DAILY DIGEST, 2/8: CA’s storms left behind a ‘generational snowpack.’; Storms could supercharge wildfire season; Dan Walters: Western states play game of chicken over Colorado River; Reclamation faces Solomonic choice in picking plan to save Colorado; and more …
GRA SACTO BRANCH: Risks of Microplastics in Freshwater Systems from 12pm to 1pm. Plastic debris in the environment are found within freshwater lakes, rivers, streams and groundwater where sedimentation can occur or transport to the marine environment. Plastic waste in aqueous environments has the potential to undergo abiotic and biotic weathering that will cause fragmentation to the polymer result in the release of microplastics and hazardous polymer associated chemicals. Polymer associated chemicals are not physically bound to the polymer and can be released into aqueous environments. Thus, plastic pollution introduces a risk of harm to marine and freshwater organisms via leaching and ingestion of microplastics that will result in exposure to hazardous chemicals. It is important to fully characterize these processes to determine the environmental fate and risks of microplastics in freshwater systems. Click here for more information and to register.
WORKSHOP: Draft Guidelines For Expedited Drinking Water Grant Funding Program from 2pm to 4pm in Visalia. The workshops will include a presentation about the Draft Guidelines as well as the opportunity for participants to provide oral comments. Click here for the full public notice.
HYBRID EVENT: Delta Restoration Forum from 3pm to 6pm. The first Delta Restoration Forum will bring together groups working on and impacted by ecosystem restoration in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and Suisun Marsh. For both in-person and virtual participants, presenters will share updates on progress towards recently adopted restoration targets in the Delta Plan, followed by an interactive listening session to hear from participants on the future of restoration in the region. The Forum will conclude with an open house and meet-and-greet in which agencies, organizations, and individuals will be available to discuss restoration-related programs, projects, and funding opportunities in the Delta and Suisun Marsh. Register to attend in person. Register to attend virtually.
EVENT: The Klamath River, Climate Change, and the World’s Largest Dam Removal from 4pm to 5:30pm at UC Davis. The recent decision by federal regulators allowing the removal of four dams along the Klamath River has been hailed as a victory by Indigenous Peoples and environmental groups. The long-awaited approval allows the largest dam removal project in the world to move forward and caps decades of contention surrounding use of the Klamath River. Please join the UC Davis Institute of the Environment as we host a distinguished panel of experts to discuss the cultural significance of the dam removal, the future of the river, and how climate change may impact the river and its fishes. Click here to register.
In California water news today …
California storms left behind a ‘generational snowpack.’ What that means.
“California’s mountain snowpack is the largest it’s been in decades, thanks to a barrage of atmospheric rivers in late December into January. The snow is a boon for the state’s water supply but could also pose a flood risk as the season progresses. Measurements completed last week show that Sierra Nevada snow water content is rivaling or outpacing the 1982-83 season, the biggest snow year in the past 40 years. Up to two feet of additional snow fell on the region this weekend. “[It’s] fair to say this is a ‘generational snowpack,’ as many of the younger folks haven’t seen snow like this before, or if so, not in a long time,” Benjamin Hatchett wrote in an email. He is an assistant professor of atmospheric science at the Desert Research Institute in Reno. … ” Read more from the Washington Post here: California storms left behind a ‘generational snowpack.’ What that means.
How winter’s atmospheric river storms could supercharge California’s wildfire season
“Most people probably thought the danger from the parade of deadly atmospheric river storms that have ravaged California this winter passed after the floodwater receded, but experts said the danger will actually continue through the fire season. An atmospheric river is a narrow corridor of concentrated water vapor in the sky. One can carry as much water as 7 to 15 Mississippi Rivers from the tropics to the West Coast, according to the USGS. Storms powered by the atmospheric rivers drop excessive amounts of rain and snow compared to an average storm. … Read more from Fox Weather here: How winter’s atmospheric river storms could supercharge California’s wildfire season
California, western drought status: Snowpack, reservoir levels improved, but more needed
“A wetter winter with ample snowpack is a hopeful sign for some drought relief in the West, including California, but it won’t make a significant difference for the Colorado River Valley’s 20-plus-year long drought. Let’s explore each of the factors water managers in the West are watching closely, beginning with the hopeful signs. As of Feb. 6, the water content of the snowpack was at least 50 percent above average from Utah and northern Arizona to Nevada and most of California’s Sierra, according to data from the National Resources Conservation Service’s SNOTEL network. In some of these areas, the snowpack was at record early-February levels, in records dating as far back as the late 1970s. … ” Read more from The Weather Channel here: California, western drought status: Snowpack, reservoir levels improved, but more needed
Breaking new ground in California’s mountain meadows
“Imagine leaving the Bay Area heading east, cruising past the urban and suburban sprawl, and starting to climb through the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. As you curve along the two-lane highways that bisect the wilderness, Ponderosa pine and Douglas fir shield your view. Great mountains carpeted with evergreens and granite caps loom above the horizon. Hidden within the trees and peaks lie the mountain meadows of California. If you pay a visit to one of California’s high-elevation mountain meadows, you might hear an unusual sound. Not just the trilling of an alpine bird or the rustle of wind through the pine needles, but the mechanical hum of heavy machinery. Don’t worry! All is going according to plan. American Rivers, alongside a range of devoted partners, were restoring four mountain meadows this summer. These meadows are critical to the hydrology of the landscape and provide a unique home to native plant and animal species, anchoring soil and storing groundwater. … ” Read more from American Rivers here: Breaking new ground in California’s mountain meadows
In a dramatic spike, 36.3 million trees died in California last year. Drought, disease blamed
“Roughly 36.3 million dead trees were counted across California in 2022, a dramatic increase from previous years that experts are blaming on drought, insects and disease, according to a report by the U.S. Forest Service. The same survey for 2021 counted 9.5 million dead trees in the state, but the effects of last year’s dramatic die-off are more severe and spread across a wider range, according to the report released Tuesday. The aerial report paints a bleak picture of a state ravaged by drought, disease and insects that feed and nest in thirsty trees. From mid-July to early October, researchers surveyed nearly 40 million acres, including federal, state and private land. They found dead trees spread across 2.6 million acres. … ” Read more from the LA Times here: In a dramatic spike, 36.3 million trees died in California last year. Drought, disease blamed | Read via AOL News
Feinstein, Padilla, Levin to Reclamation: Lift cap on federal funding for desalination projects
“Senator Dianne Feinstein, Senator Alex Padilla and Congressman Mike Levin (all D-Calif.) yesterday called on the Bureau of Reclamation to incentivize regional desalination projects by lifting the $30 million per-project cap. Lifting the cap would allow the bureau to better utilize the $250 million in the bipartisan infrastructure bill for desalination projects, providing up to 25 percent of the cost for these projects. “Congress and the Biden Administration have made historic federal investments in critical infrastructure projects and desalination projects during the past two years,” the lawmakers wrote. “However, federal funding for projects like the broadly supported Doheny Desalination Project have been administratively capped at $30 million. This project funding cap disincentivizes regional cooperation projects that cost more than $120 million by providing a lower federal cost share than the statutory 25 percent rate. We urge you to waive the $30 million per-project cap, which would affirmatively incentivize regional projects, delivering more affordable water at a lower unit cost and providing regional solutions to drought challenges.” Full text of the letter is available here.
Editorial: Delta tunnel was a bad idea 60 years ago. It’s still a bad idea. Here’s why
The Modesto Bee editorial board writes, “With the latest Delta tunnel proposal nearing the end of another review phase, it seems a good time to restate The Modesto Bee’s longstanding resistance. The tunnel project was a very bad idea when earlier versions were floated over the past six decades. It remains a bad idea today, particularly here in the Northern San Joaquin Valley, for reasons of social justice and economic survival. It’s not hard to see why most California governors since Pat Brown, who was elected in 1959, have schemed to send tons of Northern California river water to the Silicon Valley and Southern California. Those places need more water, and they have lots of money and political influence. If you were governor, you would be tempted to do the same. But do the wealthy and powerful get everything they want? Not so far. ... ” Read more from the Modesto Bee here: Editorial: Delta tunnel was a bad idea 60 years ago. It’s still a bad idea. Here’s why
Patchwork fixes can’t hold water or serve our state
Justin Fredrickson, a water and environmental policy analyst for the California Farm Bureau, writes, “To weather extended and intensifying droughts we have experienced, and that we know are likely just around the bend again, we need to seriously bulk up our capacity to better handle the periodic abundance of intense rainfall, such as last month’s storms. Updating infrastructure to capture and store excess flows is essential to long-term system resiliency. This can occur through wise land stewardship and regional projects along the way before fast-moving water gets to the bottom of the conveyance system. One major reality, though, is that the big events in California are so flashy, and generate such vast amounts of runoff in so short a time, that the enormous bathtub formed by mountains girding California’s Central Valley inevitably just funnels uncaptured flows through the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and into the Pacific Ocean. … ” Read more from Ag Alert here: Patchwork fixes can’t hold water or serve our state
Dan Walters: Western states play game of chicken over Colorado River
“You would have to be at least a septuagenarian to remember “Rebel Without a Cause,” a 1955 movie that starred James Dean and depicted the lives of aimless teenagers. The film’s most memorable scene was a game of chicken in which two boys raced cars side by side toward a cliff and the first one to bail out was the loser. The “winner,” however, died when his car hurtled over the cliff. Ever since, the term has been applied to other high-stakes confrontations and it’s an apt description of a conflict between California and the six other states that draw water from the Colorado River. … ” Continue reading at Cal Matters here: Dan Walters: Western states play game of chicken over Colorado River
Michael Hiltzik: The fight over the Colorado River is a 100-year-old interstate grudge match
“Arizona was girding for war with California over the Colorado River. The year was 1934 and the place was the construction site of Parker Dam, downstream from the nearly completed Hoover Dam. Arizona Gov. Benjamin Baker Moeur, irked that a federally approved interstate compact had awarded California more water from the Colorado than he thought it deserved, dispatched a squad of National Guard troops to the river on a ferryboat to block the new dam’s construction. The ferryboat Julia B., derisively dubbed the “flagship” of the “Arizona Navy” by a Times war correspondent assigned to cover the skirmish, promptly ran aground on a sandbar. After Interior Secretary Harold Ickes imposed a truce between the two states, the guardsmen returned home from the war zone to be hailed as “conquering heroes.” This encounter, bristling with Gilbert & Sullivan absurdity, only hints at the bitter animosities among the seven states of the Colorado River Basin that have simmered since they reached a compact — essentially an interstate treaty — apportioning the waters of the river in 1922. … ” Continue reading at the LA Times here: Michael Hiltzik: The fight over the Colorado River is a 100-year-old interstate grudge match | Read via AOL News
Water, water, everywhere—Yet California can’t seem to get a drink
David Nabhan, science columnist for Newsmax and The Times of Israel, writes, “Recent storms dumping massive amounts of rainwater on California remind that in the average year some 200 million acre-feet falls on California every year. In a state struggling with drought now for the last two decades—and its effect in Mendocino County sufficient to merit articles from the Washington Post to the Guardian in London—it’s inexcusable that 80% of that rainwater is allowed to make its way to the Pacific Ocean where it’s lost. That certainly need not be the case, since even ancient peoples throughout history, from Nazca in the Peruvian desert to Petra in Jordan, have been adept enough to accomplish the basics, capturing their life-giving precipitation rather than permit it to be wasted. California, the epicenter of uber-advanced technology, is hardly setting the standard for intelligent water management, failing even in comparison to Roman civil engineers of two thousand years ago. … ” Read more from the Lake County Record-Bee here: Water, water, everywhere—Yet California can’t seem to get a drink
MEETING: Delta Council told current pace of habitat restoration in the Delta unlikely to meet state’s ambitious goals for decades
Habitat restoration projects in the Delta have become increasingly important as our understanding of their role in supporting native aquatic and providing flood protection deepens. As such, several state agencies and initiatives have set goals for restoration in the Delta, such as the Central Valley Flood Protection Plan, the 30×30 initiative, and the voluntary agreements.
In particular, the Delta Stewardship Council’s Delta Plan sets a goal of 60,000 – 80,000 acres of diverse habitats in the Delta, which, if completed, would be over 100 square miles. However, if the current pace of restoration continues, it will be decades before this goal can be achieved, Steve Rothert, Chief of the Division of Multi-Benefit Initiatives for the Department of Water Resources (DWR), told the Delta Stewardship Council at their January meeting.
Federal actions on water frustrate Klamath farmers
“A decades-long tussle over water continues at the California-Oregon border, as irrigators of the federal Klamath Water Project say they find themselves hamstrung again by environmental regulations and operating procedures prioritizing protected fish over the needs of agriculture—the economic engine for local communities. “There are thousands of acres of some of the best farmland in the world out here, and much of the project is dry,” said Tulelake farmer Ben DuVal, president of the Klamath Water Users Association, which represents Klamath Water Project irrigators. “Fields haven’t been irrigated in three years, and dry fields mean farms do not have income, and it means a loss of income for everybody.” … ” Read more from Ag Alert here: Federal actions on water frustrate Klamath farmers
Oregon can’t keep feds from releasing Klamath water
“A California federal court barred the Oregon Water Resources Department from enforcing its order prohibiting the Bureau of Reclamation from releasing water from Upper Klamath Lake, as the order is preempted by the Endangered Species Act because it is an “obstacle” to the law’s goals. The bureau may release water in response to drought conditions.” Read via the Courthouse News here: Oregon can’t keep feds from releasing Klamath water
Ukiah to expand recycled water project, offset a whopping 50% of water use by treating wastewater
“The city of Ukiah has received a $53.7 million grant to expand its water recycling project across multiple schools and parks, enabling the city to offset 50% of its average water use with treated wastewater by fall of 2024. Ukiah’s program falls under an overall goal by the State Water Resources Control Board to increase California’s use of recycled water, which according to the Volumetric Annual Report of Wastewater and Recycled Water stood at 731,586 acre-feet per year (afy) in 2021. Ukiah’s multimillion dollar grant and others like it aim to support dramatic capacity increases, with a goal of reaching 2.5 million afy of recycled water by 2030. ... ” Read more from the Mendocino Voice here: Ukiah to expand recycled water project, offset a whopping 50% of water use by treating wastewater
Supervisors vote unanimously to declare emergency for Clear Lake hitch
“After two meetings and nine hours of hearings and public testimony, the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday evening voted unanimously to declare an emergency in an effort to save the Clear Lake hitch — a fish at the heart of Pomo culture — from extinction. The board’s proclamation of a local emergency, which can be read in its entirety below, cites drought and habitat loss as factors in the potential extinction of the hitch, known to the Pomo as the chi. The hitch is a native minnow that lives up to seven years, spawns in creeks and then makes its way to Clear Lake. Supervisor Moke Simon, a member of the Middletown Rancheria, fished for them with his family and tribe growing up, and on Tuesday recalled seeing the creeks run black with the fish. However,on Tuesday and on Jan. 24 — the meeting when the matter was first discussed — testimony from scientists and tribal members pointed out that the hitch’s numbers are in free fall. … ” Read more from the Lake County News here: Supervisors vote unanimously to declare emergency for Clear Lake hitch
More than 150 years later the hunt for gold is still on in NorCal. Winter storms bring a new fever
“The recent heavy rains in the Sacramento Valley created flooding in many of the streams and rivers. It also pushed gold from the mountains down into the valley, leading to a bit of a gold rush. Nestled along the south fork of the American River is a place where the name speaks for itself. Marshall Gold Discovery State Park in Coloma is a spot rich in history. The first nugget was discovered there in 1848. More than 150 years later, that fever is still being felt. Ed Allen is the park’s historian. He said he’s “always looking” for gold. At 75 years old, he’s still giving tours to those who want to learn more about the gold rush. … ” Read more from KCRA Channel 3 here: More than 150 years later the hunt for gold is still on in NorCal. Winter storms bring a new fever
Yuba Water Board receives update on flood risk reduction efforts, approves funding for levee work and more
“Today, Yuba Water Agency’s Board of Directors received an in-depth update on the agency’s current and planned flood risk reduction projects and approved funding for additional flood risk reduction and water supply reliability efforts in Yuba County. “Thanks to the actions of this agency and our local partners, Yuba County is now home to some of the most modern levees in the entire Central Valley,” said Ryan McNally, Yuba Water’s director of water resources and flood risk reduction. “But there is still much more work to do. We are very prone to extreme weather events here and expect even more extremes in the future.” McNally detailed more than a dozen major projects completed over the last decade, thanks to significant coordination and funding from Yuba Water and its partners, including improvements to a recently-completed setback levee on the Bear River in Reclamation District 817’s territory, which includes parts of Wheatland. … ” Read more from the Yuba Water Agency here: Yuba Water Board receives update on flood risk reduction efforts, approves funding for levee work and more
San Ramon, Danville among plaintiffs in new lawsuit against Monsanto over contaminants
“The San Ramon Valley municipalities, along with more than a dozen others in Contra Costa County, are seeking damages against Monsanto for alleged contamination of the San Francisco Bay along with portions of the western Sacramento River Delta starting nearly a century ago. Danville and San Ramon have joined with Concord, Pleasant Hill, Moraga, Pinole, Brentwood, Clayton, Oakley, Hercules, Martinez, Lafayette, Orinda, Pittsburg, Lafayette, Richmond, San Pablo and the county government this winter in suing Monsanto and its two associated companies, which are facing public nuisance, private nuisance and trespassing allegations in the civil case. … ” Read more from Danville San Ramon here: San Ramon, Danville among plaintiffs in new lawsuit against Monsanto over contaminants
How clean is Silicon Valley’s drinking water?
“It’s been more than two decades since the movie “Erin Brockovich” brought the real-life issue of contaminated drinking water in a small Southern California town to a mass audience. But the harmful compound at the heart of the film, Chromium-6, is still present in much of the drinking water around the state, including in the South Bay. State water officials are about one year away from possibly enacting a new standard to limit how much Chromium-6 is allowed in drinking water, a purity standard that many South Bay water agencies already meet. Some advocates say the proposed rules don’t go far enough to protect public health, while state water officials say the regulations must also consider the higher costs some water agencies and consumers would face if standards become more stringent. ... ” Read more from the San Jose Spotlight here: How clean is Silicon Valley’s drinking water?
The Salinas River and the foretold flood
“On the surface, the Salinas River, which courses through the agricultural heart of California’s Central Coast, seems more like an ex-river. Even after major winter storms, it is rarely more than a creek. In Paso Robles, California, an old Spanish outpost that has since become a wine-growing mecca, the mostly dry riverbed cuts through an unprepossessing stretch of land surrounded by heaps of garbage and makeshift structures built by the city’s growing unhoused population. And yet a closer look reveals signs of flood— scoured river stones, logs rolled smooth and clamshell fossils embedded in limestone from the uplands of the Temblor and Coast ranges. Only a river capable of occasional ferocity could have created this underlying landscape. This winter, the Salinas reminded us of that fury. … ” Read more from High Country News here: The Salinas River and the foretold flood
UC Santa Barbara: ‘Bringing Back Our Wetland’ – The story of restoring the North Campus Open Space documented in film
“Fifty years after the upper Devereux Slough in Goleta was filled with topsoil to make way for a golf course, UC Santa Barbara embarked on a massive environmental undertaking: restore these wetlands to their natural state. The project took nearly a decade to complete, officially marked as finished in the spring of 2022. From groundbreaking to grand opening, a film crew captured it all on camera. And now the resulting documentary is ready for its premier at the 2023 Santa Barbara International Film Festival, which runs Feb. 8–18. … ” Read more from UC Santa Barbara here: UC Santa Barbara: ‘Bringing Back Our Wetland’ – The story of restoring the North Campus Open Space documented in film
Farming interests settle litigation with Ventura County over 2040 General Plan
“Agricultural interests that sued Ventura County government over its 2040 General Plan have settled the case and are withdrawing their lawsuit, officials announced Tuesday. The deal required the Board of Supervisors’ approval of a resolution clarifying the county’s position on 15 policies and programs contained in the general plan that was narrowly adopted in 2020. The board affirmed that the measures were goals, but not required under the resolution passed unanimously Tuesday. The measures call for changes intended to protect the environment, save energy and slow climate change. ... ” Read more from the Ventura County Star here: Farming interests settle litigation with Ventura County over 2040 General Plan
Camarillo desalting facility delivers to residents
“The City of Camarillo’s largest capital improvement project, the North Pleasant Valley Groundwater Desalter, received a permit to operate from the State Division of Drinking Water and is now delivering high-quality water to City water customers. “THE commitment and persistence of so many individuals and agencies has taken this remarkable project from a conceptual idea to the reality that it is today,” said City Manager Greg Ramirez. “What a monumental achievement for Camarillo.” At present, the Desalter is blending one million gallons of water per day with the City’s other sources of groundwater and imported water. Over the next two months, production will steadily increase to reach the Desalter’s full capacity of nearly four million gallons per day. ... ” Read more from the Tri-County Sentry here: Camarillo desalting facility delivers to residents
SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY
Manteca: Breitenbucher pushes for better water use
“The series of storms in the past six weeks may help bring California close to breaking the back of the current drought, but Councilman Dave Breitenbucher believes Manteca would be jeopardizing its future if the city doesn’t step up efforts to make sure water is used wisely. “All in all, we’re doing OK right now,” Breitenbucher indicated during the council comments portion of Tuesday’s meeting. That said, he noted a number of city residents — such as those advocating no front lawns allowed for any new construction — still have legitimate concerns about the prudent use of water supplies. … ” Read more from the Manteca Bulletin here: Manteca: Breitenbucher pushes for better water use
Winery’s wastewater dump in the Merced was bad for fish, and the bottom line
“Modesto-based E. & J. Gallo Winery, which produces the popular Barefoot and Apothic wines, among many others, will pay a fine of nearly $380,000 for discharging more than 90,000 gallons of wastewater into the Merced River last summer. The discharge, a mix of wastewater and irrigation-well water, was reported to the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board on Aug. 9. The board investigated the discharge and found that the water had “elevated levels of potassium, organic matter and salinity” that could threaten the health of fish and other life in the river. ... ” Read more from the LA Times here: Winery’s wastewater dump in the Merced was bad for fish, and the bottom line
A world-class system: O.C.’s Groundwater Replenishment System
“Orange County is home to the world’s largest water purification system for indirect potable reuse—and it’s only getting bigger. The Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS), a joint project between Orange County Water District and Orange County Sanitation District, just finished its final expansion. We spoke to OCWD General Manager Mike Markus and the group’s recent president, Steve Sheldon, to learn more about this revolutionary facility. … ” Continue reading at the Orange Coast Magazine here: A world-class system: O.C.’s Groundwater Replenishment System
Imperial Irrigation District partners with Mexican Consulate to improve canal safety
“The Consulate of Mexico in Calexico hosted a presentation Thursday, February 2 announcing a collaborative effort with the Imperial Irrigation District (IID) to raise awareness about the risk of the All-American Canal involving undocumented and illegal border crossings. IID General Manager Henry Martinez opened by welcoming all in attendance and introducing dignitaries. “This is a partnership between Imperial Irrigation District, Consulate of Mexico in Calexico, Border Patrol and the Bureau of Reclamation to enhance safety measures along the All American Canal as well as to heighten public awareness in an effort to reduce the risk of drownings that we find in our area,” said Martinez. … ” Read more from the Desert Review here: Imperial Irrigation District partners with Mexican Consulate to improve canal safety
“Cross-border infrastructure and environmental conservation topped the itinerary during U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Ken Salazar’s visit to the Imperial and Mexicali valleys on Friday, Feb. 3. Salazar started his visit with a tour of the Calexico West and Mexicali I ports of entry with Baja California Governor Marina del Pilar Avila, according to a U.S. State Department press release. The pair discussed infrastructure upgrades that are aimed at enhancing economic development, security, migration, and the environment on both sides of the border. … Salazar then traveled to the Laguna Grande to observe the transformational impact of collaborative efforts to restore ecosystems along the Colorado River channel. ... ” Read more from the Calexico Chronicle here: Ambassador Salazar visits Imperial, Mexicali Valleys
New mayor, new funding to deal with water pollution at Imperial Beach
“For more than a decade Imperial Beach has been contaminated with bacteria flowing in from Mexico. “I don’t feel safe letting my kids go into the water because it’s all polluted, and it’s sad,” said Carla Diaz, a former Imperial Beach resident. The city says the beach area near the pier was closed for around 50% of last year. Areas further South were closed for 100%. “There’s nothing more frustrating for us not to use our ocean right across the street,” said Mayor Paloma Aguirre. Imperial Beach’s new mayor has worked to fix this for over a decade. … ” Continue reading at Channel 10 here: New mayor, new funding to deal with water pollution at Imperial Beach
California plays ‘hardball’ with Colorado River states over cutbacks
“A multistate quest to protect a dwindling Colorado River has devolved into a high-stakes battle pitting California against its neighbors. At odds are two dueling proposals as to how seven states should apportion critical consumption cuts that could help save the lifeblood of the Western United States. Despite engaging in months of negotiations, the states failed to produce a unified agreement by the Jan. 31 deadline stipulated by the Federal Bureau of Reclamation. Instead, they offered two competing proposals: one from California and one from the six other basin states. “There need to be some long-term solutions here to reduce water supply, and there’s a lot of money to do it,” David Hayes, a former climate policy adviser to President Biden, told The Hill. … ” Read more from The Hill here: California plays ‘hardball’ with Colorado River states over cutbacks
Bureau of Reclamation faces Solomonic choice in picking plan to save Colorado
“As the federal government — and the states that rely on the river — scramble to save the river system that has fueled growth in the West, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation faces something of a Solomonic choice: Pick California’s proposal, based on the “law of the river” that puts primacy on senior water rights, and Arizona and Nevada would take the brunt of water cuts. Pick the six-state proposal, and California could sue. In fact, either plan, both submitted last week, could lead to lawsuits that drag on for years, leaving the river, and the 40 million people who rely on it, in worse shape than it is now, according to several experts. ... ” Read more from the Gazette here: Bureau of Reclamation faces Solomonic choice in picking plan to save Colorado
Senators form bipartisan Colorado River caucus as tensions rise in West over water crisis
“As the Colorado River sinks further into crisis and tensions rise between Western states over how to divvy up painful water cuts, a bipartisan group of senators are formalizing a new caucus to examine how Washington could help. What began as an informal group convened by Democratic Sen. John Hickenlooper of Colorado has grown to a council of senators that represent seven Colorado River basin states – Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Arizona, California and Nevada, according to Hickenlooper’s office. Details of the group were shared first with CNN. What to do about the shrinking Colorado River and in the vanishing water in America’s largest reservoirs, Lake Mead and Lake Powell, has quickly become the most pressing issue for these Western senators. The river’s water sustains 40 million people, some of the West’s biggest cities and major agricultural hubs. … ” Read more from CNN here: Senators form bipartisan Colorado River caucus as tensions rise in West over water crisis
Arizona: With no Colorado River water, some Pinal farmers drill wells. For others, fields sit dry
“Last year, Pinal County farmers received 87% less water than the year before through the Central Arizona Project Canal, the 336-mile-long concrete channel that delivers Colorado River water across three counties. The multi-state Drought Contingency Plan mandated cuts in an attempt to keep the river flowing past the dams and Pinal County growers absorbed the deepest losses. On the first day of 2023, as Tier 2A shortages went into effect, they lost all CAP water. Agriculture in the county, which is a top nationwide producer of many commodities, moves a $2.3 billion economy yearly, according to a 2018 study. Growers will have to find alternative sources of water and change the way they farm to keep that wheel spinning. … ” Read more from the Arizona Republic here: Arizona: With no Colorado River water, some Pinal farmers drill wells. For others, fields sit dry
Arizona House committee supports bill to bring water to community going dry
“Help might soon be on the way for Arizona’s Rio Verde Foothills community. The Arizona House natural resources, energy and water committee cleared a bill that would force Scottsdale to provide water to Rio Verde Foothills until Jan. 1, 2026. The more than 1,000-person community north of Scottsdale has been without a reliable water source since it was cut off from Scottsdale city water on Jan. 1. The private water company EPCOR is working with the Arizona Corporation Commission on a long-term solution, but action needs to be taken in the meantime. “Summer is coming, said Christy Jackman, a 13-year Foothills resident. “There are animals that will die. There are people that won’t have enough water to drink, cook or clean themselves.” … ” Read more from the Courthouse News Service here: Arizona House committee supports bill to bring water to community going dry
Wet La Niña winter likely to bring more water into Lake Powell
“One of the Colorado River’s two major reservoirs is expected to collect better than average runoff this year, thanks to an unusually wet La Niña pattern that dropped a deluge of snow up and down the basin. Lake Powell, the nation’s second largest reservoir that sits on the border of Utah and Arizona, is expected to receive 117 percent of its average inflows as the heavy snowpack melts in the western Rockies during the all-important April through July time frame, said Cody Mosier, a hydrologist with the Colorado Basin River Forecast Center. That’s a welcome forecast for the river system that has seen its water supplies shrivel amid more than two decades of chronic drought and persistent overuse, and is a far cry from the gloomier forecasts that came ahead of the snow season that showed projected inflows into the reservoir below 80 percent of normal. … ” Read more from the Las Vegas Review Journal here: Wet La Niña winter likely to bring more water into Lake Powell
In drought-stricken states, fossil fuel production jeopardizes limited water supplies
“Fossil fuels are primarily notorious for the carbon emissions and air pollution they release when burned. But production of oil and gas in the United States can also take a toll on the nation’s water resources, posing risks to dwindling supplies in drought-stricken states. This is thanks to the large quantities of water used in some oil and gas production processes, the pollution threats they pose to nearby water sources and those carbon emissions, which contribute to climate change and thereby further exacerbate drought and aridification. “Fracking and drilling contribute to climate change and suck up finite water resources, then drought and wildfires worsen from climate change,” summarizes a recent report from the nongovernmental organization Food and Water Watch. “At the same time, oil and gas development pollutes and threatens California’s finite freshwater resources.” ... ” Read more from The Hill here: In drought-stricken states, fossil fuel production jeopardizes limited water supplies
Exposing a new threat to our water: hydrogen power
“Our water supply faces threats on multiple fronts, from greedy corporate giants, to climate change-fuelled natural disasters. But a new threat looms on the horizon, boosted by billions in federal dollars: hydrogen power. The hype around hydrogen is gaining steam. Proponents tout it as the clean energy of the future. But hydrogen entrenches fossil fuel use and infrastructure, as well as the resulting pollution in frontline communities. Just as outrageous — it devours everything from electricity, to tax dollars, and even water, that essential ingredient to all life. Food & Water Watch’s new research finds just how thirsty hydrogen is. Moreover, it shows that we can’t afford to waste so much water on a hydrogen buildout, especially given our current water crises. … ” Read more from Food & Water Watch here: Exposing a new threat to our water: hydrogen power
EPA must update ship ballast water dumping rules, lawsuit says
“The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency missed deadlines to update pollution standards for ballast discharges from ships, according to a lawsuit filed by environmental groups claiming the government’s inaction is threatening American waters. Friends of the Earth and the Center for Biological Diversity said in a lawsuit filed in federal court in San Francisco on Monday that the EPA was more than two years late in developing new standards for ship pollution as mandated by Congress. A 2018 amendment to the Clean Water Act required the agency by 2020’s end to develop new standards that could incorporate new technologies to protect against invasive species and human pathogens being dumped into U.S. waterways, the lawsuit said. … ” Continue reading from Reuters here: EPA must update ship ballast water dumping rules, lawsuit says
Want people to use less water? Tell them it’s going to cost more
“When people hear that their water is going to cost more, they start to use less of it. That seemingly obvious finding comes from a new study led by researchers at the National University of Singapore and published this week in Nature. But the researchers also stumbled across an interesting nuance: The announcement of a water price hike, more than the increase itself, can have a bigger impact on consumption. The conclusion points to the need for effective policy communication when it comes to water-conservation efforts. “People do respond to the price change, and people also respond to the information of the price,” says Mingxuan Fan, a co-author of the report and a visiting assistant professor at the National University of Singapore Business School. “You can actually use pricing as part of your water conservation tool. It is effective, and it will be even more effective if you communicate it correctly.” … ” Read more from PhysOrg here: Want people to use less water? Tell them it’s going to cost more
No, the ‘Super Bowl flush’ hasn’t caused problems for sewer systems
“Given the game, the commercials and the halftime show are all spectacles, it can be hard to find a good time to peel away from the TV screen during the Super Bowl. Many Americans, according to a popular rumor repeated for decades, choose to go to the restroom at the same time: around the start of the game’s halftime. The legend says all of those people flush their toilets at once, stressing municipal wastewater systems enough to cause issues, such as breaks in water lines. This “Super Bowl flush” was even credited for a 1984 water main break in Salt Lake City, Utah, an incident that has since been cited as proof of the phenomenon. Has the “Super Bowl Flush” caused problems for city sewer systems? … ” Read more from Channel 10 here: No, the ‘Super Bowl flush’ hasn’t caused problems for sewer systems
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.