DAILY DIGEST, 10/29: CA judge rejects Westlands water deal; Analyst: Initiative could lower water bills, cause reduction in other programs; Survivor salmon provide lifeline for chinook; Groundwater flow to Colorado River may decline by a third over next 30 years; and more …
PUBLIC WORKSHOP: California Water Commission Groundwater Trading Safeguards for Vulnerable Water Users Workshop from 9:30am to 12:00pm. You are invited to a California Water Commission workshop to explore ways that the State can support in-basin, locally led groundwater trading programs that ensure protections for communities, small- and medium-size farms, and the environment. At the workshops, the Commission will gather information and test assumptions regarding opportunities and concerns around groundwater trading; potential impacts to ecosystems, farms, and communities; and an appropriate state role in groundwater trading. Click here to register.
FREE WEBINAR: Restoring Native Grasses at a Watershed Scale from 5pm to 6:30pm. Learn about restoring native grasses at a watershed scale from Hugh McGee who coordinates the Mattole River native grass restoration efforts and Dr. Kirsten Hill, the ERRP native grass restoration specialist. Lyn Talkovsky, a landowner who has been working to restore native grasses, will join a panel and share her experiences. This is also part of the NCRP Tenmile Pilot Project. Presented by the Eel River Recovery Project. Click here to register.
In California water news today …
California judge rejects water deal for major farm supplier
“A California judge has rejected a federal contract granting permanent access to U.S. government-controlled water for the nation’s largest agricultural water supplier, saying it lacked details on costs and appropriate public notice. Environmentalists had blasted the contract with Westlands Water District as a sweetheart arrangement designed to benefit corporate agricultural interests over environmental needs and taxpayers. It was crafted during the Trump administration under then-Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, a former lobbyist for Westlands, a public entity based in Fresno that supplies water to private farmers. “This was an effort to basically steal public resources and put them into private pockets,” said Stephan Volker, an attorney for the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, the North Coast Rivers Alliance and several other groups. … ” Read more from the AP here: California judge rejects water deal for major farm supplier
Fresno County judge nixes Westlands Water District’s federal contract for Trinity River water; Hoopa Valley tribe celebrates
” … “The Hoopa Valley Tribe’s Trinity River fishery is one of the CVP’s victims,” said Hoopa Valley Tribal Chairman Joe Davis. “But the contractors never wanted to pay the costs of restoration that Congress made a condition of future water delivers in the CVPIA.” “Westlands led the charge against paying and has opposed Trinity restoration for decades,” said Hoopa Fisheries Director Michael Orcutt. “But Westlands wouldn’t exist without Trinity River water being taken from our fishery,” added Vice- Chairman, Everett Colegrove Jr. “And that transfer of wealth has generated billions for Westlands and other CVP contractors, with devastating impacts to Hoopa’s economy, culture, and community.” ... ” Read the full press release from the Hoopa Valley Tribe at the Lost Coast Outpost here: Fresno County judge nixes Westlands Water District’s federal contract for Trinity River water; Hoopa Valley tribe celebrates
Analyst: Initiative could lower water bills, cause reduction in other programs
“A analysis of an initiative that would set aside 2 percent of the state budget to meet the state’s water needs could lower water costs at the local level but also could cause reductions in other programs. That’s the conclusion of a report from the California Legislative Analysts on the Water Infrastructure Fundy Act of 2022. Proponents of the initiative are trying to gain enough support to place it on the November, 2022 ballot. The initiative would require the state set aside 2 percent of its budget to meet the state’s water needs. The initiative aims to increase the state’s annual water supply by five million acre feet. … ” Read more from the Porterville Recorder here: Analyst: Initiative could lower water bills, cause reduction in other programs
Survivor salmon that withstand drought and ocean warming provide a lifeline for California Chinook
“In drought years and when marine heat waves warm the Pacific Ocean, late-migrating juvenile spring-run Chinook salmon of California’s Central Valley are the ultimate survivors. They are among the few salmon that survive in those difficult years and return to spawning rivers to keep their populations alive, according to a study published October 28 in Nature Climate Change. The trouble is that this late-migrating behavior hangs on only in a few rivers where water temperatures remain cool enough for the fish to survive the summer. Today, this habitat is primarily found above barrier dams. Those fish that spend a year in their home streams as juveniles leave in the fall. They arrive in the ocean larger and more likely to survive their one to three years at sea. … ” Read more from the University of Santa Cruz here: Survivor salmon that withstand drought and ocean warming provide a lifeline for California Chinook
David Valadao calls Biden’s water plans for Central Valley ‘anti-science, politically-motivated’
“Thursday, Congressman David Valadao requested a formal oversight hearing on the Biden Administration’s “anti-science water grab,” according to a news release. “The House Natural Resources Committee has a responsibility to conduct oversight on what appears to be an anti-science, politically-motivated move by the Biden administration to discount years of peer-reviewed work done by career scientists and civil servants,” Valadao said. With the entire California Republican Delegation, Valadao sent a formal request to House Natural Resources Committee and the Water Oceans and Wildlife Subcommittee regarding the administration’s decision to replace operations that deliver water to the Central Valley. … ” Read more from KGET here: David Valadao calls Biden’s water plans for Central Valley ‘anti-science, politically-motivated’
Congressman Valadao and others: turn pumps on, capture storm water
“This week, 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 … ” Read more from Cal Ag Today here: Congressman Valadao and others: turn pumps on, capture storm water
California may have second most PFAS sites of any state
“The PFAS footprint across California and the U.S. may be several times larger than previously reported, according to data released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that some 120,000 facilities “may be handling” per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), including around 13,000 in California. These numbers carry troubling implications for prospects for controlling this toxic chemical’s spread. … ” Read more from YubaNet here: California may have second most PFAS sites of any state
Toxic waste is leaking into our groundwater
“Chevron has long dominated oil production in Lost Hills, a massive fossil fuel reserve in Central California that was accidentally discovered by water drillers more than a century ago. The company routinely pumps hundreds of thousands of gallons of water mixed with a special concoction of chemicals into the ground at high pressure to shake up shale deposits and release oil and gas. The process — called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking — produces thousands of barrels of oil every day. But it also leaves the company saddled with millions of gallons of wastewater laced with toxic chemicals, salts, and heavy metals. … ” Read more from the Grist here: Toxic waste is leaking into our groundwater
Climate challenges mount for California agriculture
“California agriculture has experienced just about every form of climate change-induced calamity: Heat, drought, fire, floods. None bodes well for the future of farming in this state that is the U.S. king of agriculture. But there are a couple of less headline-worthy factors that may determine what crops will survive if climate change trends don’t at least slow down. One is the state’s winters – yes, winters – and the other is its management of groundwater. Challenges ahead for sure. In the end, however, there for some is optimism that the California agriculture communities’ ability to continue adapting gives reasons for hope. … ” Read more from Yale Climate Connections here: Climate challenges mount for California agriculture
LAST WEEK’S STORMS
U.S. Drought Monitor maps show how last week’s storm affected Northern California
“An atmospheric river delivered record-breaking amounts of rain across Northern California last weekend. The precipitation helped bring some northern regions out of extreme and exceptional drought conditions. Before the rains, about 46% of California’s land was under “exceptional” drought — the most severe drought category, according to data from the U.S. Drought Monitor, which is a partnership between the National Drought Mitigation Center, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This week’s data released Thursday shows that figure has shrunk to about 39%. … ” Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: U.S. Drought Monitor maps show how last week’s storm affected Northern California
Here’s where California reservoirs stand 3 days after the storm
“A fierce atmospheric river blew across California on Sunday and Monday, delivering a torrent of rain and snow to a water-starved state. Californians hoped the storm would help quell wildfire risk and ease the dire drought conditions that have developed after two consecutive dry winters. California Department of Water Resource’s drought manager Jeanine Jones said the storm did reduce wildfire risk and brought significant amounts of rain, but the drought is not over. “Clearly, obviously not,” Jones said in an interview with SFGATE earlier this week. “We’ve had one storm.” ... ” Read more from SF Gate here: Here’s where California reservoirs stand 3 days after the storm
CW3E: AR Summary: Strong Atmospheric Rivers Bring Heavy Precipitation and Flooding in California
“Multiple atmospheric rivers (ARs) made landfall along and impacted the US West Coast between 19 Oct and 26 Oct. The first two ARs produced AR 4 conditions in southwestern Oregon and AR 2/AR 3 conditions were observed elsewhere along the coast from the San Francisco Bay Area to the Olympic Peninsula. The third AR reached AR 5 conditions over California near Point Reyes due to the combination of maximum IVT values (> 1000 kg m−1 s−1) and AR duration (> 48 hours) (based on the Ralph et al. 2019 AR Scale). The third AR was the strongest October AR to make landfall in the Bay Area in the last 40 years. Portions of Northern California received more than 15 inches of total precipitation from the three storms. … ” Read more from the Center for Western Weather & Water Extremes here: CW3E: AR Summary: Strong Atmospheric Rivers Bring Heavy Precipitation and Flooding in California
More rain heading for Bay Area, forecasters say
“Just days after a historic storm soaked the drought-stricken Bay Area, more good weather news is on the way. Two new storm systems are expected to bring rain Monday and next Thursday to much of Northern California. They won’t be nearly as soaking as last weekend’s atmospheric river, which shattered rainfall records across the region and opened the Sierra ski season nearly a month early. But the rain shows that the “storm door” is still open, meteorologists say, a promising trend building on the wet start to this year’s winter rainy season after the last two years of severe drought. “It looks to be another good wetting rainfall, but nothing too crazy like the last storm,” said Sean Miller, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Monterey. … ” Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here: More rain heading for Bay Area, forecasters say
California endured a historic drought this year. Now ski resorts are opening early due to a deluge of snow.
“It’s time for some trick-or-treating on the slopes. At least two ski resorts in northern California announced they will kick off an early season starting Friday, weeks ahead of schedule, after a major storm dumped feet of snow at higher elevations. Palisades Tahoe said this week that it would open up its season on Friday, nearly a month ahead of schedule, after getting more than three feet of snow at upper elevations and 1½ feet at its base in recent days. It’s only the third time in the resort’s 72-year history that it has opened in October — the last time was in 2004. … ” Read more from the Washington Post here: California endured a historic drought this year. Now ski resorts are opening early due to a deluge of snow.
Citizen scientists help model West’s snowpack
“Data gathered by backcountry skiers, avalanche forecasters and other snow recreationists and professionals has the potential to greatly improve snowpack modeling, research by the Oregon State University College of Engineering indicates. Findings, published in the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, stem from a NASA-funded project known as Community Snow Observations, or CSO, part of NASA’s Citizen Science for Earth Systems program. … ” Read more from the Western Farm Press here: Citizen scientists help model West’s snowpack
How did California’s recent bomb cyclones compare with the ‘Big Blow’ of 1962?
“The rains triggered mudslides that buried Northern California highways, quenched reservoirs and submerged automobiles in an instant. In Sacramento, so much rain fell in a 24-hour period that it broke a record set in 1880. The two storms that pummeled Northern California and the Pacific Northwest with atmospheric rivers recently were extraordinary for their intensity and for the historic amount of precipitation they dropped. They were also unusual because they occurred so early in the season. Just days earlier, California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a statewide drought emergency. But just how rare were these soaking storms? Unsurprisingly, in a state known for extreme weather, California has seen this sort of thing before. … ” Read more from the LA Times here: How did California’s recent bomb cyclones compare with the ‘Big Blow’ of 1962?
California’s year of drought and deluge is a preview of its painful climate future
“This past weekend, California’s capital lurched from one weather extreme to the other. On Sunday, Sacramento was drenched with 5.44 inches of rain in 24 hours, smashing a daily record that had stood since 1880. It came barely a week after the city went 212 days without measurable rain, again beating an 1880 record. The weekend storms soaked much of Northern and Central California. Mount Tamalpais, just over the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, received an astonishing 16.55 inches of rain in just 48 hours. In the short term, that’s good news. … But this year’s pattern of drought followed by deluge previews a dangerous trend that climate scientists have warned lies ahead for the Golden State. ... ” Read more from Buzz Feed News here: California’s year of drought and deluge is a preview of its painful climate future
Three California towns transformed by wildfire: one rebuilding, one in ruins, one threatened
“As the Dixie Fire calmed down, The Chronicle visited Greenville and two other Sierra towns to witness how wildfires have changed life on the front lines of California’s evolving climate crisis. One town is rebuilding from a historic fire. One was just decimated. And the third has escaped catastrophe — at least for now. … ” Read the full story at the San Francisco Chronicle here: Three California towns transformed by wildfire: one rebuilding, one in ruins, one threatened
For tribes, ‘good fire’ a key to restoring nature and people
“Elizabeth Azzuz stood in prayer on a Northern California mountainside, arms outstretched, grasping a handmade torch of dried wormwood branches, the fuel her Native American ancestors used for generations to burn underbrush in thick forest. “Guide our hands as we bring fire back to the land,” she intoned before crouching and igniting dead leaves and needles carpeting the ground. Others joined her. And soon dancing flames and pungent smoke rose from the slope high above the distant Klamath River. Over several days in early October, about 80 acres (32.4 hectares) on the Yurok reservation would be set aflame. The burning was monitored by crews wearing protective helmets and clothing — firefighting gear and water trucks ready. … ” Read more from WTOP News here: For tribes, ‘good fire’ a key to restoring nature and people
Biden vowed to cut wildfire risk in California’s forests. Here’s how much he plans to spend
“Three months ago, as smoke filled the air from a wildfire 75 miles away, the U.S. agriculture secretary stood alongside Gov. Gavin Newsom and promised to increase spending on forest-thinning and other fuels-reduction projects in California’s overgrown and increasingly flammable forests. “Over the generations, over the decades, we have tried to do this job on the cheap,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who oversees the U.S. Forest Service. On Thursday President Joe Biden released a legislative package that would spend more than $15 billion over the next decade to help make forests less combustible in California and other states. … ” Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: Biden vowed to cut wildfire risk in California’s forests. Here’s how much he plans to spend
Todd Fitchette with the Western Farm Press writes, “Water districts with some of the most senior rights to rivers in the state were apparently blindsided the other day by a letter signed by the heads of the California Environmental Protection Agency and California Natural Resources Agency. California will no longer negotiate with several water districts over the so-called voluntary agreements that all along were viewed as a veiled attempt to take water that does not belong to the state and force farmers to fix water quality problems allowed by the state. That veil has been torn. The state’s intentions are now obvious. After stepping away from these “voluntary” negotiations, California will now focus its attention on northern California rivers for water to dilute the San Francisco Bay of the sewage and toxins Bay Area cities let flow into the estuary with impunity. … ” Continue reading at the Western Farm Press here: Water districts shocked at state’s sudden shift
The majority of adult spring Chinook, not ‘some adult fish,’ died in Butte Creek fish kill
“In a recent website post entitled “The Myths and Facts — Sacramento Valley Salmon,” (norcalwater.org/…) the Northern California Water Association (NCWA) attempts to minimize the impact of a big fish kill this summer on Butte Creek. NCWA states: “The return of spring-run Chinook to the holding pools in the upper reach of Butte Creek this year was extraordinary and one of the largest runs seen in the past several decades, with estimates ranging from 15,000 to 20,000 adult fish. When the salmon reached their spawning grounds in the upper creek, the holding fish were exposed to periods of high temperatures, which appeared to be lethal for some adult fish.” The first sentence is true, but the second, that the exposure of the spring Chinooks for periods of high temperatures “appeared to be lethal for some adult fish,” is at best a huge understatement. … ” Read more from Dan Bacher at the Daily Kos here: The majority of adult spring Chinook, not ‘some adult fish,’ died in Butte Creek fish kill
Here is a plan to create more water for California
Shawn Dewane (Mesa Water District), Edward Ring (California Policy Center), Stephen Sheldon (Orange County Water District), Geoffrey Vanden Heuvel (California Milk Producers Council), and Wayne Western Jr. (California Farm Water Coalition) write, “There is an answer to Jim Wunderman’s position that “state and federal governments should commit to creating 1.75 million acre feet – about 25% of California’s current urban water use – of new water from desalination and wastewater recycling by the end of this decade”: the Water Infrastructure Funding Act of 2022, a constitutional initiative proposed for the November 2022 state ballot. This initiative, submitted in August, has been analyzed by the Legislative Analyst’s Office, which predicted “increased state spending on water supply projects and potentially less funding available for other state activities.” Notwithstanding the multibillion-budget surplus California’s Legislature currently enjoys, this redirecting of spending for water projects is what the initiative proponents intend. The state of California has neglected its water infrastructure for decades. … ” Continue reading at Cal Matters here: Here is a plan to create more water for California
Column: There are no more water miracles
Columnist Michael Smolens writes, “It’s not March and there was no miracle. A strong atmospheric river dumped record rain on Northern California last weekend and sent some modest showers to San Diego. The downpours helped replenish the state’s dwindling reservoirs some, but not enough for Gov. Gavin Newsom to lift the drought emergency he expanded to the entire state last week. Just in case anyone thought one good soaking would do the trick, headlines from coast to coast reminded us it didn’t. ... ” Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune here: Column: There are no more water miracles
Assessing Western drought conditions – California Farm Bureau president opens window into state’s water management woes
Jamie Johansson, president of the California Farm Bureau Federation, writes, “California’s water history flows across my farm in the North State community of Oroville. A canal carved in the early 1990s passes beneath my olive groves. It was an extension of original conveyance systems inspired by gold seekers, who fashioned one of California’s earliest water delivery systems in the 1890s on the Feather River, near my home. … Now, as president of the California Farm Bureau, I am fighting to uphold and restore the promise of sustainable water delivery in my state. After two years of severe drought, our farmers and ranchers are suffering. They’re fallowing crops and thinning herds because of extreme water shortages. ... ” Continue reading at the American Farm Bureau here: Assessing Western drought conditions – California Farm Bureau president opens window into state’s water management woes
Delta conveyance needs design changes for operational flexibility
David Gloski, Bethel Island resident and engineer, writes, “My last article described the need for any new Delta Conveyance Project to be designed to deliver fresh water to the South Delta to improve water quality and support a better emergency response if levee problems resulted in a large influx of salinity into the Delta. This article will present a second important suggested design change, that any new pumping station pumping water into the Bethany Reservoir should be redundant and interchangeable with the older Banks Pumping Plant. … ” Read more from The Press here: Delta conveyance needs design changes for operational flexibility
Capturing water from atmospheric rivers will help build drought resilience in California. Here’s how.
Anna Schiller with the Environmental Defense Fund, and Nicole Schmidt, a recent graduate from UC Santa Barbara’s Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, write, “Several locations in California set all-time 24-hour rainfall records this past weekend as an atmospheric river delivered a much-needed reprieve from drought conditions. In Sacramento, this wettest day on record followed the longest consecutive dry spell on record amid California’s second driest year. As scientists have been predicting, climate change is causing more dramatic extremes in weather — both wet and dry — and that pendulum swung very dramatically to the wet side over the weekend. Consequently, it’s critical we prepare now to capture and store water during these shorter, intense wet periods so that more water is available during the inevitable increasingly severe drought years ahead. … ” Continue reading from the Environmental Defense Fund here: Capturing water from atmospheric rivers will help build drought resilience in California. Here’s how.
Holistic approach to water management for Trinity River
“A new water management program is being proposed for the Trinity River to help dwindling salmon populations. The Yurok Tribe helped develop the plan through its participation in the Trinity River Restoration Program (TRRP), which is comprised of tribal, state, and federal agencies, and then submitted it to the Bureau of Reclamation for approval where it currently lies. The new water release plan will shift some of the water normally released from Lewiston Dam in late spring to the winter and early spring, which will create conditions that more closely mimic a free-flowing river. The Yurok Fisheries Department contributed to and thoroughly analyzed this proposal to manage the Trinity “in a more holistic manner,” the Tribe noted. This is one of the biggest, recent opportunities to facilitate positive change on the Trinity. … ” Read more from Cal Trout here: Holistic approach to water management for Trinity River
Water rights, climate change among top priorities for new Tuolumne Utilities District boss
“Fulfilling a more than century-old quest to secure water rights for Tuolumne County and preparing for the inevitable impacts of climate change are among the top priorities for Don Perkins as the new permanent general manager of Tuolumne Utilities District. Perkins was formally appointed to the district’s top administrative position Tuesday by the TUD Board of Directors after serving as the interim general manager since June. He’s worked at the water and sewer agency for 21 years, including the past six as its operations director. “I am humbled and grateful to be selected as general manager for the district,” Perkins said. “The district and the county are facing some real challenges and exciting opportunities that will fundamentally change the way we operate and serve our community.” ... ” Read more from The Union here: Water rights, climate change among top priorities for new Tuolumne Utilities District boss
Smelly situation takes over Natomas neighborhood
“A stinky situation is taking over a Natomas neighborhood. Residents looking for answers have described the smell as sewage or manure. Neighbors started getting a whiff of the smelly scent after last weekend’s storm. “I’ve smelled some pretty bad smells in my lifetime but I’m like, ‘Yeah, my kids are not going to be playing over here,’” explained resident Mark Luna. Mark Luna visits the San Juan Reservoir Park with his family weekly but Thursday their trip was cut short. “We noticed as soon as we got out of the car that it smelled like sewer and we didn’t know what was going on. We thought it was a sewage leak or something,” he said. … ” Read more from CBS Sacramento here: Smelly situation takes over Natomas neighborhood
Reclamation-funded salmonid habitat project completed on the lower American River
“The Bureau of Reclamation today announced the completion of a project to help boost the fall-run Chinook salmon population below Folsom Dam on the lower American River at Ancil Hoffman Park in Carmichael. This is Reclamation’s tenth project to protect and strengthen the river and parkway since 2008. “The Ancil Hoffman area of the river is a prime spot for spawning salmon and steelhead, and this project will vastly improve habitat for fall-run Chinook salmon” said Bay-Delta Office Manager David Mooney. “We appreciate the support of the American River Water Forum, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and all of our other local, state, and federal partners in accomplishing this project. We look forward to continued collaboration with our partners on the next set of lower American River projects.” … ” Continue reading at the Bureau of Reclamation here: Reclamation-funded salmonid habitat project completed on the lower American River
Sacramento considers ballot measure to increase stormwater fees
“The city of Sacramento is considering a potential ballot measure that would propose increasing stormwater fees for property owners to help fund repairs and improvements to the deteriorating system. “Sacramento’s storm drainage system is up to 100 years old, and many levees, pipes and pumps are rapidly deteriorating,” according to a Utilities Rate Advisory Commission Report. That report also states there has not been a stormwater fee increase since 1996, and the city estimates that without one, the storm drainage fund to pay for maintenance and repairs of the stormwater system will be insolvent by fiscal year 2026. … ” Read more from KCRA here: Sacramento considers ballot measure to increase stormwater fees
Torrential rains ease ‘exceptional’ drought conditions in Marin County
“Sunday’s atmospheric river storm has eased drought conditions in Marin County, but the region has a long way to go before it emerges from the bone-dry conditions that have led to parched hillsides and water use restrictions, according to federal drought officials. On Thursday, federal officials released the first drought monitor map since the weekend torrential rains flooded downtown San Rafael and dumped more than 16 inches on Mt. Tamalpais, more than 10 inches on Kentfield and more than 5 inches in both Petaluma and Novato. … ” Read more from CBS San Francisco here: Torrential rains ease ‘exceptional’ drought conditions in Marin County
San Rafael marsh project clears draft environmental review
“Marin Audubon’s proposal to restore wetlands and add sea-level protections in San Rafael’s Canal neighborhood has moved a step closer to approval. The Planning Commission received a draft environmental report Tuesday that found there would be no significant, unavoidable impacts associated with the Tiscornia Marsh project. The project aims to restore and expand the marsh, a 20-acre site north of Pickleweed Park and the Albert J. Boro Community Center. “I think this weekend really highlighted the need for this project,” said Commissioner Samina Saude, referring to the major storm Sunday that triggered flooding across the county. … ” Read more from the Marin Independent Journal here: San Rafael marsh project clears draft environmental review
Rising tides are cutting into restored wetlands on San Pablo Bay. Salvaged logs might be the answer
“Six years ago, an excavator punched a hole in an earthen levee, sending a torrent of San Pablo Bay water across 1,000 acres of ranchland. It was a dramatic first step toward turning the clock back 150 years, before the natural wetlands were diked and drained to be farmed for hay. But bay waters have been chewing at the boundaries of this recovering tidal region, a critical buffer between rising waters and infrastructure like Highway 37, a main artery for roughly 40,000 North Bay motorists each day. Now, excavators are back at Sears Point Ranch to build a new type of living shoreline levee designed to stave off erosion. … ” Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: Rising tides are cutting into restored wetlands on San Pablo Bay. Salvaged logs might be the answer
Valley Water Board of Directors adopts plan to address climate change
“Santa Clara County is once again in a drought emergency. As we look to the future, climate change is expected to bring more frequent and more severe droughts, as well as extreme storms and accelerated sea-level rise. These changes will present challenges to Valley Water in its mission to provide safe, clean water, flood protection and environmental stewardship in the county. On July 13, 2021, the Valley Water Board of Directors took a major step in preparing for the challenges associated with climate change by adopting a Climate Change Action Plan. This plan addresses Valley Water’s greenhouse gas emissions and better prepares our agency for climate-related challenges. … ” Read more from Valley Water News here: Valley Water Board of Directors adopts plan to address climate change
Flooding and debris flow prevention remain Santa Barbara County concern after rain
“Santa Barbara County residents received 1 to 4 inches of rain from Oct. 24 to 25, with the Alisal fire burn area receiving about 3.5 inches of rain, according to the county’s rainfall report. Now, the county’s looking toward future flooding, debris flow, and mudslide prevention and safety, Public Information Officer Lael Wageneck said. “We were very fortunate today [Oct. 25] that we didn’t have any mudslides or debris flow, but the Alisal fire area will be of concern for the next three to five years,” Wageneck said. … ” Read more from the Santa Maria Sun here: Flooding and debris flow prevention remain Santa Barbara County concern after rain
Lots of rain, no landslides in Santa Barbara county
“Along with the good news that Monday’s rainstorm did not wash anyone out in the Alisal Fire burn scar came the information that the fire was just about extinguished and comments from Public Works that the Tajiguas Landfill would be operational earlier than expected. The three-plus inches of rain rolled some rock onto the roads and mud into streets along Refugio, but UPS and FedEx vans continued to come and go, evidence of the relative mildness of the much-anticipated storm. Emergency managers had issued an evacuation order on Sunday that was lifted just over 24 hours later. The storm, which delivered more than four and a half inches of rain at San Marcos Pass, barely moved the storage needle at Lake Cachuma, which has seen only two healthy rain years during the past decade. … ” Read more from the Santa Barbara Independent here: Lots of rain, no landslides in Santa Barbara county
LADWP to the more than 250,000 power and water customers struggling to pay past due utility bills during the pandemic: ‘Help is on the way’
“The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) Board of Commissioners has announced the most comprehensive effort in the city’s history to help hundreds of thousands of financially strapped customers who have been burdened by mounting unpaid utility bills due to the sustained economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. In all, an expected $300 million will be used to reduce customer utility debt for over 250,000 customers. “COVID-19 has dealt a devastating blow to our residents, impacting their livelihoods and undermining their economic security, and it’s our responsibility to help them weather this crisis,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti. “No one who is struggling to make ends meet should face further hardship, and this new program will deliver essential financial relief to help hard-working Angelenos get back on their feet.” … ” Read more from the LADWP here: LADWP to the more than 250,000 power and water customers struggling to pay past due utility bills during the pandemic: ‘Help is on the way’
Eastern Municipal Water District completes new groundwater replenishment facility
“Eastern Municipal Water District (EMWD) today celebrated the completion of its Mountain Avenue West Groundwater Replenishment Basins in San Jacinto. The facility is home to EMWD’s Water Banking program, which aims to replenish local groundwater basins and further prepares our region for times of drought. “This facility is a major piece of our ability to prepare for future droughts,” EMWD Board President Phil Paule said. “As we continue to face changing water supply patterns throughout the state, our Water Banking program will help us continue to meet the needs of our customers for future generations.” ... ” Read more from Eastern Municipal Water District here: Eastern Municipal Water District completes new groundwater replenishment facility
San Diego County Water Authority activates water shortage contingency plan
“The San Diego County Water Authority today activated Level 1 – Voluntary Conservation of its Water Shortage Contingency Plan in support of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s efforts to sustain California after two record-dry years. The agency’s 36-member Board of Directors voted unanimously to activate the regional drought response plan for the third time this century. The San Diego region continues to have reliable water supplies due to decades of conservation efforts and ratepayer investments. However, Water Authority Board Chair Gary Croucher said San Diegans should increase their conservation efforts in the face of a potential third dry year across California. “San Diegans have always stepped up when duty calls,” Croucher said. “Today, our 36-member Board sends a unified message encouraging residents to conserve water, avoid water waste, and take advantage of rebates to improve water-use efficiency indoors and outdoors.” ... ” Read more from the Water News Network here: San Diego County Water Authority activates water shortage contingency plan
$35.9 $35.9 million more in MWD overcharges being returned to local water agencies
“The San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors today announced a plan to distribute $35.9 million to its 24 member agencies across the region after receiving a fund transfer from the Los Angeles-based Metropolitan Water District of Southern California to pay legal damages and interest. Combined with a similar payment in February, the Water Authority has distributed more than $80 million to its member agencies in 2021 as a result of its successful rate litigation against MWD. The two parties are seeking to resolve the remaining issues outside of court as they partner on water supply reliability, conservation, affordability, and climate change issues challenging Southern California. ... ” Continue reading at the San Diego County Water Authority here: $35.9 $35.9 million more in MWD overcharges being returned to local water agencies
How San Diego gets drinking water from the ocean
“Whenever California is pummeled by drought — as is still very much the case despite recent rain — a lot of people find themselves asking, “What if we got water from the ocean?” In San Diego County, it’s already happening at a $1 billion facility by the beach. Recently, as I reported on San Diego’s decades-long quest for water stability, I visited the Carlsbad Desalination Plant, the largest such facility in the country, to see how it works. … ” Read more from the New York Times here: How San Diego gets drinking water from the ocean
Groundwater flow to Colorado River may decline by a third over next 30 years
“A new study projects that a hot and dry future climate may lead to a 29% decline in Upper Colorado River Basin “baseflow” at the basin outlet by the 2050s, affecting both people and ecosystems. Baseflow is the movement of groundwater into streams and, on average, accounts for more than 50% of annual streamflow in the Upper Colorado River Basin. It is vital for sustaining flows in the Colorado River during dry periods. Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey and the Bureau of Reclamation modeled temperature, precipitation and runoff data to understand more about how baseflow may change under three future climate scenarios. “Many studies project streamflow and runoff response to climate change in the Upper Colorado River Basin, but this is the first to look at the baseflow component of total streamflow,” said USGS hydrologist Olivia Miller, lead author of the paper. “Understanding how baseflow may respond to climate change is particularly important for water managers when it comes to ensuring sufficient water supply outside the spring runoff period and has critical implications for ecosystem health.” … ” Read more from the USGS here: Groundwater flow to Colorado River may decline by a third over next 30 years
‘A seed that will be planted’: Extra funding needed to deliver water in the west
“Western Navajo could have an innovative economy with water, said Delegate Paul Begay. “The number one need here in Western Navajo is water,” Begay said. “Economic development – hotels, restaurant – we can do all that, we can build all that, but we don’t have water.” Once a water main is constructed, perhaps Western Navajo can compete with cities and municipalities nearby, said Begay, who’s pushing for the Antelope Canyon (Tsébighánlini/Tsébii’ Hazdeestas) Development Area in Łichíi’ii and for Phase I of the Western Navajo Pipeline. Both water delivery system projects amount to $84.3 million. The pipeline alone is estimated to be nearly $45 million, the development area $30.7 million, and Antelope Marina $8.5 million. … ” Continue reading from the Navajo Times here: ‘A seed that will be planted’: Extra funding needed to deliver water in the west
A Colorado town nearly ran out of drinking water. Experts say it’s a window into the future.
“Running out of drinking water was once unthinkable for Dove Creek, a 600-person town in southwest Colorado. Not anymore. A two-decade drought and years of poor snowpack in the San Juan Mountains have depleted McPhee Reservoir. A canal that delivers water to Dove Creek and growers nearby was shut down months early this year — leaving the town on track to run out of potable water around March. “Is it a crisis?” Dove Creek Mayor Brett Martin said in September. “Yes.” … ” Read more from the Colorado Sun here: A Colorado town nearly ran out of drinking water. Experts say it’s a window into the future.
“Navigating the wide range of actions states take to protect and manage clean water can be dizzying. Which states have passed laws regulating the pervasive PFAS that contaminate our drinking water? What does a human right to water resolution include? How are states advancing the removal of lead service lines and reducing the risks of lead exposure from the water coming out of our taps? With support from the Water Foundation, River Network addresses these questions and more with the launch of our State Policy Hub. … ” Read more from the Water Foundation here: River Network’s State Policy Hub
Commentary: The Trump 401 certification rule is vacated — does anyone actually care if section 401 works?
Seth Jaffe writes, “Late last week, Judge William Alsup vacated the Trump-era EPA amendments to the regulations governing water quality certifications under section 401 of the Clean Water Act. EPA had requested remand, and made clear that it disagreed with the amendments promulgated in 2020, but it opposed vacatur. Whatever one’s view of the merits of the 2020 rule, from the court’s perspective, faced with EPA’s current statements indicating substantial disagreement with significant elements of the 2020 rule, and the 9th Circuit’s case law strongly suggesting that vacatur is appropriate in similar contexts, it’s hard to disagree with Judge Alsup’s decision. I would not bet money on the likelihood that the appeal of Judge Alsup’s decision will succeed. However, whatever one’s position may be on vacatur, the underlying question of how to make the 401 certification process work better remains relevant. ... ” Read more from Foley Hoag here: Commentary: The Trump 401 certification rule is vacated — does anyone actually care if section 401 works?
Biden-Harris administration announces updated plan to address PFAS chemicals
“On October 18, 2021, the Biden-Harris administration announced an updated government-wide “comprehensive approach” to address per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a set of man-made chemicals that are widely used in a variety of consumer and industrial products, and which persist in the environment once released and may be linked to health impacts. The announcement identified several activities to address PFAS by eight federal agencies, as well as proposed funding in the forthcoming infrastructure bill for monitoring for PFAS compounds in drinking water through the Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR), and community grants to address emerging contaminants (including PFAS). ... ” Read more from Nossaman LLP here: Biden-Harris administration announces updated plan to address PFAS chemicals
NOAA opens public comment period on America the Beautiful initiative
“NOAA is asking for input on what actions NOAA should take to advance President Biden’s America the Beautiful initiative. Now through December 28, a new notice in the Federal Register gives the public an opportunity to contribute ideas on ways NOAA can work with community partners to advance the goals and recommendations in the report on Conserving and Restoring America the Beautiful, including conserving at least 30% of U.S. lands and waters by the year 2030, as outlined in Section 216(a) of Executive Order 14008. ... ” Read more from NOAA here: NOAA opens public comment period on America the Beautiful initiative
The Natural Resources Conservation Service produces this weekly report using data and products from the National Water and Climate Center and other agencies. The report focuses on seasonal snowpack, precipitation, temperature, and drought conditions in the U.S.
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.