DAILY DIGEST, 3/24: Rain won’t end CA’s water troubles, but better infrastructure might; Klamath dam removals, habitat restoration begins; Groundwater rise raises the stakes at Richmond’s AstraZeneca site; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • MEETING: Central Valley Flood Protection Board beginning at 9am.  Agenda items include a legislative update, Information item on Putah Creek levees; Fiscal Year 2023-24 Governor’s Proposed Budget; and Natomas Levee Improvement Program (NLIP), Transfer of Operation and Maintenance Responsibilities.  Click here for the agenda and remote access instructions.
  • SYMPOSIUM (HYBRID): Northern California Land Back from 9:30am to 5:00pm.  Panel discussions include public and private land return, Land grab universities – the California Context, Indigenous land trusts, Legal considerations & policy recommendations, and funding. Click here for more information. Click here to register.

In California water news today …

Rain won’t end California’s water troubles, but better infrastructure might

“California had suffered through the three driest years on record when its rain season began last November. The La Niña climate pattern usually associated with lower rainfall in the state was still in place.  But a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) blog dedicated to monitoring La Niña and its opposing climate pattern, El Niño, notes that the presence of either is “a guarantee of absolutely nothing.” This forecast proved to be accurate. The state has been hit by 12 “significant” atmospheric river storms this winter, and almost 30 in total. … California won’t be able to navigate its water future without 21st-century water infrastructure. A recent white paper from the Milken Institute lays out a framework for investment and governance that could move the state toward the water resiliency it will need to sustain its population and economy. … ”  Read more from Governing.

Continued rains highlight ongoing water storage and flood concerns

“Above average rainfall has been recorded in the Fresno area this season, and forecasts show the potential for even more wet weather. Meteorologist Brian Ochs with the National Weather Service in Hanford said atmospheric river events like the ones that hit this season are cyclical and can be expected every five to six years, though some are stronger than others. Experts like Cordie Qualle, a lecturer in the Lyles College of Engineering at Fresno State, said the storms this season are somewhat reminiscent of a series of storms that pummeled California as the calendar flipped from 1996 to 1997 and led to flooding in the Central Valley and other parts of California. … ”  Read more from Fresno State.

3 reasons why California’s drought isn’t really over, despite all the rain

“Ask a water expert if California’s drought is finally done, and the answers sound something like this: “Yes and no.” “Kind of.” “Depends what you mean by drought.”  The state has been deluged by storms this winter, hit by 12 atmospheric rivers that have led to evacuation orders, rising rivers and broken levees. In some parts of the Sierra Nevada, more than 55 feet of snow have fallen.  With reservoirs filling up, many Californians are eager to put the severe, 3-year drought behind them. A major water supplier in Southern California recently lifted mandatory conservation rules that limited outdoor watering. Large parts of the state are now free of drought, according to the federal government’s Drought Monitor, which looks at rainfall and soil moisture.  But in California, water shortages aren’t just due to a lack of rain, and the state’s chronic water problems are far from over. … ”  Read more from KQED.

Record snowpack, nearly full reservoirs: Here’s the state of California’s drought after an epic winter

“California has faced an onslaught of powerful, atmospheric river storms this winter, which has led to record-breaking snowpack, nearly full reservoirs and overflowing watersheds.  At this time last year, all of California was caught in a drought. But according to the latest US Drought Monitor released Thursday morning, just over a third of California remains in some level of drought – the lowest amount since the drought began – with severe drought only covering 8% of the state.  For the last three years, the state has been in desperate need of some rain and snow. Just a month ago, more than 33 million people in California, including in the major metropolitan areas of Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego, were facing an unrelenting drought. Years of unfavorable precipitation trends and more intense heat waves have fed directly to the state’s prolonged, historic megadrought that has triggered dire water shortages. … ”  Read more from CNN.

DWR reduces Lake Oroville outflows to 15,000 cfs

“Throughout the past month, the California Department of Water Resources has been having to adjust outflows from Lake Oroville thanks to a seemingly constant stream of stormy weather creating heavier inflows than usual.  Initially, the spillway was opened to 15,000 cubic feet per second of water to prepare for stormy weather and snowmelt anticipated throughout the last couple of weeks with flows being turned up as high as 35,000 cfs. As of Wednesday, DWR has reduced the outflows back to 15,000 cfs.  DWR spokeswoman Raquel Borrayo said flows will likely remain at this level through Thursday.  “DWR plans to hold releases at this level into Thursday, however, that is subject to change based on weather or flood conservation guidelines set by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,” Borrayo said. “The Department is closely monitoring lake inflow levels to optimize storage for flood protection while allowing for carryover storage into next year.” … ”  Read more from the Oroville Mercury-Register.

Hydrologic experts project changes in our water storage

“The historic storms that have hit California have helped many portions of the state get out of a drought.  Hydrologic experts say our reservoirs and surface storage are looking good.  But what about our underground water storage?  Graham Fogg, a Professor Emeritus of Hydrogeology at the University of California Davis says about 97% of all liquid freshwater on earth is in groundwater.  That means there is 30 times more groundwater storage available than water surface storage. … ”  Continue reading from Fox 26.

When everyone sounds like a weather forecaster, whom should you trust?

“This winter, as atmospheric rivers slam into California one after another, Daniel Swain isn’t just worried about rain and flooding.  The UCLA climate scientist, who has devoted his life to studying weather, keeps an eye out for a different type of storm.  “A lot of noise,” he says. “A lot of confusion.”  Independent and amateur forecasters, armed with global data available online, have disrupted the quiet, calm science of meteorology by posting their own weather predictions on blogs and social media.  Many of these self-proclaimed “weather nerds” glean information from books and the internet while adding a touch of local knowledge. They can be surprisingly insightful.  But professional meteorologists worry that some try to grab attention by predicting massive storms when the chances are slim. Or try too hard to be first, issuing forecasts based on premature, unreliable information.  In this season of epic rain, snowfall and even “bomb cyclones,” with the public looking to forecasters for potentially life-or-death advice — hunker down or evacuate? — the key is providing warning without overhyping the situation. … ”  Read more from the LA Times.

The science of water and weather

“These days Californians have water on the brain—and that’s understandable. In April of 2022, Santa Clara Valley residents were worrying about the drought. By New Year’s Eve, they were worried about floods as a series of atmospheric rivers brought localized flooding along West Little Llagas Creek and Uvas Creek.  What is the science behind this “weather whiplash”? Graduate students from University of California, Santa Cruz who are studying in the university’s prestigious science communication program tackle some of the top water questions facing California.  Q: A recent study suggested that California might get gigantic “megastorms” every few decades. How would such an event impact the region?  A: Drought-ridden California is desperate for water. But be careful what you wish for: We might soon be swimming in it. … ”  Read more from the Morgan Hill Times.

CA Water for All Coalition urges policymakers to address water supply challenges through collaborative legislative solutions

Despite heavy precipitation, California continues to face longterm water supply challenges across the State that will threaten communities, businesses, our economy, jobs, and the California way of life. For California’s future, it’s critically important that policymakers address the inadequacies in the water system that are evident in times of drought and heavy rain.  A newly established education effort, CA Water for All, formed by the California Municipal Utilities Association (CMUA) with growing support from water agencies and stakeholders across the State, is urging California lawmakers to act now on a legislative solution to address the threat that continues to loom over the Golden State.  “The impacts of the failure to act now are far too consequential to ignore. We have a generational responsibility to fulfill by developing a water system that will adapt to changes in the environment and allow the State to thrive now and for future generations,” said Barry Moline, Executive Director, CMUA. … ”  Continue reading from CA Water for All.

California senator introduces bill for water supply targets

“California Senator Anna Caballero (D-Merced) announced that she is authoring a bill that would establish water supply targets to capture and produce enough water for the state’s needs.  Senate Bill 366, The California Water for All Initiative, would establish new water supply targets to capture and produce water and new requirements for state agencies. The office of Caballero says that the bill modernizes the California Water Plan.  “Despite decades of work to improve California’s water system, our infrastructure remains inadequate to meet present needs and is woefully unprepared to meet future needs,” said Caballero. “The targets set in place by SB 366 would create new accountability and effectively generate a commitment from the State, the water community, and stakeholders to follow through on comprehensive, long-term water supply solutions that will transform water management for generations to come.” … ”  Read more from Stormwater Solutions.

Much of drought-plagued West Coast faces salmon fishing ban

“As drought dried up rivers that carry California’s newly hatched Chinook salmon to the ocean, state officials in recent years resorted to loading up the fish by the millions onto trucks and barges to take them to the Pacific.  The surreal and desperate scramble boosted the survival rate of the hatchery-raised fish, but still it was not enough to reverse the declining stocks in the face of added challenges. River water temperatures rose with warm weather, and a Trump-era rollback of federal protections for waterways allowed more water to be diverted to farms. Climate change, meanwhile, threatens food sources for the young Chinook maturing in the Pacific.  Now, ocean salmon fishing season is set to be prohibited this year off California and much of Oregon for the second time in 15 years after adult fall-run Chinook, often known as king salmon, returned to California’s rivers in near record-low numbers in 2022. … ”  Read more from the Associated Press.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and partners announce more than $39.2 million for fish habitat

“Through the National Fish Habitat Partnership (NFHP) (www.fishhabitat.org), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and partners are providing more than $39.2 million to support 95 fish habitat conservation projects in 24 states. The USFWS is providing $5.8 million this year, with non-governmental organizations, state resource agencies, and other partners contributing an additional $33.3 million. This represents a 5.7:1 leveraged funding match for NFHP funding.  These projects empower and boost locally led conservation efforts that restore and reconnect habitats to create more robust fish populations, better fishing, and healthier waterways. Twenty individual Fish Habitat Partnerships across the nation make up our national efforts and work with a variety of partners, including private landowners, farmers and ranchers, Tribes, non-profit organizations, state, federal and local government agencies, and many others to achieve fish habitat conservation goals that protect, restore and enhance habitat conditions locally for fish. … ”  Read more from US Fish & Wildlife Service.

Have a wastewater issue? Maybe its time to send in the worms

“Charles Darwin once said of earthworms: “It may be doubted whether there are many other animals which have played so important a part in the history of the world.” When Darwin said that he probably couldn’t have imagined the interesting new “job” that earthworms are being asked to perform. They play a key role in a technology called “vermifiltration” which was developed by a company in Chile called BioFiltro. This article will describe the experience of two of the early adopters of this technology including a dairy in Eastern Washington and a winery in Northern California.  Dairies and wineries are both quality oriented operations that convert cultivated crops into beverages we enjoy. There are certainly many differences between these two systems, but they share a common environmental challenge – what to do with the wastewater that is unavoidably generated along the way. … ”  Read more from Forbes.

California appellate judge confirms state agency’s limits on perchlorate

“An appeals court in Sacramento on Thursday upheld a California environmental agency’s standards for limiting the presence of the chemical perchlorate in the state’s drinking water.  In the appeal brought by plaintiff California Manufacturers and Technology Association, Judge Elena Duarte ruled the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment properly considered iodide uptake inhibition and established its public health goal “at the level at which no known or anticipated adverse effects on health occur, with an adequate margin of safety.”  Perchlorate, a chemical both manufactured and naturally occurring, is regarded as a potentially serious threat to human health by the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, as well as numerous other agencies in the United States. … ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service.

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In commentary today …

State’s approach to water rights is two-faced and shortchanges Merced-area farmers

Mario Bandoni, president of the board of the Merced Irrigation District, writes, “Given the devastation we will soon bear under the state’s Bay Delta Water Quality Control Plan, our community and the Merced Irrigation District have had plenty of disagreements with our state’s resource management leaders over the past decade. But in recent weeks, at MID we have been heartened to see several of California’s most influential leaders actually agree with us on the issues of “equity” and “disproportionate impacts.” And we agree with how those values are being applied to some of the most important water management decisions our state, and indeed our nation, has seen in decades. Wade Crowfoot is the secretary of natural resources in California, which is the agency that oversees the State Water Resources Control Board. Crowfoot was recently quoted in the Los Angeles Times as saying actions compromising water rights would be “a bridge too far in the near-term. … ”  Read more from the Merced Sun-Star.

Inadequate water supply threatens California’s way of life. Now’s the time for a solution.

Senator Anna Caballero writes, “California has long been known for its sunny weather, beautiful beaches, and iconic cities. Beneath the surface, however, lies a perpetual threat that has worsened over years: a historic water supply challenge threatening every aspect of our way of life.  Even with the recent storms, the state’s chronic water supply shortage will continue to be exacerbated by climate change, drought, an expanding economy, and population growth; leaving millions of Californians, local communities, businesses, and our economy in a precarious position. An optimistic snowpack this year unfortunately does not bring our state out of the drought. … ”  Read more from the San Joaquin Valley Sun.

California, water you doing?

Zachary Faria writes, “Many areas in California are dealing with floods after the recent atmospheric river storm. Yet that doesn’t mean a future drought is out of the question.  Farmers in the state’s Central Valley have been rushing from community to community to help other farmers and residents avoid having their homes flooded. Fields, roads, and Kraft Foods factory parking lots are underwater in various parts of the state. The Sierra Nevada has received record amounts of snow, and reservoirs have been replenished. The winter storms have erased nearly three years of drought across Central and Southern California. … ”  Continue reading at the Washington Examiner.

Is the longfin smelt population in the San Francisco Estuary really endangered? It’s not a rhetorical question…

Dennis D. Murphy writes, “The federal Endangered Species Act instructs the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to determine whether to list a species as threatened or endangered solely on the basis of “the best scientific and commercial data available.” The Service has strived to make transparent the bases for those determinations, including through institutionalized Species Status Assessments (SSAs), which are intended to forecast a “species’ response to probable future scenarios of environmental conditions and conservation efforts,” providing “a single source for species’ biological information needed for agency decisions.”  Unfortunately, in its proposed rule to list as endangered the “distinct population segment” of longfin smelt that inhabits the San Francisco Estuary, the Service has abandoned its allegiance to using the best available scientific information, relying on an SSA that mobilizes facially inadequate data sets, ignores salient information gaps, and shrugs off technical peer-review criticisms that go to the heart of the argument for listing and protecting central California’s longfin smelt as endangered. … ”  Read more from the Center for California Water Resources Policy and Management.

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In regional water news and commentary today …


Klamath dam removals, habitat restoration, begins

“Crews have begun working on removing four dams on the Klamath River which tribes and other groups have lobbied to take down for decades.  The early removal work involves upgrading bridges and constructing roads to allow greater access to the remote dams, which are expected to be fully down by the end of 2024. The dam removal on the 38-mile stretch of the river comes after an agreement between the last dam owner PacifiCorp, California, Oregon, the Yurok Tribe, the Karuk Tribe and a multitude of environmental organizations, with the goal of restoring salmon populations.  The Klamath River Renewal Corporation held a news conference on Thursday giving an update on their work in dismantling the dams and restoring habitats. … ”  Read more from the Eureka Times-Standard.

Ground has been broken on Klamath River restoration, the world’s largest-ever dam-removal project

“In a monumental step that’s taken decades to achieve, work has officially begun on the world’s largest-ever dam-removal project.  This complex endeavor will entail both removal of the four dams that comprise the Lower Klamath Hydropower Project, formerly owned by PacifiCorp, and major environmental restoration in and around the land that has been sitting at the bottom of man-made reservoirs for more than a century.  In a Zoom press conference this morning, Craig Tucker, a consultant working with the Klamath River Renewal Corporation, noted that this also represents the world’s largest salmon restoration project to date.  “And as most of you know, this can’t come a moment too soon,” he added, referencing the latest dire population forecasts for salmon in Northern California rivers. … ”  Read more from the Lost Coast Outpost.

Farms grow native plants for Klamath River dam removal

“The largest dam removal project in U.S. history is about more than just tearing down four hydroelectric dams. After years of careful planning, crews are now laying the groundwork to raze J.C. Boyle, Copco 1, Copco 2 and Iron Gate dams on the Klamath River in southern Oregon and northern California, unlocking 400 miles of upstream spawning habitat for anadromous salmon. Once the reservoirs behind those dams disappear, they will expose roughly 2,200 acres of previously submerged land and built-up sediment that must be replanted with native vegetation for birds and other wildlife, and to stabilize the riverbank. Without swift action, the land could become a breeding ground for invasive weeds and vulnerable to erosion, which will degrade water quality and kill the very fish dam removal is intended to help. It is a massive environmental undertaking that involves producing enough wild grasses, trees and shrubs to meet the need. … ”  Read more from the Capital Press.

SEE ALSO:  , from the Western Farm Press

CDFW launches immediate efforts to save Clear Lake hitch

“Prompted by urgent calls for action from Tribal leaders and community members, a coalition of Tribal, local, state and federal entities is taking immediate steps to support the long-term survival of the Clear Lake hitch.  A large minnow found only in northern California’s Clear Lake and its tributaries, the hitch, known as Chi to local Tribal members, migrates into the tributaries to spawn each spring before returning to the lake. Historically numbering in the millions, Clear Lake hitch now are facing a tough fight to avoid extinction.  Today, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announced a list of commitments designed to protect spawning and rearing areas, provide appropriate stream flows, remove barriers to migration and reduce predation. CDFW expects these actions to provide a positive impact on the Clear Lake hitch population this spawning season and over the next few years. … ”  Read more from the Department of Fish & Wildlife.


Winter storm next week may drop up to 3 feet of snow at Lake Tahoe

“Unseasonably cold temperatures and light snow showers will continue through the weekend at Lake Tahoe with a stronger winter storm possible next week, one that could bring multiple feet of snow and travel impacts to the Sierra.  The National Weather Service in Reno as of Friday morning is calling for 2 to 3 feet of snow for the high Sierra and 10 to 20 inches for Tahoe communities, and most of that fresh powder will be dumped on Tuesday, the service said in a special statement. Snow totals on valley floors of western Nevada could reach up to 2 inches, with 2 to 6 inches possible for foothill locations and Virginia City, however accumulations will be limited on roads.  High temperatures are not expected to reach 40 through the weekend and into next week. A couple of inches of snow could accumulate this weekend in some areas ahead of a transition day on Monday before the next impactful storm arrives. … ”  Read more from the Tahoe Daily Tribune.


Shasta Lake businesses hope for more visitors as water levels rise

“Shasta Lake is on the rise. It’s a boost for farmers downstream but also a huge relief for businesses that rely on recreation.  With waters rising at the lake, places like Holiday Harbor and the Lake Shasta Caverns are hopeful of what it will mean for business over the next few months.  “I’ve been here 50 years so nothing really surprises me but this is good news. This is nothing but good news,” Holiday Harbor Operations Manager Kevin Kelley said.  Water levels sit at more than 1,000 feet, about 40 feet below capacity.  “It’s amazing. It’s like night and day. The water you see behind me, a couple of months ago was a dry lake bed. There was not a drop of water in our cove here,” Kelley said. … ”  Read more from Action News Network.


Research & studies at Bodega Bay to continue as county and UC ink deal

“Fifty-acres of tidelands in Bodega Harbor will stay a nexus for environmental research for at least another quarter century.  The land will remain, as it has since 1965, under the aegis of the Bodega Marine Reserve, one of 41 sites managed by the University of California. That’s thanks to a deal announced last week between UC and Sonoma County.  Suzanne Olyarnic is director of the Bodega Marine Reserve, which includes the Bodega Marine Lab.  “I think its really important that the county is showing their commitment to sort of protecting a small sliver of the Bodega Harbor habitat for research and education.” … ”  Read more from Northern California Public Media.


Groundwater rise raises the stakes at Richmond’s AstraZeneca site

“With rising global temperatures and this winter’s bout of heavy rains and flooding, sea level rise has been at the top of many of our minds. Like other climate change impacts, sea level rise will disproportionately affect marginalized and underserved communities. Already, this can be seen in Richmond’s AstraZeneca site. This area is a major example of environmental injustice, and rising water levels will only exacerbate the situation.  The AstraZeneca site sits just along the shoreline in Richmond. It was formerly owned by the Stauffer Chemical Company before being bought by AstraZeneca in the 1980s. Stauffer primarily manufactured sulfuric acid at the site by roasting pyrite ores, and for decades the company dumped the iron pyrite cinders into the marsh nearby.  … ”  Read more from the Sierra Club.

Novato landslide stabilizes, but significant work remains, officials say

“A mudslide that severely damaged a Novato road and threatened utility lines along Highway 101 has stabilized, and work is underway to prepare for another potential storm next week, officials said Thursday.  “The hillside is not actively sloughing,” said Battalion Chief Jeff Whittet of the Novato Fire Protection District. “It has significantly slowed but there is still movement because the ground is very saturated with all of the rain.”  The incident Tuesday evening caused about 75 to 100 feet of a hillside to fall 20 feet. The slide caused significant damage to a 100-foot section of Redwood Boulevard near Buck Center Drive and has blocked access to Olompali State Historic Park indefinitely.  “If you’ve ever seen photos of Loma Prieta earthquake, it really does look like that,” Whittet said of the road damage. … ” Read more from the Marin Independent Journal.


Pajaro flooding victims return to ravaged farm town

“Doris Padilla, 65, stood almost catatonic Thursday outside her mud-covered house on Florence Street in Pajaro, unable to begin the grueling work of rebuilding.  Unlike the neighbors busying themselves shoveling contaminated mud and debris and moving waterlogged furniture and carpets out of their homes, Padilla just couldn’t move. She waited outside her house for her son to come home from work and start cleaning up.  “It makes me feel desperate, I mean all I want to do is start picking stuff up, but I know I can’t,” Padilla said. “We really can’t walk around much and see all that was damaged because I’m afraid I’ll slip and fall and hurt myself. So we’re just waiting.” … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News.

SEE ALSO: Why is Pajaro not deemed a FEMA disaster after massive flooding from California storms?, from the LA Times

Monterey Peninsula water officials to unveil offer to buy Cal Am

“Public water officials on Wednesday set a date to disclose the amount of an offer to acquire the distribution assets of California American Water Co., as well as the methodology used to arrive on a figure.  In 2018 voters approved Measure J, which directed the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District to undertake a feasibility study on the public takeover of Cal Am’s distribution system. But Cal Am has pushed back saying the district’s methodology to arrive at the appraisal is flawed and that the true value of the assets is far greater than what the district would offer.  The district won’t release the amount until April 3 when it will disclose both the amount and methodology at a public meeting slated for 5:30 p.m. in the Monterey City Council chambers. It’s all but certain the district will file an eminent domain case to acquire Cal Am in Monterey County Superior Court. It would likely take a year or more for the court to render a ruling. … ”  Read more from the Monterey Herald.

‘Unprecedented’ decline in kelp forest in Monterey Peninsula

“A historic ocean heat wave that ended seven years ago is still creating reverberations along the California coast by decimating large swaths of kelp forest in the Monterey Peninsula, an area famous for its sea otters floating in kelp beds along the shore, new research shows.  The massive marine heat wave of 2014-2016 caused kelp forests in the Monterey area to decline by 80% between 2014 and 2021, according to a study published Thursday that looked at the impact of the event along much of the West Coast. The results show the long-lasting impact of even brief periods of ocean warming, which are increasing with climate change. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Sightseers flock to Lopez Lake to see the reservoir spilling over for first time in a quarter of a century

“A scene of rushing water, cars lining the street and bystanders stopping to snap photos — an unusual sight to many Californians. Lopez Lake, a reservoir that holds roughly 50,000 acre-feet of water, reached capacity Thursday and is spilling over its banks for the first time in a quarter of a century.  “To see the lake so low for so many years, it’s just always so disappointing and to see it full again, it’s just pretty remarkable,” said Marty Hawke, Arroyo Grande resident.  “Oh, it’s really exciting. First time in 20-25 years,” said Harvey Schwartzman, Arroyo Grande resident. … ”  Read more from KSBY.

Ventura County: Winter rain caused millions in damage to farms, drowned farmworker jobs

“On a recent sunny Wednesday, Emily Ayala trudged down a scree of rock, dirt and silt spilled out over Friend’s Ranch, her family’s 50-year-old orchard north of Ojai.  She stopped next to a jumble of spindly green branches jutting a few feet up from the earth. A solitary orange fruit clung to a twig. It was the crest of a dying tangerine tree, buried in 10 feet of earth by a January storm.  The county’s wettest water year since 2005 has helped refill rivers and reservoirs, beginning to make up for a dry 2021-22 rainy season. But the downpours also wrecked farmland, causing tens of millions of dollars of damage, and rained out jobs for farmworkers. … ”  Read more from the Ventura County Star.


Lathrop moves closer to river sewer discharge

“The City of Lathrop is one step closer to discharging the water that remains after the sewage treatment process into the San Joaquin River.  Last month the Lathrop City Council approved a contract with Fruit Growers Testing Laboratory for $44,535 to conduct testing to see whether the city is meeting its goals prior to formally discharging its treated wastewater back into the San Joaquin River where it will ultimately flow out into the Delta and ultimately the Pacific Ocean.  Currently Lathrop is required to discharge its treated wastewater to land – they spray it on specific fields so that it can filter down through the ground and back into the aquifer – but has applied for the water discharge requirements to be rescinded in June and are awaiting the results of that application. … ”  Read more from the Manteca Bulletin.

Floodwaters to replenish states underground reservoirs

“As storms continue to flow through the Central Valley, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order to make it easier to capture rainfall and snowmelt to recharge underground reservoirs.  Newsom signed the executive order, on March 10, specifically to lift regulations for local water agencies to capture water and recharge the state’s groundwater supply. This comes after a series of storms swept through Tulare County this year, bringing both heavy rain and snowpack that caused nothing short of a deluge. The order would temporarily lift the need for state permits that these water districts would originally have needed in order to collect floodwaters. Ryan Jacobsen, the Tulare County Farm Bureau CEO and president of the Fresno Irrigation District Board of Directors, said that this act could add more water into the groundwater system than the state has seen in years. … ”  Read more from the Foothills Sun-Gazette.

State Water Resources Chief in the valley to assess flood response and whether state intervention is needed

“In what could be a precursor to state intervention in the San Joaquin Valley’s – at best – patchwork response to historic flooding, the director of the Department of Water Resources made a fact-finding visit to the area Thursday and Friday.  While DWR Director Karla Nemeth and her team are hearing from counties about needed resources, they are also assessing the state’s authority to intervene, if needed.  “We are looking into the (Central Valley Flood Protection) board’s authorities right now,” she said. “We do believe it does have the authority to identify appropriate places for flood waters in the event of extensive flooding.” … ”  Read more from SJV Water.

Tulare Lake, drained decades ago, may return after California’s record-breaking storms

“The historic and long-gone Tulare Lake is on the verge of dramatically reappearing because atmospheric rivers pounding California are leaving water managers with no other place to divert flood releases. All that incoming water is giving farmers on the lake bottom a headache, but environmentalists see it as an opportunity to restore the lake – perhaps permanently – which last emerged in 1983 in another big wet year. Meanwhile, officials in Corcoran – situated in the old lakebed south of Fresno and the site of two state prisons – said recently reinforced levees will protect the city when the record southern Sierra snowpack melts. But at the moment, some communities aren’t so lucky. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee. | Read via AOL News.

String of agencies say White River flows into Allensworth aren’t their problem. So who’s in charge as homes start to flood?

“Residents of the small Tulare County town of Allensworth are desperate for answers about why floodwater from the White River is being allowed to rush in toward the community.  So far, a string of agencies have said they aren’t responsible, but it’s unclear which ones are able to help.  With no answers so far, community members took matters into their own hands, blocking floodwater, only to butt heads with the Burlington, Northern, Santa Fe Railroad.  The White River’s excess flows are coming through a culvert beneath BNSF Railroad tracks directly toward the historic Black town.  That is the biggest concern right now, said Kayode Kadara, community leader in Allensworth. … ”  Read more from SJV Water.

Watermaster warns residents about the dangers of the Kern River

“With the significant rainfall Bakersfield has seen in the past few weeks, Kern River Water Master Mark Mulkay told 23ABC although the river has experienced an increase in its downstream flow he urges everyone to stay out of it.  “People are going to see it through the city and think ‘oh boy this looks so fun, we need to go out and play in it.’ There’s trees in it, there’s brush in it, there’s all kinds of things underneath that water. People need to be very careful when they’re around the river this year. There’s going to be more water than they’ve seen in a long time and they just really need to protect themselves.” … ”  Read more from Channel 23.



Ridgecrest: Indian Wells Valley Water District new rate structure explained

Don Zbeda writes, “For years, the District has used a tier system to base its rates on. Most recently, the rate structure was based on four tiers. The first tier allowed up to 9 hundred cubic feet (HCF) for basic indoor water needs, including evaporative cooling. 1 HCF is equivalent to 748 gallons. The second tier, an additional 15 HCF to support water-efficient outdoor landscape requirements. The third tier provided 21 HCF for additional outdoor needs. The fourth tier is use above 45 HCF and is considered excessive use. As you would expect, the rate charged for usage increases in each tier. … ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent.


Scientists uncover startling concentrations of pure DDT along seafloor off L.A. coast

“First it was the eerie images of barrels leaking on the seafloor not far from Catalina Island. Then the shocking realization that the nation’s largest manufacturer of DDT had once used the ocean as a huge dumping ground — and that as many as half a million barrels of its acid waste had been poured straight into the water.  Now, scientists have discovered that much of the DDT — which had been dumped largely in the 1940s and ‘50s — never broke down. The chemical remains in its most potent form in startlingly high concentrations, spread across a wide swath of seafloor larger than the city of San Francisco.  “We still see original DDT on the seafloor from 50, 60, 70 years ago, which tells us that it’s not breaking down the way that [we] once thought it should,” said UC Santa Barbara scientist David Valentine, who shared these preliminary findings Thursday during a research update with more than 90 people working on the issue. “And what we’re seeing now is that there is DDT that has ended up all over the place, not just within this tight little circle on a map that we referred to as Dumpsite Two.” … ”  Read more from the LA Times. | Read more from Yahoo News.

Santa Monica uses innovative water recycling facility to capture and store rainwater

“Santa Monica has been using a pioneering water recycling facility since November to capture rain and store it underground for future use. As Southern California has been experiencing seemingly constant rainfall, the city has been capturing stormwater, urban runoff, and municipal wastewater and purifying it for potable reuse. This first-of-its-kind facility is located beneath a parking lot and features a 1.5-million-gallon stormwater harvesting tank and a one-million-gallon-per-day advanced water treatment facility. The recycled water can be used for irrigation, toilet flushing in buildings that have dual plumbing, and to recharge groundwater aquifers. … ”  Continue reading from the Santa Monica Mirror.


EPA announces $170 Million WIFIA loan to help limit water shortages in San Diego County

“Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a $170 million Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan to Poseidon Resources in San Diego County, California, to support its Carlsbad Desalination Plant Intake Modification and Wetlands Project, which will help provide sustainable access to drinking water and protect local coastal wetlands.  “Diversifying and stretching precious water supplies is essential in the water scarce West,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox. “Our WIFIA loan to Poseidon Resources in San Diego County will be used for both upgrading the drinking water desalination plant to help address water shortages, stretch precious water supplies, and protect critical marine habitats in the San Diego Bay.” … ”  Read more from the US EPA.

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Along the Colorado River …

Western lawmakers form caucus to talk Colorado River in congress

“Members of Congress from six of the seven states that use Colorado River water are convening a new caucus. The group aims to help rally federal funding for water projects along a river that supplies 40 million people and is shrinking due to climate change.  The House of Representatives caucus was formed as the Southwest grapples with a growing supply-demand imbalance along the vital river. Tension is growing between the states and industries that depend on the Colorado River, as reserves are steadily depleted by growing cities and a multibillion-dollar agriculture industry.  Joe Neguse, a Colorado Democrat and founding member of the caucus, said the group was formed to encourage dialogue between representatives from different states and to advocate for the allocation of government money for Colorado River projects. Neguse said the group will not aim to make decisions about how water is allocated, a process typically left to the states. … ”  Continue reading at KUNC.

Arizona drought conditions improving, though some areas have long way to go

“Running dry is something Arizona is trying to avoid. Just a few months ago, nearly 87% of the state was in the abnormally dry or worse category.  However, the latest drought monitor report shows some positive signs.  Three-quarters of the state is back to normal desert conditions.  Parts of the state, including Western Arizona along the Colorado Basin and the Colorado Basin near Lake Mead, remain in the abnormally dry category and have a long way to go to catch up with the rest of the state.  We are now heading into what is typically our dry season. … ”  Read more from Channel 15.

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National water and climate update …

The Natural Resources Conservation Service produces this weekly report using data and products from the National Water and Climate Center and other agencies. The report focuses on seasonal snowpack, precipitation, temperature, and drought conditions in the U.S.


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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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