DAILY DIGEST, 2/14: Newsom signs executive order to increase statewide stormwater capture; DWR, Reclamation submit request to adjust water right permit conditions to conserve storage; California’s snowpack is melting faster than ever; Reclamation hopes for 100 percent water allocation; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • MEETING: California Environmental Flows Workgroup from 10am to 12pm.  Agenda items include JEDI initiative, drought updates, instream flow efforts update, and a presentation on identifying dry weather water quality goals to inform urban stormwater management in San Diego County.  Click here to join the Teams meeting.
  • WEBINAR: A Decade of Ocean Conservation – An Update on California’s Marine Protected Areas from 1pm to  2pm.  California’s 124 Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) span our state’s entire coastline to conserve tidepools, sandy beaches, submarine canyons, estuaries, and kelp forests, and to protect all life that depends on these unique places. Established 10 years ago through a science-based and community-driven process, California’s MPA Network is now among the largest, most sophisticated marine conservation efforts anywhere in the world. State agencies have recently released a comprehensive assessment of how the MPA Network performed over its first decade, revealing where MPAs are making a difference and scientific questions that remain.  Join experts and community leaders to learn more about how California’s MPA Network is working to safeguard natural and cultural resources, as well as lessons learned and next steps for adaptive managementClick here to register.

In California water news today …

Newsom signs executive order to increase statewide stormwater capture

“California is under new orders as of Monday to aggressively work to protect all water supplies from weather extremes brought on by climate change.  Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order to expand statewide storm runoff capture capacity, noting how years of prolonged drought finally paused after three weeks of atmospheric river storms slammed the Golden State at the beginning of the year. … Newsom’s order continues conservation measures, and allows the State Water Board to reevaluate requirements for reservoir releases and diversion limitations to maximize water supplies north and south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.  The governor also directed different state agencies to provide recommendations on the state’s drought response actions by the end of April. Those directives could include the possibility of terminating emergency provisions that are no longer needed, with greater clarity about the year’s hydrologic conditions. … ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service.


Response to executive order by John McManus, Golden State Salmon Association

“Californians saw a very low number of salmon in last year’s returns following years of water management clearly aimed at aiding a handful of wealthy factory farm operators at the expense of the rest of us.  There’s a good chance the tens of thousands of Californians who work in the salmon fishery and related businesses will be out of work this year if the decision is made to close the fishery.   We’ve got 205 percent of the normal snowpack in the Sierras, most of which will flow into the state’s reservoirs so why is Gavin Newsom telling his water managers to make things worse for every family in California that depends on salmon to make a living?  Why is Newsom acting to divert more water to a handful of his powerful friends at the expense of the rest of us?  Newsom claims he’s using his emergency authority.  What emergency is he responding to?  The emergency is the disappearance of the salmon a statewide industry revolves around.  We’ve asked repeatedly to share our concerns with the governor, why does he ignore our needs? …

Click here to continue reading this statement from John McManus.

Why are families and communities on the coast being told they alone have to absorb more economic pain, especially when water projects like San Francisco’s Hetchy Hetchy and others are almost overflowing right now?  Everyone saw the heavy rains we got in January and there’s lots more water trapped in snow that will add to those reservoirs in the months to come so why is Newsom encouraging his water managers to cut the spring river flows needed to get baby salmon from the Central Valley to the ocean?  The past several years have been horrible for California’s native salmon runs and this spring we were hoping for a reprieve when we might finally see the river flows needed to move baby salmon to the ocean.  Now Newsom is stepping in to kill our salmon runs, as well as other wildlife that were hoping to catch a break.

Why does Gavin Newsom bend over backwards to give the corporate factory farms, many in the western San Joaquin desert, anything and everything they ask for while driving California’s native wildlife extinct and coastal and inland communities into poverty?

The history of California is one of big wealthy landowners controlling politicians to seize the state’s water.  This executive order is Exhibit A that this dynamic still controls California water policy and politicians like Gavin Newsom.

In addition to those wondering how they’ll pay the bills this year if salmon fishing is cut off, all Californians who care about responsible stewardship of our natural resources should let this governor hear loud and clear that he is not serving us.

DWR, Reclamation submit request to adjust water right permit conditions to conserve storage

“Following the driest three-year period on record, California experienced one of the wettest three weeks in January. But now those extreme wet conditions have activated a water quality standard in the Delta that, coupled with the extended dry period since then, could result in a sharp reduction in the amount of water that can be retained or moved into storage for both the State Water Project (SWP) and federal Central Valley Project (CVP).  The Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) are working in real time to operate the state’s water system to maximize water supply while protecting species and the environment. However, California continues to experience unprecedented swings in weather impacting water management operations.  Because of these extreme weather swings, DWR and Reclamation are taking proactive measures to manage the state’s water supply to store and capture more water in preparation for a return to hot, dry weather in the next two months.  Both agencies submitted a Temporary Urgency Change Petition (TUCP) to the State Water Resources Control Board requesting approval to modify compliance with Delta water quality conditions specified in their water right permits, while proposing measures to avoid impacts on Delta smelt. … ”  Read more from DWR News.

Letter: Request for State Board action to ensure compliance with the Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan and Decision 1641 in February (Delta outflow objective: Port Chicago X2)

The Bay Institute writes, “On behalf of the Bay Institute, San Francisco Baykeeper, and the Natural Resources Defense Council, we are writing to alert the Board that the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the California Department of Water Resources appear likely to violate the minimum Delta outflow requirements of Water Rights Decision 1641 (“D-1641”) and the Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan (“Bay-Delta Plan”) for the month of February. We request that the Board take immediate action to ensure that Reclamation and DWR increase Delta outflow to comply with D-1641 and the Water Quality Control Plan. … The Delta outflow objectives in the Bay-Delta Plan, including Port Chicago X2 requirements, are
critical components to protect estuarine habitat. The Port Chicago X2 objective is triggered by high outflow events, with the aim of re-establishing a more natural outflow pattern of a gradual
decline from a peak flow. Many management actions in the Bay-Delta are intended to prevent fish populations and other biological resources from declining or going extinct when hydrological conditions are poor. The Port Chicago requirement is intended to ensure that population viability of flow-dependent estuarine aquatic resources is supported when good hydrological conditions permit. … ”  Read the full letter from the Bay Institute.

CSPA disputes “scientific basis” of voluntary agreements

“CSPA filed comments with the State Water Resources Control Board on February 8, 2023 criticizing a document that claims to provide scientific reasons why small flow increases in Central Valley rivers and the Delta would be good enough to restore crashing native fish species.  The document is the “Draft Scientific Basis Report Supplement in Support of Proposed Voluntary Agreements for the Sacramento River, Delta, and Tributaries Update to the Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan.”  It is a joint work product of three California agencies: Department of Fish and Wildlife, Department of Water Resources, and State Water Board.  The incremental flows the Draft Supplement analyzes are those conceptually proposed in a March 2022 “Voluntary Agreement Package” signed by the state and a collection of water users.  CSPA’s comments focus on several reasons the Draft Supplement and the Voluntary Agreements are misleading and wrong … ”  Read more from the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance.

California’s snowpack is melting faster than ever, leaving less available water

“For decades, Californians have depended on the reliable appearance of spring and summer snowmelt to provide nearly a third of the state’s supply of water. But as the state gets drier, and as wildfires climb to ever-higher elevations, that precious snow is melting faster and earlier than in years past — even in the middle of winter.  That’s posing a threat to the timing and availability of water in California, according to authors of a recent study in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, which found that the effects of climate change are compounding to accelerate snowpack decline.  “As wildfires become larger, burn at higher severities, and in more snow-prone regions like the Sierra Nevada, the threats to the state’s water supply are imminent,” said Erica Siirila-Woodburn, a research scientist with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and one of the authors of the study. … ”  Read more from the LA Times.

Snow levels in Mt. Shasta, Northern California more than twice that of 2022

“The latest reports confirm what anyone looking up into the mountains of the North State can see. From Mt. Shasta to Lassen Peak, snowfall this winter is way up over last year, and in some cases nearly triple 2022 levels.  Snowfall measurements taken this month in southern Siskiyou County and the Mount Shasta area show that overall snowfall for the region has received 145% of historical average, according to the Shasta-Trinity National Forest.  Snowfall measurements in the area of Lassen Volcanic National Park are also well above normal, said Jim Richardson, superintendent at the park.  “I think that’s a good thing. We certainly need that for our water for our human uses. That includes the reservoirs and also for natural uses for the fire and in recovery from after the fires,” he said. … ”  Read more from the Redding Record Searchlight.

SEE ALSO: Video: What do high reservoir levels mean for California’s drought?, from CBS Sacramento

Reclamation hopes for 100 percent water allocation

“With a much improved rainfall season and snowpack — at least for one year — the water allocation outlook for the area appears to be looking much better than in past years.  The federal Bureau of Reclamation has stated it’s requesting a 100 percent water allocation locally for Class 1 Friant contractors. In addition is stated it plans to request a 20 percent allocation for Class 2 contractors.  That’s much higher than in recent years. Last year Class I contractors ended up with a water allocation of 30 percent of normally after originally receiving a water allocation of 15 percent. And that 30 percent was higher than in years before as the state continued to go through a drought. The 20 percent for Class 2 contractors is also new as 0 percent allocation has been the norm for Class 2 contractors in recent years. … ”  Read more from the Porterville Recorder.

Calif. water rules foreshadow eliminating $4.5bil from Valley’s economy, report says.

“With the substantial amount of rainfall hitting California throughout the recent months, the Public Policy Institute of California conducted a report sharing their results on key issues soon to affect the state’s water supply if nothing is done.  Looking at the data: Earlier this month the Public Policy Institute of California released a report that showed the biggest challenge facing the agriculture industry was a projected 20 percent decline in water supplies – chiefly led by the 2040 target implementation deadline for the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. If one-fifth of the annual water supply is lost by 2040 the state will suffer from 900,000 acres of farmland fallowing, more than 50,000 jobs being lost and a 2.3 percent drop of the San Joaquin Valley’s economic output, amounting to a loss of $4.5 billon in economic activity. … ”  Read more from the San Joaquin Valley Sun.

USDA unveils strategic approach and new investments for addressing water supply challenges for producers in the West

“As part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to making Western communities more resilient to the impacts of drought and climate change, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced new investments and strategies to help farmers and ranchers conserve water, address climate change and build drought resilience in the West, supported in part by funding from the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).  The Western Water and Working Lands Framework for Conservation Action is a comprehensive, multi-state strategy under USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to address key water and land management challenges across 17 Western States. This is the latest NRCS-issued Framework for Conservation Action, all of which provide direction, support and coordination to address resource concerns and threats across state boundaries and leverage new scientific tools to guide strategic program implementation on the ground. … ”  Read more from the USDA.

The edges matter: Hedgerows are bringing life back to farms

“More than 20 years ago, Craig McNamara started planting woody vegetation on his family’s farm, west of Sacramento, California. McNamara was an early organic pioneer in the region, and he prioritized weaving nature into the agricultural landscape at a time when it was far from popular. Native shrubs and trees lined a creek that ran through the walnut farm. Plants became boundaries between orchards and row crops—i.e., hedgerows—and it didn’t take long for the 450-acre organic farm to come “alive,” says Craig’s son, Sean McNamara, who joined the operation in 2014. Bees, owls, ladybugs, and many other creatures still routinely visit the farm. Just a few weeks ago, a bobcat strolled through the bushes along the creek. These above-ground benefits to hedgerows are easy to spot. But a few years ago, McNamara watched as a soil scientist dug into the dirt surrounding them. She scooped up rich, dark, compacted soil, mycelial strands tangled within. “I think we were in the middle of summer and the soil, even the topsoil, was moist,” he recalls. It was a memorable sight in drought-riddled California. … ”  Read more from Civil Eats.

California’s rivers and streams to be more accurately measured under proposed Senate bill

“A new bill introduced by state Sen. Bill Dodd would expand the state’s ability to measure water flow in thousands of local streams in an effort to protect the state’s water supply.  California currently collects data on hundreds of waterways through the use of stream gauges, which record the amount of water flowing in a river or stream.  However, more than 3,200 local waterways, accounting for 70 percent of the state’s streams, have never been measured with a stream gauge. Another 15 percent do not currently have active gauges, according to Dodd’s bill. … ”  Read more from CBS News.

Creaking California: State’s failing water infrastructure vulnerable to Katrina-style disaster from ‘inland tsunami’

“California’s outdated infrastructure is teetering on the brink of disaster, exposed to a Katrina-style flood that will cover areas with billions of gallons of water.  State and federal lawmakers have been warned about the looming crisis for decades but haven’t created a way to pay for upgrades to 70-year-old dams in danger of overflowing or springing a leak, according to officials.  And the world’s largest man-made aqueduct isn’t faring much better in central California because the ground has sunk dozens of feet, choking off the water supply. The collapse is so severe it can be seen from space.  “Back in 2005, I was warning that we were way behind getting our infrastructure even to minimal levels to reduce risk of flooding. In some places, it remains absolutely true,” Jeffrey Mount, an Earth scientist with the Public Policy Institute of California, told the Washington Examiner.  “It will be an inland tsunami.” … ”  Read more from the Washington Examiner.

Sharper picture of salmon in the ocean resets threshold for fishing limits

“New research examines how Chinook salmon from West Coast rivers travel through the ocean. It shows that endangered Southern Resident killer whales do not have access to as many salmon prey as previously thought. That does not mean the number dropped, but that it has always been lower than estimated.  Calculating the number as accurately as possible is important because it determines whether to shut down West Coast salmon fisheries. These limits are imposed at certain places and times when the number of salmon falls to a certain level, or what fisheries managers call a “threshold.” The Chinook salmon threshold is a measure of where the endangered whales have a markedly harder time finding prey. The Pacific Fishery Management Council recently asked NOAA Fisheries to update the threshold to incorporate new science showing fewer salmon in parts of the ocean accessible to the whales. … ”  Read more from NOAA.

California lost 36 million trees to drought last year

“An estimated 36.3 million trees died in California in 2022, primarily because of drought, high temperatures, insects, disease and overcrowded forests, according to a recent report from the U.S. Forest Service.  An aerial detection survey, conducted from July 18 to October 7 last year, looked at 39.6 million acres of land and found that 2.6 million acres contained dead trees.  The primary cause of tree death was drought, according to the Los Angeles TimesNathan Solis. Since 2020, California has experienced its driest and warmest years on record, per a statement released last week by the Forest Service. At the end of September last year, 94 percent of the state was experiencing severe, extreme or exceptional drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. … ” Read more from Smithsonian Magazine.

9 most beautiful rivers in California

“California is renowned for its magnificent rivers and rolling hills, scenic waterfalls, and lush vegetation, forming an awe-inspiring landscape. These natural wonders draw visitors from near and far, especially outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers who flock to the rivers for a range of recreational activities, such as fishing, kayaking, and hiking. For those who wish to truly appreciate the beauty of California’s rivers, it is worth taking a closer look at the state’s most beautiful rivers. Each river has its unique attributes, including stunning scenery and a range of recreational opportunities. Whether you’re an experienced river-goer or a nature lover looking for a new adventure, California’s rivers are an experience not to be missed. … ”  Read more and view pictures from World Atlas.

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In commentary today …

George Skelton column: Rains and flooding leave claims of California drought high and dry

“Two words that government officials always try to avoid saying are “drought’s over” — even when there’s flooding.  This winter, Gov. Gavin Newsom has continued to declare that the state’s in a drought even while proclaiming regional flood emergencies.  This just seems contradictory and confusing. How can there be a simultaneous drought and flood?  Well, in weather-erratic, geographically diverse California, perhaps.  And I get it: Emergency proclamations allow victims to cut through bureaucratic red tape so they can drill a new well, obtain a flood repair permit or receive government aid.  But why persist in the fiction that we’re still in a statewide drought? … ”  Continue reading from the LA Times. | Read via Government Technology.

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Today’s featured article …

RESERVOIR AND WATER CONDITIONS for February 14: Slip slidin’ away …

Click here for a slideshow of current reservoir and snowpack conditions.

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In regional water news and commentary today …


Water managers could withhold Klamath County drought permits this year

Emergency use permits allow users like farmers and ranchers who don’t have groundwater rights to access that water during an emergency drought declaration when above-ground sources, like rivers and lakes, are too low. Groundwater in the Klamath Basin has dropped by 20-30 feet over the last three years alone, and now water managers are considering withholding those drought permits in Klamath County.  That could have a significant impact on agriculture in the region, if farmers don’t have access to irrigation water.  “In the event that an emergency drought is declared for Klamath County, it’s very unlikely that the agency is going to be issuing many, if any, drought permits at all,” said Ivan Gall, the interim deputy director for water management at the Oregon Water Resources Department. … ”  Read more from Oregon Public Broadcasting.


Monterey: Farmers and farmworkers forced off farmland for weeks after storms flooded crops

“January rains have hit Monterey County farmers hard.  This is causing millionaire losses to the farmers in the fields, but it is also leaving many families without income.  Dozens of farming families on the Central Coast are trying to recover from the damage left by January rains and flooding.  This is the case of Humberto Vargas. He was one of the farmers in the Salinas area who was unable to plow the land or get into crops for nearly three weeks, due to river washouts and water seeping into the furrows.  “As human beings, we all feel sadness, it is a monetary effort, an investment, you have no control over nature, but your hopes are dashed, even though we understand that we need water,” said Humberto. … ”  Read more from KION.

Sewage spill into Ventura River totaling 14 million gallons under state investigation

“State water officials are investigating the spilling of 14 million gallons of untreated sewage into the Ventura River and a major tributary as a strong storm soaked the area in early January.  Two sewage pipes broke as rainfall pummeled the area Jan. 9-10, sending 8 million gallons of sewage into the river and 6 million gallons into San Antonio Creek, its tributary in the Ojai area. An official for the district that owns and operates the pipes points to two culprits: the excessive rainfall and the erosion of the river banks during the storm as fast-running water coursed through the two channels. … ”  Read more from the Ventura County Star.


California sends $15 million to Central Valley communities to support flood control, water supply reliability and groundwater recharge

“With California experiencing extreme storm events like those seen in January amid extreme drought conditions, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) today awarded $15 million to support projects in the San Joaquin Valley through the Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) Program.  The awards will provide critical funding support to implement innovative, multi-benefit projects for climate and water supply resilience as California is faced with extreme weather driven by climate change. This includes using stormwater capture to recharge the state’s critically strained groundwater basins.  “While the recent storms in California helped ease drought impacts in parts of California, many rural areas that rely on groundwater like in Fresno and Kern counties are still experiencing water supply shortages,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth. “Today’s funding will help improve water supply reliability and water quality in these communities while supporting groundwater recharge that reduces flood risk and enhances stormwater management.” … ”  Read more from DWR News.

Can Planada recover from January storms? ‘You have a community that is angry’

“Once the levee broke, the water rose so quickly that in the few minutes it took Erica Lopez Bedolla to decide to evacuate and gather her children and a few necessities, it had surged from her ankles to her knees.  What followed that night in early January was the stuff of nightmares: a fearful scramble through pelting rain; a flooded car engine that stopped cold; a frantic escape on foot through dark, brackish water. Then, days later, more misfortune: Not only was her house flooded, but so was her mother-in-law’s, and her mother’s, and her brother’s.  Not to mention that Bedolla’s home was one of about 40 in the town of Planada whose valuables were stolen in the aftermath of the evacuation.  So it took a few days for Bedolla to focus on the issue now consuming many in this tightknit, impoverished community of 4,000 tucked at the base of the foothills below Yosemite National Park: What will happen to Planada? … ”  Read more from the LA Times.

Lamont’s water future secured with $25.4 million grant from state drinking water fund

“Most Lamont residents likely had no idea that a mini hoopla held in the middle of town Monday morning next to a newly constructed well was actually a celebration of their children’s and their grandchildren’s futures.  “This is generational,” said Lamont Public Utilities District General Manager Scott Taylor. “It allows us to provide clean and safe – the keyword there being safe – drinking water for the people of this community.”  District staff and an array of state and local dignitaries were on hand to applaud a $25.4 million grant from the state’s Safe and Affordable Funding for Equity and Resilience (SAFER) program that will allow the Lamont PUD to replace three of its eight drinking water wells. A fourth well was replaced using a $5.7 million emergency grant after it ceased working in August 2020, Taylor noted. … ” Read more from SJV Water.

SEE ALSO: Water Board grants Lamont District $25.4 million to secure safe drinking water for 20,000 residents, press release from the State Water Board


Bolsa Chica coastal wetland’s luxuriant wildlife, hiking trails

“Birds in mud.  That’s how one Yelp reviewer describes Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve in Huntington Beach. And it’s true. There are a lot of birds in a lot of mud, but there is plenty more to this coastal wetland, one of the few remaining on the Pacific Coast.  The reserve’s marvelous mudflats and the rest of its 1,400 acres are home to a huge variety of fish, insects, reptiles, and mammals. And the 186 species of birds make the reserve a magnet for birders who come to see the two distinct populations that flock here in winter and summer.  We are standing in the reserve on one of the trail’s small mesas; we need only a few feet of elevation to take in the 360-degree vista. … ”  Read more from the Coast News Group.

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Along the Colorado River …

When will the Megadrought gripping Southwestern states end?

“California and other southwestern states have been in the grip of a megadrought for the past two decades.  Scientists say that, despite recent storms, these drought-stricken states won’t be relieved from the hot and dry weather for a long time, and not without large amounts of rain.  “To break the megadrought, the region will need to see consistent levels of rainfall at or above average levels for several years,” Hannah Cloke, a professor of hydrology at the University of Reading in the U.K., told Newsweek. … ”  Read more from Newsweek.

The Colorado River’s urgent lesson for energy policy

“The Colorado River, which allows the desert to sustain itself and powers millions of American homes, is currently engaged in the fight of its life. The rapidly sinking river—victim of a nearly 23-year-long megadrought—stretches 1,450 miles, snaking its way from Colorado through Arizona, Nevada, California, and finally into Mexico, where it should theoretically dump out into the Sea of Cortez. But the water rarely gets that far, thanks to a series of dams and agricultural canals that have devastated the natural river as well as the Mexican communities that once depended on it. In the U.S., meanwhile, 40 million Americans rely on the river as a source of water and power, without many viable alternatives. This crisis has made clear the fragility of water resources in the Southwest, but it’s also demonstrated that hydropower cannot be the reliable clean energy solution that many would like to write it off as. … ”  Read more from Slate.

Lake Mead before the lake

“Even with a seven-foot rise in Lake Mead’s water level this year, it is expected to drop significantly this year, possibly up to 20 feet. If this drop happens it will expose much more shoreline around the lake.  The newly exposed land will be prominent in front of Boulder Beach because of its relative shallowness already. Boulder Beach is located just north of Hemenway Harbor – the same location as the largest marinas at the lake.  Hemenway Harbor took its name from what the area used to be known as, Hemenway Wash. This wash can be clearly seen without water in aerial photographs (below) taken in the early 1930s before major construction on the Hoover (Boulder) Dam began. … ”  Read more from KLAS.

Tapped out: An Arizona community symbolizes West’s water woes

“It was never a secret that the water situation was complicated.  There is no municipal water supply in this 18-square-mile flatland of dirt roads, ranches, and dun-colored homes. Indeed, there is no municipality at all here, which has been part of the attraction for many of the people who have moved to Rio Verde Foothills, an unincorporated community northeast of Phoenix.  To survive in this sunbaked swath of central Arizona, people either sank wells or paid for regular truck deliveries of water from the nearby city of Scottsdale.  “We’re off the grid,” says Tom Braun, a retired oil industry employee who three years ago paid $681,000 for a 3,600-square-foot house on 2 1/2 acres here.  “We live out here to stay as far away from the government as possible.”  But, as it turned out, the government would still have a huge impact on Mr. Braun’s life. … ”  Read more from the Christian Science Monitor.

Colorado River conservation program that offers money to farmers gets $125 million boost from feds

“U.S. Sen. John Hickenlooper on Monday announced $125 million in federal funding for a pilot program designed to conserve water and ultimately help save the Colorado River system.  The Upper Colorado River Commission, as part of a five-point plan submitted to the Bureau of Reclamation last August, wants to restart its system conservation pilot program, which offers compensation to Colorado River users in exchange for voluntary and temporary water conservation measures.  Farmers and ranchers could be paid roughly $330 per acre-foot of water to $400 per acre-foot, depending on how long farmers agree to conservation measures. … ”  Read more from Colorado Politics.

SEE ALSO: Upper Colorado River states land $125 million for pilot conservation program amid drought crisis, from the Colorado Sun

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In national water news today …

Flush with cash, state lawmakers consider water risks

“The fiscal scare that arose in the early days of the pandemic has ebbed.  Instead of budgetary catastrophe, state balance sheets show evidence of a “strong fiscal position,” says Kathryn White of the National Association of State Budget Officers. Rather than being depleted, reserves are overflowing.  Forty-nine states reported higher than expected revenue last year, according to NASBO data. General fund revenue in 2022 grew more than 14 percent overall. Wisconsin’s governor said the state will celebrate its 175th birthday in its best financial position ever. So it is with bulging pockets that state lawmakers return to their capitals for new legislative sessions.  They also return, in many cases, with a sense of urgency about water. … ”  Read more from Circle of Blue.

Dam removals continue across the U.S. in 2022

“Dam removal practitioners across the country are continuing to break down river barriers— 65 dams were removed across the country in 2022, reconnecting more than 430 upstream river miles across 20 states.   We look forward to a year in which dams are reported to be removed in all 50 states! In the meantime, we celebrate the return of river health and resilience for these projects completed in 2022.   You might be wondering— has Pennsylvania been unseated as the leader in dam removals? Not yet! BUT! It was not the top state in 2022— Ohio is coming for you, Pennsylvania!  The top states for dam removals in 2022 were … ”  Continue reading at American Rivers.

Top US smoothie company accused of deception after toxic PFAS discovered

“A new class-action lawsuit alleges US beverage maker Bolthouse Farms deceived customers with claims that its Green Goodness smoothie is made of “100% fruit juice” after testing found the drink contains toxic PFAS, a synthetic chemical, at levels far above federal advisory drinking water limits.  PFAS are a class of about 12,000 chemicals typically used to make thousands of consumer products resist water, stains and heat. They are called “forever chemicals” because they do not naturally break down, and they are linked to cancer, fetal complications, liver disease, kidney disease, autoimmune disorders and other serious health issues.  It is unclear how the chemicals got in the drink, and it is highly unlikely they were intentionally added. PFAS researchers who reviewed the case told the Guardian the chemicals may have been in the fruit. Fruit could be contaminated from pesticides, water, or the use of PFAS-tainted sewage sludge as fertilizer. … ”  Read more from The Guardian.

Four of Congress’ farmers weigh in on how to solve high food prices

“Inflation continued to ease in January, fueled by the overall declining cost of energy and consumer goods. But one data point remains stubbornly high: food prices. And few in Washington can agree on how best to rein them in. According to the January Consumer Price Index, the annual inflation rate dropped slightly to 6.4 percent from 6.5 percent, a figure that’s likely to cheer the Biden White House and Democrats. But the report — a closely watched measure of the economy — also found that the price of food in January increased slightly from the month before and was 10.1 percent higher than it was in January 2022, with the cost of eggs, meat and poultry leading the surge. While the annual rate of inflation saw a slight decrease, prices rose on a monthly basis with housing costs being the largest contributor to the increase. … ”  Read more from Politico.

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And lastly …

In case you were thinking about this … Utah governor tells Californians to ‘stay in California instead of coming as refugees’

“If you’re from California and thinking of moving to Utah, think again. You may not be welcomed in the Beehive State.  Gov. Spencer Cox of Utah said Friday that Californians should “stay in California,” in part because his state is beset by problems including housing and water shortages. … In response to a question about population movement and what Utah is doing to bring in more residents, Cox said “it’s not working to attract more people.”  “This last census confirmed that Utah was the fastest-growing state over the past 10 years,” Cox said. “Our biggest problems are more growth-related. We would love for people to stay in California instead of coming as refugees to Utah.” … ”  Read more from the LA Times.

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

NOTICE: Stanislaus, Tuolumne, and Merced (STM) Working Group meeting

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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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