DAILY DIGEST, 10/7: ‘Significant changes’ coming to weather in the Sierra; Zero Delta smelt found in September Fall Midwater Trawl; Parched California takes aim at water rate ‘bounty hunter’ suits; Newsom signs proactive water solutions bill SB 403; and more …


On the calendar today …

  • EVENT: Diversity in California Water from 11am to 1pm. The California water sector is rapidly hiring. How do we reflect California’s diversity at all levels of our workforce and foster a more inclusive environment with our co-workers? Join this panel of water leaders for an in-depth discussion about new workforce development programs, new DEI efforts and a discussion about what can hold back diversity efforts and the champions we need to move these efforts forward.  Click here to register.

In California water news today …

Hmmm… National Weather Service not as hopeful

Snow in Tahoe, Yosemite forecasts as ‘significant changes’ coming to weather in the Sierra

“”Significant changes” are coming to the weather in the Sierra Nevada mountain range straddling California and Nevada Thursday and Friday, the National Weather Service said Wednesday. The Tahoe Basin and Yosemite are likely to get snow at higher elevations.  A cold front approaching the region is expected to push down temperatures and deliver snow. While it’s likely to be only a dusting, this will be the first significant snow of the season. … ”  Read more from SF Gate here: Snow in Tahoe, Yosemite forecasts as ‘significant changes’ coming to weather in the Sierra

California and the West can see small glimmers of hope in weather outlooks for October

Outlook maps for October temperature and precipitation in the U.S. offer a glimmer of hope for California and parts of the West. For the first time in months, California’s precipitation outlook map isn’t colored a desiccated brown, indicating drier-than-normal conditions.  Likewise, the temperature outlook map isn’t glowing red, resembling a stove-top burner set on high.  On both maps for October, issued on Sept. 30 by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, California and neighboring states are colored a neutral white. That means experts predict equal chances that temperatures and precipitation will be above average, near average or below average. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: California and the West can see small glimmers of hope in weather outlooks for October

Extinction’s edge: Zero Delta smelt found in September 2021 during CDFW Fall Midwater Trawl survey

For the fifth September in a row, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has caught zero Delta smelt in its Fall Midwater Trawl Survey (FMWT) throughout the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.  Once the most abundant fish on the entire estuary, the fish is now near-extinction in the wild, although UC Davis continues to raise the fish in a captive breeding program.  The Delta smelt population has plummeted over the decades since the State Water Project began exporting Delta water to San Joaquin Valley grower sin 1967. … ”  Read more from Dan Bacher at the Daily Kos here: Extinction’s edge: Zero Delta smelt found in September 2021 during CDFW Fall Midwater Trawl survey

Trump-era water opinions in the air as Biden considers new plan

Following nearly two years of litigation regarding Trump-era water policy, the federal government has until Oct. 14 to come up a plan to balance competing needs for the precious resource.  A minute order from District Judge Dale A. Drozd from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California extended by two weeks the due date for the status update that was originally expected to be delivered Sept. 30.  On Sept. 30, Ernest Conant, regional director of the Department of the Interior’s Region 10, penned a letter to officials with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service to begin reevaluating the environmental impact of water allocations from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. … ”  Read more from The Business Journal here:  Trump-era water opinions in the air as Biden considers new plan

New protections for California’s aquifers are reshaping the state’s Central Valley

California’s agricultural empire is facing a shakeup, as a state law comes into effect that will limit many farmers’ access to water.  The seven-year-old law is supposed to stop the over-pumping from depleted aquifers, and some farmers — the largest users of that water — concede the limits are overdue.  The state grows roughly 40% of the country’s vegetables, fruit and nuts. But it’s also famously prone to drought, and in those dry years, when farms run short of water from rivers and reservoirs, they turn on powerful pumps and draw well water from aquifers. … ”  Read more from NPR here: New protections for California’s aquifers are reshaping the state’s Central Valley

Parched California takes aim at water rate ‘bounty hunter’ suits

California water utilities say a new four-month window for consumers to challenge rate hikes will restrict costly court battles as they face the twin challenges of historic drought and devastating wildfires.  Water and sewer agencies for years have been exposed to lawsuits brought up to a decade after their rates were adopted, said Claire Collins, partner with Hanson Bridgett LLP in Los Angeles. The result has created financial uncertainty and put extraordinary pressure on agencies to modify rates in light of the ever-changing standards articulated by courts—something that a new law is intended to help alleviate. “These types of cases are increasing in frequency, making it even harder for us to ensure we can pass fair and reasonable rates to cover the cost of operating the water system,” Collins said.  … ”  Read more from Bloomberg Law here: Parched California takes aim at water rate ‘bounty hunter’ suits

Newsom signs proactive water solutions bill SB 403

On Sept. 23, after crushing the republican opposition in the recall election, Governor Gavin Newsom got back to governing and made a trip to smoke-choked Tulare County to sign a robust $15 billion climate package as the KNP Complex fire raged in the mountains above. During his trip to the Sequoias, he also signed a slew of water bills—among them extending the water utility shutoff moratorium through at least the end of the year and requiring water shortage contingency plans for small water suppliers—another tendril of climate change directly impacting Tulare County residents parched at the center of the West’s water crisis. ... ”  Read more from the Foothills Sun-Gazette here: Newsom signs proactive water solutions bill SB 403

More money for drought, wildfires should be coming

While hundreds of millions of dollars were allocated to deal with the issues of wildfires and drought in this year’s state budget, the consensus is that’s still not enough. And that something will be done about it.  That was the message presented by Paul Yoder, who advises Tulare County on state legislative issues, at Tuesday’s Tulare County Board of Supervisors meeting. Yoder provided an update on the recently completed State Legislative session.  When it comes to funding for dealing with wildfires and drought, Yoder said there’s bipartisan agreement that more funding is needed than what was provided in this year’s budget and that increased funding will likely be proposed with the new state legislative session begins in January. Especially since another budget surplus is expected, not nearly as large as this year’s budget surplus, but still estimated to be $5 billion to $25 billion. … ”  Read more from the Porterville Recorder here: More money for drought, wildfires should be coming

Q&A: Sustainable farming expert weighs in on California’s historic investments in ‘climate smart’ agriculture

Late last month, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a sweeping package of bills to tackle the climate crisis, in what he called an “unprecedented investment in climate resiliency by any state in U.S. history.”  The $15 billion package allocates $1.5 billion for wildfire prevention and forest health, and more than $5 billion for drought and water resilience. But it also includes a record-breaking investment of more than $1 billion in “climate-smart” agriculture, intended to boost climate resilience and help farmers transition to practices that are more adaptive to climate change.  “We have a responsibility to lead the way,” Newsom said.  … ”  Read more from Inside Climate News here: Q&A: Sustainable farming expert weighs in on California’s historic investments in ‘climate smart’ agriculture

Climate, exports and family food budgets: Ag secretary tackles topics with Valley leaders

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack talked Tuesday about Central Valley farmers’ role in a climate-safe future, and about families stressed by food costs. He took part in a Zoom call with Rep. Josh Harder, D-Turlock, and leaders in California agriculture. Vilsack discussed his department’s response to the current drought and the barriers to exports of dairy foods, nuts, citrus and other products. And he plugged the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill now before Congress. It would improve roads, rail, ports and other modes of transportation, along with rural broadband and water supplies. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here: Climate, exports and family food budgets: Ag secretary tackles topics with Valley leaders

New study shows California’s water usage is contributing to rise of greenhouse gas emissions

Bay Area environmental research groups Pacific Institute and Next 10 paired up in a webinar on Sept. 28 to discuss a new study focused on water usage, sourcing and the ways that both are impacting greenhouse gas emissions.  Colleen Dredell, director of research at the San Francisco-based nonprofit Next 10, emphasized that the goal of the collaborative effort, entitled “The Future of California’s Water-Energy-Climate Nexus,” was to come up with solutions that would help California meet its targeted energy and greenhouse gas goals by 2030. Currently, California is not on track to meet these goals. … ”  Read more from the Inquirer here: New study shows California’s water usage is contributing to rise of greenhouse gas emissions

California encourages prescribed burns to counter wildfires

California is encouraging more use of fire to fight fire, such as when deliberately set burns were recently used to protect giant sequoias from a raging wildfire.  But sometimes what are known as prescribed fires themselves spread out of control, causing their own extensive damage.  A bill that Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law Wednesday adds legal protections for private landowners and those who manage the blazes by raising the legal standard for seeking wildfire suppression costs from simple negligence to gross negligence.  Such costs can include not only fighting the fire, but related rescues and investigations. … ”  Read more from Fox 40 here: California encourages prescribed burns to counter wildfires

Preparing for wildfires pays off in South Lake Tahoe

In the South Lake Tahoe area, more than a dozen years of hard work and collaboration helped save residential areas from a terrible fate during this year’s wildfire season.  The evidence can be seen in maps showing where this summer’s massive Caldor Fire burned – and where it didn’t. Extensive pre-fire interventions helped firefighters in their efforts to save many threatened homes and structures in the South Lake Tahoe area. These efforts included vegetation thinning and prescribed fire to reduce dangerous fuels on the landscape, as well as home-hardening and other measures.  The work stands now as an important template for creating a more safe and resilient state. … ”  Read more from California Forward here: Preparing for wildfires pays off in South Lake Tahoe

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In regional water news and commentary today …

NORTH COAST

Humboldt Bay: Toward a sustainable blue economy

“The perennial conflict between environmental conservation and economic development may now be in remission, the crisis of climate change increasingly pushing industries into cooperation with environmental goals. One such path of co-existence, at least along the California coast, is the “Sustainable Blue Economy,” defined by the World Bank as the “the sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystems.”  A three-day symposium on the “Sustainable Blue Economy” was held virtually last week, sponsored by California Sea Grant, the Humboldt Bay Initiative and several local consulting firms. The symposium featured scientists, community activists and an economist, as well as government officials of all denominations, ranging from county planners to the head of a state agency. … ”  Read more from the North Coast Journal here: Toward a sustainable blue economy

Fort Bragg: City takes possession of water desalination unit

On Tuesday, September 14, the City of Fort Bragg council declared a Stage 4 Water Crisis at its regularly scheduled meeting on Monday night. A Stage 4 Water Crisis targets a 30-40% decrease in seasonal water use based on the most recent year in which water conservation measures were not required (2019).  Six months ago the City of Fort Bragg ordered a desalination-reverse osmosis treatment system to help provide drinking water during periods of saltwater intrusion at its main Noyo River water source. The skid-mounted unit has arrived and can produce 200 gallons of desalinated water a minute, or 288,000 gallons of water per day, but because the unit can only run for 12 hours a day, the daily capacity will top out at 144,000 gallons. … ”  Read more from the Fort Bragg Advocate-News here: City takes possession of water desalination unit

SACRAMENTO VALLEY

From antiques to cannabis: Nursery looks to open along Interstate 5 in Shasta Lake

“A Shasta Lake thoroughfare known historically for its antique businesses could welcome its first cannabis nursery.  Cutting Edge Nursery wants to open a 6,000-square-foot store at 3266 Cascade Boulevard between Arnold’s BBQ and the Antique Cottage on freeway frontage property west of Interstate 5. The Windsor Estates neighborhood sits behind the project site.  The building most recently was home to Rosemary’s Antiques and has been vacant since 2014, city planning officials said. … ”  Read more from the Redding Record Searchlight here: From antiques to cannabis: Nursery looks to open along Interstate 5 in Shasta Lake

New project aims to help endangered salmon in Tehama County

Chinook salmon have become an endangered species due to elements such as drought and habitat loss. A new project by the Resource Conservation District of Tehama County is working to help the fish have better access to food and water so they can recover before returning.  The project will aim to reconnect the East Sand Slough to the Sacramento River. Jon Barrett is the project manager and he said the Sacramento River was changed by humans from a wild river to a water delivery system which inverted the flow. This paired with low flow in the winter and drought has taken a toll on the salmon. ... ”  Read more from KRCR here: New project aims to help endangered salmon in Tehama County

California drought leaves some Glenn County residents without water

The ongoing drought is not just an issue for highly-populated areas. It’s also hitting rural communities hard.  “I’ve been in the area about 37 years, but on this land, 30 years,” Glenn County resident Joey Franks told FOX40.  Franks lives in the north of the county just outside of Orland. She says she’ll live in the area the rest of her life. “Because I have my heart invested in this place,” Franks explained.  Her passion for her land can’t help the emptiness far below it.  “Recently, the sprinklers stop sprinkling and so I realized something was up,” Franks said. … ”  Read more from Fox 40 here: California drought leaves some Glenn County residents without water

MOUNTAIN COUNTIES

Sierra Nevada Conservancy funds prescribed fire & cultural burning training project

Native American tribes used fire to manage Sierra Nevada landscapes for millennia prior to the arrival of permanent European settlements in the 1800s—a practice that has continued on a more limited scale today. As the state of California works to restore wildfire resilience, it is partnering more with tribes to incorporate cultural burning ideas and techniques into modern land-management practices.  Looking to show first-hand the benefits low-intensity fire can have on the landscape, and to train more crews on how to utilize this management tool efficiently and safely, the Sierra Nevada Conservancy’s Governing Board, at its recent September Board meeting, authorized funding for a prescribed burn that includes guidance from several Native American tribes in the region. … ”  Read more from the Sierra Nevada Conservancy here: Sierra Nevada Conservancy funds prescribed fire & cultural burning training project

NAPA/SONOMA

Beavers return to Sonoma Creek

It’s been a long summer of extreme drought conditions in Sonoma Valley. In what seems like a steady stream of dire news for our watershed one glimmer of good news stands out: beavers are moving back into Sonoma Creek.  The return of these charming dam builders isn’t quite breaking news – since 1993 beavers have slowly made a comeback in Sonoma Valley. But this year, in the middle of our peak dry season, their increasing presence is something for celebration. From the perspective of drought resiliency and water retention in our watershed we’re observing how beavers are a positive factor in keeping what water we do have flowing in our creek beds and reducing hydrological impacts of water rushing through the main stem of Sonoma Creek. … ”  Continue reading from the Sonoma Ecology Center here: Beavers return to Sonoma Creek

BAY AREA

Marin pipeline could face water capacity shortfall

A proposed water pipeline seen as a key drought-relief option for Marin County might only be able to deliver about 60% of its capacity, officials say.  The potential $90 million duct across the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge is the emergency backup plan by the Marin Municipal Water District if the drought worsens. The district could deplete its reservoir supplies next summer if the area experiences a third consecutive dry winter.  The proposed 8-mile pipeline would have the capacity to pump in 13.5 million gallons of water, enough to meet the vital indoor needs for residents under a worst-case scenario where local reservoirs go dry and water imports from Sonoma County are entirely cut off, staff said. ... ”  Read more from the Marin Independent Journal here: Marin pipeline could face water capacity shortfall

Marin County will buy water for rural homes

With rural wells at risk of drying up, Marin County is seeking to puchase emergency drinking water to supply a small group of households in West Marin.  On Tuesday, Marin Water and North Marin Water District passed resolutions that will allow the county to sell their water to these homes if the private wells on the properties run dry.  County officials identified between 10 and 30 homes in the Nicasio, Lucas Valley and Marshall areas that could be vulnerable because they rely on wells and are outside of the regular service areas. … ”  Read more from the Point Reyes Light here: Marin County will buy water for rural homes

San Rafael flood risk prompts Canal insurance project

Activists and researchers have teamed up to seek an affordable flood insurance program for residents in the low-lying Canal area of San Rafael.  Stephanie McNally of Canal Alliance said she is working on a pilot program with Jeffrey Rhoads of Resilient Shore; Kathleen Schaefer, a researcher for the University of California, Davis; and Stuart Spiegel, interim manager of the National Estuarine Research Reserve System. Their idea is in its early stages, and the team has submitted a grant proposal to set up the program and find an insurance funding source. ... ”  Read more from the Marin Independent Journal here: San Rafael flood risk prompts Canal insurance project

Pleasanton mandates 15% water reduction as community faces worsening drought

Pleasanton residents and businesses will now be required to cut their potable water usage by 15% compared to last year, after the City Council unanimously declared a local drought emergency and water shortage, along with imposing the water reduction mandate on Tuesday night.  City officials cited a second consecutive year of dry conditions and low reservoir levels for making the move, as well as an unsuccessful public outreach campaign earlier this year that asked residents to voluntarily reduce their water use.  “I’m glad to see this and be able to make this motion,” Councilmember Kathy Narum said before voting on the resolution, which she called “better late than never.” … ”  Read more from Pleasanton Weekly here: Pleasanton mandates 15% water reduction as community faces worsening drought

Drought emergency: San Jose Mayor Liccardo proposes outdoor watering limits to 2x/week, renews calls to conserve

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo renewed calls for residents to conserve water and proposed outdoor watering restrictions Wednesday as California’s ongoing drought deepens.  “As we think about this very serious drought there is a very significant risk that next year is going to be even worse and we have to take measures now,” Liccardo said at a briefing in Overfelt Park on the city’s east side. … ”  Read more from CBS Sacramento here: Drought emergency: San Jose Mayor Liccardo proposes outdoor watering limits to 2x/week, renews calls to conserve

Commentary: Four keys to reaching California conservation goals

Annie Burke, executive director of TOGETHER Bay Area, writes, “One year ago, Gov. Gavin Newsom set a bold goal of conserving 30% of land and coastal water in California by 2030. President Biden and other leaders around the world have also established goals to conserve at least 30%. This goal, known as 30×30, could profoundly transform the Bay Area by creating additional parks and open space with more equitable access for all communities, protecting biodiversity and advancing projects that will make the region more resilient to climate change.  The Bay Area’s land conservation groups have been working for years toward a similar ambitious goal. Our goal is to conserve 50% of the region’s lands by 2050. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here: Four keys to reaching California conservation goals

SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY

Fresno Unified trustee moves into Westlands Water District gig

Fresno Unified Trustee Elizabeth Jonasson Rosas is embarking on a new career as the public affairs representative for the Westlands Water District, which identified her in its announcement Wednesday as Elizabeth Jonasson.  Jonasson Rosas says she’s fine being identified either way. The new job could help Jonasson Rosas avoid scheduling conflicts she sometimes encountered while working at the Fresno Economic Opportunities Commission, where she was the strategy and communications officer until Oct. 1.  The Westlands board meets on the third Tuesday monthly, while Fresno Unified trustees gather on alternating Wednesdays. … ”  Read more from GV Wire here: Fresno Unified trustee moves into Westlands Water District gig

Kern River lawsuit “unleashed” public’s rights

A new player has entered the fray over forfeited Kern River water rights, bolstering the position that the public has a right to a flowing river.  The state Department of Fish and Wildlife argues in a legal brief filed recently that the State Water Resources Control Board is absolutely obligated to consider the public trust doctrine in all water decisions, including whether there’s “loose” water on the Kern River. That doctrine states California holds all natural resources, such as rivers, in trust for the public.  Whether, and how much, water is available on the Kern River is set for hearing December 9. The question stems from a court 2007 ruling that Kern Delta Water District had forfeited some of its river rights. … ”  Read more from SJV Water here: Kern River lawsuit “unleashed” public’s rights

CENTRAL COAST

Efforts continue to create a sustainable Ventura River Watershed

“… Could you use less water each day without much hardship? How much less?  What if you knew that in 10 years there would be no water when you turn on the tap? What would you change today? Right now, some staff of municipal water purveyors may want to contact the VCReporter and tell us this story will cause undue panic among the public, that we are not in that kind of crisis right now. Others will say that water purveyors are planning for that possibility. City and water companies are constantly looking at basin levels and demand, and feeling the pressure to diversify water supplies. They are getting funding to connect to water sources out of the area. But with more and more straws dipping into all supplies, including the State Water Project, it is a fact that there will be less water for everyone. … ”  Continue reading at the Ventura County Reporter here: Efforts continue to create a sustainable Ventura River Watershed

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

Column:  New housing is not an issue in San Gabriel Valley water predicament

Columnist Larry Wilson writes, “A suburban person really doesn’t want to get into an argument with their neighborhood association.  Bottom line is the boards of directors of these outfits are so lawyered up with litigators out of Stanford and Yale that they would see you in court so fast you’d think you’d painted your house purple.  Our house near the edge of the Arroyo Seco is in a neighborhood where the smart money is on belonging to two, semi-rival organizations, the Linda Vista-Annandale Association and the broader West Pasadena Residents’ Association. Pays to hedge your bets. … ”  Read more from the Pasadena Star News here:  Column:  New housing is not an issue in San Gabriel Valley water predicament

Commentary: Southern California doesn’t have to choose between housing and the environment

Leonora Camner, executive director of Abundant Housing L.A., writes, ” … More than a year ago, the Southern California Association of Governments started developing a mapping tool known as the SoCal Greenprint. The free, optional-to-use tool will compile more than 100 data sources on natural resources for the six counties in the SCAG region – putting this information into interactive maps to make it easy for developers and city officials to understand how to incorporate nature into future growth and development. The project, developed in consultation with more than 60 organizations across the six SCAG counties, was on track to launch this fall before it came under the wrath of opponents who are using the housing crisis to prevent its completion.  Their claims are that the mapping resource – which has no policy implications nor comes with any new rules or regulations – will deter housing production in a region that needs to build 1.34 million homes to meet current demand and future growth projections. … ”  Read more from Streets Blog here: Commentary: Southern california doesn’t have to choose between housing and the environment

Former pesticide, rubber-making companies to pay $78 million to clean up South Bay Superfund sites

Montrose Chemical Corp. of California and three other companies have agreed to pay a $77.6 million settlement to clean up and investigate contaminated groundwater at a pair of Superfund sites in Los Angeles County, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Tuesday, Oct. 5.  The companies — Montrose Chemical, Bayer CropScience Inc., TFCF America Inc. and Stauffer Management Co. LLC — will pay to address contamination at former pesticide and rubber manufacturing plants at the Montrose and Del Amo Superfund sites, according to the DOJ. … ”  Read more from the LA Daily News here: Former pesticide, rubber-making companies to pay $78 million to clean up South Bay Superfund sites

Changing weather raises fear that O.C. oil spill could reach more coastal areas

Winds forecast to blow over the Orange County coast beginning late Thursday may push parts of the oil slick from a massive spill onto shore, threatening ecologically sensitive areas.  The oil that leaked from a broken pipeline about four miles offshore has been creeping slowly south in the last three days.  Crews are working to protect the coastline by deploying booms and reinforcing berms. One oil slick is floating off Newport Beach and Huntington Beach, and another is in motion near San Clemente. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: Changing weather raises fear that O.C. oil spill could reach more coastal areas

‘It is there pretty much forever’: Huntington Beach oil spill may permanently affect birds

The full scale of the ecological damage from the Huntington Beach oil spill will take some time to become clear, with birds and marine mammals hardest hit in the short term.  That’s the view of experts with experience of other incidents as they consider a suspected underwater pipe leak that spilled roughly 126,000 gallons of crude oil just miles off the southern Californian coast.  “The recovery is going to be very uneven,” Steve Murawski, a fisheries biologist and marine ecologist at the University of South Florida, said. … ”  Read more from The Guardian here: ‘It is there pretty much forever’: Huntington Beach oil spill may permanently affect birds

SAN DIEGO

Some oil from OC spill ‘making its way south’: San Diego taking precautions

San Diego leaders have started taking precautions in case oil from last weekend’s pipeline break in Orange County reaches local beaches this week.  “It appears some of the oil is making its way south, but it has yet to enter San Diego County waters,” Jeff Toney, who runs the county’s Office of Emergency Services, and Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said in a joint statement. “Some protective measures have been put in place by response agencies including a protective boom at the mouth of the Santa Margarita River on Camp Pendleton.” … ”  Read more from Fox 5 here: Some oil from OC spill ‘making its way south’: San Diego taking precautions

Ramona farmers, winery owners weather dry years with water conservation strategies

Farmers and winery owners in Ramona and other parts of San Diego County are weathering the drought better than their counterparts in Northern California and the Central Valley through a mix of smart water use strategies, adequate water supplies and resources such as free irrigation system evaluations, according to water experts.  One reason local agricultural water users have avoided shortfalls in water supplies is because residents and businesses have been reducing the amount of water they use per person over the last 30 years, said Jeff Stephenson, water resources manager for the San Diego County Water Authority. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune here: Ramona farmers, winery owners weather dry years with water conservation strategies

Commentary: Let’s transform Mission Bay into a park that’s good for the environment and tourism

Karen Zirk, mythologist, writer and database administrator, and a member of the group Friends of Rose Creek, writes, “In Mission Bay Park, the city of San Diego has an opportunity to create a public park that is ready for the next 100 years, and not stuck in the past 100 years. The city needs to transform Mission Bay, which annually welcomes 15 million visitors to its 27 miles of shoreline and is home to at least 144 bird species and 56 plant species. The city needs to prioritize a restored, connected wetland and to drastically improve our recreation and access opportunities by offering genuine access, including low-cost camping and new recreation along the banks of a vibrant, restored wetland with boardwalks, group camping, and blue trails for kayaks and paddle boards that connect Rose Creek to the bay. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune here: Commentary: Let’s transform Mission Bay into a park that’s good for the environment and tourism

Extreme rare lightning related to climate change says San Diego scientist

Powerful lighting strikes lit up the sky during Monday night’s storm that brought heavy rain, thunder, and hail across San Diego County. Thousands of San Diego Gas and Electric customers experienced power outages Tuesday morning.  Forecasters with the National Weather Service reported approximately 4,000 lightning bolts in Orange, San Diego and Riverside counties by 11 p.m. Monday.  “It was like a movie,” said Bryant Tuck from El Cajon. ... ”  Read more from Channel 8 here: Extreme rare lightning related to climate change says San Diego scientist

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Along the Colorado River …

Experts: No short-term answers to problem of drought, water shortages

State and federal officials told a Senate panel Wednesday that there may be long-term solutions to the historic drought gripping the West, and the water shortages that come with it, but that the short-term outlook remains grim.  The hearing comes against the backdrop of a 20-year-long drought has left about 90% of the West affected. Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., said tree-ring and soil evidence indicates that the region may be going through the worst drought in 1,200 years – certainly the worst in the 100 years or so that records have been kept.  “Arizona is on the front lines of this megadrought,” said Kelly, who chaired the Senate Energy and Natural Resources subcommittee hearing. ... ”  Continue reading from Cronkite News here: Experts: No short-term answers to problem of drought, water shortages

Colorado River drought conditions spur calls for better water infrastructure

Experts in government, agriculture, water management and the environment stressed during a U.S. Senate hearing on Wednesday the danger that droughts fueled by climate change pose in the West, including the Colorado River Basin.  During a hearing before an Energy and Natural Resources Committee panel, witnesses said long-term solutions and an investment in water infrastructure are needed to combat the effects of climate change.  “Water has always been a limited resource in the West,” Sen. Mark Kelly, an Arizona Democrat who chaired the hearing of the Water and Power Subcommittee, said. “We have this old saying in Arizona that ‘whiskey is for drinking, water is for fighting.’” ... ”  Read more from Colorado Newsline here: Colorado River drought conditions spur calls for better water infrastructure

Before and after photos of Lake Mead full 20 years ago and at 35% full today

New images show just how drastic the drop in water levels are at Lake Mead, which is now only at 35 percent capacity as the western United States’ drought continues.  A historic drought has severely effected Lake Mead, America’s largest reservoir formed by the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River that is responsible for supplying drinking water to over 40 million people in the western U.S and parts of northern Mexico.  The largest manmade reservoir in the United States, which sits in both Nevada and Arizona, has fallen more than 146 feet since it’s peak in 2000 and is currently at 1,067.56 feet MSL, or mean sea level. Lake Mead’s maximum capcity is 1,229 feet MSL. … ”  Read more from the Daily Mail here: Disturbing before and after photos show how drought has caused water levels to drop by 140 feet at America’s largest reservoir Lake Mead – which supplies water to 40m people – leaving it at just 35% capacity

The Colorado River is drying up. Here’s how that affects Indigenous water rights

As a child, Preston J. Arrow-weed lived near a stretch of the Colorado River that traced a wide, sweeping curve through the Fort Yuma-Quechan Reservation, which straddles the border of California and Arizona. The tribal elder recalls the way the river would swell during certain seasons, as rain or runoff upriver would send sediment-laden water coursing through the channel.   “The water was so swift, and when it first came it would be sandy and brown, then after it settled it became blue,” said Arrow-weed, 81, a singer, actor, and playwright who is a member of the Quechan Indian Tribe. “We used to get a bucket of water from the river and take it home. Then, when it settled, we’d drink it.”  Nowadays, the once-wild river flows mechanically into a concrete canal that diverts most of the streamflow toward distant lettuce fields in California’s Imperial Valley before it reaches the reservation. … ”  Read more from Grist here: The Colorado River is drying up. Here’s how that affects Indigenous water rights

Commentary: Population growth on a collision course with the Colorado River

River protection activist Gary Wockner writes, “Recent news reports about the Colorado River have been depressing.  In August, federal officials announced first-time cuts in water deliveries from the river to Arizona and Nevada, which will hit farmers hard. Similar reductions are likely coming for more states. And the ongoing two-decade drought in the Southwest, to which climate change is a contributing factor, has diminished the flow of water in the river by more than 20%.  At the same time, population growth in the region is booming. Colorado gained 725,000 people between 2010 and 2020, Arizona 760,000 new souls and California 2.3 million. Nevada, Utah and New Mexico also grew considerably, and the population even inched up in slow-growing Wyoming, the smallest U.S. state by population.  All of these states rely on the Colorado River for irrigation and drinking water, and the new arrivals need H2O, too. … ”  Read more from the Salt Lake Tribune here: Commentary: Population growth on a collision course with the Colorado River

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In national water news today …

The water you’re drinking may be thousands of years old – growing demand for deeper wells is tapping ancient reserves

Communities that rely on the Colorado River are facing a water crisis. Lake Mead, the river’s largest reservoir, has fallen to levels not seen since it was created by the construction of the Hoover Dam roughly a century ago. Arizona and Nevada are facing their first-ever mandated water cuts, while water is being released from other reservoirs to keep the Colorado River’s hydropower plants running.  If even the mighty Colorado and its reservoirs are not immune to the heat and drought worsened by climate change, where will the West get its water?  There’s one hidden answer: underground. … ”  Read more from The Conversation here: The water you’re drinking may be thousands of years old – growing demand for deeper wells is tapping ancient reserves

Drought is causing hydropower to have a rough year. Is this a sign of a long-term shift?

Dan Gearino writes, “When something reliable begins to look shaky, we should take notice. That’s what’s happening for hydroelectric power in much of the West, where severe drought has led to low water levels in the rivers and reservoirs that feed the power systems.  The Energy Information Administration is projecting a 13.9 percent decrease in hydroelectric generation this year compared to 2020, part of a larger picture in which renewable energy—which includes hydropower—is not growing as fast as scientists say is necessary to avoid the worst effects of climate change.  I wanted to know whether the drop in hydropower was a sign of a long-term shift that could be harmful to the transition to clean energy. … ”  Read more from Inside Climate News here: Drought is causing hydropower to have a rough year. Is this a sign of a long-term shift?

Biden to restore environmental review for major infrastructure projects

Restoring another set of guidelines rolled back under his predecessor, President Joe Biden moved Wednesday to reinstate laws designed to safeguard the environment during highway, pipeline and other major infrastructure projects.  In an effort to speed along projects, former President Donald Trump curtailed regulations under the National Environmental Policy Act in July 2020. NEPA — which has been in place for over 50 years — mandates that environmental review is conducted on national infrastructure projects such as oil and gas pipelines, power plants or the construction of highways long before they are initiated. … ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service here: Biden to restore environmental review for major infrastructure projects

SEE ALSO: White House outlines plan to overhaul Trump NEPA rules, from E&E News

Ninth Circuit OKs weakened Clean Water Act regs when cost is a factor

The Ninth Circuit refused to disturb a decision by the EPA to let Montana skip out on pollution regulations for its rivers, since the state said reducing runoff from agriculture and sewage treatment plants would cost too much.  Upper Missouri Waterkeeper claimed such an exception is illegal because the Clean Water Act requires Montana to regulate pollution in its rivers regardless of the cost. But the Ninth Circuit ruled on Wednesday that Congress didn’t spell out whether that sort of wiggle room was allowed, instead simply saying that water quality standards supporting aquatic life and recreational use are required “wherever attainable.” … ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service here: Ninth Circuit OKs weakened Clean Water Act regs when cost is a factor

Water Jargon 101

Whether you’re new to the water utility industry or you’re a seasoned veteran, you have to admit there’s a ton of jargon, buzzwords and acronyms to navigate. Like any field, water has its shorthand, and there’s a lot to absorb. Much of it is accurate terminology used by utilities and engineers, and some is commonly-used marketing lingo. In this exclusive eBook from Master Meter, we’ll examine a list of common terms, phrases, waterworks products and acronyms used in the industry today and their basic meanings. These entries are intended to be educational, 101-level descriptions that address how the term is generally used and the industry segment in which it is most applicable.”  Free registration required.  Download copy from Water Finance & Management here: Water Jargon 101

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Today’s featured articles …

BAY DELTA SCIENCE CONFERENCE: Delta Adapts: Assessing Ecosystem Vulnerability to Climate Change

The loss of most ecosystems in the Bay-Delta has heavily compromised the functioning of the remnant ecosystems, which are anticipated to be further impacted by climate change. Therefore, it is critical to establish a solid understanding of current Bay-Delta ecosystem vulnerabilities to climate change and identify opportunities for adaptation.

To understand specific regional climate vulnerabilities, the Delta Stewardship Council conducted a climate change vulnerability assessment, called the Delta Adapts project, that estimates the exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity of dominant ecosystem types to sea level rise, increasing air temperature, and changes in local precipitation within the Delta and Suisun Marsh.  The first phase of the Delta Adapts is the vulnerability assessment, which has been completed.  The Delta Science Program is now working on the second phase, an adaptation strategy.

At the 2021 Bay-Delta Science Conference, Dr. Dylan Chappelle with the Delta Science Program and one of the technical leads for the ecosystem chapters of the climate vulnerability assessment, presented the study’s findings related to ecosystem impacts.

Click here to read this article.

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

VELES WEEKLY REPORT: NQH2O down $2.35 or 0.27% to $860.69. Trend reversal is intact.

UPDATE: Curtailment Status of Water Rights and Claims in the Delta Watershed

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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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