DAILY DIGEST, 10/27: State moves toward higher flows on Tuolumne and nearby rivers. Irrigators vow a fight; Secretary Crowfoot: Rains helped, but drought is part of CA’s ‘new normal’; Lake Oroville rises nearly 30 feet after weekend rain, Shasta up 3 feet; and more …


On the calendar today …

  • MEETING: Delta Conservancy Board Meeting from 9am to 1pm. Agenda items include updates on Prop 1 and Prop 68 grant programs, consideration of approval of grants for several projects, General grant guidelines draft for public review, strategic plan for 2022 to 2027, and Delta Conveyance Update. Click here for agenda, meeting materials, and remote access instructions.
  • WEBINAR: Martin V. Boise: Public Agencies’ Obligations in Regard to a Growing Homeless Population from 12pm to 1pm.  Part of ACWA’s CLE series.  Click here for more information and to register.
  • PUBLIC WORKSHOP: Delta Emergency Grant Program Guidelines from 2pm to 3pm.  This grant is designed to provide funding for local emergency responders within the legal Delta to improve their capacity to respond to flood emergencies. No registration necessary.  Click here to join the meeting

In California water news today …

State moves toward higher flows on Tuolumne and nearby rivers. Irrigators vow a fight

The state is moving ahead with its proposal to boost flows on the Tuolumne and nearby rivers, to the dismay of irrigation districts and San Francisco. The reservoir releases are needed to help fish and other wildlife on tributaries to the San Joaquin River, two cabinet secretaries said in a letter Thursday, Oct. 20. The water users contend that the releases would take too much from farms and cities supplied by the Tuolumne, Stanislaus and Merced rivers. They have sought “voluntary agreements” that would increase reservoir releases to some extent while enhancing fish habitat in other ways, such as restoring spawning gravel for salmon. “Walking away from the VA’s, as the state is doing without an agreement, is saying, ‘Let the litigation begin,’ “ Steve Knell, general manager of the Oakdale Irrigation District, wrote in an email on Tuesday. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  State moves toward higher flows on Tuolumne and nearby rivers. Irrigators vow a fight

Modesto Bee editorial: State’s decision to end water talks a slap in the face to Modesto-area residents

The Modesto Bee editorial board writes, “California state bureaucrats who dropped a bomb on our region by quitting water negotiations ought to be ashamed. A few days ago, two of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s top appointed officials sent notice that they’re done talking about how much water in the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers we might be willing to part with. Instead, they plan to just take what they want. In other contexts, this would be called looting, pillaging, thieving or stealing. Here, it’s government at its worst. … ”  Continue reading at the Modesto Bee here: State’s decision to end water talks a slap in the face to Modesto-area residents

Secretary Crowfoot: Rains helped, but drought is part of California’s ‘new normal’

“Far from being rescued from drought by recent storms, the state needs to prepare for a “new normal” of restricted water supplies, California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot said Tuesday, Oct. 26.  To do that, Crowfoot said California must accelerate conservation efforts to deal with current drought conditions and continue to build on long-term water-management strategies, such as the $5.2 billion Water and Drought Resilience Package announced in September by Gov. Gavin Newsom. Crowfoot made his case to the executive committee of the Metropolitan Water District, which manages Southern California’s water imports from the Colorado River and Northern California. “We’re all put in a very good mood by the large storms that came over parts of California over the weekend,” Crowfoot said at the virtual meeting. But he added that the heavy rains were hardly enough to emerge from current drought: “We would need several more record-breaking storms like this over the winter.”  … ”  Continue reading at the Mercury News here: Rains helped, but drought is part of California’s ‘new normal’

SEE ALSO: Despite heavy rainfall, natural resources secretary says Californians should still ‘plan for the worst’

Lake Oroville raises nearly 30 feet after weekend rain, continues to rise

Thanks to the most recent wet weather, Lake Oroville has risen nearly 30 feet since October 22, according to the Department of Water Resources (DWR).  Public Safety Chief for California State Parks, Aaron Wright, says marina staff worked overtime making sure facilities and equipment weathered the storm.  “The rain was a great thing. We were just hoping for a little bit of a slower pace…Water came up dramatically during that last storm and so that caused a lot of work to make sure the lines didn’t break because that puts stress on all the lines for all the house boats. ... ”  Read more from KRCR here: Lake Oroville raises nearly 30 feet after weekend rain, continues to rise

Lake Oroville hydroelectric power plant remains offline, but could resume in December

The hydroelectric power plant at Lake Oroville that was shut down due to low water levels from the drought could power back on if lake elevation allows, according to the California Department of Water Resources.  This announcement comes after the winter storm that brought several inches of rain to Northern California over the weekend.  The lake rose about 20 feet, but even with the surge in runoff, the power plant remains offline. Officials with the department said demand for electricity is low right now, and there’s still maintenance on the plant. … ”  Read more from KCRA here:  Lake Oroville hydroelectric power plant remains offline, but could resume in December

Shasta Lake rises nearly 3 feet in a week

The much-needed recent rain is raising our local lake levels.  The rain and cold wind is not stopping local fishermen from heading out to Shasta Lake. For them, the wet weather they’re experiencing is a relief.  “This has been such a crazy drought for California and they really need this water,” said Ty Manterolla of Redding. “You can see how low the lake is, and it’s really hard to launch a boat out here.”  Ty Manterolla and James Hawkinson both fish on Shasta Lake once or twice a week, even if it’s cold and rainy. … ”  Read more from Action News Now here: Shasta Lake rises nearly 3 feet in a week

Q&A: Reasons for hope amid California’s drought

Despite the rain that drenched central and northern California recently, drought still casts a long shadow over the state. The consequences of a multi-year water shortage are dire: reservoirs that serve millions of people and massive swaths of farmland are disappearing, hydroelectric dams are in danger of losing power and wild salmon are facing mass die outs. Last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom expanded a drought-related state of emergency.  Below, Stanford water experts Newsha Ajami, Rosemary Knight, Felicia Marcus and Barton “Buzz” Thompson discuss lessons learned from previous droughts, imperatives for infrastructure investment and reasons for hope in this arid era. … ”  Read more from Stanford News here: Q&A: Reasons for hope amid California’s drought

Valadao pens letter requesting State of Emergency declaration

Tuesday, Congressman David G. Valadao, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, Congressman Ken Calvert, Congressman Mike Garcia, Congressman Darrell Issa, Congresswoman Young Kim, Congressman Doug LaMalfa, Congressman Tom McClintock, Congressman Devin Nunes, and Congresswoman Michelle Steel sent a letter to President Biden and Governor Newsom requesting federal and state emergency declarations related to the drought and recent storms in California to maximize pumping of stormwater and unregulated flows in the Delta. The letter states:  “The recent Category 5 Atmospheric River event drenched northern California, with rainfall totals exceeding ten inches in some areas of the state and setting single-day records in most. Moreover, atmospheric models indicate that California faces an elevated likelihood of additional atmospheric river activity in the coming weeks. The ground is now saturated from the last storm, meaning additional rain will manifest almost entirely as runoff through the Delta. … ”  Read more from the Hanford Sentinel here: Valadao pens letter requesting State of Emergency declaration

Rep. Harder reintroduces SAVE Water Resources Act

Representative Josh Harder (CA-10) has reintroduced the Securing Access for the Central Valley and Enhancing (SAVE) Water Resources Act. The bill provides a wraparound approach to addressing water issues facing the Central Valley by increasing storage opportunities, spurring innovation, and making “long-overdue investments in our aging water infrastructure,” said the congressman. ... ”  Read more from the Oakdale Leader here: Rep. Harder reintroduces SAVE Water Resources Act

Governor expands drought emergency ahead of storms

The atmospheric river storm that hit the state is welcome, but state water officials predict that many more storms are needed before the state can avoid a third year of drought.  To prepare for the expected dry conditions, last week Gov. Gavin Newsom expanded the drought emergency statewide, adding Imperial, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Francisco and Ventura counties to a previous drought disaster order for 50 counties. The order also asked residents to conserve water.  “As the western U.S. faces a potential third year of drought, it’s critical that Californians across the state redouble our efforts to save water in every way possible,” Newsom said. ... ”  Read more from Ag Alert here: Governor expands drought emergency ahead of storms

SEE ALSO: Water conservation is key in expanded California drought declaration, from the Foothills Sun-Gazette

As need to test water for microplastics increases, California finds a way

Wherever you get your drinking water, there’s a good chance it contains some amount of tiny plastic pieces.  There aren’t a lot of rules or regulations around this particular pollutant because it is considered an emerging contaminant, but that is changing.  Scott Coffin, a research scientist who works for the State Water Resources Control Board, is proud of a recent accomplishment: an official, streamlined process to monitor microplastics in drinking water. … ”  Read more from Spectrum 1 here: As need to test water for microplastics increases, California finds a way

Drought-stricken California faces rise in water theft by illegal marijuana farms

As California faces what is predicted to be one of its worst droughts in recorded history, water managers are seeing record increases in water theft, leaving communities angry and police chasing water bandits constantly on the move. Byrhonda Lyons of CalMatters, the nonprofit news site, has the story of how water meant for residential use is flowing to illegal marijuana farms. … ”  Watch video or read transcript from PBS News Hour here: Drought-stricken California faces rise in water theft by illegal marijuana farms

Satellites track water use to aid crop efficiency

As California weathers another drought, tools that can help farmers and ranchers maximize the water they do get are being sharpened.  The newest effort to measure such water use was launched last week by a public-private coalition featuring three federal agencies—the National Aeronautics and Space Administration; the U.S. Department of Agriculture; and the U.S. Geological Survey—and a number of universities and private entities. OpenET, which aims to track water use across 17 western states, went live Oct. 21 and is available at www.openetdata.org. ... ”  Read more from Ag Alert here: Satellites track water use to aid crop efficiency

California’s drought-breaking rain set to shake up Australian almond market

Drought breaking rain in California may well have an impact closer to home.  Riverina almond growers have been poised to see prices return to average next year due to an expected shortfall in US almond production.  The market had rebounded by almost 25 per cent in recent months, off the back of the lowest prices seen in a decade.  However, Almond Board of Australia chief executive officer Tim Jackson said even before the heavens opened in the US the market had started to falter due to ongoing freight challenges. … ”  Read more from ABC Australia here: California’s drought-breaking rain set to shake up Australian almond market

It’s just nuts: Big almond and pistachio will likely make a killing despite the epic drought

For farmers in California’s San Joaquin Valley—the Saudi Arabia of nuts—2021 brought many challenges. Scant snowfall in the Sierra Nevada mountain range delivered almost no irrigation water to the region’s vaunted complex of dams and aqueducts. Record-high temperatures baked farm fields. Before this past weekend’s furious storms, California endured its driest year in recorded history.  Yet the region’s ever-expanding and very thirsty almond and pistachio operations are thriving anyway. According to the US Department of Agriculture’s latest projections released this month, 2021 almond production will likely clock in at just 10 percent below last year’s, while the pistachio harvest is expected to hit a record high. … ”  Read more from Mother Jones here: It’s just nuts: Big almond and pistachio will likely make a killing despite the epic drought

State cotton crop smaller amid price rally

Lack of water for agriculture could dampen prospects for California farmers to grow more cotton, even as prices for the commodity have soared.  Diminished global cotton inventories and increased demand for the fiber are expected to keep markets strong. But farmers say higher prices may not be enough to justify more plantings next year if water supplies remain limited for farming.  With cotton harvest fully underway in the state, farmers should reap “a fantastic price” for this year’s crop, said Roger Isom, president and CEO of the California Cotton Ginners and Growers Association. … ”  Read more from Ag Alert here: State cotton crop smaller amid price rally

State budget adds funds for ‘climate smart’ farming

Drought and climate loom large in the latest state budget, with programs aimed at helping farmers and ranchers with funding boosts.  A $15 billion climate response program includes $1.1 billion to support “Climate Smart Agriculture” project over two years.   “The real impact and benefit to our members from the $1.1 billion will be associated to the ag diesel engine replacement program,” said Robert Spiegel, a California Farm Bureau policy advocate. “It’s a significant investment over the next two years of about $360 million.”  The program is Funding Agricultural Replacement Measures for Emission Reductions, or FARMER. … ”  Read more from the Foothills Sun-Gazette here: State budget adds funds for ‘climate smart’ farming

As floodwaters rise, who can afford to pay the cost?

In a recent study published in the academic journal Earth’s Future, researchers looked at the costs of coastal flooding through an equity lens, finding that flooding comes with both monetary and social risks, suggesting that many people who own or rent homes at risk from rising sea levels may not have enough money to pay for the associated damages.  “The impact of coastal flooding on communities hinges not only on the cost, but on the ability of households to pay for the damages,” the researchers write. The study, which analyzed counties in the San Francisco Bay Area, projected flooding impacts from 2020 to 2060, determining that coastal flooding disproportionately impacts lower-income households. … ”  Read more from Ensia here: As floodwaters rise, who can afford to pay the cost?

New Forest Resilience Bond will finance $25 million of restoration to reduce wildfire risk on the Tahoe National Forest in California

World Resources Institute, Blue Forest Conservation, National Forest Foundation, U.S. Forest Service, Yuba Water Agency and the North Yuba Forest Partnership are pleased to announce the launch of the second Forest Resilience Bond (FRB): the Yuba II FRB. The new FRB on the Tahoe National Forest will finance $25 million in forest resilience and post-fire restoration projects in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains to restore 48,000 forested acres, protect nearby communities, and enhance water security. … ”  Read more from YubaNet here: New Forest Resilience Bond will finance $25 million of restoration to reduce wildfire risk on the Tahoe National Forest in California

A New Wildfire Watchdog: We need smart infrastructure, zero-power sensors

Why is the dog barking, you wonder, as you wake up? You notice the smell of smoke, and when you try to turn on your bedside light you discover that the power is out. Then you see it out your window: a wall of orange flame, crawling up a nearby hillside. You roust your family and run to the car. Your lives have just been saved by a Stone Age warning system: your dog.  This has been the experience of hundreds of Californians. In the case of the 2017 Tubbs Fire, the 2018 Camp Fire, and the 2020 August Complex Fires, high winds blasted flames through populated areas in the early morning hours while residents were sleeping. Too many did not make it out of their beds, let alone their homes. In our always-on, sensor-laden, Internet-connected world, shouldn’t technology have done better? … ”  Read more from the IEEE Spectrum here:  A New Wildfire Watchdog: We need smart infrastructure, zero-power sensors

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California storms aftermath …

Extratropical cyclones drench West Coast

One of the most intense extratropical cyclones ever to strike the Pacific Northwest drew an equally historic amount of moisture onto the West Coast of North America on October 24-25, 2021. The storm off the coast of Washington—with a central pressure of 942.5 millibars, equivalent to a category 4 hurricane—was the second extreme low-pressure storm in the North Pacific in a week. Both exhibited pressure drops of more than 24 millibars in 24 hours, making them “bomb cyclones.”  The two storm fronts directed streams of moisture from north of Hawaii toward the West Coast in long, narrow bands of moisture known as atmospheric rivers. Atmospheric rivers account for up to 50 percent of all rain and snow that falls in the western United States. … ”  Read more from Earth Observatory here:  Extratropical cyclones drench West Coast

Scripps’ CW3E and Yuba Water Agency launched weather balloons during atmospheric river

On Sunday morning, during the atmospheric river (AR) event in Northern California, scientists from the Center for Western Water Extremes (CW3E) at the Scripps Institute for Oceanography at UC San Diego and their partners at Yuba Water Agency launched weather balloons to gather data on the AR and its impacts on reservoirs.  Similar to a 2019 launch, the balloons carried a radiosonde that captures temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction and atmospheric pressure data used by global weather models.  Data collected from these weather balloons directly contributed to understanding of the atmospheric river that made landfall in Northern California over the weekend. ... ”  Read more from YubaNet here: Scripps’ CW3E and Yuba Water Agency launched weather balloons during atmospheric river

Amid Valley’s Monday downpour, drought relief is flushed out to the Pacific. Here’s how much left.

As communities across the Valley floor and in the Sierra Nevada foothills braved a single-day downpour on Monday, the hope for a one-hit wonder to push back the state’s dreadful drought impacts, admittedly, far-fetched.  One only needs to look as far as the ever-critical Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta for answers as to why.  Between Sunday and Monday, roughly 50,582 acre feet of water flowed into the Delta, the critical lynchpin of much of the state’s water infrastructure, per a daily report from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.  But how much left the Delta headed for the Pacific Ocean? According to the same report, 86,887 acre feet of water, with 71,424 acre feet pouring out on Monday alone. … ”  Read more from the San Joaquin Valley Sun here: Amid Valley’s Monday downpour, drought relief is flushed out to the Pacific. Here’s how much left.

Charts show where California reservoir totals stand after the atmospheric river

This weekend’s atmospheric river brought record-breaking amounts of rain to drought-plagued California. But they didn’t give the state’s water supply much of a boost, data shows.  The state Department of Water Resources compared the amount of water in select reservoirs across the state as of midnight Oct. 25 to the capacity of each reservoir and to historic levels for the same date. The data shows that, even after all of Sunday and Monday’s rainfall, many of California’s largest reservoirs are still holding less water than the historic level for this time of year. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: Charts show where California reservoir totals stand after the atmospheric river

Satellite photos show dramatic change after atmospheric river hits California

Satellite photos from before and after the recent atmospheric river storm, which brought intense rain across Northern California, show just how much of a difference the precipitation made in the drought-stricken state.  An image from Oct. 16, before the storms came through, shows a very dry-looking California, with almost no snow on the Sierra Nevada. But just 10 days later, on Tuesday, another image shows those mountains covered in white — evidence of just how much precipitation the storm brought in. ... ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: Satellite photos show dramatic change after atmospheric river hits California

California still deep in drought despite atmospheric river

The deluge California received from a powerful atmospheric river made streams and waterfalls come alive while coating mountains with snow, but as the storm headed east to the Plains on Tuesday it left the Golden State still deep in drought.  The atmospheric river, a long plume of moisture pulled in from the Pacific, capped a series of back-to-back storm systems that abruptly switched the state’s immediate emergency concerns from wildfires to flooding.  But the long-term problem of a drought that scientists say is part of a warming and drying trend driven by climate change was not washed away. ... ”  Read more from NBC Bay Area here: California still deep in drought despite atmospheric river 

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Today’s featured articles …

STATE WATER BOARD: Summary of results from the 2020 Volumetric Annual Report of Wastewater and Recycled Water in California

In 2018, the State Water Resources Control Board adopted an amendment to the Recycled Water Policy to promote recycled water use, setting a numeric goal to increase the use of recycled water to at least 2.5 million acre-feet per year by 2030.  The amendment included the narrative goals to reuse all dry weather direct discharge to ocean waters, enclosed bays, estuaries, and coastal lagoons to the extent feasible; and maximize the use of recycled water in areas where groundwater supplies are threatened.

At the October 19 meeting of the State Water Board, Rebecca Greenwood, an engineering geologist with the Recycled Water Unit in the Desalination Unit within the Division of Water Quality, presented the summary of the results from the second year of the implementation of the annual volumetric reporting requirements for wastewater and recycled water facilities statewide.

Click here to read this article.

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In regional water news and commentary today …

MOUNTAIN COUNTIES

Atmospheric river dumps snow across Tahoe, nearly setting new record

 Donner Summit just broke its record for the most precipitation in the month of October, according to a tweet from the UC Berkeley Central Sierra Snow Lab. This record counts both rain and snow. The previous record was set in 2016, when the lab measured 15.67 inches of precipitation. So far this October, the lab has counted 16 inches, setting a new high.  The atmospheric river last weekend pushed snow totals to almost four feet in the central Sierra Nevada — that’s more snow for October than many people have seen in their lifetimes. But it’s not quite enough to set a new record on Donner Summit. … ”  Read more from SF Gate here: Atmospheric river dumps snow across Tahoe, nearly setting new record

Epic snowfall prompts Palisades Tahoe ski resorts to open this Friday, a month sooner than expected

Early-season storms that have dumped several feet of snow across the Lake Tahoe region have prompted the Palisades Tahoe ski areas to open this Friday, a month sooner than expected.  Palisades, the umbrella brand of adjacent ski resorts in North Lake Tahoe formerly called Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows, announced Tuesday afternoon that more than three and a half feet of snow had fallen on its upper mountains in recent days.  Atmospheric rivers that have doused the Bay Area with heavy rains have brought nearly 4 feet of snow to the Central Sierra mountains this month, a near-record for October snowfall. ... ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: Epic snowfall prompts Palisades Tahoe ski resorts to open this Friday, a month sooner than expected

Workshop on proposed solutions to stop spread of invasive plants in Lake Tahoe

The Tahoe Keys Property Owners Association (TKPOA) and its partners are seeking public input on potential solutions to the spread of aquatic weeds that currently threaten all of Lake Tahoe. They are holding a meeting on Friday, October 29 from 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. at the Tahoe Keys Pavilion, 300-498 Ala Wai Blvd, South Lake Tahoe.  A proposed permit for an aquatic weeds control methods test (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System or NPDES) prescribing various treatment options is currently under consideration before the Lahontan Water Board.  The Control Methods Test application proposes the stand-alone and combined use of various approaches including targeted herbicides and UV-C light to reduce and control the abundant growth of invasive and nuisance aquatic weeds. … ”  Read more from South Tahoe Now here: Workshop on proposed solutions to stop spread of invasive plants in Lake Tahoe

SACRAMENTO VALLEY

Cal Water continues water conservation efforts in Willows

In coordination with the “Imagine a Day Without Water” campaign, Cal Water is educating local residents about the values of water in an effort to combat the effects of the ongoing drought while continuing to implement water-saving strategies within the city of Willows. “Cal Water has been preparing for drought and climate change for years, and we’re committed to ensuring a reliable water supply, both now and in the future,” said Ken Jenkins, director of Water Resource Sustainability for Cal Water. “Our customers have done an excellent job conserving water when needed, and we appreciate their efforts. With current drought/dry conditions, we encourage them to keep using water wisely to help preserve California’s limited water supply.” … ”  Read more from the Glenn County Transcript here: Cal Water continues water conservation efforts in Willows

Sacramento considering fee increase for residents to improve stormwater system

The city of Sacramento is looking to improve its aging stormwater system, which could mean a fee increase for residents.   “It’s water. As Californians, we know how important that is and how scarce the resource is,” said resident Trent Starcevich.   Every drop of water is important for Sacramento resident Starcevich, and when it comes to making sure the city’s stormwater system is in the best condition, he’s onboard. … ”  Read more from Fox Channel 40 here: Sacramento considering fee increase for residents to improve stormwater system

Sunday’s historic storm put the new McKinley Water Vault to the test: How well did it work?

Sunday’s historic rainfall across Sacramento put a new underground reservoir in McKinley Park to the test. The highly contested McKinley Water Vault was built by the city to help reduce flooding in Sacramento’s McKinley Park neighborhood. The City of Sacramento’s Department of Utilities said the 6-million gallon vault was full by 5:30 in the evening Sunday during the storm. The neighborhood around McKinley Park experienced street flooding when water began overflowing from out of the storm drains. By 9:40 p.m., the vault began to empty. As of Tuesday evening, pumps had reduced the water level inside the vault to about eight feet of water. … ”  Read more from KCRA Channel 3 here: Sunday’s historic storm put the new McKinley Water Vault to the test: How well did it work?

NAPA/SONOMA

Fast-acting county workers scramble to keep toxic debris from wildfires out of Russian River during rainstorm

The 257-acre Hopkins Fire burned dozens of structures along the Russian River last month, but cleanup efforts move slower than rain. So when the National Weather Service (NWS) in Eureka forecast four to six inches of precipitation in seven days for the Ukiah valley, county personnel recognized the Hopkins burn scar as an impending environmental crisis.   Travis Killmer, with Mendocino County’s Prevention, Recovery, Resilience and Mitigation Division addressed the Board of Supervisors first thing last week during their regularly scheduled meeting — First District Supervisor Glenn McGourty called it an “all hands on deck emergency” — and by the end of the day Killmer had returned to the board with a plan to install 1,500 linear feet of straw wattles and 965 feet of silt socks by Friday for just under $50,000. The county couldn’t do it alone, though. They enlisted the assistance of the California Conservation Corps (CCC). … ”  Read more from the Mendocino Voice here:  Fast-acting county workers scramble to keep toxic debris from wildfires out of Russian River during rainstorm

Sonoma County: Crews responded to wastewater overflows caused by atmospheric river

Heavy rains from Sunday’s potent atmospheric river entered the wastewater collections system in the Sonoma Valley County Sanitation District system causing several wastewater overflows. Another brief overflow occurred in the Penngrove Sanitation Zone. Rainfall measured by Sonoma One Rain gages exceeded 7.5 inches in Sonoma Valley and nearly 9 inches on Sonoma Mountain, causing inflow into the two wastewater collection systems to temporarily exceed capacity.  During heavy rain events wastewater collection systems can become overloaded due to inflow and infiltration of rainwater and groundwater into sewer mains. Wastewater maintenance and work crews were staged in the field in anticipation of the heavy inflows into collection systems and used pump trucks and pumps to divert as much water as possible. Signs were posted at overflow sites, and the State Office of Emergency Services and California Department of Fish & Wildlife were notified. … ”  Read more from Sonoma County here: Sonoma County: Crews responded to wastewater overflows caused by atmospheric river

Can birds and solar float on the same ponds?

In the late 2000s, small-aircraft pilots gliding above the Napa countryside began to notice an odd, glassy glint reflecting off a tennis-court-size patch of land between vineyards. Large solar arrays were less common back then, but the solar panels themselves likely weren’t the reason planes doubled back, flying low, for a closer look: it was their placement in the middle of a pond.  Floating solar panels, like the ones Napa’s Far Niente winery finished installing in 2009, could be a real windfall for a watery Bay-Delta region seeking carbon-free energy. Secured to buoyant platforms or pontoons, low over the water’s surface and at a slight angle, the panels can cover a large area without competing with agriculture or housing for primo sun-drenched land. … ”  Read more from Estuary News here: Can birds and solar float on the same ponds?

Napa County’s drought contingency plan coming soon

Turning wastewater into drinking water and taking part in plans for a new California reservoir are potential ways Napa Valley cities might try to deal with future droughts.  A soon-to-be-released Napa Valley drought contingency plan will likely include these and other potential steps. How much the plan might help if the current drought continues remains to be seen. Even the weekend’s pounding storm didn’t end the two-year drought.  “This is long-term planning so we are in better shape in the future,” city Deputy Utilities Director Joy Eldredge said. ... ”  Read more from the Napa Register here: Napa County’s drought contingency plan coming soon

BAY AREA

Rain gave Marin reservoirs a big boost. Here’s exactly how much

The soggy storm that barreled through the Bay Area over the weekend gave Marin County’s reservoirs a major boost — though not nearly enough to overcome an extreme drought deficit, officials said.  This October has suddenly become the wettest in more than 130 years for the Marin Municipal Water District, officials reported Tuesday. The district’s seven reservoirs in the Mount Tamalpais watershed increased from just 32% to nearly 50% of total capacity after a weekend of rain, district data shows. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: Rain gave Marin reservoirs a big boost. Here’s exactly how much

Is San Francisco losing its fog? Scientists fear the worst

San Francisco’s fog is a notorious shapeshifter. Its thick gray mists have delayed planes, derailed sporting events, and even obscured the grand opening of The City’s tallest tower.  Our distinctive marine layer, known as both Karl and Karla on social media, has been the subject of books and documentaries and even starred as the main ingredient in locally distilled fog-harvested martinis.  But as the climate warms, mounting scientific evidence suggests that our beloved — and oft bemoaned — coastal fog is on the decline. ... ”  Read more from the San Francisco Examiner here: Is San Francisco losing its fog? Scientists fear the worst

Was the atmospheric river the start to a rainy winter in the SF Bay Area?

A historic moisture-packed atmospheric river that swept California on Sunday into Monday delivered much-needed rain and snow to a drought-plagued state that could face severe challenges if it sees another dry winter. The question on everyone’s minds now is, could this be the start to a wet winter?  Here’s what three experts had to say ... ”  Read more from SF Gate here: Was the atmospheric river the start to a rainy winter in the SF Bay Area?

The day after record storm: Bay Area faces massive cleanup of fallen trees, flooding and water damage

Pounding rain and howling winds gave way to the buzzing of chain saws and drone of sump pumps Monday as the Bay Area cleaned up after a record-breaking storm downed hundreds of trees, flooded homes and streets and cut electricity to thousands of homes.  The atmospheric river — a meteorological term for the kind of deluge seen Sunday — knocked out power to almost 700,000 Pacific Gas and Electric Co. customers, and by Monday evening 50,000 remained in the dark as crews worked to restore electricity. Businesses and schools reckoned with unprecedented damage, and major roadways turned to rivers, stranding drivers and wreaking further havoc on the heels of one of the worst storms since 1950, according to local meteorologist Jan Null. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: The day after record storm: Bay Area faces massive cleanup of fallen trees, flooding and water damage

Storm took a big toll on Bay Area trees. Did the drought make them more vulnerable?

As strong winds and heavy rain lashed the Bay Area over the weekend, trees came crashing down around the region — some likely made more vulnerable, experts say, by extreme drought conditions.  Of course, big storms always claim trees as casualties.  “A powerful storm will inevitably result in some damage to trees, whether from falling branches or even uprooted trees,” Igor Lacan, urban forestry adviser for the UC Cooperative Extension, wrote in an email. ... ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: Storm took a big toll on Bay Area trees. Did the drought make them more vulnerable?

Tracking natural nitrogen removal

Nitrogen inputs to the San Francisco Bay are among the highest of estuaries worldwide, yet so far have not caused harmful impacts like extreme algal blooms, oxygen depletion, and fish kills. But resistance to this nutrient may not last. Ever since the Gold Rush, excess sediment from pulverized rock has been pouring into the Bay, clouding the water and keeping algae in check by blocking sunlight. Recently, however, that protective sediment has diminished in parts of the Bay, contributing to concerns over nutrient pollution. A new study on a natural nitrogen-removal process is key to predicting whether nitrogen will cause ill effects here, too.  The Bay’s nitrogen comes primarily from sewage and, for the most part, this nutrient is not removed by the region’s wastewater treatment plants. Nutrient treatment is quite costly and has not been necessary in the region so far. But it may be in the future, as the sediment suspended in the water goes down and the region’s population goes up. … ”  Read more from Estuary News here: Tracking natural nitrogen removal

Breaching season for Hill & Dutch Sloughs, Pacheco Marsh

In the life of a tidal wetland restoration project, the first levee breach is a major milestone, a kind of graduation. After years of securing funding, navigating the permit process, completing baseline biological surveys, filing endless reports, grading and sculpting the marsh plain, setting out plants—after all that comes the day when the earthen barrier crumbles, the water makes its move, and another marsh can start to regenerate. This fall, that’s happening around the Bay Area as three significant projects—Dutch Slough and Lower Walnut Creek in Contra Costa County and Hill Slough in Solano County—renew long-severed connections between water and land. … ”  Read more from Estuary News here: Breaching season for Hill & Dutch Sloughs, Pacheco Marsh

Fremont’s flooded highway was ‘nightmare territory’ amid atmospheric river storm

Although Caltrans tried to clear highway drains ahead of this past weekend’s powerful atmospheric river storm, relentless rain overwhelmed drainage systems and flooded Interstate 880 through Fremont, forcing the freeway section’s temporary closure.  The California Highway Patrol estimated water sat about three to three and a half feet deep south of the Thornton Avenue overcrossing near Fremont and Newark. As a result, both directions of the freeway between Mowry Avenue and Thornton. were closed from late Sunday night into Monday morning.  “It was a small section of freeway but it completely backed up I-880,” Officer Dustin Kennerley, a CHP spokesperson, said Tuesday. “It was nightmare territory.” ... ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here: Fremont’s flooded highway was ‘nightmare territory’ amid atmospheric river storm

11th-hour water agency bid for massive Bay Area cattle ranch fell short

The final price for a vast cattle ranch wound up at less than the list price, a moving target that eluded government attempts to buy the mammoth property — including an 11th-hour bid by a local water agency.  The Alameda County Water District, 17 state lawmakers, state officials and land conservancy groups were among the government, public agency and special-interest organizations that were involved in an effort to put the mammoth ranch lands into public ownership such as a water district property or a new state park.  Now, through a $63.5 million series of purchases on Oct. 22 in four different counties — that’s how huge this property is — two private organizations that are both headed by Danville-based business executive and rancher William Brown have become the new owner of the N3 Cattle Co. ranch. … ”  Read more from Silicon Valley.com here: 11th-hour water agency bid for massive Bay Area cattle ranch fell short

Statewide water wars draw attention in Pacifica

Dozens of Pacificans gave up their Friday evening to learn more about the challenges California faces as a result of dwindling water resources. After 2 ½ hours, it’s unlikely many of them felt better about the problem. Coalition of Pacificans for an Updated Plan and Responsible Planning sponsored the screening of “River’s End: California’s Latest Water War” as well as a lively discussion of local and statewide water concerns. Organization leader Christine Boles opened the evening by noting the city of Pacifica’s General Plan, the planning document that underpins much of the city’s growth in the years to come, is “40 years old and doesn’t even mention climate change.” … ”  Read more from the Pacifica Tribune here: Statewide water wars draw attention in Pacifica

CENTRAL COAST

Santa Cruz: Weekend rains a good start, but more needed to loosen water restrictions

The atmospheric river that pounded the Greater Bay Area was a promising sign for those hoping to roll back water usage restrictions in the summer, but local water officials said the city will need more rain to make an improvement on current curtailments.  The City of Santa Cruz received 7.5 inches of rain during the weekend, according to Interim Water Director Heidi Luckenbach. That measurement makes for the wettest October in Santa Cruz history, in just 48 hours. The previous record for the entire month of October was 7.05 inches in 1899, according to National Weather Service data.  “Considering the big months historically are in front of us, this is great,” Luckenbach said. ... ”  Read more from the Santa Cruz Sentinel here: Weekend rains a good start, but more needed to loosen water restrictions

Atmospheric River aftermath: How the recent weather event will affect the drought in Santa Cruz County

The atmospheric river that passed through Northern California and the central coast has left its mark with a rockslide in Butte County, inches of rain, and evacuation orders in the San Lorenzo Valley.  Atmospheric rivers are long, narrow regions in the atmosphere that transports water vapor outside the tropics, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  Sunday’s downpour was a force to be reckoned with causing many issues like power outages, flooding, down power lines, among others, but some people were relieved to see the rain. … ”  Continue reading from KION here: Atmospheric River aftermath: How the recent weather event will affect the drought in Santa Cruz County

Monterey Peninsula water district’s buyout of Cal Am stalled by LAFCO

If California American Water Co. was trying to delay an intergovernmental agency’s vote to allow efforts by the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District to move forward in its effort to acquire the assets of Cal Am, as many people charged on Monday night, it worked.  Unanimous votes from appointed commissioners of the Local Agency Formation Commission of Monterey County, or LAFCO, continued any decision on prerequisites needed for a buyout until Dec. 6 following the submission of hundreds of pages of documents, leaving commissioners little time to review them before Monday’s meeting. ... ”  Read more from the Monterey Herald here: Monterey Peninsula water district’s buyout of Cal Am stalled by LAFCO

City of Solvang remains under Stage 2 drought resolution until further notice

Solvang residents and businesses remain under a Stage 2 drought resolution despite a deluge of rainfall this week which did little to address dire conditions.   “While we are truly grateful for the rainfall this week, it’s not nearly enough to reverse the current drought condition,” said Solvang Mayor Charlie Uhrig. “We are still asking our residents and business owners to understand how serious our drought conditions are, and to keep in mind the following associated Stage 2 drought regulations.” The resolution, which went into effect Aug. 23, will remain in effect until lifted by city officials, keeps in place a number of mandatory water usage regulations adopted by the Solvang City Council. Customers are subject to water usage penalties as outlined in the city’s posted resolution notice. … ”  Read more from the Santa Maria Times here: City of Solvang remains under Stage 2 drought resolution until further notice

Santa Barbara County is facing ‘serious drought conditions.’ Did recent rain help?

Santa Barbara County is experiencing its lowest rainfall in 10 years, a scenario that is likely the new normal. … A massive storm hit northern California over the weekend, and Santa Barbara County got rain on Monday, but it would take months of steady rain to move the region out of drought status. Despite the drought conditions, not every jurisdiction in the county is experiencing the impacts in the same way. ... ”  Read more from the San Luis Obispo Tribune here: Santa Barbara County is facing ‘serious drought conditions.’ Did recent rain help?

SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY

State gives more water to popular I-5 pitstop, but locals say it won’t be enough

Christmas travelers driving Interstate 5 this year may need to hunt up a different stopping point as Kettleman City could be shut down for lack of water.  The state Department of Water Resources (DWR) has said it will give the tiny community in western Kings County a few more acre feet of water — but only enough for the personal taps of its 1,100 residents.  The town’s gas stations and fast food joints that bring in droves of motorists on busy holidays could be left high and dry. ... ”  Read more from SJV Water here: State gives more water to popular I-5 pitstop, but locals say it won’t be enough

Kings Co. pushes back on Calif. limiting water supplies for Kettleman City

Kings County is redoubling efforts to secure water from the state for Kettleman City, which is projected to run dry by the end of the year.  The impoverished community, located at the intersection of Interstate 5 and Highway 41, is set to receive a bare minimum emergency allocation of water for its residential health and safety needs.  But the state is leaving Kettleman City’s commercial users – who provide critical services to travelers traversing the Golden State – high and dry, locals argue.  … ”  Continue reading from the San Joaquin Valley Sun here: Kings Co. pushes back on Calif. limiting water supplies for Kettleman City

Yosemite Falls is flowing again thanks to that major storm

Yosemite Falls is again hosting its famous deluge after record-shattering rainfall this week in California following an extremely dry summer and extensive drought.  Water surged over the 2,425-foot falls Monday, just four days after the same majestic rock face appeared as only a dry canvas for the sun’s glow, Yosemite National Park’s webcam feeds showed.  About 7 inches of rain came down across Yosemite National Park from late Sunday evening through late afternoon Monday — with lower totals in the southern and western sections — said Jerald Meadows, meteorologist-in-charge at the National Weather Service office in Hanford, California. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here: Yosemite Falls is flowing again thanks to that major storm

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

Storm shatters rainfall records in Southern California. Who got the most?

The storm that hit Southern California on Monday broke rainfall records as it swept down from the north and delivered much-needed moisture to areas parched by drought.  A low-pressure system hovering some 200 miles off the coast of Seattle sent a cold front hurtling all the way to the Southland, battering the area with significant rain for the first time in seven months.  The storm topped out at a 943-millibar pressure level, which is exceedingly low and signifies “a very intense storm,” said David Sweet, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard.  “Seeing that in October is very impressive,” he said. ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here: Storm shatters rainfall records in Southern California. Who got the most?

Los Angeles receives $224 million loan from EPA for water recycling project

The United States Environmental Protection Agency has granted a $224 million loan to the City of Los Angeles. The loan will be used to fund a project that aims to purify wastewater and replenish the depleted San Fernando Basin.  The project, called The Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA), aims to purify 15.5 million gallons of the city’s wastewater every day, a move that would replenish both the basin and its aquifers – a body of rock that can contain or transmit groundwater. … ”  Read more from CBS Los Angeles here: Los Angeles receives $224 million loan from EPA for water recycling project

Fire season still a threat to Southern California despite rains

Record rainfall this week could mean the end of fire season for much of Northern California, experts said, but conditions in the Southland remain more tenuous, and the coming weeks could still bring fire danger.  Southern California saw much less rain than the Bay Area and Sierras, and this region’s prime fire months often come later, with huge blazes of the past burning into November and December.  Many of the factors that drive fire spread, such as drought-dried vegetation, strong winds and high temperatures, remain a possibility in Southern California — including the potential for a strong Santa Ana wind event like the one that fueled the massive, late-in-the-season Thomas fire of December 2017. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: Fire season still a threat to Southern California despite rains

SAN DIEGO

Oceanside seeks contractor to build proposed sand-retention project for beaches

Oceanside’s Public Works Department has issued a request for proposals to build sand retention devices and a sand-bypass system to protect the city’s eroding beaches.  In years past, the city has dredged the harbor to transfer sand to the beaches. But in recent years, the dredging process hasn’t produced enough sand. Beaches south of the city’s pier remain bare and rocky, and the city has increased its efforts to find a solution.  Companies have until Dec. 7 to submit their proposals. The job includes processing all regulatory permits needed for construction, and the completion of documents required by the California Environmental Quality Agency and the National Environmental Policy Act. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune here: Oceanside seeks contractor to build proposed sand-retention project for beaches

The Mission Bay mud that could be worth millions

It may look like a weedy mud flat, and yes, sometimes it burps a bit of sulfuric-scented gas, but the Kendall-Frost marsh in Mission Bay could be worth millions in terms of its ability to help slow global warming.  New research ascribes a dollar value to one of San Diego’s remaining coastal wetland’s ability to suck carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and bury it underground, a process known as carbon sequestration. Viewing ecosystems this way could help governments like the city of San Diego weigh the cost and benefits of rebuilding wetlands over developed land it once occupied.  Less than one percent of Mission Bay’s 4,000 acres of wetland remain. … ”  Read more from the Voice of San Diego here: The Mission Bay mud that could be worth millions 

San Diego develops comprehensive plan to deal with climate change hazards

With the purpose of improving the lives of all San Diegans and ensuring the City is prepared for the effects of climate change, the City of San Diego is asking for public feedback on its recently released draft Climate Resilient SD plan.   Climate Resilient SD implements key strategies of the City’s Climate Action Plan and fulfills legislative requirements to integrate climate adaptation into the City’s General Plan. Specifically, Climate Resilient SD looks at the past, present and future conditions of San Diego’s primary climate change hazards: wildfire, coastal flooding and erosion, flooding and drought, extreme heat and sea level rise.  … ”  Read more from San Diego Community News here:  City develops comprehensive plan to deal with climate change hazards

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Along the Colorado River …

Glen Canyon Dam power generation could be threatened next year

New data projections show that Lake Powell could shrink to levels so low next year, it would threaten hydro-electric power generation at Glen Canyon Dam.  While hearing that Lake Powell continues to dry up is nothing new, Utah Water Research Laboratory Director David Tarboton at Utah State University explained the study that came out shows the chances of getting down to that level are higher than previously estimated.  “It tells us that we are actually in a fairly severe situation,” Tarboton said. “If the water goes below that minimum power pool, electricity generation would stop.” … ”  Read more from Fox 13 here: Glen Canyon Dam power generation could be threatened next year

Upper Colorado River drought measures examined

A program under consideration to voluntarily reduce agricultural water use in the upper Colorado River basin could cause a relatively small loss of income while saving growers money in irrigation and labor costs, according to a University of Wyoming study.  Wyoming, Colorado, Utah and New Mexico are studying the feasibility of demand-management programs that would compensate landowners for voluntarily conserving water on a temporary basis to send more water downriver. … ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press here: Upper Colorado River drought measures examined

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In national water news today …

Report highlights EPA’s plan to address contaminants

In mid-October, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released its game plan for addressing the growing problem of contamination associated with the class of compounds known as perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances. The substances comprise a group of thousands of human-made chemicals used in industrial processes, firefighting activities, and consumer products such as makeup, fabrics, food packaging, stain repellents, and nonstick coatings on cookware. The widely used, long-lasting chemicals have been found at low levels in the environment, particularly in groundwater supplies, raising fears that the compounds may pose a threat to human health and the environment. … ”  Read more from Civil Engineering Source here: Report highlights EPA’s plan to address contaminants

Biden admin to uproot Trump ‘critical habitat’ policies

The Biden administration today moved to rescind Trump administration policies that crimped the designation of critical habitat to protect threatened or endangered species.  In a pair of long-anticipated moves, the Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA Fisheries proposed getting rid of a Trump-era definition of critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act. FWS is also proposing to end a policy that made it easier to exclude territory.  Taken together, the two proposed rule changes could significantly alter the much-litigated ESA landscape and, supporters say, enhance conservation and recovery of vulnerable animals or plants.  They will also revive the debate over practical consequences and regulatory nuts and bolts that have shadowed the ESA since the day it became law in 1973. … ”  Read more from E&E News here: Biden admin to uproot Trump ‘critical habitat’ policies

Why protecting tribal rights is key to fighting climate change

Two centuries of forced removal and relocation onto often-marginalized lands have left Native Americans uniquely vulnerable to climate change. From northern Arizona, where the Hopi are facing a megadrought that is withering crops and killing livestock, to southern Louisiana, where the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw are seeing their ancestral lands succumb to rising seas, Native American tribes are at the forefront of the climate crisis.  In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Fawn Sharp, president of the National Congress of American Indians, discusses how Indigenous people in the United States are imperiled by the impacts of climate change – including megafires, floods, heat waves, and drought – and where they are making progress. … ”  Read more from Yale e360 here: Why protecting tribal rights is key to fighting climate change

Climate change is a risk to national security, the Pentagon says

The Department of Defense says climate change is already challenging U.S. national security in concrete ways.  In a report last week, the Pentagon found that “increasing temperatures; changing precipitation patterns; and more frequent, intense, and unpredictable extreme weather conditions caused by climate change are exacerbating existing risks” for the U.S.  For example, recent extreme weather has cost billions in damages to U.S. military installations, including Tyndall Air Force Base and Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. Also, the military has bases on Guam and the Marshall Islands that are vulnerable to rising seas. And China may be able to take advantage of U.S. susceptibility, the Pentagon says. ... ”  Read more from KVCR here: Climate change is a risk to national security, the Pentagon says

Meet six people fighting water scarcity across the globe

Its seeming ubiquity masks its growing scarcity. More than 10% of humanity lacks access to it while 90% of natural disasters are linked to it. Wars are fought over it. Women in poor countries spend their days hauling it. Major cities—Sâo Paulo, Capetown—have nearly run out of it.  The water crisis that experts have been warning about for decades has arrived. A warming climate and growing population mean a dwindling supply of fresh water. A scientist, activist and entrepreneur are among those on the front lines of the efforts to provide clean water. … ”  Peter Gleick among those profiled.  Read more from Bloomberg here: Meet six people fighting water scarcity across the globe

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

NOTICE: October 26 update on curtailment status of water rights and claims in the Delta watershed – All curtailments remain temporarily suspended

WATER PLAN eNEWS: ~~Flood-MAR Forum~ California Streamin’~ Drought Blog~ IRWM Summit~ Water Conference~ Stewardship Stories~~

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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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