DAILY DIGEST, 7/27: Concerns rise over water levels at Lake Oroville; State Water Board deputy director discusses water supply concerns for farmers; What it means to store water for the environment; Groundwater contamination: Punitives may come to those who wait; and more …


On the calendar today …

  • CEQA SCOPING MEETING: Resolution regarding estuarine habitat restoration and multi-benefit climate change adaptation projects along the shorelines in San Francisco Bay from 10am to 12pm.  The amendment would clarify the Water Board’s preferred polices related to planning and permitting estuarine habitat restoration and multi-benefit climate change adaptation projects along the shorelines and low-lying areas of San Francisco Bay and the outer Pacific Coast.  Click here for Zoom link.
  • FREE WEBINAR: California Water Data Consortium Data for Lunch w/SF Estuary Institute from 12pm to 1pm.  This talk will share some of the findings and opportunities associated with UAS-based imagery, in particular in service of water quality management. The team analyzed the imagery to determine the observability of trash generally, while also developing solutions to detect cigarette butts. The results from these efforts offered new opportunities to measure the effectiveness of management actions. Click here to register.
  • FREE WEBINAR: Statewide Cannabis Program: An Overview from 1pm to 2:30pm.  Presented by: Cori Gray, Senior Environmental Scientist, Supervisory–California Department of Fish and Wildlife.  Please register here.
  • WORKSHOP: Proposed emergency curtailment and reporting regulation for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta watershed from 1pm to 5pm. State Water Resources Control Board staff will hold a workshop to provide information and receive public input on a proposed emergency curtailment and reporting regulation for the SacramentoSan Joaquin Delta watershed. Click here for Zoom linkPasscode 242851.
  • WORKSHOP: Advancing 30×30 and Protecting Biodiversity from 3pm to 5pm.  Join the California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA) for a topical workshop exploring opportunities for the state to protect and maintain its unique biodiversity through conservation of lands and coastal waters.  The July 27th event will feature a presentation from an advisory panel and an opportunity for the public to share their perspectives and insights on the topic.  Click here to register.

In California water news today …

‘It’s been dropping fast all year’: Concerns rise over water levels at Lake Oroville

The drought is taking its toll on dams and rivers throughout California and there is no clearer example than at Lake Oroville where water levels have been dropping all year.  “It’s been dropping fast all year,” said fisherman Jeremiah Corlin. “It’s been slowing down, but it’s still dropping fast.”  The Oroville Dam is the state water system’s tallest, but boaters and fishermen have witnessed the water level fall nearly 250 feet below average. ... ”  Read more from Fox 40 here: ‘It’s been dropping fast all year’: Concerns rise over water levels at Lake Oroville

Video: State Water Board deputy director discusses water supply concerns for farmers

Water is needed to produce all that comes out of California’s fertile fields, but as this year’s drought intensifies, those who manage the state’s water resources are making some tough choices.  Some farmers in California may soon see their water needs go unfulfilled due to the drought and proposed emergency curtailment order by the State Water Resources Control Board.  There will be a vote on Aug. 3, and an information workshop on Tuesday.  Erik Ekdahl, the State Water Resources Control Board’s Division of Water Rights deputy director, joined Sonseeahray to explain where these drought conditions may take California’s agricultural industry.”  Watch video (3:40) from Fox 40 here: State Water Board deputy director discusses water supply concerns for farmers

What it means to store water for the environment

It’s no secret that California’s ecosystems suffer during droughts. In times of water scarcity, environmental uses are often low priority, leading to fish die-offs and other negative outcomes. For the next year, Professor Sarah Null of Utah State University will be working with a diverse team of experts to study how to better manage water stored for the environment, to better protect vulnerable ecosystems during a time of biodiversity loss and accelerating climate change. Null, an expert in environmental water management and water systems modeling, is a PPIC CalTrout Ecosystem Fellow. … ”  Read more from the PPIC here: What it means to store water for the environment

Snow can disappear straight into the atmosphere in hot, dry weather

Creeks, rivers and lakes that are fed by melting snow across the U.S. West are already running low as of mid-July 2021, much to the worry of farmers, biologists and snow hydrologists like me. This is not surprising in California, where snow levels over the previous winter were well below normal. But it is also true across Colorado and the Rocky Mountains, which in general received a normal amount of snow. You’d think if there was normal amount of snow you’d have plenty of water downstream, right?  Over a century ago, snow scientist James Church at the University of Nevada, Reno, began examining how the amount of snow on mountains related to the amount of water in rivers fed by the melting snow. But as hydrologists have learned over the many decades since, the correlations between snows and river flows are not perfect. Surprisingly, there is a lot researchers don’t know about how the snowpack is connected to rivers. … ”  Read more from The Conversation here: Snow can disappear straight into the atmosphere in hot, dry weather

New study finds California cannabis farms irrigating with groundwater may affect stream flows

The legalization of marijuana for recreational use in California 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 UC Berkeley examined where cannabis growers in California 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.  The researchers studied water use in 11 of the state’s top cannabis-producing counties – Humboldt, Lake, Mendocino, Monterey, Nevada, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Sonoma, Trinity, and Yolo. … ”  Read more from the Sierra Sun Times here: New study finds California cannabis farms irrigating with groundwater may affect stream flows

The western drought is a crisis for migrating birds, too

Empty wells. Salmon die-offs. Water thieves. The uncontrollable flames of monster wildfire.  In California, one of the worst droughts on record has touched off a kaleidoscopic range of emergencies, amplifying age-old resource conflicts as leaders call for conservation by cities, curtailments to farmers and coordination across the board.  The interconnectedness of the state’s hydrology is especially apparent in one corner of the Sacramento Valley, where scarce water for farmers will also mean less for the migrating birds that make use of the same land. ... ”  Read more from Bloomberg City Lab here: The western drought is a crisis for migrating birds, too

LaMalfa and western members of Congress call on administration to address drought

Congressman Doug LaMalfa issued the following statement after leading a letter with colleagues to Department of the Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to call for immediate action on the drought crisis that is impacting communities across the West.  Rep. LaMalfa said, “The single-minded focus on providing water to environmental concerns has left California’s reservoirs nearly empty. Wells are running dry, farmers are having water cut off mid-season, and fires are currently ravaging our forests. The Biden Administration formed an “Interagency Working Group,” but there has been no action. This Administration must do more to address this drought crisis in California. We need true forest practices that thin trees and brush for healthier forest floors and new water storage reservoirs to provide significant relief to those continuously impacted by these crises.”  Full text of the letter can be found here.

New lawsuit tests application of public trust doctrine to groundwater, well permits and SGMA

On June 23rd, California Coastkeeper Alliance (CCKA) filed the lawsuit California Coastkeeper Alliance v. County of Sonoma (Case No. SCV-268718) in Sonoma County Superior Court. According to CCKA’s website, the suit was filed “to compel the County of Sonoma to consider and mitigate impacts to public trust resources caused by unregulated and wasteful groundwater pumping in the Russian River watershed.” The organization went on to state that, “This is an important move during this historic drought to protect salmon populations that are already at risk of extinction, and to protect surface water users already facing severe curtailments from being harmed further by unregulated and wasteful groundwater pumping.” … ”  Read more from Nossaman LLP here: New lawsuit tests application of public trust doctrine to groundwater, well permits and SGMA

Groundwater contamination: Punitives may come to those who wait

California’s courts routinely impose punitive damages awards against polluters that knowingly release hazardous substances which contaminate groundwater. But California has been slow to follow the nationwide trend favoring punitive damages awards against polluters that knowingly fail to remediate their past hazardous releases before those releases spread and cause greater harm.  While California’s punitive-damages jurisprudence has helped to deter potential polluters from releasing hazardous substances in the first place, therefore, it has not deterred the culpable misconduct which actually causes the most harm to groundwater-contamination plaintiffs – i.e., it has not punished polluters that sit idly by as their discrete hazardous-substance releases balloon into groundwater contaminant plumes which migrate offsite and pollute neighboring properties and drinking water wells.  On May 28, 2021, however, California’s courts took a big step towards creating a punitive-damages jurisprudence that can deter contamination of the state’s groundwater by punishing polluters that unjustifiably delay their cleanups. ... ”  Read more from the California Water Law Journal here: Groundwater contamination: Punitives may come to those who wait

Why has western heat been so intense? It boils down to 5 reasons

No other region in the country is warming faster than the western United States when it comes to increasing daytime highs, a trend that became apparent with the unprecedented and record-shattering heat wave that took over the Pacific Northwest earlier this summer.  Heat has been building all across the west this year. In June, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Nevada and California all had record heat statewide. Salt Lake City had its warmest June in 74 years of records with an average temperature of 80.2 F, which is 8.6 degrees Fahrenheit above normal. … As a continent, North America experienced its hottest June in recorded history last month.   AccuWeather meteorologists explained five reasons for the heat across the West this summer. … ”  Read more from AccuWeather here: Why has western heat been so intense? It boils down to 5 reasons

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In commentary today …

The California salmon wipeout is even worse than you think

The LA Times editorial board writes, “The news reports about the California salmon wipeout got a good chunk of the story right: Record-breaking heat waves made Northern California rivers too warm to sustain migrating chinook salmon, and virtually all of the salmon in the Sacramento River this summer have died, or will die, before reproducing. Any eggs that were successfully laid, or the fry hatched from those eggs, are also probably doomed. So a generation of the rare and endangered winter-run Chinook is virtually gone, and the spring-run as well. … ”  Continue reading at the LA Times here: The California salmon wipeout is even worse than you think

LA may have ravished the Owens River but SJ farmers dried up the San Joaquin

Dennis Wyatt, editor of the Manteca Bulletin, writes, “Go 120 miles as the crow flies southeast of Manteca and you will find the headwaters of two of California’s most tormented rivers — the San Joaquin River and Owens River.  The 183-mile Owens River starts from Glass Creek on the southern face of the 11,597-foot San Joaquin Mountain. Today instead of ultimately flowing into Owens Lake that just over 100 years ago covered 108 square miles and was teeming with aquatic life and migratory birds, the lake is a dusty shell of its former self.  The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power diverted much of the eastern Sierra runoff that feeds the Owens River into the LA Aqueduct to support growth beyond the ability of local hydrology to support in the Los Angeles Basin. … ”  Read more from the Manteca Bulletin here: LA may have ravished the Owens River but SJ farmers dried up the San Joaquin

In regional water news and commentary today …

Conversations about drought in the Klamath Basin

Like many places in the arid West, water is the lifeblood of the Klamath Basin. And it is in short supply. Although many in the community have been working together for years to try to come to an agreement about how to share limited water resources equitably, the unprecedented drought this year has native tribes, irrigators, fishermen and wildlife managers all asking an existential question: If we can’t go on like this, what is a viable path forward?  Recently, OPB’s Think Out Loud team traveled to the Klamath Basin to talk to a number of people whose lives and livelihoods and cultures are all connected to the water. … ”  Continue reading at OPB here: Conversations about drought in the Klamath Basin

Water crisis reaches boiling point on Oregon-California line

Ben DuVal knelt in a barren field near the California-Oregon state line and scooped up a handful of parched soil as dust devils whirled around him and birds flitted between empty irrigation pipes.  DuVal’s family has farmed the land for three generations, and this summer, for the first time ever, he and hundreds of others who rely on irrigation from a depleted, federally managed lake aren’t getting any water from it at all.  As farmland goes fallow, Native American tribes along the 257-mile long river that flows from the lake to the Pacific Ocean watch helplessly as fish that are inextricable from their diet and culture die in droves or fail to spawn in shallow water. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: Water crisis reaches boiling point on Oregon-California line

Podcast: A drying lake in Oregon attracts the far right

Today, in Episode 2 of our Drought Week series, we go to Upper Klamath Lake in southern Oregon. As water shortages become a permanent part of life in the American West, battles are brewing everywhere for what little remains. Even in long-verdant areas like the Beaver State.  We’ll talk to L.A. Times reporter Anita Chabria and Don Gentry, the chairman of the Klamath Tribes. The tribes get first rights to the water of Upper Klamath Lake, which they use to help sustain a fish important to their culture. But farmers are angry because they’re not getting any water this year. Now, members of the far right are coming in to try to exploit the tension.”  Listen to the podcast (29:36) from the LA Times here: Podcast: A drying lake in Oregon attracts the far right

Nevada County Column:  Here’s a better poll for reopening mine

Jeff Kane writes, “During the past month, numerous Union readers published eloquent critiques of its article about the poll that claimed to reveal majority support for reopening the Idaho-Maryland Mine.  That poll actually speaks less about the mine than Rise Gold’s low opinion of us. Its pollster was J. Wallin Opinion and Research (jwallin.com). Justin Wallin, its CEO, describes himself on his website as a “marketing concept” strategist. He holds an MBA with an emphasis in marketing and strategy. In other words, he doesn’t advertise himself to potential clients as a pollster, but as a marketer. And, as he mentioned to The Union, he’s good at what he does. … ”  Continue reading at The Union here: Nevada County Column:  Here’s a better poll for reopening mine

Curtailment orders for Russian River in the works as Lake Mendocino storage drops

State regulators will suspend water rights for diverters in the upper and lower Russian River in a desperate, unprecedented effort to preserve a minimal amount of storage in Lake Mendocino, which is falling by as much as 58 million gallons a day.  The rapidly falling lake levels were on course to cross a threshold that would trigger curtailment orders in the upper river under emergency regulations approved in June. … ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here: Curtailment orders for Russian River in the works as Lake Mendocino storage drops

Even threat of lightning has San Francisco Bay Area firefighters on edge

Another upper atmospheric blast of monsoonal moisture was heading toward the San Francisco Bay Area Monday, bringing with it a chance of thunderstorms.  While the chance of a thunderstorm remains at just about 15-20 percent, the thought of even one lightning strike in the tinder-dry, drought-stricken hills sends anxiety levels soaring among local residents and firefighters.  “Large monsoonal thunderstorms have been allowed to develop over the desert Southwest over the recent several days, with the latest being a massive convective complex that rampaged through Vegas last evening and is now bearing down on Los Angeles early this morning,” the National Weather Service said in a Monday forecast update. … ”  Read more from CBS Sacramento here: Even threat of lightning has San Francisco Bay Area firefighters on edge

Stricter Vallejo water use policy inevitable?

Though next-door neighbor American Canyon declared a “Drought Emergency Stage 2” last week, Vallejo has refrained from pushing such stringent water restrictions.  That could change soon, however, according said Beth Schoenberger, operations manager of the city’s water department, with an assist from Associate Engineer Melissa Cansdale.  “Currently, the situation is reminiscent of the 2015 drought but may get worse,” said Schoenberger.  Last year and this year are expected to be the second driest two-year period on record, behind only 1976-’77, Schoenberger said, emphasizing that “Stage 1” restrictions have been in place in Vallejo since the 2015 drought. … ”  Read more from the Times=Herald here: Stricter Vallejo water use policy inevitable?

Bay Area, Tahoe forecast: Thunderstorms possible as monsoonal weather rolls in

Monsoonal moisture making a splash in Southern California on Monday could bring a slight chance of lightning and rain to the Bay Area early in the week — and increase the risk of thunderstorms in the Tahoe area, where air quality is suffering from the massive Dixie Fire nearby, according to the National Weather Service.  The weather service reported that downtown Los Angeles received 0.09 inches of rain Monday morning — bringing the monthly total to the third-wettest July since record-keeping began in 1877. The wettest July in downtown L.A. occurred in 2015, with 0.38 inches of rain, according to the NWS. … ” Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: Bay Area, Tahoe forecast: Thunderstorms possible as monsoonal weather rolls in

Photos: Drone views of EBMUD reservoirs as California faces extreme drought

After a very dry winter and spring, all of California is now in some level of drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. One year ago, just 58 percent of California was in drought.  In the East Bay, the East Bay Municipal Utility District’s reservoirs total system capacity is currently at 61% full, which is 73% of average. The district is in decent shape for now, but is encouraging its customers to conserve water as much as possible. The Upper San Leandro Reservoir (63% full) and the Briones (93% full) and San Pablo Reservoirs (55% full) are fed from the Pardee Reservoir (87% full) in Calaveras County, which provides 90% of EBMUD water. From Pardee, the water travels 95 miles through the Mokelumne Aqueduct to the East Bay, where it’s treated and stored until needed, serving 35 municipalities and 1.4 million customers. “We keep it as full as possible to maintain our water supply,” said EBMUD spokeswoman Andrea Pook about Pardee. … ”  Read more from the Mercury News here: Photos: Drone views of EBMUD reservoirs as California faces extreme drought

Study: Walls for sea level rise could cause floods in San Mateo County

Sections of the Bay Area trying to address sea level rise with sea walls or levees, like in San Mateo County could inadvertently make flooding worse for neighbors, according to a new study from the Stanford Natural Capital Project.  “Sea level rise is a global reality. And in the Bay Area, sea levels are expected to rise by almost 7 feet in the next 80 years, depending on which projections you use,” said Anne Guerry, chief strategy officer and lead scientist at the Stanford Natural Capital Project and senior author. “And the typical defense is to build seawalls and levees, to hold back the water, but you can’t keep building taller and taller walls.” … ”  Read more from the San Mateo Daily Journal here: Study: Walls for sea level rise could cause floods in San Mateo County

‘Mussel dogs’ hired to inspect boats at Lake Nacimiento for invasive aquatic species

“”Mussel Dogs” are making an appearance at Lake Nacimiento in an effort to catch aquatic hitchhikers and protect local ecosystems.  During the weekends of the Mid-State Fair, mussel-sniffing canines are helping public officials inspect vessels in hopes of spotting invasive species known as quagga or zebra mussels.  The San Luis Obispo County Public Works Department said zebra and quagga mussels typically “hitch” rides on boats and travel to other lakes, causing damage to a lake’s natural environment, boating and water equipment. … ”  Read more from KEYT here: ‘Mussel dogs’ hired to inspect boats at Lake Nacimiento for invasive aquatic species

Antelope Valley: Watermaster set to review annual water report

The Antelope Valley Watermaster on Wednesday will hold a public hearing on its 2020 Annual Report, as well as consider changes to its regulations regarding pumping groundwater from new wells.  The Watermaster is the body tasked with over­see­ing the 2015 court sett­le­ment that set limits on ground­water pump­ing for users across the Val­ley. The adjudicated area gov­erned by the court judg­ment covers ap­prox­imately 1,390 square miles of the underlying ground­water basin, encom­pass­ing the bulk of the Antelope Valley. … ”  Read more from the Antelope Valley Press here: Antelope Valley: Watermaster set to review annual water report

Rain creeps into Southern California with surprise late July showers: ‘This is unusual’

A storm system moved into Southern California on Monday, bringing record-setting rainfall to some parts of the drought-stricken region.  Downtown Los Angeles recorded 0.12 inch of rain, three times the previous daily record set in 2013 and enough to make it the area’s third-wettest July on record. The wettest July ever in the city was in 2015, when 0.38 inch of rain fell. The second-wettest was in 1886, with 0.24 inch.  Mt. Baldy, which recorded 0.37 inch by 5 a.m., was the “rainfall winner,” said David Sweet, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: Rain creeps into Southern California with surprise late July showers: ‘This is unusual’

Salton Sea heads toward making area unlivable

Face masks might be here to stay at the Salton Sea, where breathing already was dangerous. Imperial County lives with a haze over it that includes exhaust fumes, factory emissions, pesticide plumes, and vaporized dust that rises from California’s largest lake. There’s so much lithium in the water that General Motors plans to extract it to use in batteries for electric cars, per Autoweek. Miriam Juárez, who lives in Salton City, never opens a window of her house, the Guardian reports. She puts towels on the floor at the doors. “We’re probably going to keep our masks on, even after the pandemic,” she said, “to wear against the dust.” There’s a stench in the air, too. Noemí Vázquez, who operates a day care in her home, puts inhalers all over the house. Five of the 10 children she cares for have asthma; hospitalization rates for children with asthma in the area are twice the average for California. Adult asthma rates also are high. … ”  Read more from Newser here: Salton Sea heads toward making area unlivable

First steps taken to make pumped hydro energy storage project at San Vicente Reservoir a reality

With an $18 million boost from the state, a major energy storage project using hydroelectric power is taking shape at the San Vicente Reservoir, nestled in the Cuyamaca Mountains near Lakeside.  The long talked about San Vicente Energy Storage Facility — proposed by the city of San Diego and the San Diego County Water Authority — received the funding earlier this month when Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the state budget. The $18 million will be spent to tackle some of the preliminary work needed to make the “pumped hydro” project a reality, such as initial design, environmental reviews and federal licensing. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune here: First steps taken to make pumped hydro energy storage project at San Vicente Reservoir a reality

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Along the Colorado River …

Southwest monsoon rain bringing drought relief — but also dangerous flooding

Monsoon rain in the Southwest is putting a dent in the extreme to exceptional drought across the region, and portions of Arizona and New Mexico are seeing some of the most significant improvements.  Over the next couple of days, the monsoon rain threat will diminish across those states, the National Weather Service said, and focus instead on southern portions of California, Nevada and Utah.  Rain was reported Monday morning in the Los Angeles area.  Although the rainfall helps diminish the drought, it can lead to dangerous floods. ... ”  Read more from USA Today here: Southwest monsoon rain bringing drought relief — but also dangerous flooding

Video: Lake Mead drops to a record low amid drought

Lake Mead is a water lifeline for Southern California and much of the west, but now it’s facing its first water shortage in its 85-year history.  The lake along the Nevada-Arizona border is one of the largest engineered lakes in the world, and it’s drying up at an alarming rate.  L.A. Times national correspondent Jaweed Kaleem talked about what this means for millions of people and millions of acres of farmland across the west.”  Watch video (5:56) from the LA Times here: Video: Lake Mead drops to a record low amid drought

Did this week’s rain help Lake Mead’s levels? Short answer: no

Sunday’s storm brought rain, wind and some hope for the Las Vegas Valley.  Rainfall totals ranged from 0.19” at McCarran International Airport to nearly an inch of rain near Henderson Executive Airport.  While the rain is welcome, the storm did nothing for Lake Mead.  Water levels at the lake are dictated by snowpack in Colorado, according to Bronson Mack with the Southern Nevada Water Authority. … ”  Read more from Channel 5 here: Did this week’s rain help Lake Mead’s levels? Short answer: no

Audio: Saving the Colorado River

The threats to the Colorado River are many – climate change, overuse, invasive species, dozens of planned diversion projects, pollution – and that has motivated action up and down the river’s shores by a variety committed activists and regular people.  On this week’s Arizona Edition we talk with Gary Wockner, Executive Director and co-founder of the group SAVE THE COLORADO, out of Fort Collins, Colorado.  Wockner talks about the work of Save the Colorado, how the group keeps the fun in their work, and where he finds optimism amidst the dire predictions about the future of the river.”  Listen to radio show (20:43) from KAWC here: Audio: Saving the Colorado River

Arizona Department Of Environmental Quality seeks input on mine near Grand Canyon

The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality is taking public comments on a plan to issue a new Aquifer Protection Permit for a uranium mine outside the Grand Canyon. Conservationists have been battling the mine for years. … ”  Read more from KJZZ here: Arizona Department Of Environmental Quality seeks input on mine near Grand Canyon

SEE ALSO: The Long History Of Uranium Mining On The Arizona Strip, from KJZZ

Lake Powell water levels hit a record low and continue to decline

Water levels at Lake Powell have dropped to their lowest level since the huge reservoir was filled more than 50 years ago, another sign of the ongoing drought’s toll on the Colorado River.  The reservoir fell to 3,555.09 feet above sea level Friday and continued to drop through the weekend, according to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. As of late Sunday, water levels stood at 3,554.72 feet.  The previous low mark, set in 2005, was 3,555.10 feet. Friday’s low water mark comes barely a month after Lake Mead, the largest reservoir on the river, reached a record low. Federal officials are expected next month to declare a water shortage on the Colorado River, triggering cutbacks next year in Arizona and Nevada. … ”  Read more from the Arizona Republic here: Lake Powell water levels hit a record low and continue to decline

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, July 21. 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 Colorado Water Conservation Board 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 Summit Daily here: Demand management discussions continue amid worsening Colorado River ‘crisis’

A river runs dry: farms and ranches along Colorado River in jeopardy

Frank Nieslanik’s calloused hand pulls hard on the gear shift of his 1951 Jeep Willys as he navigates the bumpy roads of the land he has farmed for the last 30 years.  On one side of the road, the fields are verdant, filled with rows and rows of young sweetcorn. On the other side, the fields lie fallow. It is one of the many efforts that Mr Nieslanik has made in recent years to conserve water at his farm in Grand Junction, Colorado.  “We’re using less,” he said. “We’re trying to leave one piece fallow off of each headgate just to give more water to the others in case they cut us back — or when they cut us back, which they will. We’ll have some vacant ground we don’t have to water.” … ”  Read more from the National News here: A river runs dry: farms and ranches along Colorado River in jeopardy

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In national water news today …

Infrastructure talks hit snags as Senate pressure rises

Senators ran into new problems Monday as they raced to seal a bipartisan infrastructure deal, with pressure mounting on all sides to show progress on President Joe Biden’s top priority.  Heading into a make-or-break week, serious roadblocks remain. Disputes have surfaced over how much money should go to public transit and water projects. And other disagreements over spending and wage requirements for highways, broadband and other areas remain unresolved, as well as whether to take unspent COVID-19 relief money to help pay for the infrastructure.  Biden, asked about the outlook, told reporters at the White House he remained optimistic about reaching a compromise. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here: Infrastructure talks hit snags as Senate pressure rises

Water, transit standoffs continue to dog infrastructure deal

Disagreements over water and transit funding continued to hold up a deal on infrastructure legislation yesterday, with Democrats increasingly growing impatient to start voting.  Members of the 22-member bloc that is negotiating the bipartisan framework with the White House said over the weekend they hoped to seal a deal on $579 billion in new infrastructure spending yesterday, but the two sides were still trading offers last night (E&E Daily, July 26).  Senate Environment and Public Works Chair Tom Carper (D-Del.) told reporters the dispute over funding the water infrastructure package, S. 914, that passed the Senate in April, along with related water issues, remained unresolved.  He and Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) last week had threatened to withhold support for the bipartisan bill over a $15 billion funding shortfall (E&E Daily, July 23). Any Democratic defections could imperil the whole process. ... ”  Read more from E&E News here: Water, transit standoffs continue to dog infrastructure deal

Exploring water risks to global hydropower in a changing climate

Wind and solar energy are on the rise but hydropower is still the backbone of renewable energy production around the world. Hydropower is also critical to our efforts to meet climate emission commitments. And yet our capacity to generate hydropower is vulnerable to droughts, floods and changes in water security. Here, Homero Paltán discusses the nature of water risks that threaten global hydropower and the importance of factoring them into our plans.”  Read the article at the Global Water Forum here: Exploring water risks to global hydropower in a changing climate

Climate scientists meet as dangerous fires, floods, and droughts test the world

More than 200 of the world’s leading climate scientists will begin meeting today to finalize a landmark report summarizing how Earth’s climate has already changed, and what humans can expect for the rest of the century.  The report is the sixth edition of an assessment of the latest climate science from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a United Nations body that coordinates research about global warming. The last edition of this report came out in 2013 — an eternity in the world of climate science, where the pace of both warming and research are steadily accelerating. … ”  Read more from KQED here: Climate scientists meet as dangerous fires, floods, and droughts test the world

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Today’s featured article …

BLOG ROUND-UP: Making the best of the poor conditions in this critically dry year; State Board proposes Office of Equity; Los Angeles Regional Board: Fix our stormwater problem!; and more …

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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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