DAILY DIGEST, 9/22: Californians falling far short on water conservation as drought worsens; Wake up and smell the coffee … made in the US; Conservation groups challenge approval of water pumping program; The Creek Fire one year later; and more …


On the calendar today …

  • MEETING: The State Water Resources Control Board will meet at 9am. Agenda items include consideration of a drought-related curtailment order for diversions on Mill and Deer Creeks, and consideration of various resolutions pertaining to water quality fees and drinking water fees. Click here for the full agenda.
  • MEETING: SO CAL WATER DIALOG: Water Agencies of Tomorrow: Adaptation, Revision and Change from 12pm to 1:30pm.  Join us for a thoughtful discussion on what it will take to manage water in a changed climate with three of California’s progressive sages of water: Martha Davis, Heather Cooley and Stephanie Pincetl. Each will share her view of how water agencies must evolve and adapt to provide effective leadership, management, and strategic planning to face the vexing challenges of the 21st Century. Click here to register.
  • MEETING: The Delta Conveyance Design & Construction Authority Stakeholder Engagement Committee will meet from 3pm to 6pm.  Agenda items include a CEQA status update, air quality analysis methods, ongoing outreach, and an engineering update. Click here for the complete agenda, meeting materials, and remote access instructions.
  • GRA BRANCH MEETING (SoCal): Four basins and a geologist: planning for a regional recycled water program from 5pm to 6:30pm.  Please join us virtually for a very exciting talk given by Matthew Hacker, P.G., of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. Mr. Hacker will discuss the planning for a regional recycled water program for one of the largest water districts in California.  Click here to register.

Top story: Californians falling far short on water conservation as drought worsens

Facing a severe and deepening drought, California received its first report card for water conservation on Tuesday. The news wasn’t good.  Driven by a lack of conservation in Southern California, the state’s largest cities and water districts cut statewide urban water use by just 1.8% in July compared to July 2020 — far short of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s call for a 15% statewide voluntary reduction.  Of 376 cities and water districts that reported numbers to the State Water Resources Control Board, only 26, or 7%, met or exceeded the target.  “This drought is very serious,” said Karla Nemeth, director of the State Department of Water Resources. “In particular, how quickly it has developed. So we need people to be paying attention and acting now.” … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here: Californians falling far short on water conservation as drought worsens

Newsom asked Californians to conserve water in the drought. It’s been a slow start

In the first test of their willingness to cut back on water use during the drought, Californians reduced residential consumption by just 1.8% in July compared to a year earlier — well short of what Gov. Gavin Newsom has been seeking.  The statistics released Tuesday by the State Water Resources Control Board suggest Californians haven’t been enthusiastically embracing Newsom’s appeal for 15% reductions, at least in the early going.  “On conservation, we’re going to be needing to do more,” said the board’s chairman, Joaquin Esquivel. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: Newsom asked Californians to conserve water in the drought. It’s been a slow start

Despite Newsom’s call to cut water use, L.A. and San Diego didn’t conserve in July

Despite an appeal by Gov. Gavin Newsom for all Californians to voluntarily cut water use by 15%, Southern California has lagged in conservation efforts and even increased water consumption slightly in Los Angeles and San Diego, according to newly released data.  More than two months after Newsom stood by a depleted reservoir in San Luis Obispo County to make his plea, figures released Tuesday by the State Water Resources Control Board show that conservation efforts have varied widely from north to south.  On average, Californians reduced water use by just 1.8% statewide during July as compared to the same month last year. In Southern California, however, water use hardly changed among the region’s 19.7 million residents. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: Despite Newsom’s call to cut water use, L.A. and San Diego didn’t conserve in July

Despite drought, Californians are barely conserving water. Are Palm Springs, Bermuda Dunes top water users?

Californians reduced their water usage by a paltry 1.8% in July over the same month last year, far below the 15% voluntary reductions that Gov. Gavin Newsom has called for as severe drought has dried up supplies. The state’s three massive reservoirs are at or near record lows, 90% of the state is in extreme drought and federal forecasts for this fall show continued hot weather, officials warned on Tuesday.  Palm Springs and other customers served by the Desert Water Agency and Bermuda Dunes customers served by the small Myoma Dunes Mutual Water Co. are among the state’s top users. … ”  Read more from the Desert Sun here: Despite drought, Californians are barely conserving water. Are Palm Springs, Bermuda Dunes top water users?

SEE ALSO:

In other California water news today …

Guess who’ll get hit hardest by California’s severe water shortage?  Groundwater systems are key during California droughts, but certain communities are running dry — and there’s no real solution in sight.

Becky Spears’ household started struggling with water in the spring.  Her family had moved into a three-bedroom bungalow on a plot of land outside the small town of Lindsay, between Fresno and Bakersfield, last November. By May of 2021, Spears started to notice changes in and around her house: “Gurgling when I flushed the toilet. We’d turn on water for our grass and within 15 minutes there was no water.” … Having moved to the area only late last year, the Spears family wasn’t there when nearly 12,000 people in the region ran out of water during the six-year drought that began in 2011.  Conditions haven’t yet reached those same depths or regional scale, but local water advocates fear it may just be a matter of time.  And already, throughout the region, this water shortage is so severe that hydrologists such as Jose Pablo Ortiz Partida, of the Union of Concerned Scientists, worry that the second year of California’s current drought is already as bad as it was in the third or fourth year of the previous water crisis. … ”  Read more from Capitol Main here: Guess who’ll get hit hardest by California’s severe water shortage?

In California’s water wars, nuts are edging out people

Even if you’ve never heard of California’s San Joaquin Valley, you’ve likely benefited from its existence. Its nut groves, fruit and vegetable fields, and industrial-scale dairy operations contribute mightily to the US food supply. So it’s bad news for eaters that the valley has emerged in recent decades as a site of intensifying climate chaos; it’s reeling under the pressure of record heat, wildfire smoke, and its second historic drought in a decade.  It’s even worse news for people who make the valley their home. Right now, many are worried about access to one of life’s necessities: drinking water. As of September 21, 700 residential wells have come up dry throughout the state this year, up 724 percent compared with the same period of 2020. The great bulk of them are in agriculture-dominated San Joaquin Valley counties like Tulare, Stanislaus, Fresno, and Madera. … ”  Read more from Mother Jones here: In California’s water wars, nuts are edging out people

Wake up and smell the coffee … made in the United States

Farmer David Armstrong recently finished planting what is likely the most challenging crop his family has ever cultivated since his ancestors started farming in 1865 – 20,000 coffee trees.  Except Armstrong is not in the tropics of Central America – he is in Ventura, California, just 60 miles (97 km) away from downtown Los Angeles.  “I guess now I can say I am a coffee farmer!” he said, after planting the last seedlings of high-quality varieties of arabica coffee long cultivated in sweltering equatorial climates. … ”  Read more from Reuters News here: Wake up and smell the coffee … made in the United States

Conservation groups challenge approval of water pumping program

Conservation groups will challenge a judge’s decision allowing a California groundwater pumping program to start while their lawsuit is pending, according to a filing in the Ninth Circuit.  The Bureau of Reclamation’s program incentivizes groundwater pumping instead of drawing water from the Sacramento River. The agency provides funding to offset costs to those who turn to groundwater pumping instead of surface water. AquAlliance, the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, and the California Water Impact Network told the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California that the program will lead to “new historic groundwater lows.” ... ”  Continue reading at Bloomberg Law here: Conservation groups challenge approval of water pumping program

California’s reliance on dams puts fish in hot water

As California’s prized salmon runs teeter toward extinction in another crushing drought, a new study highlights the need to rethink dams — a key part of the state’s water management.  For decades, water managers have released water from reservoirs in an attempt to mimic natural stream flows and temperatures, with a special eye on keeping water cold enough for salmon, which can’t tolerate temperatures above 72 degrees Fahrenheit. The belief was that California could dam most of its rivers to grow cities and food but continue to support wildlife if enough cold water was released from dams at the right time.  But the study, published in PLOS One, could call some of that management paradigm into question. … ”  Read more from The Revelator here: California’s reliance on dams puts fish in hot water

Reducing irrigation achieves same quality and yield in winegrape research

New winegrape research looking at irrigation levels has produced some positive results for growers in coastal areas of California. Lead author of a research paper that was recently published, Kaan Kurtural said their work shows promise for future irrigation strategies. Kurtural and his team studied the impact of various irrigation approaches at a research vineyard in Napa Valley over two seasons.  “We found out that winegrapes can get by with 50 percent of the evapotranspiration demand in the coastal areas,” Kurtural noted. “There was a good happy-medium at this replacement rate with the fruit composition. Meaning that we were optimizing the fruit composition from anthocyanins, to flavonols, to tannins without any significant loss in yield.” ... ”  Read more from Ag Net West here: Reducing irrigation achieves same quality and yield in winegrape research

Remote meetings under the Brown Act may continue

On September 16, 2021, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 361 (AB 361) into law which allows public agencies to continue to conduct meetings remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic and other proclaimed emergencies. AB 361 extends the suspension of certain requirements regarding the use of teleconferencing for meetings held under the Ralph M. Brown Act (Brown Act) and the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act. Although AB 361 was to take effect immediately as an urgency statute, the Governor issued Executive Order N-15-21 suspending the application of AB 361 until October 1, 2021. As a result, through September 30, 2021, public agencies may conduct remote meetings relying on the Governor’s previous Executive Orders (N‑25-20, N-29-20, and N-35-20) issued in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. … ”  Read more from Somach Simmons & Dunn here: Remote meetings under the Brown Act may continue

California wildfire news …

D.C. could send California billions for fire recovery – but there’s a catch

Billions of dollars that could cover the loss of burned vines and smoke-tainted wine grapes. Hundreds of millions to help with drought, and hundreds of millions more for hazardous fuels management.  The House on Tuesday passed a nearly $30 billion disaster relief package that could be a godsend to Northern California’s wildfire-ravaged and drought-stricken communities. But in classic Washington fashion, there’s a catch — the money is tied up in a partisan game of chicken. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: D.C. could send California billions for fire recovery – but there’s a catch

The Creek Fire one year later

” … Until it was surpassed this year by the Dixie Fire, the Creek Fire was the largest single blaze in California history. In this era of climate disaster, one event—megafire, storm, or flood—seems to blur into the next. Records fall. Lives are shattered. Human suffering compounds. Meanwhile, outside the disaster zone, it’s often difficult to take account of the profound changes sweeping the planet, to track the mounting damage in communities flung across the advancing front lines of climate change. It’s become all too easy to forget.  But for the victims of the Creek Fire there is no forgetting. A year later, the disaster continues. … ”  Read more from the Sierra Club here: The Creek Fire one year later

How do wildfires start in California? Most of the time, it’s us.

California has experienced devastating and historic fire activity over the past two years. In fact, there have been roughly 15,800 fires statewide since 2020, while the five-year average from Jan. 1 to mid-September is 6,900 fires. Nearly six million acres have burned since 2020, or six times the average acreage over a five-year period.  What exactly is going on? Are warmer temperatures to blame? The drought? While available fuels and weather conditions control the potential for large wildfires, ultimately, it comes down to ignition. … ”  Read more from Spectrum 1 here: How do wildfires start in California? Most of the time, it’s us.

In California, even fire-resistant trees need to be protected from flames

Somewhere between a childhood vacation to Sequoia National Park and a college biology class, I latched on to a single fact about California’s giant sequoias: They’re immune to wildfires.  These ancient trees have survived for so long because they had found a way to coexist with a deadly threat. Or so I thought.  Last summer, a single fire killed tens of thousands of sequoias in the Sierra Nevada. And this month, blazes in and around Sequoia National Park are lapping at the bases of these massive trees, worrying the firefighters who are scrambling to protect them.  The ever-increasing intensity of fires in California has become too much even for the sequoias, which evolved to survive — even thrive — in fires. The dangers prompted firefighters last week to wrap General Sherman, believed to be the largest tree in the world, in flame-retardant foil in a bid to save it from flames. … ”  Read more from the New York Times here: In California, even fire-resistant trees need to be protected from flames

SEE ALSO: Wildfires threaten the world’s oldest trees—but prescribed burns are protecting them, from National Geographic

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In commentary today …

Disaster looms unless California confronts its water challenges

Ed Clendaniel, editor of The Mercury News Editorial Pages, writes, “Wishful thinking will not solve California’s water challenges. Not with climate change creating drought conditions that can no longer be ignored.  It requires a bold approach, a game-changing move that will set the state on a sustainable water-usage path for future generations.  Californians’ failure to adequately reduce water consumption while their reservoirs have dropped to shockingly low levels is a reflection of the state’s inability to address what is rapidly becoming its most pressing issue — yes, more urgent than the housing crisis or the threat of wildfires. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here: Disaster looms unless California confronts its water challenges

Gov. Newsom’s drought response is falling short. Here’s how he should respond to the crisis

The Sacramento Bee editorial board writes, “The preliminary results of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s voluntary water conservation goal are in, and residents have largely volunteered to ignore him.  It’s another sign that Newsom must do more than politely ask Californians to get serious about conserving an all-too-finite resource.  Sacramento area residents used 6% less water last month compared with August 2020, according to data recently released by the Sacramento Regional Water Authority. That’s less than half the savings Newsom called for in an executive order he signed in July. The governor’s order urged residents across the state to save water through measures such as keeping their sprinklers off, making sure their dishwashers are full and “taking shorter showers.” … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: Gov. Newsom’s drought response is falling short. Here’s how he should respond to the crisis

The true fish story: How farmers are helping salmon

Danny Merkley, director of water resources for the California Farm Bureau, writes, “As a fourth-generation Sacramento Valley farmer and the California Farm Bureau’s director of water resources for nearly 14 years, I have learned that California’s farmers and ranchers are the real environmentalists. That title isn’t earned by some of the more extreme environmental groups or opportunists filing lawsuits or putting out misinformation.  Their efforts seemed to be on display last week in an in-depth Washington Post article, “California’s Disappearing Salmon,” that lapsed into the all-too-familiar narrative about “the push-pull between farmers and environmentalists over water.” Here we go again with that yarn about thirsty farms killing the fish.  The actual story is this: Real environmentalists in farming are developing an alternative regime for fixing the fish problems in our rivers, which avoids the current hard path of litigation. ... ”  Read more from Ag Alert here: The true fish story: How farmers are helping salmon

In regional water news and commentary today …

Klamath plantings seek robust barley malts for beer

Patrick Hayes oversees barley research plantings for craft and mainstream brewers, as America’s beer market inspires new interest in growing barley in California and beyond.  “There’s an uptick in barley acres, there’s an uptick in malt usage, and that is driven by the craft industry because they are largely using the malts,” said Hayes, a professor of crop and soil science at Oregon State University.  The growth of the craft industry has stimulated interest in barley production from the West Coast to as far as away as Ohio and Michigan, places that aren’t normally thought of as barley production areas, Hayes said. … ”  Read more from Ag Alert here: Klamath plantings seek robust barley malts for beer

Toxin levels spike, prompting drinking water emergency in Northern California

Amid a withering drought, a severe harmful algal bloom in California’s second-largest freshwater lake is producing exceptionally high toxin levels, resulting in a drinking water emergency for hundreds of residents who draw water directly from Clear Lake.  The colorful but noxious mats of cyanobacteria in the Northern California lake have also led to difficulties for public utilities that have more sophisticated treatment systems than individual households.  Lake County public health officials on September 15 notified residents along the Lower and Oaks arms not to drink water from their private lake intakes. The warning, which could last a month or more, was issued after water samples from those areas showed astronomically high levels of the liver toxin microcystin. … ”  Read more from the Circle of Blue here: Toxin levels spike, prompting drinking water emergency in Northern California

Chico: Campus creek goes dry

The section of Big Chico Creek that runs through Chico State campus, once home to a variety of wildlife, has gone bone dry.  Sandrine Matiasek, a Chico State assistant professor of Geological and Environmental Sciences, blames the state’s terrible drought.  “I’ve seen the creek dry up on campus before,” Matiasek said. “[But] this is the longest stretch of time for which the creek is dry on campus.”  Water conversation is also key, Matiasek added. ... ”  Read more from The Orion here: Campus creek goes dry

Yuba Water grants support levee improvements throughout Yuba County

Yuba Water Agency’s Board of Directors today approved more than $1.1 million for critical urban and rural levee improvements in Yuba County.   “These investments ensure Yuba County businesses and communities can continue to grow and thrive knowing that they’re among the best protected in the state in terms of flood risk,” said Yuba Water Vice-Chairman Gary Bradford.  The bulk of the funds, $1,050,000, were granted to Reclamation District 10 to continue construction of an elevated toe access corridor along the Feather River north of Marysville. … ”  Read more from Yuba Water here: Yuba Water grants support levee improvements throughout Yuba County

Project aims to restore habitat for salmon, trout in American River

A big construction project is underway in an effort to protect fish in the American River, especially as they struggle to survive a serious drought.  Crews are working on the Sacramento Water Forum’s habitat restoration project on the Lower American River at Ancil Hoffman Park in Carmichael.  Workers carved out a new alcove for young Chinook salmon and steelhead trout to grow and hide from predators, and they moved lots of gravel to the area for the adult fish to use when laying eggs. … ”  Read more from KCRA Channel 3 here: Project aims to restore habitat for salmon, trout in American River

Desalination could be backup plan for Marin County’s emergency pipeline project

As the drought worsens in Marin County, water officials are considering an expensive solution: desalination. That plan could land the county in a bidding war.  Desalination is an idea that surfaces every time drought comes around and usually gets set aside as soon as the drought passes. Now, Marin is taking another look at taking water from right out of the bay.  “So we previously looked at a permanent desalination facility back in 2010,” says Emma Detwiler of the Marin Municipal Water District. “It would be placed down in San Rafael, by the bay, close to the Central Marin Sanitation Agency.” … ”  Read more from CBS San Francisco here: Desalination could be backup plan for Marin County’s emergency pipeline project

Marin County and a Saudi prince are reportedly competing for same desalination plants

Marin County could face critically low water supplies next summer, with its reservoirs depleted, if California sees another dry winter amid already dire drought conditions.   To prepare for the worst, Marin Municipal Water District is exploring leasing or purchasing desalination plants, said Emma Detwiler, a spokesperson for the agency.   In its search for equipment, the district is reportedly competing with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia. The prince is also on the hunt for a desalination plant for his $500 billion mega-city Neom, which is currently under construction, the Marin Independent Journal first reported. … ”  Read more from SF Gate here: Marin County and a Saudi prince are reportedly competing for same desalination plants

Amid California drought, S.F. expands recycled wastewater rules for new large buildings

As Californians fail to meet water conservation goals amid the state’s ongoing drought, San Francisco is forging ahead with new regulations to cut water usage and recycle more of the increasingly precious resource.  The Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a measure Tuesday that will double the amount of water that new large buildings are required to collect and re-use. Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, who sponsored the resolution, estimated enough water will be saved to offset the daily water use of about 5,500 city residents. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: Amid California drought, S.F. expands recycled wastewater rules for new large buildings

Santa Clarita: Public input sought on draft groundwater sustainability plan

Members of the community are invited to provide their input on a draft plan for long-term management of local groundwater resources by Oct. 15.  The online comment form is available through Oct. 15 at https://scvgsa.org/developing-a-groundwater-sustainability-plan-workshop/, along with the entire draft Groundwater Sustainability Plan.  The Santa Clarita Valley gets about half of its drinking water from the groundwater basin.  Without the local resource, water providers would have to purchase more expensive water imported from hundreds of miles away. … ”  Continue reading at SCV News here: Public input sought on draft groundwater sustainability plan

Forest Lawn receives Recycled Water 2021 Customer of the Year, WateReuse California Awards for Excellence

Forest Lawn Memorial-Parks & Mortuaries President & CEO Darin Drabing announced today that the Los Angeles County locations are the recipient of WateReuse California Awards for Excellence’s Recycled Customer of the Year. “We are honored to receive this award on behalf of all five of our parks in Los Angeles County. We are committed to  keeping our parks well-tended and beautiful, while using recycled water service whenever possible” said Drabing. … ”

Click here to read the full press release.

San Diego looks for partner to build $1.5B San Vicente hydro energy project

The project is on the drawing board. Now the San Diego County Water Authority and the city of San Diego are looking for a private partner to build and operate a pumped energy storage facility at the San Vicente Reservoir.  The Water Authority and the city have issued a request for proposal to find a suitable team to develop one of the state’s largest “pumped hydro” projects that would add megawattage and flexibility to California’s electric grid. Proposals from potential partners will remain open until Nov. 3.  “We are committed to finding a private partner who can help move this from concept to completion,” Gary Bosquet, the Water Authority’s director of engineering said in a statement. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune here: San Diego looks for partner to build $1.5B San Vicente hydro energy project

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Along the Colorado River …

Drought continues to strangle American West, with no relief in sight

Scientists painted a grim picture of the changing climate and hydrological conditions in the American West during a virtual forum held by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  The conclusion? The drought presently afflicting the region is part of a broader pattern of declining precipitation combined with higher temperatures leading to water scarcity, scientist after scientist said during the nearly 5-hour event.  “We are in the midst of a two-decade-long drought in the American West,” said Richard Heim with the National Centers for Environmental Information. “It has created a change in hydrology that makes the region more prone to drought.” … ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service here: Drought continues to strangle American West, with no relief in sight

Thunderstorms in Southwest could be double-edged sword

Thunderstorm activity is forecast to increase in the drought-plagued Southwest later this week, but AccuWeather forecasters say that may not necessarily be good news.  “There is a risk that thunderstorms with little rain develop in parts of the Southwest and on the edge of a ripple in the jet stream,” said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.  As the jet stream dips southward into Nevada and Utah on Thursday, thunderstorms are likely to develop. AccuWeather forecasters say the chance of thunderstorms will remain in place through the end of the week as a disturbance in the jet stream drops farther south into Arizona on Friday and eventually off the California coast by Saturday. However, rounds of widespread and drenching rain are not expected. … ”  Read more from AccuWeather here: Thunderstorms in Southwest could be double-edged sword

A century of watching the Colorado River

Inside the tower is a U.S. Geological Survey streamgage that will mark its centennial year of monitoring the river on October 1, 2021. At a time when jazz music was exploding and liquor was prohibited, the streamgage began collecting information about the water’s level and flow. USGS scientists chose the site in 1921 because it was readily accessible and strategically located to study the hydrology of the Colorado River drainage basin.  Now, seven states within the basin depend on the river for water supply and hydropower production. Natural resource managers look to the 100-year-old streamgage to make informed decisions while recreationists and trout seekers check the streamgage’s information before they set off in their boats and scientists use it to study region’s geology and ecology.  The gauge sits right across the river from Lees Ferry, named after John Doyle Lee. In a twist of fate, Lee started the ferry in the late 1800s after John Wesley Powell, the second USGS director, gifted him a boat while he was exploring the Grand Canyon. ... ”  Continue reading from the USGS here: A century of watching the Colorado River

Radio show: Water in the Colorado River is disappearing. Here’s how the government is trying to divide up

Forty million people rely on the Colorado River. If you like to eat lettuce in the winter, chances are you do too. But a decades-long western drought shows no sign of letting up and chronic overuse of the river’s water is taking its toll.   As water levels drop, dividing up what’s left is getting harder. The government officially declared a water shortage for the Colorado last month which will force states to cut their water use.  How did we get here? And what can we do to get the water we need?”  Read more from Valley Public Radio here: Radio show: Water in the Colorado River is disappearing. Here’s how the government is trying to divide up

Southwest U.S. drought, worst in a century, linked by NOAA to climate change

Human-caused climate change has intensified the withering drought gripping the Southwestern United States, the region’s most severe on record, with precipitation at the lowest 20-month level documented since 1895, a U.S. government report said on Tuesday.  Over the same period, from January 2020 through August 2021, the region also experienced the third-highest daily average temperatures measured since record-keeping began near the end of the 19th century, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) drought task force. … ”  Read more from Reuters News here: Southwest U.S. drought, worst in a century, linked by NOAA to climate change

SEE ALSO: Fueled by climate change, costly Southwest drought isn’t going away, from the Washington Post

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In national water news today …

Federal agencies head back to the drawing board on Clean Water Act jurisdictional rules…again

Wetlands management and related federal permitting is changing –AGAIN. If you or your organization seek wetlands or related permitting, then the latest changes in for “navigable waters” impact both regulators and the regulated community – and may change your approach. Projects that impact “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) under the Clean Water Act (CWA) from the Army Corps, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and states administering CWA permitting programs should look closely at these changes.  … Continue reading from Somach Simmons & Dunn here: Federal agencies head back to the drawing board on Clean Water Act jurisdictional rules…again

Failures at Edenville and Sanford raise concerns about other US dams

Civil engineering, maybe more than most, is a profession that learns from failure.  So when the Edenville and Sanford dams in northern Michigan failed in the late afternoon of May 19, 2020, the investigation began almost immediately.  Daniel Pradel, Ph.D., P.E., G.E., DGE, F.ASCE, a professor of practice in geotechnical engineering at Ohio State University, led an ASCE team examining the dams, assessing what went wrong and how similar disasters can be prevented in the future.  “We keep having earth dam and levee failures almost every year,” Pradel said. “And they’re preventable.” … ”  Read more from Civil Engineering Source here: Failures at Edenville and Sanford raise concerns about other US dams

Ignored warnings, deferred maintenance caused Michigan dams to collapse

Following the rare and dramatic collapse of the Edenville and Sanford dams in Midland County, Michigan, in May 2020 that forced 10,000 residents to evacuate, a newly released preliminary report sheds light into why they failed, and offers safety lessons for other aging, earthen infrastructure.  The independent investigation from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) covers the physical mechanisms involved in the accident but doesn’t place blame; a final report expected in several months will delve into human factors.  … ”  Read more from Construction Dive here: Ignored warnings, deferred maintenance caused Michigan dams to collapse

Where Congress stands on key deadlines

Congress has a lot on its plate. Lawmakers are seeking to pass government funding legislation to avert a shutdown by Sept. 30. They are looking at disaster aid for storms and wildfires and extra money to assist Afghan evacuees. They’re trying to extend the debt limit to avert default ahead of an expected October deadline.  And Democrats are looking to pass the infrastructure bill while completing a sweeping multitrillion-dollar package of social spending and tax priorities, all on a compressed timeline. … ”  Read more from MSN here: Where Congress stands on key deadlines

Haaland embraces ‘indigenous knowledge’ in confronting historic climate change impacts

A relentless drought and wildfire season in America’s West and a tense standoff over federal leases for oil and gas drilling have been early tests for the Biden administration’s climate policy and Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, the first Native American to hold the job and first indigenous member of a White House Cabinet.  “I can’t speak for every tribe or even my tribe, but I can make sure that tribal leaders have a seat at the table,” Haaland said in an interview with ABC News Live Prime. “Certainly, in this time of climate change bearing down upon us, that indigenous knowledge about our natural world will be extremely valuable and important to all of us.” … ”  Read more from ABC News here: Haaland embraces ‘indigenous knowledge’ in confronting historic climate change impacts

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Today’s featured article …

FEATURE: During Drought, Massive Rock Wall Spanning Delta Channel Wards off the Salty Sea

Written by Nate Seltenrich, Estuary News Group

The creeks are desert-dry, the reservoirs are frighteningly low, and now 150,000 tons of rock have been dumped into the Delta. During a typical summer, carefully coordinated releases from upstream dams help keep saltwater from intruding too far into the interior Delta, where it could threaten the state’s water supply. But this is not a typical year, and by early May state water managers realized they wouldn’t have enough storage to maintain the standard hydraulic salinity barrier. So they resorted to rocks instead. Since then the wall has done its job well, though at the possible cost of increasing harmful algal blooms in the protected and comparatively stagnant freshwater behind it.

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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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