WEEKLY WATER NEWS DIGEST for Sept 19-24: Metropolitan prepares for the upcoming Colorado River negotiations; plus all the top California water news of the week

A wrap-up of posts published on Maven’s Notebook this week …

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This week’s featured articles …

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.


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

Written by Nate Seltenrich, Estuary News Group

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

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In California water news this week …

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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Californians falling far short on water conservation as drought worsens

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

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

How the San Francisco Giants are paving the way for water conservation in sports

Have you ever thought about how much water it takes to power one major sporting event? Think about all of those toilet flushes, those beers, the grass irrigation and the concession stands. That’s a ton of water. But one Major League Baseball team, the San Francisco Giants, has figured out how to cut that way back.  But it wasn’t by choice, per se. … “We knew this was a moment that would create change for our industry as well as the county and the state and everyone else,” said Greg Elliott, the director of operations for the San Francisco Giants. ...”  Read the full story at NBC Washington here: How one MLB team is paving the way for water conservation in sports

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

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

Amid drought, billionaires control a critical California water bank

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

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

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

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?

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

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

E. Joaquin Esquivel confirmed to second term on California’s State Water Board

The California State Senate has confirmed Chair E. Joaquin Esquivel for a second four-year term on the five-member State Water Resources Control Board, the California agency responsible for protecting the state’s water quality and water supplies.   Esquivel was first appointed to the State Water Board’s public seat by Governor Jerry Brown in March 2017, designated by Governor Gavin Newsom as its Chair in February 2019, and reappointed to a second term in July 2020. His Senate confirmation extends his tenure to January 15, 2025. ... ”

Click here to read the full press release.

Remote meetings under the Brown Act may continue

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

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

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

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

New CDFW research shows low severity wildfires improve biodiversity

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

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 this week …

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

Governor must integrate justice into state water policy

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

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

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

Disaster looms unless California confronts its water challenges

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

The true fish story: How farmers are helping salmon

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

In regional water news this week …

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

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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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

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

What’s the most sustainable way to manage the Ukiah Valley Basin’s groundwater? Get more data

A recently formed local agency tasked by the state with figuring out how to sustainably manage Ukiah Valley Basin’s groundwater for the next 20 years has come up with a draft sustainability plan.  To see a copy of the plan, click here. Anyone interested in finding out more about the plan and review process should attend an informational meeting from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday at Todd Grove Park at 600 Live Oak Ave. in Ukiah.  The draft Ukiah Valley Groundwater Sustainability Plan (Ukiah GSP), which is open for public comment until this Friday, Sept. 24, essentially states that currently available data is incomplete, and the agency will need to continue refining the document as more data are collected. ... ”  Read more from the Mendocino Voice here: What’s the most sustainable way to manage the Ukiah Valley Basin’s groundwater? Get more data

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

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

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

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

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 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

As drought gets worse, some wells will trigger environmental review in Stanislaus County

The courts ruled that Stanislaus County can’t simply give administrative approval for well permits, and the county is now working on policies to decide which well permits will require an environmental review. Amid a rush on well permits during the previous drought in 2014, the county was hit with a lawsuit from Protecting Our Water and Environmental Resources, challenging the county’s rubber-stamping of well applications. The county issued more than 500 new water well permits that year, many of them for farmers raising orchards in the eastern part of the county. It raised concerns that large industrial-sized wells for irrigation were sapping groundwater supplies. ... ”  Continue reading at the Modesto Bee here: As drought gets worse, some wells will trigger environmental review in Stanislaus County

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

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

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

California water agencies resolve Colorado River dispute

Two major California water agencies have settled a lawsuit that once threatened to derail a multi-state agreement to protect a river that serves millions of people in the U.S. West amid gripping drought.  The Imperial Irrigation District, the largest single recipient of Colorado River water, sued the Metropolitan Water District twice in the past two years. The agencies announced Monday they have reached a settlement that resolves both lawsuits.  Under the agreement, Imperial can store water in Lake Mead on the Arizona-Nevada border under Metropolitan’s account. Imperial will contribute water under a regional drought contingency plan if California is called on to help stave off further water cuts. … ”  Continue reading from the AP here: California water agencies resolve Colorado River dispute

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

Weekly features …

BLOG ROUND-UP: Agencies planning a disaster for CA salmon if 2022 is dry; Why is it so hard to be a California farmer?; The window dressing of environmental justice in Delta tunnel planning; and more …

Click here to read the blog round-up.

 

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Announcements, notices, and funding opportunities …

NOTICES AND ANNOUNCEMENTS

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

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

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

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

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

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

NEPA DOCS AVAILABLE: Trinity River Winter Flow Variability Project

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

FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES

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

FUNDING OPPORTUNITY: Reclamation announces funding opportunity for agricultural water conservation

FUNDING OPPORTUNITY: Stream Flow Enhancement Program – 2021 Proposal Solicitation Notice

FUNDING OPPORTUNITY: Reclamation announces funding opportunity for agricultural water conservation

OTHER PUBLICATIONS

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

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

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

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

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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