DAILY DIGEST, 9/30: How much rain to get CA out of drought?; Drought expected to persist in 2022; Critical groundwater supplies may never recover from drought; Butte County supervisors back new water district; and more …


On the calendar today …

  • WEBINAR: Wildfire: Weather, Water, Weeds, Wildlife, Day 2 from 9am to 12pm.  Day 2 will focus on the interplay between fire and ecosystems. In Panel 1, experts will discuss how plant communities in forests and shrublands respond to wildfire, including the interplay with invasive weeds. Panel 2 focuses on how habitats and wildlife interact with fire, and how we can support recovery.  Click here to register.
  • WEBINAR: Groundwater and Urban Growth in the San Joaquin Valley from 11am to 12pm.  The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) will help the San Joaquin Valley address groundwater overdraft while also building its climate resilience. This will require hard work, not only by farmers—the largest groundwater users—but also by the valley’s urban water utilities. Join the PPIC Water Policy Center and state and local experts for a panel discussion about how to ensure a smooth transition for the region’s residents.  Click here to register.
  • WORKSHOP: Drinking Water For Schools Round 2 Grant Program from 11am to 12pm.  The workshop will provide information about the program, the application process, availability of technical assistance, and an opportunity to ask questions.  All potential applicants are encouraged to attend.  Click here to register.
  • WEBINAR: After the Fire: Rebuilding Organizational Capacity and Reflection on 20 years of Community Water Monitoring in the Sierra Foothills from 12pm to 1pm.  Jeff Lauder is the new Executive Director for the Sierra Streams Institute (SSI). He is a forest ecologist, with a focus on drought, tree physiology, tree carbon use, and disturbance ecology. Jeff will share both data-driven approaches to understanding climate-change impacts on the Deer Creek watershed and how recovery from large organizational impacts allowed them to assess organizational efficiency and community investment in a citizen science program.  Click here to register.
  • EVENT: MWDOC Water Policy Forum & Dinner from 5:30pm to 8:00pm in Costa Mesa.  The speaker is Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s (Metropolitan) new General Manager and Chief Executive Officer, Adel Hagekhalil. Will Metropolitan continue investing in imported water or pivot to water reuse and invest in the infrastructure needed to support it? And what role will water providers across the Southland play in support of Metropolitan’s new direction?  Mr. Hagekhalil will speak about what he has planned for the nation’s largest wholesale water agency as he takes the reins as the new General Manager.  Click here to register.

In California water news today …

This is how much rain California needs to get out of the drought

With California starved for water amid dire drought conditions, there’s a lot of hope that the upcoming winter will deliver plentiful rain and snow.  But exactly how much precipitation is needed to pull the state out of a drought?  The California Department of Water Resources, the state agency that manages drought response, has answered that question with a model from the U.S. Geological Survey. It utilizes historical climate data from 1896 to 2010 and an ensemble of 18 future climate projections to develop hydrologic output such as snowpack, recharge, runoff and climatic water deficit.  “We are going into [winter] with depleted storage in many reservoirs and very dry antecedent conditions,” said Jeanine Jones, who is leading the state’s drought effort as the interstate resources manager for the California Department of Water Resources. “One interesting factoid is that using something called the USGS Basic Characterization Model, we’re anticipating it would take 140% of average precipitation to get to average state runoff.” … ”  Continue reading at SF Gate here: This is how much rain California needs to get out of the drought

Drought expected to persist in much of the Western US for 2022 and beyond, according to NOAA report

The thirst for water in the Western U.S. will likely not be quenched in the near future.  Drought conditions are expected to persist in the West, which is already amid a decades-long megadrought, through 2022 and beyond, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s drought outlook.  The drought will remain the worst from California to the Northern Plains, according to the report. ... ”  Continue reading at ABC News here: Drought expected to persist in much of the Western US for 2022 and beyond, according to NOAA report

AccuWeather’s 2021-2022 US winter forecast

Last winter was one that will not soon be forgotten, especially in the central U.S. where a snowstorm followed by extremely cold air left millions in the dark across Texas. Just days later, 73.2% of the country measured snow on the ground, the highest percentage since record-keeping on that metric began in 2003. Additionally, Denver experienced its snowiest winter in 37 years.  AccuWeather’s team of long-range forecasters, led by Senior Meteorologist Paul Pastelok, has made its annual prediction for the upcoming winter season, giving people all across the country time to prepare for what is expected to be a busy winter from coast to coast. AccuWeather is predicting some similarities this year compared to last winter due to a weather phenomenon known as La Niña. … ”  Read more from AccuWeather here: AccuWeather’s 2021-2022 US winter forecast

PHOTOS: 1st snow of the season falls at California’s Mammoth Mountain

Probably nothing could make ski resort operators happier than the first snow of the season.  And so, the folks up at Mammoth Mountain are thrilled, showing off photos of the light dusting of snow that fell this week. They are about two months away from their resort opening officially on Nov. 13. … ”  Read more/look at photos from KTVU here (and prepare to be underwhelmed): PHOTOS: 1st snow of the season falls at California’s Mammoth Mountain

Critical groundwater supplies may never recover from drought

Along with hurricanes and wildfires, there’s another important, but seldom-discussed effect of climate change — toxic water and sinking land made worse by groundwater drought. Water from snow and rain seeps deep into the ground between layers of soil and accumulates in sponge-like underground bathtubs, called aquifers. Farmers rely heavily on this groundwater to irrigate their crops when they can’t get enough water from surface water sources.  Roughly 85 percent of Californians also rely on groundwater for some portion of their water supply. Worldwide, an estimated two billion people depend on it. However, excessive groundwater use combined with droughts has caused land surface to sink, damaging critical infrastructure including roads, buildings, and sewage and water pipes.  New UC Riverside research shows groundwater takes an average of three years to recover from drought — if it ever recovers at all. In the largest study of its kind, scientists found that this recovery time only applies to aquifers that aren’t touched by human activity, and the recovery time might be even longer in regions with excessive pumping. … ”  Read more from UC Riverside here: Critical groundwater supplies may never recover from drought

California returns to pre-European era for 21st century water storage

As California handles a record drought and a record budget surplus, the state is adding no new money to proposals for surface water storage projects. The latest budget deal instead targets nearly $1 billion for nature-based solutions included in a water and drought resilience package.  Within this allocation, a pot of cash will be available for strategic flooding to recharge groundwater aquifers — a cheaper, slightly quicker alternative to surface water storage. California’s water leaders are touting it as a way to create climate resiliency while returning the system to a time before Europeans arrived and honoring the state’s tribal heritage.  … ”  Continue reading at Agri-Pulse here: California returns to pre-European era for 21st century water storage

Balancing birds, water and farms in California’s agricultural heartland

Snow geese in rice fields; Photo by Bruce Barnett/Flickr

Meghan Hertel, Director of Land and Water Conservation for Audubon California, writes, “This is the time of year when I find myself looking at the sky, pausing on my evening walk, and listening for the first signs of fall waterbird migration. For me, the echoing call of the Sandhill Cranes or the noisy honking of a flock of Snow Geese flying over my Sacramento home signals the start of waterbird migration season. It is a moment that I look forward to each year.  This year though, those cranes, geese and the millions of waterbirds that have followed the same pathway for thousands of years, are finding a stark landscape in the Central Valley, which stretches nearly 450 miles up California’s middle and hosts some of the nation’s richest farmland. With the vast majority of the state in “extreme” or “exceptional” drought, the habitat that these birds rely on in the Central Valley – our last remaining wetlands and the surrogate habitat created in agricultural fields like rice and alfalfa – have seen major cutbacks in water. … ”  Continue reading at Audubon here: Balancing birds, water and farms in California’s agricultural heartland

Foreign Hand: The US has long been purchasing farmland abroad. Now that questionable practice has come home to roost.

Stephen Urrutia used to grow hay and corn on his family’s 166-acre farm just outside of Chowchilla, in California’s Central Valley. His father Leon, who was born in nearby Los Banos and was an active member of the local Basque community, bought the land in 1980. For decades, the family sold their products to local buyers — mainly small dairy farmers purchasing feed for their animals.  But in 2005, seeking funding to expand his landholdings elsewhere, he sold the land — to an Indian company called Farmers International. The company replaced Urrutia’s crops with almonds — a water intensive cash crop that has since exploded in production in the Central Valley — and started exporting them to India, already one of world’s top buyers of US almonds.  Foreign companies like Farmers International have been increasingly looking to the US to buy up farmland, often taking advantage of states’ lax regulations to invest in high-value crops like almonds and alfalfa and export them to places with limited water or land. … ”  Continue reading at Earth Island Journal here:  Foreign Hand: The US has long been purchasing farmland abroad. Now that questionable practice has come home to roost.

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 PhysOrg here: Groundwater markets could promote solutions to the West’s water woes

Temporary power generators now online to support California’s electricity grid

Four temporary mobile emergency power generating units totaling 120 megawatts (MW) deployed by the Department of Water Resources (DWR) are online and ready to support California’s energy grid in times of extreme stress on the grid.  Two units each have been temporarily installed at two sites in Northern California: Greenleaf Unit 1, operated by Calpine in Yuba City, and the Roseville Energy Park, operated by Roseville Electric. Each unit can produce up to 30 MW of power, totaling 60 MW of power at each site. The units run on natural gas but can run on a blend of up to 75 percent hydrogen. … ”  Read more from DWR News here: Temporary power generators now online to support California’s electricity grid

FLOATing Away – Testing for links between fall outflow and Delta Smelt – A play in three acts

It was a dark and stormy night. Actually, it wasn’t stormy, which was the problem. The curtain rises on the intrepid scientists of the Interagency Ecological Program (IEP) in 2016 as California’s drought continues. They are wrestling with a critical question: Is high fall outflow the key to improving habitat conditions for Delta Smelt and benefiting the population? Scientists and resource managers in the San Francisco Estuary are desperately trying to save the endangered Delta Smelt, but the best research to date had resulted in “It’s complicated” (Sommer et al. 2007). However, many studies pointed to high Delta outflow (freshwater flowing out of the estuary) was an important part of the story (IEP-MAST et al. 2015; Thomson et al. 2010). Delta Smelt had positive population growth rates only twice since 2002, and both years had high flows.  Enter from stage left, our heroes … ”  Read more from the IEP here: FLOATing Away – Testing for links between fall outflow and Delta Smelt – A play in three acts

Budget funding for fish, water, & people

The California Legislature released the final budget language late on the Sunday of Labor Day weekend. CalTrout remains critical of the unnecessary delay in releasing critical budget items like emergency drought funding, wildfire relief, and climate resilience packages. As water curtailment orders go live throughout the state, the legislature is still waiting to officially approve these critical funding packages to combat the effects of climate during this year’s especially dry drought conditions.  Despite these real and unavoidable consequences of a slow legislative process, CalTrout remains optimistic as state government is poised to inject over $8.8 billion in drought preparedness, climate resilience, and fire preparedness funding. … ”  Continue reading from CalTrout here: Budget funding for fish, water, & people

Why are there so many fires, and other common California wildfire questions

Wildfires have become larger, more frequent, more severe, and more destructive to human life and property in many ecosystems in California in recent decades. If you’ve lived in California for a while, it might feel like this has suddenly become one of the biggest problems facing the state, and perhaps even a reason to leave. As fire ecologists, we are often asked about the causes and consequences of the challenges we face with fire, and below we answer some common questions.  Q: Why is there so much wildfire in California today? … “  Continue reading at Bay Nature here: Why are there so many fires, and other common California wildfire questions

Southern Sierra wildfires wiping out giant sequoia trees for 2nd year in a row

More than a dozen groves of giant sequoias may lose significant numbers of trees in the wildfires now raging in the southern Sierra Nevada, even as fire crews succeed, sometimes dramatically, in keeping flames at bay in the most popular stands.  Scientists surveying the damage of two active fires say the biggest losses will likely be at the south end of Giant Sequoia National Monument, where already 29 large trees have been listed as dead and many more are expected to follow. … ”  Continue reading at the San Francisco Chronicle here: Southern Sierra wildfires wiping out giant sequoia trees for 2nd year in a row

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In commentary today …

Ensuring water supplies for the San Joaquin Valley’s cities requires cooperation

Ellen Hanak and Andrew Ayres with the PPIC write, “Communities around the state — and particularly in the San Joaquin Valley — are feeling the pain from groundwater overpumping, including drying wells, land subsidence, and struggling ecosystems. The 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) will change that by requiring water users bring their groundwater basins into balance by the early 2040s.  Stewarding the state’s aquifers will bring numerous benefits, particularly as the climate changes — but it will also force hard choices. While many have focused on transition challenges for San Joaquin Valley agriculture — the region’s largest industry and largest groundwater user — it’s also important to evaluate how SGMA will impact the valley’s urban areas, another engine of growth, where most residents live. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here: Ensuring water supplies for the San Joaquin Valley’s cities requires cooperation

Water is worth fighting over — but the Fresno City Council should give up this dispute

Tad Weber, opinion editor of The Fresno Bee, writes, “The headline on The Bee’s story was direct but wonky, and did not hint at the real drama that lay ahead: “Fresno City Council votes to sue water agency over costs to repair Friant-Kern Canal.”  Ostensibly, city leaders said they were looking out for Fresno residents by refusing to pony up about $2.5 million to the Friant Water Authority to help fix a section of the canal between Porterville and Delano.  Why, city fathers asked, should Fresnans have to pay to fix a section of canal that does not benefit them? Rather, that stretch of waterway helps farmers in Tulare County.  How can that be fair, they asked.  But beneath the headline and quotes lies the deeper story, and now the City Council on Thursday may reconsider its initial decision to file the lawsuit. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here: Water is worth fighting over — but the Fresno City Council should give up this dispute

Vulnerable Californians could lose power when utility protections expire. Will leaders act?

Carmelita Miller, senior director of climate equity at The Greenlining Institute, writes, “On Thursday, hundreds of thousands of Californians could have their power shut off.  Critical moratoriums on rental evictions and utility debt shut-offs will end if the state does nothing. Despite the significant steps taken by the governor, Legislature and California Public Utilities Commission in response to the pandemic, we are once again facing a wave of shut-offs that will disproportionately harm communities of color at the height of wildfire season. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: Vulnerable Californians could lose power when utility protections expire. Will leaders act?

Essay: The window dressing of environmental justice in the state’s Delta tunnel planning

Tim Stroshane, policy analyst for Restore the Delta, writes, “If the California Department of Water Resources says it, it must be official: “Most of the Delta qualifies as an environmental justice community,” said DWR environmental program manager Carrie Buckman at a recent Delta Conveyance Project Environmental Justice webinar. It was a welcome statement of a fact that Restore the Delta documented five years ago.   The event was sponsored by the DWR and was the last of four such webinars this summer. More than 100 people attended mid-program, and there were still about 75 by the start of the Q&A portion of the agenda ninety minutes in.  It was clear from the webinar that DWR intended to limit the scope of environmental justice (EJ) analysis of the Delta Conveyance Project (the ‘Tunnel’) as narrowly as it possibly can, and that this Spring’s environmental justice report and upcoming EJ chapter in the Tunnel environmental impact report (EIR) next year will strive for as much decoration of the Tunnel and as little substance as possible about its impacts on Delta EJ communities. … ”  Continue reading at the Sacramento News & Review here: Essay: The window dressing of environmental justice in the state’s Delta tunnel planning

System forces taxpayers to subsidize industry’s environmental destruction

Barry Phegan, author of “Conflict, Meetings, and Difficult People,” writes, “As taxpayers, we are subsidizing corporate polluters to destroy the environment, then we pay them again to patch it up. It’s insane.  Governments use subsidies to encourage certain industries. These incentives include cash grants, interest-free loans, tax breaks or insurance. There’s another less obvious subsidy when a company is allowed to pass production costs to others. Economists call this “externalizing costs.” This subsidy encourages planetary destruction.  Here is an example … ”  Continue reading at the Marin Independent Journal here: System forces taxpayers to subsidize industry’s environmental destruction

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In regional water news and commentary today …

Bootleg Fire cleanup ongoing, faced with challenges

Cleanup following this summer’s devastating Bootleg Fire is ongoing in Klamath and Lake Counties, and its a race against the clock until winter arrives in the more remote parts of the region.  “Doesn’t sound like FEMA is going to be helping on this one. We don’t want to leave people high and dry, so we started the volunteer clean up up there,” said Marc Brooks, founder of the volunteer-led non-profit Cascade Relief Team. … ”  Read more from Channel 10 here: Bootleg Fire cleanup ongoing, faced with challenges

‘A Moment of Opportunity’: With two watersheds in crisis, a federal ruling sends a partnership back to the drawing board. Some think it’s for the best.

A multi-county, regional coalition of organizations bidding to take over Pacific Gas and Electric Co.’s Potter Valley Project didn’t get what it was asking for, but some believe that may be a good thing for the Eel River and the fish that depend on it.  The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on Sept. 23 rejected a request from the Two Basin Partnership that sought more time to form a singular entity to take over the project from PG&E with an operating agreement that would benefit both Eel River and Russian River basin interests. On the surface, the ruling seemed to derail a years-long effort — spearheaded in large part by North Coast Congressmember Jared Huffman — to forge what’s been dubbed the Two Basin Solution to advance fish restoration efforts on the Eel River while still diverting some of its water to communities to the south which have come to depend on it. But there’s also reason to believe FERC’s decision will actually serve to fast-track efforts to find a viable solution … ”  Continue reading at the North Coast Journal here: ‘A Moment of Opportunity’: With two watersheds in crisis, a federal ruling sends a partnership back to the drawing board. Some think it’s for the best.

Butte County supervisors back new water district

After a lengthy public hearing Tuesday, the Butte County Board of Supervisors voted 3-1 to support a proposed water district in the northwest county.  The Tuscan Water District would cover 102,000 acres stretching from Butte Valley, north and west to the Tehama and Glenn county lines, excluding Cal Water’s Chico Division. The district name refers to the aquifer beneath the area.  The area is almost entirely dependent on groundwater, and to meet the provisions of a recent state law, the amount that is pumped will have to be reduced.  A group of farmers proposed the Tuscan District to import surface water so less groundwater will have to be pumped. That’s because if conservation and other measures don’t achieve enough of a reduction in pumping, farmland will have to be fallowed. ... ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here: Butte County supervisors back new water district

California rice harvest impacted by drought after farmers slashed plantings 20%

Another year of drought means another year of reduced harvest for California rice. Farmers slashed planting by 20% in the spring due to water shortages, which amounts to about 100,000 acres of idle rice fields. “We don’t want to be cut any more than people want to be told how they can treat their back lawn or anything like that,” said farmer Tom Butler.  … ”  Continue reading at Channel 10 here: California rice harvest impacted by drought after farmers slashed plantings 20%

Massive Dixie Fire burn scar could cause unprecedented runoff into waterways this winter

State water officials are facing unprecedented challenges preventing erosion and runoff this winter after the Dixie Fire burned more acreage than any other single wildfire in California history. Crews have begun erosion control projects and are planning for the run-off of sediment into the Sierra watershed throughout the wet season.  Crews with the California Conservation Corps are out doing erosion control in the burn scar areas in Greenville, in Plumas County. Most of the town was destroyed in the Dixie Fire. A top priority is preventing the runoff of chemicals from burned homes and cars. Chemicals from burned buildings and vehicles can cause the most contamination of water. … ”  Read more from KRCR here: Massive Dixie Fire burn scar could cause unprecedented runoff into waterways this winter

Water release cut back at record-low Lake Oroville

Lake Oroville is still dropping to record lows, but the rate it’s happening at has slowed down a lot over the past few weeks.  “We’ve never ever experienced anything quite this dramatic,” Diana Toci, who lives in Paradise and was walking on top of the Oroville Dam today with her husband, Bill said.  The couple is hoping that nature will take its course to refill the lake that currently sits at 628 feet.  “What I don’t get is the politicians when they come in and say that we are going to do something about the water,” Bill said. “I don’t think they’re in control of rain.” … ”  Continue reading at Action News Now here: Water release cut back at record-low Lake Oroville

Advancing ridgetop to river mouth water management in the state budget

The first year of the 2021-22 legislative session recently concluded and the Legislature and the Governor took significant action on various elements to support and provide robust funding for Ridgetop to river mouth water management, including the immense benefits of Healthy Forests, Reactivating Floodplains, Sustainable Groundwater Management, Vital Rivers and Streams, and Healthy Soils and Farms, and Safe Drinking Water.  In the Sacramento River Basin, we are focused on priority funding for water resiliency for California’s communities and economy and projects that address the needs of fish and wildlife. … ”  Read more from the Northern California Water Association blog here: Advancing ridgetop to river mouth water management in the state budget

Tahoe Conservancy to receive $41 million to reduce wildfire risk, help Tahoe adapt to climate change

Governor Gavin Newsom has signed into law a funding package that includes $36 million for the California Tahoe Conservancy (Conservancy) to restore forests and reduce wildfire risk at Lake Tahoe. The package includes an additional $5.25 million to help improve Tahoe’s resilience to climate change impacts.  These funds for the Lake Tahoe Basin (Basin) are part of a $15 billion climate package signed by Governor Newsom last week to combat the climate crisis, tackle catastrophic wildfires, and help build a resilient California of the future.  “It would be hard to overstate the importance of this funding for Tahoe,” said Conservancy Board Chair and El Dorado County Supervisor Sue Novasel. “The Caldor Fire, which still burns today, showed us up close the extraordinary threat from climate change impacts. These funds will help advance critical work by Tahoe partners in restoring our treasured forests and protecting our communities.” … ”  Continue reading at the Tahoe Conservancy here: Tahoe Conservancy to receive $41 million to reduce wildfire risk, help Tahoe adapt to climate change

El Dorado County: First phase of debris removal under way

El Dorado County homeowners affected by the Caldor Fire can get no-cost debris removal services through the California Office of Emergency Services-run Consolidated Debris Removal Program.  To qualify for the program, structures must be 120-square-feet or larger and on burned private property, according to Environmental Management Director Jeffrey Warren. … ”  Read more from the Mountain Democrat here: El Dorado County: First phase of debris removal under way

Bolinas utility will prepare emergency wells

Bolinas will add two emergency wells to its water system, providing backup water sources that will give the town more leeway to get through the drought. Last week, the Bolinas Community Public Utility District approved plans laid out by a contractor to incorporate the two existing sources in Bolinas into the municipal water system. … ”  Read more from the Point Reyes Light here:  Bolinas utility will prepare emergency wells

Ninth Circuit refreshes fight over Vacaville’s chromium 6-tainted water

Reviving a fight over tap water, a Ninth Circuit panel on Wednesday found a Northern California city must face claims it’s breaking hazardous waste laws by selling drinking water tainted with an infamous carcinogen featured in the film “Erin Brockovich.”  Though the city of Vacaville’s supply meets federal and state drinking water standards, some of the water sourced from its groundwater wells contains hexavalent chromium, commonly called chromium 6. The city is in the process of cleaning the wells and contends its supply is safe for its over 90,000 residents, but an environmental group disagrees. … ”  Read more from the Vacaville Reporter here: Ninth Circuit refreshes fight over city’s chromium 6-tainted water

Fish are dying in this East Bay park. But why?

“Dead fish, nearly all carp, are floating to the surface at Lakeshore Park. City officials wonder why.  They also question why so many carp, a freshwater fish native to Asia and Europe, ended up in the man-made lake in the first place.  Carp is an edible fish consumed around the world. It’s also popular as an ornamental fish that people keep in tanks and ponds. Koi is a subspecies.  But carp should not be in the water of Lakeshore Park because it’s considered an invasive species, according to Newark officials. … ”  Continue reading at the San Jose Mercury News here: Fish are dying in this East Bay park. But why?

Livermore activates water restrictions amid drought

As drought conditions continue, Livermore is working to conserve water.  Effective immediately, the city has started stricter water restrictions for stage 2 in the Water Shortage Emergency.  The City Council activated stage 2 on Monday, September 27 — It will be in place until water levels recover.  If the drought conditions worsen, however, the city will initiate more restrictions. … ”  Continue reading from KRON here: Livermore activates water restrictions amid drought

SEE ALSO: Livermore City Council sets mandatory watering limits, from the San Jose Mercury News

San Jose: Expert panel guides Valley Water’s path to expanding purified water

What do tax season, home renovations and water reuse have in common? They can be complicated and may require calling in the experts. That could be an accountant, a structural engineer or in Valley Water’s case – an independent advisory panel.  Valley Water is one of the dozens of water agencies that has hired an independent advisory panel to help evaluate reusing water for drinking. Panels are independent teams put together by the National Water Research Institute, a non-profit that works with water utilities, regulators and researchers in developing new, healthy water sources for drinking. … ”  Read more from Valley Water here: San Jose: Expert panel guides Valley Water’s path to expanding purified water

Salas presents $1.5M for new Corcoran well

Development for new housing in the City of Corcoran has received a sizable boost in the form of $1.5 million in State funding for clean drinking water.  On Wednesday morning, State Assemblymember Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield) presented a check for $1.5 million to the City at the Corcoran Water Treatment Plant. The money will go toward the creation of a new well north of Corcoran. “We all know how vitally important water is for the Central Valley,” Salas said. “And especially for our communities when we talk about safe drinking water, we talk about the drought that we have here — things that are even naturally occurring like arsenic and nitrates and dealing with the contaminants… we know that this money is going to make a difference.” … ”  Read more from the Hanford Sentinel here: Salas presents $1.5M for new Corcoran well

Santa Clarita Valley Water adds new lab equipment to better test groundwater

SCV Water continues its commitment to restoring groundwater affected by per- and polyfluoroalkyl, or PFAS, chemicals, and was recently given access to new lab equipment to better assist in that effort.  Recently, the Agency installed a Liquid Chromatography Tandem Mass Spectrometer to allow its team to test for PFAS in-house instead of sending to an outside lab – saving time and money.  “Our customers continue to be our top priority,” said General Manager Matt Stone.  “By taking quick action, we were able to develop PFAS treatment facilities and equip our onsite lab for in-house testing. These steps will benefit our long-term water supply, so we can provide safe, high-quality water to thousands of Santa Clarita Valley residents.” … ”  Read more from SCV News here: Santa Clarita Valley Water adds new lab equipment to better test groundwater

Palmdale Water District Board OK’s water transfer agreement

The Palmdale Water District Board of Directors unanimously approved an agreement for the District to provide water to a group of water agencies in western Kern and Kings counties, during wet years when the District has an excess supply.  The District will be paid for the water transferred, with those funds then earmarked for water reliability projects to better ensure the District’s own supplies.  The transfer is of water allocated through the State Water Project and delivered by the California Aqueduct. In this case, the agencies receiving the water would add the amount to what they already are allowed to take from the Aqueduct, while Palmdale’s share, which flows into Lake Palmdale, would be that much less. … ”  Read more from the Antelope Valley Press here: Palmdale Water District Board OK’s water transfer agreement

Crews begin project to improve water quality in LA River, Arroyo Seco

Crews will break ground today on a $13 million project aimed at improving water quality in the Los Angeles River andArroyo Seco. The Low Flow Diversion project was designed by the firm Santec in collaboration with the Los Angeles Department of Public Works Bureau of Engineering and LA Sanitation & Environment. Crews will construct new infrastructure to divert dry-weather flows from the storm drains and into existing sanitary sewers and the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant. … ”  Read more from the LA Sentinel here: Crews begin project to improve water quality in LA River, Arroyo Seco

Santa Ana: Global real estate company agrees to pay $565,304 for unauthorized discharges at construction site

A global real estate investment company on Friday agreed to a $565,304 settlement with the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board for releasing contaminated water at a commercial construction site in Riverside in violation of its
stormwater
discharge permit.  On three occasions in April 2020, Exeter Property Group and Exeter Alessandro Land,
known collectively as “Exeter,”
discharged sedimentladen water into tributaries of Sycamore Canyon Creek, which is located on a preserve for a multispecies conservation plan. The water flowed into a channel along a freeway and through a 1,300acre city park and lowdensity housing, exposing humans and wildlife to bacteria, metals and organic compounds in violation of the General Permit for Storm Water
Discharges Associated with Construction Activities. … ”  Continue reading from the State Water Board here: Santa Ana: Global real estate company agrees to pay $565,304 for unauthorized discharges at construction site

‘White Gold Rush’ at Salton Sea is slow going but holds major lithium pay dirt

We’ve heard a lot about the “white gold rush” at the Salton Sea. Lithium is called “white gold” for its silvery color. As more of our lives go electric, the world is using more lithium batteries each year. And that means the world is turning its attention to the Salton Sea.  The Salton Sea is an untapped treasure chest of lithium for all the sweet underground brine flowing through our rocks — generated by the 11 geothermal plants there.  But what does this rush look like right now and when will we actually see the lithium come out of it? … ”  Read more from KEYT here: ‘White Gold Rush’ at Salton Sea is slow going but holds major lithium pay dirt

San Diego: Switchfoot Frontman turned Water Authority spokesman

During a midnight scroll through the Instaverse, an ad from San Diego County Water Authority featuring a platinum-blonde, surfer dude appearing very interested in a body of water caught my attention.  It wasn’t just any platinum-blonde, surfer dude. It was Jon Foreman, the front man for Switchfoot, the Christain-ish rock band from San Diego.  Questions swirled, “fumbling my confidence and wondering why, and how, in the world this passed me by?”  That’s one of the lines from a Switchfoot song. It fits. ... ”  Continue reading at the Voice of San Diego here: San Diego: Switchfoot Frontman turned Water Authority spokesman

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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 Arizona Public Media here: New estimates show Colorado River levels falling faster than expected

Audit of Arizona Department of Environmental Quality shows a lack of pollution monitoring

The Arizona Auditor General’s performance audit on the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality alleges pollution control responsibilities were neglected and conflicts of interests within the department were ignored.  Despite the oversights, ADEQ was found to be overall beneficial to the public’s health and safety, according to the report.   … ”  Read more from Channel 12 here: Audit of Arizona Department of Environmental Quality shows a lack of pollution monitoring

What’s getting in the way of meaningful environmental policy? Lack of collaboration between Western states and federal government, Cox says

Partisanship is getting in the way of meaningful environmental policy, says Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, who urged collaboration between Western states, the federal government and other stakeholders as he addressed the Western Governor’s Association workshop in Salt Lake City Wednesday.  “Often, we make excuses rather than getting together to actually solve these complex problems,” he said. “We wait to litigate, we sue each other, we never solve anything. And we just get dumber every year. And for once, I would like us not to get dumber.”  Cox extended an offer to President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris: Come to Utah to see firsthand the problems the state faces and the solutions it has found. … ”  Read more from Deseret News here: What’s getting in the way of meaningful environmental policy? Lack of collaboration between Western states and federal government, Cox says

Blame it on the rain: Monsoon helped Colorado avoid summer megafires — though fire season isn’t over yet

Colorado’s top fire officials expected the worst for 2021.  The previous year’s wildfire season was not only the largest on record but one of the longest. Only 30 percent of the Cameron Peak fire was contained by the beginning of October and the East Troublesome fire didn’t ignite until two weeks later.  Firefighters and fire experts said Colorado was primed for larger fires given the prolonged drought and warming temperatures worsened by climate change.  The wildfires have so far failed to meet those expectations. Despite a worrisome start and historic blazes in other western states, Colorado has evaded the worst predictions for the summer.  The main factor in the relatively slow fire season was well-timed monsoon rain that helped ground crews prevent small fires from spreading, experts said. … ”  Read more from Colorado Public Radio here: Blame it on the rain: Monsoon helped Colorado avoid summer megafires — though fire season isn’t over yet

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In national water news today …

Utilities push to weaken Biden’s signature climate plan

Some of America’s largest utilities are pushing to eliminate the penalties in President Biden’s signature climate policy.  The effort to water down the Clean Electricity Performance Program, a central component of the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package, reflects deep divisions within the utility sector over how fast the industry can move to decarbonize this decade.  Some major utilities say massive federal investment is necessary to rapidly remake the industry. Biden wants 80 percent of America’s power to come from carbon-free sources by 2030, up from about 40 percent today.  But other power companies argue the CEPP could backfire. They say companies could be unfairly penalized if new clean energy projects run into permitting delays, regulatory holdups or other factors outside their control. Many have trained their fire on a provision that would require shareholders to pay any penalty incurred by a utility. ... ”  Read more from E&E News here: Utilities push to weaken Biden’s signature climate plan

Interior restores migratory bird protections

The Biden administration today set a new course for migratory bird protections, combining a revived ban on unintentional killing with the possibility of future permits that could allow companies some leeway in exchange for mitigation or other actions.  Taken together, Interior Department officials say the highly anticipated moves will add both muscle and potential flexibility to the much-debated and oft-litigated Migratory Bird Treaty Act.  “The Migratory Bird Treaty Act, one of our first environmental laws, represents more than 100 years of America’s commitment to protecting migratory birds and restoring declining bird populations,” said Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, adding, “We are announcing critical steps to ensure that the act can help conserve birds today and in the future.”  The steps are threefold. … ”  Read more from E&E News here: Interior restores migratory bird protections

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And lastly …

10 World Engineering Marvels

“For thousands of years, mankind has engineered remarkable structures such as the pyramids of Egypt and the Great Wall of China. More recently, visionary engineers have undertaken massive transportation and communications projects that have pushed the boundaries of human ingenuity. Here is a roundup of 10 engineering marvels that changed world history. … ”   The Golden Gate Bridge and Hoover Dam are among them.  Continue reading at the History Channel here: 10 World Engineering Marvels

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Today’s featured article …

BAY DELTA SCIENCE CONFERENCE: Delta Flood Risk Under Climate Change: Key Findings from the Delta Adapts Flood Risk Analysis

Click here to read this article.

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

VELES WEEKLY REPORT: NQH2O down $8.92 or 1.02% to $836.04

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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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