DAILY DIGEST, 11/14: The critical need for snowpack in NorCal; Are native fishes and reservoirs compatible?; Dan Walters: Could the ocean slake California’s thirst?; Inside agencies, ‘it changes everything’ when Congress flips; and more …
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In California water news today …
California Drought: ‘It can’t stop snowing’ – The critical need for snowpack in NorCal
“ABC10 meteorologist Brenden Mincheff gives a drought update after last week’s winter storm that brought rain and snow to Northern California.”
A look into snowpack data at the Central Sierra Snow Lab
“The latest drought monitor, released Thursday, showed some minor improvements in drought status. Most of these improvements came along California’s northern coast but the areas experiencing the worst of the drought, like the San Joaquin Valley, saw no improvement. The monitor stops collecting data for its weekly updates at 4 a.m. Pacific time, so much of the rain that fell from the early week storm was not accounted for on this week’s update. This means the state may be in a bit better shape on next week’s monitor, but still has a long way to go to escape drought. … ” Read more from Channel 10 here: A look into snowpack data at the Central Sierra Snow Lab
Are native fishes and reservoirs compatible?
“The question addressed in this blog comes from a new PPIC report that calls for reforms in management of environmental water stored behind dams in California. The report shows it is possible to manage water in ways that are compatible with maintaining a natural ecosystem in streams below and above dams (Null et al. 2022). An appendix to this report focuses on fishes (Moyle et al. 2022). It provides information on how dams and reservoirs affect native fish populations and supports the need for improved water management to avoid future extinctions. California has a unique assemblage of fishes native to its rivers and streams. … ” Read more from the California Water Blog here: Are native fishes and reservoirs compatible?
As California’s wells dry up, residents rely on bottled water to survive
“Wells are running dry in California at a record pace. Amid a hotter, drier climate and the third consecutive year of severe drought, the state has already tallied a record 1,351 dry wells this year — nearly 40 percent over last year’s rate and the most since the state created its voluntary reporting system in 2014. The bulk of these outages slice through the center of the state, in the parched lowlands of the San Joaquin Valley, where residents compete with deep agricultural wells for the rapidly dwindling supply of groundwater. Amid rows of almond and orange trees, entire communities are relying on deliveries of bottled water to survive. … ” Read more from the Washington Post here: As California’s wells dry up, residents rely on bottled water to survive
The cleanest drinking water is recycled
“Recycled wastewater is not only as safe to drink as conventional potable water, it may even be less toxic than many sources of water we already drink daily, Stanford University engineers have discovered. “We expected that potable reuse waters would be cleaner, in some cases, than conventional drinking water due to the fact that much more extensive treatment is conducted for them,” said Stanford professor William Mitch, senior author of an Oct. 27 study in Nature Sustainability comparing conventional drinking water samples to wastewater purified as a drinking water, also known as potable reuse water. “But we were surprised that in some cases the quality of the reuse water, particularly the reverse-osmosis-treated waters, was comparable to groundwater, which is traditionally considered the highest quality water.” As drinking water sources become more scarce, the discovery is promising news for a thirsty public and utility companies struggling to keep up with demand. … ” Read more from Stanford News here: The cleanest drinking water is recycled
A new study finds beaver dams can boost water quality during a drought
“The beaver dam showed up right in the middle of Christian Dewey’s research site. As the lead of a Stanford study, Dewey spent months looking at water quality along the Colorado River. This river is a water source for numerous states aside from Colorado, including Arizona, Utah and California. The dam re-directed the study. In the end, researchers unearthed a surprising finding: the beaver dam played an important part in improving water quality in the river – so much so that in some areas, it’s mitigating water degradation caused by drought and climate change. Dewey observed the dam during the summer of 2018, a drought year for multiple states, including Colorado. Dewey said that when water levels are low, minerals tend to become concentrated in the river. This deterioration of water quality can have devastating ecological impacts. … ” Read more from Capital Public Radio here: A new study finds beaver dams can boost water quality during a drought
UCSC scientists find microplastics in Monterey Bay water, anchovies, and seabirds
“A study of microplastic pollution in Monterey Bay has found widespread occurrence of microplastics in the seawater and in the digestive tracts of anchovies and common murres, diving seabirds that feed on anchovies. The study, accepted for publication in Environmental Pollution and available online, included testing microplastic particles recovered from the murres for estrogenic activity, which indicates the potential for hormone disrupting effects. The researchers found that all the murres examined had microparticles in their digestive tracts, and almost a quarter (23%) had particles that exhibited estrogenic activity. “These tiny plastic particles are leaching substances that have the potential for hormonal disruption that can have cascading effects on reproductive and immune functions,” said senior author Myra Finkelstein, adjunct professor of environmental toxicology at UC Santa Cruz. … ” Read more from UC Santa Cruz here: UCSC scientists find microplastics in Monterey Bay water, anchovies, and seabirds
Dan Walters: Could the ocean slake California’s thirst?
““Water, water, every where, And all the boards did shrink; Water, water, every where, Nor any drop to drink.” Poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge penned those words in his 1798 poem, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” to describe the plight of becalmed sailors who could die of thirst while surrounded by limitless expanses of undrinkable seawater. In a way, it also describes California’s plight. Despite its 3,427 miles of Pacific Ocean coastline, including bays, inlets and tidal marshes, the state has an ever-widening gap between its demand for water and its supply. Naturally, there has been a decades-long debate over whether the state should tap into that endless supply of seawater to bridge the gap, emulating other arid and semi-arid societies, particularly in Australia and the Mideast. … ” Read more from Cal Matters here: Dan Walters: Could the ocean slake California’s thirst?
How did winter-run salmon do in summer 2022? Not good.
Tom Cannon writes, “First the bad news. The production in 2022 of winter-run salmon fry in the upper Sacramento River near Redding was at record low levels, similar to the disaster years 2014 and 2015, maybe worse. Next, more bad news (there is no good news). Most of the fry are now in the 100-mile reach below Red Bluff, with only a small proportion to date (November 7) reaching Knights Landing below Chico. Flows remain too low for good fry survival, with little flow increase following late October and early November rains. … ” Read more from California Fisheries here: How did winter-run salmon do in summer 2022? Not good.
Hannah Whitley opines: ‘The Klamath Basin is not a lost cause: controversy and compromise in one of America’s most contentious watersheds’
“Hannah Whitley is an optimist. She has faith in the people of the Klamath Basin. The intro to her article: I am presently conducting fieldwork for my dissertation, which tackles one of the big questions at the intersection of human interests and natural resources: as a society, what do we do when too little water has been promised to too many people? What should we be doing differently? In the United States there is no better place to turn for answers to these questions than the Klamath Basin. The Klamath Basin watershed is considered one of the most complicated areas for water governance in the United States owing to its transboundary location (the basin crosses the Oregon-California border), its history of complex litigation and persistent inter-institutional (and inter-personal) conflict and the more than 60 groups of people who have an interest in the basin’s water allocation. Some have given up hope that the challenges of water allocation in the Klamath Basin can ever be effectively addressed. But as resilient stakeholders show, the Klamath Basin is not a lost cause. … ” Read the article at Water Wired here: Hannah Whitley opines: ‘The Klamath Basin is not a lost cause: controversy and compromise in one of America’s most contentious watersheds’
Cold nights and a quieter pattern this week in South Lake Tahoe – but what happens over Thanksgiving?
Decision close on controversial logging plan on Neeley Hill near Guerneville and Monte Rio
“A decision on a controversial and long-delayed logging plan in the hills above the Russian River between Guerneville and Monte Rio could receive a thumbs-up or thumbs-down as early as Tuesday. A verdict on the Silver Estates timber harvest plan has been delayed 23 times since its first round of public review in 2020 — a result of significant local opposition, plan additions and adjustments, as well as Cal Fire staffing changes. But even as parties on both sides await news of the proposal’s fate, a whole new possibility has cropped up that could have profound implications. West County Supervisor Lynda Hopkins has initiated conversations with landowner Roger Burch about the potential for a conservation purchase of the property, she said. … ” Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here: Decision close on controversial logging plan on Neeley Hill near Guerneville and Monte Rio
The Bay Area’s premier oyster company bets on a new hyperlocal product: sea salt
“In a small, steamy workshop overlooking Tomales Bay, Jeff Warrin stands over a large, shallow tub built atop a wood-fired brick oven. He’s bringing a bath of seawater — amber-hued at precisely 29% salinity — to a gentle simmer. Slowly, the surface begins to crust over like a frozen winter lake. “It’s a beautiful, magical process,” says Warrin, an artist and experimental filmmaker-turned-salt maker, describing the final step of crystallizing sea salt. He could also be referring to the fruits of a year-long experiment to harvest it off the Marin County coast and create Hog Island Saltworks. The new venture from Hog Island Oyster Co. uses an obscure, 18th century method of evaporating seawater to produce a modern and hyperlocal take on the most basic of foods. … ” Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: The Bay Area’s premier oyster company bets on a new hyperlocal product: sea salt
November rains mark return of coho salmon to Lagunitas Creek
“Wild coho salmon returned to Lagunitas Creek in west Marin County last week following a period of gentle rain, activists with the Salmon Protection And Watershed Network said Friday. The endangered fish revisit their natal streams when the rains begin in the fall and may be spotted spawning from November to January. Bright red and 24 inches long, coho salmon come to the creek from the ocean to lay their eggs before dying. The dead become fertilizer for Redwood trees along the creek. … Read more from SF Gate here: November rains mark return of coho salmon to Lagunitas Creek
These six projects will kick off S.F.’s work to protect the Embarcadero from sea level rise, earthquakes
“There are worlds of difference between a rotting structure at Fisherman’s Wharf, the iconic drama of the Ferry Building and the shadowed concrete underneath the Bay Bridge where two piers meet the aged Embarcadero seawall. What they share is a vulnerability to earthquakes and sea level rise along an artificial shoreline that’s more than a century old. They also have a common owner — the Port of San Francisco, which has the costly job of preparing that shoreline for a host of 21st century challenges where the learning curve seems to get steeper each year. Now, nearly four years after voters approved a $425 million bond to prepare the seawall and the structures along it for what the future might bring, the port has selected the first six projects to pursue. … ” Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: These six projects will kick off S.F.’s work to protect the Embarcadero from sea level rise, earthquakes
Monterey commentary: We need Coastal Commission to approve water project
Fred Meurer writes, “In the mid-1990s, state water authorities put a limit on the daily water allowed to be pumped from Carmel River, the primary source of water for the Monterey Peninsula. The result has been more than 25 years of uncertainty for the Peninsula as water demands continued to rise without adequate supply. As chairman of the Monterey Bay Defense Alliance, a long-time Monterey County resident, the former Monterey city manager and former Fort Ord director of public works and housing with an advanced degree from Stanford University in water resources, I say with the strongest convictions that the California Coastal Commission should approve the Monterey Peninsula Water Supply Project to meet the needs of our current and future residents, businesses and military missions which desperately need a reliable source for long-term resilient water supply. … ” Read more from the Monterey Herald here: Commentary: We need Coastal Commission to approve water project
Sharing the wonders of the coastal waters
“The group of schoolchildren peered over the railing of the catamaran, tilting the boat beneath their combined weight. On this recent trip to Elkhorn Slough, they stared transfixed at a bird on the surface of the still waters, murmuring in anticipation. In a sudden flash of brown and white, an otter breached out of the slough, grasping its flailing, feathered lunch in its paws. On the boat, onlookers squealed, cheered and gasped. One of them said simply: “It’s the circle of life.” The group of 18 Latino fifth through eighth grades from Soledad and Greenfield came to the slough as part of a trip with the Monterey Waterkeeper’s Central Coast Water Leaders program. The experience aims to connect the children to Monterey’s coastal waters, teach them about its ecosystem and make memories that inspire them to preserve it. … ” Read more from the Monterey Herald here: Sharing the wonders of the coastal waters
SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY
Another Dust Bowl? How this California farmworker city plans on surviving historic drought
“Nohemí Ramírez has worked for over 14 years in agricultural fields and packing houses around Huron, a small rural city located 50 miles southwest of Fresno. Ramírez, a 52-year-old immigrant from Veracruz, Mexico, said Huron is a “perfect place,” where she has everything she needs: community, friends so close they feel like family, and especially, work. But all of that’s in jeopardy because of the ongoing drought, now the driest three-year period on record in California history. With thousands of acres surrounding the city laid fallow, or pulled out of production, Ramírez said she and her fellow Huron-based farmworkers are struggling to find fieldwork this harvest season. ... ” Read more from the Fresno Bee here: Another Dust Bowl? How this California farmworker city plans on surviving historic drought
The never-ending drought: How SoCal shapes up after last week’s storm
“Last week’s early season winter storm brought a healthy dose of rain to Southern California. But did it affect our historic drought conditions? Let’s take a look. Rejoice. It rained in Southern California. Two early season cold fronts pushed into the west coast this month, but the one that affected us last week tapped into abundant tropical moisture. That storm brought significant rain that the region usually hopes to see during the middle of winter into spring. … ” Read more from Spectrum 1 here: The never-ending drought: How SoCal shapes up after last week’s storm
Look at this: Rindge Dam
The Rindge Dam in Malibu Creek was first built in the 1920s by an environmentalist but experts now say that the dam is actually hurting Malibu Creek’s environment.
Is drought in Arizona and the Southwest the new normal?
“Two decades of the Southwest megadrought have marked Arizona’s driest period in 1,200 years. With climate change in full swing, greenhouse emissions well above pledged targets and the state facing cutbacks to its share of dwindling Colorado River water, many wonder: Is drought the new normal? In an ideal world, drought would be as simple as the settings on a hair dryer: more heat, more evaporation. But it’s not an ideal world, and less so every day, thanks to climate change, rising water demand — and changing land use. “There’s this big connection between what’s on the land surface – is it a forest? Is it a shrubland? Is it an agricultural area? — and the water that it produces,” said hydrologist Enrique Vivoni of Arizona State University. … ” Read more from KJZZ here: Is drought in Arizona and the Southwest the new normal?
How would 1,900 more cows grazing along the Salt River affect the land and the wildlife?
“As the Sonoran Desert fades beyond the horizon and flat lands slowly give way, the rugged landscape of Tonto National Forest bends toward the sky east of Phoenix. Desert-dwelling saguaros are replaced by pine forests that are a refuge for campers and hikers looking to escape the arid conditions. But the euphonic buzz of cicadas hiding in the shade of juniper trees in a remote area of the protected land may soon be drowned out by the lowing of cows. The U.S Forest Service is considering a plan to authorize up to 1,900 new cattle to graze along the Salt River, with additional livestock infrastructure in the Salt River Canyon Wilderness Area. The project, known as the Hicks-Pike Peak grazing authorization, would permit the expansion of cattle grazing, add nearly 6 miles of fencing along the Salt River and allow cattle in an area that has not been grazed by livestock in over a decade. … ” Read more from the Arizona Republic here: How would 1,900 more cows grazing along the Salt River affect the land and the wildlife?
To save water, Arizona farmers are growing guayule for sustainable tires
“Most farmers in Pinal County, Arizona knew the water cuts were coming eventually. The Colorado River, a major source of water for crops, had been running at lower and lower levels, thanks to a 27-year drought intensified by climate change. And the seven US states and Mexico, that rely on the river, are promised more water than is available, causing chronic overuse of the existing supply. When the government declared an official “shortage” on the river last year, an unprecedented step, it triggered major water cuts in the central Arizona county. And those cuts have caused some farmers in Pinal County to look for more water-efficient crops, including Will Thelander, a third generation farmer in Arizona, who is testing a crop called guayule. … ” Read more from Popular Science here: To save water, Arizona farmers are growing guayule for sustainable tires
Is cloud seeding a potential solution to Colorado’s drought?
“They say that everyone complains and yet no one ever does anything about the weather. But Colorado is actually trying very, very hard to do something, possibly a quite large something: Expanding decades of cloud seeding to an eighth campaign to combat the 22-year drought by wringing more snow from every storm tantalizing the biggest river basins. The next time promising snow clouds gather over the St. Vrain basin west of Longmont, newly placed silver iodide guns will shoot the chemical high into the gloomy skies in the hope of coaxing an extra 10% to 15% of snowpack from the atmosphere. … ” Read more from the Colorado Sun here: Is cloud seeding a potential solution to Colorado’s drought?
Polis moves to revamp team dealing with Colorado River drought crisis
“Under pressure to protect the state’s dwindling supply of Colorado River water from other states with more political clout, Colorado is reshuffling its river leadership team and asking lawmakers to approve $1.9 million in funding for a new policy and technology task force on river issues. The changes include shifting Rebecca Mitchell from her role as director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board into the executive office at the Colorado Department of Natural Resources. There she will focus on her work as Colorado’s commissioner on the Upper Colorado River Commission, according to a letter from Dan Gibbs, executive director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources. … ” Read more from the Gazette here: Polis moves to revamp team dealing with Colorado River drought crisis
“By foot, horse, and canoe, European explorers centuries ago undertook years-long expeditions to document the length and breadth of major rivers. Today, satellites make the first pass of discovery. Though rivers meander and melting glaciers birth new lakes annually, the world’s major drainages have largely been mapped. Yet one fundamental dimension remains largely a mystery: the rise and fall of water bodies globally. Accurately measuring, at low-cost, the weekly changes in rivers, lakes, and wetlands would allow scientists to observe how much water moves through them. Land-based gauges do some of this work. But where gauges are scarce — Alaska, Africa, Asian headwaters — these numbers are inaccurate or unknown. The answer holds implications for flood prediction and drought response — even international diplomacy. The vessel for this new knowledge is the Surface Water and Ocean Topography satellite … ” Read more from Circle of Blue here: New satellite will see water’s big picture
Inside agencies, ‘it changes everything’ when Congress flips
“Inside hulking government buildings in downtown Washington, D.C., President Joe Biden’s senior energy and environmental officials have been quietly preparing for political warfare. As the midterm elections approached, the leaders of agencies including the departments of Energy and the Interior, EPA and others braced for a possible GOP takeover of one or both chambers of Congress. EPA and Interior, for example, announced the hires of new oversight attorneys in the months leading up to the election (Greenwire, Oct. 17; Greenwire, Aug. 30). “In a divided government, oversight goes from zero to 100 overnight,” said Cole Rojewski, who served as director of Interior’s Office of Congressional and Legislative Affairs during the Trump administration. … ” Read more from E&E News here: Inside agencies, ‘it changes everything’ when Congress flips
Biden agenda will depend on flood of regulations if GOP wins control
“From fighting climate change to protecting consumers, President Joe Biden’s agenda will depend on a flurry of federal regulations if the midterm elections hand Republicans control of Congress. With little chance of legislative compromise on major initiatives under a House (and possibly a Senate) controlled by Republicans, the White House will be forced to rely on federal agencies to advance much of Biden’s priorities over the next two years, racing to finalize major regulations and craft new ones during his remaining time in office. … ” Read more from Bloomberg here: Biden agenda will depend on flood of regulations if GOP wins control
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.