DAILY DIGEST, 3/3: California drought, Australia floods: Two sides of La Niña amplified by climate change; Wildlife managers boost hatchery production; Rain and snow in the forecast; Pushing back on seawater intrusion in the Parjaro Valley; and more …
WORKSHOP: Riverine Stewardship Program: San Joaquin Fish Population Enhancement Program (SJFPEP) & Urban Streams Restoration Program (USRP) Grants for Spanish Speakers from 1pm to 3pm. DWR will host three virtual public workshops on the Riverine Stewardship Program: San Joaquin Fish Population Enhancement Program (SJFPEP) & Urban Streams Restoration Program (USRP) Grants Draft Guidelines and Proposal Solicitation Package (PSP). Please note this meeting will be held in Spanish. Para obtener el borrador del Proyecto de directrices y pliego de condiciones por favor mande un mensaje a RSP@water.ca.gov. Pulse aquí para registrarse.
In California water news today …
California drought, Australia floods: Two sides of La Niña amplified by climate change
“California just notched its driest January and February on record, sounding alarms about a third year of record drought. Across the Pacific Ocean, thousands are fleeing record flooding in Australia. Officials in Brisbane reported 31 inches of rain in six days, and Jonathan Howe, a government meteorologist quoted by the Associated Press, called the amount of rainfall “astronomical.” Meanwhile, in the eastern Horn of Africa, prolonged drought is raising the frightening specter of famine for millions. All of these are related as a multiyear La Niña event, amplified by the effects of climate change, brings consecutive years of drought to some parts of the world and torrential rain to others. … ” Read more from the LA Times here: California drought, Australia floods: Two sides of La Niña amplified by climate change
Drought is killing wild salmon. Wildlife managers hope an extra half-million babies can help
“Scientists estimate that only 6% of the eggs that wild winter-run chinook salmon laid in the Sacramento River last summer survived the punishing drought, so wildlife officials are taking drastic actions to keep the endangered population going. On Wednesday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released 400,000 juvenile salmon from a hatchery into the river, after releasing almost 125,000 last month. That’s more than double the number of fish they released in 2020 — the first year of the drought — and 220,000 more than last year, to bolster the struggling population of winter-run chinook. Federal scientists are monitoring this year’s cohort to see how well the smolt survive the 352-mile journey from the base of Shasta Dam to the Golden Gate by attaching acoustic tags to hundreds of hatchery fish. … ” Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: Drought is killing wild salmon. Wildlife managers hope an extra half-million babies can help
Fisheries biologists present California’s ocean salmon abundance forecast for 2022
“At the annual Salmon Information Meeting held virtually today, state and federal fishery scientists presented updates on the numbers of spawning salmon that returned to California’s rivers in 2021 and shared the expected abundance for the upcoming fishing season. The 2022 ocean abundance projection for Sacramento River fall Chinook, a main salmon stock harvested in California waters, is estimated at 396,500 adult salmon, higher than the 2021 forecasts. The Klamath River fall Chinook abundance forecast also came in slightly above the 2021 value, with 200,100 adult Klamath River fall Chinook salmon predicted to be in the ocean this year, a value that remains well below the stock’s historical levels. … ” Read more from the Department of Fish and Wildlife here: Fisheries biologists present California’s ocean salmon abundance forecast for 2022
Rain and snow in the forecast
Q&A: Congressman Josh Harder and US Secretary of Agriculture discuss ways to help Central Valley
“President Joe Biden touched on agricultural issues, from export problems, competition, and infrastructure, during his State of the Union speech on Tuesday. Those are topics Central Valley Congressman Josh Harder, a Democrat, paid close attention to, as the Central Valley region of California is the most productive agricultural region, and one of the areas of the state hit hard by a historic drought. Following the SOTU address, KCRA 3’s Brittany Johnson spoke exclusively to United States Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Harder about federal funding coming to California to help provide relief to farmers and rural economies, some of which was discussed in Biden’s speech. … ” Read more from KCRA here: Q&A: Congressman Josh Harder and US Secretary of Agriculture discuss ways to help Central Valley
Water manager urges patience with SGMA
“Aaron Fukuda is frustrated with discussions in Sacramento over reforming water rights. Fukuda, who manages the Tulare Irrigation District and leads a local groundwater sustainability agency, explained his concerns to the State Board of Food and Agriculture during a meeting this week on the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. He was specifically pushing back on a new white paper from a group of law scholars that encourages the Legislature to revise the state’s water laws to better account for drought and climate change. Fukuda argued that “opening up water rights” for fully appropriated streams would divert critical resources from sustainability projects to instead cover court fees, and “that, in my mind, is a bad place to be.” ... ” Read more from Agri-Pulse here: Water manager urges patience with SGMA
Farmers wiped out habitat to reduce disease from wildlife. For birds, their efforts backfired.
“A deadly 2006 E. coli outbreak traced to spinach from a central California farm prompted growers there to remove meadows and woods lining their fields, amid fears they harbored disease-bearing wild animals. It turns out that strategy might have done more harm than good. Birds at California farms with wild habitat nearby were less likely to have disease-causing microbes in their feces, while they also fed less on farmers’ crops, scientists have learned. The new findings point to potential benefits of farming alongside nature, and the ways in which strategies aimed at fending off wildlife can have unexpected consequences. The research suggests “that farming landscapes with natural habitat tend to be good for conservation, farmers, and public health,” said Daniel Karp, an ecologist at the University of California, Davis whose lab led the work. ... ” Read more from the Anthropocene here: Farmers wiped out habitat to reduce disease from wildlife. For birds, their efforts backfired.
Sewer Treasure: Stanford engineers reveal how to optimize processes for transforming sulfur in wastewater to valuable materials
“One person’s wastewater is another person’s treasure. A new Stanford University study(link is external) paves the way to mining sewage for valuable materials used in fertilizers and batteries that could someday power smartphones and airplanes. The analysis, published recently in ACS ES&T Engineering, reveals how to optimize electrical processes for transforming sulfur pollution, and could help lead to affordable, renewable energy-powered wastewater treatment that creates drinkable water. “We are always looking for ways to close the loop on chemical manufacturing processes,” said study senior author Will Tarpeh, an assistant professor of chemical engineering at Stanford. “Sulfur is a key elemental cycle with room for improvements in efficiently converting sulfur pollutants into products like fertilizer and battery components.” ... ” Read more from Stanford University here: Sewer Treasure: Stanford engineers reveal how to optimize processes for transforming sulfur in wastewater to valuable materials
Seawater desalination possibly expanding in California amid worsening drought
“As the pressure on California’s water supply grows more intense this summer, another urban area could begin the process of producing their own. The California Coastal Commission is set to vote later this spring on what would be the state’s second major coastal desalination plant in Huntington Beach, south of Los Angeles. Glenn Farrel is with the industry group, CalDesal. “I think folks are starting to recognize that there are uncertain sources of supply here that our water supplies and our precipitation, our snowpack is becoming less and less reliable, and less and less certain. And it’s time to start exploring alternative supply development,” Farrel believes. … ” Read more from ABC 7 here: Seawater desalination possibly expanding in California amid worsening drought
Calif. snowpack survey points to drought-laden 2022
“California’s snowpack is well-below average at the end of what should have been the state’s wettest months of the year, signaling another dry year ahead. The Department of Water Resources (DWR) conducted the third snow survey of the season at Phillips Station, south of Lake Tahoe. With January and February coming in as the driest in state history, the survey recorded 35 inches of snow depth and a snow water equivalent of 16 inches. Those numbers come in at 68 percent of the average for this time of year at that location. … ” Read more from the San Joaquin Valley Sun here: Calif. snowpack survey points to drought-laden 2022
California adopts first-in-the-nation microplastics reduction strategy
“Last week, the Ocean Protection Council adopted California’s Statewide Microplastics Strategy. The strategy is the first of its kind in the nation, focusing on outlining steps to address microplastic pollution, an emerging contaminant of concern. Microplastics are defined in California as plastics that are between one nanometer and five millimeters in size. Microplastics have long been a concern for marine life, but recently there has been an increase in concern about the impacts of ingesting microplastics on humans. ... ” Read more from Nossaman here: California adopts first-in-the-nation microplastics reduction strategy
Column: ‘Smokey the Beaver’ and the role furry aquatic critters play in preventing wildfire spread
Sean Kriletich writes, “These warm winter days have kept my hands busy in the soil and forest, reducing the amount of time I would ordinarily spend on research. However, this week I did take time to follow the sandhill cranes north and join over 50 people to attend the Scott River Watershed Information Forum in Siskiyou County, Calif. Over the course of three days, this event featured a wealth of information, ranging from site visits to mine tailings restoration projects and shaded fuel breaks, to presentations in the historic and very comfortable Etna Theater. I was particularly struck by one talk, “Smokey the Beaver,” by Dr. Emily Fairfax of CSU Channel Islands. Emily opened with the premise, “The Western United States used to have much more wetland area than it does today… but as it stands, beavers can create and maintain wetland habitat that persists through flood, drought and fire.” … ” Read more from the Calaveras Enterprise here: Column: ‘Smokey the Beaver’ and the role furry aquatic critters play in preventing wildfire spread
Can cloud seeding help quench the thirst of the U.S. West?
“Desperate for water, several Western states have expanded decades-old programs to increase precipitation through cloud seeding, a method of weather modification that entails releasing silver iodide particles or other aerosols into clouds to spur rain or snowfall. Within the past two years, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, and California have expanded cloud seeding operations, with seeding a key plank in the Colorado River Basin Drought Contingency Plan. Cloud seeding operations have also expanded in water-stressed regions outside the U.S. … Some of the renewed attention on cloud seeding is driven by fresh evidence that it actually works — at least when seeding for snow. … ” Read more from Yale E360 here: Can cloud seeding help quench the thirst of the U.S. West?
For the planet’s sake and our own, we should let rivers run free
Tom Kiernan, President and CEO of American Rivers, writes, “ … The Klamath dam removal project is a substantial step forward in protecting our nation’s rivers — our life support system of fresh, clean water. This free-flowing stretch of the Klamath River will better support the tribes and local communities that rely on native salmon populations, which are being even further threatened by rising temperatures. Still, too many other rivers in the U.S. remain in crisis. Centuries of pollution, industrialization, and disruptions by dams have sapped them of their vitality and resilience. Only a fraction of the 3 million miles of rivers in the U.S. are allowed to flow naturally. Hundreds of thousands of dams and other barriers have a chokehold on rivers nationwide. … ” Read more from Undark Magazine here: For the planet’s sake and our own, we should let rivers run free
What has to be done to survive climate change
San Diego Union-Tribune columnist Michael Smolens writes, “The latest United Nations report on climate change gives another warning that a possible catastrophic future for the planet is coming faster than previously thought. It’s a variation on a familiar theme, only worse. There appears to be no avoiding serious effects of global warming and a shrinking window for mitigation and adaptation to try to minimize them, according to the U.N. report released Monday. Unfortunately, the level of collective worldwide action needed to stave off the worst a hotter world can bring hasn’t materialized. … Meanwhile, it’s well past time to put all strategies on the table, no matter how controversial, unusual or risky they may seem. … ” Read more from Gov Tech here: What has to be done to survive climate change
FEATURE: Three Delta Agencies: Who they are and what they have planned for 2022
Over the years, the state has established three Delta-focused agencies, each with different missions and responsibilities: The Delta Stewardship Council, the Delta Protection Commission, and the Delta Conservancy. In this post, I’ll tell you what these agencies do and what they have planned for 2022.
Judge advances lawsuit over disputed rights to water in Oregon lake
“In the midst of a devastating Western drought, a massive freshwater lake in Southern Oregon has become the focal point of the latest battle in a long-running legal dispute over water rights in the Pacific Northwest. Farmers, ranchers, fishermen, tribes and a slew of government agencies have been fighting in court for over two decades for rights to obtain water from the Klamath Project, a massive system of dams, tunnels and canals that irrigates 230,000 acres of agricultural land and supplies water for four national wildlife refuges. … ” Read more from Courthouse News Service here: Judge advances lawsuit over disputed rights to water in Oregon lake
Parched rivers set to receive a little rain
“As we wait patiently for our “Miracle March,” there is at least some rain in the immediate forecast. While it’s not much, anything at this point is beneficial. Currently we have way more rivers closed to fishing than open. As for the upcoming rain, the Humboldt area could see up to a half inch, which could open back up the Mad and Van Duzen rivers temporarily. Further north, where most of the rain has and will fall, the Chetco saw a pretty good rise Monday but has since turned green. By Thursday, it could be the most popular river on the coast. … ” Read more from the North Coast Journal here: Parched rivers set to receive a little rain
Aquafarm ecology: Energy and water in, water and GHG out, fish on the go
“Building and operating a large-scale, land-based fish farm has a complexity of ecology that has so far taken Nordic Aquafarms 1,800 pages to begin to address. Citizens scrutinizing Nordic’s Draft Environmental Impact Report on the implications of the fish factory produced their own volumes Feb. 18 for the county planning department to consider and respond to. Some responses simply deemed Nordic’s analysis defective. For instance, critics argue the company is using flawed data to estimate greenhouse gas emissions. In another, some noted Nordic was using information from a water testing point that doesn’t reflect the project’s true intake and outfall. ... ” Read more from the North Coast Journal here: Aquafarm ecology: Energy and water in, water and GHG out, fish on the go
Rocked by weather whiplash, South Lake Tahoe may see season-high temperatures followed by snow
“South Lake Tahoe might see a bout of weather whiplash, with near record-high warmth followed by rain and snow starting this week, the Tahoe Daily Tribune reported. According to the National Weather Service’s Tahoe office, it may warm up to the mid-50s Wednesday after hitting 55 degrees Tuesday, while light winds are expected to pick up as the next Pacific storm sweeps the region. Accuweather notes that the average temperature in South Lake Tahoe on March 2 is 46 degrees. Thursday will be partly sunny and reach temperatures of nearly 50 degrees. Later that evening, there will be a 60% chance of rain mixed with snow, making new snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible. … ” Read more from SF Gate here: Rocked by weather whiplash, South Lake Tahoe may see season-high temperatures followed by snow
Record-dry 2022 wipes out early winter gains
“The winter’s third manual survey of Central Sierra snowpack, snow depth, and snow water content on Tuesday confirmed that the current winter is shaping up to be another dry one, despite significant storms in October and December. … Also Tuesday, the Central Sierra region that includes the Stanislaus River and Tuolumne River watersheds, Calaveras Big Trees State Park, Hetch Hetchy Reservoir and the Stanislaus National Forest had received 20.4 inches of precipitation since the current water year began Oct. 1. That total included just 0.20 inch of precipitation in February, and it was equivalent to 76% of average for the date March 1. … ” Read more from the Union Democrat here: Record-dry 2022 wipes out early winter gains
Upcoming storms to dump rain, possible hail onto the Bay Area this week
“The most substantial storm in weeks is set to hit the Bay Area Thursday morning into the rest of the week, bringing a momentary reprieve to a bone dry start of the year. The tail end of an atmospheric river storm from the Pacific Northwest is expected to move into the North Bay as early as Thursday morning from the Gulf of Alaska, bringing widespread rain to the rest of the region by Thursday afternoon into evening, according to the National Weather Service. … ” Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here: Upcoming storms to dump rain, possible hail onto the Bay Area this week
A damning new report shows climate change is inevitable. How can S.F. adapt?
“It is already too late to reverse some of the devastating effects of climate change. Instead, humanity must learn to adapt. A sobering new report released this week by the world’s top climate scientists warned that the window to stave off the most devastating impacts of climate change is rapidly shrinking and that some impacts of global warming have already been baked in. On Monday, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a body convened by the UN, offered a grim report that served as a guidebook for how to survive in an increasingly hotter world. It’s a reality that has become all too familiar in the Bay Area as record droughts, scorching wildfires, rising seas and blistering heat waves have become benchmarks of this new normal. … ” Read more from the San Francisco Examiner here: A damning new report shows climate change is inevitable. How can S.F. adapt?
Marin Municipal Water District delays decision on desalination ballot measure
“When Marin last considered building a desalination plant on San Francisco Bay more than a decade ago, residents wary of the high financial and environmental costs reacted by giving voters the power to make that decision. Now comes the question: should voters retain the power to block what could be an emergency source of water in the event of another crisis? “The strange weather we’ve had the last few years I think suggests that having more options in the event of a similar kind of emergency we were in this past year is prudent,” Marin Municipal Water District General Manager Ben Horenstein told the district Board of Directors on Tuesday. “With this ordinance in place, it does limit our ability in certain ways to move forward if we wanted to with an emergency desal system.” … ” Read more from the Marin Independent Journal here: Marin Municipal Water District delays decision on desalination ballot measure
South Bay farmers hold out hope for March miracle after record dry start to 2022
“Rain at the end of 2021 was a big deal for everyone in Northern California, including farmers in the Santa Clara Valley. The beginning of 2022, however, hasn’t been so kind. Many farmers are hopeful that’ll change, but are well aware there’s a chance that might not happen. At B&T Farms in Gilroy, Paul Mirassou’s cherry trees are beginning to bloom. “We’ll harvest these in May,” Mirassou told KPIX 5. Between now and then, he’s hopeful a few rounds of rain will wash away another year of serious drought concerns for him and for fellow farmers in the region. … ” Read more from CBS San Francisco here: South Bay farmers hold out hope for March miracle after record dry start to 2022
A storm system arrives later Thursday with both rain and snow potential
“This week the Central Coast has already seen some record highs fall including one in Santa Maria yesterday which had stood since 1910. Now, we are forecasting highs that will fall into the 50s by Saturday with rain and snow potential during the transition. March 1st is the meteorological first day of spring but the system on the way Thursday PM into Saturday is definitely a winter-style system. … ” Continue reading at KSBY here: A storm system arrives later Thursday with both rain and snow potential
Seawater intrusion threatens California’s coastal agriculture. Here’s how the Pajaro Valley is pushing back.
“Seawater intrusion was first documented along California’s coast decades ago. But climate change is amplifying the problem. In the Pajaro Valley, which is known for its apple orchards and strawberry fields, there’s a heavy reliance on groundwater. Years of overuse created space for seawater to creep in. The community formed the Pajaro Valley Water Management District in the early 1980s to explore ways to curb the encroaching seawater, because salty water can’t be consumed or used to irrigate crops. The agency was among the first to submit their plans for California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, enacted in 2014. … ” Read more from KAZU here: Seawater intrusion threatens California’s coastal agriculture. Here’s how the Pajaro Valley is pushing back.
Mounting long-term water needs will require Salinas Valley landowners to tax themselves, and multiple agencies may be asking.
“The Salinas Valley is said to feed the world, but being a fertile powerhouse depends on access to water, an increasingly scarce resource whose future could come down to decisions made in the next few years. The Monterey County Water Resources Agency, as well as Salinas Valley agricultural interests, hope the state will pull $150 million from its roughly $21 billion budget surplus to finance dam repairs at two South County reservoirs. Although MCWRA General Manager Brent Buche says the dams are stable, they are under elevated scrutiny since the destructive failure of the Oroville Dam spillway. If the issues are not addressed by November 2024, the state could cut the reservoirs’ legal capacity. … ” Read more from Monterey Weekly here: Mounting long-term water needs will require Salinas Valley landowners to tax themselves, and multiple agencies may be asking.
SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY
Madera County: Farmers try to combat Mother Nature
“After a couple of weeks of warm temperatures, the Central Valley hit a cold wave that led to some below freezing temperatures last week. The freeze comes at a delicate time for almond farmers as most of the trees are in bloom. “It’s a concern for us, right now,” said Creekside Farming president Jay Mahill, whose company has acres of almonds and grapes throughout California. “Almonds are in bloom. We’ve gone past bloom. You’re going to start seeing petals fall. Whatever almond is going to get pollinized to become an almond has been done. Now is the fragile time for the stage of almonds to be in. The cold streak we have been having is tough. Temperatures ranged from 25 degrees to 28. If a tree sustains under 28 degrees for a few hours, it can burn the nut and void the crop on the tree.” … ” Read more from the Madera Tribune here: Farmers try to combat Mother Nature
Panel: Is there a way for all sides to win in the Kern River fight?
“The local grassroots group, Bring Back the Kern, will host a series of roundtable discussions to look at ways to restore the Kern River through Bakersfield. “The Kern River isn’t the only river in California to be dried up by water diversions. Others have been dried up, but in many instances stakeholders on other rivers have found ways to restore flowing water to dried up rivers with long term win-win solutions,” according to a press release from Bring Back the Kern. Organizers said they would be inviting key personnel from the agricultural water districts that have ownership or use rights to the river in order to find common ground. … ” Read more from SJV Water here: Panel: Is there a way for all sides to win in the Kern River fight?
Gardena: Willows Wetland has Friends, city staff working in its favor
“The Gardena Willows Wetland Preserve has been offering residents and non-residents of Gardena an opportunity to experience and explore nature since 1998, after the city received a $1.2 million grant in federal and state funds to turn what was essentially a swamp into the Wetland Preserve. Located behind Arthur Johnson Memorial Park between Normandie and Vermont avenues, the 13.6-acre preserve is under the care of the city of Gardena and the members of the Friends of Gardena Willows Wetland Preserve, the latter who have cared of the property since 2006. … ” Read more from Gardena Valley News here: Willows Wetland has Friends, city staff working in its favor
Another sewage spill closes all coastal Long Beach waters
“A sewage spill closed all coastal swimming areas in Long Beach on Wednesday, March 2, city officials said — the second such incident in two months. Local waters won’t reopen until Friday at the earliest, officials said. The city’s Health and Human Services Department closed coastal waters after a grease blockage the day before in Paramount sent 30,000 to 40,000 gallons of sewage into the Los Angeles River, which flowed into Long Beach waters. “When grease gets into sewer lines, it will clog the line and restrict the flow of sewage,” Keith Allen, an environmental health program supervisor for Long Beach, said in an interview. “The sewage will then back up, causing a sanitary sewer overflow.” … ” Read more from the Long Beach Press Telegram here: Another sewage spill closes all coastal Long Beach waters
El Segundo considers legal action against Hyperion over pollutants
“El Segundo could possibly take legal action against the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant – Los Angeles’ largest and oldest wastewater treatment plant – and the Southland’s air quality watchdog, with the city attorney set to explore potential options. The City Council’s decision this week to look into legal action seems poised to open another chapter in a months-long saga that began when Hyperion experienced near catastrophic flooding in July, forcing plant officials to release 17 million gallons of untreated sewage into the ocean. Yet, El Segundo’s primary concern and the root of the City Council’s Tuesday, March 1, vote – about which officials with Los Angeles and the regional air quality agency declined to comment – seemed to be less about the sewage and more about atmospheric pollutants. … ” Read more from the Daily News here: El Segundo considers legal action against Hyperion over pollutants
UN climate report says drought, earlier runoff will make water scarce this summer
“A new report from the United Nations’ panel on climate change lays out a grim picture of the future, including more shortages for the already-dry Colorado River basin. The U.N. panel says intense drought and earlier runoff from mountain snowpack will make water scarce during the summer, stressing economies that depend on it and increasing pressure on limited supplies of groundwater. “The report to me is just one more line in the sand of saying that climate change impacts are here, they are intensifying and that we need to make change and that window of change is closing,” said Abby Burk, a river expert with the Audubon Society. The dire situation has driven up public and government attention to issues of water scarcity. ... ” Read more from Arizona Public Media here: UN climate report says drought, earlier runoff will make water scarce this summer
“A farm safety net built for the Dust Bowl era is about to clash with the age of climate change. The federal crop insurance program, which pays farmers for poor or lost harvests, may be facing some of its biggest challenges since its adoption in the 1930s, as Congress and the Department of Agriculture look for ways to manage the risks of flood, drought and other weather disasters all over the country. Those risks will continue to change as the climate warms, a USDA official said last week. In California’s Central Valley, the USDA projects that crop insurance payments due to excess moisture will outstrip those for drought — a pattern that could be repeated in the Pacific Northwest. … ” Read more from E&E News here: Crop insurance comes to grips with climate change
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.