DAILY DIGEST, 10/11: Why Southern California fears too much water conservation; What water restrictions mean for CA’s businesses; California’s wildly inequitable water rights system; Current reservoir and water conditions; and more …


In California water news today …

Why Southern California fears too much water conservation

As Gov. Gavin Newsom weighs new mandatory drought restrictions, Southern California leaders fear cuts in urban water use could force already sky-high water bills ever higher.  Unlike much of Northern and Central California, the region isn’t hurting for water, yet. Top water officials insist they have enough supplies for at least one more hot summer, perhaps two.  That’s because Southern California imports water from the coveted Colorado River and has invested heavily in storage capacity and drought-proof supplies, such as water recycling in Orange County and desalination in San Diego County. … ”  Read more from the Bakersfield Californian here:  Why Southern California fears too much water conservation

What water restrictions mean for California’s businesses

Start your rain dances now, Californians. The most extensive severe drought in the US progressed into its second “water year,” or one year of recorded rainfall, on Oct. 1. It was the second-driest water year on record, with CA reservoir capacity dropping from 93% last fall to 60% of the historical average currently.  Throughout this drought—which started last year and progressed into an official “state of emergency” in 50 of California’s 58 counties by May—the state has only recommended its residents reduce water usage by 15%. But if that guidance doesn’t do the trick (and it hasn’t so far—Californians reduced their water usage just 1.8% in the three weeks following the request), CA Governor Gavin Newsom could bring in the stick: a statewide mandate on water usage. During the last big drought in 2015, former CA Governor Jerry Brown mandated a 25% reduction in water usage, and enforced it via fines. … ”  Read more from Morning Brew here: What water restrictions mean for California’s businesses

Yes, we’re in a drought — but it’s no longer a temporary emergency

California’s declining water supply, the current drought and global warming are leading to serious environmental consequences, the state’s drought manager said on Oct. 3 during a Zoom presentation for the Los Altos-Mountain View branch of the American Association of University Women.  Jeanine Jones, drought manager for the California Department of Water Resources painted a sobering picture of the future that includes a possibly unrecoverable situation for the state’s fish and a greater depletion of water unless there are significant changes in how the state manages its water supply.  The current drought conditions would require a significant increase in rainfall this coming winter if there is a chance of recovery. That’s unlikely. … ”  Read more from Palo Alto Online here: Yes, we’re in a drought — but it’s no longer a temporary emergency

Episode 2: “Unraveling the Knot” Water Movement in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta – Tidal Forces

Tides are the biggest driver of Delta flows, and in Episode 2 we look at their impacts in different locations under a variety of inflow conditions. Tides have a twice-daily cycle in the region, with a range of about six feet at Martinez. In the first part of the animation, we remove all in-Delta controls and diversions and fix inflows at a common moderate early summer level to isolate effects of tidal forces from those of inflows, gates, and export diversions. When the moon and sun are more aligned (full and new moon periods), tidal magnitude is greater. Distances to the moon and sun influence tidal magnitude as do winds and barometric pressure. Winds and barometric pressure are fixed in this animation. ... ”  Read more from the California Water Blog here:  Episode 2: “Unraveling the Knot” Water Movement in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta – Tidal Forces

Warm water species here to stay five years after northern California’s largest marine heatwave

Land–based heatwaves have a less obvious though equally important sibling: marine heatwaves. In 2013, the largest marine heatwave on record began when an unusually warm mass of water formed in the Gulf of Alaska. By the next summer, the warm water spread south, raising average water temperatures along the United States west coast by 3.6 to 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit (2-4 Celsius). In 2015, a strong El Niño event strengthened the marine heatwave further.  And so “the Blob,” as oceanographers have dubbed this huge body of warm water, was born.  Interestingly, a number of species moved northward to places along the west coast of the U.S. where the water had previously been too cold for them. ... ”  Read more from Salon here: Warm water species here to stay five years after northern California’s largest marine heatwave

Why the American west’s ‘wildfire season’ is a thing of the past – visualized

It’s only October, and 2021 has already been a horrendous year for wildfires in the American west. The Dixie fire leveled the town of Greenville. The Caldor fire forced the evacuation of tens of thousands in Lake Tahoe. Some fires sent plumes so high into the atmosphere that the toxic air reached the east coast thousands of miles away.  Fire is an important part of life in the American west and essential for the health of the landscape, but as the climate has changed so have wildfires in the region. What the US Forest Service once characterized as a four-month-long fire season starting in late summer and early autumn now stretches into six to eight months of the year. … ”  Read more from The Guardian here: Why the American west’s ‘wildfire season’ is a thing of the past – visualized

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In commentary today …

California’s wildly inequitable water rights system

Kate Poole, Senior Director of NRDC’s Water Division, writes, “Prior appropriation, or the notion of “first in time, first in right,” has been a prime directive of California water law for well over 150 years. It has brought us a system that is so inequitable in its impacts that more than one million residents of California lack access to safe drinking water, while industrial agriculture used more water to grow almonds and pistachios during California’s last drought than all of California’s residents. And while so-called “senior” water rights holders in the Sacramento Valley flood irrigate hundreds of thousands of acres during our current drought, reservoirs are drained of the cold water that our salmon need to survive and reproduce, pushing several native species to the brink of extinction. … ”  Read more from the NRDC here: California’s wildly inequitable water rights system

Climate change is already shocking our food chain

Bloomberg opinion columnist Amanda Little writes, “Stuart Woolf, a large almond and tomato producer, recently bulldozed 400 acres of almond orchards in central California — about 50,000 trees that under normal conditions would have produced $2.5 million of nuts every year for another decade. It’s a fraction of the 25,000 acres his family farms, but razing the land was a necessary triage — “Like cutting off your horribly infected hand to keep the rest of the body going,” he told me.  Woolf plans to replace the trees with cover crops he’ll neither sell nor harvest, but will use to sequester greenhouse gasses in his soil. He’s setting aside other land for another kind of farming: industrial solar.  Woolf is among thousands of U.S. farmers whose businesses have been both damaged and transformed by historic drought and heat in recent months. And it’s just the beginning. … ”  Continue reading at Bloomberg Opinion here:  Climate change is already shocking our food chain

In regional water news and commentary today …

California needs to rethink water, fire to mitigate climate risks, say experts at McGuire’s climate town hall

Experts agree, the climate is in a state of crisis. The situation is evolving faster than anticipated and causing destruction up and down the California coast in the form of extreme heat, catastrophic wildfires and unprecedented water scarcity. North Coast State Sen. Mike McGuire and a panel of climate scientists said large-scale action in the form of prescribed fires and updated water infrastructure is needed now at a virtual town hall on the climate crisis in California on Oct. 6. … ”  Read more from the Mendocino Voice here: California needs to rethink water, fire to mitigate climate risks, say experts at McGuire’s climate town hall

Drought conditions force Nash Ranch to cancel their corn maze this year

The ongoing drought in California has its farmers making tough decisions in terms of their crops.  The Nash Ranch in Redding was forced to make a few difficult decisions regarding their farm this year – because of the intense drought. One of which was completely canceling their corn maze.  Nash tells KRCR’s Daisy Caballero he knew pretty early on their corn maze wouldn’t be part of their 2021 pumpkin patch experience. … ”  Read more from KRCR here: Drought conditions force Nash Ranch to cancel their corn maze this year

Corning Olive Festival returns despite devastating drought impacts and low olive harvest

Olive oil, olive soap, olive wreaths… I want “olive” it! Corning’s 74th Annual Olive Festival kicked off Saturday in the Northstate’s very own Olive City.  Hosted by the Corning Chamber of Commerce, it was the first year the tradition fully returned after the pandemic. The executive manager for the chamber, Christina Hale, explains that the event far precedes 2021, 1946 to be exact. … ”  Read more from KRCR here: Corning Olive Festival returns despite devastating drought impacts and low olive harvest

NapaSan remains in wait-and-see mode for winery wastewater

Napa Sanitation District is willing to explore being part of the winery wastewater disposal solution — if it can be convinced there is a pressing problem. “Nobody’s beating our door down at the moment,” district Board Director and Napa County Supervisor Ryan Gregory said. Napa County has several hundred wineries that create wastewater containing biodegradable organic matter and other materials. This winery wastewater is hard for the NapaSan treatment plant to handle on a large scale, though the plant does treat some. On Wednesday, the NapaSan Board of Directors considered whether the district should do more for wineries. … ”  Read more from the Napa Register here: NapaSan remains in wait-and-see mode for winery wastewater

Monterey: Water supply questions are looming

” … On Dec. 31, 2021 the state government will cut the amount of water utility California American Water can pump from the Carmel River by more than 50 percent. This means 2022 will mark the first year that modern civilization on the Peninsula will have to get most of its water from somewhere other than the Carmel River. The state told Cal Am back in 1995 that the amount of water they were pumping from the river was illegal and contributing to the decline of the Carmel River steelhead trout, and that they had to find another water resource. They and the local powers-that-be had more than a quarter-century to figure it out and prepare for this day. … ” Read more from Monterey Weekly here: Monterey: Water supply questions are looming

Antelope Valley: Economic forum hears about importance of water supplies

Adequate water supplies are essential to the Antelope Valley and its future, an issue the Antelope Valley-East Kern Water Agency is working to ensure.  “Water is a very vital issue and it’s very important for the growth of the region. We take that responsibility … very seriously,” AVEK General Manager Dwayne Chisam said during the Antelope Valley Economic Development and Growth Enterprise Semi-Annual Fall Forum, Wednesday.  AVEK is water wholesaler and supplies water to other providers, such as Los Angeles County Waterworks and Quartz Hill Water District. Its own supplies come from a combination of groundwater and water from the State Water Project, delivered through the California Aqueduct. ... ”  Read more from the Antelope Valley Press here: Antelope Valley: Economic forum hears about importance of water supplies

Orange County: Wetland area that was damage by California oil spill could take years to recover

The oil spill off the Southern California coast is threatening fragile coastal ecosystems. Crude oil spewed from an underwater pipeline is now showing up on shorelines as far south as San Diego, roughly a hundred miles from where the leak began. NPR’s Nathan Rott visited a polluted wetland that could take years to recover. … ” Read transcript or listen at NPR here: Orange County: Wetland area that was damage by California oil spill could take years to recover

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Along the Colorado River …

Winter storm warnings in place as major snowstorm gets underway

Old Man Winter is gearing up to pay a visit across a wide swath of the western United States, and he will be bringing along snow, wind and the lowest temperatures of the season to the mountainous terrain.  Winter storm warnings were in place for parts of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, with winter weather advisories spread over a broader area including in parts of Colorado, Utah and Nevada. Snow was already falling across parts of Nevada, Idaho and Montana early Monday. … ”  Read more from AccuWeather here: Winter storm warnings in place as major snowstorm gets underway

Utah pushes forward on new pipeline near Great Basin National Park

During a summer of continued drought, a thirsty Utah town and the federal government are moving quickly to siphon water away from Nevada.  Federal regulators are set to release an environmental review on a project that will pump and pipe water from remote valleys near Great Basin National Park in Utah’s West Desert to the fast-growing, high-desert town of Cedar City.  The project will suck billions of gallons annually from a desert aquifer system located in Nevada and Utah –– and ultimately ends in the Great Salt Lake. The effort by the Central Iron County Water Conservancy District (CICWCD), in conjunction with the Cedar City office of the Bureau of Land Management, is the latest attempt by a regional water purveyor to export water from the heart of the Great Basin to a community that is already draining its own local water supply. … ”  Read more from the Sierra Nevada Ally here: Utah pushes forward on new pipeline near Great Basin National Park

Mine Tales: Hundreds of years of mining along the Lower Colorado River

Attempts to mine along the Lower Colorado began hundreds of years ago and continue today along the river, which begins at Lees Ferry and flows through Arizona, Nevada and California before reaching the Gulf of California. Native Americans extracted ore for body paint at least 500 years ago.  This was reported by Spanish explorer Capt. Marcos Farfán de los Godos while he was attempting to find Native American mines previously discovered near present-day Jerome by Spanish explorer Antonio de Espejo.  Spanish, French and Mexican miners extracted ore along the Colorado, as evidenced by an early smelter reported by American miners in the 1850s. … ”  Read more from the Arizona Daily Star here: Mine Tales: Hundreds of years of mining along the Lower Colorado River

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In national water news today …

One-fourth of US infrastructure is at risk of flooding amid ‘changing environment,’ report says

One-fourth of the United States’ “critical” infrastructure is at risk of flooding, a report released Monday warns.  The report pinpoints the nation’s flood risk to critical infrastructure, such as utilities, airports, ports and emergency services such as police, fire and hospitals. That’s in addition to residential properties, commercial properties, streets and local roads and social infrastructure such as schools and government buildings.  “Our work aims to determine the amount of flooding that would render infrastructure either inoperable or inaccessible,” said Jeremy Porter of the First Street Foundation, which prepared the report. … ”  Read more from USA Today here:  One-fourth of US infrastructure is at risk of flooding amid ‘changing environment,’ report says

How the U.S. legal system ignores tribal law: Q&A with Elizabeth Reese

Assistant Professor Elizabeth Reese, who is Nambé Pueblo, joined the Stanford Law School faculty as its first Native American member in June 2021. Her new article, published in the Stanford Law Review, analyzes the way United States legal institutions systematically ignore the legal structures created by tribal governments. She recently spoke with & the West about why she chose to study these ellipses in legal history, what harm the practice has done and what mainstream legal systems have missed. … ”  Read the article at Stanford’s & the West blog here:  How the U.S. legal system ignores tribal law: Q&A with Elizabeth Reese

Current reservoir and water conditions …

Click on any graphic to enter slideshow.

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More news and commentary in the weekend edition …

Photo by Mick Haupt on Unsplash

In California water news this weekend …

  • State Water Board approves new stream restoration measures for Mono Lake Basin
  • Editorial: How the deal to stop draining Mono Lake can help settle California’s future water wars
  • ICYMI … State Water Board launches new era of stream restoration at Mono Lake
  • State gets federal ultimatum over oilfield injection problems
  • As drought worsens, California farmers are being paid not to grow crops
  • Protecting meadows as green infrastructure in the face of climate change
  • New limits on water use spur conservation measures among farmers in California’s Central Valley
  • Delta Counties Commend Mayor Eric Garcetti for Conservation Efforts That Increase Water Supplies While Reducing Reliance on the Delta
  • Hydropower decline adds strain to power grids in drought
  • Impact of forest thinning on wildfires creates divisions
  • With a warming climate, coastal fog around the world is declining
  • And more …

Click here for the weekend edition of the Daily Digest.

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

NOTICE: Notice of Water Right Permit Application A033151 and Request for Release of Priority from A018334 – Santa Cruz County

WORKSHOP: California Water Commission to hold public workshops to explore well-managed groundwater trading programs

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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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