DAILY DIGEST, 8/4: State Board approves emergency curtailment measures for the Delta watershed; 10 charts and maps that explain CA’s drought; NorCal lawmakers call out drought and wildland mismanagement; and more …


On the calendar today …

  • MEETING: The State Water Resources Control Board will meet beginning at 9am.  A Quarterly Delta Stewardship Council Lead Scientist’s Report and review of current Delta science research, activities and initiatives.  Click here for the full agenda.
  • WORKSHOP: General Order For Clean Water Act Section 401 Water Quality Certification And Waste Discharge Requirements For Restoration Projects Statewide and Supporting Draft P-EIR beginning at 10am. The proposed General Order and draft PEIR would apply statewide and establish a permit authorization process for specific types of restoration activities. The draft PEIR identifies potential significant impacts to agriculture and forestry resources; air quality and greenhouse gas emissions; biological resources (terrestrial); biological resources (aquatic); cultural resources; geology and soils; hazards and hazardous materials; land use and planning; noise; transportation; tribal cultural resources; and utilities and service systems and public services.  Click here for the full notice.
  • FREE EVENT: Drought in the American West – The Everything Disaster from 10am to 11:30am.  Drought is upon us — with major implications for human health, biodiversity, agriculture, food security, supply chains, cities, land use, and the most very basic of human rights.  Join award-winning journalists from Circle of Blue and leading experts from the Pacific Institute, Vector Center, and others on the front lines for a first-hand, live briefing and public Q&A about the drought in the American West.  Click here to register.
  • PUBLIC HEARING: Statewide Construction Stormwater General Permit Reissuance at 1pm.  The State Water Board will hold a Board Public Hearing on the proposed Statewide Construction Stormwater General Permit ReissuanceClick here for the hearing notice.

State Water Board approves emergency drought regs …

State Water Board approves emergency curtailment measures for the Delta watershed

With climate change-induced drought reducing water levels in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to alarming lows, the State Water Resources Control Board today approved an emergency curtailment regulation with measures to preserve stored water to protect drinking water supplies, prevent salinity intrusion and minimize impacts to fisheries and the environment.  The emergency regulation must be approved by the Office of Administrative Law and filed with the Secretary of State before it becomes effective and curtailment orders can be issued.  Of the 6,600 water right holders in the Delta watershed, approximately 5,700 could be ordered to curtail diversions as early as this month under the authority provided by the regulation. The remainder, who hold older water rights or riparian rights, could be subject to curtailment if conditions worsen. … ”  Continue reading this press release from the State Water Board here: State Water Board approves emergency curtailment measures for the Delta watershed

Facing “dire water shortages,” California bans Delta pumping

In an aggressive move to address “immediate and dire water shortages,” California’s water board today unanimously approved emergency regulations to temporarily stop thousands of farmers, landowners and others from diverting water from from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta watershed.   The new regulations — the first to take such widespread action for the massive Delta watershed stretching from Fresno to the border with Oregon — could lead to formal curtailment orders for about 5,700 water rights holders as soon as Aug. 16. The decision comes on the heels of curtailment orders issued to nearly 900 water users along the drought-stricken Russian River, with 222 more expected next week. … ”  Read more from Cal Matters here: Facing “dire water shortages,” California bans Delta pumping

As drought worsens, regulators impose unprecedented water restrictions on California farms

Amid intensifying drought, state water regulators voted Tuesday to enact a drastic emergency order barring thousands of Californians — primarily farmers — from using stream and river water.  California’s complex water rights system is designed to allocate water use during times of shortage and such curtailments, while rare, are not unheard of. But the scope of Tuesday’s order — which includes thousands of senior water rights across a wide swath of the state — is unprecedented, officials said.  While the move has been protested by some farmers, irrigation districts and others, California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross called the decision “a necessary step,” saying the fact that senior water rights holders were included “speaks to the severity of the hydrology and what climate change has presented this year.” … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: As drought worsens, regulators impose unprecedented water restrictions on California farms

State moves forward with water restrictions for thousands of farms and water agencies

As California’s drought escalates, thousands of farms and water agencies from Fresno to the Oregon border, including some in the Bay Area, will face new water restrictions under plans advanced Tuesday by state regulators.  The sweeping cuts, enacted by the State Water Board, come in the form of a rare application of California’s water-rights hierarchy. They force property owners who have less seniority to stop drawing water from rivers and creeks in the vast Sacramento-San Joaquin River watershed.  These waterways, which crisscross 40% of the state from the Sierra Nevada to the San Francisco Bay, are simply too low for everyone to use, officials say. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: State moves forward with water restrictions for thousands of farms and water agencies

California cuts off thousands of Valley farmers from river water as drought intensifies

California regulators cut off thousands of farmers from their main irrigation supplies Tuesday, banning them from pulling water from the state’s main rivers and streams as the drought worsens. The State Water Resources Control Board, following hours of debate and comment, voted 5-0 to impose an “emergency curtailment” order covering the rivers of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta watershed — essentially the entire Central Valley. It’s the most dramatic step taken to date by state regulators since the drought was officially declared in most of California’s counties — and surpasses any of the moves made during the previous drought. … “  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  California cuts off thousands of Valley farmers from river water as drought intensifies.

Restore the Delta: Water Diversions in Bay-Delta Watershed Curtailed, notes from the 5-0 vote

Tonight the State Water Resources Control Board adopted emergency regulations that will authorize water diversion curtailment orders for the Bay-Delta watershed—reaching from near to the Oregon border to Mendota and Fresno area along the San Joaquin River.  With their 5-0 unanimous vote, the Board sets in motion a set of far-reaching rules that give it access to demand data from water right holders for comparison with flow data from the watershed’s rivers. Staff analysis of these comparisons are intended to improve accuracy of shortage estimates for every watershed in the Bay-Delta region, the basis by which Board will issue curtailment orders yet to come.  Such orders, once issued, will require those receiving them to stop diverting water from rivers and streams until further Water Board analysis shows water exists in their watershed to supply legal diversions. No one knows for certain when that will be, but it could be as early as this fall. … ”  Continue reading from Restore the Delta here: Water Diversions in Bay-Delta Watershed Curtailed, notes from the 5-0 vote

State water board decides on delta curtailments

The California State Water Resources Control Board is working on emergency curtailments and reporting regulations for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta watershed due to severe drought conditions.  The board was due to vote on potential actions this week, which could affect almost all appropriative and riparian water rights holders in the Delta watershed. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s recent emergency drought declaration triggered the board’s involvement.  Diane Riddle, of the board’s Division of Water Rights, said proposed actions are aimed at establishing “water right priority looking at available supplies and available demands.” … ” Continue reading at Ag Alert here: State water board decides on delta curtailments

And for even more …

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In other California water news today …

10 charts and maps that explain California’s drought

A historic drought is spreading across California and much of the American West. How bad is it? Which places are most affected? What does it mean for our water supply and wildfire risk?  These 10 maps and charts tell the story. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here: 10 charts and maps that explain California’s drought

Lake Oroville at lowest levels since 1977

Lake Oroville reached the lowest levels since September 1977, measuring 643.5 feet above sea level at 10 a.m. Tuesday. For comparison, when Lake Oroville is full, the surface water level is 900 feet above sea level.  Increasing issues are arising from the low levels being seen at Lake Oroville. Water operations manager for the Department of Water Resources State Water Project Molly White said last week in an email that due to the falling lake levels, the Edward Hyatt Power Plant may be forced to close down for the first time in its history due to low lake elevation. … ”  Continue reading at the Chico Enterprise-Record here: Lake Oroville at lowest levels since 1977

Drought socks hydroelectricity, putting California in a power pinch

The annual snapshot of California’s electricity generation shows how much drought conditions can affect the state’s power mix.  In-state hydroelectricity generation in 2020 dropped 44.3 percent from the year before, according to numbers recently released by the California Energy Commission. All told, 21,414 gigawatt-hours came from a combination of the state’s large and small hydro power plants — significantly lower than the 38.494 gigawatt-hours hydro delivered in 2019.  The state’s electricity from sources that do not emit carbon — renewables, nuclear power and large hydro projects of at 30 megawatts or more — accounted for 51 percent of generation within California last year, down 6 percent from 2019. ... ”  Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune here: Drought socks hydroelectricity, putting California in a power pinch

LaMalfa, Gallagher, Nielsen criticize state leadership’s management of wildfires, water and other resources

Flanked by a hazy backdrop of Lake Oroville with the nearby Dixie Fire creating a smoke-filled sky, federal and state politicians representing the north state gathered above the Hyatt Power Plant at Oroville Dam for a press conference Tuesday to criticize, in their words, the state’s “gross mismanagement” of water, wildlands and power.  Congressman Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale), Assemblyman James Gallagher (R-Yuba City), state Senator Jim Nielsen (R-Tehama) and Oroville Mayor Chuck Reynolds all spoke to assembled media, a handful of supporters and a couple protesters, frequently pointing to the barren lake below them to illustrate their concerns about the worsening drought. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here: LaMalfa, Gallagher, Nielsen criticize state leadership’s management of wildfires, water and other resources

SEE ALSO: Local republican lawmakers call out drought and wildland management, from KRCR

Ranchers selling off cattle in order to stay afloat during drought

Two droughts in the last decade mean a rough ride for ranchers who are selling off cows to survive.  The cost of meat is sky high during COVID but that money is being spent on the supply chain in the form of labor at meatpacking plants. It’s not trickling down to meat producers. But now the drought is drying up animal feed.  Casey Stone and his family operate Yolo Land and Cattle Company in the hills of Esparto. They run more than 600 cows and calves and manage 7,500 acres. Two droughts in the last 10 years and multiple wildfires are hitting hard.  Stone is about to sell off 30 to 40 percent of his herd. … ”  Read more from Channel 13 here: Ranchers selling off cattle in order to stay afloat during drought

Lemon farmers hopeful for rebound despite drought

Lemons are emerging from a devastating 2020 to find a world of contradictions.  The return of food service, decimated last year by shelter-in-place orders stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, is giving lemon farmers and packing houses cause for optimism. But the shortage of water in a state suffering from extreme drought is resulting in smaller lemons, and coastal Santa Ana winds have led to cosmetic issues.  “Our season this year is certainly better than last year, because some things are starting to come back online—food service and restaurants,” said Glenn Miller, president of the Saticoy Lemon Association in Ventura. “We’re seeing some improvement over last year, probably comparable to a couple of years ago—which were not the best years we ever had, but not too bad.” … ”  Read more from Ag Alert here: Lemon farmers hopeful for rebound despite drought

California invests in recycled water as droughts take a toll

Despite a troubling start to the 2021 fire season, Californians are more concerned about water and drought than any other environmental issue, according to a report just published by the Public Policy Institute of California. Northern California is scarcely immune to the impacts of drought, but 60 percent of the state’s population lives in Southern California, which depends on imported water for more than half of its supply.  Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD), the largest wholesale water agency in the country, provides this water. Its principle supply sources are the Colorado River and the State Water Project, an engineering marvel that diverts water from Northern California’s Feather River to the Central Valley and Southern California. … ”  Read more from Governing here: California invests in recycled water as droughts take a toll

In an arid U.S. West, water agencies look to delive​r​ purified wastewater directly to customers’ faucets​, despite “yuck factor”

For decades, water officials in San Diego, realizing the city was facing an ever-drier future, have worked to make the idea of what’s known as “direct potable reuse,” or DPR, more palatable to residents. In the 1990s, that turned into an uphill battle. The technology delivers purified wastewater to customers’ faucets without an environmental buffer — such as a groundwater aquifer, river or other go-between — prior to distribution, so opponents labeled it “toilet-to-tap.” The epithet stuck and torpedoed the Southern California city’s water recycling plans.  But of course the water issues stuck around as well, leaving the city to continue looking for new sources of water, especially those that might be drought proof. … ”  Read more from Ensia here: In an arid U.S. West, water agencies look to delive​r​ purified wastewater directly to customers’ faucets​, despite “yuck factor”

California requires PFAS investigation at refineries and terminals statewide

The California State Water Resources Control Board (“State Water Board”) has issued an Order to approximately 160 bulk fuel storage terminals and refineries in California requiring implementation of a PFAS site investigation.  The State Water Board identified the recipients of the Order on the basis that they had stored and/or used materials that may contain PFAS such as AFFF for fire suppression, fire training, and flammable vapor suppression.  In addition, the Order notes that petroleum-product storage tanks may use a floating layer of cereal grains treated with PFAS on top of the liquid surface to reduce evaporation loss, and facilities storing hydrocarbon fuels may prevent evaporation through use of an aqueous layer containing PFAS. … ”  Read more from Fox Rothschild here: California requires PFAS investigation at refineries and terminals statewide

Public good achieved through agricultural regulations warrants public support

Many agricultural regulations are implemented as a safety mechanism to help provide some measure of protection to the environment. These efforts generally provide a public good to the community at large. However, farmers and ranchers are responsible for covering the cost of compliance with these types of regulations. Professor of Agribusiness at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Lynn Hamilton suggests that more public support is warranted in helping producers cover these costs. ... ”  Read more from Ag Net West here: Public good achieved through agricultural regulations warrants public support

Wildfire Q&A with Stanford experts: A blueprint for protecting communities and restoring a lower intensity fire regime

Wildfire-weary Californians may be wondering whether their state – the world’s fifth largest economy – is destined for an ever-intensifying cycle of destruction. Can ambitious interventions slow the pace of conflagration fed by extreme heat and drought? If so, what would they look like, how much would they cost and where would the money come from? As California heads toward another wildfire season, Stanford researchers discuss the causes and necessary interventions. They say multiple integrated and community-based approaches will be necessary to restore more natural fire regimes. ... ”  Read more from Stanford News here: Wildfire Q&A with Stanford experts: A blueprint for protecting communities and restoring a lower intensity fire regime

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In regional water news and commentary today …

ODOT to restore wetland with Klamath Tribes

If you’ve gone north out of Klamath Falls on Highway 97 in the last month, you might have seen the construction project on the southeast side of Upper Klamath Lake.  The Oregon Department of Transportation is partnering with the Klamath tribes to restore 40 acres of former wetland into fresh habitat suitable for native flora and fauna including C’waam and Kaptu, two species of endangered suckerfish endemic to Klamath Lake.  ODOT is involved with the project as part of their wetland restoration offset program. … ”  Read more from the Herald & News here: ODOT to restore wetland with Klamath Tribes

Klamath Basin farmers struggle to navigate unreliable water

In 2001, the Bureau of Reclamation cut off water to the Klamath Project for the first time in 94 years. After 20 years of uncertain irrigation deliveries, water has been cut off again — damaging the basin’s agricultural industry, leaving domestic wells dry and forcing farmers to question if there is a future for them in the Basin.  These are the stories of three farm families who navigated the last two decades in different ways, and how they see the future of local farming. … ”  Read more from the Herald & News here: Klamath Basin farmers struggle to navigate unreliable water ... ”  Read more from Herald & News here:  Klamath Basin farmers struggle to navigate unreliable water

Trinidad declares drought emergency, says water conservation is necessary and may become mandatory

The Water Committee of the City of Trinidad has announced a drought notice for its residents. Trinidad draws about 2 million gallons of surface water each month from Luffenholtz Creek and processes it for about 323 water customers. Surface water flow of the creek has been steadily decreasing since June.  “This year’s drought is steadily approaching the peak severity of the last one,” Richard Clompus, Water Committee and City Council Member said. “And unfortunately, we don’t have another water source for the City at this time.” ... ”  Read more from the Lost Coast Outpost here: Trinidad declares drought emergency, says water conservation is necessary and may become mandatory

Roseville announces new mandatory water conservation due to drought

Starting next Monday, people living in the City of Roseville will be required to cut their water usage by 20 percent and have assigned days to water their lawn.  Christina Huie is now getting ready to cut back to watering her lawn just three days a week.   “We still water every day, so we need to change that. I didn’t even know about the restrictions until today, but I mean honestly this kind of grass stays green even without a lot of water,” she said.  So how will the city keep tabs on water usage? ... ” Read more from CBS Sacramento here: Roseville announces new mandatory water conservation due to drought

No more water to support water rights along the Russian River

Unprecedented drought conditions have forced state water regulators to take the drastic step of officially suspending water rights along the Russian River.  Sam Boland-Brien with the state water board said conditions have continued to worsen in the Russian River watershed and the orders formally direct those who have longtime permission to divert water from the Russian River to stop, because there is no longer enough water to support their water right. … ”  Read more from Northern California Public Media here: No more water to support water rights along the Russian River

Napa: Huichica Creek demonstration vineyard teaches growers to monitor, manage water use in irrigation

When Miguel Garcia was a child in small-town Mexico, he and those around him were constantly looking forward to escaping the farmland. But now, after earning his Masters degree and Ph.D., Garcia is right back in the fields teaching farmers how to preserve water while producing their grapes.  And honestly, he isn’t mad about getting back to his roots.  The conversation surrounding water use in California is certainly not a new one, but in recent years, the Napa County Resource Conservation District has been running a program geared specifically toward growers and their irrigation patterns, with Garcia at the helm. … ”  Read more from the Napa Register here: Huichica Creek demonstration vineyard teaches growers to monitor, manage water use in irrigation

Salesforce Tower is part of a nationwide water recycling trend: Here’s how it works

When Salesforce Tower in San Francisco fully reopens this year after 16 months of pandemic-induced closure, one of its more unusual features will be found in the basement.  A series of pipes and cast-in-concrete holding tanks, arrayed on two levels in the parking garage like some hidden microbrewery, will take the dirty water generated by the structure’s daily operations through a six-step filtration process and return it as clean, nonpotable water for use in toilets and drip irrigation. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Examiner here: Salesforce Tower is part of a nationwide water recycling trend: Here’s how it works

San Lorenzo Valley Water District to hold public hearing on fire recovery surcharge

Nearly a year after the CZU Lightning Complex fire, the San Lorenzo Valley Water District faces an estimated $20 million in repairs to infrastructure burned in the blaze — in order to restore the system, its proposing customers take on monthly surcharge.  The fee — which will be roughly $10 a month for most customers — will be discussed and decided upon at a public hearing at 6:30 p.m. Thursday on Zoom.  In addition to federal, state and other grants, if the fee goes through, customers would likely take on 25% of the estimated fire recovery work costs. The surcharge would last until 2026, unless sufficient funds are raised before then. ... ”  Read more from the Santa Cruz Sentinel here: San Lorenzo Valley Water District to hold public hearing on fire recovery surcharge

Santa Cruz: As salmon and squid seasons rebound, new questions

Over the last few months, hundreds of boats have been fishing off of—or transiting along—Santa Cruz County’s coastline. Industry analysts report plenty of bright spots in both the salmon and squid markets this season. But after some scientific studies were scuttled last year because of the coronavirus pandemic, and other research couldn’t be completed due to wildfires, fisheries management is still undergoing its own pandemic comeback, as climate change fears remain ever-present.  “It’s definitely been a good season,” Scotts Valley resident Hans Haveman, the CEO of H&H Fresh Fish at the Santa Cruz Harbor says during a late-June interview. “Unfortunately, regulation from the state and feds have shut us down right when it’s goin’ good.” … ”  Read more from Good Times here: Santa Cruz: As salmon and squid seasons rebound, new questions

How the state’s new drought regulation will impact Stanislaus County waterways

A state board approved a drought regulation Tuesday that puts irrigation districts in Stanislaus County in a precarious position of trusting a state agency they have battled with in the recent past.  Faced with a worsening drought emergency, the State Water Resources Control Board will move ahead with curtailment orders to stop some diversions from rivers and deal with severe water shortages.  “It takes over local management of our (water storage) systems and asks local managers to trust the state water board to run their systems,” said Attorney Valerie Kincaid, representing the San Joaquin Tributaries Authority, which includes the Modesto, Turlock and Oakdale irrigation districts. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here: How the state’s new drought regulation will impact Stanislaus County waterways

Options dwindle as Tooleville well runs dry

Plagued with non potable water, Tooleville now faces an immediate crisis as one of the unincorporated area’s two active wells has stopped producing water altogether as of July 20, midway through a brutally hot summer in the Central Valley and just the beginning of drought in the West.  Andi Galdamez, a community development specialist with nonprofit Self-Help Enterprises, helps the Tooleville Nonprofit Mutual Water Association stay in compliance with their water system, which serves about 76 households in the disadvantaged community just east of Exeter. … ”  Read more from the Foothills Sun-Gazette here: Options dwindle as Tooleville well runs dry

Water samples at Dockweiler State Beach return to state standards

The water quality of several beaches near Dockweiler State Beach has returned to state standards after a sewage spill, according to the California Department of Public Health.  Beachgoers had been warned against swimming along a stretch of coastline after an emergency discharge from the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant sent 17 million gallons of raw sewage into the waters off Dockweiler and El Segundo beaches on July 11 and 12.  More than two weeks later, the plant was still discharging partially treated wastewater into the ocean in violation of state and federal water pollution limits. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: Water samples at Dockweiler State Beach return to state standards

Orange County: Are sand erosion and rising seas a concern for San Onofre’s ocean-front nuclear waste storage?

“… The combination of high tide and strong surf a few weeks ago also caused waves to slam onto a big bluff between the popular surf beach and the tucked away San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, at times leaving no sandy shore exposed before pounding against the tall walls. When high tides and big swell merge – as can happen several times a year – waves can crash over the rock barrier at the edge of the sandy beach and onto the public pathway in front of the power station, simply dubbed SONGS. Behind that is a concrete sea wall – when the tide is at its highest the wall extends about 20 feet above the water – that serves as a protective shield to guard what’s stored about 100 feet away: 3.6 million pounds of nuclear waste set in stainless-steel canisters encased in a “concrete monolith.” … ”  Read more from the OC Register here: Orange County: Are sand erosion and rising seas a concern for San Onofre’s ocean-front nuclear waste storage?

San Diego: Utility pole replacement in San Dieguito Lagoon part of new habitat restoration project

SDG&E will begin work this year on replacing and relocating power lines in the San Dieguito Lagoon, making room for a habitat restoration project that will include a new public trail connection.  The new one-mile recreational trail would mostly run alongside El Camino Real, linking to the Dust Devil Nature Trail along the southern edge and extending north to near the El Camino Real bridge, providing a future link to the Coast to Crest Trail that stretches from Del Mar through the San Dieguito River Park to Julian.  Caltrans/SANDAG is completing the project as a mitigation condition of the Interstate-5 widening. … ”  Read more from the Del Mar Times here: San Diego: Utility pole replacement in San Dieguito Lagoon part of new habitat restoration project

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Along the Colorado River …

People — not just the megadrought — are driving the West’s water crisis

” … For decades, the Lake Powell and Lake Mead reservoirs, which bracket the Grand Canyon, have been the major savings accounts for water in the Western United States. Built on the Colorado River, the country’s two largest reservoirs have enabled Western farms and cities from Los Angeles to Denver to have a stable water supply throughout a relentless 21-year megadrought. But today, Lake Powell and Lake Mead are hovering at close to 33% of their full capacity, historic lows not seen since the dams were first built. If water levels drop to 22% and 15%, respectively, the dams can no longer generate hydropower. If they fall to 8%, they will become “dead pools,” meaning water cannot continue being delivered. This would trigger an urgent water crisis for the 40 million people who depend on the Colorado River.  “If, in your personal financial life, your outflow exceeds your inflow, your upkeep will be your downfall,” said Martin. “We’re kind of getting to that point now in the system.” ... ”  Read more from Buzz Feed News here: People — not just the megadrought — are driving the West’s water crisis

A watershed moment: Water reshapes the West

A “mega-drought” across the Southwest will force the federal government to declare a water shortage on the Colorado River this month.  The decision would be historic for the watershed, which serves 40 million people in seven states: California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado and Wyoming. The river system provides irrigation that turns desert into farmland and is an important source of drinking water and hydroelectric power.  The looming first-ever declaration will be triggered when the country’s largest reservoir, Lake Mead, dips below a certain level. It will force the first mandatory water cuts starting in 2022, which will mostly fall upon farmers and ranchers in places like Pinal County, Ariz., whose water rights are lower priority than homeowners and Native American communities. … ”  Continue reading from Politico here: A watershed moment: Water reshapes the West

One summer storm doesn’t end Utah’s drought, weather expert says

One strong rainstorm may cause flash floods and backed-up storm drains, but it doesn’t end the drought that has plagued Utah this summer, according to a weather expert.  “This certainly helps, getting some rain,” said Jim Steenburgh, professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Utah and an expert on mountain climate. “But we’re still way in the hole.”  Utah’s main water source is the mountain snowpack, Steenburgh said. “That’s our primary reservoir for water, so to speak,” he said. “There’s a lot more water in a wintertime snowpack in the spring than is produced by one of these thunderstorms.” … ”  Read more from the Salt Lake Tribune here: One summer storm doesn’t end Utah’s drought, weather expert says

Lake Powell’s historic low level strands some boat ramps—and reveals others

Lake Powell on the Colorado River is at historically low levels. All but three of its boat ramps are stranded above the waterline. The National Park Service is fighting to maintain access to the reservoir for recreational boaters… with the help of an old “legacy” ramp that’s been underwater for half a century. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny spoke with William Shott, superintendent of Glen Canyon National Recreational Area. … ” Continue reading at KNAU here: Lake Powell’s historic low level strands some boat ramps—and reveals others 

Drought-stricken Colorado mulls water measuring for agriculture

Colorado is proposing to ramp up requirements that agricultural water users, ranging from big companies to small mom-and-pop farms, measure the amount of water they divert from streams, rivers and waterways.  The state engineer says a statewide rule is necessary to prepare Colorado for a water-scarce future. Some water users, however, accuse the state of taking a heavy-handed and overly expensive approach that will force landowners to install devices in areas that don’t need them.  The move comes as Western states struggle to manage water resources amid an historic drought, climate change, and a growing supply-and-demand imbalance. In some watersheds, government officials don’t know how much agricultural users—thought to be responsible for upwards of 90% of water consumption—are using. … ”  Read more from Bloomberg here: Drought-stricken Colorado mulls water measuring for agriculture

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In national water news today …

19 AGs to EPA: Roll back Trump’s clean-water rule ASAP

A coalition of 19 attorneys general led by California, Washington and New York urged the Environmental Protection Agency in a letter to repeal a Trump-era rule that they say curtails their authority to deny permits for projects that could harm their waterways.  In a Monday missive, California Attorney General Rob Bonta, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, New York Attorney General Letitia James and Democratic attorneys general from Oregon to Pennsylvania said the EPA “should immediately take steps to repeal” the Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 401 Certification Rule. … ”  Continue reading at Reuters News here: 19 AGs to EPA: Roll back Trump’s clean-water rule ASAP

Senators try to sell $1T infrastructure plan to public

The senators who spent months stitching together a nearly $1 trillion infrastructure package are now trying to sell it to the American people before a key vote expected this week that would push a long recognized national priority much closer to the finish line, after years of talk.  Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said Tuesday that the $65 billion for broadband means that some people in her state would get access to the internet for the first time. “The pandemic that we have endured for more than a year laid bare the disparities in access to high-speed internet,” Collins said. … ”  Read more from the AP here: Senators try to sell $1T infrastructure plan to public

Waste-to-energy tech could slash U.S. Water sector carbon emissions, but its potential remains underdeveloped

Wastewater treatment plants in the United States are in a race against time.  Like all other industries, the clock is ticking for the sector to cut its carbon pollution, given President Joe Biden’s goal to halve the country’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050. To make their contribution, utilities will have to pull against strong currents. The energy needs of the wastewater sector are projected to climb during this period, due to population growth and tightening water-quality standards.  Luckily, wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) have a source of renewable energy running right through their pipes. ... ”  Continue reading at Circle of Blue here: Waste-to-energy tech could slash U.S. Water sector carbon emissions, but its potential remains underdeveloped

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Today’s featured article …

FEATURE: Tracking Sturgeon in the San Francisco Estuary

A USGS researcher with a juvenile white sturgeon. Photo by Matthew Young.

White sturgeon may not typically be considered “charismatic megafauna,” but Veronica Larwood thinks they deserve the recognition. A biological science technician with the U.S. Geological Survey in Sacramento, she served as lead author of a study in San Francisco Estuary and Watershed Science investigating the fish’s use of specific estuarine habitats. “They’re beautiful, they’re prehistoric looking,” she says. “They’re this living dinosaur.”

Click here to read this article.

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

PUBLIC WEBINAR: California Water and Wastewater Arrearage Payment Program Survey Webinar

YOUR INPUT NEEDED: California’s Climate Resilience Budget: Priorities and Opportunities

WATER PLAN eNEWS: ~~Resource Challenge~ WaterSMART Grants~ Basin Survey~ Water Management~ Nature-based Solutions~ Salton Sea~ Data Summit~~

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About the Daily Digest: The Daily Digest is a collection of selected news articles, commentaries and editorials appearing in the mainstream press. Items are generally selected to follow the focus of the Notebook blog. The Daily Digest is published every weekday with a weekend edition posting on Sundays.

 

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