DAILY DIGEST, 7/29: More on the Delta Conveyance Project; Move afoot in Congress to block Delta tunnel project; State Water Board’s SAFER program responds to State Auditor report; Making every drop of water count at Central Valley refuge; and more …


On the calendar today …

  • MEETING: Central Valley Flood Protection Board at 9am. Agenda items include the monthly DWR report, an update on the 2022 Central Valley Flood Protection Plan, a presentation on the Yolo Bypass Cache Slough Partnership California Environmental Quality Act Notice of Preparation and Public Scoping Meetings; and a presentation on the Transfer of Operation and Maintenance Responsibilities; Sacramento River Bank Protection Project, California, Feather River West Levee Project; Sutter and Butte Counties. Click here for the full agenda and remote access instructions.

Delta Conveyance Project …

Digging deep: Newsom resurrects Delta tunnel plan amid worsening drought. Here’s what is in it.

This aerial view shows the California Aqueduct, Clifton Court, John E. Skinner Delta Fish Protective Facility and Harvey O. Banks Pumping Plant are in the background. Photo by Kelly M Grow / DWR

“Three years ago, amid shaky political support and uncertain funding, Gov. Gavin Newsom killed plans by his predecessor, Jerry Brown, to build two massive tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to more easily move water south.  Now a slimmed-down version of the project — one of the most contentious water issues in California since the early 1980s — is back.  On Wednesday, Newsom’s administration released details of the new plan, which calls for building one tunnel instead of two. … ”  Read more from the San Bernardino Sun here: Digging deep: Newsom resurrects Delta tunnel plan amid worsening drought. Here’s what is in it.

Massive water project gets support from Gov. Newsom

A downsized and newly released plan for the Delta Tunnel has gotten support from Gov. Gavin Newsom but pushback from critics due to its $16 billion pricetag.  To be clear, yesterday’s Environmental Impact Report released by the Department of Water Resources was a draft version and one of many steps it will need to take before it gets a green light.  The 45-mile tunnel would move water from the Sacramento River, starting near Clarksburg, and move it under the Sacramento San Joaquin Delta close to I-5, eventually sending it south.  The DWR says that the Delta Conveyance Project will only include one pipeline instead of two and help modernize the state’s infrastructure. … ”  Read more from CBS Sacramento here: Massive water project gets support from Gov. Newsom

Will a 45-mile underground tunnel solve the SoCal water crisis?

Despite the fountain-filled parks, the too-green lawns and endless miles of swimming pools that make parts of Southern Californian seems like oases, we are still in a desert, experiencing a very serious drought.  So after nearly half a century of discussions around similar water-fetching schemes, Governor Gavin Newsom dusted off a golden oldie on Wednesday, releasing a proposal for a 45-mile long underground tunnel that would help transport water from the wetter Northern California to sun-dried SoCal, the Associated Press reports.  The latest iteration of the project is a pared down version of former California Gov. Jerry Brown’s two-tunnel plan. Switching to one underground tunnel that will run water from the Sacramento River to the California Aqueduct (California’s main water transportation channel since the 1960s), Newsom hopes to mitigate any potential harm to the environment. … ” Read more fromk LA Magazine here: Will a 45-mile underground tunnel solve the SoCal water crisis?

After killing Delta tunnels in 2019, Gov. Newsom resurrects the behemoth jobs project

Katy Grimes, Editor of the California Globe, writes, “In 2019, shortly after taking office, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that he did not support former Gov. Jerry Brown’s $19 billion plan to build two massive tunnels under the San Joaquin River Delta. He said he was a one-tunnel guy. “In his first State of the State speech, Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that he will significantly refashion former Gov. Jerry Brown’s pet projects, including the mismanaged High Speed Rail project, and the Delta Tunnels project will be downsized to one tunnel,” the Globe reported. … Gov. Newsom is opting for the Delta Tunnel(s), ignoring that California voters have passed more than $30 billion in water bonds to build additional water storage and two new reservoirs, which would accomplish more water delivery to Southern California without destroying the Delta, its inhabitants, and its prime farmland. … ”  Read more from the California Globe here: After killing Delta tunnels in 2019, Gov. Newsom resurrects the behemoth jobs project

Sacramento’s tunnel vision will destroy Delta and make fat cat hedge fund farmers richer

Dennis Wyatt writes, “Tulare Lake. Gone.  Owens Lake. On a resuscitator but near death.  Mono Lake: Its life hangs in the balance.  They  — and many more California lakes and rivers — were the victim of defying Mother Nature and sucking massive amounts of water from one basin to another.  Bypassing a massive amount of water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta ecological system by tunneling under it — what could possibly go wrong?  It is why Wednesday’s latest reincarnation of Los Angeles’s not-to-secret plan to destroy the Delta along with their partners-in-crime on the western side of Kern County is pure tunnel vision. … ”  Read more from the Manteca Bulletin here: Sacramento’s tunnel vision will destroy Delta and make fat cat hedge fund farmers richer

Move afoot in Congress to block Delta tunnel project

Tom Patti and Josh Harder — the two hopefuls that want to serve the first Congressional district to represent San Joaquin County exclusively — agree on at least one thing.  The state’s Delta tunnel plan to benefit the massive Metropolitan Water District in Southern California ‘s as well as  billionaire and corporate farmers in West Kern County must be stopped.  Harder along with fellow Congress members Jerry McNerney and John Garamendi earlier this month introduced an amendment to prohibit the Army Corps of Engineers from issuing a Clean Water Act permit for the California Delta Conveyance Project.  Their argument is the tunnel would rob the Delta of the benefit of Sacramento River water that currently flows through it on the way to the pumps at the head of the California Aqueduct northwest of Tracy. … ”  Read more from the Manteca Bulletin here: Move afoot in Congress to block Delta tunnel project

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In other California water news today …

State Water Board’s SAFER program responds to State Auditor report

On Tuesday, July 26, the State Auditor’s office released a report on an audit it conducted of the State Water Board’s drinking water assistance efforts.  This email intends to provide more information on our drinking water assistance efforts, our response to the audit, and on the outcomes that have been accomplished over the last 3 years.  Last year, the Joint Legislative Audit Committee requested an audit of the State Water Resource Control Board’s efforts to help provide Californians with clean drinking water. The report from the State Auditor suggested that the State Water Board lacks urgency in delivering needed assistance, citing long process times, and the State Auditor included a number of recommendations to improve processes/procedures. The State Water Board disagrees with the report’s framing that the board lacks urgency in providing assistance to communities and agrees to continue to build upon opportunities to improve how it delivers assistance to communities most in need. ...

Click here to read the full statement.

One core component of our drinking water assistance work is our Safe and Affordable Funding for Equity and Resilience (SAFER) Drinking Water program. The SAFER Drinking Water program has moved as quickly as possible to assist water systems and communities with managing complex drinking water challenges brought on by drought, contamination, aging infrastructure and legacies of redlining and racial inequity. Our accomplishments in just the first three years of a 10-year program speak to the urgency with which we have advanced the Human Right to Water as one of the Board’s top priorities. Since the SAFER Drinking Water program began in 2019:

  • The board has provided access to safe, clean and affordable drinking water for more than 40% of the population previously served by failing water systems, benefitting more than 650,000 Californians in 120 communities.
  • Small, disadvantaged communities have received 84% more grant funding and over 150% more in technical assistance since 2019 than in the three years before the program began.
  • Nearly 9,500 households and 150 water systems experiencing outages were provided over $50 million in emergency assistance. This funding has accelerated projects in over 300 small, disadvantaged communities.
  • Delivered approximately $700 million in grants for 200 active drinking water funding agreements and 540 drinking water technical assistance assignments.
  • Completed 40 internal process improvements to improve our efficiency

The report’s central criticism – that funding application processing has slowed and our staff are operating with a lack of urgency for providing needed assistance to communities – fails to take into account that the volume of applications for funding has increased substantially. Between the 2017-2018 and 2020-2021 fiscal years:

  • The number of funding projects more than doubled, from 123 to 250,
  • We received more than five times the number of applications compared to seven years prior,
  • Policy changes that created access for a wider variety of projects, and
  • Increased outreach and engagement have increased the number of systems applying for funding.

Our highest priority is advancing the human right to water. While the need has far outpaced our capacity to hire new staff and resulted in longer processing times in some cases, ultimately, the board has delivered more assistance to communities than ever before.

We have, and will continue to work with, communities impacted by lack of safe water, as well as local agencies, stakeholders, and technical assistance providers to help accelerate our processes, and develop innovative approaches to ensuring communities can get the financial assistance needed to have safe drinking water. We embrace all improvements that can help build on the achievements of the SAFER Drinking Water program to bring safe, clean, and affordable water to all Californians as quickly as possible.

Join us in advancing safe drinking water for all:

Report revealing hundreds of failing water districts in California

A state audit found that nearly one million Californians have contaminated drinking water.  The report found that 920,000 people could face health issues from unsafe drinking water.  The California State Auditor found there are 370 failing water systems in California that are putting almost a million residents at risk.  “Some of these contaminants are things like arsenic, uranium, (and) nitrates from agricultural runoff,” said Audit Principal John Lewis. … ”  Read more from KSBY here: Report revealing hundreds of failing water districts in California

Unsafe drinking water is a reality for nearly a million Californians, especially in Central Valley, new audit finds

Nearly a million Californians have unsafe drinking water and the agency charged with helping them is ill-equipped to do so.  That’s according to a new state audit of the California Water Resources Control Board, which says 920,000 residents are at increased risk of liver and kidney problems — and even cancer — because they get water from systems that fail to meet contaminant standards for safe drinking water.  The auditor says more than 800 water systems in the state are in that “failing” category, a number that has more than doubled in the last year.  Residents in the Central Valley, including San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties, were most likely to be affected by failing water systems. Other counties include Merced, Fresno, Tulare, Kings, San Bernardino and Kern. ... ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here: Unsafe drinking water is a reality for nearly a million Californians, especially in Central Valley, new audit finds

Top water resources official quits citing Newsom drought record

Max Gomberg quit the California State Water Resources Control Board earlier this month with a dire warning about “dark and uncertain times” for his colleagues, who he believes are “complicit” in Governor Gavin Newsom’s mishandling of a water crisis.  “Witnessing the agency’s ability to tackle big challenges nearly eviscerated by this Administration has been gut wrenching,” he wrote in a public email to colleagues after a decade of recommending strategies to make the state more water resilient. “The way some of you have simply rolled over and accepted this has also been difficult to watch.”  If that wasn’t heavy enough, Gomberg opened his missive with, “These are dark and uncertain times, both because fascists are regaining power and because climate change is rapidly decreasing the habitability of many places.” … ”  Read more from LA Magazine here: Top water resources official quits citing Newsom drought record

Leftist California water official quits, blames Newsom administration

Max Gomberg, a former climate change mitigation strategist with leftist views, resigned from the California State Water Resources Control Board this month, pointing to Governor Gavin Newsom’s (D-CA) administration’s unwillingness to make changes during a drought in the state.  In a resignation message, Gomberg wrote, “These are dark and uncertain times, both because fascists are regaining power and because climate change is rapidly decreasing the habitability of many places.”  Invoking a wish list of progress policies, Gomberg lamented, “[s]adly, 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.” … ”  Read more from the Daily Wire here: Leftist California water official quits, blames Newsom administration

ICYMI: California drought official quits, blasting Newsom for ‘gut wrenching’ inaction, read from the LA Times via AOL News

Making every drop of water count at Central Valley refuge:Investing in wetland habitat for wildlife and recreation

Until the mid-1800s, California’s Central Valley was a vast network of wetlands, rivers, and streams, all eventually feeding into the Pacific Ocean. The San Joaquin River ran through the southern third of the Central Valley and created an expansive floodplain, including in the area now known as the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge. The fertile land and mosaic of habitats offered refuge and forage to herds of tule elk and flocks of migrating birds.  Eventually, dams and flood control levees were installed along the river, severing its connection to this historic floodplain in the central California. Over 90% of the wetlands in the Central Valley have been converted to other land uses and much of the San Joaquin River is now diverted for agriculture and drinking water.  Today the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge provides some of the last remaining wetland habitat for migrating birds in the San Joaquin River Basin. It is one of several national wildlife refuges scattered throughout the Central Valley where migratory birds can still stop and refuel as they journey along the Pacific Flyway and is the ultimate wintering destination for hundreds of thousands of waterfowl. … ”  Read more from the US FWS here: Making every drop of water count at Central Valley refuge:Investing in wetland habitat for wildlife and recreation

CDFW seeking public input on proposed slot limit for striped bass

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is soliciting public input on a proposed regulation change that would restrict the harvest of striped bass to a “slot limit” between 20 and 30 inches for inland anadromous waters. Under the proposal, all striped bass caught below 20 inches in length and above 30 inches in length would have to be released.  The Nor-Cal Guides and Sportsmen’s Association has submitted the regulation change proposal to the California Fish and Game Commission. The stated goal is to protect the species by increasing the minimum length to allow more fish to mature and successfully spawn prior to harvest and to protect the larger fish that tend to be the most prolific spawners and are becoming increasingly rare in the fishery. … ”  Read more from CDFW here: CDFW seeking public input on proposed slot limit for striped bass

California drought is causing ranchers to sell off cattle which will have a lasting impact

California is on year three of one of the worst droughts in state history, and it’s hurting our farmers and ranchers.  Jim Rickert owns Prather Ranch and has been ranching in the Northstate for more than five decades. He said this could be one of the worst droughts in his lifetime.  “It’s been a cause of the significant problem for us,” Rickert said. “In some areas, we have an irrigation district there and our allotment from the state water district is zero. So zero is pretty hard to work with.” … ”  Read more from KRCR here: California drought is causing ranchers to sell off cattle which will have a lasting impact

Senator Feinstein: Water bill includes $375 million for California projects

“Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today released the following statement in support of the Water Resources Development Act:  “Water is the lifeblood of California. This bill recognizes that fact and invests in maintaining our water supply, restoring our environment and protecting our communities from extreme weather and pollution.  The bill authorizes funding to remove harmful chemicals from our drinking water, prevent major flooding in our communities and reaffirm the federal government’s commitment to saving Lake Tahoe and the San Francisco Bay.  The bill also helps make us more resilient against the increasing effects of climate change. California, like most of the West, is experiencing a historic drought due to climate change, and this bill includes significant funding to help us recover and better prepare for these dry conditions.  “I’m pleased that so many of California’s priorities are included in this bill, and I’m proud to support it in the Senate.” … ”  Read more from Senator Feinstein’s office here:  Water Bill Includes $375 Million for California Projects

Jared Huffman, Western legislators push for passage of wildfire, drought bill

The climate crisis is driving calamitous conditions like heatwaves, drought, catastrophic fires and massive floods for communities across the world. Representatives from the Western U.S. like North Coast Congressman Jared Huffman are pushing for federal legislation to address catastrophic wildfires and drought.  On Thursday, Huffman (D-San Rafael) joined other legislators from states like Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico to call for the passage of HR 5118, the Wildfire Response and Drought Resiliency Act. The bill is intended to assist the recovery and rebuilding of communities affected by recent climate-driven disasters and fund climate resiliency and mitigation efforts, as well as fire suppression.  “If you live in the West, wildfire and drought are very much on our minds right now,” Huffman said. “They will be all summer and, in my district, they have been each of the past five summers.” … ”  Read more from the Times-Herald here: Jared Huffman, Western legislators push for passage of wildfire, drought bill

How ‘spreading like wildfire’ is getting a terrifying new meaning in the California of climate change

On a ridge overlooking the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, it would have been possible to see the first flickering flames of the Oak Fire and then how it engulfed its surroundings.  It took just 24 hours to mushroom to 10,000 acres and become California’s biggest wildfire this year.  “That’s crazy fast,” said Joe Amador, one of thousands of firefighters from across the state now deployed to fight the blaze.  “In the initial stages it was wind-driven and terrain-driven,” he told CNN, pointing to rolling hills, peaks and valleys that fire crews call “chimneys” that can help to spread embers and fire rapidly. … ”  Read more from CNN here: How ‘spreading like wildfire’ is getting a terrifying new meaning in the California of climate change

In commentary today …

Opinion: If our Colorado River water supply is cut, prepare to see empty shelves at the grocery store

Mike Wade, executive director of the California Farm Water Coalition, writes, “When you go to the grocery store and fill the cart with food for your family, you are part of a long process that begins with soil, water, sunlight and the labor of farmers and farm workers. Most likely, the farms that grow most of your food are in a neighboring rural area or within a day’s drive from your home. California grows 61 percent of U.S.-produced fruits, nuts and vegetables. Many of our winter fruits and vegetables come from the Imperial and Coachella valleys as well as from the San Joaquin, Salinas and Sacramento valleys the remainder of the year.  There is a connection between water resources, farmers who know the land and the consumer who trusts in our safe, domestic food supply. But that connection is at risk from the threat of lopsided policy, and once grocery store shelves are empty, it will be too late. ... ”  Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune here: Opinion: If our Colorado River water supply is cut, prepare to see empty shelves at the grocery store

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In regional water news and commentary today …

NORTH COAST

Mudflows threaten pipes carrying spring water to McCloud

Mudflows are creating big problems for the community of McCloud in Siskiyou County.  The flow is sending trees and boulders down Mud Creek.  It’s threatening water pipelines that carry spring water to McCloud. ... ”  Read more from Action News Now here: Mudflows threaten pipes carrying spring water to McCloud

MOUNTAIN COUNTIES

Tahoe State of the Lake Report 2022

The University of California, Davis, Tahoe Environmental Research Center, or TERC, today released its annual Tahoe: State of the Lake Report. The report informs nonscientists about important factors affecting the health of Lake Tahoe and provides the scientific underpinnings for restoration and management decisions within the Lake Tahoe Basin.  The report summarizes data collected during 2021 in the context of the long-term record of research at Lake Tahoe. UC Davis researchers have continuously monitored the lake since 1968.  The report describes the collapse of the zooplankton and Mysis shrimp populations; an abrupt change in the phytoplankton community; and the extent of algal growth impacting large sections of the Tahoe shoreline. … ”  Read more from UC Davis here: Tahoe State of the Lake Report 2022

Report shows that Lake Tahoe will fall below its natural rim this summer

The UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center’s (TERC) Tahoe: State of the Lake Report shows that wildfires and climate change are causing dramatic changes to the worlds 16th deepest alpine lake.  The report is intended to inform nonscientists about factors affecting the health of Lake Tahoe. It also provides information for restoration and management decisions within the Lake Tahoe Basin.  According to the report, it showed that the amount of floating algae in the lake has increased by 300 percent over the last year, which is an all-time high annual value. ... ”  Read more from Fox 40 here: Report shows that Lake Tahoe will fall below its natural rim this summer

Initial results of herbicide use in Tahoe Keys promising

Initial observations of the Tahoe Keys Aquatic Invasive Species Controls Method Test shows promise but the test is far from over.   The first of a three year methods test is two months underway and scientists are already seeing promising results.   The CMT is testing several different methods to knock-back aquatic invasive species over the next three years. Applications of herbicides began on May 25 and wrapped up on May 31, the same day UV light treatments began. … ”  Read more from the Tahoe Daily Tribune here: Initial results of herbicide use in Tahoe Keys promising

SACRAMENTO VALLEY

2022 habitat projects at Nimbus Basin and Lower Sailor Bar

Each year, the Water Forum works to create habitat for salmon and steelhead to return to during their annual migration. Fall-run Chinook salmon migrate to the Lower American River as adults to spawn from October through December. In the egg-laying process, females create a “nest” (called a redd) in loose gravel in flowing water, depositing their eggs and then covering them up with more gravel. Once hatched, young salmon move to the river’s shallow, slower moving areas to find protection from predators and grow before swimming back out to the Pacific Ocean.  The habitat projects at Nimbus Basin and Lower Sailor Bar will enhance crucial habitat for native fall-run Chinook salmon and steelhead trout by collectively laying approximately 41,000 cubic yards of clean gravel into the flowing river and carving side channels into existing gravel bars. … ”  Read more from the Water Forum here: 2022 habitat projects at Nimbus Basin and Lower Sailor Bar

NAPA/SONOMA

Designed and delivered: Milliken Creek Dam Removal

Napa County Flood Control & Water Conservation District led the removal of a thirteen-foot dam and reconstruction of a thousand feet of streambed on Milliken Creek for flood control and fish passage benefits.  Beginning in the summer of 2017, Napa County partnered with a local homeowners’ association to implement a series of drainage improvements to reduce flooding along Milliken Creek. Milliken Creek is a tributary to the Napa River flowing from the east side of the Napa Valley just north of the city of Napa. A 13-foot-tall dam was constructed on Milliken Creek in 1955 to divert and control the waters along this portion of Milliken Creek within the Silverado Resort and Spa golf course.  … ”  Read more from ESA here: Designed and delivered: Milliken Creek Dam Removal

BAY AREA

Editorial: Building limits in San Geronimo Creek watershed not the end

The Marin Independent Journal editorial board writes, “The county’s approval of tougher restrictions for building in the San Geronimo Creek watershed comes after more than a decade of debate, costly lawsuits, numerous studies, reports and draft ordinances and a lot of political wrangling.  How well it works, for the environment and property owners, remains to be seen. The new zoning rules were not approved without protest from those whose building rights will be affected.  The battle was started when the Salmon Protection and Watershed Network filed a lawsuit to block the approval of an update of the countywide plan.  SPAWN has relentlessly pushed for tougher restrictions to protect the watershed in hopes of bringing it back as a spawning ground for coho salmon, a protected species. … ”  Read more from the Marin Independent Journal here: Editorial: Building limits in San Geronimo Creek watershed not the end

CENTRAL COAST

Santa Cruz Water Commission explores climate change scenarios

Teaming up with University of Massachusetts professor Casey Brown, the Santa Cruz Water Commission has created a modeling tool that allows the commission to explore the ways that possible changes in climate may potentially affect the Santa Cruz water supply in the near and far future.  “We’re not in the business of predicting what the future holds in terms of climate,” said Brown, professor at the University of Massachusetts department of civil and environmental engineering. “No one can do that. Instead, we design a model that is able to give us a comprehensive exploration of the possible climate futures.”  The modeling tool created by Brown and his colleagues at the University of Massachusetts hydrosystems research group to examine the various outcomes that certain climate changes may have on the Santa Cruz water system is called the Santa Cruz Climate Scenario Generator. … ”  Read more from the Santa Cruz Sentinel here: Santa Cruz Water Commission explores climate change scenarios

Positive outlook for water: City of Santa Barbara expresses confidence despite Stage 2 alert

The duration of Santa Barbara’s water shortage alert depends on future state mandates and how much — or how little — it rains this winter.  That’s according to city water officials, who told the News-Press there’s a “high likelihood that a dry winter throughout the state would lead to further statewide action.”  But the city officials say that despite the water shortage alert, there’s a good outlook for local water.  They say the reasons include improved conservation by residents, the diversification of water sources and the reactivation of the city’s desalination plant. ... ”  Read more from the Santa Barbara News-Press here: Positive outlook for water: City of Santa Barbara expresses confidence despite Stage 2 alert

SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY

Essay: Where bad air carries peril and promise

California’s San Joaquin Valley is a place of contradictions: It is the most agriculturally productive region in the world, growing over 250 crops and grossing approximately $35 billion in annual sales of everything from fruit and nuts to livestock, wine, milk, and grains. Its 27,000 square miles reside in a geographical sweet spot, with a Mediterranean climate and land watered by once mighty rivers flowing from the Sierra Nevada mountains. The valley possesses incredible cultural diversity, too: People of more than 70 different ethnicities, speaking over 100 languages, call the region home. It is the place that gave rise, among many important cultural moments, to the powerful farmworker movement that built solidarity across race, class, and other divides. … ”  Read more from Zocalo here: Essay: Where bad air carries peril and promise

Can San Joaquin Valley agriculture survive with less irrigation? Here are ways to do it

Caitlin Peterson, associate director and research fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California’s Water Policy Center, writes, “Change is coming to farming in the San Joaquin Valley. Because of the need to reduce groundwater pumping to comply with the 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, we’ve estimated that at least 500,000 acres of farmland will need to come out of irrigated production in the coming years. This is a major shift for California’s agricultural heartland, and one that will have profound impacts on the region’s residents, workers, economy, and environment. With such major change looming, it’s in everyone’s interest to find ways to help these land-use transitions cause as little harm as possible — and ideally bring benefits. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here: Can San Joaquin Valley agriculture survive with less irrigation? Here are ways to do it

East Kaweah GSA resubmits groundwater plan to state

Facing the start of possibly a fourth-straight year of drought, one local water agency has resubmitted its plan to manage its dwindling supply of groundwater to the state. The East Kaweah Groundwater Sustainability Agency’s (East Kaweah) board of directors approved an updated Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) on July 25, two days before the deadline to submit the revised plan to the California Department of Water Resources. The state agency rejected the plan on Jan. 28 as “incomplete” and required East Kaweah to correct deficiencies in three areas before resubmitting by the July 27 deadline. The goal of the GSP is to bring groundwater levels into balance by the year 2040 under the state’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) of 2014. … ”  Read more from the Foothills Sun-Gazette here: East Kaweah GSA resubmits groundwater plan to state

Visalia landfill well in state of emergency

The Tulare County Board of Supervisors declared a state of emergency at the Visalia landfill to replace the Cotton Gin well that could run out of water as soon as April 2023.  The Cotton Gin well is one of two wells located at the landfill. Without the state of emergency, the process to complete the new well would put the operation of the new well out at least five to six months. The need to drill a new well before the old one fails is critical to the landfill to ensure the site is never without enough water which could cause bigger problems. … ”  Read more from the Foothills Sun-Gazette here: Visalia landfill well in state of emergency

Utility stops flows to closed hatchery but keeps some North Fork Kern water for itself

Southern California Edison has stopped taking water out of the North Fork of the Kern River for a state fish hatchery that has been closed for nearly two years but added a new diversion that river advocates are calling a “dangerous precedent.”  The move comes several weeks after river advocates complained the utility was using the hatchery to make “lawless” diversions at a perilously dry time.  The hatchery diversions, 37 cubic feet per second (cfs), were taken out of the river at the Fairview Dam near McNally’s resort, and run through Edison’s Kern River No. 3 power plant (KR3), near Kernville, then dumped back into the river at the long-shuttered hatchery. … ”  Read more from SJV Water here: Utility stops flows to closed hatchery but keeps some North Fork Kern water for itself

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

Possible showers, thunderstorms coming to Southern California this weekend

Possible showers and thunderstorms could come to Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties starting Saturday and last until Monday, according to the National Weather Service.  The National Weather Service said there’s a 15% to 20% chance of rain and thunderstorms for most of Southern California. Most activity will be confined to the mountains and deserts, but there is the possibility of some of these showers drifting west over the valleys and other coastal areas, said weather service meteorologist Rich Thompson. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: Possible showers, thunderstorms coming to Southern California this weekend

Palmdale Water District is interested in joining AVEK on water bank plan

The Palmdale Water District signaled their interest in joining the Antelope Valley-East Kern Water Agency in the expansion of AVEK’s High Desert Water Bank. The District’s Board of Directors, on Monday, unanimously approved a non-binding Expression of Interest in participating in Phase Two of the water bank. AVEK is considering expanding the water bank, in which surplus water from the State Water Project is stored underground during wet years, and may be retrieved when needed during dry periods. … ”  Read more from the AV Press here: Palmdale Water District is interested in joining AVEK on water bank plan

Most Angelenos are fighting the drought. And on the lawn level, ‘water cops’ want to keep things on track

Erin Stone writes, “I’m walking a lawn- and tree-lined street in the west side neighborhood of Hancock Park with Damon Ayala, a patroller with the Water Conservation Response Unit of the L.A. Department of Water and Power.  We walk past a patch of grass and sidewalk recently wetted by sprinklers. Ayala saw the sprinklers go off — it’s a Wednesday, a day no one is allowed to water, so he’ll mail a citation to the homeowner. He’s already written a couple other citations this morning.  Current rules restrict Angelenos to two days of outdoor watering: Monday and Friday for odd addresses and Sunday and Thursday for even ones.  Ayala said it’s this homeowner’s first warning, but if they break the rules again, they’ll get a $200 fine. By the fourth violation, it’s $600 bucks. … ”  Continue reading at the LAist here:  Most Angelenos are fighting the drought. And on the lawn level, ‘water cops’ want to keep things on track

Amid water restrictions, L.A. residents can get free recycled water for lawns

Angelenos can stock up again on gallons of recycled water to irrigate their trees, plants and lawns — and free of charge through a Los Angeles Department of Water and Power program.  Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the reopening of two recycled water fill stations Thursday at the Los Angeles-Glendale Water Reclamation Plant and the L.A. Zoo parking lot.  The city’s Residential Recycled Water Fill Station Program will offer up to 300 gallons of disinfected water per person per visit, the agency said. Participants can bring their own containers with water-tight lids to a water fill station. To qualify for the program, they must be an active customer with the Department of Water and Power, complete an application form and take training classes available at the sites. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: Amid water restrictions, L.A. residents can get free recycled water for lawns

Here’s how Mesa Water District uses 100% local water

A small grove of redwood trees in Costa Mesa pays tribute to the forest that once grew in the area.  Hidden deep below is an invaluable water resource to the community.  “It’s pure, pristine, it has no manmade influence in it, so it’s the best source of water that we have,” said Mesa Water District General Manager Paul Shoenberger.  The Mesa Water Reliability facility pumps up water that Shoenberger said dates back more than 12,000 years. … ”  Read more from ABC 7 here: Here’s how Mesa Water District uses 100% local water

Idyllwild Water District concerned about wastewater treatment plant progress

With General Manager Leo Havener absent, the Idyllwild Water District (IWD) directors’ monthly meeting finished up in about a half-hour Wednesday, July 20.  A special meeting had been called for Tuesday, July 12, to discuss the wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) progress but was canceled because of illnesses.  Instead, Director Peter Szabadi, at the July 20 meeting, told the other four directors that progress on replacing the WWTP was not sufficient and that’s why the special meeting that was canceled was called.  In Havener’s report, he wrote that the map for the proposed WWTP project was received and that property negotiations with Idyllwild Arts Foundation (IAF) is the next step. ... ”  Read more from the Idyllwild Town Crier here: Idyllwild Water District concerned about wastewater treatment plant progress

IMPERIAL/COACHELLA VALLEYS

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

Imperial County hosts 2022 Colorado River Summit addressing drought

The 2022 Colorado River Summit was held Thursday for the community and stakeholders to come together to inform each other of the drought issue, the drastic measures that may be coming our way and how those measures can be mitigated by working together.  Imperial County, Comite Civico Del Valle, the Coalition of Labor, Agriculture & Business (COLAB), Imperial County Office of Education (ICOE), and the Imperial Valley Vegetable Growers Association hosted the forum.  Imperial County Board of Supervisors District 1, Jesus Escobar says with the water crisis, the issue is we all have to come together and make sure it’s fair and equitable, especially for a disadvantaged community. … ”  Read more from Channel 11 here: Imperial County hosts 2022 Colorado River Summit addressing drought

SAN DIEGO

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Along the Colorado River …

A Colorado River glossary: Jargon explained

These are perilous times in the troubled Colorado River basin, a make-or-break moment in which some of the nation’s fastest growing and most arid states begin to reckon with a drier future.  The next month will be especially intense. … Discussions about the Colorado River can resemble a doctor’s visit: filled with technical jargon, unfamiliar acronyms, and the anxiety that comes from incomplete understanding.  This glossary is an attempt to demystify the language. It outlines key terms and phrases and their context — so as the basin chatter heats up you can keep your DCP and DROA actions straight and know who’s taking ICS. ... ”  Read more from the Circle of Blue here:  A Colorado River Glossary: Jargon Explained

Column: We’ll use significantly less Colorado River water, no matter how this plays out

Columnist Joanna Allhands writes, “The federal Bureau of Reclamation has said that when it comes to cuts on the Colorado River, everyone must be in the pool. No state or sector should expect a pass.  But that’s not how it’s playing out in the final weeks of negotiations.  Reclamation wants all seven states that rely on the river to come up with a plan to trim 2 million to 4 million acre-feet of water use. By Aug. 15.  It’s an inordinate amount of water for states to suddenly agree not to use.  Perhaps not surprisingly, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and New Mexico – the states that comprise the Upper Basin of the river – have agreed that this is largely a problem for California, Arizona and Nevada – the states that make up the Lower Basin – to solve. … ”  Read more from the Arizona Republic here: Column: We’ll use significantly less Colorado River water, no matter how this plays out

Public hearing about Rio Verde Foothills water supply set for August

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors has scheduled a public hearing to address Rio Verde Foothills water issues.  In an announcement Thursday, the county said they will hear public comments and consider a petition to establish the Rio Verde Foothills Domestic Water Improvement District. … ”  Read more from ABC 15 here: Public hearing about Rio Verde Foothills water supply set for August

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In national water news today …

Climate change is intensifying the water cycle, bringing more powerful storms and flooding – here’s what the science shows

Powerful storm systems triggered flash flooding across the U.S. in late July, inundating St. Louis neighborhoods with record rainfall and setting off mudslides in eastern Kentucky, where at least 16 people died in flooding. Another deluge in Nevada flooded the Las Vegas strip.  The impact of climate change on extreme water-related events like this is becoming increasingly evident. The storms in the U.S. followed extreme flooding this summer in India and Australia and last year in Western Europe.  Studies by scientists around the world show that the water cycle has been intensifying and will continue to intensify as the planet warms. An international climate assessment I coauthored in 2021 for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change lays out the details. ... ”  Read more from The Conversation here:  Climate change is intensifying the water cycle, bringing more powerful storms and flooding – here’s what the science shows

Tracking deluge and drought through soil moisture

“After abundant rain and flooding in the Mississippi Valley and other regions in 2019, drought returned to much of the United States in 2021-22. From wet to dry, both extremes have implications for soils and the crops they support.  The opposing extremes were detected by NASA satellites. But it was a novel tool—the Soil Moisture Analytics (Crop-CASMA) product—that integrated this satellite data into a format that was particularly useful to people. With Crop-CASMA’s high-resolution, timely information on soil moisture, farmers and agriculture managers could track the areas of high and low moisture more closely. … ”  Read more from Earth Observatory here: Tracking deluge and drought through soil moisture

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National water and climate update …

The Natural Resources Conservation Service produces this weekly report using data and products from the National Water and Climate Center and other agencies. The report focuses on seasonal snowpack, precipitation, temperature, and drought conditions in the U.S.

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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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