DAILY DIGEST, 6/13: Sanger residents concerned over low to no water pressure as Valley temperatures soar; Considerations for developing an environmental water right; State board awards $1.1M for Grizzly Island restoration project; In the Klamath Basin, wildlife needs groundwater too; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • WEBINAR: 2022 Habitat Projects at Sacramento’s Nimbus Basin and Lower Sailor Bar from 6pm to 8pm.  Join the Water Forum in learning about two new projects to enhance crucial habitat for native Chinook salmon and steelhead trout in the Lower American River at Nimbus Basin and Lower Sailor Bar.  The projects will recreate spawning and rearing areas by constructing new gravel beds in the river and carving side channels to protect juvenile fish.  Register for the session here: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_u3J7_yi0RdWsrHB9Zcgblg

In California water news today …

Sanger residents concerned over low to no water pressure as Valley temperatures soar

As the San Joaquin Valley continues to experience extreme drought conditions, the Sanger community is living with low to no water pressure impacting neighborhoods, businesses, and families.  “I had to wash out my hair with bottled water. I use the same water for my baby’s bottles,” said Sanger resident Erika Ruiz. … Sanger City Councilmember Michael Montelongo, who represents District 4, posted an update to his Facebook account just after 10:30 Saturday morning explaining the City of Sanger’s water system and its ongoing issues with low water pressure. According to Councilmember Montelongo, Well 14 located at Muscat and Academy Avenue is currently in the process of flushing. … ”  Continue reading at the KMPH here: Sanger residents concerned over low to no water pressure as Valley temperatures soar

With two wells down and high temperatures, Sanger residents face low water pressure

Low water pressure issues across the city of Sanger have frustrated residents for weeks. When temperatures soared over 100 degrees Saturday, residents called their city councilmembers to express their displeasure, according to Sanger Councilemember Michael Montelongo.  Montelongo, who represents District 4, said he has received calls from residents from around the city about low water pressure. The situation was particularly bad Saturday, which Montelongo believes was due to the extreme heat and people using more water. The issue Saturday led to the brief closure of the Walmart in town.  However, the city has faced low-pressure water issues since at least April when it began work on some of its wells. Montelongo said he has provided updates to the community through his social media accounts since early April. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here: With two wells down and high temperatures, Sanger residents face low water pressure | Read via Yahoo News

Considerations for developing an environmental water right in California

This week, news emerged of a State Senate plan that would spend upwards of $1.5B to purchase senior water rights from California growers. Under California’s first-in-time, first-in-right water allocation system, senior water rights are filled first, before more junior right holders get their water. The proposal is ostensibly promising. Because of widespread diversions, the aquatic biodiversity of California has been effectively exposed to chronic drought every year, and additional flows may help native species. If purchases can quickly add additional water to rivers in the right places and at the right times, they could benefit ecosystems and endangered species, like Chinook salmon and delta smelt (Moyle et al. 2019, Obester et al. 2020). But it could also easily become a payoff for wealthy water holders with marginal benefit for ecosystems, species, and people. The potential for abuse is particularly troubling when the State is using public funds to buy water, which technically belongs to the people of the state and which the State can already regulate to achieve the same aims. As the old saying goes, the devil is in the details.  This blog highlights some important considerations for decision makers on making effective environmental water right purchases. Below are several questions and themes for a successful water purchasing program. … ”  Read more from the California Water Blog here: Considerations for developing an environmental water right in California

State board awards California Waterfowl Association $1.1M for Grizzly Island restoration project

A $1.11 million wetland and upland restoration project in the Grizzly Island Wildlife Area in Solano County has been approved by the state Wildlife Conservation Board.  The action was taken at the board’s May 26 meeting.  The grant was awarded to the California Waterfowl Association for the project to restore 458 acres of wetlands and 20 acres of upland nesting habitat, the state agency reported. The state Fish & Wildlife Service and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service are involved in the project as well. … ”  Read more from the Daily Republic here: State board awards California Waterfowl Association $1.1M for Grizzly Island restoration project

Private well owners should prepare for extreme drought

The California Groundwater Association, or CGA, is urging all private well owners impacted by drought to have their systems inspected and water levels tested as we enter the summer months.  Drought impacts both the productivity of a water well and its water quality. Because of this, it is important that well owners take proper steps to ensure their systems are operating safely and efficiently as we continue to experience drought conditions across the country.  Well owners should consider taking the following steps ... ”  Continue reading at the Lake County News here: Private well owners should prepare for extreme drought

Can dryland farming help growers endure increasing heatwaves and drought?

Cream-colored squash and tepary beans ripen on vines and bushes whose roots grasp the heavy clay soil of Arizona’s Tohono O’odham reservation. Prickly pears, oregano and agave grow beneath a mesquite tree in the town of Patagonia, Arizona. And in a downtown Tucson garden, desert ironwood trees shade chuparosa shrubs and wolfberries.  These are just a few of the food plants native to various regions of the Sonoran Desert. It’s a notoriously hot (104°F in August) and dry (it gets three to 20 inches of rain annually) hook of land that juts up from Northwestern Mexico into Arizona, making a pitstop in California before shooting down the Baja peninsula. Indigenous farmers have been coaxing food from this arid turf for thousands of years, “working with the environment, not changing the environment,” says Sterling Johnson, farm manager and mentor at the Ajo Center for Sustainable Agriculture (CSA), where those squash and beans grow. … ”  Continue reading at Modern Farmer here: Can dryland farming help growers endure increasing heatwaves and drought?

Drought curbs expected processing tomato crop

A lack of water has prevented California growers from planting as many processing tomatoes – or has caused them to plant at the expense of other commodities.  Tomato processors report contracts for 11.7 million tons grown on 234,000 acres, down from the January forecast of 12.2 million tons, according to the California Farm Bureau. Last year’s production ended up at 10.8 million tons, the organization reports.  Mike Montna, president and chief executive of the California Tomato Growers Association, told the Farm Bureau that California’s crop has averaged about 6.9% below USDA estimates for the past three years. … ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press here: Drought curbs expected processing tomato crop

Are rising water prices amid the Western megadought inevitable? Yes, but it’s complicated, experts say

Some of the most important water sources in the Western U.S. are drying up as a decades-long megadrought continues to intensify and temperatures steadily rise as a result of climate change.  And as the commodity becomes more precious, residents could soon see an uptick in their water bills, experts tell ABC News.  Water levels have gotten so low in Lake Mead, the nation’s largest reservoir, that human remains have been discovered among the receding waters. The Colorado River, a major freshwater source for more 40 million people in seven southwestern U.S. states and parts of northern Mexico, has lost 20% of its water levels over the past 22 years, making it the most endangered river in the country. … ”  Continue reading at Yahoo News here: Are rising water prices amid the Western megadought inevitable? Yes, but it’s complicated, experts say

Press release: Smartfaucets – The ultimate solution for the California drought to be presented today at the California lodging expo

As California faces its worst drought on record, a start-up in Irvine, CA has developed a new touchless auto faucet called SmartFaucets, a patented technology that combines the motion sensor faucets with an electronic touchpad with preset temperature and timer to override the sensor when it fails. This new system has been field tested by Marymount University of California for a water savings of 40% plus corresponding gas, electric, paper towels and trash.   “A lot of water is wasted adjusting that water temperature. The SmartFaucets offers 4 Preset touch temperature buttons to help eliminate water wastage,” said Joanna Boey, Founder and Inventor of SmartFaucets. “With a U.S. flow rate at one gallon per minute, a six-second adjustment of that water temperature, ten times a day means one gallon of water is wasted.” … ”  Continue reading at EIN here: Press release: Smartfaucets – The ultimate solution for the California drought to be presented today at the California lodging expo

Is there still a fire season in California?

Well, it’s that time of year again, or is it?  Californians have been hearing about a wildfire season for many years, but officials no longer look at the likelihood of explosive and deadly fires as seasonal.  “That was a term we’ve used in the past – fire seasons – but the reality is in California we’re in fire years. There is just the potential for fire year-round in California,” Cal Fire Battalion Chief Jon Heggie explained.  In the past, conditions that led to large destructive fires ran from about the end of June or early July through October, Battalion Chief of Communications Issac Sanchez said. … ”  Read more from Channel 5 here: Is there still a fire season in California?

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In commentary today …

From extractive to sustainable: A way forward for the water sector

Will Sarni, founder and CEO of Water Foundry and founder and general partner of the Colorado River Basin Fund, and Austin Alexander, vice president of sustainability and corporate social responsibility at Xylem, write, “Humanity has a long history of extracting natural resources while ignoring damage done to the environment, to communities and to the long-term health and prosperity of whole societies. Traditional approaches to forestry and mining have famously taken their toll, leading these sectors to rethink how resources are managed. But water – arguably our most precious resource – has rarely featured in conversations about extractive industries. It’s time to take off the rose-tinted glasses and change that. Stewardship requires that we be open about how we have managed water in the past, and what we must strive for in the future. … ”  Read more from Water Finance & Management here:Commentary: From Extractive to Sustainable: A Way Forward for the Water Sector

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Today’s featured article …

GUEST COMMENTARY:  California Can (and Must) Drought-Proof Itself

San Fernando Valley Wildflower Meadow in Los Angeles California

Commentary by Jim Wundermanm president and CEO of the Bay Area Council, and Charles Wilson, executive director and CEO of the Southern California Water Coalition

Spring in California is a time for enjoying fresh wildflower blossoms and old baseball rivalries. However, in recent years spring has become a time for lamenting California’s vanishing snowpack and depleted reservoirs as the state drifts farther into drought. The Sierra snowpack—source of half the state’s water supply—was just 25% its average size as of April 14, marking three consecutive dry winters and plunging the entire state into a severe drought.

That’s why the Bay Area Council, the Southern California Water Coalition, the San Joaquin Valley Blueprint, and a statewide coalition of businesses and water managers are putting aside old rivalries to urge Gov. Newsom and the Legislature to commit $6.5 billion from this year’s $23 billion budget surplus to strengthening California’s drought resilience.

Click here to read this commentary.

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In regional water news and commentary today …


Wildlife needs groundwater too: In the Klamath Basin, groundwater pumping imperils the “Everglades of the West”

On Klamath Marsh, a lone sand-hill crane stretches its neck skyward and lets out a rattling cry. The only response it receives is its own echo, bouncing off the evergreen foothills on the horizon. The bird bobs its red-capped head as it picks its way deliberately across the otherwise empty—and totally dry—golden fields. It’s late March, and millions of birds are making their journeys north for the summer. Normally, an estimated 80% of species would stop here, and at neighboring wildlife refuges in the Klamath Basin, to rest and refuel, beginning about now. But on this cloudless day, Klamath Marsh National Wildlife Refuge doesn’t look like a lush avian sanctuary. It is indistinguishable from the cattle ranches that surround it.  “This was an absolute gemstone of biological diversity in the west,” said Alex Gonyaw, the biologist for the Klamath Tribes native to these lands. Now, “It’s the bare threads of a tapestry.” … ”  Read more from the Sierra Club here: Wildlife needs groundwater too: In the Klamath Basin, groundwater pumping imperils the “Everglades of the West”


The last-ditch effort to save wild salmon

Elizabeth Ruiz parked the white pickup at the side of a winding road, climbed out of the cab, and looked around in disbelief at what was left of the narrow valley: How could any salmon have possibly survived? Once a redwood forest so lush that the land’s contours were lost in it, every ridge and gulley was now exposed, eerily radiant under the Creamsicle-orange sky. Patches of ground still smoldered from the Walbridge Fire, which had blazed through the valley seven weeks earlier, in August 2020.  “It felt like we were at the end of the world,” Ruiz says, recalling that mild October day. … ”  Read the full story at Wired Magazine here: The last-ditch effort to save wild salmon


San Jose residents see water rate hikes once again

Water rates are increasing in July for San Jose residents in several neighborhoods.  This week, the City Council unanimously approved increasing drinking and recycled water rates for the next fiscal year. The increase impacts customers of San Jose Municipal Water System, which serves about 136,000 residents in the North San Jose, Alviso, Evergreen, Edenvale and Coyote Valley areas. The increases come as the region faces another extended drought and follows last year’s rate hikes from Valley Water, the wholesale water provider for the county.  It’s not because more water is being used, in fact water consumption is predicted to trend down, according to Kerrie Romanow, director of environmental services. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Spotlight here: San Jose residents see water rate hikes once again


Energy from dairy cow manure? The idea has hit the big time in Stanislaus and Merced

PG&E is about to get some of its gas from the manure of tens of thousands of dairy cows in and near Stanislaus County. Aemetis Inc. held a gathering Friday, June 10, at a new plant in Keyes that will process methane piped in from 60 dairy farms in the area. The $380 million project will reduce climate-harming emissions for both PG&E and the farmers. The latter also will get modest payments from Aemetis, helpful in a business beset by tight profit margins.  Aemetis contractors will employ several hundred people as the company builds out the system by 2025. And it will add about 10 permanent workers to the 75 already at the Keyes site, which has made ethanol from corn since 2011. ... ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here: Energy from dairy cow manure? The idea has hit the big time in Stanislaus and Merced


Antelope Valley study of water storage continues

The Antelope Valley State Water Contractors Association is continuing with a study to determine the feasibility of two different methods of storing surplus State Water Project water from the California Aqueduct underground in the vicinity of Big Rock Creek, southeast of Palmdale. A pilot study of the original plan — to recharge water directly into the aquifer through the creek bed — conducted in 2019-2020 proved to be infeasible, as the ground did not absorb the water fast enough to prevent it from spilling downstream, where it crossed and flooded East Avenue T. Instead, the Association is looking at either using culverts beneath avenues T and S to direct the water without flooding the roads, or to pipe water into recharge basins, located east of the creek bed. … ”  Read more from the AV Press here: Antelope Valley study of water storage continues

SoCal’s lush golf courses face new water restrictions. How brown will the grass go?

To some residents of Southern California, the golf course is a detested symbol of social privilege and water profligacy — a lush playground for the wealthy that can drink more than 100 million gallons a year, even as neighboring lawns shrivel and brown.  “Why are golf courses still a thing?” East Hollywood resident Spence Nicholson said recently. The 38-year-old called them little more than a “massive waste” of resources.  Although the golf industry has long weathered the resentment of nongolfers, owners and managers of links are finding themselves targeted by state water officials who say California is not doing enough to conserve water in a time of severe drought.  Now, golf courses are being told to reduce water use under new drought restrictions in parts of Southern California, and managers of courses say they’re preparing to dial back their sprinklers and let some green grassy areas turn brown. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: SoCal’s lush golf courses face new water restrictions. How brown will the grass go?

Office owners tapped out as historic drought spurs water-reduction needs

Drought is so ubiquitous in California that developers and property owners say they’re running out of options to reduce water usage at office properties without making significant investments that are difficult to stomach with reduced property occupancies and stagnant rental rates.  In recent years, as the severity of California’s droughts has worsened, property owners have implemented new technology and initiatives to reduce their water usage, sometimes at the behest of state or local governments. But now, the low-hanging fruit has been plucked, leaving more expensive, difficult options on the table as the state contends with its worst drought in 1,200 years. … “Now we’re looking sort of beyond things our sustainability team can do, and efficiency projects, to how we actually operate our buildings,” Sampat told Bisnow. “Do we need to rethink that to lead to further water conservation measures? Because you get to a point where it does get a little bit more tough, you have to be a little more creative, and I think we’re at that level right now.” … ”  Read the full article at Bis Now here: Office owners tapped out as historic drought spurs water-reduction needs 

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Along the Colorado River …

Here’s a look at the impact of Arizona drought

Lower rainfall and higher temperatures have created ideal conditions to exacerbate Arizona’s longstanding drought. Entering 2022, more than half of the state remains in severe drought status and an additional 10% is enduring extreme drought. So, what is the impact of the Arizona drought?   These conditions — including the drop in levels at crucial water sources such as Lake Mead and the Colorado River — drive the research of doctoral student Zhaocheng Wang, who is studying hydrosystems engineering in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, one of the seven Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University.  Wang’s dissertation research focuses on combining modeling tools and earth observation products to better understand hydrological processes in the Southwestern United States. He has dedicated part of his dissertation research to determine the impacts the Colorado River drought will have on the people who live and work in Arizona. … ”  Read more from Arizona Public Media here:  Here’s a look at the impact of Arizona drought

Drought intensifies in Utah and the West amid searing heat, no rain

The hits just keep on coming.  Heat and dwindling water supplies have combined to result in an outbreak of a harmful algal bloom in the Virgin River watershed, according to the latest drought update issued by the Utah Division of Water Resources.  Southern Utah saw little to no precipitation in May and both Cedar City and St. George tied records for the driest May in 127 years.  An excessive heat warning is in effect for southern Utah Friday and Saturday.  The U.S. Drought Monitor this week shows that nearly 6% of Utah has reached exceptional drought, the absolute worst category. … ”  Read more from Deseret News here: Drought intensifies in Utah and the West amid searing heat, no rain

Declining levels at Lake Powell increase risk to humpback chub downstream

As climate change continues to shrink the nation’s second-largest reservoir, water managers are scrambling to prevent the release of an invasive fish into the Grand Canyon.  Smallmouth bass, a voracious predator and popular game fish, have been introduced into reservoirs throughout the Colorado River basin, including Lake Powell. The looming problem now is that as lake levels drop to historically low levels, the invasive fish are likely to escape beyond Glen Canyon Dam, threatening endangered fish in the canyon, whose populations have rebounded in recent years.  Smallmouth bass are a warm-water-loving species, hanging out in the top part of the water column, which is warmed by the sun. Until recently, the intakes for turbines at Glen Canyon Dam had been lower in the water column, where colder temperatures kept the fish away. But as the lake level falls, the warmer water band containing the smallmouth bass is sinking closer to the intakes, making it more likely that they will pass through the dam to the river below. … ”  Read more from the Aspen Times here: Declining levels at Lake Powell increase risk to humpback chub downstream

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In national water news today …

Supreme Court climate case might end regulation

The Supreme Court is expected to issue a decision in the coming days or weeks that could curtail EPA’s ability to drive down carbon emissions at power plants.  But it could go much further than that.  Legal experts are waiting to see if the ruling in West Virginia v. EPA begins to chip away at the ability of federal agencies — all of them, not just EPA — to write and enforce regulations. It would foreshadow a power shift with profound consequences, not just for climate policy but virtually everything the executive branch does, from directing air traffic to protecting investors.  The scope of the decision might not be immediately obvious, said Sambhav Sankar, Earthjustice’s senior vice president for programs.  “Everybody is going to be reading tea leaves when it comes out,” he said. … ”  Read more from E&E News here: Supreme Court climate case might end regulation

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More news and commentary in the weekend edition …

This weekend in California water news …
  • Trinidad. Photo by Greg Jenkins on Unsplash

    Ruling: Feds didn’t stiff Fresno and other water users when they got zero water in the last drought

  • Water-sharing agreements proposed
  • Air quality worsens as drought forces California growers to burn abandoned crops
  • This SoCal business developed a system to reuse water as a way to fight the drought
  • Radio show: What can drought-ridden California learn from Las Vegas?
  • California drought prompts legislation to increase fines for water pollution for illegal grows
  • Rebuttal to the Guardian’s article, Car tyres produce vastly more particle pollution than exhausts, tests show
  • Human-triggered California wildfires more severe than natural blazes
  • Does Tuolumne County already own water rights? TUD attorney says it’s murky
  • SLO County town pledges water hookups for 13 new developments after decades-long ban
  • Choreographing restoration on Mono Lake’s tributary streams
  • Newport Beach set to have the West Coast’s first water wheel trash collector
  • Laughlin becomes new lake hotspot as Lake Mead water levels drop and temperatures rise

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

FUNDING OPPORTUNITY: $193 Million in Grant Funding Now Available for Water Infrastructure and Resilience Projects

FUNDING OPPORTUNITY: Sierra Nevada Conservancy announces $23 million forest and fire restoration grant program

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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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