California drought resurrects decades-old plan for controversial Sites Reservoir
“A long-dead proposal to flood a bucolic valley north of Sacramento and create a massive reservoir for thirsty Southern California is finding new life — and opposition — amid the effects of climate change and worsening drought. First conceived in the 1950s, the Sites Reservoir project was abandoned in the 1980s — the twilight years of America’s big Western dam-building projects. Now, decades later, a Southwestern megadrought and historic water restrictions in Los Angeles, Ventura and San Bernardino counties are fueling renewed interest in the plan, much to the dismay of environmentalists. Recently, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California appropriated $20 million for project planning, saying the reservoir would make the region’s water supply more resilient in times of drought. ... ” Read more from the LA Times here: California drought resurrects decades-old plan for controversial Sites Reservoir | Read via Yahoo News
Is this California’s year for a long-term drinking water assistance program?
“For 35 days between March and April of this year, Dante Woolfolk went without any running water in his house in Brooktrails, a small town nestled amid the leafy canopies of Mendocino County in Northern California. A spiraling unpaid water bill had led the local water system to turn off the spigot. … The issue spilled out at Brooktrails Township board meeting in April when Woolfolk and several community advocates took to the floor to decry the shutoff, and to offer money to cover the debt using funds raised through a GoFundMe. The service district subsequently accepted the money, he says, and water once more flows through the faucets in Woolfolk’s home. What this story underscores, however, is a gaping hole in California’s low income safety net: the lack of a long-term drinking water rate-payer assistance program. … ” Read the full article at Capital and Main here: Is this California’s year for a long-term drinking water assistance program?
Does California have enough water for lots of new homes? Yes, experts say
“To some, it defies common sense. California is once again in the middle of a punishing drought with state leaders telling people to take shorter showers and do fewer loads of laundry to conserve water. Yet at the same time, many of the same elected officials, pledging to solve the housing crisis, are pushing for the construction of millions of new homes. “It’s the first question I’d always get,” said Jeffrey Kightlinger, who until last year ran the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, the agency that delivers the water ultimately used by half the state’s population. “How in the world are you approving new housing when we’re running out of water?” The answer, according to Kightlinger and other experts, is that there’s plenty of water available for new Californians if the 60-year trend of residents using less continues and accelerates into the future. … ” Read more from the LA Times here: Does California have enough water for lots of new homes? Yes, experts say | Read via Yahoo News
The hatchery crutch: How we got here
“Writer and fly fisher Roderick Haig-Brown dreamed of a time when the North Pacific Ocean would grow a lot more salmon. Haig-Brown was probably the most famous and influential fly fisher in North America during his lifetime. The author wrote from his home on the banks of Campbell River on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. … Haig-Brown clearly understood salmon and what they needed to thrive. They needed habitat, not hatcheries. And yet Haig-Brown, like many in the Pacific Northwest, also wished for more fish. Sometimes we get what we wish for, but we don’t get what we want or need. … ” Read more from Hakai Magazine here: The hatchery crutch: How we got here
How not to count salmon
“When I was assigned to a ProPublica collaboration with Oregon Public Broadcasting last year, I was excited to dive into a topic that was totally new to me: fish hatcheries. Over the past two centuries, development has decimated wild salmon and steelhead trout populations in the Pacific Northwest. … My task was to perform a first-of-its-kind comprehensive analysis of these publicly funded salmon and steelhead trout hatcheries in the Pacific Northwest. As someone who, for years, kept a faithful inventory of my freezer using Google Sheets, I thought this sounded like a reasonable goal. Heck, maybe even a good time. (In hindsight, this may explain why I have so much trouble making friends.) It was not a good time. … ” Read the full story at Pro Publica here: How not to count salmon
Salmon fishery monitoring commences as recreational ocean salmon season is underway
“California’s recreational ocean salmon season is underway, and so is the California Department of Fish and Wildlife ocean salmon monitoring program. Anglers are encouraged to assist CDFW employees or agents who ask about their trip or request to examine the catch, as the information collected is essential to the science needed to support continued ocean salmon fishing opportunities in future years. Every year, CDFW staff and affiliated contract employees monitor marine docks and launch ramps to observe and sample salmon brought ashore by private recreational boats and charter vessels. The samplers are tasked with observing salmon catch, gathering effort information about the fishing trip and collecting biological samples of tagged salmon. … ” Read more from The Triplicate here: Salmon fishery monitoring commences as recreational ocean salmon season is underway
Senate Climate Budget Plan proposals on water management science
“This Water and Drought package of the California Senate’s Climate Budget Plan proposes major investment in water management science. One of the goals is to strengthen water rights quantification and enforcement at SWRCB. Currently the state does not have a reliable quantification of water rights or the ability to effectively enforce. The budget plan includes $100 million to improve water management science and agency coordination, including ... ” Continue reading at the California Water Research blog here: Senate Climate Budget Plan proposals on water management science
Report: California hydropower could be cut in half this summer
“As 2021 drew to a close, rain and snow pummeled California, raising hopes that the state’s ongoing drought would be alleviated. But the tap dried up in January, and historically low precipitation followed. Now, as summer approaches, it’s clear that those few months of reprieve did little to shore up the state’s water reserves, and analysts are warning that the state’s hydroelectric supplies — a cheap source of clean power in California — are once again at risk. The U.S. Energy Information Administration, or EIA, reported last week that as reservoir levels dip far below their historic averages, electricity generation from California’s hydroelectric dams could be cut in half this summer. The shortfall is likely to be made up in part by an increase in natural gas-fired power, EIA said, sending more carbon dioxide and pollution into the air and pushing up summer electricity prices in the state. … ” Read more from Grist here: Report: California hydropower could be cut in half this summer
Greenville was destroyed by wildfire. Can it be rebuilt to survive the next one?
“To descend the grade of State Highway 89 into the rubble of Greenville is to retrace the steps of a community’s trauma. It was here that the second largest wildfire in California history — and the first ever to burn from one side of the Sierra Nevada to the other — decimated the town of about 1,000 people. Hillsides once thick with trees are now blackened and splattered with bright blue-green hydromulch to fight erosion. The town center is a grid of bare lots and debris piles. But while most people would see devastation here, Sue Weber sees hope and opportunity. A former nun in Mother Teresa’s order, Weber is part of an unprecedented effort to not only rebuild Greenville, but to build it back better than it was before. ... ” Read more from the LA Times here: Greenville was destroyed by wildfire. Can it be rebuilt to survive the next one?
Scientists develop method for seasonal prediction of western wildfires
“This summer’s western wildfire season is likely to be more severe than average but not as devastating as last year’s near-record, according to an experimental prediction method developed by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). The new method, detailed in a peer-reviewed study, analyzes precipitation, temperatures, drought, and other climate conditions in the winter and spring in order to predict the extent of wildfires across the western United States during the following summer. The research team developed the method by applying machine learning techniques to observations of every wildfire season since 1984, when current satellite measurements of fires first became available. ... ” Read more from NCAR here: Scientists develop method for seasonal prediction of western wildfires
Drought lingers in Humboldt County as summer approaches
“As Humboldt County edges closer to summer, most of the North Coast remains in various levels of drought. In May, 1.36 inches of rain fell around the Humboldt Bay region, where the average is 1.58 inches, according to the National Weather Service. At this point in a normal water year, there would have been 38.58 inches of rain in the Humboldt Bay region since October 1. So far there has only been 23.95 inches, a deficit of over a foot of rain. “We’re still running a fairly large deficit with precipitation and as a result, the drought continues,” said Jonathan Garner, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Eureka. “Here locally in Humboldt County, we’re in severe drought. If you go east into Trinity County, they’re in extreme drought. Most of Northwest California minus the eastern part of Trinity is in severe drought. The only exception to that is up in Del Norte County. They’re in a lower drought status, classified as moderate.” … ” Read more from the Eureka Times-Standard here: Drought lingers in Humboldt County as summer approaches
Wildberries donates to Powers Creek restoration efforts
“Arcata’s Wildberries Marketplace contributed $10,000 to Mad River Alliance for restoration efforts on Powers Creek, a 3.2 mile long tributary of the Mad River flows through Blue Lake. The creek provides a spawning and rearing habitat for steelhead and salmon. The restoration project, overseen by Mad River Alliance and the city of Blue Lake and undertaken in coordination with community and tribal partners, will restore fish habitat in the tributary over the next two years. Mad River Alliance’s portion of the project will specifically focus on the lower 3,000 feet of Powers Creek, which will be cleared of excess sediment and reshaped to improve fish habitat. Invasive plants will be removed and replaced with native riparian plants. “We are partnering with some awesome agencies to make a difference,” said Phil Record, Wildberries owner and founder, in a news release. … ” Read more from the Eureka Times-Standard here: Wildberries donates to Powers Creek restoration efforts
Curtis creek water project begins Tuesday
“Tuolumne Utilities District(TUD) will begin the Curtis Creek Elementary School Water System Consolidation Project this week. The water project will provide Curtis Creek Elementary School with clean drinking water as well as fire flow. Motorists on Standard road will see activity starting on Tuesday and are advised to use caution in the work area. The school district received grant funding to install the new water pipeline, the project will involve installing close to 5,535 linear feet of 12-inch portable water pipeline and appurtenances, a 12-inch diameter pipeline is needed to deliver Curtis Creek Elementary School the required fire flow. The project also involves installing seven new fire hydrants along Standard Road, three of which will be converted from raw water to potable water. … ” Read more from My Mother Lode here: Curtis creek water project begins Tuesday
Tuolumne coalition takes on megafires in a way that produces jobs and lumber for homes
“A potentially game-changing effort to prevent megafires is rolling out in the woods up past Sonora. The federal government granted $55 million in April for prescribed burning, selective logging and other work in and near the Stanislaus National Forest. It grew out of a consensus among local business and environmental groups that the trees and brush have become unnaturally dense. They hope to create hundreds of jobs in the mountains and modestly boost the lumber supply for housing in Stanislaus County and beyond. They also could enhance part of the watershed for farms and cities in the Northern San Joaquin Valley. … ” Continue reading at the Modesto Bee here: Tuolumne coalition takes on megafires in a way that produces jobs and lumber for homes
Folsom Lake up to 88% of capacity on Memorial Day
“Despite the drought, Folsom Lake is nearly full on Memorial Day. The lake level is nearly 456 feet – which puts it at 88 percent of capacity. This time last year, it was at just 46 percent capacity. “It just looks beautiful, especially with skies like this and the temperature is down a little bit,” said Eureka resident Tom Gierek, who was out at the lake on Sunday. … ” Read more from CBS Sacramento here: Folsom Lake up to 88% of capacity on Memorial Day
Commentary: Inadequate water agency rules won’t protect the Bay
Sejal Choksi-Chugh, executive director of San Francisco Baykeeper, writes, “A governmental agency made a decision May 11 that will affect everyone who lives in the Bay Area, especially those who depend on the San Francisco Bay and our creeks for recreation and livelihood. This agency, the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board, is responsible for protecting water quality throughout the Bay Area. It has long acknowledged that storm water pollution is one of the Bay’s most serious problems, and it approved a permit that is supposed to reduce the trash, metals, and bacteria that run off into the Bay from city streets every time it rains. Unfortunately, the agency’s plan is deeply flawed and isn’t going to solve the Bay’s serious storm water pollution problems. … ” Continue reading at the Mercury News here: Commentary: Inadequate water agency rules won’t protect the Bay
Man sued for ‘most egregious case of unlawful crabbing activity in San Francisco’s history,’ district attorney says
“A Bay Area man has been sued by the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office for allegedly catching hundreds of Dungeness crabs illegally in the protected North Farallon Islands State Marine Reserve. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife says they received an anonymous tip that crab traps were being placed near the Farallon Islands, an ecologically fragile archipelago with strict marine protections. Fishing of any kind in the marine reserve is prohibited. … ” Read more from SF Gate here: Man sued for ‘most egregious case of unlawful crabbing activity in San Francisco’s history,’ district attorney says
Monterey Bay braces for California brown pelican mass stranding event
“Bart Selby, a member of the NOAA Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Conservation Working Group, picked up a distressed California brown pelican on Monday at Pillar Point Harbor in Half Moon Bay, one of the first individuals retrieved so far north. “It didn’t have the energy to hold its wings properly folded,” Selby said. The second-year pelican survived transport to International Bird Rescue in Fairfield (IBR), but died the next day. In mid-May, Selby, now writing a book about brown pelicans, accompanied Dr. Dan Anderson, emeritus professor from UC Davis, who has been studying pelicans for 50 years, on a trip to the Sea of Cortez to assist Mexican government biologists monitoring and banding at breeding sites. Many of our summer visiting pelicans are hatched in Mexico. … ” Read more from the Monterey Herald here: Monterey Bay braces for California brown pelican mass stranding event
Cal Water to move into Stage 2 of water shortage contingency plan in Salinas and King City districts
“In light of worsening drought conditions, California Water Service (Cal Water) has requested to move into Stage 2 of its Water Shortage Contingency Plan in the Salinas and King City districts with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). The utility will host a public meeting on Tuesday, May 31, to educate Salinas and King City customers about what Stage 2 means, including outdoor watering limits and increased water waste penalties, and provide information on conservation programs and tools available to help customers reduce their water use. … ” Read more from the King City Rustler here: Cal Water to move into Stage 2 of water shortage contingency plan in Salinas and King City districts
SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY
Lindsay’s water fund is drying up
“As city staff analyze current finances, they discovered the majority of their funds are in good shape, except their water fund. As Lindsay approaches the end of the fiscal year, the finance director and city manager are working to get the water funds flush with cash after years of neglect. The city is performing a number of studies within their finances before they look at a rate study that could possibly raise water rates for those in Lindsay. … ” Read more from the Foothills Sun-Gazette here: Lindsay’s water fund is drying up
LADWP water restrictions begin tomorrow. Here’s what to know
“Starting Wednesday, June 1, new restrictions go into effect for millions of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power customers, including limiting outdoor watering. The effects of the water conservation ordinance will vary a bit depending on what kind of sprinkler system you have. If you have a standard sprinkler system, each cycle is limited to a maximum of eight minutes on your approved watering days. On the other hand, if you’re using a water-conserving nozzle sprinkler, you’re limited to two 15-minute cycles per day. … ” Read more from NBC LA here: LADWP water restrictions begin tomorrow. Here’s what to know
Pasadena Water & Power to implement new emergency water conservation regulation issued by State Water Board
“The Pasadena Water and Power will implement additional emergency drought measures starting June 6, in compliance with new State Water Resource Control Board restrictions. Passed on May 24, the Emergency Water Conservation regulation, which applies only to commercial, industrial and institutional properties, prohibits irrigating “non-functional turf” or turf that is not used for any recreational purpose, such as grass in front of or next to large industrial or commercial buildings. The ban does not include watering turf on sports or play fields or fields used for recreation or other community purposes. … ” Read more from Pasadena Now here: Pasadena Water & Power to implement new emergency water conservation regulation issued by State Water Board
What Fullerton can do about the drought: An interview with Delaney Cosgrove, Fullerton’s Water Quality Specialist
“Q: Can you describe what Fullerton is doing to address the drought? Cosgrove: The city of Fullerton will be increasing our drought response to Level 2 starting in June. This is in response to Governor Newsom’s executive order. The drought response team has set a conservative goal to meet a 20% water use reduction compared to 2020 until the State sets a required water savings standard for Fullerton. City staff in Parks and Recreation and the Landscaping Division have created a list of parks that will receive reduced watering based on the existing landscaping and the active turf fields used for recreation. We will also be increasing our outreach efforts to customers via social media, the community newsletter, and we will also have a booth at the Fullerton Market on the third Thursday of every month. … ” Read more from the Fullerton Observer here: What Fullerton can do about the drought: An interview with Delaney Cosgrove, Fullerton’s Water Quality Specialist
OC water district brings California native landscapes to yards saving water through rebate program
“The Moulton Niguel Water District is teaching people how to drought-proof their lawns, and has homeowners relaxing in a serene, environmentally-friendly space, while saving money. It’s a new look Dennis Ghan of Laguna Niguel and his wife enjoy daily.”Just coming and going, and seeing it all the time out here,” Ghan said. “We get a lot of compliments from people that come over to our house.” … ” Read more from ABC 7 here: OC water district brings California native landscapes to yards saving water through rebate program
History of Lake Cahuilla before Salton Sea
“Today, the Salton Sea is an eerie place. Its mirror-like surface belies the toxic stew within. Fish skeletons line its shores and the ruins of a once thriving vacation playground is a reminder of better days. But long before agricultural runoff bespoiled the Salton Sea, the lakebed it now occupies was home to a much larger body of water known as Lake Cahuilla. The lake was six times the area of the Salton Sea and once covered much of Mexicali, Imperial and Coachella valleys. “It was a freshwater lake that was about 100 meters deep in its deepest part,” said San Diego State University emeritus professor of geology Tom Rockwell. “It extended from up near Palm Springs southward into Mexico, so it was a very extensive lake.” … ” Read more from Mirage News here: History of Lake Cahuilla before Salton Sea
New River Improvement Project will begin construction in Calexico
“On Tuesday, May 24, Jose Angel, Project Manager of the City of Calexico presented on the New River Improvement Project. Jose Angel announced the project’s purpose and commencement, stating that construction would begin soon for the New River Improvement Project due to community concerns about the quality of the river and how it was affecting public health. Jose Angel cautioned the public use of the river, explaining that the river’s quality is not suitable for any recreation involving physical contact with water. “Anyone in the river or working around the river exposes themselves to a risk.” … ” Read more from the Desert Review here: New River Improvement Project will begin construction in Calexico
Wastewater recycling made sewage valuable. Now East County and San Diego are fighting over it.
“The city of San Diego pursued its massive wastewater-to-drinking water recycling program, in part, because the federal government said it had to. Millions of gallons of undertreated sewage enters the Pacific Ocean through the city’s aging Point Loma treatment plant on the regular; Pure Water is the region’s first step toward a solution. But now, a bloc of eastern San Diego County water agencies is building their own recycling project because, they say, the cost of buying imported water from the drought-ravaged Colorado River is unsustainable. The East County Advanced Water Purification Program would provide 30 percent of the drinking water its participating agencies need, agencies that otherwise rely solely on water imported from hundreds of miles away. … ” Read more from the Voice of San Diego here: Wastewater recycling made sewage valuable. Now East County and San Diego are fighting over it.
Southwest megadrought pushes hydropower to the brink
“As the megadrought gripping the Southwest stretches into its third decade, energy providers are preparing for a future where hydropower is no longer a reliable renewable resource. This month brought a raft of warning signs. The Colorado Basin River Forecast Center reported below-normal snowmelt across the Southwest, several large Western reservoirs are at perilously low levels, and the Interior Department is holding back the release of 480,000 acre-feet of water from Arizona’s Glen Canyon Dam to prevent a hydropower shutdown (Greenwire, May 3). Utilities and grid operators say they have this summer’s energy needs covered, despite the low snowpack. But the drought has forced them to reconsider hydropower’s long-term role as a steady backstop resource, as well as grapple with a lack of water for coal and nuclear plants, and the heat impact on the grid. … ” Read more from E&E News here: Southwest megadrought pushes hydropower to the brink
What will happen if the Glen Canyon Dam stops generating power?
“Low tide usually arrives every 12 hours on the Colorado River in Grand Canyon National Park. River runners who pull their rafts onto gently sloping sand beaches to camp may awake to find their boats stranded far above the waterline by morning. Rocks that disappear in certain rapids at high tide become major obstacles when the water is low, and most rafters carry a tide chart in their boats’ dry boxes alongside their map. Unlike ocean tides, however, the river’s regular fluctuations have nothing to do with the gravitational pull of the moon. They are driven by the power demands of the Southwest. Managers at the Glen Canyon Dam often release more water from Lake Powell each morning as air conditioners begin to hum and electricity use increases. … ” Read more from the Salt Lake Tribune here: What will happen if the Glen Canyon Dam stops generating power?
How much water is lost in the transfer between Flaming Gorge and Lake Powell?
“Water managers will release an extra 500,000 acre-feet of water from Flaming Gorge reservoir this year to help raise the troublingly low levels at Lake Powell — but how much of that water actually makes it down to the Utah lake for storage? This summer, the Upper Colorado River Commission, or UCRC, an interstate agency that administers Colorado River water in the Upper Basin, plans to study that question. “We’re going to monitor and measure and come to a better understanding of the transmission losses,” UCRC Executive Director Chuck Cullom said. … ” Read more from the Colorado Sun here: How much water is lost in the transfer between Flaming Gorge and Lake Powell?
Boaters, bugs, and the uncertain future of the Colorado River
“It’s becoming increasingly harder to say what tomorrow brings for the Colorado River. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, via the Glen Canyon Adaptive Management Program, made the unprecedented emergency decision on May 3 to hold back hundreds of billions of gallons of water in Lake Powell to slow the reservoir’s rapid shrinking amid prolonged drought and climate change. The water held back — enough to provide for about 1.5 million homes annually — is being retained to preserve hydropower production at Glen Canyon Dam, which produces electricity for about 5 million customers across seven states. The decision represents a complicated juggling of priorities that has been rationalized through bizarre water “crediting” to downstream reservoirs. … ” Read more from the Arizona Daily Sun here: Boaters, bugs, and the uncertain future of the Colorado River
Drought is revealing archeological sites that were submerged when Lake Powell filled
“When the dam that created a major American reservoir was built decades ago, Native American cliff dwellings and artifacts were submerged. Now, they’re emerging as drought lowers water levels. The severe drought that has brought the second biggest reservoir in the U.S. down to its lowest level ever is also now revealing lost treasures – thousands of archaeological sites that were flooded when Lake Powell was filled in the 1960s. Melissa Sevigny with member station KNAU in Flagstaff, Ariz., reports. … ” Read or listen from NPR via Capital Public Radio here: Drought is revealing archeological sites that were submerged when Lake Powell filled
CRS Report: Regulating drinking water contaminants: EPA PFAS actions
“The detection of certain per–and polyfluoroalkyl substances(PFAS) in some public water supplies has generated publicconcern and increased attention to the U.S. EnvironmentalProtection Agency’s (EPA’s)actionsto respond toPFASusingSafe Drinking Water Act (SDWA)authorities.Formore than adecade, EPA has been evaluating PFAS underSDWA to determine whetheranational drinking waterregulationiswarranted for one or more of these substances.In March 2021, EPAfinalizeddeterminationsto develop SDWA regulations for the two most frequentlydetectedPFAS, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS)(86Federal Register12272).EPA’sdeterminationtriggers aSDWArequirementto propose aregulation within 24 months (e.g., by March 2023 forPFOA and PFOS), and finalize therulewithin 18 monthsof the proposal.In EPA’sOctober 2021PFAS StrategicRoadmap,the agency states that it intendstopropose aPFOA and PFOS drinking water regulation by fall 2022,and finalizethe ruleby fall 2023. … ” Read the 3-page brief from the Congressional Research Service here: CRS Report: Regulating drinking water contaminants: EPA PFAS actions
Commentary: What our nation’s drinking water systems need now
Chad Seidel, Ph.D., P.E., president of Corona Environmental Consulting and a research affiliate at the University of Colorado Boulder, writes, “Our nation’s drinking water infrastructure is in desperate need of attention. Last year, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave our water system a C- and their economic study found that the annual drinking water and wastewater investment gap will eventually grow to $434 billion by 2029. The fact is that our nation’s drinking water infrastructure requires a massive investment. President Joe Biden’s $1.2 trillion Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act includes $50 billion for drinking water and wastewater infrastructure improvements. This funding is significant, and the list of drinking water infrastructure needs is extensive. Water systems need resources to hire and train personnel, maintain operations, replace and service aging pipes, and meet regulatory drinking water standards. With limited resources, there are important decisions to be made. … ” Read more from Water Finance & Management here: Commentary: What our nation’s drinking water systems need now
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.