Evening light on the Coast at San Luis Obispo. Photo by Fred Moore.

DAILY DIGEST, weekend edition: How will water — or lack thereof — impact the economy?; Pesky pattern to keep West cool, dreary; Rural schools fear more flood damage; Delta Loop road trip; This year’s salmon run is a celebration along the Klamath River; and more …

In California water news this weekend …

California water policy: how will water — or lack thereof — impact our economy in the 21st century?

“How does California’s drought — or on the other end of the spectrum, an overabundance of water — impact our economy, infrastructure, and real estate development? David Osias and Barry Epstein, both partners at the law firm Allen Matkins and thought leaders on water rights, land use, natural resources, and energy law, joined Jerry Nickelsburg, adjunct professor of economics at the UCLA Anderson School of Management, and Andrew Ayres, a research fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California Water Policy Center, to discuss water rights, the challenges of water distribution in California, legal issues, and possible solutions, as well as obstacles to the solutions  It’s not news that California suffered from a decades-long drought, the worst in over 1,000 years, immediately followed by a once-in-a-century winter snowpack and rainfall. Episodic droughts and floods have long been a part of the region’s history, which is why the state’s modern landscape reflects the efforts to manage both. Although California’s average snowpack and rainfall suggest abundant supplies, where that precipitation occurs, its distance from population and farming centers, and the wide variation in volume from year to year make the “average” an unreliable predictor of water availability. … ”  Read more from Allen Matkins.

Pesky pattern to keep West cool, dreary in the coming days

“Mother Nature flipped the seasons switch shortly after May began, plunging much of the western United States into a cool and dreary pattern more akin to March. AccuWeather forecasters say more of the same is on the way in the coming days, but a weather curveball late next week could usher in good news for fans of warm weather.  Places like Seattle and Portland, Oregon, had a single chilly day to welcome May, but quickly rebounded and experienced two days with high temperatures above the historical average. The warmup was short-lived as temperatures came crashing down at midweek to levels 10-15 degrees Fahrenheit below what is typical.  Farther south, Las Vegas has only had one day so far this month where the mercury soared above the historical average temperature of 84 degrees. Sin City hit 89 back on May 1 and hasn’t been able to leave the 70s since. … ”  Read more from AccuWeather.

Rural California schools, hit hard by flood damage, dread what snowmelt could bring

“In early April, students in Planada, Calif., finally returned to their classrooms.  It had been three months since the early January flood that sent putrid brown water — filled with floating rodents and sewage — crashing into Planada Elementary School, destroying 27 classrooms, ruining thousands of books, and causing more than $12 million in damage.  Hundreds of elementary school students and staff — many displaced after losing their homes in the deluge — crammed onto the middle school campus across town.  Construction crews worked at Planada Elementary seven days a week, sunup to sundown, said Supt. José González. And when youngsters returned to newly built classrooms last month, the town counted it as a win.  But even as they celebrated, they wondered: What if — when the state’s massive snowpack melts this summer — the school floods again? … ”  Read more from the LA Times.

Central Valley town seeks $20 million for flood recovery. Will Gavin Newsom fund it?

Flooding in Merced County. Photo taken January 11, 2023. Photo by Andrew Innerarity / DWR

“Central Valley legislators are asking for millions of dollars from the state of California to fund outstanding disaster response needs in Planada, a Merced County unincorporated town that flooded during January’s atmospheric river. State Sen. Anna Caballero, a Democrat from Merced, supported by Assemblymember Esmeralda Soria, a Democrat from Fresno, have submitted a request for $20 million to fund repairs for flood-damaged households, rental assistance, infrastructure needs, vehicle needs and more. The funding is critical, Planada residents and community members said, because federal relief funds didn’t cover the entire scope of the damage and some residents were ineligible for aid. … ” Read more from the Fresno Bee. | Read via Yahoo News.

Prices for canned tomato goods could rise as California farms stay soggy after record rain

“Ketchup, spaghetti sauce, tomato soup and salsa, all staples in the American kitchen, may be in short supply with higher prices this summer after record rainfall saturated California’s tomato fields.  With soil still too wet for planting, farmers postponed the season’s start by three weeks, which could translate into a shortage of tomato-based items this summer, according to individual farmers and the California Tomato Growers Association.  The most dire predictions come from farmers themselves, who say some of them could be forced out of the tomato-growing business.  To make up for a shortened planting season, which usually runs 12 weeks from late February to May, some growers are putting more seeds into the ground than usual. But even then, it may be too late, they said. … ”  Read more from NBC News.

Road trip: Day on the Delta Loop: A ‘well-kept secret’ from the Bay Area with sunshine and cheap beer

“A thermostat in the style of a clock is mounted on a beamed rim on the front porch outside B & W Resort Marina, a social hub near the heart of the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta, and as the afternoon wears on, the instrument’s dial droops just beneath 100 degrees.  The resort is now in its third generation of family ownership. The son of the current owner dabs his brow as he checks in with the young woman serving the lunch crowd inside. Derrick Deak removes his hat for some relief from the heat and notices the familiar faces mustered at the counter, where a steady stream of locals belly up for what might be the last honest lunch in the Bay Area: steamed hot dogs with fixings for $4.50, alongside a cold mug of Sierra Nevada straight from the tap for $4.18. … ”  Read more from SF Gate.

California readies for treasure hunt as floods wash up ‘Gold Rush 2.0’

“In the aftermath of an unusually wet winter, Californians are bracing not only for flooded fields and raging rapids, but also for a potential treasure hunt that experts are dubbing “Gold Rush 2.0.”  “It’s one of those 100-years events,” Mark Dayton, a Sacramento Valley metal detector expert, told The Hill.  With one atmospheric river after another this past winter, snowpack on the Golden State’s mountain peaks piled up to unprecedented heights. But as that snow gushes down the hillsides, the fast and furious flow is shuttling other materials along with it.  “When it melts, it comes rushing down at crazy speeds through narrow gorges and canyons, and it’s a torrent of raging water,” Dayton said. “This is even crazier than whitewater.” … ”  Read more from The Hill.

Hurtado introduces bill prohibiting sale of CA farmland to foreign governments

“California State Senator Melissa Hurtado has introduced a bill that has recently passed the Senate Agriculture Committee and will now advance to the Appropriations Committee.  According to Hurtado, SB 224 would put California in control of its food supply chain by preventing foreign governments from purchasing agricultural land in the state.  Fourth-generation Kern County farmer Jason Giannelli says he finds SB 224 to be critical for growers, as it would not only have an impact on farmland, but also on water usage in the area. … ”  Read more from Channel 23.

Device to monitor household water use reveals California’s ranking among other US cities

“Monitoring water use for individual residences is not a very common practice on a day by day basis. Most homes have a water meter to measure how much is used and the total usage is listed on a bill at the end of the month. A company that produces the Flume water monitoring device sells a product that will give a customer minute-by-minute usage data so an individual can make adjustments and see the results in real time. A division of their company compiled data from the largest metro areas and found some interesting results. According to data they shared on a webinar, two California metro areas — San Francisco and Los Angeles — were among the most efficient for indoor water use. … ” Read more from Channel 10.

This tribe was barred from cultural burning for decades — then a fire hit their community

“The land near Yosemite National Park had been tended by Irene Vasquez’s family for decades. They took care of their seven acres by setting small fires to thin vegetation and help some plants to grow.  But the steep, chaparral-studded slopes surrounding the property hadn’t seen fire since Vasquez and fellow members of the Southern Sierra Miwuk Nation were barred from practicing cultural burning on a wider scale some 100 years before.  When a wildfire swept through in July, the dense vegetation stoked flames that destroyed Vasquez’s home and transformed the land into a scarred moonscape. With that, she became one of many Indigenous residents to watch her ancestral territory burn in recent years, despite knowing the outcome could have been different.  “If we were able to impart that wisdom and knowledge to European settlers, to the agencies, to not stop our burning, we would be in a way different place,” Vasquez said. … ”  Read more from the LA Times.

Idle oil wells’ next act? Becoming batteries for renewable energy

“The fan club for abandoned oil and gas wells is an exceedingly small one, but Kemp Gregory might just be the president. Where others see an eyesore or a source of rogue methane emissions, Gregory sees opportunity.  Standing next to a 4,000-foot-deep well on the outskirts of Bakersfield, California, he demonstrates why. A 3,000-pound weight is suspended on a cable deep below the surface. With the push of a button, Gregory starts a small motor turning, drawing the weight up from the well’s maw until it reaches a predetermined height. Now it’s more than a heavy weight; it’s a source of potential energy. Gregory pushes another button and the weight begins its descent, releasing that energy in the form of electricity that can be fed onto the grid. … ”  Read more from Bloomberg Green.

Video: Ocean water off California coast ‘less salty’ during El Niño years

A new studying measuring more than 100 year of ocean salt water found during the El Niño and La Niña years, there was less salt in the California coast water.

Return to top

In people news this weekend …

Promotions, passings, profiles – submit people news items to maven@mavensnotebook.com.

Assembly appoints Maria Mehranian to the Delta Stewardship Council

California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon has appointed Maria Mehranian to the Delta Stewardship Council, effective May 5, 2023. This is her second appointment to the Council.  Mehranian served as a Senate-appointed Council member from 2018 to 2022.  “Maria’s understanding of the issues at hand and strategic approach in responding to them make her an asset to the Council,” says Chair Virginia Madueño.” I couldn’t be happier to lead a fully-staffed membership of leaders from across our state whose unique areas of expertise diversify and strengthen our ability to advance the coequal goals.”  Of the Council’s seven members, four are appointed by the Governor, one each by the State Senate and Assembly, and the seventh is the chair of the Delta Protection Commission.  “We are living in a pivotal time that reveals just how much California has entered into a new phase of climate change, especially in the context of California’s water priorities,” says Mehranian. “I am humbled to be reappointed to the Council and looking forward to continuing our work in providing the best solutions to our real-time challenges and ensuring a reliable water supply, driven by the role and precedence of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.” … ” Read more from the Delta Stewardship Council.

Angel Tarango Named Operator of the Year 2023

“California Rural Water Association is excited to announce Angel Tarango was named the 2023 Operator of the Year during the California Rural Water Association’s annual banquet part of the 2023 CRWA conference held at Harvey’s Resort and Casino in South Lake Tahoe. Angel has worked for Tuolumne Utilities District for four years and currently occupies the position of Water Treatment Operator and Regulatory Compliance Specialist. Over her nine-year carrier in water operations Angel has overcome many challenges which has inspired her to reach out and support upcoming operators and young women. … ”  Continue reading from California Rural Water Association.

Return to top

Podcasts …

WATER TALK: Rural Socio-hydrology

A conversation with Dr. Daniel O’Connell (Central Valley Partnership) about land, water, and community development in the CA Central Valley.

VOICES OF THE VALLEY: Christine Birdsong, Undersecretary for the CDFA, talk sustainable pest management solutions

Undersecretary for the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) Christine Birdsong joins Dennis Donohue and Candace Wilson on this week’s episode of Voices of the Valley to discuss her role and initiatives to support California agriculture on key points like sustainable pest management, water (whether drought or flood), supply chain difficulties and an aging workforce.


When I think of big lakes in California, I think of Lake Tahoe. But there is a much larger lake than even that!  Adding water to an otherwise dry and barren desert has made life come alive at the Salton Sea. Water is a Many Splendor’ed Thing brings you another water relationship that has a personally significant impact to your life.  Produced by Steven Baker, Bringing People Together to Solve Water Problems, water@operationunite.co 530-205-6388

KUNC THIRST GAP: The big empty

Lake Powell is a boater’s dream. The nation’s second largest reservoir on the Colorado River is a maze of sandstone canyons teeming with houseboats. But climate change and unchecked demand for water sent the lake’s levels to a new record low this year. In this episode we explore changes to recreation in this popular vacation hotspot.

THE CONVERSATION: Cloud seeding can increase rain and snow, and new techniques may make it a lot more effective

Small amounts of rain can mean the difference between struggle and success. For nearly 80 years, an approach called cloud seeding has, in theory, given people the ability to get more rain and snow from storms and make hailstorms less severe. But only recently have scientists been able to peer into clouds and begin to understand how effective cloud seeding really is. We speak with three researchers about the simple yet murky science of cloud seeding, the economic effects it can have on agriculture and research that may allow governments to use cloud seeding in more places.

SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN SCIENCE, QUICKLY: Surviving in the ephemeral pools of life

Carpets of gold, burrowing toads and fairy shrimp all depend on vernal pools—habitats that, most of the time, do not exist.

WATER LOOP: Envisioning water in the year 2050

What will water look like in the year 2050?Envisioning the future and the forces shaping it can help the water utility sector to plan and be proactive, as discussed in this episode with David LaFrance, Chi Ho Sham, and Joe Jacangelo of the American Water Works Association.They talk about brainstorming water in 2050 with a group of experts and the drivers of sustainability, technology, governance, economics, and demographics.This episode is from a conversation at the Reservoir Center for Water Solutions in Washington, D.C. where waterloop is a media partner.

Return to top

In regional water news this weekend …


This year’s salmon run is a celebration along the Klamath River

“For more than 120 years, four dams have had a chokehold on the Klamath River.  In 2002, a massive fish kill left over 70,000 salmon floating belly up in the river, dead from diseases that flourish in waters drained low by drought and agricultural diversions.  Dr. Kayla Begay, then a freshman at Hoopa Valley High, remembers the incident well.  “Nobody in our lifetime had seen something like that happen, where so many fish died before they ever got to spawn,” said Dr. Begay, now Assistant Professor of Native American Studies at Cal Poly Humboldt.  Begay decided to do something about it.  Begay joined forces with fellow Hoopa Valley tribal citizen Tasha James and their classmates Erika Chase, a Hoopa Valley tribal citizen and of Shinnecock descent, and Chelsea Reed, a citizen of the Yurok Tribe.  The four high school freshmen founded a ceremonial run to call attention to the need to remove the dams. … ”  Read more from Oregon Public Broadcasting.

SEE ALSOTake Our Waters, Take Our Lives: An Interview with Charley Reed, from the Northcoast Environmental Center

Culverts to be replaced on the Klamath River

“A $2 million infrastructure project to replace two undersized culverts on Resighini Rancho Tribal lands has been announced by the Department of the Interior and the U S Fish and Wildlife Service. The federal funding will replace the Waukell Creek and its tributary Junior Creek culverts on the Klamath River Estuary. The Tribe has been working to complete these projects for the last decade in an effort to reopen access to threatened juvenile Coho salmon, steelhead trout and coastal cutthroat trout. The culverts fill with sediments and regularly flood, isolating  the Resigni Rancheria community during and after major storm events.  The funding is part of a $35 million infrastructure investment for 2023. … ”  Read more from the Del Norte Triplicate.

Emergency Endangered Species Act listing for imperiled Clear Lake hitch denied

“A small fish that has important ecological and cultural significance to North Bay Native American communities has been rejected for emergency listing under the Endangered Species Act.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is still moving forward with its formal evaluation of the Clear Lake hitch, and listing is still possible through the agency’s normal process. Its findings are expected in January 2025.  The fish, which grows to about a foot long and is only found in Clear Lake, is considered imperiled by Lake County tribes and the Center for Biological Diversity, which had petitioned for the emergency listing.  Michael Fris, field supervisor for the agency’s Sacramento office, said the chronic ills that challenge survival of the hitch are too numerous and insufficiently understood to suggest an emergency listing is appropriate. … ”  Read more from the North Bay Business Journal.


EPA orders Air Force to respond to oil spill from Travis Air Force Base

“The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued an emergency order Thursday mandating the U.S. Air Force address an oil discharge from Travis Air Force Base into Fairfield’s Union Creek that has been ongoing since 2021.  The Air Force initially identified the oil spill in October 2021 but failed to notify both the EPA and the National Response Center until February 2022, the EPA said.  Since informing both agencies, the Air Force has made “numerous notifications” to the NRC regarding an oil sheen on Union Creek which included a jet fuel spill from a pipeline on the base in August 2022, according to the EPA. Samples collected from Union Creek near the pipeline area as well as from the oil sheen indicate that contamination from both parts are “likely from a common source,” according to EPA analyses. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle.


Marin water district, taxpayer group settle lawsuit on controversial fee

“A nearly four-year legal battle challenging a controversial water fee is set to end after a settlement agreement was announced this week.  The agreement between Marin Municipal Water District and Coalition of Sensible Taxpayers, known as COST, would end a dispute over how the district charges fixed fees to customers. Unlike water rates, the fees are charged based on the size of a customer’s water meter and not by the amount of water they use.  Under the settlement, the district has agreed to tie its fee calculations more closely to district ratepayers’ water use, which was the coalition’s intention when filing the lawsuit in 2019. Additionally, the district also agreed to pay $1.5 million in attorneys’ fees to COST within 30 days of the lawsuit’s dismissal. The district plans to pay the attorneys’ fees using its liability claim reserve funds. … ”  Read more from the Marin Independent Journal.


Shipwrecked ‘ghost boat’ looms on SLO County coast. Where did it come from?

“Seagulls screeched across a cloudless sky as tourists climbed down the bluffs north of Cayucos to reach one of San Luis Obispo County’s mysteries: a shipwrecked fishing boat.  The sun-bleached vessel leans against the rocky Estero Bay shore, caked with rust and algae. Relentless seaside weather has eroded holes into the ship’s hull, and visitors can hear waves slosh inside the abandoned boat as the tide rolls across the beach.  “It’s an old boat, that’s for sure,” one visitor said with a laugh.  Rumors circulate about how the so-called “ghost boat” came to rest off the coast of Estero Bluffs, with some claiming that its owner fell asleep at the helm while returning home from a fishing trip. … ”  Read more from AOL News.


“River Islands”: The ultimate bad idea for residential development

Bruce Frohman writes, “Listeners to Bay Area radio stations frequently hear advertisements for a massive Lathrop residential project called “River Islands.” The advertisements tout home construction by a group of award-winning homebuilders on secluded islands in the San Joaquin River Delta. The ads go on to boast six restaurants to serve residents, one new fire station and a new police station, as well as a plethora of recreational activities.  Ads rarely live up to the hype. River Islands promoters don’t  mention any of the drawbacks to the project. Why would they? With home prices ranging from $600 thousand to $2 million, money is to be made by the sellers. The project is reminiscent of Florida swampland sales of the last century. … ”  Read more from the Valley Citizen.

CLOSED: Public is told to stay out of most valley rivers; closure on a portion of the Kern tries to make room for rafters

“This year’s epic runoff into San Joaquin Valley rivers is creating a tricky tightrope for local agencies tasked with keeping the public safe.  How do you let people enjoy the bounty of water while making sure they don’t do anything lethally stupid?  It’s a difficult balance, as Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux discovered after his office issued a blanket closure of the upper Kern River on its Facebook page Thursday evening.  The order immediately closed all public access to the river – indefinitely – from about two miles east of Johnsondale Bridge to the Tulare-Kern county line, about four miles east of Kernville. … ”  Read more from SJV Water.

SEE ALSO: Sheriff’s office closes rivers due to expected flooding, from the Foothills Sun-Gazette

Bakersfield to start pilot meter program in southwest

“The city of Bakersfield is set to receive half a million dollars in federal grant funding for a water meter upgrade pilot program to improve system efficiency and reduce water losses. Awarded by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the $497,117 comes from a Water and Energy Efficiency Grant to replace 5,500 existing meters in a residential area that serves more than 20,000 residents.  The pilot project will take place on a 2.46-square-mile perimeter located between Gosford and Stine roads and between Ming Avenue and White Lane. Officials will track the progress as part of a long-term goal of converting all meters to the new system. This comes at no cost to residents, as the meters will be installed by California Water Service through a contract for the city of Bakersfield’s municipal water system. … ”  Read more from the Bakersfield Californian.

Chevron in ‘comfortable state’ as river flows ramp up

“Chevron has a message for the people of Bakersfield: Don’t be alarmed later this month if you see oil field pumping units awash with Kern River water while other equipment continues to operate nearby — because the company says it’s on top of it.  The San Ramon-based oil producer has for the last six weeks assigned dozens of employees and contractors to prepare for such an eventuality, deploying short- and longer-term measures in the area of China Grade Loop and Round Mountain Road within the prodigious Kern River Oil Field. Adjustments were still being made as of Friday to account for new erosion caused by the river’s strengthening flow, but Chevron said it’s basically ready for what water managers expect could be a 100-year flood resulting from this year’s record snowpack in the mountains above Isabella Lake. … ”  Read more from the Bakersfield Californian.


Tri-county water infrastructure summit in Southern California finds common ground

“In the first of its kind meeting, leaders and experts from Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego County water and regional agencies convened in Orange County to discuss how to work together to address the mounting crisis facing regional water sources and California’s water infrastructure.  On April 14, 2023, the Water Infrastructure Networking Summit (WINS) brought more than 250 local, regional, and state water officials, and business and community leaders to discuss funding opportunities and challenges facing water and wastewater infrastructure.  The event included a keynote speech and panel discussion in which several themes emerged, including the need for deeper collaboration, improved community engagement, and streamlining of processes to cut down on project delays. … ”  Read more from ACWA News.

Los Angeles County officials working to lower water consumption

“The 8 News Now Investigators ran a four-part series on the “California Water Hogs,” with a special focus on the water used to irrigate farmland in the Imperial Valley, water storage, water recycling, and desalinating seawater. However, officials in Los Angeles County said they are doing more there than people in Las Vegas might think.  “There’s some new stuff we’re doing,” Terrence McCarthy, manager of water resources policy for the Los Angeles Department of Power and Water said.  In addition to pointing out that Los Angeles water customers have lowered their water consumption by 30% in the last 15 years, McCarthy said L.A. County is offering residents rebates to tear out their lawns and replace them with sustainable landscapes. … ”  Read more from KLAS.

San Gorgonio Pass Water Agency to purchase City of Ventura’s SWP allocations

“The San Gorgonio Pass Water Agency (SGPWA) and the City of Ventura, California have finalized a water transfer agreement that significantly increases supplies for Pass-area communities over the next 20 years, according to an SGPWA press release.  The agreement brings SGPWA’s State Water Project (SWP) allocation to as much as 27,300 acre-feet 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 acre-feet of Ventura water this year. … ”  Read more from Water World.

Return to top

Along the Colorado River …

Colorado River reservoirs buoyed by snowmelt, but officials brace for drier times ahead

“This year’s unusually deep Rocky Mountain snowpack is now expected to lift both Lake Mead and Lake Powell from critically low water storage levels and leave them about one-third full, federal and state officials said Friday at a joint Colorado River briefing in Phoenix.  It means the Southwest’s shortage won’t worsen in the coming year, and that Lake Powell will be able to repay a debt to Lake Mead, the larger reservoir downstream, incurred last year when the government held back water to protect hydropower generating capacity at Glen Canyon Dam.  At least until snow starts flying again this fall, that’s where the good news begins and ends. The river remains in crisis, and recent history during a 23-year megadrought suggests scarcity may reassert itself in the coming year. … ”  Read more from the Arizona Central.

Lower Colorado River water users anticipate dry 2024

“Following one of the wettest winters in recent history, Arizona officials anticipate a dry 2024 as federal water usage cuts loom.  In a joint Colorado River shortage briefing held by the Arizona Department of Water Resources and the Central Arizona Project, officials analyzed current conditions in Colorado River Basin reservoirs and how they’ll change in the near future.  Thanks to a record-breaking snowpack that peaked at 174% above median levels in mid-April, the Arizona Department of Water Resources expects this year to be the second highest reservoir inflow since the beginning of the drought. Lakes Powell and Mead, the two largest reservoirs along the Colorado River that serve the lower basin states of Arizona, California and Nevada, are 24% and 29% full, at elevations of 3,525 feet and 1,049 feet, respectively. By the end of 2023, those levels are projected to be at 3,573 feet and 1,068, each nearly 30 feet higher than previously predicted. … ”  Read more from the Courthouse News.

Here’s what will happen if Colorado River system doesn’t recover from ‘historic drought’

“The Colorado River, one of the most important river systems in the country, is drying up at an alarming rate.  The issues surrounding depleting water levels along the Colorado River basin have become as heated as the arid climate contributing to the moisture-sapping megadrought persisting in the region for decades.  Despite an extremely wet winter that eased the effects of the longstanding drought, regional officials and environmental experts are expressing concern over future severe dips in the water supply and other ramifications dwindling water levels could have on local economies and human health. … ”  Read more from ABC News.

Amid continuing drought, Arizona is coming up with new sources of water—if cities can afford them

“Sixty miles west of Phoenix along the I-10 freeway to the California border lies what many Valley cities with limited water supplies and investment companies see as an answer to helping solve Arizona’s water woes: the Harquahala Basin.  It’s one of three basins in the state where groundwater can be pumped out and sent elsewhere—if cities are willing to pay the price. In January, Buckeye, one of the nation’s fastest-growing cities, with plans to triple its population in the coming decades, agreed to pay $80 million for one acre of land in the Harquahala Basin to acquire the water rights attached to it. Queen Creek, a fast-growing town east of Phoenix in Maricopa and Pinal counties, struck a similar deal with the same company last year for $30 million.  Buckeye’s purchase, which allows it to pump 5,926 acre-feet of water per year for the next 100 years, came weeks after Arizona’s new governor released a report saying the basin the city sits on didn’t have enough water for all its planned growth. … ”  Read more from Inside Climate News.

Return to top

In national water news this weekend …

Biden administration proposes water quality standard for tribes

“The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Wednesday proposed baseline water quality standards for tribal waters, which the agency said would protect more than 500,000 people who live on reservations.  According to the agency, most tribes with reservations don’t currently have water quality standards, and the proposal would put these waters in line with others that are regulated by the federal government.  The standards, which would extend to 76,000 miles of rivers and streams and 1.9 million acres of lakes, reservoirs and other surface waters, set maximum pollution levels for the bodies of water. … ” Continue reading from The Hill.

Yet another problem with recycling: it spews microplastics

The plastics industry has long hyped recycling, even though it is well aware that it’s been a failure. Worldwide, only 9 percent of plastic waste actually gets recycled. In the United States, the rate is now 5 percent. Most used plastic is landfilled, incinerated, or winds up drifting around the environment.   Now, an alarming new study has found that even when plastic makes it to a recycling center, it can still end up splintering into smaller bits that contaminate the air and water. This pilot study focused on a single new facility where plastics are sorted, shredded, and melted down into pellets. Along the way, the plastic is washed several times, sloughing off microplastic particles—fragments smaller than 5 millimeters—into the plant’s wastewater. … ”  Read more from Wired Magazine.

U.S. forests struggling to adapt fast enough to climate change, study finds

“Rising sea levels, accelerated coastal erosion, severe flooding and drought, rapid melting of Arctic sea ice and more frequent and intense wildfires are all symptoms of climate change that are changing our planet’s landscape. In some places, these changes are happening too fast for plants and animals to keep up.  A recent study by researchers at University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley), and the United States Forest Service have uncovered warning signs that forests in the Western U.S. are struggling to adapt to the rapidly changing climate.  “If you’re concerned about forest health then one thing you want to observe is whether the rate at which forest composition changes is roughly equivalent to the rate at which the climate changes,” said lead author of the study Kyle Rosenblad, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Integrative Biology at UC Berkeley, in a press release from the Rausser College of Natural Resources. “We found that climate change is outpacing the ability of forests and tree biomass to keep up, which is a potential concern for forest managers.” … ” Read more from EcoWatch.

Return to top

Also on Maven’s Notebook this weekend …

NOTICE: Application for discharge of dredged or fill material for the Kern Plateau Meadow Restoration Project

Return to top

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.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email