DAILY DIGEST, 4/25: “Big melt” begins for Sierra Nevada snowpack; Report: A framework for fair and effective water right curtailment; Growing crops with less groundwater; Dan Walters: California’s lengthy battle for water rights moves into the Legislature; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • LEG HEARING: Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water beginning upon adjournment of Public Safety CommitteeClick here for the agenda and remote access links.
  • WEBINAR: Flood Preparation and Risk Messaging from 11:30am to 12:30pm.  California Silver Jackets Team is hosting four Watershed University webinars focusing on post-wildfire flood outreach and education, as they relate to the four stages of the flood risk management life cycle: preparation, response, recovery, and mitigation.  Please join us for our first webinar: Preparation and Risk Messaging, where we will show how to better communicate risks.  We’ll also discuss bilingual risk messaging, showcase some templates, and have an opportunity for open discussion and questions.  These webinars were created and will be hosted by United States Army Corps of Engineers and the California Department of Water Resources.  Webinar Link:https://usace1.webex.com/usace1/j.php?MTID=mf53511b97517a2b4c61eb2a2e8d527aa
  • WEBINAR: Groundwater Rise Adaptation: Insights from Miami and San Rafael from 12:30pm to 1:30pm.  Sea level rise has increased the urgency of adapting to groundwater rise. As the Bay Area experiences higher and higher water tables, it must contend with a greater frequency of flooding, potentially compromised underground infrastructure and structural foundations, increasing liquefaction risk during earthquakes, and movement of soil contaminants. Join us for a discussion with representatives from San Rafael, California, and Miami, Florida, which has grappled with high water tables for decades, to discuss strategies for living with groundwater and sea level rise.  Presented by SPUR (San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association). Click here to register.
  • WEBINAR: Western States Water Data Access and Analysis Tool from 1pm to 2pm.  The Western States Water Council (WSWC) has completed developing the first stage of the Western States Water Data Access and Analysis Tool (WestDAAT), which will help better visualize and streamline water data sharing for Western eighteen States. The new tool is the latest phase of the WSWC’s Water Data Exchange (WaDE) program, launched in 2011, which encourages data sharing through a common data system that improves access and analysis of public water rights and water use data in standardized and machine-readable formats.  In this webinar, WSWC staff will demonstrate WestDAAT’s capabilities, highlight insights, and showcase examples.  Click here to register.
  • VIRTUAL WORKSHOP: Delta Island Adaptations 3rd Public Workshop (Bouldin Island) from 4pm to 8pm.  The Delta Island Adaptations Project Team invites the public to discuss proposed land use scenarios for Bouldin Island developed in phase 2 of the project on April 25 from 4pm to 6pm.  Click here to register.

In California water news today …

Summerlike weather has California bracing for snowmelt flooding

“Parts of California once mired in historic drought are now on alert for flooding as unusually high temperatures have officials predicting a massive snowpack melt into May.  State officials said in a briefing Monday that the Tulare Lake Basin and San Joaquin Valley are key concerns for officials watching for major flooding, as those areas are located downstream from the record-breaking snowpack in the southern Sierra Nevada mountains.  The U.S. Drought Monitor indicated most of the state is currently completely out of drought, with only areas in the southeastern desert regions and near the Oregon border measuring as abnormally dry or in moderate drought. The state has said the tracker does not account for snowmelt outcomes or how rainfall received over the winter will affect groundwater basins. … ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service.

“Big melt” begins for Sierra Nevada snowpack

A warm spell forecast for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday this week is raising concerns that the rate of melting in California’s huge Sierra Nevada snowpack will increase, potentially boosting the likelihood of more flooding in the Central Valley and other areas as April gives way to May. “The big melt is now here. This is that week,” said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist with UCLA, on Monday. There are no flood risks in the Bay Area, where temperatures in some areas mid-week could hit as high as 90 degrees.  But the National Weather Service on Monday issued a flood watch for Thursday morning through next Tuesday for the Merced River in Yosemite National Park, which is forecast to exceed its 10-foot flood stage by 1 to 2 feet by the weekend. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News. | Read via MSN News.


Report cover showing an image of a reservoir with low water levels. Text says: Managing Water Scarcity: A Framework for Fair and Effective Water Right Curtailment in California, April 2023 Policy ReportTo manage water scarcity, California needs a framework for fair and effective water right curtailment

“After three years of drought, a parade of storms brought flooding, landslides, and a massive snowpack to California. With water temporarily so abundant, it is tempting to push planning for water scarcity to the back burner. But California does not have this luxury. The state’s water management challenges during wet and dry times interrelate, and are intensifying. Historically, the amount of precipitation that falls in California has been more variable from year-to-year than for any other state. Climate change is exacerbating precipitation variability, supercharging California’s wet and dry extremes and the whiplash between them.  In our new report, Managing Water Scarcity: A Framework for Fair and Effective Water Right Curtailment in California, we argue that the state needs to act now to strengthen its capacity to fairly and effectively allocate water in times of scarcity. The report describes the legal context for water right curtailments in California, summarizes the history of curtailment practices in the state, and recommends actions California can take to build an effective framework for curtailment. … ”  Read more from the Legal Planet.

Growing crops with less groundwater

“On a warm February afternoon, Kirk Pumphrey walks down his rows of almond trees at Westwind Farms in Yolo County. He notices the buds on the branches have already sprouted pink. It worries him. The earlier the trees bloom, the more likely winter frost will damage the nuts. Early blooms are occurring more often as higher temperatures from climate change stimulate plant growth.  California’s warming climate also means thirstier trees and an increasing reliance on groundwater, especially during drought. UC researchers found that farms pumped 27% more water from aquifers last year compared with 2019.  But Pumphrey has tapped 5% less water from these sponge-like underground stores of water in the past year, before the state ended its driest three-year period on record. … Pumphrey’s orchards have become a proving ground for UC Davis scientists at the Agricultural Water Center to test technologies and techniques designed to help farmers conserve groundwater. The center’s goal is not only to alleviate overpumping — mining groundwater faster than it is replenished — but also to help California remain the most productive agricultural state in the nation. … ”  Read more from UC Davis.

Sacramento River pulse flow expected to increase survival of juvenile salmon traveling to the ocean

Image by RDTubbs from Pixabay

“Researchers from NOAA Fisheries and University of California Santa Cruz will tag several groups of juvenile salmon in the Sacramento River system. The tags will help us measure the benefits from the river’s first “pulse flow.” A pulse flow is a rapid increase and decrease in dam released water designed to resemble natural spring runoff.  The researchers want to know if the pulse flow increases the survival of juvenile salmon and improves their chances of returning to the river as an adult to spawn. They plan on measuring this by implanting tags into juvenile salmon migrating downriver before, during, and after the pulse. They will compare their speed and survival on the way to the ocean.  “We want to maximize our opportunity to learn from this,” said Cyril Michel, a research scientist with NOAA Fisheries Southwest Fisheries Science Center based at University of California Santa Cruz. “This doesn’t happen often so we are measuring it from every angle.” … ”  Read more from NOAA.

Can the United Nations help save Pacific salmon?

“The high seas — the ocean waters that begin 230 miles offshore — cover 43% of the planet’s surface and are home to as many as 10 million species, yet remain one of the least understood places on Earth. Among the region’s many mysteries are how Pacific salmon, one of the West’s most beloved and economically important fish, spend the majority of their lives — and why many populations are plummeting.  These sprawling waters, though, are a mostly lawless zone, beyond the reaches of any national authority and governable only by international consensus and treaties. … In early March, negotiators representing nearly 200 nations came to a historic agreement aimed at protecting the ocean’s creatures and ecosystems. When the new United Nations High Seas Treaty was announced, marine scientists and conservationists around the globe rejoiced. But what will the treaty actually mean for conservation in a region about which humanity knows less than the moon? When it comes to Pacific salmon, will the new treaty’s tools — and the international symbolism and momentum involved in agreeing to them — aid efforts to manage and protect them? Do the provisions go far enough? Here’s what the experts say. … ”  Read more from Crosscut.

Safe drinking water is a right. Experts want AI to help make it a reality.

“Safe, clean and affordable drinking water is a human right in California. But making that legal requirement a reality is a difficult challenge exacerbated further by climate change.  Two water engineers believe artificial intelligence can help. Working with UC Berkeley’s Data Science Discovery program students, they are building a chatbot they hope will help California Water Resources Board staff discern, communicate and enforce rules to ensure the public’s water is safe to drink.  “The regulations are complex and complicated, but protective of public health,” said Hung Bui, a California Water Resources Board associate sanitary engineer who is co-leading this project in his personal time. “If we can find a way for the staff to easily look up regulations… it would help not only the staff, but also the public water systems.” … ”  Read more from UC Berkeley Computing, Data Science, and Society

A new front in the water wars: Your Internet use

“When Jenn Duff heard that Meta, the parent company of Facebook, wanted to build yet another data center in Mesa, Ariz., she was immediately suspicious. “My first reaction was concern for our water,” Duff said. The desert city of half a million residents was already home to large data centers owned by Google, Apple and other tech giants, and Duff, a city council member, feared for the city’s future water supply.  “It’s not like we’re sitting fat and happy in water,” she said. “We’re still constantly looking at the drought situation.” Mesa is only one of many cities and towns in the West wrestling with the expansion of water-guzzling data centers. For years, data centers have come under scrutiny for their carbon emissions. But now, as a “megadrought” continues to ravage the Southwest and the Colorado River dwindles, some communities charge that the centers are also draining local water supplies. … ”  Read more from the Washington Post (gift article).

How El Niño could influence next winter in California, the West

“El Niño is likely next winter and that could play an important role in the weather in parts of storm-weary California and the West.  But there are some important caveats and stubborn myths about this that also need to be addressed.  H​ere’s everything you need to know about what could happen next winter season with an over 80 percent chance of El Niño developing by summer and then lasting into the winter.  What is E​l Niño and why is it important? NOAA declares an El Niño has developed when sea-surface temperatures in a certain region of the Pacific Ocean near the equator have reached 0.5 degrees Celsius above average for at least a month and are expected to persist for several more months.  They also look for the atmosphere to respond to this warm water before declaring an El Niño. It’s this influence on weather patterns around the world, including those affecting the U.S., that is most important. … ”  Continue reading at Weather Underground.

Storms cost Sacramento millions. Here’s why atmospheric rivers may become more expensive

“When rain storms pummel Sacramento, a city surrounded by levees, crews work all hours of the night to prevent flooding.  They monitor, control and maintain the city’s more than 100 stormwater lift stations, which residents depend on to pump water into creeks, canals, or the Sacramento or American Rivers.  These stations failing would cause water to burst out of the city’s gutters, drain inlets and manholes, said supervising plant operator Philip Myer.  “If our stations don’t have power, pumps don’t come on,” he said. “We flood. That’s all there is to it, you know.”  During power outages in windy downpours, the city sends electricians to hook up generators to pumping stations. Other crews clear fallen trees that clog up drainage systems. Rain doesn’t drain out of Sacramento naturally or for free. … ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio.

Can regenerative agriculture alleviate California’s almond problem?

Theresa Lieb writes, “I’ve lived in California for over four years and, as an avid explorer, have driven past my fair share of farmland during that time. During the dry season — which means most of the year — almond, avocado and citrus orchards break up the brown and dry landscape with their lush and neatly lined trees. I’ve always been curious to see one of these big orchards from the inside and finally got a chance to venture in.  A few weeks ago, I joined a demonstration of regenerative agriculture practices for almonds hosted by KIND — the New York-based food company best known for its granola bars. Before the tour to an orchard outside of Fresno in central California, the KIND team urged everyone to hop on a group bus rather than drive to the orchard themselves because it was supposedly hard to find. How difficult can it be — I thought — given that nowadays you can find everything when equipped with a smartphone and the correct coordinates? But I’m glad I followed their advice. … ”  Read more from Green Biz.

Ag tech companies merge irrigation management solutions

Technology developed and proven at University of California, Davis that later became Tule Technologies, was bought earlier this year by an international company doing similar work.  Tule Technologies was co-founded in 2014 by Tom Shapland, a UC Davis graduate who earned his Ph.D. there in horticulture and agronomy, and Jeff LaBarge, a software engineer with a degree from Cal Poly. The technology revolutionizes the ability of farmers to know the actual evapotranspiration of their crops with simple-to-use technology. Earlier this year, CropX Technologies, a global leader in digital solutions for agronomic farm management, announced its acquisition of the California-based Tule Technologies. … ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press.

Forest Service admits some Clean Water Act violations with use of aerial fire retardants, but says they are still an important tool

“A U.S. Forest Service attorney on Monday admitted in federal court that the agency has at times violated the Clean Water Act of 1972 through aerial deployment of fire retardant while fighting wildfires.  But the agency said the use of fire retardant is only one of the tools in its toolbox for fighting wildfires and that its use has had minimal impact to federal waterways, such as creeks, streams and lakes.  The exchange came during opening arguments in a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Montana aimed at preventing the Forest Service from dumping fire retardant into National Forest waterways.  The lawsuit, filed by an Oregon-based environmental group, argues that the Forest Service for years has violated the federal Clean Water Act when it accidentally drops ammonium phosphate-based retardant in waterways. Ammonium phosphate, the key ingredient in fertilizer, is toxic to aquatic life such as fish, the lawsuit argues. … ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat (gift article).

Skepticism reigns during hearing on banning Forest Service fire retardant

“A Federal judge got his first glance at a lawsuit filed against the United States Forest Service that is seeking to bar the use of aerial fire retardants in combating wildfires.  The U.S. District Court in Montana heard oral arguments for the lawsuit on Monday, and a ruling appears to be coming soon.  The big picture: The Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics (FSEEE) filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Forest Service (USFS)  in Montana, the location of the Forest Service Northern Regional headquarters as well as where the testing takes place for chemical retardants. … ”  Read more from the San Joaquin Valley Sun.

San Mateo County, other Bay Area governments can sue oil companies over climate change, Supreme Court says

“The Supreme Court on Monday allowed local governments in California to sue major oil companies in state court on their contentions that the companies are worsening climate change and lying to the public about it.  The suits, filed in 2017, seek substantial damages from more than 30 companies that profit from products contributing to rising temperatures and sea levels, which the cities and counties say are forcing them to spend more on sea walls and other protections. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle.

SEE ALSO: ‘Like a dam breaking’: experts hail decision to let US climate lawsuits advance, from the Guardian

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In commentary today …

Dan Walters: California’s lengthy battle for water rights moves into the Legislature

“After its first committee hearing, Assembly Bill 1337 was amended last week, which could be the opening salvo of a monumental political and legal war over who controls access to water in California – an issue that stretches back to the state’s founding in 1850.  If enacted as now proposed, AB 1337 would overturn a key state appellate court decision and give the state Water Resources Control Board the legal authority to curtail diversions from rivers – even by those who now hold the most senior water rights, those gained prior to the state asserting authority over water in 1914.  The legislation, carried by Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks, a Democrat who represents East Bay suburbs, would bolster a years-long drive by environmental groups to enhance natural river flows by reducing agricultural diversions during periodic droughts. … ”  Read more from Cal Matters.

Editorial: California’s Brown Act open-meeting law under assault

The Mercury News and East Bay Times editorial board writes, “Residents in local communities across California could soon walk into the meeting room of their city council, school board, planning commission or county supervisors only to find no one at the dais and the policymakers on a monitor on the wall.  The elected or appointed representatives might be participating from home or out of state. Lobbyists could be at their sides telling them what to say or how to vote, and the public would never know. Residents won’t be able to discern if their officials are paying attention or talking to others on the phone if their cameras are turned off.  That’s the world of local government that would be made possible if Assemblymember Diane Papan, D-San Mateo, gets her way. Her pending legislation, Assembly Bill 1379, would undermine 70 years of progress that today enables Californians to watch — in person — their local officials’ policymaking process. … ”  Read more from the Mercury News.

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In regional water news and commentary today …


Snow melt causes main fork of the Eel River to rise

“Today, the McCann Bridge, situated on the main stem of the Eel several miles southeast of the Confluence of the South Fork and the Main Stem, is closed due to rising water caused by snow melt. Because of this, Humboldt County Public Works reports, “[The] Ferry is currently in operation.”  We thought readers would be interested in the water level rise or drop of the South Fork and the Main Stem and the combination of the two which runs from Dyerville to the Pacific Ocean.  This California Nevada River Forecast Center graph of the water levels on the Main stem of the Eel River at Fort Seward shows the steady rise since the 21st as snow has begun melting in the mountains. (Note: the green and pink line shows projected levels) … ”  Continue reading at the Redheaded Blackbelt.


Warming temps bring threat of flood; Advisory issued for Lake Tahoe

“Water will be running high, fast and potentially over banks for some creeks and streams this week with the region approaching record high temperatures.  The National Weather Service in Reno has issued a flood watch for Lake Tahoe that goes into effect at 5 p.m. Thursday and lasts through 9 a.m. Monday, May 1.  The service said there will be significant stream flow rises especially for snow covered terrain below about 8,000 feet. Rises from snowmelt will likely increase daily through the weekend with the highest flows often in the evenings and overnight. … ”  Read more from the Tahoe Daily Tribune.


Increased releases at Keswick Dam part of spring pulse flows

“After a wet winter, water levels in local reservoirs have risen significantly, and so have the releases downstream.  At 7:00 a.m. on Monday, Sacramento River flows from the Keswick Dam were increased from 4,500 cubic feet per second (cfs) to over 8,500 cfs. This may sound like a big jump, but according to the Bureau of Reclamation, this is business as usual.  The increase is part of the spring pulse flows, designed to help juvenile fish downstream, and mature fish on their way upstream. A look at the past several years of gage history reveals that the river hasn’t been this high since August of 2021, so I asked Don Bader, the bureau’s area manager, why this year was different. … ”  Read more from KRCR.

Federal agencies announce schedule for Clear Creek spring pulse flows

“The Bureau of Reclamation, NOAA Fisheries, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the plan today for pulse flow releases from Whiskeytown Dam into Clear Creek in May and June.  Pulse flows are rapid increases and decreases in dam-released flows, occurring over a short time frame. The release of water helps to advance recovery of threatened Central Valley spring-run Chinook salmon by attracting adult salmon to move upstream to take advantage of quality habitat.  The first spring pulse flow will begin on May 4 and reach a peak of 800 cubic feet per second on May 5. Flow rates will reduce to 200 cfs by May 15. The second spring pulse will begin June 15 and reach a peak of 500 cfs by June 16. Clear Creek Flows will reduce to a 150 cfs summer base flow by June 26. … ” Read more from the Bureau of Reclamation.

Despite hot days, waterways remain dangerously cold

“As near-record high temperatures arrive this week, local waterways may look appealing, but extreme caution is necessary.  Snowmelt has rivers and streams running dangerously cold and fast. The average water temperature of the Sacramento River between Shasta Dam and Balls Ferry was 51.5 F on Sunday, and the National Center for Cold Water Safety considers water below 60 F immediately life threatening. To understand how to prevent severe consequences, we spoke with the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office.  “It’s all about preparation,” emphasized Tim Mapes, public information officer for the sheriff’s office. … ”  Read more from KRCR.

Crews brace for more water rescue calls as people flock to rivers amid rising temperatures

“The rising temperatures have many people heading to local rivers, and that has rescue crews bracing for more water rescue calls.  “It’s definitely cold,” said jet skier Haseeb Iqbal.  Iqbal was launching his jet ski at the Discovery Park boat launch, which just reopened last week after being flooded for months after winter storms.  “We see a lot of logs, a lot of garbage debris for now,” Iqbal said.  And now, local rescue crews have a river warning. You just really have to be careful around the water this year,” said Captain Justin Sylvia with the Sacramento Fire Department. … ”  Read more from CBS Sacramento.


Coalition sues EPA over unregulated water pollution from oil refineries, plastics plants

“It’s a very tough time for the fish and ecosystem of the San Francisco Bay Delta Estuary, with ocean salmon season closed off the California and most of Oregon due to the collapse of Sacramento and Klamath River fall-run Chinook populations as the Delta smelt gets closer and closer to extinction in the wild. One big factor exacerbating this ecological catastrophe is the pollution of San Francisco Bay with billions of gallons of harmful oil refinery waste.  A coalition of environmental groups, including the San Francisco Baykeeper, on April 11 filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for failing to update pollution limits for the harmful chemicals pouring out of oil refineries and industrial facilities. … ”  Read more from the Daily Kos.

Following a record rainy season, Novato residents face higher water rates

“Despite months of soaking rains across California, water customers in one North Bay city who may be victims of their own conservation success are about to get hit with a water-rate hike.  As the weather gets warmer, Novato residents will start watering their lawns more often likely see their water rates go up this summer.  After years of conservation, low water sales and revenue are just some of the reasons for the hike.  At Matt and Jeff’s Car Wash in Novato, cars have been lining up steadily in recent weeks after a long, very wet winter significantly slowed down business. … ”  Read more from CBS Bay Area.

Steelhead get boost in Alameda Creek thanks to restoration efforts

“In a milestone for the re-establishment of a viable steelhead run in the Alameda Creek watershed, high-tech fish monitoring by two local water agencies tagged, detected and documented a juvenile trout this past week, migrating downstream from the upper watershed through lower Alameda Creek toward San Francisco Bay.  For the first time in over 50 years, steelhead, salmon and other anadromous fishes can migrate from the Bay upstream to reach spawning and rearing habitat in the upper Alameda Creek watershed, thanks to the Alameda County Water District and San Francisco Public Utilities Commission’s new fish passage facilities in both the lower creek in Fremont and upper creek in Sunol Regional Wilderness. Within the first two months of the lower ladder’s operation, upstream migrating adult Chinook Salmon and Pacific Lamprey were observed using the new structure to bypass a former barrier known as the BART Weir, with adult steelhead expected to use these ladders as well. … ”  Read more from ACWA’s Water News.

Zone 7 declares end to drought emergency

“After more than a year of mandated water conservation requirements from the region’s primary water supplier, Tri-Valley communities are now being encouraged to voluntarily save water, rather than being required to amid record drought conditions.  The Zone 7 Water Agency Board of Directors voted last week to end the drought state of emergency that first went into effect in late 2021 and included conservation requirements to reduce water use by 15%.  “It is my pleasure to recommend that the board adopt a resolution declaring an end to the drought emergency, the water shortage contingency plan stage 2, and 50% water conservation,” Sal Segura, associate civil engineer for Zone 7, said at the April 19 meeting. “Many of the districts statewide have already done this, and it makes perfect sense for Zone 7 to follow suit.” … ”  Read more from Pleasanton Weekly.


NOAA approves $2.2M to restore Elkhorn Slough

“The restoration of Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve will get an infusion of new funding to support the initiative from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Coastal Management Office, the Elkhorn Slough Foundation announced last week.  The $2.2 million in funding comes from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law with funding leveraged by the Inflation Reduction Act. It aims to bring back species across an entire coastal landscape – from coastal grasslands to tidal salt marsh, eelgrass beds to native oysters, according to a press release from the foundation.  “With this effort, we’re using a holistic approach to put the puzzle pieces of an ecosystem together and restore an entire coastal landscape,” said Reserve Manager Dave Feliz in the release. … ”  Read more from the Monterey Herald.

Monterey’s coast houses a mysterious underwater abyss. Here’s the potential danger it poses

“Off the coast of Monterey lies stunning underwater terrain: an abyss whose walls soar higher than those of the Grand Canyon.  The abyss, called Monterey Canyon, is mysterious and dark but also a place where scientists regularly discover new species and where bizarre-looking deepwater fish carve out an existence in its cold depths.  One of the deepest underwater canyons on the Pacific Coast, Monterey Canyon begins off the eastern edge of Monterey Bay and drops 2.5 miles by the time it twists and turns down to the flat expanse of the abyssal plain. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle.

State lifts restrictions on Nacimiento water, giving SLO County new options

“After almost 70 years, San Luis Obispo County’s use of water from Lake Nacimiento will no longer be restricted—a shift in policy that could be key to helping cities across the county meet new state sustainability standards.  The April 7 change to the Monterey County-based permit affects Nacimiento Water Project participants, including the city of Paso Robles, Templeton Community Services District, Atascadero Mutual Water Company, Santa Margarita Water Company, the city of San Luis Obispo and some parts of Cayucos, according to SLO County Engineer Wes Thompson.  … ”  Read more from New Times SLO.


Update: Federal irrigation water is now at 100% for all of western Stanislaus County

“Allotments now stand at 100% for every last acre that gets federal water in Stanislaus County. The April 20 announcement followed a winter that brought far-above-average rain and snow to California. Some irrigation districts on the West Side got zero federal water in 2021 and 2022 due to drought. The announcement was from the Central Valley Project, which delivers water from several reservoirs in the mountains flanking the region. It includes the Delta-Mendota Canal, serving farms from San Joaquin to Kern counties. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee. | Read via Yahoo News.

State to pump Kings River water into Fresno ponding basins. Here’s the reason for the move

“The state Department of Water Resources is providing pumps that the Fresno Irrigation District will use for two ponding basins to take in additional river runoff as the state’s record snowpack begins to melt at an accelerated rate this week. The pumps, going in temporarily at Walnut and Annadale avenues and Belmont and Cornelia avenues, will link the basins with the irrigation district’s systems of canals in anticipation of high water levels on the Kings River in the coming weeks, said Adam Claes, assistant irrigation district manager. Officials at the state Department of Water Resources disclosed the action during a Monday news conference outlining preparations the state is taking in the event of statewide flooding from the snow melt. Brian Ferguson of the Office of Emergency Services said officials were stressing coordination between counties to mitigate possible emergencies. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee.

The mad dash to save dairy cattle as Tulare Basin flooded

“Anja Raudabaugh is the CEO of Western United Dairies, a trade organization that represents over 75% of the milk produced in California. In mid-March, a sudden snowmelt flooded the Tulare Lake basin—putting 100,000 cattle and over a dozen dairy farms at risk. During the crisis, Raudabaugh shared eye-popping images of flooding and cattle evacuations on her Twitter feed, and she recently gave us a gripping account of what happened as the lake began to refill. … ”  Read more from the PPIC.

Kern River “orphan channel” could pose problems during the big melt

“The Kern River flood channel that heads north to the old Tulare Lake bed from Highway 46 is decidedly not ready for what may become massive runoff.  It’s a thicket of trees and shrubs and its banks are a weedy, trash strewn mess.  But figuring out who’s in charge of clearing out that 16-mile stretch river bed hasn’t been easy. It’s been so rarely used, the channel has become somewhat of an orphan with no agencies claiming responsibility for keeping it clear.  “Yeah, it’s a head scratcher,” said Kern River Watermaster Mark Mulkay, who’s been poring over old agreements and water rights documents for weeks to unravel the mystery. “I even had a call from the Kings County Sheriff’s Office asking about it.” … ”  Read more from SJV Water.

Flood insurance urgency grows as Kern River rises

“As the Kern River rises, so do residents’ concerns about flooding. Flood insurance can help, but only if you buy soon due to a long waiting period before the policy becomes active.  Michael Soller, California’s Deputy Insurance Commissioner, tells Eyewitness News that a flood insurance policy through the national flood insurance program has to be in effect for 30 days before claims can be made.  “We are looking at the potential of major flooding,” Soller said. “So we urge people to consider flood insurance to see if it is something that is right for them.” … ”  Read more from Bakersfield Now.


Black & Veatch selected by the Metropolitan Water District to help advance water quality, reliability program

“Black & Veatch, a global leader in critical infrastructure solutions, has been selected by The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (Metropolitan) to provide preliminary design services for the first reach of the Pure Water Southern California (PWSC) conveyance system, marking the third agreement between the organizations under this program.  The program, which has water supply, environmental and economic benefits, is designed to take cleaned wastewater and purify it to produce a new, drought-proof source of high-quality water for Southern California. When completed, it will produce up to 150 million gallons of water daily, enough to serve more than 500,000 homes – making it one of the largest water recycling facilities in the world. Purified water from the facility would be delivered through up to 60 miles of new pipelines to the region’s groundwater basins, industrial facilities and two of Metropolitan’s water treatment plants. … ”  Continue reading this press release from Black & Veatch at Business Wire.


Outside entities to establish greenbelt around Brawley with purchased farmland

“Alphabet Farms Ranch A owns 1,888 acres of farmland in the Valley, with Oswit Land Trust managing the land as an agricultural conservation easement (ACE), which would protect the land from destruction and development in perpetuity. This is a joint project of Oswit Land Trust and Trust for Public Land.  The Trusts plan to designate the lands surrounding Brawley as a greenbelt to keep Brawley growing within her set boundaries, compacting and infilling vacant spaces, keeping with Brawley’s City of Brawley Climate Action Plan.  A recent press release from Oswit Land Trust said the greenbelt will conserve agricultural land.   The Trust will manage the agriculture conservation easement, known as Alphabet Farms Ranch A, as part of its advocacy to preserve sensitive lands and wildlife habitat. … ”  Read more from the Desert Review.


Imperial Beach struggles for solutions to rising sea levels

“San Diego County’s Imperial Beach is already experiencing coastal flooding thanks to a warming climate pushing sea levels up.  But the problems don’t stop at the coast for the working-class community of 26,000 — rising sea levels are also moving the water issues inland.  The future that faces a low-lying town next to the U.S.-Mexico border was in full view in the winter of 2019.  A Pacific storm relentlessly pummeled the shore with 10-to-15-foot waves. At the same time, an unusually large tide boosted sea levels more than a foot above normal high tides. Add in a storm surge, and the result was predictable. … ”  Read more from KPBS.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service releases final Environmental Impact Statement for Tijuana Estuary Tidal Restoration Project

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and California Department of Parks and Recreation announce the availability of a final environmental impact statement/environmental impact report (FEIS/EIR) for the Tijuana Estuary Tidal Restoration Program II Phase I (TETRP II Phase I) project. The project site is located within portions of both the Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge (Refuge) and Border Field State Park (State Park), south of Imperial Beach in southwestern San Diego County.  The TETRP II Phase I project proposes to restore 82 to 87 acres of coastal wetland and upland habitats within the Tijuana Estuary on portions of the Refuge and State Park. Coastal restoration is proposed to reverse ongoing degradation of coastal resources essential to the long-term survival of migratory birds, fish, and other aquatic resources, while also increasing the Tijuana Estuary’s tidal prism to improve water quality and ecosystem health. … ”  Read more from the Eagle & Times.

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Along the Colorado River …

Experimental water release continues Lake Mead’s rise

Looking downstream at Colorado River from Glen Canyon Dam tailrace.

“A large release of water from Lake Powell began Monday morning. It’s water that will eventually end up in Lake Mead near Las Vegas after a two-day journey through the Grand Canyon where it will help restore sandbars and beaches while moving sediment downriver.  Monday’s water release from the Glen Canyon Dam is called a High Flow Experiment (HFE) by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. The National Park Service (NPS) is working with Reclamation to ensure people using the Colorado River in the canyons know a surge of water is on the way. … ”  Read more from KLAS.


The Colorado River is an increasingly critical water source for Western states

“The Colorado River flows from Northern Colorado through the Western US, providing water to most of the metropolitan areas in the Southwest.  Roughly 40 million people rely on the Colorado River for water, half of which live in Southern California. The demand for water is steep and takes a major toll on the river’s water levels, particularly as precipitation has decreased in many areas in the last several years.  Jack Schmidt is a natural resources professor and Janet Quinney Lawson Chair in Colorado River Studies at Utah State University. … ”  Read more from KUNC.

Colorado River Indian Tribes use new tech on farms to conserve water

“The Colorado River Indian Tribes Farm is experimenting with new irrigation technology that could help conserve water for future generations.  The farm which encompasses more than 30,000 acres, is located in western Arizona, south of Parker. The fields use Colorado River water for irrigation.  While CRIT has first priority water rights in Arizona, this community has agreed with the federal government on large-scale conservation efforts, aimed to keep the level of Lake Mead 10 feet higher this year.   Josh Moore is the farm manager. Earlier this month, he took ABC15 Investigator Melissa Blasius on a tour of their farming operations. … ”  Read more from Channel 15.

With no clear path for water legislation, Colorado lawmakers want to create a new task force

“Back in January, Colorado Democrats said water legislation would be a centerpiece of their agenda this year. Now, with just a few weeks left in the legislative session, they want to create a task force to figure out how the legislature should address the Colorado River’s water shortages next year.  “I had hoped we would have been able to get there before now. We have not been able to,” House Speaker Julie McCluskie said. “Come January next year, if we aren’t ready to take action, I’ll be deeply disappointed.”  McCluskie, whose Western Slope district includes the Colorado River’s headwaters, is part of a group of bipartisan group of lawmakers sponsoring a bill that would launch the Colorado River Drought Task Force. The measure is expected to be introduced in the Senate this week. … ”  Read more from KSJD.

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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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