Conway Summit, early morning in the Eastern Sierra. Photo taken October 9, 2021 by Jay Huang

DAILY DIGEST, weekend edition: Grand finale bomb cyclone brewing at end of West Coast storm parade; Yes, people are now trading and investing in water as a commodity; Big tech data centers spark worry over scarce Western water; Two Basin Partnership pursues ‘Plan B’ for Scott Dam removal; and more …

In California water news this weekend …

Grand finale bomb cyclone brewing at end of West Coast storm parade

A much-needed rainy stretch of weather has been welcome so far for much of the Northwest, including Northern California. Much of the region is in severe, extreme or exceptional drought, as classified by the U.S. Drought Monitor. However, AccuWeather forecasters say a powerful storm that will culminate this rainy stretch at the end of the weekend will become too much all at once, and will bring dangers and significant impacts to the region. … Satellite images showed Thursday’s storm spinning over the northern Pacific — taking on an almost hurricane-like appearance — just off the coast of western Canada and the Northwest. … ”  Read more from AccuWeather here: Grand finale bomb cyclone brewing at end of West Coast storm parade

Strong atmospheric river to bring fire season-ending and drought-mitigating heavy rain to NorCal, but also high risk of burn area flooding/debris flows

Dr. Daniel Swain writes, “In Northern California, it has been a good old rainy week. Many spots have seen a couple inches or more; nearly everywhere has seen at least enough for some modest puddles. In some areas, the amount of rain that has already fallen is probably enough to greatly attenuate or end fire season. … I’ll cut right to the chase: one of the strongest October storms in some years (perhaps a decade or more in some NorCal locations) will likely occur on Sunday. This moisture delivery system will be in the form a strong atmospheric river. In fact, according to the recently-developed AR-Cat scoring system, the Sunday event will likely be an “AR-Cat 5” event. That’s the highest possible rating, although atmospheric rivers can potentially be much stronger still and well above the top end of the scale. ... ”  Read the full post from Weather West here:  Strong atmospheric river to bring fire season-ending and drought-mitigating heavy rain to NorCal, but also high risk of burn area flooding/debris flows

Atmospheric river crashes onshore; driving rains, gusty winds, flash flood fears

A cyclone developing off the Northwest coast slammed a potent atmospheric river into the Bay Area Sunday, dumping more than 3 inches of rain on Mt. Tamalpais, nearly 2 inches in San Francisco during its early hours and forcing residents in the burn zones of the Santa Cruz Mountains from their homes.  The National Weather Service said the storm’s arrival in San Francisco was a little ahead of schedule on Saturday night with steady downpours. … ”  Read more from CBS San Francisco here: Atmospheric river crashes onshore; driving rains, gusty winds, flash flood fears

Flash Flood Watch issued Sunday for 13 burn scar sites vulnerable to mudslides

The National Weather Service has issued a Flash Flood Watch for 13 burn scar areas vulnerable to mudslides and debris flow, starting Sunday morning.  This includes sites from fires that happened between 2018 and 2021: 2018 Camp, Carr, Delta and Hirz Fires’ 2020 August Complex, North Complex, LNU Complex and Zogg Fires; and 2021 Caldor, Dixie, McFarland, River and Salt Fires. … ”  Read more from KTXL here: Flash Flood Watch issued Sunday for 13 burn scar sites vulnerable to mudslides

Relief? Worry? Jubilation? Western US residents react to the incoming bomb cyclone

Monstrous, beastly and… just what people have been waiting for.  As a gigantic bomb cyclone was gearing up to unload astounding precipitation totals on the western United States, forecasters described the weather system as potentially one of the biggest storms of the year. Really, it’s a parade of three storms set in motion by a major bomb cyclone.  In higher elevation areas, the storms could deliver as much as eight feet of snow. In areas along the West Coast, the storms could unload flood-inducing downpours.  So, how were the people living in these soon-to-be-struck areas feeling about the incoming deluge?  Relieved, apparently. … ”  Read more from AccuWeather here: Relief? Worry? Jubilation? Western US residents react to the incoming bomb cyclone

Atmospheric Rivers can be good but they have an ugly side

Beginning last Tuesday and continuing over the following week, a parade of Pacific storms are primed to make landfall on the West Coast from northern Washington to southern California. These storms are known as Atmospheric Rivers (AR) and can cause major damage but also provide much needed rain to the West Coast.  Picture an AR as a firehose of water spraying up and down the West Coast. Sometimes they stall over one location as one did for 100-hours in Central California. Sometimes the AR swing south, stall, and then move back north. These ARs are driven and directed by high and low pressure systems. … ”  Read more from Spectrum 1 here: Atmospheric Rivers can be good but they have an ugly side

A ‘triple play’ of weather hazards will unfold this week across the US

It’s time to stay weather aware as a barrage of threats unfolds across the United States this week, creating hazards from coast to coast.  From “bomb cyclones” to severe weather and nor’easters, this week has it all.  Evacuation orders in place across some California burn scar areas.  Significant tornado outbreak possible Sunday.  Weather models hint at possible nor’easter midweek. … ”  Read more from CNN here: A ‘triple play’ of weather hazards will unfold this week across the US

OTHER STATEWIDE NEWS

Yes, people are now trading and investing in water as a commodity

As drought once again threatened California and the western U.S. this summer, the search for water led illegal marijuana growers to tap into fire hydrants, environmental officials to sacrifice chinook salmon nurseries for crop irrigation and farmers to join forces with anti-government militants to protest a shut-off irrigation canal along the California-Oregon border.  Such tactics could become the norm as the Golden State’s water supply dwindles due to climate change. A 2021 state report predicts a nearly 15 percent decrease in water supply if the temperature rises 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Now California almond farmers and electric utilities, both of which use massive amounts of water, can bet against the future availability of water. … ”  Read more from Discover Magazine here: Yes, people are now trading and investing in water as a commodity

Big tech data centers spark worry over scarce Western water

Conflicts over water are as old as history itself, but the massive Google data centers on the edge of this Oregon town on the Columbia River represent an emerging 21st century concern.  Now a critical part of modern computing, data centers help people stream movies on Netflix, conduct transactions on PayPal, post updates on Facebook, store trillions of photos and more. But a single facility can also churn through millions of gallons of water per day to keep hot-running equipment cool.  Google wants to build at least two more data centers in The Dalles, worrying some residents who fear there eventually won’t be enough water for everyone — including for area farms and fruit orchards, which are by far the biggest users. … ”  Read more from the AP here: Big tech data centers spark worry over scarce Western water

Unchecked oil and gas wastewater threatens California groundwater

California has a reputation as a leader on climate and environmental policy. So it doesn’t advertise the fact that it allows the oil and gas industry to store wastewater produced during drilling and extraction in unlined pits in the ground, a practice that began in the early 1900s.  Now, though, researchers have revealed the environmental costs of California’s failure to regulate how its $111 billion oil and gas industry manages the wastewater, known as produced water. … ”  Read more from Inside Climate News here: Unchecked oil and gas wastewater threatens California groundwater

Will a La Niña winter improve the drought in Northern California? It’s complicated

Everyone across California may experience La Niña weather conditions this winter. According to the National Weather Service last week, there is an 87% chance of La Niña starting December to February. On average, La Niña will occur every three to five years, but this upcoming one will mark the second consecutive La Niña winter. La Niña, and it’s counterpart, El Niño, are climate patterns in the Pacific Ocean that can have worldwide effects on weather, wildfires, ecosystems and economies. … ”  Continue reading at the Sacramento Bee here: Will a La Niña winter improve the drought in Northern California? It’s complicated

Free platform tracks agricultural water across West

A new online platform launched yesterday that uses satellites to estimate water consumed by crops and evapotranspiration across the West. Called OpenET, the platform makes water management data available in 17 western states.  Data on the amount of water used in agriculture has been fragmented and often expensive, keeping it out of the hands of many farmers and decision-makers. OpenET hopes to allow users to easily view and download important water data. To do so, the platform has made data for the current year and previous five years available at no charge. … ”  Read more from Water World here: Free platform tracks agricultural water across West

After California wildfire, thousands of trees to be removed

In the wake of California wildfires, upwards of 10,000 trees weakened by fires, drought, disease or age must be removed, work that will keep a nearby highway closed to visitors who seek the world’s two largest sequoia trees.  The hazard trees could potentially fall onto people and cars on the section of State Route 180 known as Generals Highway, or they could create barriers for emergency and fire response, the Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks said Friday.  The highway is closed due to the KNP Complex blaze, which was 60% contained after burning 138 square miles (357 square kilometers) of forest, and will remain blocked off to visitors after the fire is out while saw crews cut down trees and trim branches. Cooler weather has helped slow the flames and the area was expected to see rain starting Sunday. ... ”  Read more from Courthouse News Service here: After California wildfire, thousands of trees to be removed

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In commentary this weekend …

California’s water shortage was created by a lack of leadership, not Mother Nature

State Senator Brian Dahle writes, “Our state’s system of reservoirs and canals was at one time designed to provide a reliable water supply for California homes, businesses, and farms for three or more dry years. Just two years ago, following a slightly above average wet winter, that system was at full capacity. Now, almost every single reservoir is currently below 50% capacity*, with several in the 10%-26% percent level, and even the experts are alarmed.  The sad truth is that California has allowed trillions of gallons of precipitation to run into the Pacific Ocean during these last two years. Now, water districts and cities throughout our state are beginning to implement mandatory water rationing measures.  So what happened? … ”  Continue reading from Senator Dahle’s website here: California’s water shortage was created by a lack of leadership, not Mother Nature

Dan Walters: It’s time to get serious about water crisis

Talk about timing.  Last Tuesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom extended and expanded his declaration of a drought emergency, just as the first in a series of storms rolled in from the Pacific to give California a much-needed respite.  Of course, it was just coincidence, one that reminds us of the fickle nature of the state’s water supply, dependent as it is on a few wet months each year. We’ll need an old-fashioned wet winter, with soaking rains and heavy snowfalls, to truly get some relief.  Our periodic droughts have become more frequent and more intense due to climate change and thus require us to become more resilient. However, we have neglected that imperative because it involves consensus that is difficult, or even impossible, to achieve in a state so large, complex and fragmented. … ”  Read more from Cal Matters here: Dan Walters: It’s time to get serious about water crisis

We need the rain that’s about to come. What we don’t need is drought amnesia

Paul Thornton, letters editor for the LA Times, writes, “Something terrible is about to happen in Los Angeles: We’ll soon get rain, a lot of it (by our semi-arid standards) and all at once. “But we need rain,” you say — and you’re right! Our lawns are dying, the hills are brown, and everyone except me has dandruff (please tell me I’m not the only one who’s noticed). We need relief, and this storm — predicted to hit the West Coast this weekend and start affecting Southern California late Sunday night, dumping almost an inch (I know! An inch!) of rain before dissipating Monday afternoon — will bring a measure of it.  Hence the problem: The relief will largely accrue to our drought-stricken psyches, not the actual drought. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  We need the rain that’s about to come. What we don’t need is drought amnesia

Call it a ‘bomb cyclone’ or the ‘Pineapple Express’, it won’t break the drought’s back

Dennis Wyatt, editor of the Manteca Bulletin, writes, “Rain drops are falling on our heads.  Well, that may be a bit of an understatement.  It may be more like rain drops are pounding our heads.  Forecast models call for an atmospheric river to soak California and much of the western United States on Sunday.  Atmospheric rivers are narrow bands in the atmosphere that get their start in tropical areas and have been known to carry up to 25 times the moisture, water if you will, than the Mississippi River does in a day.  Of course to get more clicks on websites, it is breathlessly being called a “bomb cyclone” by some. … ”  Continue reading from the Manteca Bulletin here: Call it a ‘bomb cyclone’ or the ‘Pineapple Express’, it won’t break the drought’s back

In people news this weekend …

Water attorney Art Littleworth dies

Arthur “Art” Littleworth, who led the historic move to integrate Riverside schools in the 1960s, died Monday, Oct. 18, at his Riverside home in the company of family. He was 98.  Littleworth, an attorney, also played a pivotal role in a legal dispute that secured key water rights for the Inland Empire’s largest city and worked to restore the Mission Inn Hotel & Spa and breathe new economic life into Riverside’s downtown. … In 1950, Littleworth joined Best, Best & Krieger and launched a career in water law. He represented Riverside in a contentious dispute that was settled in 1969, providing the city with much of the water supply it relies on today. … ”  Read more from the Riverside Press-Enterprise here: Water attorney Art Littleworth dies

Letitia Grenier: Unifying restoration across the San Francisco Estuary

San Francisco Estuary Institute ecologist Letitia Grenier has already led projects on working with nature toward large-scale restoration in both the San Francisco Bay and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Now, with a 2021 Delta Stewardship Council grant, she’s extending these efforts to the Suisun Marsh, a 115,000-acre brackish wetland that lies between the Bay and the Delta.  These three regions have ecological and social differences, not to mention distinct political boundaries — but they also have a lot in common. “It’s all one big, beautiful estuary,” Grenier says. … ”  Continue reading on Maven’s Notebook here: Letitia Grenier: Unifying restoration across the San Francisco Estuary

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Podcasts …

RIPPLE EFFECT PODCAST: Regenerative agriculture

Shelby Smith, Master’s Candidate at the UCSB Bren School of Environmental Science & Management, walks us through her recent research for The Nature Conservancy’s Colorado River Program about the state of regenerative agriculture and its impact on water conservation. A great discussion identifying the gaps in what we do and don’t know about a promising practice, and ideas on the next steps forward.


WATER IS A MANY SPLENDOR’ED THING PODCAST: Time Well Spent

Steven Baker writes, “The Yakama basin back in 1905 was home to water battles between  people wanting to use the wealth of rivers and creeks available in the state of Washington. Today, groundwater has become the new battle ground. Are the creeks and rivers connected to underlying groundwater aquifers and if so, is there enough water to meet current demands?  Water is a Many Splendor’ed Thing brings you another water relationship that has a personally significant impact to your life.”   Produced by Steven Baker, Operation Unite® Bringing People Together to Solve Water Problems, Online at www.operationunite.co

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In regional water news this weekend …

NORTH COAST

Commentary: Resist urge to blame and seek credit in Klamath Basin water crisis

Kelley Minty Morris, a non-partisan, elected, Klamath County Commissioner, writes, “Most Oregonians have some familiarity with the long-standing battles over water in the Klamath Basin. The complex issue generally pits agriculture against Tribal Interests and the health of fish populations. People in Klamath love to relay Mark Twain’s “Whiskey is for drinking; water is for fighting.” Summer 2021 brought a new water crisis to the Basin—the drying and failing of hundreds of domestic wells. It’s a story you may not have heard that has the potential to be “the new normal.” ... ”  Read more from the KATU here: Commentary: Resist urge to blame and seek credit in Klamath Basin water crisis

New storm series to bring significant rains and slew of wet weather changes to Mendocino County and Northern CA

A “hurricane grade” atmospheric river is expected to bring a series of storms and significant rainfall to Northern California beginning this evening, with the National Weather Service (NWS) and other agencies warning residents to prepare for heavy precipitation, rapidly rising rivers, high tides, and potential flash flooding in burn scar areas through Monday. The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) is warning residents in flood-prone areas to prepare for heavy rains, with sandbags if necessary, and to clean up properties, including culverts, of possible debris that could create problems in high winds, flooding, or rising rivers. … ”  Read more from the Mendocino Voice here: New storm series to bring significant rains and slew of wet weather changes to Mendocino County and Northern CA

Two Basin Partnership pursues ‘Plan B’ for Scott Dam removal

Chances are slim to none that a group of Northern California agencies, known as the Two-Basin Partnership, will raise the funds required to take over the license for the Potter Valley Project — a water diversion system in the Eel River basin — by April 2022 but the organization remains undeterred.  The Two-Basin Partnership — California Trout, Humboldt County, the Mendocino County Inland Water & Power Commission, the Round Valley Indian Tribes and Sonoma County Water Agency — requested an extension on its license transfer application to provide agencies additional time to work out a water plan and to develop strategies for dam removal and restoration of the Eel and Russian river basins. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, commonly known as FERC, denied the request in late September.  Rep. Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) facilitated initial discussions to create a “two-basin solution” for the project and established the Potter Valley Project Ad Hoc Committee in 2018. Huffman remains optimistic and urged the groups to press forward. ... ”  Read more from the Eureka Times-Standard here: Two Basin Partnership pursues ‘Plan B’ for Scott Dam removal

MOUNTAIN COUNTIES

Climate change disrupting natural cycles at drier Lake Tahoe

Drought fueled by climate change has dropped Lake Tahoe below its natural rim and halted flows into the Truckee River, an historically cyclical event that’s occurring sooner and more often than it used to — raising fears about what might be in store for the famed alpine lake. Scientists are concerned that the growing frequency of low-water extremes may become the new normal.  They point to seasonal shifts in weather patterns causing precipitation that historically falls as snow to arrive in the form of rain atop the Sierra along the California-Nevada state line. … ”  Read more from US News & Report here: Climate change disrupting natural cycles at drier Lake Tahoe

100 mph winds, 3 feet of snow, debris flows all possible in Tahoe area

A moisture-rich October storm is forecast to wallop the northern Sierra Nevada and Lake Tahoe area with heavy rain, snow and wind Sunday into Tuesday, potentially triggering debris flows on 2021 wildfire burning scars, including the hillsides torched by the Dixie and Caldor fires, the National Weather Service said.  The atmospheric river aimed at Northern California is expected to funnel moisture toward the region, lowering mountain snow levels to elevations of about 6,000 feet on Monday and making travel difficult over mountain passes. … ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  100 mph winds, 3 feet of snow, debris flows all possible in Tahoe area

Outingdale Dam done in one month

It took 30 days for a crew of seven El Dorado Irrigation District employees and the district’s dam safety engineer to totally rebuild key elements of the Outingdale Dam.  The community of Outingdale gets its water from the dam, a diversion dam on the Middle Fork of the Cosumnes River. Water had to be trucked in when the leaking and deteriorating dam stopped spilling this summer.  District Engineer John Kessler reviewed the work on the 100-year-old, south county diversion dam Oct. 12 for the EID Board of Directors. … ”  Read more from the Mountain Democrat here: Outingdale Dam done in one month

Evacuation warning issued for parts of Nevada County ahead of NorCal storm

An evacuation warning was issued for parts of Nevada County ahead of a storm expected to bring heavy rain and strong wind to Northern California.  The warning is for zones NCO-E102-A, NCO-E050-A and NCO-E103A, due to “hazards posed by the Flash Flood & Debris Flow,” according to the Nevada County Office Of Emergency Services.  The Nevada County OES also warns of heavy rain over the River Fire burn scar. … ”  Read more from KCRA Channel 3 here: Evacuation warning issued for parts of Nevada County ahead of NorCal storm

SACRAMENTO VALLEY

Bartell’s Backroads: The history of the mythical Lemurian city at the Sacramento River headwaters at Mount Shasta

The mighty Sacramento River is a 447-mile-long waterway, accumulating snow melt and rain runoff from 19 different counties in Northern California.  It hydrates thirsty farmlands and provides drinking water to millions of people from San Francisco to Redding. On average, the river is around 70 feet wide but at its headwaters, the Sacramento River is not much more than a trickle of water spewing out of a hole in the side of Mount Shasta.  Located at the edge of the Mount Shasta City Park is the headwaters of the Sacramento River where it is arguably the cleanest water in the state. People from all over the world travel to this park to sip from the headwaters because it is highly filtered. … ”  Read more from Channel 10 here: The history of the mythical Lemurian city at the Sacramento River headwaters at Mount Shasta

Historic train tunnel now fully exposed on Shasta Lake

The abysmal water levels throughout Northern California currently sit at their lowest for 2021, with incoming storms bringing the prospect of replenishment to the local waterways. Until then, we are seeing the history of Shasta Lake that typically sits underwater.  When the Sacramento River was flooded with the building of the Shasta Dam in 1945, water covered the town of Kennett and put nearby highways and railroads underwater. One of those flooded relics was the Shasta Railroad Train Tunnel, which was built in 1884 and was used until it was covered in water 60 years later. ... ”  Read more from Active NorCal here: Historic train tunnel now fully exposed on Shasta Lake

City of Roseville bunkers down in preparation for upcoming winter storm

In Roseville, the work is already underway to get the city prepared for this weekend’s anticipated winter storm.  “We have crews out all day, checking our storm drains, making sure they’re all clear,” said Brian Jacobson, spokesperson for the city. “[We’re] also checking our pumping stations to make sure they’re operational in case they’re needed this weekend.” Jacobson added that he does not anticipate Roseville to undergo any large-scale flooding during the wet weather.  “If we see anything, it will be individual storm drains here and there that may be clogged with fallen leaves,” he said. … ”  Read more from KCRA Channel 3 here: City of Roseville bunkers down in preparation for upcoming winter storm

Sacramento city officials say pumping stations will help move excess rain from storm drains

Storm preparations are underway by Sacramento city and county crews. On Friday alone, the county has responded to dozens of calls.  “For the rest of the day, even though the rain has stopped, crews have been out trying to get everything cleared out before the new system comes in,” said Matt Robinson, a Sacramento County spokesperson in the department of water resources, drinking water, and flooding.  With Sacramento’s low elevation, crews are making sure that debris is cleared out of drainage systems. ... ”  Read more from KCRA Channel 3 here: Sacramento city officials say pumping stations will help move excess rain from storm drains

McKinley Park sewage water concerns grow as storm approaches

As Sunday’s storm approaches, concerns over sewage water seeping into East Sacramento are growing.  KCRA 3 viewer video and pictures of water accumulated in gutters and across sidewalks after an earlier storm has some neighbors worried Sunday’s rain will prove disastrous.  “I’m not staying at my own home, I’m going to be staying at a family member’s house, because I am frightened,” said Melinda Johnson, a lifelong McKinley Park resident.  Scared of the potential of downed trees and sewage water leakage, Johnson says she’s disgusted. … ”  Read more from KCRA Channel 3 here: McKinley Park sewage water concerns grow as storm approaches

NAPA/SONOMA

State Water Board temporarily lifts ban on Russian River diversions

With substantial rain in the forecast, state water officials have temporarily suspended emergency orders that prevented hundreds of ranchers, farmers, grape growers, cities and wholesale suppliers from drawing water from the Russian River.  The suspension is for the entire watershed, both upper and lower reaches, and takes effect in the upper river at noon Saturday. Curtailments were lifted in the lower river Thursday, the State Water Resources Control Board said.  The reprieve is expected to last until Nov. 1 and reflects substantially elevated river flows predicted from an atmospheric river on course to hit the region Sunday. The storm system is expected to bring 6 to 8 inches of rain in the coastal hills. … ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here: State Water Board temporarily lifts ban on Russian River diversions

Spawning season arrives for Russian River’s ailing salmon, steelhead

No one can say yet how many Chinook salmon are milling in the Pacific Ocean near the closed mouth of the Russian River waiting to launch their migration up drought-parched waterways to reach favored spawning grounds.  An intricate play of natural forces — including ocean waves, the river’s flow and the weather — will determine the success of the Chinook and coho salmon and steelhead trout, the watershed’s three federally protected fish.  They are coming off subpar years for returning adults and contending with the deepest drought in a century of California record keeping. … ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here:  Spawning season arrives for Russian River’s ailing salmon, steelhead

‘Definite flooding concerns’ in Sonoma County from atmospheric river

Hang onto your hats and clear your gutters.  The coming atmospheric river, a large stream of moisture from the coast of East Asia, is set to drop 6 to 7 inches of rain on Sonoma County from Saturday to Monday, according to a National Weather Service meteorologist.  The heaviest rainfall, with a potential for landslides and urban area flooding, is forecast for Sunday afternoon as the storm, tropical and subtropical in nature, makes its most significant impact on Northern California, said meteorologist Jeff Lorber. … ”  Continue reading at the Sonoma Index-Tribune here: ‘Definite flooding concerns’ in Sonoma County from atmospheric river

SEE ALSO: Despite drought, potential flooding is concern in Napa, from KTVU

Russian River inflatable dam deflation planned in advance of atmospheric river forecast for Sunday

In anticipation of a major storm arriving Sunday and elevated river flows, the Sonoma County Water Agency (Sonoma Water) on Saturday, Oct. 23 will begin the process of deflating its rubber dam located in the Russian River near Forestville. Sonoma Water routinely deflates the rubber dam when Russian River flow forecasts show the river reaching 2,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) in order to prevent damage to the rubber dam from the high flows. The atmospheric river event forecast for Sunday is expected to raise river flows above 19,000 cfs. ... ”  Continue reading from the County of Sonoma here: Russian River inflatable dam deflation planned in advance of atmospheric river forecast for Sunday

Healdsburg cut its water use in half. What’s in the city’s secret, water-saving sauce?

Cutting water use became a bit of a competition for retiree John Diniakos and his wife Merrilyn Joyce after the city mandated a 40% water restriction back in June.  Wearing a faded green collared shirt tucked into equally worn blue jeans, Diniakos said he now limits his showers to “once every other day, sometimes every three days.”  He doesn’t want to, but he’s doing it. “I would rather take a shower every day,” he said. “It just feels better.”  Even so, Joyce says she’s winning their water war because she does “laundry much less often.”  Among a maze of potted succulents beneath a broad magnolia tree in the couple’s front yard is a sign that reads: drought proofed. … ”  Read more from KQED here: Healdsburg cut its water use in half. What’s in the city’s secret, water-saving sauce?

BAY AREA

Atmospheric river storm: Flash flood watch issued, Sunday could be wettest day in more than two years in Bay Area

Highlighting a remarkable beginning to the winter rainy season, the National Weather Service on Friday issued a flash flood watch for parts of the greater Bay Area as a powerful storm continued to churn toward Northern California, bringing heavy rains and gusty winds to the region on Saturday night and Sunday.  The category 5 atmospheric river storm — the highest on a scale of 1 to 5 — is forecast to deliver on Sunday the most rain to the Bay Area of any single day in more than two years. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here: Atmospheric river storm: Flash flood watch issued, Sunday could be wettest day in more than two years in Bay Area

SEE ALSO: ‘There’s no holding back the water’: Northern California braces for one of the biggest storms of the year, from the San Francisco Chronicle

October rains ease Marin fire concerns, prime reservoirs

The deluge of rain this week is helping to prime drought-stricken Marin County to begin refilling its ominously low water supplies and is giving local fire crews a sigh of relief.  “All of us are sleeping a little better now with this rain,” Marin County fire Chief Jason Weber said. “It was a busy summer.”  While encouraged by the downpours so far, local water agencies say the county will need significantly more rainfall in the coming months to make up for two years of dry conditions, which have resulted in a critical water shortage and the possibility of depleting local supplies. … ”  Read more from the Marin Independent Journal here: October rains ease Marin fire concerns, prime reservoirs

Marin water district general manager sees evolving partnership with customers

Ben Horenstein, general manager of the Marin Municipal Water District, writes, “As delightfully wet as Marin is right now, the recent rain will not end our drought.  The “water year” ending Sept. 30 was the second-driest in 143 years, and climate change guarantees we’ll see its like again, or worse.  For more than 100 years, the fundamental mission of the Marin Municipal Water District has been to provide an uninterrupted supply of quality water to our customers in southern and central Marin at a reasonable price. As general manager, I can say we will continue to deliver even as natural challenges mount.  Keeping our local water supply safe, healthy and reliable requires innovation and change. … ”  Continue reading at the Marin Independent Journal here: Marin water district general manager sees evolving partnership with customers

Bay Area: ‘Dirt broker’ gets year of probation for Clean Water Act violation

A “dirt broker” whose prison sentence for illegally dumping pollutants into protected wetlands was overturned by a federal appeals court last year pleaded guilty to one count of violating the Clean Water Act and agreed to serve one year of probation, prosecutors confirmed Thursday.  For a fee, James Lucero provided trucking companies and contractors with an open space to dump dirt and construction debris.  Lucero’s dumping sites were separated from Mowry Slough by a levee made of packed dirt. At trial, the government presented evidence that the first area was connected to a tributary flowing underneath the slough, and that water flowed through the second site via tributaries that connected to the slough. … ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service here: ‘Dirt broker’ gets year of probation for Clean Water Act violation

Anchor Brewing partners with city to launch onsite water treatment facility

San Francisco’s oldest brewery is launching a new recycling water program that has the capacity to recycle up to 20 million gallons annually.  Mayor London Breed joined actor Edward Norton and city officials to cut the ribbon for the onsite water treatment facility at the Anchor Brewing Company, which is celebrating its 125th anniversary.  The water treatment facility, created by Cambrian Innovation, a company that provides water treatment and reuse solutions, will allow Anchor to reuse the water it uses to clean equipment and its bottles, known as “process water.” The process water will be 100 percent treated at the new facility, which was approved by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. … ”  Read more from SF Bay here: Anchor Brewing partners with city to launch onsite water treatment facility

Monster waves up to 30 feet to pound SF Bay Area beaches

An atmospheric river aimed for Northern California is forecast to bring monster swell to San Francisco Bay Area beaches late Sunday into early Tuesday, prompting the National Weather Service to issue the familiar warning, “Never turn your back on the ocean.”   Large breaking waves up to 30 feet are in the forecast for west- to northwest-facing beaches from Sonoma County to Monterey County, including SF’s Ocean Beach, Montara State Beach and Marina State Beach. … ”  Read more from SF Gate here: Monster waves up to 30 feet to pound SF Bay Area beaches

CENTRAL COAST

Evacuation orders issued for CZU burn zones in Santa Cruz County

With an “atmospheric river” rainstorm barreling toward the Bay Area, evacuation orders were issued Saturday afternoon for higher-risk areas of Santa Cruz County as deputies went door-to-door to notify residents. … “The Sheriff’s Office began door-to-door outreach Saturday in anticipation of evacuations in higher- risk areas,” Coburn said. Deputies are contacting homes in the low-lying, high-risk areas that have the highest potential for evacuation, the assistant administrative officer said. … ”  Read more from CBS Bay Area here: Evacuation orders issued for CZU burn zones in Santa Cruz County

Flash flood watch issued for Monterey County burn scars

As rain continued moving over the Central Coast and Bay Area on Friday morning, the region was bracing for a powerful storm on Sunday that was expected to deliver widespread rainfall and perhaps bring an end to another catastrophic fire season.  The National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch for the burn scars of the Carmel, River, Dolan and Willow fire scars in Monterey County as well as the CZU Lightning Complex burn scar in the Santa Cruz Mountains and burn scars in the Bay Area ahead of Sunday’s atmospheric river. The watch will be in effect in Monterey County from 5 p.m. Sunday through 4 a.m. Monday.  The weather service said heavy rainfall may lead to debris flows and flash flooding in and near recent burn scar areas. Rapid ponding of water in urban and poor drainage areas will be possible and the weather service said it cannot rule out the possibility of mudslides and washouts in steep terrain. … ”  Read more from the Monterey Herald here: Flash flood watch issued for Monterey County burn scars

Despite expected rainfall, Santa Barbara County still at 10-year low

Santa Barbara County is experiencing its lowest rainfall in 10 years, a scenario that is likely the new normal.  “There is substantial uncertainty about how climate change will affect precipitation in our county,” said Matt Young, Santa Barbara County’s water agency manager. “However, the best available science indicates that we may see longer drought periods punctuated by years with more intense rainfall.”  Only two of the past 10 years have experienced above-average rainfall. … ”  Read more from Noozhawk here: Despite expected rainfall, Santa Barbara County still at 10-year low

SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY

Fresno County farmers at a ‘crossroads’ as drought, climate change limit water supply

Joe Del Bosque has owned his farm west of Mendota for 36 years. He’s grown cherries, tomatoes and asparagus. But the crop closest to his heart is melons. His dad began growing melons in the Mendota area in the 1950s.  “They’ve been in my blood for all my life, you know, so I feel a very intimate relationship with melons,” he says.  He now owns 2,000 acres of land on both sides of Interstate 5. Typically, Del Bosque and other farmers on the west side of Fresno County receive their water through the Central Valley Project. That water flows from northern California to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and gets pumped through a network of canals.  Three decades ago, Del Bosque and other farmers on the west side began experiencing water cutbacks. They had to change how they watered crops. But now, conditions are getting worse and growers are making hard decisions about water and their crops. … ”  Read more from Valley Public Radio here: Fresno County farmers at a ‘crossroads’ as drought, climate change limit water supply

Bakersfield could get half-inch of rain Monday; flash flood concerns in burn scar areas in mountains

They used to use the name “pineapple express,” but now meteorologists call these huge moisture-carrying storms an atmospheric river.  And that’s exactly what is coming toward the southern San Joaquin Valley late Sunday and especially Monday. “ARs can set up in an area and dump rain for 24 hours, and for the biggest storms, up to 48 hours,” said Colin McKellar, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s Hanford station.  These are much warmer storms than the ones that swoop down from the Gulf of Alaska or western Canada. That means snow levels will be around 8,000 feet, rather than the 5,000-foot level seen during the last storm. … ”  Read more from the Bakersfield Californian here: Bakersfield could get half-inch of rain Monday; flash flood concerns in burn scar areas in mountains

EASTERN SIERRA

Second disease outbreak strikes Hot Creek Trout Hatchery; vaccinations underway for uninfected fish

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has detected a bacterial outbreak at its Hot Creek Trout Hatchery in Mono County – the second time in 2021 that Lactococcus garvieae has been confirmed in some trout at the hatchery.  Three distinct groups of trout representing about 15 percent of the hatchery’s total trout population have tested positive. CDFW has quarantined the facility, temporarily suspended fish planting and is preparing to humanely euthanize infected fish and vaccinate uninfected stocks.  “The encouraging news is that we caught the outbreak early as part of our routine testing and only a portion of the hatchery’s trout has been infected,” said Jay Rowan, CDFW’s statewide hatchery program manager. “We now have proven and effective vaccines to protect uninfected fish – vaccines developed recently in a partnership between UC Davis and CDFW. We’re in the process of vaccinating the hatchery’s healthy fish populations. Unfortunately, we don’t have a cure or treatment for infected fish at this time.” … ”  Read more from the Department of Water Resources here: Second disease outbreak strikes Hot Creek Trout Hatchery; vaccinations underway for uninfected fish

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

L.A. gets a bit of rain, with more on the way

Parts of Los Angeles got rain overnight, with more on the way Monday.  The meager rainfall is part of a weather pattern that is expected to bring hazardous conditions farther north starting Sunday, with forecasters warning that the western side of the Sierra Nevada could see excessive rain that causes flooding and debris flows in recent burn areas.  In L.A. County, the San Gabriel Mountains led the way with a scant 0.12 inch of rain measured at the San Gabriel Dam, said David Sweet, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard. Many coastal areas, including Leo Carrillo State Beach, got a similar soaking, while the San Gabriel Valley and downtown Los Angeles received less rain. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: L.A. gets a bit of rain, with more on the way

There’s no telling when the nasty smell in Carson will be gone, county officials say

Three weeks after a foul smell began plaguing Carson residents, Los Angeles County officials say they can’t predict when it will dissipate.  Some residents are so fed up that they have filed a lawsuit alleging a warehouse fire caused a buildup of decaying vegetation in the Dominguez Channel, leading to the smell.  After crews finally began spraying a biodegradable neutralizer last Friday, officials predicted the odor would go away by the middle of this week. Then, they pushed it back to the weekend.  Now, they are not committing to any date at all, citing variations in individual sensitivity to the smell that has been likened to rotten eggs, vomit, body odor or farts. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: There’s no telling when the nasty smell in Carson will be gone, county officials say

State Water Board amends water cooling policy to extend Redondo Beach power plant operations

The State Water Resources Control Board on Tuesday adopted an amendment to its OnceThrough Cooling (OTC) Policy that extends the compliance date for the Redondo Beach Generating Station, enabling it to operate through 2023 to provide additional electrical grid capacity. The facility uses ocean water for cooling as part of the power generation process. The OTC Policy, which has been in effect since 2010, seeks to reduce the use of marine and estuarine water consumption by coastal power plants in California while maintaining grid reliability. … ” Continue reading at the State Water Board here: State Water Board amends water cooling policy to extend Redondo Beach power plant operations

Laguna Beach: DeWitt Habitat Restoration Project benefits from private donations

Overseers of the Laguna Canyon Creek restoration project gave an update on their progress this week. The updates came as the Laguna Beach City Council voted to accept private donations in support of the DeWitt Habitat Restoration Project on Tuesday.  The Foundation for Sustainability and Innovation contributed $2,800 toward the restorative efforts, and Laguna Greenbelt also donated $2,200. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: Laguna Beach: DeWitt Habitat Restoration Project benefits from private donations

IMPERIAL VALLEY

Love, concern at heart of weekend Salton Sea Film Festival

The Salton Sea needs no introduction. In its heyday, its seaside resorts were the darling of real estate developers and investors, and a playground for the likes of Marilyn Monroe and Frank Sinatra.  Boy, have times changed. The lake is dying, and real estate investors moved on decades ago. Most of its coverage focuses on local officials imploring Sacramento or Washington to fix the lake, or businesspeople with complicated proposals and dollars signs in their eyes.  Unfortunately, the voice of the community — the people that live at the Salton Sea — usually gets drowned out in the noise.  But not this weekend.  Those community voices will take center stage on Saturday, Oct. 23, in Salton City at the second edition of the Salton Sea Film Festival. ... ”  Read more from the Holtville Tribune here: Love, concern at heart of weekend Salton Sea Film Festival

SAN DIEGO

San Diego: Effort by local water districts to change water suppliers moves into next phase

The advisory committee, established by the San Diego County Local Agency Formation Commission to analyze applications from the Fallbrook and Rainbow water districts to change water suppliers, is expected to complete its work by the end of this year and forward its recommendation to the full commission.  After enduring years of soaring water costs from the San Diego County Water Authority and having to pay for infrastructure projects that don’t serve the districts and that they don’t need, Fallbrook Public Utility District and Rainbow Municipal Water District are seeking to detach from the Water Authority and begin purchasing their water at a reduced rate from Eastern Municipal Water District. … ”  Read more from the Village News here: San Diego: Effort by local water districts to change water suppliers moves into next phase

California may soon impose new water restrictions. Here’s what that means in San Diego.

San Diegans could be forgiven for not knowing how seriously to take California’s current drought.  Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a statewide emergency last week, reiterating a desire that urban water users from San Diego to Sacramento voluntarily cut consumption by 15 percent. That would bring water use back down to roughly where it was in 2016, after then-Gov. Jerry Brown issued the state’s first-ever mandatory drought restrictions.  However, the San Diego County Water Authority has repeatedly assured residents that the region has enough water for another year, maybe two. And after Newsom’s announcement, officials with the wholesaler called on San Diego to slash water by just 10 percent, while again downplaying the urgency of the situation. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune here: California may soon impose new water restrictions. Here’s what that means in San Diego.

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Along the Colorado River …

Ducey gives tribe $30M for water rights

Arizona is dropping another $30 million in to buy — or, at least, rent — some water rights to help stave off further drought-related cuts in what the state gets from the Colorado River. Tom Buschatzke, the director of the Department of Water Resources, said plans are to negotiate with tribes and others who have guaranteed allocations of water to leave it in the river in exchange for cash. That’s on top of $10 million the legislature gave him earlier this year for the same purpose. But Buschatzke acknowledged that this, coupled with another $30 million that already was given to one tribe years ago to defer some of its water rights for three years, does not solve the fact that decades of unusual drought have left Arizona and other states along the river with less water than they hoped to be able to draw. … ”  Read more from Arizona Capitol Times here:  Ducey gives tribe $30M for water rights

SEE ALSO: Ducey allots $30M to keep water in declining Lake Mead reservoir, from KTAR

Arizona DWR Director testifies before U.S. House panel on Colorado River conditions

In the wake of earlier testimony in the U.S. Senate, ADWR Director Tom Buschatzke on October 15 described for members of the U.S. House of Representatives the serious conditions currently facing the states of the Colorado River Basin.  “The past two decades of on-going drought in the western United States, and in particular the Colorado River Basin, is challenging the seven Colorado River Basin States of Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming, as well as the Republic of Mexico, to meet the needs of the 40 million people and millions of acres of farmland that rely on the River,” said Director Buschatzke in his statement to the Committee on Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife. … ”  Read more from Arizona Water here: Arizona DWR Director testifies before U.S. House panel on Colorado River conditions

Latest projection: Lake Powell could reach critically low water level by July

The latest river flow and reservoir storage projections from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation suggest Lake Powell’s surface level could fall to the “power pool” mark and risk damaging the Glen Canyon Dam’s power-generating turbines as early as July of next year.  “As a result of this update, the median water year 2022 inflow forecast into Lake Powell decreased by 800,000 acre-feet,” USBR stated in a press release distributed Thursday.  … ”  Read more from the Denver Channel here: Latest projection: Lake Powell could reach critically low water level by July

In national news this weekend …

New research shows most Americans are unaware of their daily water consumption

According to new research conducted by global research agency Opinium on behalf of American Water, Americans underestimate the amount of water they use daily by 90%. Most believe they use less than 100 gallons of water each day, when the actual number is more than 2,000 gallons on average (according to Water Footprint Network). This figure considers the water consumed by individuals directly (e.g. dishwashing or watering the lawn) and indirectly (e.g. the water required to produce food). With the majority of Americans underestimating their own personal water usage, the study also found a lack of awareness for water consumption in specific areas of their lives as well. … ”  Read more from American Water here: New research shows most Americans are unaware of their daily water consumption

Judge nixes Trump-era rule limiting review of water projects

A judge has vacated a Trump-era rule that limited states’ ability to review federally-permitted water projects. When the federal government OKs a permit for a project that will discharge into navigable waters, state governments have the right to review the project to make sure it complies with state laws. States can approve, modify or deny the permit. Former Republican President Donald Trump’s administration issued new rules that limited states’ ability to review these permits. Attorneys general in California, Washington and New York led a coalition of 21 states to sue to block this rule. Now that Democrat Joe Biden is president, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency wants to reconsider the rule. … ”  Read more from US News and World Report here: Judge nixes Trump-era rule limiting review of water projects

Fishing, recreation advocates topple critical Trump-era Clean Water Act federal power grab

Late last night, fishing and recreation advocates won a significant victory for clean water when a federal district court threw out (vacated) a critical Trump Clean Water Act rule. Today’s order from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California restores state and Tribal authority to ensure federally permitted activities in rivers and lakes comply fully with state and tribal law. The Biden administration had planned to revise the rule to an unknown degree through a years-long public process. This court decision erases the Trump rule completely and immediately.  The Trump-era rule implementing section 401 of the Clean Water Act allowed federal agencies to approve large projects against state and Tribal wishes, including fossil fuel pipelines, hydropower, industrial plants, wetland development, and municipal facilities. Today’s order from Judge William H. Alsup restores the broad authority of states and Tribes to halt such projects, and alternatively to impose conditions on them, and restores opportunities for robust public participation in permit decisions. … ”  Read more from the Western Environmental Law Center here: Fishing, recreation advocates topple critical Trump-era Clean Water Act federal power grab

SEE ALSO: As California records driest year in a century, Attorney General Bonta secures district court decision restoring state’s Clean Water Act authority, statement from Attorney General Bonta

White House taps Martha Williams to head Fish and Wildlife Service

The White House announced last night the intention to nominate Martha Williams as director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, capping nine months in which she has already been leading the agency as the administration overhauls key policies.  Prior to joining the Biden administration in January, Williams served as director of the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks from 2017 to 2020.  She previously was an assistant professor at the Blewett School of Law at the University of Montana. She co-directed the university’s Land Use and Natural Resources Clinic.  “Martha brings with her decades of experience, deep knowledge, and a passion for conservation, wildlife management, and natural resources stewardship,” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said in a statement. ... ”  Read more from E&E News here: White House taps Martha Williams to head Fish and Wildlife Service

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

NOTICE: of Petition for Long-Term Transfer per Stevinson Water District and East Side Canal & Irrigation Company License 5940

FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES: NRCS Announces Conservation Funding Opportunities for 2022

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

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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