DAILY DIGEST, 4/27: Experts: 100% water allocation does not mean the water crisis is over; Bill requiring Bay Delta Plan update before tunnel diversion permit is considered passes committee; Tulare Lake could remain for two years in the Central Valley; As temperatures rise, flood threat grows along Los Angeles Aqueduct; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • MEETING: Central Valley Regional Water Board beginning at 9am in Bakersfield.  Agenda items include an informational item on Groundwater Protection Targets (Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program), two Waste Discharge Requirements, Several NPDES Program Permits, and an Oilfields Program Update. Click here for the full agenda and remote access instructions.
  • MEETING: Delta Stewardship Council beginning at 10am.  Agenda items include an update on the DPIIC April meeting; an update on the activities of the Delta Conservancy and the Delta Protection Commission, Lead Scientist Report, an update on Delta Conveyance, update on the DISB, and a Califonia Tribal listening session. Click here for the full agenda.
  • WEBINAR: Climate Conversations: Nature-Based Solutions from 12pm to 1:15pm.  Join the National Academies for a discussion about how to better work with nature to build climate resilience and support human well-being and ecosystems.  Nature-based solutions such as restoring wetlands, planting trees in cities, and using cover crops can cost-effectively make communities more resilient to the impacts of climate change, as well as provide over a third of the mitigation needed to achieve the 2030 targets of the Paris Agreement. And while conservation groups; federal, state and local agencies; international organizations; and the private sector have begun integrating nature-based solutions into their work, they are not yet utilized to their full potential.  Click here to register.
  • WORKSHOP: California Water Plan Update 2023 – Watershed Management Resource Management Strategy from 1pm to 3pm.  The California Water Plan describes and updates a broad set of resource management strategies (RMSs) that help local agencies and governments manage their water and related resources. Every RMS can be a technique, program, or policy that can be used to meet water-related management needs of a region and the state as a whole.  During this workshop, the Water Plan Team will gather comments on the draft Watershed Management RMS.  This will be an online only workshop, please register to receive the link.

In California water news today …

This year’s 100% water allocation in California does not mean the water crisis is over, experts say

“The West may be out of the woods in ensuring its water supply this year, but the water crisis is still very much alive, experts caution.  Last week, the California Department of Natural Resources announced that the state would receive 100% water allocation for the first time since 2006, meaning that communities and farmers under the State Water Project would receive all of its water requests for the year. … While California is swimming in water resources this year, experts warn that water supplies could easily return to precarious levels by next year.As global temperatures begin to warm, scientists expect a “boom or bust” precipitation pattern, where either all of the precipitation will come at once, or not at all, Zach Zobel, risk scientists at the Woodwell Climate Research Center, told ABC News. Climate change is also expected to make it difficult to predict the amount of snow and water that will be available in the future, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last year. … ”  Read the full story from ABC News.

Bill requiring Bay Delta Plan update before tunnel diversion permit is considered passes committee

“The California Senate Environmental Quality Committee today approved Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman’s bill, SB 687, to ensure that the State Water Resources Control Board updates the Bay-Delta Plan before considering a change in point of diversion permit associated with the Delta Tunnel.  The measure, “Water Quality Control Plan: Delta Conveyance Project,” moves on to the Senate Appropriations Committee.  This bill does four things … ” Read more from the Daily Kos.

California bill could ban foreign investors from buying state farmland

“A bipartisan bill in the state Legislature would prohibit foreign governments from buying California agricultural land.  Senate Bill 224 would also require the state to annually track — and publish — a report on foreign ownership of California resources. Foreign investors own 2.8% of California farmland, according to a 2021 U.S. Department of Agriculture report, though they would be allowed to keep that land if the measure passes.  The bill’s author is Senator Melissa Hurtado, a Democrat representing the Bakersfield area. She says the intent is to put California in control of its food supply chain.  “The agricultural land in California that produces one-third of our country’s vegetables and two-thirds of its fruits and nuts is invaluable to our state’s GDP,” Hurtado said in a prepared release. “This bill is a central part of how we get the data needed to have a better understanding of the role foreign owned governments may play in our energy and water facilities and agricultural land.” … ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio.

CA Water for All Coalition issues statement regarding senate committee passage of Senate Bill 366

Today, CA Water for All lauded the Senate Committee of Natural Resources and Water’s passage of Senate Bill 366 authored by Senator Anna Caballero (DMerced). SB 366 would transform California water management so that instead of managing for scarcity, the State will work toward water supply targets to ensure adequate and reliable supplies for all beneficial uses.  SB 366 was approved by the Committee on a unanimous 110 vote and will face its next hearing in the Senate Appropriations Committee next month.  “We’d like to thank the Committee for keeping this vital legislation moving forward,” said Barry Moline, Executive Director, California Municipal Utilities Association (CMUA), cosponsor of SB 366. “It’s critically important that policymakers address the inadequacies in the water system that are evident in times of drought and heavy rain. Even with this year’s precipitation, we cannot ignore our state’s longterm water supply challenges. We need bold action to secure our state’s water supply future.” … ”  Read the full letter from CA Water For All.

Legislature advances water rights bills to appropriations committees

Two water rights bills in which ACWA is leading a large coalition to oppose advanced out of committees Tuesday despite several ACWA members and others in the coalition, testifying to urge “No” votes. A third water rights bill advanced last week.  AB 460 (Bauer-Kahan) passed out of the Assembly Judiciary Committee with a vote of 7-2-2 and moves to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.  SB 389 (Allen) passed out of the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee and will next moves to the Senate Appropriations Committee.  AB 1337 (Wicks) passed out of the Assembly Water, Parks, and Wildlife Committee on April 18 with amendments and will also be heard in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. … ”  Read more from ACWA’s Water News.

Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia advances $15.1 billion climate bond

“Taking action to protect California communities from the climate crisis, Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella) has introduced AB 1567, a $15.1 billion climate bond with an equity-focused investment plan. The legislation passed the Assembly Committee on Natural Resources on April 24 following previous success in the Assembly Committee on Water, Parks, and Wildlife, according to a press release.  “Our communities are suffering the real-time consequences of climate change, from extreme heat, unprecedented storms, economic damage, or the worsening public health impacts of pollution — this crisis has grown increasingly urgent and deadly. We must act, and importantly, we must invest,” said Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia. … ”  Read more from the Desert Review.

Here’s an update on reservoir levels around Northern California

“Snowmelt season is well underway, and as water flows down the west slope of the Sierra, some of it is destined to end up in Northern California’s reservoirs.  Here’s an update on water storage around the region.  Lake Shasta is currently at 96% of capacity. At the start of April, the reservoir was at 83% of capacity. As of Wednesday afternoon, inflow from runoff is estimated to be around 12,000 cfs. Water managers are releasing just over 6,000 cfs in order to maintain space in the lake for future runoff. … ”  Read more from KCRA.

Video: Researchers raising salmon in flooded rice fields to save dwindling salmon population

Kelsi Thorud reports on how Central Valley rice farmers are teaming up with researchers to save the declining salmon population in California.

Rice planting gets late start with wet spring

“Rice planting season is getting a late start with the rainy weather in April having pushed back the timeline. UC Cooperative Extension Rice Advisor, Whitney Brim-DeForest said growers are just getting out to plow fields. There had been earlier concerns that rain systems would continue into May, but forecasts generally appear to be clear.  “We are definitely starting slightly later than maybe a dry year. Usually, people would have been out at the beginning of April and I don’t think most people were able to get out quite that early. So, land prep is really, at least from what I can see, started in the past week or so,” Brim-DeForest explained. “So, we’re a little bit delayed in that regard. We’re going to be kind of compressed with everyone going at the same time.” … ”  Read more from Ag Net West.

Farmers anticipate the weather waiting game

The agriculture industry is filled with acronyms from USDA and NASS on down to the state and specific-crop categories.In California, one of the best-known grape industry acronyms is CAWG for the California Association of Winegrape Growers.  The statewide association is made up of more than 600 grape farmers advised by a 27-member board and lead by Natalie Collins.  Recently returned from a Washington lobbying junket, she indicated good response to the sponsorship of industry-specific legislative bills like $5 million in funding for wildfire smoke research to investigate smoke events and smoke compound effect on wine grapes in California, Washington, and Oregon. … ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press.

Record precipitation aids outlook for start of fire season

“Flooding is front of mind after a winter of epic precipitation – but fire’s never far off, especially as temps heat up this week.  Prediction can be a perilous pursuit, but for Ben Nicholls, a division chief with CalFire’s Sonoma-Lake-Napa Unit, forecasting is just part of the job.  “We are one bad day away from a significant fire event,” Nicholls said.  Nicholls said the start of the year has been refreshingly quiet for the Sonoma-Lake-Napa Unit.  “Our fire starts are drastically lower than what we’ve experienced across the last five years, and especially this last year,” Nicholls said. “Right now, this time this year, we’ve had 11 wildland fires in the Sonoma-Lake-Napa unit that have burned two acres, whereas last year we were already at 67 fires and 37 acres burned.” … ”  Read more from Northern California Public Media.

U.S. West Coast races to reduce wildfire risk ahead of summer

“As wildfire season approaches, U.S. officials along the West Coast are working hard to mitigate risks with prescribed burns, while a widespread educational campaign is underway to create buffers around fire-prone homes.  In Washington state, Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Hillary Franz is working on reversing negative perceptions surrounding prescribed fires.  “Prescribed fire isn’t bad and isn’t dangerous. We actually need more of it on the landscape and we need to be bringing fire in under our terms and at the right times,” she said.  Approximately 30 miles north of Spokane, officials have been taking action. In mid-April, a crew comprised of approximately 50 wildland firefighters gathered to burn dry wood and debris on the ground, which can help further fuel wildfires. … ”  Read more from Reuters via Yahoo News.

Supreme Court allows major state, local government climate change litigation to proceed on merits

“This week the U.S. Supreme Court gave state and local governments a big–if preliminary–legal win against the fossil fuel industry. The justices declined to take up numerous cases in which government entities have sued oil, gas and coal companies, seeking compensation for the climate change-related damage the jurisdictions they claim to have suffered, and which they attribute to the greenhouse gas emissions the companies’ products have released into the atmosphere.  After years of procedural wrangling, these lawsuits now–and finally–head back to state courts for resolution on their merits.  What has become a national wave of closely-related climate change litigation began in California in 2017, when San Mateo and Marin Counties, along with the City of Imperial Beach, filed suit in state court against many of the world’s largest fossil fuel companies. … ”  Read more from the Legal Planet.

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San Joaquin Valley flooding …

California’s reappearing phantom lake could remain for two years in the Central Valley

Floodwaters from the March storms have cut across 6th Avenue south of Corcoran, in Kings County. Photo by Ken James / DWR

“Satellite images taken over the past several weeks show a dramatic resurrection of Tulare Lake in California’s Central Valley and the flooding that could remain for as long as two years across previously arid farmland. … Scientists warn the flooding will worsen as historically huge snowpack from the Sierra Nevada melts and sends more water into the basin. This week, a heat wave could prompt widespread snow melt in the mountains and threaten the small farming communities already dealing with the resurrected Tulare Lake.  The water in the lake bed could trigger billions of dollars in economic losses and displace thousands of farmers and residents in agricultural communities. Continued flooding also threatens levees, dams and other ailing flood infrastructure in the area. … ”  Read more from CNBC.

“The Big Melt” has arrived as early season heatwave spikes flood concerns; Cut-off low to bring cooling trend but also possibly thunderstorm outbreak next week

“After a winter and early spring that were characterized by remarkably cold conditions across the entirety of California, this week could not feel more different. Above-average temperatures have been the rule in most places, and this early season heatwave is expected to ramp up further over the next few days before peaking around Friday in most spots. Temperatures will be unusually warm both day and night, with some daily record high temperatures (and record warm overnight minimum temperatures) will likely occur across portions of Northern California. This will be true in the higher mountains, as well, where an absolutely enormous snowpack still remains.  As should come at no surprise, this early season heatwave will dramatically accelerate snowmelt from today through the weekend–leading to moderate flood concerns in mountain watercourses themselves and greater concerns in the valleys downstream (and the Tulare Lake Basin, in particular). … ”  Read more from Weather West.

Newsom visits Tulare Lake, warns about snowmelt

“While massive atmospheric rivers doused the Valley floor with a drought busting amount of water and a healthy snowpack, Tulare Lake and the farms on it are reeling from the consequences.Governor Gavin Newsom visited the basin to observe the damage thus far while warning about the impact that is on the horizon. He noted in a successive press release that flooding impacts in the region are expected to worsen in the coming weeks as snowmelt escalates from higher temperatures in the Sierra Nevadas.  Newsom specifically visited Allensworth and Alpaugh along with a dairy that has been partially submerged by flood water. … ”  Read more from the Foothills Sun-Gazette.

A race against time in California town: Floodwaters rising, snow melting, worst still to come

“Water lapped Tuesday at the edges of 6th Avenue, where thousands of acres of once-fertile farmland sat sodden beneath several feet of stagnant floodwater.  The problem, state officials said, is only going to get worse in the days and weeks to come as temperatures rise and record-deep snowpack in the southern Sierra Nevada begins to melt and make its way downhill.  “You can look at a scene like this and think the worst is going to recede, the worst is behind us, but in fact, quite the contrary,” said Gov. Gavin Newsom, who was visiting Corcoran to survey flood damage from winter storms. In the distance, a farmer steered a boat through the flooded Tulare Lake Basin, which only weeks ago was home to cotton plants, corn, wheat, tomatoes and other crops. … ”  Read more from the LA Times.

Kern County FD, Caltrans rely on experience and expertise to prepare for spring melt

“As springtime temperatures rise, it brings the potential for increased snow melt, which may cause some concern for flooding. On Wednesday, Kern County officials met with a flood fight specialist to prepare for potential flooding scenarios.  “If there is a worst-case scenario and the waterways are overrun with water, how are we ensuring in advance that we are prepared for that?” said Kern County Fire Captain Andrew Freeborn. “That’s why we also bring subject matter experts, like a flood fight specialist, to help us in our planning efforts for those sort of circumstances.” … ”  Read more from Channel 23.

PG&E building wall around Corcoran substation ahead of snowmelt

“Crews have been raising the levee around Corcoran in preparation for the snowmelt.  As the days get warmer and the snow melts in the high Sierra, concern about how much water will fill the Tulare Lake Basin continues.  Since March, Corcoran City Manager Greg Gatzka says it’s been all hands on deck to create a plan and protect the community.  Part of that plan is raising the 14-and-a-half-mile-long long levee by 3-and-a-half feet.  “It’s well underway, but it’s still less than a quarter completely done,” said Corcoran City Manager Greg Gatzka. … ”  Read more from KFSN.


In commentary today …

Commonsense measures needed to fight California’s water mismanagement

Reps. David Valadao (R-Calif.) and Cliff Bentz (R-Ore.) write, “Sticker shock at the grocery store has become the norm for many American families, with food prices increasing by 11.4 percent in 2022. According to the USDA, an average family of four is paying $131 more per month this year, and groceries now account for 20 percent of an average household’s income. Since 1959 the U.S. has been a net food exporter of agricultural goods, but for the second time in the last three years, the U.S. will be a net agricultural food importer. The ongoing war in Ukraine, China’s growing influence on the U.S. agriculture industry, and supply chain backlogs should all serve as warning signs that the security of our domestic food supply is at risk.  The lights of food shortages are blinking red — now is the time to do everything in our power to ensure the safety and security of our domestic food supply. … ”  Read more from The Hill.

After the winter’s magnificent snowpacks

Connor Everts writes, “In 2018, UCLA scientists accurately predicted that California would experience “dramatic shifts between extreme dry and extreme wet weather [especially wet] by the end of the 21st century.”  And it seems safe to say that Californians have seen that prediction fulfilled for the past six years, and more.  But nobody predicted the record snowpack and snow water content that this year’s extreme storms left in the Sierra Nevada mountain range.  Now, this water-year’s extreme precipitation seems to have ended. And so ends the worst drought in the west in 1,200 years, at least in most of California.  Californians are experiencing the predictable results of our latest climate-change whiplash: great snow, fuller reservoirs, better flowing rivers and streams, and great floods.  They are also experiencing the predictable spin doctoring of climate events by Big Ag and other “water abundance” ideologues, who want to preserve our current unsustainable water-supply system.  These extremists seem to think that climate change is over or never happened. Or maybe they care more about profits and power than life itself? … ”  Continue reading at the Orange Juice Blog.

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Today’s featured article …

MEETING: State Water Board discusses intervention options for groundwater basins with inadequate plans

In March 2023, the Department of Water Resources issued final determinations on groundwater sustainability plans (GSPs) submitted by the groundwater basins in January of 2022 that were ultimately determined to be incomplete.  After the groundwater sustainability agencies (GSAs) were given 180 days to correct the deficiencies and revise their plans, six of the twelve basin plans were determined to be inadequate, triggering possible intervention by the State Water Board.  At the April 4 meeting of the State Water Resources Control Board, the Board discussed the options for moving forward.

Click here to read this article.

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In regional water news and commentary today …


Siskiyou County drought restrictions lifted after winter rain, snows, bring relief

“Water restrictions in Siskiyou County on a number of farming and ranching activities have been lifted — at least for now.  The move by the California State Water Resources Board lifts water curtailment restrictions put in place to manage ground and surface water during the drought. However, curtailments could be revisited in May if flow levels in the Shasta and Scott rivers decline.  Water restrictions impacting Scott Valley farms with senior water rights have been suspended through May 2, according to Ailene Voisin, a spokesperson for the California State Water Resources Board. Similar water restrictions affecting farms with senior water rights along the Shasta River have been suspended through April 30. … ”  Read more from the Siskiyou Daily News.


Rehab coming for Sonoma County’s aging flood control infrastructure

“Flooding was once persistent throughout Santa Rosa, and in the 1950’s Sonoma Water, with the help of the federal government, set about building the Central Sonoma Watershed Project to mitigate the issue.  This month the County moved forward a major rehabilitation of the project.  If you’ve been to Spring Lake in Santa Rosa, you’ve been to the heart of the 65 year old Central Sonoma Watershed Project – and you might not even know it.  The Santa Rosa Creek Reservoir – a.k.a. Spring Lake – is the largest of four reservoirs scattered throughout the city. … ”  Read more from Northern California Public Radio.

Environmental group sues Napa County town over warehouse project

“There was quite a clatter on Green Valley Road, in the lower reaches of Napa County, late Tuesday afternoon. Semi trucks heaved over railroad crossings and delivery trucks sped along their routes, joined by a steady steam of cars in an area caught halfway between industrial development and open space.  Just north of the road was a sweeping oasis of grasses and reeds. The metallic squawks of red-winged blackbirds could be heard during lulls in the traffic. An osprey drifted overhead, looking for an afternoon snack.  On March 21, the American Canyon City Council approved a massive warehouse project that would bring much of the 208-acre green expanse in line with the development surrounding it. But now the nonprofit Center for Biological Diversity is suing the city of American Canyon, seeking to delay construction. … ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.


How does drinking water get to the East Bay?

“In California, we’ve been dealing with drought conditions for the past couple of years. With all the recent storms, water has had to spill at Pardee Dam.  But this recent abundance of water doesn’t mean our water issues are over.  “In California, you’re never in the clear. You’re never fully in the clear when it comes to drought or floods,” said Dillon Cowan, the East Bay Municipal Utility District’s Superintendent at Pardee Dam. “One of the challenges in California is the significant amount of variability we can see from year to year so ranging from extreme low water level conditions to flood conditions.” … ”  Read more from ABC 7.

Santa Clara County looks to make Cupertino quarry’s decision to end cement production legally binding

“In the wake of  Lehigh Hanson’s announcement last year that it was ending cement production at its quarry west of Cupertino, Santa Clara County is looking to make the decision to permanently end the nearly-century-old cement kiln’s operations legally binding.  Lehigh, which has played a large role in construction projects across the Bay Area since 1939, has been a point of contention in recent years as residents and environmentalists have spoken out with concerns about the noise and pollution emitted from the plant.  The Irving, Texas-based company announced last year that it wouldn’t be restarting cement production after not having operated the kiln since April 2020. However, the site would still be used as a distribution center.  Last week, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors voted to hold the company to its word and asked the county’s attorneys to negotiate a legally enforceable agreement between the county and the cement company. … ”  Continue reading at the San Jose Mercury News.


Federal lawmakers push for California farmers recovery package

“Federal lawmakers representing four California districts with pristine farmland penned a letter to colleagues this week urging passage of a bipartisan disaster recovery package for farmers and ranchers devastated by heavy winter storms earlier this winter.  “For nearly three weeks, California was hit with storms that brought intense rain and catastrophic flooding. The historic storms caused tremendous damage to thousands of acres of farms and ranches,” wrote Reps. Jimmy Panetta, Salud Carbajal, Zoe Lofgren and Jim Costa.  Panetta and Lofgren represent portions of South County heavily reliant on the agriculture industry, while Panetta’s 19th District extends to most of North County as well.  “We, therefore, request a disaster recovery package be swiftly put together to allow the rebuilding and recovery process to begin. It is imperative Congress provide much-needed aid to California’s agricultural community to allow for a full and timely recovery,” they wrote. … ”  Read more from the Santa Cruz Sentinel.

Monterey Peninsula water users battle Cal Am rate increase

“It’s a good thing for California American Water Co. that rate increases aren’t determined by a popularity contest, otherwise state regulators on Tuesday would have sent the Monterey Peninsula water purveyor packing.  Members of the California Public Utilities Commission, or CPUC, held a two-part hearing at Seaside City Hall Tuesday afternoon and evening to solicit public viewpoints on an application – called a rate case — filed by Cal Am to increase water rates over a three-year period beginning next year.  The CPUC got an earful. All but two of the 17 speakers who testified to the CPUC representatives were highly critical of Cal Am. One of two who did not lodge complaints said there was plenty of water in the Carmel River aquifer, which wasn’t the focus of the hearing. Another said that the bickering should stop and a water solution needs to be found so affordable housing can be built. The rest used words like “mismanagement,” “bad actors” and “incompetence” to describe Cal Am. … ”  Read more from the Monterey Herald.


Lower Tule River Irrigation District receives $2 million water preservation grant

“Since “every drop” of water counts, a $2 million grant awarded to the Lower Tule River and Pixley Irrigation Districts will help those districts preserve as much of their water as possible.  On Friday the Bureau of Reclamation announced the districts were awarded the $2 million grant. The funding was part of $140 million announced by President Joe Biden’s administration. The Department of the Interior is providing the funding for water conservation and efficiency projects. There were 84 projects in 15 western states that received the funding from the Infrastructure Bill.  In addition the Tule Hydroelectric Rehabilitation Project for a facility above Springville was awarded a $500,000 grant as part of the $140 million awarded. … ”  Read more from the Porterville Recorder.

Chevron prepares for potential flooding at Kern River Oil Field

“With temperatures in the Central Valley ticking up and fears over accelerated snowmelt leading to floods throughout Kern County on the rise, Chevron Corp. is readying itself for the possibility water could spill into the Kern River Oil Field, increasing risk of an environmental mishap.  “We have response plans that are based on information that we’ve received from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,” communications advisor for Chevron San Joaquin Valley Business Unit Sean Comey said.  “The plan isolates our wells if they are impacted and other systems and it can be scaled up as needed depending on what level the river rises.” … ”  Read more from Channel 12.


As temperatures rise, flood threat grows along Los Angeles Aqueduct

“More than a month after heavy storms eroded a section of the Los Angeles Aqueduct, work crews are still scrambling to complete repairs and shore up flood defenses in the face of a weeklong heat wave that threatens to trigger widespread snowmelt in the Sierra Nevada.  “We’re doing as much as we can, as quickly as possible,” said Paul Liu, of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. “Our crews are working 12-hour shifts.”  Historic snowpack levels in the Eastern Sierra are expected to melt into runoff that is 225% of normal, which translates to about 326 billion gallons of water that will need to be managed, DWP officials said.  And while a typical runoff season in the region can last from May to June, this year’s “could push through to August,” said Anselmo Collins, senior assistant general manager of the DWP’s water system. … ”  Read more from the LA Times. | Read via Yahoo News.

Winter weather will impact 2023 Eastern Sierra California Trout Opener

“While the eastern Sierra trout season opener is one of the most highly anticipated events of the year, the record snowpack of 2023 will be a major factor on which lakes and streams are accessible. As of April 25, many waters including the very popular Crowley Lake still have extensive ice cover.  The 2023 opener starts Saturday, April 29 one hour before sunrise. Thousands of California and non-resident anglers are known to visit the wide open spaces of the eastern Sierra on opening day weekend to enjoy great fishing, amazing views, family tradition and camaraderie.  Fishing experiences this year are likely to be different. As of April 14, the California Department of Water Resources shows the snowpack as 208 percent of normal in the northern Sierra, 241 percent in the central Sierra and 314 percent in the southern Sierra. Only a handful of lakes are expected to be open due to wintry conditions and public safety concerns. … ”  Read more from the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

It’s that time of year: LADWP releases its operation plan

“Inyo County’s Water Commission and Board of Supervisors both went through the annual ritual of reviewing Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s operation plans for the Valley. No surprise: with precipitation close to 300-percent of normal, pumping will be at a minimum only to supply water for in-valley uses, not export.  The one request suggested by Water Commission Chair Teri Red Owl: LADWP should spread the water where they pump. Both she and District 5 Supervisor Matt Kingsley were’t crazy about LADWP sending water to Ridgecrest. Kingsley’s preference was spreading at Rose Valley in southern Inyo. … ”  Read more from the Sierra Wave.


Malibu Creek Ecosystem Restoration Project and Rindge Dam removal advances

On April 25, 2023, California State Parks announced a major next step for the Malibu Creek Ecosystem Restoration Project with the beginning of the pre-construction, engineering, and design (PED) phase. This phase is managed by State Parks, the project lead, and project partners including California Trout and a team of consultants. Located within Malibu Creek State Park in the Santa Monica Mountains in Los Angeles County, the project will restore ecological function in and around Malibu Creek from summit to seabed.  For a century, the 100-foot-tall Rindge Dam has severed the Malibu Creek watershed from its natural connection to Malibu Lagoon and onward to Santa Monica Bay and the Pacific Ocean. This abandoned dam, which provides no water storage or flood control benefits, stands as an insurmountable barrier to aquatic species, including the federally endangered Southern Steelhead. … ”  Read more from Cal Trout.

Wetland area coming to L.A. River’s Bowtie Parcel

“A brownfield site along the banks of the L.A. River in Glassell Park is one step closer to being activated as public green space, according to an initial study published this month by the California Department of Parks and Recreation.  The Bowtie Parcel, a roughly 18-acre stretch of land located just south of the Glendale Freeway, was once a parcel of the Southern Pacific Railroad’s bustling Taylor Yard facility, which shuttered in the late 1980s. After sitting fallow for years, the land was acquired by California State Parks in 2003.  Plans to reactivate the site, according to the new environmental study, come with the goals of enhancing native habitat, improving water quality, and increasing public access to the adjacent L.A. River. Likewise, the project would help to remove toxins and other pollutants from a site which has a long legacy of industrial uses. … ”  Read more from Urbanize LA.

Inglewood councilmember is ‘likely’ holding incompatible offices, water board’s attorney says

“An attorney for the West Basin Municipal Water District has determined board member Gloria Gray is likely holding two incompatible offices, in violation of state law, because the water district sells to the Inglewood, where she is now a City Council member.  Elected officials do not need an actual conflict of interest for the two roles to be deemed incompatible, only the “possibility of a clash of duties,” said attorney Joe Byrne, the district’s general counsel, during the water board meeting on Monday, April 24. Asked whether Gray’s two offices are incompatible, Byrne said her situation is similar to other cases in Southern California where district attorney’s offices have successfully removed elected officials from serving simultaneously on a water board and a city council.  “Based on the attorney general’s opinions and the precedent, it is substantially likely that it is,” Byrne said. … ”  Read more from the Daily Breeze.

Beaumont: Landmark deal secures additional water for region through 2042

San Gorgonio Pass Water Agency (SGPWA) and the City of Ventura finalized a water transfer agreement that significantly increases supplies for Passarea communities over the next 20 years.  The agreement brings SGPWA’s State Water Project (SWP) allocation to as much as 27,300 acrefeet per year, enough water to supply about 81,900 families for a  year. SGPWA imports supplemental water to recharge area groundwater basins and sell to local retail water providers.  SWP allocations vary annually based on state water conditions. This year’s snowpack has resulted in a 100% allocation, a number that rose over the past few months due to unexpected levels of precipitation. The last time this happened was in 2006. This means SGPWA will have access to the full 10,000 acrefeet of Ventura water this year. … ”  Continue reading at the San Gorgonio Pass Water Agency.

New science informs extent of hexavalent chromium groundwater plumes in Hinkley Valley

“In a new study released today, scientists mapped the extent of human-introduced hexavalent chromium, a known carcinogen under specific circumstances, in California’s Hinkley Valley.  The USGS report, commissioned by the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board, showed how the valley’s geology affected background hexavalent chromium concentrations in groundwater.  Hexavalent chromium occurs naturally in groundwater in the Mojave Desert. Concentrations increased in Hinkley Valley beginning in 1952 when the Pacific Gas and Electric Company discharged it into unlined ponds. From there, hexavalent chromium entered the aquifer. Once in the ground, a plume of hexavalent chromium traveled with groundwater away from the Hinkley compressor station into Hinkley Valley. … ”  Read more from the USGS.

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Along the Colorado River …

Radio: The news is getting better for Lake Mead — but for how long?

“The West’s wet winter has changed the region’s water forecasts, at least in the short term. But Joanna Allhands argues we still need longer-term solutions to deal with the Colorado River.  Allhands is digital opinions editor for the Arizona Republic, and she joined The Show to talk about some of her recent pieces on this subject.”  Listen at KJZZ.

SEE ALSOLake Mead is rising, but its effect on Arizona remains unclear, from Axios.

Lake Powell could rise 50 to 90 feet over the next few months

“Federal water managers say they believe Lake Powell will rise anywhere between 50 and 90 feet this spring and summer after the nation’s second-largest reservoir dropped to its all-time low again earlier this year.  The reservoir’s water level rose to 3,524.2 feet elevation by Tuesday, representing about 22.7% capacity. U.S. Bureau of Reclamation officials say that the water levels could rise to anywhere between 3,575 feet and 3,615 feet by the end of June, according to an outlook published last week. The most probable scenario is that the reservoir jumps to 3,590 feet elevation, or about 65 feet, by June, before dropping to 3,573.47 feet elevation by the end of the year. … ”  Read more from the Deseret News.

‘It’s gotten really ugly.’ A community of freedom-lovers squares off against climate change in the Arizona desert

“When I arrived at Karen Nabity’s place in Arizona’s Rio Verde Foothills on a spring afternoon, she opened the door and flashed a big smile. “Oh good!” she said, laughing as she ushered me inside. “You got here in time for happy hour!” … The wild beauty of the Sonoran Desert is a large part of why Nabity and her husband bought land just north of Scottsdale and built their dream retirement house here in 2014. “Our four children had flown the coop,” she said. “So we drew up our house plan and subcontracted it out. It was a blast. And now we want to live here forever.”  It’s easy to see why. The McDowell Sonoran Desert Preserve is a five-minute stroll from their front door. One of largest urban parks in the nation, it boasts 180 miles of hiking trails that wind around stands of the iconic giant saguaro and includes one trail that gains 1,300 feet in a short distance before ending at the base of a 200-foot-high granite spire that’s a favorite with rock climbers.  But it’s an open question how long the Nabitys will be able to live here, as they and their neighbors are faced with the intractable reality of a changing climate, a great drying of the West that recently caused their drinking water to be turned off. … ”  Continue reading at Yale Climate Connections.

Commentary: The U.S. Government made a peculiar concession in Arizona v. Navajo Nation

Ethan Brown , creator and host of the Sweaty Penguin, writes, “On March 20, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments for Arizona v. Navajo Nation, wherein the Navajo Nation argued that the United States government breached its legal responsibility to ensure access to water on the Navajo reservation. Frederick Liu, the U.S. attorney, made a surprising concession during his argument. No one called him on it.  The American Southwest is currently experiencing its worst drought in 1,200 years, hitting the Navajo Nation the hardest. Navajos use 8-10 gallons of water per day—about a tenth of the average American—and 30 percent of Navajos have no running water. This predicament is not just a practical and moral issue, according to the Navajos, but a legal one. In Winters v. United States (1908), the Supreme Court declared that tribes have a right to enough water to fulfill their reservation’s current and future needs as laid out in their original treaties. While the Navajo Nation claims this requires the U.S. government to physically provide the reservation with water during this shortage, Liu insisted the U.S. government’s only obligation is to not actively interfere with the Navajos’ water supply. .;.. ”  Read more from Newsweek.

Cloud seeding is on the rise in the drought-stricken Rockies

“Garrett Cammans and his brothers sometimes don’t talk about their toughest moments on the job in the cloud seeding business, like the time when one of them got stuck in deep mountain snow and had to hike out alone in the dark.  “They’re going out into some pretty remote and rural areas,” Cammans said. “And there have been a few close encounters with wildlife we don’t like to discuss at the family dinner table.”  But snow — as much as possible — is at the heart of the Cammans family business, Utah-based North American Weather Consultants, which holds cloud seeding contracts throughout the U.S. West, centered in the Rocky Mountains. … ”  Read more from Colorado Public Radio.

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In national water news today …

NIDIS launches improved and expanded state pages on Drought.Gov

“Drought and its impacts vary from region to region, and a proactive approach to drought planning and resilience requires responsiveness to particular geographic and hydrologic circumstances—and close collaboration between federal, tribal, state, and local governments.  Acknowledging the importance of state-specific drought information and resources, NOAA’s National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) is pleased to announce the launch of new and improved state pages on the U.S. Drought Portal.  The expanded Drought.gov state pages—which NIDIS developed in collaboration with NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information and state partners—provide a one-stop shop for state drought information, including interactive and easily shareable maps, statistics, and resources for all 50 states, as well as Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the U.S.-Affiliated Pacific Islands. … ”  Read more from NIDIS.

Addressing America’s water crisis could also cut carbon emissions

“In addition to a severe climate problem, the United States is increasingly threatened by a long-running water crisis in the West, despite the relief brought by recent, abnormally wet spells. While water scarcity is frequently overlooked as an element of climate change, these two issues are inextricably linked. It is well documented that changing climatic conditions have been the drivers of North America’s driest 22-year period in at least 1,200 years. Less frequently discussed, however, is the role that water conservation efforts could play in proactive climate responses. … ”  Read more from the Environment and Energy Study Institute.

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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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