DAILY DIGEST, 5/11: Drought might have had a surprising trigger: Australian bushfires; Flooding fields for aquifer recharge shows promise; Court hears Klamath Water case; Plans to reopen Nevada County gold mine sparks controversy; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • MEETING: California Advisory Committee on Salmon and Steelhead Trout from 10am to 3pm. Agenda items include Steelhead Report Card Program subcommitte update, California Water Action Plan (CWAP) Discussion, and the 2023 Chinook Salmon Fishery. Click here for the full agenda and remote access instructions.
  • WEBINAR: Clean Water, Complicated Laws: How To Participate in The MCL Development Process from 10am to 10:30 am. Join BB&K’s leading water quality attorneys for a webinar that provides practical guidance on water quality issues, laws and regulations.  Click here to register.

In California water news today …

California’s catastrophic three-year drought might have had a surprising trigger

“California’s recent drought flared into the state’s driest three-year period on record, before its abrupt end this spring, and few people saw it coming.  Research published Wednesday suggests that the drought and the climatic conditions behind it had an unlikely driver: the Australian bushfires of 2019 and 2020.  According to the groundbreaking study, the massive wildfires thousands of miles away unleashed so much smoke that they triggered a chain of events in the atmosphere, ultimately cooling the tropical Pacific Ocean and hastening formation of a La Niña climate pattern. La Niña, which stuck around for an unusual three winters, is associated with droughts throughout much of California. “There are many links in this chain but it’s really quite interesting and unexpected,” John Fasullo, climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and lead author of the new paper, told The Chronicle. “Yes, the fires played a role in the instigation and duration of the drought.” … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle (gift article).


California rushes to capture extra water as the Sierra hits record snow melting

California’s rapidly shifting cycle from dry to wet is pushing water managers to come up with creative ways to move and use water.”

Inside the creative way California is moving flood water to beneficial areas

California’s rapidly shifting cycle from dry to wet is pushing water managers to come up with creative ways to move and use water. With flooding co-existing with areas of drought, the California Department of Water Resources is finding ways to use the flood water and move it to beneficial areas, like recently fallowed or open and working lands or even historically depleted groundwater basins.  The Fresno Irrigation District (FID) is one of those agencies working with DWR to divert high river flows away from flood-prone Central Valley communities, like the Tulare Lake Basin, and move it into groundwater recharge basins. Adam Claes, general manager of the FID, says they are pumping excess water off the Kings River and nearby canals then moving it into existing storm water basins just west of the city. Since these are primarily used during the winter wet season, there is space to hold this extra water. … ”  Read more from Channel 10.

Flooding fields for aquifer recharge shows promise

” … While the liquid lingers and before the record 400% snowpack in the Sierra Nevadas begins to melt and flow, a variety of suggestions about saving that water are being debated. On the University of California campus, where Thomas Harter lectures in the Department of Land, Air, and Water Resources, discussion centers around aquifer recharge.  “Heck,” he says emphatically, “why can’t we save some of that water that’s coming down the mountain before it slips into the ocean or evaporates from the newly revived Tulare Lake?  “Between now and August/September, between the San Joaquin Valley and Tulare Lake Basin, some 36 million acre-feet is gonna run off before it gets into reservoirs. And that doesn’t include the Sacramento Valley where we’ll have another 11 million acre-feet coming into that watershed. While some of it will recharge to groundwater, it really puts the conversational spotlight on managed aquifer recharge throughout the agricultural landscape.” … ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press.

Record rains heighten push to speed up work on California’s long-approved water storage plans

“Amid the impact of recent heavy rains and fire season fast approaching, questions persist about where things stand with water storage projects and why the state still hasn’t completed new ones with funding approved by voters almost a decade ago.  The California Water Commission timeline shows construction on one is scheduled to begin this year.  Whenever new storage capacity is delayed or unavailable, there is a lost opportunity, William Sloan, a partner in the Environmental Practice at Venable LLP, told the Northern California Record by email.  “Especially when we have substantial precipitation like these past several months,” Sloan said. “Given the severity of drought conditions we have experienced, California needs every tool in the toolbelt to best manage its limited available water resources. … ”  Read more from the Northern California Record.

The Delta Tunnel Project could bankrupt Metropolitan Water District of Southern California

Dan Bacher writes, “In a report sponsored by the California Water Impact Network (C-WIN), water policy expert and former State Water Resources Control Board climate change and water conservation manager Max Gomberg revealed that their continued support and funding of the Delta Tunnel, AKA Delta Conveyance Project, could bankrupt the powerful Metropolitan Water District (MWD) of Southern California.  The embattled project to build a giant tunnel under the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta “threatens MWD’s fiscal solvency, promises dramatically higher ratepayer bills, and does nothing to secure long-term water security for the 19 million residents within the district’s service area,” according to Gomberg, who discussed his report and fielded questions from reporters in a press conference held by C-WIN on May 9. … ”  Read more from the Daily Kos.

Now available:  2022 Delta Drought Response Pilot Program Report

“A new report is available that provides data and analysis about a variety of water conservation actions and their effectiveness in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.  The report, available on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Conservancy’s website, is based on valuable data and insight gathered through the Delta Drought Response Pilot Program in water year 2022 (October 1, 2021 through September 30, 2022).  The report describes the initiation, solicitation, selection, and analysis of incentivized water conservation actions taken by Delta agricultural water users during water year 2022. The report draws three major conclusions. First, the analysis found less consumptive use savings than predicted. Second, there was substantial variability in water savings among project sites even when comparing similar practices. Last, the need for more data and the continued drought called for renewing a modified DDRPP for water year 2023.  The Program provided a wealth of data about consumptive water use, water-use actions, and incentives in the unique and complex setting of the Delta. The information derived from the 2022 DDRPP analysis was sufficiently valuable to warrant refinement and redeployment of a follow-up Pilot Program for water year 2023, which is underway. A report describing the results from the water year 2023 is anticipated to be released in early 2024.”  Click here for the report from the Delta Conservancy.

Should foreign governments own CA farmland and water rights?

“A Valley legislator has reworked a bill to stop foreign powers from owning ag land and having rights to water and food production.  But concessions made to the bill could have little impact on what lawmakers hope to solve.  Senate Bill 224 from state Sen. Melissa Hurtado (D-Bakersfield) will ban foreign governments and state-backed enterprises from owning agricultural land in California and create an inventory account of who has water rights on what land.  After the pandemic showed how fragile the global economy could be, the question of foreign powers owning ag land arose in the national discussion. … ”  Read more from GV Wire.

How Northern California’s fire season will be affected by an incoming weather transition

“As parts of Northern California see temperatures reach into the 90s this week, hundreds of miles out in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, a transformation is unfolding that is expected to affect the region’s fire season for the next several months.  A change in ocean temperatures in the equatorial Pacific is transforming the weather pattern from La Nina to El Nino, which fire weather forecasters says is expected to bring a different outlook than the drier and warmer conditions than the North State saw at this time last year.  “Yep, we are in the midst of the transition from La Nina, which ended in March, to El Nino, which is expected to form during the next few months. Typically, El Nino’s form late summer into the fall and don’t manifest this early during the summer,” said Brent Wachter, a fire meteorologist at the Northern California Geographic Coordinating Center in Redding. … ”  Read more from the Redding Record-Searchlight.

California Coastal Commission to study climate change effect on coastal access

“As climate change causes sea levels to rise across the world, the California Coastal Commission voted unanimously Wednesday to study how that will affect Californians’ beach access as high tides push up against seawalls and other structures built to protect inland private property.  “The timing is so critically important,” said commission chair Donne Brownsey said of the plan at the commission’s monthly meeting on Wednesday. “We’re going to lose so much of that which we hold so dear in terms of our public beaches, our public waterways, our estuaries, and all the wildlife.”  The plan, called the Public Trust Guiding Principles & Action Plan, does not give the commission, which is tasked with protecting the California coastline and ensuring public access to it, any new regulatory powers. Instead, it outlines how the commission can study the effects of rising tides while working with other state and municipal agencies, private businesses, and tribal governments in an equitable way. … ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service.

Return to top

In commentary today …

NorCal farmers step up for fish

Dan Keppen, executive director of Family Farm Alliance, writes, “California’s Chinook salmon fishing season has been called off, but not for the reasons you have read about in the media. … The Pacific Marine Fishery Council (PMFC) announced on March 5 that the salmon fishing season for 2023 was closed, putting hundreds of commercial fishers out of work and disappointing thousands of recreational fishers.  Even before the PMFC announcement, the usual critics and certain media outlets quickly started pointing fingers. Certain ocean commercial fishing interests and allies among some environmental organizations have been the loudest critics in the press, directing blame on water allocations to farmers and urban water users.  There is another side of the story, as recently reported by the Center for California Water Resources Policy and Management (Center). … ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press.

Repurposing cropland can bring environmental, socioeconomic, and water justice to California

Ángel S. Fernández-Bou, Senior Climate Scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, writes, “There is not enough water in California to sustain our current practices and everybody knows it. In normal years and in dry years, California agriculture, industry, and households draw more groundwater than we should. And when we get wet years with deep snowpack and full reservoirs, we do not have the infrastructure to replenish the groundwater aquifers that much of the state relies on. This deficit leaves California in an endless state of drought and at permanent risk of water insecurity, even in years like this one when it rained a lot. … The good news is we know the problem. The bad news is we are not doing enough to solve it. But how can we solve water scarcity and water overuse without causing new problems? In other words, is there a way to reduce water use and keep everyone happy?  I believe there is: strategic cropland repurposing. … ”  Continue reading at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Return to top

In regional water news and commentary today …


Court hears Klamath Water case; Frustration with lack of plan for 2023

“A federal court heard arguments today on whether to issue a preliminary injunction limiting irrigation and wildlife refuge uses of water from the Klamath Project in 2023.  The motion, filed by the Yurok Tribe and Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, claims that the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) cannot be trusted to limit water deliveries in accordance with an Interim Operations Plan (IOP).   Judge William H. Orrick, U.S. District Court Judge for the Northern District of California, indicated that he would not grant the motion, but left open the opportunity for parties to return to court after Reclamation has adopted an actual Klamath Project operations plan for 2023.  The litigation move comes at a time when there is abundant water in the Klamath Basin. … ”  Read more from Klamath Falls News.

What’s going on at Trinity Lake?

“As of May 9, most reservoirs in California are over or near their historical average capacity. But there’s a glaring exception: Trinity Lake. According to the Department of Water Resources, Trinity Lake is only at 49% of its historical average capacity and 39% of capacity overall.  If you look at other prominent lakes around Northern California, including Shasta and Oroville, the water levels are at their highest levels in years. So why is Trinity Lake filling at a slower rate than other reservoirs?  First and foremost, the region surrounding Trinity Lake received less rainfall than other regions of NorCal, although it was still much higher than average this winter in terms of precipitation. On top of that, Trinity Lake relies heavily on snowpack for water, which is much different than nearby reservoirs. Shasta, on the other hand, is much more dependent of rain than snow. … ”  Read more from Active NorCal.


“It’s a bad idea”: Plans to reopen Nevada County gold mine sparks controversy

“Plans to tap into California’s rich history of gold have sparked a fiery debate.  The Idaho-Maryland Mine has sat empty since the 1950s in Grass Valley. At the heart of a Nevada County Planning Commission public hearing: should the mine’s gates reopen?  Depends on who you ask.  “Ridiculous, we don’t need it,” Kurt Paul said.  Rise Gold Corp. is making the push to restore the site to its former days, but with a modern twist.  “I believe that our project meets the high-environmental standards and values of Nevada County,” said CEO Ben Mossman during public comments Wednesday. … ”  Read more from CBS News.


Watching groundwater levels recover in the Sacramento Valley

David Guy writes, “With 2023 emerging as a wet year in the Sacramento Valley, water resources managers and Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) are watching groundwater levels and quality to see how the aquifer systems will recover on the heels of some very dry years where there has been little surface water available in certain parts of the Valley.  One indicator of trends in the aquifer systems is the spring groundwater levels that have been monitored and reported on the Department of Water Resources (DWR) California’s Groundwater Live. There is a lot to learn from the various trends seen on this website that will help inform local water and land use management. The encouraging signs are the immediate recovery of groundwater levels seen in many parts of the Valley with one wet spring. With full surface supplies available throughout the Valley in 2023 this trend should continue as the demands for groundwater pumping will be significantly less this year in areas where surface supplies are available. … ”  Read more from the Northern California Water Association.

Chico: Cal Water easing restrictions on water usage after wet winter

“After years of drought, Chico residents can finally water their lawns and irrigate any day of the week.  Cal Water submitted a filing Monday with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to rescind stage two of the Water Shortage Contingency Plan because of improved drought conditions and increased water supply throughout its districts.  Stage one becomes effective immediately but remains subject to a 30-day review period by the CPUC.  KRCR reached out to Cal Water officials on Wednesday to see how this impacts water levels locally. … ”  Read more from KRCR.


S.F. Bay is no longer an environmental disaster. Here’s what drove incredible transformation

“Full of cold, fresh rainwater and snowmelt from the Sierra, the San Francisco Bay is in a strikingly different place than it was last summer.  Water gushing out of the delta is flushing out pollutants and contaminants and giving endangered baby salmon a helpful push into the ocean. Longfin smelt and yellowfin gobies are spawning in the usually swampy southern end of the bay, and sediment coming in from mountain streams is replenishing the structure of its basin. Just eight months ago, the bay was murky brown and its perimeters were piled with dead fish. Unprecedented in known Bay Area history, a harmful algae bloom that followed three years of drought killed off thousands of long-lived sturgeon and smaller fish. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Rising sea levels could submerge hundreds of Marin County homes

“Marin County planners say they’re already seeing some of the effects of rising sea levels and say many as 600 homes could be underwater before the end of this century.  Stinson Beach is one of the communities most vulnerable to rising ocean waters, according to a new report.  The study shows Calle del Arroyo and Highway 1 would face increased storm flooding if the sea level rises 2 feet, which could happen by 2050.  According to the report, Bolinas Lagoon will be fully underwater by 2099.  This information could help people who live and work there make plans for building sea walls, boardwalks and a new community sewage system. … ”  Read more from KTVU.


A stormwater capture and recycling project takes shape at Lake El Estero in Monterey

“As winter rains caused Monterey County’s rivers to swell past capacity and rush out to the sea, people began asking: Isn’t there a way to catch and reuse all that water? That’s what Monterey is preparing to do through a project financed by the state – in this case turning runoff lost to Monterey Bay into drinking water.  The Lake El Estero Diversion to Sanitary Sewer Project will reroute drainage from the city stormwater system at the lake into existing sanitary sewage pipes along Del Monte Avenue, which lead to Monterey One Water’s regional treatment plant in Marina for recycling into drinking water as part of the Pure Water Monterey project. … ”  Read more from Monterey Weekly.


Why Turlock will begin disinfecting city water next week, and what residents should know

“Turlock will begin chlorination treatment of its drinking water next week. A city news release Wednesday said the chlorination program to improve water quality will begin May 17. Staff said the city is not treating the water for any contaminants but is raising the water quality to state-mandated levels. Chlorination of municipal drinking water is not unusual. It prevents the growth of harmful bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms.  The announcement also included important information for kidney dialysis patients and some pet owners. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee.

Kings County cotton acreage to drop significantly this year

““We are looking at the lowest level of cotton acreage on record this year,” predicts Roger Isom, president and CEO of the California Cotton Ginners and Growers Association. For Kings County, typically the top producer in the state, it is hard to come up with an estimate, he said. More land is being flooded and the cold weather this spring put a crimp in the planting of upland cotton by mid-April and now Pima by mid-May. Isom notes that growers have traditionally grown “a lot of cotton in the Tulare Lake bottom,” and with much of it being flooded “there will be no cotton there this year.” … ”  Read more from the Hanford Sentinel.

Water Whiplash: The historic community in the path of resurging Tulare Lake

“So far, most of the San Joaquin Valley land inundated by Tulare Lake has been cultivated farmland. But homes are at stake too, as the water rises and threatens to overtake the levees and berms that have long kept communities safe and dry. In this interview, Kerry Klein speaks with KVPR’s Soreath Hok about what’s at stake should floodwaters approach the historic, unincorporated community of Allensworth. … ”  Read transcript and listen to radio show at KVPR.


Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority disputes Mojave Pistachios spin on court order

“When the Fourth Appellate District Court of Appeals recently issued a order asking the IWVGA for more information prior to making a decision in a court action, litigant Mojave Pistachios publicly claimed the court sided with them.  That’s not exactly right, according to Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority General Counsel Keith Lemieux.  Lemieux on Monday strongly disagreed with Mojave Pistachios’ characterization of the recent Court of Appeals order, noting that the court failing to throw out the appeal does not constitute a victory for either side. … ” Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent.


Beverly Hills water well boosts self-sufficiency

“Beverly Hills Mayor Julian Gold and City Council members cut the ribbon on a new water well on La Cienega Boulevard between Guthrie Avenue and Sawyer Street on May 8 in the latest step in the city’s efforts to increase its water resiliency, utilities general manager Rob Welch said.  The city currently transports water from the La Cienega well and six other wells in the Hollywood basin to its water treatment plant at 345 Foothill Drive, where it is combined with water from the Metropolitan Water District and distributed to residents in Beverly Hills and West Hollywood.  Once the new well and the treatment plant are operating at full capacity, Beverly Hills could produce as much as 25% of its water from local sources, and the city plans to build three more wells in the La Cienega area to ensure uninterrupted service, Welch added. … ”  Read more from the Beverly Press.

Brown and Caldwell, AECOM to support Pure Water Southern California program

“A joint venture of AECOM and Brown and Caldwell (AECOM-BC Team) has been chosen to provide program and project management support and engineering design services for the Pure Water Southern California program, one of the largest water reuse programs in the world.  Anticipated for water delivery by 2032 and potentially earlier, the program will reuse the largest untapped wastewater source in the region that currently flows to the ocean to increase water resiliency, enhance water quality, and fuel economic growth. It will lower Southern California’s reliance on imported water supplies from the Colorado River and Sierra Nevada and replenish groundwater basins while leveraging cutting-edge research and development to increase regional water reuse. … ”  Read more from Water World.

Fountain Valley adopts resolution declaring end to water supply shortage

“Fountain Valley has declared an end to a water supply shortage it had been observing for the past 11 months.  The City Council, at its May 2 meeting, voted unanimously to adopt a resolution restoring the normal water supply conditions for the community.  Gov. Gavin Newsom had declared a state of emergency concerning drought for all of California on Oct. 19, 2021. The California State Water Resources Control Board subsequently implemented emergency measures on May 24, 2022, including required water supply and demand assessments, implementation of water use reduction measures, and a prohibition on the use of potable water to irrigate nonfunctional turf at commercial, industrial and institutional facilities. … ”  Read more from the LA Times.

77 tons less trash made it into the ocean thanks to this experimental L.A. County device

“After a historic winter hit California with dozens of atmospheric rivers, the last line of defense protecting the Pacific from much of L.A.’s trash held strong.  In the first storm season of a two-year pilot project, Ballona Creek Trash Interceptor 007 stopped nearly 155,000 pounds of garbage from flowing out to the ocean.  “Its performance has exceeded our wildest expectations,” said Boyan Slat, founder and chief executive of the Ocean Cleanup. The Dutch nonprofit partnered with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works to introduce the interceptor in October. … ”  Read more from the LA Times.

Can Long Beach sue over sewage spills that keep closing its coastline? Council votes to explore the option.

“After years of upstream sewage spills forcing Long Beach to close its beaches, the City Council voted Tuesday night to look at options for holding agencies and businesses accountable for future spills.  The city has already had to close its beaches twice in 2023 due to sewage spills. The most recent spill in Downey sent 250,000 gallons of waste into local waterways that ultimately washed down to the Long Beach coastline, prompting beach closures on Earth Day weekend.  Councilmember Kristina Duggan, who represents Belmont Shore, Naples and other waterfront communities, requested the city look at options, saying that beach closures have harmed the city economically as well as its reputation.“We do not want to have the reputation of having contaminated water,” Duggan said Tuesday. … ”  Read more from the Long Beach Post.


Water agencies lift some restrictions following wet winter: What’s changed, what hasn’t

“Coachella Valley water agencies are lifting some drought restrictions following an exceptionally wet winter in California, although experts and officials warn that California residents should keep getting used to “conservation as a way of life.”  In March, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the roll back of some of the state’s drought restrictions following a wet winter season that included one of the wettest three-week periods in recorded California history, comparable only to a wet season in 1862. The wet winter followed the three driest years in the state’s recorded history. … The boards of Mission Springs Water District, Desert Water Agency, and Coachella Valley Water District each voted unanimously in April to rescind their Level 2 restrictions. … ”  Read more from the Desert Sun.

Return to top

Along the Colorado River …

‘It’s maybe a year’s worth of breathing room’: Lake Powell is rising — for now

“Weeks after the surface of Lake Powell sunk to an all-time low, the key Colorado River reservoir is rising more than a foot a day — on track to deepen by some 70 feet in the coming months. Spring flows into the lake are among the highest observed in its history. That could mean long-stranded boat ramps regain water access this summer. Already, the bolstered water levels allowed for recent dam releases that sent rapids surging down the Grand Canyon for the first time in five years. But whatever optimism the recent boost might create, it should not extend beyond this year, said Bart Leeflang, the Colorado River program manager for the Central Utah Water Conservancy District. Though snowpack that feeds the river is among the basin’s deepest in decades, one expert noted that it would take nearly a decade of wet years to refill Lake Powell. … ”  Read more from the Washington Post.

California farmers at odds with states seeking Colorado River conservation plan

“The law of the River– the Colorado River, that is – says the farmers come first. That’s how they see it in California, in the Imperial Valley, where farming is big business.  Take Andrew Leimgruber of Holtville, Calif., a few hundred miles from the Mexico border.  Leimgruber is a fourth-generation farmer who believes the water rights bestowed unto the farmers in the 1922 accord between California, and the other six states – including Nevada – that rely on Colorado River water to live. That water right established a system putting the farmers at the top of the list. … ”  Read more from Your Central Valley.

Water and power: Test of Roosevelt Dam gates demonstrates flood control plan for Salt River

“Salt River Project cranked open the floodgates at Theodore Roosevelt Dam on Wednesday, testing the structure’s ability to protect metro Phoenix from disaster should rain and snowmelt overfill the reservoir behind it.  It’s an annual routine inspection, but one that this year carried extra weight ― and extra water. The spring’s unusually strong snowmelt filled Roosevelt Lake’s storage capacity and inched into 77 vertical feet of safety buffer.  SRP, a water and power provider to much of the region, timed this year’s spillway test to the end of a federally mandated 20-day period in which it had to drain several feet of water out of the 357-foot dam’s safety buffer. Most of the water passed before the test and ran through power-producing turbines. … ”  Read more from Arizona Central.

Why is it difficult to figure out how much snow will make it to the Colorado River?

It’s surprisingly hard to calculate how much water is held in the Rocky Mountain snowpack. Water managers along the Colorado river are trying to figure it out with the help of scientists.

Colorado’s legislative action on water this year was mostly about what lawmakers didn’t do

“The 2023 Colorado lawmaking session was one of “incremental steps” on water issues, which means Coloradans have to wait until next year to see if legislators can find policy solutions to key water security questions.  Colorado, like the six other Western states in the Colorado River Basin, is facing an uncertain water future as a two-decade drought and overuse threaten the basin’s water supply. This year, state officials started the 120-day lawmaking session saying water was going to be the “centerpiece” of Democratic environmental policy.  But as lawmakers debated more than 600 bills, water issues fell by the wayside as topics like housing, gun control and abortion took center stage. … ”  Read more from the Colorado Sun.

Return to top

In national water news today …

PFAS payback: How utilities can hold polluters accountable

“As the federal government ramps up the regulatory process for enforceable limits on PFAS in drinking water, estimated to cost billions annually, an environmental attorney details how utilities can hold polluters — instead of ratepayers — financially responsible.  By now, you probably know that the U.S. EPA recently proposed maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) for two per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), PFOA and PFOS, at 4 parts per trillion (ppt), which is close to the level at which they can be reliably measured. Because, based on the limited testing conducted so far, PFAS is seemingly ubiquitous, this development will have a serious impact on water providers across the nation as they are required to test for, monitor, and remove these contaminants if they exceed the proposed MCLs.  We have yet to see a contaminant with such a combination of dangerous attributes as PFAS: Exposure at very low levels has been scientifically proven to be dangerous; environmental contamination is incredibly widespread, as PFAS chemicals have been used in so many different products for decades; and they do not break down naturally, earning the nickname “forever chemicals.” This gives PFAS the potential to be the most expensive environmental catastrophe in history. … ”  Read more from Water Online.

Lawmakers back speedier dam licenses for grid, climate goals

“Two senators announced Wednesday a fresh legislative effort to speed up hydropower licensing, arguing that looming dam closures threaten power grid reliability and climate goals.  The Community and Hydropower Improvement Act from Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Steve Daines (R-Mont.) proposes the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission establish a two-year process to grant licensing for adding hydropower to qualifying non-powered dams and a three-year process for lower-impact projects. It would direct the commission to establish a two-year licensing process for adding hydropower to non-powered dams, according to a bill summary and bill text shared with Bloomberg Law. … ”  Read more from Bloomberg Law.

As ocean oxygen levels dip, fish face an uncertain future

“Off the coast of southeastern China, one particular fish species is booming: the oddly named Bombay duck, a long, slim fish with a distinctive, gaping jaw and a texture like jelly. When research ships trawl the seafloor off that coast, they now catch upwards of 440 pounds of the gelatinous fish per hour — a more than tenfold increase over a decade ago. “It’s monstrous,” says University of British Columbia fisheries researcher Daniel Pauly of the explosion in numbers.  The reason for this mass invasion, says Pauly, is extremely low oxygen levels in these polluted waters. Fish species that can’t cope with less oxygen have fled, while the Bombay duck, part of a small subset of species that is physiologically better able to deal with less oxygen, has moved in.  The boom is making some people happy, since Bombay duck is perfectly edible. But the influx provides a peek at a bleak future for China and for the planet as a whole. As the atmosphere warms, oceans around the world are becoming ever more deprived of oxygen, forcing many species to migrate from their usual homes. Researchers expect many places to experience a decline in species diversity, ending up with just those few species that can cope with the harsher conditions. Lack of ecosystem diversity means lack of resilience. “Deoxygenation is a big problem,” Pauly summarizes. … ”  Read more from Yale e360.

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