DAILY DIGEST, 11/30: Nearly 20% of CA water agencies could see shortages if drought persists; Why are water thieves so hard to catch?, Rain, snow set for Thursday; Kings County passes law to prevent groundwater movement out of the county; and more …
Nearly 20% of California water agencies could see shortages if drought persists, state report shows
“Most of California’s urban water agencies believe they have enough supplies to last through another seven months of drought, but nearly 20% of them — including many in Southern California — say they could be facing significant shortages, according to a new state report. The California Department of Water Resource’s first annual water supply and demand assessment surveyed the state’s urban water agencies to see how they are managing tight supplies through conservation efforts and improved drought planning. The report, which includes yearly data through July 1, focuses on water agencies that serve at least 3,000 connections, representing about 90% of the population. Of 414 reporting agencies, 82% said they do not anticipate any shortages so long as current conservation efforts continue, including voluntary reductions in water use and local Level 2 water shortage measures. ... ” Read more from the LA Times here: Nearly 20% of California water agencies could see shortages if drought persists, state report shows
Water thieves abound in dry California. Why are they so hard to catch?
“… Across the West, major water users are subject to strict regulations that govern how and when they can draw water from rivers and streams. These rights vary from state to state, but the general principle is always the same: older water users have stronger rights than newer users, and the state has the authority to curtail water usage during drought periods. … But enforcing those rules is easier said than done. Over the past decade, as more states have clamped down on water usage, water managers across the west have found themselves struggling to monitor all potential violations, and to implement water rights law that they’ve never had to use before. Even a large and well-funded state like California can’t keep track of all illegal water diversions, and attorneys often have trouble prosecuting even those violations they do identify. Even when the state has an airtight case, its enforcement powers are limited, and the punishments it can mete out often aren’t severe enough to deter potential violators. … ” Read the full story at Grist here: Water thieves abound in dry California. Why are they so hard to catch?
Kings County passes new law to monitor, restrict groundwater movement out of the county
“Kings was among the last counties in the San Joaquin Valley without any regulation on the movement of its native groundwater. That changed Nov. 29 as the Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to approve an ordinance that will require anyone moving groundwater out of the county to get a permit. That includes groundwater pumped to backfill for surface supplies that farmers or water districts export out of the area, according to the ordinance. The ordinance faced strong opposition from most of the county’s largest water districts and supervisors took pains at the meeting to explain their reasoning. … ” Read more from SJV Water here: Kings County passes new law to monitor, restrict groundwater movement out of the county
Kings Co. wants to block selling groundwater to Southern California. Will a new measure solve the problem?
“Kings County Supervisors took a crack at a long-promised push to restrict the ability of swashbuckling Kings County farming giants to sell their groundwater to far-flung southern California locales. Tuesday, the Kings County Board of Supervisors approved the Groundwater Export Ordinance, which was initially conceived to reign-in major water players in the area, including water maven John Vidovich. Instead, based on lingering commentary from local farmers, it may only create additional red tape with the lack of teeth necessary to stop outsiders from buying up water rights for the express purpose of selling the resources to Southern California water agencies. … ” Read more from the San Joaquin Valley Sun here: Kings Co. wants to block selling groundwater to Southern California. Will a new measure solve the problem?
Storm to bring widespread rain to Bay Area early Thursday, up to 3 feet of snow in Sierra Nevada
“Boosting what has been a mediocre start so far to the winter season, a storm from the Pacific Northwest is expected to bring widespread rain to the Bay Area early Thursday and blanket the Sierra Nevada with up to 3 feet of new snow. “This is a pretty good event. It’s going to be beneficial across the board,” said Brayden Murdock, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Monterey. “We are excited for this one.” The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning for the Sierra Nevada from Wednesday night through Friday morning, with a forecast of 1 to 3 feet of snow, poor visibility and high winds at higher elevations. Snow levels should range from 3,500 to 5,000 feet. … ” Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here: Storm to bring widespread rain to Bay Area early Thursday, up to 3 feet of snow in Sierra Nevada | Read via MSN News
CW3E AR Update: 29 November 2022 outlook: Atmospheric River to bring precipitation to the U.S. West Coast
U.S. heading into winter suffering from most significant drought in over a decade
“The continental United States is about to enter the winter season with one of its most significant and widespread droughts since the turn of the century. Nearly two-thirds of the country battled drought conditions heading into the week of Thanksgiving, according to the latest update of the United States Drought Monitor (USDM). About 14 percent of the country went into the holiday in an “extreme” or “exceptional” drought, the two highest categories on the USDM’s scale measuring the intensity and duration of a region’s drought conditions. The hardest-hit areas by the lack of rainfall are California’s Central Valley and a wide swath of the central Plains. ... ” Read more from Forbes here: U.S. heading into winter suffering from most significant drought in over a decade
Webinar summary: California-Nevada drought & climate outlook: November 28, 2022
“According to the November 22 U.S. Drought Monitor, 99.7% of California-Nevada is in drought, with 41.9% in Extreme (D3) or Exceptional (D4) Drought. This webinar provided an overview of the current conditions and outlooks as well as tools you can use to prepare for, monitor, and respond to the drought conditions this winter. The entire region is still in a drought that began in 2020. Early November storms were beneficial and brought snowpack, but this needs to continue throughout the winter and into the spring. A cold November may seem trivial, but it reduced evaporative demand, soil drying, mountain snowmelt, and fire danger. … ” Read more from NIDIS here: Webinar summary: California-Nevada drought & climate outlook: November 28, 2022
California cities brace for water cuts and a fourth year of drought
“Federal water authorities warned California cities and industrial water users to prepare for water cuts in 2023 as the state enters what is likely to be a fourth consecutive year of drought. The potential cuts will affect cities and water users that draw from the Central Valley Project, which is a network of water management facilities like dams and reservoirs throughout Central California. It supplies water to major urban centers in California, including the Greater Sacramento area. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which oversees water management, explained in a Monday press release that, despite several storms earlier this month, the overall dry conditions have not relented. … ” Read more from Gizmodo here: California cities brace for water cuts and a fourth year of drought
Most California water agencies have enough supply to meet demand through June
“The majority of California’s urban water suppliers will be able to meet consumer demand through next June, according to a new report from the state’s Department of Water Resources. Released Monday, the agency’s first-ever report on annual water demand and supply found that 338 of 414 urban water suppliers, including those that serve the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, anticipate no annual shortage with continued conservation. “Dry times create a lot of stress for a lot of communities across California,” said Arthur Hinojosa, manager of the agency’s division of regional assistance. “We saw that in the last drought in the last decade, and as a result of some of the lessons we learned, preparation and planning [are] vital to being able to address some of the issues that we face when water supplies are low.” … ” Read more from Spectrum 1 here: Most California water agencies have enough supply to meet demand through June
Pink snow is a red flag for the West’s water
“Jim Elserscanned the snowfields clinging to the lower slopes of Clements Mountain in Montana’s Glacier National Park. While nearby tourists snapped pictures of soaring rock faces and searched for wildlife, Elser, an ecologist at the University of Montana and the director of the Flathead Lake Biological Station, concentrated on just one thing: finding snow algae. … Rouge-colored ribbons of algae ran 400 square feet across the sunny slope — Chlamydomonas nivalis, a red-pigmented green algae found in high alpine and polar regions around the globe. The algae’s striking appearance on snow has earned it nicknames ranging from the delicious-sounding — watermelon snow — to the ominous — glacier blood. Scientists believe this algae could play a major role in melting glaciers and snowfields. … ” Read more from High Country News here: Pink snow is a red flag for the West’s water
Is desalination the right solution to California’s drought problems?
“On this edition of Your Call, we’ll discuss the California Coastal Commission’s recent approval of a controversial desalination plant in Monterey County. The plan was approved 9 years after it was first proposed, following 13 hours of debate at a public hearing. Proponents of the plan view desalination as a critical source of drinking water in a drought-starved region. Environmental justice advocates argue the plant could raise costs for low income residents and harm marine life and other wildlife habitats. What is the future for desalination in the west, during an era of climate-induced mega-droughts? … ” Read more from KALW here: Is desalination the right solution to California’s drought problems?
DWR awards $86 million to build water resilience for millions of Californians
“The Department of Water Resources (DWR) today awarded $86 million in financial assistance to meet the immediate and long-term water needs for millions of Californians in local communities small and large. As California experiences a climate transformation bringing hotter and drier conditions, small communities are extremely vulnerable and long-term solutions are crucial. The State is committed to funding those solutions to ensure water resilience and sustainability for all Californians. Of the $86 million, $44 million will provide financial assistance to small communities struggling to address drought impacts as part of the Small Community Drought Relief Program. ... ” Read more from DWR News here: DWR awards $86 million to build water resilience for millions of Californians
Podcast: The megaflood, next time in California
“Few people associate urban and suburban Southern California with floods anymore, mostly because many of its rivers were dammed up or transformed into concrete gulches long ago. But scientists say a megaflood could hit the entire state and would submerge cities, hitting communities of color particularly hard. The state is nowhere near prepared for that. Today, our Masters of Disasters talk about this upcoming flood, what it could mean for a rising sea and more.” Listen at the LA Times here: Podcast: The megaflood, next time in California
Farm delegation advocates for ag in nation’s capital
“As the nation learned that the midterm election led to a change in the balance of power in the next U.S. Congress, a delegation of California Farm Bureau leaders met with representatives during an advocacy trip to Washington, D.C., to discuss pressing issues affecting agriculture. “It is a really interesting time to be in Washington, D.C., following the midterm election and before a lame-duck session with just a few more weeks of work left this Congress,” said California Farm Bureau First Vice President Shannon Douglass, who raises beef cattle, sunflowers, pumpkins, corn and forage crops in Glenn County. “We met with members who represent our farm communities and members who represent our urban communities to continue building relationships critical to our farmers and ranchers.” ... ” Read more from Ag Alert here: Farm delegation advocates for ag in nation’s capital
Let’s reject politics of scarcity and help our California farms thrive
Jamie Johansson, president of the California Farm Bureau, writes, “California Farm Bureau gathers for its 104th Annual Meeting in Monterey beginning this weekend. In a year with extraordinary challenges, California farmers and ranchers persevered—through historic drought, unprecedented water curtailments, supply-chain disruptions and rising input costs—to feed America and the world. This year’s immense contributions and sacrifices by Farm Bureau members may never be adequately acknowledged by our elected representatives in the California Capitol or on Capitol Hill. But our concerns going forward are now shared with their constituents in all districts. At family dinner tables in rural and urban communities alike, people are talking about scarcity. … ” Read more from Ag Alert here: Let’s reject politics of scarcity and help our California farms thrive
Water delivery cuts hurt farmers, fail to benefit fish
Ryan Walker, Siskiyou County Farm Bureau, writes, “The year 2022 has been one that few growers in Siskiyou County want to repeat. Following Gov. Gavin Newsom’s drought emergency order, the California Water Resources Control Board imposed emergency regulations to establish minimum flows in the Shasta and Scott rivers. Historic curtailments in water deliveries cost farmers millions of dollars of lost production. As the year comes an end, it is worth considering what environmental benefit was achieved for such a substantial cost to agriculture. Unfortunately, now that flow and water data from the season is complete, it is very clear that denying farmers irrigation supplies provided no meaningful environmental benefit for threatened coho salmon and other fish. … ” Read more from Ag Alert here: Water delivery cuts hurt farmers, fail to benefit fish
How forest thinning waste could fund California wildfire prevention
Steve Frisch, president of Sierra Business Council, and Sam Uden, director of climate and energy policy at Conservation Strategy Group, writes, “Reducing catastrophic wildfire is one of the state’s most challenging climate problems. A recent study by researchers at UCLA and the University of Chicago found that wildfire carbon emissions from the 2020 fire season alone were more than double the amount of overall emissions reduced in California from 2003 to 2019. The state set a goal of treating 1 million forested acres per year to reduce wildfire risk. While there is no firm figure available, the state currently treats an estimated 200,000 acres per year, excluding commercial timber harvest. The challenge: how do we get from treating 200,000 acres to 1 million acres as quickly as possible? ... ” Read more from Cal Matters here: How forest thinning waste could fund California wildfire prevention
Survey of the AgroAbsurd
Bill Hatch writes, “The Kumeyaay People have lived in the region between the Pacific Coast of San Diego County, Baja California Norte. and Imperial Valley for 10,000 years. They hunted, fished, gathered and traded according to the seasons, from Bighorn sheep in the mountains to Mesquite beans in the desert, from abalone to yucca, rabbits to pinon nuts. They lived with this land for millennia before there was a Mexico or a United States. Even the desert provided for them abundantly. But then, shrewd white men arrived and discovered that the soil of this desert was in fact a rich alluvial plain of Colorado River silt that could be cleared, ploughed, harrowed, irrigated, planted and made to grow profitable crops for export on the railroad. So, they bought a great deal of land, developed a small canal from the Colorado, sold land to other white men, who began the new form of gaining food – not by gathering the fruits of this rich desert, but by planting crops and gambling on markets. … ” Read more from CounterPunch here: Survey of the AgroAbsurd
KAMYAR GUIVETCHI: Managing Water Resources for Sustainability & Resilience
Kamyar Guivetchi is the Manager of DWR’s Division of Planning, where he works with staff, numerous government agencies, California Native American tribes, other stakeholders, and the public to prepare the California Water plan updates. At the UC Davis Groundwater SAS Symposium, Mr. Guivetchi gave a keynote address focusing on the need to build watershed resilience by increasing integration among agencies with responsibilities for water resources. He also touched on the Newsom administration’s water initiatives, the update to the California Water Plan, and Flood-MAR.
After 20-year battle, feds agree to remove dams on Klamath River
“The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC, has unanimously approved its staff recommendation to surrender the license for the four lower PacifiCorp dams on the Klamath River in California and Oregon – and begin the dam removal process. These dam removals 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. Klamath Basin indigenous tribes, along with commercial and recreational fishermen and environmental groups, had worked on making dam removal a reality for two decades. “The Klamath salmon are coming home,” said Joseph L. James, the Chairman of the Yurok Tribe. “The people have earned this victory and with it, we carry on our sacred duty to the fish that have sustained our people since the beginning of time.” … ” Read more from the Sacramento News & Review here: After 20-year battle, feds agree to remove dams on Klamath River
Huffman praises FERC decision to clear the way for Klamath Dam removal
“Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) applauded the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) decision today to issue a license surrender order that clears the way for removal of four Klamath River dams and the largest river restoration effort in history. “FERC’s decision to retire PacifiCorp’s dams is the result of years of difficult work by our dedicated North Coast tribes, conservationists, the leadership of California and Oregon, and members of Congress,” said Rep Huffman. “Poor conditions on the Klamath River have caused substantial harm to tribal communities, commercial and sport fishermen, and the economies of California and Oregon. We know other dam removal projects in the West have seen dramatic beneficial responses for fisheries and wildlife, and the Klamath River has tremendous potential to recover and rebuild as this work is done. Congratulations to all of those who have worked to right this wrong and restore balance to the river.” … ” Read more from the Del Norte Triplicate here: Huffman praises FERC decision to clear the way for Klamath Dam removal
Commentary: Media fails to report the #1 reason Warren Buffett’s Klamath River Dams are coming down
Felice Pace writes, “The recent formal decision by the Federal Energy Commission to order removal of four of Warren Buffett’s Klamath River Dams has, predictably, resulted in a new raft of media reports about “the largest removal of dams ever.” “Tribes celebrate plan to remove dams on Klamath” in Indian Time is the best of the lot which I’ve seen so far because it acknowledges that: Dam removal was at its core a business decision to off-load a money losing asset, that is, Warren Buffett’s Klamath hydro dams; It was Indigenous Native Activists and the Lower Klamath River Tribes, the Yurok, Hoopa and Karuk Tribes, which led the twenty year effort.; Dam removal will not restore the River and Klamath Salmon; that much more is needed. As Hoopa Chair Joe Davis put it: “Now we must keep the momentum going and we are looking forward to working with all of our neighbors and partners in that effort.” However, like all the other articles on dam removal, this one does not report the real reason the dams became uneconomical. … ” Read more from the Klamblog here: Commentary: Media fails to report the #1 reason Warren Buffett’s Klamath River Dams are coming down
DWR allocates $2.4 million to Indian Valley
“The Department of Water Resources (DWR) today awarded $86 million in financial assistance to meet the immediate and long-term water needs for millions of Californians in local communities small and large — including $2.4 million for Indian Valley. Of the $86 million, $44 million will provide financial assistance to small communities struggling to address drought impacts as part of the Small Community Drought Relief Program. The program was hugely successful in 2021 and this new round of funding from the Budget Act of 2022 will continue to support the state’s most vulnerable populations. These communities serve fewer than 3,000 connections and are most vulnerable to water supply issues due to aging infrastructure and dry wells. ... ” Read more from the Plumas News here: DWR allocates $2.4 million to Indian Valley
Tahoe storm warning: Multiple feet of snow expected through weekend
“Multiple feet of snow is expected for Lake Tahoe through the weekend from two separate storms with the first entering the region Wednesday night. The National Weather Service in Reno issued a winter storm warning Tuesday afternoon for up to 2 feet of snow above 7,000 feet and 10 to 20 inches at lake level. The warning is in effect from 10 p.m. Wednesday to 10 a.m. Friday. Strong winds will reach up to 45 mph with gusts near or above 100 mph over Sierra ridgetops. … ” Read more from the Tahoe Daily Tribune here: Tahoe storm warning: Multiple feet of snow expected through weekend
Winter storm will hit Bay Area tonight with rains, strong winds — here’s what to expect
“The anticipated winter storm is at Northern California’s doorstep, and it’s set to bring brief, but heavy downpours to the Bay Area and whiteout conditions in the Sierra Nevada. On Wednesday, a wall of clouds will spread from Point Reyes out toward San Francisco’s west side around noon, eventually overrunning the entire Bay Area and marking the start of the winter storm’s impact on the region. As the winter storm comes ashore, so too will its rainbands. The North American weather model is signaling for some of these showers to make it to the Bay Area before midnight. But it’s also picking up on the potential for a narrow, cold-frontal rainband to form off the coast. If this band develops, Bay Area residents will be in for heavy downpours, urban ponding and flooding and strong winds come Thursday morning. … ” Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: Winter storm will hit Bay Area tonight with rains, strong winds — here’s what to expect
State grants aim to keep small drinking water systems afloat in Bay Area
“Four small Bay Area drinking water systems will receive millions of dollars as part of California’s effort to protect water deliveries as the drought drags into its fourth year. On Tuesday, the California Department of Water Resources announced $44 million in statewide Small Community Drought Relief Program grants about $6.5 million of which is earmarked for four water systems in Santa Clara, Solano and Sonoma counties. The program is aimed at small systems with fewer than 3,000 service connections that are most likely to suffer from aging infrastructure and often rely on a single source of water. ... ” Read more from KRON here: State grants aim to keep small drinking water systems afloat in Bay Area
Why we need muck to fight rising sea levels
Erica Gies writes, “It’s a golden summer day, and I’m standing on a low coastal levee, overlooking a pond at Eden Landing Ecological Reserve that looks positively apocalyptic. Algae paint ruddy swirls in the brown water, its edge crusted hard with sparkling salt. As a breeze eases off the bay, a squadron of pelicans sails by, en route to more appetizing hunting grounds. This pond is a legacy of a salt industry that has moved elsewhere. A few decades ago, when flying into San Francisco or San Jose, the ground beneath looked like a giant’s Easter egg dip. Ponds of blue, yellow, green, red, purple, orange, and pink ringed the South Bay. People had built low levees in semicircles from the shore, sectioning off portions of the bay to let the water evaporate, leaving behind the salt. The different colors were caused by varying levels of salinity and the types of organisms who could live in them—algae, bacteria, brine shrimp. But today these former industrial sites present opportunity. … ” Read more from Nautilus here: Why we need muck to fight rising sea levels
Half Moon Bay: Water potential not lost in coastal fog
“In a warming and drying California, water agencies across the state are looking for new water sources and trying to better utilize the ones they have. Pacifica has a potential source of water not available to many communities: the drippy gray moisture that blows ashore in the form of fog. Fog is composed of tiny water droplets; together, a cubic mile of fog can carry some 56,000 gallons of water. The North Coast County Water District is experimenting to see how much water might be available from this unusual resource, and how best to capture it. With the help of area researchers, the district installed experimental fog-catchers over the summer at three district sites — Milagra Ridge, Christen Hill off Skyline Boulevard, and Royce Canyon near Fassler Avenue — and are monitoring their production. … ” Read more from the Half Moon Bay Review here: Half Moon Bay: Water potential not lost in coastal fog
Santa Cruz: Increase in algae blooms a concern at once-toxic Pinto Lake
“With the brassy stutter of a rusty wheel whizzing downhill, an American coot announces itself from the shores of Pinto Lake as Kendra Hayashi scoops water from the side of the dock. Today, the sample in her glass bottle looks mostly clear, as does the liquid buoying the bird. But three weeks earlier, she says, the lake’s surface bloomed with potentially toxic algae. The coots and mallards didn’t seem to notice. “When it’s super green out and you see them motoring through, you’re just like, ‘Ugh!’” Hayashi says. Hayashi manages a lab at UC Santa Cruz that monitors microcystin—a toxin produced by algae in the genus Microcystis—in Watsonville’s Pinto Lake. … ” Read more from Good Times Santa Cruz here: Santa Cruz: Increase in algae blooms a concern at once-toxic Pinto Lake
Seaside council to consider agreement with consultant for Grand Hyatt Hotel project
“The Seaside City Council will consider awarding a consultant agreement for project condition compliance and mitigation monitoring for the construction phases of the proposed Seaside Resort Hotel at its meeting on Thursday. The Grand Hyatt Seaside Resort Hotel development project at Bayonet and Black Horse Golf Course will require a consultant to provide the solicited project environmental review services within a timeframe of 24 months and budget to accommodate the necessary special project mitigation measures and biological studies. City staff is recommending the council adopt a resolution authorizing the city manager to execute a contract agreement with Denise Duffy and Associates for a maximum $138,972 for the monitoring and compliance work during construction of the 330-room hotel project. … ” Read more from the Monterey Herald here: Seaside council to consider agreement with consultant for Grand Hyatt Hotel project
Los Angeles City Council approves DWP raises, including sharp pay hikes for some workers
“Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is backing a new salary package for the Department of Water and Power that includes a significant hike in pay for hundreds of workers. The Los Angeles City Council approved the labor deal Tuesday in a vote of 11-0. Under the agreement with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 18, roughly 10,000 workers will receive four “cost of living” pay increases totaling at least 10% and as much as 24% by October 2025, depending on inflation. All workers will also get a one-time cash bonus of 3% of their salary in December. … ” Read more from the LA Times here: Los Angeles City Council approves DWP raises, including sharp pay hikes for some workers
Imperial Irrigation District approves possible $250 million Salton Sea deal with feds, state
“Southern California’s powerful Imperial Irrigation District voted late Tuesday 3-2 to ink an agreement with federal and state officials that could yield as much as $250 million for Salton Sea restoration projects in exchange for not using another 250,000 acre-feet of Colorado River water. An acre-foot is enough to supply about two households. The vote came despite livid objections from Imperial County farmers and environmental groups, who questioned why such a major agreement was being voted on just 24 hours after it was made public, and four days before two newly elected board members are slated to be sworn in to the five-member panel, replacing outgoing president Jim Hanks and outgoing director Norma Galindo, two of the three backers of the agreement on Tuesday. … ” Read more from the Imperial Irrigation District here: Imperial Irrigation District approves possible $250 million Salton Sea deal with feds, state
U.S. government pledges $250 million to help ailing Salton Sea
“The Biden administration has announced a plan to provide $250 million to accelerate environmental projects around the shrinking Salton Sea, a major commitment intended to help revitalize the lake’s ecosystems and control hazardous dust in a deal that clears the way for California to take less water from the drought-ravaged Colorado River. Leaders of the Imperial Irrigation District, which uses the single largest share of the Colorado River to supply farms in the Imperial Valley, had called for federal money to support the state’s Salton Sea program as a key condition for participating in water cutbacks. … ” Read more from the LA Times here: U.S. government pledges $250 million to help ailing Salton Sea
Isobel Whitcomb writes, “California’s largest body of water is a collision of life and death. In the middle of the desert, past Palm Springs’s manicured lawns and Joshua Tree’s tumbling boulders, white flocks of pelicans explode from a lake so large and blue that where it meets the horizon, it appears to merge with the sky. When I first visited the Salton Sea in 2015, the pelicans were the first thing I noticed. Hundreds of bird species—scarlet-crowned sandhill cranes, ibis adorned with metallic feathers, and 33% of the entire North American population of white pelicans—stop here on their journeys between Alaska and South America. The second thing I noticed was the pile of fishbones that crunched underfoot as I approached the shoreline. Up close, the water doesn’t appear so inviting—it’s murky and brown and stinks of rotten eggs. We were lucky to visit on a still day. In windier conditions, you should wear an N95 mask to protect your lungs from the toxic dust left behind by the rapidly evaporating and heavily polluted water. … ” Read more Atmos here: The Salton Sea’s feral splendor
Tucson offers to leave more CAP water in the Colorado River
“Tucson Water is offering to leave “significant volumes” of its annual Central Arizona Project water supply in the Colorado River for the next three years in return for financial compensation from the federal government. But its letter to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation making that offer didn’t propose a specific cut to the city’s annual CAP allocation. Supplying 144,191 acre-feet a year to Tucson Water, CAP provides virtually all of the drinking water served to more than 730,000 utility customers. Tucson has enough left over from that supply after serving those customers to recharge nearly one-third of the water into the ground to store for future use. “We are letting the (bureau) know we are interested in discussions over a potentially significant contribution over the next several years,” Tucson Water spokeswoman Natalie DeRoock said in an emailed response to a question from the Star about why the utility isn’t disclosing a specific amount of water it’s offering to leave. … ” Read more from the Arizona Daily Star here: Tucson offers to leave more CAP water in the Colorado River
Plan to raise Bartlett Dam could bring billions of gallons of water to the Valley
“Located about 60 miles northeast of Phoenix, Bartlett Lake is known for boating and fishing. James Goff of Goodyear said he’s been fishing it most of his life. “Typically, this time of year when the water starts cooling off. The bass will come up and eat as much as they can. And then they’ll go deep for the wintertime,” he told ABC15. The lake is known for boating and fishing, but its real job is to collect rain and snowpack on the Verde River before it flows into the Salt River to be diverted to users in the Valley. … ” Read more from Channel 15 here: Plan to raise Bartlett Dam could bring billions of gallons of water to the Valley
Can the Mississippi River learn from the Colorado’s failure?
“The entire Mississippi River basin is experiencing drought conditions that are being compared to the Dust Bowl days of the 1930s. The scenes — from exposed shipwrecks to sand dunes cropping up where the river used to flow — are surreal, and people from New Orleans to the Upper Midwest are getting nervous. I’m increasingly being asked: Is this the future of the Mississippi? And what would that mean for the world’s food supply — 92% of all U.S. agricultural exports are produced in the Mississippi River basin? Underpinning these questions is the same fear: Will the Mississippi turn into a new Colorado River—which is so oversubscribed it never reaches its historic delta anymore? … ” Read more from Forbes here: Can the Mississippi River learn from the Colorado’s failure?
National Audubon Society maps the wondrous routes of bird migration
“Each summer, Melanie Smith notices the small, brown birds that take up residence in her backyard in Talkeetna, Alaska. As the program director for the Bird Migration Explorer, a trained ornithologist, and a lifelong birder, she knows that these creatures are Swainson’s thrushes. But just recently, she learned that they migrate from as far as Argentina in the spring to spend the summer nesting near her home. “When you see birds in your backyard or out in your local park, it feels like they’re your birds,” Smith said. “But they’re many peoples’ birds. They go from community to community, and a lot of them are spending three-quarters of their time outside the United States.” Over the past four years, Smith and her colleagues at the National Audubon Society have been working with founding partners and hundreds of researchers to tell the complex story of bird migration using geographic information system (GIS) technology. The process required aggregating research data from hundreds of institutions and designing an accessible, beautiful, and dynamic platform. … ” Read more from ESRI here: National Audubon Society maps the wondrous routes of bird migration
Lakes growing globally as ice melts and reservoirs expand
“Over the last four decades, the area covered by lakes globally has grown by close to 18,000 square miles, an expanse nearly twice the size of Lake Erie. Scientists used satellite imagery and artificial intelligence to map 3.4 million lakes around the world between 1984 and 2019, finding that lake area grew as reservoirs expanded and rising temperatures melted glaciers and permafrost, particularly in Greenland, the Rocky Mountains, and the Tibetan Plateau. Growth in these regions offset losses in central Asia, northern China, southern Australia, and the more arid parts of the U.S. West, where drought and water drawdowns sapped lakes. The findings were published in Nature Communications. ... ” Read more from Yale E360 here: Lakes growing globally as ice melts and reservoirs expand
Tackling PFAS with Superfund law risks shifting costs to public
“The EPA’s plan to speed Superfund cleanups of two “forever chemicals” to make polluters rather than taxpayers foot the bill raises concerns that the law’s limited flexibility will shift the burden of costs back to communities, attorneys and groups representing public services say. The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act can force companies that have dumped the chemicals on land or in water to pay to remediate the sites, said Amanda E. Aspatore, general counsel for the National Association of Clean Water Agencies representing publicly owned wastewater treatment facilities. But CERCLA’s sweeping liability provisions, few exemptions, and opportunities for one potentially responsible party to sue others in an attempt to share cleanup costs means “companies who didn’t cause problems” can be impacted, Aspatore said. … ” Read more from Bloomberg here: Tackling PFAS with Superfund law risks shifting costs to public
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.