DAILY DIGEST, 3/29: Reclamation increases CVP allocation; Newsom cuts funding for floodplains; Voluntary Agreement highlights habitat questions; Will this winter’s megastorms end the Bay Area’s toxic algae problem?; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • WEBINAR: Drinking Water Professional Community Webinar on EPA’s Proposed PFAS NPDWR from 11am to 12pm.   EPA is hosting an informational webinar for the drinking water professional community on March 29, 2023, about EPA’s recently proposed Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) National Primary Drinking Water Regulation (NPDWR). During the webinar, EPA will provide information and an overview of the proposed PFAS NPDWR, as well as how the public can provide their comments to EPA on the proposed NPDWR.  Click here to register.
  • WEBINAR: Harnessing the Power of Geophysical Imaging to Recharge California’s Groundwater from 12pm to 1:15pm. Presentation by Stanford University professor of geophysics Rosemary Knight. Click here to register.
  • WEBINAR: Restoration Speaker Series: Coastal Redwood Watershed Scale Restoration from 12pm to 1pm. Coastal Redwood Watershed Scale Restoration: with Prairie Creek Felicity Cross, Yurok Tribe, and INRSEP+ The series is part of a new education initiative that aims to teach students and policymakers about Tribally led large-scale restoration projects, long-lasting environmental damage, and ecosystem functions throughout Northern California.  Click here to register.
  • WEBINAR: The future of rain with Dr. Daniel Swain from 12pm to 1pm. As our state swings from drought to flooding, how can people and nature adapt? Join TNC California Climate Fellow Dr. Daniel Swain for a special virtual presentation.  Click here to register.
  • WEBINAR: The Storm Before the Calm: Stormwater Capture as a Means of Addressing Racism and Environmental Injustice in LA from 12pm to 1pm. America’s legacy of racist land use and housing policies affect how much impervious surface is in one’s neighborhood. This not only affects amounts of stormwater runoff generated, but also levels of greenery, temperature, and flooding. This research empirically examines the effect of race on neighborhood impervious surfaces in Los Angeles County. Results imply that LA County follows national patterns of environmental racism, but that there is also great potential to help address historically racist planning policies while meeting stormwater goals through the thoughtful placement of green infrastructure. Click here to register.
  • WORKSHOP: California Water Plan Update 2023 – Draft Content from 1pm to 4pm.  The Water Plan Team will provide an in-depth overview of draft chapter content for Update 2023. The workshop will serve as a venue interested parties to provide input on the draft content and recommendations. You can register/join the meeting here: Meeting Registration – Zoom.
  • MEETING: Delta Plan Interagency Implementation Committee Restoration Subcommittee from 2pm to 4pm. The Delta Plan Interagency Implementation Committee’s Restoration Subcommittee will meet virtually on March 29, 2023, from 2:00 to 4:00 PM. Subcommittee members will hear a summary of the February 8 Delta Restoration Forum, including attendance, discussion themes, and plans for the next forum. Additionally, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife will provide an overview and updates on the Cutting the Green Tape initiative and its potential implications for Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta restoration. Members will also discuss the Restoration Subcommittee work plan and the progress to date. Click here for the full agenda and remote access instructions.

Central Valley Project water allocation increases …

Reclamation increases Central Valley Project 2023 water supply allocations

“[Yesterday], the Bureau of Reclamation announced an increase in Central Valley Project 2023 water supply allocations. After below average precipitation in February, Reclamation announced a conservative initial water supply allocation for the CVP on Feb. 22. Additional atmospheric river systems have since boosted hydrological conditions and storage volumes, allowing for a more robust water supply allocation.  Since making initial allocations last month, Shasta Reservoir, the cornerstone of the Central Valley Project, has increased from 59% to 81%, and San Luis Reservoir, the largest reservoir south-of-Delta, from 64% to 97%. Record-breaking snowpack conditions currently exist in the Southern Sierra coupled with significant snowpack in the Central Sierra and Northern Sierra/Trinity. … ”  Continue reading this press release from the Bureau of Reclamation.

Reclamation hikes water allocation for Valley farmers after storms

“The Bureau of Reclamation has announced a rapid increase in water allocations for the Central Valley Project (CVP), following an increase in precipitation levels.  While initial water allocation for the CVP was conservative, additional atmospheric river systems boosted hydrological conditions and storage volumes, allowing for a more robust water supply allocation.  Driving the news: Shasta Reservoir has increased its occupied capacity from 59 to 81 percent, and San Luis Reservoir has increased from 64 to 97 percent since February. … ”  Read more from the San Joaquin Valley Sun.


Federico Barajas, Executive Director of the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority

“Given the significant increases in reservoir storage and snowpack measurements, the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority is pleased to see an increase in water allocations for Authority member agencies.  California continues to experience rapid hydrologic changes, with a number of atmospheric rivers delivering much needed rainfall and snowpack following the three driest years in California’s recorded history and the resulting devastating impacts to communities served by Authority member agencies.”

“Despite this positive news for this year’s allocations, the decades long delay in investment in water storage and conveyance infrastructure has resulted in large volumes of water being uncaptured for use – water that has caused the devastating harm that many underserved communities have experienced from flooding impacts. Water storage and conveyance infrastructure has multiple benefits, including increasing resilience to both droughts and floods. The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act requires more sustainable conjunctive use – but we must be able to capture maximum sustainable quantities of water in years like this to fully implement the Act without undue harm to communities in the San Joaquin Valley. The time to act is now.”

Jose Gutierrez, interim general manager of the Westlands’ Water District

“We appreciate the Bureau of Reclamation’s time and effort to increase the water allocation and consider the changes in precipitation, reservoir storage levels, and snow water content in the Sierra that we’ve been blessed with since the initial allocation in February. For farmers and our Westside communities who have dealt with drought, and a 0% allocation these past two years, being in a position to have certainty of additional water supplies for the year to come will help them recuperate, hire and retain staff, and bolster their ability to continue feeding the world.”

While many farmers have already made planting decisions based on the initial allocation, the increase will enable farmers to reduce or temporarily eliminate groundwater pumping as well as recharge the aquifer.  Although storage levels in the reservoirs Westlands’ relies on for water have increased significantly, and the California snowpack is near record-breaking, the lack of adequate water infrastructure has left a lot of water the State could have used in future dry periods, uncaptured. In order to have a sustainable water supply system moving forward, California must be able to capture, transport, and store as much water as possible during wet periods to avoid drastic cuts during dry periods.  As climate continues to change, we must remain steadfast in investing in a more predictable and reliable water supply system for our environment, residents, farms and communities.

In other California water news …

Bomb cyclone blasts California with heavy rain, high winds, mountain snow

“For the second time in two weeks, a bomb cyclone is slamming California, with more flooding rains, high winds and heavy mountain snow.  The powerful Pacific storm started pushing into Northern California and the Pacific Northwest Late Monday, with rain falling along the coast and lower elevations while the northern Sierra Nevada is seeing heavy snow that is only adding to its historic totals for the winter.  The storm “bombed out” before it impacted the West Coast, meaning there was a rapid drop in the storm’s central pressure. … ”  Read more from Fox Weather.

SEE ALSOStunning images show extratropical cyclone swirling off California coast, from the San Francisco Chronicle

Trillions of gallons have soaked California. Is this the state’s wettest winter ever?

“A colossal amount of rain and snow has fallen on California over the past few months from a dozen atmospheric rivers: more than 78 trillion gallons of water and counting.  It’s not the wettest year the Golden State has ever seen, but it is a massive amount of water in a state that has been beset by drought for several years. The number of gallons is according to data from the National Weather Service that was compiled by meteorologist Ryan Maue.  The 78 trillion gallon number is based upon the statewide average of 27.6 inches of rain water and “snow-water equivalent” that’s fallen on the state from Oct. 1 — the beginning of California’s water year — to the week of March 20. … ”  Read more from USA Today.

As floods endanger the San Joaquin Valley, Newsom cuts funding for floodplains

“Last fall, when the state Legislature authorized $40 million for floodplain restoration, Julie Rentner knew just what she would do with it. Her group, River Partners, would spend more than a quarter of the funds buying a 500-acre dairy farm abutting the San Joaquin River in Stanislaus County.  Then millions more would be spent on removing debris, sheds, manure heaps and levees. They would plant native vegetation, and eventually restore the parcel to its natural state as a woodland and floodplain.  When floodplains like these are allowed to fill with water, they can reduce flooding impacts elsewhere along the river, so the project could protect communities downstream, including Stockton, which is highly vulnerable to flooding.  Rentner said crews of community members were ready to begin the work.  But in January, the money disappeared. … ”  Read more from Cal Matters.

House panel hones in on Calif.’s lackluster water storage

“Tuesday, the House Committee on Natural Resources discussed the increased need for water storage in California and the rest of the western United States given the highly above average precipitation after years of drought.  The Subcommittee on Water, Wildlife and Fisheries held a hearing on long-term drought and the water storage issues throughout the reasons to discuss the situation and possible solutions.  The big picture: The Subcommittee called four witnesses to testify on Tuesday, including one from the Central Valley: William Bourdeau. Bourdeau serves as the Vice Chair of the San Luis and Delta-Mendota Water Authority. He is also a director for Westlands Water District and chairman of the Valley Future Foundation, the nonprofit that operates The Sun. … ”  Read more from the San Joaquin Valley Sun.

‘Crazy’ California farmer lauded for pioneering flooding of farm

As part of a groundwater recharge project, floodwater diverted from the Kings River was directed to inundate some fields at Terranova Ranch.

“When Don Cameron first intentionally flooded his central California farm in 2011, pumping excess stormwater onto his fields, fellow growers told him he was crazy.  Today, California water experts see Cameron as a pioneer. His experiment to control flooding and replenish the groundwater has become a model that policymakers say others should emulate.  With the drought-stricken state suddenly inundated by a series of rainstorms, California’s outdated infrastructure has let much of the stormwater drain into the Pacific Ocean. Cameron estimated his operation is returning about 9.87-million cubic metres of water back to the ground monthly during this exceptionally wet year, from both rainwater and melted snowpack. That would be enough water for 16,000 to 18,000 urban households in a year.  “When we started doing this, our neighbours thought we were absolutely crazy. Everyone we talked to thought we would kill the crop. And lo and behold, believe me, it turned out great,” said Cameron, vice-president and GM of Terra Nova Ranch  … ”  Read more from Business Live.

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 the Western Farm Press.

It’s not just oceans that are rising. Groundwater is, too.

“Beneath our feet there is an invisible ocean. Within the cracks of rock slabs, sand, and soil, this water sinks, swells, and flows — sometimes just a few feet under the surface, sometimes 30,000 feet below. This system of groundwater provides a vital supply for drinking water and irrigation, and feeds into rivers, lakes, and wetlands. Across the globe, it contains 100 times as much fresh water than all of the world’s rivers and lakes combined.  As Earth warms, groundwater — long seen as an immutable resource — is in flux. Most often, climate change is associated with a decrease in groundwater, fueled by worsening drought and evaporative demand. But in some areas, this water is actually creeping higher, thanks to rising sea levels and more intense rainfall, bringing a surge of problems for which few communities are prepared. … ”  Read more from Grist.

It’s a bad year for California salmon. Here’s how it hurts the economy and environment

“State officials were supposed to take a conservative approach to approving salmon fishing season this year — and they did. California’s fishing season had been scheduled to open April 1. Instead, as a result of low salmon projections, the season has been canceled. Salmon provides more to the state than meets the eye. “People don’t realize how much California’s a salmon state,” said Micheal Milstein, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration spokesman. “The Sacramento River is one of the big salmon rivers off the West Coast.” As commercial and sport fishing comes to a pause this year, here’s what to know … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Voluntary Agreement highlights habitat questions

“Restoring marsh and wetland habitat can have significant benefits for dozens of species throughout the Bay and Delta—that’s beyond dispute. But when it comes to saving the Estuary’s most imperiled fish, how much habitat improvements can help in the absence of dramatically increased freshwater flows is a question that has dogged and divided scientists and policy makers for years. As the State Water Resources Control Board considers the latest proposal from the State and water agencies for a flows agreement that would restore thousands of riparian and wetland acres—while dedicating less water to the environment than proposed under an alternative regulatory framework—critics argue that science doesn’t support its underlying assumptions. The debate highlights how much there still is to learn about what restoration efforts can and cannot do for the Delta’s ravaged ecosystem. … ”  Read more from Estuary News.

Lookout Slough Restoration will be the Delta’s largest yet

Lookout Slough, part of the Cache Slough Complex. Photo by Florence Low/DWR

“When the restoration of Lookout Slough is complete, Lookout Slough will be no more. Created to provide water for a century-old duck-hunting club, the human-made canal will be filled in as part of a $119 million, 3,400-acre tidal wetlands restoration, the largest ever in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.  “Drought and climate change have elevated the importance of these types of multi-benefit projects,” said Karla Nemeth, director of the California Department of Water Resources, when the project broke ground last June. “This project will reduce flood risk for communities in the Central Valley and create much-needed habitat for Delta smelt and other endangered and threatened fish species.”  By their expected completion in late 2024, the new tidal wetlands will replace former irrigated pasture and duck-hunting clubs in eastern Solano County at the lower end of the Yolo Bypass. In addition to creating shallow-water aquatic habitat, the transformed area will provide 40,000 acre-feet of water storage to help prevent flooding and protect surrounding communities. … ”  Read more from Estuary News.

Delta restoration baseline revealed

“When the Delta Stewardship Council amended its Delta Plan and established a goal of restoring 60,000 to 80,000 acres of wetland above a 2007 baseline by 2050, it raised some fundamental questions: How much of that goal has already been met, and where? A recent study, presented at the Delta Plan Interagency Implementation Committee Restoration Subcommittee’s first-ever Delta Restoration Forum in February, provides some answers.  The amendments to Chapter Four of the Delta Plan, which focuses on protecting, restoring, and enhancing the Delta ecosystem, synthesized 14 existing agency reports and other documents in establishing the 2050 targets, which are deemed necessary to achieve the larger goal of restoring a functioning ecosystem by the end of this century. However, “there wasn’t an up-to-date accounting of how much restoration had been completed,” says the Delta Stewardship Council’s Dylan Chapple, who presented the findings of the draft ecosystem restoration progress report at the forum. … ”  Read more from Estuary News.

Divided court says California public health agency has ‘latitude’ in setting safe chemical levels in drinking water beyond what scientists say is needed

“In a divided decision, a California appeals panel has ruled state regulators were within their rights to limit the presence in drinking water of a rocket fuel chemical, to a level much lower than what some scientists say is safe, over the objection of a manufacturers group.  The March 23 ruling was penned by Associate Justice Andrea Hoch, with concurrence from Associate Justice Jonathan Renner of California Third District Appellate Court. Associate Justice Elena Duarte dissented. The ruling favored California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) in an action brought by the California Manufacturers & Technology Association. … ”  Continue reading at the Northern California Record.

New statewide water and wastewater labor market report unveiled at WEEA meeting

“The Centers of Excellence for Labor Market Research (COE) unveiled a new water and wastewater workforce report at today’s Water Energy Education Alliance (WEEA or Alliance) Leadership Roundtable meeting. This report, in partnership with the COE and WEEA, marks the first time the COE conducted such an analysis at the statewide level.  The exclusive preview allowed WEEA participants a unique opportunity to ask clarifying questions about the COE’s methodology and gain insight into their final report recommendations for eight (8) missioncritical occupations in the electrical, maintenance, and operational fields.  In addition to an indepth labor market analysis, the report includes an industry survey with more than 500 responses and interviews with 20 community colleges across the state who offer water/wastewater programs. Three (3) different data collection methods were utilized one secondary and two primary to validate the findings for industry. … ”  Continue reading at the Municipal Water District of Orange County.

Lawsuit jeopardizes use of crucial wildfire retardant, U.S. Forest Service claims

“For most Californians, the sight of aircraft spewing neon pink liquid over flaming trees and brush has become a hallmark of aggressive wildfire suppression campaigns — if not a potent symbol of government’s struggle to control increasingly destructive forest fires.  But as the use of aerially delivered retardant has soared in recent years, some forest advocates say the substance does more harm than good. They claim wildfire retardant drops are expensive, ineffective and a growing source of pollution for rivers and streams.  “There’s no scientific evidence that it makes any difference in wildfire outcomes,” said forester Andy Stahl. “This is like dumping cash out of airplanes, except that it’s toxic and you can’t buy anything with it because it doesn’t work.” … ”  Read more from the LA Times.

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In commentary today …

Delta tunnel project won’t provide reliable water supply California needs

Oscar Villegas, chair of the Yolo County Board of Supervisors and chair of the Delta Counties Coalition, and Patrick Kennedy,  member of the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors and Delta Counties Coalition, writes, “The California Department of Water Resources is using the winter storms to claim that the proposed Delta Conveyance project would help ensure a more reliable water supply for the State Water Project in light of how climate change will alter seasonal patterns of rain and drought.  In reality, the benefits of the conveyance project are speculative at best.  The Delta Counties Coalition demonstrated for over 15 years that resources slated for the tunnel would be better spent on sustainable, resilient water infrastructure around the state (such as groundwater recharge, storage, recycled water expansion, desalination) instead of further increasing reliance on Sacramento River freshwater flows, which is in direct conflict with a Delta Reform Act requirement to reduce reliance on the Delta. … ”  Read more from Cal Matters.

Repurposing cropland in California: A solution for everyone?

Ángel S. Fernández-Bou, Senior Climate Scientist with the Union of Concerned Scientists, writes, “I may be a romantic, but I firmly believe that we can reimagine agriculture, rural disadvantaged communities and the environment in a way that makes everyone happy. I love nature, and I see agriculture as part of nature, not as a foe. But agricultural practices, especially in California, must be updated to survive the future.  One powerful change that is growing momentum is strategic cropland repurposing. Doing cropland repurposing right can benefit many, including landowners. We just need to have everyone on the same page and be willing to collaborate to maximize the benefits for everyone, including (but not only) oneself. … ” Read more from the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Is it time to reform California’s bedrock environmental law?

Brooke Staggs writes, “For five and a half hours the Thursday before we left, witnesses shared testimony about the power and the pitfalls of the California Environmental Quality Act or CEQA. I listened so you didn’t have to, with a detailed story out that evening. And in this week’s issue of The Compost, I wanted to share more context and voices from folks who weighed in on both sides of the debate over whether it’s time to reform the law that’s served as a bedrock of California environmental law for more than half a century.  The March 16 hearing kicked off the first-ever CEQA study by the influential Little Hoover Commission, which makes recommendations to the state legislature and the governor’s office about potential changes to policies and practices. Developers have called for CEQA reform ever since then-Gov. Ronald Reagan signed it into law in 1970. But as the housing crisis escalates, and in the wake of CEQA being used to block a high-profile student housing project near UC Berkeley, talk of changing the law has reached a fever pitch. … ”  Read more from the LA Daily News.

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Today’s featured article …

CA WATER COMMISSION: Water Storage Investment Program project update

In 2014, voters approved Proposition 1, the Water Quality, Supply, and Infrastructure Improvement Act, which provided $2.6 billion to be invested in the public benefits of water storage projects.  The California Water Commission is administering the funding through the Water Storage Investment Program.  Seven projects have been selected for funding.  At the March 15 meeting of the California Water Commission, staff provided an update on the projects, which are all now on their own schedules to complete the program requirements.

Click here to continue reading this article.


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In regional water news and commentary today …


Yurok Tribe, fishermen associations sue Bureau of Reclamation over water

“Last week, the Yurok Tribe and other groups sued the Bureau of Reclamation over water allocations, alleging they reduced Klamath River flows below mandatory minimum requirements under the Endangered Species Act.  The plaintiffs allege that the BOR reduced Klamath River flows during a temporary operations plan. The plan was in response to “extraordinary hydrologic conditions,” according to the BOR’s Klamath Project January 2023 Temporary Operating Procedure document, which states that flows were reduced to replenish Upper Klamath Lake. It is set to end March 31.  “What the bureau is promoting, at this point, is reducing water levels right back to just about the same level they were when we had the massive fish kill in 2002,” said Glen Spain, executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations. … ”  Read more from the Eureka Times-Standard.

The sewage overfloweth in Eureka and Rio Dell once again, due to heavy rains

“Once again, as happens every winter  — or every winter that has rain, anyway — our Humboldt County municipal wastewater systems have been pushed to the brink.  The rain gauge in Arcata registered nearly three-quarters of an inch between 11 a.m. yesterday and 11 a.m. today, with about two-thirds of that coming in the wee hours of this morning.  So: The sewage releases. Rio Dell was first to report, this morning, that at least 1,000 gallons had escaped from an overflowing manhole on Painter Street, near the banks of the Eel, impacting the waterway. It was not recovered. … ”  Read more from the Lost Coast Outpost.


Here’s why Lake Tahoe doesn’t freeze, even in the most bitter cold winters

“A relentless winter has spilled over into a very cold and snowy start to spring for the High Sierra.  March 2023 will likely end up colder than January, February and March for South Lake Tahoe, possibly setting a new record for the coldest March at that location.  Despite the copious amounts of snow and persistent cold, Lake Tahoe remains sparkling blue and largely free of any ice cover, with the exception of marinas along the shore.  Experts say it won’t freeze this year and likely never has in human memory. … ”  Read more from KCRA.


Friends of Butte Creek and Resource Renewal Institute work with California Department of Fish and Wildlife to set a precedent for salmon protection in California

“An unprecedented collaboration among government, nonprofit and private sectors has led to the one of the first acquisitions of water rights dedicated to instream flows in California. The environmental milestone for fish and wildlife preservation was announced jointly by Friends of Butte Creek (FBC), Resource Renewal Institute (RRI) and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW).  The new owner of the rights is Friends of Butte Creek, a nonprofit organization and longtime advocate for the Butte Creek watershed. “This is a historic event,” explained FBC executive director, Allen Harthorn. “We look forward to continuing to work with local landowners and farmers to protect California’s last stronghold of wild, naturally spawned, spring run chinook salmon and steelhead by purchasing or leasing from willing sellers of water rights that can be dedicated to instream flows in Butte Creek.” … ”

Click here to read the full press release.


Napa Valley groundwater pumping exceeds sustainable yield

“Napa County has work to do to get Napa Valley wine country groundwater supplies in balance for the long haul.  Groundwater pumping in 2021-22 was 18,790 acre-feet, according to a new report. It was the third consecutive year that pumping exceeded the Napa Valley sub-basin’s sustainable yield of 15,000 acre-feet, coinciding with a three-year drought.  Taking a longer view, the seven-year annual pumping amount of 18,023 acre-feet also tops the sustainable yield. This doesn’t mean the Napa Valley sub-basin will be sucked dry anytime soon. But experts say even this year’s rain bonanza won’t be a cure-all and that changes are needed. The county is aiming to reduce groundwater usage. … ”  Read more from the Napa Valley Register.


Will this winter’s megastorms end the Bay Area’s toxic algae problem?

“In recent years, thick layers of cyanobacteria—commonly known as blue-green algae—have closed popular local swimming spots Lake Anza and Lake Temescal for weeks at a time.  Last summer, a toxic algae bloom in the San Francisco Bay killed thousands of fish.  Although algae is always present in some quantity in lakes and the bay, higher temperatures, stagnant water, and excessive nutrient levels can cause the algae to multiply.  Algae blooms and cyanobacteria have become state and nationwide problems. In the Bay Area, water managers were beginning to wonder if the extreme drought conditions of recent years had pushed the problem into a dangerous new phase in local waters.  But the steady and sometimes torrential rainfall this winter means that the bay’s waterways could avoid a repeat of last year’s out-of-control toxic blooms. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News.

How one SF company is advancing water recycling technologies in downtown buildings and beer

“Looking out from a downtown San Francisco rooftop, Epic Cleantec co-founder and CEO Aaron Tartakovsky says you can actually see the future of recycled water.  “This is not theoretical, it’s happening right now. It’s happening here, it’s happening in the Chorus building, where we’re going to be operating that system. And it’s happening in a third building over here,” says Tartakovsky, pointing a short distance away.  Epic Cleantec is harnessing the used wastewater from high-rise buildings, and giving it a second life, with a dizzying array of technologies.  “So we’re taking that wastewater and we’re turning it into clean water. We’re turning it into high-quality soil amendments, and then we’re actually turning it into energy. We’re actually recovering all that heat that we use to heat water up in a building and turning that into a renewable energy that we can then reuse within the building,” explains Tartakovsky. … ”  Read more from ABC 7.

More rain means more money for East Bay MUD customers

“If you’re an East Bay Municipal Utilities District (MUD) customer, you will be saving money. Thanks to the very wet winter and spring, the agency said it will not be charging its 1.4 million customers in Alameda and Contra Costa counties an eight percent penalty for excessive water use because the reservoirs are full.  These changes go into effect on March 29 following an executive order signed by Governor Gavin Newsom that rolls back some of California’s drought restrictions.  The extra cost was to strongly encourage customers to save water during the severe drought or face consequences. But that won’t be a problem anymore as the agency said right now their reservoirs are 88 percent full and will continue to rise because of the snowpack. … ”  Read more from KRON.

East Bay MUD says reservoirs are 88% full, will ease drought restrictions

“East Bay Municipal Utilities District (EBMUD) announced on Tuesday they are making adjustments to its emergency drought regulations and that they expect reservoirs to fully refill.  This comes after Gov. Gavin Newsom last week signed an executive order that eased some water limits after California’s three-year drought. Due to the relentless rain from this past winter season, the utility district will suspend penalties for excessive water use beginning Wednesday, March 29.  The decision was made by EBMUD’s Board of Directors. As a result, customers will move from 10% mandatory conservation to 10% voluntary water use reduction. … ”  Read more from KTVU.


Decades of levee failures amount to disaster in a mostly Latino California town hit by floods

“Maria Urbieta described how it felt to come back last Thursday and see her house of 24 years, after a levee breach in Pajaro, California, caused by powerful storms forced a mass evacuation.  “Just to cross the bridge, I started to cry,” Urbieta, 56, said emotionally, referring to the Pajaro River Bridge that connects Pajaro and the neighboring city of Watsonville. “I didn’t know what to expect — how my house looked by the time I got here. As soon as I walked in and opened the door it was really bad. … The unincorporated town of Pajaro is home to almost 3,000 people, who are largely low-income, many of them Spanish-speaking Latino farmworkers. Residents like Urbieta and local officials are frustrated at the damage and losses, as they point out that previous levee breaks should have served as a warning to state and federal authorities. An awaited multimillion-dollar project to mitigate floods, they say, is coming too late. … ”  Read more from NBC News.

Commentary: Why Cal Am must go

Melodie Chrislock, the managing director of Public Water Now, writes, “Back in 2018, voters passed Measure J by 56%, despite a multi-million-dollar campaign by Cal Am to defeat it. Most ratepayers voted to get rid of Cal Am because of the cost of their water. According to the CPUC Public Advocates Office, out of all the private investor-owned water systems in California, the Peninsula has the most expensive water, except for two tiny water systems in Dillion Beach and Catalina Island.  Over the last five years, the reasons to say goodbye to Cal Am have multiplied. The recent example of Cal Am’s refusal to sign a Water Purchase Agreement (WPA) for the Pure Water Monterey Expansion should be a wake-up call, even for Cal Am’s supporters in the hospitality and real estate sectors. It turns out no one, not even the CPUC, could force Cal Am to sign the WPA that will allow this urgently needed publicly owned project to be built. … ”  Read more from the Monterey Herald.

Tap water in San Ardo Water District declared safe to drink

“An order not to drink tap water in the unincorporated Monterey County community of San Ardo was lifted Monday morning, after testing by the Monterey County Health Department showed the water was safe to drink.  The do not drink order remains in place in the community of Pajaro for customers served by the Pajaro/Sunny Mesa Community Services District, according to the Monterey County Health Department. … ”  Read more from SF Gate.

Ventura Harbor beaches replenished after storms cause erosion

“Ventura Harbor beaches have been severely eroded by recent storms, but they have been in the process of being restored.  Dredging work started in January, and more than 400,000 cubic tons of sand has been used to fix the erosion caused by Southern California’s wet winter.  The federal government has provided millions of dollars the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has used to make the Ventura Harbor entrance channel passable and fix what was damaged.  After nearly three months of dredging, you can now enjoy the Ventura Harbor beaches. Along with the replenishing of the sand, the contractors also had to clean up the huge mess that washed up. … ”  Read more from ABC 7.


In Corcoran, some fear a ticking time bomb lurks in the peaks of the Sierra Nevada

“From his pickup truck, Fernando Estrada sees an ocean of water.  His brow furrows with concern. This is no sea. The nearest coastline is more than a hundred miles away.  Instead, underneath the gently undulating waves in front of him are thousands of acres of farmland. He knows those fields well. Among them are the pomegranate and pistachio orchards he’s helped tend to for years as a farmworker.  Estrada is parked on Sixth Avenue, just south of Corcoran, a small city in California’s southern San Joaquin Valley.  A dozen feet ahead of his truck, the asphalt disappears into seemingly endless blue, interrupted only by a lone shed or occasional power pole jutting from the surface. … ”  Read more from KVPR.

Residents question rebuilding as Woodlake extends emergency declaration

“As the city of Woodlake begins recovery after major storms, residents once again flooded the council chambers to voice their concerns over rebuilding their homes. At their March 27 city council meeting, the city of Woodlake extended their declaration of a local state of emergency. The effects of the historic level flooding has riddled residents with fear over rebuilding their homes, with one resident, Mary Cooper, saying that she is fearful that this level of flooding may wipe out her home again in the future. “I don’t want to rush [rebuilding], if it’s just not going to be safe. If [city staff and council] have a little bit of guidance, should I wait a few months before we start the process of rebuilding within our home?” Cooper asked. “Some people I know are already cutting their walls, taking things out and trying to get their house in order. But I just don’t know, I need direction.” … ”  Read more from the Foothills Sun-Gazette.


Southern California cities adjusting to worsening King Tides

“The crashing waves can be a calming force on the California coast but the mighty Pacific Ocean is nothing to turn your back on.  Reina Sharkey’s daughter lives along a stretch of sand in Seal Beach where the frequent “King Tides” and storms have forced the city to give them a winter wall of sand.  “I can’t see the ocean because of that hill there,” said Sharkey.  The city said that the berms are a necessary safety measure to protect the nearby homes from the surf and high tides.  “The berm we put together in Seal Beach is 12 feet high and it’s large enough to drive a lifeguard truck along the top of it,” said Seal Beach Marine Safety Chief Joe Bailey. … ”  Read more from CBS LA.


San Diego water reservoirs levels at 128%

“San Diego is experiencing one of the top 17 wettest years on record, with more than four inches of rain above normal levels.  “The rain is good, the precipitation is good and it’s really helping us get out of a drought,” Chris Robbins with the Vallecitos Water District said.   “We’ve had three consecutive dry years, and this water year, which started October 1, has been a really fantastic water year. San Diego we are at 128% normal conditions for precipitation,” said Efren Lopez , the water resources specialist with San Diego County Water Authority. … ”  Read more from Channel 5.

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Along the Colorado River …

Urban water conservation success in the Colorado River Basin

“Nevada lawmakers are considering a bold step to ensure that Las Vegas’s basic water needs will continue to be met in the near future. The Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA), which manages the city’s water, is seeking authority, through a sweeping omnibus bill, to cap a single family’s residential water use in southern Nevada to about 160,000 gallons (600,000 liters) annually.  “If approved, this provision would really only affect our community’s largest water users,” said SNWA spokesperson Bronson Mack—“that top 20% of residential water users who use more than 35% of all water delivered to the residential sector.” … This latest development is just one of the ways the authority has sought to protect its community’s access to water. Despite the megadrought in the U.S. West and the fact that the Colorado River’s flow is shrinking fast, it’s been a similar story in other cities in the Colorado River Basin. … ”  Read the full story at EOS.

Why is Arizona using precious water to grow alfalfa for Saudi Arabia?

“This water-energy-food nexus goes back centuries—maybe even to the first waterwheels around 100 BCE, which affected fishing downstream. But in the Western United States, the growing water crisis involving 1.8 million agricultural acres, and threatening the hydroelectric power generation capacity of the Hoover Dam, is highlighting the trade-offs between different types of water usage with unusual clarity. One way the crisis is exposing these trade-offs is by introducing people to the concept of the “virtual water trade.  To understand the virtual water trade, let’s start with cows. In recent years, public attention and anger has grown over the way water in the rapidly drying Colorado River Basin is used to grow food for cattle, whose emissions are driving climate change, which is exacerbating this drought in the first place. And part of why people are irritated is that some of the water isn’t even going to American cows but rather Saudi dairy cows. … ”  Read more from The New Republic.

Column: Navajo Nation should not have to beg for water at the Supreme Court

“Citing treaties that date back to 1849 and 1868, the Navajo Nation March 20 argued in the U.S. Supreme Court that it should be granted access to water from the Colorado River.  The Colorado River serves some 40 million people spread across seven states and some tribal communities along its 1,450 miles-long river. Some of America’s largest cities receive their drinking water from the Colorado River, including Denver, Phoenix, Albuquerque, Salt Lake City and Los Angeles.  It’s water that is needed for tribal citizens, businesses, farms and ranches.  Some 30 percent of residents on the Navajo Nation do not have access to safe drinking water. Farmers, ranchers and other businesses are limited in their ability to grow. … ”  Continue reading at Native News Online.

Saving precious water in the Colorado River’s upper basin

“Kristiana Hansen is an associate professor of agricultural and applied economics at the University of Wyoming. We spoke with her about an innovative pilot program that’s finding new ways to save water in a parched Colorado River basin.  How is climate change putting pressure on the Colorado River basin states?  So, we’re 20-plus years into a long-term drought in the Colorado River basin. Water levels in Lake Mead and Lake Powell are the lowest they’ve been since they were filled. Since 2007, there’s been a new framework to manage the reservoirs—and drought—given that there’s less water than expected. In addition to this new framework, the US Bureau of Reclamation also directed states to formulate drought contingency plans, which were finalized in 2019. … ”  Read more from the PPIC.

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In national water news today …

EPA announces proposal to improve public awareness of drinking water quality

“Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would strengthen the Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) Rule making annual drinking water quality reports with important public health information more accessible to residents and businesses across the country.  A Consumer Confidence Report, sometimes called an “Annual Drinking Water Quality Report,” summarizes information about the local drinking water for the previous year. EPA’s proposal would support public education by more clearly communicating important information in water quality reports and improving access to the reports.  “It’s crucial that the public has access to the most relevant information about the drinking water coming out of their taps,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox. “The Consumer Confidence Report is the primary way local water systems communicate with the people they serve, and EPA’s proposed rule would improve the information communities receive, in addition to making it more accessible.” … ” Read more from the EPA.

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A brief look at reservoir and water conditions …

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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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