DAILY DIGEST, 9/23: A 7.1 earthquake couldn’t kill this Mojave Desert town. but a water war just might; Graphic shows shocking differences in water savings by region; Colorado River projections grow more dire; The most beautiful places in CA you never knew existed; and more …


On the calendar today …

  • MEETING: The Delta Stewardship Council will meet beginning at 9am. The meeting will include consideration of a contract for the 2022 class of Delta science fellows and the 2022/2023 classes of State policy fellows and consideration of a comment letter to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission/Association of Bay Area Governments on their Draft Plan Bay Area 2050. The Council will also hear updates from the Delta Watermaster, the San Francisco Estuary Partnership on their Estuary BluePrint, and the Department of Water Resources and the Delta Conveyance Design and Construction Authority on the Delta Conveyance Project. Click here for the full agenda and remote access instructions.
  • PUBLIC WEBINAR: Scott River And Shasta River Watersheds Curtailment Response Assistance Webinar from 9am to 12pm.  Staff will hold an informational webinar to provide an overview of the recently issued curtailment and reporting orders.  Staff will also provide guidance on how to access the portal and complete required online forms to:  (1) certify compliance with the curtailment order; (2) submit certifications to continue limited diversions for minimum human health and safety, livestock watering, or instream uses; (3) complete petitions; and (4) provide required information.  Click here for the full meeting notice.
  • PPIC EVENT: Improving California’s groundwater market from 11am to 12pm. As California works to bring its groundwater basins into balance under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), water banking and trading will prove important tools to help manage the transition—but aging infrastructure and complex regulations are choking expansion. Join the PPIC Water Policy Center and state and local experts for a panel discussion on how to improve California’s water markets while protecting communities from harm.  Click here to register.
  • PUBLIC WEBINAR: Draft Drinking Water Well Principles and Strategies from 12pm to 1:30pm.  As part of the April 21, 2021 Executive Drought Proclamation, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR), in coordination with the State Water Resources Control Board, is releasing the groundwater management principles and strategies to monitor, analyze, and minimize drinking water well impacts. The release of the draft principles and strategies initiates a 30-day public comment period. All perspectives are welcome and interested parties are encouraged to attend. Click here to register.
  • WEBINAR: Water in a Warming World – Preparing for Our Water Future from 1pm to 2pm.  Amid a worsening drought, it can be daunting to think about what the future might bring, but now is the time to think ahead and plan together. Whether the next year brings drought or deluge, together, we can build innovative solutions that help meet California’s water needs for current and future generations.  Join us as we kick off our fall webinar series, Water in a Warming World, with Sustainable Conservation’s CEO Ashley Boren and State Water Resources Control Board Chair Joaquin Esquivel as they reflect on the current drought and discuss the partnerships, practices, and policies that will help us prepare for the years ahead.  Click here to register.
  • WEBINAR: National Water Information System Modernization and the National Water Dashboard from 7pm to 8pm.  Presented by the USGS.  Livestream link on this page.

In California water news today …

A 7.1 earthquake couldn’t kill this Mojave Desert town. But a water war just might

” … Perched on the edge of a mostly dry salt lake, Trona has no source of clean water and for at least 70 years has relied on groundwater pumped from wells 30 miles away in the Indian Wells Valley.  Two pipelines snake through a dry-wash canyon delivering water to the town’s historic mineral plant, where it is used in the production of soda ash, boron and salt. Any surplus is then treated and sold for residential use.  That source of water, however, is in jeopardy due to legislation passed seven years ago in Sacramento to protect aquifers throughout the state. ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here: A 7.1 earthquake couldn’t kill this Mojave Desert town. But a water war just might

Contamination a ‘huge challenge’ for affordable drinking water in California

Francisco Diaz remembers when the water piped to his home in the Central Valley community of Monterey Park Tract made everything smell rotten, including himself.  “We had to take our clothes and go to the city and wash it over there because if you had washed it here and put it on, you’d stink,” said Diaz, who heads the Monterey Park Tract Community Service District, a form of specialized local government. “We couldn’t even take showers.”  Unsurprisingly, the water was undrinkable. Agricultural run-off, heavy in potentially toxic nitrates, had contaminated both wells that supplied water to Monterey Park Tract, nestled amid the crop fields and dairy farms of Stanislaus County. The small community of some 200 people had few options. And so about five years ago, it started sourcing its water from the City of Ceres, a suburb of Modesto about four miles away. … ”  Read more from Capital and Main here: Contamination a ‘huge challenge’ for affordable drinking water in California

California agency shares graphic with shocking differences in water savings by region

An eye-catching takeaway from a graphic shared by the California agency overseeing the state’s water supply: The northern part of the state has generally done a better job of cutting water use — whether by taking fewer showers or letting lawns go dry — than the southern half amid historic drought conditions and a call for voluntary reductions.  The map shared Tuesday at the California State Water Resources Control Board’s monthly meeting showed that the South Coast region, which includes Los Angeles and San Diego, saw use in July 2021 drop by a mere 0.1% compared to the same month last year. … ”  Read more from SF Gate here: California agency shares graphic with shocking differences in water savings by region

Water Board receives first report on water conservation results

The State Water Resources Control Board on Sept. 21 received updates on the drought that included water conservation data reported by urban retail water suppliers.  The data compared water use in July 2021 with water use in July 2020. It showed that statewide residential water use fell 1.8% within the same month that Gov. Gavin Newsom issued his call for Californians to voluntarily reduce water use by 15% from what they used in 2020.  ACWA Regulatory Relations Manager Chelsea Haines provided comments during the meeting, assuring the State Water Board that ACWA members take the voluntary conservation mandate seriously and describing the numbers as a promising start. … ”  Read more from ACWA’s Water News here: Water Board receives first report on water conservation results

The water situation is bad, and Californians are barely cutting their consumption

Despite Governor Gavin Newsom kicking off the summer by begging Californians to use 15 percent less water thanks to a drought state of emergency, water officials announced Tuesday that statewide use was reduced by a meager 1.8 percent in July over last year, and warned that this seemingly unquenchable thirst may have dire consequences in the not-at-all-distant future.  As CalMatters reports, the Department of Water Resources alerted water suppliers south of the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta that their allotments—already cut to 5 percent this year—might be slashed to zero next year. The department further warned that this liquid austerity could extend to settlement contractors, users whose claims to state water predates the current system of aqueducts, reservoirs, and canals. ... ”  Read more from LA Magazine here: The water situation is bad, and Californians are barely cutting their consumption

Stanford lab builds a water-resilient future, gallons of sewage at a time

As the American West faces unprecedented drought, one promising solution is the expansion of water recycling programs and technology. Stanford’s William and Cloy Codiga Resource Recovery Center (CR2C) has been buoyed by the demand for solutions, and continues to expand as it carries out its mission of researching water and energy resource recovery and recycling. … “The fact that we are back in a drought a couple of years after we were in a severe drought — it is problematic, and it’s a real issue,” Newsha Ajami, director of Urban Water Policy at Stanford’s Water in the West program, said. “It is a really problematic issue, especially because we are experiencing drier and hotter droughts than we used to.” ... ”  Read more from Stanford News here: Stanford lab builds a water-resilient future, gallons of sewage at a time

A tiny piece of plastic is helping farmers use far less water

On the bone-dry western flank of Arizona, where the Colorado River Basin meets the Mojave Desert, sit 11,000 acres of alfalfa, sorghum, wheat, and Sudan grass belonging to the Colorado River Indian Tribes (CRIT), all destined to be harvested and sold for animal feed. For anything to grow here, irrigation is a must. Less than a quarter inch of rain has fallen so far this year, according to Josh Moore, who manages the farm on behalf of his tribe. … Although the canals supply enough water to meet CRIT’s farming needs for now, the tribes are planning for a hotter, drier future. This season, black plastic tubing can be seen snaking down hundreds of rows of sorghum: an experiment with microdrip irrigation that could radically reduce the farm’s withdrawals from an overtaxed watershed. … ”  Read more from Bloomberg here: A tiny piece of plastic is helping farmers use far less water

Researchers work with growers on efficient vineyards

Efficient vineyards. Isn’t that what every grower wants — blocks that can be managed uniformly with little in the way of variation in vine growth and crop production?  Researchers at Cornell University are trying to make good things better, developing and adopting new management strategies to improve overall production efficiency, delivering innovative, science-driven, approachable precision viticulture platforms that can measure and manage sources of vineyard variation. … ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press here: Researchers work with growers on efficient vineyards

Drought, high labor costs challenging California farmers as fall harvest begins

As the harvest of fall fruits and vegetables begins, the drought and high labor costs have combined to put the squeeze on California farmers.  Farmer David Vierra on Wednesday could be seen prepping his pumpkin patch for visitors when it opens over the weekend. Vierra said his crop of pumpkins needed roughly twice as much water as usual this year.   “Everybody is cutting acres next year. As far as the fresh produce is concerned, that’s the talk,” Vierra said.  … ”  Read more from Channel 10 here: Drought, high labor costs challenging California farmers as fall harvest begins

Bill Gates’ green tech fund bets on Silicon Valley farming robots

As California struggles with another crippling drought, a Silicon Valley startup that believes robots can grow produce more sustainably said Wednesday it raised $50 million in a funding round led by Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures.  Iron Ox uses robots that are integrated with a hydroponic system consuming 90% less water than traditional farms, said CEO Brandon Alexander.  The company is putting that system to work at a 10,000-square foot (930 square meter) greenhouse in Gilroy, California, where a self-driving robot named Grover moves pallets of Genovese Basil and a robotic arm system lifts the pallets for inspection. Sensors check the water for nitrogen and acidity levels for healthy growth. ... ”  Read more from Reuters News here: Bill Gates’ green tech fund bets on Silicon Valley farming robots

Lawmakers laud bill for repurposing farmland

A bill that would create a program to help farmers find new life for farmland idled by coming groundwater restrictions had its own phoenix moment earlier this month when it was killed and almost simultaneously reborn — this time with money.  AB 252, authored by Assembly members Robert Rivas, D-Salinas, and Rudy Salas, D-Bakersfield, died in the state Senate Sept. 7. But much of its content was brought back to life Sept. 9 in a budget bill with $50 million attached.  That second bill, SB 170, was passed and sent Sept. 15 to Gov. Gavin Newsom, whose signature it awaits. ... ”  Read more from the Bakersfield Californian here: Lawmakers laud bill for repurposing farmland

The Freshwater Trust supports new bill to focus conservation on outcomes

Today, the Freshwater Trust (TFT), a nonprofit freshwater conservation and restoration organization, announced its support of a bill introduced by US Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), a senior member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which will increase the efficiency and efficacy of water solutions nationwide.  “As the American West continues to face unprecedented heat waves and droughts due to the climate crisis, it’s more critical than ever to strengthen the health and resilience of our nation’s watersheds,” said Wyden. “Our watersheds support everything from our agricultural and conservation efforts, to clean drinking water and outdoor recreation. When watersheds suffer that undermines the safety of what Americans can eat, drink and do. My Watershed Results Act creates science-driven, cost-effective tools to protect the land that touches all of our nation’s waterways and provide stability for generations to come.” ... ”  Read more from The Freshwater Trust here: The Freshwater Trust supports new bill to focus conservation on outcomes

DWR awards $28 million in small community drought relief funding

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) today announced its second and third round of funding commitments, totaling $28 million, to 15 communities as part of its Small Community Drought Relief program.  DWR is coordinating with the State Water Resources Control Board to identify projects for funding. A first round of projects totaling $25 million was awarded last month. The Small Community Drought Relief program is designed to provide technical and financial assistance to small communities impacted by the current drought. The full list of projects includes 15 awardees, 11 of which are identified as disadvantaged communities. … ” Read more from DWR News here: DWR awards $28 million in small community drought relief funding

Every season is getting shorter except summer, and that’s not good

In the 1950s, the seasons occurred in a predictable and relatively even pattern in the Northern Hemisphere. Flowers bloomed around April. Children planned summer adventures starting in June. Leaves dropped in September. Ski trips began in December.  But recently, the seasons have been out of whack. Over the past seven decades, researchers found high summertime temperatures are arriving earlier and lasting longer in the year because of global warming.  This summer was no exception. ... ”  Read more from the Seattle Times here: Every season is getting shorter except summer, and that’s not good

How indigenous knowledge is changing the way California tracks the effects of climate change

The weekend of the Mule Days parade in Bishop used to be hot. Sweltering hot.   Hot enough that L’eaux Stewart’s childhood memories of the May festival are a mixture of celebrations and heat advisories in 100-plus degree weather. It was to the point that she recalls area hospitals often expected an influx of tourists-turned-patients suffering from heat exhaustion in the scorching temperatures.  But around her first year of high school, Stewart — now 33 — noticed a change.   At that year’s parade, onlookers lining the town’s main street found themselves avoiding the shade. They were, to their surprise, getting cold. Temperatures were in the 80s that weekend.   Stewart, who is chair of the Big Pine Paiute Tribe of the Owens Valley, said that she now recognizes this phenomenon as a part of a trend in the area’s changing climate. … ”  Continue reading from Capital Public Radio here: How indigenous knowledge is changing the way California tracks the effects of climate change

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In commentary today …

Dry years in California: Those in the arena

Todd Manley, Director of Government Relations for the Northern California Water Association, writes, “With the dry years in California there is the expected increased commentary on water issues. This commentary is across the board from all sectors, and ranges from very factual reports to significant hyperbole. As policy makers sort through all this commentary, a famous passage by Theodore Roosevelt referred to as “The Man in the Arena” may be helpful: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming ... ”  Continue reading at the Northern California Water Association blog here: Dry years in California: Those in the arena

Yes, Southern California, we have a water shortage emergency too

The LA Times editorial board writes, “So Southern Californians didn’t decrease their water usage in July, despite Gov. Gavin Newsom’s request for a voluntary 15% cutback?  Well, of course not. The dusty lake beds, the dry spigots, the serious water-use cutback orders and the most frightening wildfires (so far, anyway) have been in Northern California, and that’s where Newsom focused his most dire warnings. He declared a drought emergency in Mendocino and Sonoma counties in April, expanded it to 41 counties in May, and then to 50 counties in July — but not Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, San Diego, Riverside or San Bernardino counties. The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California warned of unprecedented shortages in Lake Mead and has launched an advertising campaign calling for increased conservation. But the MWD is the victim of its own success, in that it has done a superb job over the decades supplying enough water so that residents generally don’t think about shortages. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: Yes, Southern California, we have a water shortage emergency too

Letters to the Editor: Jerry Brown imposed water cuts in 2015. We shouldn’t have dumped them

To the editor: Thank you for your continued coverage of the drought California is currently experiencing. It is no surprise that we have barely put a dent in our water usage; the common-sense mandatory water restrictions enacted by then-Gov. Jerry Brown in 2015 should never have been repealed.  A historic rainfall total in the early part of 2017 mistakenly gave people the impression that the drought was over. In reality, Southern California is a dry environment susceptible to drought conditions.  Instead of canceling the water restrictions, we should have built upon conserving our most precious natural resource. … ”  Continue reading at the LA Times here: Letters to the Editor: Jerry Brown imposed water cuts in 2015. We shouldn’t have dumped them

Skywatching

Trudy Wischemann writes, ” … For a year I have been tracking the progress of a Butte County proposal to form a new water district. Named “Tuscan,” a name that brims with ripe fruit and Italian luxury, the form of the proposed district promises a bountiful harvest to two large landowners—absentee corporations, in fact. It also promises to leave Butte County’s water coffers empty and its aquifers dry. … ”  Read more from the Foothills Sun-Gazette here:  Skywatching

In regional water news and commentary today …

Illegal cannabis grow responsible for water being diverted from the South Fork of the Eel River in Mendocino County, says DFW

On Sept. 20, 2021, wildlife officers with the California Department of Fish & Wildlife (CDFW) served a search warrant in the 9000 block of Branscomb Road in Mendocino County. The search warrant was part of an investigation into suspected unlawful cannabis cultivation and associated environmental crimes.  Support was provided by a CDFW Environmental Scientist and the State Water Boards. … The property was located in the South Fork Eel River watershed, which supports several threatened and endangered species, including steelhead trout and Coho salmon as well as bird species such as the Marbled Murrelet and Northern Spotted Owl. … ”  Continue reading at the Redheaded Blackbelt here: Illegal cannabis grow responsible for water being diverted from the South Fork of the Eel River in Mendocino County, says DFW

Redwood State and National Parks: $15 million secured for old growth redwoods ecosystem project

Reforestation efforts in the Redwood State and National Parks region will be getting a substantial financial push as the state’s final budget activities and legislative session draw to a close.  California State Assembly District 2 representative Jim Wood (D-Santa Rosa) announced his request for $15 million in assistance for the Redwoods Rising project was backed by his fellow Assembly members and Gov. Gavin Newsom.  The sum will go to the Redwoods Rising project, a large-scale restoration project with the goal of treating over 70,000 acres of previously logged forest lands that have been densely reseeded with non-native Douglas fir trees. … ”  Read more from the Eureka Times-Herald here: $15 million secured for old growth redwoods ecosystem project

Mysterious sunken boat revealed on the low shore of Shasta Lake

There have been plenty of historic structures revealed on Northern California reservoirs as water continues to shrink down to historically low levels. With multiple historic towns sitting under the water at Shasta Lake, there have been plenty to explore with this low water. One mysterious sunken boat is recently turning heads on lake, leaving many to wonder what it could possibly be.  Jeremy Tuggle has been posting many of the historic sites uncovered on Shasta Lake, including the sunken boat near Bridge Bay Marina that certainly has a story behind it. … ”  Continue reading at Active NorCal here: Mysterious sunken boat revealed on the low shore of Shasta Lake

Potable water fill up stations open for dry well owners in Chico, Oroville

The Butte County Department of Water Resources has opened several locations for residential well owners who need water to pick up potable water in Chico and Oroville.  Butte County said it will verify residents are using the water for household uses only.  On July 20, the Butte County Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution proclaiming a local emergency due to increased reports of residential wells going dry from drought conditions. The proclamation has given the county increased access to resources to assist with dry wells. … ”  Read more from the Oroville Mercury Register here: Potable water fill up stations open for dry well owners in Chico, Oroville

Chico: Pumpkin patches preserving water through the California drought emergency

A pumpkin patch in Chico is doing what it can to save water during the drought but it’s coming with a price.   The Peterson Sisters’ Pumpkin Patch has been a Chico favorite for almost six years.  Nelle Peterson is the mom of the sisters.  She said the drought along with other bumps in the road created some pitfalls for pumpkin growing this year.  “For us, it is not just about the water,” said Peterson. “There was also a virus that affected most farmers in the Sacramento valley with pumpkins and squash so we do have a decrease in pumpkins this year.” … ”  Read more from Action News Now here: Pumpkin patches preserving water through the California drought emergency

Oroville this weekend: Salmon festival celebration returns

After a year in hiatus because of the pandemic, the Salmon Festival is returning Saturday to downtown Oroville with more activities, events, vendors and food than ever before.  “We are really glad to be back after COVID. Bringing the community back together for the festival to celebrate the return of the salmon to the Feather River is exciting,” said Amber Miland, Oroville Chamber of Commerce communications director. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here: Oroville this weekend: Salmon festival celebration returns

Galt: Area groundwater subject of workshop

Area residents reviewed and learned about strategies for groundwater sustainability on Sept. 16 at a pair of public workshops.  Representatives of the seven jurisdictions, including Galt, that overlie the Cosumnes Subbasin set up stations explaining the water situation in the region and the methods proposed for stabilizing groundwater levels.  Mark Clarkson, Galt’s deputy public works director, attended the meetings. He said Galt is in a position to “make a major impact” on its area of the subbasin, given its more centralized water infrastructure. … ”  Read more from the Galt Herald here: Galt: Area groundwater subject of workshop

New state data highlights paltry water conservation in city of Sonoma

“The city of Sonoma lagged substantially behind other Sonoma County cities in water conservation efforts this summer, with savings of only 3.8% in July compared to the same month last year.  Sonoma residents also used nearly twice as much water as those who lived in other large Sonoma County cities — 165 gallons per capita per day, according to new data from the State Water Resources Control Board.  By contrast, residents of most other communities used between 70 and 91 gallons per person daily. ... ”  Read more from the Sonoma Index-Tribune here: New state data highlights paltry water conservation in city of Sonoma

Marin: Stream rules to tighten for valley homes

Marin County planners announced the first draft of a new stream protection ordinance for the San Geronimo Valley that will toughen the permitting process for streamside work in the Lagunitas Creek watershed.  The draft stream conservation area ordinance, published last week, will enshrine protections for coho salmon that the Salmon Protection and Watershed Network, the local arm of an environmental nonprofit, has been seeking through litigation for more than a decade.  The ordinance won’t please everyone, but it provides thorough guidance where there had been none, said Supervisor Dennis Rodoni. Homeowners will have to make some adjustments, but now they have a clear means for doing so. … ”  Read more from the Point Reyes Light here: Marin: Stream rules to tighten for valley homes

Marin Water exploring desalination to tackle severe drought

Reservoirs continue to dry up in Marin County and everyone agrees that conservation efforts are ‘not’ where they need to be.  Now, the Marin Municipal Water District is looking at some expensive options to tackle the severe drought.  “We’re facing historic drought conditions,” Emma Detwiler said.  From a potential new pipeline to desalination plants, the Marin Municipal Water District is exploring ways to resupply the dried up region. … ”  Read more from KRON here: Marin Water exploring desalination to tackle severe drought

San Rafael council declares climate emergency

The San Rafael City Council has approved a climate emergency declaration, signaling it will increase efforts to reduce greenhouse gases and mitigate environmental threats.  The declaration calls for adjusting the city’s goals to cut emissions to meet state targets. The city’s climate plan already calls for reducing greenhouse gases to 40% of the 1990 levels by 2030 and 80% by 2050. The state goal is zero net emissions by 2045. … ”  Read more from the Marin Independent Journal here: San Rafael council declares climate emergency

BART officials warn of climate change bringing higher tides, threatening some stations in future

BART officials on Wednesday said climate change and sea level rise will pose a growing threat to the transit system in the coming decades.  The beleaguered transit agency is trying to find money to address the long-term but looming threat.  “One of the predictions is that we could see tides that a foot higher than they are now by mid-century. So, that’s 2050,” said BART spokesperson Jim Allison.  BART engineers say there could be a number of potential impacts from sea level rise. San Francisco’s Embarcadero station, for example, could occasionally be inundated by high tides. … ”  Read more from KTLA here: BART officials warn of climate change bringing higher tides, threatening some stations in future

San Francisco Supes increase water reuse requirements for new buildings

New buildings will need to collect and reuse much more water than what is required for existing buildings, after the San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved new regulations Tuesday.  The ordinance more than doubles the amount of water that new large buildings will be required to collect and re-use on site, said its author Supervisor Rafael Mandelman. He said it also directs the public utilities commission to come up with a plan for expanding the city’s supply and use of recycled water. … ”  Read more from SF Gate here: Supes increase water reuse requirements for new buildings

Solano County: Virtual Town Hall session addresses climate change

Sen. Bill Dodd hosted a virtual Town Hall session Tuesday to address climate change, environmental stewardship and the drought, featuring a panel of state experts.  Dodd, D-Napa, was joined by Wade Crowfoot, secretary of the California National Resources Agency, Joaquin Esquivel, chairman of the California Department of Water Resources, and Jay Ziegler, policy and external affairs director of The Nature Conservancy.  “Climate change is here and has revealed a series of existential challenges that are sadly becoming well known to all,” Dodd said. “We know bold action is needed to reverse climate change and we can’t afford to sit idly by.” ... ”  Read more from the Daily Republic here: Solano County: Virtual Town Hall session addresses climate change

Monterey: Private desal question highlights geographic divisions over water among county lawmakers

Water is a marquee issue in Monterey County. But when it comes to private ownership of desalination plants, something currently prohibited under local law, county lawmakers are divided. For some, private ownership goes against the will of voters and could trigger a future of lengthy legal battles. For others, private ownership offers a chance for market competition and an accelerated path toward solving the county’s water shortages.  The policy question has been thrust onto the dais not by California American Water, which has long advocated for a desalination plant to supply the Monterey Peninsula, but by a proposal from Canada-based Algonquin Power and Utilities Corp., a publicly traded, $11 billion company, to build a desalination plant in Moss Landing. … ”  Read more from Monterey Weekly here:  Private desal question highlights geographic divisions over water among county lawmakers

Monterey County’s desal debate splits Supervisors on each side of ‘Lettuce Curtain’

During a discussion Tuesday about one Monterey County Supervisor’s desire to delete a portion of a longstanding ordinance requiring public ownership of desalination projects, the debate took a decidedly Salinas Valley vs. Monterey Peninsula turn.  At issue is a subsection of the Monterey County Code 10.72 that Supervisor John Phillips wants amended to allow private companies to operate desal plants in the county. During Tuesday’s meeting, Phillips claimed he never mentioned any particular company that would benefit from such a move, and repeatedly reiterated that his request was only about a policy and not any particular project. … ”  Read more from the Monterey Herald here: Monterey County’s desal debate splits Supervisors on each side of ‘Lettuce Curtain’

Officials issue warning as Pyramid Lake nears reopening

The public is being warned to avoid contact with the water at Pyramid Lake in Los Angeles County, even as it and the nearby Los Alamos Campground are slated to reopen Thursday.  Widespread California wildfires prompted the U.S. Forest Service to order the recent closure of the lake and campground.  However, the presence of harmful blue-green algae in the lake has California Department of Water Resources officials concerned about its reopening. … ”  Read more from Channel 5 here: Officials issue warning as Pyramid Lake nears reopening

SoCal: Eastern Municipal Water District, regional agencies partner on historic water storage program

Six regional water agencies working in conjunction with The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) have reached a historic agreement that will better prepare the region for future droughts and promote water use efficiency throughout a three-county area, the agencies announced this week.  The Santa Ana River Conservation and Conjunctive Use Program (SARCCUP) is a first-of-its-kind regional groundwater banking program between Eastern Municipal Water District (EMWD), Inland Empire Utilities Agency (IEUA), Municipal Water District of Orange County (MWDOC), Orange County Water District (OCWD), San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District (SBVMWD), Western Municipal Water District (WMWD), and MWD. … ”  Continue reading at the Eastern Municipal Water District here: Eastern Municipal Water District, regional agencies partner on historic water storage program

Palm Springs one of top water users in California

Palm Springs is one of the top water users in the state, despite a historic drought.  “We are probably in the top 10%,” said Ashley Metzger, Director of Public Affairs & Water Planning for Desert Water Agency.  In July, Governor Gavin Newsom called on Californians to voluntarily cut back on water by 15%. Instead, Desert Water Agency said usage in the Coachella Valley went up.  “Usage is actually up a little bit,” said Metzger. ... ”  Read more from NBC Palm Springs here: Palm Springs one of top water users in California

Calipatria Water Co. Threatens harsh drought measures

On Sept. 3, Calipatria resident Frank Chavez received an email from Golden State Water Co., the private firm that distributes water to Calipatria and Niland, warning that mandatory water conservation and rationing plans are to be put into effect due continued drought conditions in California.  Chavez was stunned but not fully surprised. Changes and rising water prices through Golden State Water Co. have been the norm for Calipatria and other areas of the north end for years, he said.  “It makes you really think about what you value. Do you value your lawn, the trees you have had for years, and that’s a tough one to take,” Chavez said. “It’s going to be interesting how the community takes it as a whole.” ... ”  Read more from the Holtville Tribune here: Calipatria Water Co. Threatens harsh drought measures

Borrego Springs: Helicopter water drops help fight extreme drought, give endangered species chance to survive, thrive

Peninsular Bighorn Sheep were listed as an endangered species in 1998 due to habitat loss and human disturbance, but this year it might be human intervention that keeps them from dying of dehydration. “We have documented cases where the only available water source has gone dry, and we’ve found just direct mortality, dead bighorn sheep in those areas,” said Jeff Villepique, a Senior Wildlife Biologist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.  Scientists in the Anza Borrego Desert State Park believe even the loss of a few sheep because of extremes drought conditions could be tragic for the recovery of the peninsular herd. With that in mind, several volunteer groups, multiple state agencies and the US Marine corps are working together to transport millions of gallons of water directly to all desert wildlife, in this case, deep into the park by helicopter. ... ”  Read more from ABC 7 here: Borrego Springs: Helicopter water drops help fight extreme drought, give endangered species chance to survive, thrive

Drought and hay shortage propels alfalfa in Imperial County

The Imperial County Agricultural Commissioner, Carlos Ortiz, released a summary of the top agriculture commodities in Imperial County that ranked alfalfa hay second in 2020 with a gross value of $200,441,000. The report was published in Imperial County Agricultural Crop & Livestock Report 2020.  “The drought in northern California has resulted in the shortage of hay,” said Pat Dockstader, owner of P&T Enterprises based in Calipatria. The diversified company includes Golden Eagle Hay, a hay press company, fuel, and mini storage.  Other states such as Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, Utah, and Idaho were likewise experiencing drought and a shortage of hay.  “Right now, we have 140,000 acres planted with hay. We would like to increase that anywhere from 180,000 to 200,000 acres,” said Dockstader. … ”  Read more from the Desert Review here: Drought and hay shortage propels alfalfa in Imperial County

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Along the Colorado River …

Reclamation releases updated projections of Colorado River system conditions

The Bureau of Reclamation today released updated modeling projections of major reservoir levels within the Colorado River system over the next five years. These projections are used by Reclamation and water users in the basin for future water management planning. The new projections show continued elevated risk of Lake Powell and Lake Mead reaching critically-low elevations as a result of the historic drought and low-runoff conditions in the Colorado River Basin.  Today’s announcement comes as the Administration pursues a whole-of-government approach to drought mitigation via the Interagency Drought Relief Working Group, co-chaired by the Department of the Interior. The Working Group is coordinating with partners across the federal government, providing assistance to impacted communities, and developing long-term solutions to climate change. … ”  Read more from the Bureau of Reclamation here: Reclamation releases updated projections of Colorado River system conditions

US projections on drought-hit Colorado River grow more dire; California likely to get more cuts by 2025

The U.S. government released projections Wednesday that indicate an even more troubling outlook for a river that serves 40 million people in the American West.  The Bureau of Reclamation recently declared the first-ever shortage on the Colorado River, which means Arizona, Nevada and Mexico will get less water than normal next year. By 2025, there’s a 66% chance Lake Mead, a barometer for how much river water some states get, will reach a level where California would be in its second phase of cuts. The nation’s most populated state has the most senior rights to river water. … ”  Read more from KTLA here: US projections on drought-hit Colorado River grow more dire

New water level predictions for Lake Powell, Lake Mead ‘troubling’

The Bureau of Reclamation on Wednesday released updated modeling projections of reservoir levels for lakes Mead and Powell and said the latest outlook for both bodies of water along the Colorado River is troubling.   Following an ‘almost’ record-breaking monsoon season, the historic drought and low-runoff conditions in the Colorado River Basin show an elevated risk of Lake Powell and Lake Mead at critically low elevations, the bureau said in a news release.  The modeling projections show that the total Colorado River System Storage is at 39% capacity, down from 49% at the same time last year. … ”  Read more from Channel 12 here: New water level predictions for Lake Powell, Lake Mead ‘troubling’

Arizona: The future of water for the Quad Cities

How long will our water last? While scientists can’t accurately answer this question, they do know that the groundwater that supplies Quad City residents is being pumped at a far greater rate than it is being replenished. This situation, or overdraft, has already resulted in hundreds of failing family wells, and is poised to threaten the upper Verde River and the very livability of our rural areas. … ”  Read more from Sedona.biz here: Arizona: The future of water for the Quad Cities

MLB, Rockies pledge to refill colorado river water supply after year-long drought

Major League Baseball and the Colorado Rockies announced plans to restore 30 million gallons of water into the Colorado River. The commitment comes after the river experienced its driest 12-month period on record over the past year.  The sustainability effort will see MLB partner with environmental organizations Green Sports Alliance, Change the Course and the Colorado Water Trust. MLB estimates that the 30 million gallons of water are equivalent to the amount used by the Rockies at Coors Field throughout a season. The water will specifically flow into the 15-Mile Reach, a stretch of the Colorado River that’s home to endangered fish. … ”  Read more from Sport Techie here: MLB, Rockies pledge to refill colorado river water supply after year-long drought

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In national water news today …

Late-night comedians team up to tackle the climate crisis

Climate change, which is responsible for magnifying this summer’s deadly heat waves, hurricanes, wildfires and floods, is typically no laughing matter. But for one night, seven popular late-night comedy shows hope they can change that.  On Wednesday, September 22, the hosts are dedicating a portion of each of their shows to giving climate change a very unusual platform. The goal of the unprecedented, coordinated effort is to reach a wide audience and convey the seriousness of the challenge faced by humanity.  CBS’ “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” and “The Late Late Show with James Corden,” ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live!,” NBC’s “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” and “Late Night with Seth Meyers,” Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” and TBS’ “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee” are all participating in Climate Night. … ”  Read more from CBS News here: Late-night comedians team up to tackle the climate crisis

Hydropower experiencing climate impacts from drought, flooding

The impacts of climate change are being experienced across the power generation industry, and certainly in the hydropower sector, with generation directly tied to the ebbs and flows of precipitation. Areas experiencing drought conditions, including regions that heavily or at least in part depend on hydropower, are searching for solutions to make up for a generation shortfall. On the flip side, places where water is today abundant want to ensure they are managing the resource wisely, to maintain the efficiency of hydropower generation. … ”  Read more from Power Magazine here: Hydropower experiencing climate impacts from drought, flooding

Biden makes early gains eroding Trump’s environmental legacy

The Biden administration is making a dent in reversing Trump-era environmental policies but still has a long way to go in its effort to undo four years of regulatory rollbacks.  Thus far, the administration has reversed 42 actions and targeted 73, with no steps taken on another 122, according to a tracker from The Washington Post. But the process for undoing some of the federal rules is lengthy, meaning it could be years before the Biden administration can undo some of former President Trump’s environmental actions, many of which focused on deregulation. … ”  Read more from The Hill here: Biden makes early gains eroding Trump’s environmental legacy

Biden seeks to ease tensions with Democrats on spending, infrastructure bills

President Joe Biden and Democratic lawmakers met Wednesday to iron out disagreements and finish a lengthy to-do list of major pieces of spending legislation in less than a week.  Biden hosted multiple in-person meetings at the White House with groups representing different wings of the Democratic caucus from both the House and the Senate to build consensus around his infrastructure and social spending packages.  Some of the meetings, which began Wednesday afternoon, include House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.; Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.; the leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash.; and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. … ”  Read more from NBC News here: Biden seeks to ease tensions with Democrats on spending, infrastructure bills

In climate talks, plans to keep planet from overheating should not ignore water

Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged on September 21 that his country would no longer finance coal-fired power plants abroad, making a high-profile commitment to move away from some forms of fossil fuel infrastructure less than six weeks before a pivotal global climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland.  While climate campaigners applauded the carbon-reducing benefits of fewer new coal plants, the move comes with another, less obvious dividend: less strain on water. Coal power, from mining to generation, is among the thirstiest and most polluting ways to produce electricity.  Eliminating coal from the world’s energy mix is a no-brainer for climate policy and a win for water, as well as for human lungs. But as diplomats meet in Glasgow starting on October 31 to solidify plans to keep the planet from dangerously overheating, water experts say the negotiators need to keep more than carbon in mind. … ”  Read more from the Circle of Blue here: In climate talks, plans to keep planet from overheating should not ignore water

International conservation effort gets $5B boost

A coalition of nine charitable groups announced today that they will jointly commit $5 billion toward an aggressive pledge that aims to conserve 30% of the world’s lands and waters by 2030.  The pledge includes Amazon.com Inc. founder Jeff Bezos’ commitment on Monday to direct $1 billion — 10 percent of his $10 billion effort to address climate change — to the global conservation goal commonly known as 30×30.  Both the Rainforest Trust and the Wyss Foundation will likewise provide $500 million to the “Protecting Our Planet Challenge.” … ”  Read more from E&E News here: International conservation effort gets $5B boost

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And lastly …

The most beautiful places in California you never knew existed

Summer might officially be coming to an end but who are we kidding? California weather still feels like summer through the end of October, which means you can still plan those weekend getaways and spend time outdoors. The Golden State is filled with hidden gems in nature, beautiful beaches along the coastline, and unusual landmarks that are worth a trip. From the Venice Beach Canals to the Cypress Tree Tunnel, here’s our list of natural wonders that you should add to your California bucket list. … ”  Check it out at Thrillist here: The most beautiful places in California you never knew existed

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

NOTICE: State Water Board issues correction to curtailment status list for Delta watershed

WATER PLAN eNEWS: ~~ Crowfoot Address~ Climate Indicators~ Groundwater~ Estuary Summit~ CWEMF Meeting~ Economic Summit ~~

VELES WEEKLY REPORT: NQH2O water price reversal appears intact below long term moving averages

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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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