DAILY DIGEST, 12/8: La Nina forecast to fade by April, easing California drought; Delta residents gather to protest Delta tunnel proposal; Household water wells are drying up in record numbers as California drought worsens; Fort Bragg considering wave energy-powered desalination in latest novel water move; and more …


On the calendar today …

In California water news today …

La Nina forecast to fade by April, easing California drought

The odds that the drought-enhancing La Nina will fade by the end of California’s rainy season are rising, offering some hope of an easing of parched conditions across the US West.  The Pacific Ocean has a 71% chance of returning to normal temperatures between February and April, bringing an end the La Nina weather pattern that has persisted for three years, the Climate Prediction Center said in a Thursday forecast. La Nina has dominated global weather, prompting mild winters across the US South, drought in the West and parched crops in parts of Argentina and Brazil.   More than 99% of California’s land is gripped in drought, according to the US Drought Monitor. The state gets almost all its annual rain and snow from November to April, with most falling between December and February. California is off to a good start this winter with snow piling up in the Sierra Nevada mountains, though the same thing happened last year until La Nina choked off precipitation for the rest of winter, leaving the state and the US West deep in drought. … ”  Read more from Bloomberg here: La Nina forecast to fade by April, easing California drought

SEE ALSODecember 2022 La Niña update: the ENSO Blog investigates, part 1, from the ENSO blog

Pair of storms to unleash heavy snow, rain across western US into the weekend

Back-to-back storms from the Pacific will take aim at the West into the weekend, with the second and larger storm of the pairing expected to set the stage for severe weather and blizzard conditions in the nation’s midsection next week.  The storms will continue to help grow the snowpack throughout the West and deliver needed rainfall as far south as Southern California.  Winter weather advisories were in place across parts of Northern California, Oregon, Idaho and Washington Thursday.  The first storm will produce rain and high-elevation snow Thursday in Washington, Oregon and Northern California. AccuWeather forecasters say snow is likely in the central and eastern portions of Washington and Oregon, while locally heavy rain could fall in Oregon and Northern California. … ”  Read more from AccuWeather here: Pair of storms to unleash heavy snow, rain across western US into the weekend

Delta residents gather to protest Delta tunnel proposal

Approximately 100 concerned Delta residents gathered at a public forum in the community of Hood Tuesday to express concern with the Delta Tunnel proposal. Among the speakers was State Senator Bill Dodd, Attorney Osha Meserve, State Assemblymember Lori Wilson and State Assemblymember Carlos Villapudua.  The proposal reduces the original two tunnel plan, proposed by former Governor Jerry Brown, to a single tunnel by the Newsom Administration and the Department of Water Resources. The Department of Water Resources was invited to attend but declined. … ”  Read more from Channel 10 here: Delta residents gather to protest Delta tunnel proposal

Concerned residents meet to discuss controversial Delta tunnel plan

Dozens of concerned Delta residents turned out to discuss one of the most controversial water proposals in California history: the $16 billion Delta tunnel plan.  A public meeting was held Tuesday night in the community of Hood, an area that could see significant impacts from the project.  The plan proposed by then-Gov. Jerry Brown was originally for two tunnels, but Gov. Gavin Newsom scaled it back down to one. … ”  Read more from KCRA here: Concerned residents meet to discuss controversial Delta tunnel plan

Video: With a hotter, drier future, California looks to water management changes

The California Department of Water Resources is working on changes to its water supply strategy in order to adapt to a hotter and drier future.  Karla Nemeth, director of the department, says rising temperatures pose an enormous challenge.”  Watch video from Spectrum 1 here (3:43):  With a hotter, drier future, California looks to water management changes

Household water wells are drying up in record numbers as California drought worsens

Across California, domestic wells are drying up in record numbers due to severe drought and the overpumping of underground aquifers. The crisis has hit rural farming areas particularly hard and left some families to fend for themselves or wait years for permanent solutions as nonprofits, state water officials and well drillers struggle with a growing backlog of assistance requests.  This year, nearly 1,400 household wells have been reported dry — a nearly 40% increase over the same period last year, and the highest annual number reported since 2013, when the California Department of Water Resources launched the Dry Well Reporting System. The actual number of dry wells is likely higher because reporting is voluntary. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Household water wells are drying up in record numbers as California drought worsens

Here’s where California reservoir levels stand after December’s storms

December kicked off with a parade of storms across California, and while the plentiful precipitation is likely good news for California, data shows storage levels at the state’s major water supply reservoirs have not budged much.  “We are just now moving into the rainy season,” said Jeanine Jones, interstate resources manager for California’s Department of Water Resources, referring to the months between November and March when much of California’s precipitation is recorded.  Most of the major reservoirs, including Lake Oroville in Northern California, remain at below-average storage levels, data from the state Department of Water Resources shows. Statewide, reservoir levels are at 68% of average for this time of year. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  Here’s where California reservoir levels stand after December’s storms

State Water Board adopts Statewide Sanitary Sewer Systems General Order Reissuance

The California State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) adopted the Statewide Sanitary Sewer Systems General Order (General Order) Reissuance at its December 6, 2022 meeting. As reported in a Somach Simmons & Dunn news alert in May of 2022 (available here), the State Water Board released an Informal Staff Draft of the revised General Order in February of 2021 containing new requirements to address sanitary sewer overflows, which significantly broadened the regulatory scope of the existing General Order and raised concerns regarding the substantial commitment of time and resources required for compliance.  Following the solicitation and incorporation of stakeholder input and public comments, State Water Board staff issued a final General Order on October 28, 2022. Although significant revisions were made in response to comments, general concerns remained regarding the financial burden on entities to comply and the timelines provided for compliance and reporting, in addition to concerns of unspecific language and internal inconsistencies. … ”  Continue reading at Somach Simmons & Dunn here: State Water Board adopts Statewide Sanitary Sewer Systems General Order Reissuance

Feinstein, Bennet, Romney, colleagues emphasize Western drought and conservation priorities

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) joined Senators Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and a group of their colleagues to urge the Department of Agriculture (USDA) to give parity to the urgent priorities of Western growers and communities through existing authorities, new funding and collaboration across government.  “The American West is in crisis. Across the major basins of the American West – including the Colorado River Basin, the Rio Grande Basin, the Great Basin, the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Basin, the Columbia River Basin, and the Arkansas-White-Red Basin – farm and ranch families hang in the balance as they grapple with a 22-year mega-drought,” wrote the senators in the letter. “The acute shortage of water for Western growers threatens productive farmland across our states, which are both a pillar of our rural economies and drivers of America’s food production.” … ”  Continue reading at Senator Feinstein’s office here:  Feinstein, Bennet, Romney, Colleagues Emphasize Western Drought and Conservation Priorities

Here’s how much water almonds *really* waste per year — hint: it doesn’t even compare to dairy

With the rising popularity of nut milks, many are leaving dairy behind as a distant memory. And while all kinds of nut milks are on the market now, one of the most popular is almond. Of course, this is a better option than dairy, as water waste, pollution, and animal abuse runs rampant in the highly corrupt industry. But many argue almond farms waste large amounts of water. So, to settle the argument, we’re investigating: how much water is used to grow just one almond? ... ”  Read more from Green Matters here:  Here’s how much water almonds *really* waste per year — hint: it doesn’t even compare to dairy

How washing my hands with ‘toilet water’ cut my water bills in half

It’s hard to be blasé about the Sink Twice. I don’t want to oversell a plastic sink that sits over a toilet tank, but this ingenious, relatively low-cost device could help save the world.  Why? Because it saves water. It saves money. It motivates children and adults to wash their hands. It’s a great conversation starter. And it’s really fun, which by itself makes the Sink Twice worth the $83.99 price tag.  So I’m casting aside any pretense of neutrality here. The truth is, once I installed it in my guest bathroom, I loved it so much that I immediately bought another on Amazon for my other toilet. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: How washing my hands with ‘toilet water’ cut my water bills in half

Stanford study explores how dams, reservoirs could benefit global food supply

Dams and reservoirs help supply drinking water and hydroelectric power to nations around the world. But that water is also critical to another life and death calculation now, in the future, and our available global food supply. Enter Stanford researcher Rafael Schmitt, and his colleagues at Stanford’s Doerr School of Sustainability and the Stanford Natural Capital Project, who set out to measure the relationship between dams and food security.  “So basically, the purpose of the study was to understand how much water storage is required to feed future agriculture, and to produce food from the agriculture that the world urgently needs,” Schmitt explained. … ”  Read more from KGO here: Stanford study explores how dams, reservoirs could benefit global food supply

Learning to love — and protect — burned trees

A forest needs all kinds of trees — even dead ones.  Dead trees, known as “snags,” are some of the most valuable wildlife structures in the forest and help support hundreds of animals.  “A tree really has a second life after it’s been killed, particularly with fire-killed trees, which decay far slower than if a tree succumbs to disease or insects,” says Timothy Ingalsbee, a wildfire ecologist and executive director of the nonprofit Firefighters United for Safety, Ethics and Ecology. “I’ve called them ‘living dead trees.’”  Wildfire-ravaged forests may appear devoid of life from a distance — they’re often described in the media as “destroyed” or “moonscapes” — but the reality is quite different, as more than 200 scientists and land managers wrote in a letter to Congress when the 2018 Farm Bill contained proposals to speed up and expand logging on public lands in response to increasing wildfires ... ”  Continue reading at The Revelator here: Learning to love — and protect — burned trees

An extinct sea cow may help the restoration of California’s dwindling kelp forests

For millions of years, gigantic sea cows weighing several tons swam in shallow waters along coasts in the Pacific Ocean. The megaherbivores were three times the length of modern-day manatees and munched on massive amounts of sea kelp to sustain themselves.  In 1741, German zoologist Georg Wilhelm Steller observed the creatures between Asia and North America, writing in his book that they were “greedy” animals that “eat incessantly,” per the New York Times’ Oliver Whang. He formally described cows, naming them Hydrodamalis gigas, which roughly translates to “giant water cow.” ... ”  Read more from the Smithsonian Magazine here: An extinct sea cow may help the restoration of California’s dwindling kelp forests

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In commentary today …

Greenhouse gaslighting and California’s water crisis

Jon Rosenfield, Ph.D. Senior Scientist at San Francisco Baykeeper, writes, “On Sunday August 28th, my phone blew up with reports of dead fish lining the shores of San Francisco Bay. San Francisco Baykeeper had been tracking a harmful “red tide” algae bloom since late-July. … Following the proliferation of algae and dying fish, Baykeeper staff spoke with journalists from California, around the country, and the world. Each reporter asked whether climate change caused the algae bloom. Representatives of regional and national regulatory agencies fed this narrative, speculating that the dead fish and reddish water were direct evidence of rising global temperatures. Although we’re still studying what specifically triggered this bloom, the data reveal no obvious connection to rising global temperatures or any of its side effects.  The instinct to link natural disasters to climate change is understandable.  Rising air temperature will increase water temperatures and dramatically alter global patterns of precipitation and evaporation. But political leaders, captains of industry, and regulatory agencies increasingly invoke climate change as a way of dodging responsibility for disasters that they could prevent. I call this “greenhouse gaslighting.” … ”  Read the full post at the MCJ Climate Voices here: Greenhouse gaslighting and California’s water crisis

Column: Don’t waste a good drought crisis

Columnist Michael Smolens writes, “Last week, California announced initial allocations of just 5 percent of requested supplies from the State Water Project in the coming year.  That was actually an improvement from last December, when the state called for zero allocations for 2022. The eventual allotment for this year eventually rose to 5 percent.  Those announcements were among the constant reminders in recent years that drought conditions exacerbated by climate change are ongoing and likely to get worse.  For decades, California has done an admirable job of conserving, despite its outdated water system.  But an even more aggressive approach is needed to gain savings through reducing urban and suburban outdoor watering, increasing efficiency in agricultural fields and shifting away from certain water-intensive crops, such as alfalfa. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune here: Column: Don’t waste a good drought crisis

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Today’s featured article …

DELTA STEWARDSHIP COUNCIL: How much habitat restoration has occurred in the Delta and Suisun Marsh since 2007

Study sets the baseline for meeting the Delta Plan’s ecosystem restoration targets

The Delta Reform Act of 2009 established the Delta Stewardship Council and directed the Council to develop the Delta Plan, a comprehensive, long-term, legally enforceable plan to guide the management of the Delta’s water and environmental resources.  The legislation also required the Delta Plan to include measures to track the performance and implementation of the Plan.

The first Delta Plan, adopted in 2013, included a set of initial performance measures that were later refined and updated in 2018 to reflect the best available science and the amendments made in recent years.  Currently, the Delta Plan has 154 performance measures that track output and outcomes in areas such as water supply, ecosystem, Delta as an evolving place, water quality, flood management, and administrative actions.  You can view all the performance measures here: https://viewperformance.deltacouncil.ca.gov/

In June 2022, the Council adopted an amendment to Chapter 4, Protect, Restore, and Enhance the Delta Ecosystem, of the Delta Plan.  The new amendment includes recommendations, updated regulations, problem statements, and performance measures.  The amendment also identifies restoration targets of 60-80,000 acres above a 2007 baseline by 2050, with performance measures detailing acreages for specific ecosystem types.

To determine progress toward the targets, it’s important to understand how much restoration has occurred since 2007.  So at the November meeting of the Delta Stewardship Council, Senior Environmental Scientist Dylan Chapple provided an overview of the draft ecosystem restoration progress report that sets the baseline for tracking restoration performance measures.

Click here to read this article.

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In regional water news and commentary today …

NORTH COAST

Fort Bragg considering wave energy-powered desalination in latest novel water move

Fort Bragg, long powered by timber, fishing and tourist economies, is getting notice statewide for its push to create monetary green out of the Blue Economy, state officials said.  Blue Economy is the term coined for a nationwide trend seeking revenue from the ocean without extracting its resources or doing things that cause serious environmental harm. For Fort Bragg, Blue Economy leadership is also helping to  create innovative solutions to the ever-worsening water shortage the city faces.  The City of Fort Bragg is ground zero for Oneka Technologies, a Canadian company working all over the world with wave energy to make freshwater. … ” Read more from the Mendocino Voice here: Fort Bragg considering wave energy-powered desalination in latest novel water move

MOUNTAIN COUNTIES

Major winter storm could make Tahoe travel ‘difficult to impossible’ Saturday

If you want to get up to the Sierra Nevada for the weekend, you will want to get going right away because travel will be difficult to impossible as two storms move into California.  A Winter Weather Advisory begins at 10 a.m. Thursday and remains in effect until 4 a.m. Friday above 3,500 feet. Six to twelve inches of snow is expected, up to eighteen inches over the peaks. You will need chains if you decide to go up.  The second storm is stronger and is coming with an atmospheric river Saturday. It will dump several feet of snow in the Sierra. ... ”  Read more from ABC Bay Area here: Major winter storm could make Tahoe travel ‘difficult to impossible’ Saturday

Fuel-reduction treatments protected Markleeville during Tamarack Fire

In the heat of the 2021 fire season, the Tamarack Fire burned toward the small, rural community of Markleeville in Alpine County. A year later, the town of Markleeville still stands flanked by ridges covered in a charred blanket of trees. It persists thanks to a network of fuel-reduction projects around the town, including the Markleevillage Fuels Reduction Project (Markleevillage Project) funded by the Sierra Nevada Conservancy (SNC), and the heroic work of firefighters.  The neighborhood of Markleevillage sits at the edge of town and the base of steep forested canyons of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. In between the two, lies the Markleevillage Project. … ”  Read more from the Sierra Nevada Consevancy here: Fuel-reduction treatments protected Markleeville during Tamarack Fire

SACRAMENTO VALLEY

Mt. Shasta Ski Park to open as it expects almost 4 feet of snow

“The Mt. Shasta Ski Park will be opening for the 2022/2023 season on Saturday.  People can hit the slopes from 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. this weekend.  The ski park said it is expecting to receive more than 45 inches of snow between Thursday and Sunday, creating the opportunity for a fresh powder to kick off the season. ... ”  Read more from Action News Now here: Mt. Shasta Ski Park to open as it expects almost 4 feet of snow

Yuba Water OKs grants for water infrastructure, resiliency, public safety

On Tuesday morning, the Yuba Water Agency Board of Directors approved $1 million in grant funding to support water supply reliability, watershed resilience, flood risk reduction and first responder agencies in Yuba County.  These grants reflect the agency’s commitment to reinvest up to $10 million each year in community impact grants with the goal of improving the quality of life for Yuba County residents, officials said. A $500,000 grant for the Browns Valley Irrigation District is included in this funding, officials said. These funds will help to improve a water diversion from the Yuba River upstream of Daguerre Point Dam. In recent years, agricultural developments within the district have caused an increased demand for water, which outpaces the capacity that the canal can currently support. The grant funds will go toward reconfiguring the canal and alleviating chokepoints, officials said. … ”  Read more from the Appeal Democrat here: Yuba Water OKs grants for water infrastructure, resiliency, public safety

NAPA/SONOMA

North Bay water officials lower Russian River dam ahead of heavy rainfall

In the North Bay, water officials are getting ready for the approaching storms by lowering a dam on the Russian River to prevent flooding. All this is happening amid our drought.  “We’re really excited the storm door has opened,” said Sonoma Water spokesperson Andrea Rodriguez.  Rodriguez says Sonoma Water is ready for what could be the first big storm of the season. … ”  Read more from ABC Bay Area here: North Bay water officials lower Russian River dam ahead of heavy rainfall

SEE ALSORussian River Inflatable Dam Lowered in Advance of Forecasted Storm, from the County of Sonoma

BAY AREA

Atmospheric river flowing toward Bay Area this weekend

A low pressure system was churning and intensifying in the Gulf of Alaska Wednesday before heading south toward Northern California where it will bring heavy rain and blizzard conditions in the Sierra.  The National Weather Service said the storm front will be packing a weak atmospheric river when it rolls into the region on Saturday.  “A cold low pressure system dropping out of the Gulf of Alaska will phase (merge) with subtropical moisture and strong southwest flow as it intersects over the Sierra this weekend, bringing strong winds and heavy snow to the mountains,” weather service forecasters in Reno predicted. … ”  Read more from CBS Bay Area here: Atmospheric river flowing toward Bay Area this weekend

SEE ALSOCold front to sweep Northern California this afternoon, bringing rain, winds and a chance of thunder to these Bay Area cities, from the San Francisco Chronicle

After years of drought, Marin reservoirs at ‘average’ levels a hopeful sign

So far this year in Marin County, the rainfall has been a bit disappointing. But the reservoirs are standing at about exactly average for this time of year, and “average” has never felt so good, especially after years of drought.  In fact, currently standing at about 2/3 capacity, it would be hard for Lake Lagunitas to get any more average.  The Marin Municipal Water District lists it at 99.91% of the historic average at this time of year. But that’s only because of the near miracle the area saw last year. … ”  Read more from CBS Bay Area here: After years of drought, Marin reservoirs at ‘average’ levels a hopeful sign

Valley Water performs maintenance work in creeks for flood protection

Every year, Valley Water performs work in creeks across Santa Clara County to ensure that flood protection projects continue to provide their designed levels of protection. In addition to this critical work, Valley Water manages vegetation to reduce the intensity and harmful impacts of fires, particularly important during the extreme drought conditions in Santa Clara County. All of this work is conducted as part of our Stream Maintenance Program.  Valley Water owns and manages about 294 miles of streams. Each year, portions of these streams are inspected and prioritized for maintenance projects. … ”  Read more from Valley Water News here:  Valley Water performs maintenance work in creeks for flood protection

CENTRAL COAST

Stanford fellow delivers hope for Monterey County water collaboration

Could the limited successes in bringing together disparate water interests in the San Joaquin Valley be a model for a collaborative solution to the water woes facing Monterey County?  Local elected officials on Tuesday listened to an architect of such an effort in the neighboring valley in hopes that the growing loggerheads over securing additional, permanent water sources in Monterey County can be alleviated.  Supervisor Mary Adams has spearheaded two prior water forums with the aim to think beyond patchwork efforts and instead address a regional solution to the numerous water problems the county faces, be it water quality in southern Monterey County, seawater intrusion in the northern part of the county or water supply debates along the Monterey Peninsula. … ”  Read more from the Monterey Herald here: Stanford fellow delivers hope for Monterey County water collaboration | Read via Mercury News

Seaside approves buying back a property for 10 times more than the city got for it six years ago.

When the Seaside City Council convened for a special meeting Dec. 1, the issue at hand wasn’t whether the council previously erred in its decision to sell, in 2016, an approximately 1-acre parcel of city-owned land just across from City Hall. The question was whether they should buy that land back.  The property, at 1271 Canyon Del Rey (adjacent to Laguna Grande Park and Chili’s), is currently a vacant dirt lot with one notable exception: It’s got a well on it.  When Seaside sold the property in 2016 to local developer Don Orosco, who’s since died, the $250,000 sale price was contingent on there being sufficient water rights associated with the property so that it could be developed. If not, the purchase agreement stated, the price of the purchase would be renegotiated. … ”  Read more from Monterey Weekly here: Seaside approves buying back a property for 10 times more than the city got for it six years ago.

Rain brings some hope to local farmers

The light and steady rain that the Central Coast received over the past several days has brought a bit of hope to the agriculture community.  Although any rain is good rain, it’s the light and consistent moisture that will make the largest impact on crop production.  If rain storms approach too harshly and downpour on the soil, much of it will not be retained by the soil.  “Think of it like a sponge, so if you got a brand-new sponge and you stick it under the faucet in the kitchen sink with the faucet going full blast, it’s going to run off. If you let it drip, drip, drip, it’s going to soak into that sponge,” explained David Alford, Turri Ranch Farmer. … ”  Read more from KSBY here: Rain brings some hope to local farmers

Supervisors approve new Paso Basin planting ordinance

San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors approved the adoption of a new Paso Basin Planting Ordinance. The new ordinance was greatly opposed by the San Luis Obispo County Farm Bureau, SLO County Cattleman’s Association, Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance, and SLO County Planning Commission, among others. Three years in the making, the new ordinance comes forth to rectify the current ordinance. The purpose of the ordinance was to bring the county into Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) compliance in 2013 and then was semi-permanently adopted in 2015. ... ”  Read more from the Paso Robles Press here: Supervisors approve new Paso Basin planting ordinance

SEE ALSOSLO County supervisors adopt controversial new Paso Robles basin ordinance, from New Times SLO

SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY

Stanislaus, water district lack accord on future of recreation at Woodward Reservoir

Six months of talks between Stanislaus County and South San Joaquin Irrigation District haven’t produced an extended agreement for recreation at Woodward Reservoir near Oakdale. An SSJID staff member told Stanislaus County’s board of supervisors Tuesday that county staff members were not inclined to accept a six-month extension of the negotiation period to July 1, but the parties were OK with a three-month period for more negotiations. The regional park is considered a gem for people who enjoy camping, boating, swimming and picnicking near the water and also has attracted thousands for an annual July Fourth fireworks show, concerts and festivals. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here: Stanislaus, water district lack accord on future of recreation at Woodward Reservoir

More rain and snow are coming to a Modesto-area watershed already at 160% of average

Two more rounds of rain and snow are headed for the Modesto area and its Sierra Nevada watershed. The National Weather Service forecast up to 2.25 inches of rain in the city between Thursday and Sunday, Dec. 11. Up to 7 feet of snow could fall in the upper mountains, on top of a storm season already at 160% of average. The usual caveat: We are still in a drought, but the storms could help keep it from reaching a fourth year in 2023.  The 160% snowpack figure came from the California Department of Water Resources and includes the Tuolumne and Stanislaus rivers and nearby watersheds. They supply farms and cities in the Northern San Joaquin Valley and other areas. … ”  Read more from  Arizona Family here: More rain and snow are coming to a Modesto-area watershed already at 160% of average

Environmental Review Process begins for Friant-Kern water guidelines

The Friant Water Authority, FWA, which oversees the Friant-Kern Canal, on Tuesday released a Notice of Preparation announcing its intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Report, EIR, for the proposed Guidelines for Accepting Water into the canal.  The Guidelines will define the water quality thresholds and other requirements for bringing water into the canal from a source other than Millerton Lake. FWA, the lead aggency under the California Environmental Quality Act, CEQA, invites agencies and the public to provide input on the potential scope and content of the EIR. … ”  Read more from the Porterville Recorder here: Environmental Review Process begins for Friant-Kern water guidelines

Column: Kings County adopts groundwater export ordinance

Columnist John Lindt writes, “Despite opposition from an impressive who’s-who list of water districts and agencies and the Kings County Farm Bureau, the Kings County Board of Supervisors on a 3-2 vote adopted a groundwater export ordinance that will require a permit to move groundwater out of the county. Leading the charge was Supervisor and farmer Doug Verboon, who says the passage Nov. 29 came after 12 years of battling to adopt an ordinance here to protect local groundwater, an ordinance that most counties already have. The county’s aim is to preserve groundwater for local use, critical for both domestic, city, military and agricultural users. The county ordinance defines export, saying it means the ” transportation of groundwater from within Kings County to any location outside of the county by pipe, canal, stream, river, or other conveyance method.” … ”  Read more from the Hanford Sentinel here: Column: Kings County adopts groundwater export ordinance

IMPERIAL/COACHELLA VALLEYS

BLM approves project to provide permanent, dependable water source for wildlife in Riverside County

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has authorized the replacement of an existing big game water guzzler to increase water sources for wildlife in response to increased and prolonged drought. The project will take place in the BLM-managed Chuckwalla Mountains Wilderness and Area of Critical Environmental Concern in Riverside County.  During December, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, in partnership with The Society for Conservation of Bighorn Sheep, will use a helicopter to deliver three new 2,300-gallon water tanks. Volunteers from The Society for Conservation of Bighorn Sheep will install and build the tanks in the same footprint as the previous system. … ”  Read more from the Bureau of Land Management here: BLM approves project to provide permanent, dependable water source for wildlife in Riverside County

Salton Sea dust triggers lung inflammation

“The Salton Sea, the body of water in Southern California’s Coachella Valley and Imperial Valley, is shrinking over time as the planet warms and exposing more lakebed and new sources of dust in the process. High levels of dust already plague the region, a situation likely to worsen as the sea continues to shrink due to climate change.  Not surprisingly, the communities surrounding the Salton Sea have high rates of childhood asthma (20–22.4%) — much higher than the California average of 14.5%.  A University of California, Riverside, mouse study, led by Dr. David Lo, a distinguished professor of biomedical sciences in the School of Medicine, has found that dust collected at sites near the Salton Sea triggered lung neutrophil inflammation in mice. … ”  Read more from UC Riverside here: Salton Sea dust triggers lung inflammation

USGS geonarrative investigates geohazards of the Salton Sea

California’s Salton Sea is shrinking. As drought worsens with climate change and water supplies dwindle, this area will change and the people, wildlife, and industry of this area will be significantly impacted. Changes to the water supply have direct impacts on the Sea and its wetland ecosystems, which support tens of thousands of migratory birds and rare pupfish. The valleys around it support small cities, extensive agriculture, and renewable energy infrastructure. USGS science contributes combined expertise to inform the planning and designs of this restoration approach and management plan. From understanding geohazards and monitoring water resources to understanding climate change impacts on ecosystem health, USGS supports partners in creating sustainable infrastructure that is resilient to climate change and natural hazards.  The geonarrative, “A Desert on the Move”, addresses the geohazards present in the area. … ”  Read more from the USGS here: USGS geonarrative investigates geohazards of the Salton Sea | View geonarrative here

SAN DIEGO

Water rates may surge nearly 18 percent over next two years in San Diego

A new analysis says San Diego must raise water rates 17.6 percent over the next two years to fund the city’s Pure Water sewage recycling system and cover rising costs to buy imported water and replace aging pipes.  The average monthly bill for a customer in a single-family home would increase from $81.07 to $95.03 in November 2023, and then to $103.06 in January 2025. Bills for high-volume water users would likely climb even more.  Water rates in San Diego would jump from just below the current median for local water agencies to what is currently the top tier. The only water agencies in the county whose current rates are higher than that planned level are Rincon del Diablo, Fallbrook, Padre Dam, Rainbow and Del Mar. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune here:  Water rates may surge nearly 18 percent over next two years in San Diego

SEE ALSOHow Much Will Water and Energy Rates Rise in San Diego in 2023?, from NBC San Diego

Project reshapes piece of Carlsbad coastline

A piece of Carlsbad history will disappear this month — and with it a small chunk of the beach.  Utility company contractors have begun the removal of an underwater pipeline used by ships to offload fuel oil for the Encina power plant for more than 50 years.  The pipeline and the rock jetty that covers it across the beach are being removed because they are no longer needed. The entire power plant will be demolished in a few more years to make way for a natural-gas powered plant now under construction in a different area of the property farther from the beach. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune here: Project reshapes piece of Carlsbad coastline

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Along the Colorado River …

Expert: Microchip plant in Phoenix won’t impact Arizona’s water supply

“With President Biden flying in to promote a second TSMC microchip plant coming to the Valley, several viewers have asked Arizona’s Family how it would impact the ongoing water shortage. The main concern: would it hurt Arizona farmers?  Sarah Porter, director of Arizona State University’s Kyl Center for Water Policy, says it won’t hurt farmers and shouldn’t impact the city’s water supply. “It’s not as if the water was taken from the farmer and given or reallocated to the semiconductor plant,” Porter said.  According to Porter, microchip plants and farms have different water allocations and priority levels dictated by the city. “It’s apples to oranges. That farmer gave up priority a long time ago, and it has nothing to do with the water that is available in the city’s portfolio to use for these new plants. The City of Phoenix has enough water in its portfolio, even with cuts in the Colorado River supplies, to be able to supply water for the semiconductor plants. Partly because the city has high priority Colorado River rights and partly because the city has other sources of water that it can use to meet demand,” Porter said. … ”  Read more from Arizona Family here: Expert: Microchip plant in Phoenix won’t impact Arizona’s water supply

Ducey and ASU announce Arizona Water Innovation Initiative

The state of Arizona will invest $40 million dollars in the Arizona Water Innovation Initiative (AWII), an actionable, multi-year plan led by Arizona State University that will provide immediate, evidence-based solutions to secure the state’s water future.  In conjunction with ASU, Gov. Doug Doug Ducey announced the initiative will “take advantage of the long history of collaboration on water solutions in the state and region.”  “On the heels of our historic legislation to secure our water future, ASU will serve as a force multiplier to enhance our water resiliency. Arizona has a great resource in ASU and the leadership of President Michael Crow to respond with force when called upon to advance work that serves the state,” Ducey in a statement. “From the Central Arizona Project to the landmark Groundwater Management Act, to the Arizona Drought Contingency Plan, leaders in Arizona have looked ahead to future generations and taken action to ensure that our growing state has the water it needs to thrive.” … ”  Read more from Arizona Big Media here: Ducey and ASU announce Arizona Water Innovation Initiative

‘It’s imperative that we take action’: Lake Powell power plant could stop running by July

New predictions by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation show that Lake Powell’s water levels may fall below the level needed to produce power as soon as July 2023. The Bureau of Reclamation issues two-year predictions for the water levels in Lake Powell and Lake Mead and revises those predictions every few months. It uses multiple projections to come up with expected, worst, and best probable outcomes.  One of those projections shows that water levels at Lake Powell could fall below what’s called minimum power pool, the lowest level that would still allow the power plant in the dam to produce power in only seven months. … ”  Read more from Channel 12 here:  ‘It’s imperative that we take action’: Lake Powell power plant could stop running by July

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

NOTICE of lifting of curtailments under standard water right Term 91

ANNOUNCEMENT: Coming Soon: The Delta Residents Survey

NOTICE of 180-Day Temporary Permit Applications in Imperial County

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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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