Fish barrier dam, Oroville.

DAILY DIGEST, weekend edition: The changing climate’s snowball effect; A ‘thirsty’ atmosphere is propelling NorCal’s drought into the record books; Restore the Delta resigns from Delta Conveyance Design & Construction Authority SEC; and more …

In California water news this weekend …

The changing climate’s snowball effect

It begins at the height of winter in the mountains, when the landscape is particularly inhospitable. The surveyors arrive on skis, snowshoes, and snowmobiles. Some fly in by helicopter. Others travel the backcountry for days. When they arrive at their destination, there’s critical information to collect: the depth of the snowpack and how much water it holds. For regions confronting the effects of climate change, more and more hinges on the results.  “It all boils down to how much water makes it down into the reservoir,” said Sean de Guzman, chief of snow surveys and water supply forecasting at the California Department of Water Resources. … ”  Continue reading from EOS here:  The changing climate’s snowball effect

A ‘thirsty’ atmosphere is propelling Northern California’s drought into the record books

Increasing evaporative demand is escalating summertime drought severity in California and the West, according to climate researchers.  Evaporative demand is essentially the atmosphere’s “thirst.” It is calculated based on temperature, humidity, wind speed and solar radiation. It’s the sum of evaporation and transpiration from plants, and it’s driven by warmer global temperatures, which can be attributed to climate change.  The meteorological summer of 2021 in the contiguous United States, which runs from June through August, tied the extreme heat of the Dust Bowl summer in 1936. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: A ‘thirsty’ atmosphere is propelling Northern California’s drought into the record books

Restore the Delta resigns from Delta Conveyance Design & Construction Authority SEC

Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta, today resigned from the Stakeholder Engagement Committee (SCE), for the Delta Conveyance Design and Construction Authority (DCDCA).  “When our good faith efforts produce no results and are met with resistance, Restore the Delta will shift and move into a new direction to ensure that the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary is protected and restored for future generations,” she said.  “We have, therefore, resigned from the Stakeholder Engagement Committee, for the Delta Conveyance Design and Construction Authority.  We simply could not move the Department of Water Resources to work on true problem solving for the estuary. … ”  Continue reading from Dan Bacher at the Daily Kos here:  Restore the Delta Resigns from Delta Conveyance Design & Construction Authority SEC

Video: California drought – is there a plan?

California is nicknamed “The Golden State.” More often however, it is brown due to scant rain and snowfall which reduces available water supplies.  Most Californians think of drought as an occasional problem that pops up and then goes away.  Research suggests that the past 100 years have been wetter and drought less common than before the Europeans arrived.  Droughts of 25 to 30 years were not uncommon and droughts lasting several hundred years have occurred.  Is California prepared for these longer droughts and even mega-droughts?  What is our state government doing to change our mindset and work on solutions other than water storage and overseeing groundwater use?  The answers are not clear nor are they positive.”  Watch video from Soundings Magazine here: Video: California drought – is there a plan?

Video: Extreme Drought Statewide

On KQED’s This Week in Politics:  “Nearly 90% of California is facing “extreme” or “exceptional” drought. Hundreds of wells are running dry and reservoir levels are well below historic averages, with no relief in sight. Water suppliers have warned that major cuts are likely for tens of millions of Californians. As Karla Nemeth, director of the state’s Department of Water Resources said, “The challenge is, there is no water.”  Guest: E. Joaquin Esquivel, California Water Resources Control Board chair.”  Watch the video from KQED here: Video: Extreme Drought Statewide

Gov. Gavin Newsom approves budget with $50 million for farmland repurposing in response to drought

As California experiences another severe drought, Gov. Gavin Newsom approved a budget in SB 170 today that dedicates $50 million for a new land repurposing program to help farmers reduce groundwater use while simultaneously creating new benefits for people and wildlife. … The $50 million in the state budget will create the Multibenefit Land Repurposing Program within the Department of Conservation to allow landowners to voluntarily put previously irrigated agricultural lands to work in new ways and ease the transition to sustainable groundwater management and water scarcity overall. … ”  Read more from the Environmental Defense Fund here: Gov. Gavin Newsom approves budget with $50 million for farmland repurposing in response to drought

Sen. Dodd’s water project bill signed by Governor

With much of the state in the grips of an extreme drought, Sen. Bill Dodd announced today his legislation to streamline improvements to the state’s outdated central water delivery system has been signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom.  “The drought has underscored the precious nature of our water supply and the need to maintain the flow to our communities and farmers,” Sen. Dodd said. “This new law will help us do that while saving time and money. I thank Gov. Newsom for seeing the value in this important measure.” … ”  Read more from Senator Dodd’s website here: Sen. Dodd’s water project bill signed by Governor

State sea-level rise laws advance as urgency surges

As sea levels creep ever higher, state efforts to address it are surging, with Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday signing the first of five ocean-related bills awaiting his consideration.  That bill, SB 1, formally adds rising seas to the list of issues to be addressed by the California Coastal Commission. It also creates a new entity to coordinate sea-adaptation efforts across multiple agencies, and it establishes a mechanism to provide up to $100 million a year in grants for local and regional governments to prepare for higher waters. … ”  Read more from the Daily News here: State sea-level rise laws advance as urgency surges

Northwestern storm to bring drought relief for some, fire danger for others

As wildfires rage and largely dry conditions continue across the West, residents and firefighters alike are anxiously waiting for Mother Nature to lend a helping hand as the wettest period of the year is right around the corner. Fortunately for some, relief is on the way, while for others, the danger will remain high. … AccuWeather meteorologists are watching for another round of wet weather expected to bring more rain, some mountain snow and cooler conditions to the Pacific Northwest late this weekend into early next week. … ”  Read more from AccuWeather here: Northwestern storm to bring drought relief for some, fire danger for others

How California’s history of prescribed burns helped firefighters defend Sequoia National Park

A history of prescribed fire and controlled burning in Sequoia National Park is paying off as an army of firefighters defend the world’s largest tree, General Sherman, and thousands of other giant sequoias from a raging California wildfire. … Firefighters have gone to extraordinary lengths to save the big trees, including wrapping General Sherman’s 37-foot-wide trunk in a fire-resistant wrap that brought national attention to the wildfire.  But the most successful measures to protect the sequoias, firefighters said, happened years before the KNP Complex sent crews from across the country scrambling to the slopes and ridges of California’s Sierra Nevada, the trees’ only natural habitat. … ”  Read more from USA Today here:  How California’s history of prescribed burns helped firefighters defend Sequoia National Park

Fires are lasting longer into the night, and researchers may have found out why

Firefighters in the western U.S. have noticed a disturbing trend in recent years: fires are intensifying earlier in the morning and burning longer into the night.  “Firefighters are still fighting the fire at 10:00 or 11:00 at night when historically they thought they could stop at 8:00,” said Brian Potter, a research meteorologist with the U.S. Forest Service at the Pacific Northwest Research Station. “What that means is the fire managers don’t get a break.”  Satellite data and ground reports indicate wildfire activity has increased at night in recent decades, meaning firefighters have less time to rest and regroup overnight.  … ”  Continue reading at the Washington Post here: Fires are lasting longer into the night, and researchers may have found out why

California moves on climate change, but rejects aggressive cuts to greenhouse emissions

As California trudges into another autumn marred by toxic wildfire smoke and drought-parched reservoirs, state lawmakers have cast climate change as a growing public health threat for the state’s 40 million residents.  But they were willing to push the argument only so far.  On Thursday, against the smoldering backdrop of Sequoia National Park, where the KNP Complex is burning uncontained, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a $15 billion legislative package that he described as an unprecedented investment by any state in climate resiliency. The legislation outlines significant new efforts to bolster wildfire prevention, expand clean water supplies, and build a network of community-level safeguards to protect people from episodes of extreme and potentially deadly heat. … Still, the Democratic-controlled Legislature stopped short of taking the momentous action that climate experts argue is central to the health of current and future generations ... ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  California moves on climate change, but rejects aggressive cuts to greenhouse emissions

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In people news this weekend …

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.

Santa Cruz County Water Resources Division names Sierra Ryan as manager

Santa Cruz native Sierra Ryan is taking the helm of the county Water Resources Division as it’s new manager — a role critical in protecting the region’s water quality, supply and sustainability.  “I’m excited about this role because I’m from here, I live here, my daughter’s here and I want to make sure the Santa Cruz she grows up in is as wonderful as the Santa Cruz I grew up in,” Ryan said.  Ryan hails from Live Oak, a place she said her family has had roots in since 1918. She left the Monterey Bay area to pursue an environmental studies degree at UC Santa Barbara, later earning a master’s in environmental sustainability at the University of Edinburgh.  “It was not a surprise, to anybody who knew me that that was the field I was going into,” Ryan said. … ”  Continue reading from the Santa Cruz Sentinel here: Santa Cruz County Water Resources Division names Sierra Ryan as manager

Alumna shares journey to becoming highest-ranking Latina engineer at LADWP

When Evelyn Cortez-Davis ’92 was 12 years old, she and her family fled El Salvador, traveling through Guatemala and Mexico to reach Los Angeles.  As her home country was being ravaged by civil war, Cortez-Davis, with her three sisters and her mom, made the treacherous journey familiar to many undocumented immigrants who had to flee their homeland for a chance of a better life.  Cortez-Davis has come a long way from being an undocumented child constantly looking over her shoulder. She is now a licensed professional engineer in California and recognized as a board-certified environmental engineer by the American Association of Environmental Engineers and Scientists. She is also the first Latina and second woman to be appointed director of water engineering and technical services at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) — making her the highest-ranking Latina engineer at the largest municipal utility in the U.S. … ”  Continue reading at UCLA Samueli School of Engineering here: Alumna shares journey to becoming highest-ranking Latina engineer at LADWP

Delta ISB votes Dr. Lisa Wainger as Chair-elect

At its September 16, 2021 meeting, the Delta Independent Science Board voted Dr. Lisa Wainger from its existing membership as chair-elect. This position has been vacant since May 2020. Dr. Wainger’s chair-elect duties begin immediately.  She will assume chair duties in September 2022. In addition to serving on the Delta ISB since September 2020, Dr. Wainger is also a research professor at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science where she focuses on the optimal design of environmental restoration investments using a suite of ecological and economic models to evaluate costs, benefits, and risks and to identify incentive changes that could motivate action. … ”  Continue reading this press release from the Delta Stewardship Council here: Delta ISB votes Dr. Lisa Wainger as Chair-elect

Remembering Joe Burns, Founder of MBK Engineers

Gilbert Cosio, Jr., P.E. writes, “As a young, newly graduated, engineer working in San Francisco for the largest engineering and construction company in the world, it did not take me long to recognize that my first job out of college would not last very long; a big corporation was not for me. When I left that job and returned to school to start a graduate program, I was looking for a student assistant job and a professor recommended I contact Murray, Burns & Kienlen (now MBK Engineers). I started at MBK in January 1984, and I assumed the job would be a steppingstone to my next career move. However, from day 1, the family atmosphere created by Joe Burns and Don Kienlen had me convinced that MBK was the company I was built for. I had no idea that a company built with a foundation of grace and devotion to its employees and clients even existed, but that’s what I found at MBK, and Joe Burns was the key figure that would shape the remainder of my career. ... ”  Continue reading at NorCal Water here: Remembering Joe Burns, Founder of MBK Engineers

Qatium welcomes three new experts to its advisory board

Qatium is pleased to welcome international water experts Newsha Ajami, Jeffrey Kightlinger and Paul Fleming to its advisory board.  Qatium’s advisory board – composed of policy, technology and business leaders – is focused on steering and accelerating the digital transformation of the water industry.  Having joined the board earlier this year, Dr. Newsha Ajami is the Director of Urban Water Policy at Stanford University and a leading expert in sustainable water resource management. … Joining Dr. Newsha Ajami on Qatium’s advisory board is Jeffrey Kightlinger. Kightlinger is the former General Manager of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, the United States’ largest municipal water provider. … ”  Continue reading from Qatium here:  Qatium welcomes three new experts to its advisory board

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Podcasts …

JIVE TALKING PODCAST: Lois Henry reports on California’s agricultural water

Lois Henry has been a journalist in the San Joaquin Valley for more than 30 years working at the Fresno Bee and The Bakersfield Californian. Over the years, she covered the aerospace and oil industries as well as city, county and state government. She left newspapering in 2017 and started an online publication called SJV Water that focuses exclusively on water in the SAn Joaquin Valley. She is married and lives in Bakersfield with four dogs and two cats.  SJV Water can be accessed at www.sjvwater.org 

WATER LOOP PODCAST: The Opportunity On Water with Nicole Lampe

For decades, advocates and activists have worked relentlessly to elevate water issues and drive policy changes and government funding. Now it seems water has risen to be a top priority, in large part because of those years of advocacy, crumbling water infrastructure, high-profile crises such as Flint, and the impacts of climate change like drought, flooding, and storms. The opportunity on water has arrived, as discussed in this episode with Nicole Lampe, Managing Director of the Water Hub. Nicole talks about a report on how to meet this moment for water, which features results of public polling and recommendations for policymakers, funders, and advocates.

WATER IS A MANY SPLENDOR’ED THING PODCAST: Heating with Geothermal Water

Steven Baker writes, “Can you imagine the satisfaction that you would have if your home and business heating bills totally went away? The natural heat of the earth’s interior can be a source of clean, renewable energy. Water is a Many Splendor’ed Thing brings you another water relationship that has a personally significant impact to your life.”  Produced by Steven Baker, Operation Unite® Bringing People Together to Solve Water Problems, Online at www.operationunite.co

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In regional water news this weekend …

Klamath: Banking on water that never came

Nestled below rocky outcroppings dotted with junipers on the eastern shore of old Tule Lake, John Prosser’s 97-acre homestead at Bloody Point is a haven amidst the chaos of the Klamath Basin water crisis.  Prosser, a history buff, purchased the property last fall, its fields having sat largely fallow for years despite the presence of a private irrigation well. By August, the field’s newly planted stand of alfalfa was busy rebounding after its first cutting — a rare sight of green in the Klamath Project this year. … ”  Read more from the Herald & News here: Banking on water that never came

Group hoping to take over Potter Valley Project denied more time

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Thursday denied a request for a pause in the process of re-licensing the Potter Valley Project, which is a hydroelectric plant in Mendocino County that diverts water from the Eel River and into the Russian River via Lake Mendocino.  “The Two Basin Partners have worked diligently to find common ground and resources to pursue a revitalized Potter Valley Project – but we always knew that this would be a major challenge,” Rep. Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) is quoted as saying in a press release. (Thursday’s) ruling by FERC is just a new chapter in seeking a Two Basin Solution. This partnership and the stakeholders in the Eel and Russian river basins are strong and ready to take on a new challenge.” … ”  Read more from the Ukiah Daily Journal here: Group hoping to take over Potter Valley Project denied more time

State drought “hasn’t affected” salmon spawns in Feather River ahead of Salmon Festival

Water’s running low at Lake Oroville, but the salmon downstream are moving along swimmingly ahead of Oroville’s annual Salmon Festival.  It’s because water from the lake continues to be released into the Feather River. As of Friday, the Department of Water Resources is releasing over 1,500 cubic feet per second from the Oroville Dam downstream, a much smaller amount compared to its 2021 peak of nearly 6,630 cubic feet per second in late June. ... ”  Read more from KRCR here: State drought “hasn’t affected” salmon spawns in Feather River ahead of Salmon Festival

Salmon Festival focuses on community and fish

For many Butte County residents, the Salmon Festival is a chance to enjoy local vendors and activities. For others, the festival is an opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the salmon and wildlife culture in the Feather River.  To kick off the festival, the Maidu Konkow Valley Band from the North Fork of the Feather River performed a series of opening ceremony dances.  Wallace Clark, a member of the Maidu and a “noponi,” the carrier of traditions, helped host and lead the opening ceremony alongside the traditional dancers.  “We’ve been celebrating the salmon for thousands of years, where all different people could come and enjoy the salmon feed,” Clark said. “Throughout the decades that has incorporated into a larger base with the Salmon Festival.” … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here: Salmon Festival focuses on community and fish

Workshops on tap for Tahoe Keys aquatic weeds control, proposed methods testing

The Tahoe Keys Property Owners Association and its partners are hosting the first in a series of in-person workshops to discuss potential solutions to the spread of aquatic weeds that threaten all of Lake Tahoe.  A proposed permit for an aquatic weeds control methods test (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) is currently under consideration before the Lahontan Water Board.  The Control Methods Test application proposes the stand-alone and combined use of various approaches including targeted herbicides and UV-C light to reduce and control the abundant growth of invasive and nuisance aquatic weeds. … ”  Read more from the Tahoe Daily Tribune here: Workshops on tap for Tahoe Keys aquatic weeds control, proposed methods testing

Consolidation improves water reliability and drought resilience for Placer County community

In an effort to improve water reliability and drought resilience, Placer County Water Agency (PCWA) recently completed a consolidation project with the Castle City Mobile Home Park in Newcastle with funding assistance from the State Water Resources Control Board. The consolidation connects all 282 residents of Castle City to PCWAs Foothill Water Treatment Plant, allowing the mobile home park to decommission its private water treatment plant that has been in operation since the 1960s. Castle City originally approached PCWA about consolidation roughly six years ago as its system was nearing the end of its life. “What was evident back then was that our system could not be relied upon to meet the longterm needs of the community,” said Castle City Manager Tim Belarde. … ”  Read more from the State Water Board here:  Consolidation improves water reliability and drought resilience for Placer County community

Marin County officials to crack down on water wasters amid drought

Marin County is hoping some pain in the pocketbook will help motivate big water users to cut back.  Currently, Marin County residents are being urged to conserve water wherever they can.  …  The Marin Municipal Water District has watering restrictions in place.  “We are requesting various residents only irrigate once a week and we do have patrols of employees looking for water wasting,” said Marin Water Board Of Directors vice president Larry Russell. …  ”  Read more from NBC Bay Area here: Marin County officials to crack down on water wasters amid drought 

Bay Area high school rescues 4,000 endangered salmon from the drought – they’ll grow up on campus

During fifth period at Petaluma’s Casa Grande High School last week, students scooped tiny, wriggling fish out of a tank.  They weren’t dealing with classroom pets. Instead, the 17-year-olds were taking care of some the state’s last remaining coho salmon at a fish hatchery right on the school’s campus. Last month, wildlife officials moved around 4,000 endangered coho to the school’s cool, indoor tanks after conditions at a hatchery in nearby Lake Sonoma became unhealthy because of the drought. The high school will receive an additional 650 endangered coho trucked in from Santa Cruz in the coming weeks. … ”  Continue reading at the San Francisco Chronicle here: Bay Area high school rescues 4,000 endangered salmon from the drought – they’ll grow up on campus

East Bay commentary:  State’s small farms need our support now more than ever

Debra Morris, promotions coordinator for the Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association, writes, “Farming has always depended varying weather patterns. With a water shortage and fear of wildfires, farming has become an even riskier occupation in California. These circumstances are beyond their control, and small farmers are having an especially tough time because they don’t have the many resources available to them that larger farms do.  As the drought continues to worsen, many water-use limitations and regulations will be enforced on all California residents and businesses — including mandatory water restrictions. Some restrictions have already been enacted, leaving farmers unable to pull water from streams and rivers. This crippling drought has endangered the livelihoods of almost 78,000 small farmers in California, according to American Farm Bureau statistics. … ”  Read more from the East Bay Times here: East Bay:  State’s small farms need our support now more than ever

Dam demolition in Santa Cruz Mountains benefits endangered salmon

The removal of a century-old dam in Santa Cruz County will now benefit endangered fish by supplying a habitat for them to spawn.  The demolition of the Mill Creek Dam opens a door that’s been closed for more than 100 years to endangered fish, like Coho Salmon to spawn upstream.  Heavy equipment was brought in this week to remove the Mill Creek Dam.  “The dam would have been spanning the creek right down over there. So, we were able to pull the sediment from behind the dam bring it up and shift it around so the creek could flow unimpeded,” said Sempervirens Fund Land Steward Manager Ian Rowbotham.  … ”  Read more from KSBY here: Dam demolition in Santa Cruz Mountains benefits endangered salmon

Monterey Peninsula water officials OK costs for repeated studies

The Monterey Peninsula water district will be spending more than $400,000 to repeat analyses required by an intergovernmental board before it can move ahead with acquiring the assets of California American Water Co.  Monday’s unanimous vote by the board of directors of the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District allocated $428,000 for fees for studies that the Local Agency Formation Commission, or LAFCO, effectively ordered that will analyze the district’s ability to deliver water as well as having the financial wherewithal to buy out Cal Am. … ”  Read more from the Monterey Herald here: Monterey Peninsula water officials OK costs for repeated studies

Stanislaus County commentary: Solutions to fire and drought in Stanislaus County and our Valley

Congressman Josh Harder writes, “The Central Valley is a special place to live. Friday night football games. Hiking in world-famous parks. The best food anywhere in the world, grown just next door. But right now, so much of what makes our Valley great is in jeopardy, and all you have to do is walk outside and take a breath to feel it. These massive wildfires and the smoke they create mixed with the terrible drought we’re in right now means everything from football to hiking to planting a year’s worth of crops is teetering on the edge of impossible. … ”  Continue reading at the Modesto bee here: Stanislaus County commentary: Solutions to fire and drought in Stanislaus County and our Valley

Hyperion sewage cleanup, repairs complete, officials say; El Segundo residents say odors remain

The equipment and operations cleanup and repairs at the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant is complete, after flooding from a debris backup over the summer caused a 17-million-gallon sewage spill into the Santa Monica Bay, Los Angeles Sanitation & Environment officials said this week.  But despite that, El Segundo residents and city officials remain frustrated — as evidenced by a community forum on Thursday, Sept. 23 — by what they say are delays in a reimbursement program and a lingering smell that has worsened their quality of life. LA Sanitation officials said they take those concerns seriously.  “Things are still not good,” El Segundo Councilman Scot Nicol said during the forum. “The smells are still here; the incident’s not over.” … ”  Read more from the Long Beach Press-Telegram here: Hyperion sewage cleanup, repairs complete, officials say; El Segundo residents say odors remain

San Diego: Water fights

If you haven’t read MacKenzie Elmer’s piece about steep water rate increases projected by the San Diego County Water Authority, we recommend you correct that. … In the piece, Elmer took us through how because we’re using less water we will have to pay more. In short, the Water Authority borrowed a lot of money to build things and invest in sources of water that has helped us be more than prepared for the current drought. But we must pay all those people who loaned us money back and no matter how little water we use, their bills don’t change.  The Water Authority projected steep increases year-over-year in what it charges cities and water districts in the region. Those don’t necessarily translate into increases for water rates that regular people pay but, c’mon, obviously they will. … ”  Read more from the Voice of San Diego here: San Diego: Water fights

Higher water costs on the horizon for San Diego Region

San Diego County residents should expect to pay a lot more for water in the near future.  The San Diego County Water Authority, which controls most of the region’s water resources from the drought-stressed Colorado River, is predicting anywhere from a 5.5 to 10 percent increase in the cost of water beginning in 2023, with hefty hikes continuing in the years thereafter.  The agency pointed to multiple drivers, chief among them an expected drop in demand as more cities build water recycling projects and the Los Angeles-based Metropolitan Water Authority, which controls San Diego’s access to the Colorado River, continues raising its rates.  But that’s only part of the story. … ”  Continue reading from the Voice of San Diego here: Higher water costs on the horizon for San Diego Region

Along the Colorado River …

Lake Powell could stop producing hydropower in 2023 due to worsening drought

Dwindling water levels at Lake Powell could make it impossible for its dam to generate hydropower in 2023, according to new projections from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.  Lake Powell, the second-largest human-made reservoir in the United States, stretches from northern Arizona into southern Utah on the Colorado River. With severe heat and persistent drought sapping the river, water levels at Lake Powell fell to 3,554 feet this summer, the lowest level on record. If trends continue, there is a 34 percent chance that, in 2023, water levels could dip below 3,490 feet, the minimum needed to produce hydropower at the Glen Canyon Dam, the bureau said. The dam supplies power to 5.8 million customers. … ”  Read more from Yale E360 here: Lake Powell could stop producing hydropower in 2023 due to worsening drought

Sports betting raking in millions more than expected for Colorado water projects

Since Colorado launched legalized sports betting in May 2020, the state has collected nearly five times more money for water projects than anticipated, gaming officials said.  The start of the National Football League’s season provided yet another welcome financial bump, with about $44 million in bets during its first weekend (Sept. 9-13), according to Daniel Hartman, director of the state’s Division of Gaming.  “Football is going full bore. It was a big opening for us,” Hartman said. “It really is the biggest market for sports betting.” … ”  Read more from the Denver Post here: Sports betting raking in millions more than expected for Colorado water projects

Commentary: The West urgently needs federal funds to address drought, wildfire, and climate change

Karyn Stockdale, Audubon’s Western Water Initiative Senior Director, writes, “As Congress considers several major pieces of legislation to address urgent needs in the United States, Audubon’s Western Water team is keeping a close eye on funds to address the unprecedented drought emergency in the West. Congress should use all available options to invest in immediate and long-term solutions to mitigate current disasters and enhance the climate resilience of states affected by historic drought conditions. …  Currently, Congress is working to pass several important funding bills that will significantly improve our waterways and wetlands in the West—for people and birds.  Specifically, as Congress considers funding packages, Audubon is supporting the following priorities and projects that give federal agencies critically needed resources … ”  Read more from Audubon here:  The West urgently needs federal funds to address drought, wildfire, and climate change

In national water news this weekend …

Catching up on the 2021 Clean Water Act releases

The latest season of Clean Water Act (CWA) changes are now streaming from the courts and federal agencies. The Biden administration and lower courts have picked up where prior administrations and the U.S. Supreme Court left off, as we reported last year in Binge-Watching the Clean Water Act Cases and Rules. Unless Congress somehow finds bipartisan support for legislative fixes, we expect contentious CWA rulemaking proceedings to resume and protracted CWA litigation to prosper. These actions constrain land developers, utilities and companies on projects or operations that impact wetlands or other water features. These decisions might also give environmental groups and agencies stronger grounds on which to base CWA claims targeting sewers, pipelines, tanks, and other systems that leak or seep wastes into groundwater. ... ”  Read more from the National Law Review here: Catching up on the 2021 Clean Water Act releases

U.S. eyes wetland restoration as hedge against climate change

“Americans have been draining wetlands for farming and development since Colonial times.  But climate change may reverse that tide — from destruction to restoration.  Federal scientists are studying whether heat-trapping carbon dioxide can be sucked out of the atmosphere and sequestered in restored salt marshes, sea grass beds and mangrove swamps. And those wetlands can in turn protect communities along the coast from rising seas and fierce, frequent climate-driven storms.  “The concept that’s forming is that what we need to do is massive-scale ecosystem restoration as soon as possible to begin absorbing as much carbon dioxide as we can and diminish the amount of overshoot that we have in atmospheric greenhouse gases this century,” said Kevin Kroeger, a research chemist at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center. … ”  Read more from E&E News here: U.S. eyes wetland restoration as hedge against climate change

Build back wiser: Stanford engineer highlights the need for digitized, versatile, distributed and inclusive infrastructure systems

Congress will soon vote on the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. It will invest 550 billion dollars to repair the transportation, water, and energy systems.  But it represents only a fraction of the $2.5 trillion investment we need, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers. In a recent editorial for the journal Science, Meagan Mauter outlines a way to bridge this gap by investing in digitized, versatile, distributed and inclusive infrastructure systems. Below, Mauter explains this approach, and how it can lead to more efficiency, expanded services and lower costs. … ”  Read more from Stanford News here: Build back wiser: Stanford engineer highlights the need for digitized, versatile, distributed and inclusive infrastructure systems

Also on Maven’s Notebook this weekend …

UPDATE on curtailment status of water rights and claims in the Delta watershed

CV-SALTS UPDATE: Nitrate program growth and critical salt program deadline

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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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