WEEKLY WATER NEWS DIGEST for Mar 19-24: Updating CA water rights; Building water resilience, Record snowpack, nearly full reservoirs, flooding in the SJ Valley, and more …

A wrap-up of posts published on Maven’s Notebook this week …

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This week’s featured articles …

PLANNING & CONSERVATION LEAGUE: Updating California Water Rights in the Face of Droughts and Climate Change #2

Water rights have garnered increasing attention as water managers and decision-makers grapple with how best to respond to changing conditions.  At the 2022 Annual Environmental Assembly of the Planning and Conservation League, a group of water law and policy experts presented eleven recommendations for modernizing California’s water law system for the 21st century.  Those recommendations didn’t suggest a wholesale changeout of the current system but rather recommended incremental steps and more tools for the State Water Resources Control Board to be able to confront these challenges.

At the 2023 Assembly, two of the participants in the group, Richard Frank, a Professor of Environmental Practice and Director of the California Environmental Law & Policy Center (CELPC), and Jennifer Harder, a Professor at University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law, returned to discuss the progress made in last year’s legislative session and what pieces of legislation might be moving forward this year.  They were joined by Michael Claiborne, directing attorney for the Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability.

Click here to read this article.

HEATHER COOLEY: Solutions for Building Water Resilience in California

With the ever-changing climate and increasingly dry summers, California faces water challenges, despite this year’s bountiful snowpack.  At the February meeting of the California Water Commission, Heather Cooley, Director of Research at the Pacific Institute, explained how increasing water efficiency, water reuse, and stormwater capture is essential to building and enhancing California’s water resilience.

Heather Cooley began by noting that the past  22 years in the southwestern US have been the driest in 1200 years, partly due to climate change.  However, there is a growing recognition it’s more than a drought; it’s a fundamental shift in our climate to one that is hotter and drier and will include longer, more intense droughts requiring us to change how we use and manage water.

Click here to read this article.

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In California water news this week …

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.

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.

Ranking atmospheric rivers: New study finds world of potential

“Atmospheric rivers – vast airborne corridors of water vapor flowing from Earth’s tropics toward higher latitudes – can steer much-needed rain to parched lands. But in extreme form, they can also cause destruction and loss of life, as recently occurred in parts of California. Their effects, both hazardous and beneficial, are felt globally. A new study using NASA data shows that a recently developed rating system can provide a consistent global benchmark for tracking these “rivers in the sky.” Research into atmospheric rivers has largely focused on the west coasts of North America and Europe. The new findings help expand our understanding of how these storms arise, evolve, and impact communities all over the world. In addition, the ratings could help meteorologists better warn people to plan for them. … ”  Read more from JPL.

Amid soaking storms, California turns to farmland to funnel water into depleted aquifers

As part of this a groundwater recharge project, floodwater diverted from the Kings River was directed to inundate some fields at Terranova Ranch, stands in contrast to non flooded areas of the ranch in this photograph taken via drone.
Andrew Innerarity / DWR

“As storms have drenched Northern California, water diverted from the swollen Sacramento River has been flowing from a canal and pouring onto 200 acres of farmland.  For more than a month, the water has spread across fields, forming shallow pools, then percolating slowly into the earth.  This farm northwest of Sacramento, which has previously produced rice, is being used to replenish groundwater. It’s one of a growing number of sites across the Central Valley where landowners and local water managers are using farmland to take advantage of this year’s heavy rain and snow by capturing water and putting it underground.  Once applied to the fields near the town of Dunnigan, the water quickly sinks into the soil and makes its way through sediment to the aquifer. Measurements in nearby wells show that groundwater levels have risen. … ”  Read more from the LA Times. | Read via Yahoo News.

Study offers insights on reducing nitrate contamination from groundwater recharge

“With California enduring record-breaking rain and snow and Gov. Gavin Newsom recently easing restrictions on groundwater recharge, interest in “managed aquifer recharge” has never been higher. This process – by which floodwater is routed to sites such as farm fields so that it percolates into the aquifer – holds great promise as a tool to replenish depleted groundwater stores across the state.  But one concern, in the agricultural context, is how recharge might push nitrates from fertilizer into the groundwater supply. Consumption of well water contaminated with nitrates has been linked to increased risk of cancers, birth defects and other health impacts.  “Many growers want to provide farmland to help recharge groundwater, but they don’t want to contribute to nitrate contamination of the groundwater, and they need to know how on-farm recharge practices might affect their crops,” said Matthew Fidelibus, a University of California Cooperative Extension specialist in the UC Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology. … ”  Read more from Cal Ag Today.

Sites Reservoir’s novel approach to storing water for the environment

“In 2014, Proposition 1 set aside $2.7 billion to fund the “public benefit” portions of water storage projects through the Water Storage Investment Program. Water storage for the environment played a crucial role in determining how much funding the projects would receive. One of these projects, Sites Reservoir, offers a novel approach to storing water to benefit freshwater ecosystems when they need it most. We talked to Jerry Brown, executive director of the Sites Project Authority, to learn more about plans for the reservoir and its ecosystem water budget.  Q: Can you tell us about Sites’ unique approach to managing water for the environment?  From my perspective, the environmental water management portion of the Sites project is probably its most innovative part. … ”  Read more from the PPIC.

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.

Restoring wetlands: a strategy to address climate, biodiversity, and water

“No matter where you live, you’re likely to have a wetland somewhere nearby. Wetlands include any land that is saturated with water at least some of the time, like marshes and mangroves along our coasts, floodplains and wet meadows along rivers and streams, and vernal pools and prairie potholes. And all of these wetlands touch our lives in many ways you may not realize. In a new report produced by Point Blue Conservation Science and the Natural Resources Defense Council, we compiled evidence for a wide range of benefits wetlands provide us every day. Across all types of wetlands, we found evidence for a broad array of benefits, but what became clear is that wetland restoration is an important strategy for addressing three major challenges we face here in California and around the world: climate change, biodiversity conservation, and water management. … ”  Read more from Point Blue Conservation Science.

The Yolo Bypass is filled with water after some dry years. Here’s how often that happens

“Interstate 80 drivers and Capitol Corridor riders and have been treated this year to the spectacular three-mile journey over the flooded Yolo Bypass, which last received flows from the Sacramento River over the Fremont Weir in 2019. The Yolo Bypass floods only intermittently – sometimes staying dry for years. Though it receives water from several streams and canals on its western edge, widespread flooding of the bypass depends largely on high water in the Sacramento River spilling over the weir at its northern mouth. This year, rains in January and March have filled the Sacramento River high enough to send water into the bypass. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee.

Senator Anna M. Caballero announces statewide legislative strategy to ensure water for all Californians

“A reliable and sustainable water supply is critical to every aspect of California’s economy and the quality of life for all Californians. That is why Senator Anna M. Caballero (D-Merced) is authoring Senate Bill 366, The California Water for All initiative, as an important step in creating adequate statewide water supplies for future generations.  Senate Bill 366 would establish  bold, necessary water supply targets to capture and produce enough water for all uses, including communities, agriculture, and the environment. By modernizing the California Water Plan for a 21st century climate, SB 366 ensures accountability for state agencies on water management issues.  “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,” Senator Caballero said. “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 Senator Caballero’s website.

SoCal assemblymember introduces bill to require microfiber filters on washing machines

“Assemblymember Tina McKinnor (D-Inglewood) has introduced Assembly Bill 1628, which would mandate the installation of microfiber filters on all new washing machines sold in California by 2029.  “California has been a leader in reducing plastic pollution and must continue to lead on this issue,” said Assemblymember Tina McKinnor. “AB 1628 is a solution that is cost and energy efficient and has the potential to dramatically reduce the volume of microfibers entering the environment.”  Assemblymember McKinnor represents several cities and communities in Los Angeles County including Gardena, Hawthorne, Inglewood, Lawndale, Lenox, Los Angeles, Marina del Rey, Venice, West Athens, Westchester and Westmont.  The bill aims to reduce the quantity of plastic microfibers that end up in freshwater systems and oceans. … ”  Read more from the Santa Monica Daily Mirror.

Scientists found microplastics in Sierra snowpacks. Should we worry about Bay Area drinking water?

“Scientists have found microplastics in snowpacks across the Sierra Nevada, a jarring discovery that may help California regulators better understand how the polluting particles are entering the state’s drinking water supply.  The preliminary findings also indicate that microplastics — tiny fragments shed from synthetic clothing, food packaging and tires — are so widely dispersed that they have found their way to some of the most remote and pristine parts of the California landscape, a troubling evelopment as scientists race to understand their long-term health impacts. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Testing at the source: California readies a groundbreaking hunt to check for microplastics in drinking water

“Tiny pieces of plastic shed from food wrappers, grocery bags, clothing, cigarette butts, tires and paint are invading the environment and every facet of daily life. Researchers know the plastic particles have even made it into municipal water supplies, but very little data exists about the scope of microplastic contamination in drinking water. After years of planning, California this year is embarking on a first-of-its-kind data-gathering mission to illuminate how prevalent microplastics are in the state’s largest drinking water sources and help regulators determine whether they are a public health threat. … ”  Read more from Western Water.

California Farm Bureau: California Court of Appeal sides with farmers in precedential water quality cases

“In a legal win for California farmers, a state appeals court rejected all arguments brought by environmental groups and sided with the California State Water Resources Control Board, the California Farm Bureau and others related to the Central Valley’s Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program.  In its March 17 decision, the Third District Court of Appeal addressed three cases brought by environmental plaintiffs against the California State Water Resources Control Board in which the groups challenged the adoption of general waste discharge requirements for growers within the Eastern San Joaquin Watershed.  “The Court of Appeal’s landmark decision supports reasonableness and balancing in protecting water quality, while also maintaining our food supply and the economic viability of agriculture,” said California Farm Bureau President Jamie Johansson. “The court’s decision is precedential and applies to irrigated lands regulatory programs throughout the state.” … ”  Read more from Morning Ag Clips.

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In commentary this week …

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.

No matter how much rain or snow falls this year, California will still have a water shortage

Jay Famiglietti, a global futures professor at Arizona State University, writes, “During a winter of blizzards, floods and drought-ending downpours, it’s easy to forget that California suffers from chronic water scarcity — the long-term decline of the state’s total available fresh water. This rainy season’s inundation isn’t going to change that.  How is this possible, given the unrelenting series of atmospheric river systems that have dumped near-record snowfall over the Sierra and replenished the state’s reservoirs?  It’s all about groundwater. … ”  Continue reading at the LA Times. | Read via Yahoo News.

Editorial: It’s now not a drought; it’s a water storage problem

The Bakersfield Californian editorial board writes, “Last weekend, 15 million people in California and Nevada — many of them in the Central Valley, including Kern County — were under the threat of flooding. Evacuations were announced, and federal and state emergencies declared, as California continued to be pummeled by torrential rains and snowfall. And water-logged Californians braced for yet another “atmospheric river” to hit the state midweek. Atmospheric rivers are bands of moisture that can stretch for thousands of miles and act like fire hoses as they dump water from saturated air. These storms have been accompanied by heavy mountain snowfall that will eventually melt and add to floodwaters. Words like epic and record-breaking are used to describe the extreme, months-long weather events. That leads to the logical question: Is California still in a drought? That depends on how you define “drought.” In California, it’s more complex than just the absence of rain — which has been the situation since 2019. It is the balance between water supplies and water use. … ”  Continue reading at the Bakersfield Californian.

Facing weather whiplash, California must change water management

Ashley Overhouse, water policy advisor for Defenders of Wildlife, writes, “This year’s World Water Day theme is “Accelerating Change.” The theme was chosen to help meet the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal to update and safely manage water systems and sanitation globally by 2030—which is exactly what is needed in California and, unfortunately, the opposite of what is happening on the ground.  Last week, in a sign of dire water times, the Pacific Fisheries Management Council moved to close California and parts of Oregon to salmon fishing in 2023 because of the species’ low numbers due to water mismanagement in the Central Valley rivers. This is only the second time in California’s 174-year history that a salmon fishing closure has happened. Salmon are a keystone species and indicators of overall watershed health. The low number of salmon returning to their spawning rivers this year is yet another signal that the San Francisco Bay-Delta Estuary is facing an extinction crisis. … ”  Continue reading at Defenders of Wildlife.

Why does California continue to waste much needed water?

Susan Shelley writes, “On Saturday, the Department of Water Resources released a video on its Twitter account that showed water being released from Lake Oroville to the Feather River at the rate of 35,000 cubic feet per second.  The footage was breathtaking. Shot from a drone or helicopter, the video showed crystal clear fresh water gushing down the spillway, exploding into massive clouds of water that surged over the landscape toward the ocean, racing behind a delicate rainbow in the mist.  For Californians who have lived for years with state and local water officials practically stepping into the shower with them to lecture about conserving every drop, it was a nauseating sight. … ”  Read more from the OC Register.

Dan Keppen, executive director of Family Farm Alliance, writes, “There’s a passage in John Steinbeck’s “East of Eden” that does a good job describing California’s -and much of the West’s – hydrology:  “The water came in a 30-year cycle. There would be five to six wet and wonderful years…..then would come six or seven pretty good years….and then the dry years would come … During the dry years, the people forgot about the rich years, and when the wet years returned, they lost all memory of the dry years. It was always that way.”  And it’s still that way today.  Just last fall, California’s reservoirs had dropped to dangerously low levels and the state was headed for a fourth year of drought.  And then – just in time for the holidays – we were blessed with a series of “atmospheric rivers”. … ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press.

Western water crisis solutions inevitably end with a lot less for California farms

Veteran journalist Jim Newton writes, “A modest proposal for western water: Turn off the spigot to the Imperial Valley and let the farms go fallow. In return, provide a water future for Arizona, Nevada and Southern California.  Sure, there would be a price to pay. California’s Imperial Valley, which sits in the southeastern corner of the state, bordered by Arizona and Mexico, produces alfalfa, lettuce, corn and sugar beets, among other crops. It’s home to more than 300,000 head of cattle. Cutting off the water would end all of that, along with the livelihoods of the farmers and ranchers who produce it and the communities that depend on it.  But let’s face it, the whole valley defies nature. It’s a desert that became an agricultural area when the All-American Canal was built just over 100 years ago. That canal, an 80-mile long ditch that draws water off the Colorado River before it can reach its natural destination in Mexico, irrigates fields that would otherwise be barren in a valley where summer temperatures regularly top 100 degrees and annual rainfall is about 2 inches.   No canal, no farms. … ”  Continue reading from Cal Matters.

California’s drought is over. Its water problems aren’t.

“California’s recent water windfall is a bit like somebody getting a big tax refund after years of dipping into their 401(k) to pay the bills. Any sense of wealth this sudden bounty engenders will be fleeting and perhaps dangerously misleading. Weeks of heavy snow and rainstorms, poetically known as atmospheric rivers, have essentially ended the state’s three-year drought. Just 9% of California is still experiencing “severe drought” conditions, down from almost 33% a month ago, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Some of the state’s formerly parched reservoirs are overflowing. But the deluge on the surface has barely replenished the state’s groundwater, the 401(k) on which this and future generations of Californians will depend. … ”  Read more from the Washington Post.

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.

Riparian forests: How California farmers can protect waterways

Arohi Sharma, Deputy Director of Regenerative Agriculture with NRDC’s Nature Program, writes, “Around 200 years ago, California’s Central Valley was covered in a mosaic of wetlands and riparian forest ecosystems. The state’s two major rivers, the Sacramento and San Joaquin, used to flow freely into the Central Valley. The flooding that naturally occurred on these two river ecosystems created ecologically rich riparian zones that buffered the rivers, absorbed excess water during floods, and stabilized nutrients and soil. With their deep root systems and perennial cover, riparian forests built healthy and highly productive soil over millennia. Farmers saw the potential of these soils, and subsequently, the riparian forests were uprooted to support the expansion of agriculture across the Central Valley in the late 1800s and early 1900s.  Now, after decades of extractive agricultural practices, habitat destruction, monocropping, and excessive groundwater pumping, the Central Valley is struggling with critically low groundwater levels, biodiversity losses, and soil health degradation. It’s time to rethink our approach to farming and restore the same ecosystems that once made the Central Valley biologically rich and resilient. … ”  Read more from the NRDC.

Here’s why farm water use reports are exaggerated

Amrith Gunasekara, Ph.D., director of science and research for the California Bountiful Foundation, writes, “You may have heard it repeatedly through local and national news outlets or from organizations critical of California’s agricultural water use.  At the height of a historic drought in 2015, for example, The Washington Post published a report titled “Agriculture is 80% of water use in California.” And a 2022 report by Food and Water Watch, titled “These industries are sucking up California’s water and worsening drought,” again noted that, “in California, 80% of our water goes toward agriculture.”  Really?  Before we explain just how much that 80% figure is taken out of context, this fact is worth noting: Water for farmers in California produces by far America’s largest food supply, including staples that are affordable, safe, nutritious and essential for our daily lives. … ”  Read more from Ag Alert.

Developing renewable energy while protecting the farms that grow our food

The California Farm Water Coalition writes, “On its web site, The USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) says it conducts hundreds of surveys every year and prepares reports covering virtually every aspect of U.S. agriculture. The agency reports the facts on American agriculture, “…that are needed by people working in and depending upon U.S. agriculture.”  People that work in agriculture or that depend on agriculture includes pretty much everyone on the planet. Excellent soils and a Mediterranean climate make California one of the most productive agricultural centers in the world, allowing the state to produce two-thirds of the nation’s fruits and nuts, and one-third of its vegetables. Not making the best use of this unique agricultural resource would be a big mistake. … ”  Read more from the California Farm Water Coalition.

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.

With salmon season closed for 2023, the work is just beginning

Tom Cannon writes, “The final rules adopted by NOAA Fisheries and California Department of Fish and Wildlife this spring will be much different than last year’s rules.  The 2023 commercial and sport fishing closure is designed to ensure that adequate numbers of fall run salmon, the primary stock of the fishery, return to spawn this year and  begin the recovery of the population to allow future fisheries.  The Pacific Fisheries Management Council (PFMC) and the California Fish and Game Commission are taking this extreme action as their authorized contribution to the recovery of collapsed California’s salmon populations.  This year’s salmon closure follows yet another three-year drought (2020-2022) and associated water mismanagement.  But the work does not stop at closing the season. … ”  Continue reading at the California Fisheries blog.

Water’s moment: Advancing the human right to water in the United States

Monica Lewis-Patrick, President and CEO of We The People of Detroit, and Susana De Anda, co-founder and executive director of the Community Water Center, writes, “More than a decade ago, the United Nations declared that access to clean water and sanitation is a human right, underpinning all other goals for equality, health, and economic prosperity. The United States did not sign on. Today, on World Water Day, global leaders are gathering in New York to discuss progress towards this goal. It’s the first time the UN Water Conference is being held in the U.S. and time for our nation to embrace the moral imperative: Water is a human right.  People tend to think of clean water and sanitation access as issues for countries with the lowest GDPs. Yet, more than 2 million U.S. residents live without safe running water or a working toilet. Millions more experience water shutoffs because of unaffordable water and sewer bills, and climate change threatens reliable access to clean water for many more communities. The water access gap also costs our national economy more than $8 billion a year. … ”  Read more from Common Dreams.

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In regional water news this week …

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.

Cottage cheese injections and electric shocks: Emeryville attempts to reclaim toxic soil

“Emeryville is still digging itself out from under its industrial past.  For years, the city has cleaned up vast swaths of land contaminated by the scores of commercial warehouses that used to dominate the East Bay shoreline community. By the early 2000s, Emeryville earned a reputation as “one of the foulest industrial wastelands in the Bay Area,” according to one news outlet, which said the soil was “so toxic that anyone treading it had to wear a moon suit.”  In 2004, for instance, 15,000 gallons of cottage cheese was injected into the groundwater below an abandoned factory, cleaning up the toxic hexavalent chromium — a substance some have dubbed “the Erin Brockovich chemical” — that was produced while manufacturing car bumpers in the 1950s and ’60s. … ”  Read more from the East Bay Times.

Water Wrights coverage of yesterday’s San Joaquin Valley Blueprint meeting

“The Water Blueprint for the San Joaquin Valley’s board met on Wednesday, March 15th at the International Agri-Center in Tulare followed by a public meeting. … How often do you hear someone say something has to be done? That’s usually following a list of the problems defined. It’s true in order to solve a problem it needs to be identified. That is often the easy part. The follow up is developing a solution. There are many solutions for all manner of perceived problems. Solutions can range from simplistic to complex and ridiculous to feasible. The next step is the heavy lift. Implementing the solution. … Example: the San Joaquin Valley continues to have its surface water supplies reduced and we’re headed for an economic train wreck as we are forced to fallow productive farmland. The problem defined: we need more water. The solution: capture excess flood flows from the Delta. The implementation: The Water Blueprint for the San Joaquin Valley. … ”  Read the full story at Water Wrights.

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.

‘Fighting this clear into June.’ Epic snowpack means flooding problems are only beginning

“The winter of 2022-23 has piled a record snowpack onto the southern Sierra Nevada range on the east side of the San Joaquin Valley. And water officials — already dealing with floods wrought by a series of storms that have drenched central California over the past few weeks — are also facing the likelihood that even more flooding could happen when all that snow inevitably melts. Fresno County Supervisor Buddy Mendes, a farmer in the Riverdale area of southwestern Fresno County, says he’s keeping a wary eye on channels that in normal years are dry, but this year are being pushed to their limits as operators of foothill dams release water to make room for more rain and snow. “I’ve told our emergency services group that we’ve got a short-term deal” with storms expected this week, Mendes said on Monday. “But we’ve kind of got to go to the long game. We’re going to be fighting this clear into June.” … ”  Continue reading at the Fresno Bee.

Kings County faces ‘biblical’ floods

Corcoran: “If you look out off Sixth Avenue, heading south out of town, you will be stopped by the ever-clear, monstrous, lake-like body of water that has swallowed the road and much of the surrounding farmland and area.  “Some have described it as a biblical moment in time,” said Kings County Sheriff Dave Robinson.  And if you saw it yourself, you might think the same thing.  Water has washed over farmland off the Tule River, covered crops, flooded dairies, and filled homes, all from a break in a nearby levee, that has ultimately filled what used to be the Tulare Lake bed.  “We’re gonna have a million acre-feet of water in an area that feeds the world, and that million acre-feet of water isn’t gonna go away anytime soon. It’s gonna take their farmland out of production, you know in all likelihood for a couple of years,” said Sheriff Robinson. … ”  Read more from Your Central Valley.

Boswell-Poso Creek “stand off” continues as flood waters build

“The stand off over draining Poso Creek flood waters into a canal owned by the powerful J.G. Boswell Company continued Wednesday, despite hopes of a detente.  “I think they worked it out and found a solution they could all live with,” said Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux, recounting a “back of the truck” meeting between the parties.  Not quite.  The Boswell company put three large pumps on the banks of the Homeland Canal to suck up Poso water and put it into the canal.  But it’s a pittance compared to what’s coming in, said Jack Mitchell, head of the Deer Creek Storm Water District, which manages portions of Poso and Deer creeks as well as a section of the White River. … ”  Read more from SJV Water.

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.

Salton Sea Partnership calls on Newsom to commit to measurable progress at Salton Sea

“In response to comments by California Governor Gavin Newsom, touring the Salton Sea on Monday, March 20 with California Natural Resources Agency Secretary Wade Crowfoot, according to a press release from the Salton Sea Partnership, the Salton Sea Partnership issued the following statement:  “The governor’s visit to the Salton Sea is heartening, and we’re encouraged by Secretary Crowfoot’s commitment to fill the position vacated in August by Salton Sea Management Program head Arturo Delgado in a matter of days. However, today’s press conference was otherwise lacking in specifics,” the release reads.  “We were disappointed to hear nothing about support for and long-term management of various projects to mitigate wind-blown dust, construct recreation infrastructure and provide habitat, like the Bombay Beach Wetland, a 940 acre habitat enhancement project that aims to protect birds, pupfish, and wildlife,” it reads. … ”  Continue reading at the Imperial Valley Press.

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