In California water news today …
Huge reservoir near Bay Area could be expanded to store more water
“Motorists zooming along Highway 152 through Pacheco Pass between Gilroy and Los Banos notice an unusual site amid the parched, oak-studded hills: A vast inland sea. The shimmering body of water, San Luis Reservoir, is 7 miles long and a key part of California’s modern water supply created when President John F. Kennedy pushed a dynamite plunger there in 1962 to kick off its construction. Today water from the massive lake irrigates farmland across the Central Valley and also provides drinking water for Silicon Valley, including San Jose. Last Friday, a major new construction project started at San Luis — a $1.1 billion plan by the federal government to strengthen the huge earthen dam and raise it 10 feet to reduce the risk of it collapsing in a major earthquake. But more than earthquake safety work is afoot. ... ” Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here: Huge reservoir near Bay Area could be expanded to store more water | Read via the Woodland Dail7 Democrat
Farmers encouraged to participate in pesticide notification workshops
“The California Department of Pesticide Regulation is hosting a series of public workshops that will inform the design of a Statewide Pesticide Application Notification System. The workshops will be taking place today, tomorrow, and Wednesday via Zoom. Western Agricultural Processors Association President and CEO, Roger Isom has questioned the need for a statewide notification approach. As the pilot programs continue to get underway, Isom noted that it will be important for the agriculture community to engage on the issue. … ” Read more and listen at Ag Net West here: Farmers encouraged to participate in pesticide notification workshops
New tools may predict wildfire season severity, rainfall months ahead
“In the parched southwestern United States, few forecasts are as important as the future height of Lake Mead, which tells federal authorities how much water to release to the 20 million people living downstream of the giant reservoir. This year, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is testing out a new tool it hopes will make those projections a little better: A model that can predict — months in advance — the summer rainfall associated with the North American Monsoon.The ability to forecast monsoon rains that far in advance has long eluded meteorologists. But if the new approach proves successful, the bureau believes it could lead to better summer projections of Lake Mead’s January water level — a key metric the agency uses to plan water releases during the coming year. With water levels in Lake Mead running a record low and the bureau implementing its first-ever water shortage declaration in 2022, even small improvements in these reservoir projections can make a difference. … ” Read more from the Washington Post here: New tools may predict wildfire season severity, rainfall months ahead
Drought and bark beetles are killing the oldest trees on Earth. Can they be saved?
“Forest pathologist Martin MacKenzie strode forward on a narrow path through California’s mythic bristlecone pine forest in the White Mountains near the Nevada border, methodically scanning gnarled limbs for the invaders that threaten the lives of some of the world’s oldest trees. These intruders are bark beetles, a menace smaller than a pencil eraser, but they bore by the thousands into the bark and feast on the moist inner core, where trees transport nutrients from roots to crown. Then they carve out egg galleries, where hungry larvae hatch. A blue stain fungus carried in by the pests delivers the coup de grace — a clogged circulatory system. … ” Continue reading at the LA Times here: Drought and bark beetles are killing the oldest trees on Earth. Can they be saved? | Read via Yahoo News
Just how bad will California’s summer wildfire season be?
“California’s wildfire season intensifies between July and October when temperatures soar, vegetation becomes bone dry and desiccating winds develop. The peak season that has been marked by devastating blazes and smoky skies in recent years is approaching fast, and many are wondering just how bad it will be. The consensus among experts is that the next few months will see above-average fire activity as has been the case in recent years amid a changing climate marked by hotter temperatures and longer dry periods. Nearly all of California is in a severe or extreme drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. … ” Read more from SF Gate here: Just how bad will California’s summer wildfire season be?
California’s giant sequoias are being destroyed by wildfires. This bill can save them
“Turns out bipartisan cooperation in Washington, D.C. isn’t completely dead, after all. It just requires a tall miracle. Giant sequoias were considered virtually invulnerable to wildfire. That view abruptly changed over the past two years when nearly a fifth of the world’s largest trees perished in wildfires that devastated the southern Sierra Nevada. With more lethal blazes feared imminent, urgent action was needed. Help arrived Thursday in the form of the Save Our Sequoias Act, introduced by 28 bipartisan House members including California Democrats Scott Peters and Jim Costa and Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. … ” Continue reading at the Sacramento Bee here: California’s giant sequoias are being destroyed by wildfires. This bill can save them | Read via Yahoo News
Vast swaths of privately owned forestland will close to public on July 1 because of wildfire risk, drought
“As wildfire season ramps up in Northern California, a major lumber manufacturer is temporarily closing public access to its forestlands. Sierra Pacific Industries, which owns more than 2 million acres of timberland in California, Oregon and Washington, will close its California forestlands starting July 1 because of “extreme drought conditions and increasing risk of wildfire,” according to a news release. “Despite some of the late-spring rains, California is experiencing the driest conditions it has had in 1,200 years,” said Andrea Howell, a company spokesperson. “To help protect our forest resources and public safety, Sierra Pacific is closing our California lands to public access and recreation.” … ” Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: Vast swaths of privately owned forestland will close to public on July 1 because of wildfire risk, drought
And lastly … Water: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)
John Oliver discusses the water shortage in the American west, how it’s already impacting the people who live there, and what God has to say about it.
In commentary today …
Editorial: California has a chance to lead the nation on cutting plastic trash. If we don’t blow it
The LA Times editorial board writes, “The last few years have seen one distressing news story after another about the scourge of plastic waste: Single-use plastic packaging dumped in the ocean is killing sea animals who mistake it for food. Elephants in Sri Lanka are dying after ingesting plastic trash piled up in open-air landfills. Discarded bottles, bags and wrapping broken down into microplastic have invaded our food system and even our bloodstream. Microplastic is in the air we breathe and water we drink. Recycling has turned out to be a myth, with less than 10% of the plastic ever made being turned into something else. Yet, frustratingly, plastic production is still booming while the nation’s leaders sit by and do little but double down on failed recycling programs. … ” Read more from the LA Times here: Editorial: California has a chance to lead the nation on cutting plastic trash. If we don’t blow it
In regional water news and commentary today …
Tehachapi: City will study options for improving water quality
“Water quality in the city of Tehachapi exceeds all state and federal water quality requirements and no water quality violations have occurred, Public Works Director Don Marsh told the Tehachapi City Council during its regular meeting on June 20. But water from the Snyder Well — which the city currently only uses for irrigation — fails to meet nitrate standards. It is not physically connected to the domestic water system. Two other wells produce water containing nitrates, and they are approaching legally allowable limits of the compounds, Marsh said. The city blends water from these two wells with water from three other wells with low levels of nitrates. … ” Read more from the Tehachapi News here: City will study options for improving water quality
From the sewage to your cup. Can recycling water save Southern California?
“To state the obvious: California has a water problem. That’s why more than 6 million Southern Californians can water outside only once or twice a week as of June 1. But experts say conservation alone can’t solve our water woes. So what does water security look like in a drier future? This story focuses on one piece of the puzzle: recycling wastewater. Let’s dig in. ... ” Read more from the LAist here: From the sewage to your cup. Can recycling water save Southern California?
Commentary: Oops, the IID did it again
John Dantice of El Centro writes, “The Imperial Irrigation District has a habit of making hallow demands. In order to agree to the Quantification Settlement Agreement for the largest transfer of farm water to urban use in 2003, the IID demanded that the state of California agree to fund restoration of the Salton Sea. The State agreed to the demand. After the QSA was in effect for ten years and with no significant funds from the state for Salton Sea restoration, what meaningful threats did the IID make to withdraw from the QSA for non-performance by the state of California? None. Why? … ” Read more from the Imperial Valley Press here: Oops, the IID did it again
Along the Colorado River …
Fill Lake Powell? Coalition calling for more water to be stored in the reservoir faces tough road ahead.
“As federal officials and the seven states in the Colorado River basin are negotiating the largest cuts to water use in the region’s history, a coalition of recreational users on Lake Powell are calling on water managers to partially refill the nation’s second-largest reservoir. In 2019, the 4.3 million recreational users who visited Lake Powell generated $420 million in economic activity, according to the Blue Ribbon Coalition, which announced a campaign to “Fill Lake Powell” earlier this month. … Burr joined forces with businesses on the reservoir and the social media brand Powellheadz to advocate for a target elevation of 3,588 above sea level, far above the level of 3,525 that was set in a 2017 drought contingency plan to protect hydropower generation at the Glen Canyon Dam. … ” Read more from the Salt Lake Tribune here: Fill Lake Powell? Coalition calling for more water to be stored in the reservoir faces tough road ahead.
Pipelines? Desalination? Turf removal? Arizona commits $1B to augment, conserve water supplies
“The Colorado River’s precipitous decline pushed Arizona lawmakers to deliver Gov. Doug Ducey’s $1 billion water augmentation fund — and then some — late Friday, their final night in session. Before the votes, the growing urgency for addressing the state’s oncoming water shortage and the long timeline for approving and building new water projects nearly sank the legislation. Just over a week after the federal government warned that the seven states that use the Colorado must make major new cutbacks by next year, Democrats held out until they got an additional $200 million commitment for water conservation, which they argued could help Arizonans much faster than the costlier seawater desalination plan that the governor has touted. … ” Read more from Arizona Central here: Pipelines? Desalination? Turf removal? Arizona commits $1B to augment, conserve water supplies | Read via Yahoo News
Arizona to spend $1 billion seeking new water sources
“Gov. Doug Ducey is expected to sign legislation as early as this week to spend $1 billion looking for long-term sources of new water for Arizona. State lawmakers finally lined up the votes for the plan Friday, the last day of their 2022 session. Both the House and Senate agreed to empower a revamped Water Infrastructure Finance Agency to come up with, and fund, ways to deal with the fact Arizona is getting less Colorado River water as its population continues to increase. Given the drought of historic proportions, the situation is expected to get worse. The plan requires that 75% of the funding be spent to acquire water from outside of the state, which could include building a plant to desalinate water from the Sea of Cortez in Sonora. State officials have also mentioned exploring the possibility of a pipeline from the Mississippi River. … ” Read more from Tucson.com here: Arizona to spend $1 billion seeking new water sources
Commentary: It’s not just a break from the heat: Why an active monsoon is so crucial for desert life
“On June 15, the United States Geological Survey stream flow gauge on Sycamore Creek, northeast of Fountain Hills, read zero cubic-feet-per-second (cfs). But on Sept. 20 last year, it briefly registered 9,560 cfs. That’s virtually the same as the flow of the Colorado River at Lee’s Ferry today (9,770 cfs). And on New Year’s Day 2022, the Sycamore gauge peaked at 1,600 cfs, a little higher than the 1,110 cfs the lower Salt River is currently flowing. … These summer and winter floods flush the accumulated filth of the dry, low streamflow months down the canyon, into the Verde River, and renew the ravaged bottoms of Sycamore. This wild fluctuation of stream flows is a testament to the intensity and variability of rainfall in the Sonoran Desert. Here’s hoping we get another monsoon like last year’s. … ” Read more from Arizona Central here: It’s not just a break from the heat: Why an active monsoon is so crucial for desert life
Scottsdale’s water principles could affect projects
“Scottsdale City Council strengthened its commitment to water sustainability last week by adopting a set of water-management principles. “These principles are a set of nine compiled from existing Scottsdale Water’s policies and practices with the intent of providing a transparent framework for sustainable water solutions for Scottsdale … They span the width and breath of what we do in Scottsdale Water,” said Scottsdale Water Executive Director Brian Biesemeyer. The principles are 1. Water Quality 2. Water Conservation 3. Water Resource Planning 4. Water and Land Use Management 5. Water Recycle and Reuse 6. Water Recharge and Recovery 7. Infrastructure 8. Financial Planning 9. Climate Change and Drought. … ” Read more from the East Valley Tribune here: Scottsdale’s water principles could affect projects
Utah urges water conservation this summer
“Currently, 72% of Utah is experiencing extreme drought, with the remainder of the state in severe drought. With a dry summer likely and water restrictions already in place around the state, it is crucial that Utahns conserve the water we have. One bright spot was the late-spring precipitation in northern Utah, which means that soil water stores were replenished and irrigation could be postponed. According to Kelly Kopp, Utah State University Extension water conservation and turfgrass specialist, Utah is the second driest state in the nation based on average annual precipitation, yet one of the top per capita users of water. … ” Read more from the Western Farm Press here: Utah urges water conservation this summer.
In national water news today …
Clean water advocates defend Clean Water Act in SCOTUS brief
“The Waterkeeper Alliance, San Francisco Baykeeper, Bayou City Waterkeeper, and 47 additional Waterkeeper groups from across the country have filed an amicus brief with the United States Supreme Court today to defend the Clean Water Act (CWA) from efforts to substantially narrow the definition of federally protected waters. An amicus brief is a letter offering insight to a legal case, written by organizations that are not directly part of the case. Specifically, the advocates are arguing in support of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the case Sackett v. EPA, and asking the Supreme Court to uphold the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling about the scope of wetlands protected under the landmark environmental law. … ” Read more from Water World here: Clean water advocates defend Clean Water Act in SCOTUS brief
Human disruption to Earth’s freshwater cycle has exceeded the safe limit, our research shows
“Green water – the rainwater available to plants in the soil – is indispensable for life on and below the land. But in a new study, we found that widespread pressure on this resource has crossed a critical limit. The planetary boundaries framework – a concept that scientists first discussed in 2009 – identified nine processes that have remained remarkably steady in the Earth system over the last 11,700 years. These include a relatively stable global climate and an intact biosphere that have allowed civilisations based on agriculture to thrive. Researchers proposed that each of these processes has a boundary that, once crossed, puts the Earth system, or substantial components of it, at risk of upset. … ” Read more from The Conversation here: Human disruption to Earth’s freshwater cycle has exceeded the safe limit, our research shows
Swamps can protect against climate change, if we only let them
“It can be hell finding one’s way across an extensive boggy moor—the partially dry, rough ground and the absence of any landmarks let the eye rove helplessly into the monotype distance. Everything undulates, the rise and fall share the same muted palette, and the senses dull. But a swamp is different: in it, in addition to water, there are trees and shrubs, just as reeds and rushes are the hallmarks of a marsh. Although water and squelch are everywhere in a swamp, there are landmarks—downed trees or jagged stumps, a tenanted heron nest, occasional islands of high-ground hardwood stands, called “hammocks” in the South. Yet the swamp traveller goes not in a straight line but slouches from quaking island to thick tussock to slippery, half-submerged log. Even with G.P.S. technology, big swamps are places to get lost, and in the past many people with a reason to melt out of sight—Native Americans threatened out of their territory, runaway slaves, Civil War army deserters, moonshiners, and bloody-handed murderers—have hidden in them. For a few seconds, I once considered hiding in a swamp myself. … ” Read more from the New Yorker here: Swamps can protect against climate change, if we only let them
More news and commentary in the weekend edition …
In California water news this weekend …
New technology saving water and environment could make difference in farm profitability
- Sacramento County wants to float money into new bill to remove over 30 abandoned vessels
- ‘Save our water’: Signs urge Californians to limit outdoor watering amid drought
- The grande dames of the Delta
- High levels of PFAS ‘forever chemicals’ found in fish
- Robot fish cleans microplastics from water
- Ninth Circuit holds terms of management agency agreement governing non-point source pollution on federal lands supersedes other state law requirements
- The Pacific Ocean near San Francisco has been the coldest it’s been in more than a decade. Here’s what that means
- DWR Apprentice Program exams available
- California’s largest private landowner closes all forestlands to public indefinitely
- CA water board readopts precedent-setting groundwater regs
- Saudi water deal threatening water supply in Phoenix
- And more …
Click here to read the weekend digest.
Also on Maven’s Notebook today …
NOTICE of Availability of Revised Draft Initial Biological Goals for Lower San Joaquin River and Notice of Workshop
ANNOUNCEMENT: Water Now’s Project Accelerator applications are open!
REGISTER NOW for the 7th Annual CA Water Data Summit: Data 2.0: From Dreams to Discovery
NOTICE: Upcoming Army Corps Regulatory Project Workshop -Endangered Species Act Consultation, Section 408/404 Integration, and Indirect Effects
FUNDING OPPORTUNITY: Two Fish Passage Funding Opportunities Open Under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, One Focused on Indian Tribes