DAILY DIGEST, 2/15: Newsom suspends environmental laws to store more Delta water; Mono Lake Tribe seeks to assert its water rights in call for emergency halt of water diversions to Los Angeles; Harder’s Second try at killing ‘a zombie’; Does the US need a federal Department of Water?; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • MEETING: California Water Commission beginning at 9:30am. Agenda items include Resolutions of Necessity for the Yolo Bypass Salmonid Habitat Restoration and Fish Passage Project; a briefing on the State Water Project: Maintaining Operational Flexibility; and an expert panel on Drought Preparedness and Response Strategies. Click here for the agenda and remote access instructions.
  • MEETING: California Advisory Committee on Salmon and Steelhead Trout from 10am to 4pmClick here for agenda and remote access instructions.
  • MEETING: Delta Independent Science Board from 10am to 3pm. Agenda items include a discussion of the ISB’s review of the Army Corps’ draft EIR for the Delta Conveyance Project, the draft scientific basis report supplement for the voluntary agreements, and updates on other Delta ISB activities to help inform its workplan. Click here for the full agenda and remote access instructions.
  • SIMULCAST: Chino Basin Program : An OCWA Industry Insight Simulcast from 11:30am to 1pm. The Chino Basin Program (CBP) is a series of innovative water treatment and storage projects structured to modernize regional water supplies, storage, and delivery systems. Through several water infrastructure improvement projects, including 15 MGD Advance Water Purification and 15,000 AF/Y injection wells, the CBP will help address challenges caused by importing water supplies through the development of new, local water supplies, thus increasing local water supply resiliency and reliability. Once implemented, these projects will address the immediate needs of the region while unlocking the potential for additional storage and water recycling projects in the future. Click here for more information and to register.
  • WEBINAR: Toward a Resilient California: Innovations in Desalination from 12pm to 1pm. What is the potential role for desalination in California’s water portfolio? Join us for an Expert Briefing during CCST’s S&T Week 2023 as we discuss innovations in desalination research and opportunities to resolve challenges related to energy intensity and brine disposal.  Click here to register.
  • VIRTUAL WORKSHOP: Mono Lake from 1pm to 5pm. The State Water Board staff is hosting a virtual Public Workshop to discuss the status of Mono Lake. The workshop will focus on Mono Lake levels in the context of severe drought and ongoing diversions from the lake’s tributaries. The workshop notice with additional details and an agenda are available on the Board’s Mono Lake webpageClick here to register.

In California water news today …

Newsom suspends environmental laws to store more Delta water

“Facing an onslaught of criticism that water was “wasted” during January storms, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday suspended environmental laws to give the go-ahead to state officials to hold more water in reservoirs.  The governor’s executive order authorized the State Water Resources Control Board to “consider modifying” state requirements that dictate how much water in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is allowed to flow into San Francisco Bay.   In January, after floodwaters surged into the bay, farm groups, Central Valley legislators and urban water providers complained that people and farms were being short-changed to protect fish. They urged state officials to store more water in reservoirs, which would increase the supply that can be delivered this summer to farm fields in the Central Valley and millions of Southern Californians.  Environmental activists say Newsom’s order is another sign that California is shifting priorities in how it manages water supply for humans and ecosystems. … ”  Read more from Cal Matters.

State Water Contractors respond to Governor Newsom’s water resilience order

Yesterday, Governor Newsom issued an Executive Order (EO) N323 to build water resilience amid climatedriven weather extremes. After years of extreme drought followed by weeks of intense storms and flooding, yesterdays EO protects water storage supplies in case the rest of the year remains dry while maintaining substantial flows through the Delta for fish and water qualityIn response, both the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) submitted a Temporary Urgency Change Petition (TUCP) to the State Water Resources Control Board requesting approval to temporarily modify the mostwesterly X21 compliance location specified in their water right permits for February and March. This temporary modification will allow DWR and USBR to continue maintaining low salinity conditions over a significant extent of the estuary while continuing the water supply operations in the Delta. … ”  Continue reading from the State Water Contractors.

Mono Lake Tribe seeks to assert its water rights in call for emergency halt of water diversions to Los Angeles

“Against the backdrop of a severe drought linked with global warming, conservation advocates and Native Americans in California are calling for a temporary emergency stop to all surface water diversions from Mono Lake, contending that continuing to drain the watershed, along with the long-term drought, threaten critical ecosystems, as well as the Kootzaduka’a tribe’s cultural connection with the lake.  In a pair of letters written in December 2022, the Mono Lake Committee and California Indian Legal Services claimed that Mono Lake’s water has dropped to a level requiring emergency action, and asked that all surface water diversions be curtailed until the lake’s elevation gets closer to an elevation of 6,392 feet. That was set as a protective level for Mono by the state in 1994, but the lake has never come close to reaching it.  The emergency request will be considered on Feb. 15 during a public workshop arranged by the California State Water Resources Control Board. … ”  Read more from Inside Climate News.

LADWP confirms elevation of Mono Lake is rising, no emergency conditions present

“Today, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) announced that recent measurements taken at Mono Lake indicate that the lake level elevation is 6,379.3 feet above sea level, which is approximately two feet higher than its 2017 low of 6,377.5 feet when no emergency regulatory action was called for or taken.  LADWP has also recently forecasted that recent snowfall in and around the Mono Basin will cause the lake level to rise approximately two more feet before the end of the year, ensuring the continued health of the Mono Basin ecosystem.  “Our hydrographers have confirmed that the Mono Lake level is the highest it has been in years – despite drought – and the snowpack from January will cause the lake level to rise even higher,” said Anselmo Collins, Senior Assistant General Manager, Water Systems at LADWP. “We’re confident and pleased that recent weather, along with LADWP’s responsible environmental stewardship, has assured that the Mono Basin ecosystem remains healthy.” … ”  Read more  of this press release from LADWP.

RELATED EVENT: VIRTUAL WORKSHOP: Mono Lake from 1pm to 5pm. The State Water Board staff is hosting a virtual Public Workshop to discuss the status of Mono Lake. The workshop will focus on Mono Lake levels in the context of severe drought and ongoing diversions from the lake’s tributaries. The workshop notice with additional details and an agenda are available on the Board’s Mono Lake webpageClick here to register.

Water Resources IMPACT: California’s Megadrought

“As the American West responds to a 20-year megadrought, this first issue of a Water Resources IMPACT two-part series diagnoses water scarcity issues confronting the western U.S. and explains how these impact a variety of ecological, community, and economic sectors. … ” Many articles on drought, climate change, impacts to tribes, drought and freshwater species, sustainability and food supply, and more.  Publication produced by the American Water Resources Association.  Download your free copy of Water Resources IMPACT.

Second try at killing ‘a zombie’ – Rep. Josh Harder swings the axe again, trying to bring down the Delta Tunnel in Congress

“Last Thursday, Democratic representative Josh Harder reintroduced his Stop the Delta Tunnels Act, a bill that would prohibit the Army Corps of Engineers from issuing a federal permit necessary for the State of California to build the Delta Conveyance Project.   The proposed 45-mile-long tunnel, currently being pushed by the Governor Gavin Newsom’s administration, would divert water from the Sacramento River before it reaches the San Francisco Bay-Delta Estuary and then ship it south to corporate agricultural growers and Southern California water agencies.  Harder posted a video before reintroducing the bill, explaining his reasons for sponsoring the legislation. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento News & Review.

A California town’s wastewater is helping it battle drought

“Standing under a shady tree drooping with pomegranates late last year, Brad Simmons, a retired metal fabricator who has lived in Healdsburg, California, for 57 years, showed off his backyard orchard. Along with the apple, cherry, and peach trees, he’s packed one pear tree, two lemon trees, and a century-old olive tree into his bungalow’s compact garden.  Of course, the small grove requires plenty of water — an increasingly scarce resource in a state that continues grappling with a historic drought despite recent torrential rains. Yet Simmons, like many of his fellow 12,000 residents, has managed to keep much of this wine country community north of San Francisco looking verdant while slashing the city’s water use in half since 2020.  Healdsburg benefits from an invaluable resource that keeps gardens, trees, and vineyards irrigated: free, non-potable water produced by its wastewater-reclamation facility. … ”  Read more from Next City here: A California town’s wastewater is helping it battle drought

Kevin McCarthy says ag business a priority in California. ‘We need to make the investment’

“Firing a ceremonial cannon that resounded across the International Agri-Center grounds in Tulare County, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy marked the start of the 2023 World Ag Expo on Tuesday morning. In his first event after becoming Speaker, McCarthy was accompanied by a bipartisan delegation of congressmen from California, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and North Carolina. The representatives, members of the House Committee on Agriculture, visited California’s central San Joaquin Valley to host the first official Farm Bill listening session of the year. “We need to make the investment for the next generation of farmers because food safety is very important,” McCarthy said, “not just to America but to the world.” … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee.

Strawberry outlook deemed ‘promising’ despite impacts from hurricanes, atmospheric rivers

“A heart-shaped fruit that is the favorite of millions has found itself in the center of disasters from coast-to-coast, but strawberry farmers believe the extreme weather will not be impactful enough to leave bare shelves for consumers.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports California and Florida annually produce a combined total of 98 percent of domestic production, with the Golden State accounting for the vast majority of more than 2 billion pounds of the crop.  A series of hurricanes in Florida and a parade of storm systems in California caused billions of dollars in damage, but agricultural specialists said when the disasters struck, farmers were not in full harvest mode, limiting their exposure. … ”  Read more from Fox Weather.

‘Filling in the gaps’ for food access: women-run farms rethink California agriculture

At Radical Family Farms, Leslie Wiser recently planted bitter melons, what she refers to as “one of our most beloved crops”, a staple in many types of Asian cuisine that grows on a vine and is related to zucchini, squash and cucumber. It was a warm day on her three-acre farm, yet the cloud cover made it just right to be working on what Wiser says is her “dreamy but expensive” mixed-Asian vegetable farm that she started in 2018.  “Regenerative climate, smart farming takes a lot of time,” said Wiser, the child of Chinese-Taiwanese, German and Polish-Jewish immigrants who came into farming in her early 40s. She dreamed about growing vegetables that reflect her heritage and teach her children where their food comes from, and this is exactly what she’s doing. … ”  Read more from The Guardian.

Republican lawmakers announce agenda to ‘fix California’

“California Senate Republicans recently held a rally at the State Capitol announcing their legislative goals to “fix California” for the next year.  Slamming proposals and policies their Democratic colleagues and Gov. Gavin Newsom are championing, the GOP State Senators presented several bills of their own. They also called for more oversight — and in some cases, a total rehaul — of state programs addressing crime, homelessness, education, climate and more.  “Crime is soaring, homelessness is out of control, the cost of living is unsustainable, schools are failing students, our water infrastructure is out-dated and our communities are susceptible to wildfires,” said Sen. Brian W. Jones (R-Encinitas), Senate minority leader and host of the Jan. 25 event. … ”  Read more from The Post Newsgroup.

Feinstein will leave a vast environmental legacy

“Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein shaped California’s environment like no one else.  Since her first election to the Senate in 1992, the onetime San Francisco mayor made herself the Golden State’s go-to legislator. With key committee assignments and a pragmatic bent, the veteran lawmaker put herself into the room where the deals got done.  “She’s someone that farmers, cities and environmentalists feel they can turn to fairly represent their interests,” one of her longtime top staffers, John Watts, said in an oral history filed at California State University at Fresno.  Now 89, Feinstein announced Tuesday that she will step down when her term ends in 2025 (E&E News PM, Feb. 14). Her pending departure caps a rough couple of years, including the death in 2022 of her husband Richard Blum and media reports about her health. They have provided a poignant coda to a career marked by landmark achievements in the natural resources arena. … ”  Read more at E&E News.

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In commentary today …

Declaring the drought over in California is extremely shortsighted

Letters to the editor:  “Columnist George Skelton believes it’s “fiction” to say California is still in a drought. He couldn’t be more wrong.  Many scientists view California as being in a permanent state of drought, greatly exacerbated by climate change. The fact that we have recently had a short period of significant rain with some reservoirs partially refilled doesn’t really change that. … When we declare the drought over, conservation will backslide because of human nature. We need to keep residents conserving and agriculture moving to more efficient irrigation and crops that demand less water.  Declaring the drought over is a recipe for disaster. … ”  Continue reading at the LA Times.

Resisting bullies along the Colorado River

Columnist Thomas Elias writes, “There’s one word for what six of the seven southwestern states that draw water from the Colorado River are trying to do to California: bullying.  The good news for Californians is that Gov. Gavin Newsom isn’t standing for it.  No, Newsom hasn’t directly called out the other six states involved (Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada) for their tactics. He’s let his appointee Wade Crowfoot, California secretary of natural resources, do the talking. … The bullying this time comes from the other six Colorado River basin states, which want California to cut its use of the river’s water more than they would their own usage.  It’s a case of bullying, for sure, a matter of 6-1.  With 12 U.S. senators to California’s two, the other six states have been louder. It’s also a case of several smallish tails trying to wag the big dog, California. … ”  Read more from the Oroville Mercury-Register. | Read via CA Focus website

Dan Keppen, executive director of Family Farm Alliance, writes, “Patrick O’Toole, whose family operates a sheep and cattle ranch on the Wyoming-Colorado border, was interviewed last month in Las Vegas, where he expressed the concerns that many farmers and ranchers have regarding unchecked urban growth in cities that rely on Colorado River water.  “We’ve got to find out what ‘the West that we want’ is, and then start working toward what we want, or you get what you deserve,” he said.  A recent Rasmussen Reports poll confirms that over 1,000 residents polled in Colorado also don’t want sprawl, and don’t think ag water should be transported to support that sprawl. Notably, 76% believe it is “very important” to protect U.S. farmland from development, so the United States is able to produce enough food to feed its own human population in the future. … ”  Read more from Farm Progress.

How to prevent a ‘complete doomsday’ along the Colorado River

The Washington Post editorial board writes, “Time is running out for the Colorado River. After more than two decades of drought fueled by climate change, the once-mighty waterway has seen its flow shrink by more than 20 percent. Lake Mead and Lake Powell, the nation’s largest reservoirs, are about three-quarters empty. And forecasts for the future are even more dire: Officials warn that, if water levels continue to fall, the river could see a “complete doomsday scenario.” This looming catastrophe would have far-reaching consequences. Seven states and 30 tribes rely on the river. The basin’s hundreds of hydropower dams also provide energy to millions of people across the Southwest. What would it take to save the Colorado River? As we wrote last year, there are no painless solutions. But leadership and investment now could spare parched states an enormous amount of grief in the future — and start the overdue transition to a more sustainable relationship with water in the region. … ”  Read more from the Washington Post.

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In regional water news and commentary today …


Reclamation announces temporary adjustment in Klamath Project operations

Iron Gate Dam. Photo by Michael Wier.

“The Bureau of Reclamation, in coordination with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (collectively, the Services), announced today it will direct temporary adjustments to Iron Gate Dam effective immediately.  Despite storm events experienced across Oregon and California in late December and early January, the hydrology of the Klamath Basin continues to be hampered by the effects of a multi-year drought. Uncertainty remains with respect to forecasting for this water year, but the three agencies have coordinated on and agreed to an approach designed to minimize risk to Endangered Species Act-listed suckers (shortnose and Lost River suckers), coho salmon, and Southern Resident Killer Whales.  Reclamation and the Services will continue Tribal Nation and stakeholder communications initiated last fall, as well as the adaptive management process they have established to consider the best available scientific information in managing risks. This process is described in the Klamath Project January 2023 Temporary Operating Procedure, as further informed by the document, Klamath Project Operating Coordination, Winter/Spring 2023, February 13, 2023. … ”  Read more from the Bureau of Reclamation.

SEE ALSO: Temporary adjustments coming to Iron Gate Dam, from the Herald & News.

Interior cuts Klamath River flows despite winter storms: Tribes, fishermen prepare litigation

“Late last year, the final regulatory approvals to remove four large dams on the Klamath River became the good news environmental story of the year. The fact that Tribes from remote communities along the California-Oregon border started a successful movement to remove four large dams suggests that America can indeed restore rivers, ensure wild salmon runs for future generations, and honor traditional cultures.  Unfortunately, officials from the Bureau of Reclamation and the Fish and Wildlife Service are turning this epic into a tragedy. Today, Department of Interior officials told tribes that flows to the river from the Klamath Irrigation Project would be reduced below the minimums described by the Biological Opinion that is supposed to govern Klamath Irrigation Project operations. These flow decreases will dewater salmon eggs putting ESA listed coho salmon at further risk. … ”  Read more from the Daily Kos.

State says 2023 drought permits are unlikely in Klamath Co.

“If a drought emergency is declared in Klamath County it’s unlikely emergency use permits for groundwater will be issued. That’s according to the Oregon Water Resources Department.  Emergency permits or drought permits allow irrigators to pump groundwater when there isn’t surface water available to them. It says the decision was made because of the widespread drought and decreasing groundwater levels.  The Klamath Water Users Association says some growers will be in for a surprise. … ”  Read more from KOBI.

Reclamation announces 2023 restoration flow increases on the Trinity River as part of restoration program

“The Bureau of Reclamation announced today that this year’s Trinity River restoration flow schedule will begin on Feb. 15. Each year, the Trinity Management Council advances a flow schedule based on the expected amount of water available to support salmon restoration efforts on the Trinity River.  This year’s flow schedule includes increased winter base flows and day-to-day flow variability, both key components of natural rivers. These components are important for increasing food and habitat for juvenile anadromous fish — fish that migrate to fresh water from salt water to spawn — like salmon and steelhead.  February’s increased baseflows are based upon the state of California’s preliminary prediction of a dry water year for 2023, one of five water year types used by the Trinity River Restoration Program to determine how much reservoir water will be released in support of the program’s goals to improve habitat for anadromous fish. The increased winter baseflows implement a science-based shift in the timing of the Trinity River Restoration Program’s annual water allocation relative to previous years but does not change the total amount of water that will be released from Trinity Lake during this water year. … ”  Read more from the Bureau of Reclamation.

CDFW, Robinson Rancheria partner on pilot program to remove invasive carp, goldfish to help Clear Lake Hitch

“The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the Robinson Rancheria Pomo Indians of California (Robinson Rancheria) have initiated a pilot program on Clear Lake to remove invasive carp and goldfish to benefit the Clear Lake hitch, also known as “Chi.”  The Clear Lake hitch or Chi is a large, native minnow found only in Clear Lake and its tributaries within Lake County. Since 2014, the fish has been listed as threatened under the California Endangered Species Act. An important cultural resource for Native American tribes within Lake County, Clear Lake hitch populations used to be seen in runs numbering in the tens of thousands.  Through permitting and $177,872 in grant funding from CDFW, the Robinson Rancheria is leading the pilot research effort to study the effectiveness and benefits of removing nonnative carp and goldfish from Clear Lake. … ”  Read more from the Department of Fish & Wildlife.


CW3E and Yuba Water Agency Bring Science to Life for Students at Browns Valley Elementary School in Yuba County

“Browns Valley Elementary School students in Yuba County recently had the opportunity to learn about weather forecasting and natural resource management first-hand from the Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes and Yuba Water Agency.  In mid-January, researchers Chad Hecht and Anna Wilson spoke with kindergarten and third-grade students about a weather station that CW3E operates at the school with support from Yuba Water, and how that data informs weather forecasting and water management in the region. This was the first time CW3E had a chance to talk with students about the weather station since it was installed in April 2021. … ”  Read more from Center for Western & Weather Extremes (CW3E).


Leopard sharks and bat rays are dying in Berkeley’s Aquatic Park

“Dead sharks and rays are washing up along the lagoon in Aquatic Park — a grisly, sad and curious sight for walkers, bikers, runners and others discovering the carcasses.  Numerous people contacted Berkeleyside over the past week saying they’d seen the dead marine life at Aquatic Park, many sending pictures.  Naturalists and marine experts are also tracking and documenting the reports, a whirlwind of investigation that consumed some over the weekend, despite the Superbowl, sources said.  Reports of the small, spotted leopard shark carcasses, as well as those of bat rays, related species in a class of fish called elasmobranchii, have also come in from Redwood Shores, in the South Bay. Dead rays were also sighted in Novato. … ”  Read more from Berkeleyside.


San Luis Obispo County restricts water use, promotes selling rights

“The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors is considering giving farmers the choice between planting crops or selling their water rights. It’s a move that could pay off for a group of large, wealthy landowners. The move came after supervisors reversed an ordinance allowing farmers who quit growing during the previous drought to plant crops.  Large landowners spent more than a decade promoting water restrictions, banking and sales as the California drought reduced the amount of water available to farmers.  Many of the larger landowners planted crops before a restrictive water use ordinance went into effect. That locked in their water rights and increased the value of their land.  In 2018, Limoneira, a large commercial farm, described the financial benefits of its “water strategy.” … ”  Read more from Cal Coast News.


Modesto Irrigation District board moves toward hike in farm water rates. Should city folks help with cost?

“The Modesto Irrigation District board voted Tuesday to launch the process for an increase in farm water rates. But directors also suggested that city residents pitch in. The rate hike would help MID maintain the canals that distribute Tuolumne River water to about 58,000 farmland acres from spring to fall. A typical grower would pay 14% more based on the ample supply forecast for 2023. Board members noted that the canals also carry runoff from storm drains in the city of Modesto during the off-season. Just last month, they helped ease street flooding from three weeks of rain.  The city does not pay for the drainage, despite discussions in recent years about doing so. An agreement finally could be close, MID General Manager Ed Franciosa said. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee.

Kaweah Lake drained to make room for record snowpack

“Just as fast as atmospheric rivers filled Lake Kaweah, the reservoir drained most of that water downstream to make way for what could be a record snowpack. In the last month, the Army Corps of Engineers have drained thousands of acre feet from Terminus Dam since Jan. 1  (see chart). The Corps of Engineers took the lake from over 83,000 acre feet (AF) down to 25,000 AF in anticipation of a wave of snow melt running down the mountain in the coming months.  On Jan. 14, The Sun-Gazette reported that the “Kaweah Lake was 412% of average with releases  beginning downstream to insure there is enough room for a big snowmelt coming this spring, according to Kaweah watermaster Mark Larsen. … ”  Read more from the Foothills Sun-Gazette.

McCarthy says his valley district wants solutions more than federal money

“House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said he is representing his Fresno and Clovis constituents by listening to local leaders.  McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, spoke with the Fresno media in a 20-minute Q&A session at the Clovis Veterans Memorial District building on Tuesday. He talked about China, water, bipartisanship among several issues. … With the new Congress in January, McCarthy’s district now includes Clovis and parts of Fresno. He said bringing District 20 more federal dollars is not his constituents’ focus.  “I think the first thing this area wants is a government that’s efficient, effective and held accountable. I don’t think their answer is just bring me money. They want to think solutions,” McCarthy said. “The answer is not always, first, bring me money. It’s to solve a problem.” … ”  Read the full story from GV Wire.


South Coast Water District’s desalination project will provide a local, reliable water supply

“South Coast Water District plans to decrease its reliance on imported water by creating a local, reliable, drought-proof supply through the Doheny Ocean Desalination Project. The project would also provide emergency water should the delivery of imported water be disrupted by earthquakes or other natural disasters.  “If those pipelines were ruptured, we could have an outage of two months,” says Rick Shintaku, general manager of South Coast Water District. “It’s another reason why our district is looking to build this desalination project. Because if we do that, we’re able to take 2 million gallons per day from it, and we’re able to serve water to our customers for 60 days. The importance of doing that in a business area, resort areas, and our residences out here is significant.”… ”  Read more from Orange Coast Magazine.

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Along the Colorado River …

Lessons emerge as 7 thirsty states war over Colorado River water

“Seven Western states, which include some of the fastest-growing in the nation, get some of their water from the Colorado River. How it is distributed is guided by the 100-year-old Colorado River Compact, which has come under intense scrutiny in recent years as a two-decade-long drought has shrunk supply even as demand has risen. Late last month, the states belonging to the compact missed a federal deadline to come up with an agreement to make water use meet the river’s declining capacity, leaving the decision in the hands of the federal Bureau of Reclamation. The Gazette discussed what it all means with Scott Horsley, an instructor in water resources policy and watershed management in the Sustainability Graduate Program at the Harvard Extension School. … ”  Continue reading at the Harvard Gazette.

New Colorado River Senate caucus takes shape

“Senators from the seven Western states that use water from the Colorado River have been convening to discuss its future.  John Hickenlooper, a Democrat from Colorado, spearheaded the caucus and said the group has been meeting for “about a year,” though news of its existence only recently became public.  The caucus meets as a growing supply-demand imbalance threatens the water supply for 40 million people in the Southwest and a multibillion-dollar agricultural industry. Climate change has shrunk the amount of water in the Colorado River’s largest reservoirs, and states have struggled to agree on plans to reduce demand. The federal government has historically left water management decisions to the states, but has expanded its role in recent years. … ”  Read more from KUNC.

How a productive burst of winter moisture may (or may not) impact drought in the Southwest

“Recently Arizona Water News asked Arizona State Climatologist Erinanne Saffell, as well as Mark O’Malley, lead forecaster for the National Weather Service, to provide some expert analysis of the spate of early-to-mid-winter storms that have made for a surprisingly wet winter in the West thus far.  We asked O’Malley for some perspective regarding the recent series of storms and about their potential long-term impact on moisture conditions in the Southwest, especially the Colorado River system. Our discussion with Lead Meteorologist O’Malley appeared in the Jan. 27 issue of Arizona Water News.  Our questions for Dr. Saffell, meanwhile, focused primarily on the effect of the storms in Arizona. In addition to precipitation, Dr. Saffell addressed several other factors that ultimately impact the amount of moisture that makes its way into state reservoirs. That discussion follows below. … ”  Read more from the Arizona Department of Water Resources.

This Native American tribe is taking back its water

“Cradling her 4-year-old son, Cowboy, Camille Cabello watches tumbleweeds blow across an emerald green field of newly sprouted alfalfa toward a small canal. Water spills over the canal’s side, glistening in the brilliant Arizona sun. … This desert tableau is at once modern and ancient. Modern because the arrow-straight canal, lined with concrete and designed with turnouts that divert water to flood the field, is the last leg of a state-of-the-art irrigation system here on the Gila River Indian Community, an Indian reservation in southern Arizona. Ancient because Camille is a member of the Akimel O’odham, or River People, also called Pima. For centuries her ancestors practiced irrigated agriculture across this vast desert, digging hundreds of miles of canals that routed water from the Gila and Salt rivers onto planted fields of maize, beans and squash, the “three sisters” that fed a huge swath of prehistoric America. … ”  Read the full story at Smithsonian.

Lake Powell water levels hit all-time low

“Lake Powell, which sits on the Arizona-Utah border, is the nation’s second-largest reservoir. On Tuesday its water levels dropped to an all-time low, falling past a record set last April.  If levels keep dropping, they could get too low to generate power in Glen Canyon Dam, or even pass through the dam at all. … ”  Read more from KJZZ.

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In national water news today …

Does the US need a federal Department of Water?

“Climate change has contributed to dramatic weather events. With severe flooding and drought happening across the nation, the U.S. needs a national water strategy to manage outdated infrastructure and technology, according to a presentation at the most recent MIT Water Summit“It’s very timely to create a new department that is responsible for water quantity and water quality in the United States,” said Aaron Mandell, founder and CEO of Wacomet Water, which creates technology that transforms unusable water into drinking water. “We need to double down on building the technology that’s going to secure water in America for the next 100 years, and that’s something that requires a new national water strategy.” … ”  Read more from MIT..

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

NOTICE: Identification of Parties Interested in Potential Temporary Transfers

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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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