DAILY DIGEST, 5/2: DWR conducts May 1 snow survey; Slow-moving storm to bring month’s worth of rain, unusually low temps; Killing fish to save frogs; In a changing climate, what does a “normal” year of wildfires look like?; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • LEG HEARING: Assembly Committee on Water, Parks, and Wildlife beginning at 9am.  Click here for agenda and remote access links.
  • PUBLIC WEBINAR: SAFER: 2023 Drinking Water Needs Assessment from 9am to 12pm. The State Water Resources Control Board will hold a public webinar to provide an opportunity for stakeholders to review and discuss the results of the 2023 Drinking Water Needs Assessment.  Click here to register.
  • MEETING: State Water Resources Control Board beginning at 9:30am.  Agenda items include Current Hydrologic Conditions and Response, Update on status of the Underground Storage Tank (UST) Cleanup Fund, and Progress update on two years of implementation of the Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program (ELAP) new regulations. Click here for complete agenda and remote access instructions.
  • MEETING: State Board of Food and Ag from 10am to 12pm. Agenda items include presentations on Ag Vision: Building Local, Healthy Communities; Next Generation of Talent and Tools; Collaboration on Smarter Regulations; and Enhance Understanding of Agriculture. Click here for the full agenda and remote access instructions.
  • WEBINAR: Preparing for Shortages on the Colorado River from 12pm to 1pm.  Presenter: Rebecca Bernat, Ph.D., Water Resources Specialist Associate & Technical Administrator, Arizona Water Banking Authority.  Established in 1996 to store an unused portion of Arizona’s Colorado River entitlement, the Arizona Water Banking Authority (AWBA) provides backup supplies in times of shortages for certain fourth-priority Colorado River users (through a process called firming) and Nevada. With the first-ever Colorado River shortage declaration by the Secretary of the Interior in 2022, the AWBA transitioned to its next phase, making its stored water supplies available to meet its responsibilities. In this presentation, Dr. Bernat will talk about the ways in which the Water Banking Authority is preparing for shortages, from firming the Gila River Indian Community to recovery planning with partners in the Phoenix, Pinal, and Tucson active management areas.  Click here to register.

In California water news today …

DWR conducts May 1 snow survey to continue to collect data on spring runoff

Snow runoff near the California Department of Water Resources snow survey site at Phillips Station in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Kenneth James / DWR

“The Department of Water Resources (DWR) today conducted the fifth snow survey of the season at Phillips Station. The manual survey recorded 59 inches of snow depth and a snow water equivalent of 30 inches, which is 241 percent of average for this location on May 1. The snow water equivalent measures the amount of water still contained in the snowpack and is a key component of DWR’s water supply run-off forecast. DWR’s electronic readings from 130 snow sensors placed throughout the state indicate the statewide snowpack’s snow water equivalent is 49.2 inches, or 254 percent of average for this date.  Despite a brief increase in temperatures in late April, the statewide snowpack overall melted at a slower pace than average over the month of April due to below average temperatures early in the month and increased cloud cover. An average of 12 inches of the snowpack’s snow water equivalent has melted in the past month and it now contains an average of 49.2 inches. … ”  Read more from DWR News.

California snowpack reaches historic 240% of normal

“Despite a recent bout of warm weather, California’s snowpack still stands at 241% of average for May, prompting experts to double down on warnings about spring flooding.  The California Department of Water Resources conducted a fifth snow survey of the season Monday at Phillips Station near Lake Tahoe. The survey recorded a snow water equivalent of 30 inches, which is 241% of average for this location. Readings from 130 snow sensors placed throughout the state indicate the snowpack’s snow water equivalent is 49.2 inches, or 254% of average, officials reported.  Recent winter storms brought the abundant snow and caused flooding in many counties including the central San Joaquin Valley. Experts warned a period of unusual heat in April could cause flooding risks in such vulnerable areas, but the snowpack has melted more slowly than average, or about 12 inches. … ”  Read more from the Courthouse News.


California weather: Slow-moving storm to bring month’s worth of rain, unusually low temperatures

“An atmospheric traffic jam is bringing a taste of winter to both the eastern and western United States during the first days of May.  As the Upper Midwest digs out from underneath an impressive late-season snow event and parts of the interior Northeast contend with spring snowflakes through the middle of the week, AccuWeather meteorologists say a cold, slow-moving storm on the opposite side of the country may leave California residents in a state of bewilderment.  Weather along the West Coast will remain active this week as a storm brings rain showers along with mountain snow, according to AccuWeather Long-Range Meteorologist Alex DaSilva. … ”  Read more from AccuWeather.

Snow, hail and rain enter California forecast after warm spell

“Meteorologists in California were talking about baking temperatures melting the massive snowpack in the Sierra Nevada only a few days ago. This week, they are focused on plummeting temperatures bringing snow to those same mountains.  Welcome to spring in the Golden State. It’s the season when significant temperature swings are not uncommon.  The shift in the weather was triggered by a trough of low pressure from the Gulf of Alaska pushing into California and pulling in cold air and unsettled weather, the National Weather Service said. … ”  Continue reading from SF Gate.

Storm-induced flood concerns a reality for tree crops

Trevor Suslow writes, “While some of us have been ankle deep, or worse, in flooded farms, we have all been living with or watching the largest California flood and storm-associated damage and farming losses in more than 30 years. Much has been written about the anticipated crop shortages as well as the known and unknown hazards of flood sources, including those related to food safety, on a farm-specific and regional basis.But it is important to recognize that prolonged flooding of soils associated with tree fruit and nut production have the potential for serious impacts not associated with food safety concerns. Here, I am reaching way back to my plant pathology past where I started with research on bacterial canker of stone fruit (a multifactor disease complex but largely attributable to Pseudomonas syringae) and Phytophthora canker of tree crops; more on this to follow. … ”  Read more from Growing Produce.

Making the most of a wet year

“One of California’s driest and warmest three-year periods on record just ended in an epic wet season. As snow melts and water demand skyrockets, it’s a good time to take stock. Did we sock away some water for the next dry period? Where are we most vulnerable to flooding, and what might we do better?  “We are having an extreme year, and it is embedded within a series of extreme years,” said PPIC Water Policy Center senior fellow Jeffrey Mount at an event last week. “I want everyone to remind themselves where we were a year ago. Last year at this time we were pretty freaked out about storage,” he said, referring to the low reservoirs and meager snowpack, which supplies about 30% of the state’s water.  The picture has changed thanks to a series of atmospheric rivers, but Mount emphasized how increasing precipitation volatility is challenging water management. “Increasing drought intensity makes wet year management much more important,” he said. “We routinely fail to store enough water during wet periods, and flood management is equally important as water supply management.” … ”  Read more and watch video from the PPIC.

‘We’re not prepared’: experts call for doubling levee protections as California faces increasing floods

“California water experts and environmental justice advocates are calling for state leaders to mandate that new levees be built with double the federal required protection to withstand the increasingly severe storms caused, in part, by human-caused climate change. California’s levee protection regulations are not uniform; the state’s seemingly endless dikes and causeways are overseen by a patchwork of widely varying rules. Some communities like Pajaro in Monterey County, which was swamped by floodwaters this year, are protected only against smaller storms that happen every eight years, while levees protecting urban areas of the Central Valley are bolstered against much more powerful storms. Jeffery Mount, senior fellow specializing in water at the Public Policy Institute of California, said that the bare-minimum standard for protection everywhere in the state should be based on the likelihood of a 1-in-200-year storm, which has a 0.5% chance of happening in any given year. … ”  Read more from KQED.

Radio show: Tulare Basin flooding | Sacramento winter flood costs

“With each week as temperatures warm the Tulare Basin– from Fresno to Bakersfield– becomes an increasing hazard. Record snowmelt in the southern Sierra Nevada is flooding agricultural communities in the Central Valley, with some at risk of being completely submerged. Nicole Foy is a California Divide CalMatters reporter based in the southern San Joaquin Valley, and provides a first hand look at how this slow moving natural disaster is unfolding.   The atmospheric rivers that pounded California in the first weeks of the year cut a wide swath of destruction and claimed the lives of at least 22 people across the state. In Sacramento alone, the January storms toppled nearly a thousand trees, a number of them crushing homes and cars. A few months later, we’re learning the wave of storms in January alone cost Sacramento millions of dollars making it one of the most expensive storm stretches for the city in decades. And Sacramento is a snapshot of the economic impact and challenges the rest of California faces as some experts believe these powerful storms will become even more expensive in the years to come. … ”  Listen at Capital Public Radio.

What California’s weird winter means for its water problems

“The West just had a very wet winter. The snowpack at the top of the Rocky Mountains, which feed the Colorado River, a crucial water source for seven states and Mexico, has been replenished. The Great Salt Lake has risen a little more than three feet. Currently, the US Drought Monitor shows that almost all of California is out of a severe drought.  Now, spring temperatures are causing the snowpack on the Sierra Nevadas to melt and trickle down to California’s waterways. After enforcing steep cuts in some counties in 2021 and 2022, the state just granted more river water to millions of residents and agriculture.  For farms in particular, this means they may not have to rely as heavily on groundwater, which is being rapidly depleted in some parts of the state.But scientists warn this one strange winter should be taken as that: extraordinary.  To fully rid the West of its long-term megadrought, which research shows has been exacerbated by climate change, there would need to be several rainy and snowy winters in a row, says Wei Zhang, a climate scientist and assistant professor at Utah State University. … ”  Read more from Popular Science.

State, federal agencies and tribe sign ‘historic’ agreement to aid salmon

“Federal and state officials on Monday signed what they called a historic agreement to give the Winnemem Wintu Tribe of Shasta County “a seat at the table” when making decisions on returning winter-run chinook salmon into the McCloud River.  The Winnemem consider the salmon an important part of their culture and have long sought to have the fish returned to the river where they once lived and spawned for thousands of years.  The salmon and the Winnemem were cut off from the river after Shasta Dam was built in the early 1940s. Last summer, with the drought pushing the winter-run chinook to the brink of extinction, the salmon were returned to the McCloud River for the first time in nearly 80 years. … ”  Read more from the Redding Record-Searchlight.

SEE ALSO: Tribe, state and federal partners join to return endangered salmon to historic habitat, from the Department of Fish & Wildlife

Killing fish to save frogs

“Shortly after World War II, California fish managers had a brainstorm: They loaded juvenile trout into airplanes and saturation-bombed naturally fishless lakes in the High Sierra Mountains of California. Some of the fish hit rocks and ice, but most hit water.  Gorging on zooplankton, insects and two kinds of mountain yellow-legged frogs, the alien invaders unraveled aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, often in designated wilderness.  In 2014, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed both groups of frogs as endangered, prompting aggressive action by Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. The agency plan called for eradicating trout in 110 lakes, though trout would remain in 465 park lakes and hundreds of stream miles, leaving plenty of fishing opportunity. … ”  Read more from Sierra Nevada Ally.

‘Newsom stepped up this year’ in response to water conditions

“Governor Gavin Newsom made some significant moves this year when it comes to water. Multiple administrative adjustments were made in response to the influx of storm systems that came through California. Executive Director of the California Farm Water Coalition, Mike Wade expressed appreciation for some of the actions taken. Wade said the governor did the right thing in adapting to one of the wettest winters on record. … ”  Read more from Ag Net West.

Valadao’s sweeping water legislation advances out of committee

“A sweeping overhaul of California’s water policy, specifically the rules that govern water throughout the Central Valley, took one step closer to becoming reality.   Last week, the House Committee on Natural Resources passed the Working to Advance Tangible and Effective Reforms (WATER) for California Act, which was introduced by Rep. David Valadao (R–Hanford).  The backstory: Valadao initially introduced the WATER for California Act last December and brought it back for the new Republican-controlled House in January.  Part of the legislation centers on the 2019 biological opinions that govern the state’s water usage. President Joe Biden’s administration has been working to throw out the Trump-era rules and revert back to the previous biological opinions administered in 2008 and 2009. … ”  Read more from the San Joaquin Valley Sun.

House Committee on Natural Resources advances legislation to modernize Endangered Species Act, increase water storage and promote federal land access

“Today, the House Committee on Natural Resources completed a full committee markup and favorably reported a total of nine bills out of committee. Committee Chairman Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) released the following statement in response:  “The Republican majority is hard at work delivering on our Commitment to America, and the bills we passed today are the perfect example of commonsense policy that will improve lives and livelihoods across the country. By bringing the Endangered Species Act into the 21st Century to help people and wildlife, improving western water infrastructure and increasing access to public lands, we are ensuring every American is able to enjoy our abundant resources both now and in years to come. I look forward to moving these bills through the House and on to the Senate.” … ”  Read more from the House Committee on Natural Resources.

Russian River environment: Vehicle cleaning effects on storm water

“With spring in full swing and spring-cleaning projects underway, this is a popular time for residents to pull out the hose and bucket of soapy water to wash their cars. Did you know that washing your car at home can be harmful to the environment? One important thing to consider when washing your car is the potential for pollutants and chemicals to enter storm drains.  Storm drains are designed to carry rainwater and melted snow away from roads and other paved surfaces, and they often flow directly into nearby streams, rivers, or other bodies of water. This means that anything that goes down a storm drain can have a direct impact on water quality and the health of aquatic life and their ecosystems. … ”  Read more from the Ukiah Daily Journal.

This beer is made from recycled shower water. Is it the taste of the future?

“After years of historic drought in California, water recycling has become a pressing issue – but just how much can be done with what we’ve got?  A water-recycling company is seeking to answer that question, with help from a local brewery. The result is a beer made from wastewater, and I can tell you from personal experience that it’s pretty good.  Epic OneWater Brew, from Epic Cleantec and Devil’s Canyon Brewing Company, is made from greywater recycled from showers, laundry and bathroom sinks in a 40-story San Francisco apartment building, where Epic has onsite equipment to capture, treat and reuse water for non-drinking purposes. … ”  Read more from The Guardian.

Hundreds of hazardous sites in California are at risk of flooding as sea level rises, study finds

“Hundreds of hazardous industrial sites that dot the California coastline – including oil and gas refineries and sewage-treatment plants – are at risk of severe flooding from rising sea level if the climate crisis worsens, new research shows.  If planet-warming pollution continues to rise unabated, 129 industrial sites are estimated to be at risk of coastal flooding by 2050 according to the study, published Tuesday in the journal Environmental Science & Technology by researchers from University of California at Los Angeles and Berkeley, as well as Climate Central.  Researchers also found that residents living within a kilometer — about 0.6 miles — of these contaminated sites tend to be more vulnerable: people of color, the elderly, unemployed and low-income communities. By the end of the century, the number of at-risk toxic sites could increase to 423, and the disadvantaged population around those sites is expected to grow as well. … ”  Read more from CNN.

California redwoods suffering from effects of climate change-fueled weather whiplash

“At hundreds to thousands of years old, California’s iconic redwoods — the tallest trees in the world — have truly stood the test of time. But all of our atmospheric river storms have left them with a case of weather whiplash in this age of climate change. Todd Dawson is one of the only researchers in the world to explore an ecosystem few of us have ever seen up close before; he and his team are expert tree climbers, conducting research at the tops of the redwoods more than 200 feet high. “Climbing the redwoods has been a really special part of the research that we do,” said Dawson. “It’s really hard to understand an organism that’s that big and that long-lived until you get up into the trees themselves.” … ”  Read more from CBS Bay Area.

In a changing climate, what does a “normal” year of wildfires look like?

“After several years of drought and tinder-box conditions, abundant rains over the past winter have those of us who live in the western United States hoping for a year with less wildfire activity this summer and fall than we’ve had in recent years. The latest seasonal outlook from the National Interagency Fire Center largely points to such a reprieve—at least for the next few months.  This year’s potential reprieve is the perfect time to ramp up wildfire resilience-building efforts that would prepare us for future wildfire seasons.  Over the past 30-40 years, wildfire data show a clear signal from climate change: As global temperatures have warmed over the past several decades, western wildfires have worsened by nearly every metric, from the number, size, and severity of fires to the length of wildfire season.  In a world with a changing climate, what does a typical wildfire season in the western United States look like? For what should we be prepared? … ”  Read more from The Equation.

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Today’s featured article …

RESERVOIR REPORT for May 1, 2023

Written by Robert Shibatani

For a moment it was looking as though we had skipped over Spring and went directly to Summer although temperatures have since returned to those more in line with the current season.  A season that, hydrologically, at least in areas reliant on snow accumulation, is known for one significant event; the spring snowmelt.

As April closes out, we can begin to see the first signs of the spring freshet.  And with California’s many reservoirs either at, or nearing capacity, the next several weeks will illustrate both the strengths and shortcomings of our current water resources system.

Click here to read the reservoir report.

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In regional water news and commentary today …


Bolinas Lagoon wetlands project gets another $325K in county funding

“A project that will aim to restore wetlands at the north end of Bolinas Lagoon and reduce the chance of flooding on the only road leading to Bolinas has reached its final design stage.  Marin County supervisors have allocated an additional $325,000 to the project from Measure A sales tax revenue. The apportionment reflected increases in contracts with WRA Inc., a San Rafael environmental consultancy, for design and permitting work that now totals over $2 million.  “We’re almost there,” Veronica Pearson, a county hydroecologist and restoration planner, said at the supervisors’ meeting on April 24.  Pearson said all of the additional $8 million in funding necessary for project has been secured, and an environmental analysis required by the California Environmental Quality Act will be made available to the public for comment in September. The lagoon work, which is slated to be done over two years, could begin as early as the summer of 2024. … ”  Read more from the Marin Independent Journal.

Pleasanton council approves continuation of water rate study

“The Pleasanton City Council has unanimously approved staff’s recommendation to continue working with financial consultants in updating water rate models and continuing their work in preparing a water rate study.  Tamara Baptista, interim director of operations and water utilities, told the council on April 18 that the approved amendment and increase in the contract amount not to exceed $259,550 with the consultant firm Raftelis, Inc., will help staff to complete a water rate study that they say is crucial in restoring the water enterprise fund, which is running low.  “The rate study will help the city maintain adequate funding for the operations and maintenance of the water system, help replenish the reserves for council and to get them up to approved reserve levels … and to better position the city to pursue future debt financing,” Baptista said. … ”  Read more from Pleasanton Weekly.


Cal Am refusal could set stage for condemnation proceeding

“As expected, California American Water Co. is flatly refusing to consider the offer public water officials made to buy out the company’s Monterey Peninsula’s water system, saying the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District has no legal authority to do so. The water district believes it does.  In a statement issued Friday, Cal Am confirmed it is not for sale and says the district does not have the legal authority to “purchase or operate the potable water system serving the area.  “(The district) should stop wasting taxpayer money and reconsider its reckless and infeasible attempt to purchase our water system,” said Evan Jacobs, director of external affairs for Cal Am.  The district said their attempt is neither reckless nor infeasible, rather it is mandated by Measure J that directed the district to conduct a study to determine the feasibility of a public takeover of Cal Am’s system. Cal Am insists Measure J only required the district to conduct a study, not move forward with a takeover. … ”  Read more from the Monterey Herald.


Rabbits are rescued from floodwaters on San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge

“The abundant water in California has been a boost for many animals and plants, including a superbloom of wildflowers. But for some animals, it’s also been life-threatening. NPR’s Lauren Sommer takes us to the Central Valley, where rescues are underway for an endangered rabbit.  The San Joaquin River is unrecognizable right now. This is a river that goes completely dry in some years because it’s so heavily used in California. Now it’s overflowing.  Eric Hopson is refuge manager at the San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge. The river here has gone over its banks, swamping stands of cottonwood trees. We spot a beaver among them. … ”  Read more from KVPR.

Tehachapi: Change in land use patterns over 50 years reflected in water rights ownership

“Changes in land use in the Tehachapi Valley are reflected in water rights ownership as the city of Tehachapi increased its share of rights as agriculture diminished in importance to the local economy.  Over the course of nearly 50 years, the city increased its share of Base Water Rights ownership in the Tehachapi Basin from only 9 percent to about 36 percent. That’s just one of the stories told by data from the 49th Annual Watermaster Report. The report — required by the court adjudication of the Tehachapi Basin in the early 1970s — was presented to members of the Board of Directors of Tehachapi-Cummings County Water District at their meeting on April 19. The board accepted the report with no discussion. … ”  Read more from the Tehachapi News.


Appeals panel vacates $48M verdict for Pomona vs mining company SQM over water pollution

“A federal appeals panel has, for now, vacated a $48.1 million verdict the city of Pomona won over allegations SQM North America polluted the public water supply with fertilized chemicals.  The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its ruling on the matter April 28, the latest in a lengthy series of decisions in litigation between the municipality and mining company. The panel consisted of Ninth Circuit Judges Daniel Bress and Salvador Mendoza, as well as Joan Ericksen, a federal judge from Minnesota, who sat by designation. The order was issued under Ninth Circuit Rule 36-3, which restricts its use as precedent.  The ruling vacated and remanded a verdict reached under U.S. District Judge Gary Klausner following the third trial on the same dispute. … ”  Read more from the Northern California Record.


Del Mar:  Surf Cup leaders cited for violating Clean Water Act

“Leaders of San Diego youth soccer organizer Surf Cup Sports have been cited for illegally redirecting stormwater at their property just north of the soccer fields along Via de la Valle and into environmentally sensitive areas leading to the San Dieguito River.On March 16, the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board issued a violation notice to Surf Real Estate, Surf Cup Sports and Surf Del Mar One — all limited liability companies registered to Surf Cup vice president Rob Haskell — for illegally pumping dirty water on their property at 3975 Via de la Valle in December and January.The notice also included a citation for channeling stormwater via a constructed trench through a marsh area running directly along El Camino Real at the west end of the property that leads to the river. … ”  Read more from the Coast Newsgroup.

Olivenhain Municipal Water District continues to convert more customer meters to recycled water

“The Olivenhain Municipal Water District continues to reduce demand for imported drinking water by converting additional customer meters within The Lakes Above Rancho Santa Fe community to recycled water for irrigation.  The Lakes is a community in Rancho Santa Fe that will include 387 homes, large outdoor natural spaces, and several lakes, when fully developed.  This phase included the installation of four new water meters that will measure an anticipated savings of over nine million gallons of imported drinking water each year. … ”  Read more from the Water News Network.

Pure Water: City rethinks sewage recycling, eyes Lake Murray

“With phase one of San Diego’s Pure Water sewage recycling system nearly half built, city officials are making major adjustments to plans for constructing the rest of the system in order to avoid delays and potentially shrink overall costs.  To cope with severe flooding at the Morena Boulevard pump station that threatens to delay the start of operations by more than a year, city officials now plan to temporarily recycle only 40 percent as much sewage so they can start on time in mid-2025.  Slashing the daily capacity from 30 million gallons to 12 million gallons will allow the city to cut the Morena Boulevard pump station out of the recycling system until it can be activated in late 2026 — at least a year behind schedule. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune.

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Along the Colorado River …

As Arizona looks to desalination as a drought solution, questions mount over its feasibility for the state

“While Arizona received more rain and snow in recent months, a wet winter will not save the state from the decades-long mega-drought that is gripping the region.  Water officials have worked on finding unique solutions, including desalination.  Desalination has been seen by some, including Former Governor Doug Ducey, as an answer to Arizona’s ongoing water crisis.  “Instead of just talking about desalination – the technology that made Israel the world’s water superpower – how about we pave the way to make it actually happen?” said Former Gov. Ducey, during his final State of the State Address in 2022. … ”  Read more from Fox 10.

What Utah can take back from Israel when it comes to water savings, and what gets lost in translation

“The delegation of Utah officials, lawmakers and researchers have been impressed with what Israel has accomplished when it comes to water.  “They really went from a water-hungry country to now a country that’s actually exporting water,” said Zach Renstrom, general manager of the Washington County Water Conservancy District. “There are some lessons to be learned, and it’s been great to come here and see that.”  Lake Kinneret (also known as the Sea of Galilee) was once a major part of Israel’s water supply. That’s no longer the case as the country has created other sources of water using desalination and water reuse.  Israel’s advances in technology and water development are something state leaders are looking at closely as they try to deal with drought and the shrinking Great Salt Lake. … ”  Read more from the Salt Lake Tribune.

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In national water news today …

What a pending Supreme Court ruling could mean for Biden’s new clean water protections

“Before a bipartisan Congress passed the Clean Water Act in 1972, cities pumped raw sewage into lakes, mining companies discharged acid waste into streams, and factories poured chemicals into rivers, which occasionally caught on fire. The Clean Water Act made such pollution illegal and expanded the federal government’s authority to regulate waterways across the country.  But if you haven’t gotten around to perusing the bill’s 112,000 words, you might not know that it doesn’t clarify which waterways federal agencies have the power to protect. Can factories dump waste into seasonal streams without the Environmental Protection Agency’s oversight? Wetlands? Ponds? The Clean Water Act doesn’t provide clean answers; it merely tasks the federal government with keeping toxic chemicals and other pollutants out of “navigable waters,” which it defines as “waters of the United States, including the territorial seas.”  … ”  Read more from The Grist.

‘Toxic trail of pollution’: states step up to curb the use of ‘forever chemicals’

Few chemicals have attracted as intense public and regulatory scrutiny as PFAS, but even as the highly toxic and ubiquitous compounds’ dangers come into sharper focus, industry influence has crippled congressional attempts to pass meaningful consumer protections.  Federal bills designed to address some of the most significant sources of exposure – food packaging, cosmetics, personal care products, clothing, textiles, cookware and firefighting foam – have all failed in recent sessions.  However, a patchwork of state laws enacted over the last three years is generating fresh hope by prohibiting the use of PFAS in those and other uses. These laws – mostly passed in Democratic-controlled states – are quietly forcing many companies to phase out the chemicals as they become illegal to use in consumer goods in some of the nation’s largest economies. … ”  Continue reading from the Guardian.

Climate change is already impacting stream flows across the U.S.

Climate change is here, and scientists continue to discover new ways that the world around us is changing. In a new study published in the May issue of the Journal of Hydrology, DRI researchers show that altered weather patterns are impacting stream flows across the country, with implications for flooding, drought, and ecosystems.  Led by Abhinav Gupta, Ph.D., a Maki postdoctoral fellow at DRI, the research examined how day to day variations in streamflow changed in more than 500 watersheds in the U.S. between 1980 and 2013. They found that increased winter temperatures have driven the changes, with impacts varying due to local climate and amongst snow and rain-dominated watersheds. This information is important, the researchers say, for helping water managers adapt to climate change’s impacts.  “We wanted to understand how climate change has impacted the hydrological balance across the U.S. based on the observed data,” Gupta says. “Once we understand how climate change has impacted stream flows in the recent past, we can figure out what kind of changes we might see in the future.” … ”  Read more from the Desert Research 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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