This aerial view shows the Clifton Court Forebay, which is part of the John E. Skinner Delta Fish Protective Facility (not shown), located two miles upstream of the Banks Pumping Plant in Contra Costa County, California. Photo taken June 16, 2022. Kelly M Grow / DWR

DAILY DIGEST, weekend edition: Idle crop land may double as water crisis deepens; State celebrates two tidal habitat restoration projects benefitting Delta smelt; White paper on designing a block of water for the environment; Build more houses! Use less water! Can we have it both ways?; and more …

In California water news this weekend …

California’s idle crop land may double as water crisis deepens

California’s historic drought may leave the state with the largest amount of empty farmland in recent memory as farmers face unprecedented cuts to crucial water supplies.  The size of fields intended for almonds, rice, wine grapes and other crops left unworked could be around 800,000 acres, double the size of last year and the most in at least several decades, said Josue Medellin-Azuara, an associate professor at University of California Merced.  The figure is preliminary as researchers continue to look at satellite imaging and other data. An official estimate remains a few weeks away, said Medellin-Azuara, who is leading an economic study on farm production and droughts with funding from the California Department of Food and Agriculture. … ”  Read more from Bloomberg here: California’s idle crop land may double as water crisis deepens | Read via Yahoo News

State celebrates two tidal habitat restoration projects benefitting Delta smelt

State, federal, and local agencies gathered this week to celebrate two tidal habitat restoration projects in Solano County that support the survival of Delta smelt and other fish species as part of the long-term operation of the State Water Project.  Bradmoor Island and Arnold Slough, two neighboring projects in the Suisun Marsh, are designed to provide high-quality habitat and food sources for fish in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Today’s event celebrated the completed Arnold Slough project and the start of construction at Bradmoor Island.  “As drought and climate change continue to stress California’s natural systems, these projects to support native fisheries become even more vital. We are excited that they also add new recreational opportunities for Californians to enjoy the beauty and bounty of the California Delta,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth. … ”  Read more from the Department of Water Resources here: State celebrates two tidal habitat restoration projects benefitting Delta smelt

Slow-building heatwave across interior; possible very hot end to July with fire season accelerating

May and June 2022 (as well as the first week in July) were notably mild across much of California, for the most part. Late-season precipitation kept things fairly damp across much of the northern third of California through late June, and unusually persistent troughiness (likely thanks to the ongoing and now record-strength for mid-summer La Niña event) kept heatwaves relatively few and far between. This helped suppress early-season wildfires across much of the state, although activity has recently picked up and 100/1000 hour fuels (heavy brush/dead and down tress) are now at or near record dry levels once again.  As noted earlier in the summer outlook, this mild weather reprieve was unlikely to last all summer–and indeed it does now appear that California (and the rest of the West) is likely in for a major pattern change over the coming days. I discuss the details below. … ”  Read more from Weather West here:  Slow-building heatwave across interior; possible very hot end to July with fire season accelerating

White paper:  Building blocks: Tools and lessons for designing a block of water for the environment

In California, across the Western United States and in many locations around the globe, competition for freshwater resources has increased and impacts on aquatic ecosystems are growing. In response to this situation, and as an alternative to traditional environmental regulation, many programs have been established or proposed to create a block of water dedicated to the environment – sometimes called an environmental water budget.  The focus on environmental blocks of water is often driven, at least in part, by the perception that flexible management of water for the environment can create more meaningful ecosystem improvements using less water than more rigid regulatory approaches.  Yet conversations about creation of blocks of water for the environment often remain at a high level and lack detail. To move beyond general discussions, this paper provides a guide for efforts seeking to create an environmental block of water. … ”  Read more from Defenders of Wildlife here: White paper:  Building blocks: Tools and lessons for designing a block of water for the environment

Assemblymember Bennett’s water-well-permitting regulation passes committee

A bill authored by Assemblymember Steve Bennett (D-Ventura) aimed at regulating the drilling of water wells in the state has crossed an initial hurdle to becoming law.  On June 28, state Assembly Bill 2201 passed out of the Governance and Finance Committee and is now headed to the Appropriations Committee. According to the state’s Legislative Counsel Digest, AB2201 would “prohibit a county, city, or any other water-well-permitting agency from approving a permit for a new groundwater well or for an alteration to an existing well in a basin subject to the (Sustainability Groundwater Management Act — SGMA) and classified as medium or high priority, unless specified conditions are met.” … ”  Read more from Ojai Valley News here: Assemblymember Bennett’s water-well-permitting regulation passes committee

We are on La Niña watch for third year in a row, which could be bad for drought

The last two drought-y winters in California have been La Niña winters, and if a third one is taking shape, that is almost certainly bad news for the state’s drought recovery.  Climate forecasters at the National Weather Service put out their forecast Thursday for the remainder of 2022, and right now they are putting the chances of a continued La Niña cycle through fall and early winter at between 60% and 66%. By September, the picture will be clearer, and we’ll know whether we are in for a third consecutive La Niña winter — and potentially another long year of continuing drought conditions. … ”  Read more from the SF ist here: We are on La Niña watch for third year in a row, which could be bad for drought

Slideshow: The western drought is getting weird

The western and southwestern U.S. is wilting under the biggest drought in 1,200 years—a megadrought. As of writing this, most of the country is experiencing drier-than-normal conditions, but things remain particularly severe from Texas into Oregon.  Scientists have identified climate change as a significant contributing factor to the extent and severity of droughts in general. And one study pegged about 40% of the current dry conditions in the Southwest on human-caused climate shifts.  We’re seeing the usual consequences of drought: water restrictions pop up, reservoirs hit record lows, wildfires spin out of control, and crops suffer. But the longer the West’s dry spell goes on, the more bizarre the drought-related stories get. Here are some of the oddest impacts happening or likely to happen so far. ... ”  Read more from Gizmodo here: Slideshow: The western drought is getting weird

Column: Our Ocean Backyard | Droughts paint a bleak picture

Columnist Gary Griggs writes, “It seems in California that we oscillate between floods and droughts, with a few normal years in between. Our average annual rainfall in Santa Cruz is about 30 inches. but looking at our roughly 150 years of local precipitation history, the city has been deluged with as much as 62 inches in a single water year (which run from Oct. 1 of one year to Sept. 30 of the next) and suffered through as little as 10 inches.  The last two years were dry, and in case you hadn’t noticed, really dry, averaging just 13.3 inches. The meteorologists who keep track of these things report that these have been the two driest years in California since measurements began about 1870. We have experienced a lot of extremes in recent years and none of these have been good – highest temperatures, biggest fires, highest sea levels, lowest reservoir levels, most damaging hurricanes, to list a few. The climate of the entire planet is changing and this means more than it is just a little warmer when we step outside. … ”  Read more from the Santa Cruz Sentinel here: Column: Our Ocean Backyard | Droughts paint a bleak picture

Urban forest groups join with Save Our Water to highlight the importance of tree care this summer

With millions of urban trees in need of extra care due to extreme drought, Save Our Water – the State of California’s water conservation campaign – is partnering with California ReLeaf and urban forest groups across the state to bring awareness to the importance of tree care while cutting back on our outdoor water use. As Californians curb outdoor water use, paying extra attention to trees is vital to preserving our urban tree canopy.  The partnership, which includes the USDA Forest Service, CAL FIRE’s Urban & Community Forestry Department as well as local groups, highlights how to properly water and care for trees so that they not only survive the drought, but thrive to provide shade, beauty and habitat, clean the air and water, and make our cities and towns healthier and more livable for decades to come. … ”  Read more from the OC Breeze here: Urban forest groups join with Save Our Water to highlight the importance of tree care this summer

Public invited to comment on petition to list Southern California steelhead as endangered

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has initiated a status review for Southern California steelhead and invites data or comments on a petition to list Southern California steelhead as an endangered species under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA).  Southern California steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss) are found in streams from the Santa Maria River at the southern county line of San Luis Obispo County down to the U.S.-Mexico border. Southern California steelhead as defined in the CESA petition include both anadromous (ocean-going) and resident (stream-dwelling) forms of the species below complete migration barriers in these streams. … ”  Read more from the Department of Fish & Wildlife here: Public invited to comment on petition to list Southern California steelhead as endangered

“We’re praying that they remember these waters”: Supported by tribal ceremony, salmon eggs return to the McCloud River after 80 year absence

On July 11 the Winnemem Wintu Tribe danced, sang and prayed for 20,000 endangered salmon eggs as they were returned to the McCloud River. The action is part of new collaboration with government agencies and represented a watershed moment for the Tribe. Hot Sacramento River temperatures threaten winter-run Chinook, but government scientists hope acclimating the eggs to the glacial waters of the McCloud River, their ancestral home, will help them survive. … ”  Read more from the Shasta Scout here: “We’re praying that they remember these waters”: Supported by tribal ceremony, salmon eggs return to the McCloud River after 80 year absence

SEE ALSO: Endangered salmon will swim in California river for first time in 80 years, from the LA Times

Ninth Circuit reverses previous decision on RCRA liability for water supplier

On July 1, 2022 a panel of the Ninth Circuit issued a superseding opinion in California River Watch v. City of Vacaville, Appeal No. 20-16605, withdrawing its previous opinion in the same case and reaching the opposite result. The case is a rare example of a court reversing itself, and has important implications for water suppliers in California and nationwide.  In California River Watch, the plaintiff sought to impose RCRA liability on a water supplier based on the presence of hexavalent chromium in the water it supplied to customers, despite the fact that the water complied with the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for chromium established under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). … ”  Read more from California Water Views here: Ninth Circuit reverses previous decision on RCRA liability for water supplier

Should fire-ravaged California thin its forests? Yosemite blaze heightens stakes of dispute

Firefighters in Yosemite National Park have been celebrated for preventing this month’s Washburn Fire from destroying the nearly 3,000-year-old giant sequoias at Mariposa Grove.  But it wasn’t just hand tools and hose lines that kept the fire at bay. Past forestry projects, which slashed the amount of brush and trees fueling the flames, made the job much easier, park officials say.  And yet, the topic of forest management remains a fraught one in California, especially in Yosemite. While practices such as tree thinning and prescribed burning have proved effective at reducing the risk of a catastrophic fire, disagreement remains about when and where the work should be done. Some people even say the effort is often not worthwhile and at times counterproductive. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: Should fire-ravaged California thin its forests? Yosemite blaze heightens stakes of dispute

Yosemite’s giant sequoias were saved by forest-thinning. Here’s why some want it stopped

The wildfire burning in and around Yosemite National Park was threatening the park’s fabled Mariposa Grove and a nearby small community. But the park’s forest ecologist saw plenty of good news when he inspected the Washburn Fire early last week: A forest-thinning project that had removed trees and dense undergrowth was helping tame fire behavior. The fire had burned under the trees that loggers had left standing — instead of climbing into their canopies and devouring them. And the sequoias of the Mariposa Grove were standing, with minimal damage. “It was exactly what it was supposed to be,” said the ecologist, Garrett Dickman. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: Yosemite’s giant sequoias were saved by forest-thinning. Here’s why some want it stopped

The Nature Conservancy: Let’s fight fire with fire: There is a future where fire restores our forests instead of destroying them

It took 100 years to destroy the health of Sierra forests, but with the right resources, we can restore our forests in mere decades.  Thanks to Smokey Bear, a century of fire exclusion and the forced removal of Indigenous forest stewards, California’s Sierra forests are dangerously overgrown. Now, trees are packed together at up to five times their natural density, and fires that should regenerate our forests explode into infernos that destroy them. These forests help provide 60% of our state’s developed water supply, and losing them would leave millions of people without clean drinking water.  TNC has a plan to reverse this terrible trend: Ecological Forest Restoration.  Our paper, Wildfires and Forest Resilience: the case for ecological forestry in the Sierra Nevada, cites over 130 scientific studies to make the case for ecological forestry as the best solution to combat megafires in California’s fire-adapted conifer forests. … ”  Read more from The Nature Conservancy here: Let’s fight fire with fire: There is a future where fire restores our forests instead of destroying them

In commentary this weekend …

On the public record: On your watch.

Yesterday Max Gomberg had his last day at the State Water Resources Control Board. He sent this on his last day, and cc’ed me. With his permission:  “Hello everyone: I am sharing my parting thoughts because I believe in facing hard truths and difficult decisions. These are dark and uncertain times, both because fascists are regaining power and because climate change is rapidly decreasing the habitability of many places. Sadly, this state is not on a path towards steep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions reductions, massive construction to alleviate the housing crisis, quickly and permanently reducing agriculture to manage the loss of water to aridification, and reducing law enforcement and carceral budgets and reallocating resources to programs that actually increase public health and safety. All of these (and more) are necessary for an equitable and livable future.  I think at some level many of you know this, yet you convince yourselves that inhabiting the middle ground between advocates and industry (and other status quo defenders) makes you reasonable. But it does not. It makes you complicit.  To my Water Board colleagues: … ”  Continue reading at On the Public Record here: On the public record: On your watch.

Column: Build more houses! Use less water! California, can you have it both ways?

Columnist Teri Sforza writes, “Thousands of new apartments will be built in Irvine, and this create cognitive dissonance for Stan Jones.  The planned 24-acre lagoon at “Cotino, Storyliving by Disney” in Rancho Mirage, and the 17-acre Wavegarden Cove Pool and Resort in Palm Desert, do much the same for Paul Burt of San Pedro.  Larry Anderson shakes his head, too. He tracks construction within a 40-mile radius of Hemet and counts more than 7,000 new units planned or already rising, even as the governor implores Californians to dramatically cut water use to deal with historic drought and officials scold us for falling short.  “If the water shortage is that bad, why is there such a boom in new housing development going up all over the place?” Anderson asked. “How can anybody believe there is a water shortage when this new building is going on?” … It might seem crazy on its face. But the water czars say those goals are not as incompatible as they appear. … ”  Read more from the Riverside Press-Enterprise here: Column: Build more houses! Use less water! California, can you have it both ways?

Fresno State student shares his experience of growing up without safe water at home

Emmanuel Agraz Torres, an ambassador with California Environmental Voters Education Fund and a student at Fresno State, writes, “Growing up in Dinuba, my family and I worried about whether the water coming out of our tap was safe to drink. We knew that our groundwater was likely contaminated by nitrates and other toxic chemicals from agriculture. Like many other immigrant families, we would fill up three 5-gallon containers of water at a vending machine station on a weekly basis. To this day, we still don’t trust that the water in our home is safe to drink. My experience of growing up without clean, safe drinking water is not, unfortunately, a unique one. In California, over 1 million people are without access to clean drinking water. In the Central Valley, about 100,000 people have a contaminated water supply in their homes. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here: Fresno State student shares his experience of growing up without safe water at home

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In people news this weekend …

SCV Water announces death of Jerry Gladbach

“Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency officials confirmed Thursday night the death of the board’s vice president, Jerry Gladbach.  Gladbach had served on the SCV Water Agency board since its inception in 2018 and represented Division 2 – a district whose boundaries include most of Saugus, as well as northeastern portions of Valencia and northern portions of Canyon Country.  His cause of death was not immediately known as of Thursday evening, but Gladbach’s colleagues called it shocking and a loss for a community he had served for decades.  “He was just such a wealth of knowledge, but he had personal relationships with everyone,” said Maria Gutzeit, representative for District 3.  “He was a very kind man, and just very personable. I knew him the whole time that I served, since 2003, and he was just a fixture: both at the Association of California Water Agencies and, obviously, in our valley.” … ” Read more from The Signal here:  SCV Water announces death of Jerry Gladbach

Andy Fecko named to Federal Commission on Wildland Fire Mitigation

Placer County Water Agency (PCWA) announced today that General Manager Andy Fecko has been named to serve on the newly-established Wildland Fire Mitigation and Management Commission (Commission). Created by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law signed by President Biden in 2021, the Commission “will play a key role in recommending ways that federal agencies can better prevent, mitigate, suppress and manage wildland fires. It will also recommend policies and strategies on how to restore the lands affected by wildfire,” according to a press release by the United States Department of Agriculture. … ”  Read more from ACWA’s Water News here: Andy Fecko named to Federal Commission on Wildland Fire Mitigation

Western Growers to honor John Harris at the 2022 Annual Meeting

Western Growers will honor California agricultural icon John Harris with the 2022 Award of Honor. The Award of Honor is Western Growers’ highest recognition of achievement and is given to individuals who have contributed extensively to the agricultural community.  With more than 50 years’ experience in ranching, farming, hospitality and thoroughbred horse racing, Harris embodies the diversity of California agribusiness. The Harris Farms Group includes Harris Fresh and the Harris Farms Thoroughbred Division, in addition to the landmark property known to all Californians on the I-5.  “Like his iconic Harris Ranch Inn & Restaurant, which stands as an oasis alongside a remote stretch of road, John is a pillar in California agriculture and the broader Western fresh produce industry,” said Western Growers President and CEO Dave Puglia. … ”  Read more from Western Growers Association here: Western Growers to honor John Harris at the 2022 Annual Meeting

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Podcasts …

THE SCUUP PODCAST: From HER perspective: Regulatory compliance

Lenai Hunter, MSES sits down with Ruben to discuss Regulatory Compliance at a local agency. Learn about Lenai’s journey into water, how she confronts “Imposter Syndrome” in a male dominated industry and her accomplishments within the industry that helped propel her career. Lenai will share her tips and tricks on preparing for your career in regulatory compliance!


WHAT ABOUT WATER PODCAST W/JAY FAMIGLIETTI:Engineering a new water world

In our third bonus episode of the summer season, we look back at the innovative ways people are sourcing their freshwater, from building home water systems on the Navajo Nation to engineering a state of the art wastewater treatment facility in Orange County. We hear what improvements need to be made to America’s aging water infrastructure. And we look at the damage that over-engineering has done through dams and diversions, turning our attention to nature-based solutions to help restore the broken water cycle.


WATERLOOP PODCAST: Your water footprint

As climate change and other crises strain water supplies, more attention is being paid to the water footprint, the amount of water used by an individual or household over a certain period of time. A water footprint includes the water that is directly used by taps, showers, toilets, and household appliances, as well as for outdoor uses. But the water used to make the food we eat, consumer products we buy, and energy we use is also part of a water footprint. The rise and importance of the water footprint is discussed in this episode with Kai Olson-Sawyer, manager of the Water Footprint Project for GRACE Communications Foundation. Kai explains how people can use the Water Footprint Calculator to learn about their personal consumption and shares ways that individuals can reduce their impact.


WATER IS A MANY SPLENDOR’ED THING PODCAST: A New Risk on the Horizon

Changes in the environment and our lives are constantly occurring. Sometimes very quickly and other times quite slow. In the environment, rapid changes can quickly exceed the adaptive capacity of the ecosystem. Mankind living in the fast lane finds itself in a rapidly changing environment.  How does the banking industry handle change in the lending world and what about water associated risk?  Water is a Many Splendor’ed Thing brings you another water relationship that has a personally significant impact to your life.  Podcast produced by Steven Baker, Operation Unite®; Bringing People Together to Solve Water Problems  water@operationunite.co; 530-205-6388

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In regional water news this weekend …

NORTH COAST

Press release: Scott River watershed’s agricultural wells curtailed by State Water Board–Local alliance warns of precedent for all wells in California

Family farmers and ranchers in Scott Valley, far-northern California, were forced to turn off their irrigation pumps on Thursday, July 14, due to emergency drought regulations imposed by the State Water Resources Control Board. A local grassroots communication group, Scott Valley Agriculture Water Alliance (AgWA), is warning farmers and ranchers across the state of the precedent-setting nature of this legal action that could affect all agricultural well users in other regions of the state.  “The only other time we’ve seen the Water Board shut down ag wells was right here in Siskiyou County last September, under the same emergency regulations,” says Theodora Johnson, spokesman for AgWA. “Nowhere else in the state is the Board going after groundwater users. We think it’s highly unreasonable that it’s only happening here near the Scott River, where our fish populations are relatively stable and our aquifer is not over-drafted … “”

Click here to read the full press release.

Coastal Commission reviews sea level mitigation measures for Arcata-Eureka Highway 101 corridor

Local coastal experts expect Humboldt Bay’s shoreline to rise by as much as three feet in the next 40 years. One area of particular concern in the Humboldt Bay region is the Highway 101 corridor between Arcata and Eureka, a six-mile stretch of road that could be inundated by seawater if immediate steps are not taken to mitigate the impacts of sea level rise.  Caltrans District 1 staff are working to develop a Comprehensive Adaptation and Implementation Plan (CAIP) to protect and potentially realign the Highway 101 corridor to address anticipated sea level rise-related flooding hazards. Caltrans District 1 staff shared an update on their efforts with the California Coastal Commission this week. ... ”  Read more from the Lost Coast Outpost here: Coastal Commission reviews sea level mitigation measures for Arcata-Eureka Highway 101 corridor

SEE ALSOCaltrans mulls hybrid approach to adapt Eureka-Arcata corridor to sea level rise, from the Eureka Times-Standard

Trinidad students raise money for Mad River watershed restoration

Elementary school students at Trinidad Union School donated $635 to support a Blue Lake nonprofit that works to restore the Mad River Watershed.  The fundraiser was part of the school’s Marine Activities Resource Education program led by teacher Stephanie Strasser, aiming to teach students about local ocean and river life through field trips and outdoor activities. The students raised the money for the Mad River Alliance, and the money will go towards the creation of a new education program. The alliance’s old education program was scuttled by the coronavirus pandemic, and the new one, despite needing more funding, aims to reinvent itself. … ”  Read more from the Eureka Times-Standard here: Trinidad students raise money for Mad River watershed restoration

The Outpost talks to Nordic Aquafarms’ new interim CEO Brenda Chandler as hearing nears for massive land-based fish farm

On Friday morning the Outpost sat down with Nordic Aquafarms’ recently appointed interim chief executive officer, Brenda Chandler, at the company’s new office space, located in the former pulp mill facility known as Redwood Marine Terminal II, on the Samoa Peninsula.  As the company gets ready to present its massive land-based fish factory project to the Humboldt County Planning Commission on July 28, executives are seeking to allay any community concerns that may have been triggered by the sudden and unexpected departure of co-founder and President Erik Heim and Executive Vice President/Commercial Director Marianne Naess. … Read more from the Lost Coast Outpost here: The Outpost talks to Nordic Aquafarms’ new interim CEO Brenda Chandler as hearing nears for massive land-based fish farm

Mendocino County water restrictions in 2022: what you need to know

As of July, the vast majority of Mendocino County residents are living in conditions of severe drought, according to the National Integrated Drought Information System. On July 12, Coyote Dam — a pivotal local water source — was storing just 41% of its average water capacity, according to data provided by the California Department of Water Resources — though thankfully, that’s still 21,909 more acre-feet of stored water than this time last year.  “Our current drought’s really highlighting how unsustainable it is that we continue to pump groundwater [and] continue to not capture water when we really desperately need it,” said Kristina Dahl, principal climate scientist for the Climate & Energy program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, at State Senator Mike McGuire’s town hall on wildfires in June. “Climate change is exacerbating that natural pattern of drought that we have.” … ”  Read more from the Mendocino Voice here: Mendocino County water restrictions in 2022: what you need to know

MOUNTAIN COUNTIES

Lake Tahoe Golf Course recognized for environmental excellence

“Lake Tahoe Golf Course has retained its designation as a “Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary” through its international program for golf courses.  Efforts were led by Golf Course Superintendent Bobby Jaeger to earn the recognition again.  Participation is designed to help course personnel plan, organize, implement, and document a comprehensive environmental management program and receive recognition for their efforts. To reach certification, a course must demonstrate that they are maintaining a high degree of environmental quality in a number of areas including Environmental Planning, Wildlife & Habitat Management, Outreach and Education, Chemical Use Reduction and Safety, Water Conservation, and Water Quality Management. … ”  Read more from South Tahoe Now here: Lake Tahoe Golf Course recognized for environmental excellence

NAPA/SONOMA

Windsor launches program offering free recycled water for irrigation

Windsor residents interested in saving money and conserving water during the drought can get up to 300 gallons of recycled water from the town starting next week.  The launch of a free water fill station program for residents and businesses is planned for Wednesday at Keiser Park, 700 Windsor River Road.  “The town is in an extreme drought and we see this as an opportunity for customers to reduce their use of potable water and save a gallon of Russian River water for every gallon of recycled water,” said Shannon Cotulla, director of Windsor’s Public Works Department.  “People have been asking for access to recycled water for years,” Cotulla added. … ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here: Windsor launches program offering free recycled water for irrigation

BAY AREA

Marin water district vets desalination, recycled water cost

The Marin Municipal Water District took a deeper look at some of the more complex and expensive options on the table for new supply: desalination plants and recycled water.  The district board and consultants with the Jacobs Engineering firm held discussion Tuesday on the preliminary cost estimates, water yields and challenges of building desalination plants and expanding the district’s recycled water system.  “Really our goal is to make sure we communicate what those options are and understand what the costs of those options are,” Paul Sellier, a district official, told the board. “In subsequent meetings, we’re going to take these water supply options or alternatives and we’re going to run them through the model to see what effect they have on the water supply deficits that we established as a baseline.” … ”  Read more from the Marin Independent Journal here: Marin water district vets desalination, recycled water cost

CENTRAL COAST

What does it look like when an ecosystem collapses? Kelp can tell

While the southern sea otter captures the attention of younger visitors, the symbol of the aquarium is another Monterey Bay icon: a whorl of kelp.  Giant kelp is the common name for Macrocystis pyrifera, a species of alga that grows into lush underwater forests along the coast of the northeastern Pacific Ocean, from Baja California north to southeastern Alaska. Reaching from the ocean floor to the surface, the huge, leafy stalks of giant kelp provide food and habitats for thousands of species.  In 1988 a visitor on the aquarium’s observation deck would have seen a lush kelp forest canopy stretching thick from the breakwater to Point Pinos in Pacific Grove and beyond.  These days it’s a patchwork at best. … ”  Read more from the Monterey Herald here: What does it look like when an ecosystem collapses? Kelp can tell

SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY

Stockton declares Stage 2 Water Shortage Emergency, adds watering restrictions

As the summer swelters on to triple-digit temperatures again this weekend, Stockton has declared a Stage 2 Water Shortage Emergency requiring cutting water use and restricting watering days.  Stocktonians are now permitted to water just two days a week before 7 a.m. and after 6 p.m. Even addresses can water on Wednesdays and Sundays; odd addresses may water Tuesdays and Saturdays. … ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here: Stockton declares Stage 2 Water Shortage Emergency, adds watering restrictions

EASTERN SIERRA

Press release: Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority reaches agreement on terms to secure imported water supplies; receives funding for wastewater and interconnection projects

The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority (IWVGA) is pleased to announce a series of funding sources and the initial agreement to terms on a deal to secure imported water supplies. The IWVGA is a joint powers authority that is specifically tasked with bringing the critically-overdrafted Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Basin back into sustainability in accordance with California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). SGMA required each critically overdrafted groundwater basin to approve a groundwater sustainability plan (GSP) by January 2020 and implement the action plan by 2040. The actions detailed below support the implementation of the GSP and will help the Authority to ultimately achieve its goal of long-term water sustainability. … ” 

Click here to read the full press release.

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

Weekend temperatures soaring into triple digits in parts of Southern California

Parts of Southern California are in for a blazing-hot weekend, especially in the inland valleys and deserts, where triple-digit temperatures are expected.  The National Weather Service issued an excessive heat warning through Sunday evening for the Coachella Valley, San Gorgonio Pass and San Diego County deserts, where highs are expected to surpass 110 degrees.  Much of northeast Los Angeles County, including the Santa Clarita and Antelope valleys, can also expect highs in the 100s, with weather officials warnings of moderate to high heat risk for that area, especially on Saturday. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: Weekend temperatures soaring into triple digits in parts of Southern California

Water board to consider runoff discharge regulations for Santa Susana Field Laboratory

After months of extensions to address public concerns, the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board is set to consider a tentative agreement with the Boeing Co. to establish processes and standards for assessing stormwater discharges from the former Santa Susana Field Lab site.  The agreement would also set discharge requirements that will be applicable following Boeing’s planned soil cleanup at the site in the hills above Simi Valley.  The proposed agreement establishes strict cleanup protocols and timelines for Boeing, and also involves an agreement between Boeing and the Department of Toxic Substances Control, water board officials said. … ”  Read more from The Acorn here: Water board to consider runoff discharge regulations for Santa Susana Field Laboratory

Carson warehouse owner denies wrongdoing over Dominguez Channel odors

The owner of a Carson warehouse identified as the source of material that caused noxious odors to emanate from the Dominguez Channel for weeks, sickening residents in a swath of the South Bay, insisted Friday it quickly stepped in to begin remediation efforts after the building fire that sent chemicals into the channel.  The Los Angeles Water Quality Board announced Thursday a proposed $17 million penalty for the warehouse owner, Liberty Property Limited Partnership, and its parent company, Prologis Inc., as well as building tenants Day to Day Imports Inc. and Virgin Scent Inc., doing business as ArtNaturals. … ”  Read more from Spectrum 1 here: Carson warehouse owner denies wrongdoing over Dominguez Channel odors

Long Beach Water Department preparing to install 2 new groundwater wells at Stearns Park

Construction will start later this year on two new water wells at Stearns Champions Park in East Long Beach as part of the water department’s plan to upgrade equipment across the city in an effort to supply cheaper groundwater to customers.  Long Beach gets about 60% of its annual water supply from local groundwater wells, and the Long Beach Water Department has plans to install or rehabilitate over 20 wells across the city in the coming years.  Stearns Park has three existing wells, but the newest of the three was drilled in the 1940s while the other two are over 100 years old. At the end of the project, the park would have a total of four wells because the department intends to demolish one of the older, less efficient ones, the department said. … ”  Read more from the Long Beach Post here: Long Beach Water Department preparing to install 2 new groundwater wells at Stearns Park

Drought means Adventure Playground won’t reopen in 2022 as planned

The newly built staircase stands ready for the pitter-patter of feet. The hillside awaits transformation into a slippery slope. The hollowed mud pit languishes mud-less. The just-constructed forts remain vacant.  After a two-year COVID hiatus, Adventure Playground was slated to reopen this summer at Central Park in Huntington Beach. Although perhaps not better than ever — with its heyday, arguably, five decades ago — the renovated, summertime playground promised to be its best in years.  But now Adventure Playground will have to cool its heels for at least another year. Due to California’s drought crisis, the city decided this was not the time to unveil a park featuring water, water everywhere. … ”  Read more from the OC Register here: Drought means Adventure Playground won’t reopen in 2022 as planned

SAN DIEGO

Tightening water restrictions lead more San Diegans to replace their lawns

They’ve been part of the American Dream, Southern California style for decades. But verdant lawns are disappearing more and more thanks to shrinking water supplies.  The Golden State is now in its third year of drought. A study published by the journal Nature Climate Change in February found this is the worst drought in what is now the western United States in 1,200 years.  So, water conservation is vital, but that doesn’t necessarily mean getting rid of lawns.  “We can reduce irrigation use on almost any property by 50 to 70% with proper irrigation tools,” said Scott Lawn, the owner of Greenway Irrigation Lawn and Landscape. (And yes, that’s his real name.) … ”  Read more from KPBS here: Tightening water restrictions lead more San Diegans to replace their lawns

EPA tours San Diego’s wastewater treatment plant construction site

City of San Diego leaders hosted representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for a walkthrough of the city’s new Pure Water San Diego Project.  With the goal of creating a locally-produced and renewable water source to combat the drought, the Pure Water facility will clean wastewater and put it right back into homes. … ”  Read more from Channel 10 here: EPA tours San Diego’s wastewater treatment plant construction site

RELATED: NOTICE: Direct Potable Reuse (DPR) Criteria Expert Panel – final panel preliminary findings posted

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Along the Colorado River …

Drought, warming, punish Colorado River, push mega-fires onto the basin

Historic drought and low-runoff conditions have impacted the Colorado River Basin since 2000, according to reports from the U.S. Department of Interior, among prolific other documentation.  The prolonged consequences of drought and warming threaten the future of drinking water, and already have negatively impacted irrigation, agriculture, the water recreation industry, conservation and natural habitat, endangered species, hydroelectric generation, as well as many other facets of life in the Southwest. … Drought and a warming climate are a double-edged sword.  Not only is the river basin environment robbed of moisture, it primes the land for fires that burn bigger and faster. For fires that affect the broader riverscape in more insidious, devastating ways. … ”  Read more from Colorado Politics here: Drought, warming, punish Colorado River, push mega-fires onto the basin

As drought worsens, will Arizonans see higher water bills?

The Colorado River is facing a catastrophic drought. But will a shrinking water supply mean higher utility bills for Arizonans?  The short answer is, yes. Arizonans are likely to see their water bills increase in coming years. But water experts say the long answer is a lot more complicated.  “What the actual impact will be will really vary community to community,” said Kathryn Sorensen, director of research at the Kyl Center for Water Policy at Arizona State University and former director for Phoenix and Mesa’s water departments. ... ”  Read more from KJZZ here: As drought worsens, will Arizonans see higher water bills?

Colorado’s rafting industry navigates shrinking river water levels as smaller snowpack melts faster

Animas River water levels sank to less than a third of average for a second consecutive low-flow year, revealing sharp rocks, which complicate a plunge through whitewater rapids.  It is one of many rivers in mountainous western Colorado where paltry H2O flows — as snow shrinks and melts away earlier, linked to climate warming — is raising concerns about the long-term viability of commercial rafting. Rafting has become a recreation industry juggernaut bringing $70 million a year of direct expenditures and an estimated $180 million of broader economic impact. Big water traditionally boosts rafting fortunes. Federal measurements this week showed flows lagging at less than half of average on Clear Creek, the Eagle River, the Colorado River, the Roaring Fork River, and the San Miguel River — water volumes in many cases less than 500 cubic feet per second — far less than historic high flows topping 5,000 cfs.  … ”  Continue reading at Colorado Public Radio here:  Colorado’s rafting industry navigates shrinking river water levels as smaller snowpack melts faster

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In national water news this weekend …

EPA ‘forever chemical’ health advisory spurs lawsuit

EPA’s dramatic new health advisory for a contentious “forever chemical” is facing a lawsuit from its manufacturer over claims that the agency overstepped its authority in one of its most significant actions around the compounds to date.  Chemours Co. sued EPA yesterday mere weeks after the agency declared that the compound GenX’s severe health risks mean the chemical is only safe in drinking water at extremely low levels. That advisory carries no legal weight, and any forthcoming regulations would likely be at a higher threshold. But the action enraged the PFAS manufacturer, which argued EPA issued a health advisory that is “scientifically unsound.”  In a petition to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the company slammed EPA for its decision and argued that the nonbinding advisories under the Safe Drinking Water Act lacked scientific integrity. … ”  Read more from E&E News here: EPA ‘forever chemical’ health advisory spurs lawsuit

Agriculture can be climate friendly, but will take time and money, scientists say

Panelists on a webinar Friday largely agreed that more outreach and coordination by local, state and federal agencies needs to occur to help farmers align their agricultural practices with achieving long-term climate change goals.  There is a perception that agriculture is a large contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. While agriculture does contribute, like every other segment of the economy, there are steps that can be taken to limit the impacts and even remove greenhouse gases from the environment. Those steps, though, will take buy-in from the farmers and money to help them transition over to new ideas and ways of doing things. … ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service here: Agriculture can be climate friendly, but will take time and money, scientists say

As sea levels rise on US coasts, saline wetlands are expected to displace freshwater wetlands, croplands, forests, and pastures

A new study of 166 estuaries on all three U.S. continental coastlines, led by the U.S. Geological Survey, is the first to quantify and compare how rapid sea-level rise will drive landward migration of coastal wetlands on the Pacific, Atlantic, and Gulf coasts in the coming decades.  The findings illustrate how the movement of coastal wetlands – which are among the world’s most valued ecosystems – will drive ecological shifts under accelerated sea-level rise. The seaward edges of coastal saline or brackish marshes and mangrove forests are expected to transform to open water while their landward edges encroach upon freshwater wetlands and a variety of valuable landscapes farther upland. Understanding the transformative impacts of coastal wetland migration into adjacent ecosystems can help coastal managers sustain biodiversity and the ecological and societal benefits provided by coastal ecosystems in the face of rising sea levels. … ”  Read more from the USGS here: As sea levels rise on US coasts, saline wetlands are expected to displace freshwater wetlands, croplands, forests, and pastures

Also on Maven’s Notebook this weekend …

REVISED NOTICE of Availability of Revised Draft Initial Biological Goals for Lower San Joaquin River and Notice of Workshop

NOTICE OF PREPARATION/CEQA SCOPING MEETING – Proposed Regulation to Implement the Bay-Delta Plan

NEPA DOCS: 2022 Temporary Change in Nitrate Water Quality Requirements for Groundwater Introduced into the Delta-Mendota Canal

NOTICE OF SPECIAL MEETING: State Water Resources Control Board Discussion Of Water Board Priorities

NOTICE: Direct Potable Reuse (DPR) Criteria Expert Panel – final panel preliminary findings posted

FUNDING OPPORTUNITY: Delta Conservancy Announces Climate Resilience, Community Access, and Natural Resource Protection Funding

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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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