DAILY DIGEST, 6/14: Toxic algae blooms on the rise and expected to worsen; Why water use varies so widely across California; Land fallowing could reach more than 690,000 acres due to drought; Farmers worry water-rights proposal could affect food supply; and more …


On the calendar today …

  • LEG HEARING: Assembly Committee on Water, Parks, and Wildlife at 9am. Full agenda and remote access link available here.
  • LEG HEARING: Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water at 9am.  Complete agenda and remote access link available here.
  • PUBLIC MEETING: Update on the development of the Biological Assessment for the 2021 Reinitiation of Consultation on the Long-Term Operation of the CVP and SWP from 1pm to 3pm.  Reclamation will hold a quarterly meeting 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, pursuant to the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act. Join the meeting here: Teams Meeting
  • PUBLIC WORKSHOP: Riverine Stewardship Program Final Guidelines and Proposal Solicitation Package – Redding from 1pm to 3pm.  DWR will host three hybrid public workshops on the Riverine Stewardship Program: San Joaquin Fish Population Enhancement Program (SJFPEP) & Urban Streams Restoration Program (USRP) Grants Final Guidelines and Proposal Solicitation Package (PSP).  Attend in person at the Shasta County Library at 1100 Parkview Avenue in Redding or click here to register for Zoom meeting.

In California water news today …

Why toxic algae blooms are on the rise across California — and expected to get worse

Rising temperatures and stagnant water generally signal trouble for human life, but they make for a great environment for the bright, blue-green scum often found in lakes, rivers and reservoirs that flourishes and blooms in hot weather.  These scum blooms, known as harmful algal blooms, are natural parts of the ecosystem, but can also release toxins that sicken or even kill people and animals. They’re becoming more common as temperatures rise and water systems are starved and disrupted, threatening not only public and wildlife health, but the state’s water supply, as well as beloved recreation areas like Lake Merritt in Oakland. “With climate change, it’s clear that this issue will get more severe,” said Marisa Van Dyke, a senior environmental scientist with the State Water Resources Control Board working on harmful algal bloom issues. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: Why toxic algae blooms are on the rise across California — and expected to get worse

Why water use varies so widely across California

As California increasingly slips into extreme drought and calls intensify to reduce water use, the state’s water savings in 2022 remain bleak. The average Californian used 83 gallons of water per day in April, compared with 73 in April 2020. That’s far from the 15 percent decrease that Gov. Gavin Newsom has called for as our reservoirs and the snowpack dwindle. (This underperformance has persisted since January.)  But, as is often the case with such an enormous state, the overall numbers only tell part of the story. … ”  Continue reading at the New York Times here: Why water use varies so widely across California

Land fallowing could reach more than 690,000 acres due to drought

The lack of available water supplies could increase the amount of agricultural land fallowing than previously estimated. Mike Wade, Executive Director of the California Farm Water Coalition, said that more is needed to ensure ample water availability moving forward. The state is looking at a significant economic impact due to dismal water supplies, which could have even further repercussions.  “We are looking at another dry year for California, and we’re coming off of a previous somewhat dry year. So, the water storage in our reservoirs was very low at the beginning of this year,” said Wade. “We’re potentially looking at record fallowing numbers, anywhere, in our estimate, from 594,000 to perhaps 691,000 acres of farmland that’s not going to be growing any food in 2022.” … ”  Read more from Ag Net West here:  Land fallowing could reach more than 690,000 acres due to drought

Farmers worry water-rights proposal could affect food supply

As drought continues to be a concern across California and Kern County, there is a new proposal in the state senate that could spend up to $1.5 billion to buy back the water rights that allow farmers to take as much water as they need from the state’s rivers and streams to grow their crops.  After decades of fighting farmers in court over how much water they can take out of California’s rivers and streams, some state lawmakers want to try something different: use taxpayer money to buy out farmers. It comes at a time when the state’s drought tracker says that almost 98 percent of California is currently experiencing yet another severe drought, which is resulting in low river levels.  Senator Bob Wieckowski and a group of other Democratic senators say the proposal comes as climate change is impacting hydrology throughout California. … ”  Read more from Channel 23 here: Farmers worry water-rights proposal could affect food supply

Is recycled wastewater the answer to California’s water shortage?

In exceptional drought season means California enters the summer under mandatory water use restrictions for the first time since 2015. Increasingly light snowfall sends less fresh water to be treated and distributed as fully drinkable water, making new methods of purifying water a vital priority. In fact, nearly 60% of the state is suffering from “extreme drought” conditions, according to the National Integrated Drought Information System.  Enter Dan McCurry, assistant professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering. McCurry is an environmental engineer who specializes in wastewater reuse and drinking-water treatment. We spoke with him about the water restrictions, the different types of wastewater and whether he meets the new state requirements for personal water use. ... ”  Read more from USC here: Is recycled wastewater the answer to California’s water shortage?

Could California be at a social tipping point towards sustainability of water use?

European Complex Systems scientists Ilona M. Otto et. al. published a conceptual model of the dynamics of social tipping points towards rapid decarbonization of the earth’s economy.  The concepts are also applicable to the changes needed to transition to more sustainable resource use, including water.  This figure from Otto’s paper shows a series of social tipping interventions leading towards rapid decarbonization. (SDG stands for the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.)  The transition to sustainability in water use could occur with a similar series of tipping points.  It seems that California could be at a social tipping point towards sustainability in water use, because of the extreme drought. … ”  Read more from the California Water Research blog here: Could California be at a social tipping point towards sustainability of water use?

The world’s largest trees are struggling to survive climate change

They are the largest trees in the world, living monuments with massive trunks and towering canopies that can thrive for 3,000 years. But ancient sequoia trees, which have been decimated by severe wildfires around California’s Sierra Nevada, are struggling to keep up with ever worsening conditions. And this summer, they could face their worst fate yet.  The trees, which grow in a narrow band of the Sierra Nevada, are accustomed to frequent wildfires — their tree rings show fire recurring every six to 30 years. But the worsening intensity of recent blazes have been too much for them to handle. Since 2020, three fires have resulted in the loss of 13 to 19 percent of the entire population, said Christy Brigham, chief of resources management and science at Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks. … ”  Continue reading at the Washington Post here: The world’s largest trees are struggling to survive climate change

Wildfires erupt in Arizona and California in foreboding sign of intense summer

Scorching temperatures and desperately dry conditions set the stage for the rapid spread of several explosive wildfires that erupted over the weekend, forcing evacuations in California and Arizona.  The blazes are among dozens that have broken out across the US south-west early in the summer, including a ferocious fire in New Mexico that became the worst in the state’s history. Officials say it’s a foreboding sign of what is shaping up to be another intense year of fire. ... ”  Read more from The Guardian here: Wildfires erupt in Arizona and California in foreboding sign of intense summer

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Budget …

Historic California budget moves toward finish line, features many one-time investments

With only a couple of days to go before a budget must be passed, members of the California State Assembly Budget Committee met on Monday to ask questions about the budget to the legislative staff, members of the California Department of Finance and the Legislative Analyst’s Office in an effort to pass the budget before the statutory deadline by midnight on Wednesday.  In May, Governor Gavin Newsom released a revised budget of nearly $300 billion, the largest budget in the history of California and the largest surplus the legislative and state has ever had to work with, at $97.5 billion. A portion of the surplus is already allocated to K-12 education under rules established through Proposition 98, which was passed by California voters in 1988; making the discretionary surplus closer to $49.2 billion. … ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service here: Historic California budget moves toward finish line, features many one-time investments

California lawmakers pass $300 billion budget, but haggling continues on gas relief

The California Legislature passed a massive $300 billion budget on Monday, but negotiations over key sticking points with Gov. Gavin Newsom – including billions of dollars in financial relief payouts – are still at the center of heated negotiations.  Monday’s vote approves a placeholder budget sometimes derided as a “sham” budget, which allows the Legislature to meet a June 15 deadline and keep getting paid as they hammer out the thorniest appropriation issues ahead of the July 1 fiscal year.  The budget blueprint overwhelmingly approved by Democratic supermajorities in the Senate and Assembly is expected to be amended in the coming weeks to reach a compromise with Newsom, who can veto any item he doesn’t like.  “We’re still negotiating all aspects of the budget,” Phil Ting of San Francisco, who chair’s the Assembly’s budget committee said in a phone call. “I anticipate having a budget that’s going to get signed in the coming weeks.” ... ”  Read more from The Reporter here: California lawmakers pass $300 billion budget, but haggling continues on gas relief

Newsom wary of lawmaker-approved budget

Depending on whom you ask, the $300-billion-plus budget bill California lawmakers passed on Monday either was developed largely behind closed doors, ignores the state’s biggest problems and fails to provide urgent relief amid skyrocketing inflation — or offered ample opportunity for public input, makes historic investments in vital programs and ensures the neediest residents will receive financial help as quickly as possible.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, the first perspective was voiced by Republicans — who have virtually no say in California’s budget process — and the second by Democrats, who control a supermajority of seats in the state Legislature and don’t need GOP votes to pass a spending plan.  But Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom didn’t seem too impressed with the budget, either — even though Nancy Skinner, the Berkeley Democrat who leads the Senate budget committee, said it was 95% in alignment with the governor’s own blueprint. ... ”  Read more from Cal Matters here: Newsom wary of lawmaker-approved budget

Dan Walters: California’s sham budget and unintended consequences

The “law of unintended consequences” is a tenet of classic economics — essentially a warning that an action meant to have a positive effect can often bring a negative outcome.  The political version is an oft-voiced admonition: “What goes around comes around.”  The California Legislature’s frantic effort this week to approve a 2022-23 budget — or at least its unfinished version of the budget — exemplifies the principle.  For many decades, the state constitution has required the Legislature to pass a budget by June 15 but for many decades the requirement was routinely violated — sometimes for months.  During those decades, the budget required a two-thirds vote in the Legislature, which meant the minority party — usually Republicans — could hold up passage until its demands were met. The syndrome reached a climactic point in 2009 when one Republican state senator, Abel Maldonado, refused to vote for the budget until Democratic leaders agreed to place a measure on the ballot to change California’s primary election process to what’s called a “top-two” system. … ”  Read more from Cal Matters here: Dan Walters: California’s sham budget and unintended consequences

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In commentary today …

Time to reform the unreasonable San Joaquin River exchange contract

Doug Obegi, Director of California River Restoration of NRDC’s Water Division, writes, “The Biden Administration has an opportunity later this year to begin the process of reforming one of the most unreasonable water contracts in California: the San Joaquin River Exchange Contract.  People who have never heard of the San Joaquin River Exchange Contractors may be shocked to learn that thanks to their permanent contract with the Bureau of Reclamation, these four water districts appear to be getting more water from the Bay-Delta than anyone else in California (75 percent of their maximum contract amount this year, which is more than 656,000 acre feet of water), and have been getting more water under this contract than they would be entitled to under their claimed senior water right.  Last month, NRDC sent this letter requesting that the Bureau of Reclamation formally request renegotiation of the contract, as provided for in the contract.  Reforming this contract is a matter of fundamental fairness and is necessary to protect California’s rivers, salmon, and the Bay-Delta. … ”  Read more from the NRDC here: Time to reform the unreasonable San Joaquin River exchange contract

Dams, a key part of state infrastructure, must be kept safe

Dave Eggerton, executive director of the Association of California Water Agencies, and Michael Quigley, executive director of the California Alliance for Jobs, writes, “We applaud Gov. Gavin Newsom and the Legislature for taking bold action last year to fund climate resilience and related water infrastructure in the fiscal year 2021-’22 state budget. In light of the current budget surplus, funding for climate resilience and water infrastructure should remain a key priority for investment in California.  Dedicating a small fraction of the state’s budget surplus dollars for safety and climate resilience projects at existing dams in the state budget would be a prudent step for the governor and Legislature. … ”  Read more from the NRDC here: Dams, a key part of state infrastructure, must be kept safe

The Abundance Choice, Part 14: Infinite abundance

Edward Ring, contributing editor and senior fellow with the California Policy Center, writes, “From the inaugural Stanford Digital Economy Lab gathering in April 2022, noted venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson posted the following quote to Facebook: “Our goal is to usher in an era of infinite abundance.”  “Infinite abundance.”  This phrase epitomizes the ongoing promise of California’s tech culture. Despite every political shortcoming California may suffer, its technology sector continues to set the pace for the rest of the world. “Infinite abundance,” evocative of an earlier tech mantra “better, faster, cheaper,” is not only a defining aspiration of tech entrepreneurs, it is closer to being realized every day.  So why is it that Californians can’t generate abundant electric power? Why is it that Californians can’t figure out how to deliver abundant water? And how does a future of rationed, scarce energy and water square with the dreams of infinite abundance that inspire every one of California’s high tech entrepreneurs and investors? And insofar as the political clout of California’s high tech sector gives it almost infinite influence, when will its high-tech innovators confront this paradox? … ”  Read more from the California Globe here: The Abundance Choice, Part 14: Infinite abundance

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In regional water news and commentary today …

NORTH COAST

As the Klamath Basin faces another dry year, the effects are far-reaching

The Klamath Basin has been plagued by drought and a lack of water for years. Last year, the region faced one of the worst droughts on record, and this year Gov. Kate Brown declared a drought emergency in Klamath County for the third year in a row.  The effects are far-reaching for tribes, ranchers, farmers, waterfowl advocates and people who rely on residential wells. OPB spoke to people from the region to hear how they’re faring as they face another dry year. … ”  Read more from OPB here: As the Klamath Basin faces another dry year, the effects are far-reaching

Students learn about water ecology at Creek Days

For the past 21 years, local elementary school students have had a hands-on opportunity to learn about watershed ecology at Creek Days, a collaborative event hosted by the Eel River Watershed Improvement Group and volunteers with the Watershed Stewards Program.  The three-day 2022 Creek Days was held in April at Gould Grove Nature Loop Trail just south of Myers Flat off the Avenue of the Giants.  “Eleven schools from as far north as Blue Lake traveled to Humboldt Redwoods State Park’s Gould Grove loop Trail to experience the magic of the redwoods,” said Alyssa Owen, Watershed Stewards Program corps member and coordinator of the Creek Days event. ... ”  Read more from the Eureka Times-Standard here: Students learn about water ecology at Creek Days

MOUNTAIN COUNTIES

Mudslides in Dixie Fire zone close 46 miles of Highway 70

Mudslides in Plumas County, where last summer’s devastating Dixie Fire denuded slopes, closed 46 miles of Highway 70 through the Feather River Canyon Monday and there’s no scheduled reopening.  According to Caltrans, the highway, which winds along the Feather River for much of its route, is blocked by multiple mud slides and debris flows that occurred in burn scars left by the Dixie Fire. Caltrans has closed the highway between Jarbo Gap and the Greenville Wye. Crews are working to clean up the road-clogging messes, which contain mostly mud and debris, from at least three places and they’re assessing the extent of the damage. The first blocked Highway 70 near Belden, a small town on the river known for its sign depicting a martini glass atop a one-lane trestle bridge. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: Mudslides in Dixie Fire zone close 46 miles of Highway 70

Yosemite undergoes forest thinning due to wildfire risk; environmentalists want it stopped

For more than a century, Yosemite National Park was viewed as a refuge where nature prevails unmolested by man-made forces amid picturesque vistas of granite cliffs, waterfalls and giant sequoias.  But this year is different. The park has now become the latest cauldron in controversial federal forest thinning operations unfolding on public lands across the West in response to climate change, drought and the risk of catastrophic wildfires.  A U.S. District Court judge on Tuesday was expected to hear a request by the nonprofit Earth Island Institute for a preliminary injunction to halt the National Park Service’s ongoing “biomass removal project” across nearly 2,000 acres within the park. In a lawsuit that was filed a day earlier, environmentalists argued that the work violates federal environmental requirements. ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here: Yosemite undergoes forest thinning due to wildfire risk; environmentalists want it stopped

SACRAMENTO VALLEY

Sacramento watering rules don’t apply to your trees. Here’s how to care for them in drought

Sacramentans should continue to water their trees regularly despite the city’s watering restrictions on lawns and landscapes. While residents can only water their lawns and landscapes twice a week during the dry season until the end of October, trees are exempt from this restriction, according to the city. Why are trees exempt from this rule, and how can I keep my trees healthy? … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Sacramento watering rules don’t apply to your trees. Here’s how to care for them in drought

SEE ALSO: Despite drought conditions, Sacramento officials urge residents to continue watering trees, from KCRA Channel 3

NAPA/SONOMA

Sonoma Water board approves study of lower Russian River wastewater treatment options

The Sonoma County Water Agency (Sonoma Water) Board of Directors voted today to move forward with a study of options to treat wastewater in the lower Russian River communities of Monte Rio and Villa Grande.  “This study will build the foundation for community-specific solutions to protect public health and improve water quality in the Russian River,” said Sonoma County Supervisor Lynda Hopkins, who also is a Sonoma Water director. “The Lower Russian River Wastewater Citizens Advisory Group will be actively engaged in working with the study team, so we can be sure that the solutions reflect local concerns, including affordability.” ... ”  Read more from the County of Sonoma here: Sonoma Water board approves study of lower Russian River wastewater treatment options

SEE ALSOSonoma Water Agency Approves $425,000 Study For Water Treatment Options, from SF Gate

BAY AREA

Marin looks to avoid another fish kill at Civic Center Lagoon

Following an algal bloom that suffocated and killed more than 100 fish at the Marin County Civic Center lagoon two years ago, county parks staff say they have made changes to help prevent further die-offs.  From fixing water features that supply new oxygen to the lagoon to better timing invasive plant removal, parks crews aim to avoid water conditions similar to those that caused the deadly algal bloom in August 2020.  “It does occur in areas of freshwater that are shallow and warm with potential algae blooms,” said Ari Golan, county parks and open space superintendent. “Here at this lagoon, that was the first time that most folks have seen or remember seeing it.” … ”  Read more from the Marin Independent Journal here: Marin looks to avoid another fish kill at Civic Center Lagoon

CENTRAL COAST

Scotts Valley to offer free recycled water for residents’ plants

The Scotts Valley water district says you don’t have to let your plants die, the district is giving away free recycled water for outdoor irrigation. It’s one of several new programs and incentives to get customers to use less water as the water district moves into stage 2 of water conservation.  The free recycled water is available to Scotts Valley residents and they can get up to 250 gallons every Saturday. Three faucets located across from the Scotts Valley senior center at the end of Kings Village road dispense the water.  The district is also offering a $2 per square foot rebate for people who replace their turf with drought-resistant plants. If that’s not enough, you could win $100 each month if you reduce your water use by 15 percent over last year. If you consistently save water over 4-months you could be eligible to win $500. ... ”  Continue reading at KSBY here: Scotts Valley to offer free recycled water for residents’ plants

Buellflat Rock Co. to modify reclamation plan for deep mining near Solvang

“A decision on a new reclamation plan for a deep mining operation west of Solvang city limits was postponed to July 27 by the Santa Barbara Planning Commission so the Buellflat Rock Co. can modify the project description to address potential impacts from daily truck trips.  Commissioners unanimously agreed to continue the hearing Wednesday, at their first in-person meeting since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, after hearing presentations from the staff, applicant and members of the public.  Additional truck trips were a concern for not only the public but also commissioners, although a company spokesman said it’s unlikely more trucks would be entering and leaving the mine at the Highway 246 intersection with Skytt Mesa Drive ... ” Read more from the Santa Ynez Times here:  Buellflat Rock Co. to modify reclamation plan for deep mining near Solvang

SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY

The challenges of using less water in the southern San Joaquin Valley

Groundwater overdraft and land subsidence are creating problems across the San Joaquin Valley. Nowhere is that more evident than in Tule, where the Friant-Kern Canal is undergoing millions of dollars in repairs due to subsidence-related damage. As the valley seeks to comply with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) and reduce groundwater pumping, we spoke with two experts who were recently awarded—together with a range of partners—one of the first block grants under the state’s new multi-benefit farmland repurposing program. Eric Limas is the general manager of three irrigation districts and manages two groundwater sustainability agencies (GSAs) in the San Joaquin Valley, and Reyn Akiona is an ecologist and watershed coordinator for the Tule subbasin.  Q:  What’s your current strategy for managing water demand, and how is the drought impacting your efforts?  A:  Reyn Akiona: Developing a shared understanding with landowners about the limitation of groundwater supplies is the first step. … ”  Read more from the PPIC here: The challenges of using less water in the southern San Joaquin Valley

Woodward Reservoir has allowed SSJID to carry over water in district

The completion of Woodward Reservoir 116 years ago this year has been a godsend to South San Joaquin Irrigation District as well as the cities of Manteca, Lathrop, and Tracy.  It has played a key role as an in-district safety net to help SSJID to weather the drought in much better shape than many other water purveyors in California including Tri-Dam Project partner, the Oakdale Irrigation District.  The reservoir that holds 36,000 acre feet of water or enough for just over three complete districtwide irrigation runs. Woodward is off stream as opposed to Tri-Dam reservoirs at Goodwin, Tulloch, Beardsley, and Donnells as well as the Bureau of Reclamation’s New Melones that holds up to 600,000 acre feet for OID and SSJID as the result of the original Melones Reservoir being inundated to build it. … ”  Read more from the Manteca Bulletin here: Woodward Reservoir has allowed SSJID to carry over water in district

EASTERN SIERRA

Ridgecrest: Groundwater Authority focuses on improving communication

At its regular board meeting on June 8, the board of the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority approved a motion to allocate $60,000 towards improving its communication with the IWV community.  The motion passed by a vote of 4-1, with the “no” vote coming from Stan Rajtora who represents the IWV Water District.  IWVGA celebrated early this year when its groundwater sustainability plan was approved by the California Department of Water Resources. However, the letter of approval also came with seven recommended corrective actions, and the first on the list was a recommendation to provide more information on community communication and engagement plans. … ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here: Groundwater Authority focuses on improving communication

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

Environmental groups pull support from L.A. River Master Plan at the 11th hour

A coalition of environmental groups has withdrawn support for the L.A River Master Plan over differences with its recommendations for uplifting the profile of the concrete flood control channel over the next 25 years.  The groups had been threatening to walk away ever since L.A. County Public Works included far-reaching proposals submitted by famed architect Frank Gehry to transform the forlorn industrial confluence of the Los Angeles River and the Rio Hondo in South Gate into a cultural park.  The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors was expected on Tuesday to vote on adopting the final L.A. River Master Plan. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: Environmental groups pull support from L.A. River Master Plan at the 11th hour

Golf courses in Southern California using recycled water to keep grass green

Golf and green grass have long been a perfect pair, but some favor drastic measures when the region is in a drought.  “I believe if it goes for one it goes for all,” said Chino Hills resident Remon Meleka. “You can’t restrict a homeowner or a business and not restrict another person.”  From his backyard in Chino Hills, Meleka stares at the Los Serranos Golf Club, a public facility that uses recycled water to keep its fairways and putting greens lush. Since Meleka relies on drinking water for irrigation so he must limit watering to three days a week. However, since Los Serranos utilizes recycled water they are not subject to watering restrictions.  It’s a similar story in Long Beach, where the city’s five municipal golf courses use recycled water for its fairways and greens. However, the rules prohibit oversaturation. … ”  Read more from CBS News here: Golf courses in Southern California using recycled water to keep grass green

Big Bear Lake restricts outdoor water use for residents, businesses amid California drought

Big Bear Lake has become the latest Southern California city to crack down on people watering their lawns.  The city is now severely limiting outdoor water use to just two days a week as a means of battling California’s worsening drought.Residents and businesses with even-numbered addresses can water outdoors on Wednesdays and Saturdays. … ”  Read more from ABC 7 here: Big Bear Lake restricts outdoor water use for residents, businesses amid California drought

Column: Prepare to use less water in OC and, perhaps, pay more for the privilege

Teri Sforza writes, “Soon we’ll all be using less water — and some of us may be lucky enough to pay more for the privilege!  Happy Summer of the Drought, version 2022, folks.  Be warned: It might hurt a bit. Orange County’s cities and water districts used 25% more water this April than in April 2020, even with the state’s emergency regulations bearing down, urging us to shrink water use up to 20%.  There are many reasons why this April was so much thirstier – more on that in a minute – but the agencies that saw the biggest jumps were: San Juan Capistrano, up 61.5%; Trabuco Canyon Water District, up 43.9%;  Yorba Linda Water District, up 42.8%; Anaheim, up 33.7%; Irvine Ranch Water District, up 32.7%; and the Santa Margarita Water District and the city of San Clemente, both up 32.6%.  Only one — Mesa Water District  — reduced usage over those years, by 15.6%. ... ”  Continue reading at the OC Register here:  Column: Prepare to use less water in OC and, perhaps, pay more for the privilege

During drought conditions, some wonder: Is it wise to open a water park?

Amid a third year of drought conditions, the message to Californians remains: Conserve, conserve, conserve.  So how wise, some wonder, is opening a water park like Wild Rivers in Irvine, at a time when residents are being asked to cut back on their daily water use and officials are cracking down on quenching “non-functional” turf statewide?  The $60 million water park is expected to welcome visitors starting June 20. On a 20-acre footprint in Irvine’s Great Park, Wild Rivers will feature a number of water coasters and slides, a wave pool, lazy river and kids attractions.  After the original park closed in 2011 to make way for housing, its return to the city has been a long time coming for fans who remember splashing down rides during the park’s more than 25-year run. … ”  Read more from the OC Register here: During drought conditions, some wonder: Is it wise to open a water park?

Costa Mesa water district responds to state water restrictions

Amid California’s ongoing drought, Mesa Water District, a water supplier serving roughly 110,000 residents, is requiring its customers to reduce outdoor watering to four days a week, fix plumbing issues within 72-hours, and not water any non-recreational or decorative grass.  Mesa Water District is among many urban water suppliers in California that are under a state mandate to limit water use, effective June 10.  “We encourage everyone to use water wisely,” Celeste Carillo, a spokeswoman for Mesa Water District, told The Epoch Times. “But for the most part, Californians are efficient water users.” … ”  Read more from the Epoch Times here: Costa Mesa water district responds to state water restrictions

SAN DIEGO

Oceanside encourages residents to take drought reduction actions

Oceanside urged residents Monday to cut back their water use, following a similar move by the city of San Diego in response to the State Water Board and Gov. Gavin Newsom’s executive order requiring water suppliers to implement mandatory restrictions.  “The Water Utilities Department is complying with state regulations as the drought progresses,” said Rosemarie Chora, the city’s Water Utilities Division manager. “As summer approaches, we ask residents and businesses to do their part and be mindful of water usage.” … ”  Read more from Fox 5 here: Oceanside encourages residents to take drought reduction actions

San Diego: 24 area water agencies to collect over $90m

Two dozen members of the San Diego County Water Authority, a wholesale water supplier in the county, will be collecting more than $10 million as part of a successful litigation against the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.  A total of $90.7 million has now been collected by water agencies from Carlsbad to Yuima in Pauma Valley through the SDCWA’s successful rate litigation.  The lowest total distribution to a member agency was nearly $12,000 to Pendleton Military Reserve; the highest nearly $37 million to the city of San Diego.  The money will allow water agencies throughout the county to offset current and future inflationary pressures. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Business Journal here: San Diego: 24 area water agencies to collect over $90m

The border wall project across the Tijuana River is back

There’s a gap in the latest and tallest version of the U.S.-Mexico border wall where Tijuana meets San Diego, and through it flows the sewage- and trash-blighted Tijuana River.   U.S. Homeland Security announced May 27 they’re “closing that gap” by building the border wall across the river. The federal agency proposed a similar project in 2020 that never moved forward. That project entailed building a 20-foot-wide roadway with a series of gates below, which would open when the river is raging during the rainy season, or during an unexpected sewage spill or broken water main in Mexico. … ”  Read more from the Voice of San Diego here: The border wall project across the Tijuana River is back

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Along the Colorado River …

The Colorado River: Where the West quenches its thirst

Looking downstream at Colorado River from Glen Canyon Dam tailrace.

The Colorado River begins in the Rocky Mountains, collecting snowmelt as it meanders through an alpine valley. Across a vast swath of Colorado, Wyoming and Utah, the river grows as it takes in major tributaries: the Gunnison, the Dolores, the Green and others.  The Colorado River Basin encompasses more than 246,000 square miles in seven U.S. states and northern Mexico. On its 1,450-mile journey, the river scours the Grand Canyon and flows into the country’s two largest reservoirs.  The heavy use of the Colorado River has made the Southwest the region it is today, with sprawling suburbs, swimming pools, golf courses and lush farms in the desert. ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here: The Colorado River: Where the West quenches its thirst

Commentary: It’s time for Legislature to protect water for all Arizonans

Kevin Moran, member of the steering committee of Water for Arizona Coalition and AVP of Regional Affairs for the Environmental Defense Fund, writes, “My work is keeping me up at night these days.  I’m very concerned because the groundwater that rural Arizonans rely on for drinking and their livelihoods is at serious risk. I’m very concerned because the natural water-fed outdoor spaces I have enjoyed since I was a child are at risk of disappearing. Decades of drought and unregulated groundwater overpumping are threatening life in rural Arizona as we know it.  In my work I have heard urgent calls for help from rural Arizonans get louder and louder over the past few years.  Up to now our Legislature has ignored them.  It’s time we give them real and workable answers. … ”  Read more from Arizona Public Media here: Commentary: It’s time for Legislature to protect water for all Arizonans

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In national water news today …

EPA announces $6.5 billion in new funding available for water infrastructure projects

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the 2022 notices of funding availability for the agency’s Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program and the State Infrastructure Financing Authority WIFIA (SWIFIA) program. This year’s funding will provide up to $6.5 billion in total funding to support $13 billion in water infrastructure projects while creating more than 40,000 jobs.  “Water infrastructure provides the foundation for healthy and vibrant communities by delivering safe drinking water and returning our treated wastewater to the environment,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox. “In too many communities, these essential pipes and pumps are decades old and need to be upgraded. That’s why EPA is providing $6.5 billion in low-cost financing through WIFIA and SWIFIA that can help revitalize our water systems while creating good paying jobs and delivering significant economic benefits, especially in underserved and overburdened communities.” … ”  Read more from the EPA here: EPA announces $6.5 billion in new funding available for water infrastructure projects

Common drugs pollute rivers on every continent

For more than 20 years scientists have known that the drugs we take, for maladies ranging from headaches to diabetes, eventually make their way into our waterways—where they can harm the ecosystem and potentially promote antibiotic resistance.  But most research on pharmaceutical contaminants has been done in North America, Europe and China and has examined just a small subset of compounds. The studies also use a variety of sampling and analysis methods, making it hard to compare results. Such limitations mean scientists may be missing a big piece of the pollution puzzle.  A new paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA provides a more comprehensive look. ... ”  Read more from the Scientific American here: Common drugs pollute rivers on every continent

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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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