DAILY DIGEST, 9/20: Amid drought, billionaires control a critical water bank; Why can’t we just move water to solve a drought?; Commentary: Water markets can help bring groundwater into balance; A look at current reservoir and drought conditions; and more …

In California water news today …

Amid drought, billionaires control a critical California water bank

Water prices are soaring in California’s Central Valley, where a quarter of the nation’s food is grown. As the West Coast’s megadrought worsens, one farming company has long been scrutinized for its outsized role in the arid region’s water supply.   Wonderful, the closely held company owned by billionaires Stewart and Lynda Resnick, can buy up huge amounts of water whenever it needs more. Most of the Resnicks’ water comes from long-term contracts and other water from land rights they have from the farms they own. Around 9% of the total water used by Wonderful is bought out on the open water market. While that’s not a huge amount of the water it uses, the company can outspend pretty much every other farmer in the region, and can influence water prices.  … ”  Continue reading at Forbes here:  Amid drought, billionaires control a critical California water bank

Why can’t we just move water to solve a drought?

Have you seen the U.S. Drought Monitor’s map lately? It’s not good. Especially for one half of the country.  More than 98% of the Western United States is experiencing drought. In the Northeast, it’s only about 15% of the land under a drought. In the Southeast it’s even lower, at 8%.  So if there’s plenty of water in reservoirs to the East, why not just move around resources and share the goods as one big happy country? A candidate in California’s gubernatorial recall election recently suggested building a pipeline from the Mississippi River the Golden State. We asked two drought experts. It turns out it would be stupidly complicated. … ”  Read more from WSPA here: Why can’t we just move water to solve a drought?

‘Drought is the norm:’ California’s water crisis becomes perpetual

California residents are used to drought conditions, with shorter showers encouraged by teachers and conservationists, ads paid for by the state supporting abstaining from watering lawns and rainy days few and far between.  But 5C students returning to the Golden State this year are finding the situation has only worsened. Droughts are long periods of time without significant rainfall, often accompanied by drying up rivers, toughening soil and early snowmelts.  The U.S. Drought Monitor now finds nearly half of California meets the highest level of severity, “exceptional drought,” with more than 85 percent of the state in “extreme” conditions. At this level a state can expect low agricultural yields, costly fires, poor air quality and higher water prices. ... ”  Read more from A Student Life here: ‘Drought is the norm:’ California’s water crisis becomes perpetual

Commentary: Water markets can help bring California’s groundwater into balance

Andrew Ayres and Ellen Hanak with the PPIC write, “The San Joaquin Valley town of Corcoran is sinking.  It’s fallen as much as 11.5 feet in some places, damaging drinking wells, changing the town’s flood zones and undermining critical infrastructure. The story is so dramatic that the New York Times covered it recently.  The culprit here, though, is no ordinary villain – it’s the overpumping of groundwater.   Corcoran’s story, while extreme, is not unique. Groundwater is an increasingly important – and threatened – resource in California. The 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act seeks to remedy that. But the state’s water market – a key tool to help implement the law – is struggling to expand. ... ”  Read more from Cal Matters here: Water markets can help bring California’s groundwater into balance

Risk Rating 2.0: A first look at FEMA’s new flood insurance system

Risk Rating 2.0 has been called the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA)’s most significant reform in 50 years. Roughly 77% of customers of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) nationwide will see increases in their premiums, while the other ~23% will see reductions or no change. FEMA will formally introduce Risk Rating 2.0 on October 1, 2021, and most premium increases will kick in on April 1, 2022.  In brief, Risk Rating 2.0 moves the NFIP away from its heavy reliance on in-or-out flood zones, in particular in-or-out of the so-called “100-year floodplain,” and towards an individual assessment of risk for each property … ”  Read more from the California Water Blog here: Risk Rating 2.0: A first look at FEMA’s new flood insurance system

With climate change, there may be no best place to live

Climate change is having a breakout performance this year. Throughout the U.S., the slow-motion calamity long described in scientific studies and news articles has been visible to the naked eye or felt on tingling flesh — here too wet, there too dry, everywhere too hot. It’s only human to wonder where the higher, safer ground might be. Where to run?  The answer: No one really knows. It’s not just that the map of places prone to extreme events is expanding, making the question both more pertinent and more difficult. It’s that, even as the reality of global climate change becomes ever more certain, predicting its local effects remains anything but a sure bet. … ”  Read more from Bloomberg Opinion here: With climate change, there may be no best place to live

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In regional water news and commentary today …

Congressman LaMalfa: Democrats ignore sediment concerns on proposed Klamath Dam removal

Congressman Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale) issued the following statement following consideration of his amendment to improve the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ understanding of sediment-related hazards by studying the failures of the Condit Dam removal project.  Rep. LaMalfa said, “At a minimum, there is 20 million cubic yards of sediment behind the four Klamath hydroelectric dams, some of it toxic. To put this in perspective, that is one dump truck load, every minute of every day for six years without stopping.  If the federal government is wrong, as they were by 3 fold with the Condit Dam removal project, there could be triple on Klamath, more like 60 million cubic yards. … ”  Continue reading this statement from Congressman LaMalfa here:  Congressman LaMalfa: Democrats ignore sediment concerns on proposed Klamath Dam removal

Groundwater on tap when Solano Irrigation District directors meet

Solano Irrigation District directors are scheduled Tuesday to receive an update on the Solano Subbasin Groundwater Sustainability Plan. … ”  Continue reading at the Daily Republic here: Groundwater on tap when Solano Irrigation District directors meet

Bay Area water districts are weathering drought

Officials from four of the Bay Area’s largest water districts said water storage and supply projects, conservation and political action will be required to get the region through the next few years if the current “grim” drought conditions persist.  Right now, 88% of the state is enduring “extreme” drought and 45% is suffering “exceptional” drought designations, while reservoirs and the Sierra Nevada snowpack are at historically low levels and the state cut supplies to thousands of water rights holders, including those that draw from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. … ”  Read more from the San Mateo Daily Journal here: Bay Area water districts are weathering drought

Climate change lets mosquitoes flourish — and feast — in Los Angeles

Many try and fail to make it in L.A. But one group is proving unstoppable: mosquitoes, which have taken over Southern California and are driving the humans here crazy.  New invasive, disease-bearing species originating from Asia and Africa are thriving in the increasingly long, hot and humid summers afflicting this region thanks to climate change, according to numerous public health officials. Their growing numbers are baffling and infuriating Angelenos, who, until recently, considered themselves largely exempt from the buzzing bloodsuckers that make summers miserable in much of the rest of the country. … ”  Read more from the Washington Post here: Climate change lets mosquitoes flourish — and feast — in Los Angeles

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Along the Colorado River …

Drought tests centuries-old water traditions in New Mexico

At the edge of a sandstone outcropping, Teresa Leger Fernández looks out on the Rio Chama. The river tracks a diverse landscape from the southern edge of the Rocky Mountains through rugged basalt hillsides, layers of volcanic tuff, and the red and yellow cliffs made famous by painter Georgia O’Keeffe.  Here marks the genesis of New Mexico’s centuries-old tradition of sharing water through irrigation systems known as acequias.  It’s also one of the many spots in the arid West facing more pressure as drought stretches into another decade and climate change piles on with warmer temperatures. … ”  Read more from Channel 3 here: Drought tests centuries-old water traditions in New Mexico

Using rain to save the desert

Last month, the Bureau of Reclamation declared the Colorado River’s first shortage in CAP water deliveries, with the first cuts in water use going into effect in January. With more water shortages looming this is forcing desert dwellers to turn to alternate supplies of water.  Rain water harvesting is not a new concept but local governments, utilities and individuals are increasingly turning to rain to save the desert.  “We have nine feet, four and a quarter inches in the cistern right now. And that’s 216 gallons an inch for those nine feet,” said retired biologist, Jay Cole. Cole uses a long, wooden stick to measure the amount of water in his 26,000 gallon below ground cistern. … ”  Read more from KRON here: Using rain to save the desert

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In national water news today …

National coalition urges additional water, conservation resources in reconciliation package

With over 80 percent of the West currently experiencing severe, extreme or exceptional drought conditions, and more than 2.2 million acres of land already burned across the Western states, a national coalition representing agriculture, public water agencies and the environmental and conservation communities urged Congress to include resources for additional water, forestry and ecosystem restoration programs as it considers another package of investments using the reconciliation process. … ”

Click here to read the full press release.

Coastal ‘blue carbon’: An important tool for combating climate change

Coastal wetlands, including salt marshes, mangrove forests, and seagrass meadows, are among the most productive—and threatened—ecosystems on the planet. They provide many benefits to people and nature, such as helping communities adapt to severe storms, flooding, and other climate-related threats and sequestering carbon from the water and atmosphere in their branches, leaves, roots, and underlying soils. These carbon stores are known as “blue carbon” because they are located in places where the land meets the sea. However, these wetland habitats have lost more than a third of their area over the past half-century.  Because coastal wetlands provide carbon sequestration and other important benefits, conservation and restoration of these areas is an important nature-based strategy for mitigating the effects of climate change, and helping communities internationally and across the United States adapt to a changing climate. ... ”  Continue reading at the Pew Charitable Trust here: Coastal ‘blue carbon’: An important tool for combating climate change

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Reservoir and water conditions …

Click on any graphic to enter the slideshow.

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More news and commentary in the weekend edition …

  • 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
  • Friant Water Authority issues statement regarding City of Fresno lawsuit over Friant-Kern Canal repairs
  • Beach party: Thousands turn out for California Coastal Cleanup
  • The future of trout fishing in the West could be in hot water
  • Radio show: Chasing water and dust across California
  • Wildfire risk prompts west U.S. utilities to warn of power cuts
  • New CDFW research shows low severity wildfires improve biodiversity
  • The unconventional weapon against future wildfires: goats
  • Susana De Anda: Thirsty for justice
  • Joone Lopez: Increasing access to California’s water industry with an equity lens
  • Static liquefaction likely caused Edenville Dam failure, report says
  • 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
  • And more …

Click here for the weekend edition of the Daily Digest.

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

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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