DAILY DIGEST, 8/9: Historic drought in U.S. West will persist through October; Water rights law for real property owners; Is lead in the Sacramento River causing the algae bloom?; A look at reservoir levels and conditions around the state; and more …

In California water news today …

Historic drought in U.S. West will persist through October

The historic drought stretching across California and the U.S. West will likely last through October, with only minor improvements expected in parts of Arizona and New Mexico.  Drought now covers almost 95% of 11 western states, including all of California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Oregon and Idaho, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Above-normal temperatures and a dearth of rainfall is expected from August to October, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s monthly report. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here: Historic drought in U.S. West will persist through October

Lawn renovations could play major role in conserving water in West, experts say

Lawmakers and water utilities in the West are urging residents to conserve water as reservoirs hit record lows amid climate change-driven megadrought.  Among the calls to action is a reminder for residents to make choices that lessen use of municipal water when it comes to maintaining landscaping in desert surroundings.  About 30% of water usage for the average American family is used for the outdoors, such as watering lawns and gardens, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  But in the West, where water is zapped almost instantaneously by either the blazing sun or thirsty vegetation, outdoor water usage increases to about 60% of total household use, according to the EPA. … ”  Read more from ABC News here:  Lawn renovations could play major role in conserving water in West, experts say

Living with non-native fishes in California requires using the right words

Dr. Peter Moyle writes, “Everywhere you go in California, people live in landscapes where non-native species are conspicuous: European grasses turning the hills golden, earthworms tilling our garden soil, exotic trees providing shade, bullfrogs jumping into backyard ponds, starlings making tight maneuvers overhead. In this blog, I want to describe the language of our relationships with non-natives and the nature of those relationships as biological phenomena, using fishes and other aquatic organisms as examples. Reconciling our relationships with non-native species requires a vocabulary that reflects our attitudes towards them and their management. … ”  Read more from the California Water Blog here:   Living with non-native fishes in California requires using the right words

A new indigenous-led student movement is protecting sacred waters

Seventeen-year-old Danielle Rey Frank was first drawn to activism in the sixth grade. As a member of the Hoopa Valley Tribe in what is now Humboldt County, California, she grew up on the Trinity River, which isn’t just a part of her Tribe’s food systems and livelihood, it’s also a sacred place that’s central to their ceremonies and traditions. The Trinity and other area rivers have been consistently under threat from pipeline projects, along with rising water temperatures, pollution, and fish kills due to damming and water diversions from reservoirs and tunnels. All of which have been compounded by increasingly dire drought conditions. … ”  Read more from Civil Eats here:  A new indigenous-led student movement is protecting sacred waters

Legal: Water rights law for real property owners

This practice note discusses key considerations in analyzing water rights. It provides guidance on determining water rights generally and those associated with real estate specifically, acquiring water rights from a state regulatory or permitting authority, and transferring water rights among water right holders. It also outlines special considerations for water rights in California. This practice note is written from a real property owner’s perspective, but discusses issues concerning water rights that are not associated with property ownership as well. State and local laws, regulations, and practices relating to water law vary from state to state, with major substantive consequences. Additionally, the extent of water use under a certain water right may be limited by state, regional, and local rules and regulations. As such, you should consult counsel advising on water law matters for guidance on state-specific laws and regulations. … ”  Continue reading from Best Best & Krieger here: Legal: Water rights law for real property owners

Data for permanent crops

Growers of permanent crops will probably recognize the name Semios, as the precision agriculture company that specializes in pest management. In recent years, however, the company has expanded beyond pest management into a fully integrated precision agriculture platform for permanent crops. Founder and CEO Michael Gilbert says combining data sources into one technology makes a big difference for growers. … ”  Read more from Cal Ag Today here: Data for permanent crops

Can California reduce dairy methane emissions equitably?

Driving along a rural road in the San Joaquin Valley on a blistering afternoon in mid-July, dairy farms and the fields of corn that feed their cows stretch as far as the eye can see.  As heat shimmers up from the desolate roads on the outskirts of Pixley, about 150 miles northwest of Los Angeles in Tulare County, the stench of cow manure fills the car, even with the windows closed tight to trap the air conditioning.  Tulare County, famous for having more cows than people, is the primary driver of California’s dairy industry, which adds about $20 billion a year to the state’s economy and supports 129,000 San Joaquin Valley jobs.  Dairies also contribute a substantial proportion of California’s greenhouse gas emissions. … ”  Continue reading at Lookout Santa Cruz here: Can California reduce dairy methane emissions equitably?

Trump told California to sweep the forest floors. What’s Biden’s plan to combat wildfires?

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Gov. Gavin Newsom stood side by side, in a forest that burned badly a year ago, pledging to work together against California’s raging wildfires.  Vilsack, acknowledging criticisms that the U.S. Forest Service hasn’t done enough to fight fires, said the Biden administration was ready to spend billions beefing up the agency.  “We’re partners,” Newsom said during an appearance last week with Vilsack at the Mendocino National Forest. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: Trump told California to sweep the forest floors. What’s Biden’s plan to combat wildfires?

Commentary: Playing with fire: How we can prevent wildfire climate change catastrophes

Climate researchers write, “Drought conditions have again spread across California and the Southwest only four years after the end of the most intense drought in modern California history. As landscapes dry out, the threat of wildfire increases, and threat levels are already high. Three of the last four wildfire seasons shattered previous records in terms of acres burned in California and across the West.  Earlier this year California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) and state legislators announced a plan to allocate over half a billion dollars to reduce the threat of wildfires to the state. Money will be spent reducing the amount of wildland vegetation available to burn, hiring additional firefighters, and helping homeowners protect their properties.  These steps are essential and welcome, but more can be done. … ”  Read more from The Hill here: Commentary: Playing with fire: How we can prevent wildfire climate change catastrophes

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In regional water news and commentary today …

Lake County column: Figuring out fish kills

“Dear Lady of the Lake, I live on the lake, I am a fisherman, and I have noticed that in previous years there have been fish kills in the lake, mostly during summer, sometimes after chemical plant treatments, and when the algae and cyanobacteria in the lake get really bad. Are we going to see fish kills again this year? What is going on? — Need Help “Figuring out Fish Kills” Frank  Dear Frank, Thank you so much for this question, it’s very important and very timely for this time of season. … ”  Read the full column at the Lake County News here: Lake County column: Figuring out fish kills

The Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge

Located in California’s Central Valley, the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex is made up of six individual National Wildlife Refuges including Sacramento, Colusa, Delevan, Butte Sink, Sutter and a long stretch of the Sacramento River from Red Bluff south to Princeton.  The complex adds up to 10,819 acres and was originally established by Franklin D. Roosevelt on Feb. 27, 1937, as a Migratory Waterfowl Refuge.  Waterfowl using the Pacific Flyway to migrate currently and historically used the area as a winter refuge. … ”  Read more from the Lake County News here: The Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge

Is a high amount of lead in the Sacramento River causing the algae bloom?

The Sacramento River is one of the main sources of water people living in Sacramento County use to drink, cook and bathe, but ABC10 had a viewer reach out and ask if that river water is even safe. QUESTION:  “I heard from a friend that the Sacramento River has a ridiculously high amount of lead in it causing the algae bloom. Is that true?” We can verify that the Sacramento River does not have a high amount of lead-causing algae blooms. The City of Sacramento says algae is more commonly caused by high water temperatures. … ”  Read more from Channel 10 here: Is a high amount of lead in the Sacramento River causing the algae bloom?

SoCal: Pollutants released by Hyperion decline sharply as pumps come back online

The Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant is expected to continue releasing millions of gallons of partially treated wastewater into the Pacific until the plant is restored to normal operations later this month, but the amount of pollutants in the water flowing into the ocean is already dropping dramatically as more of the damaged facility is brought back online, according to new water quality data.  Data published daily on the city’s website shows that water flowing from Hyperion’s 5-mile outfall into the Santa Monica Bay consistently exceeded state pollution limits for solid particulates and oxygen-depleting materials for weeks, with some figures registering as much as 1,000% higher than what the state allows as recently as Aug. 1. But as of Friday afternoon, the numbers had reversed course, sharply declining to a two-week low that could signify the recently flooded plant is nearly back on track. … ”  Read more from the Daily Breeze here: Pollutants released by Hyperion decline sharply as pumps come back online

Pasadena Water and Power wants to keep receiving Hoover Dam electricity

Pasadena Water and Power is recommending an amendment of the City’s Transmission Service Agreement (TSA) with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) to extend it for a period of 47 years after it expires on September 30.  The Municipal Services Committee will be discussing the recommendation Tuesday, before passing it on to the City Council next week. … ”  Read more from Pasadena Now here: Pasadena Water and Power wants to keep receiving Hoover Dam electricity

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Along the Colorado River …

Low levels on the Colorado River: What it means for you

The Colorado River is running low.  Battered by 20 years of drought, flows have been consistently dropping in the river that 40 million people depend upon. The water level in Lake Mead is the lowest it has been since Hoover Dam was built, at 36% capacity.  On Aug. 15, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation will declare a shortage. That will result in a cut in deliveries to Arizona farmers. Most people won’t notice any changes, either in their bills or the new subdivision being built down the block.  But other cuts are looming, and life in the Southwest will become more complicated. Experts say a few wet winters won’t change anything; the river is overallocated between states, and it’s not coming back.  Should we conserve? Or not worry about it? Will we have water cops and drought-shaming, like Nevada and California? … ”  Read more from Arizona Big Media here: Low levels on the Colorado River: What it means for you

Water cutbacks coming to Arizona

The “bathtub ring” at Lake Mead has become a familiar sight. The water level in the lake is the lowest it has been since the Hoover Dam, which created the lake, was built in the 1930s. Those low levels have been decades in the making.  “Back in around 2000, Lake Mead was pretty close to being full, but over the last 20 years-plus now we’ve just not had good hydrologic conditions. It will take years to recover from that. Years of good conditions and unfortunately the climate models and projections don’t predict us getting cooler and they don’t predict us, let’s say, getting wetter,” said Dr. Sharon Megdal, University of Arizona professor and former board member for the Central Arizona Project. … ”  Read more from Arizona Public Media here: Water cutbacks coming to Arizona

From a raft in the Grand Canyon, the West’s shifting water woes come into view

Floating in the bottom of the Grand Canyon last spring, I was traveling back in time in more ways than one. In a narrow section, where the Colorado River runs deep and quiet, Vishnu schist offers a window onto the world as it was here 1.7 billion years ago, give or take a couple of hundred million years. Little about the redrock walls seems different from when I first marveled at the scenery as I rafted past many years ago.  But for the water that carries travelers through the national park, the changes have been dramatic even though they’ve occurred over just 31 years and barely amount to a tick in geologic time. It used to be that the big problem was managing so much water on the Colorado.  Now the problem is adjusting to so little water. … ”  Read more from Inside Climate News here: From a raft in the Grand Canyon, the West’s shifting water woes come into view

The lost canyon under Lake Powell

Lake Powell, which some people consider the most beautiful place on earth and others view as an abomination, lies in slickrock country, about two hundred and fifty miles south of Salt Lake City. Not long ago, I made the trip from Salt Lake to Powell in a rental car. The drive wound by Orem and Provo, then through a landscape so parched that even the sagebrush looked thirsty. A few miles shy of the lake, in the nearly nonexistent town of Ticaboo, I passed a lot where dry-docked cabin cruisers rose, mirage-like, from the desert.  It was the tail end of a record-breaking heat wave and two decades into what’s sometimes called the Millennium Drought. … ”  Continue reading from the New Yorker here: The lost canyon under Lake Powell

“We can’t have land back without water back”

Growing up in Sandia Pueblo, on the banks of the Río Grande in New Mexico, Julia Bernal heard tales about the world of her ancestors. Elders told her that the area was home to diverse flora and fauna, the likes of which she had never seen. The river used to overflow regularly, creating small creeks and ponds, prompting the tribe to rebuild roads every few years. Her father recounted a moment from his youth when he almost biked into the river, not realizing the water had stretched so far beyond its banks.  But standing at that same spot with her father earlier this year, the river of his youth was barely imaginable to Bernal. The combined effects of the Cochiti Dam upstream and climate change have cut the river’s flow to a fraction of what it once was, and the overflowing banks from her father’s childhood are bone dry. … ”  Read more at Circle of Blue here: “We can’t have land back without water back”

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In national water news today …

How the Flint water crisis has impacted US lead-pipe removal efforts

The water crisis that rocked Flint, Michigan, several years ago turned a once mighty industrial city — the cradle of General Motors — into a tragedy, a city that other cities didn’t want to emulate. And while the crisis impacted the entire city, many of the affected neighborhoods were predominantly Black and low-income (according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city is 54.1% Black, and 38.8% of the city’s residents live below the poverty line). … On the whole this has led to a much-needed push to eliminate lead pipes in municipal water systems. But funding challenges for this effort remain throughout the country. … ”  Read more from Civil Engineering Source here:  How the Flint water crisis has impacted US lead-pipe removal efforts

RELATED: Lead pipe replacement funds in bipartisan deal draw skepticism, from The Hill

Late nights, early mornings await Senate on infrastructure

Senators were laboring Sunday toward eventual passage of a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package, resigned to stay as long as it takes to overcome Republican holdouts who want to drag out final votes on one of President Joe Biden’s top priorities.  The bill has won widespread support from senators across the aisle and promises to unleash billions of dollars to upgrade roads, bridges, broadband internet, water pipes and other public works systems undergirding the nation. But a single Republican senator’s protest halted swift passage, forcing the Senate into long day and night sessions toward final votes early Tuesday. … ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service here: Late nights, early mornings await Senate on infrastructure

UN climate report expected to drive U.S. regulation, litigation

The dire picture of the global climate crisis depicted in Monday’s United Nations scientific report is widely expected to permeate U.S. energy and environmental regulations, as well as litigation challenging them.  The findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change also will play a role in supporting climate liability lawsuits against oil and gas companies and determine the trajectory of the federal oil leasing program, lawyers say.  “It’s an eagerly-awaited report,” said Jamie Auslander, a natural resources lawyer and principal at Beveridge & Diamond PC in Washington. … ”  Read more from Bloomberg Law here: UN climate report expected to drive U.S. regulation, litigation

IPCC: Window closing to stop worst effects of climate change

World leaders are rapidly running out of time to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. And without dramatic action, even less ambitious goals — such as checking climate change at 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels — soon could be out of reach.  That’s the sobering conclusion of the world’s top climate scientists, who today released a milestone report on the state of global warming. The analysis by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, wasn’t limited to temperature projections either.  It forecasts a grim future in which babies born today would grow old on a planet that’s hotter and more dangerous than the one their parents entered.  One in which rising seas and coastal floods regularly threaten half the globe. One in which fire seasons burn hotter and longer. And one that would see the world beset by extremes — from megadroughts and heat waves to moisture-laden storms that dump crippling amounts of rainfall on cities and crops.  And it leaves no doubt about who is responsible. … ”  Read more from E&E News here: IPCC: Window closing to stop worst effects of climate change

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Reservoir levels and conditions around the state …

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More news and commentary in the weekend edition …

In California water news this weekend …

  • In California, 1 state is seeing 2 drastically different responses to the drought
  • Friant Water Authority supports state action to curtail water with reservations
  • Snow can disappear straight into the atmosphere in hot, dry weather
  • Researchers look for sinks of microplastics pollution in Lake Tahoe
  • Dan Walters: Big battle looms over California water rights
  • Who has a right to the Klamath River, where there’s not enough water to meet everyone’s needs?
  • Bureau of Reclamation explains releases from Shasta Dam
  • Marin Municipal Water District shelves desalination option
  • Monterey: Should we be allowing a publicly-traded company with a profit motive to own a resource as vital to the public as water?
  • Why not dynamite? Matilija Dam project illustrates value of watershed
  • Colorado River shortage to hit Central Arizona farmers hardest
  • And more …

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

NOTICE: Emergency Regulation for Drought Minimum Flows in Scott and Shasta Watersheds at Board’s August 17 Meeting

OPPORTUNITY TO COMMENT: Oakdale Irrigation District and South San Joaquin Irrigation District Reservoir Release Water Transfer

OPPORTUNITY TO COMMENT: Friant-Kern Canal Middle Reach Capacity Correction Project repayment contract

FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES: Reclamation invests in grants to increase water sustainability in the West

NOTICE: Conservation of Lands Advisory Panel Releases Summary Document, Virtual Workshop August 10

NOTICE: Draft California Environmental Flows Framework Implementation Workplan and Survey

OPPORTUNITY TO COMMENT: Draft FY 2021-22 Fund Expenditure Plan for the Safe And Affordable Drinking Water Fund

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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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