DAILY DIGEST, weekend edition: NorCal water agency leads ‘unprecedented’ effort to douse wildfire risk; The politics of climate change in one CA congressional district; The future of trout fishing in the West could be in hot water; The 5 best places to bask in CA’s fall colors; and more …

In California water news this weekend …

NorCal water agency leads ‘unprecedented’ effort to douse wildfire risk

To the north of the Yuba Watershed, the Dixie Fire has burned nearly a million acres.  To the south, the Caldor Fire has destroyed hundreds of homes as it continues to burn near South Lake Tahoe.  Meanwhile, the Yuba Water Agency is leading an effort to avoid similar catastrophic fire by focusing on a plan to treat 275,000 acres in the Yuba Watershed.  “This really is an unprecedented plan,” said Willie Whittlesey, general manager of the Yuba Water Agency. “It’s on scale few have attempted.” … ”  Read more from KCRA Channel 3 here: NorCal water agency leads ‘unprecedented’ effort to douse wildfire risk

High temperatures, wildfire smoke and drought: The politics of climate change in one California congressional district

” … Here in America’s so-called fruit basket, where roughly one-quarter of the nation’s food is produced, drought is everywhere. Rivers have turned into nothing but sandy lines on maps, countless irrigation canals are parched and so much water has been pulled from underground aquifers that the ground in some areas is physically sinking. According to the US Drought Monitor, much of the Central Valley has reached “exceptional drought” levels, the group’s highest intensity. These realities have made the area politically unique, too: There are few congressional districts more impacted by climate change, on a day-to-day basis than California’s 21st, a sweep of farmland from Bakersfield to Fresno that has become one of the most contested districts in recent history. The district, which some studies finding is well over 70% Hispanic — backed Joe Biden over Donald Trump by nearly 11 percentage points in 2020. It is currently represented by Republican Rep. David Valadao, making the district the most Democratic to be represented by a Republican in Congress. But Valadao has been in a constant fight to keep his seat – first being elected in 2013, before being ousted in 2018 and winning his seat back in 2020. … ”  Read the full article from CNN here: High temperatures, wildfire smoke and drought: The politics of climate change in one California congressional district

Friant Water Authority issues statement regarding City of Fresno lawsuit over Friant-Kern Canal repairs

In early 2017, it was discovered that the Friant-Kern Canal’s carrying capacity and its ability to deliver water to Friant contractors was significantly impaired due to land subsidence. Since that time, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation), the canal’s owner, and the Friant Water Authority (FWA), the canal’s operator, have partnered to restore the canal capacity to back to its original level. All Friant Division contractors who rely on the Friant-Kern Canal are affected by the capacity restrictions and are responsible for a share of the cost of the repairs. FWA is responsible for determining an equitable allocation of the costs for the repairs among the Friant contractors and in 2019 finalized the allocation, including for the City of Fresno. … ”  Continue reading at the Friant Water Authority here: Friant Water Authority statement

Beach party: Thousands turn out for California Coastal Cleanup

Tens of thousands of people turned out Saturday for California’s largest annual volunteer event — the 37th annual Coastal Cleanup Day — picking up tons of litter along beaches, creeks, rivers, parks and lakes in nearly every corner of the state.  The event, a fall tradition, was the latest chapter in the state’s slow but steady return to normalcy amid the COVID-19 pandemic.  On Saturday, volunteers in at least 50 of California’s 58 counties joined in, organizers said. They fanned out at 469 sites statewide, including Saratoga Creek in Santa Clara; Thompson Creek in San Jose; the bayshore in East Palo Alto; Heron’s Head Park in San Francisco; the Sausalito waterfront in Marin County, six East Bay regional parks in Alameda and Contra Costa counties, and at Del Monte Beach near the Monterey Wharf. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here: Beach party: Thousands turn out for California Coastal Cleanup

Stunning photos show drought’s impact on huge California reservoir

The California drought has been brutal over the past few years, but to see just how devastating it has been, you need to see before-and-after pictures side by side.  Bay Area News Group photojournalist Nhat V. Meyer went out to the San Luis Reservoir in Merced County this week and took pictures in approximately the same places that he did in January 2019. The reservoir is one of the largest in California.  The results are startling.  It shows how California’s reservoir water levels are way below what they should be at this time of year. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here: Stunning photos show drought’s impact on huge California reservoir

Legal alert: Federal district court denies environmental plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary injunction regarding Sacramento River Valley groundwater program

On September 14, 2021, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California denied preliminary injunctive relief requested by three environmental advocacy groups (Plaintiffs) seeking to bar the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) from providing funding for a voluntary groundwater extraction program (Program) seeking to incentivize the use of groundwater supplies in lieu of surface water diversions from the Sacramento River. The denial follows a court hearing held on September 9, 2021.  Plaintiffs sought preliminary injunctive relief after Reclamation issued an Environmental Assessment (EA) and a subsequent Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) determining that no environmental impact statement was needed for the Program under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). … ”  Read more from Somach Simmons & Dunn here: Legal analysis: Federal district court denies environmental plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary injunction regarding Sacramento River Valley groundwater program

The future of trout fishing in the West could be in hot water

By mid-July this summer, laminated signs attached to caution cones lined the Yampa River throughout Steamboat Springs, Colorado, declaring: “ALL RIVER USERS ARE ASKED TO REFRAIN FROM ENTERING THE YAMPA RIVER UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE.”  Flows were 20 percent of normal. Water temperatures approached 80 degrees during the day. A river usually full of people bobbing on float tubes, paddling on standup boards, or casting lines to fish holding in deep, clear pools was void of human activity. … ”  Read more from Outdoor Life here: The future of trout fishing in the West could be in hot water

Radio show: Chasing water and dust across California

Even in good years, as in NOT drought, California works a hard proposition: it’s the top-ranking state for annual food production, but way down list in rainfall.  Since no one has figured out how to move the rain clouds, state leaders and farmers and irrigators have moved and stored the water across the landscape. Mark Arax grew up in a farm family in the fertile-but-dry Central Valley; he traveled the state for the vignettes contained in his book The Dreamt Land: Chasing Water and Dust Across California. The costs–financial, human, environmental–mount up over time, as the author explains in this interview.”  Listen at Jefferson Public Radio here: Radio show: Chasing water and dust across California

Fresno health officer says climate change is ‘global poisoning,’ calls for federal action

Saying climate change is a “global poisoning event” that threatens the health of Central Valley residents, the head of Fresno County Public Health on Friday called for congressional support of climate investments through President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better Act.  Interim Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra said Fresno County “is among the regions in California that are most vulnerable to the detrimental effects of a changing climate, specifically the combined hazards of excessive heat, drought, wildfire smoke and air pollution.” … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here: Fresno health officer says climate change is ‘global poisoning,’ calls for federal action

Ag groups frustrated by Assembly action on SB 559

Significant changes and the removal of funding for SB 559 made by the California Legislature have ended the path forward for the legislation. Action taken by the California State Assembly Appropriations Committee effectively rendered the legislation useless, according to several ag groups. As a result, California State Senator Melissa Hurtado was forced to pull the bill. The legislation would have provided much-needed funding to support critical repairs on the Friant-Kern Canal and Delta-Mendota Canal. … ”  Read more from Ag Net West here: Ag groups frustrated by Assembly action on SB 559

San Francisco and other water districts sue California over drought restrictions

San Francisco and several Central Valley irrigation districts with water rights dating back more than a century are suing the state for forcing water restrictions, as California deals with a worsening drought.  The lawsuit, filed earlier this month by the San Joaquin Tributaries Authority, claims the State Water Resources Control Board does not have the authority to tell those with the most senior rights to water that they can’t draw it from the Bay-Delta reservoirs, rivers and streams, even in the case of drought. … ”  Read more from KTVU here: San Francisco and other water districts sue California over drought restrictions

Wildfire risk prompts west U.S. utilities to warn of power cuts

Utilities in California and Nevada warned they may have to cut power to some customers to prevent their live wires from sparking wildfires as dry and windy conditions are expected to return to portions of the drought-stricken U.S. West.   PG&E Corp. said it could cut power to residents living in parts of 10 Northern California counties starting on Monday because dry, gusty winds were forecast to follow a weather system that will deliver rain to the Pacific Northwest this weekend, according to a web post Friday. California power company Liberty Utilities and Nevada utility NV Energy said shutoffs were possible in areas around Lake Tahoe. … ”  Read more from Bloomberg here: Wildfire risk prompts west U.S. utilities to warn of power cuts

New CDFW research shows low severity wildfires improve biodiversity

As Californians continue to face devastating wildfires, researchers are lending their expertise by producing data to inform fire policy.  CDFW contributed an article to a recent special-edition journal(opens in new tab) featuring fire studies from around the world. CDFW’s paper shows that a mix of fire intensities, and low severity fires in particular, promote a diversity of forest carnivores like bears, fishers and bobcats. The results of the study support the value of prescribed burning in advancing ecological and societal objectives including wildlife diversity and human health and safety.  “Wildfire is a natural part of the landscape, and we probably can’t stop it,” said the paper’s lead author, CDFW Senior Environmental Scientist Dr. Brett Furnas. “But prescribed burning is a tool we have to mimic low severity fires, which are less destructive. It’s a win-win because low severity fires have the added benefit of improving biodiversity.” … ”  Read more from the Department of Fish and Wildlife here: New CDFW research shows low severity wildfires improve biodiversity

The unconventional weapon against future wildfires: goats

When megafires burn in unison and harsh droughts parch the West, local governments, utilities and companies struggle with how to prevent outbreaks, especially as each year brings record destruction.  Carrying an unconventional weapon, Ms. Malmberg travels the American West in an Arctic Fox camper, occupying a small but vital entrepreneurial niche.  Ms. Malmberg, 64, is a goat herder and a pioneer in using the animals to restore fire-ravaged lands to greener pastures and make them less prone to the spread of blazes.  She developed the fire-prevention technique in graduate school and is among a few individuals using grazing methods for fire mitigation. It’s a word-of-mouth business, and private landowners and local governments hire her to remove weeds while restoring the soil. … ”  Read more from the New York Times here: The unconventional weapon against future wildfires: goats

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In people news this weekend …

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

Joone Lopez: Increasing access to California’s water industry with an equity lens

“Diversity is not a nicety — diversity is a necessity. If you can’t understand or relate to the world around you and the people that you serve, you are already irrelevant.”  This is the reflection of Joone Lopez, general manager of the Moulton Niguel Water District (MNWD), as she considered what power structures need to do in order to secure a more sustainable and equitable future for the state.  Lopez’s journey in water management is rooted in her passion for community service. Her family immigrated to the U.S. when she was eight years old. She faced many challenges both inside and outside of the home and it was a very difficult transition for her, yet one that gave her the ability to deeply connect to her community through shared experiences. … ”  Continue reading at California Forward here: Increasing access to California’s water industry with an equity lens

Q&A with Prabhakar Somavarapu of Regional San and SASD

Sacramento County Regional Sanitation District (Regional San) and Sacramento Area Sewer District (SASD) serve a 400-square mile service area, providing public infrastructure and municipal services to protect and enrich the daily lives of more than 1.6 million Sacramento County residents. Over his career, Prabhakar Somavarapu, former general manager of both districts, oversaw one of the largest infrastructure projects in Sacramento’s history, the $2 billion EchoWater Project, driven by California’s stringent new discharge requirements and most recently, Harvest Water, one of the largest recycling water projects in the state.  Brown and Caldwell sat down with Prabhakar before his retirement to reflect on his 25-year career with Regional San and SASD. … ”  Watch video from BC Water News here:  Q&A with Prabhakar Somavarapu of Regional San and SASD

Mountain Counties Water Resources Association names Executive Director

The Mountain Counties Water Resources Association (MCWRA) Board of Directors has selected Justin Caporusso to serve as the organization’s Executive Director. The selection was made following a widespread recruitment effort to fill the role vacated by John Kingsbury after his retirement earlier this year. Justin will assume his responsibilities on October 1, working closely with Interim Executive Director Jim Branham to ensure a smooth transition. “We are very pleased that Justin will be serving in this key role for our organization,” Board of Directors Chair Mike Lee (Placer County Water Agency) said. “John Kingsbury did so much to build this organization, and now we are confident Justin will build on that work in leading us into the future.” … ”  Read more from the Mountain Counties Water Resources Association here: Mountain Counties Water Resources Association names Executive Director

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Podcasts …

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.


RIPPLE EFFECT PODCAST: Agricultural efficiencies

Matt Yost, Assistant Professor, Agroclimate Extension Specialist, of Utah State University, gives a great breakdown of contemporary agricultural efficiency tools and techniques. He talks us through several different kinds of irrigation techniques as well as modern management and operations procedures. Agricultural efficiency is a key goal of western water policy and this is a fantastic brass tacks discussion of what that looks like on the ground.


WATERLOOP PODCAST: A voice for green Latinos with Mariana Del Valle Prieto Cervantes

Polling shows that large majorities of Latinos feel that outdoor activities involving water are a way of life, that protecting water is vital to their culture and the economy, and that the government should combat water pollution. Historically large environmental organizations haven’t represented the Latino community and that has led to the rise of groups like GreenLatinos that give them a voice, as discussed in this episode with Mariana Del Valle Prieto Cervantes, Water Equity and Ocean Program Manager for GreenLatinos. Mariana talks about the challenges and work to address issues including environmental justice, water affordability, and access to coasts and oceans.


WATER IS A MANY SPLENDOR’ED THING PODCAST: Medicinal Cannabis 

Steven Baker writes, “When you least expect it, life’s circumstances can send you in an entirely unexpected direction.  If a loved one needs help, you will do anything you can even if it means administering medical cannabis to your child. Water is a Many Splendor’ed Thing brings you another water relationship that has a personally significant impact to your life. ”  Produced by Steven Baker, Operation Unite® Bringing People Together to Solve Water Problems, Online at www.operationunite.co


JIVE TALKING: Erik Nordman on the life and work of Elinor Ostrom

Erik Nordman is a professor of Natural Resources Management at Grand Valley State University in Michigan, USA. He teaches courses in the economic, policy, and social dimensions of natural resources and the environment. In 2019-2020, Nordman was a visiting scholar at Indiana University’s Ostrom Workshop where he continues to collaborate as a faculty affiliate. His book, The Uncommon Knowledge of Elinor Ostrom, published by Island Press, is already out in the US and will be coming out in other countries later this year.

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In commentary this weekend …

Governor must integrate justice into state water policy

Caleen Sisk, chief and spiritual leader of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, and Barbara Barrigan-Parilla, executive director of Restore the Delta, writes, “California must change how it allocates water to give tribal communities and communities of color an equal voice. Today, that’s not the case.  Nowhere are water policy inequities clearer than in the Bay-Delta “voluntary agreement” process – a Newsom administration effort where water agencies reach agreement to restore habitat and the amount of water to release water from dams through rivers and into the San Francisco Bay-Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta estuary.  California water policy shapes the future of communities across the state. As always, tribes and communities of color are on the front line. … ”  Continue reading at the San Jose Mercury News here: Governor must integrate justice into state water policy

Newly noticed damage from fires, drought

Columnist Thomas Elias writes, “It’s always easy to see direct effects of both the unprecedented spate of wildfires that has hit California over the last five years and the advent of this state’s newest multi-year drought. Those include burned buildings, lung problems from direct smoke inhalation and lingering smoke and ash in the air of distant locations. Plus, ground subsidence, more expensive food as irrigation water becomes scarcer and more expensive, and brown lawns in almost every city and town. But unseen, less obvious ill effects of both drought and the wildfires intensified by dry conditions are now turning out to be about as pernicious as the more visible direct effects seen on television news shows nightly. … ”  Read more from the Antelope Valley Press here: Newly noticed damage from fires, drought

No, damming the Golden Gate won’t save the Bay Area from rising seas

Andrew Gunther, member of the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board and the Bay Conservation and Development Commission, and Jeremy Lowe, scientist with the resilient landscapes program at the San Francisco Estuary Institute, write, “As climate-enhanced storms continue to pound the Gulf and Atlantic coasts, producing historic and too often deadly flooding, it’s imperative that the Bay Area take note and start planning for the dangers that climate change will bring to California’s coastal communities. The Bay Area likely won’t face epic hurricanes like Ida or Sandy, but we will face storms that push massive amounts of seawater toward land. This will produce dangerous flooding throughout the Bay that only will be exacerbated in the coming years by sea-level rise.  But how best to respond? … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: No, damming the Golden Gate won’t save the Bay Area from rising seas

Where unity of purpose finds a voice

Dave Eggerton, executive director of the Association of California Water Agencies, writes, “During the past two months, I have enjoyed the privilege of personally meeting staff and leadership at several ACWA member agencies, including visits to the Central Valley and San Diego County. It’s great to be back in the field to see first-hand your challenges and successes during these incredibly difficult times.  Our irrigation district membership serves an agricultural community at a crossroads, with drought impacting the production of our nation’s food supply and the economy that supports it, all the while enduring stubborn public misperceptions about the significant contributions they make to water efficiency and environmental health. California is the largest field laboratory on the planet for water saving irrigation technology. … ”  Read more from ACWA’s Voices on Water here: Where unity of purpose finds a voice

In regional water news this weekend …

South Fork of the Eel not connected to main river due to extreme drought conditions

The current record two-year drought is causing record low Eel River flows, according to U.S. Geologic Survey flow gauges, but on Friday, September 17, the Eel River Recovery Project discovered a condition in the field that would not be revealed by flow gauges. The South Fork Eel River was not connected to the main Eel River, and in fact the bed was mostly dry below Highway 101 at Dyerville, which is an unprecedented condition.  … ”  Continue reading from the Lost Coast Outpost here: South Fork of the Eel not connected to main river due to extreme drought conditions

Fortuna floodplain maps updated, could reduce local flood insurance

The floodplain maps along Rohner and Hillside Creeks in Fortuna have been revised and many property owners now will have lower flood insurance premiums or may not be required to have flood insurance at all.  The multi-phase Rohner and Hillside Creek Flood Control Project was completed in 2020, and since then local representatives have been working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency on the revision of the floodplain maps. The revised maps were finalized on Sept. 3.  Approximately 150 property owners are affected and each has received a letter from the city to explain what the new maps mean. Each letter includes a comparison of old and new maps as it applies to each individual property. … ”  Read more from the Eureka Times-Standard here: Fortuna floodplain maps updated, could reduce local flood insurance

Lake County: Drinking water available to residents affected by county health advisory

Two water companies are supporting local and state officials in assisting Lake County residents who are being affected by a health advisory related to their private drinking water intakes.  On Wednesday evening, approximately 280 properties in the Oaks and Lower Arms of Clear Lake that use a personal, private intake to draw their household water directly from the lake were advised by Public Health officials not to consume their tap water, due to high cyanotoxin levels. … ”  Read more from the Lake County News here: Lake County: Drinking water available to residents affected by county health advisory

Butte County residents whose wells have gone dry can get water at several locations

Butte County residents who have had their wells go dry due to drought conditions can get water at several locations throughout the county.  Officials said the Local Emergency issued on July 20 due to the drought is helping secure more resources but the full extent of assistance for well owners is still being determined.  “The County’s immediate focus is providing access to water for those residents experiencing water issues while they work towards a long-term solution,” the county said in a statement. … ”  Read more from Fox Channel 40 here: Butte County residents whose wells have gone dry can get water at several locations

Researchers begin to track Caldor’s impact on Lake Tahoe clarity

With the Caldor Fire having burned more 219,000 acres in and around the Tahoe Basin, there is concern over its impact on the clear blue water of Lake Tahoe.  Funding coordinated by the Tahoe Science Advisory Council and sponsored by several nonprofits and funding agencies, has allowed a team of researchers to closely monitor the immediate impact of ash and smoke on clarity of Lake Tahoe. The increased frequency of water sample testing and depth visibility measurements will not only help understand the current impact on Lake Tahoe but also how future fires may affect other lakes and reservoirs in the Sierra Nevada. … ”  Read more from the Mountain Democrat here: Researchers begin to track Caldor’s impact on Lake Tahoe clarity

Sacramento reduces water consumption but falls short of Newsom’s goal for California

Canada geese fly above the Sacramento River and Tower Bridge in Sacramento, California during the afternoon of October 7, 2019.
Jonathan Wong / California Department of Water Resources

As California’s drought deepens, Sacramento residents are falling short of meeting Gov. Gavin Newsom’s call for water conservation — at least so far.  Area residents reduced water usage by an average of 6% last month, compared to August 2020, according to data released this week by the Sacramento Regional Water Authority. That compares with the 15% voluntary goal announced by Newsom in an executive order in July.  Although the water usage didn’t come close to meeting Newsom’s call, Sacramento officials said they were encouraged by the results for August — the first full month since the executive order was signed. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Sacramento reduces water consumption but falls short of Newsom’s goal for California

Invasive plants growing in Russian River due to low, slow water

Frequent visitors to the Russian River will have observed a marked change in the way the water looks as a second year of historic drought settles in.  The river is lower and slower than in the past as regulators restrict its flow to keep as much water as possible behind the dams in Lakes Sonoma and Mendocino.  The river is also covered in places with a thick green blanket of plant life. Stagnant water allowed Ludwigia, or water primrose, to take root in the river. The primrose in turn created a safe haven for small, floating aquatic ferns called Azolla, commonly known as duckweed.  Both are harmless, though something for swimmers and paddlers to get used to. … ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here: Invasive plants growing in Russian River due to low, slow water

Sonoma’s drying creeks cause for concern

Sonoma Creek is drying up. Most Sonomans who live near it or drive over it on one of our bridges can see it for themselves. But just in case you didn’t notice, this month’s newsletter from the Sonoma Ecology Center confirms that observation.  Steven Lee, SEC’s senior scientist, reports “…dramatic changes in water levels and creek flow over the last month.”  “In mid-August, Sonoma Creek had dried to isolated pools lower in the watershed, but at least trickling flow had extended as far downstream as the Agua Caliente bridge. Now, by the beginning of September, those lower watershed pools have continued to recede and dry stretches were found all the way up through and above Glen Ellen,” Lee says. … ”  Read more from the Sonoma Index-Tribune here: Sonoma’s drying creeks cause for concern

Napa County’s groundwater plans moving to spotlight

Napa County continues working on a state-required plan to manage groundwater beneath world-famous wine country, but it’s not easy and a Jan. 31 deadline looms. Stakes are high, given groundwater is used to irrigate vineyards, run wineries, and serve homes, as well as sustain the environment. The goal is to make certain the vast underground reservoir is never pumped dry.  Napa County must do more than satisfy local interests that it’s a good steward for the Napa Valley subbasin. It must submit a sustainability plan that satisfies the state Department of Water Resources or risk having the state step in. … ”  Read more from the Napa Register here: Napa County’s groundwater plans moving to spotlight

After protest, Petaluma turns water back on near homeless encampment

Petaluma has restored water access for a Steamer Landing homeless encampment after residents and activists protested the shutoff this week, City Manager Peggy Flynn confirmed Friday.  Calling it a matter of health, hygiene and safety, homeless residents and activists hosted a protest Wednesday, demanding access to fresh water after they say a city-owned spigot near a downtown Petaluma encampment was shut down.  The event started about noon Wednesday at the encampment located near Steamer Landing, before protesters, equipped with hand-painted signs, marched to the corner of D and Lakeville streets to engage with passing motorists. ... ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here: After protest, Petaluma turns water back on near homeless encampment

Why doesn’t Marin expand or build new reservoirs?

As Marin County faces depleting water supplies because of the drought, some residents have questioned why officials don’t just dredge existing reservoirs or raise dams rather than invest tens of millions of dollars in emergency pipelines or desalination plants.  The last time the county faced running out of water, during the drought of 1976-77, residents who were once reluctant to increase the supply — because of the possibility it would drive more community growth — quickly got on board to build or expand new reservoirs. That led to the creation of the Soulajule Reservoir in 1980 and a project that doubled the capacity of Kent Lake in 1983.  But no significant reservoir projects have occurred in Marin since then, and the county again faces the possibility the water supply will evaporate. … ”  Read more from the Marin Independent Journal here: Why doesn’t Marin expand or build new reservoirs?

Solano volunteers help make state’s Coastal Cleanup Day a success

Local Boy Scouts found nearly a complete living room set while doing the 37th Annual California Coastal Cleanup Day at the Suisun Marina.  Evangeline Pace, 12, with her Boy Scouts Troop 818 of Fairfield, was surprised by the coach, along with a painting and other living room items.  “It was kind of funny,” she said. “I’m glad we are doing this today because it helps keep our community healthy.” … ”  Continue reading at the Fairfield Republic here: Solano volunteers help make state’s Coastal Cleanup Day a success

New weather station unveiled in Upper Merced river watershed in Yosemite National Park

Merced Irrigation District joined with Yosemite National Park officials today in announcing the installation of a new snow and weather station in the high reaches of the Merced River watershed in the central Sierra Nevada.  The data it provides will greatly enhance forecasting by Yosemite National Park, as well as MID, the National Weather Service and the California Department of Water Resources.  “This station will provide crucial data about snowpack and runoff not only to MID but also to several other entities who will benefit in their forecasting,” said MID General Manager John Sweigard. “We appreciate the work and cooperation of all the partners who brought this project to completion, especially considering the remote and sensitive nature of the area in which the station is installed.” … ”  Read more from the Sierra Sun Times here:  New weather station unveiled in Upper Merced river watershed in Yosemite National Park

Turlock Irrigation District recognized for advancing sustainability practices

The Turlock Irrigation District (TID) was awarded a Beacon Leadership and Innovation Award at CSDA’s 2021 Annual Conference held Aug. 30-Sept. 2 in Monterey. TID is the first-ever special district to receive a Beacon Award for excellence in advancing environmental sustainability.  “TID is honored to be recognized for our water management operations through the 2021 Beacon Leadership & Innovation award for our leadership in climate resilience from the Institute for Local Government. Many may not associate an irrigation district with cutting edge technology, but TID is committed to harnessing the latest technology that will allow the district to make the most informed decisions, providing greater certainty to our customers, and ensuring that every last drop of water is being beneficially used,” said TID General Manager Michelle Reimers. … ”  Continue reading at the Turlock Journal here: Turlock Irrigation District recognized for advancing sustainability practices

Kern County: They came, they saw, they took out the trash

The Kern River got a lot of love this National Clean Up Day with two groups picking up trash along different sections of the river on Saturday.  In Bakersfield, about 40 volunteers with Bring Back the Kern, a nonprofit group dedicated to getting water flowing on a more regular basis through town, cleared away trash under the bridge at Mohawk Street. This is the second year the group has participated in National Clean Up Day. It has held other clean ups along the river for Earth Day and other events. After its April event, in which Bakersfield Mayor Karen Goh participated, the city dedicated $2 million to ongoing clean up of the Kern River Parkway. … ”  Read more from SJV Water here: Kern County: They came, they saw, they took out the trash

Santa Clarita Valley Water drought-ready, your help needed

California is staring into the dusty, dry face of drought once again. Right now, Los Angeles County, including the Santa Clarita Valley, is experiencing an “exceptional drought.” Our local precipitation level is on track to be the driest year on record. We are not alone, as record-breaking dry weather has taken hold of much of California and the western states.  In fact, conditions are so dry, the governor declared a drought emergency for most of the state and called on all Californians to voluntarily save 15% of their water use compared to 2020. Some communities are requiring mandatory cutbacks, and farmers in some areas of the state have been ordered to stop diverting water entirely. Reservoirs like Oroville and Shasta are at historic lows. … ”  Read more from the Santa Clarita Valley Signal here: Santa Clarita Valley Water drought-ready, your help needed

Apple Valley Town Council approves $10 million bond to cover court costs for attempted water-system acquisition

The Town Council approved a $10 million bond earlier this week that Apple Valley officials say will help refinance a loan and provide funds for costs associated with the attempt to acquire Liberty Utilities’ water system.  The Town Council on Tuesday voted 5-0 to initiate the bond that will also pay for additional capital improvements and potential costs should Apple Valley continue to fight to acquire the water system, according to the town.  Apple Valley’s original $10 million loan, or line of credit, included a three-year term, beginning in October 2018, and a variable interest rate of .075 to 2.52%, town spokesperson Orlando Acevedo told the Daily Press on Friday. … ”  Read more from the Victorville Daily Press here: Apple Valley Town Council approves $10 million bond to cover court costs for attempted water-system acquisition

Along the Colorado River …

Monsoon’s produced record Salt River runoff

Wow.  Whiplash. But gotta love those reservoirs. Salt River Project announced this week that the 2021 monsoon ranks as the second wettest on record — right on the heels the second driest winter since the start of reliable record keeping 109 years ago.  The monsoon came within 0.02 of an inch of setting the all-time record — with monsoon records stretching back to the 1950s. … ”  Continue reading at The Independent here: Monsoon’s produced record Salt River runoff

Recreational businesses dependent on the Colorado cast a hopeful eye on future

As Chad Taylor looked toward the Callville Bay Marina Lounge from a houseboat on Lake Mead, he reflected on a much different time.  In the mid-1990s, the building was right at the water’s edge. Today, it’s nearly a quarter mile from the shoreline.  Taylor, whose father was then general manager of the marina, works as marketing director for Lake Mead Mohave Adventures, a boat rental and recreation company that sets customers up for getaways on Lake Mead and Lake Mohave. … ”  Read more from the Las Vegas Sun here: Recreational businesses dependent on the Colorado cast a hopeful eye on future

On the river with Mitt Romney and Michael Bennet: Politicians, industry heads talk drought, climate change in the West

It was supposed to take five hours. But the float from the Hittle Bottom Campground along the Colorado River to the Sandy Beach River Access, organized by Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet with the goal to talk about climate change and drought in the West, was extended an extra hour and a half.  Because, well, the drought.  The stretch of the river was running at roughly 2,700 cubic feet per second, well below its average of about 7,200, as Bennet, Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson and other state politicians, ranchers, industry representatives and scientists stepped into their rafts and took off south toward the town of Moab. … ”  Read more from Deseret News here: On the river with Mitt Romney and Michael Bennet: Politicians, industry heads talk drought, climate change in the West

In national water news this weekend …

Static liquefaction likely caused Edenville Dam failure, report says

The May 2020 failure of the Edenville Dam in central Michigan likely resulted from static liquefaction, rather than overtopping or internal erosion, according to an interim report of the five-person independent forensic team evaluating the disaster.  Detailed in a report released on Sept. 13, the unexpected finding likely will prompt a reexamination on the part of the civil engineering profession as to how to prevent such failures in earthfill dams similar in age and composition to the Edenville Dam. ... ”  Read more from Civil Engineering Source here: Static liquefaction likely caused Edenville Dam failure, report says

Legal alert: EPA withdraws Trump-era guidance on when groundwater releases require Clean Water Act permits

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has rescinded January 2020 guidance on how to apply the U.S. Supreme Court’s April 2020 decision in County of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund. The withdrawal, which EPA announced yesterday, will likely expand the number of discharges to groundwater that EPA finds are the “functional equivalent of a direct discharge from a point source into navigable waters” and therefore require a Clean Water Act (CWA) permit.  In the Maui case, the Supreme Court held that a discharge of pollutants to groundwater will be subject to the CWA’s permitting requirements if it is the “functional equivalent” of a direct discharge to surface waters. ... ”  Read more from Best Best & Krieger here: Legal alert: EPA withdraws Trump-era guidance on when groundwater releases require Clean Water Act permits

When it comes to ’30×30,’ everything counts until it doesn’t

There is seemingly no shortage of projects that fall under the rubric of the Biden administration’s ambitious conservation pledge.  In recent months, the Interior Department and its agencies have touted its “America the Beautiful” initiative — the Biden version of what is commonly known as “30×30,” the goal of conserving 30 percent of the nation’s lands and waters by 2030 — in connection to synthetic turf at a city park, 10,000 acres of new wilderness lands and even a fee-free day for public lands.  But despite the long list of endeavors Interior has tied to the conservation program, which of those efforts will actually count toward the end goal remains an enigma.  “Everything is on the menu right now, and we just don’t know what’s going to be ordered yet,” said David Willms, the National Wildlife Federation’s senior director of Western wildlife and conservation. … ”  Read more from E&E News here: When it comes to ’30×30,’ everything counts until it doesn’t

And lastly …

The 5 best places to bask in California’s fall colors

New England has the architecture, but California has the landscapes. That, according to the fall color connoisseur John Poimiroo, makes the Golden State America’s premier autumn destination. As evidence, he cited a photograph of the Eastern Sierra’s Bishop Creek Canyon aflame with color in a past September.  “I’ll take any photograph you can show me in New England, put this next to it, show it to a hundred people, and say, ‘Which one takes your breath away?'” said Poimiroo, who runs the website California Fall Color. “This one takes your breath away.”  … ”  Read more from the California Sun here: The 5 best places to bask in California’s fall colors

Also on Maven’s Notebook this weekend …

SOURCE MAGAZINE: Yuba River watershed, DWR drought tools, Saving without sacrifice, and more …

POINT BLUE QUARTERLY: Making a ranch ecosystem more resilient, Nature based solutions on a small farm, Cultivating CA’s climate resilience, and more …

WATER DATA DIGEST: 20 years of Community Water Monitoring in the Sierra Foothills, Excel functions: VLOOKUP vs XLOOKUP, and CA’s tool for measuring the human right to water

OPPORTUNITY TO COMMENT: CDFA Accepting Public Comments on Draft Request for Proposals for the Conservation Agriculture Planning Grant Program

UPDATE on Curtailment Status of Water Rights and Claims in the Delta Watershed and Notice of Compliance and Responses Webpage

NOTICE: Notice of Marin Municipal Water District’s Petition for Temporary Urgency Change for Water Right Permits 5633, 9390, and 18546

FUNDING OPPORTUNITY: Reclamation announces funding opportunity for agricultural water conservation

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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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