DAILY DIGEST, 9/14: CA farmers, worried about water, may be a force in recall vote; Central Valley farmers weigh in on California’s historic drought; The technologies that could solve California’s droughts; Worsening fires show limits of Biden’s power; and more …


On the calendar today …

  • MEETING: The California Water Commission will meet beginning at 9:30am. Agenda items include remarks from DWR Director Karla Nemeth, a presentation on the State Water Project and the San Joaquin Valley; and panel discussions on SGMA, San Joaquin Valley water issues, and the future of groundwater trading. Click here for more information.
  • WEBINAR: Optimizing Water Resources with Intelligent Reuse Part 1: The History and State of Water Reuse from 11am to 12:30pm.  With the uncertainty of surface water resources and dwindling groundwater aquifers, recycled water has received considerably more attention, as it is the only water resource increasing in volume.  In this first session of a three-part series, panelists will share inspiring progress made to date, the economics of water reuse and the collective intelligence being made available to support their potential incorporation of centralized and decentralized reuse. Each panelist provides essential knowledge and experience to set the context for the three-part series.  Click here to register.

In California water news today …

California farmers, worried about water, may be a force in recall vote

Craig Gordon, the owner of several dairy farms near Los Angeles, is a lifelong Democrat. He supported Senator Bernie Sanders for president, he doesn’t like former President Donald J. Trump and he voted for Gov. Gavin Newsom in 2018.  But lately, he said, high taxes on milk, coronavirus shutdowns that have cut into his sales and state-imposed limitations on water for agriculture have made him so angry at Mr. Newsom that he has paid for seven billboards throughout the state — most of them in the Central Valley, which produces a quarter of the nation’s food — urging people to remove the governor in Tuesday’s recall election. ... ”  Read more from the New York Times here: California farmers, worried about water, may be a force in recall vote

Central Valley farmers weigh in on California’s historic drought

Unless you have a personal connection to the Central Valley or work in agriculture, chances are you haven’t been able to speak directly to a farmer about how they’re experiencing this year’s historic drought.  Recently on  KQED Forum, three farmers from the Central Valley, where roughly 40% of the nation’s fruits, vegetables and nuts are grown, shared just how little water they have to work with, how they’re adapting, and what the drought means for their industry long term.  Here are some highlights from the conversation, edited for length and clarity. ... ”  Read more from KQED here: Central Valley farmers weigh in on California’s historic drought

California’s climate crisis: Droughts and major wildfires are the ‘new normal’

The remnants of gold-rush era towns are being revealed as water levels continue to reach record level lows. Historic towns are being charred, some burned to the ground, as wildfires continue to scar the western states.   Officials say it’s the stark reality for one of America’s largest states and in California, this is a new normal.  “We have to stop thinking about drought is an emergency that only happens once in a while and we respond to it as a rare event, but recognize that this is becoming the new norm and we need to shift water management approaches that say we have a new normal now and we have to manage things differently,” California Direction of Water Resources Interstate Resources Manager Jeanine Jones told Fox News. … ”  Read more from Fox News here: California’s climate crisis: Droughts and major wildfires are the ‘new normal’

UCI Podcast: The technologies that could solve California’s droughts

Water was never abundant in California, and the state has gone to great lengths to engineer a landscape where millions of people can live. As climate change grows more severe, it is only going to be more challenging to meet the water needs of city dwellers, farmers and nature.  But certain technologies and policy changes offer hope. California can recycle wastewater, capture stormwater and desalinate seawater, and policymakers can rethink water management. In this episode of the UCI Podcast, David Feldman, a professor of urban planning and public policy and the director of Water UCI discusses the options for overcoming worsening droughts, including the most important change of all.”  Listen to podcast from UCI here:  UCI Podcast: The technologies that could solve California’s droughts

Radio show: One planet: CA democrats fail to pass climate legislation as wells dry up

On this edition of Your Call’s One Planet series, we’re discussing California’s ongoing drought and decline of groundwater. About 2,700 wells across the state are projected to go dry this year. If the drought continues, 1,000 more will go dry next year.  In 2014, the California Legislature enacted a package of new laws that aimed to stop groundwater over-pumping, but as CalMatters’ Rachel Becker reports seven years later, little has changed for Californians relying on drinking water wells. Depletion of their groundwater continues. Pumping is largely unrestricted, and there are few, if any, protections in place.  As California faces multiple climate crises, California Democrats have failed to pass climate legislation.” Guest is Rachel Becker, Cal Matters.  Listen to radio show from KALW here: Radio show: One planet: CA democrats fail to pass climate legislation as wells dry up

Susana De Anda: Thirsty for justice

Water contaminated with dangerous nitrates and arsenic. Failing pipelines and wells running dry. Families spending their hard-earned money on bottled water because they can’t trust the tap. Susana De Anda has come across all this and more in California’s San Joaquin Valley. It’s part of what she calls the state’s “huge secret” — the fact that more than 1 million Californians lack access to safe drinking water. De Anda first began digging into the Golden State’s water crisis as a community organizer back in the early 2000s. She was reviewing water quality reports for Tulare County — the Central California county where she lives — when she realized that unsafe water wasn’t the exception, but rather the norm. … ”  Read more from the Earth Island Journal here: Susana De Anda: Thirsty for justice

With a warming climate, coastal fog around the world is declining

Fog is a defining element of summer in Santa Cruz, obscuring the view of day trippers descending the hills to the coast and prompting kids to bundle up to hop on their bikes for summer adventures. Its fingerprints are visible in the vast coastal forests, even when it isn’t hanging in the air. The redwood trees towering in a clear blue sky soak up moisture from the fog on gray days. It is often their only source of water for months at a time.  Fog is essential for plants and animals, agriculture and human health, not only in California but in coastal zones around the world. But many scientists believe that fog is declining, another casualty of global warming. … ”  Read more from Lookout Santa Cruz here: With a warming climate, coastal fog around the world is declining

California’s request to burn natural gas ok’d by DOE as supply risks imminent

The Department of Energy (DOE) has approved a request by California’s electric grid operator to dispatch more than 200 MW of natural gas-fired generation capacity beyond currently permitted levels to compensate for projected shortfalls in power supply.  In a letter Wednesday (Sept. 7) to DOE Secretary Jennifer Granholm, the California Independent System Operator’s (CAISO) Mark Rothleder, COO, said the additional generation “may be necessary for the CAISO to meet demand in the face of extremely challenging conditions including extreme heat waves, multiple fires, high winds, and various grid issues.” … ”  Read more from Natural Gas Intelligence here: California’s request to burn natural gas ok’d by DOE as supply risks imminent

A force beyond fire is still killing the forests – illicit black market grows

Four years after California created a legal, regulated marijuana industry that’s largely shepherded by contentious growers, its public lands continue to be decimated by criminal cultivators associated with Mexican drug cartels.  That much was clear as federal investigators ended several major probes over the summer, the incidents involving large-scale plant and wildlife destruction from the central to northern Sierra.  One case centered on 37-year-old Eleno Fernandez-Garcia, a Mexican national who was caught growing almost 10,000 plants on the Basin Creek drainage of the Stanislaus National Forest. According to prosecutors, Fernandez-Garcia had been using toxic chemicals to fertilize the site, which later caused U.S. Forest rangers and state game wardens to discover dead animals in the area. … ”  Continue reading at the Sacramento News & Review here:  A force beyond fire is still killing the forests – illicit black market grows

California fires are burning at higher elevations than ever, creating new dangers

Just hours before the Caldor fire threatened to level the resort town of South Lake Tahoe, the massive blaze performed a staggering feat: burning from one side of the Sierra to the other.  It seared through crests and valleys, over foothills and ridges — and also at elevations of 8,000 feet or higher. … Experts said the fire’s extreme behavior is part of a worrisome trend driven by the state’s warming climate, in which rapid snowmelt and critical dryness are propelling wildfires to ever-higher elevations, scorching terrain that previously was too wet to burn and threatening countless residents. ... ”  Read the full article at the LA Times here: California fires are burning at higher elevations than ever, creating new dangers

In California, worsening fires show limits of Biden’s power

President Biden visited California on Monday to tout his efforts to better protect the state against the raging wildfires that have burned more than two million acres, displaced thousands and pushed responders to the brink of exhaustion.  “These fires are blinking code red for our nation,” said Mr. Biden, who used the occasion to promote two bills pending in Congress that would fund forest management and more resilient infrastructure as well as combat global warming. The country couldn’t “ignore the reality that these wildfires are being supercharged by climate change,” he said.  But experts say there are limits to what the federal government can do to reduce the scale and destructive power of the fires, at least in the short term. … ”  Read more from the New York Times here: In California, worsening fires show limits of Biden’s power

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In regional water news and commentary today …

Toxic algae now prevalent in Klamath Basin

From the lake to the ocean, the waters of the Klamath are once again teeming with toxic blue-green algae at the end of a hot, dry summer. Microcystis aeruginosa, a species of photosynthetic cyanobacteria that produces the neurotoxin microcystin, has been detected in nearly all reaches of the Klamath Basin at or below Upper Klamath Lake. The harmful algal blooms have plagued the basin and its residents for decades, fueled by nutrient runoff, stagnant water and summer sunshine. … ”  Read more from the Herald & News here: Toxic algae now prevalent in Klamath Basin

Kelp forests surge back on parts of the North Coast, with a lesson about environmental stability

An unexpected darkness has recently fallen over the seafloor of the Northern California coast – the shadows cast by bull kelp.  The giant marine alga nearly vanished after a perfect storm of environmental and ecological events, including a marine heatwave and a population boom of seaweed-eating sea urchins, disrupted the marine ecosystem between 2013 and 2015. Kelp forests collapsed by more than 90 percent in Northern California, and with them went both scenic appeal and marine biodiversity. Red abalone, which graze on kelp, starved in droves, and fish departed for deeper waters. What was left, and which persists in much of the region, is a bleak underwater landscape dominated by purple urchins and not much else. … ”  Read more from Bay Nature here: Kelp forests surge back on parts of the North Coast, with a lesson about environmental stability

Mendocino: Water begins flowing to the coast due to new county program

Water has begun trickling from Ukiah to Fort Bragg, and the county’s main task going forward is to scale up hauling to meet demand.  The city of Fort Bragg announced Sept. 9 that it had received its first 5,000-gallon delivery of water from Ukiah and is expected to receive 10,000 gallons per day that will allow Fort Bragg to resume outside water sales after halting them in mid-July. The two certified water haulers on the coast can resume their water sales, too, which were put to a stop once Westport shut off outside water sales at the start of the month. Josh Metz, who was contracted by the county to help coordinate the drought response, told the countywide drought task force, also on Sept. 9, the process has been “set up to address both domestic and commercial needs with some price difference.” … ”  Read more from the Mendocino Beacon here: Mendocino: Water begins flowing to the coast due to new county program

Paiute tribe wins water rights victory; Truckee’s water overstretched

When government engineers penciled out how much water they could siphon out of Truckee River for the Newlands Project, they based it on wetter than normal winters and overestimated average water runoff. Once the Bureau of Reclamation began diverting the river at Derby Dam in 1906, water levels began falling downstream at Pyramid Lake, a Paiute reservation.  Pyramid Lake was a vital fishery for thousands of years, but the tribe had no legal rights to Truckee River water until 1908 when the U.S. Supreme Court determined that when the federal government established Indian reservations it implicitly reserved sufficient land and water to serve its purpose and that non-Indians could not interfere with a tribe’s reserved water. The precedent-setting decision also recognized prior appropriation rights for Western tribes. ... ”  Read more from Tahoe Weekly here: Paiute tribe wins water rights victory; Truckee’s water overstretched

Squaw Valley changes name to Palisades Tahoe

The Squaw Valley resort acknowledged more than a year ago that its name “was derogatory and offensive. It did not stand for who we are or what we represent. And we could not in good conscience continue to use it.” So the resort began the renaming process, and today, they announced the new name – Palisades Tahoe.  Indigenous communities across the country have been working for years to remove the word “squaw” from product and place names, to include the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California. Palisades Tahoe is on their ancestral lands. The tribe commends resort management and others who contributed to the decision to change the name. ... ” Read more from the Sierra Nevada Ally here:   Squaw Valley changes name to Palisades Tahoe

North Coast Water Board proposes $4.5 million fine against quarry operator for alleged Clean Water Act violations

A Sonoma County quarry operator is facing a $4.5 million fine for multiple violations of the Clean Water Act that threaten the survival of endangered salmon populations in tributaries of the Russian River, according to a formal complaint signed last week by staff of the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board. The proposed fine is part of a legal proceeding known as an administrative civil liability that alleges the quarry operator, Dean Soiland, doing business as BoDean Co. Inc., discharged highly turbid storm water from its quarry operations into Porter Creek from September 2018 through May 2019. … ”  Continue reading from the State Water Board here: North Coast Water Board proposes $4.5 million fine against quarry operator for alleged Clean Water Act violations

Wednesday town hall to focus on Sonoma County drought, water supply

Water supply alternatives and other options for drought-stretched ranchers and farmers are among the topics for a town hall meeting Wednesday hosted by Sonoma County Supervisor David Rabbitt and the Sonoma County Water Agency.  Representatives from the county Agricultural Commissioner’s office and the Sonoma County Farm Bureau will be on hand to field questions especially pertinent to Rabbitt’s rural south county Second District, where dairy ranchers with empty reservoirs were among the first to experience the impact of the ongoing two-year drought. … ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here: Wednesday town hall to focus on Sonoma County drought, water supply

Petaluma enters Stage 4 water emergency amid drought concerns

The Petaluma City Council on Monday night declared a drought emergency, ratcheting up restrictions on residents’ water use in the city’s latest effort to conserve the region’s dwindling water resources.  In a 6-1 vote late Monday night, the council approved a resolution for the Stage 4 emergency. The move calls for a 30% mandatory water reduction goal for city water customers, up from the previous goal of 25%.  The prescribed actions are part of the City’s Water Shortage Contingency Plan, adopted five years ago in response to California’s rising drought concerns and decreasing groundwater supply. … ”  Read more from the Petaluma Argus Courier here: Petaluma enters Stage 4 water emergency amid drought concerns

Marin faces tight timeline for emergency pipeline

Marin County water officials said there is no room for delay if the county hopes to build a $65 million emergency water pipeline across the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge.  Reservoir depletion in the Marin Municipal Water District has prompted one of its board members to call for stricter water conservation measures to buy more time and to have a more solid backup plan should the pipeline project fall through.  To rely on the pipeline project to make it through another dry year would be “putting too many eggs in one basket,” said the board member, Monty Schmitt. ... ”  Read more from the Marin Independent Journal here: Marin faces tight timeline for emergency pipeline

Kern County farmers say water infrastructure is needed to curb drought

On Aug. 3, the State Water Resources Control Board completely eliminated 2021’s surface water supplies for farms in much of the state. It has impacted farmers like John Moore III, who grows pistachios at Moore Farms in Arvin.  “We’ve got about 100 acres of pistachios, 200 of almonds and everything else goes to open farmland, carrots, potatoes and we have a small block of citrus as well that goes to both domestic and export buyers,” said Moore. … ”  Read more from Spectrum 1 here: Kern County farmers say water infrastructure is needed to curb drought

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Along the Colorado River …

Deeper droughts possible in Southwest, scientists warn

The Colorado River Basin is enduring two decades of drought, and water shortages are on the horizon. But scientists say this isn’t the worst-case scenario. The region has undergone longer, deeper droughts in the past. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny spoke with paleoclimatologist Matt Lachniet of the University of Nevada-Las Vegas about how knowing the past can help us plan for a warmer, drier future. … ”  Listen/read more from KNAU here: Deeper droughts possible in Southwest, scientists warn

‘There’s just no water’: Low Lake Powell water level concerning for Page

As the water level in Lake Powell plummets, drought conditions persist, and the effects of climate change ramp up, it’s clear there isn’t enough water to go around.  Lake Powell serves as a “bank account” for the Upper Colorado Basin where water from the Colorado River is stored to meet obligations to the Lower Basin.  But a climate change-fueled megadrought – engulfing the U.S. West – is strangling the reservoir, which provides water for millions of people across several western states, including the Navajo Nation.  “That’s the biggest concern for livestock owners as the water drops,” said JoAnn Yazzie-Pioche, president for Łichíi’ii Chapter, who’s a rancher. “The people who haul water from town (the city of Page), that could cut down. That could happen.” … ”  Read more from the Navajo Times here: ‘There’s just no water’: Low Lake Powell water level concerning for Page

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In national water news today …

House proposes additional $30 billion for lead service line replacement

House Democrats are proposing an additional $30 billion in federal funds for lead service line replacement efforts nationwide, a figure that would be in addition to $15 billion for lead service line replacements that was included in the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) approved by the Senate last month.  According to the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA), the new $30 billion lead proposal is part of the drinking water portion of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s piece of a far-reaching $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package that congressional Democrats hope to produce this month. That measure, which will be immune from the Senate filibuster and therefore could pass both chambers without any Republican support, is considered by many Democrats to be an essential companion to the bipartisan IIJA that carries $550 billion in new federal spending. … ”  Read more from Water Finance & Management here:  House proposes additional $30 billion for lead service line replacement

Ag groups voice concern over revision of WOTUS rule

“Several agricultural groups submitted recommendations for a revised definition of “waters of the United States,” known as the WOTUS rule. Comments were filed with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers as part of the rulemaking process. Disappointed by the recent decision to vacate the 2020 Navigable Waters Protection Rule, ag groups have been pushing for more consideration in the rulemaking process. Several public stakeholder meetings were held prior to the close of the comment period on September 3. During one of the meetings, National Farmers Union Vice President Patty Edelburg provided comments that have been heralded by many farmers and ranchers. … ”  Read more from Ag Net West here: Ag groups voice concern over revision of WOTUS rule

Picture this: A national climate change viewer that helps land managers and decision makers plan for climate change

The enormity of the challenge posed by climate change makes it difficult to visualize and understand on the ground. Even though wide-ranging impacts are visible today, it’s hard to envision how tomorrow’s changes will take shape. What will the temperature be in Portland in the spring, or how much rain might Dallas get in the fall? The USGS has a tool that can help address that challenge.  The USGS National Climate Change Viewer (NCCV) is a web-based application that provides easy access to succinct information about possible future climate change. In the updated viewer, users can view, analyze, and download past and projected climate and hydrologic data for the period from 1950 through 2099 for two future greenhouse gas (GHG) emission scenarios. Its applications extend to resource managers, planners, and researchers, but it’s an interesting tool for any member of the public who wants to envision future scenarios. ... ”  Read more from the USGS here: Picture this: A national climate change viewer that helps land managers and decision makers plan for climate change

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Today’s featured article …

BLOG ROUND-UP: On DWR’s water supply models and drought risks; Addendum to the State drought plan: The art of the euphemism; No water rights above the law; and more …

Click here to read the blog round-up.

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

HAPPENING THURSDAY: CA Drought Funding Informational Session

FEEDBACK REQUESTED: Delta Independent Science Board’s Water Supply Reliability Review

VELES WATER RESEARCH: Margining of water futures made easy

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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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