Sunset at Don Edwards San Francisco Bay NWR. Photo by Peter Thoeny
DAILY DIGEST, weekend edition: Amid California’s drought, environmental laws get scrutiny; DWR testing water quality at Lake Oroville; In CA, where water is a human right, some communities still go thirsty; “Drop out” from race for seat on a powerful Kern water board appears poised to win; and more …
Amid California’s drought, environmental laws get scrutiny
“The impacts of California’s interminable drought are well-known. But one aspect has drawn little relatively attention — its relationship with environmental laws. Last year was the second-driest water year on record, with all 58 California counties placed under a drought emergency proclamation, according to California’s official drought website. The map shows how the vast majority of California is suffering from moderate to extreme drought conditions. The impacts of a water shortage ultimately will affect everyone in California as usable water continues its downward trend, says California Water Watch, which tracks the state’s water conditions. It notes that the next two decades could see California lose “10 percent of its water supplies” due to the warming climate. … ” Read more from Capitol Weekly here: Amid California’s drought, environmental laws get scrutiny
DWR testing water quality at Lake Oroville
“The California Department of Water Resources began the process of monitoring the water quality at Lake Oroville on Thursday. According to a press release issued Thursday by DWR, the process consists of placing sondes, a type of monitoring device, into Lake Oroville as well as the Thermalito Diversion Pool. These devices then measure the temperature of the water along with its pH balance, dissolved oxygen and turbidity, or clarity. The devices produce data which is collected in 15-minute intervals after which personnel with the department’s Northern Region office collect and analyze the data. Devices will stay in place until around May or June 2023 depending on when the runoff season ends. … ” Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here: DWR testing water quality at Lake Oroville
Nearly 90% of West depends on national forests, grasslands for drinking water
“Western states and cities are more reliant on drinking water from U.S. Forest Service lands than previously known. A first-of-its-kind study by the Forest Service reveals how some of the largest public water systems in the country rely on surface waters from the federal agency’s land. The agency plans to use the new data to help public water systems plan for a future of higher demand, development and climate change. Previous studies have attempted to measure the amount of surface water moving directly from national forests and grasslands into public water systems, but the latest study from the agency includes measures of how much surface water from its lands are moved by pipe and canal networks to major cities nationwide. The study revealed that about 90% of people in the West served by public drinking water systems rely on water from national forests and grasslands, sometimes transported hundreds of miles from points of origin to flow into taps. … ” Read more from the Oregon Capital Chronicle here: Nearly 90% of West depends on national forests, grasslands for drinking water
In California, where water is a human right, some communities still go thirsty
“Residents in this San Joaquin Valley town, like Maria Arevalo, look at an empty church property the same way they look at the reliability of water in their homes — and say they feel behind on two fronts. The empty piece of land, which holds only three boarded-up trailers and some scattered wooden crosses, sits north of the town of just over 4,000. The town of Pixley doesn’t have a Catholic church. … Today the land is fenced off and only used occasionally, but no official church exists yet. A sign at the gate from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno states the church will be built with the help of residents, but a spokesman for the Diocese says there are no building plans currently in the works. Residents will have to keep waiting. Residents have suspected water — or rather the lack thereof — is getting in the way of anything being built there. … ” Read the full story at PBS News Hour here: In California, where water is a human right, some communities still go thirsty
Why won’t California receive any money from the Bipartisan Infrastructure bill?
Fernando Lozano, the Morris B. and Gladys S. Pendleton professor in the Department of Economics at Pomona College and chairman of the faculty at Inland Empire Economic Partnership: Economic Council, writes, “The United States Department of Energy recently awarded $2.8 billion to 21 companies across the nation to fund projects for the development of lithium batteries and the electric grid. These grants are part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act. This investment will total more than $9 billion as recipients will match the federal awards. This program can be truly transformational. The bad news: None of the 21 awards were given to California. Among the awards, three are in Nevada, two in Washington state, and three in Tennessee. Again, none in California. The Bipartisan Infrastructure bill shows the power of the government to guide technological progress and develop new industries. ... ” Read more from the San Bernardino Sun here: Why won’t California receive any money from the Bipartisan Infrastructure bill?
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Martha Davis joins the Sierra Fund’s Board of Directors
The Sierra Fund welcomes Martha Davis to the Board of Directors. Martha Davis, a long-time Sierra enthusiast and leader, brings decades of leadership expertise including water policy and management and climate resiliency to the Sierra Fund’s board. She retired in 2017 from her position as Assistant General Manager/Executive Manager for Policy Development at the Inland Empire Utilities Agency in Southern California. She also served as Executive Director for the Mono Lake Committee from 1983 – 1997 and provides consulting services to various non-profits including the Water Foundation and Rescape California. She also serves on the boards of the Mono Lake Committee, the Community Water Center, the Rose Foundation California Grassroots Fund, and the steering committee for Localizing California’s Waters. Click the link here to read Martha’s full bio.
WE GROW CALIFORNIA PODCAST: Sustainable Groundwater Management Act: Yeah or nay?
It’s been over ten seven years since the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) passed. Now is the time when the rubber meets the road, and Groundwater Sustainability Plans are currently being implemented. Join Darcy Villere and Darcy Burke as they discuss the best and worst of SGMA.
BROWNSTEIN PODCAST: Untangling Water Affordability: Policy Challenges and Community Impacts
From water infrastructure failures in Jackson, Mississippi, to a political and financing puzzle in California, water affordability is an emerging policy concern for an industry already facing huge challenges. Tune is as Brownstein’s Jessica Diaz speaks to industry experts Jennifer Capitolo and April Ballou about how the issue of water affordability and fragmentation is playing out among providers, the potential and pitfalls that come with federal assistance programs and the critical balance of providing affordable water without sacrificing safety or reliability. This conversation came as a result of Brownstein’s 2022 California H2O Women Conference, which showcases leading women professionals, their work and their contributions to advance the water industry. April Ballou is general counsel and vice president of state regulatory affairs for the National Association of Water Companies and Jennifer Capitolo is the executive director of the California Water Association.
JIVE TALKING PODCAST: David Wegner on the past and future of the Colorado River Basin
“David Wegner (firstname.lastname@example.org) is currently a member of the Water, Science and Technology Board of the National Academy of Sciences and works part time for Woolpert Engineering on water, climate and financing for water infrastructure. He retired from the U.S. House of Representatives where he served on the Natural Resources and Transportation and Infrastructure Committees. He currently is writing on improving adaptive management of water resources by improving the governance and application of science. He lives in Tucson, Arizona in the epicenter of climate driven aridification of the Colorado River basin.
RIPPLE EFFECT PODCAST: Per capital water use – Decoding the data
Rick Maloy, Water Conservation Manager for Central Utah Water Conservancy District, provides a fascinating deep dive into how States calculate their per capita water use. Spoiler – it is complicated. Rick talks about the three different methodologies, Total Demand, Water Use Reporting, and Consumptive Use Calculations, as well as the various other conditions that make it difficult to get to an apples to apples comparison. Great discussion for debunking some of the water use myths about Utah and setting the stage for a much more nuanced discussion.
THE ECONEWS REPORT: How Do We Count The Fish
On this week’s edition of the EcoNews Report, host Alicia Hamann of Friends of the Eel River is joined by three fisheries experts to talk about how we count fish in the Eel River. Tune in to hear from Wyatt Smith from the Round Valley Indian Tribes, Dave Kajtaniak from the Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Charlie Schneider from California Trout as they discuss DIDSON cameras installed throughout the watershed and what data collected from these monitoring stations tells us about salmon and steelhead populations in the entire Eel River. This data can help influence conservation decisions as we work to meet recovery target population numbers for species listed under the Endangered Species Act. The data we discuss in this episode is specific to the mainstem Eel River, so it is not reflective of entire populations in the watershed, but rather a helpful indicator of just how many fish are out there. Listen at the Lost Coast Outpost by clicking here.
WHAT ABOUT WATER WITH JAY FAMIGLIETTI: Field Smarts: Protecting farmer’s wallets and our water, with Bruno Basso
It’s estimated that by 2050, we’ll have over 9 billion people on earth. To feed everyone, we will need to produce 60 per cent more food – and we’ll need to grow it using less water. On this episode of What About Water? we’re looking at new technology that can make that shift possible. Jay sits down with colleague and friend Bruno Basso, an agro-ecosystem scientist at Michigan State University and the co-founder and chief scientist of CIBO Engineering. Basso walks through the remote sensing technology, artificial intelligence, and process-based models farmers can use to optimize their yield – and environmental outcomes – using more precise water and fertilizer inputs.
WATER IS A MANY SPLENDOR’ED THING PODCAST: Making of the Falkirk Wheel
Traveling on the opposite side of the roads and freeways in Scotland creates quite a visual impact to an American driver, especially when your destination is the “Falkirk Wheel.” Water is a Many Splendor ’ed Thing brings you another water relationship that has a personally significant impact to your life. Produced by Steven Baker, Bringing People Together to Solve Water Problems, email@example.com 530-205-6388
FERC will vote on staff recommendation to remove four PacifiCorp dams at Nov. 17 meeting
“On November 17 at 7 am PST, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) will vote on the staff recommendation to surrender the license for the four lower PacifiCorp dams on the Klamath River and begin the dam removal process. In an action celebrated by Klamath Basin Tribes, conservationists and fishing groups, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) staff on August 27, 2022 released the final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) recommending the removal of the lower four Klamath River Dams. Dam removal on the Klamath will open up over 240 stream-miles of salmon and steelhead habitat that has been blocked to fish migration for over 100 years. The project, the largest of its kind in U.S. history, is funded by dam owner PacifiCorp and a voter-approved California bond measure. ... ” Read more from the Daily Kos here: FERC will vote on staff recommendation to remove four PacifiCorp dams at Nov. 17 meeting
Column: Commercial well ordinance stuck in Mendocino County counsel’s office
Columnist Jim Shields writes, “I want to share with you a letter I sent to Supervisors John Haschak and Glenn McGourty regarding a draft ordinance that would regulate private sector groundwater wells whose owners sell, or plan to sell water commercially, as well as individuals or entities that transport water from these commercial groundwater wells to customers. First I’ll give you a summary of the proposed ordinance, and then provide the letter that sets out a problem that no one was aware of. Here are highlights of the proposed ordinance. Under this proposed Ordinance, individuals desiring to sell water will be required, among other things, to apply for a Minor Use permit; … ” Continue reading at the Anderson Valley Advertiser here: Column: Commercial well ordinance stuck in Mendocino County counsel’s office
Live Oak to seek water improvement grants
“The Live Oak City Council recently approved an agreement with an engineering firm to complete an application process for state grants that would help improve the city’s water and wastewater systems. Currently, the California State Water Resource Control Board is “offering a Drinking Water Planning Grant program that could fund an update of the Live Oak Water Master Plan,” the city said. Additionally, the state also is “offering a Clean Water Planning Grant program that could fund an update of the Live Oak Wastewater Master Plan.” Both grant programs “will allow for initial planning, design, and environmental work of identified projects” as they relate to the city’s water and wastewater systems. … ” Read more from the Appeal Democrat here: Live Oak to seek water improvement grants
Column: Voters just gave everyone at Marin Municipal Water District a clear message
Columnist Dick Spotswood writes, “If early results hold, the voters just gave Marin Municipal Water District directors an unambiguous message. The public wants water security, including a four-year reserve – no more kicking the can down the road. Act and do it now. Planning is essential, but with the time and money already spent on studies, MMWD leaders need to make up their mind and implement decisions. That message apparently wasn’t received until election night by expected outgoing directors Jack Gibson, Larry Bragman and Cynthia Koehler. Koehler chose to retire instead of running for reelection after serving 17 years. Given the substantial vote margins between the candidates so far, it appears there’s little doubt the two incumbents, Gibson and Bragman, were defeated. … ” Read more from the Marin Independent Journal here: Column: Voters just gave everyone at MMWD a clear message
Commentary: Cal Am’s desal is not the solution — here’s why
Melodie Chrislock, director of Public Water Now, writes, “For the third time since 2019, Cal Am will argue for approval of its proposed desal project to the state Coastal Commission on Nov. 17. In its previous efforts, the Coastal Commission staff recommended denial. But now the commission is under intense pressure from Gov. Gavin Newson to approve all desal projects in California. This is the same project, but it appears that the Coastal Commission staff is now recommending approval due to the governor’s pressure. If this desal project is approved, everyone on the Peninsula will pay for it. The current cost is estimated at $426 million. It would provide 5,000 to 6,250 acre-feet of water a year. To pay for this Cal Am is expected to raise water bills by 50% to 70%. … ” Read more from Voices of Monterey here: Cal Am’s desal is not the solution — here’s why
San Luis Obispo homeowners saw sinking ground, cracked floors in 1990s. One couple guessed the culprit
“The last time San Luis Obispo ran critically short of water, the city pumped heavily from wells along Los Osos Valley Road. The aquifer was so overtaxed by residents and farmers that the ground sank, resulting multi-million dollar lawsuit settlements over damaged businesses and homes. Since the 1990s, the city has adopted a series of water measures — including rebates for more efficient fixtures, upgrading the sewer plant to deliver treated water to landscaping, and building a pipeline delivering water from Lake Nacimiento. SLO no longer uses those wells for drinking water. However, the Los Osos Valley Road area still faces issues with water. ... ” Read more from the San Luis Obispo Tribune here: SLO homeowners saw sinking ground, cracked floors in 1990s. One couple guessed the culprit
Commentary: Conserving water paying off, but drought still on
“Southeast Ventura County entered this summer with an unprecedented shortage of our most precious resource, water. With the historic drought severely limiting available imported supplies from Northern California, local water districts told their customers something downright painful. There was only enough water available to irrigate outdoor landscapes one day a week. The mandate started in June, when water demand normally goes up right along with the temperature. But demand didn’t go up. It went down. Way down. Thousands upon thousands of residents and businesses have risen to the occasion and taken this crisis as seriously as it is. Calleguas Municipal Water District, which imports water for most of southeast Ventura County, hasn’t seen summer water sales this low for 45 years. … ” Read more from the Acorn here: Commentary: Conserving water paying off, but drought still on
SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY
“Drop out” from race for seat on a powerful Kern water board appears poised to win
“If Eric Averett maintains his lead over incumbent Phil Cerro for a seat on the powerful Kern County Water Agency board, it may prove just how effective a campaign statement can be. Averett said he tried to withdraw his name from the ballot after belatedly learning Cerro would run. But he missed the deadline to have his name removed, Averett told SJV Water in September. He vowed not to campaign – dropping out of the race in spirit – and said he would support Cerro. But when Averett filed his paperwork to run, he did one thing Cerro didn’t, he submitted a campaign statement. … ” Read more from SJV Water here: “Drop out” from race for seat on a powerful Kern water board appears poised to win
Mountain ski resorts opening this weekend following storm, new snow
“Big Bear Mountain Resort and Mountain High in Wrightwood announced plans to open slopes starting Saturday, Nov. 12, following the hefty storm that blew through Southern California. The storm brought several inches to local mountain resorts and, combined with low temperatures that allow snow making, the resorts will open limited lift services. In Big Bear, both Snow Summit and Bear Mountain base areas will be open, though Bear Mountain will remain open only Fridays through Sundays during this early opening to the season, while Summit will be open seven days a week. “The system that came in Tuesday was “pretty gnarly,” said Justin Kanton, spokesperson for Big Bear Mountain Resort, starting with a lot of rain and wind. … ” Read more from the OC Register here: Mountain ski resorts opening this weekend following storm, new snow
Long Beach Water Department looking at new programs to increase efficiency, offer free leak repairs to low-income users
“The Long Beach Water Department is looking at two new programs that could make it easier to turn service back on and to fix leaking pipes for low-income households facing financial difficulty. An enhanced smart meter project could put new meters on homes that have high rates of service shut-offs that could allow the department to remotely turn water service back on. Dean Wang, the department’s manager of water resources, said that it could save residents and the department time and money. … ” Read more from the Long Beach Post here: Long Beach Water Department looking at new programs to increase efficiency, offer free leak repairs to low-income users
Santa Fe Irrigation to move forward with tiered rate structure
“The Santa Fe Irrigation District continues its rate-setting process for the next two years of water rates. Based on the long-range financial plan included in the district’s cost-of-service study, due to the loss of local water due to the damages to Lake Hodges Dam and other financial impacts, the estimated annual increases in overall rates are 5% on March 1, 2023 and 7% on January 1, 2024. At the Santa Fe Irrigation District (SFID) board’s Oct. 25 meeting, they voted 3-2 to direct staff to move forward with a three-tiered rate structure with a meter overlay for single-family residences. Directors Sandra Johnson and Ken Westphal, who represent Rancho Santa Fe and Fairbanks Ranch, voted against the tiered rate structure, preferring instead a uniform rate for all customers. … ” Read more from the Rancho Santa Fe Review here: Santa Fe Irrigation to move forward with tiered rate structure
Lake Miramar closing to recreational boats, kayaks as Pure Water construction ramps up
“Boating and kayaking will be suspended at popular Lake Miramar in Scripps Ranch next week to allow construction of the city’s Pure Water sewage recycling system. Lake Miramar is key to the large project because it will eventually store all the sewage treated by a purification plant under construction in western Miramar. The purified water will travel from the new plant to Lake Miramar through a pipeline down Miramar Road and through Mira Mesa. The project will include tunnels under Interstate 15 and the lake. The 1-mile pipeline will be assembled on barges on the surface of the reservoir before being sunk and permanently installed underwater. … ” Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune here: Lake Miramar closing to recreational boats, kayaks as Pure Water construction ramps up
Colorado River users warned painful changes are coming, as water summit speakers reiterate call for equal treatment under compact
“If Colorado’s legal/political position on the complex, century-old Colorado River Compact can be broken down into bite-sized chunks, it might look like this: The state and the other Upper Basin states have lived within the hydrology of the ever-drying river, in an ever-warming climate. Lower Basin states, particularly California, have not. Further, a fair apportionment is supposed be based on a 50-50 split of what is actually in the river. “How do you live within a lesser river?” Colorado River Conservation District Manager Andy Mueller asked the roughly 400 people who filled the Montrose County Event Center’s indoor arena on Thursday for the West Slope Water Summit. … ” Read more from the Montrose Press here: Colorado River users warned painful changes are coming, as water summit speakers reiterate call for equal treatment under compact
A century ago in Colorado River Compact negotiations: Turning to murky details
Eric Kuhn and John Fleck write, “As the Colorado River Compact Commission negotiators returned to their discussions for a short 8 p.m. Sunday evening meeting Nov. 12, 1922, they began trying to dive into the details of how to divide up the great river. In trying to make the broad concept of dividing the river between a newly proposed “Upper Basin” and “Lower Basin”, they found devils in the details: Where should the measurement be taken that formed the basis for the split? How would a division cope with the inherent variability in the river’s annual flow? Would an “Upper Basin” reservoir be needed in addition to the one being contemplated in Boulder Canyon? … ” Continue reading at the Inkstain blog here: A century ago in Colorado River Compact negotiations: Turning to murky details
Gov. Cox put new water rights on hold. Will it actually help the Great Salt Lake?
“Gov. Spencer Cox announced this month that all new water rights in the Great Salt Lake Basin are on pause, given the lake’s crisis situation. The move sounds big, sweeping and dramatic — it applies to the lake’s main tributaries that drain nearly 10,000 square miles in Utah. Still, it’s hard to say how much of a difference it will make for the Great Salt Lake, which has continued to shrink after hitting another record low over the summer, almost entirely due to Utah’s water diversions. The governor’s current suspension only applies to new water right applications and does not interfere with existing ones. New water rights would be the most junior with the lowest priority anyway. And in periods of drought, junior water right holders sometimes don’t get to divert any water at all. ... ” Read more from the Salt Lake Tribune here: Gov. Cox put new water rights on hold. Will it actually help the Great Salt Lake?
National Institute of Standards and Technology proposes project to improve cybersecurity at water utilities
“The National Institute of Standards and Technology wants feedback on a proposed project that would pilot solutions to common cybersecurity risks faced by water and wastewater plants. Run out of the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence, the project would profile commercially available asset management, data integrity, remote access and network segmentation solutions to develop a reference architecture for the sector. … ” Read more from Fed Scoop here: NIST proposes project to improve cybersecurity at water utilities
Rivers are drying up, but it’s not too late to help. Here’s where to start
“The Mississippi River was running so low in October, you could walk to an island that should only be accessible by boat. This summer, the Danube River that flows through much of central Europe got so shallow, you could see sunken warships from World War II at the bottom of it. Water levels in Lake Mead dropped so much that human remains of victims who went missing decades ago have turned up. The Colorado River historically fills Lake Mead, but the nonprofit group American Rivers now lists that dwindling tributary as the “most endangered river in America.” … ” Read more from CNN here: Rivers are drying up, but it’s not too late to help. Here’s where to start
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.