DAILY DIGEST, 3/22: State warns 20,000 water users of coming shortages; Drought prompts request to temporarily change how much water is sent to the Delta; How a tropical weather phenomena influences CA rain and snow; Century old Colorado River Compact imperfect, but immovable; and more …
LEG HEARING: Assembly Committee on Water, Parks, and Wildlife beginning at 9am. Bills to be heard include AB 1906 Voluntary stream restoration: property owner liability: indemnification: claims, and SB 463 Water: landowner or water right holder right to modify, repair, or replace jointly used conduits. Click here for the agenda and remote access instructions.
EVENT: World Water Day: Water Equity in California from 11am to 12:30pm. Presented by the Association of Women in Water, Energy and Environment. In this 1.5-hour event, we’ll learn more about what is being done here in California to provide equal access to clean water to communities statewide. Click here to register.
EVENT: “Without Water” Film Premiere from 6:30pm to 7:30pm. Without Water is a film that documents the ongoing dispute between the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (LADWP) and various stakeholders in Long Valley, California. Click here to register.
In California water news today …
‘Historic dry conditions’: California warns that mandatory water cuts are likely coming
“State regulators gave a bleak drought warning Monday to the farms and cities that draw drinking and irrigation water from California’s major rivers: Prepare for mandatory cutbacks. The State Water Resources Control Board announced it was sending letters to approximately 20,000 water right holders — farmers and cities with historical legal claims to river water. Facing a third straight year of drought, the letter says they should expect to stop pulling water in the coming weeks — and even earlier than last year. … ” Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: ‘Historic dry conditions’: California warns that mandatory water cuts are likely coming
State warns 20,000 water users of coming shortages
“The State Water resources Control Board has issued letters to water right holders warning them to prepare for curtailments as drought conditions persist. The water quality agency urges them to start reducing water use and adopt conservation measures like reducing irrigated acreage, managing herd sizes or adopting new irrigation techniques. According to the letter, these “early efforts can help minimize the potential impact of water management actions on businesses, homes, farms, and California’s environment.” Staff are urging the board to adopt earlier curtailments than they did in 2021 for the Bay-Delta, Russian River, Scott River, Shasta River, Mill Creek and Deer Creek watersheds. To better inform those curtailment orders, water right holders are required to submit annual use reports by April. So far just 29% of those water users have submitted reports. … ” Read more from Agri-Pulse here: State warns 20,000 water users of coming shortages
Worries over this summer’s water supply prompt a request to temporarily change how much is sent to the Delta
“California’s reservoir system serves many important functions. Reservoirs allow for water storage throughout the summer and provide recreational space. Releases from reservoirs also help to keep drinking water free of salt and other contaminants. Water is also regularly released into the Delta to help maintain the stability of the region’s ecosystem. But with 2022 off to a record dry start, water managers are concerned that there won’t be enough water in reservoirs to keep meeting all of those needs through the summer months. That’s why on Friday, California’s Department of Water Resources and the Bureau of Reclamation announced that they are requesting to temporarily change Delta water requirements to allow for fewer releases heading into the dry season. ... ” Read more from KCRA Channel 3 here: Worries over this summer’s water supply prompt a request to temporarily change how much is sent to the Delta
This tropical weather phenomenon can have a big influence on California rain and snow, but key connections remain a mystery
“In a famous experiment in the early 1960s, the mathematician and meteorologist Edward Lorenz was running computer simulations of weather patterns, trying to see how they changed when he changed variables like wind or temperature at the start. One day, Lorenz decided to round up one of the input variables, from 0.516127 to 0.516, and then walked away from his computer. When he came back several hours later, to his surprise, the results were totally different. This prompted him to ask “whether, for example, two particular weather situations differing by as little as the immediate influence of a single butterfly will generally after sufficient time evolve into two situations differing by as much as the presence of a tornado.” The experiment and the “butterfly effect” as it came to be since immortalized in popular culture, helped lead to a new understanding of nature in which it went from being mechanical and knowable to unpredictable and chaotic. It also showed one of the reasons weather is so hard to forecast beyond a few days. … ” Read more from Bay Nature here: This tropical weather phenomenon can have a big influence on California rain and snow, but key connections remain a mystery
DWR awards $180 million to communities statewide for urban and multibenefit drought relief projects
“The Department of Water Resources (DWR) announced its second phase of funding through the Urban and Multibenefit Drought Relief Grant program. The program will provide financial assistance to 62 projects throughout the state to tackle drought impacts on human health and safety, protect fish and wildlife resources, and support other public benefits, such as ecosystem improvements. Of the $180 million in funding, half will support various types of water supply projects including groundwater, surface water, recycled water, and supply reliability. The other half of the awarded funds will finance projects focused on water conservation, groundwater recharge, water quality, and habitat restoration. Included in the awards are five projects benefiting Tribes and 38 projects benefitting underrepresented communities. … ” Read more from DWR here: DWR awards $180 million to communities statewide for urban and multibenefit drought relief projects
Exceptionally dry conditions prompt further drought action
““While we had hoped for more rain and snow, DWR has been preparing for a third consecutive year of drought since October,” DWR Director Karla Nemeth said in a press release. “We are continuing with a series of actions to balance the needs of endangered species, water supply conservation, and water deliveries for millions of Californians.” Forecasts are not projecting any significant rainfall coming to the state in the month of March. ... ” Read more from Ag Net West here: Exceptionally dry conditions prompt further drought action
State unveils long-awaited standard for drinking water contaminant
“California today proposed a long-awaited standard for a cancer-causing contaminant in drinking water that would require costly treatment in many cities throughout the state. Traces of hexavalent chromium are widely found in the drinking water of millions of Californians, with some of the contamination naturally occurring and some from industries that work with the heavy metal. The proposed standard is a major step in a decades-long effort to curtail the water contaminant made infamous by the movie Erin Brockovich, based on residents of rural Hinkley, California who won more than $300 million from Pacific Gas & Electric for contamination of their drinking water. Once finalized, the standard would be a first in the nation to specifically target hexavalent chromium. ... ” Read more from Cal Matters here: State unveils long-awaited standard for drinking water contaminant
Proposedstandard for Hexavalent chromiumprioritizespublic health,achievable path towatertreatment
“The State Water Resources Control Board todayannounced aproposed maximum contaminant level(MCL)forhexavalent chromium thatprioritizesprotecting public healthwhileconsideringthevaryingabilitiesofthe state’s7,000publicwater systems,large and small,toinvest inwater treatment technologiesto meet thenewstandard.The proposal is an administrative draftonly–theMCL will beconsidered forfinaladoption by the board afteran extendedpublic commentperiodandoncerecommended changes are considered.The proposal is amajormilestonetowarddeveloping a new MCLfor hexavalent chromiumafter the prior MCL was invalidatedbya courtthatruledthestatedid not adequately documentif it waseconomically feasiblefor water systems to implement. … ” Read more from the State Water Board here: Proposed standard for Hexavalent chromium prioritizes public health, achievable path to watertreatment
Legislative approaches to water data as public policy
“The work to modernize water data infrastructure often goes on under the radar as part of the tireless regular operations of state and federal agencies. But over the past few years, often in response to drought, several western state legislatures have devoted attention and funding to the issue. Recently, Oregon became the latest state to write new policy around water data. … ” Read more about the efforts of other states to advance open water data; California is among the states profiled. From the Internet of Water here: Legislative approaches to water data as public policy
Is California’s cap-and-trade program hurting the environment more than helping it?
” … the state of California has relied on a complicated market system of pollution credits to help reduce climate-warming greenhouse gas emissions. The program, called cap and trade, was the first of its kind in the U.S. when launched in 2013 and set the ambitious goal of slashing turn-of-the-century emission levels by 40% by the year 2030. But despite its goal of reducing the gasses that contribute to rising sea levels, extreme heat and record-shattering wildfires, the program was quickly faulted by environmental justice advocates for failing to improve the lives of low-income people of color living alongside major polluting facilities. Now, after years of such criticism, government officials are reevaluating the program. In addition to environmental justice concerns, analysts have warned that the cap on how much companies can pollute “is likely not having much, if any, effect on overall emissions in the first several years of the program.” … ” Read more from the LA Times here: Is California’s cap-and-trade program hurting the environment more than helping it?
California plan would give $100m to Indigenous leaders to buy ancestral lands
“Governor Gavin Newsom on Friday proposed giving California’s Indigenous nations $100m so they can purchase and preserve their ancestral lands. The proposal is part of his pledge to make sure nearly one-third of California’s land and coastal waters are preserved by 2030. But rather than have the government do all of that, Newsom said Indigenous leaders should have a say in what lands get preserved. “We know that California Native peoples have always had an interdependent relations with land, waters, everything that makes up the state of California,” Newsom said. “Unfortunately we also know that the state has had a role in violently disrupting those relations.” … ” Read more from the Guardian here: California plan would give $100m to Indigenous leaders to buy ancestral lands
Fire season could be coming early again
“Each year in California seems to get dryer and dryer, with an ongoing drought and an ever-expanding fire season. The 2022 fire season is shaping up to continue the pattern. Fire season officially begins when the various jurisdictions throughout Northern California begin staffing up and reopening airbases. These talks typically begin in spring but can vary based on weather conditions and other factors. Cal Fire-Butte County Capt. Jacob Gilliam said making these determinations can often be tricky. … ” Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here: Fire season could be coming early again
Here’s how much it cost to suppress Dixie Fire, other major 2021 wildfires in California
“Two of California’s largest wildfire incidents in 2021 cost fire agencies more than $500 million apiece to suppress, and a third cost more than a quarter-million dollars to fight, according to new federal data. The massive Dixie Fire, which burned from mid-July through late October in Northern California, cost an estimated $637 million to combat, according to an annual report from the National Interagency Fire Center. The Beckwourth Fire Complex, which scorched 106,000 acres from July to September in Plumas National Forest, cost about $543 million. … ” Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: Here’s how much it cost to suppress Dixie Fire, other major 2021 wildfires in California
Drought shows that CA’s water rights system is bankrupt
Doug Obegi, Director, California River Restoration of NRDC’s Water Division, writes, “California’s ongoing drought – or more accurately, our new normal in light of the reality of climate change – demonstrates that California’s water system is effectively bankrupt and broken, the result of having promised far more water (through claimed water rights and water contracts) than is available in an average year, let alone can be sustainably delivered during dry years. The drought disaster we’re facing this year is not simply a hydrologic problem; it is the result of the State’s failure to plan for droughts, particularly the failure to maintain adequate carryover storage in Shasta and other reservoirs last year. While conditions have been very dry the past two plus months, droughts are a fact of life and we can’t control hydrology. But we do control what happens to water in the Bay-Delta watershed, and the failure to plan for droughts last year – particularly the failure to maintain adequate carryover storage in upstream reservoirs in 2021 by reducing water supply allocations and water diversions, as we warned last fall – leaves California without good options in 2022. … ” Read more from the NRDC here: Drought shows that CA’s water rights system is bankrupt
Dan Walters: Finally, progress on vital Sites Reservoir project
“Simple logic tells us that as climate change alters precipitation patterns, California must expand its capacity to capture and store water. … Belatedly, increasing storage is moving upward on the political agenda. Last week, the federal Environmental Protection Agency invited sponsors of the Sites Reservoir project, which has been on the back burner for decades, to apply for a $2.2 billion loan that would cover roughly 40% of the project’s estimated cost. Along with some state water bond money and commitments from prospective users of the project — Southern California water agencies, mostly — Sites is now in position to put together a financing package to make it a reality.” … ” Read more from Cal Matters here: Dan Walters: Finally, progress on vital Sites Reservoir project
DWP rebuffs cooperative solution to air quality problem at Mono Lake
Bartshe Miller, Eastern Sierra Policy Director for the Mono Lake Committee, writes, “Last fall the Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District hosted a Mono Air & Water Workshop in Lee Vining. The purpose of the workshop was to initiate a dialogue among stakeholders, agencies, and the Great Basin governing board to discuss and address Mono Basin air quality and lake level issues in a public forum. Mono Lake is a source of particulate air pollution because excessive water diversions by DWP dropped the lake’s level, exposing dry lakebed that produces dust in the wind. Air quality violations at Mono Lake persist and remain the worst in the nation for particulate matter less than ten microns in diameter, or PM-10. Those in attendance included the Inyo National Forest, the Mono Lake Kutzadika’a Tribe, the Mono Lake Committee, California State Parks, California Air Resources Board, and Great Basin staff and senior scientists. The Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (DWP) was invited, but it neither attended nor provided any statement in lieu of its conspicuous absence. … ” Read more from the Mono Lake Committee here: DWP rebuffs cooperative solution to air quality problem at Mono Lake
Guest commentary by Sean Bothwell, Executive Director of the California Coastkeeper Alliance
Today, we celebrate World Water Day on the 50th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act. In 1972, Congress passed the Clean Water Act, which set a goal of restoring and maintaining clean water in all of the nation’s rivers, lakes and wetlands by 1985. Five decades later, the vast majority of waterways in California and across the nation are still polluted by discharges of chemicals, sediment, or other contaminants.
These discharges can range from a chemical company pouring waste into a nearby swimming hole, to a logging project clogging up a stream with sediment, to untreated urban storm water carrying bacteria, toxic metals, and trash onto the beach. The impacts of this pollution are often felt most by disadvantaged communities, for example by making local waters unsafe to swim in and making fish from local rivers unsafe to eat for families that rely on fishing to provide food.
It is time California gets on track to provide swimmable, fishable, and drinkable water for all Californians. That is why California Coastkeeper Alliance teamed up with Assembly Members Robert Rivas and Christina Garcia to introduce the Clean Water For All legislative package.
BLOG ROUND-UP: Drought shows that CA’s water rights system is bankrupt; Fatal errors in DWR’s runoff forecasting; Wishful thinking on the upcoming 2022 salmon season; Are GSPs upholding the Human Right to Water?; and more …
Groveland receives $8.5-million for water resiliency project
“A series of improvements funded by the state will help the community of Groveland continue to supply water during periods of extreme drought. $8.5-million is coming to the Groveland Community Service District from the California Department of Water Resources to improve community resiliency and secure water supply. One element will allow GCSD to obtain water at low Pine Mountain Lake levels brought on by drought and even if the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission’s Mountain Tunnel is shut down. … ” Continue reading at My Mother Lode here: Groveland receives $8.5-million for water resiliency project
Drought prompts water agency to start draw from Russian River weeks early
“A dry winter and early warm temperatures have prompted the Sonoma County Water Agency to start an annual process drawing water from the Russian River weeks earlier than normal. Crews from the agency, also known as Sonoma Water, inflated a rubber dam Monday near Forestville that is used to create a small pool from which the agency draws water for use in four off-stream infiltration ponds. These ponds help recharge groundwater, which is naturally filtered through sand and gravel and delivered to Sonoma Water’s customers, officials said in a news release issued Monday morning. … ” Read more from SF Gate here: Drought prompts water agency to start draw from Russian River weeks early
River Otter Ecology Project celebrates 10 years
“This spring the River Otter Ecology Project will celebrate ten years of highly-effective work engaging the public in supporting conservation and restoration through education, research, and community science, by linking the recovery of the North American river otter in the Bay Area to the health of our watersheds and wetlands. … ” Read more from the Sonoma Gazette here: River Otter Ecology Project celebrates 10 years
Sonoma County communities awarded millions in state drought relief funds
“Sonoma County communities scored big in the release of a new tranche of state drought relief money Monday, receiving more than $17 million for projects aimed at shoring up water supplies as the region endures a third year of drought. The cities of Healdsburg and Cloverdale were among the recipients. Both are heavily dependent on withdrawals from the critically low upper Russian River and Lake Mendocino, whose supplies have been clamped down to maintain minimum flows. Last year, both cities were ordered by the state to reduce usage to 55 gallons of water per person per day or less. … ” Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here: Sonoma County communities awarded millions in state drought relief funds
Dry winter combined with another Bay Area heat wave raises concerns amid drought
“Parts of the Bay Area are expected to heat up on Tuesday. Warm temperatures could be near record-breaking in some areas. The heatwave comes only days after Saturday’s storm, which wasn’t significant enough to impact drought conditions. There is looming concern, as the state struggles to conserve water. The warm weather and sunny skies forecast for Tuesday will bring a typical springtime event, according to Meteorology and Climate Science expert Alison Bridger. The San Jose State professor said that while the anticipated heat may feel unusual, temperatures will still be far from extreme. “The record for San Jose is 83,” Bridger shared. “So we might not even break any records. If it was going to be 93 tomorrow, then I think we’d be justified in being concerned.” … ” Read more from ABC 7 here: Dry winter combined with another Bay Area heat wave raises concerns amid drought
Capturing water from the air may help S.F. drought woes
“Set against neat rows of lettuce at Hummingbird Farm, a six-acre plot at the western tip of Crocker-Amazon Park, a sleek blue-gray panel stands out among the foliage, gleaming in the sunlight. This device, called a hydropanel, harnesses the power of the sun to extract water from thin air. Although it’s still in its pilot phase, this panel is already helping to irrigate the organic produce grown in one of the oldest and most culturally diverse areas in San Francisco. It also represents one way that San Francisco is working to conserve, manage and supply enough water to meet the needs of residents as climate change continues to fuel a “megadrought” parching the state. … ” Read more from the SF Examiner here: Capturing water from the air may help S.F. drought woes
Mountain View seeks to triple its recycled water use over the next decade amid statewide droughts
“The city of Mountain View is planning to rapidly expand its recycled water use in the coming years, with ambitious plans to build an expanded network of pipes that can deliver to water to areas slated for major new development. … The top option, according to city staff, is to expand recycled water infrastructure in North Bayshore, under a plan that would crank up recycled water demand to more than 1.4 million gallons per day. Other options include taking it a step farther and extending the system into East Whisman — a long-range plan that would take decades to complete and cost upward of $40 million. … ” Read more from the Mountain View Voice here: Mountain View seeks to triple its recycled water use over the next decade amid statewide droughts
Water and sewage rates could rise 18% in this SLO County town over the next few years
“Cambrians soon will have a 45-day window in which decide if they’re willing to pay significantly higher rates for water and sewer service or if they want to formally protest. The Cambria Community Services District Board of Directors authorized submitting the proposed increases to their ratepayers at a meeting March 17, saying higher rates are needed to pay for water and sewer expenses, pay back debts and fund needed improvements to the district’s aging water and sewer infrastructure. Rates would begin to escalate on July 1 of this year, with an increase of 5.8%, and continue to go up each year through 2024 (5.9% in 2023 and again in 2024), according to a district staff report. … ” Read more from the San Luis Obispo Tribune here: Water and sewage rates could rise 18% in this SLO County town over the next few years
SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY
Heating up, drying up: 87-degree weather not good for drought, fire outlook
“Spring is just days old, the drought is well into its third year, drying gusty winds are whipping the north state, and temperatures are flirting with the mid-80s. It is not a good combination for those managing water supplies or those prepping for yet another destructive wildfire season. The National Weather Service is projecting Manteca/Stockton’s high to hit 83 degrees today, reach 87 degrees Wednesday and then slip down to the low-80s before returning to a stretch of more normal temperature high ranges of the mid-60s to mid-70s for late March. … ” Read more from the Manteca Bulletin here: Heating up, drying up: 87-degree weather not good for drought, fire outlook
Central California farmers brace for third straight drought year
“Spring is officially here and Agriculture experts are bracing for yet another dry year. The lack of rain this past winter is spelling out trouble for farmers. “We looked at a very incredible December but since then, the spigot’s shut off,” said Ryan Jacobsen, CEO of the Fresno County Farm Bureau. Like last year, water allocations for farms are expected to be low. … ” Read more from KFSN here: Central California farmers brace for third straight drought year
Central Valley Eden Environmental Defenders sues building material distributors for CWA violations
“On Friday, Central Valley Eden Environmental Defenders, LLC filed a lawsuit in the Eastern District of California against Building Material Distributors, Inc. alleging violations of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act. According to the complaint, Eden is a California limited liability company and an environmental membership group. Eden states its organizational purpose is the protection, preservation and enhancement of California’s waterways through the enforcement of the Federal Clean Water Act and California’s Industrial General Permit by seeking redress from environmental harms caused by industrial dischargers who pollute the waters of the United States. … ” Read more from Law Street Media here: Central Valley Eden Environmental Defenders sues building material distributors for CWA violations
Merced Irrigation District recognizes National Groundwater Awareness Week
“The Merced Irrigation District (MID) Board of Directors recently passed a resolution of support recognizing national Groundwater Awareness Week. “Groundwater is so important to our growers and our community at large,” said MID General Manager. “For years MID has been a leader studying local groundwater issues and seeking to address regional challenges we face in eastern Merced County.” The vast majority of Merced Irrigation District’s water rights are associated with the water it stores and releases at Lake McClure. However, the District has a significant interest in the health and well-being of local groundwater. Since its inception, MID has operated as a “conjunctive-use” district: every year the District replenishes local groundwater with portion of the water it diverts from Lake McClure and withdraws it when needed during dryer years when the reservoir has insufficient supplies. … ” Read more from the Merced County Times here: Merced Irrigation District recognizes National Groundwater Awareness Week
State, local leaders make call for increased conservation as drought worsens
“Facing another year of extremely limited water supplies from the Northern Sierra, state and local water leaders today called on Southern Californians to significantly reduce their water use, particularly outdoors, where more than half of all residential water is typically used. Against a backdrop of a nursery filled with water-saving California native plants, state Secretary for Natural Resources Wade Crowfoot joined leaders from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to sound the alarm on the severity of the drought – now in its third year – and offer residents tips and rebates to help them conserve. … ” Continue reading this press release from Metropolitan Water District here: State, local leaders make call for increased conservation as drought worsens
Water officials call for increased conservation, warn of mandatory restrictions in SoCal
“Ahead of World Water Day, Metropolitan Water District officials Monday called on Southern Californians to significantly reduce their water use and warned of the possibility of mandated water conservation measures. “California is well into its third year of drought and with winter ending in a very dry way, water conditions will get more challenging in coming months,” California Natural Resources Agency Secretary Wade Crowfoot said at a media briefing at the Theodore Payne Foundation for Wildflowers & Native Plants in Sun Valley. … ” Read more from ABC 7 here: Water officials call for increased conservation, warn of mandatory restrictions in SoCal
Sinkhole opens after water main breaks in Hollywood Hills
“A large sinkhole opened Monday in the Hollywood Hills after a water main break sent water gushing down city streets. The break was reported around 1 a.m. in the 6500 block of Cahuenga Terrace near Cahuenga Boulevard, according to Los Angeles Department of Water and Power spokeswoman Carol Tucker. The area is located along the 101 Freeway across from the Hollywood Bowl. News video captured by OnScene.TV showed water flowing down the streets. Cars created waves as they passed through a deep pool near the freeway onramp. … ” Read more from the LA Times here: Sinkhole opens after water main breaks in Hollywood Hills
Rep. Waters secures $13,153,127 in projects in California’s 43rd district
“Today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chairwoman of the House Committee on Financial Services, announced the enactment of a government funding package that includes $13,153,127 in Community Project Funding that she secured for the 43rd district of California. … “I am incredibly pleased to have secured $13,153,127 in Community Project Funding in this bill that I know will have a profound impact on my district,” Congresswoman Waters said. “These investments support working families, help underserved areas, and foster economic development, making a real difference in the lives of so many in our diverse community. I am proud to have fought for funding that will make our community healthier, stronger, and more resilient.” … ” Read the full story at the LA Sentinel here: Rep. Waters secures $13,153,127 in projects in California’s 43rd district
Eliminating forever chemicals and increasing clean water access in Orange County, Calif.
“What if it were possible to eliminate 99.9% of PFAS — “forever chemicals” — from our water, food waste and landfills? That’s what 374Water, a cleantech social impact company is hoping to do through the company’s patented AirSCWO™ technology. 347Water recently announced that the Orange County Sanitation District of California (OC San) became its first municipal client; the County plans to use the AIRSCWO system at commercial scale to treat raw primary and secondary sludge, biosolids, and food waste. We recently chatted with Kobe Nagar, 374Water CEO and co-founder. … ” Read more from Waste 360 here: Eliminating forever chemicals and increasing clean water access in Orange County, Calif.
Climate change is ravaging Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, scientists warn. What can be done?
“For decades, scientists assumed California’s Colorado Desert — which stretches from eastern San Diego County into Imperial Valley and up to Joshua Tree National Park — would withstand the effects of climate change. Today, researchers have changed their tune. Streams are disappearing, plants shriveling. Animals are desperate for nourishment with iconic bighorn sheep ever more dependent on human interventions. Park officials headquartered in Borrego Springs are now scrambling to get baseline data for places such as San Felipe Creek, which in recent years, has dried up along several miles of Highway 78. … ” Read more from the LA Times here: Climate change is ravaging Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, scientists warn. What can be done?
As lithium drilling advances at the Salton Sea, researchers work out the details
“Companies progress towards commercial lithium drilling at the Salton Sea, while teams of researchers explore questions about effective extraction methods and environmental impacts. The Salton Sea – a shallow, landlocked, highly-saline body on the border of southern Riverside and northern Imperial counties – may be holding a giant key to the future. Researchers are working to understand how much lithium lies deep in the earth beneath the sea. The area is already home to eleven geothermal power plants, which pull up a brine from a mile down, create steam and spin turbines to create energy. … ” Read more from KCET here: As lithium drilling advances at the Salton Sea, researchers work out the details
Oceanside holding ribbon cutting for first operating potable water reuse project in San Diego County
Century old Colorado River Compact imperfect, but immovable
“As the Colorado River Compact approaches its 100th anniversary this November, the document is showing its age — from the lack of diversity in its authorship to its overestimation of waters available — but observers agree that it’s unlikely to get a modern-day facelift. That’s because for all of its missteps, the compact — known as the cornerstone of the “Law of the River,” the various agreements that dictate how the water is managed between seven basin states and Mexico — would be nearly impossible to rework at this point. “If we look at the compact today and ask ourselves, ‘Was it equitable given 2022 values?’ No, it wasn’t,” former Interior Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Anne Castle said last week at the University of Utah’s Wallace Stegner Center annual symposium. “But a part of the reason I say that I wouldn’t suggest a renegotiation is because I don’t think it’s politically possible.” … ” Read more from E&E News here: Century old Colorado River Compact imperfect, but immovable
How low can the Colorado River go? Drought forces states to face tough choices about water
“Water managers from across the Colorado River Basin are preparing to negotiate new rules for allocating the river’s dwindling flow and sharing the pain of a deepening shortage. They’re adapting the 100-year-old Colorado River Compact to a river that little resembles the bountiful gusher that negotiators from seven states and the federal government in 1922 thought — or hoped — would bless the Southwest forever. The stakes rise with every foot that Lake Mead and Lake Powell fall, as the states and the water users within them recognize they’re due for a tighter squeeze. … ” Read more from Arizona Central here: How low can the Colorado River go? Drought forces states to face tough choices about water
Unsafe Yield: Severe drought, dead wells, political division push Arizona steadily closer to water supply peril.
“Nobody who knows Peggy Judd would mistake her for a political progressive. At age 59, Judd is in her second term as one of three supervisors in Cochise County, a nearly 4 million-acre expanse of mesquite and cholla cactus, irrigated cropland, and pecan orchards silhouetted by towering mountains in southeast Arizona. Raised on a Cochise County farm and true to her allegiance to private property rights, Judd has no interest in hampering the development of this high desert county’s farms and ranches, which are an economic growth sector accounting for over $100 million in annual sales. One more detail about Judd. Like many other Arizona Republicans, she is preoccupied by former President Donald Trump’s big lie that he won the 2020 election. … Yet when it comes to water in a county where groundwater is the sole source for irrigation and drinking, and where demand is racing ahead of supply, the boundaries of politics and ideology can change. ... ” Read more from the Circle of the Blue here: Unsafe Yield: Severe drought, dead wells, political division push Arizona steadily closer to water supply peril.
Commentary: 4 utterly important water questions for Arizona that almost no one is talking about
Opinion columnist Joanna Allhands writes, “Is creating a powerful water authority the best way to find additional water for the state? Plenty of folks are struggling to answer that question, based on nearly 70 pages of comments from cities, private water providers, farmers and homebuilders on the idea. And for good reason. Because while the proposed water authority raises fundamental questions about who should get the water, a draft legislative proposal has few substantive answers for them. The answer, it seems, is to simply create the water authority – which could buy and own water, offer loans and bonds, make deals with private investors and even use eminent domain – and let its six appointed members figure out the ground rules later. That’s a tough pill to swallow. … ” Read more from Arizona Central here: Commentary: 4 utterly important water questions for Arizona that almost no one is talking about
Commentary: Lawmakers won’t protect our groundwater, so we’re taking this fight to voters
Paul Hirt, a water, energy and sustainability scholar and professor emeritus at Arizona State University, writes, “Dependence on overexploited and declining groundwater supplies is a long-standing problem in Arizona. Venerable Arizona author Charles Bowden wrote an insightful book about groundwater depletion in 1977 titled “Killing the Hidden Waters.” He was not alone in his concern. The Arizona legislature debated the issue as long ago as the 1940s. But not until 1980 did it finally pass a meaningful law – the Arizona Groundwater Management Act – which created “Active Management Areas” (AMAs) to address groundwater overdraft. But after four decades of concerted effort, groundwater pumping in most AMAs remains well above what is considered “safe yield.” … ” Read more from Arizona Central here: Commentary: Lawmakers won’t protect our groundwater, so we’re taking this fight to voters
Crop-switching in the megadrought: Can guayule help Arizona farmers use less water?
“This year, farmers in Pinal County, Arizona, will lose two-thirds of their irrigation water from the Colorado River because of a historic shortage declaration triggered by the driest period in more than 1,000 years. And within two years, they will be completely cut off from the Colorado River. Some farmers are responding by fallowing fields. Others are selling their land to solar companies. And then there’s Will Thelander, a farmer who partnered with EDF, Bridgestone Americas and the University of Arizona to test a new crop that uses half as much water as the alfalfa he previously grew. … ” Read more from EDF’s Growing Returns here: Crop-switching in the megadrought: Can guayule help Arizona farmers use less water?
Signs from Colorado snowpack troubling for Las Vegas water supply
“Without water from the Colorado River, modern Las Vegas couldn’t exist. Our community gets about 90% of its water from the river, but after two decades of drought and climate change, the river is in trouble. Brian Domonokos was educated to be an engineer, but you wouldn’t be wrong if you called him a professional snowman. He’s a supervisor for the Colorado snow survey, a crucial program carried out by a little-known federal agency, the Natural Resources Conservation Service. It monitors and measures snowfall in the Rockies. “The critical time frame is pretty much about now to April, late April,” he tells 8 News Now. … ” Continue reading from Channel 8 here: Signs from Colorado snowpack troubling for Las Vegas water supply
Commentary: Don’t blame the Upper Basin states
George Sibley, a contributor to Writers on the Range, writes, “Kyle Roerink’s recent “Writers on the Range” opinion (“A dangerous game of chicken on the Colorado River”) reminds one of Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s 1983 caution in a Washington Post op-ed: “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” Roerink, who heads the Great Basin Water Network, claims that the Upper Colorado River Basin states are shirking their responsibilities while the Lower Basin states valiantly work to grapple with the ongoing basin-wide drought. “With (reservoir) water savings gone,” he says, “the Lower Basin has been trying to cope, though the Upper Basin carries on business as usual.” “Business as usual” in the Upper Basin has always been dealing with the realities of an erratic river, the annual flows of which can go from 5.8 million acre-feet in 1977 to 24.8 million acre-feet in 1984. The Upper Basin lives with that reality, dry years and wet. ... ” Read more from the Lake Powell Chronicle here: Commentary: Don’t blame the Upper Basin states
Lake Powell’s storage capacity updated for first time since 1986
“A new report released today and compiled by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in cooperation with the Bureau of Reclamation provides updated information on Lake Powell’s storage capacity. The report confirms Lake Powell has lost 4% of its potential storage capacity since 1986, when the last survey was completed, and 6.79% since 1963, when the diversion tunnels of Glen Canyon Dam closed and the reservoir began to fill. The loss is largely due to sediments continuously transported by the Colorado and San Juan rivers settling on the reservoir bottom. “It is vitally important we have the best-available scientific information like this report to provide a clear understanding of water availability in Lake Powell as we plan for the future,” said Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Tanya Trujillo. “The Colorado River system faces multiple challenges, including the effects of a 22-year-long drought and the increased impacts of climate change.” ... ” Read more from the Bureau of Reclamation here: Lake Powell’s storage capacity updated for first time since 1986
The field report: The Clean Water Act has failed to curb ag pollution
“According to a damning new report, about half of the country’s rivers, streams, lakes, and ponds are classified as “impaired,” and farm pollution is the primary cause. “[The] failure to confront agriculture . . . is probably the biggest program failure in the Clean Water Act,” said Eric Schaeffer, executive director of the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP), the organization behind the report, at a recent press conference. In 1972—just two years after Richard Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the inaugural Earth Day was celebrated—Congress passed the Clean Water Act with the goal of making all of America’s waters “fishable and swimmable” again by 1983 and to eliminate pollution entirely by 1985. And the law did lead to significant progress in cleaning up waterways, says Schaeffer, who served as the director of civil enforcement at the EPA prior to his role at EIP. … ” Continue reading at Civil Eats here: The field report: The Clean Water Act has failed to curb ag pollution
CRS Report: Supreme Court revisits scope of “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) under the Clean Water Act
“On January 24, 2022, the Supreme Court agreed to review Sackett v. EPA, a long-running dispute regarding whether certain wetlands are “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) subject to protection under the Clean Water Act (CWA). In Sackett, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Ninth Circuit) upheld the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) assertion of jurisdiction over certain wetlands because the wetlands are WOTUS under a standard described in a prior Supreme Court decision. The precise definition of WOTUS is important because it determines which waters are subject to federal government regulations and protections. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and EPA—the two agencies tasked with implementing the CWA—use the definition of WOTUS to determine which water bodies are subject to a variety of requirements under the statute, including coverage in CWA permitting programs. … ” Read the full report from CRS here: Supreme Court revisits scope of “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) under the Clean Water Act
EPA Report: The Case for Stormwater Capture and Use
“As America’s water managers embrace the challenges of climate change and associated risks to water supply, a distinctfocus to date has been on increasing supply through wastewater reuse and desalination. Increasingly, though, we arerecognizing the great potential to harvest, treat, and use stormwater and rainwater to address supply vulnerabilities, improve water quality, reduce flooding risk, and achieve other co-benefits in urban areas. In some parts of the country, this potential is being realized through successful implementation of both small- and large-scale projects to harvest stormwater and rainwater for consumptive use. This report lays the groundwork for establishing a unified community of practice around stormwater capture and use and a strategic framework for coordinated action to address the most important challenges to widespread stormwater capture and use implementation in urban areas.” Read the report from the EPA here: EPA Report: The Case for Stormwater Capture and Use
Groundwater – the invisible resource that must be protected
“Today is World Water Day, a time to both celebrate water and raise awareness of the 2 billion people living without access to safe water. This year the day focuses on groundwater – the essential global freshwater resource that lays out of sight and under our feet. Formed underground in the cracks and spaces in soil, sand and rock, groundwater is stored in and moves slowly through geologic formations of soil, sand and rocks called aquifers. Almost all of the freshwater in the world is groundwater, and in the driest parts of the world it may be the only water available to the people living there. ... ” Read more from the Cosmos here: Groundwater – the invisible resource that must be protected
Pharmaceuticals found in rivers on all continents
“Many of us take medicine, whether to fight an infection or get rid of a headache. Our bodies don’t fully break down many of these drugs, and they pass through our systems and into our wastewater. Leaky pipes leach pharmaceuticals into rivers and streams before they can be removed at wastewater treatment facilities. Those facilities are often inefficient and overburdened. That doesn’t even get into all of the unused medication that gets tossed. Now, a team of more than 100 scientists from all over the world has shown that the drugs we take are coursing through rivers on every continent—even Antarctica. … ” Read more from EOS here: Pharmaceuticals found in rivers on all continents
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.