DAILY DIGEST, 9/9: Farm groups irked after canal bill pulled; Water Board amends order to allow Ukiah to send water to coastal cities; Eyes in the sky’ help police CA water use; Could supersonic sound waves fight CA wildfires?; and more …


On the calendar today …

  • PUBLIC WORKSHOP: Draft California Water and Wastewater Arrearage Payment Program Guidelines from 9pm to 1pm.  The Fiscal Year 202122 State Budget Act (Senate Bill 129) appropriated $985 million from the Coronavirus Fiscal Recovery Fund, established by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, to the State Water Board for payments to community water systems to forgive residential and commercial customer arrearages that accrued during the COVID19 pandemic relief bill period (March 4, 2020 through June 15, 2021).  The State Water Board must adopt a resolution establishing guidelines for the Program within 90 days of receiving the funds; begin disbursing funds by November 1, 2021 and complete disbursing funds by January 31, 2022.  The Guidelines establish the process and criteria for the allocation and administration of the funds, including requirements for participating community water systems. The Guidelines establish the total statewide need and proportional allocation methodology for payments to eligible community water systems, and customer notification and payment plan requirements.  If there are remaining funds after fully reimbursing community water system residential and commercial customer arrearages, the State Water Board will amend the Guidelines or adopt new guidelines to establish a Wastewater Arrearage Payment Program.  Click here for the revised notice.
  • CalDesal’s Pathways to Piloting I Virtual Fall Program from 10am to 11:30am. Agenda includes Project pilots brief overview: what, how, and why; Gilad Cohen, IDE, talks with engineers who have completed or will participate in pilots, leads Q and A; and Jeremy Crutchfield, San Diego County Water Authority, discusses financing with agencies and organizations that award and distribute funding for desal pilots, leads Q and A.  Click here to register.
  • EVENT: Bay-Delta Tour 2021 A Virtual Journey from 2:30pm to 5:30pm.  Join the Water Education Foundation on a virtual journey deep into California’s most crucial water and ecological resource – the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.  Click here to register.
  • GRA BRANCH MEETING (Chico): Meet and Greet with the new Deputy Director for Sustainable Groundwater Management from 5:30pm to 7:00pm. Paul Gosselin has joined the Department of Water Resources (DWR) as the Deputy Director for Sustainable Groundwater Management. In this capacity, Paul will oversee DWR’s groundwater management activities statewide, including the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). Paul has extensive experience in local groundwater management, and environmental regulations, and leadership. Click here to register.

In California water news today …

Hurtado pulls bill to repair sinking canals after legislators yank funding

A bill navigating the California State Legislature that would have provided significant funds to repair some of the state’s major waterways came to a screeching halt on Wednesday.  Sen. Melissa Hurtado (D–Sanger) announced she would be pulling Senate Bill 559 – The State Water Resiliency Act of 2021 – after the Assembly gutted its funding and amended it to include additional bureaucratic hurdles. … ”  Read more from the San Joaquin Valley Sun here: Hurtado pulls bill to repair sinking canals after legislators yank funding

Farm groups irked after canal bill pulled

A California state bill that would have funded repairs to several key San Joaquin Valley canals has been pulled by its author, sparking criticism from farm groups.  State Sen. Melissa Hurtado, D-Sanger, said she decided to hold SB 559 after the Assembly Appropriations Committee removed all funding provisions.  “The cries for help from communities that are running out of water and from struggling farmers wasn’t enough to stop forced Assembly amendments to a sound solution,” she said in a statement. “It is unfortunate, but I will not add further pain to struggling farmworkers and communities. For this reason—I am withholding SB 559 for a vote this session.” … ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press here:  Farm groups irked after canal bill pulled

Click here for Senator Hurtado's statement.

Senator Melissa Hurtado released the following statement: “Western States are at war with climate change driven drought,” said Senator Hurtado. “The situation continues to worsen, and solutions for us to adapt are clear. The cries for help from communities that are running out of water and from struggling farmers wasn’t enough to stop forced Assembly amendments to a sound solution. It is unfortunate, but I will not add further pain to struggling farmworkers and communities. For this reason—I am withholding SB 559 for a vote this session. I’m disappointed, but will keep pushing to secure adequate funding for water infrastructure, and I hope to further inform my colleagues on the consequences of drought—namely food insecurity and water shortages as I chair hearings on the Select Committee on Human Security.”  Full statement here.

Click here for joint statement from the Friant Water Authority, the San Luis Delta Mendota Water Authority, and the State Water Contractors.

““We are disappointed that SB 559 did not proceed to a full vote this year, however we support Senator Hurtado’s decision in light of the most recent amendments she was forced to accept. Ignoring California’s water infrastructure needs by delaying action on repairs has devastating effects on our economy, quality of life, climate resiliency, food security, ecosystem health and public safety. Just imagine if we had completed these repairs prior to this current drought, California would be in a much better place than we are now. Securing California’s water future by repairing and updating the infrastructure that 31 million people and 3 million acres of farmland rely on isn’t a choice, we must get it done. We look forward to continuing our work with Senator Hurtado next year on a bill that will secure much-needed state funding for canal repairs.”  (Full statement here.)

Jennifer Pierre, General Manager of the State Water Contractors
Federico Barajas, Executive Director of the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority
Jason Phillips, Chief Executive Officer of Friant Water Authority

SEE ALSO: California fresh produce industry decries assembly action on SB 559, from The Packer

State Water Board amends curtailment orders to expedite water deliveries: City of Ukiah can draw ‘small amount’ from Russian River for coastal residents

“To expedite the delivery of much-needed drinking water to coastal Mendocino County residents whose wells have gone dry, the California State Water Resources Control Board has amended its previous curtailment orders to allow the city of Ukiah to draw water from the Russian River for emergency supplies.  “The State Water Board has pre-approved a health and human safety exemption allowing the city of Ukiah to provide emergency supplies to (coastal Mendocino County communities),” said Erik Ekdahl, deputy director of the Division of Water Rights, explaining Wednesday that the board did not want “bureaucracy to get in the way of providing emergency drinking water to people who really need it.” … ”  Read more from the Ukiah Daily Journal here: State Water Board amends curtailment orders to expedite water deliveries: City of Ukiah can draw ‘small amount’ from Russian River for coastal residents

Turlock Irrigation District fears state orders will deprive farms

The California State Water Resources Board issued curtailment orders to 45 water rights holders in the Sacramento and San Joaquin Delta, including the Turlock Irrigation District. These orders could cause water shortages in the coming years if they stay in place for an extended period of time.  The curtailment order instructs local agencies to immediately stop diverting flows to rivers. The Turlock Irrigation District, along with the Modesto Irrigation District, owns and operates Don Pedro Reservoir that is a collection site from the Tuolumne River and main source of irrigation water. The current water year will be coming to a close on Oct. 1, and there is enough water stored for the rest of the year, according to TID. Also on Oct. 1, the state water board will rereview the curtailment and determine whether to lift it or not. … ”  Read more from the Ceres Courier here: Turlock Irrigation District fears state orders will deprive farms

State’s curtailment orders draw lawsuits from Modesto-area water users and San Francisco

The state’s curtailment of river diversions has drawn lawsuits from eight irrigation districts in and near Stanislaus County, along with San Francisco.  The three filings claim that the State Water Resources Control Board exceeded its authority with the Aug. 20 orders. The plaintiffs also said they did not get enough chance beforehand to make their cases for continued diversions.  One suit was filed Sept. 2 by the Modesto, Turlock, Oakdale and South San Joaquin irrigation districts and San Francisco. It involves the Tuolumne and Stanislaus rivers. ... ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here: State’s curtailment orders draw lawsuits from Modesto-area water users and San Francisco

Irrigation districts join in State Water Board lawsuit

The Oakdale and South San Joaquin Irrigation Districts have joined in a lawsuit challenging the State Water Resources Control Board’s authority to prevent the two water agencies from diverting and storing Stanislaus River runoff in Donnells, Beardsley, New Melones and Tulloch Reservoirs.  The state water board, in an emergency drought order issued Aug. 20, declared that OID, SSJID and 4,500 other water rights holders in California must immediately stop diverting water due to unprecedented drought conditions. Both Districts have the ability to use water previously stored behind those reservoirs and anticipate no immediate impacts to its agricultural and municipal customers. … ”  Read more from the Riverbank News here:  Irrigation districts join in State Water Board lawsuit

Eyes in the sky’ help police California water use

Michael George is not a spy — but he does use some of the same equipment.  George, a gregarious talker, is a lawyer by trade, and in his current role as Delta watermaster he oversees the use of water in one of the country’s most contested waterways.  The Delta in this case is the Sacramento-San Joaquin, a jumble of fertile land, diked islands, tidal flows, and meandering sloughs that is the heart of California’s engineered water system. A habitat for endangered salmon and smelt, the delta is a hydrological switchyard, where water moves east and west with the daily tides. Water is also transferred north to south via massive state and federally operated pumps that supply farmers in Kern County as well as urbanites in Los Angeles, locations that are hundreds of miles distant. … ”  Read more from the Circle of Blue here: Eyes in the sky’ help police California water use

Federal government asks to stay challenges to ESA rules

On August 13, 2021, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“FWS”) and National Marine Fisheries Service (“NMFS”) (“Federal Defendants” or “Services”) filed a motion with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California to stay three consolidated lawsuits brought by various states, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Earthjustice, Natural Resources Defense Fund, and Center for Biological Diversity (“Plaintiffs”) challenging Endangered Species Act (“ESA”) rules issued by the Federal Defendants in 2019 (“2019 ESA Rules”).  The Plaintiffs brought this suit in August 2019 to challenge three 2019 ESA Rules, which were viewed as rollbacks to ESA protections ... ”  Read more from the National Law Review here (scroll down to second story):  Federal government asks to stay challenges to ESA rules

California groundwater pumping project can proceed, for now

Environmental groups failed to justify blocking the federal government from funding groundwater pumping in the Sacramento River Valley pending a preliminary injunction hearing, a federal court in California ruled.  There’s no evidence that pumping will immediately occur without injunctive relief, according to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California. And even if it did happen, there’s no evidence irreparable harm would occur between that time and the preliminary injunction hearing Thursday, Judge William B. Shubb said Tuesday. … ”  Read more from Bloomberg Law here: California groundwater pumping project can proceed, for now

Toxic algae test results are in after mysterious deaths of California family while hiking

Few clues have been shared by investigators working to determine how a family and their dog died a little over three weeks ago while hiking in Sierra National Forest, in a remote section of Mariposa County southwest of Yosemite National Park.  Known harmful algae blooms in the south fork of the Merced River, near where the family was mysteriously found dead along the Savage-Lundy Trail in Devil’s Gulch, are among the hazards being considered.  Mariposa County Sheriff Jeremy Briese, in a monthly update last week, said some test results from recent water samples there came back showing “high levels” of anatoxin-a, but that investigators are “not saying” that’s what killed Mariposa residents John Gerrish, Ellen Chung, their daughter, Miju, and family dog, Oski. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here: Toxic algae test results are in after mysterious deaths of California family while hiking

SEE ALSO: Freak lightning strike may have killed Brit, wife, baby and dog on hiking trail, from The Mirror

How promoting prescribed burns may improve water quality in the long term

The California Legislature recently passed Senate Bill 332 (SB 332), which would increase legal protections for professionals responsible for setting prescribed burns – or “the planned application and confinement of fire” to a specified area for the prevention of high-intensity fires and related ecosystem management.  … Prescribed burning is touted not only as an effective method of reducing the number and intensity of large wildfires and the corresponding costs of suppression and repair, but also as an option to maintain water quality in managed watersheds by reducing smoke and ash, decreasing erosion, and protecting desired plant communities. As Californians are unfortunately experiencing this fire season, smoke and ash can have a dramatic effect on water quality – one example being the aftermath of the Caldor fire on the famously blue waters of Lake Tahoe. Whether such impacts can be avoided by promoting prescribed burning without risking large losses of life and property under the reduced liability standard is yet to be seen. … ”  Read the full article at Somach Simmons & Dunn here: How promoting prescribed burns may improve water quality in the long term

Historic sea level rise bill passes senate

On Thursday, Sept. 2, the California State Senate passed Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins’ SB 1, the Sea Level Rise Mitigation and Adaptation Act of 2021, which would provide tools and resources for communities to address this imminent climate change reality.  “Climate change and sea level rise threaten to alter the landscape of California forever and severely impact our regional economies. Without vital investment and a change in our planning policy, the damage to California’s coastline will be irreparable. California stands to lose coastal wetlands, iconic monuments, and could see devastation to our groundwater and fresh water supplies,” said Senator Atkins. “Now is the time for action, and I chose to focus this year on sea level rise because we are already seeing the very real impacts in my district and throughout the state. We must do all we can to ensure that California’s signature treasure, its coast, is preserved for generations to come.” ... ”  Read more from the Oakdale Leader here: Historic sea level rise bill passes senate

California’s thirst for water may accelerate global warming

A new study finds the push to secure more water in California may hurt the state’s ability to meet greenhouse gas reduction goals.  The nonpartisan group Next 10 and the Pacific Institute, a think tank focusing on water issues, found the state’s drive for drinkable water may exacerbate the conditions that are warming the global climate.  The warming climate is increasing the frequency and length of droughts in Southern California which heightens the urgency to develop new water sources.  The study concludes that finding new water sources frequently carries a hidden environmental cost and the report predicts carbon emissions could spike in coming years. … ”  Read more from KPBS here: California’s thirst for water may accelerate global warming

California drought driving up greenhouse gas emissions: study

Drought in California, coupled with population growth, is accelerating the need for energy-intensive water projects — driving up greenhouse gas emissions and thwarting the pace of statewide decarbonization efforts, a new study has found. … Up against formidable water challenges, urban water planners are opting to integrate new water supply technologies, like desalination and water recycling, the researchers observed. And while these supply choices usually require less energy than transporting water long distances, the authors said that these facilities do expend more energy than withdrawing from traditional resources, like reservoirs and aquifers. … ”  Read more from The Hill here: California drought driving up greenhouse gas emissions: study

NASA drought research shows value of both climate mitigation and adaptation

Seasonal summer rains have done little to offset drought conditions gripping the western United States, with California and Nevada seeing record July heat and moderate-to-exceptional drought according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Now, new NASA research is showing how drought in the region is expected to change in the future, providing stakeholders with crucial information for decision making.  The study, published in the peer-reviewed journal, Earth’s Future, was led by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) and funded by NOAA’s Climate Program Office and NASA’s Modeling, Analysis and Prediction (MAP) Program. It found that the western United States is headed for prolonged drought conditions whether greenhouse gas emissions continue to climb or are aggressively reined in. … ”  Read more from NASA here: NASA drought research shows value of both climate mitigation and adaptation

California wildfires …

After a disastrous summer of fire, California braces for a potentially worse fall

With more than 2 million acres burned so far this year, California’s already destructive wildfire season may worsen this fall, with long-term forecasts showing little signs of relief.  Fall is almost always a race between intense seasonal winds and the arrival of rain. Officials say the next few months look considerably dry and dangerous.  The summer brought fires of rare ferocity that leveled the town of Greenville. For the first time, flames swept from one side of the Sierra to the other. Drought conditions and rising temperatures spurred by climate change have left the landscape bone-dry and ready to explode. ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here: After a disastrous summer of fire, California braces for a potentially worse fall

Thunderstorms in the forecast could complicate efforts to contain Caldor Fire

A low pressure system on the way could produce strong thunderstorms for a lot of Northern California, but very little rain — potentially bad news for firefighters.  “We’re just gonna be left with lightning, possibly, with those thunderstorms,” said Craig Shoemaker, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Sacramento. “And we’ve had such an extended period of dry and hot weather. And it’s been dry for the last six months. Any lightning strike is like throwing a match.”  The National Weather Service is also predicting winds to pick up through late Friday night, with the biggest gusts along mountain ridges, which could impact progress on the Dixie and Caldor Fires. … ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here: Thunderstorms in the forecast could complicate efforts to contain Caldor Fire

Managing family forests is key to managing wildfire

Californians broadly agree that wildfire is near the top of the state’s environmental challenges—and the current wildfire season is underscoring just how urgently we need to improve our forest management to prevent extreme wildfires. But some forests are easier to manage than others. In the Sierra-Cascade region, many of the mixed-conifer forests belong to family operations, which typically struggle to carry out robust forest management. This gap in management is putting communities at risk. To date, there’s been relatively little information about family forests. Our latest research helps shed light on where these forests are located, what challenges they face, and which policy moves could help family forest managers bring their forests back to health. ... ”  Read more from the PPIC here: Managing family forests is key to managing wildfire

In a new twist on an old tactic, ski resorts are using snow machines to fight fires

As summer turns to fall, California ski areas — Sierra-at-Tahoe, Kirkwood and Heavenly — have begun using their snow machines as supersized sprinklers to help fight forest fires. Their theory is that if the ski areas can keep key infrastructure wet (such as base lodges, pump houses and garages that store groomers, snowmobiles and other machinery) the resorts can survive the worst of the fires.  California is not the first place to use this strategy. During fires in Australia two years ago, snow machines were used to protect historic infrastructure. While this specific use is new, since its inception after World War II snow-making has been entangled in corporate attempts to adapt to, and prosper in, precarious climates. In other words, snow-making is not becoming a climate adaptation strategy as climate change accelerates, it has always been one. … ”  Read more from the Washington Post here: In a new twist on an old tactic, ski resorts are using snow machines to fight fires

Worsening California blazes prompt new calls for innovations to fight fires smarter

As wildfires in California and beyond have grown larger and deadlier in recent years, some in the firefighting sector say the tools and technologies used to combat new blazes have not kept up with the impact of climate change’s fury.  “In many cases, we’re still fighting fire with sharpened pieces of metal attached to the ends of sticks,” Bill Gabbert, who worked as a full-time firefighter for more than 30 years before becoming managing editor of the industry publication Wildfire Today, told ABC News. “Hand crews, using hand tools and chainsaws to remove the fuel on the edge of a fire so the fire burns up to that area where there is no fuel and then it stops spreading, that’s how we put out fires.” … ”  Read more from ABC News here: Worsening California blazes prompt new calls for innovations to fight fires smarter

Is it possible to use supersonic sound waves to put out fires here in California? The answer is yes, but it’s complicated.

Today’s Why Guy question comes to us from Kim, who asks “is it possible to use supersonic sound waves to be put out fires here in California?”  Kim, the answer is yes. Maybe. Back in 2015, two college students from George Mason University in Virginia developed a basic prototype sound wave blaster that put out fires. It was designed to move oxygen with pressure on the flames. … ”  Read more from Channel 10 here: Is it possible to use supersonic sound waves to put out fires here in California? The answer is yes, but it’s complicated.

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In commentary today …

No water rights in CA are above the law, despite SF’s claims

Doug Obegi, Director of California River Restoration at the NRDC. writes, “The current drought is highlighting many ways in which California’s water rights system is inequitable and poorly managed, but it doesn’t have to be that way.  While water users frequently claim they are exempt from the authority of the State Water Resources Control Board, the Courts have repeatedly rejected those arguments, confirming that the Board has significant authority over all water rights in California.  However, all too often the Board is prevented from exercising that authority due to political pressure, and when the Board does act, water users file litigation to try to bully the Board so they can go back to over-exploiting California’s water resources for profit.  … ”  Continue reading at the NRDC here: No water rights in CA are above the law, despite SF’s claims

Calif.’s drought, desperation are peaking. Sacramento needs to boost water storage.

Assemblyman Vince Fong writes, “Californians are facing the most severe drought conditions since 1977. Some communities in the Central Valley lack access to even basic necessities like clean drinking water. Farmers, if they haven’t already, will be forced to abandon portions of their crops, eliminating jobs and income and prompting higher food prices for families across the country. This reality is unfathomable.  Californians need water storage now.  California’s last significant water infrastructure investment, the State Water Project, was built over 50 years ago when the state’s population was a mere 16 million. Today, California is home to nearly 40 million people and the state’s farmland to produce vital food supplies has increased by 3,140%. It goes without saying – California’s water storage infrastructure needs to increase to meet growing needs. … ”  Continue reading at the San Joaquin Valley Sun here: Calif.’s drought, desperation are peaking. Sacramento needs to boost water storage.

State’s plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions harmful to farmers

Jamie Johansson, president of the California Farm Bureau Federation, writes, “It can’t be said enough; California’s farming industry is a cornerstone of this great state – our growers provide food for your families and the world. As we hear so often during this pandemic, farming and agriculture are essential.  Yet, we are facing unprecedented obstacles to growing and producing the food you pick up at the grocery store or farmers’ market. Many challenges are the result of climate change. We are all too familiar with its impacts. … ”  Read more from Cal Matters here: State’s plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions harmful to farmers

In regional water news and commentary today …

Water arrives at desperately dry Lower Klamath wildlife refuge

The Bureau of Reclamation began releasing water from the Klamath River to Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge on Sept. 3. Advocates hope it will improve wetland habitat on the refuge for migrating birds this fall.  Last week, California Waterfowl Association officially purchased approximately 3,750 acre-feet of water from Agency Ranch in the Wood River Valley, above Upper Klamath Lake, having announced the purchase and fundraising effort this spring. Lower Klamath has been plagued by insufficient wetland habitat due to a lack of deliveries from the Klamath Project for the past 20 years. … ”  Read more from the Oregonian here: Water arrives at desperately dry Lower Klamath wildlife refuge

SEE ALSO: After A Dry Year, Water Flows To Lower Klamath Wildfire Refuge, from Jefferson Public Radio here:

Enhancing flows and fish passage for Shasta River tributary

Parks Creek is a critical tributary to the Shasta River in the Mid-Klamath Basin. The Shasta River was historically one of the most productive salmon streams in California. Groundwater from cold, nutrient-rich springs provided nearly ideal aquatic habitat conditions that supported large Chinook and coho salmon populations. But more than a century of aquatic and riparian habitat degradation along the Shasta River and its tributaries—including Parks Creek—has resulted in dramatic declines in wild salmon populations.  CalTrout’s Parks Creek Flow Enhancement and Fish Passage Project is working with the Cardoza Ranch to enhance flows and restore critical spawning and rearing habitat for salmon and steelhead throughout the watershed. … ”  Continue reading from Cal Trout here: Enhancing flows and fish passage for Shasta River tributary

Truckee River dams, reservoirs created to capture Tahoe’s water

President Theodore Roosevelt wanted to see quick action on the new federal irrigation bill. Prior to 1902, private landowners perfected water rights to the Truckee and Carson rivers in accordance with Nevada law (“perfected” meaning that permitted water satisfied the Beneficial Use requirement as described in Part IV of the series).  Senior officials from the U.S. Reclamation Service visited Reno and Carson City where they promised that generous government funds would be forth coming for the financially depressed Silver State, but there was a catch. To get the money Nevada’s government had to enact a statute that subordinated the State Water Engineer’s Office to the new federal agency. The full-court press worked and in 1903 Nevada passed the requested measure that relinquished power to control water rights in the state, including its problematic claims at Lake Tahoe and in the Truckee River and Carson River watersheds. ... ” Continue reading at Tahoe Weekly here:  Truckee River dams, reservoirs created to capture Tahoe’s water

Marin water utility weighs new fees for excessive use

The Marin Municipal Water District is considering whether to charge new penalties for high water users during the drought.  The proposal discussed by the district’s board this week would set varying caps on water use during the “summer” and “winter” billing periods. Ratepayers would be charged a fee for every 748 gallons used above that cap.  “We’re not turning anybody’s water off,” district consultant Mark Hildebrand told the board on Tuesday. “This is simply penalizing folks for using water above a certain level.” … ”  Read more from the Marin Independent Journal here: Marin water utility weighs new fees for excessive use

Fairfax delays spending pandemic funds on water conservation

Fairfax has delayed committing federal funds toward a town water conservation project with the Marin Municipal Water District.  In July, the council approved using about $585,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds for projects such as recovering lost revenue and expanding broadband, sewer and water infrastructure. The money can be used for any project proposed between March 3 and Dec. 31, 2024.  The town is considering using $100,000 “to dramatically increase the adoption of water conservation strategies” as much of the county struggles to meet the district’s 40% water reduction target. But the idea drew criticism from some at the Town Council meeting on Sept 1. … ”  Read more from the Marin Independent Journal here: Fairfax delays spending pandemic funds on water conservation

Marin launches Dillon Beach wastewater study

Dillon Beach has been engaged in conversations with the county about water needs since late 2018. Now the county is embarking on a wastewater feasibility study starting this month and wrapping up by the end of the year.  The non-commitment project will include public outreach through meetings, workshops and direct communication with homeowners to discuss previous findings, project manager Arti Kundu said. … ”  Read more from the Point Reyes Light here: Marin launches Dillon Beach wastewater study

How to save southern part of S.F.’s Ocean Beach – less roadway and a lot more sand

For the past two weeks, a 375-foot dredge ship has been cruising off the coast of San Francisco, ferrying thousands of tons of sand from the seafloor to Ocean Beach and marking the city’s latest effort to confront climate change.  The ambitious $7 million project is designed to anchor the city’s rapidly eroding southern shoreline with a 3,000-foot-long, 30-foot-tall sand berm.  While a series of dunes and seawalls has protected the northern stretch of Ocean Beach from rising seas and increasingly strong storm surges, the coast south of Sloat Boulevard has remained more vulnerable to climate-driven forces. Roads, underground infrastructure and a major city wastewater treatment plant are at risk of being swallowed by the sea. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: How to save southern part of S.F.’s Ocean Beach – less roadway and a lot more sand

See slice of Bethel Island for sale. Delta waterfront property could be developed

A 600-acre slice of Bethel Island in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta with two miles of shoreline — property that was once under contract for $67 million — is for sale via auction.  Platinum Luxury Auctions, which will hold the sale on Oct. 8 with a pre-sealed bid deadline Sept. 13, calls the Contra Costa property “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: a 600-acre site with two miles of shoreline in the lush California Delta.”  The property has never been formally listed. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  See slice of Bethel Island for sale. Delta waterfront property could be developed

Pleasanton council approves water rate hikes for PFAS treatment funding plan

Pleasanton water ratepayers can expect a bigger water bill in the future after the Pleasanton City Council unanimously approved a funding plan for final design of the city’s per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) treatment and wells rehabilitation project on Tuesday.  “If you’re a big, big water user, it might get expensive,” Mayor Karla Brown said before casting her vote at the Sept. 7 council meeting. … ”  Read more from Pleasanton Weekly here: Pleasanton council approves water rate hikes for PFAS treatment funding plan

Amid California drought, Santa Clara County’s water conservation isn’t going well

One of the largest water districts in the San Francisco Bay Area is falling dramatically short of water conservation goals amid extreme drought conditions across California. Santa Clara Valley Water declared a water shortage emergency in June with its reservoirs reaching historically low levels, requiring customers to reduce water use by 15% compared with 2019 levels. In July, the district fell short of the goal with residents only reducing water use levels by 6% compared to 2019 levels, according to newly available data first shared by the San Jose Mercury News. … ”  Read more from SF Gate here: Amid California drought, Santa Clara County’s water conservation isn’t going well

SEE ALSO: Water Use Up in Some South Bay Communities, Despite Calls to Conserve, from CBS Bay Area

Half Moon Bay: Harbor District approves ‘living shoreline’ bid

Since 1994, a 300-foot-long stretch of the West Trail, which provides beach access to Pillar Point, has substantially eroded and needed emergency repairs, according to a report from the San Mateo County Harbor District. Now the Harbor District is doing something about it.  At last month’s board meeting, the Harbor District accepted a bid from Michael Roberts Construction Inc. to reconfigure the shoreline for just over $2 million. In anticipation of higher costs, the board voted to approve spending an additional 10 percent as a contingency plan. Because the development is part of the district’s Capital Improvement Program, the funds will come from the agency’s working capital. ... ”  Read more from the Half Moon Bay Review here: Half Moon Bay: Harbor District approves ‘living shoreline’ bid

Galt groundwater workshops to highlight sustainability

Galt residents have three chances in the next month or so to learn about and comment on regional groundwater-management efforts.  The group tasked with developing a strategy to conserve groundwater in the Cosumnes Subbasin will host two in-person workshops on Sept. 16 — at 3:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. — to explain its draft Groundwater Sustainability Plan. A follow-up webinar on Oct. 6 at 6:30 p.m. will give time for further questions and feedback. ... ”  Read more from the Galt Herald here: Galt groundwater workshops to highlight sustainability

Pasadena: New fire chief highlights value of partnerships with looming drought

There’s a new fire chief in town and he has his work cut out for him. Chief Chad Augustin is hoping to lead Pasadena’s Fire Department ahead of what he projects could be the third year in a row of the worst fire season on record. … With California in one of the worst droughts it has seen, Chief Augustin went straight to work, preparing for an unprecedented fire season.  One of his first courses of action is meeting with the Pasadena Police Department’s helicopter crews to foresee what areas are susceptible to devastating impacts if a fire ignites. … ”  Read more from Spectrum 1 here: Pasadena: New fire chief highlights value of partnerships with looming drought

Why is human DNA seeping into the sea near the San Clemente Pier?

On any given day, surfers are paddling out near the San Clemente Pier to catch waves, a popular seaside destination that also draws locals and tourists who splash around in the saltwater.  But in those waters is something that’s not supposed to be there: human DNA, aka human waste. City officials are trying to solve the mystery of where it is coming from so they can prevent the contaminants from ever hitting the sea.  Officials have been grappling with pier pollution for years – it’s been on the city’s radar big time since 2015 and made headlines when San Clemente appeared on Heal the Bay’s Beach Bummer list in 2017 and for several years following. … ”  Continue reading at the OC Register here: Why is human DNA seeping into the sea near the San Clemente Pier?

Imperial Irrigation District sends letter to Biden on Hell’s Kitchen

The Imperial Irrigation District is sending a letter to President Joe Biden stressing the importance of the Hell’s Kitchen geothermal and lithium extraction facility at the Salton Sea.  The district Board of Directors voted 4-0, with Director Norma Sierra Galindo absent, to issue the letter calling on the President to assist in the federal permitting process during its meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 7.  “The project will produce clean energy, much needed domestically sourced battery grade lithium and will do so in an environmentally sound way,” according to the letter. … ”  Continue reading from the Holtville Tribune here: Imperial Irrigation District sends letter to Biden on Hell’s Kitchen

SEE ALSO: New Way to Pull Lithium from Water Could Increase Supply, Efficiency, from the University of Texas

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Along the Colorado River …

A shot of recycled water revives a flourishing ecosystem on the Santa Cruz River in Tucson

For much of the past century, the Santa Cruz River flowed through Tucson only when rainstorms sent muddy runoff coursing down the riverbed. Most of the time, the Santa Cruz sat parched in its channel, looking like a big dry ditch beneath the overpasses.  Then on a hot summer day in 2019, the water came. Released from a pipe, the treated wastewater poured onto the sand and flowed downstream. A transformation began.  At a pair of tents overlooking the river, there were speeches, and a mariachi band played. Afterward, people of all ages walked down a ramp to the water and waded in, celebrating the return of the Santa Cruz.  Ecologist Michael Bogan hadn’t planned to study the resurgence of the Santa Cruz when he pedaled his bike down to the riverbed that day to watch the water roll down the dry channel. But as he snapped photos, Bogan was astonished to see dragonflies and damselflies soaring past and laying eggs in the water. … ”  Read more from Arizona Central here: A shot of recycled water revives a flourishing ecosystem on the Santa Cruz River in Tucson

Lake Mead water has been leaking from beneath Henderson road for four months

People in Southern Nevada are constantly told to conserver water due to a 20-year drought.  For the first time this summer, the federal government declared a water shortage on the Colorado River, which triggers mandatory water consumption cuts in the Southwest. Lake Mead water levels have dropped to lows not seen since it was filled in the 1930s.  That is why some people in Henderson are so upset to see Lake Mead water leaking from under the intersection of Boulder Highway and Major Avenue. … ”  Read more from Channel 5 here: Lake Mead water has been leaking from beneath Henderson road for four months

Colorado River Reservoir at 40% capacity, lowest level ever

It’s no secret the Colorado River Basin is experiencing one of its worst droughts in record history.  Now, hydrologists are minimizing water usage next year.Lake Mead and Lake Powell are at their lowest water elevation levels ever, and it’s only expected to get worse as we head into 2022, according to Wade Noble, who serves on the general council for four of Yuma’s irrigation districts. … ”  Read more from KYMA here: Colorado River Reservoir at 40% capacity, lowest level ever

Study: dry future likely unavoidable for Southwest, but reducing greenhouse gases can still help

For the past two decades, the southwestern United States has been desiccated by one of the most severe long-term droughts—or ‘megadroughts’—of the last 1,200 years. And now, scientists say the risk of similar extreme megadroughts and severe single-year droughts will increase in the future as Earth’s temperature continues to rise, according to a new study in Earth’s Future sponsored by CPO’s Modeling, Analysis, Predictions, and Projections (MAPP) program and led by NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS). The study was also supported by the CPO-led National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS).   More specifically, the study showed that, regardless of future levels of greenhouse gas emissions, the warming climate has locked in an elevated risk of intense megadroughts for the region. However, mitigation measures—efforts to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere—can and do reduce the risk of intense single-year droughts. The severity of megadroughts declines with mitigation as well, making their impacts less damaging. … ”  Read more from the Climate Program Office here: Study: dry future likely unavoidable for Southwest, but reducing greenhouse gases can still help

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In national water news today …

Water in bedrock is sustaining trees across country

You can’t squeeze water from a rock. But tree roots can — and they’re doing it more frequently than scientists previously thought, with a new study finding that bedrock is a regular source of water for trees across the United States, not just an emergency reserve during droughts.  The discovery, led by researchers with The University of Texas at Austin and published Sept. 8 in Nature, overturns long-held assumptions about where trees get their water and is leading to new ideas about how forest ecosystems function. It also demonstrates the necessity of accounting for rock moisture — the water clinging to cracks and pores in underground rocks — when making predictions about how forests will respond to climate change. … ”  Read more from the University of Texas here: Water in bedrock is sustaining trees across country

Nearly half of U.S. Coastal marshes are vulnerable to sea level rise, study finds

Tidal wetlands are vitally important ecosystems that provide food, host fishery stocks, store carbon and protect coasts from storm surges.  They are also extremely vulnerable to sea level rise. In fact, a study published in Earth’s Future recently found that 43 to 48 percent of the tidal wetlands along the coastal U.S. were vulnerable to inundation by 2100. Further, that vulnerability is heavily influenced by where they are located.  “When someone says, ‘Hey we have one meter of sea level rise projected for the next 100 years,’ that means something very different for each part of the U.S. coast,” study lead author James Holmquist of the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center told EcoWatch. … ”  Read more from EcoWatch here: Nearly half of U.S. Coastal marshes are vulnerable to sea level rise, study finds 

Journal article: Agricultural impacts of sustainable water use in the United States

Governance measures such as restrictions on groundwater pumping and adjustments to sectoral water pricing have been suggested as response strategies to curtail recent increases in groundwater pumping and enhance sustainable water use. However, little is known about the impacts of such sustainability strategies. We investigate the implications of such measures, with the United States (U.S.) as an example. Using the Global Change Analysis Model (GCAM) with state-level details in the U.S., we find that the combination of these two governance measures can drastically alter agricultural production in the U.S. The Southwest stands to lose upwards of 25% of their total agricultural production, much of which is compensated for by production increases in river basins on the east coast of the U.S. The implementation of future sustainable water governance measures will require additional investments that allow farmers to maximize production while minimizing water withdrawals to avoid potentially detrimental revenue losses.”  Read article at Nature here: Agricultural impacts of sustainable water use in the United States

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Today’s featured article …

ESTUARY PEARLS: Water management and riparian forests; Primary production in the Delta; The “SmeltCam”; Predicting ecosystem change; Delta salinity; Dr. Ted Sommer retires

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

VELES WEEKLY WATER REPORT: NQH2O price weakens near month futures at a discount first time since March. Cyclone of Mexican coast may bring relief to California.

NOTICE: Reclamation launches prize competition seeking new ideas to improve sediment modeling

NOTICE: State Seeks Public Comments on Draft Groundwater Management Principles and Strategies Related to Drinking Water Well Impacts

FUNDING OPPORTUNITY: Wildlife Corridor and Fish Passage Projects – 2021 Proposal Solicitation Notice

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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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