DAILY DIGEST, 3/20: 12th atmospheric river is headed toward CA; Hoping to “take the pressure off” flooded areas, a levee is cut in the old Tulare Lake; California’s terrible deluge hides a silver lining; South Lake Tahoe: The mountain town buried by California winter chaos; and more …

California storms …

A 12th atmospheric river is headed toward storm-fatigued California, threatening even more floods

Still reeling from an onslaught of powerful storms and destructive floods, California is bracing for a 12th atmospheric river that’s expected to bring a new round of heavy snow and rain to the state.  The latest in the parade of storms ushered moisture into California Sunday, lashing the state with high winds and dumping more rain and snow over the region before it was expected to spread inland Monday.  The next atmospheric river, mainly taking aim at southern California, is expected to be colder than the last and arrive Tuesday with high winds, heavy rain, mountain snow and the threat of more floods. Soils in the Golden State are still overly saturated from last week’s storm, making the ground vulnerable to more flooding and rapid runoffs, the National Weather Service said.  Though not forecast to be as potent as the atmospheric rivers of previous weeks, the system is expected to bring 1-3 inches of rain across the lower elevations and 2-4 inches across the foothills of Southern California through Thursday. Arizona could also see up to 3 inches of rainfall. … ”  Read more from CNN.

Storms continue to hound California with flooding rain, mountain snow

“The end of winter will not bring relief from a historically stormy cold season in California. AccuWeather meteorologists warn that a potent storm can deliver another round of significant precipitation during the middle of this week. … Following a brief reprieve with rain and mountain snow for California on Monday a second and stronger storm will move in spanning late Monday night and Tuesday and continue into Wednesday. This robust round of rain and mountain snow from Tuesday to Wednesday will include a greater risk of dangerous flooding to Southern California.  “Yet another atmospheric river event may unfold across a significant swath of California this week,” according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Mary Gilbert. Indeed, a stream of Pacific moisture is expected to burst onshore in Central and Southern California by Tuesday morning, with precipitation already ramping up in intensity as far north as the San Francisco Bay Area. … ”  Read more from AccuWeather.

Near miss; Atmospheric river shifts toward Southern California

“After weeks of atmospheric rivers slamming into Northern California, triggering flooding and landslides, the jet stream has shifted the latest blast of subtropical moisture toward Southern California, forecasters said.  But it won’t be a complete miss on Tuesday. The northern edge of the river will bring moderate rain to parts of the Bay Area and 2 inches or more to the waterlogged Santa Cruz Mountains and the flooded communities in Monterey County.  “We will get rain on Tuesday,” KPIX Meotorlgist Darren Peck said of the Bay Area. “The majority of the rain will be south. Southern California will get significant rain out of this.”  The rain will be much like Sunday’s showers. Light to moderate downpours with a chance of a thundershower. … ”  Read more from CBS San Francisco.

In California water news today …

Video: Reservoir levels rising & La Niña is dead; Time for “proactive” water management

California Drought: Reservoirs water levels rising and La Niña is dead ABC10 meteorologist Brenden Mincheff takes a look at reservoir and snowpack levels, and also talks with water experts about levees, flooding, and budgetary cutbacks.

Hoping to “take the pressure off” flooded areas, a levee is cut in the old Tulare Lake

“After days of debate and delay the Kings County Board of Supervisors ordered a levee in the old Tulare Lake bottom cut so flood water raging into the valley could spread out onto farmland instead of into homes and businesses.  The levee was cut at 2:30 p.m. Saturday and water gushed in to the old lake bed, drained more than 100 years ago and converted to farmland.  It wasn’t an easy decision, said Supervisor Doug Verboon.  “I don’t like coming on to someone else’s land and telling them how to do things,” he said in reference to the fact that the critical levee is on land owned by the J.G. Boswell Company. But, he said, after the Tule River broke out Friday night, flooding parts of the City of Tulare, it had to be done. … ”  Continue reading at SJV Water.

Pine Flat to begin rare flood release to Tulare Lake, Army Corps announces.

“As the current series of storm events in California continues to bring much-above average amounts of snow and rain to the Sierra Nevada, and repeated heavy rainfall across the valley floor, the US Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District has announced plans to begin a rare flood release into the old Tulare Lakebed.  This decision comes as the Kings River runoff season is shaping up to be a record, and increasingly serious high water prospects loom large.   The big picture: The flood release will begin with increased flows from Pine Flat Dam starting at 5 a.m. Monday. The releases will grow to 1,500 cubic feet per second (c.f.s.) at Army Weir north of Lemoore into the lower Kings River’s Clark’s Fork-South Fork system. … ”  Read more from the San Joaquin Valley Sun.

Water flows at the Oroville Dam Spillway continue

“The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) announced Sunday they will be maintaining releases from Lake Oroville to the Feather River at 35,000 cubic-feet-per-second (cfs). Releases are made in coordination with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and downstream water operators for flood control protection. DWR continues to closely monitor lake inflow levels and will adjust releases accordingly. According to the DWR, since December 1, 2022, Lake Oroville’s storage has increased by approximately 200 feet and gained just under 2 million acre-feet of water. … ”  Read more from KRCR.

After 14 atmospheric rivers, how full are California’s reservoirs?

“As wet weather has continued to impact California, some reservoirs across the state are being managed with scheduled releases of water to prevent flooding, according to the California Department of Water Resources (DWR).  After 14 atmospheric rivers hit back-to-back this winter, reservoirs began filling quickly. Though most of the major reservoirs aren’t full yet, several are significantly higher than they have been historically. This is especially true in Central California at the Don Pedro, Camanche and Oroville reservoirs.  Video shared by DWR shows a large release of water from Lake Oroville down into the Feather River at a rate of 35,000 cubic feet per second. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is working with downstream water operators to schedule releases in an effort to manage flood control. … ”  Read more from KTLA.

El Niño expected to develop later in the year, NOAA says

“La Niña is finally over after three years, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This winter has not acted like a typical La Niña winter with California getting drenched, especially in Southern California where La Niña typically signals a drier than average winter.  In fact, Southern California has been so wet that the Southern California Water Board halted emergency conservation measures that were put in place last summer.  Climate models are nearly certain El Niño will develop later this summer or fall. California is typically wetter during El Niño conditions, although the signal becomes murkier from Sacramento northward. … ”  Read more from Channel 10.

California’s terrible deluge hides a silver lining

“California is an elemental maelstrom branded as a laid-back idyll; a “beautiful fraud” as environmentalist Marc Reisner put it(1). The pitch has faltered in recent years, as first wildfires and now torrential rains have claimed lives, wrecked infrastructure and displaced whole towns. Yet the atmospheric rivers deluging the state today may offer a silver lining of sorts later this year, during California’s summer blackout season.  The backdrop to all this is prolonged drought. Not only does that raise the risk of grid-busting wildfires, it dries up a resource that as recently as 2019 supplied a fifth of California’s grid-power: hydroelectricity. … ”  Continue reading at the Washington Post.

California crops lost after floods; how much of the US will feel the shortage?

“Too much [of a] thing, rain, is sinking farmers’ bottom lines across California’s Central Coast. The area some call “America’s salad bowl” more resembles a soup bowl as round after round of atmospheric river-fueled storms overwhelmed farmland. We all may start to notice a difference in the grocery store as some staples become harder to find.  FOX Weather brought you to Pajaro, California when the levee failed recently. The farming community in the Pajaro River Valley disappeared under feet of water. Similar scenes played out across the Salinas River Valley, another iconic farm area in Monterey County which is the fourth top agricultural producer in the state, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture.  “For the farms that were flooded, this catastrophe hit at the worst possible time,” said California’s Strawberry Commission President Rick Tomlinson in a statement. “Farmers had borrowed money to prepare the fields and were weeks away from beginning to harvest.” … ”  Continue reading at Fox Weather.

Water concerns spark new tools for an evolving ag landscape

“Drought. Changing climate and weather patterns. Competition for precious water resources. New regulations. Increased pressure from consumers and the food supply chain around sustainability. With all of these factors in play for growers, making optimal water decisions is more critical — but also more challenging — than ever. Technology developments, enhanced tools for using data, and entirely different approaches to dealing with abiotic conditions like water stress are giving growers options as using water more efficiently and effectively becomes a top priority for agriculture.  All of these issues are impacting growers today, says Al Klapp, Market Development Manager for Valagro.  “When I think about water issues, my mind immediately goes to California. … ”  Continue reading at Growing Produce.

How AWS is helping to keep a river flowing in Northern California

“From the slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountains to the Central Valley farmlands, the Cosumnes River flows through a diverse range of California terrain. … The river is critical to farmers, wildlife, and also to a huge portion of the state’s population. The Cosumnes contributes to the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta Estuary (Bay Delta)—the largest natural estuary on the western coast of North and South America. The Bay Delta water resources are vitally important to the people and environment of California. This water is also an essential economic resource and is used by companies across every industry including Amazon Web Services (AWS).  “At AWS, we are committed to ensuring we have a positive impact on water resources in Northern California and other regions where we operate.” said Will Hewes, AWS Water Sustainability Lead. “While we rely on water from the Bay Delta to cool some of our Northern California data centers, we are also working with local governments, public utilities, and nonprofits to recharge groundwater and invest in recycled water infrastructure to help solve water challenges in the region.” … ”  Read more from Amazon.

The rapid invasion of Mississippi silverside in California

Dr. Peter Moyle writes, “The Mississippi silverside (Menidia audens) is one of the most abundant fishes in the San Francisco Estuary and in the fresh waters of California in general. As the name indicates, it is not native to the state but was introduced into Clear Lake, Lake County, in 1967, from which it quickly spread widely, via the California aqueduct system and through angler introductions as a bait and forage fish (Moyle 2002). It is a small fish, 7-12 cm (3-4 inches) adult length but typically occurs in large schools. Its impact on native fishes is poorly understood but is most likely negative. This blog tells the story of how it came to be introduced, as a classic example of the Frankenstein Effect, where a well-intentioned, science-based introduction created an out-of-control monster. I then discuss the extent of its spread, including into marine environments, and attempt to explain why it has been so successful in California and why it is probably having negative impacts on native fishes. … ”  Continue reading at the California Water Blog.

Yuba River Fall Run Salmon – Status Winter 2023

“When I last assessed the status of the fall-run salmon population of the Yuba River near Marysville in a 1/31/22 post, I stated: “The population remains in a very poor state – at about 10% of recent historical levels during and subsequent to multiyear droughts 2007-2009 and 2013-2015 (Figure 1).” Since the record low run in 2017, the fall run on the Yuba River has not recovered.  The failure of the four more recent runs to show signs of recovery (Figure 1) is especially concerning because 2017 and 2019 were wet years. The failure to recover may be simply the lingering effects of the drought years 2014-2015 and the ongoing effects of the 2021-2022 drought. More likely, the spawning stock has collapsed and is in dire need of support. The 2022 run appears to be even worse than the past four runs, thus adding to the concern. … ”  Read more from California Fisheries.

PFAS ‘forever chemicals’ are everywhere: here’s what that means for wildlife

“Images of starving polar bears staggering across the snow earned the species the dubious honor of being the “poster child” of climate change. But now another human-caused environmental danger threatens these apex predators: pollution from a class of 12,000 chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). And they’re not the only ones.  The nonprofit Environmental Working Group analyzed hundreds of recent peer-reviewed scientific studies and found more than 120 different PFAS compounds in wildlife. Some 330 species were affected, spanning nearly every continent — and that’s just some of what scientists have identified so far. … “The scientific literature shows that PFAS exposure is one of those risk factors that make our western lifestyle unhealthy,” says Catharina Vendl, a wildlife health researcher at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, who is mapping the health risk of PFAS in wildlife. “And unfortunately, wildlife has become unwillingly part of our western lifestyle.”  Read more from The Revelator.

Prolonged rain, snow could make 2023 fire season worse

“Storms this winter have brought much-needed rain and snow to the mountains and valley floor, but fire experts are saying the prolonged wet weather could make this year’s fire season one of the worst.  Cal Fire officials say the massive amount of rain and snow received this winter could make this year’s fire season more extreme.  “The expectation on our part and every fire department in the state of California that this going to be the worst year ever, we have to prepare for that,” said Issac Sanchez with Cal Fire.  While the rain and snow have eliminated large parts of California’s drought and replenished much-needed groundwater, it has also allowed the number of plants to grow – which could fuel wildfires when they dry up in the summer. … ” Read more from Your Central Valley.

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In regional water news and commentary today …


Crescent City commentary: To Dredge or Not To Dredge? That is the question

“There was an article in the Triplicate last week related to harbor dredging that provided a skewed perspective from a single source.  I can provide a broader context for this story. I attended the Harbor District meeting (3/7/23) which had an informative discussion of harbor dredging. I was the only member of the public there. This was a first for me. Usually, several other people and occasionally a Triplicate reporter attend. At the meeting one of the Commissioners asked the Harbor Master for advice on how to explain what is going on with harbor dredging. The ensuing discussion helped me to understand more clearly what is and what is not being done to keep the harbor dredged. … ”  Read more from the Del Norte Triplicate.

Supervisors to discuss indigent defense services, Clear Lake hitch fishery

“The Board of Supervisors this week will get a presentation on indigent defense services in the county and hold a discussion with Lake County Water Resources staff about its ability to form a fisheries program for the threatened Clear Lake hitch.  In an untimed item, Water Resources staff will discuss with the board the department’s capacity for forming and implementing a fisheries program focused on the Clear Lake hitch, or Chi.  Last month, the board declared an emergency related to the native fish, which in recent years have declined precipitously in numbers.  “The presentation will include anticipated costs, staff, and resources needed to form a program of this nature along with outlining the overall capacity of the Department’s ability to do so,” the staff report said. … ”  Read more from the Lake County News.


South Lake Tahoe: The mountain town buried by California winter chaos

“Few places experience both the beauty and the fury of California’s natural world like South Lake Tahoe. The picturesque city of 21,000, nestled high in the Sierra Nevada mountains and famed for its ski resorts, has endured a wildfire, drought, and now, dangerous amounts of snow – all in a roughly two-year period. Throughout March, high-altitude storm systems known as atmospheric rivers pummelled South Lake Tahoe during what climate scientists have dubbed a winter for the history books.  The heavy snowfall and precipitation collapsed roofs, closed grocery stores, trapped residents in their homes, and rendered highways impassable. Parts of the region remain under flood advisories that could continue into spring, as the snow is expected to melt with incoming rain and warmer temperatures. … ”  Read more from the BBC.

Commentary: Weathering Lake Tahoe’s storms

“Tahoe’s perseverance has been on full display over the past weeks as residents, businesses, plow drivers, and emergency responders have managed a dangerous and exhausting confluence of atmospheric rivers and winter weather. While we welcome the snowpack and the water it brings, the intensity at which it arrived has major downsides for our communities and the lake.  Since the 1960s, researchers have been measuring the depth of Lake Tahoe’s water clarity as a key indicator of the health of the watershed. Declining lake clarity led to limits on new development and protections for the meadows and wetlands that play an important role in filtering runoff before it enters the lake. While the lake’s long-term clarity has stabilized at around 70 feet, it is exactly this kind of weather system that can flush polluted sediments, not to mention our crumbling roadways, into Lake Tahoe.  Fortunately, Lake Tahoe agencies and property owners have been improving water quality protections for decades under the Environmental Improvement Program, or EIP. … ”  Read more from the Tahoe Daily Tribune.


Rain returns to Sacramento with snow in the Sierra, and more storms are in store this week

“Rain drizzled throughout the Sacramento region on Sunday. And more is on the horizon after a brief respite, experts say. Monday should be dry before another weather system brings more showers Tuesday, National Weather Service meteorologist Robert Baruffaldi said. While that small storm will mostly affect Southern California, Lake Tahoe ski resorts such as Palisades Tahoe could see another foot of snow on top of their gargantuan snowpacks. … That’ll be followed by a likely dry spell in the Sacramento Valley on Wednesday and Thursday, though the Sierra Nevada mountains may see some snow. … ” Read more from the Sacramento Bee.


North Bay’s next storm expected to bring more widespread rain, winds, downed trees

“The North Bay’s most recent storms are predicted to clear Monday morning, providing a short break before the next storm rolls in Monday night, bringing more widespread rain, up to 25 mph wind gusts and potential weather hazards, according to the National Weather Service. …  The next storm, which is the fringe of an atmospheric river headed for southern California, will begin Monday night and last until early Wednesday, Hoang said.  Widespread lighter rains will drop about 0.25 to 0.5 of an inch in the Sonoma County valleys, such as Santa Rosa, and up to 1 inch in the higher elevations, such as the coastal mountains.  During the storm, wind gusts will reach up to 15 mph in the valleys and about 20 to 25 mph in higher altitudes.  While this event is expected to be relatively light in comparison to recent storms, because the soils across the region are already saturated, the chances for weather-related hazards are heightened, Hoang said. … ”  Continue reading from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.


Incoming storm packing damaging winds; Residents brace for toppled trees, downed power lines

While a potent atmospheric river will unleash its wrath on Southern California on Tuesday, the San Francisco Bay Area will not escape unscathed.  The spinning low pressure system parked off the Bay Area coast will whip up damaging winds, blasting them into the South Bay and East Bay hills. The National Weather Service has issued wind advisory, warning that “saturated soils can make it easier for trees to fail.”  “Depending on the exact track and strength of the system, wind gusts have the potential (30-50%) to exceed 50-60 mph in areas from the Santa Cruz Mountains inland into the East Bay Hills/Diablo Range and southward,” forecasters predicted. … ”  Read more from CBS San Francisco.


Hazardous water levels prompt evacuation orders along San Joaquin River

“Two locations in San Joaquin County along the San Joaquin River remain under evacuation orders due to hazardous water levels caused by the storm runoff and snowmelt.  The latest evacuation order was issued on Saturday in Lathrop’s Haven Acres Marina, located at 1691 Frewert Road, according to the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office.  Last week, residents residing in Airport Court in Manteca were notified of an evacuation warning shortly before the San Joaquin River reached the flooding stages. … ”  Read more from SF Gate.

Wetter, cooler days again in store for Modesto this week. Flood advisory indefinite

“After four dry days — at least according to Modesto Irrigation District precipitation measurements — rain returned to Modesto on Sunday and remains in the forecast for much of the week.  A flood advisory for the Modesto area is in effect “until further notice,” the National Weather Service reports in its seven-day forecast online Sunday.  The Tuolumne River in Modesto and the San Joaquin River in Newman both remain in flood monitor stage and and are expected to stay there for the next several days, the Stanislaus County Office of Emergency Services said in a Facebook post Sunday. … ”  Read more from Yahoo News.

Concern over San Joaquin River water level in Firebaugh

“Worry in the city of Firebaugh as water levels of the San Joaquin River continue to rise. Lawmakers were in the city, assessing the water levels and infrastructure.  They said if the federal government does not offer financial aid, homes are in danger of flooding.  Swollen River water had Firebaugh resident Craig Knight concerned as more rain fell last week.  But soon after the rain stopped, his worry soon faded away.  “A lot of the water went down south. It kind of relieved a lot of pressure on the river and the river system,” said Knight. … ”  Read more from ABC 30.

How Lake Isabella Dam is handling the heavy rainfall

“Thanks to recent repairs Isabella dam is holding up after Kern County was soaked by recent rain storms.  Now as more rain is expected next week many are asking how much more can it withstand?  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says despite the recent heavy rain the Kern River Valley has received the Lake Isabella Dam is not even close to pushing water to the emergency spillway.  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers declared the construction on Lake Isabella substantially complete in October 2022. … ”  Read more from Bakersfield Now.

Scripps Institution researchers visit Bakersfield College for ag and water study

“A changing climate in California could very well mean longer periods of drought, then wetter and more intense storms when the rains finally arrive. It’s not an ideal scenario when trying to manage precious water in the Golden State.  Learning how to manage California’s water for the greatest benefit — even as these new challenges come to the agriculture-intense San Joaquin Valley — is one of the reasons Tom Corringham led a team of researchers to Bakersfield College on Thursday and Friday.  “In this particular project, we’re looking at agriculture and water in the southern San Joaquin Valley, and what the impacts of changing climate and policy changes like SGMA (California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act) are going to mean for Kern County and the southern Central Valley,” said Corringham, a research economist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. … ”  Read more from the Bakersfield Californian.

Tehachapi: Water district begins importing water as state faces more storms

“The pumps are running.  With the potential of additional water becoming available the Tehachapi-Cummings County Water District fired up its importation system on March 15, about two weeks earlier than originally planned.  General Manager Tom Neisler shared that news with members of the district’s board at their meeting the same day, along with updates on the water situation statewide as reservoirs have filled and, in some cases, spilled.  Among the many challenges for the district, Neisler said, are that with fields soaked from rain and flooding, customers won’t be ready for water for a while. And because the district had planned to begin using two pumps on April 1 — and instead is running three pumps — its natural gas costs will be higher. … ”  Read more from the Tehachapi News.


A drop for the drip—water waste complaints plummet in Los Angeles

(Ok, is this really surprising?)  “Residents of drought-stricken California have largely welcomed the winter rains. Although pummelling storms caused a levee to break in Monterey County, and snowed in people in the San Bernardino Mountains, the unceasing precipitation has helped fill depleted reservoirs and remedy parched landscapes.  There have been additional benefits in Southern California. The Metropolitan Water District last week announced that it will lift emergency conservation restrictions that had been imposed in June, and that limited 7 million people to watering outdoor areas just once a week.  There is another local benefit: Complaints to the MyLA311 system about people wasting water in the city of Los Angeles have fallen dramatically. Reports via phone, website or an app in the first two months of 2023 are the lowest they have been in almost a year. … ”  Read more from Crosscurrent LA.

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Along the Colorado River …

Commentary: The Colorado River is running dry, but nobody wants to talk about the mud

Colorado River from Moab Rim. Photo by the USGS.

a professor at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, writes, “It’s difficult to fathom how the Colorado River could possibly carve the mile-deep chasm that is the Grand Canyon. But if one thinks of the river as a flume of liquid sandpaper rubbing the land over millions of years, it begins to make sense. “The finest workers in stone are not copper or steel tools,” Henry David Thoreau wrote, “but the gentle touches of air and water working at their leisure with a liberal allowance of time.” In 1963, humans stopped time, when the brand new Glen Canyon Dam on the Utah-Arizona border cut off the reddish sediment that naturally eroded the Grand Canyon. Today the river runs vodka clear from the base of the dam.  But the silt never ceased arriving in Lake Powell, the reservoir above the dam. Each day on average for the past 60 years, the equivalent of 61 supersize Mississippi River barge-loads of sand and mud have been deposited there. The total accumulation would bury the length of Manhattan to a depth of 126 feet — close to the height of a 12-story building. … ”  Continue reading at the New York Times (gift article).

Commentary: Water flows uphill toward money

“”Dristan,” a 1960s TV commercial exulted, “is like sending your sinuses to Arizona.” Lots of people did that and insisted on coming along with them. Today, the Grand Canyon state is at serious risk of drying up and blowing away.  Carpetbagger crazies from elsewhere now infest politics in Arizona, which squanders water on runaway “development”: urban sprawl with lush gardens and lawns, retirement meccas, thirsty crops, orchards, golf courses, spa resorts, surf parks and monster malls blasted with frigid air.  In the short run, Florida is more frightening. A mob-style megalomaniac and a self-proclaimed God surrogate vie for the Republican presidential nomination, each bent on crippling democracy. Yet politics are reversible. Heedless humans in Arizona are playing for keeps.  The mercury soars, wildfires rage, land sinks into depleted aquifers, freak floods that punctuate endemic drought devastate homes built in the wrong places. Unlearned lessons in the American West are vital on a planet where climate chaos fast approaches a point of no return. … ”  Continue reading at Reader Supported News.

The Biden administration is offering to pay Colorado River farmers to let fields go dry during a devastating drought. They’re worried it’s just the first step in losing their way of life.

“Troy Waters is a fifth-generation farmer in Grand Valley, Colorado. With a new water conservation program funded by the Biden administration, he fears his way of life will turn to dust and blow away in the wind like dried-out topsoil.  That’s because the federal government wants to conserve water in the drought-ravaged Colorado River by giving farmers and ranchers cash to let their fields lie fallow, but the interstate agency running the program isn’t offering these producers enough money to quit farming voluntarily, Waters said.  “They’re talking system conservation, and I’m afraid that’s the first step to what I would call ‘buy and dry,'” he said, referring to a fear that the federal government would buy up the land for pennies on the dollar and dry it out for good. “And there goes, you know, generations and generations of family farms like ours.” … ”  Read more from Business Insider.

U.S.’s $250 million for Lake Mead could delay CAP cuts to Tucson

“A federal plan to spend $250 million to conserve enough Colorado River water to raise Lake Mead 10 feet this year could delay the onset of mandatory, uncompensated cuts to Tucson’s Central Arizona Project supplies, forecasts show.  Raising Lake Mead 10 feet could keep the reservoir from falling far enough to worsen the river’s shortage to the point that would, for the first time, require cuts in CAP deliveries to Tucson.  Overall, the water savings resulting from the $250 million in spending will amount to “putting a little bit of a Band-Aid on a wound,” said U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly, an Arizona Democrat who successfully pushed for this funding as part of last year’s passage of a federal climate-oriented law. … ”  Read more from the Arizona Daily Star.

Navajo Nation’s long quest for water — and for the federal government to keep its promises — ends up at Supreme Court

“As part of the tribe’s efforts to assert control over its long-term future, it filed a long-shot lawsuit in 2003 arguing that the U.S. government has a duty to assess the nation’s water needs and ensure it has enough. After lengthy litigation, that case is now before the Supreme Court, which hears oral arguments on Monday.  For the tribe, the case is about more than what rivers it can draw water from — the Navajo say it’s about ending nearly two centuries of injustice perpetuated by the federal government, which has failed to keep promises and left them to suffer on the arid lands where their ancestors settled. … ”  Read the full story at NBC News.

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In national water news today …

Bill introduced to provide clean drinking water for rural Americans

“Senators Tammy Baldwin and Susan Collins introduced the bipartisan Healthy Drinking Water Affordability Act, or The Healthy H2O Act. Baldwin, a Wisconsin Democrat and Collins, a Maine Republican, say the bill will provide water testing and treatment technology grants directly to individuals and non-profits in rural communities. … ”  Read more from Ag Net West.

Judge freezes Biden WOTUS rule in 2 states

“A federal judge in Texas has put the Biden administration’s signature water regulation on hold in two states amid a mounting push from White House critics, who want the rule stalled until a much-anticipated Supreme Court ruling lands later this year.  Judge Jeffrey Brown on Sunday handed the states of Texas and Idaho a victory in their fight to head off the new “waters of the United States,” or WOTUS, rule. Two separate lawsuits in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas had argued that EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers should have to wait for the upcoming Sackett v. EPA decision before implementing the new regulation. One was brought by state officials and one by industry members.  Brown, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump, agreed to put the rule on ice in the states before it was set to take effect Monday. He granted the states’ request but denied industry associations’ plea to stop the rule nationwide. … ”  Read more from E&E News.

White House budget request includes funding for national water recycling program

“The WateReuse Association has announced that the Biden administration has requested full and first-time funding for the Alternative Water Source Grants Pilot Program, which, when funded, will be the first nationwide water recycling program in the United States.  Through the Alternative Water Source Grants Pilot Program, the U.S. EPA will provide competitive grants to state, interstate and intrastate water resource development agencies to engineer, design, construct and test alternative water source systems, including water recycling systems. … ”  Read more from Water Finance & Management.

Plastic bags are leaving their mark on the deep-sea floor

“Plastic pollution is everywhere, from the tip of Mount Everest to the bottom of the Mariana Trench. Wherever it goes, plastic has unexpected effects: it transports pathogens, strangles wildlife, and, sometimes, becomes habitat. But on the bottom of the Philippine Trench, 10,000 meters deep, plastic is reshaping life on the seafloor.  In 2021, Alan Jamieson, a marine biologist at the University of Western Australia, Deo Florence L. Onda, a microbial oceanographer at the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute, and their crew descended into the third-deepest trench in the world. The place was swarming with plastic bags.  As the scientists watched, the deep-sea current was dragging plastic bags along the seafloor, scraping it with parallel lines like tire tracks. … ”  Read more from Hakai Magazine.

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More news and commentary in the weekend edition …

In California water news this weekend …

  • Kaweah River by Kevin

    Dual storms to swipe California with flooding rain, mountain snow

  • High drama, ugly deeds, politics and moments of kindness swirl amid the waters of a re-emerging Tulare Lake
  • Who deserves a levee? The fight to save California communities from flooding
  • Scientists found microplastics in Sierra snowpacks. Should we worry about Bay Area drinking water?
  • Testing at the source: California readies a groundbreaking hunt to check for microplastics in drinking water
  • A solar solution to the West’s changing climate?
  • Extensive winter rain likely to heighten wildfire risk in California
  • Climate is changing too quickly for the Sierra Nevada’s ‘zombie forests’
  • PG&E signals that it will speed up removing dam which helps divert water from the Eel River to the Russian River
  • Commentary: Farmers can’t keep hogging the water in parched Southwest
  • New review of world water resources provides sustainable management strategies
  • And more …

Click here to read the weekend digest.

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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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