DAILY DIGEST, 7/28: Will Delta water users sue — again — to stop drought rules?; Hurtado urges Water Board to consider Central Valley impacts in water decision; Desal advances in CA despite opposition; Extreme heat could also mean power and water shortages; and more …


On the calendar today …

  • MEETING: Delta Conservancy Board Meeting from 9am to 1pm.  Agenda items include updates on Prop 1 and Prop 68 grant programs, San Francisco Estuary Blueprint Overview, Delta Conservancy Strategic Plan Development, Delta Stewardship Council Update, Delta Conveyance Update, and EcoRestore update.  Click here for full agenda and remote access instructions.
  • SO CAL WATER DIALOG: Investments in Drought-Proofing are Paying Off in Southern California. But How Long Will Supplies Last if Drought Persists? from 12pm to 1:30pm.  Extreme drought is gripping most of California while Southern California stands as an island apart with ample storage and water supply – for now. How did the region accomplish this? What happens when the two years of stored water is depleted? What steps need to be taken to keep ahead of the drought and reach the full levels of water-use efficiency required by state legislation? Click here to register.

In California water news today …

Will Delta water users sue — again — to stop California’s drought rules?

Drought-plagued California is poised to bar thousands of farmers, landowners and others from pumping water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta watershed, a move that irrigation districts said exceeds the water board’s authority.  The emergency rules would be the first time state regulators have taken such wide-reaching action during a drought to prevent diversions from the massive Delta watershed stretching from Fresno to the Oregon border.  At a more than three-hour workshop today to discuss the proposal, State Water Resources Control Board officials said the status of the Delta was so severe that they had to take urgent action. The board will vote on the regulation next week, and it could lead to formal curtailment orders as soon as August 16. … ”  Read more from Cal Matters here: Will Delta water users sue — again — to stop California’s drought rules?

California may curtail pre-1914 water rights

California’s State Water Resources Control Board has signaled it may soon approve a drought emergency regulation curtailing diversions within the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta region for landowners with pre-1914 water rights — the most senior of rights in the state.  The board will consider during its Aug. 3-4 meeting issuing the notices throughout the vast Delta watershed to protect water supplies necessary to meet human health and safety needs, preserve stored water needed to prevent salinity from the ocean from intruding into the Delta and to minimize impacts to fish and wildlife, according to state officials. … ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press here: California may curtail pre-1914 water rights

Senator Hurtado urges Water Board to consider Central Valley impacts in water decision

Senator Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger) sent the following letter to the State Water Resources Control Board today, urging the Board to consider the human economic and food-related impacts its proposed emergency water curtailment action could have on the Central Valley:  Dear Mr. Esquivel, As you consider adopting Resolution Number 2021, the Emergency Curtailment and Reporting Regulation for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (Delta) Watershed, I urge you to consider the impacts this curtailment will have on low-income Central Valley communities and the agricultural industry that supports these communities.  This unprecedented proposed order would cut vital water supplies to California farms that have already been forced to comply with reduced water allocations in response to California’s worsening drought. … ”  Read more from Senator Hurtado’s office here: Senator Hurtado urges Water Board to consider Central Valley impacts in water decision

California braces for extreme drought

From 2012-2016, California experienced one of the most severe droughts in its history. Five years later, the state is positioned for an even more severe period of environmental stressors.  According to the Glossary of Meteorology, a drought is defined as “a period of abnormally dry weather sufficiently prolonged for the lack of water to cause serious hydrologic imbalance in the affected area.” In easier to understand terms, a drought is a period of unusually persistent dry weather that lasts long enough to cause serious problems such as crop damage and/or water supply shortages. The severity of the drought depends upon the degree of moisture deficiency, the duration, and the size of the affected area. … ”  Read more from the Foothills Sun-Gazette here: California braces for extreme drought

Podcast: Drought threatens iconic plants. Lawns, watch out

Today, in Episode 3 of Drought Week, we take a journey through the American Southwest to Las Vegas, down to Arizona’s Sonoran Desert and through California’s Mojave Desert. We speak to a social scientist, a folklorist and a politician about their efforts to understand the plants and animals affected by this historic drought. We’ll focus on three iconic plants: Joshua trees. Saguaro cactuses. And, well, lawn grass. … ”  Listen to podcast from the LA Times here: Podcast: Drought threatens iconic plants. Lawns, watch out

Desalination advances in California despite opponents pushing for alternatives

Environmentalists say desalination decimates ocean life, costs too much money and energy, and soon will be made obsolete by water recycling. But as Western states face an epic drought, regulators appear ready to approve a desalination plant in Huntington Beach, California.  After spending 22 years and $100 million navigating a thicket of state regulations and environmentalists’ challenges, Poseidon Water is down to one major regulatory hurdle – the California Coastal Commission. The company feels confident enough to talk of breaking ground by the end of next year on the $1.4 billion plant that would produce some 50 million gallons of drinking water daily.  “The Pacific Ocean is the largest reservoir in the world,” said Poseidon vice president Scott Maloni. “It’s always full.” … ”  Read more from Reuters News here:  Desalination advances in California despite opponents pushing for alternatives

California preps for catastrophic summer salmon slaughter

Facing another summer of catastrophic fish kills, California lawmakers and fisheries managers on Tuesday blamed a Trump-era water policy and climate change for the sizzling water temperatures threatening to erase an entire run of Chinook salmon.  “We’re witnessing the collapse of this iconic species right in front of our eyes,” said state Senator Mike McGuire, D-Santa Rosa.  Chinook salmon die-offs on the state’s rivers have happened routinely over the last two decades. But a pending disaster on the Sacramento and Klamath rivers has elected officials, regulators, Native American tribes and fishermen scrambling to save the keystone species from extinction. … ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service here: California preps for catastrophic summer salmon slaughter

Get ready to pay more for tomatoes, as California growers reel from extreme weather

Tomato sauce is feeling the squeeze and ketchup can’t catch up.  California grows more than 90 percent of Americans’ canned tomatoes and a third of the world’s. Ongoing drought in the state has hurt the planting and harvesting of many summer crops, but water-hungry “processing tomatoes” are caught up in a particularly treacherous swirl (a “tormado”?) of problems that experts say will spur prices to surge far more than they already have. The drought threatens to imperil some of Americans’ favorite ingredients — pizza sauce, marinara, tomato paste, stewed tomatoes and ketchup all hang in the balance. And this comes not long after a bizarre, and completely unrelated, shortage of pizza sauce and individual ketchup packets during the height of the food-delivery-crazed pandemic. … ”  Read more from the Washington Post here: Get ready to pay more for tomatoes, as California growers reel from extreme weather

80 years is long enough to wait — Shasta Dam and the Winnemem Wintu Tribe

July 27, 2021 marks the 80th anniversary of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signing of the Central Valley Project Indian Land Acquisition Act (CVPILAA). Eighty years later, with a Native American serving, for the first time, as Secretary of the Interior, it is time for the federal government to implement the Act’s requirements to compensate the Winnemem Wintu Tribe for the harm caused by the construction and operation of Shasta Dam.   Shasta Dam holds the largest reservoir in California and a key part of the Central Valley Project.  Congress knew that building the dam would harm the Winnemem Wintu and passed the CVPILAA.  But eight decades later, federal agencies have still not implemented the Act’s requirements to compensate the Native Americans who lost their land when Shasta Dam was constructed and the reservoir filled.   That compensation, however, has never been provided. …

Click here to continue reading this press release from the Winnemem Wintu.

The Act also directed the federal government to relocate tribal burials along the McCloud River to a cemetery to be held in trust for the “appropriate tribe or family.”  The Winnemem Wintu Tribe is that tribe.  This requirement has also not been met. 

“Eighty years after Congress acted, it is time for the Department of the Interior to compensate the tribe for the harm done by Shasta Dam,” said Caleen Sisk, the chief and spiritual leader of the Winnemem Wintu tribe.  “We are hopeful that the appointment of Deb Haaland as Secretary will make the Department more attentive to the federal government’s broken promises to tribes.  Eight decades is long enough to wait for justice.”  

The Winnemem Wintu name means “middle water people” in the Tribe’s language – a reference to the Tribe’s McCloud River homeland.  Shasta Dam flooded miles of the McCloud River, much of the Tribe’s homeland, tribal burials and dozens of sacred sites.  Shasta Dam has prevented the Tribe’s prized winter-run Chinook salmon from reaching the McCloud River.  Irresponsible operations of Shasta Dam have also harmed the winter-run and fall-run, both of which now spawn in the Sacramento River below the dam.  Finally, the Trump Administration’s top water infrastructure project in the nation was a proposal to raise Shasta Dam, which would flood more of the Tribe’s traditional homeland and further harm the salmon that are central to the Tribe’s religion and culture. 

Federal agencies did relocate tribal burial sites along the McCloud River, before this land was inundated by Shasta Dam.  However, the Bureau of Land Management currently controls the cemetery.  BLM, unlike the Bureau of Indian Affairs, does not have the authority to hold land in trust for the Tribe.  In addition, BLM does not allow ongoing burials by the Tribe. 

“Despite the requirements of federal law, the federal government still does not acknowledge that this is our cemetery,” said Caleen Sisk.  “They even tell us that we cannot conduct our burials in our own cemetery.”

“The injustices caused by Shasta Dam are not a distant memory to our people”, added Caleen Sisk.   “Shasta Dam is still damaging our traditional religion and our culture.  As demonstrated by George Floyd’s murder and growing attacks on Asian Americans, our nation has a long way to go to ensure equal justice for all.  Ensuring justice for Native Americans is another place where the United States can still live up to its values.”   

Billions of gallons of water are being stolen in California

It sounds like the plot of a post-apocalyptic movie: Water thieves roaming scorched terrain in search of nature’s most precious resource. But in California, water theft is a massive reality with numbers that are hard to comprehend — and as droughts increasingly afflict the state, so does the extent of this illegal activity. Over 12 billion gallons of water have likely been stolen in California since 2013, John Nores — the former head of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife Marijuana Enforcement Team — recently told CNN. Nores dealt with the issue firsthand since officials believe much of the water is stolen to support illegal cannabis growing operations. … ”  Read more from Food & Wine here: Billions of gallons of water are being stolen in California

Sen. McGuire talks salmon species ‘collapse’ amid drought in West

““Bleak” and “grim” were words frequently used Tuesday morning as part of a joint legislative hearing on the crisis in California’s salmon fisheries amid the historic drought.  How bad it is during the current drought in the West, however, was up for debate.  “There is no way that this year isn’t going to be worse than it was in 2014-15, when we saw 95% (of salmon) dying off,” said North Coast state Sen. Mike McGuire, who was the chair of the hearing. … ”  Read more from the Eureka Times-Herald here: Sen. McGuire talks salmon species ‘collapse’ amid drought in West

Harder votes to pass new clean water bill

Representative Josh Harder (CA-10) voted to pass a landmark bipartisan bill that aims to protect every Central Valley family from dangerous chemicals in their water. While California requires the reporting of PFAS, neither the state nor the federal government set safe drinking water standards. The PFAS Action Act of 2021 will establish a national drinking water standard for select per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) that currently impact water systems in Modesto, Lathrop, Sacramento, Stockton and other communities around the Central Valley. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) over 200 million Americans are drinking contaminated water. … ”  Read more from the Oakdale Leader here: Harder votes to pass new clean water bill

Deep dig: Farther-down drilling into Valley aquifers brings more ‘up-top’ pollution

As drought conditions worsen in the western U.S., it is there that water is becoming more and more scarce. As for that which is at the surface and below, you know, the subsurface supply, is everything being done that can be done to get the most out of this extremely valuable resource? In California’s San Joaquin Valley, according to information imparted on the Jul. 20, 2021 edition of the PBS “News Hour,” agriculture drinks up half of the groundwater supply. In some Valley locations, water availability is extremely limited. In a couple of Valley locations, there are wells that have gone completely dry. … ”  Read more from Air Quality Monitoring here: Deep dig: Farther-down drilling into Valley aquifers brings more ‘up-top’ pollution

Water ‘witches’ pit science against folklore in search of groundwater

Water witches have been around — and by around, we mean around the world, from Australia and India to Europe and the Americas to many, many other places — for at least five centuries. So just in terms of simple longevity, you have to give it up to the witches. As a profession, that’s been around for so long, they have to be doing something right.  When it comes to water witches — also known as dowsers, diviners, doodlebuggers and various other names — in our so-called enlightened times, though, we’re faced with two distinct possibilities. One, they’re either really good, and have been for a long time, at pulling a fast one on desperate landowners looking for groundwater.  Or, two, they actually know what they’re doing and they’re not pulling a fast one at all. ... ”  Read more from How Stuff Works here: Water ‘witches’ pit science against folklore in search of groundwater

Extreme heat could also mean power and water shortages

Across the western United States, signs of a parched present—and future—are everywhere. From wildfires burning across the Pacific Northwest to California’s shrinking reservoirs, it appears as if the earth is extremely dry for the second summer in a row. As of July 22, 75.6 million people are living under drought conditions, according to the US Drought Monitor, a report produced weekly by hydrology experts at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the US Department of Agriculture, and the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. One quarter of the continental US is experiencing “extreme or extraordinary drought,” according to the report. … ”  Read more from Wired Magazine here: Extreme heat could also mean power and water shortages

Climate-fueled heat waves spell danger for wildlife

In early July, shortly after a high-pressure system baked the Pacific Northwest for nearly a week, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) made a dire prediction: All the young salmon in the Sacramento River were likely fated to die.   “This persistent heat dome over the West Coast will likely result in earlier loss of ability to provide cool water, and subsequently, it is possible that all in-river juveniles will not survive this season,” CDFW said in a statement to CNN.  Salmon in the Klamath River have also been suffering. In May, biologists with the Yurok Tribe announced they were witnessing a disastrous die-off of young Chinook, most of which had become infected with Ceratonova shasta, a parasite that proliferates when water temperatures warm and flows slow. On June 1, the Karuk Tribe declared a climate emergency. ... ”  Read more from the Sierra Magazine here: Climate-fueled heat waves spell danger for wildlife

Beavers aid in climate battle, local experts fight to protect species in California

Wild beavers play a critical role in the fight against climate change by creating wetlands that combat drought and wildfire.  The species is native to California — but unlike beavers in Oregon and Washington, they aren’t protected from being trapped and killed in the state.  Beavers have existed in North America for millions of years, with large populations in the American west.  European colonization and the fur trade caused their numbers to dwindle but they’ve been making a comeback in recent decades. Beavers live across California — many right here on the Central Coast in the Salinas, Arroyo Seco and Santa Ynez Rivers. … ”  Read more from KCBX here: Beavers aid in climate battle, local experts fight to protect species in California

Possible future for Western wildfires: Decade-long burst, followed by gradual decline

In recent years, wildfires on the West Coast have become larger and more damaging. A combination of almost a century of fire suppression and hotter and drier conditions has created a tinderbox ready to ignite, destroying homes and polluting the air over large areas.  New research led by the University of Washington and the University of California, Santa Barbara, looks at the longer-term future of wildfires under scenarios of increased temperature and drought, using a model that focuses on the eastern California forests of the Sierra Nevada. The study, published July 26 in the journal Ecosphere, finds that there will be an initial roughly decade-long burst of wildfire activity, followed by recurring fires of decreasing area. … ”  Read more from the University of Washington here: Possible future for Western wildfires: Decade-long burst, followed by gradual decline

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In regional water news and commentary today …

Oregon regulators approve transfer of targeted Klamath dams from PacifiCorp

The plan to remove four Klamath River dams checked another box on Tuesday as Oregon utility regulators signed off on transferring ownership of the dams from Portland-based PacifiCorp to the nonprofit that will carry out the project.  Oregon Public Utility Commission staff found that a cost/benefit analysis from 2010 “remains valid, and still reflects a public interest in the removal of the dams as compared to the costs and risks of relicensing.”  The project, billed as the largest dam removal in U.S. history, is expected to cost $450 million, with Oregon and California Pacific Power ratepayers responsible for $200 million and California taxpayers, through a bond measure, footing $250 million of the bill. ... ”  Read more from the Portland Business Journal here: Oregon regulators approve transfer of targeted Klamath dams from PacifiCorp

SEE ALSO: Oregon utility commission OKs Klamath dam removal, from the Herald & News

Klamath National Forest first in nation to eradicate all known illegal pot grows

After more than a decade of cleaning up illegal cannabis grow operations and campsites throughout the Klamath National Forest, the U.S. Forest Service says the forest will be the first in the National Forest System to be completely free of all known cultivation sites and associated hazardous material.  On July 30, Klamath National Forest officials will haul out several tons of trash and infrastructure near the Ti Bar Klamath River in the Happy Camp area in Siskiyou County.  “We hope this milestone accomplishment will allow national forest visitors, staff, and indigenous tribes that use the Klamath National Forest to be safe from the known hazards associated with illegal cultivation on (National Forest Service) lands,” according to a statement from Klamath National Forest spokesperson Kimberly Devall. … ”  Read more from the Eureka Times-Standard here: Klamath National Forest first in nation to eradicate all known illegal pot grows

Mendocino is running out of water. The solution might involve a very old train

The postcard-perfect town of Mendocino, with its Victorian homes, seaside inns and tidy shops and galleries, is bustling with visitors this summer, a model of post-pandemic recovery in California’s hard-hit tourism sector.  But beneath the crowded restaurants and fully booked B&Bs, the fortunes of this popular coastal getaway four hours north of San Francisco have begun to dry up — quite literally.  Because of the drought, dozens of wells in town are producing limited water, or none at all. … One of the most peculiar [ideas] is to get water by hauling it in nearly 40 miles on a storied logging railroad that today carries a tourist train. The Skunk Train, as it is known, may also turn out to be the best option. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: Mendocino is running out of water. The solution might involve a very old train

Mendocino County CSD board reviews penalties

At the monthly Mendocino City Community Services District meeting the board discussed the ground water management ordinance penalty options for constituents who do not comply to the permitting and monitoring requirements. The board also continued to discuss options for drought mitigations.  The Ground Water Extraction Permit Ordinance 2020-1 that passed in April of 2020 reiterated the district’s authority to compel any property owner within district boundaries to obtain a ground water extraction permit and install a meter, monitor their water usage and report it monthly to MCCSD. Approximately 20 properties within the district have not obtained a permit and about 73 properties are not currently in compliance with the monitoring and reporting requirements. … ”  Read more from the Mendocino Beacon here: Mendocino County CSD board reviews penalties

Reclamation releases report to show benefits of alternative reservoir operations for Lake Mendocino

The Bureau of Reclamation today released the final report for a pilot study assessing the economic and environmental benefits of alternative reservoir operations. The study – Economic Benefits of Alternative Reservoir Operations for Lake Mendocino – identifies innovative approaches to improve flood mitigation and drought resiliency using Forecast Informed Reservoir Operations.  FIRO is a flexible water management approach that uses data from watershed monitoring and improved weather forecasting to help water managers selectively retain or release water from reservoirs for increased resilience to droughts and floods. ... ”  Read more from the Bureau of Reclamation here: Reclamation releases report to show benefits of alternative reservoir operations

Sacramento Valley: Drought has returned. Severe. Unrelenting. Undiscriminating.

Denise Carter, Chair of the Colusa Groundwater Authority, and  John Amaro, Chair of the Glenn Groundwater Authority, write, “As we face a long, frustrating summer and fall in the Sacramento Valley, everyone…farmer, homeowner, rancher, environmental advocate, businessperson, water deliverer, etc. will be profoundly affected by our current and pending drought conditions. In the immediate, there are no easy answers. Scarce resources inevitably create conflict. However, such conditions can also create uncommon partnerships and with the right tools, powerful solutions. In 2014, the State Legislature passed the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA); a sweeping law that foundationally changes how groundwater is and will be managed. Our part of California is unique and we need groundwater management methods that will work for us and for our communities. We have answered the call and the requirements of SGMA and are finalizing a locally driven, locally focused Groundwater Sustainability Plan for the Colusa Groundwater Subbasin (covering most of Colusa and Glenn Counties).  … ”  Continue reading at the Colusa Sun-Herald here: Drought has returned. Severe. Unrelenting. Undiscriminating.

Two gravel boat launches open at Lake Oroville

Boat launch ramps surrounding Lake Oroville have been forced to close due to low lake levels in 2021, and as of Monday the California State Parks confirmed that just two ramps remain open for public use.  Bidwell Canyon boat launch access, a gravel boat launch located at 801 Bidwell Canyon Road in Oroville, opened July 23, as well as one located at the Oroville Dam spillway. California State Parks Superintendent with Lake Oroville Northern Buttes District Travis Gee said that the Bidwell Canyon boat launch is assessed daily for environmental, water and erosion issues.  The Bidwell Canyon boat launch was not initially scheduled to be open, however work from the Department of Water Resources and State Parks put the ramp back into use. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here: Two gravel boat launches open at Lake Oroville

Historic drought, low water levels reveal Gold Rush artifacts at Folsom Lake

In another vivid example of California’s ongoing drought and water crisis, the water level is so low at Folsom Lake that Gold rush era relics that typically are submerged are now visible on dry land.  “With historically low water levels that have been worsened by the impacts of climate change, artifacts and ruins once belonging to past communities and cultures of the area are now appearing along the lakebed,” according to a post on Folsom Lake State Recreation Area‘s Facebook page on July 23.  “The water is actually continuing to recede, and more stuff is coming out each day,” Folsom Lake State Recreation Area Supt. Richard Preston-LeMay said Tuesday. “With the water level we’re going to see this year, we’re going to have more things coming out than in the past.” … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: Historic drought, low water levels reveal Gold Rush artifacts at Folsom Lake

Worst drought in 20 years? A county-by-county look around the Bay Area

Summer-dry conditions in spring were a leading indicator that this year’s fire season was off to an early and potentially more intense start.  Current drought conditions are leading to “record dry fuel moistures,” a repeating phrase attached to most of this year’s major wildfires in a season that is outpacing the 2020 fire season in acres burned by nearly a three-to-one margin as of July 25.  Extremely dry conditions coupled with intense heat waves have led to a significant increase in fire danger in 2021 not just in California but also for much of the western United States as drought conditions accelerated in severity during the last year. ... ”  Read more from NBC Bay Area here: Worst drought in 20 years? A county-by-county look around the Bay Area

Drought depleting Bay Area reservoirs, driving urgent need for conservation

The state’s severe drought is transforming the landscape of our streams, lakes and reservoirs as the supply of water is depleted day by day.  The changes at Uvas Reservoir in the hills above Morgan are readily apparent. The waterline has receded significantly as the footprint of the reservoir shrinks.  “We came here last year with the same group and the water was almost up to the top of the ramp here. Driving by, we said we hope there’s still some fish in there,” says Kurt Ottman during an annual camping and fishing trip near the reservoir with family and friends. … ”  Read more from KTLA here: Drought depleting Bay Area reservoirs, driving urgent need for conservation

San Jose relies on water from the Sierra Nevada. Climate change is challenging that system

In Santa Clara County, lawns are dry, a reservoir is nearly empty, and water restrictions are mandated. After two winters with very little rain — and San Jose’s driest year in 128 years of record keeping — the county is marked by one of the worst droughts in modern history.  Santa Clara County’s experience of drought is set apart from the rest of the state by a myriad of issues — less water from the Sierra Nevada, the effect of human-caused climate change on water supplies, and a case of incredibly bad luck.  “This is a dire emergency caused by the confluence of several horrible things happening all at the same time,” said Gary Kremen, director of Santa Clara Valley Water. “This isn’t like someone crying wolf.” … ”  Read more from KQED here: San Jose relies on water from the Sierra Nevada. Climate change is challenging that system

Who will pay to protect Silicon Valley’s tech giants from rising seas?

In the heart of Silicon Valley, the world’s biggest tech companies are expanding their headquarters on the edges of San Francisco Bay.  Google has bought more than 70 properties in the past five years in Sunnyvale to expand its campus, worth almost $3 billion.  Farther north, has acquired properties now worth more than $2.5 billion in the last decade.  The company has built a state-of-the-art campus, designed by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry. … ”  Read more from KQED here: Who will pay to protect Silicon Valley’s tech giants from rising seas?

SEE ALSO: Audio: Google plans to expand its campus — which might become unsafe as sea levels rise, at NPR (6:10)

Turlock Irrigation District experiencing fourth-driest year in 90 years

With just one month left in the precipitation year and little rainfall to show for it, Turlock Irrigation District and its customers are currently experiencing the fourth-driest year on record.  According to TID hydrologist Olivia Cramer, the Tuolumne River Watershed has received just 18.23 inches of precipitation since Sept. 1, or just about half of the historical average. The TID precipitation year, which is different from the water year, runs from Sept. 1 through Aug. 31 and will come to an end next month. The water year runs from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30.  This year’s 18.23 inches of rainfall come as the region experiences a second-straight year of drought conditions and puts 2020-2021 in the record books as TID’s fourth-driest precipitation year on record. … ”  Read more from the Turlock Journal here: Turlock Irrigation District experiencing fourth-driest year in 90 years

Ridgecrest: DWR urges collaboration in SGMA dispute; Mojave Pistachios agrees to participate

In response to a letter from Mojave Pistachios to DWR regarding the SGMA dispute in the Indian Wells Valley basin, Director Nemeth states, ““DWR’s SGMA team continues its review of the GSP submitted by the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority through a separate process based on the contents of the GSP and the legal requirements of SGMA and DWR’s implementing regulations. In the meantime, however, and in light of the adjudication commenced by the Indian Wells Valley Water District, DWR encourages the litigating parties and other major interested stakeholders to instead focus their efforts on developing a collaborative solution to the issues that are currently being litigated and which may soon lead to additional litigation. DWR has the resources and stands ready to assist in such a collaborative process.”” 

Click here to continue reading.

Mojave Pistachios, an interested stakeholder, has accepted the offer from the DWR. Please see the attached correspondence, which states:  “On behalf of Mojave Pistachios, LLC and the Nugent Family Trust (collectively, “Mojave”) we deeply appreciate the Department of Water Resources’ (“DWR”) outreach and generous offer to assist in a collaborative process to bring together Indian Wells Valley stakeholders. By way of this letter, Mojave formally accepts DWR’s offer to participate in a facilitation process. Given DWR’s regulatory oversight over Groundwater Sustainability Plans (“GSPs”), technical expertise, and broad statewide perspective, your participation will be extremely valuable. We will make ourselves and our team available at the earliest opportunity to commence the process.”

Letter to Karla A. Nemeth, Director
K Nemeth to Dist List Re Indian Wells Valley Basin Groundwater

Multiple failures found after massive sewage spill into Santa Monica Bay

Multiple failures in communication between Los Angeles city and county agencies delayed crucial public warnings and a full emergency response to a massive sewage discharge earlier this month at the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant, according to a report obtained by The Times that was discussed Tuesday by county officials.  The report provides new details regarding plant flooding and the evacuation of staff just before an hours-long discharge of 17 million gallons of raw sewage into the waters off Dockweiler and El Segundo beaches July 11 and 12. The findings also show that key city and county first responders, including fire and lifeguard personnel, were not informed that the emergency incident had occurred until hours later. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: Multiple failures found after massive sewage spill into Santa Monica Bay

SEE ALSO: LA County public health director apologizes for ‘failures’ in responding to sewage spill, from the Inland Empire Daily Bulletin

Torrance activist wants polluted water to stop flowing in front of family home

For years, oily, odorous and — at times — thick runoff water flowed from the back end of the Knolls Lodge Mobile Home Park in Torrance into the storm drain of a neighboring cul-de-sac.  Marc Evans’ family home happens to be in the runoff water’s path, and he has been trying to get it to stop for years. Evans shared that the area recently caught a break from the eyesore. “It’s been a couple of weeks now,” Evans said. “It’s been a real noticeable difference how dry it’s been. It’s been great. The smell is largely gone from it the black goo cleaned out of there.” … ” Continue reading at Spectrum 1 here: Torrance activist wants polluted water to stop flowing in front of family home

Salton sea funding frustrates imperial county supervisors

Imperial County officials continued to express frustration over the lack of federal funding for Salton Sea restoration, chiding the latest funding dedicated to more studies.  During a legislative update on Tuesday, July 27, Intergovernmental Relations Director Rebecca Terrazas-Baxter told the county Board of Supervisors that both houses of Congress are in session, and some members are hoping to pass a 2022 appropriation package.  The current proposal includes $500,000 for a preliminary engineering report dealing with the New River, $2.5 million for Salton Sea projects and $103 million to complete the Calexico West Land Port of Entry project.  … ”  Read more from the Holtville Tribune here: Salton sea funding frustrates imperial county supervisors

San Diego’s water desalination efforts could get boost in federal funding

Desalination projects in the San Diego area could get millions in federal funding under a bill Rep. Mike Levin introduced Tuesday.  The Desalination Development Act would provide $260 million over five years for desalination projects across the country, including the City of Oceanside’s Mission Basin Groundwater Purification Facility, which converts brackish flows into potable water, said Levin, D-San Juan Capistrano.  It also sets environmental standards for projects that get federal funding, with requirements for energy efficiency, wildlife protection and water conservation. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune here: San Diego’s water desalination efforts could get boost in federal funding

Little action on border sewage crisis since $300m announcement

Rain fell on San Diego Monday. It wasn’t a lot of rain – an Accuweather forecast called for “a brief morning shower or two” with an anticipated rainfall of 0.01 inches.  But it was enough to prompt a beach closure at the Tijuana Slough, just south of Imperial Beach. That section of the beach is closed whenever the Tijuana River is flowing.  Cross-border sewage spills have been an issue in South County for decades. … ”  Read more from the Voice of San Diego here: Little action on border sewage crisis since $300m announcement

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Along the Colorado River …

Newly introduced bill aims to increase access to clean water in tribal lands

A bill recently introduced in the U.S. Senate aims to provide billions of dollars to improve access to clean water in tribal lands.  One of the senators who introduced the bill, Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., wrote in the foreword of a report about tribal water access within the Colorado River Basin that one estimate states 48% of households within tribal lands lack clean water or sufficient sanitation.  Anne Castle is with the Colorado River Water and Tribes Initiative, the group that produced that report in April 2021. … ”  Read more from Arizona Public Media here: Newly introduced bill aims to increase access to clean water in tribal lands

Western drought drives water levels at Great Salt Lake and Lake Powell to historic lows

The water levels of two major water bodies — including a major reservoir — have reached historic lows in recent days amid extreme drought conditions in the western United States.  Water levels at Lake Powell, the second-largest reservoir in the country, reached a record low — below 3,555.10 feet, the previous record low, reached in April 2005. As of Monday, the elevation at the reservoir straddling the border between Arizona and Utah was at 3,554.51 feet, according to data tracked by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. It was a drop anticipated by federal officials. In a release published last week, the bureau said it expected the lake’s elevation to drop below the record and noted that levels were “expected to drop another two feet by the end of July.” … ”  Read more from the Washington Post here: Western drought drives water levels at Great Salt Lake and Lake Powell to historic lows

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

Wildfires are a threat to Steamboat Springs’ water supply. Here’s how the city is getting ready

At the moment, Frank Alfone, manager of the Mount Werner Water and Sanitation District, thinks he supplies Steamboat Springs with some of the best water in Colorado.   The popular ski town relies on Fish Creek for about 93 percent of its normal supply. The postcard Rocky Mountain stream starts as snowmelt before collecting into a narrow canyon, where hikers flock to watch it roar over a 280-foot waterfall.   The water is placid and clear by the time it arrives at the district’s main treatment plant above the city, but Alfone expects that will change sometime soon. After months of drought, Colorado’s two largest active wildfires are burning near Steamboat Springs.  … ”  Read more from Colorado Public Radio here: Wildfires are a threat to Steamboat Springs’ water supply. Here’s how the city is getting ready

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In national water news today …

Partisan divide narrows on water, transit funding

Senate negotiators said yesterday they’re closing in on a bipartisan infrastructure agreement but are still haggling over funding for water projects and transit — two major sticking points that may cost the votes of key Democrats.  Several senators involved in the talks said yesterday that a fight over water funding had been solved. “I think that’s resolved — water is in good shape,” Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) told reporters. He signaled that the agreement would include $15 billion to replace lead pipes.  But Senate Environment and Public Works Chair Tom Carper (D-Del.), who has threatened to oppose the bill if the $35 billion water infrastructure package, S. 914, that passed the Senate in April is not fully funded, said yesterday he still wants more water funds in the bipartisan deal. The framework supporting the talks calls for $55 billion for water spending.  “We’re not where we need to be,” he said. “There’s been an effort to try to do better, and we’ll see where it is.” ... ”  Read more from E&E News here: Partisan divide narrows on water, transit funding

Infrastructure talks leave Biden’s entire agenda at risk

President Joe Biden’s latest leap into the Senate’s up-and-down efforts to clinch a bipartisan $1 trillion infrastructure deal comes with even more at stake than his coveted plans for boosting road, rail and other public works projects.  The outcome of the infrastructure bargaining, which for weeks has encountered one snag after another, will impact what could be the crown jewel of his legacy. That would be his hopes for a subsequent $3.5 trillion federal infusion for families’ education and health care costs, a Medicare expansion and efforts to curb climate change. … ”  Read more from the Associated Press here: Infrastructure talks leave Biden’s entire agenda at risk

Farmer who lost all to PFAS inspires law to get day in court

The discovery of so-called forever chemicals on Fred Stone’s Maine dairy farm five years ago destroyed his business, hijacked his retirement plans, and saddled him with now-crushing debts, while spotlighting the potential for those substances to contaminate the food supply.  An ambiguity in Maine law prevented Stone from suing over the sludge containing the per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, that was spread on his land as fertilizer and contaminated his cows’ milk to the point he couldn’t sell it. But Stone’s plight helped inspire a law, signed last month by Gov. Janet T. Mills (D), clarifying that legal cases alleging damage or injury from PFAS can be filed up to six years after the harm was or could reasonably have been discovered. … ”  Read more from Bloomberg here: Farmer who lost all to PFAS inspires law to get day in court

From seed to market: NASA brings food to the table

As the seasons turn from spring, to summer, to fall – farmers plant crops, monitor their growth and harvest them. And now increasingly they are using NASA Earth science data to help make their decisions. While NASA satellites primarily support scientific understanding, the data can also be applied for societal benefits like agriculture.  In our skies, NASA’s Earth-observing satellites help farmers track rainfall amounts, soil moisture, crop health, and more. On the ground, NASA partners with agencies and organizations around the world to help farmers use that data to care for their own fields.  Here are a few ways NASA helps put food on the table, from planting to harvest. … ”  Read more from NASA here: From seed to market: NASA brings food to the table

Wildfires were so hot they cooled the planet

Wildfires are becoming so intense they could alter the Earth’s climate, though not always in expected ways, according to a study published yesterday in Geophysical Research Letters.  The bushfires that ravaged Australia in 2019 and 2020 were so intense they actually cooled temperatures in the Southern Hemisphere last year, researchers found. The counter intuitive effects came from massive amounts of aerosols and particulate matter the fires spewed into the atmosphere, making clouds more reflective of the sun’s rays and pushing tropical thunderstorms northward.  The study, conducted by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, suggests wildfires could alter the climate as they grow more intense in response to a warming world. The researchers likened the Australian brush fire’s climatic impact to a volcano. … ”  Read more from E&E News here: Wildfires were so hot they cooled the planet

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Today’s featured article …

DELTA CONVEYANCE PROJECT: State Water Project operations and Delta modeling

Where does the State Water Project get its water?  How does DWR model Delta water operations?  Informational webinar features presentations on State Water Project operations and Delta modeling

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) is hosting four informational webinars between July and September 2021 to provide background information related to preparation of the Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the Delta Conveyance Project.  The first webinar focused on State Water Project and Delta operations, and featured presentations on State Water Project operations and the models the Department will use to analyze the project.

The meeting facilitator, Juliana Birkhoff with Ag Innvoations, noted that this is not a formal California Environmental Quality Act public input opportunity; there will be opportunities for public input once the draft environmental impact report has been released in mid-2022.

Carrie Buckman, the Delta Conveyance Project Environmental Project Program Manager with the Department of Water Resources, began by discussing the proposed project, the overall schedule, the planning processes, and future opportunities for public participation.

Click here to read this article.

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

WATER PLAN eNEWS: ~~Keynote Address~ Lunch-MAR~ USACE Webinar~ Grant Workshop~ Funding Report~ Proposed Requirements~ Specialty Crops~~

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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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