DAILY DIGEST, 5/24: Newsom urges aggressive action as historic drought looms over summer; CA Senate proposes $2 billion program to balance water supply and water rights; Tracking water storage for Sierra Nevada and Upper Colorado River Basins; Sustaining steelhead populations in the Bay Area’s backyard; and more …


On the calendar today …

  • MEETING: State Water Resources Control Board will meet beginning at 9:30am. Agenda items include consideration of a proposed resolution regarding a Drought-Related Emergency Regulation for Water Conservation, an update from the Delta Watermaster, and the quarterly Delta Lead Scientist report. Click here for the full agenda and remote access instructions.
  • WEBCAST: Integrating Water Quality Management and Natural Hazard Resilience through Nature Based Solutions from 10am to 12:30pm.  This webinar features professionals from across the country that are conducting projects that promote both water quality and hazard resilience. Speakers will discuss a variety work, including urban green infrastructure and large-scale floodplain restoration projects that address water quality and flood concerns, as well as research on how communities can integrate nature-based practices into their planning and resource management. Speakers will discuss partnerships they have built across agencies and organizations, and the creative funding strategies that have been used to support this work.  Presented by the EPA.  Click here to register.
  • WEBINAR: Salton Sea Water Quality from 12pm to 1pm. Salton Sea water quality continues to change as the Sea recedes, affecting fish and invertebrates and the design and function of habitat projects atop the lakebed. Recently, information on Salton Sea water quality has been limited. Join a Pacific Institute webinar on Tuesday, May 24 at noon PDT to learn from a panel of experts on nutrient loadings in the Sea’s major tributaries, changes in nutrient concentrations in the Sea itself, the sulfur cycle and trace metals in the Sea, selenium, and the role of the local water quality regulator. Speakers include Dr. Tim Lyons, UC Riverside; Meng-Chen Lee, UCLA; Dr. Ryan Sinclair, Loma Linda University; Caroline Hung, UC Riverside; Paula Rasmussen, RWQCB; and Dr. Susan De La Cruz, USGS. Click here to register.

In California drought news today …

Press release: Governor Newsom convenes summit with local water leaders, urges more aggressive response to ongoing drought

Today, Governor Gavin Newsom convened leaders from the state’s largest urban water suppliers, which cover two thirds of Californians, and water associations imploring them to take more aggressive actions to combat drought and better engage their customers to ensure all Californians are doing their part to save water.  After the last drought, local water agencies pushed for greater flexibility on water conservation and drought response based on regional needs and water supplies, arguing that tailored local approaches would be more effective than statewide mandates. Governor Newsom has embraced this localized approach, but voiced concerns today given recent conservation levels around the state, and called on  water agencies to step up efforts to reduce water use amid extreme drought conditions.  Governor Newsom warned that if this localized approach to conservation does not result in a significant reduction in water use statewide this summer, the state could be forced to enact mandatory restrictions.  The Governor will reconvene these same agencies in the next two months to provide an update on their progress. … ”  Read more from the Office of the Governor here: Press release: Governor Newsom convenes summit with local water leaders, urges more aggressive response to ongoing drought

Newsom urges aggressive action as historic drought looms over summer

Leaders from California’s largest urban water suppliers and associations met with Governor Gavin Newsom on Monday to discuss aggressive actions to combat drought.  Per Newsom’s direction, the state’s Water Resources Control Board may vote on a statewide ban on watering “nonfunctional turf” in a meeting Tuesday.   The western United States is experiencing one of the most extensive droughts on record, a symptom of the climate change crisis. According to the California Department of Water Resources, January through March were the driest first three months in recorded state history. The largest reservoirs are at half of their historical averages, and the state’s snowpack stands at just 14% of average. The 2021 water year has so far been one of the most devastating and meteorologists across the state have reported lower rainfall than is needed to fill reservoirs. ... ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  Newsom urges aggressive action as historic drought looms over summer

SEE ALSO:

More California water curtailments and rural land market continues surge

State officials in California are warning water-rights holders that they should expect more curtailments during the peak irrigation season in June and July.  That word from the state Division of Water Rights was the latest bad news for farmers and ranchers facing a third straight year of drought.  California Farm Bureau analysts say they’re seeing unprecedented levels of water cutbacks and water-rights curtailments throughout the system. ... ”  Read more from Ag Net West here:  More California water curtailments and rural land market continues surge

Western drought will impact all Americans

The U.S. is facing yet another record-breaking drought year in the West. Farmers and ranchers in some of these areas are receiving little to no water from federal water projects as they enter the dry summer months.  Meanwhile, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has decreased and destabilized worldwide agricultural commodity production and availability. Rising input costs, combined with the ongoing energy and supply chain crises, continue to impact food supply and demand.  “We’re seeing reports that the war in Ukraine, sanctions and destroyed ports could take nearly 30% of the world’s grain supply out of production or off the market this year,” Family Farm Alliance Executive Director Dan Keppen recently said at a Congressional drought forum hosted by House GOP Members.  All of the above factors have combined to cause significant inflation – food prices alone have increased 9 percent this year – that will impact all Americans. ... ”  Read more from Cal Ag Today here: Western drought will impact all Americans

SEE ALSO: Why you should care about extreme drought in the southwest, even if you don’t live there, from Bob Vila

Radio show: One Planet: California’s ongoing drought & new water restrictions

On this edition of Your Call’s One Planet series, we’re discussing the West’s water crisis. Maps from the US Drought Monitor show nearly all of the West is experiencing a drought, and 95 percent of California is suffering severe or extreme drought.  Californians emerged from the driest January, February and March on record with the biggest jump in water use since the drought began: a nearly 19 percent increase in March compared to two years earlier.  Starting in June, about six million people in Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Ventura counties will be required to dramatically reduce outdoor water use. Environmental advocates from organizations like Food & Water Watch say California Governor Gavin Newsom should prioritize equity in water distribution by also focusing on the agriculture industry, which accounts for roughly 40 percent of the total water used in the state.”  Listen to radio show from KALW here (14:03):  One Planet: California’s ongoing drought & new water restrictions

Paper: Lessons from California’s 2012–2016 Drought

California’s 5-year drought has ended, even as its aftermath lingers. From 2012–2016 much or all of California was under severe drought conditions, with greatly diminished precipitation, snowpack, and streamflow and higher temperatures. Water shortages to forests, aquatic ecosystems, hydroelectric power plants, rural drinking water supplies, agriculture, and cities caused billions of dollars in economic losses, killed millions of forest trees, brought several fish species closer to extinction, and caused inconvenience and some expense to millions of households and businesses. The drought also brought innovations and improvements in water management, some of which will better prepare California for future droughts. This paper summarizes the magnitude and impacts of the 2012–2016 California drought. The paper then reviews innovations arising from the drought in the larger historical context of water management in California. Lessons for California and for modern drought management are then discussed. … ”  Read paper at the American Society of Civil Engineers here: Paper: Lessons from California’s 2012–2016 Drought

In other California water news today …

California Senate proposes $2 billion program to balance water supply and water rights

The California Senate has proposed a $2 billion reconciliation framework to rebalance water supply and water rights, as part of proposed investments of $7.5 billion in state and federal funds spread over three years for climate resiliency. It is the most sweeping land retirement proposal since the landmark 1992 Central Valley Project Improvement Act.  According to the May 10 report of the California Senate Budget Subcommittee on Resources, Environmental Protection and Energy:  The proposal includes $2 billion to rebalance state water supply and water rights, including ... ” Continue reading at California Water Research here: California Senate proposes $2 billion program to balance water supply and water rights

Tracking water storage for Sierra Nevada and Upper Colorado River Basins

Mountain snowpacks provide an “extra” form of water storage in California and across the Western US, acting as natural reservoirs that hold winter precipitation (as snow) from the cold wet season for release as snowmelt in the warm dry seasons when water demands for human and environmental uses, including irrigation, are high. The combination of water stored as snow and water stored in human-built reservoirs therefore is a useful indicator of developing droughts, persistent droughts, and the termination of droughts in many water-supply systems of the western states. In a winter when reservoir storage is unusually low but snowpacks are unusually rich, it would be easy to imagine that a drought is occurring or soon to develop, if only the reservoir storage is reported. Conversely, in a winter when snowpack is lacking but reservoir storage is high (e.g., with the streamflows from a preceding wet year, like Lake Tahoe in water 2020), it is easy to anticipate that a drought is coming, if only snowpack is considered. Remarkably, in most reservoir trackers, snow and reservoirs are reported separately.  … ”  Continue reading from Scripps Oceanography here: Tracking water storage for Sierra Nevada and Upper Colorado River Basins

Reclamation announces public meeting regarding the 2021 Reinitiation of Consultation on the Long-Term Operation of the Central Valley Project and State Water Project

“The Bureau of Reclamation will hold a quarterly meeting on June 14 between 1–3 p.m. to provide an update on the development of the Biological Assessment for the 2021 Reinitiation of Consultation on the Long-Term Operation of the Central Valley Project and State Water Project. The meeting will be held virtually on Microsoft Teams and will cover information received during the public scoping process. For meeting materials, including the link to the meeting, please see www.usbr.gov/mp/bdo. Materials will be posted one week prior to the meeting. For further information, please contact Dr. Cynthia Meyer at cameyer@usbr.gov.

Garamendi secures wins for Bay Area and Delta Infrastructure in Water Resources Development Act of 2022

Today, Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA), who represents Solano Country and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in the 3rd Congressional District, released the following statement on the passage of the “Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2022” (H.R.7776) in the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure:  “The biennial Water Resources Development Act strengthens flood protection, water resources, precious ecosystems, and more in communities across California and the nation,” Garamendi said. “As a senior member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I was pleased to secure several provisions in this bill to create local jobs by directing new federal investments into Mare Island, restore Bay Area wetlands, bolster flood control for local communities like Woodland, enhance environmental restoration efforts at Lake Tahoe, and more. I will now work tirelessly to ensure this legislation passes Congress and is signed into law this year.” … ”  Read more from Congressman John Garamendi’s office here: Garamendi secures wins for Bay Area and Delta Infrastructure in Water Resources Development Act of 2022

Full quantification of water rights not required for CEQA review, Second District declares

On March 22, 2022, the Second District Court of Appeal published its Opinion in Buena Vista Water Storage District v. Kern Water Bank Authority, upholding the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the Kern Water Bank Authority’s Conservation and Storage Project (“Project”) and reversing the trial court’s ruling. The Project proposes to divert up to 500,000 acre-feet-per-year (AFY) from the Kern River for recharge, storage, and later recovery within the Kern Water Bank. Buena Vista Water Storage District (“Buena Vista”) filed a Petition for Writ of Mandate attacking the EIR on several grounds focused on the allegation that the Kern Water Bank Authority (KWBA) was required to calculate and quantify existing water rights on the Kern River in order for the EIR’s analysis to pass muster under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The Ventura County Superior Court agreed, holding that quantifying water rights—beyond assessment of historical physical diversions—was necessary to the EIR’s project description, environmental baseline, and analysis of the Project’s impacts on water supply. The Second Appellate District reversed, holding that CEQA does not require a quantification of existing water rights—it need only address actual historical diversions of water. … ”  Read more from Downey Brand here: Full quantification of water rights not required for CEQA review, Second District declares

The reservoirs under our feet

When you picture water storage, a water tower on slanted stilts imposed upon a blue sky or a concrete reservoir piping water to the city might come to mind. The issue of water storage has become a high priority as regions such as California experience severe multi-year drought and are impacted by overextraction from aquifers. Reducing municipal water use and streamlining stormwater capture are essential practices, but what we can miss in this conversation is how natural solutions can create comprehensive positive impact. The most climate resilient and long-term strategies to address water shortage lie at our feet, in the meadows that anchor our rivers headwaters and floodplains that extend across the broad lower river valleys. … ”  Read more from American Rivers here: The reservoirs under our feet

California faces summer blackouts from climate extremes

For the next five summers, extreme heat and other climate change impacts will threaten the reliability of California’s electrical grid, state officials said Friday.  Available electricity supplies might not be able to keep up with demand if heat waves hit, droughts make hydropower less available or wildfires reduce electricity transmission, staff of the California Energy Commission (CEC) and California Public Utilities Commission advised agency leaders.  Energy planners fear a combination of those warming impacts also arrive at the same time. CEC Vice Chair Siva Gunda reminded officials Friday that “securing energy reliability is a tremendous responsibility” as the climate changes. ... ”  Read more from Scientific American here: California faces summer blackouts from climate extremes

Pacific Northwest: The U.S. has spent more than $2 billion on a plan to save salmon. The fish are vanishing anyway.

Today, there are hundreds of hatcheries in the Northwest run by federal, state and tribal governments, employing thousands and welcoming the community with visitor centers and gift shops. The fish they send to the Pacific Ocean have allowed restaurants and grocery seafood counters to offer “wild-caught” Chinook salmon even as the fish became endangered.  The hatcheries were supposed to stop the decline of salmon. They haven’t. The numbers of each of the six salmon species native to the Columbia basin have dropped to a fraction of what they once were, and 13 distinct populations are now considered threatened or endangered. Nearly 250 million young salmon, most of them from hatcheries, head to the ocean each year — roughly three times as many as before any dams were built. But the return rate today is less than one-fifth of what it was decades ago. Out of the million salmon eggs fertilized at Carson, only a few thousand will survive their journey to the ocean and return upriver as adults, where they can provide food and income for fishermen or give birth to a new generation. … ”  Continue reading at Pro Publica here: The U.S. has spent more than $2 billion on a plan to save salmon. The fish are vanishing anyway.

The 2022-2026 Science Action Agenda: Prioritizing Integrated Science

After nearly two years of a collaborative effort led by the Delta Stewardship Council’s Delta Science Program, the wait is finally over. We’re excited and proud to present the final 2022-2026 SAA for the Delta. The SAA plays a unique and unifying role: it brings together the Delta science community to prioritize Science Actions to help address knowledge gaps and uncertainties critical to management, over a four- to five-year timeframe.  For this SAA, we aimed to facilitate a robust, transparent, and collaborative process and provided multiple opportunities for public participation. Scientists, managers, and those with a stake in the Delta were invited to participate in two public workshops, four online surveys, and four review periods and were engaged in various collaborative venues. The collaborative process was a critical component of this SAA and built on the success of the 2017-2021 SAA, which guided over $35 million from the Council and its partners for management-relevant research. … ”  Read more from the Delta Stewardship Council here: The 2022-2026 Science Action Agenda: Prioritizing Integrated Science

Microfiber pollution: Project raises awareness and gives students an extensive, meaningful research experience as undergraduates

Bits of your pants, shirts, socks and fleece jackets are polluting local waters. Cal Lutheran biology students have discovered this disturbing fashion dilemma as part of a scientific research project.  For the past four years, CLU biology professor Andrea Huvard, PhD, has guided dozens of students in a long-term research project: They are studying the presence of microfibers in the ocean, sediments and marine animals around Southern California.  Microfibers, a subcategory of microplastics, are tiny fibers that come from synthetic clothing made of polyester, acrylic and nylon (these materials represent about 60% of all clothes made around the world). When you clean these garments, the microfibers end up in a washing machine’s gray water, and ultimately the ocean, where they don’t break down.  The CLU biology students are learning how polluted local waters are, and what animals are ingesting these microfibers, among other things. … ”  Continue reading from Cal Lutheran University here: Microfiber pollution: Project raises awareness and gives students an extensive, meaningful research experience as undergraduates

NWS: Red Flag Warning issued for parts of Northern California with high temperatures, dry conditions

It’s a hot and dry start to the workweek. The National Weather Service issued a Red Flag Warning for parts of Northern California that starts Monday at 11 a.m. and continues through Wednesday at 11 a.m.  According to the NWS, the Red Flag Warning was issued for the Sacramento Valley, Delta and portions of the foothills, from the Vacaville and Sacramento areas all the way through Redding.  Monday’s temperatures are expected to hit the mid to upper 90s, with possible triple digits on Tuesday and Wednesday. Temperatures will cool down after that, with temperatures in the 80s starting on Thursday. … ”  Read more from KRON here: NWS: Red Flag Warning issued for parts of Northern California with high temperatures, dry conditions

California is beginning to bury its power lines to prevent wildfire

Etched in dirt, a narrow furrow is the only clue that the grasslands of Lime Ridge Open Space will soon be restored to their original splendor, cleared of dangerous power lines that could ignite nearby subdivisions.  The undergrounding project, costing $3.75 million a mile, represents the beginning of a 10,000-mile-long effort by Pacific Gas and Electric to bury the state’s distribution lines to cope with the growing risk of winds and wildfires linked to global warming.  “It is a one-time investment to eliminate essentially all ignition risk related to power lines, with the added benefit of reducing reliability issues,” said Jamie Martin, who oversees PG&E’s undergrounding initiative. “It’s permanent risk reduction.”  The utility long resisted calls to bury its power lines as being too costly. ... ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here: California is beginning to bury its power lines to prevent wildfire

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In commentary today …

Gov. Newsom still agitating for urban water restrictions while ignoring 50% state’s water sent to the Pacific

Katy Grimes writes, “One year ago, May 21, 2021, the Globe reported “Facing Dry Year, CA State Water Board is Draining California Reservoirs.” And that was before the disastrous fires last year.  It is 2022 and California’s reservoirs are still being drained by state officials, and we are still facing a tough fire season.  California reservoirs were designed to provide a steady five year supply for all users, and were filled to the top in June 2019. We had 5-7 years of water in those reservoirs had the state not drained them, even in the face of a drought.  Putting a relatable number on the crisis, Central Valley farmer Kristi Diener said: “In the last 14 days, 90% of Delta inflow went to sea. It’s equal to a year’s supply of water for 1 million people. #ManMadeDrought. … ”  Read more from the California Globe here: Gov. Newsom still agitating for urban water restrictions while ignoring 50% state’s water sent to the Pacific

Editorial: California’s water shortage requires updates in technology, law — and mindset

The LA Times editorial board writes, “Californians responded to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s request for voluntary water conservation earlier this year by using more, not less. On Monday, Newsom said mandatory cutbacks could be coming.  Already, residents face sharp new outdoor water restrictions June 1, and serious doubts over whether those limits will be enough to cope with a historic water shortage. It’s a good time to imagine the ideal California of the future, in which information technology and rational pricing make water conservation simple, understandable and a common way of life. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: Editorial: California’s water shortage requires updates in technology, law — and mindset

The Abundance Choice, Part 6: Biased, hostile media

Edward Ring, a contributing editor and senior fellow with the California Policy Center, writes, “You can say this for Michael Hiltzik, Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for the Los Angeles Times, he doesn’t conceal his biases. When we talked back in late November 2021, his skepticism towards our initiative felt overt. And while that may have only been my subjective impression of our conversation, Hiltzik’s column, published as a “Perspective” piece by the Times on December 2, removed all doubt.  Entitled “This proposed ballot measure would make you pay for the ag industry’s water inefficiency,” and featured on page two of the print edition’s front section, Hiltzik fired an 1,800 word salvo at our campaign, making assertions, starting with the title, that were designed from beginning to end to convince readers that we were pushing a terrible idea.  In one of the opening paragraphs, Hiltzik wrote “In California, water is for scamming. … ”  Read more from the California Globe here: The Abundance Choice, Part 6: Biased, hostile media

California Jews, enough with your green, grassy cemeteries

Rob Eshman, national editor of the Forward, writes, “Jewish law has a lot to say about what’s supposed to happen when you die: your lifeless body must be washed and buried quickly, with a simple headstone to mark your grave.  But nowhere, in 4,000 years of Jewish law, custom or tradition does it say you need to rest eternally under bright, green grass.  As California struggles with the West’s longest megadrought in 1,200 years, emergency water conservation rules are set to take effect on June 1. Yet cemeteries in L.A., including the three largest Jewish ones, remain as grassy and green as a Scottish golf course.  It’s not a good look. … ”  Read more from Jewish News of Northern California here: California Jews, enough with your green, grassy cemeteries

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In regional water news and commentary today …

NORTH COAST

Spot check: Upper Klamath River

Michael Weir writes, “Soon the upper Klamath River will change forever, again. As you probably already know, the four mainstem dams on the Klamath River are slated to be removed. This will be the largest river restoration project in history. No one knows exactly how the river will respond in the short term, but I think just about everybody can agree that the long-term benefits will be numerable. One thing is for sure, the area that is most well-known on the Klamath is the area that will also most likely experience the greatest amount of change right away. This stretch is what I consider the upper Klamath even though it’s really the middle of the Klamath river system. I’m talking from Happy Camp to Iron Gate dam. I call this the upper Klamath because it’s the upper most reach that salmon and steelhead can currently reach. … ”  Read more from Cal Trout here: Spot check: Upper Klamath River

Listen: The conservation case for emergency rules on groundwater in the Scott and Shasta basins

The fish need the water, the farmers and ranchers need the water, and the fish win. Because coho salmon are on the Endangered Species List in the region, and the Scott and Shasta Rivers are important to their survival. The State of California put emergency rules in place governing groundwater around those rivers, and the people in agriculture take exception. We hear the environmental side of the issue in this interview. Craig Tucker, Natural Resources Policy Advocate for the Karuk Tribe, lays out the importance of the water for the fish and the broader ecosystem, joined by Brook Thompson, Environmental Engineer with Save California Salmon and Yurok and Karuk tribal member.”  Listen at Jefferson Public Radio here: Listen: The conservation case for emergency rules on groundwater in the Scott and Shasta basins

Restoring Shasta River tributary to benefit wild salmon

Parks Creek is a critical tributary to the Shasta River and represents an ideal opportunity to recover wild salmon in the Mid-Klamath Basin.  The Shasta River was historically one of the most productive salmon streams in California. Groundwater from cold, nutrient-rich springs provided nearly ideal aquatic habitat conditions that supported large Chinook and coho salmon populations. But more than a century of aquatic and riparian habitat degradation along the Shasta River and its tributaries—including Parks Creek—has resulted in dramatic declines in wild salmon populations. … ”  Read more from Cal Trout here: Restoring Shasta River tributary to benefit wild salmon

CalTrout’s legal strategy affirms commitment to Potter Valley Project Solution

CalTrout prides itself in working jointly with stakeholders of all types- landowners, water users, utility agencies, etc.- to find collaborative solutions to complicated natural resource issues. This cooperative approach has served as the hallmark for CalTrout’s strategy thus far in handling the Potter Valley Project (PVP). Owned by PG&E, PVP is a century old hydropower and water diversion project on California’s Eel River, consisting of Scott and Cape Horn dams that have caused severe degradation to the watershed. CalTrout and others recognized a unique opportunity to steer the future of the Eel River back toward robust fisheries and a healthy watershed with the removal of both Eel River dams. To do this, we focused our efforts on building trust, forming strong partnerships, and working proactively with PG&E.   However, due to major obstacles and lack of forward progress, we turned to an alternative strategy in CalTrout’s toolbox. … ”  Read more from Cal Trout here:   CalTrout’s legal strategy affirms commitment to Potter Valley Project Solution

SEE ALSO: Potter Valley Project As We Know It Is Dead, from the Anderson Valley Advertiser

MOUNTAIN COUNTIES

The boat ramps closed in Lake Tahoe this summer

With the holiday weekend coming up a lot of people are expected to be in Lake Tahoe for boating and other summer activities. There are a few boat ramps that will be closed this weekend that could impact their plans.  Because of the lack of precipitation, a majority of boat ramps in Lake Tahoe will be closed this summer for motorized vessels. Even with the winter weather we had just a few weeks ago, it only raised the lake about an inch. Tahoe’s Region Manager mentioned water levels would have to rise at least a for motorized vehicles to safely launch. … ”  Read more from KOLO here: The boat ramps closed in Lake Tahoe this summer

Tuolumne Utilities District releases its annual water quality report. Here’s what it says

Tuolumne Utilities District has released its annual water quality report which covers testing of treated drinking water that was sampled in 2021, as required by federal law.  An excess of iron was detected at a Cedar Ridge well that was used for about five weeks total in 2021. A TUD representative said iron is a secondary substance tested to protect the odor, taste, and appearance of drinking water.  Because the well was used to provide only 6% of the water TUD delivered in 2021 to about 675 Cedar Ridge connections, excess iron over about five weeks out of the year was not enough to cause rusty color, sediment, metallic taste, or reddish, orange staining. … ”  Read more from the Union Democrat here: Tuolumne Utilities District releases its annual water quality report. Here’s what it says

SACRAMENTO VALLEY

Chico, Oroville enter new phase of water conservation

As the California drought worsens, local water agencies are tightening down on restrictions for usage while the state continues to monitor its resources.  Cal Water, which handles much of the local water, announced Monday that both Chico and Oroville will be entering what the company is calling Stage 2 of its Water Shortage Contingency Plan.  With the shift comes a list of stricter irrigation rules.  Cal Water District Manager for Chico Evan Markey said the rules are there to protect water resources as the drought continues.  “We have been preparing for these increasingly serious drought conditions, and Stage 2 of our Water Shortage Contingency Plan helps us conserve while continuing to support our customers and provide quality, service and value to them,” Markey said. “We offer Chico and Oroville customers a variety of conservation programs and encourage them to take advantage of these resources to help save water every day.” … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here: Chico, Oroville enter new phase of water conservation

Triple-digit temperatures, strong winds bring increased fire risk to Sacramento Valley through Wednesday morning

A new red flag warning for increased wildfire risk will be in effect throughout the Sacramento Valley, Delta and Sierra Foothills starting Monday at 11 a.m. and running through 11 a.m. Wednesday.  The National Weather Service is forecasting temperatures in the 90s to low 100s in the Central Valley through Wednesday. Those dry conditions paired with strong north winds up to 35 mph makes it more likely for any fire to start and spread over the coming days. … ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here: Triple-digit temperatures, strong winds bring increased fire risk to Sacramento Valley through Wednesday morning

Davis city leaders consider enforcing new water restrictions

The city of Davis could be getting a jump start on the impending water restrictions — and cars may soon be a little dirtier.  City leaders are considering new restrictions on how people wash their vehicles, but under the city’s level-two water shortage measures, using a garden hose to clean your car will no longer be allowed.  “I think they should do that because it saves water and helps the environment,” one resident said.  “I don’t think they’re going to save a lot of water by doing that,” another resident said. … ”  Read more from CBS 13 here: Davis city leaders consider enforcing new water restrictions

Garamendi adds provisions to water bill to help Solano, Delta region

Rep. John Garamendi secured a number of provisions Monday in the “Water Resources Development Act” through the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure that could affect Solano County, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, Northern California and the state.  “The biennial Water Resources Development Act strengthens flood protection, water resources, precious ecosystems and more in communities across California and the nation,” Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, said in a press release from his office. … ”  Read more from the Daily Republic here: Garamendi adds provisions to water bill to help Solano, Delta region

BAY AREA

Sustaining steelhead populations in the Bay Area’s backyard

The sun is shining —a rare fog free day on the coast of San Mateo County, California. Patrick Samuel, CalTrout’s Bay Area Region Director, leads a group of CalTrout members and some staff, imparting us with his wealth of knowledge of this area.   We are standing on ancestral Ohlone Tribal land in the parking lot of Pescadero State Beach with the wind rushing towards us from across the ocean. To our east, Pescadero Marsh lies resting in the sun. To our west, its water flows lazily out to sea via the mouths of Pescadero Creek and Butano Creek converging. This place is special for a number of reasons: it is one of the best remaining habitats for coastal steelhead in the Bay Area, it offers unparalleled opportunity for anglers, and is also beautiful enough to steal your breath. … ”  Read more from Cal Trout here: Sustaining steelhead populations in the Bay Area’s backyard

A water-stressed valley needs to curb development

In my drought- and fire-plagued home valley, 40 miles north of San Francisco, a debate has been simmering for decades over a massive development planned on state-owned property.  The conflict is focused on nearly 1,000 acres of rural and wildland in Sonoma Valley. .. Now the state, working with Sonoma County’s planning staff, proposes to transform the former Center into a “vibrant, mixed-use community.” Its retail shops, offices, and some 900 new housing units would augment the valley’s wineries, tourism, manufacturing, and small businesses.  But in a time and place of growing aridity, the proposal reads like a pipe dream. … ”  Read more from Writers on the Range here: A water-stressed valley needs to curb development

SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY

Commentary: New Melones modeling & megadroughts: Setting stage for state’s water Armageddon

Dennis Wyatt, editor of the Manteca Bulletin, writes, “New Melones Reservoir is the proverbial canary in the mine when it comes to where state water policy wedded with the return of megadroughts is taking California.  Using historical hydrology data on the Stanislaus River basin between 1922 and 2019:  Based on current regulatory rules New Melones Reservoir would fall below 250,000 acre feet of storage in 3 out of the 98 years.  Based on the pending State Water Quality Control Plan and the 40 percent unimpaired flow requirement that will help boost the combined numbers of Chinook salmon on the Stanislaus, Merced, and Tuolumne rivers by 1,500 annually, New Melones Reservoir would fall below 250,000 acre feet in 20 out of 98 years.  A few things to add to the mix: … ”  Continue reading at the Manteca Bulletin here: Commentary: New Melones modeling & megadroughts: Setting stage for state’s water Armageddon

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

Palmdale Water District hosting water conservation workshop

Palmdale Water District customers interested in learning how to navigate the new water restrictions are invited to attend the District’s “Let’s Talk H2O” event, on Thursday. Participants will learn about the District’s new mandatory water conservation guidelines, with detailed information about how the new rules will be enforced. “We have been asking customers for the past year to voluntarily conserve water to help during the drought,” PWD Research and Analytics Director Peter Thompson Jr. said. “As we experienced more dry weather this year, it is critical that everyone becomes aware of the seriousness of our current drought and make an extra effort at using water wisely. The best way is to use a lot less water for outdoor watering.”  … ”  Read more from the Antelope Valley Press here: Palmdale Water District hosting water conservation workshop

Outdoor watering restrictions cause panic

Property owners in the Santa Monica Mountains and nearby communities worried about the upcoming mandate severely restricting outdoor water usage were given answers and tips on how to comply at a town hall organized by the Las Virgenes Municipal Water District (LVMWD). Legitimate concerns about brown lawns and brush dry hillsides in fire-prone areas prompted more than 1,000 homeowners to attend LVMWDs virtual meeting May 11.  LVMWDs General Manager David Pedersen explained the water agency has no choice but to follow the Metropolitan Water District’s mandate starting June 1 that limits outdoor watering to just one day a week. ... ”  Read more from the Malibu Times here:  Outdoor watering restrictions cause panic

SoCal needs to keep vital trees alive despite unprecedented watering restrictions

The lowly sidewalk tree often stands invisible. We rest in its shade, bask in the scent of springtime flowers, and we don’t notice it until it’s gone.  But the tree works hard. It captures and filters stormwater runoff and helps replenish groundwater. It cleans our air and cools our neighborhoods. It improves our mental health. It saves lives.  With Southern California officials clamping down on outdoor water use amid worsening drought, the message is clear: It’s fine for lawns to go brown, but we need to keep trees alive and healthy.  “Trees are long-term investments in the health and well-being of our neighborhoods and require some water to withstand periods of reduced rainfall, but they pay us back in tremendous benefits,” said city forest officer Rachel Malarich. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: SoCal needs to keep vital trees alive despite unprecedented watering restrictions

My angle: Prince of fish in the City of Angels

Molly Ancel, Outreach and Education Coordinator, writes, “It’s a rainy evening in Pasadena, California and I’m in a theater lobby. CalTrout is hosting a screening of the International Fly Fishing Film Festival and folks from all over Los Angeles are filtering in to see the show. There are both long-time supporters of CalTrout and folks new to us in attendance.    Haissam Badawi is one of those new to us (“pronounced Hi-sum, like slice ‘em,” Haissam says to me). After a brief introduction, we start chatting about Haissam’s son Ali, the fisherman of the family, who is at the show with him.   Haissam tells me about Ali’s ongoing interest in fishing, and his discipline in pursuit of this interest. He tells me that Ali won first place in the Los Angeles County Science Fair’s physics (hydrodynamics) division with a project on discovering which fly structure sticks to water’s surface tension the most.  … ”  Read more from Cal Trout here: My angle: Prince of fish in the City of Angels

IMPERIAL/COACHELLA VALLEYS

Viva Salton:  Will Annette Morales Roe’s plan to import water to the Salton Sea sink or swim?

Annette Morales Roe learned how to waterski off the north shore of the Salton Sea in the 1960s. She didn’t grow up in the Coachella Valley, but her parents owned a vacation home here, and they often visited the sea for sun-drenched fun. … Over time, inflow waned, salinity spiked, and agricultural runoff contaminated the water, causing fish and bird die-offs whose wretched stenches have become legendary.  By the time Roe returned to the Coachella Valley with her husband 26 years ago to live in La Quinta, the shallow, landlocked Salton Sea, which formed in 1905 when inflow from the Colorado River filled the dry ancient lakebed, had become a beleaguered murk — a looming health and environmental crisis that has finally reached its moment of truth.  Now, Roe is certain that she knows how to fix the problem — and has the team to do it. … ”  Read the full article at Palm Springs Life here: Viva Salton:  Will Annette Morales Roe’s plan to import water to the Salton Sea sink or swim?

SAN DIEGO

East County water-recycling project could be delayed

““It’s not right,” said Allen Carlisle, the administrator of the East County Advances Water Purification Joint Powers Authority. “It’s simply not right.”  The joint powers authority are trying to build the water recycling facility near Santee Lakes.  “We’re at the end of the pipeline here in San Diego,” Carlisle said with a shrug. “We need water.’  The project is expected to deliver roughly 30% of the drinking water for 500,000 East County residents by recycling wastewater. A groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled June 1. … ”  Read more from NBC 7 here: East County water-recycling project could be delayed

SEE ALSO: East County JPA Begins Process to Take San Diego Pump Station, from the East County Times

Navy toxic waste site set to be cleaned up

An area of land, I-R site nine, on Naval Air Station North Island is so polluted it’s been on the Department of Defense’s list of top-five contaminated sites in the country, for several decades.  The toxic waste site is well known to the Navy, U.S EPA, and state water agencies.  Now, talks have begun to remediate the chemicals and heavy metals buried on the site before their effect on the bay is catastrophic.  I-R site nine is about 95 acres on the north shore of Coronado – on the base of Naval Air Station North Island. … ”  Read more from Channel 10 here: Navy toxic waste site set to be cleaned up

San Diego pays a lot for abundant water. Tijuana pays a different price for water scarcity.

Maria Herrera had about a quarter left in her last five-gallon water jugOn that April afternoon, though, spotty water service returned to the 67-year-old woman’s apartment, before the jug emptied. If it hadn’t, that was all she had left to bathe, do housework or drink. Herrera lives in Villas de Santa Fe, a neighborhood of cookie-cutter apartment blocks on the rapidly growing outskirts of Tijuana.  Baja’s state water agency, called CESPT, shuts off her water at least once a week, she said. Last summer, Herrera said she went six days with dry taps. … ”  Read more from the Voice of San Diego here: San Diego pays a lot for abundant water. Tijuana pays a different price for water scarcity.

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Along the Colorado River …

What’s happening with the Arizona water shortage crisis

The Arizona water shortage 2021 is just the beginning of an ongoing crisis in the region, as climate change-induced droughts and heatwaves have driven water levels at Lake Mead and the Colorado River to plummet. Arizonans are now restricted on how much water they could use and the situation will not likely abate anytime soon. Who are impacted most by the water shortage and what are the policy solutions being implemented and considered? … ”  Read more from Earth.org here: What’s happening with the Arizona water shortage crisis

Tucson may forgo some water to help keep Lake Mead level up

Arizona’s second most populous city has signaled it may forgo part of its allotment of Colorado River water delivered by the Central Arizona Project aqueduct in order to help forestall a shortage declaration for Lake Mead that would trigger mandatory reductions.  The Tucson City Council included its potential willingness to take 20% less CAP water in voting Thursday to direct city officials to discuss with other jurisdictions the possible of coordinated conservation agreements to keep more water in the reservoir, which has seen its water plummet due to drought. ... ”  Read more from KJZZ here: Tucson may forgo some water to help keep Lake Mead level up

Failing septic systems on Navajo Nation an increasing concern

Navajo Nation leaders say failing septic and solid waste systems are becoming an increasing concern in many areas of the reservation.  One tribal lawmaker has gathered nearly 170 accounts from residents of Blue Gap, Many Farms and other chapters about deficient sanitation facilities in homes.  Officials say it’s a serious environmental contamination issue that threatens land and water and creates significant health risks during the COVID-19 pandemic. … ”  Read more from KNAU here: Failing septic systems on Navajo Nation an increasing concern

Dam of questions breaks around hydropower plan for one-of-a-kind canyon in western Colorado

The honey bees are over there, by the organic garden. The peregrines nest up on the cliffs. A mess of metates — Native American grinding stones — are over in the dense pinion. Every winter the elk gather in the meadow below the granite cliffs. There’s a table up in those cliffs, for “sunset dinner on the rocks,” said Paul Ashcraft.  “Man, I love this place,” he said, showing visitors around the home he built in 2009 on 33 acres at the top of Unaweep Canyon. … A few months ago, Ashcraft and several of his neighbors at the highest point in Unaweep Canyon saw a plan proposed by Xcel Energy to build a hydro power plant that will help the company reach its renewable energy goals. The plan put a 75-foot dam holding back the edge of an 88-acre reservoir in Ashcraft’s front yard. The proposal also puts his neighbors’ homes and Colorado 141 underwater. … ”  Read more from the Colorado Sun here: Dam of questions breaks around hydropower plan for one-of-a-kind canyon in western Colorado

Lake Powell, producing energy to millions, majorly threatened by drought conditions

Arizona. There is no place like it – anywhere in the world where the beauty of the landscape is crafted quite like this.  For so many visitors, they’ll just stop and stare, contemplating everything, but that’s the long view. A critical eye reveals problems decades in the making and solutions in short supply.  Visitors used to hear water flowing at Lake Powell, but now it’s just wind blowing across the desert, and approaching Glen Canyon Dam, you’ll hear the sound of heavy machinery. … ”  Read more from Fox 10 here: Lake Powell, producing energy to millions, majorly threatened by drought conditions

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In national water news today …

Microbes can degrade the toughest PFAS

Engineers at UC Riverside are the first to report selective breakdown of a particularly stubborn class of PFAS called fluorinated carboxylic acids (FCAs) by common microorganisms.  Under anaerobic conditions, a carbon-carbon double bond is crucial for the shattering the ultra-strong carbon-fluorine bond by microbial communities. While breaking the carbon-carbon bond does not completely degrade the molecule, the resulting products could be relayed to other microorganisms for defluorination under in aerobic conditions.  The achievement builds upon prior work by the same researchers, who were the first to report successful microbial defluorination of a fully fluorinated PFAS structure by replacing carbon–fluorine bonds with carbon-hydrogen bonds. ... ”  Read more from UC Riverside here: Microbes can degrade the toughest PFAS

PFAS in sewage sludge, industrial wastewater targeted for rules

Sewage treatment plants around the country and many of the factories that send them wastewater face a new and shifting array of regulations over how they handle PFAS.  The reach of federal and state policies to reduce health risks from PFAS eventually could be broad because the chemicals are used in thousands of products and found in the bodies of 98% of people in the US.  When human and industrial waste is flushed into public sewage systems and treated, the result is sludge, which increasingly is found by emerging chemical detection technologies to contain PFAS. Some states are moving to limit PFAS in the millions of tons of this sludge, or biosolids, spread on farms, golf courses, and other lands, and used to reclaim mines, remediate contaminated sites, and build roads. … ”  Read more from Bloomberg here: PFAS in sewage sludge, industrial wastewater targeted for rules

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And lastly …

Photo Challenge: Chronicling the bridges that connect us to our neighbors, each other

This month’s Reader Photo Challenge assignment was “bridges.” Being situated in the California Delta, Central Valley residents know all too well the importance of bridges.  Without them communities would be stranded from each other and cities would be split into sections by the network of rivers, canals and sloughs that are ubiquitous to the area. Bridges help to connect us to our neighbors and to each other. Eight readers sent in 31 photos. Here are some of the best examples. … ”  Check out the photo gallery from the Stockton Record here:  Photo Challenge: Chronicling the bridges that connect us to our neighbors, each other

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

NOW AVAILABLE: Draft EA-IS for Sites Reservoir now available for public comment

NOTICE of Petition for Temporary Transfer/Exchange per Various Department of Water Resources and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation License and Permits

NOTICE: Petitions for Temporary Transfer of Water under South Feather Water & Power Agency Permits 1267 and 2492

 

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About the Daily Digest: The Daily Digest is a collection of selected news articles, commentaries and editorials appearing in the mainstream press. Items are generally selected to follow the focus of the Notebook blog. The Daily Digest is published every weekday with a weekend edition posting on Sundays.

 

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