DAILY DIGEST, 9/24: Newsom commits $15B to combat wildfire, drought and climate change; State Water Board adopts guidelines for pandemic water bill debt; Upper Klamath irrigators challenge water transfer to wildlife refuge; FERC denies extension on Potter Valley Project application; and more …


On the calendar today …

  • The Central Valley Flood Protection Board meets beginning at 9am.  Agenda items include an update on the Central Valley Flood Protection Plan 2022 Update; considertaion of a permit for the Yolo Bypass “Big Notch” project; and an update on the Lower Sacramento River/Delta Regional Flood Management Plan Update. Click here for the full agenda and remote access instructions.

On the calendar tomorrow …

  • EVENT: The Oroville Salmon Festival begins at 9am.  A yearly event that celebrates the return of the salmon to the Feather River.  List of events: Salmon Festival – Visit Oroville

In California water news today …

California Gov. Newsom commits $15B to combat wildfire, drought and climate change

Standing near an aluminum foil-wrapped welcome sign at Sequoia National Park in Northern California, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday signed a bill directing more than $15 billion to combat wildfires, drought and other climate change-driven challenges facing the state.  Newsom signed the spending bill while touring portions of the KNP Complex Fire, where some of the world’s oldest and largest sequoias have been threatened by wildfire in recent days.  “It’s an unprecedented investment by any state in U.S. history,” he said. “We have a responsibility in California to get things done because we are the tip of the spear.” … ”  Read more from NBC News here: California Gov. Newsom commits $15B to combat wildfire, drought and climate change

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State Water Board adopts guidelines for paying off pandemic-related water bill debt

On Tuesday the State Water Resources Control Board adopted guidelines that will determine how the agency will administer the $1 billion financial relief program for community water systems’ unpaid water bill debt from residential and commercial customers who were unable to pay their bills due to COVID-related financial hardship. The California Water and Wastewater Arrearages Payment Program will disburse funds between November 1, 2021 and January 31, 2022, prioritizing small drinking water systems first. … ”  Continue reading press release from the State Water Board here:  State Water Board adopts guidelines for paying off pandemic-related water bill debt

State allocates $50M to fund water conservation projects in agricultural centered areas

Local lawmakers toured the Kern Water Bank to see drought impact firsthand on Wednesday.  $50 million from the state budget is going to fund Assembly Bill 252, which calls for land repurposing all to focus on the drought and getting water flow back to where it matters. Senator Melissa Hurtado says,  “When we invest in good water management strategies and solutions that means that individuals and that families that humans and that farmers are all healthy, they are all well fed and that community will continue to thrive.” ... ”  Continue reading at Bakersfield Now here: State allocates $50M to fund water conservation projects in agricultural centered areas

Legal alert: 120-day statute of limitations for new or increased California water and sewer rates

A challenge to new or increased California water or sewer rates must be brought within 120 days pursuant to Senate Bill 323, which was signed into law this week. SB 323 applies to rates for both retail and wholesale water and sewer fees adopted or increased after January 1, 2022. How will this impact local agencies across the state? … ”  Continue reading from Best Best & Krieger here: Legal alert: 120-day statute of limitations for new or increased California water and sewer rates

ACWA applauds Newsom for signing SB 323 into law

The Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) is applauding Gov. Gavin Newsom for signing SB 323, which will help provide financial stability for public agencies by creating a 120-day statute of limitations for challenges to new water and sewer rates.  SB 323, sponsored by ACWA and authored by Sen. Anna Caballero (D-Salinas), extends the timeframe for challenging fees that fund other essential government services to water and sewer rates assessed by public agencies. It also requires agencies to inform customers of this new legal protection prior to the adoption of a new rate structure to help ensure transparency and public participation during the rate-setting process. … ”  Read more from ACWA’s Water News here: ACWA applauds Newsom for signing SB 323 into law

A System for Success: Groundwater markets could promote solutions to the West’s water woes

Amid historic drought and changing rainfall patterns, a groundwater market in the California desert could serve as a template for the future of water management.  When landowners overlying the Mojave groundwater system switched from open-access management to a cap-and-trade system, it helped stabilize their groundwater resources. Researchers at UC Santa Barbara’s Bren School of Environmental Science & Management and the Public Policy Institute of California were curious about the market’s other impacts. Their new study reveals that the switch also increased the values of properties within the groundwater market, even though the system restricted the amount of groundwater that landowners could pump. These benefits were over 10 times the initial cost of establishing the market. … ”  Read more from UC Santa Barbara here:  A System for Success: Groundwater markets could promote solutions to the West’s water woes

Clean, affordable California water a challenge for low-income communities

Amid the vast water wars of the drought-parched Central Valley, the tiny community of Las Deltas in Fresno County is enduring its own largely hidden battle over California’s liquid gold.  … The old asbestos pipes of Las Deltas’ water distribution system, which serves fewer than 100 homes and businesses with water piped from the nearby town of Firebaugh, is crumbling beneath the residents’ feet. A small band of locals started and ran the Las Deltas Mutual Water Company for decades. They disbanded it a couple of years ago, however, overwhelmed by the bureaucracy of running the disintegrating system and worried about potential lawsuits over its much-needed upgrades. Right now, no one is formally at the helm. When a pipe bursts, as it frequently does, a plumber is called from nearby Firebaugh to patch it up — a temporary fix in lieu of a long-term solution. … ”  Continue reading at Capital & Main here: Clean, affordable California water a challenge for low-income communities

Q/A: What are the main takeaways from the Delta Conveyance Project Environmental Justice Survey?

In a recent episode in the Delta Conveyance Deep Dive video series, we invited Genevieve Taylor, executive director of Ag Innovations, to tell us about the Environmental Justice Survey implemented by the company in the fall of 2020 as part of the Delta Conveyance Project’s public engagement plan. The Environmental Justice Community Survey Report was published on DWR’s website in May 2021. … Genevieve, can you help us understand the goal of the Environmental Justice Community Survey?  Genevieve:  The objective of the survey was to inform DWR through gaining a better understanding of the priorities, values and needs of the Delta’s diverse communities.  It also aimed to gather perspectives and information about how community members value, experience, and depend on the region’s cultural, recreational, natural, agricultural and economic resources.  We did that in order to identify how the project may impact those resources or potentially bring benefits to Delta communities.  … ”  Read more from DWR News here: Q/A: What are the main takeaways from the Delta Conveyance Project Environmental Justice Survey?

California’s water crisis is real: are their solutions?

In California, there will always be droughts. And even in good years, there will never be quite enough water to satisfy the demands of the state’s urban population, its natural environment and an insatiable $50 billion agriculture industry. Climate change has only made the problems worse. … The potential remedies for the state’s many drought-related problems come from all directions and are far more complicated than simply throwing money at major capital investment. As beneficial as new water infrastructure would be (while also creating thousands of new jobs), water experts say it must be part of a larger effort that includes better management of existing water supply, with rainwater harvesting, recycled water and changes to outdoor landscaping and farming. … ”  Read more from LA Progressive here: California’s water crisis is real: are their solutions?

For rent: Calif. houses endangered by rising seas

California is poised to launch a groundbreaking program to buy vulnerable beachfront houses that could be rented out until rising ocean levels make them too dangerous to live in.  The move comes as state officials look for ways to move homeowners away from areas threatened by the effects of climate change, a strategy known as managed retreat. The voluntary measure, passed recently by the state Legislature, would create a low-interest loan fund that could be used by coastal municipalities to buy homes endangered by ocean flooding or collapsing cliffs.  Money raised by renting them could be used to repay the loans, and cover the cost of eventually tearing them down and restoring the beach.  Supporters see it as a politically acceptable way to begin managed retreat so beaches can migrate landward as sea levels rise. … ”  Read more from E&E News here: For rent: Calif. houses endangered by rising seas

Feinstein: Disaster supplemental bill includes vital wildfire, drought funding

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) released the following statement on wildfire and drought funding included in the disaster supplemental bill that was introduced in the House today:  “Wildfire and drought are two of California’s greatest concerns. The disaster supplemental bill includes significant funding that I have supported to address these critical challenges.  “The bill includes nearly $29 billion in relief for the victims of wildfires and other natural disasters, including farmers who lost crops due to the recent wildfires. The bill would also help us recruit and retain more federal wildland firefighters by lifting the overtime pay cap so they’re more fairly compensated for their dangerous work. ... ”  Continue reading from Senator Feinstein here: Feinstein: Disaster supplemental bill includes vital wildfire, drought funding

Rice feeds half the world. Climate change’s droughts and floods put it at risk

Aerial view of rice fields north of Sacramento, California. Shot – September 16, 2009. Paul Hames / DWR

Under a midday summer sun in California’s Sacramento Valley, rice farmer Peter Rystrom walks across a dusty, barren plot of land, parched soil crunching beneath each step.  In a typical year, he’d be sloshing through inches of water amid lush, green rice plants. But today the soil lies naked and baking in the 35˚ Celsius (95˚ Fahrenheit) heat during a devastating drought that has hit most of the western United States. The drought started in early 2020, and conditions have become progressively drier.  Low water levels in reservoirs and rivers have forced farmers like Rystrom, whose family has been growing rice on this land for four generations, to slash their water use. … ”  Continue reading from Science News here: Rice feeds half the world. Climate change’s droughts and floods put it at risk

Research on thousands of organic and chemical-intensive farms illustrates stark difference in toxic chemical use

Recent research out of California sought to compare (and quantify) differences in total pesticide use, and in use of pesticides of specific concern, across conventional and organic agricultural fields in the state. The research team, from the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, University of California, Santa Barbara, finds an 18–31% likely reduction in spraying of pesticides on organically managed fields compared to conventional, and a 27% likely reduction in use of pesticide products with high acute human toxicity for organic versus conventional fields. Readers may be gasping, and thinking, “Wait, what?! I thought organic farming does not use pesticides! Help?” … ”  Read more from Beyond Pesticides here: Research on thousands of organic and chemical-intensive farms illustrates stark difference in toxic chemical use

California records its hottest summer ever as climate change roils cities

California and several other Western states endured the hottest summer on record, according to federal data released Thursday, underscoring the ways rapid climate change is unleashing unprecedented wildfires, deadly heat waves and drought conditions.  In addition to California, officials said Idaho, Nevada, Oregon and Utah also set all-time heat records for the meteorological summer, spanning June through August. Sixteen other states also saw a top-five warmest summer on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which issued its findings Thursday. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: California records its hottest summer ever as climate change roils cities

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In regional water news and commentary today …

Upper Klamath irrigators challenge water transfer to wildlife refuge

A lawsuit claims Oregon water regulators have authorized a water transfer to a wildlife refuge without properly analyzing the impacts on Upper Klamath irrigators.  Last month, the state’s Water Resources Department approved a transfer of 3,750 acre-feet of water from the Wood River and Crooked Creek in the Upper Klamath Basin to the Lower Klamath Wildlife Refuge for five years. The California Waterfowl nonprofit had bought the water from a ranch in the Upper Klamath Basin in Oregon to convey to the national refuge in California to benefit bird habitat under threat from the drought. ... ” Read more from Capital Press here: Upper Klamath irrigators challenge water transfer to wildlife refuge

Trinity River Restoration Program Winter Flow Variability: Draft Environmental Assessment available for public comment, public meeting scheduled

The Bureau of Reclamation’s Trinity River Restoration Program (TRRP) is inviting individuals and organizations to comment on its draft Environmental Assessment (EA) to shift some of the water typically released from Lewiston Dam in late spring to the winter and early spring period.  Starting in winter 2021-2022, Reclamation’s TRRP proposes to change how annual Trinity River water is managed to benefit Trinity River fisheries. Moving a portion of Trinity River water volume to the winter and spring run-off periods is proposed to better match natural flow variability within the watershed. … ”  Read more from the Redheaded Blackbelt here: Trinity River Restoration Program Winter Flow Variability: Draft Environmental Assessment available for public comment, public meeting scheduled

FERC denies extension on Potter Valley Project application

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission voted Thursday to deny a request from a group of Northern California agencies, known as the Two-Basin Partnership, to pause its application to take over the license for the Potter Valley Project.  The Two-Basin Partnership — California Trout, Humboldt County, the Mendocino County Inland Water & Power Commission, the Round Valley Indian Tribes and Sonoma County Water Agency —requested an extension on its application earlier this month to provide agencies additional time to work out a water plan and to develop strategies for dam removal and restoration of the Eel and Russian river basins. … ”  Read more from the Eureka Times-Herald here: FERC denies extension on Potter Valley Project application

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At least two trucks now hauling water from Ukiah to the Mendocino Coast

At least two large trucks are now hauling more than 20,000 gallons of water from Ukiah to the Mendocino Coast, Ukiah City Manager Sage Sangiacomo reported this week.  Sangiacomo said the first delivery of water from Ukiah to Fort Bragg, which will be treating the water and making it available to people making water deliveries on the coast, began Sept. 8 “with a single truck, carrying about 5,000 gallons of water, but the truck was able to make two trips for about 10,000 gallons a day.” … ”  Read more from the Fort Bragg Advocate-News here: At least two trucks now hauling water from Ukiah to the Mendocino Coast

Redding not concerned over water conservation efforts during current drought

In results released by the California State Water Resources Control Board, Redding used 2% more water in July 2021 than it did in July 2020.  The board released these results for the entire state, showing that the state overall cut water use by only 1.8% despite Governor Gavin Newsom’s call for a 15% cut to residential water use.  Despite an increase in water use, the City of Redding isn’t concerned with overall water consumption this summer. … ”  Read more from Action News Now here: Redding not concerned over water conservation efforts during current drought

State Water Board approves emergency curtailment regulation for Mill and Deer Creeks

With climate changefueled drought reducing precipitation to approximately half of normal levels across the Sacramento River basin, the State Water Resources Control Board today adopted an emergency curtailment regulation for Mill and Deer Creeks in Tehama County. The creeks are tributaries to the Sacramento River and crucial to the survival of multiple fish species while also supplying water for agriculture, fire protection and drinking water, among other uses.  The regulation must be approved by the Office of Administrative Law and filed with the Secretary of State before curtailment orders can be issued. Altogether there are approximately 23 water right holders likely to be impacted by the orders once the regulation takes effect. … ”  Read more from the State Water Board here: State Water Board approves emergency curtailment regulation for Mill and Deer Creeks

Yuba River: Rising river temperatures imperil threatened salmon

We are well into another year of a drought here in Nevada County and its impacts are being felt throughout the watershed as reservoirs continue to recede and wildfires proliferate.  … The lower Yuba River, a stronghold for wild spring-run Chinook salmon, is experiencing alarming warming trends. In fact, some parts of the lower Yuba River have already surpassed the lethal limits of adult Chinook salmon.  Scientists are concerned that the water may not be cold enough for salmon eggs. Even if the lower Yuba River stays cool enough for this year’s juveniles to survive, they will still have to navigate through the potentially too-warm Feather and Sacramento Rivers, where they may die in transit. … ”  Read more from the South Yuba River Citizens League here: Rising river temperatures imperil threatened salmon

Yuba River: Hammon Bar: A restoration success story

A decade ago, SYRCL began the first project in the Lower Yuba River to restore salmon habitat. Between 2011 and 2012 SYRCL planted nearly 6,500 willow and cottonwood cuttings across 5 acres to improve the floodplain habitat that fish use during high flow periods as refuge from swift-moving water in the main river channel.  One goal of this project was to restore the ecosystem functions that a mature riparian forest provides, including improving fish habitat by providing shade and cover and increasing food availability. The willows and cottonwood also help to trap fine sediment that would otherwise end up downriver, while creating geomorphic and hydraulic complexity on the floodplain.  The planting process was quite different than using a simple shovel to dig a hole in the ground. Large excavators were necessary to move through the gravel to reach groundwater depth. Without access to groundwater, the plants would quickly perish. Did the restoration work? … ”  Continue reading from the South Yuba River Citizens League here: Hammon Bar: A restoration success story

Caldor Fire impact on Lake Tahoe’s clarity, ecology studied amidst ongoing wildfire season

As the Caldor Fire encroached on Lake Tahoe, a team of researchers from the University of Nevada, Reno began collecting samples of ash falling from the sky. Professor of Biology Sudeep Chandra is collaborating with a team of researchers across five institutions to study the effects of wildfire smoke on Lake Tahoe. Chandra is Director of the University’s Global Water Center, the Ozmen Institute for Global Studies and the project’s principal investigator (PI).  This study follows close behind the Global Water Center research completed on Castle Lake in Northern California where results showed the lake changed considerably following six wildfires in 2018 that led to smoke hanging over the water. Castle Lake is a good comparison to Lake Tahoe, and once the Caldor Fire started in the Tahoe Basin, the scientists mobilized quickly to get monitoring equipment into the lake’s watershed. ... ”  Read more from the Nevada Today here: Caldor Fire impact on Lake Tahoe’s clarity, ecology studied amidst ongoing wildfire season

Vibrant Planet launches first-of-its-kind land management tool to help prevent catastrophic wildfires in Lake Tahoe basin and beyond

As millions of acres smolder and smoke billows across America, Vibrant Planet today launched its first application – called Land Tender – which catapults the country’s decades-old, paper-based land management system into the Cloud and provides land managers with the integrated, dynamic, high-resolution data and modeling they need to make more agile and informed decisions. With this new tool, land managers can plan, prioritize, and execute fire prevention and forest health projects in months rather than years, including thinning hazardous timber, clearing fuels from roadsides, and conducting prescribed burns. … ”  Read more from Street Insider here: Vibrant Planet launches first-of-its-kind land management tool to help prevent catastrophic wildfires in Lake Tahoe basin and beyond

Sebastopol filmmaker highlights California water crisis in new documentary

Although the current outlook for our water supply is pretty grim in California, Sebastopol filmmaker Emmett Brennan hopes to inspire, not depress, audiences with his new documentary, “Reflection: A Walk with Water,” premiering at the Mill Valley Film Festival Oct. 14 and 15.  Environmental devastation, from desertification and overdevelopment, was Brennan’s initial motivation to make the movie. But instead of focusing on the damage, he captures the efforts of people working to restore and promote healthy water systems, from Santa Rosa ranchers and Ojai farmers to L.A. greywater ecologists and Sonoma soil experts. The “walk” of the title is Brennan’s weeks-long trek, threaded through the movie, along the L.A. Aqueduct. … ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here: Sebastopol filmmaker highlights California water crisis in new documentary

Napa-Sonoma: Drought focuses attention on cannabis water use

” … Gardner has suffered from epilepsy his whole life, but at some point he found that cannabis – especially CBD-rich cannabis – was of invaluable help in managing the disorder. He labored through the process of getting a permit from Sonoma County starting four years ago, insisting that he was going to grow “medicinal cannabis.”  Permit Sonoma didn’t care about that, they just wanted to make sure he kept his water use within the allowances set up for outdoor cannabis farms: 2-acre-feet per year. The Default Water Use Guidelines the county lists are derived from the state Department of Water Resources. … “We don’t want to underestimate the amount of water use – obviously water is a precious natural resource in Sonoma County, there are lots of demands on your water and our groundwater,” said Permit Sonoma policy manager Bradley Dunn. … ”  Read the full article at the Sonoma Index-Tribune here: Napa-Sonoma: Drought focuses attention on cannabis water use

Healdsburg leading the way in North Bay water conservation

Everyone in California has been asked to conserve water, but no one is doing it better than one community in the North Bay.  Healdsburg has cut its water use in half. Lake Mendocino provides the bulk of Healdsburg’s water, and early in the summer there was talk of that lake simply running dry. Just the thought of that scared this city into an aggressive conservation plan. … ”  Continue reading from CBS San Francisco here: Healdsburg leading the way in North Bay water conservation

‘We want a cold, wet winter’: East Bay water districts face worst drought conditions in 6 years

The pictures tell the story — the reservoirs that more than a million East Bay residents rely on for their water, are well down and in some spots, bone dry.  The primary East Bay Municipal Utilities District Reservoir, Pardee in the high Sierra, is currently 80 percent full, but systemwide, the district’s overall storage is just 57 percent That’s the lowest it’s been since 2015.  Camanche, an overflow reservoir downstream, is often low in the fall. This year, at just 42%, it’s so low that the boat launch is high and dry, and completely unusable. ... ”  Read more from KGO here: ‘We want a cold, wet winter’: East Bay water districts face worst drought conditions in 6 years

Here’s how California’s drought is impacting Bay Area reservoirs

California is running out of water. That’s the harsh assessment by experts who say 90% of the state is dealing with drought conditions with the threat of mandatory statewide water restrictions looming.  The most glaring indications of the drought in the Bay Area are the local reservoirs. The reservoirs during the last drought were relatively full and offered a temporary buffer to a major water shortage. That is not the case this time around.  “I think we need a lot more rain to bring them up,” said Philip Anzalone, who owns the God’s Little Acre nursery near the Almaden Reservoir. … ”  Continue reading from NBC Bay Area here:  Here’s how California’s drought is impacting Bay Area reservoirs

Zone 7 Water Agency Board rate change impact on agriculture in South Livermore Valley Plan

The Zone 7 Water Agency Board recently considered how rate adjustments could impact 81 agricultural users in the South Livermore Valley Plan.  Board Vice President Sarah Palmer first raised the issue during a Sept. 1 board discussion about components that needed to be added to the untreated water bill. She referred to pleas from grape growers, who reported that water prices make a major impact on their business costs. The South Livermore Valley Plan was created in the 1980s with a goal of securing 5,000 acres for vineyards; today 2,300 acres are planted with wine vines. “I don’t want to set a policy on something when I do not know how much truly it is going to affect our local ag folks,” said Palmer. “I object to making an actual policy decision on these things without understanding those issues.” … ”  Read more from the Livermore Independent here: Zone 7 Water Agency Board rate change impact on agriculture in South Livermore Valley Plan

State-of-the-art water purification plant helps Silicon Valley battle drought

Santa Clara Valley Water District, the wholesale provider for the South Bay, is embarking on an effort to revamp the image of purified wastewater and lay the groundwork for replenishing local aquifers.  Speaking at a press event at the Silicon Valley Advanced Water Purification Center, Valley Water CEO Rick Callender spoke about the need to continue to conserve while also developing ways to increase the supply.  At the event, staffers passed out bottles of water to elected officials and dignitaries with this message printed on the label: “This used to be waste water #GetOverIt.” ... ”  Read more from CBS San Francisco here: State-of-the-art water purification plant helps Silicon Valley battle drought

SEE ALSO: Santa Clara Water District Plans to Build New Water Purification Facility by 2028, from CBS San Francisco

Emerging from pandemic, California pumpkin farmers now dealing with drought

October is just around the corner and pumpkin farms in Half Moon Bay are preparing for what will hopefully be a fruitful season.  Many are family operated for decades.  Emerging from the pandemic, farmers are now dealing with a historic drought.  At Farmer John’s Pumpkin Farm along Highway 1, the owners took a KTVU crew behind the scene for a look at this year’s harvest amidst a drought. … ”  Read more from KTVU here: Emerging from pandemic, California pumpkin farmers now dealing with drought

Watsonville Wetlands Watch celebrates 30th anniversary

The extensive slough system that runs through the heart of the Pajaro Valley has become a cornerstone for local recreation, wildlife viewing, education and research.  These wetlands are home to various species of animals and plants, many rare and endangered. They help replenish groundwater, buffer the town from storm impacts and are popular spots for walkers, birdwatchers and scientists.  “You can talk to anybody in this city, in English or Spanish, and they would be familiar with the word ‘wetland,’” said Christine Johnson-Lyons, a founder and longtime board member of Watsonville Wetlands Watch (WWW). “People know what they are, and at least one reason why they’re so important.” ... ”  Read more from Good Times Santa Cruz here:  Watsonville Wetlands Watch celebrates 30th anniversary

Monterey Peninsula water officials reach agreement on Cal Am water purchase

Key staff from three water organizations along the Monterey Peninsula have apparently reached an agreement on a deal that will send hundreds of acre-feet of new water to California American Water Co. for distribution up and down the Peninsula.  Monterey One Water, the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District and Cal Am reached an agreement at a joint meeting Wednesday whereby Cal Am agreed to purchase water from Monterey One’s Pure Water Monterey expansion project.  The agreement must still get the nod from the water district board when it meets in a special meeting Friday at 3 p.m. … ”  Read more from the Monterey Herald here: Monterey Peninsula water officials reach agreement on Cal Am water purchase

Los Angeles-based activists share their thoughts on racial justice in the context of the Mono Basin-Los Angeles watershed

Carried by the Los Angeles Aqueduct, water diverted from snowmelt in the Sierra above Mono Lake flows 338 miles south to the city of Los Angeles, creating an inextricable link between the place the water comes from, and the place it flows to. The water that forges this unlikely connection also shapes the people who live off it, facilitating an exchange of ideas between Mono Lake and Los Angeles.  The Mono Basin Outdoor Education Center (OEC) embodies this connection. Founded in 1994 in partnership between the Mono Lake Committee, the Mothers of East Los Angeles Santa Isabel, and other Los Angeles-based community groups, its mission is to “build understanding and appreciation for the Mono Basin-Los Angeles watershed.” The OEC brings Los Angeles students and community groups, primarily from historically marginalized communities, to the Eastern Sierra to educate them about the place their water comes from. It empowers them to return to their communities with a deeper understanding of the links between water and power injustices—and resistance—from rural California to the inner city. … ”  Read more from the Mono Lake Committee here: Los Angeles-based activists share their thoughts on racial justice in the context of the Mono Basin-Los Angeles watershed

Ridgecrest: California Mojave desert town of 1,700 people could be left dry in water war

Trona, a town in California’s Mojave Desert, is at risk of being left dry amid an ongoing water war that erupted after legislation was passed in 2016 to sustain groundwater sources. The town, which lacks its own clean source of water, has been getting its water from wells located 30 miles away in the Indian Wells Valley for decades, The Los Angeles Times reported.  The water is delivered through two pipelines to Searles Valley Minerals, a mining company that uses the water to produce soda ash, boron, and salt. The remainder of the water is then treated and pumped to residents. … ”  Read more from Newsweek here: California Mojave desert town of 1,700 people could be left dry in water war

SoCal: Judge rules 65-unit housing project in Upland flood basin could hurt environment

Does a flood-control basin enjoyed by Upland residents as a tranquil space for walking and observing wildlife constitute wetlands that should be protected?  That is the crux of a court battle brought by Friends of Upland Wetlands against the city and developer, FH II LLC, a subsidiary of Frontier Homes, over an approved 65-unit housing development to be built on 9.2 acres of the 15th Street Flood Control Basin, located between Campus and Grove avenues in northwest Upland.  In a recently released ruling, San Bernardino County Superior Court Judge David S. Cohn set aside the project’s approval and its environmental review, known as a Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND), that concluded any impacts would be insignificant, citing concerns the housing project could cause environmental harms. … ”  Read more from the Inland Daily Bulletin here: SoCal: Judge rules 65-unit housing project in Upland flood basin could hurt environment

‘Water banking’: Riverside County agencies join up

Water districts in Riverside County have joined with districts throughout the region to form a water banking program intended to provide access to stored supplies in the event of drought, it was announced Wednesday.  “This is a historic agreement and will benefit millions of Southern California residents by better preparing our respective regions for future droughts,” Perris-based Eastern Municipal Water District Board President Phil Paule said. “We are proud to have helped develop and implement this innovative program. We sincerely appreciate the partnerships of all the member agencies that have helped make this program possible.” ... ”  Read more from The Patch here: ‘Water banking’: Riverside County agencies join up

Who is Lake Skinner named for and why was it built?

Just north of Temecula Valley Wine Country lies the Lake Skinner Recreation Area, a favorite get-away spot for thousands of people each year.  The history of Lake Skinner dates to the early 1960s, when the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California was investigating sites on which to develop a drinking water reservoir. In 1963, after a few years’ search, it purchased the Auld Ranch between Winchester and Temecula. Over the next few years, other lands were bought to enlarge the holdings. … ”  Read more from the Riverside Press-Enterprise here: Who is Lake Skinner named for and why was it built?

Big Bear Lake levels down 15 feet; $56 million project could help

There are signs of drought all over in Big Bear Lake.  Grout Creek, one of the lake’s feeders, is dry. On a recent weekday, some boats and docks sit in fields around the shore instead of in water. The top of the original dam built in 1884, usually under the surface, is starting to peak up above the waves.  According to the local wastewater agency, precipitation-fed Big Bear Lake has seen record low water levels in the past 15 years. … ”  Read more from the San Bernardino Sun here: Big Bear Lake levels down 15 feet; $56 million project could help

San Clemente: Where did our beaches go?

Sand. It’s one of the key components when it comes to good surf. And for anybody who’s spent time in the waters between Dana Point and San Onofre over the years, you’ve probably become acutely aware that there’s less sand on our beaches today than ever.  It’s something I hear surfers talking about every time I’m in the lineup around here.  “There were waves breaking, and throwing big boulders on the train tracks,” reported one surfer at Cotton’s last week. … ”  Continue reading from the San Clemente Times here: San Clemente: Where did our beaches go?

San Clemente: City contractor investigating human waste problem at Pier Beach

The city’s contractor hired to root out the yearslong cause of water contamination at the San Clemente Pier needs additional time to investigate why human waste is still being found at the popular beach spot, according to a new report to the city council this month.  Following a series of management measures that were deployed to identify the root causes of the pier bacteria, water samplings taken and analyzed from the storm drain system underneath the pier and the ocean shoreline earlier this year again found human DNA.  “Unfortunately, human DNA was still detected in the discharge water from the storm drain system,” the city’s Sept. 7 report stated. “Thus, the City needs to repeat some of the management measures … to identify the human waste sources.” ... ”  Read more from the San Clemente Times here: San Clemente: City contractor investigating human waste problem at Pier Beach

Ramona: Water district directors critical of LAFCO report

Ramona Municipal Water District directors at their Sept. 14 meeting were critical of a report that recommends a different form of governance for Ramona, but did consider whether the plan could bring tax benefits.  During a presentation by the Local Agency Formation Commission, analyst Priscilla Allen shared highlights of the LACFO report that makes 14 recommendations, chief among them to reorganize the water district into a Community Services District — an intermediary step that would give unincorporated Ramona more local control and a potential segue into incorporation. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune here: Ramona: Water district directors critical of LAFCO report

Editorial: San Diego should be a role model on water conservation. Instead it’s using more.

The San Diego Union Tribune editorial board writes, “In July, Gov. Gavin Newsom called on Californians to voluntarily reduce their water use by 15 percent “through simple actions such as reducing landscape irrigation, running dishwashers and washing machines only when full, finding and fixing leaks, installing water-efficient showerheads and taking shorter showers.”  Turns out those suggestions weren’t enough, especially in San Diego. …  Water use across much of Southern California fell a single tenth of a percent and actually rose in Los Angeles by 0.7 percent and in San Diego by 1.3 percent. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune here: Editorial: San Diego should be a role model on water conservation. Instead it’s using more.

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Along the Colorado River …

New estimates show Colorado River levels falling faster than expected

New projections show that Lake Mead and Lake Powell could reach “critically low reservoir elevations” sooner than expected, spurring experts to say that “bold actions” will be needed to change course.  The Bureau of Reclamation report released Thursday shows an 88% chance that Lake Powell could fall below 3,525 feet by next August, a level that would endanger hydropower production, with chances Lake Mead will hit critical levels in the next few years.  The five-year projection is grimmer than estimates released just two months ago, and shows that a drought contingency plan triggered earlier this year by low reservoir levels, while it was aggressive, may not be enough, one official said. … ”  Read more from Cronkite News here: New estimates show Colorado River levels falling faster than expected

Lake Powell could stop producing energy in 2023 as water levels plunge

Falling water levels at Lake Powell, the massive reservoir on the Utah-Arizona border, could cause its dam to stop generating hydroelectric power in 2023, according to new projections by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, an agency of the Interior Department.  Amid a historic megadrought and record-breaking temperatures in the U.S. West, exacerbated by climate change, Lake Powell and Lake Mead on the Colorado River are experiencing a record decline in water levels. … ”  Read more from CNBC here: Lake Powell could stop producing energy in 2023 as water levels plunge

SEE ALSO: Declining Colorado River flow could halt power production at Glen Canyon, from Arizona Central

La Niña is about to take the Southwest drought from bad to worse

Global scientists reported in August that due to the climate crisis, droughts that may have occurred only once every decade or so now happen 70% more frequently. The increase is particularly apparent in the Western US, which is currently in the the throes of a historic, multiyear drought that has exacerbated wildfire behavior, drained reservoirs and triggered water shortages.  More than 94% of the West is in drought this week — a proportion that has hovered at or above 90% since June — with six states entirely in drought conditions, according to the US Drought Monitor. On the Colorado River, Lake Mead and Lake Powell — two of the country’s largest reservoirs — are draining at alarming rates, threatening the West’s water supply and hydropower generation in coming years. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here: La Niña is about to take the Southwest drought from bad to worse

NOAA-led drought task force concludes current Southwest drought is a preview of coming attractions

A new assessment from a NOAA-led task force has concluded that the unprecedented drought parching the U.S. Southwest since 2020 is not entirely natural. The team found that the record-low precipitation that kicked off the event could have been a fluke—just the rare bad luck of natural variability. But the drought would not have reached its current punishing intensity without the extremely high temperatures brought by human-caused global warming. ... ”  Read more from Climate.gov here: NOAA-led drought task force concludes current Southwest drought is a preview of coming attractions

This year’s monsoon has been one of Arizona’s wettest

Arizona’s monsoon season officially ends Sept. 30, and this year’s rains already have made 2021 among the highest on record.  The season, which begins June 15, started off fairly dry, but once the monsoon rains arrived, they broke records in some areas of the state, Arizona State Climatologist Erinanne Saffell said. By the end of July, 84% more monsoonal rain had fallen in Phoenix than all of last summer, she said, and drought conditions improved in parts of the state. … ”  Read more from the Arizona Daily Star here: This year’s monsoon has been one of Arizona’s wettest

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In national water news today …

What Facebook’s water-positive goal means for water-stressed communities

On August 19, Facebook announced a new goal to be “water positive” by 2030 — that is, it intends to restore more water than than it consumes globally. The company had already worked to reduce water consumption at its data centers through increased deployment of renewable energy: In 2020, the footprint of the tech company’s global office and data centers reached the milestone of being supported by 100 percent renewable energy. The added benefit is that wind and solar photovoltaic power systems use negligible amounts of water, reducing the company’s water footprint as well. According to Facebook, the renewable energy switch alone has led to a savings of 1.4 billion cubic meters (over 380 billion gallons) of water, enough to fill 560,000 Olympic-size swimming pools.  … ”  Read the full article at Triple Pundit here:  What Facebook’s water-positive goal means for water-stressed communities

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Water and climate update …

dmrpt-20210923

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Today’s featured article …

FEATURE: Metropolitan Water District prepares for the upcoming Colorado River negotiations

Lake Powell, July, 2021. Photo by Jay Huang

In August, the Secretary of the Interior announced the first-ever shortage declaration for the Lower Basin of the Colorado River, specifically, California, Arizona, and Nevada.  On Wednesday, the Bureau of Reclamation released updated modeling projections of major reservoir levels within the Colorado River system that show that Lake Powell is likely to reach critically-low elevation as soon as next year, with Lake Mead possibly reaching a critical low elevation by 2025.

A complex web of agreements, laws, and treaties determine how a shortage will be distributed amongst the seven states and Mexico that share the Colorado River; as it so happens, this initial round of cutbacks does not include cuts to California, although those could come as soon as 2025.

With 25% of Southern California’s water supplies coming from the Colorado River, Metropolitan Water District remains engaged in the negotiations and an active partner in projects with stakeholders intended to keep Lake Mead from falling further into shortage conditions.  At the August meeting of Metropolitan’s Water Planning and Stewardship Committee meeting, Colorado River Manager Bill Hasencamp discussed the preparations for the upcoming negotiations.

Click here to read this article.

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

NOTICE: San Joaquin River Restoration Program Postpones Restart of Restoration Flows

FUNDING OPPORTUNITY: Release of DRAFT 2021 Guidelines/Proposal Solicitation Package (GLs/PSP) for the Urban and Multibenefit Drought Relief Grant Program

NOTICE: 2021-08: Notice of Imidacloprid Residue Detections in California Groundwater and the Pesticide Contamination Prevention Act (PCPA) Review

DELTA eNEWS: ~~ Science Survey~ Curtailment Information~ Ask Anything~ Invasive Species~~

ARMY CORPS REGULATORY PROGRAM WORKSHOP: Jurisdiction Pre-NWPR & Mitigation Banking Update

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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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