DAILY DIGEST, 10/22: Another bomb cyclone brewing as part of West Coast storm train; It will take more than rain to end drought in Western US; Delta salinity barrier to stay in 2022; San Joaquin salmon coaxed through the long, hot summer; and more …


On the calendar today …

  • MEETING: The Central Valley Flood Protection Board meets at 9am. Agenda items include a legislative update, an update on the Delta Stewardship Council’s Delta Plan, and a briefing on Army Corps projects within the Central Valley. Click here for complete agenda and remote access instructions.
  • FREE WEBINAR: Speeding North Coast Forest Health Implementation from 5pm to 6:30om.  This Zoom will include a discussion of a Forest Health Management Plan template that was developed by the Eel River Recovery Project and can be used throughout the North Coast. Pat Higgins will make a presentation about accomplishments of the Tenmile Creek Forest Health Pilot Project, which was funded with California Climate Investments money granted by the California Natural Resources Agency, Department of Conservation through the North Coast Resource Partnership. Tim Bailey will address how forest health planning can be strengthened through strategic use of remote sensing and LIDAR. Registered Professional Forester Ken Baldwin, a principal at BBW Forestry, will join a panel and share his insights.  Click here to register.

In California water news today …

INCOMING STORMS

Another bomb cyclone brewing as part of West Coast storm train

A powerful bomb cyclone that reached maximum intensity over the northern Pacific Thursday afternoon marked the beginning of an intense and stormy stretch for the West Coast. That storm will continue to send additional storms into the region through next Tuesday, unleashing nearly 2 feet of rain in some areas and up to 8 feet of snow over the mountains.  … On Friday, a wide satellite view provided a stark visual of what’s in store for the West Coast over the next several days. Three storms lined up over the northern Pacific Ocean are headed for the western U.S. and will each bring varying degrees of intensity and impacts, but the cumulative effects of all three storms will be dramatic. … ”  Read more from AccuWeather here:  Another bomb cyclone brewing as part of West Coast storm train

Category 5 atmospheric river takes aim at Northern California with series of strong storms

Several strong storms are rushing toward Central and Northern California, bringing much-needed rain to drought-stricken areas beginning Thursday night, but also raising fears of flooding in fresh fire scars.  A large trough of low pressure hovering off the coast of the Pacific Northwest is driving repeated rounds of precipitation in the northern part of California and ushering in the first major storm of the season, National Weather Service forecasters said.  What’s known as an “atmospheric river” will pump continuous moisture over the region, said Ryan Kittell, a meteorologist with the weather service’s Oxnard station, and experts say it will be a doozy. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: Category 5 atmospheric river takes aim at Northern California with series of strong storms

Trio of storms to parade through West Coast, shut down wildfire season

A powerful bomb cyclone developed over the northern Pacific Wednesday night into Thursday morning. The massive storm will be the catalyst that ushers in storm after storm to the West Coast through next Tuesday, unleashing nearly 2 feet of rain in some areas and up to several feet of snow over the mountains. Even though the precipitation is much needed across the drought-stricken region, it could lead to serious flooding, mudslides and significant threats to lives and property.  As the storm train began, gale warnings, high wind warnings and advisories and flash flood warnings were in effect from Northern California through Washington on Thursday.  But the storm won’t be all bad news. … ”  Read more from AccuWeather here: Trio of storms to parade through West Coast, shut down wildfire season

Burned by wildfire, Northern California towns now fear flooding and toxic runoff from storm

In the burned-out town of Greenville, deep on a Plumas County mountainside, the storms now battering Northern California are another trauma in a year of heartbreak.  “Be careful what you wish for,” Plumas County Supervisor Kevin Goss said Thursday, just off a briefing with state emergency response officials. Torrential rainfall is expected to soften the state’s drought this weekend, but the rain also brings the risk of debris flows and floods in places hit by wildfires.  “We are going to have some problems,” Goss said. “It was inevitable for this to happen this way. But we will deal with it. We are strong and resilient.” ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here: Burned by wildfire, Northern California towns now fear flooding and toxic runoff from storm

Extreme rain heads for California’s burn scars, raising the risk of mudslides – this is what cascading climate disasters look like

Two powerful storm systems known as atmospheric rivers are heading for northern California and Oregon, a region in the midst of an historic drought.  While the storms will bring much-needed water to a parched region and should significantly lower the wildfire risk, they also bring dangerous new flood and mudslide risks, particularly in areas recovering from wildfires.  Wildfires strip away vegetation and leave the soil less able to absorb water. A downpour on these vulnerable landscapes can quickly erode the ground as fast-moving water carries debris and mud with it.  The National Weather Service has warned of ash and debris flows from Oct. 21-26 in several burned areas, including the site of the nearly 1-million-acre Dixie Fire in the Sierra Nevada. … ”  Read more from The Conversation here: Extreme rain heads for California’s burn scars, raising the risk of mudslides – this is what cascading climate disasters look like

Mammoth Mountain set to open winter season 2 weeks early

Mammoth Mountain has moved up its opening date for the winter sports season to later this month — just in time for Halloween — amid forecasts of the region’s first major storm of the season, the resort announced Thursday.  The popular skiing and snowboarding destination was originally slated to open on Nov. 13, but the season will instead begin on Oct. 29. It will be just the 10th time in Mammoth’s history that the mountain has opened in October for skiing and snowboarding.  Resort officials said they moved up the opening date due in part to an atmospheric river that is expected to take aim at the Eastern Sierra beginning this weekend, potentially dumping multiple feet of snow in the region. The National Weather Service’s forecast called for periods of heavy mountain snow from Sunday through Tuesday. ... ”  Read more from KTLA Channel 5 here: Mammoth Mountain set to open winter season 2 weeks early

ONGOING DROUGHT

It will take more than rain to end drought in Western US

Californians rejoiced this week when big drops of water started falling from the sky for the first time in any measurable way since the spring, an annual soaking that heralds the start of the rainy season following some of the hottest and driest months on record.  But as the rain was beginning to fall on Tuesday night, Gov. Gavin Newsom did a curious thing: He issued a statewide drought emergency and gave regulators permission to enact mandatory statewide water restrictions if they choose.  Newsom’s order might seem jarring, especially as forecasters predict up to 7 inches (18 centimeters) of rain could fall on parts of the Northern California mountains and Central Valley this week. But experts say it makes sense if you think of drought as something caused not by the weather, but by climate change. … ”  Read more from NBC 4 here: It will take more than rain to end drought in Western US

SEE ALSO: Drought: UCI researchers say recent rain isn’t enough to quench California’s scorched soil, from ABC 7

Delta salinity barrier to stay in 2022

In response to continuing drought conditions, California’s Department of Water Resources (DWR) announced that it will keep the West False River salinity barrier in place until November 2022.  Construction of the rock barrier was completed in June, and the emergency permit issued by the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) originally required its removal by Nov. 30, 2021. “Once the Delta gets salty, it renders it not useful for all beneficial uses,” said Jacob McQuirk, operations and maintenance manager for DWR. “That’s interior agriculture. That’s folks like the Contra Costa Water District that rely on it to fill Los Vaqueros. Everybody that relies on that fresh Delta water will have to wait for a real winter precipitation event to clear it out. That becomes the issue. Once you lose it, the only way to get it back is Mother Nature divvying up some precipitation. We can’t make it any better, mind you. We can only protect what we’ve got.” … ”  Read more from The Press here: Delta salinity barrier to stay in 2022

In this California county, one town has no water. Another has enough to share.

This town took a big step toward making fresh water along the rocky, wild North Coast of California.  As its wells ran dry this month, town officials looked to technology as an emergency measure, hoping to keep both residents and a lifeblood tourism industry with running faucets. The town spent $335,000 on a desalination plant, a small machine of tubes and pumps that officials christened earlier this month. Turning brackish water into useful water, the plant now provides a quarter of the local supply. Just a few miles down Highway 1, desperate residents of another town have been urged to buy thousand-gallon storage tanks to catch any water that may fall from the sky. And over the coastal range to the east, Ukiah is awash in water and has begun sending tankers full to its dry neighbors near the sea. … ”  Continue reading at Washington Post here: In this California county, one town has no water. Another has enough to share.

One of California’s wealthiest counties could run out of water next summer

Welcome to the future in Marin County, one where a $2 million house with an ocean view doesn’t necessarily come with a reliable water supply.  Water managers are taking extraordinary measures to keep faucets flowing should the state enter a third year of a punishing drought this winter. That this affluent redwood-studded ecotopia faces such a possibility, though, is a harbinger of a climate-constrained destiny that is fast arriving.  “These droughts are now on a new timeline,” says Newsha Ajami, a hydrologist and director of urban water policy at Stanford University’s Water in the West program. “There used to be at least 10 years in between droughts in California, which was time enough for water ecosystems to recover.” … ”  Continue reading at Yahoo News here: One of California’s wealthiest counties could run out of water next summer

Winter weather outlook: California drought could worsen, what else to expect

The devastating drought in Southern California is expected to continue or worsen this winter, with drier-than-average conditions forecast for the hard-hit Southwest, including Southern California, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Thursday in its winter weather outlook.  NOAA predicts drought conditions to continue in the Southwest, Plains and Missouri River Basin. But drought improvement is possible in Northern California, the Pacific Northwest, the upper Midwest and Hawaii, NOAA said. … ”  Read more from ABC News here: Winter weather outlook: California drought could worsen, what else to expect

SEE ALSO: NOAA releases winter outlook: Here’s what to expect in SoCal as La Niña emerges, from KTLA

Drought in California: What are the consequences for the rest of the US?

The entire state of California is now in a drought emergency. That was already true in much of the state, and it’s been having a big impact on farmers and ranchers — some of whom have been facing water cuts this summer.  Daniel Munch, an economist at the American Farm Bureau Federation: “It’s our largest agricultural producing state in the country. Fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, California produces over 90% of our production by value.” This means that “[a] drought has a major impact on the ability for the rest of our states and the rest of our consumers across the country to have access to those products.” … ”  Read more from Fresh Plaza here: Drought in California: What are the consequences for the rest of the US?

OTHER STATEWIDE WATER NEWS

San Joaquin salmon coaxed through the long, hot summer

Spring-run Chinook Salmon are starting to spawn in the San Joaquin River after a brutally dry, hot summer. But the success of the juvenile fish is uncertain as the drought and high temperatures continue.  Spring-run salmon, which return to the river from the ocean as adults in spring months, have been absent from the San Joaquin River for more than 70 years because of dams that dried up the river. But the federal government has reintroduced the fish in an attempt to bring back the once native population.  This year, 93 reintroduced adult fish returned from the ocean. Of those, 74 survived and are now at the top of the river near the Friant Dam northeast of Fresno to spawn. Those reintroduced fish are spawning alongside 200 salmon released from the federal government’s salmon breeding facility. … ”  Read more from SJV Water here: San Joaquin salmon coaxed through the long, hot summer

State to vote on whether abandoned vessels in Sacramento County’s Delta to be removed

The California State Lands Commission said there are at least five vessels in “a waterway directly off the San Joaquin River in southern Sacramento County” that need to be removed.  On Thursday, the commission will vote on if officials can take ownership of the abandoned vessels in the Sevenmile Slough and remove them.  The commission said in a staff report that since 2013, officials tried to compel Michael Skarry to remove his property in Sevenmile Slough, which are either grounded or sunk. The report states Skarry died in 2019, “without taking responsibility for his ADVs or leaving resources capable of addressing the debris.” Since his death, state and federal officials have worked to monitor the debris for stability and safety. ... ”  Read more from Channel 10 here: State to vote on whether abandoned vessels in Sacramento County’s Delta to be removed

Biden vs. Feinstein, Costa, Harder & Calif. GOP: Temporary Calif. water plan gets pushback on Capitol Hill

California Democrats and Republicans are pushing back against a temporary plan to manage the state’s primary water projects as the Biden administration aims to dismantle Trump-era environmental rules which increased water delivery throughout the Central Valley.  Last week, a federal judge reviewed an interim operations plan for the Central Valley Project (CVP) which was submitted by 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.  The Newsom administration and environmental interest groups brought lawsuits forward against the Trump-era 2019 biological opinions which govern the CVP. … ”  Read more from the San Joaquin Valley Sun here: Biden vs. Feinstein, Costa, Harder & Calif. GOP: Temporary Calif. water plan gets pushback on Capitol Hill

Beavers build ecosystems of resilience

Deep in the Cameron Peak burn scar, nestled among charred hills, there’s an oasis of green—an idyllic patch of trickling streams that wind through a lush grass field. Apart from a few scorched branches on the periphery, it’s hard to tell that this particular spot was in the middle of Colorado’s largest-ever wildfire just a year ago.  This wetland was spared thanks to the work of beavers.  The mammals, quite famously, dam up streams to make ponds and a sprawling network of channels. Beavers are clumsy on land, but talented swimmers; so the web of pools and canals lets them find safety anywhere within the meadow.  On a recent visit to that patch of preserved land in Poudre Canyon, ecohydrologist Emily Fairfax emphasized the size of the beavers’ canal network. … ”  Read more from Science Friday here: Beavers build ecosystems of resilience

Conservation groups sue US Forest Service over gold exploration

Four conservation groups filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Forest Service on Thursday in an effort to stop an exploratory gold drilling operation in California’s Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains.  In September, the government agency approved a proposal by the Canada-based Kore Mining Ltd. to not only drill for gold but to build roads on public land. According to the plaintiffs — the Center for Biological Diversity, the Western Watersheds Project, Friends of the Inyo, and the Sierra Club — the mining exploration may have a devastating effect on the local habitat, including the bi-state sage grouse, an iconic bird famous for its mating dances whose population has dwindled in recent years. … ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service here: Conservation groups sue US Forest Service over gold exploration

NASA launches tool that measures Western water loss

NASA on Thursday launched an online platform with information on how much water evaporates into the atmosphere from plants, soils and other surfaces in the U.S. West, data it says could help water managers, farmers and state officials better manage resources in the parched region.  The platform, OpenET, uses satellite imagery from the Landsat program, a decades-long project of NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey that records human and natural impacts on Earth’s surface.  Specifically, it provides data for 17 Western states — down to the quarter-acre — on how much evapotranspiration has taken place. That’s the process by which moisture in leaves, soil and other surfaces evaporates into the air. … ”  Read more from the AP here: NASA launches tool that measures Western water loss

Measuring water use in California’s Delta is a “fool’s errand.” OpenET will change that.

As the hub of California’s water system, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is one of the most hydrologically complex and hotly contested areas in the state, if not the world.  That’s according to Brett Baker, a sixth-generation pear farmer and attorney for the Central Delta Water Agency, who also studied biology and fish in the Delta at UC Davis. The agency is one of three in the Delta that provided funding to OpenET, a new online water data platform that lets farmers and water managers easily track how much water crops use.  Starting in January, the state will allow farmers to use OpenET to report their annual water use in the Delta, which supplies water to 25 million people and 3 million acres of Central Valley farmland. … ”  Read more from the Environmental Defense Fund here: Measuring water use in California’s Delta is a “fool’s errand.” OpenET will change that.

Study suggests flooding could reach never-before-seen levels in Sacramento, Central valleys

While wildfires and droughts dominate California weather, residents have to prepare for another kind of disaster — flooding.  Sacramento is no stranger to seeing flooding of epic proportions. It happened during the Great Flood of 1862 that completely submerged Old Town, and the evidence is still right below our feet.  Floodwaters have plagued the Central Valley several more times before, happening again in 1986, 1995, 1997, 2006 and 2017, but new research by the organization Climate Central suggests that in 100 years, flooding in the Sacramento and Central valleys could reach levels never seen before. … ”  Read more from Fox 40 here: Study suggests flooding could reach never-before-seen levels in Sacramento, Central valleys

Appeal court strikes down hazardous statewide California pesticide spray program

The California Court of Appeal (Third District, Sacramento) has ruled that a statewide pesticide spraying program violates state law. The court found that the program, launched in 2014 and administered by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), contravenes California’s landmark 1970 Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). It does so, the court found, by failing to: assess and reduce damages of pesticide applications to bees, other pollinators, and water bodies; conduct site-specific environmental reviews; and notify the public before spraying is conducted. This decision is a victory, and a step toward a less-toxic California, say plaintiffs and many health and environmental advocates, including Beyond Pesticides. ... ”  Read more from Beyond Pesticides here: Appeal court strikes down hazardous statewide California pesticide spray program

Feinstein, Padilla urge IRS to exempt utility assistance from federal taxation

Senators Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla (both D-Calif.) wrote to Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner Charles P. Rettig requesting confirmation that utility assistance provided through the American Rescue Plan Act’s Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds are not subject to federal income taxation.  In the letter, the senators highlighted California’s efforts to use federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act to deliver utility assistance to households or populations facing negative economic impacts due to COVID-19. California is using a portion of its $27 billion allocation to provide $993.5 million in assistance for electric and natural gas customers and $985 million in assistance for water and wastewater customers. Both programs will assist residential and commercial customers. ... ”  Read more from Senator Feinstein’s office here:  Feinstein, Padilla urge IRS to exempt utility assistance from federal taxation

Sheriff says family on California hike died of extreme heat

A Northern California sheriff says a family and their dog died of extreme heat exhaustion and dehydration while hiking in a remote area in August.  Mariposa County Sheriff Jeremy Briese said Thursday that John Gerrish, his wife, Ellen Chung, their 1-year-old daughter, Miju, and their dog were walking in extreme heat before they died. Briese says their water container was empty. … ”  Read more from KPMH here: Sheriff says family on California hike died of extreme heat

SEE ALSO: Officials disclose what killed a family hiking in Mariposa County, from the San Francisco Chronicle

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In commentary today …

Column: California state government is admirably trying to address drought. It’s a tough nut to crack

Columnist George Skelton writes, “We just finished the second-driest water season on record in California. Worse, it was the driest two-year period.  Only 1924 was drier, according to the state Department of Water Resources. And back then, California had a population of just 4.5 million. Now we have 39.5 million people gulping water — plus a lot of overplanted thirsty nut orchards in the arid San Joaquin Valley.  The two dry years “surpass ‘the great drought’ of ’76-’77,” says DWR Director Karla Nemeth. And the most recent drought years in the middle of the last decade “are way back in the rearview mirror now.”  We’ll really be up a dry creek if this winter produces less-than-normal precipitation — whatever normal has become as the planet warms. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: Column: California state government is admirably trying to address drought. It’s a tough nut to crack

Why San Diego County should be spared mandatory California water cutbacks

The San Diego Union Tribune editorial board writes, ” … Californians are used to this cycle of drought, and San Diego water regulators and residents alike have done their part for decades to prepare, diversifying our water resources to reduce our reliance on Colorado River water by adding desalination and water purification to our mix as shorter showers, browner lawns and dirtier cars became the norm. But even that didn’t stop Gov. Gavin Newsom from adding San Diego County to a drought emergency declaration list that has now cut environmental regulations, streamlined multijurisdictional cooperation and paved the way for mandates in all 58 counties. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune here: Why San Diego County should be spared mandatory California water cutbacks

Rogue environmentalists put Californians in harm’s way by blocking forest thinning projects

The Sacramento Bee editorial board writes, “In the scramble to evacuate all of South Lake Tahoe in late August, there was a palpable fear among fleeing residents that the destructive Caldor Fire could raze one of the largest communities in the Tahoe basin. Thankfully, after firefighters mounted a massive defense, South Lake Tahoe was spared. Cal Fire officials and forest managers credited previous forest treatment projects that had helped slow the fire’s spread and gave crews precious time to strengthen their lines and protect thousands of threatened properties. California desperately needs to thin more of its forestland and reduce fire risks so there are more success stories like Tahoe and fewer like Paradise or Greenville. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: Rogue environmentalists put Californians in harm’s way by blocking forest thinning projects

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In regional water news and commentary today …

NORTH COAST

Atmospheric river to bring more rain to Humboldt County

A strong atmospheric river moving toward the North Coast is expected to bring lots of rain to the region and relief to rivers affected by the ongoing drought.  The weather pattern is nothing unusual as October is when Humboldt County typically begins transitioning into the wettest part of the year.  “Some years October’s really wet, some years it can be completely dry. So this is pretty much on par with what we would expect for the storm systems we get this time of year,” Aylward said. “We do have a really strong atmospheric river moving towards California for this weekend, the second half of this weekend to Monday… This particular system is a little stronger than we would typically see this early in the year.”  The incoming rain is expected to raise river levels. ... ”  Read more from the Eureka Times-Standard here: Atmospheric river to bring more rain to Humboldt County

Fort Bragg downgrades water emergency to Stage 2 warning

The topic of water conservation was back on the agenda at the Fort Bragg City Council meeting last week. The council members passed a resolution to move the City from a Stage 4 Water Crisis to a Stage 2 Water Warning. With rain beginning to fall and with more forecast in the coming days, the downgrade resulted from increased water supply from the City’s new desalinization unit, increased flows in the Noyo River, and the City’s ability to restore Summers Lane Reservoir to full capacity. … ”  Read more from the Fort Bragg Advocate here: Fort Bragg downgrades water emergency to Stage 2 warning

MOUNTAIN COUNTIES

‘The damage is done’: Tahoe is bracing for debris slides, flooding in Caldor Fire scars

More than two months after it ignited, the U.S. Forest Service declared the Caldor Fire fully contained Thursday, but the aftermath is just beginning.  As weather forecasters warned of an impending atmospheric river, South Tahoe residents were piling up free sandbags on Thursday to protect their homes from debris flows that could rip from the scalded earth in the Caldor Fire burn scars. … ”  Read more from SF Gate here: ‘The damage is done’: Tahoe is bracing for debris slides, flooding in Caldor Fire scars

The Caldor Fire is 100% contained, but that doesn’t mean the danger is over

After burning for 67 days and coming dangerously close to South Lake Tahoe, the Caldor Fire has been 100% contained.  But that doesn’t mean the fire is extinguished, said Evan Guzik, public information officer for the incident management team assigned to the fire based at Heavenly Ski Resort.  “Containment is a measure of the amount of line around the wildfire and as of today, with the weather and fire behavior we are seeing, we do not expect the fire to move beyond the line where it is right now,” said Guzik.  “There is still plenty of heat left that we have not addressed,” said Guzik, “and that will continue to burn well into the winter.” … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: The Caldor Fire is 100% contained, but that doesn’t mean the danger is over

Nevada County preparing for potential flash flooding

People in Nevada county are bracing for potential flooding in areas hit hard by wildfires. From fire season to rain, the county continues to be in mother nature’s crosshairs.  “The erosion is probably going to be pretty bad,” speculated homeowner, Kevin Fatemi “The main thing is the erosion it eats away at the foundation of homes and the hillside and sometimes it falls down on the road,” he said. ... ”  Read more from Channel 13 here: Nevada County preparing for potential flash flooding

SACRAMENTO VALLEY

Corning Subbasin draft groundwater sustainability plan available for public review

The Corning Subbasin Groundwater Sustainability Agencies announced the draft Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) for the Corning Subbasin is available for public review, with public comment period open through Monday, Oct. 25. … In response to a state law enacted in 2014 – the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) – a roadmap for how groundwater will be managed over the next two decades will be finalized by January 2022. The goal is to balance the amount of groundwater pumped with the amount that is replenished by nature or humans. … ”  Read more from the Corning Observer here: Corning Subbasin draft groundwater sustainability plan available for public review

Corning submits state small community drought relief grant application

Submittal of an application for a $22,322,250 state small community drought relief grant was approved by the Corning City Council last week.  If approved by the state, the grant funds will be used to install three new municipal wells and extend water mains and laterals with the Corning’s sphere of influence in a looped system that crosses Interstate 5 west and around the perimeters of town to include properties with domestic wells that have ran dry.  One of the proposed wells will be constructed to replace an existing city well taken offline due to impacts from the drought. Two additional wells would be constructed to provide a sustainable water supply for residential users in the unincorporated area of Tehama County whose wells have gone dry that are within the city’s sphere on influence. ... ”  Read more from the Corning Observer here: Corning submits state small community drought relief grant application

Construction complete at Ancil Hoffman Habitat Restoration Project

In October, the Water Forum completed construction of a salmonid habitat restoration project in the lower American River at Ancil Hoffman Park in Carmichael, marking the 10th project to protect and strengthen the river and parkway.  In the coming months, teams will finish their work by planting willow cuttings in the rearing alcove and seeding native grass and wildflower species in the alcove and excess material areas.  “By waiting until later in the year, when willows are dormant and conditions are hopefully wetter, the willows will have the greatest chance of success,” said Water Forum Project Manager Erica Bishop, noting that the native grasses and wildflowers were approved for the American River Parkway by the Sacramento County Recreation and Parks Commission. “Vegetation will naturally recover at the site over time, but planting willow stakes and seeding jumpstarts that process, and helps to reduce the potential for non-native or invasive species,” Bishop said. … ”  Continue reading from the Water Forum here: Construction complete at Ancil Hoffman Habitat Restoration Project

City of Davis to implement new watering restrictions

The City of Davis announced today the Davis City Council voted unanimously to implement watering restrictions for sprinkler irrigation. At their meeting on October 19, 2021, the City Council also reaffirmed the request for a voluntary 15% reduction in water usage city-wide. If the voluntary state-wide reduction in water-use is not met, the State may look to require mandatory water-use reductions in Spring 2022. ... ”  Read more from the Patch here: City of Davis to implement new watering restrictions

NAPA/SONOMA

Low water levels at the north boat ramp at Lake Mendocino, a large reservoir in Mendocino County, California, northeast of Ukiah on October 14, 2021. Florence Low / DWR

Dredge Lake Mendocino? Experts say it’s ‘not worth the bang for the buck’

Now that Lake Mendocino holds only a fraction of what it should, there’s a whole lot of lake bed exposed to the sky, and folks are wondering why the government doesn’t exploit the opportunity to dredge the lake and increase its capacity for the future.  It’s an increasingly common question as the lake has receded from the shoreline over months of severe drought, and the prospect of increasing extremes in rainfall going forward accentuates the need for expanded water storage.  But it’s not as obvious a solution as it may seem, officials say. … ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here: Dredge Lake Mendocino? Experts say it’s ‘not worth the bang for the buck’

BAY AREA

North Bay water agencies, farmers tap into restrictions, prayers with NOAA’s dry winter outlook

With the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicting Thursday another La Niña ushering in dry conditions for the greater Bay Area, North Bay water agencies and farm groups have wasted no time expecting the worst.  The news of NOAA’s 2021-22 winter outlook comes amid the North Bay experiencing a “severe” drought — meaning substandard grazing land, a prolonged fire season and stressed trees.  Despite a few inches of rain recently, the stakeholders predict the region will continue to suffer the effects of another dry year.  “If this situation persists, we could see businesses go out of business,” Napa County Farm Bureau CEO Ryan Klobas said. “We need to get into a conservation mode. It’s very much top of mind for growers. All farmers are extremely cautious.” … ”  Read more from the North Bay Business Journal here: North Bay water agencies, farmers tap into restrictions, prayers with NOAA’s dry winter outlook

Storm system brings hope to parched North Bay, reservoirs

Lake Mendocino is where Gov Newsom declared a drought emergency back in April. Now, water is finally flowing into this reservoir again, raising the same question that is being asked across much of Californian. How much progress could reasonably be made here in one winter?  “The river, coming in, it’ll just start coming in and spreading out,” said Kevin Howell, looking at the north end of the lake. “Big time. It don’t take too long before you see big progress.” … ”  Read more from Channel 5 here:  Storm system brings hope to parched North Bay, reservoirs

Monarch butterflies return to Pacific Grove. And the drought may be the reason for their rebound

For once there is some promising news for western monarch butterflies: Around 2,600 of the migratory insects were counted at Pacific Grove Thursday, after zero were observed at the famed Monterey County sanctuary last year. And overall, conservationists estimate the current population that has arrived in its annual wintertime migration to the California coast to be around 10,000 compared to 1,900 last year.  One possible reason for the rebound: this year’s drought, since warm and dry conditions in early spring can help with their migration. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: Monarch butterflies return to Pacific Grove. And the drought may be the reason for their rebound

Water conservation slows rate of South Bay groundwater decline

Since Santa Clara County’s water district declared a water shortage emergency in June, water consumption has continued to decrease — slowing the rate of groundwater declines.  At the Santa Clara Valley Water District’s board meeting Tuesday, staff shared that nearly all of their 13 water retailers used around 10 percent less water than they did in 2019 for the month of August.  The water district does not yet have the September water usage data compiled, but senior water resources specialist Neeta Bijoor said August’s numbers indicate a downward trend in water usage. … ”  Read more from the Patch here:  Water conservation slows rate of South Bay groundwater decline

CENTRAL COAST

Santa Cruz: Local agencies’ conservation efforts hope to help coho salmon populations rebound

They’re an average of eight pounds, with distinct pink scales, and in this area, they’re officially endangered. Local coho salmon have declined more than 95% from their historic population level, according to the Center for Biological Diversity.  The main culprit is the degradation of spawning grounds, such as low river levels due to water being diverted for human use, or dams that block the way upstream. But two recent initiatives—focused on waterways along the North Coast of Santa Cruz County—have sought to help turn the tide. … ”  Read more from Good Times Santa Cruz here: Local agencies’ conservation efforts hope to help coho salmon populations rebound

Protecting redwoods in the Santa Cruz mountains

Imagine “Silicon Valley” in the late 1800s. Local residents of the rural valley watched in horror as 300 square miles of ancient redwood forests blanketing the Santa Cruz mountains were logged down to bald hills. What could they do?  They joined together in 1900 and protected the largest remaining area of old growth forest, which became Big Basin Redwoods State Park.  Since then, Sempervirens Fund has protected more than 54 square miles of redwood forest and pioneered new models of land management. … ”  Read more from Lookout Santa Cruz here: Protecting redwoods in the Santa Cruz mountains

Questions about possible desalination plant on the Central Coast continue

For years people on the central coast have been wondering: With pacific ocean in our back yard, why is there a shortage of water? And what can be done about that? As the state grapples with another dry year on the record books, the concern about having a desalination plant on the Central Coast is only growing for some.  Chris reached out to KION writing in part:  “I’ve been a homeowner on the Monterey Peninsula for over 30 years now and I’ve been wondering for the same period of time, why don’t we have desalinization to solve our water problems here on the peninsula?” ... ”  Read more from KION here: Questions about possible desalination plant on the Central Coast continue

San Luis Obispo: Our next rain opportunity comes Friday but a larger event waits until the end of the weekend

The first significant storm of the season is on the way. We have already picked up minor rains and another such event is on the way Friday but a larger “atmospheric river” event is likely Sunday into Monday which could deliver more than an inch of rain to the Central Coast and inches of rain and potentially feet of snow to Northern California.  Friday a cold front looks to dissipate over the area but not before bringing the potential of up to .10″ of rain (for those who see any rain at all). … ”  Read more from KSBY here: San Luis Obispo: Our next rain opportunity comes Friday but a larger event waits until the end of the weekend

SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY

Valley’s strongest storm in years projected to hit Merced. How will it impact the drought?

Meteorologists are anticipating the strongest storm in two years to sweep the San Joaquin Valley come Sunday — but that doesn’t mean the inbound forecast is anomalously powerful compared to historical weather conditions. “It just speaks to how bad the last two years have been,” said Andy Bollenbacher, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Hanford office. “It doesn’t really speak to the storm being abnormally strong, just how weak and dry our last two years have been.” … ”  Read more from the Merced Sun-Star here: Valley’s strongest storm in years projected to hit Merced. How will it impact the drought?

San Luis Reservoir at historic lows as drought continues

The statewide drought in California is drying up reservoirs like the San Luis Reservoir here in Merced County. Visitors are able to see the water lines around the reservoir where the water level used to be.  “I haven’t seen it this low in a long time, fishing this lake in over 20 years,” said a Merced County resident who wanted to remain anonymous.   The San Luis Reservoir is the largest off-stream reservoir in the country. It is historically low. The latest update from Oct. 20 shows the reservoir’s capacity is at 10%, where the historical average is 20%. … ”  Read more from KSBW here: San Luis Reservoir at historic lows as drought continues

Bakersfield enters Stage 2 of water shortage contingency plan

Worsening drought conditions have driven the California Water Service (Cal Water) to request Bakersfield to move to Stage 2 of its Water Shortage Contingency Plan with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), the utility announced in a press release.  Tamara Johnson, Bakersfield District manager, said, ““We also want our Bakersfield customers to know that we are here to help them reduce their water use as we face increasingly serious drought conditions.”  The most updated contingency plan went into effect in July. … ”  Read more from KGET here: Bakersfield enters Stage 2 of water shortage contingency plan

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

‘Santa Clarita River Lake’ project not backed by city, water officials, despite mayoral endorsement

After the release of a video in which Santa Clarita Mayor Bill Miranda invites members of the community to share their input on a potential artificial rainwater reservoir project in the Santa Clara Riverbed, other officials have noted that the project is not backed by the city nor the local water agency.  “While this is a very interesting concept, there are a number of incredibly significant environmental and private property rights issues this project would need to overcome before the city should consider being involved with its inception,” said Councilmember Jason Gibbs. … ”  Read more from KHTS here: ‘Santa Clarita River Lake’ project not backed by city, water officials, despite mayoral endorsement

California agency says shredder site needs cleanup

The Sacramento, California-based Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) says SA Recycling must investigate residual metal pollution levels at its metal shredding and exporting facility on Terminal Island at the Port of Los Angeles.  SA Recycling should “investigate the extent of soil, groundwater and ocean sediment contamination” on its property and an adjacent property at the site, which previously was operated by Simsmetal West LLC.  The facility has been operating since 1962, the agency says. DTSC claims its own investigations have “found metal shredder residue called light fibrous material on the pavement, in pavement cracks, on equipment and inside and over storm drains at a neighboring facility, Pasha Stevedoring & Terminals LP.”  … ”  Continue reading from Recycling Today here: California agency says shredder site needs cleanup

Corps partners with OCTA mitigation program to preserve Orange County natural habitats

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District recently collaborated with several other agencies to publish a case study that aims at assisting transportation, resource and regulatory agencies with integrating infrastructure development and the conservation planning process.  The case study, involving the Orange County Transportation Authority’s M2 Highway/Freeway Program, is a 30-year conservation planning and permitting program that began in 2005 and brought multiple local, state and federal agencies together.  The transportation authority’s M2 program was intended to streamline the permitting and environmental review process over multiple jurisdictions, while also protecting and restoring natural habitats, as well as incorporating programmatic natural resource planning, permitting and mitigation approaches to address impacts from 13 of the transportation authority’s freeway projects. … ”  Read more from DVIDS here: Corps partners with OCTA mitigation program to preserve Orange County natural habitats

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Along the Colorado River …

New Colorado River basin projections show dire conditions for reservoirs as drought persists

New projections of Colorado River system inflows into Lake Powell and Lake Mead released this week by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation show both reservoirs could reach critical, and lower, levels in the next two years with another drier La Niña weather pattern setting up for the basin this winter.  The latest iteration of the Bureau of Reclamation’s two-year study and two- and five-year projections for levels at the two major western reservoirs within the Colorado River system incorporates the new U.S. Climate Normals released earlier this year, which includes data from 1991-2020 and eliminates the wetter conditions seen in the basin during the 1980s, data that was used for projections for the past 10 years. ... ”  Read more from the Denver Channel here:  New Colorado River basin projections show dire conditions for reservoirs as drought persists

‘We have had to make difficult choices this year’: Lake Mead getting close to reaching next shortage threshold, projections show

New projections released Thursday suggest Lake Mead, a valuable water resource for Arizona, could be sinking closer to a threshold that will trigger more water cutbacks for the state.  The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation released its newest projections for Lake Mead’s water supply, which show the reservoir edging closer to reaching harmful benchmark by the end of 2022. “The October projections indicate Lake Mead will be at elevation 1,050.63 feet at the end of calendar year 2022, less than one foot above the Tier 2 shortage elevation threshold of 1,050 feet,” the Bureau wrote in a statement.  … ”  Read more from Channel 12 here: ‘We have had to make difficult choices this year’: Lake Mead getting close to reaching next shortage threshold, projections show

Imperial Irrigation District rings alarm on shrinking Colorado River crisis

Imperial Irrigation District (IID) warns government officials and residents about how harmful the shrinking Colorado River is to our region.  “The drought has been in existence now for 21 years and has continued to challenge the inflows,” said Martinez.  He said the use of water has continued to increase over the years and the flow of water coming down the Colorado River has decreased. Martinez said unless there is major change in the current climate and we get more water during the winter months, we will continue to spiral with less and less water. … ”  Read more from Channel 11 here: Imperial Irrigation District rings alarm on shrinking Colorado River crisis

Infrastructure bill seen as way to pay farmers to cut water use

Four states in the drought-wracked West considering whether to pay farmers to cut their water use see federal infrastructure legislation as a possible revenue source.  The $550 billion bipartisan legislation approved in the Senate includes $25 million for the four states—Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming.  “There’s that bucket, and a lot of other buckets, in the federal infrastructure bill that could come into play for drought contingency planning implementation,” said Amy Ostdiek, interstate and federal manager in the Colorado Department of Natural Resources. … ”  Read more from Bloomberg here: Infrastructure bill seen as way to pay farmers to cut water use

Arizona: Water for wildlife: Game & Fish refurbishing, replacing old catchment systems

Ed Jahrke drives his big white pickup down a winding, choppy dirt and gravel road into the Coconino National Forest. He’s the habitat implementation program manager with the Arizona Game & Fish Department, and on this day he’s working with contractors to finish a system to collect and store rainwater for wildlife to access as needed.  “The need to put water out there for wildlife is more important than ever,” Jahrke said. … ”  Read more from Cronkite News here: Arizona: Water for wildlife: Game & Fish refurbishing, replacing old catchment systems

Rising temps stress water supplies in Colorado River

Drought on the Colorado River has been in the news this year. In August, the US Bureau of Reclamation’s water-level forecasts for January 2022 indicated that the water levels in Lake Mead, one of the system’s major reservoirs, would stay below 1,075 feet elevation. Because of how low water levels have fallen, a Tier 1 shortage was declared. This means that southern Nevada, which gets about 90% of its water from the Colorado, will have to make do with 7% less water.  But steadily dropping river flows and reservoir levels are not exactly a surprise. ... ”  Read more from Nevada Today here: Rising temps stress water supplies in Colorado River

Utah: Washington County has 10 years to find a new source of water, according to state open house event

Officials with Utah’s Division of Water Resources hosted a virtual open house Wednesday night to offer an overview of the state’s new Water Resources Plan and answer questions about it from the public.  Candice Hasenyager, the division’s Director as of August of this year, began with a presentation highlighting the plan’s focus on reliable data, secure supply and healthy watersheds. The plan, she said, differs from previous versions in that it is “not a drought response plan.” … ”  Read more from the Spectrum here: Utah: Washington County has 10 years to find a new source of water, according to state open house event

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In national water news today …

Data center water usage remains hidden

This September, as a brutal drought dragged on in the Southwestern United States, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued a stark warning: This is only going to get worse.  The region is suffering the worst water shortage on record. Reservoirs are at all-time lows. Drinking supplies, irrigation systems, hydropower generation, fishing stocks, and more are at risk of collapse.  NOAA linked this drought, and others across the US, to climate change – a man-made problem that we appear unlikely to adequately combat any time soon. … ”  Read more from Data Center Dynamics here: Data center water usage remains hidden

Scientists call for policies to buffer agricultural runoff

Agricultural land uses, including both crop and livestock production, are known to have myriad detrimental effects on streams and rivers. According to the EPA, agricultural runoff is a major source of surface water pollution—the excess nutrient runoff from fertilizer and livestock manure causes poor water quality and reduced habitat and biodiversity among animals living in both the waterways that directly receive agricultural runoff and those downstream. Wildlife aren’t the only ones affected by surface water pollution, of course—about 70% of the fresh water used in the United States comes from surface sources. … ”  Read more from EOS here: Scientists call for policies to buffer agricultural runoff 

Plastics poised to overtake coal as climate driver

Plastics production is on track to become a major source in driving climate change, according to a report out today that finds the industry will outpace coal in greenhouse gas emissions within a decade.  The findings, which stem from a project with Bennington College in Vermont and the environmental group Beyond Plastics, show that the U.S. plastics industry is quickly gaining on more traditional sources of greenhouse gas emissions and that plastics are already a significant source, with the petrochemical industry rapidly growing.  That never-before compiled data is being released as nations prepare for the U.N. climate summit, known as COP 26, in Glasgow, Scotland, next month. During a press conference today, Beyond Plastics President Judith Enck, a former EPA regional administrator, argued that global leaders should be paying more attention to the relationship between plastics and climate change, as should Congress. … ”  Read more from E&E News here: Plastics poised to overtake coal as climate driver

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National water and climate update …

The Natural Resources Conservation Service produces this weekly report using data and products from the National Water and Climate Center and other agencies. The report focuses on seasonal snowpack, precipitation, temperature, and drought conditions in the U.S.

dmrpt-20211021

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

DELTA eNEWS: ~~ BirdReturns Program~ Emergency Grants~ DSC Meeting~ Groundwater Workshop~ Invasive Species~~

NOTICE: State Water Board to hold public workshops to support the development of water use efficiency standards

ANNOUNCEMENT: Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) Public Outreach and Stakeholder Engagement Activities

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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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