DAILY DIGEST, holiday weekend edition: Climate change resilience begins with water, say these UC ag researchers; Environmental groups divided on Newsom’s big, headline-grabbing budget; Tsunami warnings issued for West Coast; The most beautiful places in California you never knew existed; and more …
Climate change resilience begins with water, say these UC ag researchers
“On the rare days it rains in western Fresno County, the soils in Jeffrey Mitchell’s experimental fields soak up the water like a sponge. “The water disappears within less than a minute, even for four inches of water,” he said, laughing. Mitchell is a cropping systems specialist with the University of California Cooperative Extension. His quick-absorbing soils keep the rainfall from pooling and overflowing, like it does in many surrounding fields. “There’s the risk of that water evaporating if it stays there long enough,” he said, “and even more serious, perhaps, is that the water wouldn’t even infiltrate into the field at all and it would just simply run off and go out eventually into the ocean.” Mitchell’s water-efficient soils are the product of more than two decades of research into regenerative agricultural practices. … ” Read more from KVPR here: Climate change resilience begins with water, say these UC ag researchers
No celebration in Sacramento: environmental groups divided on Newsom’s big, headline-grabbing budget
“This week Governor Gavin Newsom unveiled his 2022-23 state budget proposal in Sacramento, including a $45.7 billion budget surplus, receiving both criticism and praise from environmental and climate justice advocates. The budget proposal followed one of the most catastrophic years for fish and the ecosystem in California history, one that saw the Delta smelt become virtually extinct in the wild, while only 2.6% of winter-run Chinook juveniles on the Sacramento River below Keswick Dam survived warm water conditions, and most spring-run Chinook salmon on Butte Creek perished before spawning. The proposal also came after a year in which Consumer Watchdog and Fractracker Alliance revealed at www.NewsomWellWatch.org that Newsom’s oil and gas regulatory agency, CalGEM, had approved a total of 9,728 oil drilling permits from January 1, 2019 until October 1, 2021. In addition, the groups found that the Newsom Administration approved 150 offshore drilling permits in state waters since January 1, 2019. … ” Read more from the Sacramento News & Review here: No celebration in Sacramento: environmental groups divided on Newsom’s big, headline-grabbing budget
“A biological treatment process to remove nitrate from groundwater, called the Hall BioProcess™, received an approval of its effectiveness from the California State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB). The validation stems from a recent pilot study of the process by MIH Water Treatment Inc. (MIH) and the Fontana Water Company (FWC) in Fontana, California. Thanks to the MIH’s patented process, nitrate in the area’s groundwater had lowered to nearly non-detectable levels. The reduction will allow FWC to put decommissioned groundwater wells back into service, expanding water its supply options. … ” Continue reading from Water World here: Biological nitrate treatment gains Calif. approval
Technological solutions to droughts
“Perennial water shortages in California will likely only grow worse due to climate change. But emerging technologies offer hope—if Californians can stop taking water for granted, says David Feldman, UCI professor of urban planning & public policy and director of Water UCI. Water shortages will become more severe as both droughts and floods become more intense, with less rain and snow falling during dry seasons and more falling during wet ones. Capturing the excess precipitation and saving it for dry periods will also only get more challenging. “Californians are actually using less water than we have in the past for urban and agricultural purposes. But we still have a problem because we have less water to use because of climate variability and, in some cases, the need to share our water sources with other states,” Feldman says. ... ” Read more from PhysOrg here: Technological solutions to droughts
Warm water, drought conditions take heavy toll on endangered salmon in California
“Nearly all of the winter-run chinook salmon that hatched in the Sacramento River in 2021 were wiped out over the course of last year. Fisheries managers and scientists say this massive die-off was mainly due to high water temperatures in the Sacramento River, but they also point to vitamin deficiencies as a contributing factor, according to the Redding Record Searchlight. The winter-run chinook that are native to the Sacramento are the last of a dying breed. They are the only species of chinook that runs in the wintertime and spawns during the hottest part of the year. And because of the massive, man-made changes that have occurred throughout the Sacramento watershed over the past century, the entire population of winter-run chinook spawns in a short stretch of the Sacramento River just below Keswick Dam near the town of Redding. … ” Read more from Outdoor Life here: Warm water, drought conditions take heavy toll on endangered salmon in California
A good virus comes to the rescue of California’s abalone
“The light under the old wharf is dim, and the sound of barking sea lions fills the salty air. It’s high tide, and water surges around Art Seavey’s feet as he tends to his abalone farm, which not too long ago was imperiled by a devastating bacterial infection. “The abalone would go off feed — and just start to wither,” said Seavey, co-owner of the Monterey Abalone Co. “And basically once they started withering, it was over.” Now, two years into a viral pandemic that is plaguing humankind, West Coast scientists are hailing a different kind of virus, one that is helping to protect California’s beloved abalone. —the little-known virus is shielding the giant sea snails from a deadly pathogen that has threatened their populations up and down the California coast. … ” Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:A good virus comes to the rescue of California’s abalone
The future of water in the U.S. West is uncertain, so planning and preparedness are critical
“In a thirsty Western United States that has become increasingly vulnerable to extreme weather events, rampant wildfires and years of unprecedented drought, those at the helm of the region’s water agencies are accelerating their plans to grapple with climate change. “The Western United States — especially the 40 million people who use the Colorado River — we’re in the bullseye of climate change,” says Cynthia Campbell, water resource management advisor for the City of Phoenix. “This is not a conceptual conversation anymore. We’re in full-on adaptation.” With that reality comes the need to plan around the future of water for the people and wildlife who call the Colorado River Basin home. But, says Carly Jerla, an operations research analyst for the United States Bureau of Reclamation’s Lower Colorado Region, “you can’t just plan for one future.” ... ” Read more from the Good Men Project here: The future of water in the U.S. West is uncertain, so planning and preparedness are critical
Eruption near Tonga leads to tsunami advisory for California coast. What about the Delta?
“An underwater volcanic eruption Saturday near Tonga in the southern Pacific Ocean triggered flooding in the nation’s largest island and led to a tsunami advisory along the California coast. The eruption at the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai underwater volcano was visible from observation satellites orbiting earth, along with a huge plume of ash that darkened the skies of Tonga. … U.S. officials issued tsunami advisories along Pacific coasts, affecting Hawaii, Alaska, Washington, Oregon and California. The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services warned that the “massive volcanic eruption” could result in “strong wave activity for 24 hours and possible damage to boats, harbors, beaches and other critical infrastructure.” … ” Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: Eruption near Tonga leads to tsunami advisory for California coast. What about the Delta?
On California beaches, tsunami brings choppy waves, isolated flooding and much curiosity
“The tsunami activity that hit the California coast on Saturday brought modest waves, flooding in some locations and much curiosity. There were no reports of major damage or injuries, with most areas seeing 1- to 2-foot waves. Officials did not expect major flooding but warned that the situation — caused by a volcano erupting near the South Pacific nation of Tonga — posed dangers to swimmers, surfers and boats. Beaches and harbors up and down the coast were closed. The surge swept into Santa Cruz Harbor, causing flooding and jostling boats, said Ashley Keehn, public information officer for the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office. Deputies and the Harbor Patrol evacuated people from the harbor early Saturday, including some people who live aboard boats. … ” Read more from the LA Times here: On California beaches, tsunami brings choppy waves, isolated flooding and much curiosity
Tsunami reaches California coast with high waves, local flooding and dangerous currents
“The ocean waves triggered by a major volcanic eruption near Tonga traveled more than 5,000 miles to Bay Area coastlines Saturday, causing tsunami surges and violent surf from dawn until past dusk. The explosion of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano, largely submerged in the Pacific Ocean, appeared to be one of the most powerful eruptions in recent times, sending ash and smoke 12 miles up and 160 miles across the sky. The event led to the most significant tsunami in California in a decade, with beaches closed up and down the coast and dock areas evacuated, including more than 100 live-aboard residents in the Berkeley Marina. Officials estimated tsunami wave heights to reach 1 to 2 feet. … ” Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: Tsunami reaches California coast with high waves, local flooding and dangerous currents
Sonoma and Marin county beaches closed as tsunami from distant Pacific hits California coast
“The greatest tsunami threat to the California coast in more than a decade closed beaches in Sonoma and Marin counties Saturday and prompted daylong safety warnings urging people to avoid a seashore that churned and surged for hours after a violent underwater volcanic explosion in the South Pacific more than 5,000 miles away. The beach closures were only marginally effective at turning away visitors who came to the coast on an otherwise mild January day to see the spectacle unleashed on local shores. At Sonoma Coast State Park, that show included heavy waves crashing into rock abutments and frothing high up past the normal tideline. A pod of bottlenose dolphins was spotted surfing through swells in the lineup. … ” Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here: Sonoma and Marin county beaches closed as tsunami from distant Pacific hits California coast
Tsunami advisories have been lifted for most California cities
“The Tsunami Advisories issues for the western US, Canada, Mexico, and Alaska have mostly expired. Some small inlets are still seeing advisories posted as of 6:35 pm Saturday for Crescent City, CA, Most of the San Francisco Bay and Delta, as well as areas from San Luis Obispo to Laguna Beach. As of 8:15 pm Crescent City, and the coastline from San Luis Obispo to Santa Barbara remains in Tsunami Advisory. All other Tsunami Advisories have been lifted. … ” Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here: Tsunami advisories have been lifted for most California cities
In commentary today …
Would Biden’s nominee save rare wildlife from extinction?
Jimmy Tobias, an environmental reporter, writes, “In the coming months, the Senate will vote on the nomination of Martha Williams to be the next director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the agency that enforces the Endangered Species Act. If confirmed, Williams will be responsible for safeguarding the future of America’s imperiled flora and fauna. That task is a monumental one. Scientists have warned that Earth is facing a “mass extinction event,” in which species are disappearing on a global scale. Deforestation, drilling, mining, urban sprawl, increased consumption and climate change, among other threats, are accelerating this trend. … ” Read more from the LA Times here: Would Biden’s nominee save rare wildlife from extinction?
California needs to do more than just throw money at climate change. It must act
The LA Times editorial board writes, “For the second year in a row, California has been blessed with a massive budget surplus, and Gov. Gavin Newsom is again seeking to spend billions of those dollars responding to climate change. The $22 billion Newsom proposed last week is the largest investment in climate change in state history. Combined with funds from last year’s state climate spending package, it would provide California with a total of $37 billion for climate-related initiatives over a six-year period. … Newsom is right to take advantage of this windfall to do more to adapt to the warming climate and push the state toward a carbon-free future, and the Legislature should support his proposal. … ” Read more from the LA Times here: California needs to do more than just throw money at climate change. It must act
Anna Naimark, 36, of Sacramento, has been appointed Deputy Secretary and Special Counsel for Water at the California Environmental Protection Agency.
Naimark has been Tribal Negotiations Advisor to Governor Newsom since 2019. She was a Senior Program Examiner at the White House Office of Management and Budget from 2014 to 2018, Human Rights Expert and Political Officer at the United States Mission to the U.N. Human Rights Council in 2016 and Research Fellow for the Open Society Foundations in 2014. Naimark was an International Business and Human Rights Fellow at Human Rights First in 2013, Legal and Policy Fellow in 2012 and a Program Assistant from 2009 to 2010 at the ACLU of Northern California and a Legal Fellow at the Center for Human Rights and the Environment in 2011. Naimark earned a Juris Doctor degree from the American University Washington College of Law and a Master of Arts degree in International Peace and Conflict Resolution from the School of International Service at American University. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $170,004. Naimark is a Democrat.
Erika Zavaleta, 49, of Santa Cruz, has been reappointed to the California Fish and Game Commission, where she has served since 2021.
Zavaleta has been Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz since 2003. She held several positions at the Christensen Fund from 2005 to 2007, including, Consultant and Program Specialist for Landscape Ecology. Zavaleta was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley from 2001 to 2003. She earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Biological Sciences from Stanford University and a Master of Arts degree in Anthropology from Stanford University. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $100 per diem. Zavaleta is a Democrat.
WHAT MATTERS PODCAST: Ellen Hanak, Newsha Ajami, Faith Kearns
Join the panel discussion on water. Ellen Hanak, Newsha Ajami and Faith Kearns discuss water issues across California. In this episode of the What Matters Water TV + Podcast we talk with three women who are working for water supply resiliency for our state. We chat about what it’s like to be an advocate for water equity in California, efforts to improve affordable and reliable drinking water for all, and how to use storytelling as a tool for change!
INGRAINED PODCAST: Helping fins and feathers
“A generation ago, it may have seemed far-fetched that Sacramento Valley rice fields could play a vital role for millions of birds. However, changes in rice growing methods in the early 1990s – a shift from burning fields after harvest to adding a few inches of water to break down leftover rice straw – led to just such an occurrence. Area rice fields are now home to nearly 230 wildlife species, including 7 to 10 million ducks and geese every fall and winter. The ‘surrogate wetlands’ are now crucial to the massive Pacific Flyway wildlife migration. … Jacob Katz, Senior Scientist with CalTrout, is a passionate advocate for salmon. He said he is very hopeful that the collaborative work being done in the Sacramento Valley will ultimately help fish, as well as birds, people and farms.” More resources here.
VOICES OF THE VALLEY: When NASA and farming collide
Explore the intersection of space tech and agtech as Neill Callis—an aerospace engineer turned farmer—delves deep into the issues farmers are grappling with most (think, intense regulations and lack of water and labor) and what tech is on the horizon to solve those problems. Neill, who currently serves as general manager at Turlock Fruit Company, covers everything from solar-powered reverse osmosis systems to optical sorting and desalination. Using insight from his 17-year career at NASA, Neill also provides context to how agtech can be developed faster to help farmers face the headwinds of labor and regulation that batter the industry as well as the automation that ultimately offers a path to keep farms in the United States.
PARTS PER BILLION PODCAST: Lead pipe money to ooze, not flow, out of EPA
Last year’s infrastructure bill made a landmark $15 billion investment in lead pipe removal, and even more funding may be on the way to get this toxic metal out of the country’s drinking water system. But, according to two Bloomberg Law reporters, this money may be much slower than expected in getting to the communities that need it. On today’s episode of Parts Per Billion, our weekly environmental podcast, Bobby Magill and Paige Smith explain why Congress’ funding allocation is a pivotal—but definitely not final—moment in the EPA’s war on lead. For one, drinking water systems don’t have a comprehensive inventory of where lead is still in use. And for another, it’s far from clear whether the country has enough plumbers and pipefitters to actually achieve the goal of total lead pipe eradication.
Proposed 600-mile Lost Sierra Route would connect Truckee to Lassen
“The summit of Mount Ingalls, the highest point in Plumas County, offers panoramic views of some of California’s finest landmarks: Lassen Peak to the north, the jagged Sierra Buttes to the south, glacial lakes and extensive woodlands in all directions. It’s an incredible spot. But getting there is a pain. The summit trailheads are only accessible via long stretches of rocky logging roads that are poorly signed. People sometimes get lost before they even start their treks. Getting to such hard-to-reach, yet spectacular places in California’s northern Sierra will be a whole lot easier if a newly proposed 600-mile trail network comes to fruition. … ” Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: Proposed 600-mile Lost Sierra Route would connect Truckee to Lassen
Crews clean up Reeds Creek area in Red Bluff
“A major cleanup project began Friday morning to protect the Sacramento River at Red Bluff’s River Park. Tehama County Environmental Health is cleaning Reeds Creek with assistance from Tehama County Probation and Red Bluff Police Department. Environmental Health Director Tim Potanovic said the cleanup is happening to make sure the creek’s waste does not bleed into the nearby Sacramento River. “We are very, very concerned about the potential for surface water degradation from all the debris along the creek,” Potanovic said. This project has the department’s immediate attention due to the potential for degradation in the Sacramento River and other surface water tributaries due to debris that has been deposited in the area. … ” Read more from the Red Bluff Daily News here: Crews clean up Reeds Creek area in Red Bluff
Steelhead run looks promising this year on the American River
“The steelhead run on the American River is shaping up up to be a relatively good one, though not as big as the record runs in the past when the hatchery reported trapping 3000 to 4000 adult steelhead in a season. “With four weeks of spawning completed, Nimbus already has counted more than 900 steelhead entering the hatchery – a mix of wild, hatchery-origin and juvenile fish,” according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) in a statement. “At this same time last year, Nimbus had counted just 300 fish.” “We are well ahead of what we collected last year,” says Nimbus Fish Hatchery Manager Gary Novak. “Nimbus is on track to meet its annual production goal of 430,000 steelhead.” ... ” Read more from the Daily Kos here: Steelhead run looks promising this year on the American River
Sonoma County providing resources for well owners amid drought
“Amid two years of drought, Sonoma County and water quality agencies released tools for well owners on Friday to ensure their water is safe to drink. Private wells may have higher concentrations of naturally occurring but harmful substances as groundwater tables are lower than normal in some areas of Sonoma County, according to Christine Sosko, the county’s director of Environmental Health. “Well owners should test their well water to ensure it is safe to consume,” Sosko said in a statement. “Testing for naturally occurring contaminants is highly recommended to ensure your well water is safe. If tests detect unhealthy substances, seek the advice of a private water treatment expert on the best way to remedy the problem.” ... ” Read more from SF Gate here: Sonoma County providing resources for well owners amid drought
Marin water utility nears decision on easing limits, penalties
“Water-use limits and penalties might soon be repealed in response to bountiful supplies in the county’s largest reservoirs. On Tuesday, the Marin Municipal Water District board will consider rescinding rules that took effect in December that set water allotments for residents and charged penalty rates for overuse. The discussion could result in the first rollback of drought rules adopted last year when the district and its 191,000 residents faced the dire potential of depleting local reservoir supplies by 2022. But heavy downpours from late October through December have helped to refill the district’s reservoirs to more than 95% of capacity as of Friday. … ” Read more from the Marin Independent Journal here: Marin water utility nears decision on easing limits, penalties
Editorial: As rain falls, water district must ease use restrictions with care
The Marin Independent Journal writes, “Marin Municipal Water District leaders’ concerns that if they let the brakes off of strict conservation requirements, they could be sending the wrong message to customers misses a big point. There is growing public awareness that water conservation needs to be part of the local ethic if we want to avoid more arduous restrictions and the real risk of running out of water. That shouldn’t mean, however, that we need to reduce water consumption by 40%, the target MMWD set for its customers earlier this year as its supply from its reservoirs and out-of-county sources were dwindling due to back-to-back years of drought. … ” Read more from the Marin Independent Journal here: Editorial: As rain falls, water district must ease use restrictions with care
‘It’s rare’: Salmon seen in a creek near Oakland’s Lake Merritt
“East Bay naturalists were in for a surprise this past December when they discovered Chinook salmon swimming by Lake Merritt, Oaklandside reported. Now, following December’s heavy rains, more have been spotted swimming near Glen Echo Creek, the small waterway that begins in the Oakland hills and connects to the northwest part of Lake Merritt near the Grand Avenue and Harrison Street intersection. “It’s rare,” says James Robinson, Executive Director of the Lake Merritt Institute, a local organization that partners with Oakland schools and volunteer groups to clean up trash along the lake and its nearby creeks. … ” Read more from SF Gate here: ‘It’s rare’: Salmon seen in a creek near Oakland’s Lake Merritt
Zone 7 Water Agency submits groundwater management plan
“A plan to manage groundwater — an important component of the Tri-Valley water supply — was submitted to state officials in advance of a January deadline by the Zone 7 Water Agency. “For the long-term sustainability of communities, business and agriculture, having these plans in place and implemented is critically important,” said Paul Gosselin, California Department of Water Resources (DWR) deputy director of sustainable groundwater management. “Zone 7 is in a medium priority basin, and that does have importance.” The plan, approved by the Zone 7 Board of Directors during their Dec. 15 meeting, details the actions the agency will take to maintain and improve the Livermore Valley Groundwater Basin, which provides about 30% of the agency’s water supply. … ” Read more from the Livermore Independent here: Zone 7 Water Agency submits groundwater management plan
Pajaro levee project takes another step forward
“The Pajaro Regional Flood Management Agency (PRFMA) on Wednesday took several significant steps forward in making the project reality. Among them: unanimously approving an agreement to share the estimated $3.8 million annual cost for operations, maintenance, repair, replacement and rehabilitation of the levee system with the Monterey County Water Resources Agency, the Santa Cruz Flood Control and Water Conservation District and the city of Watsonville. But the project will require residents who live in the area to kick in their share, which is estimated at $1.2 million annually. … ” Read more from Good Times Santa Cruz here: Pajaro levee project takes another step forward
SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY
Dry month so far balanced out by extra-wet December
“Despite lackluster numbers so far in January, the Tuolumne River Watershed received more than enough rainfall in December for the Turlock Irrigation District to feel optimistic that precipitation numbers could end up above average by the month’s end. December storms proved to be incredibly productive within the watershed, according to TID hydrologist Olivia Cramer, dumping 11.4 inches of rainfall throughout the course of 31 days. Cramer informed the TID Board of Directors during their Tuesday meeting that 11.4 inches is well above the month’s average of 5.86 inches, nearly doubling the amount of rainfall the area has seen historically. … ” Read more from the Turlock Journal here: Dry month so far balanced out by extra-wet December
Busy Interstate 5 stop won’t go dry, but the water will be pricey
“The popular motorist pitstop town of Kettleman City has sealed a deal to keep from running out of water. Kings County officials finalized a deal with the Mojave Water Agency this week to purchase 235 acre feet of water for Kettleman City from the southern California water agency at a cost of $1,400 per acre foot for a total of $329,000. “It is expensive but when you have no other water…unfortunately that’s just the way it is,” said Brian Skaggs, civil engineer and owner of Summers Engineering, the district engineer for Kettleman City. “We’re going to have to deal with this.” … ” Read more from SJV Water here: Busy Interstate 5 stop won’t go dry, but the water will be pricey
Commentary: Keeping water in the Kern is not just ‘aesthetics’
“Occasionally we read about our community’s comparatively low education levels and the lack of good high-paying jobs that require a higher education. Seldom is the connection drawn between these related facts and the social and cultural environment where we ask likely candidates to live. My wife, now retired, was involved in employee recruitment and retention at the business where she worked. Often in her efforts to recruit highly educated professionals to fill vacancies at the firm, the candidate or their spouse would state unequivocally they have no intention of living in Bakersfield. Their view, right or wrong, is that this town is an unsophisticated cultural wasteland unconcerned with the quality of its environment. … ” Read more from the Bakersfield Californian here: Commentary: Keeping water in the Kern is not just ‘aesthetics’
LA Judge advances environmental suit over Tejon Ranch development
“A lawsuit by two environmental groups to stop the enormous and controversial Tejon Ranch Centennial Project can continue, a Los Angeles County judge ruled Friday, despite a recent settlement in a related case. The suit, filed by the Center for Biological Diversity and the California Native Plant Society in 2019, aims to stop a new city from being erected in what is essentially the middle of nowhere, 65 miles north of downtown Los Angeles. That would-be city sits at the nexus of two of the state’s biggest anxieties: climate change and its housing crisis. … ” Read more from the Courthouse News here: LA Judge advances environmental suit over Tejon Ranch development
Water district: Workshops to give more info on adjudication
“Look for Indian Wells Valley Water District lawyers to address the many public questions swirling about the district’s adjudication lawsuit during two workshops later this month, said President David-Saint Amand at the district’s regular meeting Monday. … District sources have said the controversial adjudication was filed last year in the hope of forcing a final legal determination of water rights for all pumpers in the IWV basin, including the Navy. … ” Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here: Water district: Workshops to give more info on adjudication
Searles Valley Minerals responds to state approval of Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority’s flawed Groundwater Sustainability Plan
“The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) announced Thursday approval of a groundwater sustainability plan (GSP) submitted for the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Basin that clearly violates a key tenet of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA): prohibiting a groundwater management agency from determining water rights. The approval is granted despite DWR acknowledging that implementation of the GSP means “agricultural water use would be eliminated, and groundwater use would predominantly be for municipal and domestic uses and the U.S. Navy” and that it is “impossible” for DWR to assess the feasibility of the Authority’s expensive water importation project due to “uncertainty regarding financing and other project elements.” Searles Valley Minerals (Searles), which has operated in the region for more than 140 years, opposed the plan, citing a proposed water replenishment fee that will increase Searles’ water costs 7,000 percent, to $6 million a year. … ”
Click here to read the full press release from Save Searles.
Palmdale Water District & United Water Conservation District sign MOU to share resources
“Following nearly a year of exploratory meetings, Palmdale Water District (PWD) and United Water Conservation District (UWCD) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to share resources and work on large-scale projects that are of mutual benefit. The projects outlined in the agreement include the coordinated development and use of water resources, recreation areas, intern and apprenticeship programs, and advanced water treatment. “I am extremely pleased that our boards have agreed to formally enter into a partnership,” said PWD Board President Gloria Dizmang. “UWCD is a highly regarded agency with an exceptionally talented and educated staff. I am confident that both districts will benefit tremendously from each other.” … ” Read more from ACWA’s Water News here: Palmdale Water District & United Water Conservation District sign MOU to share resources
Mysterious sewage spill baffles officials
“Federal officials are investigating why millions of gallons of sewage-laden water isn’t making its way from Tijuana to the international wastewater treatment plant in the U.S. Instead, that untreated wastewater is flowing into San Diego through a border drain, which indicates there’s probably a broken pipe or a clog somewhere in Tijuana. The runaway flow began Jan. 7 around 1:30 p.m. when almost a million gallons of sewage escaped from Tijuana through Stewart’s Drain, which sits just east of the International Wastewater Treatment plant operated by the International Boundary Water Commission. … ” Read more from Voice of San Diego here: Mysterious sewage spill baffles officials
Scientists see silver lining in fed’s efforts at Lake Powell
“The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced last week that it plans to adjust management protocols for the Colorado River in early 2022 to reduce monthly releases from Lake Powell in an effort to keep the reservoir from dropping farther below 2021′s historic lows. … According to a Bureau news release, the modified delivery schedule will not alter the total amount of water let through Glen Canyon Dam over the course of the year but will hold back a cumulative 350,000 acre-feet between January and April to help Lake Powell recover from lows that left many boat ramps unusable at the popular recreation site last summer. … ” Read more from the AP here: Scientists see silver lining in fed’s efforts at Lake Powell
As the Colorado River shrinks, can the basin find an equitable solution in sharing the river’s waters?
“Impacts from climate change and two decades of drought on the Colorado River are fueling fears that states in the Upper Basin – Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming – could be forced to curtail their own water use to fulfill obligations under the century-old Colorado River Compact to send a certain amount of water downstream to the Lower Basin states of California, Arizona and Nevada. There has never been a so-called “Compact call” on the river. But as evidence grows that the river isn’t yielding the water assumed by the 1922 Colorado River Compact, questions arise about whether a Compact call may be coming, or whether the states and water interests, drawing on decades of sometimes difficult collaboration, can avert a river war that ends up in court. ... ” Continue reading at Western Water here: As the Colorado River shrinks, can the basin find an equitable solution in sharing the river’s waters?
Seawater tempting, costly drought defense for landlocked Arizona
“Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey’s plan to remove salt from seawater as an antidote to the landlocked state’s intensifying drought overlooks what water lawyers say is the best medicine: using less water. Ducey (R) said this week he is working with Arizona Republican leaders to invest $1 billion over the next three years on a state initiative to build large-scale water augmentation projects. The plan to secure the state’s water supply for the next century includes desalination, an increasingly common global solution to obtain fresh water but one more closely associated with coastal states such as California and countries such as Israel. The state is considering many different options for desalination. It might mean spending billions to remove salt from water in the Sea of Cortez and pipe it across the Mexican border or send it to Mexican farmers as part of a complex international water exchange, Ducey’s top advisers said. … ” Read more from Bloomberg Law here: Seawater tempting, costly drought defense for landlocked Arizona
Clean Water Act policy could spur widespread disarray
“The Biden administration last week quietly and abruptly announced that developers can no longer rely on decisions made under a high-profile Trump-era Clean Water Act rule about which waters are federally protected to obtain new permits. Legal experts say the move could have far-reaching effects throughout the building, mining and agricultural sectors. At issue is a Jan. 5 post on the Army Corps of Engineers website explaining the agency will “not rely on” an approved “jurisdictional determination” issued under the Trump-era Navigable Waters Protection Rule “in making a new permit decision.” The announcement applies to “jurisdictional determinations” that the Army Corps makes, good for five years, which pave the way for mining companies, developers and property owners to obtain permits to fill or dredge streams, tributaries, lakes and wetlands, ditches, swales and stormwater ponds. … ” Read more from E&E News here: Clean Water Act policy could spur widespread disarray
Vilsack wants EPA to ‘learn and listen’ on WOTUS
“In an effort to provide certainty as it rewrites what is defined as a “waters of the U.S.,” the Environmental Protection Agency announced a proposed rule that would re-establish the pre-2015 definition of WOTUS updated to reflect consideration of Supreme Court decisions. However, agricultural groups say repealing the 2020 Navigable Waters Protection Rule is a mistake and does the opposite of providing certainty. In the last six years, producers have experienced three different WOTUS definitions under different administrations, often times creating patchwork implementation across the nation as courts also got involved. “In recent years, the only constant with WOTUS has been change, creating a whiplash in how to best protect our waters in communities across America,” says EPA Administrator Michael Regan. … ” Read more from Farm Progress here: Vilsack wants EPA to ‘learn and listen’ on WOTUS
Tightened federal water protections won’t slow some projects
“The Biden administration is moving to tighten oversight of projects that benefitted from Trump-era loosened water protections, but some projects including a controversial Georgia mine will likely be able to escape new scrutiny. It’s the latest twist in a long-running dispute over the scope of the Clean Water Act, with each new administration aiming to shift which waterways require federal protections. The new guidance aims to diminish the impact of Trump-era environmental rollbacks, which included eliminating federal protections for numerous small streams, wetlands and other waterways. In a recently posted policy, the Biden administration said many developers would not be able to rely on favorable assessments they got under Trump. But the change will likely allow some projects — including a proposed titanium mine in Georgia — to escape the clampdown. … ” Continue reading from the Sacramento Bee here: Tightened federal water protections won’t slow some projects
Reclamation releases blueprint for implementation of Bipartisan Infrastructure Law in 2022
“The Bureau of Reclamation today submitted its initial spend plan for fiscal year 2022 funding allocations authorized in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to the U.S. Congress. This spend plan represents a blueprint for how Reclamation will invest in communities to address drought across the West as well as greater water infrastructure throughout the country. Reclamation will be provided $1.66 billion annually to support a range of infrastructure improvements for fiscal years 2022 through 2026. “The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is the largest investment in the resilience of physical and natural systems in American history,” said Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Tanya Trujillo. “Reclamation’s funding allocation for 2022 is focused on developing lasting solutions to help communities tackle the climate crisis while advancing environmental justice.” … ” Read more from the Bureau of Reclamation here: Reclamation releases blueprint for implementation of Bipartisan Infrastructure Law in 2022
And lastly …
The most beautiful places in California you never knew existed
“Wintertime in California is perhaps the Golden State’s most magical season. The weather cools down, everything becomes a little more quiet and still, but you can still enjoy the great outdoors in all of the best ways possible—and with fewer tourists! Make the most of these coming months by hopping in the car for a weekend getaway to discover hidden gems, beautiful beaches, snow-covered mountains, and unusual landmarks. From giant sequoia to a waterfall made of “fire,” here’s our list of natural wonders you should add to your California bucket list. … ” Continue reading at the Thrillist here: The most beautiful places in California you never knew existed
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.