WEEKLY WATER NEWS DIGEST for May 7-12: Water extremes wilder than ever, Restoration progress in the Delta, CA drought’s global connections; and more …

A wrap-up of posts published on Maven’s Notebook this week …

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This week’s featured articles …

FEATURE: Why California’s Water Extremes Are Wilder than Ever — And What We Can Do About It

Written by Robin Meadows

Snow in the Sierra. Photo taken March 31, 2023. Kate Cohee / Office of the Governor

What a relief last winter is finally over. In late December, California was hit by the first in a series of powerful storms called atmospheric rivers. These ribbons of extraordinarily wet air rush across the ocean and can dump staggering amounts of rain and snow upon landfall. After the driest three year stretch on record, it seemed like a miracle: Water! Falling from the sky!

Then eight more atmospheric rivers arrived in January. And they kept coming (and coming) through February and March — so many I lost count. Soon I wished the torrential rains would just stop. I felt like a bad Californian.

It is wonderful to see brimming reservoirs and towering snowpacks. But unrelenting storms also left floods, mudslides, evacuations, highway closures, and power outages across much of the state.

While alternating between drought and deluge is nothing new for California, climate change is making these swings even more dramatic. New research will help the state prepare for future water extremes by tightening both long and short term forecasts, as well as optimizing water savings in the wettest years for use in the inevitable dry stretches. New policies could make water allocation more equitable during years like this one, when rivers are running high. And updates to the state’s water system will help safeguard deliveries to cities and farms as the supply boom and bust cycle grows ever wilder.

Click here to read the full article.

FEATURE: Ecosystem Restoration Progress Review for the Delta and Suisun Marsh

A scenic view of the Grizzly Island Wildlife Area in Solano County, California, April 20, 2023.  Fred Greaves/California Department of Water Resources

The Delta and Suisun Marsh are among the most important ecosystems in the state, providing vital habitat for a variety of plant and animal species, supporting numerous recreational activities, and supplying drinking water for millions of people.  However, the Delta’s ecosystem and native species have been declining for decades, with loss of habitat among the numerous factors.  In recent years, significant efforts have been made to restore habitat.  At the 2023 Interagency Ecological Program Annual Meeting, Daniel Constable, environmental program manager with the Delta Stewardship Council, reviewed the restoration progress made in the Delta and Suisun Marsh.

Click here to read this article.

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In California water news this week …

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).

The linked ecological futures of America and China

” … The cause — and perhaps solution — of the multi-decade megadrought stifling the American Southwest on a scale not seen in more than a millennium is tied in surprising ways to another desert, one on the other side of the world. Seven thousand miles away, in the Taklamakan Desert, dust is blown into the jet stream that links western China to the Western United States. This Asian dust, scientists have found, contributes to rainfall in America, a reminder of the planetary equilibrium the two countries are intimately enmeshed in. In this precarious symbiosis, discoveries by both nations in understanding and mitigating the plight of drought may forge a powerful bridge across divided deserts. …”  Read more from Noema.

Newsom restores floodplain funds, adds $290 million to flood control budget

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

“Four months ago, Gov. Gavin Newsom yanked $40 million in funding to restore San Joaquin Valley floodplains from his proposed budget, angering legislators from both parties and conservationists. Today, he gave all of the money back as part of a $290-million package to increase flood protection funding statewide.  The funding comes in addition to $202 million already included in Newsom’s 2023-24 budget proposal in January. That makes a total of $452 million in investments that Newsom is proposing to protect Californians from flooding in the wake of winter storms that inundated towns in the San Joaquin Valley and the Central Coast. “California is facing unprecedented weather whiplash — we just experienced the driest three years on record, and now we’re dealing with historic flooding,” Newsom said in a written statement today. … ”  Read more from Cal Matters.

State to pay $17 – $20 million for repeated rebuild of Corcoran levee

“The state will front Kings County $17-$20 million to pay for raising the Corcoran levee but said it didn’t want to throw “good money after bad” and would require local groundwater agencies do more to stem subsidence, land sinking.  Gov. Newsom’s administration made the announcement Thursday as a separate measure among several water-related spending proposals that are part of the May budget revise.  When asked how the administration would ensure that the levee won’t need rebuilding again because of subsidence, Tim Goodwin, with the Department of Water Resources, said officials were “exploring all alternatives to helping remedy the situation to assure that we’re not going to go through this again.” … ”  Read more from SJV Water.

Will California’s ‘big melt’ cause catastrophic floods? Here are four scenarios.

“California’s “big melt” is underway, and if forecasts bear out, much of the water being held in mountain snow will flow downhill in May and June. But at the moment, the state’s snowpack remains huge — about three times its normal size for this time of year — and depending on coming conditions, the snow can either dissipate slowly or quickly cause trouble. Snowmelt often accelerates in May with warmer weather, longer days and a higher sun angle. “May is typically one of, if not the, month with the most melt,” said Andrew Schwartz, lead scientist at the University of California at Berkeley’s Central Sierra Snow Lab. “There is definitely going to be a whole lot of melt coming our way.” … With the weather driving how quickly snow will melt, here are four scenarios that could determine flood severity this spring and summer. … ”  Read more from the Washington Post (gift article).

Water rights: Newsom wades into the deep end

“Making a splash: When Californians say water is liquid gold, they mean it. Gold Rush-era culture makes up the basis of the state’s water rights system, which essentially amounts to first come, first served.  Like any 19th century artifact, the system has problems: Descendents of the first European settlers have outsize rights, clashing with growing cities. And the murky allocation has led to water-rights owners having claims to five times more water than California usually has available, according to a 2014 University of California study.  Gov. Gavin Newsom and state lawmakers have recently made moves to revise the system, claiming it is ill-equipped for the weather upheaval brought by climate change. … ”  Read more from Politico.

Reclamation takes advantage of full Shasta reservoir to release flows for migrating salmon

Shasta Dam
Shasta Dam by Melfoody

“Prior to the development of the Central Valley Project, the advent of spring would unleash a flood of cold snowmelt into the Northern California watershed – signaling to young Chinook salmon that it was time to begin the long, arduous journey down the Sacramento River, through the Delta, and out to the Pacific Ocean to grow and mature.  While that runoff is now largely managed through storage, it’s still possible to recreate those jolts of water through the system. Thanks to ample storage in Shasta Reservoir, Reclamation has been working to implement spring pulse flows on the Sacramento River.  Pulse flows are rapid increases and decreases occurring during a short time frame. A rim-full Shasta Reservoir prohibited a full-fledged pulse flow exercise, but it’s hoped that enough additional water was added to the system to create favorable conditions for fish while facilitating storage management. … ”  Read more from the Bureau of Reclamation.

Metropolitan Water District: “We’re the squirrels of the water system”

“Deven Upadhyay is the assistant general manager and executive officer for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which provides water to 19 million people. We asked Upadhyay to tell us how Met is handling California’s recent precipitation whiplash—and what future improvements might be in the works. Q: Met has seen big declines in State Water Project deliveries in recent years and the potential for significant cuts in Colorado River supplies. What kinds of challenges does this pose? A: First, it helps to understand how the Metropolitan system works and how it interacts with local systems in Southern California. We operate a giant network of pipes and facilities that allows us to move water around the region. We import water from two sources: the Colorado River, via the Colorado River Aqueduct, and the northern Sierra, via the State Water Project (SWP). … ”  Read more from the PPIC.

Report urges Metropolitan Water District to abandon Newsom’s $16-billion delta tunnel plan

“Gov. Gavin Newsom and his administration have touted plans to build a tunnel to transport water beneath the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, saying the project would modernize California’s water infrastructure and help the state adapt to climate change.  But an advocacy group is urging the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California to abandon the $16-billion project, saying it doesn’t make financial sense for the state’s largest urban water agency.  In a report released this week, the California Water Impact Network said the delta tunnel may seem like a viable alternative but has three major flaws: “an exorbitant price tag, environmental restrictions on operations and the impacts of climate change on deliveries.”  “This is a critical decision point,” said Max Gomberg, a former State Water Resources Control Board staffer who wrote the report and has criticized the Newsom administration. … ”  Read more from the LA Times. | Read via Yahoo News.

Statewide poll shows 76% of voters support the Delta Conveyance Project to modernize CA’s main water distribution infrastructure

“Today, Californians for Water Security released results of a recent statewide poll  showing that voters across all regions, political parties and major demographics are highly supportive of the Governor’s Delta Conveyance Project.  Seventy-six percent (76%) of voters say they support the Delta Conveyance Project when read a description, including 40% of voters that strongly favor the project. Only 13% of voters oppose the project.  And voters across party and region also strongly support the project, with 81% of Democrats, 65% of Republicans and 76% of No Party Preference voters expressing support.  “Californians are saying loud and clear: it’s time to move forward with the Delta Conveyance Project to improve the reliability of our state’s water supply,” said Jennifer Pierre, General Manager of the State Water Contractors. … ”

Click here to continue reading this press release from Californians for Water Security.

Scientists consider weather forecasts for water releases at Lake Oroville, New Bullards Bar

The New Bullards Bar Reservoir in Yuba County releases water into the Yuba River during an atmospheric river storm in Northern California. Photo taken February 27, 2019 by Kelly M. Grow / DWR

“Wet, snowy winters bring big decisions for Northern California water managers.  Now, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is working on modernizing how those decisions are made by incorporating weather forecasts into official flood control operations.  Dr. Cary Talbot is part of the research and development team with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which operates more than 70 dams and reservoirs in the Sacramento region.  Talbot says that historically, decisions on how much water to release and when has been based on recent rainfall and snowpack measurements.  “That’s a very safe way to operate, right? But it’s also very reactionary,” he said. … ”  Read more from KCRA Channel 3.

Remote Northern California reservoir stuck in drought despite winter’s water wealth

“There has been a lot of attention on the parts of California that saw a huge winter. One example is the Tulare Lake basin, which has flooded again as the southern Sierra snowpack melts.  Just about all of the state’s reservoirs are now near full. Shasta and Oroville, the two largest, are both well above their historical averages.  Trinity Lake, however, is one Northern California reservoir where all the rain and snow hasn’t quite added up.  Trinity is at just 39 percent capacity — just half its historical average. It’s a reservoir that works a bit differently from others but the people living there think they missed out on this winter and they’re not happy about it.  “I’ve been up here for 22 years,” said Trinity Alps Marina owner Darryl Marlin. “I’ve seen it go up and down. We’ve had droughts before. This lake should be about three-quarters full right now.” … ”  Read more from CBS News.

El Niño is coming: What it means for California weather

“El Niño conditions — the warming of ocean waters off South America that can alter weather across the globe, including California’s summer temperatures and the amount of rain it might receive next winter — are emerging in the Pacific Ocean for the first time in 4 years.  While El Niños do not automatically guarantee wet weather for California, historically, the stronger they are, the more likely it is that the state will have a rainy winter season. And after the dramatic series of storms this past winter that ended the drought and filled nearly empty reservoirs, another one back-to-back could increase flood risks.  “The climate models are in strong agreement that there will be an El Niño,” said Michelle L’Heureux, a climate scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who led a new report out Thursday. “At this point it’s looking likely.” … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News (gift article).

Putting flood waters to work: State expedites efforts to maximize groundwater recharge

“The Department of Water Resources (DWR) is implementing an emergency program to divert high river flows away from flood-prone Central Valley communities and into groundwater recharge basins. DWR is working with local agencies and equipment vendors to provide funding and secure much-needed temporary diversion equipment, including pumps and siphons, and will support their deployment by local agencies.  The first set of temporary pumps and siphons were deployed by Fresno Irrigation District on April 25, as seen in this video. The district is reducing downstream flood impacts in the Tulare Lake Region and expanding groundwater recharge efforts by diverting water from Kings River reaches to existing recharge facilities or working agricultural lands. … ”  Read more from DWR.

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.

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.

New study to examine ag regulations

A new study announced by the California Department of Food and Agriculture will evaluate agriculture’s food safety and water quality regulatory reporting requirements as part of an effort to streamline administrative processes and optimize information collected by the state. The study is supported by funding in the 2021-22 budget.  CDFA is contracting with Sacramento-based Crowe LLC to conduct the study. Crowe will map current CDFA and State Water Resources Control Board ag-related food safety and water quality reporting requirements.  The results of the study will support the State’s protective food safety and water quality standards while advancing efficient reporting practices and opportunities to create synergistic partnerships between agencies on information collected. … ”  Read more from Farm Progress.

Cracks, hacks and attacks: The many risks facing California’s aging water infrastructure

“In California, where epic Sierra Nevada snowpack and “the Big Melt” have substantially increased the stakes for reservoir managers, officials say they’re taking steps to protect the state’s water systems from hackers, terrorist attacks and natural disasters, such as the flooding that temporarily severed the Los Angeles Aqueduct — the city’s water lifeline to the Owens Valley.  But experts say the challenges are numerous. Many of the systems in California and nationwide are still operating with outdated software, poor passwords, aging infrastructure and other weaknesses that could leave them at risk.  “We’ve seen a steady rise in both the prevalence and the impact of cyberintrusions, as well as an extraordinary increase in ransomware attacks, which have become more destructive and more expensive,” said Joe Oregon, chief of cybersecurity for Region 9 of the federal Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency. … ”  Read more from the LA Times. | Read via Yahoo News.

Illegal cannabis is making California’s water problems worse

“California’s stubbornly persistent illegal cannabis industry isn’t just undercutting the legal market — it’s also behind some of the world’s most blatant water theft.  The state’s estimated $8 billion underground marijuana industry consumes staggering volumes of the precious resource, despite the state legalizing recreational use back in 2016. Some participants have been known to truck in stolen water, while others take it from fire hydrants or dig illegal wells. Years of off-and-on droughts in the state have exacerbated the problem.  “The amount of water stolen by the illegal cannabis industry is mind-blowing,” said John Nores, a retired lieutenant and former team leader of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife Marijuana Enforcement Team. “We are talking millions and millions of gallons taken annually by these unlawful operations.” … ”  Read more from Bloomberg (gift article).

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.

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.

As California attempts a ‘managed retreat,’ coastal homeowners sue to stay

“Mirada Road is a small cul-de-sac that runs right up to the edge of the Pacific Ocean, skirting the rim of a 30-foot bluff. Back in 2016, a storm sent huge waves crashing against the shoreline, destroying most of the bluff overnight and leaving the Mirada Road homes in danger of immediate collapse. The homeowners association rushed to build a rock wall that would protect their homes.  The legal battle that followed was even more turbulent than the storm. … The fracas over Mirada Road is just the latest in a series of legal disputes over “managed retreat,” a controversial climate adaptation policy that calls for relocating and removing coastal structures rather than protecting them where they are. Experts say managed retreat is an important last-resort option for adapting to climate change, but California’s early attempts to implement the policy have provoked a backlash from homeowners and politicians. … ”  Read the full story at Grist.

Fire retardant kills fish. Is it worth the risk?

“On a hot, dry August day in 2002, air tankers swooped over a small wildfire south of Bend, Oregon. The Forest Service hoped to suppress the flames by dropping over a thousand pounds of fire retardant on and around the fire — but the pilots missed. Instead, the neon-red liquid cascaded into the nearby Fall River, a tributary of the Deschutes. Soon after, at least 22,000 trout died — virtually all the fish living in a six-mile stretch.  Retardant contains ammonium phosphate, which is highly toxic to fish and other aquatic life. In the years following the accident, Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics (FSEEE), a Eugene, Oregon-based nonprofit that represents former and current Forest Service employees, has called for policy changes regarding the use of retardant. The group has won two lawsuits against the Forest Service restricting its use and is now suing the agency over employing it in and around streams and creeks. The suit has reignited debates over retardant’s firefighting efficacy, and the outcome could change how it is used in the future. … ”  Read more from High Country News.

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In commentary this week …

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.

California holds the key to Western water security

Edward Ring, contributing editor and senior fellow with the California Policy Center, writes, “Dams and aqueducts on the Colorado River make civilization possible in the American Southwest. But for the last 20 years, as a prolonged drought has gripped the region, withdrawals from the river have averaged 15 million acre-feet per year, while inflows into Lake Mead and Lake Powell have averaged only 12 million acre feet per year. …  Despite months of negotiation, the seven states that draw water from the Colorado River have failed to come to an agreement on how to adapt to its dwindling flow. The current deadlock pits California against the other six states – Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Nevada, and Arizona. But if they had the political will, California could solve the whole problem for everyone. … ”  Read more from the California Globe.

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In regional water news this week …

Construction begins on removal of 4 Klamath River dams

“Initial construction recently began on the long-awaited effort to remove four hydroelectric dams from the Klamath River in southern Oregon and Northern California. Draining a watershed of nearly 16,000 sq mi, the Klamath is California’s second-largest river in terms of average discharge and provides critical habitat for anadromous fish species, which migrate from freshwater rivers to the ocean and back.  Involving the simultaneous removal of the four dams and restoration of more than 2,000 acres of land, the estimated $450 million project is one of the most significant dam removal efforts in U.S. history, according to the Klamath River Renewal Corp., an independent nonprofit organization created in 2016 to oversee the removal process.  The culmination of a regulatory and legal process that has extended nearly two decades, the project aims to improve environmental conditions along the Klamath River and enable key fish species to regain access to hundreds of stream miles, some of which have been closed off for more than a century. … ”  Read more from Civil Engineering Source.

Judge won’t halt water for Klamath Project irrigators

“A federal judge in San Francisco indicated he will not limit water deliveries to the Klamath Project after the Bureau of Reclamation argued it is on track to meet its obligations for endangered species. The case stems from a lawsuit filed in 2019 by the Yurok Tribe, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations and Institute for Fisheries Resources challenging Reclamation’s Klamath Project operations plan. The Klamath Project provides water for about 200,000 acres of irrigated farmland in Southern Oregon and Northern California.  At the same time, Reclamation must satisfy minimum water demands for threatened coho salmon in the lower Klamath River, and two species of endangered sucker fish in Upper Klamath Lake, known as C’waam and Koptu. … ”  Read more from Capital Press.

Crash course in water:  Local expert answers questions about the Tuscan Aquifer and how water works in Butte County

“The mature urban forest of Chico and valley oak woodlands of Butte County exist because of the Tuscan Aquifer. This system underlies the valley floor portion of several Northern Sacramento Valley counties and the lower Tuscan—the pressurized deep portion of the aquifer that supports the overlying water table–is literally the foundation of the quality of life for all that thrive here.  The water table provides baseflow to streams and water to our deep-rooted trees. The Tuscan baseflow below connects tributary streams to the Sacramento River, allowing Chinook Salmon migratory pathways between their foothill/mountain spawning waters to the ocean as well as critical rearing refuge for young salmon.  If used conservatively, the Tuscan Aquifer can even sustain our homes, businesses and farms as we face the uncertainty of prolonged drought. However, if overuse tips the system out of balance, we risk losing this buffer altogether.  What follows is an attempt to provide a basic foundation of understanding of this most vital resource by answering some general questions about how water works in Butte County. … ”  Read more from the Chico News & Review.

Stinson Beach to begin study of sea-level rise defenses

“As sea level rise threatens to inundate hundreds of homes, cut off roads and swallow the sands of Stinson Beach, Marin planners and town residents are preparing a new defense plan in an effort to save the popular coastal destination.  Bordered by both the Pacific Ocean and Bolinas Lagoon, the town of about 500 residents is in the vanguard of Marin communities most vulnerable to rising ocean waters.  Residents such as Jeff Loomans, who has owned a home in the town for 13 years, said the future their community faces is driven home by recent incidents such as the January winter storms that battered homes, broke pilings, flooded roads and washed away tons of sand.  “I would say sea level rise is already here. It’s not something that is just coming,” said Loomans, who also serves on the Stinson Beach Village Association’s sea level rise committee. … ”  Read more from the Marin Independent Journal.

Joint venture inked for ‘landmark’ Southern California water reuse 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.  The innovative program, being developed by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (Metropolitan) in partnership with the Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts (Sanitation Districts), will produce up to 150 million gallons of high-quality, purified water per day for up to 15 million people.  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 Finance & Management.

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.

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Announcements, notices, and funding opportunities …

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

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