DAILY DIGEST, 12/12: Storm dumps heavy snow in Sierra; High tech snow flights to cover most of CA’s watersheds this year; Friends of the Eel River file lawsuit against Humboldt County; L.A. looks to water from a contaminated Superfund site; and more …
PUBLIC MEETING: Science Advisory Panel on Constituents of Emerging Concern (CECs) in Aquatic Ecosystems from 8am to 10:30pm. The State Water Board and Ocean Protection Council funded a grant to reconvene the Constituents of Emerging Concern (CEC) Science Advisory Panel for Aquatic Ecosystems (Panel) to assess the current state of scientific knowledge on the risks of CECs impacting human health and the environment in freshwater, coastal, and marine ecosystems of the state and update their 2012 recommendations. The CEC Aquatic Ecosystems Panel will provide a final report-out to the public with their recommendations via a Zoom webinar. A copy of the report is available at https://www.waterboards.ca.gov/water_issues/programs/cec/non_drinking_water.html. Register for this webinar at: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_sLuAg5KrQAmaVV-Yv9pFIQ.
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In California water news today …
Storm blowing through California dumps snow in Sierra
“Heavy snow fell in the Sierra Nevada as a winter storm packing powerful winds sent ski lift chairs swinging and closed mountain highways while downpours at lower elevations triggered flood watches Sunday across large swaths of California into Nevada. More than 250 miles (400 km) of the Sierra from north of Reno south to Yosemite National Park remained under winter storm warnings either until late Sunday or early Monday. The Heavenly ski resort at Lake Tahoe shut down some operations when the brunt of the storm hit Saturday. The resort posted video of lift chairs swaying violently because of gusts that topped 100 mph (161 kph), along with a tweeted reminder that wind closures are “always for your safety.” ... ” Read more from the Associated Press here: Storm blowing through California dumps snow in Sierra
‘It’s amazing’: Bay Area drying out from big storm; Tahoe digging out from fresh snow
“The Bay Area is still drying out from a serious drenching this weekend after a powerful storm brought wind and rain — along with lots of snow to the Lake Tahoe region. “It was just a thud — a dull thud — and the house shook a little bit,” said Bob Mass. Mass says that a wakeup call came early Sunday morning when a giant Oak tree fell onto Elinor Avenue in Mill Valley. “It’s a very old tree, probably 80 feet tall, with a big canopy,” Mass said. ... ” Read more from KGO here: ‘It’s amazing’: Bay Area drying out from big storm; Tahoe digging out from fresh snow
High tech snow flights to cover most of California’s watersheds this year
“You probably didn’t notice a twin-engine prop plane loaded with high-tech equipment circling 23,000 feet over the San Joaquin Valley’s upper watersheds this fall. But it was there, gathering information about those watersheds in their “snow off” condition. That detailed information will be vital to multiple follow up flights of Airborne Snow Observatories, Inc. (ASO) this winter as snow accumulates in the highest reaches of the Sierra Nevada. This is the first year the Department of Water Resources (DWR) has funded flights for nearly all the state’s watersheds, 12, at a cost of about $10 million to $11 million. And this is the first year the Kern River watershed will be examined using ASO’s mix of LIDAR and imaging spectrometry that can measure snow depth to within two inches, according to ASO information. ... ” Read more from SJV Water here: High tech snow flights to cover most of California’s watersheds this year
The 2020-2023 drought continues for a fourth year?
“After three years of drought and two dry months, plus two wet weeks, into California’s “wet” season for 2023, California has become unsettlingly settled into this long drought. Most cities have decreased their water use, some more than others. Agricultural fallowing has been modest statewide, but large in the Sacramento Valley, with major economic effects in areas depending on rice-growing. Impacts to native fish and forests have been accumulating, and are dire in some cases. What is California’s water situation in early December 2022? What are some drought lessons so far? What are prospects and preparations for additional dry years? … ” Continue reading at the California Water Blog here: The 2020-2023 drought continues for a fourth year?
Calif. grant program to lessen farms’ groundwater pumping
“California’s Department of Water Resources (DWR) has opened the public comment period for the LandFlex Program, a grant program that aims to limit unsustainable groundwater pumping by farms. The program aims to free up water in the event of a fourth consecutive dry year, accelerate the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), and prevent drinking water supply problems in 2023. In more detail, LandFlex is a $25 million grant program that would award funds to local groundwater sustainability agencies to pay growers to immediately idle land as a one-year drought relief measure. The proposed program would target the operators of small- and medium-size farms in areas where agricultural pumping reductions could help keep household and small community system wells from going dry. … ” Read more from Water World here: Calif. grant program to lessen farms’ groundwater pumping
Newsletter: Will CA keep up its climate momentum?
“California has climate action on the mind. This week state lawmakers, senior officials in Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration and prominent environmental leaders are representing California at the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity in Montreal, Canada — an appearance that could make a splash on the world stage as Newsom continues to tout his climate credentials. That’s because California is the first and only U.S. state to be an official observer at the convention and it could help fill a leadership void at the federal level, Mary Creasman, CEO of the California Environmental Voters’ Education Fund, told me Sunday. Creasman said the group, which is leading the California delegation, raised money from the Resources Legacy Fund to cover lawmakers’ trip to the convention. … ” Read more from Cal Matters here: Newsletter: Will CA keep up its climate momentum?
Southern California facing devastating water shortage? Not everywhere.
Kara McKittrick, an environmentalist from Irvine, writes, “The rapidly growing Los Angeles population threatens to deny the irrigation water California farmlands are dependent on and has reduced the Colorado River Aqueduct to historically low levels. There is plenty of blame to go around as city planners and politicians battle for the supply of water to meet the ever-growing population’s demand. … An hour south of Los Angeles the City of Irvine appears to be on the right track to eliminate dependency on imported water through innovative visionary programs involving the tapping of deep well aquifers, conservation of groundwater, and the recycling of run-off for irrigation. In fact, under this enlightened program, Irvine, a city located in an arid region, has been designated in the top 5 green area communities in the USA due to high-quality planned parks and open spaces. It was pointed out that the City of Irvine maintains low-cost water availability even during drought seasons. … ” Read more from the Voice of the OC here: Southern California facing devastating water shortage? Not everywhere.
Central Valley hatchery salmon production is being wasted
Tom Cannon writes, “There are two common strategies for releasing juvenile salmon from state and federal salmon hatcheries in the Central Valley. One strategy is the release of hatchery salmon smolts at or near the hatchery where they are produced. The other strategy is trucking the smolts from the hatchery and releasing them into the Bay. There is much controversy and argument over the relative merits of the strategies. There can be little argument that release into the Bay generates far more adult salmon than release near the hatcheries. Consider what occurred with two American River release groups after their release in May 2018 and return as adults in 2020. … ” Read more from the California Fisheries Blog here: Central Valley hatchery salmon production is being wasted
Congress must act quickly to pass these five conservation bills to protect California
The Sacramento Bee editorial board writes, “Before Republicans seize a slim majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, Congress should expedite a slate of bills written to protect important wildlife habitats, public lands and help California combat climate change. These five bills, if passed before the end of the 2022 session, would safeguard Californians’ access to their state’s natural landscape and biodiversity, and provide nature-based solutions to climate change. The bills include Senate Bill 1459, authored by California senators Alex Padilla and Dianne Feinstein — as well as its House companions, HR 693 and HR 878 — which would establish the PUBLIC Lands Act to protect over one million acres of public lands and conserve important wildlife habitats in northwest California, the central coast region and the Los Angeles area. ... ” Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: Congress must act quickly to pass these five conservation bills to protect California
Public trust values in peril: Friends of the Eel River file lawsuit against Humboldt County
“On Thursday, October 27, Friends of the Eel River (FOER) filed a lawsuit against Humboldt County seeking to protect public trust flows in the lower Eel River. In a recent press release from FOER, they explained their requests as well as their reasons behind bringing the issue to Court. They are asking the County to create a comprehensive program to regulate groundwater pumping in the lower Eel River as well as to stop issuing permits for new and expanded well-drilling until such a program is in place. This program would ideally protect the natural resources and beneficial uses of surface water flows as established under public trust values. … ” Continue reading at the North Coast Environmental Center here: Public trust values in peril: Friends of the Eel River file lawsuit against Humboldt County
Citizens Protecting Humboldt Bay ‘challenges’ Nordic Aquafarms
“A new nonprofit organization has been formed by local citizens in order to defend the diversity of life and the people that rely on Humboldt Bay, an intact and critically important ecosystem. Citizens Protecting Humboldt Bay is a group of local residents who believe sustainable development can be accomplished while providing protection of our natural heritage. Humboldt Bay is a unique feature of our community that provides nursery habitats for abundant aquatic life, fish, birds, and other wildlife. The recent Humboldt County Planning Commission approval of the Final Environmental Report (FEIR) for a massive Atlantic salmon fish factory, the first of its kind in California, has forced individual citizens to act and protect Humboldt Bay. … ” Read more from the Redheaded Blackbelt here: Citizens Protecting Humboldt Bay ‘challenges’ Nordic Aquafarms
The weekend storm system is leaving, but a cold week lies ahead
“The weekend weather brought torrential rain and heavy Sierra Mountain snow, prompting dangerous travel and road closures throughout the region. And it’s still having an effect on our weather systems, with the leftovers of this storm providing a few showers Monday morning as well as gusty winds for parts of the Bay Area. The region will have a break from the rain after this, but a few spots will feel the winter weather with freezing temperatures Monday morning. Periods of dense fog and frosty conditions are also likely. And, enjoy the dryness while it lasts, rain chances return by the end of the week. ... ” Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: The weekend storm system is leaving, but a cold week lies ahead
One of the Bay Area’s largest private coastal properties to become a park
“One of the greatest conservation stories on the San Mateo County coast is about to come to a close with 6,300 acres of rolling hills and valleys moving into public hands. The Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District, which manages a network of nature preserves between San Francisco and San Jose, won approval from its governing board Saturday to proceed with the $16 million purchase of what’s known as Cloverdale Ranch. The acquisition of the land along Highway 1, south of Pescadero, will put one of the Bay Area’s largest pieces of private coastal property under permanent public protection and sets the stage for opening the sprawling stretch of prairie and forests to visitors. … ” Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: One of the Bay Area’s largest private coastal properties to become a park | Read via MSN News
Big Break Park: ‘The hidden gem of the Delta’
“Below Mount Diablo on the edge of the Delta is a wondrous place, a place where great waters converge, where wild creatures flourish, where people explore and study and play. Big Break Park, it is called. There are numerous parks and museums in and around the Delta. Nothing captures the natural wonders of the region, though, its culture and history, as does Big Break. It is quintessentially Delta. Above the park soar herons and egrets. In its waters swim bass and salmon, bluegill and minnows. A sprawling topo map of the Delta, as much a work of art as cartography, is a centerpiece. … ” Read more from the Lodi News-Sentinel here: Big Break Park: ‘The hidden gem of the Delta’
Santa Cruz needs more water; city’s new policy keeps desalination, recycled wastewater on the table
“Climate change is forcing a strategy change when it comes to water in Santa Cruz. No longer will the focus be on furthering water conservation — something the city is already a shining example of in an increasingly thirsty state. The goal moving forward: finding more water. A new policy document, unanimously approved by the Santa Cruz City Council last Tuesday, essentially acts as a formal recognition that the city needs to increase its water supply if it is going to maintain business as usual into the future. By 2027, the city wants to boost its water supply by 500 million gallons — a 20% increase over current water demand. However, unlike past water policy documents, the latest plan stops short of recommending a path forward. Instead, it proposes four options — among them, desalination and recycling wastewater — and delays the community fight over the proper project for a future date. … ” Read more from Lookout Santa Cruz here: Santa Cruz needs more water; city’s new policy keeps desalination, recycled wastewater on the table
Sewage enters Chorro Creek following spill at California Men’s Colony
“The weekend storm caused sewage to be released into Chorro Creek from the California Men’s Colony in San Luis Obispo overnight. The San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department said the spill of a “large, unknown volume of primary treated sewage” started around midnight Sunday and was stopped about nine hours later when the plant was said to be functioning normally. ... ” Read more from KSBY here: Sewage enters Chorro Creek following spill at California Men’s Colony
Rainfall reaches 7 inches in mountains, runs near an inch on coast
“Ventura County received a half to 7 inches of rain in various locations over a two-day period ending Sunday morning, the National Weather Service said. Precipitation reached almost six-tenths of an inch at Silver Strand Beach near Oxnard, with 1.27 inches recorded in Ventura and .71 of an inch in Camarillo. In the east county, 1.18 inches was reported in Simi Valley, 1.09 inches in Newbury Park and 2.87 inches in Thousand Oaks. Heavy amounts fell near Ojai, including 6.36 inches at Matilija Dam and 7.28 inches at Nordhoff Ridge. ... ” Read more from the Ventura County Star here: Rainfall reaches 7 inches in mountains, runs near an inch on coast
SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY
Judge halts hefty SGMA fees for Madera Co. farmers ahead of tax deadline
“A Madera County Superior Court judge has halted implementation of a sizable, $246 per acre fee on [groundwater pumping]. The per-acre charge on Madera County farmers and landowners is part of the county’s implementation of the sweeping Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) through the Madera County Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA). Farmers within the Madera and Delta-Mendota Subbasin of the GSA were due to be assessed $246 per acre to implement the GSA’s yet-to-be-approved Groundwater Sustainability Plan. Farmers within the GSA’s Chowchilla Subbasin rejected the fee during an earlier Proposition 218 protest vote and have led a revolt against the sizable fee. … ” Read more from the San Joaquin Valley Sun here: Judge halts hefty SGMA fees for Madera Co. farmers ahead of tax deadline
Tehachapi: City will lease land for alfalfa and grain farm
“About 81 acres of airport property will be used by a Tehachapi company to grow alfalfa and small grains for animal feed using treated wastewater sometime next year. At its meeting Dec. 5, the Tehachapi City Council approved a lease with Kevin Parsons and Tim Dobbs doing business as Tehachapi Farming and Ranching Company, that will allow the company to use reclaimed water from the city’s sewage disposal and treatment plant to grow the fodder crop. According to Public Works Director Don Marsh, the farming operation will save about 1,000 hours of labor per year as city staff will no longer be required to operate and maintain the reclamation area. … ” Read more from the Tehachapi News here: Tehachapi: City will lease land for alfalfa and grain farm
Storm blankets Sierra Nevada in heavy snow, brings rain across California
“A winter storm blanketed the Sierra Nevada in heavy snow and soaked much of California with rain, bringing a wet start of winter after three years of record drought. The storm laid down 3 to 4 feet of fresh snow in parts of the Sierra Nevada over the weekend. From the San Francisco Bay Area to Southern California, between 1 inch and 4 inches of rain fell in many areas. Some parts of the hills and mountains received up to 7 inches of rain over two days, sending water rushing in creeks. … ” Read more from the LA Times here: Storm blankets Sierra Nevada in heavy snow, brings rain across California
Drought-ravaged L.A. seeks surprising source of water: A contaminated Superfund site
“As drought and climate change ravage California’s once-reliable supply of drinking water, officials in Los Angeles are setting their sights on a relatively new, almost untapped resource for the city’s 4 million residents: the Superfund site in their own backyard. Nearly 70% of the city’s 115 wells in the San Fernando Valley groundwater basin — the largest such basin under the purview of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power — have been sitting unused for decades after dangerous contaminants seeped into the aquifer. Now, the city is nearing the completion of a massive, $600-million plan to bring that resource back online. … ” Read more from the LA Times here: Drought-ravaged L.A. seeks surprising source of water: A contaminated Superfund site
SCV Water plans to approve application for funding at upcoming meeting
“Starting at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, SCV Water’s Water Resources and Watershed Committee is set to hold a meeting that is open to the public, where they plan to approve the submission of an application for funding from the California Department of Water Resources. If the move is approved, the agency would be able to apply for the Department of Water Resources Proposition 1 Round 2 Implementation Grant. Through the grant, SCV Water would request over $3 million that would then be used to improve water self-reliance for Santa Clarita and adapt to the effects of climate change on the water supply, according to SCV Water. … ” Read more from KHTS here: SCV Water plans to approve application for funding at upcoming meeting
Cadiz to buy filter-producing firm
“Downtown-based water infrastructure company Cadiz Inc. has agreed to acquire Hollister-based ATEC Systems Inc., a provider of groundwater filtration systems. Financial terms of the deal, announced on Oct. 25, were not disclosed. Separately, on Nov. 10, Cadiz announced it had entered into an agreement for the direct placement of 5 million shares in the company — equivalent to about $10 million. Cadiz’s main project has been the attempt to transfer water stored in an aquifer under land it owns in the middle of the Mojave Desert to water districts, primarily in Southern California. That project has been tied up in litigation, environmental and permit hurdles for the last quarter century. … ” Read more from the LA Business Journal here: Cadiz to buy filter-producing firm
Commentary: We Imperial Valley residents were not given time to discuss the Salton Sea water deal
John Hernandez, a Brawley resident and executive director of Our Roots Multicultural Center, writes, “Seems like most people are falling all over themselves celebrating the “historic” deal between the Imperial Irrigation District, Coachella Valley Water District, the U.S. Department of Interior (Bureau of Reclamation), and the California Natural Resources Agency that will supposedly bring up to a quarter-billion dollars to the Salton Sea for restoration projects. I certainly understand the need to conserve water and help bolster the elevation at Lake Mead to try to restore some kind of balance to the Colorado River, but at what cost to the people of the Imperial Valley? The Imperial Valley is giving up 1 million acre-feet of water over four years for maybe $250 million and that just doesn’t seem like an even trade off; it feels like a bad deal—like my friends over at Comite Civico del Valle so aptly put it—“half-baked.” … ” Read more from the Imperial Valley here: We Imperial Valley residents were not given time to discuss the Salton Sea water deal
Inside the abandoned yacht club of the Salton Sea
“If the sun hits it just right, it looks like the ocean. Pelicans fly overhead, gently cawing and circling the horizon. The skies are a flat, dull blue. But once you walk along its spectral shoreline and feel the grit of translucent fish bones beneath your feet, you realize this cancerous body of water is anything but ordinary. Spanning about 343 square miles and referred to as “an environmental catastrophe” by water experts, the Salton Sea is in a perpetual state of decay due to the 4 million tons of salt from agricultural runoff that flow into it each year. It’s a “terminal sea,” meaning that it has no outflow, and it has become a noxious brew that’s caused mass bird and fish die-offs over the years. But before its fabled toxicity took hold, the Salton Sea was once a popular resort destination. It’s an unlikely icon, one that’s been featured in hundreds of films over the decades. Growing up in the confines of the suburban, sun-scorched Coachella Valley, I was always drawn to its dying waters. … ” Read more from SF Gate here: Inside the abandoned yacht club of the Salton Sea
La Jolla Hermosa Park storm drain is repaired after years of flooding and erosion
“Like a dripping faucet — or in this case, a blocked storm drain — problems at La Jolla Hermosa Park have been steady and irritating to neighbors. In recent years, flooding and worsening erosion of the bluff edge have limited access and caused damage due to a blocked storm drain that caused water to run off into other areas of the park. But more recently, crews from the city of San Diego have been making repairs to the storm drain so it flows properly and the park can be entirely reopened to users. Work included clearing and trimming encroaching vegetation and removing sediment and a “significant amount of debris in and along the channel” and near the southwest corner of the park, according to area resident Barbara Dunbar, who filed a report almost two years ago alerting the city to the problems. Work was completed Dec. 2. ... ” Read more from the La Jolla Light here: La Jolla Hermosa Park storm drain is repaired after years of flooding and erosion
Bureau of Reclamation to temporarily reduce releases from Davis Dam
“The Bureau of Reclamation will reduce water releases from Davis Dam this week. Releases at the dam will slow to approximately 2,200 cubic feet per second from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and again from Dec. 20 through 22. Officials say the reduced flows come from a request from Bullhead City and Laughlin. It’s part of an ongoing caddyfish abatement study being conducted to combat the species. … ” Read more from KNAU here: Bureau of Reclamation to temporarily reduce releases from Davis Dam
Flood irrigation uses Great Salt Lake water. It could also save its ecosystem.
“Adrian Hunolt and his family run a cattle ranch on 8,500 acres along a bend in the Bear River, just a few miles from its headwaters in the Uinta Mountains. The river is the imperiled Great Salt Lake’s largest and most important tributary, and Hunolt says he feels a connection to both. “We are contributing,” Hunolt said. “We are part of the watershed.” The Bear has a long journey as it travels from Hunolt’s land to its outlet in Utah’s inland sea. It weaves around the Wyoming-Utah border before crossing north into Idaho. There, it’s moved out of its natural channel, dumped into Bear Lake, then pumped out of the lake back to its normal course. It then arcs south back to Utah, and ultimately flows to the Great Salt Lake. The river runs more than 500 miles – it’s the largest stream in North America with no outlet to an ocean. But as the crow flies, the Great Salt Lake is only about 90 miles from where Hunolt stands. “We get all kinds of cool, funky birds that come through here in the spring,” on their way to the lake, he said. … ” Read more from the Salt Lake Tribune here: Flood irrigation uses Great Salt Lake water. It could also save its ecosystem.
The time is right to ban uranium mining in the Grand Canyon. But the Senate needs to hurry.
“A deadline is looming for the Senate to take action to stop a uranium mine just 10 miles south of the Grand Canyon, conservation experts and Indigenous tribal leaders warned this week. The project, the Pinyon Plain Mine, has been dormant for 30 years, but is expected to resume operations in early 2023, posing a threat to nearby ecosystems and communities. The Senate has until January 3 to vote on the Grand Canyon Protection Act, a bill that would make a 20-year moratorium on new uranium mines near the Grand Canyon permanent, saving more than 1 million acres of public lands from development. The act has already been passed twice by the House of Representatives, and would need a two-thirds vote in the Senate to become law. … ” Continue reading at Grist here: The time is right to ban uranium mining in the Grand Canyon. But the Senate needs to hurry.
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.