes, “Climate inaction has left many small Western communities in danger of drying up — literally.  This past week brought a machine gun-like procession of news reports about water supplies dwindling to dangerously low levels in a number of regional towns and rural areas.  Among them: Needles, Calif., near the California-Arizona border, is down to its last well that meets state water quality standards, and it’s being tapped 23 hours a day to meet demand. … ”  Read more from the Las Vegas Sun here: Western cities’ water shortages show we have little time to waste

Will the Drought Contingency Plan be enough to save Lake Mead? Maybe – for now

Bruce Babbitt writes, “When the current drought began in 2000, the three Lower Basin states that take water from the lake (Arizona, California and Nevada) suddenly awakened to the problem. After several years of difficult negotiations, they agreed on a Drought Contingency Plan (DCP) that, with previously agreed cuts, would bring the lake into balance.  Hoping the drought would lift before too long, the DCP negotiators agreed to spread the cuts over coming years in response to changing lake levels. However, as the drought continues and intensifies, the Drought Contingency Plan is looking more like a Drought Certainty Plan.  It now appears that the full schedule of DCP reductions will be needed to bring the lake into balance at approximately 1,025 feet of elevation. … ”  Read more from the Arizona Republic here: Commentary: Will the Drought Contingency Plan be enough to save Lake Mead? Maybe – for now

In people news this weekend …

California Department of Natural Resources Secretary Crowfoot selected as the 2021 ESA Regional Policy Award Winner

The Ecological Society of America (ESA) will present its 14th annual Regional Policy Award to California’s Secretary for the Natural Resources Agency Wade Crowfoot on Monday, Aug. 2, at 10:00 EDT during the 2021 ESA Annual Meeting’s Opening Plenary. The ESA annual award recognizes an elected or appointed local policymaker whose record reflects the use of ecological science to inform policy decisions. Originally scheduled to take place in Long Beach, the conference moved to an all-virtual format in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  “ESA is delighted to recognize Secretary Crowfoot this year,” said ESA President Kathleen Weathers. “The Society applauds his commitment to using science in creating nature-based solutions for building water and climate resilience across California.” … ”  Read more from the Ecological Society of America here: California Department of Natural Resources Secretary Crowfoot selected as the 2021 ESA Regional Policy Award Winner

Paul Gosselin announced as Department of Water Resources’ Deputy Director of Sustainable Groundwater Management

Paul Gosselin has joined the Department of Water Resources (DWR) as the Deputy Director for Sustainable Groundwater Management. In this capacity, Paul will oversee DWR’s groundwater management activities statewide, including the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). Paul has extensive experience in local groundwater management, and environmental regulations and leadership.  Paul joins DWR after serving 13 years as Butte County’s Director of Water and Resource Conservation. Paul managed Butte County’s State Water Project Table A allocation, investigated and reported on groundwater conditions, implemented the Groundwater Management Plan, fostered regional partnerships through the Northern Sacramento Valley Integrated Regional Water Management and other water resource activities.

Click here to continue reading this announcement.

Paul led Butte County’s drought response as chair of the Butte County Drought Task Force. His primary effort centered on sustainable groundwater management through implementation of SGMA. He oversaw the development of three Groundwater Sustainability Plans and was administrator of two Groundwater Sustainability Agencies. Paul has a passion for advancing innovative scientific approaches. He was an early adopter and collaborator of innovating technologies to further understand geologic conditions important to groundwater management. His leadership paved the way for the statewide initiative to map groundwater basins.

Prior to Butte County, Paul was Chief Deputy Director at the California Department of Pesticide Regulation from 1999 to 2007 and was Assistant Director for Enforcement, Environmental Monitoring and Data Management from 1993 to 1999.  During his tenure, he developed regulatory programs to protect surface and groundwater quality. From 1989 to 1993, he was the Director of Regulatory Services for the Massachusetts Department of Food and Agriculture. Paul received a Bachelors degree in biochemistry and a Masters degree in chemistry from the University of Massachusetts.

From my early engagement in SGMA’s development and the crafting of the regulations, I knew the importance this historic law would bring to California water management.  I’m motivated to leveraging my local groundwater management and regulatory experience to build upon the momentum that local agencies and the State have established together to advance SGMA implementation. I look forward to working with the diverse interests across the State to ensure that SGMA fulfills its promise to sustain groundwater for future generations.” – Paul Gosselin

Paul grew up in a coastal town about 15 miles south of Boston. He met his future wife Jana, a Butte County native, at a conference in Davis, California. Jana was working for Clemson University at that time.  They have been married for over 25 years and have three children, Savannah, Noah and Spencer. Paul and Jana enjoy hiking, kayaking and travelling. They also enjoy gardening and other projects around the house. As a native from Massachusetts, Paul is an avid Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics and Bruins fan.

Jennifer Eberlien named as new Regional Forester for Pacific Southwest Region

Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen today announced Jennifer Eberlien as regional forester for the Pacific Southwest Region. Eberlien replaces incoming Chief Randy Moore who has served as regional forester in the Pacific Southwest Region since 2007. Eberlien will oversee 18 national forests in California, which include 20 million acres covering the North Coast, Cascade and Sierra Nevada ranges and from Big Sur to the Mexican border in the South Coast range. Additionally, she will oversee state and private forestry programs in Hawaii and the U.S.-affiliated Pacific Islands.  An agency veteran with nearly 30 years of land management experience, Eberlien is currently stationed in Washington, D.C., where she has served as associate deputy chief for the national forest system since October 2020. … ”  Read more from the US Forest Service here: Jennifer Eberlien named as new Regional Forester for Pacific Southwest Region

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Podcasts …

INGRAINED PODCAST: Must add water

What is shaping up as the most significant drought in decades has impacted much of the West.  A lack of adequate rain, sizzling temperatures and a snowpack that all but vanished have led to major cutbacks in surface water deliveries, including to Sacramento Valley rice fields. This year’s rice acreage is about 20 percent lower than normal as a result.  A massive challenge is fast approaching. 


WATER IS A MANY SPLENDOR’ED THING PODCAST:  A River’s Worth – The Truckee River

The Truckee River provides the baseline water supply and a whole lot more. Water is a Many Splendor’ed Thing brings you another water relationship that has a personally significant impact to your life.  Produced by Steven Baker, Operation Unite® Bringing People Together to Solve Water Problems, Online at www.operationunite.co


WATERLOOP PODCAST: Living Up To The Digital Hype With Jamail Carter

There have been lofty expectations for how sensors, remote monitoring, data, and the Internet of Things would impact the operation of water infrastructure. In many ways the digital tools are beginning to live up to the hype and allowing water managers to have unprecedented and important control of systems, as discussed in this episode with Jamail Carter, Co-Founder and Chief Revenue Officer of Varuna. Jamail also talks about the opportunities to more fully embrace the power of technology, radically reinvent water infrastructure, and utilize expected federal funding to drive the transformation needed in the 21st century.

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In regional water news this weekend …

Klamath Water Rights: could there be a solution?

The Klamath water rights issue dates back decades and is as complex and nuanced as it is lengthy but when boiled down it seems to come back to one primal animal instinct that all living beings share: to ensure the survival of our spawn.  For the Lost River and Shortnose Suckerfish in the Klamath basin, that continuum was disturbed somewhere along the line. The adult fish are healthy but aging while their spawn has been failing to thrive.  Pending on their survival are the identity, traditions, culture, and livelihood of the Klamath tribes. … ”  Read more from Channel 10 here: Klamath Water Rights: could there be a solution?

Hmong community protests outside Yreka courthouse over water restrictions

Members of Siskiyou County’s Hmong community rallied outside the county courthouse in Yreka on Tuesday over what they say is racist treatment by police and racist enforcement of water usage rights by the county.  An ordinance passed in May aimed at curtailing illegal marijuana grows prohibits water trucks and other vehicles from carrying over 100 gallons of water on certain county roads. Rally organizers say the roads selected, primarily in the rural, unincorporated communities of Butte Valley and Big Springs, unfairly target the Hmong community who reside there. … ”  Read more from Channel 7 here: Hmong community protests outside Yreka courthouse over water restrictions

People rallied outside Shasta Dam Visitor Center for Happy Valley water protest

People rallied this morning at Shasta Lake Dam to protest water cuts for the community of Happy Valley.  On Friday morning, over 20 Happy Valley residents showed up at the Shasta Dam Visitors Center located on Shasta Dam Blvd., protesting the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation claiming the federal agency is mismanaging the water, impacting the water allocation to the community of Happy Valley. … ”  Read more from KRCR here: People rallied outside Shasta Dam Visitor Center for Happy Valley water protest

Happy Valley resident says their small farm is struggling with the water crisis

In the town of Happy Valley, residents are dealing with a crisis. California is experiencing an extreme drought, and Happy Valley says there is a meager amount of water left in the community.  Coleen Woman, a resident of Happy Valley said their small farm, Wogoman’s Farm, is struggling to stay afloat as the lack of water striking hard for her family and their livestock.  A mix of emotions is expressed from Wogoman as she looks upon her farmland and home for over 15 years. ... ”  Read more from KRCR here: Happy Valley resident says their small farm is struggling with the water crisis

Sen. Mike McGuire holds hearing on drought devastation in California Tuesday

Senator Mike McGuire is holding a hearing on drought devastation, dead baby salmon, and why repeating the mistakes of the past could lead to extinction with State Agency officials, tribal leaders and fishery and watershed experts this Tuesday, July 27. … ”  Read more from KRCR here: Sen. Mike McGuire holds hearing on drought devastation in California Tuesday

Mendocino is running low on water after 2 years of little rainfall

A Northern California coastal town popular with tourists is running low on water after two years of little rainfall during a drought in the U.S. West, forcing residents and business owners to truck in water from elsewhere.  Mendocino, known for its beaches, cliffside trails and redwood forests, relies on mostly shallow, rain-dependent aquifers, and many of the wells are running low or have dried up, the Press Democrat reported Thursday.  The 170-year-old hamlet has roughly 1,000 full-time residents but about 2,000 daily visitors, said Ryan Rhoades, superintendent of the Mendocino Community Services District. … ”  Read more from KTLA here: Mendocino is running low on water after 2 years of little rainfall

Lady of the Lake: Distressed about drought

Dear Lady of the Lake,  We are in a drought and I am worried about the impact of this drought on the Lake County economy and the ecosystems of Clear Lake. What should we expect with the current drought when it comes to boating, fishing, and drinking water from Clear Lake? Is there really anything we can do?  — Distressed about drought in Nice  Dear Distressed, Well I am glad you are paying attention and acknowledging that things in the lake are interconnected. That really is step one. I also am guessing, because you are worried about the drought situation, that you are doing everything you can to conserve as much water as possible ... ”  Read more from the Lake County News here: Lady of the Lake: Distressed about drought

Lake County: Cal-WATCH project tracks harmful algal blooms, tests tap water from wells and intakes

A local tribe and members of partner organizations will be surveying Lake County residents and visitors this weekend as part of a larger effort to reliably track and prevent the health impacts of harmful algal blooms and communicate with the public about them.  Big Valley Band of Pomo Indians is partnering with Tracking California — a program of the Oakland-based Public Health Institute — along with the state agencies to carry out the California Water: Assessment of Toxins for Community Health Project, or Cal-WATCH.  The group sought funding for a five-year project through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Environmental Health Capacity program. … ”  Read more from the Lake County News here: Lake County: Cal-WATCH project tracks harmful algal blooms, tests tap water from wells and intakes

Tahoe’s natural filters: Preserving, restoring wetlands essential to lake clarity

Every spring, the snow begins to melt and make its way down the mountains, across marshes and meadows, and through the 63 tributaries flowing into Lake Tahoe.  The water flowing down Tahoe’s 501-square-foot watershed — of which the lake itself takes up about 38% — helps raise the fluctuating lake level. But the route that the water takes before eventually ending up in the lake is crucial to maintaining Tahoe’s famed clarity.  Why, you might ask? It’s all about those SEZs. Stream environment zones are a Tahoe-specific term, meaning “an area that owes its biological and physical characteristics to the presence of surface or groundwater,” according to the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. Meadows, marshes, streams, streambanks, and beaches are all examples of SEZs that play a critical role in water quality by acting as Tahoe’s natural filtration system, sifting out nutrients and fine sediment, and attenuating floods during high flows. … ”  Read more from the Sierra Sun here: Tahoe’s natural filters: Preserving, restoring wetlands essential to lake clarity

Critics bid to overturn approval of Tahoe resort expansion

Environmental lawyers are urging a California appellate court to overturn a pair of district court rulings that handed significant victories to the Squaw Valley ski resort as it moves forward with expansion plans critics say will dramatically increase traffic in the area and harm Lake Tahoe’s air and water quality.  Justice Vance W. Raye, chief of the Third District Court of Appeals, appeared sympathetic to their arguments this week that Placer County may have violated a public records law in approving part of an environmental analysis and mitigation plan at the home of the 1960 Winter Olympics.  The three-member panel didn’t offer any clues about its take on Sierra Watch’s broader challenge accusing the developer of intentionally failing to adequately assess the effects on the nearby lake and downplayed the potential for dangerous delays during a wildfire evacuation. … ”  Read more from the Tahoe Daily Tribune here:  Critics bid to overturn approval of Tahoe resort expansion

Is drought a concern of  Manteca City Council?

Drive down Woodward Avenue — or any other street in Manteca for that matter that has a landscaped area maintained by the city — and you will see periodic examples of gutter flooding and watering between the hours of noon and 6 p.m.  Both situations are in clear violation of the city’s year round water conservation rules residents and businesses are required to follow.  This is happening against the background of all of San Joaquin County being classified as suffering from extreme drought and part of the Stanislaus River watershed that Manteca partially depends upon for water slipping into the most dire category — exceptional drought. … ”  Read more from the Manteca Bulletin here: Is drought a concern of City Manteca Council?

Teviston residents under boil water notice as water woes continue

Water troubles continue in the Tulare County town of Teviston after a well that failed last month.  A board member with the Teviston Community Services district said the well had been fixed.  But despite the progress, residents are under a boil water notice because the water is still not safe to drink. … ”  Read more from KFSN here: Teviston residents under boil water notice as water woes continue

Is this SLO County community running out of water? A plan wants to bring in more homes

In Los Osos, it’s hard to go anywhere without seeing water.  The Morro Bay estuary and the Pacific Ocean border the backyards for many homes in the unincorporated community of about 16,000 people in coastal San Luis Obispo County.  But it’s another source of water — one you can’t see without turning on your tap — that is causing concern.  Seawater intrusion and nitrate pollution is impacting the Los Osos water basin, the community’s only drinkable water source, an issue worsened by the extreme drought conditions facing San Luis Obispo County. … ”  Read more from the San Luis Obispo Tribune here: Is this SLO County community running out of water? A plan wants to bring in more homes

Santa Clarita: Cleanup complete, but Whittaker-Bermite land still in limbo

As the cleanup of close to 1,000 acres of contaminated soil and water at Whittaker-Bermite comes to a close, and while lawyers in bankruptcy court hundreds of miles from the site slice through litigation so that one day stores or homes can be built there, the land itself is reverting to the way it was long before the dynamite makers made a mess of it, where the deer — if not the antelope — and other critters play, marking a robust return of wildlife.  “We’ve had deer making regular visits and, in fact, all kinds of wildlife at the site,” said Hassan Amini, project manager with the cleanup firm Amec Foster Wheeler, who earlier this year proudly informed state officials that soil remediation was complete and the cleanup of groundwater ongoing to the tune of hundreds of thousands of gallons of treated water being discharged back into the Santa Clara River. … ”  Read more from The Signal here: Cleanup complete, but Whittaker-Bermite land still in limbo

Santa Clarita: Water board confident in local water quality

The Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency board of directors felt assured in their agency’s water quality after receiving a presentation Tuesday night about the agency’s 2021 Consumer Confidence Report released in early June.  Ryan Bye, a water quality specialist at SCV Water, told directors that he draws confidence in the agency’s water from his daily review of its water quality data.  “When I look at the Consumer Confidence Report, I feel that our water is safe enough for our kids to drink (and) safe enough for me to drink,” he said. ... ”  Read more from the Santa Clarita Signal here: Santa Clarita: Water board confident in local water quality

SMa.r.t. Column: Warning water wars ahead

Santa Monica Architects for a Responsible Tomorrow write, “Until it rains again, all the western states (including California) are being fried by a deadly drought. We have seen this before: seven years ago we had to reduce the entire State’s water consumption by 20% to get through that crisis. No one knows how long this newest drought will last. But we all know the symptoms: super heated air setting temperature records everywhere (116 degrees in Portland, Oregon), ash and air pollution as far away as New York City, and rampant forest fires everywhere. Now other interactive effects are starting to kick in. Certain towns (Oakley, Utah among others) are not issuing building permits because they simply have no water, and at Hoover dam, whose water level is more than 130 feet below normal, officials are going to have to choose between generating power or providing water. In this dangerous ecological moment the State of California is mandating that our City permit the construction of 8895 unnecessary new units that will supposedly increase our population about 20% over the next eight years.  … ”  Read more from the Santa Monica Daily Press here: SMa.r.t. Column: Warning water wars ahead

As noxious fumes sicken residents, anger grows about Hyperion plant sewage discharge

On a jog in her El Segundo neighborhood, Corrie Zupo’s head hurt and her eyes watered.  She blamed the symptoms on noxious fumes from the nearby Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant, which is undergoing at least a month of repairs after discharging 17 million gallons of raw sewage into the ocean on July 11.  Other residents have complained of rashes, nausea and burning eyes. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: As noxious fumes sicken residents, anger grows about Hyperion plant sewage discharge

LA expands which El Segundo residents can get money for AC units, hotel rooms amid odor from Hyperion plant

LA Sanitation & Environment has decided to expand which El Segundo residents are eligible to receive reimbursement for either air conditioning units or hotel rooms in an effort to improve their quality of life amid an odor caused by a recent sewage spill at the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant, the Los Angeles city agency announced Friday, July 23.  On July 11, 17 million gallons of raw sewage was discharged into the ocean from the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant, near El Segundo, causing beaches to close for several days last week. Plant officials attributed the incident to debris that clogged screens and caused flooding at the facility. That flooding, LA Sanitation & Environment said in a statement this week, was “nearly catastrophic.” … ”  Read more from the Long Beach Press Telegram here: LA expands which El Segundo residents can get money for AC units, hotel rooms amid odor from Hyperion plant

New partnership formed to address Inland Empire water challenges

Four water agencies today announced the launch of a new regional partnership to increase awareness of and advocate for solutions to regional water quality and supply challenges. The Inland Empire Clean Water Partnership (IE CWP) is launching as many municipalities face challenges surrounding dry-weather conditions and we approach another hot summer in Southern California.  The water agencies included in the partnership are Eastern Municipal Water District, Inland Empire Utilities Agency, San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District and Western Municipal Water District. These water providers collectively serve water users throughout Riverside and San Bernardino including wholesale water providers, and residential, businesses and agricultural customers. … ”  Read more from the Eastern Municipal Water District here: New partnership formed to address Inland Empire water challenges

Emergency generator for Laguna Beach sewer system boosted by FEMA grant

The Laguna Beach City Council unanimously approved a pair of contracts on July 13 worth $282,500 for the engineering and construction of a new emergency power generator for a downtown sewer lift station that moves a million gallons of wastewater per day.  The emergency generator is critical infrastructure for Laguna Beach because it ensures the sewer system will continue running even during a power grid outage. This work is largely funded by a $256,567 grant from the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services and Federal Emergency Management Agency Hazard Mitigation Grant Program. … ”  Read more from the Laguna Beach Independent here: Emergency generator for Laguna Beach sewer system boosted by FEMA grant

Salton Sea: ‘The air is toxic’: how an idyllic California lake became a nightmare

Asthma and allergies are a part of life here in Imperial county, California. A way of life, even, in a region shrouded by a grey-beige dust that haunts Vázquez’ days and nightmares. … Here, in California’s far south-east, there’s no escaping the noxious air. The haze that hovers over Imperial is a peculiar blend – incorporating pesticide plumes, exhaust fumes, factory emissions, and something curious: vaporized dust rising from the nearby Salton Sea.  The glimmering blue basin that stretches across the desert is either starkly beautiful or grotesque – depending on whom you ask. … ”  Read more from The Guardian here: Salton Sea: ‘The air is toxic’: how an idyllic California lake became a nightmare

Hamby’s ‘first amendment’ rights rub IID directors wrong

After a pronouncement against building new dams and pipelines on the Colorado River that JB Hamby said was the result of the “manifest destiny” of suburban sprawl, two of his fellow Imperial Irrigation District directors questioned whether such statements constituted an official stance by the district.  “I just want to know if we as a board have taken a position in regards to moratoriums on new dams and proposed pipelines. … I do want to caution this board that declaring war on urban water users can be extremely dangerous,” IID Director Alex Cardenas said on Tuesday, July 20, during the board’s meeting.  “Sticking your finger in the eye of these urban users is something we need to discuss as a board. I think this is unnecessarily provocative,” Cardenas added. … ”  Read more from the Holtville Tribune here: Hamby’s ‘first amendment’ rights rub IID directors wrong

Imperial Irrigation District marks 110 years facing threats, uncertainty

To appreciate the epic scale on which the Imperial Irrigation District has operated for the past 110 years, it must be known that attempts to divert the mighty Colorado River into a network of canals was years in the making.  The men who would undertake the challenge — recognizable names like C.R. Rockwood, Dr. W.T. Heffernan, A.H. Heber, L.M. Holt, and others — would do so under the aegis of the California Development Co., incorporated in 1896.  Their vision of turning the Valley’s vast sunbaked desert into a western Nile Delta through the same complex system of irrigation canals the Egyptians used to reclaim and farm the North African desert for some 5,000 years was a lofty goal indeed. … ”  Read more from the Holtville Tribune here: Imperial Irrigation District marks 110 years facing threats, uncertainty

Along the Colorado River …

Colorado River shortage expected to hit farms first

With Arizona farmers expecting to take hit next year on their allocation of Colorado River water, water planners, managers, and researchers statewide are keeping a close eye on models that show the shortage could hit cities and towns in the next few years.  Arizona would lose 512,000 acre-feet under a Bureau of Reclamation Tier 1 shortage expected next month, but the reduction would not affect average Arizonans, said Thomas Buschatzke, director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources. … ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service here: Colorado River shortage expected to hit farms first

Could Las Vegas’s grass removal policies alter the western us drought-scape?

The story of how Las Vegas became a leader in water conservation is driven, in part, by necessity. Not only is Nevada the driest state in the nation, but it also has a legal right to the smallest share of the Colorado River, a lifeline for much of the Southwest that supports about 40 million people.   That story starts in the 1990s. Developers were building. The population was about to spike—Las Vegas faced growing demands and a finite supply of water. The task of freeing up additional water fell to the Southern Nevada Water Authority, and the agency looked to expand its existing supply.   The water authority bought water on tributaries to the Colorado River, recycled indoor water to boost supplies, and pursued water rights across rural Nevada in a quest, eventually stymied by political fights, to pipe in new water. But eventually, and increasingly, it stretched its portfolio by simply using less. … ”  Read more from Sierra Magazine here: Could Las Vegas’s grass removal policies alter the western us drought-scape?

‘Long overdue’: Lawmakers propose $6.7 billion to bring clean drinking water to Indian Country

Two Democratic senators have introduced legislation that would dramatically scale up funding to build new water infrastructure in Indian Country, seeking to address a backlog of needed projects and finally bring clean drinking water to communities that have been living with scarcity and toxic contamination for generations.  The bill, introduced by Sens. Michael Bennet of Colorado and Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, would provide about $6.7 billion for a variety of water infrastructure projects, the largest amount of additional funding to date to address the longstanding injustice of the lack of clean drinking water in many Indigenous communities across the country. … ”  Read more from the Arizona Sun here: ‘Long overdue’: Lawmakers propose $6.7 billion to bring clean drinking water to Indian Country

Lake Powell poised to hit record low, Colorado Springs in the throes of contingency planning

With Lake Powell poised to hit a new record low in the coming days, Colorado Springs water storage levels are in good shape after a wet spring cut back the need to water lawns and gardens.  However, since the city receives as much as 70% of its water from the Colorado River basin annually, Colorado Springs Utilities staff are watching the exceptional drought conditions and low water levels across the basin. After two years of drought, the conditions on the Colorado River are deteriorating much faster than Utilities anticipated even three or four years ago, said Kalsoum Abbasi, water conveyance planning supervisor.  “We are in the throes of contingency planning around everything that’s happening,” she said. … ”  Read more from The Gazette here: Lake Powell poised to hit record low, Colorado Springs in the throes of contingency planning

Drawing down the Blue Mesa to help the dry West

Next month, the Bureau of Reclamation will begin a drawdown of Blue Mesa Reservoir near Gunnison. The Blue Mesa is already low because of the poor winter snowpack on the Western Slope.   But it’s in much better shape than Lake Powell in Utah and Arizona. The Bureau says since its pre-drought high in September 1999 at 95% capacity, Lake Powell has dropped more than 145 vertical feet. It’s down 16 million acre feet of water. Fearing there’s not enough to generate electricity at its hydro facilities the bureau is seeking water from upstream. … ”  Read more from Channel 4 here: Drawing down the Blue Mesa to help the dry West

Demand management discussions continue amid worsening Colorado River crisis

The crisis on the Colorado River is not waiting for the state of Colorado to develop a program to avoid water shortages.  That was the message that Colorado Water Conservation Board members received from some commenters at their regular meeting Wednesday. The state water board is investigating the feasibility of a program known as demand management, which would pay irrigators on a temporary and voluntary basis to not irrigate and instead use that saved water to meet downstream obligations on the Colorado River.  James Eklund, former head of the CWCB and one of the architects of the Drought Contingency Plan, which allows for the possibility of a demand-management program, urged the board in the public-comments portion of the discussion to take swift action on what he called arguably the largest water crisis Colorado has ever faced. … ”  Read more from the Craig Press here: Demand management discussions continue amid worsening Colorado River crisis

Does nature have a legal right to exist? Colorado mountain town says yes

Leaders of the Colorado mountain town Nederland just gave their surrounding 448-square-mile watershed “fundamental and inalienable rights,” like those conferred on people and corporations — bolstering a movement that has gained traction amid concerns nature is suffering.  The Nederland resolution, which passed 5-1 on July 6, also directs town trustees to appoint guardians who can speak for nature in local decision-making the way court-appointed guardians speak for children, dementia-stricken elders and pop star Britney Spears.  Under current U.S. law, forests, mountains and rivers lack legal rights, let alone standing to be represented in court.  Proponents contend subjugating nature as a commodity, used to satisfy human demands, is leading to disaster as the climate warms and they’re pressing for a new paradigm. ... ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here: Does nature have a legal right to exist? Colorado mountain town says yes

In national water news this weekend …

Defending the rights of nature: A new approach to save the planet

““We need to do something different,” says Thomas Linzey, Senior Legal Counsel at the Center for Democratic and Environmental Rights. He works globally and nationally to advance the “rights of nature,” stepping into the shoes of ecosystems to litigate, advance, and adopt laws to prevent issues such as toxic dumping and fracking.  “The law has to go through a transformation,” Linzey says. “That evolution has to be shifting from nature as a thing, to nature as an animated entity capable of holding rights.” … ”  Read more from KCRW here: Defending the rights of nature: A new approach to save the planet

Also on Maven’s Notebook this weekend …

NEPA DOCS: Water Year 2021 Whiskeytown Lake Drought Action (Alternatives to increase Shasta storage)

NEPA DOCS: West False River Temporary Drought Salinity Barrier removal

NOTICE: Pre-Hearing Conference and Public Hearing: San Joaquin County pending water right application

NOTICE: Delta Science Program Completes Independent Review of Delta Mercury Control Program Phase 1 Studies

Catch up on last week’s news in the Weekly Digest …

WEEKLY WATER NEWS DIGEST for July 18-23: Floating wetlands a potential solution for Delta food-web support and habitat; Water Forum 2.0; plus all the top water news of the week

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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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