DAILY DIGEST, 10/18: Bay Area weather service says, ‘The storm door is open’; CA, Feds ask judge to OK water restrictions amid pressure to rollback Trump plan; Poseidon makes controversial demand of CA regulators ahead of desal vote; and more …


On the calendar today …

  • MEETING: The Delta Plan Interagency Implementation Committee will meet from 1pm to 3pm. Agenda items include a panel discussion on Ecosystem-based Management during drought moderated by State Water Resources Control Board Chair Joaquin Esquivel; a discussion on the formation of the DPIIC Restoration Subcommittee; and the Delta Science Action Agenda. Click here for the full agenda and remote access instructions.

In California water news today …

Shifting pattern to dump mountain snow, raise flood threat across the West this week

A flurry of storms are expected to march into the West Coast this week, bringing along a changeable mixture of rain, wind and snow for many places. While a dent in the ongoing drought is expected, it will come at a cost.  This week has already kicked off with a storm marching into the Pacific Northwest. The grey skies and spits of rain that are typical of autumn have led to a dreary end to the weekend along the Interstate 5 corridor across western Washington, Oregon and even Northern California. … ”  Read more from AccuWeather here: Shifting pattern to dump mountain snow, raise flood threat across the West this week

Bay Area weather service says, ‘The storm door is open’

A cold front passing over the San Francisco Bay Area Sunday night delivered widespread light rain, and the National Weather Service said Monday morning this was only the beginning of the rain the region will see in coming days.  A parade of storms is forecast to sweep the region in coming days, and over the next week deliver up to 4 to 5 inches in the North Bay, up to 2 inches in San Francisco and the East Bay and up to an inch in the South Bay.  “The Storm Door is officially open,” the weather service wrote on Twitter. “A series of wet systems are expected to impact the region throughout the week and into the weekend. Still some uncertainty in the long term, but more rain is on tap.” … ”  Read more from SF Gate here: Bay Area weather service says, ‘The storm door is open’

SEE ALSO:

Calif., Federal water officials ask judge to OK water restrictions amid pressure to rollback Trump plan

Amid the fallout of California’s worst water year in its history, the state will find its two primary water arteries under the management of a temporary, plan tendered to a Federal judge on Thursday, throwing out 2019 environmental rules that boosted water supplies to the Central Valley and Southern California.  The plan, which comes amid a cacophony of lawsuits waged both by the Newsom administration and environmental interest groups, was prepared by representatives of the California Department of Water Resources, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, National Marine Fisheries Service, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. … ”  Read more from the San Joaquin Valley Sun here: Calif., Federal water officials ask judge to OK water restrictions amid pressure to rollback Trump plan

Are drinking water providers liable under RCRA for contaminants they didn’t introduce?

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit recently vacated a summary judgment previously granted to the city of Vacaville, California, in a citizen suit brought under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). California River Watch v. City of Vacaville questioned whether a drinking water provider could have RCRA liability as a transporter of waste due to the presence of a contaminant in the drinking water which was not introduced by the provider and which did not cause the drinking water to fail applicable federal and state drinking water standards. ... ”  Continue reading at the National Law Review here: Are drinking water providers liable under RCRA for contaminants they didn’t introduce?

SEE ALSO:  The Law Is An Ass, RCRA Edition, from Foley Hoag Law and the Environment blog

California records driest year in a century

In a year of both extreme heat and extreme drought, California has reported its driest water year in terms of precipitation in a century, and experts fear the coming 12 months could be even worse.  The Western Regional Climate Center added average precipitation reported at each of its stations and calculated that a total of 11.87 inches of rain and snow fell in California in the 2021 water year. That’s half of what experts deem average during a water year in California: about 23.58 inches.  The climate center tallies rainfall by averaging all of the measured precipitation in the state at the end of a water year, which runs Oct. 1 through Sept. 30. ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here: California records driest year in a century

People should drink way more recycled wastewater

On a dusty hilltop in San Diego, the drinking water of the future courses through a wildly complicated and very loud jumble of tanks, pipes, and cylinders. Here at the North City Water Reclamation Plant, very not-drinkable wastewater is turned into a liquid so pure it would actually wreak havoc on your body if you imbibed it without further treatment.   First the system hits the wastewater with ozone, which destroys bacteria and viruses. Then it pumps the water through filters packed with coal granules that trap organic solids. Next, the water passes through fine membranes that snag any remaining solids and microbes. “The pores are so small, you can’t see them except with a really powerful microscope,” says Amy Dorman, deputy director of Pure Water San Diego, the city’s initiative to reduce its reliance on water imported from afar. “Basically, they only allow the water molecules to get through.” … ”  Continue reading at WIRED Magazine here: People should drink way more recycled wastewater

FERC includes financial assurance requirement in recent licensing orders

On September 23, 2021, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), for the first time, issued two orders reserving the right to require future license measures to ensure that licensees have adequate financial reserves “to carry out the terms of the license and Commission orders pertaining thereto.” FERC’s orders follow its January 2021 Notice of Inquiry, in which it solicited public comments on whether and how it should impose financial assurance requirements on hydropower licensees to ensure licensees have sufficient financial resources to maintain their projects in safe condition. FERC’s January 2021 Notice followed the costly failure of two dams in Michigan in May 2020, following several years of the licensee’s non-compliance with FERC dam safety orders, partly due to its alleged inability to pay for remedial work. … ”  Continue reading from Lexology here: FERC includes financial assurance requirement in recent licensing orders

Abandoned wells are a huge climate problem

The number of abandoned oil and gas wells in the United States is much higher than previously thought, according to an exclusive analysis shared with The Climate 202.  The analysis, which was done by the Environmental Defense Fund and McGill University, found that there are 81,283 documented orphan wells across the country that were drilled and then improperly abandoned by oil and gas companies. That’s nearly 1.5 times the previous estimate of roughly 56,000 wells from the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission, a quasi-governmental organization. Each orphan well is a major climate problem: It spews methane, a potent greenhouse gas. While methane breaks down in the atmosphere faster than carbon dioxide, it’s about 86 times more powerful at warming the planet in the short term. … ”  Read more from the Washington Post here: Abandoned wells are a huge climate problem

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In commentary today …

San Joaquin County deserves a fair chance to develop its American River water right application

San Joaquin County Supervisors Chuck Winn and Kathy Miller write, “Last month, the State Water Resources Control Board (SCWRB) held a public hearing on the pending water-right application of San Joaquin County for a permit to appropriate water from the South Fork American River at the Freeport Regional Water Authority Facility on the Sacramento River. The hearing spawned a lot of misinformed conjecture, especially among Sacramento County water interests, as to why San Joaquin County should receive priority water rights to the American River superseding other Sacramento-area water providers.  It cannot be emphasized enough that San Joaquin County never intended to rely on the American River. … ”  Continue reading at Maven’s Notebook here: San Joaquin County deserves a fair chance to develop its American River water right application

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In regional water news and commentary today …

Untaming a river: The stakes behind America’s largest dam removal

For millennia, Native Americans celebrated the salmon migrating up the Klamath River as a gift from the gods. Then, starting 100 years ago, came the dams. Fish stocks nosedived. Farmers flocked to the area, staking out fields that could now be abundantly irrigated.  Now, four large dams on the Klamath River are due to be torn down in what is called the largest dam removal project in American history.  But it could be too late. Environmentalists already see fish migrations dwindling in tributaries of the Klamath – a warning of further, potentially inevitable decline to come. Farmers upriver, meanwhile, who depend on irrigation, will continue to lay claim to their share of water from the river system.  … ”  Read more from the Christian Science Monitor here: Untaming a river: The stakes behind America’s largest dam removal

3800 plants and 2,900 pounds bud found at illegal grows near Willits, says CDFW

On Oct. 11, 2021, wildlife officers with the California Department of Fish & Wildlife (CDFW) served three search warrants in the First and Third Gates area of Willits in Mendocino County. The search warrants were part of an investigation into unlawful cultivation of cannabis.  Support was provided by Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office, Mendocino Major Crimes Task Force, Department of Cannabis Control, a CDFW Environmental Scientist and the State Water Board.  The properties that were subject to search warrant services were in the Sherwood Creek watershed, which is tributary to Outlet Creek, which is then a direct tributary to the Eel River. The Sherwood and Outlet Creek watersheds support numerous threatened and/or endangered fish and wildlife species, including the western pond turtle, foothill yellow-legged frog, steelhead trout and Coho salmon. … ”  Read more from the Redheaded Blackbelt here: 3800 plants and 2,900 pounds bud found at illegal grows near Willits, says CDFW

Lake Tahoe waters plummet as drought, climate change plague resort

Lake Tahoe’s water level has dropped so low that water is no longer flowing into the Truckee River and salmon aren’t expected to spawn in a major tributary this year.  Some boat ramps and docks are hundreds of feet from the water line, and clumps of stringy algae have been washing up on beaches, said Geoffrey Schladow, director of the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center.  “It’s putting us on warning that things could get a lot worse,” he said. ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here: Lake Tahoe waters plummet as drought, climate change plague resort

This is what happens when Lake Tahoe hits a critically low water threshold

The buoys at Regan Beach in South Lake Tahoe are still moored to cement blocks. They still have tags marking their registration. But they are not floating on the surface of the water.  Instead, the white, globe-shaped buoys are sinking into the mud. Piers stretch above bare ground. An abandoned motorboat, still attached to its buoy, is marooned in ankle-deep water.  In South Lake Tahoe, where the beaches are shallow, the water has receded so far from the shore that it’s as if the tide has gone out, revealing a lake bottom oozing with slimy, green algae. … ”  Continue reading at SF Gate here: This is what happens when Lake Tahoe hits a critically low water threshold

SEE ALSO: Harmful algal blooms found at 2 South Lake Tahoe beaches, from the San Francisco Chronicle

Marin County ends historically dry rainfall year

Marin County’s two largest water suppliers have wrapped up a dismal water year with rainfall at or near record lows dating back more than 100 years.  The water year runs from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30. After two dry winters in a row, managers at both the Marin Municipal Water District and the North Marin Water District say consistent significant rainfall will be needed to begin refilling reservoirs, some of which could be depleted by summer.  The two dry years have parched the ground to the point that 140% of average rainfall will be needed statewide to generate normal runoff to refill reservoirs, according to state water officials. ... ”  Read more from the Marin Independent Journal here: Marin County ends historically dry rainfall year

How Paso Robles is taking sustainable wine to the next level

Vintners in this beautiful part of the Central Coast, halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, are committed to growing grapes that produce high-quality wine that is reflective of the land and the sustainable efforts they employ. Winemakers, farmers, and winery owners across the region use practices that aim to protect the environment, support social responsibility, and encourage soil conservation. As California’s largest and most diverse wine region, this wine community acts as stewards of the land to ensure that it is healthy for generations to come. … ”  Read more from Vine Pair here: How Paso Robles is taking sustainable wine to the next level

Santa Barbara Channelkeeper influence, effectiveness grows with the flow

In 2020, Santa Barbara Channelkeeper celebrated 20 years of environmental stewardship. In that time, the nonprofit organization has spearheaded watershed monitoring, conservation and sustainability initiatives throughout Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.  With a small but mighty core team led by new executive director Ted Morton, Channelkeeper works to protect and restore the Santa Barbara Channel and its watersheds through science-based advocacy, education, fieldwork and enforcement. ... ”  Continue reading at Noozhawk here: Santa Barbara Channelkeeper influence, effectiveness grows with the flow

Palmdale Water District deal to buy from LA County is extended

The Palmdale Water District extended its agreement with Los Angeles County Sanitation District 20 for the purchase of recycled water for the District to use for recharge or other reclamation uses.  The contract was originally signed in October 2016, allowing the District to purchase recycled water from the Sanitation District’s treatment plant in Palmdale for “beneficial use” in projects through the District and the Palmdale Recycled Water Authority, a joint powers agency with the District and the City of Palmdale. … ”  Read more from the Antelope Valley Press here: Palmdale Water District deal to buy from LA County is extended

Poseidon makes controversial demand of CA regulators before their vote on proposed Huntington Beach desal plant

One water company, its supporters and a host of environmental activists have traded fire for two decades over seemingly every aspect of a seawater desalination plant proposed to go on the Huntington Beach coastline.  That fight could soon see some type of conclusion when the Poseidon Water Co.’s proposed desalting facility goes before California Coastal Commissioners either later this year or in 2022, for a decisive vote on whether to grant the project its needed permit. … Poseidon has raised another issue to fight regulators on as the company’s proposal enters what may be the last lap.  In late September, the company said in writing that it won’t pay state regulators the required $326,623 fee as part of Poseidon’s application to the Coastal Commission for its needed project permit. … ”  Read more from the Voice of the OC here: Poseidon makes controversial demand of CA regulators before their vote on proposed Huntington Beach desal plant 

Cadiz shares plunge as company reconfigures water transfer plan

It’s been a rough and perplexing six weeks for shareholders of downtown-based water infrastructure development company Cadiz Inc.  Shares have plunged nearly 50% since Labor Day weekend from a trading range of about $13 to a new, lower range of about $7. And while that’s been jolting for investors, it has also been a bit of a mystery.  Cadiz executives had been busy reconfiguring the company’s decades-old plan to transfer water from its Mojave Desert aquifer to water agencies throughout Southern California. They had begun to focus on converting a pipeline the company recently purchased rather than building a new pipeline to connect with the Colorado River Aqueduct. … ”  Read more from the LA Business Journal here: Cadiz shares plunge as company reconfigures water transfer plan

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Along the Colorado River …

Kamala Harris to visit Lake Mead to discuss drought and climate change

Vice President Kamala Harris on Monday will highlight the problems caused by the West’s drought as she visits Lake Mead and makes the case for the Biden administration’s infrastructure and climate change proposals, which have stalled in Congress.  Harris will be briefed by Bureau of Reclamation officials about elevation levels at the Nevada reservoir that supplies drinking water to 25 million people in the American West and Mexico, White House officials said Sunday. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: Kamala Harris to visit Lake Mead to discuss drought and climate change

Scientists see a La Niña coming. What does that mean for the dry American south-west?

The wet winter the American south-west has hoped for as it battles extreme drought and heat is increasingly unlikely to materialize as scientists now predict that a phenomenon known as La Niña will develop for the second year in a row.  The weather system could intensify the worst effects of the drought much of the region already findings itself in, including higher wildfire risks and water shortages through 2022.  Here’s what to know. … Continue reading at The Guardian here: Scientists see a La Niña coming. What does that mean for the dry American south-west?

This odd Colorado River fish faces an uncertain future

The Colorado River has been called the American West’s hardest-working river. Lately, it’s been earning overtime.  The river supplies water to some of the country’s largest cities, including Los Angeles and Las Vegas, as well as its most fertile swath of farmland, California’s Imperial Valley. Forty million people in seven states rely on the Colorado every day, and each year six million more visit its most magnificent stretch, the Grand Canyon.  But many non-human creatures also depend on the Colorado watershed, most of all the strange, hardy fish that prowl its turbid depths. … ”  Read more from National Geographic here: This odd Colorado River fish faces an uncertain future

Has the time for a Lake Powell ‘drought pool’ already come and gone?

The 96-degree heat has barely broken early on a September evening near Fruita. As the sun prepares to set, the ailing Colorado River moves thick and quiet next to Interstate 70, crawling across the Utah state line as it prepares to deliver billions of gallons of water to Lake Powell, 320 miles south.  During this past summer the river has again been badly depleted by a drought year whose spring runoff was so meager it left water managers here in Western Colorado stunned. As a result Lake Powell is just one-third full and its hydropower plants could cease operating as soon as July of 2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. … ”  Read more from The Gazette here: Has the time for a Lake Powell ‘drought pool’ already come and gone?

Radio: Talking about demand management and how to leave more water in the Colorado River

Lake Powell is at about one-third of its capacity. And water managers in the upper Colorado River basin are trying to develop a plan that would send more water to the giant reservoir — which serves as a water-savings account for the upper basin — in order to prop up the reservoir’s falling water level.  Aspen Journalism’s managing editor and water reporter, Heather Sackett, has reported that the Colorado River Water Conservation District, which represents Western Slope water users, is working on its own demand-management plan as an alternative to a plan being developed by the Colorado Water Conservation Board, a state agency.  Sackett spoke with Aspen Public Radio’s Halle Zander in a piece that aired Oct. 15. Sackett talked about some of the core concepts that are shaping a potential demand-management program in Colorado and in the other upper-basin states.” Listen to the radio spot at Aspen Public Radio here: Radio: Talking about demand management and how to leave more water in the Colorado River

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In national water news today …

EPA unveils strategy to regulate toxic ‘forever chemicals’

The Biden administration is launching a broad strategy to regulate toxic industrial compounds associated with serious health conditions that are used in products ranging from cookware to carpets and firefighting foams. Michael Regan, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, said it is taking a series of actions to limit pollution from a cluster of long-lasting chemicals known as PFAS that are increasingly turning up in public drinking water systems, private wells and even food. The plan is intended to restrict PFAS from being released into the environment, accelerate cleanup of PFAS-contaminated sites such as military bases and increase investments in research to learn more about where PFAS are found and how their spread can be prevented. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: EPA unveils strategy to regulate toxic ‘forever chemicals’

White House unveils multiagency plan to cut PFAS pollution

The White House EPA announced on Monday plans, ongoing efforts, and research eight agencies have undertaken to reduce PFAS in the nation’s air, water, land, and food.  They include the EPA’s Roadmap, a three-year strategy describing specific regulations with deadlines for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, that the Environmental Protection Agency will issue and research it will do to understand where additional controls may be needed.  The EPA rules include releasing by fall 2023 final drinking water limits for the two most-studied and particularly hazardous PFAS: perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS). The agency also will designate certain PFAS as hazardous superfund substances by the summer of 2023. … ”  Read more from Bloomberg Law here: White House unveils multiagency plan to cut PFAS pollution

EPA, Army announce Regional Roundtables on WOTUS

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Army are calling on communities to propose roundtables to provide input on the implications of the new “WOTUS” rule. The regional roundtables will engage stakeholders representing many perspectives in important conversations designed to help the agency work to develop an enduring definition of the “Waters of the U.S. Rule” that supports public health, protects the environment, agricultural activity, and economic growth. … ”  Read more from Ag Net West here: EPA, Army announce Regional Roundtables on WOTUS

NASA turns technology back toward Earth to focus on climate change

After decades of gazing into space, NASA is turning its technology back toward Earth to study the effects of drought, fire and climate change on the Blue Planet.  At the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge on Thursday, scientists and state officials gathered to discuss how satellite data, 3-D imaging and new radar and laser technologies can provide invaluable insights into Earth’s rapidly changing systems.  Some said the meeting marked a sea change for previously siloed agencies, and underscored the need to work together to solve the climate crisis. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: NASA turns technology back toward Earth to focus on climate change

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More news and commentary in the weekend edition …

In California water news this weekend …

  • It’s unclear what a ‘moisture-rich cold front’ expected to reach the SF Bay Area will do
  • Substantial, fire season-mitigating late-October precipitation in NorCal? Plus: present drought breaks new records in CA
  • Today’s forecast …
  • Climate change intensifying competition for water in the West
  • Should state earmark billions for water projects every year? Voters could decide in 2022
  • What does the winter hold for a drought-stricken California?
  • How La Niña could affect Northern California’s drought
  • La Niña is back. What does that mean for a parched Southern California?
  • Silicon Valley’s investor-driven vision to remake the agriculture industry does not look like farming as we know it.
  • Harmful algal blooms detected at Lake Tahoe beach
  • County of Sacramento sued in polluted discharge litigation
  • Despite a punishing drought, San Diego has water. It wasn’t easy.
  • Arizona: Unique water plant enabling Intel’s massive expansion
  • And more …

Click here to read the Daily Digest, weekend edition.

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

NOTICE: Curtailment of Diversions in Mill Creek and Deer Creek: Effective Today, October 15, 2021

ANNOUNCEMENT: 2022 CWEMF Annual Meeting: Call for Sessions, Oral Presentations, Posters & Pop-Up Talks

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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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