DAILY DIGEST, 5/4: Wave-powered pilot desal project in Fort Bragg set to test; Is desal absurdly cheap, as Elon Musk claimed?; What the ‘Big Melt’ has revealed about the Valley’s flood response; Supervisor Perez, Salton Sea Authority raise opposition to bill that could threaten Salton Sea progress; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • EVENT: California Financing Coordinating Committee 2023 Spring Funding Fair beginning at 9am.  The funding fair will provide the opportunity to learn more about available grant, loan, and bond financing options for infrastructure projects from federal, state, and local agencies.  Representatives from water industry professionals, public works, local governments, and California Native American Tribes should attend. This includes city managers and planners, economic development and engineering professionals, officials from privately owned facilities, water and irrigation district managers, financial advisors, and project consultants.  Click here to register.
  • VIRTUAL PUBLIC MEETING: Colorado River Draft SEIS from 11am to 1:30pm. Reclamation will hold a virtual public meeting to provide information on the draft SEIS, answer questions, and take verbal comment.  An interactive webpage with information on the project background and summaries of the draft SEIS alternatives and analyses will be posted on the project website prior to the virtual public meetings. Each virtual public meeting will begin with 30 minutes for participants to explore the background information on the webpage at their own pace. The formal meeting presentation will begin 30 minutes after the scheduled meeting start time. Reclamation will take questions and public comments following the presentation. The interactive webpage materials and the virtual public meetings will be available in Spanish. Click here to register.
  • EVENT: CA Water Alliance Third Annual Water Forum beginning at 11:30am in Fresno. Is the drought really over? with panelists Congressman John Duare, Westlands Water District GM Allison Febbo, and Cannon Michael with Bowles Farming Company. Click here to register.
  • MEETING: Delta National Heritage Area Management Plan Advisory Committee beginning at 3pm. Agenda items include a discussion of potential approaches to compliance with Bagley-Keene open meeting act after expiration of legislation, NHA advisory task groups update and next steps, and review of management plan resource inventory table. Click here for the full agenda and remote access instructions.
  • PUBLIC MEETING: Cache Slough Public Access Recreation Action Plan beginning at 2pm.  Solano County, DWR, and CDFW have developed a Recreation Action Plan, which combines input from outreach and engagement activities with stakeholders in 2022 and 2023. The Recreation Action Plan will help guide future County and State investments in feasible recreation facilities within the Cache Slough region that are safe, inclusive, and respect local land uses and landowners.  Join the discussion to learn about the recreation opportunities being considered in this plan.  Click here to register.
  • VIRTUAL PUBLIC MEETING: Colorado River Draft SEIS from 4:30pm to 7:00pm.  Reclamation will hold a public meeting to provide information on the draft SEIS, answer questions, and take verbal comment. An interactive webpage with information on the project background and summaries of the draft SEIS alternatives and analyses will be posted on the project website prior to the virtual public meetings. Each virtual public meeting will begin with 30 minutes for participants to explore the background information on the webpage at their own pace. The formal meeting presentation will begin 30 minutes after the scheduled meeting start time. Reclamation will take questions and public comments following the presentation. The interactive webpage materials and the virtual public meetings will be available in Spanish. Click here to register.

In California water news today …

Ocean water to fresh: First-of-its-kind wave-powered pilot project in Fort Bragg set to test

“Fort Bragg is embarking on an innovative pilot project to desalt ocean water for the Mendocino Coast community using carbon-free wave action to power an energy-intensive process that in other cases generates climate changing greenhouse gases.  The design comes from a young Quebec-based company called Oneka Technologies that makes floating, raft-like units containing the equipment needed to draw in water, pressurize and force it through reverse-osmosis membranes, then send it back to shore in a flexible pipe on the ocean floor.  Fort Bragg will start with a single, 16-foot by 26-foot unit, anchored about a mile off shore of the Noyo Headlands, Public Works Director John Smith said. … ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat (gift article).

Is desalination absurdly cheap, as Elon Musk claimed?

“Elon Musk, the chief executive of Twitter, SpaceX, Tesla, and Neuralink, found time in his busy schedule to be a guest of HBO’s Real Time With Bill Maher. Among the glancing discussions on the billionaire’s recent antics, his management style, and the so-called “woke virus”, Maher and Musk side tripped into desalination as the businessman attempted to argue that water supply in the world can be sustainable.  In the interview, Maher implied that having more babies was shortsighted given how Earth’s resources have already become scarce, and “lots of people don’t have enough food or water.” Musk retorted, saying, “Earth is 70% water by surface area.” Maher quipped, “But you can’t drink that.”  Musk responded: “Desalination is absurdly cheap,” to which Maher shot back: “Why don’t we do it, then?””  “It is done. There is a lot of desalination done. But there’s plenty of water. This is not an issue. I want to be clear,” Musk quipped. … ”  Continue reading at Deep Dive.

Water Whiplash: What the ‘Big Melt’ has revealed about the Valley’s flood response

A drone view of flooded fields and properties along 6th Avenue near Quail Ave south of Corcoran, in Tulare County, California. Photo taken March 24, 2023.
Josh Baar / DWR

“As temperatures climb and the “Big Melt” flows out of the Sierra Nevada, rising floodwaters have revealed that flood protection in the San Joaquin Valley is patchy at best— and inadequate at worst.  That’s the crux of a recent investigation by the non-profit newsrooms Fresnoland and SJV Water. As the first installment of our new series, Water Whiplash, KVPR’s Kerry Klein talks with reporter Jesse Vad of SJV Water about those findings.  Listen to the interview in the player above, and read the transcript below. … ”  Read/listen at KVPR.

Winter storms exposed the unfairness of California’s flood protections. Are marginalized areas closing the gap?

“The floods driven by winter storms are nothing new in Monterey County, but the early March catastrophe that swelled the Pajaro and Salinas rivers and drowned farmworker communities exposes the extreme inequality built into flood-control systems.   The immediate cause of the flood were the winter storms that struck the California coast, but the disaster that breached levees in towns like Pajaro was decades in the making. It was based on two decades of official neglect shaped by  federally mandated cost-benefit analyses and the lack of community engagement that might have challenged their conclusions.  For years, particularly after the major floods, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers considered bolstering the Pajaro River levee, which was originally built in 1949. Given the persistent low value of agricultural land and worker homes in farming communities like Parajo, whose residents pick strawberries and artichokes for American tables, Federal rules ensured the Corps couldn’t argue that the engineering and construction costs would be worth it. … ”  Read more from & the West.

Flood worries resume as snowpack melts

“The onset of warm temperatures is accelerating snowmelt and triggering worries about continued flooding in the Central Valley from historic snowpack accumulated during winter and spring storms.  In Tulare County, farm fields have been inundated as floodwaters and, now, more rapidly melting snow fill lowlands of the former Tulare Lake.  Kings County Agricultural Commissioner Jimmy Hook said flooding impacts in the county have affected 64,000 acres, causing $131 million in financial losses. He said he expects damages to extend to 115,000 acres and losses to grow to $300 million by the end of snowmelt.  University of California Cooperative Extension farm advisors report that standing water has caused problems for feed crops, vegetables and tree crops in flood- affected counties. … ”  Read more from Ag Alert.


Snow-laden California gets more snow halfway through spring

“The calendar may show spring is halfway to summer, but it’s still snowing in California.  In the Sierra Nevada, the Heavenly ski resort at Lake Tahoe reported Wednesday that 15 inches of snow had fallen over 48 hours, burnishing the epic snowpack left by a relentlessly wet winter.  Northwest of Tahoe, 5.5 inches was recorded over two days at the University of California, Berkeley, Central Sierra Snow Lab, raising its season total to 743 inches.  Strikingly, winter weather advisories were to take effect Wednesday night in Southern California mountain ranges. Forecasters predicted 4-8 inches of snow above 6,000 feet and local totals up to 14 inches.  A dusting of snow was possible at lower elevations, potentially affecting the Grapevine section of vital Interstate 5 that climbs through the mountains between Los Angeles and the San Joaquin Valley. … ”  Read more from Spectrum 1.

Supervisor Perez, Salton Sea Authority raise opposition to bill that could threaten Salton Sea progress

“Riverside County Supervisor V. Manuel Perez and the Salton Sea Authority are concerned about a bill, Senate Bill 583, that could stall progress and projects for the Salton Sea.  Supervisor Perez has submitted a letter of opposition to SB 583, a bill in the state Legislature proposed by State Sen. Steve Padilla. Last week, the Salton Sea Authority voted to formally oppose the measure. … SB 583 could undo years of progress to get local governments from Riverside County and Imperial County, water agencies and Tribal governments on the same page working together with the state. SB 583 proposes a “Salton Sea Conservancy,” a new governance structure, that could sidestep the local Salton Sea Authority and add an unnecessary planning layer that could elay the delivery of projects. … ”  Read more from The Uken Report.

Bill would restrict foreign purchase of local farmland

“From small plots to vast ranches, California’s farmland attracts investment from all over the world. But as drought and climate change provoke anxiety over water and natural resources, state legislators are proposing new restrictions.  State Sen. Melissa Hurtado, D-Sanger, introduced a bill April 24 to bar foreign governments and government-controlled enterprises from purchasing agricultural land in California beginning next year. Senate Bill 224 would also require California to track foreign-government ownership of farmland in the state and publish the records in annual reports.  In announcing the bill, Hurtado’s office said it “puts California in control of its food-supply chain by preventing foreign governments from purchasing agricultural land, and sets reporting standards to gain a better understanding on foreign ownership of California’s resources.” … ”  Read more from Ag Alert.

California Water Board releases Drinking Water Needs Assessment

“The California State Water Resources Control board has released its third annual Drinking Water Needs Assessment, which describes the overall health of the state’s water systems and domestic wells and helps direct the funding and regulatory work of the Safe and Affordable Funding for Equity and Resilience (SAFER) drinking water program.  The report for the first time examines the causes behind chronically failing water systems and incorporates community-level socioeconomic factors, including customers’ ability to pay, into its analysis of the risks systems face.  The analysis and findings will guide where the State Water Board focuses its technical assistance and how it prioritizes funding in the 2023-2024 Fund Expenditure Plan, due to come before the board this fall. … ”  Read more from Water World.

San Diego family using tech to save water

“A machine called a Hydraloop can save you a ton of money by cutting your water use by almost half. It could play a big role in making our homes more environmentally friendly.  Carlsbad resident Justin Fox bought a Hydraloop this year after using extra water for his two-year-old.  “We’re using maybe 50 percent less water,” said Fox. “If you’re filling a bath for a toddler, I started seeing that and thinking, ‘I’m wasting that water, and we’re in a drought.'”  It works by cleaning and recycling ‘gray water.’ … ”  Read more from Channel 10.

How the DNA we leave behind can help conservation

“We are constantly shedding DNA.   Skin cells smeared on the handle of a mug, fallen hairs, and various body fluids cast our unique genetic code into our environment. Everyone else sheds too––from trees and birds all the way down to microbes.  … Scientists call these lingering strands “environmental DNA,” or “eDNA,” and the technology to analyze them is making its way into ecology.  To find out which creatures have roamed a place, researchers match eDNA fragments to a library of known genomes. The technique has its limitations. But because it is much cheaper and faster than traditional field observations and surveys, eDNA analysis is emerging as a potentially powerful tool to assist conservation and stewardship—by detecting invasive and endangered species, monitoring biodiversity, and tracking how ecosystems change over time. … ”  Read more from Bay Nature.

Tribe signs pact with California to work together on efforts to save endangered salmon

“A California tribe has signed agreements with state and federal agencies to work together on efforts to return endangered Chinook salmon to their traditional spawning areas upstream of Shasta Dam, a deal that could advance the long-standing goal of tribal leaders to reintroduce fish that were transplanted from California to New Zealand more than a century ago and still thrive there.  Members of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe have long sought to restore a wild salmon population in the McCloud River north of Redding, where their ancestors once lived. The agreements that were signed this week for the first time formally recognize the tribe as a partner participating in efforts to save the endangered winter-run Chinook salmon.  “We’re very hopeful,” said Caleen Sisk, the tribe’s chief and spiritual leader. “It allows us to have a bigger voice in the process of bringing the salmon back.” … ”  Read more from the LA Times. | Read via MSN News.

California state scientists say they earn less than peer engineers. Could a new bill help?

“California’s state scientists have fought a long battle for higher salaries. These roughly 4,000 workers, represented by the California Association of Professional Scientists (CAPS), have spent nearly three years bargaining over a contract that they say should include raises of up to 43% to address long-standing salary disparities. They rejected a February proposal that fell far short of those numbers.. Some members even called the offer “pitiful.” Their work touches Californians’ lives every day in areas such as water safety, toxic cleanup and pest control. Now, the scientists hope the state legislature will step in and help provide some answers. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee.

DWR honors apprentice graduates

“Congratulations to the 22 apprentices who graduated from the Operations and Maintenance (O&M) Apprenticeship Program as Utility Craftsworkers and Hydroelectric Plant (HEP) Mechanics, Electricians, and Operators. Created in 1971 during the construction of the initial State Water Project (SWP) facilities, the Apprenticeship Program has produced 631 graduating apprentices.  With 21 pumping plants, 26 dams, 36 storage facilities, four hydroelectric power plants, four pumping-generating plants, and approximately 700 miles of canals, tunnels, and pipelines, the State Water Project’s successful operations relies on the Apprenticeship Program’s graduates that are recruited statewide to launch a career in the water industry. … ”  Read more from DWR News.

Clearing the ridge: Fire for forest health and resilient communities

“Wildfire is driven by three main factors — weather, terrain and fuels. When fighting wildfires, firefighters work to reduce the fuel feeding the fire, either by removing it with heavy equipment, handlines or by making it hard to burn by soaking the fuel with water or retardant.  When reducing fire risk to communities, land managers take the same approach across landscapes to reduce vegetation or fuels, including brush and dead and down trees. Fuels reduction projects are a critical step in helping protect homes, businesses, and recreation sites from destructive wildfires.  The Joint Chiefs Landscape Restoration Partnership between the Forest Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service aims to restore landscapes, protect water quality, enhance habitat and reduce wildfire threats to communities and landowners across the country. This work is being done on the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, which is also a landscape highlighted in the Wildfire Crisis Strategy to protect communities and improve resilience in America’s forests. … ”  Read more from the USDA.

Western fires could be delayed after months of rain and snow, but risk remains

“The Western United States is likely to see a delayed start to the summer wildfire season after months of rain, snow and cold weather. But the wet winter, which has dramatically eased drought conditions, doesn’t guarantee a low-risk fire year. Destructive fires could still spark in the late summer and autumn, fueled by all the grasses that bloomed because of the downpours and will be ready to burn later in the season.  The latest wildfire outlooks, released this week from the National Interagency Fire Center, show the West with low to normal wildfire risk for at least the first part of the summer. Near-record to record snowpack in several Western states will keep high elevation forests moist for much of the summer, making them less prone to bigger fires. These maps are a welcome departure from those of recent years, which signaled widespread summer wildfires and competition for firefighting resources. Still, starting in July, parts of the Pacific Northwest could see higher wildfire potential, in part because of lingering severe to extreme drought. … ”  Read more from the Washington Post.

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In commentary today …

Department of Water Resources approves incomplete plans that leave drinking water users at risk in the Salinas Valley

“Last week, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) approved 12 groundwater sustainability plans (GSPs) for basins located across California including: Big Valley, Shasta Valley, Scott River Valley, San Jacinto, Upper Ventura River, San Luis Obispo Valley, Santa Margarita, and in the Salinas Valley: East Side Aquifer, Forebay Aquifer, Langley Area, Monterey, and Upper Valley Aquifer.  While DWR’s approvals came with recommendations to improve each plan in the next five years, these GSPs currently fail to protect drinking water users — a primary focus of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).  One example is East Side Aquifer’s approved plan which puts vulnerable communities in Northeastern Monterey County, such as the City of Salinas, City of Gonzales, and San Jerardo Cooperative, at risk of losing access to their primary water source. As a housing community built by and for farmworkers, the San Jerardo Cooperative has faced decades of unaffordable water rates and nitrate contamination. … ”  Continue reading at the Community Water Center.

Triangle T Water District and the absurdities of CA water

Doug Obegi, Director of California river restoration with the NRDC, writes, “Bloomberg recently published a story (“Groundwater Gold Rush”) reporting on how Wall Street banks, pension funds, and insurers have been plowing money into buying land in California, reaping enormous corporate profits by converting rangeland into almonds and other permanent crops while draining California’s groundwater and drying up community drinking water wells.  I’d like to tell the rest of the story about how Wall Street interests formed the Triangle T Water District, because to my mind the Triangle T Water District highlights the absurdities and inequities of California water policy – including the fact that instead of paying to fix the damage they caused through unsustainable groundwater pumping, state and federal agencies have provided millions of dollars of taxpayers monies to subsidize corporate profits.  The story begins around 2010 … ”  Continue reading at the NRDC.

Let’s dispel myths attending California’s latest Chinook salmon fishery closure

writes, “In March, the state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife delivered grim news to Californians: only 62,000 adult Chinook salmon had returned from the Pacific Ocean to Sacramento River basin tributaries in 2022. The number is substantially fewer than the targeted minimum of 125,000 fish set by the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC), the entity that manages groundfish, coastal pelagic species, highly migratory species, and salmon fisheries on the West Coast of the United States. In response to the discouraging numbers, the salmon fishing season for 2023 was closed, putting hundreds of commercial fishers out of work and disappointing thousands of recreational fishers. As might be expected, finger-pointing ensued. Ocean commercial fishing interests and allies among some environmental organizations have been the loudest critics, directing blame on the management of California’s river waters, particularly water allocations to farmers and urban water users. Reports and posts accompanying the salmon season closure have been rife with misinformation, repeating three persistent and self-serving myths regarding the factors that have contributed to the imperiled state of Central Valley salmon runs. What are those myths? … ”  Read more from the Center for California Water Resources Policy and Management.

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Today’s featured article …

SCIENCE FEATURE: Structured Decision Making for Delta Smelt Habitat: Synthesizing Multiple Streams of IEP Data to Inform Management

The habitat surrounding the future location of the Lookout Slough Tidal Restoration Project, located in the Cache Slough complex. Photo by
Florence Low / DWR

Our native species face numerous threats, including climate change, habitat loss, and invasive species.  Therefore, effective management strategies must be implemented to avoid extinction and promote recovery.  However, making decisions about managing species can be challenging for many reasons, such as high uncertainty, limited data, and multiple stakeholders with different interests.

Structured decision-making (SDM) is a process that can aid in species management by providing a framework for decision-making that is transparent, inclusive, and evidence-based.  At the 2023 Interagency Ecological Program workshop, Dr. Brittany Davis and Dr. Rosemary Hartman with the Department of Water Resources gave a presentation on how structured decision-making was used to make decisions about summer-fall habitat actions for Delta smelt, a listed species, in 2022.

Click here to read this article.

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In regional water news and commentary today …


Urchin-smashing off to strong start this year with 30 recreational divers at Caspar Cove

“Cars lined the roadway on a misty morning in Caspar last weekend, as divers unloaded gear and the Mendocino Volunteer Fire Department arrived with a compressor for refueling tanks. Only one person on the beach was a paid kelp restoration specialist; some 30 other volunteers of a range of ages had come on their own time and their own dime to get in the water and smash purple urchin.  “This is the first time [since the start of COVID-19] that I feel comfortable encouraging people in large groups to come up,” Joshua Russo, founder of our local Watermen’s Alliance for urchin removal efforts by recreational divers, told The Mendocino Voice. He was impressed by the turnout — in addition to locals, people had come from as far south as Santa Cruz and as far north as Humboldt to dive for overpopulated urchin that threaten the underwater ecosystem’s vital bull kelp forests. “This is hopefully going to be a really good year.” … ”  Read more from the Mendocino Voice.

Group forms to challenge Nordic Aquafarms facility

“Humboldt Bay is being threatened by the approval of a massive land-based fish factory, the first of its kind in California. Due to the unprecedented nature of this project, it will put unnecessary pressure on local natural resources and should be held to the highest standards of review.  We are a new nonprofit organization, formed by local citizens to defend the diversity of life and the people that rely on Humboldt Bay, a critically important ecosystem on the north coast of California. Citizens Protecting Humboldt Bay (CPHB) is a group of local residents who believe sustainable development can be accomplished while providing protection of our natural heritage. Humboldt Bay is a unique feature of our community that provides nursery habitats for abundant aquatic life, fish, birds, and other wildlife and marine invertebrates, many of which contribute to sport and commercial fisheries, including steelhead, coho and Chinook salmon, and Dungeness crab. … ”  Read more from the Mad River Union.

Big Valley Pomo respond to federal decision not to give Clear Lake hitch emergency listing

“In the wake of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service saying it will not grant an emergency Endangered Species Act listing for the Clear Lake hitch, the Big Valley Band of Pomo Indians voiced its disappointment with the decision.   On Tuesday, Fish and Wildlife announced that it wouldn’t give the listing, which the California Fish and Game Commission, Lake County’s tribes and the Center for Biological Diversity asked for the agency to do last year.  The hitch, a fish native to Clear Lake, is known as the “chi” to Lake County’s tribes, for whom it has had an important cultural role due to being a primary food source historically.
In recent years, observers have noted a marked decline in hitch population, and that information — along with advocacy from Big Valley and other local tribes — led to the Board of Supervisors declaring a Clear Lake hitch emergency in February. … ”  Read more from the Lake County News.


Rain, snow showers expected Thursday at Tahoe; Cold temps, unsettled weather through weekend

“Additional rain and snow showers are expected to develop Thursday with unseasonably cold temperatures and more unsettled weather expected to last through the weekend.  The National Weather Service in Reno said to expect scattered rain/snow/pellet showers Thursday with a 15-30% chance for a thunderstorm at any given location in the region.  Rain-snow lines will hover near 6,000-7,000 feet Thursday falling overnight, where heavier showers could bring snow as low as 4,500-5,500 feet at times. … ”  Read more from the Tahoe Daily Tribune.

Tahoe trails and campgrounds announce delays through Memorial Day weekend

“Campgrounds at half a dozen parks around Lake Tahoe will be closed well into June due to the extremely heavy snowfall of the past winter, California State Parks announced on Wednesday. The release notes that some campgrounds in the affected parks are still covered in 6 inches of snow, making it impossible to prepare them for summer openings. “Park staff still do not have the access they normally have at this time of year to begin cleaning the facility, repairing damage, and charging water systems,” the agency noted. And even if the snow did melt sooner than expected, park staff may still have access issues. … ”  Read more from SF Gate.

As chilly weather lingers, the region is still one of the fastest warming

“With nothing short of a wild winter hopefully soon behind us, we can start to look toward more time spent outdoors. But, as is typical in our region, the weather continues to toss us curveballs. Last week saw above average temperatures that melted much of the massive snowpack that remains in the foothills and above.  Naturally, area rivers are rising, which prompted the National Weather Service to issue a Flood Watch for much of northern Nevada.  This isn’t unusual for the season, but there was one notable difference last week: higher nighttime temperatures. That leads to higher amounts of snow melting more quickly. After a tumultuous winter across the region, some may be wondering how all of this weather is impacted by climate change.  Enter a new tool, the Climate Shift Index. … ”  Read more from the Sierra Nevada Ally.

Nevada agency receives $1.4 million to reduce wildfire threat at Marlette Lake

“The Nevada Division of State Lands announced on Wednesday that it will receive nearly $1.4 million for hazardous fuels reduction at Marlette Lake, on Lake Tahoe’s East Shore.  This project will help protect the area from the threat of wildfire, ensuring visitors to the area can continue to enjoy the alpine lake.  The funding for the project comes from the sale of public lands under the Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act. It is part of a $417 million commitment from the U.S. Department of Interior for recreation and restoration projects in Nevada and California. … ”  Read more from the Tahoe Daily Tribune.


Bay Area officials celebrate the centennial of O’Shaughnessy Dam

Mayor London N. Breed and Bay Area and federal officials joined the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) to commemorate the centennial of the O’Shaughnessy Dam construction, which was completed in 1923. The dam, a testament to vision, ingenuity, and sustainability, provides high quality drinking water to 2.7 million residents and thousands of businesses in four Bay Area counties.  “Today, we not only celebrate O’Shaughnessy Dam and the system that it anchors as engineering marvels, but we also recognize those who had the foresight and ingenuity to build them,”said Mayor Breed. “We are committed to continue to be environmentally conscious and good stewards of our water resources so we can serve the people of San Francisco, the Bay Area, and California for generations to come.” … ”  Read more from the City and County of San Francisco.

EBMUD and Drake’s Brewing Co. partner on centennial lager to support Water Lifeline

“As the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2023, it is partnering with Drake’s Brewing Co. to highlight a shared dedication to water quality, sustainability and community. The Bay Area water utility and San Leandro-based brewer are proud to release Water Wings East Bay Lager, a crisp, refreshing beer that showcases the high-quality water EBMUD has been delivering from the Sierra Nevada to the East Bay for a century.  “When up to 95 percent of your beer is water, you have to consider this the most important ingredient when brewing great beer,” said Drake’s Sustainability Manager Hal McConnellogue. “EBMUD provides Drake’s and the East Bay community with some of the best water in the United States. To help celebrate EBMUD’s 100th year of operation, we jumped on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” … ”  Read more from EBMUD.


After winter flooding, growers band together to seek streamlined channel maintenance permits.

“In the wake of flood damage from this past winter’s storms, the Monterey County Farm Bureau is looking to leverage a new pathway to mitigate that damage going forward. That involves a streamlining of state and federal permits to conduct river channel maintenance projects on the Salinas River. The details of the plan aren’t clear, nor is it clear how that will play out with regulatory agencies, though it could certainly be the case that local elected officials lean on those agencies to carve out exceptions to the laws they are charged with enforcing.  That seemed to be the intent behind a press conference the Farm Bureau held on April 19 on an approximately 200-acre Rincon Farms property in Chualar, just east of the river. … ”  Read more from the Monterey Weekly.


Water tour showcases San Joaquin Valley flood damage; preparation for incoming snow melt

“Throughout a recent tour of key water sites in the San Joaquin Valley, flooding, historic wet conditions and preparation for runoff from record-breaking snowpack were the main topics at almost every stop.  The tour is one of several offered by the nonprofit Water Education Foundation.  The first stop was San Luis Reservoir which holds more than two million acre feet of federal and state water for agriculture and cities. The reservoir is completely full which hasn’t happened since 2019. It’s been full 23 times since it was constructed in 1969. … ”  Read more from SJV Water.

Tulare County waterways are ‘significantly’ more dangerous this year. Here’s why

“Tulare County mountains have seen a record-breaking winter season with a Sierra snowpack over 200% of normal for this time of year.  This means that local waterways pose a significant threat to public safety. Federal, state and local agencies, tasked with monitoring open waters in Tulare County, are preparing for a potentially deadly spring and summer season.  “Water levels have risen significantly, and the rivers are running exceptionally fast,” Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux said. “Because of the large snowpack and snow melt, all of our rivers are significantly more dangerous than in past years. When the weather warms up, our waterways will be at maximum capacity, if not above.” … ”  Read more from the Visalia Times-Delta.

Flooded Kings County communities benefiting from completed high-speed rail projects

“Some of the communities hit hard by flooding in Kings County are set to benefit from two high-speed rail projects that are now complete.  On Wednesday, The California High-Speed Rail Authority announced the completion of two new grade separations in Kings County.  A grade separation is a roadway that is re-aligned over or under a railway, and in this case, traffic is over the future high-speed rail lines.  This means now drivers will now be able to use this Idaho Avenue grade separation and the Dover and 8th Avenues bridge, both just east of State Route 43.  Central Valley Regional Director Toni Tinoco said the two-year project was expedited in order to support the surrounding communities impacted by recent flooding. … ”  Read more from KFSN.

SEE ALSO: High-speed rail embankment used to build floodwater levees, from the Hanford Sentinel


Court of Appeal sides with Mojave Pistachios and issues order to show cause

“The Fourth Appellate District, Court of Appeal issued an order last week compelling the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority (IWVGA) to show cause as to why the Court should not grant Mojave Pistachios’ petition for writ of mandate in its legal action challenging the IWVGA’s Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP). Mojave’s petition asks the court to rule on questions of state-wide importance, including that pumping allocations adopted by groundwater sustainability agencies like the IWVGA must be consistent with California groundwater rights law.  In 2020, Mojave filed suit against the IWVGA, asking the court to invalidate the IWVGA’s unconstitutional GSP and actions implementing the GSP and requesting more than $255,000,000 in damages. This action came after the IWVGA gave Mojave, a zero groundwater allocation. The complaint alleges, among other contentions, that the IWVGA misused the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) in an attempt to eradicate agriculture from the Indian Wells Valley. … ”  Read more from Mojave Pistachios.


Get ready for more rain, snow as rare May storm hits Southern California tonight

“A rare storm in May is expected to hit Southern California on Wednesday night, according to the National Weather Service.  The storm is expected to last through Thursday morning, with a slight chance of drizzle Saturday morning as a low-pressure system lingers in the area, said Kristan Lund, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard.  “This is one of the weaker storms,” Lund said. “It’s unusual because of the time of year. Since it’s May, we don’t typically see a lot of storms like this. It’s nothing compared to the Jan. 9 and 10 storms when we had that widespread flooding and debris flows.” … ”  Read more from the LA Times.

Los Angeles reuses lots of stormwater, but wants to save more

“Hours after another storm soaked Southern California, LA County’s principal stormwater engineer Sterling Klippel stands at the base of the San Gabriel Dam, looking like a kid in a candy store. He gazes in awe at the thousands of gallons of stormwater rushing through this dam every second.  “Just this October, this facility was completely drained,” he says.  This dam is almost 300 feet deep in the middle, and it went from empty to full in less than six months. And it’s just one of more than a dozen dams in the county. … Los Angeles County is on track to capture enough stormwater this year to quench the year-round water needs of more than a quarter of the county’s residents. It’s good news, but there is still a lot of work to do to meet local water use goals. … ”  Read more from the Public News Service.

SoCal farmers fear rain water won’t be stored to offset dry years after losing billions in 2022

“All the rain that Southern California has had the last few months has provided farmers with plenty of water, but concerns still linger for members of the state’s agriculture sector because they fear not enough water has been captured and stored in preparation for possible dry years in the future.  Many of the concerned farmers are in Ventura County, where agriculture is a $2 billion per year industry.Mollie Engelhart and her husband own and run Sow A Heart farm in Fillmore. She says state lawmakers need to prioritize building infrastructure to capture valuable rain water.  And, she said, Thursday’s rain needs to not come pouring down with a lot of inches in a short amount of time. … ”  Continue reading at KABC.

Repairs underway to shore up Capistrano Beach from coastal erosion

“Public access to Capistrano Beach may be limited until early June as OC Public Works and OC Parks work to remove a stretch of sand cubes and construct a revetment to protect the coastline from erosion.  Starting on April 25, OC Public Works commenced the construction of a rip rap revetment, and the removal of approximately 200 linear feet of sand cubes and remnant materials. Public Works will also be repairing existing sandbag protection.  In 2015 and 2016, Capistrano Beach facilities were damaged by storm waves and high tides, causing OC Parks to respond with emergency shoreline protection methods.  After a portion of the boardwalk and steps collapsed because of high surf in late November 2018, OC Public Works installed more than 1,000 tons of large rocks in place of the boardwalk. … ”  Read more from the Dana Point Times.

Calimesa Lakes Project remains to be finalized

“Yucaipa Valley Water District hasn’t given up on the idea of creating a lake near the Oak Valley Town Center in Calimesa that could also be used as a source of water for both wildfire suppression and to support groundwater recharge efforts.  YVWD’s Board of Directors voted to continue to study the idea April 4 after viewing preliminary architectural designs for a lake project that would include pedestrian trails, plazas and seating. The designs are being developed by Woodard & Curran, a consulting firm that envisions the lake with a lush planted border with native and other attractive water efficient vegetation that would create a park-like setting for community events. … ”  Read more from the News-Mirror.


Commentary: Of lawsuits, wealth-addiction, compromised politicians and water wars

Carlos Acuña, an El Centro resident from Calexico and a retired school teacher and retired trial attorney, writes, “A few days ago, Mr. Brian McNeece wrote a piece regarding yet another lawsuit filed by certain plaintiff farmers against the IID.  This piece brought to mind a YouTube presentation (on his most recent historical treatise, The Collapse of Antiquity) by former Chase Manhattan Bank economist, Michael Hudson, who asserts that wealth-addicts live in our midst. For such types “more is never enough” as an acquaintance – let’s call him “Paul” – used to remind me repeatedly some decades back.  But that is the nature of addiction, isn’t it? An addict needs ever-growing dosages to achieve the original “high.” In this case, the commodity, currency, has become the drug of choice. Someone wrote nearly a decade ago, “money should be treated like any other controlled substance; if you can’t use it responsibly, then you don’t get to use it.” (This comment speaks for itself, so I’ll move on.) … ”  Read more from the Imperial Valley Press.


Trolls under the bridge: Century old dam faces bleak future

“Every day, more than 300,000 cars and trucks thunder across the wide concrete bridge which carries Interstate 15 over Lake Hodges south of Escondido. Perhaps just a handful of these daily commuters or big rig drivers are fully aware of what lies below. Under this bridge, an aluminum boat and fisherman could be bobbing among the treetops. On another day, it might be the peaceful scene of a mule deer lying perfectly still on dry ground among the reeds. Whether full or not, Lake Hodges is a diverse treasure of wildlife habitat, world class bass fishing, biking trails, birdwatching, hiking trails, and a sophisticated, lifesaving water storage and conservation project for our arid region.  But there are some trolls under this bridge as well. Lake Hodges rises or falls and provides or not depending on how it is managed. As we take a moment to slow down and peer under that bridge we may see a few of those trolls. … ”  Read more from the Escondido Times-Advocate.

Students showcase innovation in water technology

“Middle and high school students from San Diego and Imperial counties showcased their creativity and innovation in water technology at the Greater San Diego Science and Engineering Fair.  Winning students at the March event presented multi-faceted water technology designed for use in agriculture, water conservation, safety and treatment, creating solutions to some of the San Diego region’s most pressing water issues.  For decades, the San Diego County Water Authority has partnered with the Greater San Diego Science and Engineering Fair to inspire students to pursue water industry careers and experiment with sustainable water designs. … ”  Read more from the Water News Network.

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Along the Colorado River …

How high Lake Powell and Lake Mead are expected to rise this summer

Lake Powell, May 2020. Photo by CEB Imagery.

“As temperatures warm up across Arizona, hydrologists are tracking how high Lakes Powell and Mead will rise this summer.  According to the current forecasts, Lake Powell will likely increase by nearly 69 feet by the end of July, and Lake Mead will go up by nearly 12 feet. That’s according to Paul Miller, a service coordination hydrologist with the Colorado River Basin Forecast Center.   Miller says those numbers come from a 24 month study. This means [Lake] Powell will go from 24% full to 43% full, said Miller, and for [Lake] Mead it will go from 29% full to 31% full. “Some places that have been underwater before will be underwater again,” Miller said. “That being said Lake Powell is going to be pretty low. People are still going to be able to see like the bathtub ring that people talk about at Powell.” … ”  Read more from Arizona Family.

Lake Mead’s water level increase could continue through May with additional Lake Powell water being released

“Encouraging news continues to flow about water levels at Lake Mead. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has announced that increased releases from Lake Powell will continue through the end of May.  Water released through the Glen Canyon Dam at Lake Powell flows south as the Colorado River into the Grand Canyon and eventually into Lake Mead. The majority of the water in the Colorado River basin comes from melting snow in the Colorado Rockies, which had record snowfall this year.  Reclamation says it will release almost twice as much water this month than it did prior to the recent high flow experiment (HFE) that helped Lake Mead rise more than two feet in a week. … ”  Read more from KLAS.

Is reusing wastewater a solution for Arizona’s water woes?

“As the Southwest continues to deal with a mega-drought and its negative impact on water, officials are looking at various solutions. … In The Valley, water officials are planning to turn wastewater into drinking water, just like officials in San Diego did. In less than a decade, such endeavors could become the reality in Phoenix.  It is well-known that the Phoenix area is located in a desert. In the middle of that desert, there is a lush wetland where water flows, ponds are full, and marshland plants are flourishing.  The clear water that cascades into the Salt River did not directly come from nature. The water used to be sewage before it was sanitized at a wastewater treatment plant. … ”  Read more from Channel 10.

What is desalination, how can it end war over Colorado River?

“The California coastline, a seemingly limitless supply of ocean is at the forefront of a lot of resistance statewide to turn the Pacific salt water into drinking water.  Just ask Michelle Peters, an environmental engineer who grew up in Las Vegas and lives in San Diego, CA. An environmental engineer by training, Peters works for the giant water-treatment plant developer Poseidon at their desalination facility in Carlsbad.  “It’s very complicated,” Peters told the 8 News Now Investigators. “I definitely understand the Nevada side more from the residential perspective, growing up there.” … ”  Read more from KLAS.

Arizona: Here’s how the West Valley has ensured its water supply

“On May 3, WESTMARC hosted its annual Economic Development Summit, with this year’s event focused on Arizona’s most precious resource: water. Leaders from Central Arizona Project (CAP), Salt River Project (SRP), Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) and West Valley municipalities discussed what the government has done historically to ensure Arizonans can have a reliable water supply and what challenges lie ahead. … ”  Read more from Arizona Big Media.

Effect of purchase of AZ water rights by investment firms

“Sarah Porter, Director of the Kyl Center for Water Policy at ASU’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy, joined Ted Simons, host of Arizona Horizon, to discuss two water topics of interest.  First, Wall Street firms are buying up land in Arizona only for the water rights. They turn around and sell water to the residents in the area. Also, Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes just revoked the water drilling permits of a Saudi Arabian-owned alfalfa farm. Two deep-water wells were approved for Fondomonte Arizona LLC eight months ago, which Mayes called “unconscionable” given the state’s need to preserve water.  “The water right that’s part of the purchase is what the investment firm hopes to really make money from sometime in the future,” Porter said. “Very often, these investment firms will buy a farm and lease the land back to the farmer. So the land stays in agricultural production, and the investment firm then looks for an opportunity to transfer some of that water or possibly all of that water to another water user,” she said. … ”  Read more from Arizona PBS.

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In national water news today …

EPA proposes to establish first-time Clean Water Act protections for over 250 tribes

“Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced proposed federal baseline water quality standards for waterbodies on Indian reservations that do not have Clean Water Act standards, ensuring protections for over half a million people living on Indian reservations as well as critical aquatic ecosystems.  Fifty years ago, Congress established a goal in the Clean Water Act (CWA) that waters should support fishing and swimming wherever attainable. All states and 47 Tribes have established standards consistent with that goal. However, the majority of U.S. Tribes with Indian reservations lack such water quality standards. This proposal would extend the same framework of water quality protection that currently exists for most other waters of the United States to waters of over 250 Tribes and is the result of decades of coordination and partnership with Tribes.  “President Biden has made it clear; all people deserve access to clean, safe water. Today’s proposal is a monumental step forward in our work with Tribal governments to ensure precious water resources are protected,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. … ”  Read more from the EPA.

Report adds to evidence of widespread PFAS contamination; calls for removal of products

“One of the most widely used insecticides in California, Intrepid 2F, contains harmful levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), or “forever chemicals,” according to a report by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). In fact, 40 percent of pesticide products in the report tested positive for high levels of PFAS. PFAS are common in non-stick cookware, cleaning/personal care products, food packaging, and other consumer products. However, these compounds are also in pesticide products. Despite evidence on the dangers of PFAS stretching as far back as the 1950s, federal agencies sat by the sidelines as the plastics industry continued adding the material to new products. From widespread presence in farm fields and sewage sludge to contaminated water bodies throughout the U.S., PFAS has made its way into the environment and our bodies. PFAS are even present in remote environments like the Arctic, Antarctica, and Eastern European Tibetan Plateau. A study published in 2020 identified PFAS as common products to which Americans are exposed daily. … ”  Read more from Beyond Pesticides.

Carbon removal features filters, fans — and ivory towers

“Many of the teams seeking federal money to build direct air capture megaprojects in the United States have one thing in common: They include academic institutions.  That’s distinct from typical applicants for Department of Energy funding programs, experts say. It is largely due to the emerging nature of direct air capture technology — a collection of fans, filters and piping that removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and stores it permanently underground or in long-lasting products like concrete.  There are less than two dozen DAC facilities in operation worldwide, but that could sharply increase when DOE awards $3.5 billion to help build massive DAC hubs in the United States. Scientists believe DAC and other carbon removal technologies need to rapidly deploy in the coming years to avoid damaging levels of global warming that could cause extreme heat waves, disastrous flooding and lead to the collapse of food systems. … ”  Read more from E&E News.

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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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