DAILY DIGEST, 2/16: How better data can help manage drought, floods, and more; CA debates what to do with water from recent storms; Water board urged to declare emergency at Mono Lake; Disruptive technology: The answer to water challenges?; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • MEETING: Wildlife Conservation Board beginning at 10am.  The Board will select a board chair, hear presentations on funding status, herbicides, and numerous projects. Click here for the full agenda and remote access link.
  • WEBINAR: How centralizing data empowers public insight and scientific analysis from 10am to 11am.  You’re invited to learn how Jeremy Testa, Associate Professor at Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, turned massive amounts of raw data into usable information that advances their research, empowers local agriculture, and better protects the public.  Register now and don’t miss this opportunity to discover the modern solutions that empowered Chesapeake Biological Laboratory to focus on their meaningful research rather than manual tasks.
  • WEBINAR: A Refuge Revealed – Past, Present, & Future from 6:30pm to 8:00pm.  Join us for a virtual presentation about the Refuge to learn why the Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge is here, who benefits from it today, and what the future will bring.  Click here to register.

In California water news today …

Putting data to work: How better data can help Californians manage drought, floods, agriculture, fisheries, and more

“The California Water Data Consortium (Consortium) today released a new technical report and policy brief: Putting Data to Work: Why Investing in Water and Ecological Data in California Matters. High-quality, usable, and accessible data are critical in supporting an equitable and resilient water future for all Californians. Putting Data to Work outlines six recommendations to improve water data and data infrastructure in California, ultimately providing water leaders with better ability to plan for shortages, flooding, groundwater conservation, and sustainable water consumption in a changing climate.  On any given day in California, reservoir operators are evaluating how much water to release downstream to prevent flooding during extreme rainfall events or to protect endangered salmon and their eggs during dry summer months. State agency employees are making decisions about how much water will be available for cities and growers in the coming year. Non-governmental organizations are trying to find and locate households whose sole water source – a domestic well – has gone dry, so they can provide emergency services. Missing or inaccessible data hinders the ability of these and many other water and ecological professionals to effectively manage resources and systems in these scenarios. … ”  Read more from the California Water Data Consortium.

California debates what to do with water from recent storms

“Weeks after powerful storms dumped 32 trillion gallons of rain and snow on California, state officials and environmental groups in the drought-ravaged state are grappling with what to do with all of that water.  State rules say when it rains and snows a lot in California, much of that water must stay in the rivers to act as a conveyer belt to carry tens of thousands of endangered baby salmon into the Pacific Ocean. But this week, California Gov. Gavin Newsom asked state regulators to temporarily change those rules. He says the drought has been so severe it would be foolish to let all of that water flow into the ocean and that there’s plenty of water for the state to take more than the rules allow while still protecting threatened fish species. … ”  Read more from the Associated Press.

Radio: Favoring farmers over fish: How does Newsom’s new executive order work?

“Governor Gavin Newsom has signed an executive order that would hold back water that flows from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to the San Francisco Bay. The water instead will stay in reservoirs and be used for farming and residents in Southern California. But less water flow means baby salmon will have a tough time making it to the Bay and many would die. Delta smelt would also face difficulties. The decision has angered environmentalists, who say Newsom’s order could do irreparable damage to California’s delicate ecosystems. Alastair Bland – water reporter at CalMatters.”  Listen at KCRW.

California water board urged to declare emergency at Mono Lake

“California authorities face renewed pressure to preserve the valuable salty waters of the Mono Lake — as despite recent rainfall, a historic drought and demands from the Los Angeles area have depleted it.  In a workshop Wednesday, the state Water Resources Control Board discussed Mono Lake’s current conditions amid the impacts of severe drought and ongoing diversions.  Mono Lake is an ancient, naturally saline lake at the eastern edge of the Sierra Nevada, with a surface area of 70 square miles. It is fed by several rivers and hosts a unique ecosystem and critical habitat for millions of migratory birds. That includes California gulls, whose nesting population on lake islands has steadily declined for the last 40 years due to low water levels, increasing coyote populations and human interference. … ”  Read more at the Courthouse News Service.

Snow drought current conditions and impacts in the West

“While there has been minor geographic expansion of snow drought over the past month, the big story continues to be the deep snowpack that has accumulated and continues to grow in California, the Great Basin, and the Colorado River Basin.  Following the strong atmospheric rivers earlier this winter, small-to-moderate storms with less moisture have resulted in smaller but continued snow water equivalent (SWE) gains. SWE at a subset of the SNOTEL stations in California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, and Arizona is at record high or second highest for the date.  SWE in much of Oregon, Washington, and Idaho grew relatively little over the last 30 days and is still well below the median water year peak at most SNOTEL stations. While most of these regions are not experiencing snow drought currently, the relatively dry January has left open the possibility of dry snow drought development in the coming months. … ”  Read the full update at NIDIS.

Hopes rise for cold, wet weather toward end of February in Northern California

Ever since the late December and January deluge, California has been pretty dry.  Since the beginning of February, Sacramento Executive Airport has recorded 0.56″ of rain. The relatively dry weather since mid-January allowed the state to dry out and lowered flood risk, but another storm cycle heading into the dry season would be incredibly beneficial in terms of breaking out of drought.  Spring is on the way, as is the trademark hot, dry California summer. With only about 2-3 months left in the rainy season, what can California expect?  Rain and snow could return to Sacramento and the Sierra. Here’s what we know so far … ”  Read more from ABC 10.

SEE ALSO‘Possible wet period’ could return to Northern California in February, from SF Gate

California’s heavy rains deliver hope of a lifeline for one devastated industry – rice

Irrigated rice fields. Photo by Bruce Barnett.

The fierce storms and heavy rain that have pounded California in recent weeks could be the lifeline that one industry – and the communities that rely on it for their own survival – desperately needs.  After years of drought, California has received an epic amount of rain already in 2023. While it was much-needed, the back-to-back heavy storms also ravaged the state for weeks, creating dangerous flooding and mudslides that led to at least 20 deaths and billions of dollars in economic losses, by some estimates.  But in one part of the state, anxious communities are ready to embrace more rain.  The Sacramento Valley is the hub of California’s rice production.But three consecutive years of drought in the state have baked hundreds of thousands of acres of Sacramento Valley’s lush green rice paddies into dry barren land. … ”  Read more from CNN.

Floods, fires, droughts show California needs bigger safety net for farmworkers, advocates say

“Torrential rains and floods submerged whole towns and killed more than 20 people in parts of California in January. They also caused thousands of farmworkers to lose weeks of pay because the flooded fields and orchards were surrounded by treacherous, watery and muddy roads.  The steep storm-related losses — along with recent revelations that some farmworkers are living in substandard conditions — are bolstering advocates’ argument that California should expand its safety net to help its agricultural workforce survive such setbacks.  Some lawmakers are listening to them. … ”  Read more from Cal Matters.

How onsite water systems can contribute to regional water resilience

“Onsite water systems can significantly decrease a development’s water footprint while also contributing multiple benefits to the surrounding community. Growing interest in onsite water systems is part of the needed shift from the traditional linear method of water management to a more circular approach.  Successful implementation of onsite water systems requires new thinking, approaches, and collaboration between stakeholders.  The Pacific Institute’s “Guide for Developing Onsite Water Systems to Support Regional Water Resilience“ provides comprehensive support to developers in designing, constructing, and operating onsite water systems, and exploring their impact on communities, the environment, and centralized water systems. … ”  Read more from the Pacific Institute.

Disruptive technology: The answer to water challenges?

“With a growing global population, now standing at more than eight billion people, ensuring that everyone has enough of the resources needed to support life is a major challenge. One of these essential resources is water. Faced with an increasingly urbanised population, getting potable water to these growing numbers of people, efficiently and sustainably, poses major problems for water utilities. Growing populations have seen demand for fresh water rise rapidly over the last century, increasing six-fold since 1900 to reach four trillion cubic metres per year by the early 21st century. …  Overall, we need to use water more effectively, treat it using the minimum of energy and resources, and distribute it while losing as little as possible through leaks.  To achieve these goals, water utilities are increasingly turning to new, disruptive processes and technologies to ensure we all get a fair share of our most precious resource. … ”  Read more from Innovative News Network.

How do we monitor the pollutants produced by desalination?

“Monitoring the pollutants that result from desalination is critical for ensuring that the process is carried out in an environmentally sustainable manner. There are several instruments that are commonly used to monitor pollutants in the marine environment, including chemical sensors, optical sensors, and biological indicators. … ”  Read more from Envirotech.

Wildfire exacerbates desparity, study shows

“Wildfires pose a large and growing threat to communities across California, where fires are becoming more frequent and destructive.  As climate change occurs, the frequency of wildfires is expected to grow. A new study from researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Stanford University examines the relationship between fire frequency and community vulnerability.  The findings, published February 15 in PLOS Climate, indicate that while maps of wildfire hazard suggest that higher-income communities are more at risk, low-income communities across the state tend to experience fires more frequently.  “Using this metric of fire frequency identified a very different pattern of which communities are at risk,” said Miyuki Hino, an assistant professor in the Department of City and Regional Planning and a Faculty Fellow at the Carolina Population Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “While we tend to focus on the biggest and most destructive fires, the impacts of small, frequent fires can also add up.” … ”  Read more from Stanford University.

SEE ALSO: Frequent wildfires more likely to hit low-income communities, new report finds, from Capitol Public Radio

Severe summer wildfires are impacting western U.S. mountain snowpack during winter and spring

“In recent years, wildfires have become more frequent, larger, and burn at higher severity across the western United States and especially in California. These wildfires are burning at higher elevations, which increases the geographical overlap between burned areas and seasonal snow zones (areas with persistent snowpack throughout the winter season). A recently published NIDIS-funded study led by scientists with the Desert Research Institute was motivated by an extended dry spell in the winter of 2021–2022 following multiple severe high-elevation fires in California. The authors were primarily interested in understanding how prolonged dry spells—long periods of no precipitation—during the middle of winter impact how burned landscapes influence snow water storage during a time of year when the snowpack should be accumulating. … ”  Continue reading at NIDIS.

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In commentary today …

A ‘get out of jail free’ card for stealing the Delta’s water

Doug Obegi, Director of California River Restoration for the NRDC, writes, “Governor Newsom issued an Executive Order this week that legalizes the State Water Board’s waiver of minimum water quality objectives in the Bay-Delta and pressures the State Water Board to approve violations of these minimum environmental flows.  It effectively gives the State Water Project and Central Valley Project a “get out of jail free” card for stealing water from the Bay-Delta environment – water that the two massive water projects promised to the environment decades ago in Decision 1641.  For the thousands of fishermen, Tribes, and communities that depend on a healthy Bay-Delta or care about its health, this executive order is an unambiguous signal that the State of California is unwilling and unable to protect salmon and the Bay-Delta environment. … ”  Read more from the NRDC.

Despite deficit, state must invest to protect farming

Christopher Reardon, director of governmental affairs for the California Farm Bureau, writes, “As California lawmakers and Gov. Gavin Newsom embark on their annual budget dance, the state finds itself facing a projected $22.5 billion deficit. State budget watchers suggest the deficit will continue to climb before the annual budget revision process in May.  Only a year ago, California boasted a budget surplus of $100 billion. The Newsom administration had pots of money to distribute, with no worries about making painful budget cuts that could now affect a wide variety of services. Recently, the California Legislative Analyst Office reported, “The current economic environment poses a substantial risk to state revenues.” … ”  Read more from Ag Alert.

Editorial: Feds should force California’s hand on water use

The Las Vegas Review-Journal editorial board writes, “California officials continue to be the lone holdout on an agreement among seven Colorado River states to cut water usage. Despite imposing numerous “deadlines” for such a deal, federal officials have yet to intervene. They must reconsider if the thirsty Golden State refuses to budge.  Six of the seven states — including Nevada — reached an accord last month to impose significant cuts on water allocations of nearly 20 percent. But California, which devours the most Colorado River water of any state, refused to go along. The state bases its position, in part, on the belief that legal precedent, archaic water law and its political clout will protect its domain.  In reality, the state is trying to preserve its agriculture industry. … ”  Read more from the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

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Today’s featured article …

DELTA LEAD SCIENTIST: Implementing equity in water management; Upcoming modeling workshop; 2022 State of Bay-Delta Science; and more …

At the January meeting of the Delta Stewardship Council, Delta Lead Scientist Dr. Laurel Larsen’s article spotlight report focused on how equity considerations can be implemented in water management agencies. Dr. Larsen also gave details an upcoming Delta modeling workshop, and Delta Science Program staff highlighted two major synthesis efforts: The 2022 State of Bay Delta Science and the Delta Science Program-NCEAS Synthesis Working Group.

Click here to read this article.

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In regional water news and commentary today …


Despite wet winter, adjustments arrive for Klamath Project

“Despite a wet winter in Southern Oregon and Northern California, the Klamath Basin remains in an extensive, multi-year drought.  To conserve water, The Bureau of Reclamation announced flows from Iron Gate Dam into the Klamath River will be reduced by approximately 11%, 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,” said the Bureau in a statement. … ”  Continue reading from KTVL.

Klamath Tribes file notice to sue government

“More legal battles are brewing in the Klamath Basin as tribes and irrigators jockey for water amid ongoing drought.  The Klamath Tribes filed a 60-day notice of intent to sue the Bureau of Reclamation on Jan. 30, arguing the agency is failing to meet minimum water requirements in Upper Klamath Lake for C’waam and Koptu — two species of critically endangered sucker fish. At the same time, the Yurok Tribe in northern California is also challenging Reclamation’s latest water proposal to protect salmon in the lower Klamath River. The result could be that little to no Project water is available for irrigators this summer, leaving thousands of acres of productive farmland dry. … ”  Read more from the Capital Press.


Can San Francisco save the bay?

“The Board of Supervisors this week urged San Francisco’s water-management agency to rethink how it supplies and disposes of The City’s water after an unprecedented red tide overtook San Francisco Bay last summer, killing untold numbers of fish and aquatic life. City leaders passed a resolution Tuesday instructing the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission to reduce the number of nutrients it releases into the bay and scale back its reliance on the Tuolumne River by ramping up wastewater recycling.  “I thought we had seen it all, between orange skies and fires, sea level rise and the pandemic, but we haven’t,” said District 3 Supervisor Aaron Peskin at a hearing in October. “This summer, we saw something (new) in the 58 years I have lived on the shores of San Francisco Bay — I never recall a red tide that consumed much of the entire bay.” … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Examiner.

Lamorinda Council postpones adopting State Model Water Efficient Landscaping Ordinance

“Although city staff recommended adopting a number of minor changes to the city’s municipal code dealing with landscaping in order to bring the code into compliance with new state law, the city council on Feb. 7 decided to postpone taking any action pending clarification of a number of concerns expressed by council members.  The most prominent concerns of the council were whether the proposed changes would conflict with the Moraga-Orinda Fire District Fire Code, whether sports fields and golf courses would be affected, and whether there would be clear guidance on acceptable plants that would meet the new requirements. Council Member Latika Malkani also had specific questions about climate adaptive plants, and focused on the competing needs of drought conditions and slope stabilization during heavy winter storms. … ”  Read more from Lamorinda Weekly.


Monterey:  Despite the recent storms, water storage efforts on the Peninsula underperformed.

“Theoretically, the extraordinary series of atmospheric rivers that doused the Central Coast in late December and early January should have been a boon for efforts to divert water from the Carmel River and store it in the Seaside Basin for future use, a mechanism known as aquifer storage and recovery (ASR) – essentially, injecting water into an underground reservoir, where it can then be extracted during dry years.  That has not been the case. Due to a number of factors, those efforts have run up against constraints.  The Monterey Peninsula Water Management District’s ASR program was launched in the 2000s as part of an effort to shore up that water supply, and in 2017 – its record year of performance – it diverted and stored 2,345 acre-feet of water, about one quarter of the Peninsula’s annual water demand. … ”  Read more from Monterey Weekly.

Carpinteria:  More than 400 sign petition to end debris transportation to local beach

“A Change.org petition asking the city of Carpinteria and Santa Barbara County to stop moving rock and sand from local basins onto the Carpinteria beach has amassed over 400 signatures, quickly gaining traction across local social media channels since its launch late last week.  The petition – created by Carpinteria resident Michelle Carlen – urges the city, the county and First District supervisor Das Williams to “stop using (the area) as a dumping ground.”  “The debris basins need to be cleared, but there is a better solution,” Carlen told CVN, adding she is concerned with unsafe material being transported to the beach. “It’s disruptive to have dump trucks going through town for two months, causing dust everywhere (…) If this were happening in LA, OC or San Diego, people would be up in arms.” … ”  Read more from Coastal View.


Climate extremes threaten California’s Central Valley songbirds

“On a hot day in California’s Central Valley, Melanie Truan opened a handmade cedar birdbox. Inside sat a clutch of young ash-throated flycatchers, still fluffy with developing feathers. She tagged the birds’ little legs, weighed them, returned them, and moved on. There were plenty more stops to make that day on a 50-kilometer (30-mile) stretch of Putah Creek known as the nestbox highway.  The highway is a collection of hundreds of nesting boxes placed by researchers as part of a long-term study of songbirds’ adaptation to climate and land use changes and is operated by the Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology at the University of California, Davis. Truan, a research ecologist, started the project in 2000 as part of her doctoral research. The time- and labor-intensive study requires an army of student interns to visit every box, every week of the nesting season, every year. … ”  Read more from EOS.


Palmdale Water District considers water supply options

“As the Palmdale Water District plans for its water supplies for the next nearly three decades, it is looking at different options for the mixture of sources, including groundwater, runoff, recycled water and water imported through the State Water Project. The District is working on an update to the 2010 Strategic Water Resources Plan, having hired consulting firm Woodard and Curran to develop it. The firm has already examined supply and demand for the District’s water, and estimated gaps in the supply. At this point in the study, the firm is seeking to define the criteria for evaluating various options for water supplies. That criteria will then be used to lay out alternatives and evaluate them. … ”  Read more from the Antelope Valley Press.


Senator Padilla introduces legislation to create Salton Sea Conservancy

“Senator Steve Padilla (D-San Diego) today introduced Senate Bill 583, creating the Salton Sea Conservancy, unifying the state’s efforts to accomplish necessary and overdue preservation projects, protecting residents’ health, and fostering ecological recovery in the area.  With a surface area of 343 square miles, the Salton Sea is California’s largest lake and was once a freshwater lake and a thriving tourism destination. Evaporation, exacerbated by climate change, along with agricultural runoff, has exposed toxins in the lakebed and created a perfect environment for dangerous algae blooms and bacteria to thrive. Some experts estimate the sea will lose more than half its volume by 2030, creating close to a 3-foot decline in the water level. As the sea shrinks, the lakebed containing elements such as arsenic and selenium becomes exposed, and the dust particles that then become airborne, spread the toxins throughout the region. … ”  Read more from Senator Padilla’s website.


Tijuana sewage gushes through border canyon in San Diego after recent pipe break

“Millions of gallons of raw sewage from Mexico are gushing into San Diego through two canyons along the border, according to federal officials. The spill is coming from at least two pump stations that were forced to shut down after a construction crew last week inadvertently ruptured a major pipeline south of Tijuana.  Shorelines as far north as the Silver Strand were closed due to sewage contamination as of Wednesday, with the rest of the region’s coastline under the standard 72-hour rain advisory. South Bay beaches have been repeatedly shuttered as the result of winter storms that washed polluted flows through the Tijuana River watershed. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune.

SEE ALSORuptured Tijuana pipeline creates sewage flow across US-Mexico border, from Channel 5

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Along the Colorado River …

Can western states agree on the future of the Colorado River?

“Western state water officials will spend the next few months trying to agree on how to divvy up water from the Colorado River, which sustains a region of 40 million people across seven states but has been devastated by the worst drought in more than a thousand years.  Reaching a deal, however, has thus far proved challenging. Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming have jointly made a proposal to the federal government over how to decrease consumption of Colorado River water. California, however, has a different plan.  If the seven states can’t agree, federal officials will step in and unilaterally impose cuts later this year.  At issue is how much water California is entitled to and the time by which broad cuts will be implemented. California, which takes in the most Colorado River water of any state, wants a more gradual approach that honors decades-old water rights agreements, while the other states say California should take significant cuts sooner. … ”  Read more from the Pew Charitable Trust.

Even sports stadiums have to adapt to the Southwest’s water crisis

” … the seven states depending on the dwindling Colorado River for water have yet to agree on a water usage regimen going forward. And so many people are trying to do their part on an individual level. Mulching and skipping the daily lawn watering at home can make a difference if done by thousands. Anything helps. And even your favorite sports teams are trying to pitch in, all while trying to strike the balance between conservation, player safety, and accommodating the fans in attendance.  At a first glance, one would think that the verdant grass fields of your favorite stadium are the major culprit of excess water usage. But the yards of Bermuda grass is only a fraction of a stadium’s total water usage. Drinking fountains, plumbing, and general drainage accounts for a larger percentage of a venue’s water usage than just the field. “We all want to be water wise and be cognizant of the resources we are using.” Joe Furin, general manager of the Los Angeles Coliseum, told me. … ”  Read more from The New Republic.

Billy Idol to perform ‘once in a lifetime’ show at Hoover Dam to raise drought awareness

“Billy Idol will use his “Rebel Yell” to raise awareness of dire drought conditions in the U.S. West with performance at the Hoover Dam.  In a press release on Wednesday, organizers said it’s the first concert ever performed at the Hoover Dam.  He won’t be “Dancing With Himself” since he’s allowing 250 guests to see this rare concert as part of a package deal. … ”  Read more at Channel 13.

Could Arizona’s new governor shift Colorado River politics?

“Fights are brewing over the Colorado River and how to share what’s left of its over-allocated acre-feet. But now Arizona has a new water sheriff in town: Gov. Katie Hobbs. Although we are only a month into the Democrat’s tenure, she appears to represent a paradigm shift when it comes to water in the arid West. Hobbs is talking about reducing demand rather than trying to increase the water supply, which may sound like common sense, but in the Western U.S. is truly revolutionary. First, a bit of historical context: In 1880, the federal government’s Public Lands Commissions held hearings to get public input about how to dole out Western lands. One of the things they discussed was basically human-caused climate change. Really! … ”  Continue reading from High Country News.

One wet winter won’t save the Colorado River, but it still helps Phoenix

“Arizona has had a wetter-than-normal winter so far.  In January alone, the National Weather Service says the Phoenix area was three degrees below normal on average, with more than an inch of rain recorded.  All of that water doesn’t do much to help the dire situation on the Colorado River, which is drying up so fast the federal government is stepping in to demand massive cuts from all six states that use its water.  Phoenix gets water from two main sources. About 60% of it comes from the Salt and Verde rivers, which are fed by snowpack in the mountains and on the Mogollon Rim. The other 40% or so comes from the Colorado River — and that’s where the state is likely facing big cuts.  But it’s not all bad news. … ”  Read more from KJZZ.

Great Salt Lake’s retreat poses a major fear: poisonous dust clouds

“To walk on to the Great Salt Lake, the largest salt lake in the western hemisphere which faces the astounding prospect of disappearing just five years from now, is to trudge across expanses of sand and mud, streaked with ice and desiccated aquatic life, where just a short time ago you would be wading in waist-deep water.  But the mounting sense of local dread over the lake’s rapid retreat doesn’t just come from its throttled water supply and record low levels, as bad as this is. The terror comes from toxins laced in the vast exposed lake bed, such as arsenic, mercury and lead, being picked up by the wind to form poisonous clouds of dust that would swamp the lungs of people in nearby Salt Lake City, where air pollution is often already worse than that of Los Angeles, potentially provoking a myriad of respiratory and cancer-related problems.  This looming scenario, according to Ben Abbott, an ecologist at Brigham Young University, risks “one of the worst environmental disasters in modern US history”, surpassing the partial meltdown of the Three Mile Island nuclear reactor in Pennsylvania in 1979 and acting like a sort of “perpetual Deepwater Horizon blowout”. … ”  Read more from The Guardian.

Cost of living and water dominate Western concerns, new poll finds

“Affordability and water are the most pressing concerns in the Mountain West, according to the annual Conservation in the West poll released Wednesday.  By the numbers: 78% of residents in eight Mountain West states rank cost of living and gas prices as the most serious concerns, the Colorado College survey found. Drought, river levels and water supplies rounded out the top five issues among the 14 polled. All counted as top concerns for at least 60% of registered voters.  Why it matters: The elevated worries — an important benchmark for policymakers — show the Western way of life is at risk as inflation and climate change erode dreams of finding new lives in wide-open spaces. … ”  Read more from Axios.

Lake Powell drops to a new record low as feds scramble to prop it up

“Water levels in Lake Powell dropped to a new record low on Tuesday. The nation’s second-largest reservoir is under pressure from climate change and steady demand, and is now the lowest it’s been since it was first filled in the 1960s.  Water levels fell to 3,522.16 feet above sea level, just below the previous record set in April 2022. The reservoir is currently about 22% full, and is expected to keep declining until around May, when mountain snowmelt rushes into the streams that flow downstream to Powell.  Powell, which straddles the border of Utah and Arizona, is fed by the Colorado River. Warming temperatures and abnormally dry conditions have cut into the river’s supplies, and the seven states that use its water have struggled to reduce demand. That imbalance has dealt an alarming blow to the reliability of water supplies for 40 million people, and is threatening the ability to generate hydropower at Glen Canyon Dam, which holds back Lake Powell. … ”  Read more from Arizona Public Media.

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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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