DAILY DIGEST, 7/28: California outlines plan for scaled-back Delta water tunnel; CA drought official quits, blasting Newsom for ‘gut wrenching’ inaction; Water woes are biggest worry as drought drags on; Central Valley’s two major dam projects moving forward; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • MEETING: Delta Stewardship Council beginning at 9am. The meeting will begin with a closed session, with the Council expected to reconvene at approximately 10 a.m. The Council meeting will include regular updates, the consideration of a contract amendment, and the introduction of the new class of Delta Science Fellows. The Council will also receive a staff presentation on the Delta Reform Act requirements regarding regional transportation plans and sustainable communities strategies (RTP/SCS) as it relates to the San Joaquin Council of Government’s (SJCOG) 2022 RTP/SCS. The Council will then consider approval of a comment letter to SJCOG containing preliminary findings regarding the consistency of its 2022 RTP/SCS with the Delta Plan. View the meeting notice.

Delta Conveyance Project environmental documents released …

California outlines plan for scaled-back giant water tunnel

The Harvey O. Banks Delta Pumping Plant, lifts water into the California Aqueduct. Bethany Reservoir is in the distance.

A new plan to reroute how water moves from wetter Northern California to drier Southern California would ferry it through a single, 45-mile (72-kilometer) underground tunnel, wrapping around the state’s existing water delivery system and dumping the water straight into the main aqueduct that sends it south to vast swaths of farmland and millions of people.  The scaled-back proposal released Wednesday would build one tunnel to take water from the Sacramento River, the state’s largest, to the California Aqueduct for delivery to millions of people and farmland further south. … ”  Read more from the AP here: California outlines plan for scaled back giant water tunnel

Delta tunnel: Salmon at risk from massive water project, state report says

California’s water agency today released a long-awaited environmental report outlining the details and impacts of a controversial proposal to replumb the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and pump more water south.  In the report, state officials said the tunnel project could harm endangered and threatened species, including the Delta smelt, winter-run chinook salmon and steelhead trout. To offset the “potentially significant impacts” on the rare fish, the Department of Water Resources says thousands of acres of other wetlands would have to be restored — which critics say is a slow and inefficient way to provide new habitat.  The draft environmental impact report is a major step in planning a tunnel that would fundamentally reshape California’s massive water management system. … ”  Read more from Cal Matters here: Delta tunnel: Salmon at risk from massive water project, state report says

Costs vs. benefits still unknown for the latest delta tunnel alignment, released Wednesday

Kern County water managers are, for the most part, sticking with the proposed Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta tunnel but are keeping an eye on details still to come – how it will actually operate and how much the water will cost.  The Department of Water Resources released a draft environmental impact report on the latest iteration of a proposed tunnel that would move water from the Sacramento River around and under the sensitive delta into the California Aqueduct.  “This proposal has been refined,” said Tom McCarthy, general manager of the Kern CountyWater Agency, the second largest contractor on the State Water Project system. The agency administers the contract for about one million acre feet of SWP water on behalf of 13 local agricultural districts and is deeply involved in the tunnel, known as the Delta Conveyance. ... ”  Read more from SJV Water here: Costs vs. benefits still unknown for the latest delta tunnel alignment, released Wednesday

It’s Here: Department of Water Resources releases Draft EIR of embattled Delta tunnel project

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) today released the Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the embattled Delta Tunne, beginning the 90-day public comment period from July 27-October 27 for what environmental advocates describe as an “environmentally destructive project.”  According to project opponents, different versions of this same gigantic and wasteful public works project — the Peripheral Canal, the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, the California Water Fix and now the single Delta Conveyance — have cast a dark, toxic shadow over California water policy since it was first decisively rejected by California voters in November 1982 as the Peripheral Canal. … ”  Read more from the Daily Kos here:  It’s Here: Department of Water Resources Releases Draft EIR of Embattled Delta Tunnel Project

Delta Conveyance Project Draft EIR Available for Public Review and Comment Through October 27, 2022

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) has released and is now accepting comments on the proposed Delta Conveyance Project Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) through October 27, 2022. Everyone is invited to visit the Draft EIR website to access the document and accompanying informational resources and learn more about the proposed project and the public review process, including public hearing details and commenting opportunities.  The Draft EIR was prepared by DWR as the lead agency to comply with the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act by evaluating a range of alternatives to the proposed project and disclosing potential environmental effects of the proposed project and alternatives, and associated mitigation measures for potentially significant impacts. No decisions will be made until the conclusion of the environmental review process, after consideration of public comments submitted on the Draft EIR and issuing a Final EIR. At that time, DWR will determine whether to approve the proposed project, an alternative or no project. … ”  Read the  press release from DWR here: Delta Conveyance Project Draft EIR Available for Public Review and Comment Through October 27, 2022


Statements and reactions


Senior scientist Jon Rosenfield, PhD:  “The root of San Francisco Bay’s problems is that too much water is being diverted from the Sacramento River and the other Central Valley rivers that flow into it. The lack of fresh water flowing into the Bay through the Delta has caused today’s poor water quality, poisonous algal blooms, as well as the demise of Chinook salmon and other fish species.  We’re in the midst of an ecological disaster. The state needs to update its outdated Bay-Delta water quality control plan, now more than a decade overdue. If the state doesn’t improve water quality safeguards, then changing the plumbing that takes water away from the Bay will not improve conditions for fish, wildlife, water quality, or the human communities that depend on them.  Baykeeper will review this most recent Delta tunnel plan to be sure that it will achieve all the goals that the state legislature has adopted.

California Water Research

Deirdre Des Jardins: “Professor Brent Flyvberg is an internationally renowned expert in megaprojects. His research has shown how megaprojects are systematically subject to “survival of the unfittest.”  Flyvberg’s 2021 paper, Top Ten Behavioral Biases in Project Management: An Overview, describes several behavioral biases which are relevant to the Delta tunnel project.  They include strategic misrepresentation, optimism bias, planning fallacy (writ large), and escalation of commitment.  Flyvbjerg described them as follows … ”  Continue reading at California Water Research here:  Delta tunnel EIR shows predictable megaproject management biases

Delta Counties Coalition

Don Nottoli, Chair of the Delta Counties Coalition:  After two years, the state has released what appears to be another deficient and deeply flawed tunnel plan that would do very little to improve statewide water supplies and bring lasting harm to the Delta.  Despite the requirement to minimize potential environmental effects, this massive and costly 14year, more than $16 billion construction project would undoubtedly cause irreversible environmental and ecological impacts in the Delta. It would also have negative economic impacts on California residents in the BayDelta region and beyond especially those in underserved communities where water quality and quantity would be severely impacted.  Despite DWR’s attempt at a ‘fresh look, it made only minor revisions to the same old plans which have been previously rejected. … ”  Read more from the Delta Counties Coalition here: Delta Counties say Delta tunnel project remains deficient and deeply flawed

Golden State Salmon

John McManus, president of the Golden State Salmon Association:  “It makes no sense for the state to waste everyone’s time planning to build a big water tunnel until they first finish the legally required assessment of how much river water needs to be reserved to keep the rivers and Delta alive and wildlife from going extinct.   Only then can we know how much water might be available to move in this new tunnel they want to build.  As is, they’re putting the cart before the horse by pushing these tunnel plans now, especially considering the bad conditions our salmon and other wildlife are in.

Metropolitan Water District

General Manager Adel Hagekhalil: “With our One Water agenda, we are trying to shift our reliance on imported water as quickly as possible with new local supplies and greater local conservation. However, there is an important role for water from Northern California in our future, but the role will be different than the past given our climate realities. The more we can advance local solutions, the better we can manage the uncertainties in Northern California.  “Climate change continues to threaten every water source across the West and produce volatile runoff conditions, from extreme droughts to floods. We have a responsibility to adapt to this change by capturing and storing excess water to protect our communities and the environment and to provide the ability to beneficially use that stored water when conditions are dry. The purpose of the proposed Delta Conveyance Project is to modernize the state water system and provide benefits for our entire state by addressing the water reliability issues in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta as part of a holistic response to climate change and seismic risks. … ”  Read full statement here: Metropolitan Issues Statement on Release of State’s Draft Environmental Impact Report for the Delta Conveyance Project

Restore the Delta

This plan is so massive, it will be delivered to us on thumb-drive. A full review of this mountain of paper is simply not possible for Delta communities, environmental justice groups, or Northern California tribes in just 90-days.  “As we read, we will be looking for answers to the questions we raised during our work with the Stakeholder Engagement Committee for the Design Construction Authority during that two-year tunnel planning process. Delta communities raised concerns about water quality, salinity intrusion, pollution mitigation, and significant air pollution impacts resulting from construction and operation of the project. DWR needs to speak frankly about the sacrifices expected of the people of the Delta for this project to advance. As the state has only recently begun to hold workshops on salinity intrusion into the Delta, which is also part of climate change planning, there is no framework for what a just transition for the Delta would entail. There is also no state standard for dealing with harmful algal blooms, another serious water and air quality problem that will worsen with construction and operation of the tunnel. … ”  Read the full statement by Restore the Delta here:  Delta Tunnel (VER 2022.1) Draft EIR released; Restore the Delta reax

State Water Contractors

We commend DWR for advancing the Delta Conveyance Project with the release of the Draft EIR. This project is critical to ensuring Californians have access to high-quality, affordable and reliable water supplies amidst the growing impacts of climate change. The Draft EIR clearly shows that the project has been downsized, refined and redesigned to avoid and reduce local impacts and address environmental concerns.  The State Water Contractors have built and strengthened local and regional projects to diversify and expand water supplies to serve their customers – efforts that rely on or complement SWP supplies. We need to make investments in resilient, updated water infrastructure in the Delta to respond to climate change and support local water supply projects. These investments are urgent, and the Delta Conveyance Project is the right project at the right time to modernize the SWP’s Delta infrastructure so that it can continue to provide the foundational source of water local agencies need to secure their water future.”

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In other California water news …

California drought official quits, blasting Newsom for ‘gut wrenching’ inaction

In his time at the California State Water Resources Control Board, Max Gomberg has witnessed the state grapple with two devastating droughts and the accelerating effects of climate change.  Now, after 10 years of recommending strategies for making California more water resilient, the board’s climate and conservation manager is calling it quits. The reason: He no longer believes Gov. Gavin Newsom and his administration are willing to pursue the sorts of transformational changes necessary in an age of growing aridification. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: California drought official quits, blasting Newsom for ‘gut wrenching’ inaction

Water woes are biggest worry for Californians as drought drags on

As the drought punishing California drags on, water is a top — and growing — worry for residents of our parched state, outpacing wildfires and climate change, according to a new poll about environmental issues.  With reservoirs and snowpack shrinking, Californians listed the state’s water supply as their number one environmental worry, with 68% of adults saying it’s a big problem — up from 63% a year ago.  But while most have water on their minds, fewer than half said they have done a lot to reduce their water use, and 16% say they have done nothing. At the same time, people are pointing fingers at their neighbors — 69% of Californians said people in their area are not doing enough to conserve. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here: Water woes are biggest worry for Californians as drought drags on

Concerned about the water supply? A majority of Californians are, according to a PPIC survey

More than two-thirds of all Californians are concerned about the water supply in their part of the state, according to a new Public Policy Institute of California survey.  The survey states that about 68% of adults in California said the water supply where they live is a “big problem.”  When it comes to voters, a slightly larger percentage, 77%, of them say the same.  A majority of Californians also feel state and local officials are not doing enough to manage the water supply and the ongoing drought. They also said they don’t believe residents in their part of the state are doing enough either. … ”  Read more from Fox 40 here: Concerned about the water supply? A majority of Californians are, according to a PPIC survey

Department of Water Resources talks Oroville Dam following 4.2 earthquake

A recent earthquake in the Oroville area has many wondering how stable the Oroville Dam is. The Department of Water Resources told Action News Now the Dam is in good condition and was not damaged by the 4.2 earthquakes.  Many people in Oroville said they’ve experienced several earthquakes but are always on alert when a fire or earthquake happens, especially after the Oroville Spillway Crisis in 2017. The crisis pushed nearly 190,0000 people to evacuate but the DWR said the Dam can withstand a lot and is constantly being evaluated in case an emergency breaks out. … ”  Read more from Action News Now here:  Department of Water Resources talks Oroville Dam following 4.2 earthquake

Central Valley’s two major dam projects moving forward

It’s no simple feat to raise a dam.  In fact, it’s taken the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 34 years to get from the first feasibility study to expand the dam at Lake Success in Tulare County to finally getting construction underway.  The improvements to Lake Success’ Schafer Dam, named after longtime Tule River watermaster Richard L. Schafer, are needed to protect downstream communities in case of a flood, said Calvin Foster, southern operations branch chief for the Corps’ Sacramento District. …  On the second dam project, the Corps is also nearly finished with improvements to the two dams on Lake Isabella in Kern County.  The lake’s dams were at risk of overtopping, internal erosion caused by water seepage and seismic damage because of a fault line that runs beneath one of the dams, said Victor Ozuna, former resident engineer on the Isabella Dam Safety Modification Project. … ”  Read more from SJV Water here: Central Valley’s two major dam projects moving forward

A straw in the ocean

Well before before California entered its driest period on record, Gov. Gavin Newsom ’89 has supported building a second major coastal desalination plant as a partial solution to the Golden State’s water woes.  The environmental costs of turning 106 million gallons of seawater into 50 million gallons of potable water were too high a hurdle for the commission, whose members cited a range of concerns from the underwater pumps that suck in larvae of marine life, to the tons of brine released back into the ocean that destroys their habitat, to the extraordinary amounts of energy needed to power the plant.  Still, Daniel Press, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and an environmental policy expert, believes that with better technology and increased mitigation measures, there is a place for compromise.  “The planet’s surface is mostly covered with water, so it’s reasonable to look to the oceans for drinking water,” says Press, a longtime environmental studies professor at UC Santa Cruz, who also served for six years on the California Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board. ... ”  Read more from Santa Clara University here: A straw in the ocean

August is coming. Prepare for climate calamity

Next month could offer a nasty reminder of why climate action is so badly needed … there’s the drought situation. If you haven’t heard, it’s bad — and August could bring more unwelcome news.  In the next few weeks, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation will issue its latest forecast for water levels at the American West’s two largest reservoirs: Lake Mead and Lake Powell, which help supply tens of millions of people and millions of acres of farmland, from Los Angeles to Phoenix to Salt Lake City. … Next month’s reservoir forecast will be grim — but that’s almost beside the point, says John Fleck, a Colorado River expert and writer in residence at the University of New Mexico School of Law’s Utton Transboundary Resources Center. That’s because in mid-June, the Bureau of Reclamation gave the seven Colorado River states 60 days to develop a plan to reduce water use dramatically — by 2 million to 4 million acre-feet next year. … ” Read more from the LA Times here: August is coming. Prepare for climate calamity

Sausalito ship removes 96 tons of trash from Pacific Ocean

Nearly 100 tons of sprawling fishing nets, piles of plastic toothbrushes, laundry baskets, yoga mats, freezers and even a laundry machine arrived at the Sausalito docks this week.  Fortunately for all, this haul of garbage was stored aboard a 130-foot-long sailing cargo ship that had just returned from a cleanup mission in the sprawling garbage patch floating in the Pacific Ocean.  The cleanup operation was the latest to be performed by the Sausalito-based nonprofit Ocean Voyages Institute. The firm has been journeying to the swirling mass of plastic and debris located between Hawaii and California since 2009 and has removed more than 692,000 pounds of trash. … ”  Read more from the Marin Independent Journal here: Sausalito ship removes 96 tons of trash from Pacific Ocean

Finding beauty and rebirth in burned giant sequoia groves

MarieClaire Egbert and Jennifer Mamola with the John Muir Institute write, “It is undeniable that visual media, during and immediately after a wildfire, more often than not creates a sense of dread and devastation. Never is that more true than when our beloved giant sequoia ecosystems experience a wildland fire. However, what very few go back to see months and years later, is the abundance of natural rejuvenation that wildfire creates in these fire-dependent landscapes. Moderate to high intensity fire in the backcountry is not something to be feared, but is a process that breathes new life into our forest ecosystems.  We at the John Muir Project visit these ecological gems to document and share the wonders that are post-fire habitats, not discriminating by fire intensity. Below we share our recent boots-on-the-ground experience exploring the post-fire habitats of the Castle and KNP Complex fires of 2020 and 2021 in California’s Giant Sequoia National Monument and Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park, along with several ecologists. … ”  Read more from the Earth Island Institute here: Finding beauty and rebirth in burned giant sequoia groves

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In commentary today …

California’s water mismanagement

Edward Ring, contributing editor and senior fellow with the California Policy Center, writes, “As Californians cope with another blistering summer during what is their third consecutive year of drought, the state legislature has still done nothing of substance to upgrade California’s water supply infrastructure. From the Klamath Basin on the Oregon border to the Imperial Valley on the Mexican border, farmers can’t irrigate their crops, and in every major city, residents are having their access to water rationed.  Not only is California’s state legislature and various state and federal agencies failing to invest in new water infrastructure, but they are actively undermining attempts to deliver more water to the state’s residents. In May, the California Coastal Commission denied a permit to Poseidon Water to build a desalination plant that would have produced 60,000 acre feet of water per year. ... ”  Read more from the Epoch Times here (free registration may be required): California’s water mismanagement

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In regional water news and commentary today …


Siskiyou County’s Mud Creek mudslide causes McCloud water restriction

This month’s heatwave is causing glacial melt at Mount Shasta this week that is putting part of a city’s water supply at risk.  The glacial runoff pushes mud and boulders – sometimes as large as washing machines – down Mud Creek in Siskiyou County.  The McCloud Community Services District (MCSD) operates three springs on the mountain that supply water to about 800 homes in McCloud.  Its pipelines run along and over Mud Creek. … ”  Read more from Channel 12 here: Siskiyou County’s Mud Creek mudslide causes McCloud water restriction

Recovery plan released for Elk River

Land use changes in watersheds often lead to ecological degradation, but with degradation comes great opportunity for restoration. With the release of a new recovery plan, California Trout and our partners are actively pursuing restoration opportunities in the Elk River watershedThe Elk River is the largest tributary to Humboldt Bay, joining the bay just south of the city of Eureka. Located in the heart of the ancestral lands of the Wiyot Tribe, the Elk River watershed has been extensively altered over the past 170 years, when European-American settlers first arrived in the region. Once a complex tapestry of forest, wetland, and aquatic ecosystems, the watershed has since been transformed into a patchwork of working landscapes providing timber resources, agricultural and grazing lands, and homes to many residents. … ”  Read more from Cal Trout here: Recovery plan released for Elk River


Heat records could fall this week at Tahoe; Thunderstorms possible on weekend

High temperature records could fall over the next few days at Lake Tahoe as a heat wave grips the region and thunderstorms are possible this weekend.  The National Weather Service in Reno is forecasting high temps in the low 90s, well over seasonal averages, from Thursday through Saturday.  South Lake Tahoe reached 90 degrees on Wednesday which came within 1 degree of tying the record. ... ”  Read more from the Tahoe Daily Tribune here: Heat records could fall this week at Tahoe; Thunderstorms possible on weekend


A picture of the devastating impacts of the drought in the Sacramento Valley

David Guy, Northern California Water Association, and Tim Johnson, California Rice Commission, write, “A briefing earlier this week painted the picture of the devastating impacts the multi-year drought has had on the west-side of the Sacramento Valley, including the impacts on farmers, communities, water suppliers and fish and wildlife. There was also discussion on solutions that will help the drought-impacted communities, including small and medium-sized businesses, navigate the devastating impacts during this challenging period.  … As a result of these unprecedented and dire conditions, there will be impacts to every use of water–low supplies for rural disadvantaged communities resulting in drinking water impacts; agriculture leading to substantial fallowing of croplands and job losses; and significant environmental impacts to native fish, birds and other wildlife that depend on water on the landscape and in the rivers. … ”  Read more from the Northern California Water Association here: A picture of the devastating impacts of the drought in the Sacramento Valley

Butte County supervisors accept final drought plan

The Butte County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the finalized drought plan Tuesday with the stipulation that it would be a living document that develops as conditions change.  Water and Resource Conservation Director Kammie Loeser was joined by Assistant Director Christina Buck to deliver a series of presentations on water with the first focus surrounding a major analysis project that has occurred over the past six months.  In December, the county hired an outside consulting firm to do a large-scale analysis of drought conditions in Butte County. The board received its initial presentation from the group in April and the draft study was released in May. A webinar was conducted to get feedback from the public in June and the final draft analysis document was released later in June. ... ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here: Butte County supervisors accept final drought plan

Getting answers: What do increased releases from Folsom Dam mean for region’s water levels?

Rising river levels? It’s been a surprising sight in recent days for people out along the American River.  California is in year three of a severe drought and people are being asked to conserve, but water releases from Folsom Dam are being dramatically increased this week.   Parts of the American River Parkway that had been dry ground just a few days ago are now covered with water, which is something surprising to many people along the shoreline. … ”  Read more from CBS Sacramento here: Getting answers: What do increased releases from Folsom Dam mean for region’s water levels?


Moving sea otters up the Northern California and Oregon coast — and maybe into San Francisco Bay — is feasible, federal government concludes

Relocating sea otters to places in Northern California and Oregon where they haven’t lived for generations, including possibly using helicopter rides to move a few dozen from the Monterey Bay area into San Francisco Bay, is feasible and could help expand populations of the endangered marine mammals.  But there are sensitive economic issues that have to be worked out first, chief among them how it might affect commercial fishermen who catch species such as Dungeness crab that sea otters also like to eat.  That was the conclusion Wednesday from a new report from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The 200-page study, required by Congress, provided momentum to the growing idea among many marine biologists and environmentalists that the best way to help restore endangered sea otters is to spread their numbers out over a wider area across the West Coast. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here: Moving sea otters up the Northern California and Oregon coast — and maybe into San Francisco Bay — is feasible, federal government concludes

SEE ALSO: Fish and Wildlife Service Completes Sea Otter Study, Outlines Next Steps, press release from the US FWS


Mayor’s message | Watsonville leads charge to protect environment

Ari Parker, mayor of Watsonville, writes, “Watsonville has continued to lead the county and to be very proactive and engaged in measures to protect our environment from negative effects of greenhouse emissions and through conservation of our precious freshwater resources. In recent weeks, the council has worked together to enact regulations and ordinances aimed to meet State compliance and to protect our local environment. Much of these protection measures can’t occur without the active engagement of our entire community. Go Watsonville.  Here is an example of how the community and the council will continue to achieve conservation results. California is in its third year of drought. … ”  Read more from the Santa Cruz Sentinel here: Mayor’s message | Watsonville leads charge to protect environment


Fresno County residents can get up to $2k for overdue water bills

A new Fresno EOC program is offering as much as $2,000 to help low-income residents pay past-due water and sewer bills. But you need to act quickly to receive the one-time grants, which will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. The program ends in August 2023. Fresno EOC officials say the grants are for households that are in danger of losing or have lost their water services. … ”  Read more from GV Wire here: Fresno County residents can get up to $2k for overdue water bills

San Joaquin County secures water supplies for residents in dry times

San Joaquin County residents with dry wells, or those worried about wells running dry, now have immediate resources available to help maintain access to drinking water.  The county announced this week that it has secured emergency bottled water services and water tanks for residents who have been affected by the drought.  In addition, impacted residents can also qualify for well assessments, and water quality testing through the county, thanks to the California Partnership for the San Joaquin Valley.  “Water is an essential resource in the San Joaquin Valley and no resident should be without access to drinking water,” San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors chair Chuck Winn said. “San Joaquin County staff have worked to ensure Self-Help Enterprises can provide vital services and emergency assistance during this Drought.” … ”  Read more from the Lodi Sentinel here: San Joaquin County secures water supplies for residents in dry times | Read via Yahoo News

South valley groundwater managers to use $10 million to protect community water and look for ways to retire up to 100,000 acres of farmland

Three San Joaquin Valley water agencies are gearing up to spend $10 million each in grant funding from the state Department of Conservation to retire or repurpose farmland.  Valley agencies that have received grants so far include the Kaweah Delta Water Conservation District, Pixley Irrigation District Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) and Madera County.  The Pixley Irrigation District GSA sits within the Tule subbasin in the southern San Joaquin Valley just north of  Kern County. For generations, farmers there have overpumped groundwater causing aquifer levels to plummet and the ground to sink. … ”  Read more from SJV Water here: South valley groundwater managers to use $10 million to protect community water and look for ways to retire up to 100,000 acres of farmland


Council tries to halt water facilitation over large pumpers’ ‘scheme’ but DWR disagrees

The Ridgecrest City Council asked the Department of Water Resources to cancel it’s facilitation effort because of an alleged “scheme” involving Mojave Pistachios, Searles Valley Minerals and “others,” but DWR disagreed according to two letters obtained by the Daily Independent.  A letter dated June 2 and signed by all five council members puts forth a complicated theory: “large pumpers” Mojave Pistachios and Searles Valley Minerals “and others” are using the DWR-led facilitation process in a “scheme” to deliberately delay implementation of the state-mandated and approved Groundwater Sustainability Plan for at least a year — the theory goes — so that the “large pumpers” can come up with their own GSP which they will then claim was created under the supervision of the DWR. ... ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here: Council tries to halt water facilitation over large pumpers’ ‘scheme’ but DWR disagrees


Groundbreaking for new well in Palmdale

The Palmdale Water District marked the development of a new water supply point with a groundbreaking for a new well, the first drilled by the District in more than 30 decades.  District staff and officials recently gathered at the site of Well 36, near 15th Street East and north of Rancho Vista Boulevard. The new well is expected to be in operation by early next year, officials said. Once operational, it will produce between 1,000 and 1,300 acre-feet of water annually, or enough water for about 2,000 families in Palmdale. … ”  Read more from the Antelope Valley Press here: Groundbreaking for new well in Palmdale

Concrete river: Water, life, pollution, and the future of the Los Angeles River

Today, the L.A. River is at a pivot point. Development, pollution, and poor management are significant threats to the river’s health. Earlier this year the environmental group American Rivers ranked the L.A. River as the 9th most endangered river in the country.  In its recent history, the river has been abused by its urban setting, channelized and tainted with industrial runoff. But along its northern reaches, a restoration is taking shape.  The L.A. River Master Plan, which aims to improve the profile of the river over the next 25 years, was approved by Los Angeles County officials in May. The plan seeks to renovate around river-adjacent communities that have historically been harmed by racial, environmental, and institutional injustices. These communities are also some of Southern California’s poorest and most polluted.  Environmentalists, however, have voiced their concern over certain elements in the Master Plan. … ”  Read more from the Circle of Blue here: Concrete river: Water, life, pollution, and the future of the Los Angeles River


Coachella Valley Water District OKs drought penalties on water bills starting in August

Starting next month, residents served by Coachella Valley Water District will see higher water bills if they fail to reduce their monthly outdoor water use. It is the latest action by local water districts aimed at reducing water use during the state’s historic drought.  The Coachella Valley Water District Board of Directors voted Tuesday to adopt financial penalties for residents who don’t reduce their monthly outdoor water use to 10% below their Tier 2 outdoor water budget.  CVWD calculates a monthly indoor and outdoor water budget for each customer based on a variety of factors, including landscaped area, weather zones, evapotranspiration, and irrigation system efficiency. … ”  Read more from the Desert Sun here:  Coachella Valley Water District OKs drought penalties on water bills starting in August


San Diego infrastructure projects could be faster, cheaper with proposed reforms

Infrastructure projects in San Diego would be built several months faster and cost a bit less under a proposed package of reforms that aims to streamline projects by eliminating bureaucratic approvals and softening restrictions on consultants and contractors.  The cost of a project would have to be much higher for City Council approval to be required, far fewer cost increases for projects would require council approval, and consultants could work on more projects and accumulate more fees without an OK from the council.  The package of changes, which the council is expected to consider this fall, would also boost transparency by providing the public more information about which firms complete city work and how much they receive cumulatively. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune here: San Diego infrastructure projects could be faster, cheaper with proposed reforms

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Along the Colorado River …

Lake Mead water level falls to 1,040ft, dead-pool level inches closer

Lake Mead’s water levels have fallen to 1,040 feet, inching ever closer to dead-pool level.  Lake Mead, a reservoir formed by the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River, has been drying up because of the ongoing drought in the western United States. It stretches across Nevada and Arizona.  According to new data from Lakes Online, as of July 28 at 4 a.m local time, Lake Mead had fallen to 1,040 feet. At the beginning of 2022, the Lake was at 1,066 feet. … ”  Read more from Newsweek here: Lake Mead water level falls to 1,040ft, dead-pool level inches closer

Education, water banks could ease Utah’s water challenges, report says

Utah’s main crop is a thirsty one and with water becoming more limited, some are wondering if farmers should consider a crop that uses less, according to a report released by Gov. Spencer Cox Wednesday.  The report, the third in Cox’s “Utah’s Coordinated Action Plan for Water,” calls for new strategies such as split stream leases and water banking. The 20-page report focuses on agriculture. The previous reports highlighted infrastructure investments and communities.  Agriculture makes up about 2% of the state’s economy but uses about 75% of the state’s diverted water resources, according to Cox’s initial report. … ”  Read more from Center Square here: Education, water banks could ease Utah’s water challenges, report says

Upper Colorado River leaders push back against federal ask for conservation

One of Colorado’s top water officials says he cannot enforce recent federal demands to start conserving more on the Colorado River.  State engineer Kevin Rein oversees the state’s water rights system. In a meeting with the Colorado River District board on Jul. 19, Rein assured members he would not be mandating conservation among their municipal, industrial and agricultural users. The district covers 15 counties in Western Colorado.  “There is nothing telling me to curtail water rights. There’s nothing telling me that I should encourage people to conserve,” Rein said. … ”  Read more from Aspen Public Radio here: Upper Colorado River leaders push back against federal ask for conservation

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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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