DAILY DIGEST, 11/24: How California’s plan to conserve groundwater ran into a drought; CA utilities leaving millions in debt relief on the table; San Francisco declares water shortage emergency, asks city users to conserve 5%; Trump-era water rule’s replacement seen as more legally airtight; and more …


In California water news today …

‘Everybody’s pumping.’ How California’s plan to conserve groundwater ran into a drought

On the parched west side of the San Joaquin Valley, the drought has created a windfall for companies like Big River Drilling.  A water-well contractor based in the Fresno County community of Riverdale, Big River can hardly keep up with demand for new wells as farmers and rural residents seek to extract more water from underground. “I could work seven days a week if I wanted to,” said owner Wesley Harmon. “In my area, everybody’s pumping. You can’t blame the farmers. They’re trying to make a living, they’re trying to grow food for everybody.” … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: ‘Everybody’s pumping.’ How California’s plan to conserve groundwater ran into a drought

State calls on local agencies to protect groundwater

For the first time in California history, local agencies and groundwater users are required to form groundwater sustainability agencies and develop and implement plans to guide how they will achieve groundwater basin sustainability goals over the next 20 years.  As part of this process, agencies overseeing management of high- and medium-priority groundwater basins have until Jan. 31, 2022, to submit groundwater sustainability plans to the state to be reviewed by the California Department of Water Resources, the agency tasked with evaluating and assessing the plans.  Last week, the agency released its second round of assessments of plans developed by local agencies required to bring groundwater basins into sustainability for the future. The actions are mandated under the 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, or SGMA.  The first round of assessments for critically overdrafted basins happened in June. … ”  Read more from Ag Alert here: State calls on local agencies to protect groundwater

Watch: See a groundwater drilling operation in a Central San Joaquin Valley orchard

A crew from Strickland Drilling works to drill a 500-foot well on a walnut orchard near Caruthers, CA. The crew says water levels are dropping to an extent and they are backed up on work, but they say there is plenty of water for now.”  Watch at the Modesto Bee here: See a groundwater drilling operation in a Central San Joaquin Valley orchard

California utilities leaving millions in debt relief on the table

As the application window for a near billion-dollar state program designed to help cash-strapped Californians with pandemic-related drinking water debt nears its close date, almost 50% of eligible water systems have fully completed the application, but nearly one quarter haven’t yet started the process — a scenario that could see many struggling households lose the chance to have their financial burdens alleviated.  The State Water Resources Control Board’s Division of Drinking Water has contacted approximately 2,500 individual water systems directly — some multiple times, said Darrin Polhemus, the division’s deputy director, describing it as a “herculean” outreach effort as part of a system built from scratch within months. … ”  Read more from Capital & Main here: California utilities leaving millions in debt relief on the table

DWR completes first phase of Dutch Slough Tidal Restoration project

The Dutch Slough Tidal Marsh Restoration Project site, located in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta near Oakley, California. Photo by Florence Low / DWR

As part of an ongoing effort to protect and restore critical habitat in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) has restored more than half of the 1,187 acres of former grazing and dairy lands into rich habitat for fish and wildlife as part of the Dutch Slough Tidal Marsh Restoration Project. The project is one of the largest multi-benefit freshwater tidal marsh restoration efforts implemented. The Dutch Slough Project aims to re-establish a rich ecological network that would boost survival rates of endangered fish species and wildlife while also protecting neighborhoods against flooding. With the first phase now complete, the project has opened the Dutch Slough site to natural daily tides, creating a tidal wetland that provides a safer environment for salmon, splittail, and other endangered fish species. Additionally, the Dutch Slough site improves flood protection to surrounding neighborhoods such as the City of Oakley, acting as a buffer against rising sea levels triggered by climate change. … ”  Read more from DWR News here: DWR completes first phase of Dutch Slough Tidal Restoration project

Ag groups weigh in on 2019 biological opinion lawsuit

American Pistachio Growers, along with agricultural organizations, signed a letter to the Honorable Deb Haaland, Secretary U.S. Department of Interior, and the Honorable Wade Crowfoot, Secretary Natural Resources opposing new court filings in California’s lawsuit challenging the 2019 Biological Opinions on water projects.  The joint agricultural letter reads as follows:  We are opposed to new court filings in California’s lawsuit challenging the 2019 Biological Opinions for coordinated operations of the federal Central Valley Project (CVP) and the State Water Project (SWP). These filings include an unprecedented and unvetted interim operations plan for the upcoming water year in California. … ”  Read more from Cal Ag Today here: Ag groups weigh in on 2019 biological opinion lawsuit

Ask a Caltech Expert: JPL Scientists on water resources and drought

As part of Conversations on Sustainability, a webinar series hosted by the Caltech Science Exchange, JT Reager, Earth scientist at JPL, which Caltech manages for NASA, and Indrani Graczyk, program manager of the NASA Western Water Applications Office (WWAO), located at JPL, discussed their research into water resource management and how JPL and NASA satellites help individuals and government entities make difficult decisions in the face of climate change.  Graczyk and Reager explain how satellites have made possible a golden age of water monitoring, how modern droughts compare to those from centuries ago, and how a complex maze of rules and rights governs the H2O that comes out of your tap. … ”  Watch webinar video or read Q&A from Caltech here: Ask a Caltech Expert: JPL Scientists on water resources and drought

Back Forty: A crash course in California water politics

When farmers turned the San Joaquin Valley into an agricultural powerhouse in the 20th century, they dammed and drained its central river. When that didn’t provide enough water, they dug wells and pumped aquifers dry. When that still wasn’t enough, they siphoned water from Northern California’s river systems and brought it south to thirsty farmland.  Today, the San Joaquin Valley—a flat tract of land in the eastern part of the state that’s more than twice the size of Massachusetts—ranks among the most productive farmland on the planet.  As groundwater is pumped from drying wells, the land is also sinking at a rate of a foot per year in some places, and some towns don’t have any water at all. … ”  Read more from Food & Environment Reporting Network here: Back Forty: A crash course in California water politics

Wildlife Conservation Board Funds Environmental Improvement and Acquisition Projects

At its November 18, 2021 quarterly meeting, the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) approved approximately $25 million in grants to help restore and protect fish and wildlife habitat throughout California. Some of the 31 approved projects will benefit fish and wildlife — including some endangered species — while others will provide public access to important natural resources. Several projects will also demonstrate the importance of protecting working landscapes that integrate economic, social and environmental stewardship practices beneficial to the environment, landowners and the local community. … ”  Read more from the Department of Fish & Wildlife here: Wildlife Conservation Board Funds Environmental Improvement and Acquisition Projects

Infrastructure bill passage to boost California projects

In actions that carry out President Biden’s economic agenda, the U.S. House of Representatives last week passed two pieces of significant legislation, including a $1.2 trillion bipartisan package that includes $8.3 billion for critical water projects in drought-parched California and the West.  On Friday, the House also passed the president’s social safety-net bill, the $1.75 trillion Build Back Better Act, on a party-line vote. That bill, which funds universal pre-K, expansion of Medicare, renewable energy credits and affordable housing, now moves to the Senate.  The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed out of the House last week with 13 Republican votes, after moving through the Senate earlier this year. The legislation was signed by the president on Nov. 15.  “The diverse investments in western water infrastructure and our national forestlands included in this package will assist farmers, ranchers, water providers and rural communities impacted by wildfires, water shortages and a changing hydrology,” California Farm Bureau President Jamie Johansson said. … ”  Read more from Ag Alert here: Infrastructure bill passage to boost California projects

Tribes that aren’t federally recognized face unique challenges

The Winnemem Wintu tribe of California say they are on the verge of an “ethnocide.” A plan to raise the nearby Shasta Dam would flood the few sacred sites they have left, and drastically impact the local salmon population, which, as a keystone species, is responsible for maintaining the region’s ecology.  The salmon population was already hurt by the Shasta Dam’s creation in the 1940s. Winnemem cultural preservation officer Michael Preston explains to Teen Vogue that in Winnemem mythology, salmon gave humans the ability to speak and find purpose.  In one tribal meeting, Chief Caleen Sisk put it simply: “Loss of life at our traditional places means a loss of the Winnemem Wintu.” … ”  Read more from Teen Vogue here: Tribes that aren’t federally recognized face unique challenges

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In commentary today …

How Folsom Lake is using weather forecasts to manage water supply amid climate change

Patrick Kennedy, a Sacramento County supervisor, and Robert Dugan, a Placer County Water Agency board member, write, “An atmospheric river dumped more than five inches of rain on Sacramento on Oct. 24, breaking a 24-hour rainfall record set in 1880. A week later, Folsom Lake was 16 feet deeper and 90,000 acre-feet fuller — a significant boost in supply for the region’s primary surface reservoir after one of the worst drought years ever. Just a decade ago, water managers may not have been allowed to hold on to all that water in Folsom. But thanks to Rep. Doris Matsui and investments by local, state and federal officials over the past 10 years, Folsom has $1 billion in new hardware and rules that allow us to store the equivalent of up to two more storms of that size — enough to serve 400,000 homes for a year. ... ”  Continue reading at the Sacramento Bee here: How Folsom Lake is using weather forecasts to manage water supply amid climate change

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Today’s featured article …

COLORADO RIVER: An update on efforts of the lower basin states to address worsening conditions

While the negotiations have not yet started for the new guidelines for the management of the Colorado River, the lower basin states (California, Nevada, and Arizona) still have been meeting regularly to discuss the response to the worsening drought conditions, which have outpaced what was anticipated when the Drought Contingency Plan was adopted.

At the November meeting of Metropolitan’s Water Planning & Stewardship Committee, Colorado River Resources Policy Manager Shanti Rosset updated the committee members on the ongoing implementation of the Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan.

Click here to read this article.

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In regional water news and commentary today …

NORTH COAST.

After the Bootleg Fire: Crews work to slow the spread of sediment from burned areas

As the Bootleg Fire raged through the Sprague River watershed in mid-July, Joe Garrett and Nate Ganong feared the old ranch they purchased would burn up before they had the chance to transform it into the wildlife preserve they both envisioned. Winds reaching speeds of 50 mph roared over Bailey Flat, north of Bly, causing fire crews to begin evacuating.  But then, right as the flames reached the property line, the wind suddenly died down. The meadow and surrounding uplands along the North Fork Sprague remain largely green, while the trees just upstream stand toasted and torched. Garrett said the stars have aligned in more ways than one on this 912-acre property, now called Harmony Preserve. He and Ganong — both avid fly fishermen — have been working with Trout Unlimited and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to restore its land and water. … ”  Read more from the Bend Bulletin here: After the Bootleg Fire: Crews work to slow the spread of sediment from burned areas

Salmon being released into cool Klamath River

With cooler temperatures and increased flows that give the young salmon their best chance at survival and reaching the Pacific Ocean, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has begun releasing juvenile fall-run Chinook salmon into the Klamath River. More than 2 million baby Chinook salmon that were hatched in early 2021 at CDFW’s Iron Gate Fish Hatchery in Siskiyou County were held over the summer at three different CDFW facilities, including 1 million fish trucked to the Trinity River Hatchery through Redding in triple-digit heat. All three groups of fish did exceptionally well over the summer and thrived despite challenging circumstances. … ”  Read more from the Escalon Times here: Salmon being released into cool Klamath River

Clear Lake to receive funding for Source Water Protection planning

To help agricultural producers improve water quality, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has awarded $1.6 million in funding through the National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI) for three projects in high priority watersheds in California.  “The NWQI allows us to address water quality problems at a watershed scale,” said NRCS State Conservationist Carlos Suarez. “We can target the conservation measures that will be effective at reducing pollution and will work for local farms and ranches.” … ”  Read more from the Appeal-Democrat here: Clear Lake to receive funding for Source Water Protection planning

MOUNTAIN COUNTIES

8 miles of lead-laden cables reportedly leaching into Lake Tahoe, court records show

Approximately 8 miles of old Pacific Bell cables are allegedly leaking lead into the waters of Lake Tahoe, and the company has agreed in a lawsuit settlement to remove the old, unused cables, court records show.  Earlier this month, the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of California’s waters, received a settlement in a lawsuit it filed in January in the United States District Court against AT&T subsidiary Pacific Bell.  The cables have been in disuse since the 1980s, when Pacific Bell switched to fiber optic cables, the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance said in a press release. ... ”  Read more from SF Gate here: 8 miles of lead-laden cables reportedly leaching into Lake Tahoe, court records show

Atmospheric river drenches Mokelumne River fall salmon run

The Mokelumne River was seeing an outstanding run of fall chinook salmon at the fish hatchery when the atmospheric river hit on Oct. 24-25.  “We lost a lot of our fish,” said William Smith, manager of the Mokelumne River Fish Hatchery. “The Cosumnes River went up to 14,000 cfs (cubic feet per second) and every creek in the region came up with the storm. As a result, the salmon scattered throughout the Valley. Meanwhile, the releases from Camanche Dam were still 250 cfs.”  “The rain was a blessing for some, but not for us,” he stated. … ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here: Atmospheric river drenches Mokelumne River fall salmon run

SACRAMENTO VALLEY

H&S Energy settles Solano civil action, agrees to pay $1.1M for underground gas storage tank allegations

A company that operates several Chevron and Texaco branded locations in Solano County has agreed to pay $1.1 million to resolve allegations that it failed to properly operate and maintain underground fuel storage tanks here and across a wider region.  The Solano County District Attorney’s Office announced the settlement in the civil action Monday with Hassan & Sons Inc., H&S Energy LLC and H&S Energy Products LLC, formerly known as Colonial Energy LLC – referred to collectively as H&S Energy.  The settlement involves 22 other county district attorneys and city attorneys. … ” From the Daily Republic here: H&S Energy settles Solano civil action, agrees to pay $1.1M for underground gas storage tank allegations

NAPA/SONOMA

Sonoma Water files petition to maximize reservoir storage

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

“The Sonoma County Water Agency has filed a petition with the State Water Resources Control Board to ensure that already depleted reservoirs are not further affected by reduced flows from the Potter Valley Project due to a mechanical failure at the PG&E hydroelectric facility.  The Potter Valley Project diverts water from the Eel River through a tunnel and hydropower facility operated by PG&E. The water flows through the Potter Valley and into Lake Mendocino. Typically, the amount of water allowed to flow into the Russian River is determined by inflow into Lake Pillsbury, located upstream of the Potter Valley Project. But because the water imported from the Eel River into the Russian River will be greatly diminished due to the hydropower plant failure, that calculation won’t be accurate. … ”  Read more from the Sonoma County Gazette here: Sonoma Water files petition to maximize reservoir storage

Up Camp Meeker’s creek

Tom Austin writes, “Now is the winter of our content. It’s Damp Sneaker season, and I couldn’t be happier. Dutch Bill Creek is gurgling away happily, bringing healing and respite to all drought-burned wildlife that managed to make it through the long hot summer. On at least one front, wildlife is thriving: Camp Meekerite and OG board member Tony Tominia posted a picture on Facebook of two trees in the picnic area positively awash in ladybugs. I’m no David Attenborough, but I was pretty delighted by this picture, even if I haven’t the first clue what it means. Even back as a child, I knew that ladybugs were on the “good guy” team in the insect world. Tony also mentioned that “the creeks” were all doing well. … ”  Read more from the Sonoma County Gazette here: Up Camp Meeker’s creek

Napa commentary: Why treat a water manager so poorly?

writes, “Joy Eldridge is the water manager for the city of Napa, and she is also a member of the Groundwater Sustainability Plan Advisory Committee, currently designing a Groundwater Sustainable Plan (GSP) for the Napa County Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) and the Napa County Board of Supervisors (BOS).  Joy harbors a wealth of experience managing water sources as a Civil Engineer and Business Master and she contributed a very pertinent and concise proposal to the GSPAC on Aug. 31. Sadly, the committee placed Joy’s presentation and discussion as the last subject of the day and was not included in the discussion of these sustainable Indicators. This treatment was the direct opposite of treatment accorded to public comment, which was considered at the start of each meeting. Joy is a member of the committee, and her presentation should have been included in the discussion at that meeting. … ”  Read more from the Napa Register here: Napa commentary: Why treat a water manager so poorly?

BAY AREA

San Francisco declares water shortage emergency, asks city users to conserve 5%

San Francisco has some of the most conservation-savvy water users in California and its reservoirs contain enviable reserves, a crucial resource two years into a statewide drought.  Now the city is demanding its water customers use even less.  San Francisco Public Utilities Commission members voted Tuesday to declare a water shortage emergency and adopt a system-wide reduction in water use of 10%.  They aim to get there by asking city residents and businesses to cut water use by 5% and requesting that more than two dozen agencies in Alameda, Santa Clara and San Mateo counties that buy water from San Francisco conserve even more by slashing water use by 14%. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: San Francisco declares water shortage emergency, asks city users to conserve 5%

SFPUC calls for 10% voluntary reduction in water use as it declares water emergency

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission is urging nearly 3 million water customers throughout the Bay Area to cut water usage by 10%, as it declares a water shortage emergency due to the ongoing drought.  “With California still experiencing devastating drought and the uncertainty around this rainy season, we need to make tough decisions that will ensure that our water source continues to be reliable and dependable for the future,” Mayor London Breed said in a statement Tuesday. … ”  Read more from CBS San Francisco here: SFPUC calls for 10% voluntary reduction in water use as it declares water emergency

Bolinas suspends rationing trigger as creek, reservoirs fill

With Arroyo Hondo Creek rushing and both its reservoirs full, Bolinas suspended the mandatory water rationing ordinance adopted earlier this year. Though the town’s water use came close, it never reached the 66,000-gallon average threshold that would have triggered rationing. Bolinas Community Public Utility District board member Lyndon Comstock called the suspension “extremely good news,” and credited the town’s reduced consumption as much as the early rains. “The community has done an astonishing job,” he said. “To cut our community water usage in half, in a town that was already pretty conservative about water usage, is amazing.”  … ”  Read more from the Point Reyes Light here: Bolinas suspends rationing trigger as creek, reservoirs fill

Lamorinda: What’s in your water?

What’s in your water? Hopefully nothing, but just to put the public’s mind at ease, East Bay Municipal Utility District representatives held an Oct. 20 Zoom presentation to enlighten customers within their jurisdiction.
EBMUD Public Affairs Representative Sharla Sullivan, Manager of Public Quality Susan Teefy, Water Distribution Supervisor Javier Ramos, and California Water Board Division of Drinking Water North Coast Sectional Chief Stefan Cajina were all on hand during the informative session to explain and answer any questions. … ”  Read more from the Lamorinda Weekly here: What’s in your water?

What does Biden’s infrastructure package mean for the Bay Area?

The Bay Area will receive $4.5 billion over the next five years from the recently passed federal infrastructure funding package, a group of Bay Area members of Congress said Tuesday.  The funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which President Joe Biden signed last week, will support repairs and renovations for the region’s roads and bridges, aging water systems, public transit networks and access to broadband internet, among other things.  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Reps. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto; Barbara Lee, D-Oakland; Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo/San Francisco; and Mark DeSaulnier, D-Walnut Creek, as well as local union leaders in San Francisco to discuss how the $1.2 trillion funding package will benefit both the region and the country at large. … ”  Read more from KRON here: What does Biden’s infrastructure package mean for the Bay Area?

CENTRAL COAST

Court issues key ruling in favor of Monterey Peninsula water district

A key hurdle for a Monterey Peninsula public water agency to acquire the assets of California American Water Co. was cleared Friday when a judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by Cal Am that the water district chief said was just one of many attempts to thwart the takeover.  Monterey County Superior Court Judge Thomas Wills denied a lawsuit filed in August by Cal Am challenging the water district’s certification of a key study — called an environmental impact report — that the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District prepared as part of its acquisition effort. … ”  Read more from the Monterey Herald here: Court issues key ruling in favor of Monterey Peninsula water district

Ventura: CA DWR passes Groundwater Sustainability Plan for Fox Canyon GMA

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) has approved the Fox Canyon Groundwater Management Agency Groundwater Sustainability Plans, covering Oxnard and Pleasant Valley Basins—its two critically over-drafted basins.  The California Department of Water Resources released its second round of assessments of Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs) developed by local agencies to meet the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act requirements. ... ”  Read more from The Patch here: Ventura: CA DWR passes Groundwater Sustainability Plan for Fox Canyon GMA

SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY

$7M donation could mean clean drinking water for local residents

An Arizona based renewable natural resource company is offering its technology to help eligible residents in the Central Valley.  Headquartered in Scottsdale Arizona, SOURCE Global is a tech company focusing on providing safe drinking water that has developed the SOURCE Hydropanel, a technology that sustainably produces perfectly balanced drinking water using sunlight and air independent of structure, according to the company.  Central Valley residents may be eligible for a free panel installation due to a $7 million donation from Chamath Palihapitiya, CEO of technology holding company Social Capital. … ”  Read more from The Business Journal here:  $7M donation could mean clean drinking water for local residents

Drought relief to aid parched Pixley

Drought relief funding continues to pour into the Valley for small communities struggling with water supply issues.  On Nov. 9, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) announced its fourth round of funding for its Small Community Drought Relief program. Among the latest round was $1.8 million for the Pixley Public Utility District to rehabilitate the existing well, install a backup generator, and replace leaking water mains. The disadvantaged Tulare County community is dealing with small and leaky pipelines with no backup power source making them vulnerable to losing water during the current drought. In addition, the existing well casing has been compromised in several locations due to subsidence. … ”  Read more from the Foothills Sun-Gazette here: Drought relief to aid parched Pixley

New Kern River coalition; Grassroots or astroturf?

The main water district involved in several legal battles for Kern River water has launched a new coalition/messaging campaign it is calling Sustainable Kern River.  It’s website says the organization is a coalition and lists several members, but its creation and funding comes from North Kern Water Storage District, according to North Kern’s General Manager Dave Hampton. North Kern hired Los Angeles public relations firm Fiona Hutton & Associates to run the campaign.   “We wanted to do this right,” Hampton said. “The idea is, the hope is, to bring water users to the table and develop a collaborative solution that works for all parties and not take water away from existing beneficial users.” ... ”  Read more from SJV Water here: New Kern River coalition; Grassroots or astroturf?

EASTERN SIERRA

LADWP to hold Lower Owens River virtual public meeting

LADWP and the County of Inyo have released the Lower Owens River Project 2021 Draft Annual Report. The draft report is available at ladwp.com/LORP. The report represents the completion of the fifteenth year of monitoring for the project. … This meeting is to provide the public and MOU Parties the opportunity to offer comments on the draft report and any other LORP‑related issues they would like to discuss with staff from LADWP and the County of Inyo. … ”  Read more from the Sierra Wave here: LADWP to hold Lower Owens River virtual public meeting

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

Western receives funds to enhance water reliability at March Air Reserve Base

The United States Department of Defense (DOD) recently announced that the Western Municipal Water District (Western) will be awarded $4.3 million to help build a second water connection to March Air Reserve Base (MARB) through the Groundwater Resiliency Connection Project.  “Western is proud to be an important community partner in building the infrastructure needed to support operations at March Air Reserve Base,” stated General Manager Craig Miller. “It is an honor to be able to enhance the quality of life for our nation’s service members and ensure that safe, reliable, and high-quality water sources are available on base and throughout the surrounding community.” … ”  Read more from ACWA’s Water News here: Western receives funds to enhance water reliability at March Air Reserve Base

SAN DIEGO

Miles of aging water lines remain under San Diego

City and Caltrans crews remained at work in downtown Tuesday, cleaning up the mess after two water main breaks on Sunday closed freeway on-ramps and flooded businesses.  The first break came from a 76-year-old cast iron pipe near 11th and A street, which flooded local businesses and snarled traffic. Some time later, a 62-year-old concrete steel cylinder pipe failed near balboa park.  “The fact that it’s supposed to be America’s Finest City and we’ve got 100-year-old pipes bursting under the streets is kind of unacceptable,” said Lacey Hunter, who works near Balboa Park. … ”  Read more from Channel 10 here: Miles of aging water lines remain under San Diego

Water main breaks put spotlight on city’s aging pipe network, slow replacement process

San Diego’s aging infrastructure, specifically its underground network of water and wastewater pipes, is in the spotlight once again after two water main breaks blocks away from each other in the downtown area left behind a thousand-gallon mess on Interstate 5 and surface streets.  The city has been working to repair its roughly 6,000 miles of underground piping, but some say it’s not happening fast enough.  Attorney Evan Walker has sued the city multiple times on behalf of home and business owners whose properties have been damaged or impacted by similar flooding incidents. … ”  Read more from Channel 7 here: Water main breaks put spotlight on city’s aging pipe network, slow replacement process

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Along the Colorado River …

Column: It could take at least 500,000 acre-feet of water a year to keep Lake Mead from tanking

Hoover Dam with Lake Mead in 2018 at elevation 1088.14 feet above sea level. Photo by the Bureau of Reclamation.

Columnist Joanna Allhands writes, “Arizona, California and Nevada are moving forward with a plan to save another 500,000 acre-feet of water in Lake Mead annually until 2026.  We’re talking 500,000 acre-feet over and above the mandatory cuts that are spelled out in the 2019 Drought Contingency Plan (DCP). Each year. For five years.  Just to keep the lake from tanking.  That’s a significant amount of water.  That required a significant bit of negotiation. … ”  Read more from the Arizona Republic here: Column: It could take at least 500,000 acre-feet of water a year to keep Lake Mead from tanking

RELATED: COLORADO RIVER: An update on efforts of the lower basin states to address worsening conditions, today’s featured article from Maven’s Notebook

These four metrics are used to track drought, and they paint a bleak picture

Drought has tightened its grip on the Western U.S., as dry conditions tick on into their second decade and strain a river that supplies 40 million people. Experts agree that things are bad and getting worse. But how exactly do you measure a drought, and how can you tell where it’s going?  Brad Udall is an expert on the subject, studying water and climate at Colorado State University’s Colorado Water Center. Lately, his forecasts for the basin haven’t been particularly uplifting.  “You cannot look at these and not be concerned,” Udall said. “The climate models tell us this is going to get worse. There’s every reason to believe it’s going to get worse. It’s gotten worse since 2000. The spooky thing is that it seems to be getting worse at a faster rate.” … ”  Read more from KUNC here: These four metrics are used to track drought, and they paint a bleak picture

The sand is there, but low water levels halt a controlled flood to restore Grand Canyon’s beaches

The Southwest’s active monsoon season this year washed tons of sand into the Colorado River, where it could have helped shore up the Grand Canyon’s withering beaches, if not for one big problem: The water stored behind Glen Canyon Dam is at an all-time low after more than two decades of drought.  As a result, the federal government’s dam managers have hit pause on an environmental program that calls for controlled floods out of Lake Powell when there’s enough sand for the water to push up and rebuild sandbars and beaches, preserving the national park’s ecology, river trip campsites and archaeological sites. … ”  Read more from the Arizona Republic here: The sand is there, but low water levels halt a controlled flood to restore Grand Canyon’s beaches

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In national water news today …

Trump-era water rule’s replacement seen as more legally airtight

The EPA’s proposed wetlands rule intended to erase a Trump-era regulation is so legally and scientifically robust that—if finalized—it could be the last word from the Biden administration defining which wetlands are eligible for federal protection, water lawyers say.  The stakes are high: Which waters and wetlands are federally protected can slow or curtail commercial and energy development nationwidewhile helping to improve water quality and aquatic habitat. Each administration since President George W. Bush has expanded or contracted the definition of waters of the United States, or WOTUS,, and the Biden administration is expected to expand it. … ”  Read more from Bloomberg Law here: Trump-era water rule’s replacement seen as more legally airtight

Another atmospheric river set to renew flood threat in Northwest, British Columbia

And in case you were wondering where all of our atmospheric rivers are going … “Most of the western United States remains in the throes of severe or exceptional drought, but one notable exception is the Pacific Northwest. In fact, the region has received too much rain recently and AccuWeather forecasters say that trend will continue for at least several more days.  Following a very dry summer in much of the Pacific Northwest, a complete turnaround has occurred over the past couple of months. The rain was needed given the drought that was gripping the region, but the precipitation has been excessive. An atmospheric river led to major flooding and washed out roads last week in Washington state and British Columbia and another is on the way. … ”  Continue reading at AccuWeather here: Another atmospheric river set to renew flood threat in Northwest, British Columbia

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

WATER PLAN eNEWS: ~~ Senator’s Letter~ Drought Toll~ GSP Assessments~ Restoring Floodplains~ Commission Guidelines~ Potable Reuse~ Circular Economy~~

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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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