DAILY DIGEST, 5/19: Russian-Eel river stakeholders launch new effort to find path forward without defunct power plant; First Klamath River dam to be removed by end of summer; Snowpack will face hot weather this weekend; New rules say where Tulare Lake floodwater can be diverted; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • WEBINAR: Updating Water Rights Data for California (UPWARD) beginning at 10:30am. The Updating Water Rights Data for California (UPWARD) project is now underway. State Water Board staff will go over the history of the UPWARD project, discuss anticipated timelines, outline desired outcomes, and provide participants with the opportunity to ask questions.  Register here: bit.ly/UPWARD_May19.
  • WEBINAR: Historical Role of Fire in the Klamath Mountains, California from 11am to 12pm.   For millennia, forest ecosystems in California have been shaped by fire from both natural processes and Indigenous land management, but the notion of climatic variation as a primary controller of the pre-colonial landscape remains pervasive. Understanding the relative influence of climate and Indigenous burning on the fire regime is key because contemporary forest policy and management are informed by historical baselines. Our research on this topic was conducted with members of the Karuk and Yurok Tribes, USGS scientists, and USFS scientists.  Our findings show that a fire regime consisting of tribal burning practices and lightning ignitions was associated with long-term stability of forest biomass. Before Euro-American colonization, the long-term median forest biomass was approximately half of contemporary values. Indigenous depopulation and 20th-century fire suppression likely allowed biomass to increase, culminating in the current landscape: a closed Douglas fir–dominant forest unlike any seen in the preceding 3,000 years.  This is consistent with pre-contact forest conditions being influenced by Indigenous land management and suggest large-scale interventions could be needed to return to historic forest biomass levels.  Click here to join Teams meeting.

In California water news today …

Russian-Eel river stakeholders launch new effort to find path forward without defunct power plant

“They come from four counties and have only months to work. Their interests often diverge and sometimes even conflict with one another. But they have a common goal: Find a path forward in a world without Pacific Gas & Electric’s Potter Valley power plant.  The stakeholders include water providers, agricultural users and elected officials whose constituents depend on diversions from the Eel River to help fill Lake Mendocino and feed the upper Russian River in Mendocino and Sonoma counties.  They also include fishery interests that want two aging dams removed from the Eel River to improve fish passage and restore the river’s ecological function. Among those interests are Native American tribes, who for more than a century had their historic fisheries and water sources seized from their control for the benefit of others. The tribes are joined by Humboldt County representatives long troubled by impairment of the Eel River’s salmon fishery and water supply. … ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat (gift article).

First Klamath River dam to be removed by end of summer

Copco 2.

“Preliminary construction work has begun as the Klamath River Renewal Corporation prepares to remove a total of four dams.  Copco 2 — the first dam to go — will be removed from the Klamath River by the end of September, according to Mark Bransom, CEO of the KRRC.  “The contractor will drill small holes into the concrete and pack those holes with explosives which they will then detonate,” he said. “But again, the goal is to break up the large concrete structures into smaller chunks that are more manageable and can be handled by the construction equipment.” … ”  Read more from Channel 12.

California snowpack will face hot weather this weekend. Here’s where flood risks will be

“A ridge of high pressure is set to send moisture and hot air toward Yosemite National Park and Lake Tahoe this weekend, raising unseasonable heat across one of the largest snowpacks in recent memory, increasing flood risks, while unstable air churns up thunderstorms.   The combination of warm and unsettled weather will likely lead to yet another round of snowmelt-related floods and river rises across the Sierra Nevada.  For many residents in the Central Valley, the past couple of weeks have been chock-full of daytime temperatures in the 90s, while temperatures in Yosemite and Tahoe have steadily risen into the 60s and 70s. This warmth is set to continue to build across the Sierra this weekend, with temperatures reaching the upper 70s across most of the range, while resorts in summits above 7,000 feet above sea level might even reach the upper 60s — including resorts like Kirkwood and the Palisades. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Don’t swim in Northern California rivers, officials warn. How cold and fast is the water?

“It is still too cold to swim in Northern California rivers, officials warned Thursday. Temperatures are in the 90s in Sacramento — but don’t give into the temptation to take a dip in local waterways. The record Sierra snowpack is melting, causing fast and cold currents longer than even regulars are used to. “The American River is flowing very fast this weekend, and we want residents to be aware of just how dangerous it can be,” said Liz Bellas, director of regional parks, in a Sacramento County news release Thursday. “The flows are so swift that the rafting companies along the river aren’t renting out equipment this weekend – it’s just too dangerous.” … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee.

SEE ALSO: Map: People drowned or swept away in California rivers, spring 2023, from the San Jose Mercury News

‘Nastier’ heat waves possible for Northern California this summer. Here’s the latest outlook

“Predicting the weather can be a bit like trying to catch the wind. Meteorologists thought May would be cool and rainy — but only 0.28 inches of rain has fallen since the beginning of the month, there’s no chance of precipitation in the latest forecasts and the heat index hit 100 by mid-May. Last year, experts said we’d have a dry winter. We all know how that went. One thing is clear: With climate change, weather patterns are becoming more intense and unpredictable. As Sacramento heads into another summer — it’s hard to imagine what the season will hold, especially after facing record-topping, triple-digit heat last September. … ”  Continue reading at the Sacramento Bee.

New research: Climate impacts widespread across California, fueling worries over water supply

“As water system managers across California devise strategies to help secure their water supply, they often face a major obstacle to implementing those measures: a lack of interest or will to act among community members. “One of the things that the literature has found is that even if water system managers and local decisionmakers are really worried about climate change and water security, a lot of the adaptation strategies that they have in their toolbox actually require support from residents,” said Kristin Dobbin, a UC Cooperative Extension specialist focused on water justice planning and policy.  Because popular support is essential for realizing many water-related adaptations – from changing the rate structure to approving bonds for new infrastructure – Dobbin and her colleagues recently published a paper looking deeper at residents’ experiences of, and concern about, climate impacts to household water supply. … ” (Reposted from yesterday with corrected link)  Read more from The Confluence.

Analysis: California floods show the limits of man-made solutions

Adam Minter writes, “Nobody should have been surprised when California’s Pajaro River burst through a levee this spring, flooding homes and dislocating thousands of people. Warnings that the levee system was inadequate date back decades. California’s recent drought, the worst in 1,200 years, dried out and weakened levees, heightening those concerns. But plans to act on them were still years from being executed when atmospheric rivers packed with rain surged water into the earthen works and cement channels designed to protect lives and property. It was a human-made disaster, intensified by climate change. And California won’t be the only state to suffer. Across the country, hard infrastructure — from levees to jetties — is proving inadequate to the challenges posed by increasingly extreme weather. Instead, what often works best to control the onslaught is what engineers and architects long sought to replace: natural features and processes such as flood plains and wetlands. Nature-based infrastructure, as the concept is known, remains a relative niche compared with concrete, steel and earthen works. It needs to be a priority. … ”  Continue reading at the Washington Post.

Newsom signs new executive order for flood support in Central Valley

“Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed an executive order that extends recent emergency actions to support the flooding response for the Tulare Lake and San Joaquin River basins. The order continues support for diverting floodwater, removing debris, repairing levees and other flood preparation activities in the areas.  Newsom’s administration says the executive order will allow for diversion of floodwater for groundwater recharge across the state. Under the order, certain regulations previously determining how groundwater could be collected will have their suspension continued until Aug. 31.  Newsom previously suspended some of the regulations for the Tulare Lake Basin in an executive order in March. … ”  Read more from the Hanford Sentinel.

Wet winter leads to more disease in California orchards, UC Davis research shows

“Rain is a good thing for farmers, but too much can cause problems.  Following a wet and cool winter, fruit and nut growers throughout Northern California are seeing an increase in disease in their orchards.  Researchers with UC Davis’ Plant Pathology Department say that there is a direct connection between the recent wetter-than-average season and more prevalent problems with fungi and viruses.  “With each rain event, you’re always at risk for introducing pathogens into these crops,” Alejandro Hernandez Rosas, with the department, said. … ”  Read more from KCRA.

California growers see wave of pathogen pressure in wake of atmospheric rivers

“The wave of atmospheric rivers that swept across California this winter has created the right conditions for plant pathogens that haven’t been seen for decades in the state. University of California, Davis, Plant Pathologist Florent Trouillas is getting more calls from growers and farm advisors concerned about potential crop damage.  “Generally, whenever you have rain events, you’re going to have problems,” says Trouillas. “In wet years, we get really busy because most pathogens need and like water.” … ”  Read more from Growing Produce.

California’s ‘lowest cotton acreage’ in history expected this year

“Even with the positive water outlook for growers this year, cotton acreage is taking a big hit. President and CEO of the California Cotton Ginners and Growers Association, Roger Isom said it is tough to tell how low the acreage will be this year. But plantings will be well below average numbers. “I think by far, it’s going to be the lowest cotton acreage in the history of planting cotton in California,” Isom noted. “I’d say somewhere at this point, between 50,000 and 90,000 acres in total, which is brutal when you consider it.”  Wet and cold weather that lasted well into April was one of the challenges growers were facing this year. Planting Pima cotton past the middle of April can be a risky endeavor, with the potential for low yields if rain comes in early Fall. … ”  Read more from Ag Net West.

High and Dry: Drought and other long-term water challenges threaten the heart of the Pacific Flyway

“William Finley was a director of the Audubon Society when he crossed the Cascade Mountains into the Klamath Basin in the summer of 1905. But that year he also carried a badge. Oregon had deputized the well-known naturalist and assigned him the task of ending the state’s feather trade. At the time, thousands of birds were being killed in the Klamath Basin for fashion, their feathers used to decorate hats and clothing. Although much of the basin was high desert, its unique geology formed three massive lakes—the Upper Klamath, the Lower Klamath, and the Tule. Together, they spanned 350,000 acres of seasonal and permanent marshes. When Finley saw them, they teemed with so many egrets, grebes, terns, and pelicans that he quickly declared the Klamath Basin the most important breeding grounds on the Pacific Coast. … ”  Continue reading at Ducks Unlimited.

Not today, mosquitoes – Harder raises alarm on potential mosquito infestation

“Today, Rep. Josh Harder (CA-9) sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Director about the public health threat posed by rapid mosquito population growth associated with standing water from floods. The Central Valley has dealt with historic flooding this year and is now bracing for more flooding when the snowpack melts this summer. An increase in standing water coinciding with mosquito season could be a perfect storm creating breeding grounds for dangerous mosquito species and causing upticks in Zika, West Nile Virus, and other mosquito-borne diseases.  “We all know the misery of getting eaten alive by mosquitoes when we’re walking the dog or watching our kids at the playground,” said Rep. Harder. “The last thing we need is to have those bites turn into a public health crisis. We have to prepare now to keep the mosquito population under control so we can enjoy our summers and keep our loved ones safe.” … ”  Read more from Congressman Harder’s website.

A seabird comeback: how restoration efforts can combat climate change

“Seabirds evolved about 60 million years ago, as Earth’s continents drifted toward their current positions and modern oceans took shape. They spread across thousands of undisturbed islands in the widening seas. And as flying dinosaurs and giant omnivorous sea reptiles died out, seabirds also started filling an ecological niche as ecosystem engineers.  They distribute nutrients, in the form of guano, that’s beneficial to plankton, seagrass and coral reefs, which, in turn, nurtures fish populations that are eaten by seabirds and marine mammals in a cycle that forms a biological carbon pump. The stronger the pump, the more carbon dioxide it pushes into seabed sediment storage. … ”  Read more from KQED.

Newsom unveils sweeping plan to speed up California infrastructure projects

“Gov. Gavin Newsom plans to unveil a sweeping package of legislation and sign an executive order Friday to make it easier to build transportation, clean energy, water and other infrastructure across California, a move intended to capitalize on an infusion of money from the Biden administration to boost climate-friendly construction projects.  The proposal aims to shorten the contracting process for bridge and water projects, limit timelines for environmental litigation and simplify permitting for complicated developments in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and elsewhere.  Altogether, administration officials hope the package could speed up project construction by more than three years and reduce costs by hundreds of millions of dollars — efforts they say are necessary to achieve the state’s aggressive climate goals. … ”  Read more from the LA Times.

Farm Bill proves to be crucial lifeline for Calif. agriculture, national food security

William Bourdeau, executive vice president of Harris Farms and director of the Westlands Water District, writes, “As we continue to navigate the complex challenges of the 21st century, one thing remains clear: our nation’s food security is paramount. This truth is particularly evident in California, a state renowned for its agricultural diversity and productivity. The current deliberations over the Farm Bill, a key piece of federal legislation that shapes our agricultural policy, present us with a critical opportunity to secure the future of our food system.  The Farm Bill’s comprehensive approach to agricultural policy impacts every facet of our food system – from the major commodity crops that feed our nation, to the specialty crops that diversify our diets and support local economies. In California, these specialty crops, such as fruits, vegetables, and nuts, form the backbone of our agricultural sector. … ”  Read more from the San Joaquin Valley Sun.

There’s a new 200-mile route across the Sierra for dedicated hikers. And the views are incredible

“Sierra backpackers looking for a hard-core alternative to the well-trodden John Muir Trail now have a new challenge. It’s called the Sierra Grand Traverse.  Like the JMT, the 200-mile traverse wriggles through the granite peaks between Yosemite National Park and the Mount Whitney area. And in fact the route overlaps with the JMT for about 25 miles. But the new route hews more closely to the spine of the Sierra Crest, staying above the treeline between 9,000 feet and 12,000 feet in elevation, and leads hikers off-trail across boulder fields, up talus slopes and over 41 mountain passes. The traverse is detailed in a new guidebook authored by a pair of globetrotting Australian backpackers who spent several months of the past four years exploring the Southern and Central Sierra. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle.

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In commentary today …

Salmon have already been compromised in wet 2023

Tom Cannon writes, “Warming water in the Sacramento River in late April compromised salmon as rains diminished and Central Valley water managers captured snowmelt for storage and irrigation. The water warmed as wild juvenile salmon and 20 million or so hatchery smolts moved down the Sacramento River toward the ocean, and as adult winter-run and spring-run salmon migrated up the river.  Water temperatures increased despite a clear trajectory toward full reservoirs … ”  Continue reading from the California Fisheries blog.

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In regional water news and commentary today …


Farmers appeal to Supreme Court to safeguard Western Water Rights

“Yesterday marked a significant move by the Klamath Irrigation District (K.I.D) to safeguard the interests of its farmers and countless others across the Western United States.  Backed unanimously by its publicly elected Board of Directors, K.I.D has lodged a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court, aiming to overturn the recent ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Klamath Irrigation Dist. v. United States Bureau of Reclamation, 48 F4th 934, 938 (9th Cir 2022).  This ruling threatens the livelihoods of thousands of Oregon farmers, jeopardizes established water rights, and challenges the foundations of domestic tranquility. The Supreme Court’s consideration of K.I.D.’s appeal holds immense implications for millions of Americans, as the contested Ninth Circuit ruling risks negatively impacting water rights across the Western United States if it remains unopposed. … ”  Read more from the Klamath Falls News.

Ducks Unlimited, CDFW partner on Shasta Valley Wildlife Area improvements

“Ducks Unlimited will soon start work on a project that will help the Shasta Valley Wildlife Area better manage its water supply, which has become increasingly unreliable in recent years. DU recently signed an agreement with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to replace the water-control structure that releases water from Bass Lake into seasonally managed wetlands in the area. Bass Lake is one of three shallow reservoirs that supply wetlands on the 4,700-acre wildlife area east of Yreka in Siskiyou County.  When it has water, Shasta Valley Wildlife Area provides habitat for local and migratory waterfowl as well as sandhill cranes, bald eagles, peregrine falcons and Swainson’s hawks. Shasta Valley is also frequented by tri-colored blackbirds, which are listed as threatened under the California Endangered Species Act. Shasta Valley is an important recreational area in Siskiyou County, popular with horseback riders, birders, anglers and upland and waterfowl hunters. … ”  Continue reading from Ducks Unlimited.

Five groups sue PG&E, claim project harms endangered fish in Eel River

“In a lawsuit filed Wednesday, five commercial fishing and conservation groups allege that PG&E is illegally harming the Eel River’s salmon and steelhead populations by maintaining and operating the Potter Valley Hydroelectric Project.  According to the groups, the project’s two dams—the Scott Dam and the Cape Horn Dam—have created a barrier that is preventing the endangered species from accessing a crucial habitat above the dam.  Among the five groups making these claims are Trout Unlimited and Friends of the Eel River.  “They’re forced to spawn in these warm waters. It’s killing a lot of fish now,” Trout Unlimited California Director of Law and Policy Matt Clifford said. … ”  Read more from KRCR.


Red-legged frogs find a new pad

“A familiar frog has found a favorable foothold in foothill freshwater thanks to efforts by the U.S. Forest Service in the Georgetown Ranger District of the Eldorado National Forest.  The California red-legged frog, or Rana draytonii to its scientist friends, has had a rough time in recent decades with development, over-harvesting, climate change, invasive species and pesticides contributing to the species being added to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife threatened species list in 1996.  Between 2014 and 2016, crews in the northern zone of the Eldorado National Forest began construction of nine areas that would provide potential breeding grounds for the frogs and western pond turtles in the area around Georgetown. … ”  Read more from the Georgetown Gazette.


With a fuller Lake Shasta, more water is seeping from the front of Shasta Dam

“With Lake Shasta nearly full this spring, more water has begun to seep out of the face of Shasta Dam, on the side opposite the lake.  Water has been trickling down the downstream face of the dam in several spots, with vegetation growing in places where the water leaks out.  Even though the massive concrete structure is 602-feet tall and 543-feet wide at the base, there are still ways for the water to get through from the lake side to the opposite side, said Don Bader, area manager for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.  The 6.2 million yards of construction material may look from the outside like it is composed solely of large blocks of concrete. But the dam is not solid all the way through. There are passageways, walkways, pipes and tunnels inside, Bader said. Because the lake is nearly full this year, the seepage is greater, he said. … ”  Read more from the Redding Record-Searchlight.

Will snowmelt and high river levels impact E. coli levels on Sacramento’s rivers?

“Certain areas along the American and Sacramento river are listed in the high category for dangerous bacteria.  Among them is Tiscornia Beach near Discovery Park.  Cool water and a warm sun Thursday afternoon made for perfect conditions for a day on the river.  “It’s nice and quiet. That’s what we all needed and let the kids burn off some energy,” visitor Sherree Bagshaw said.  But it is what’s invisible to the eye that’s causing concern.  The California State Water Resources Control Board reports higher than usual levels of E. coli in parts of the river. … ”  Read more from CBS Sacramento.


Three facilities leaking toxic ‘forever chemicals’ into Bay Area groundwater

“The Center for Environmental Health recently confirmed that three Bay Area facilities have been discharging toxicants known as “forever chemicals” into the region’s groundwater. Metal plating companies Electro-Coatings of California and Teikuro Corporation, along with a Recology center in Vacaville, were sent legal notices by CEH after they were discovered to use PFAS, a group of potentially harmful chemicals, in their day-to-day operations. These chemicals were directly released into designated sources of drinking water below three facilities and now exceed the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed limits for PFAS by over a hundred times, according to a CEH press release. … ”  Read more from SF Gate.

New flood protection standard for the peninsula

“By the end of the century, the State of California is projecting between one foot and ten feet of sea level rise. In San Mateo County, new planning guidance may help cities account for rising seas when approving new developments. “Incorporating future conditions requires a really, really big perspective shift,” said Makena Wong, a project manager who worked on the guidance, in a recent public meeting. “We’re trying to make that shift as practical as possible.”  The new guidance is voluntary. It comes from OneShoreline, a countywide flood and sea level rise resiliency district, and includes maps and templated language that cities can use in general plans, specific plans, and zoning laws. OneShoreline can help cities with implementation. Residents can also ask the organization to comment on whether proposed developments meet the new standards.  … ”  Read more from Knee Deep Times.

Shores that can shapeshift and stay put?

“The shore remained elusive on the drizzly May morning a crack technical team of expert engineers and scientists assembled near one of the oldest and biggest sandspits in the South Bay. Local cities had sounded the alarm last year when tides overwhelmed the sandspit and left of gaping breach.  The team, at least half a dozen, began rolling into the gloomy parking lot at 9 am, opening their trunks, shaking hands, and pulling out rubber boots — accustomed as they were to traipsing through the soggy, marshy, oozy bits of the bayshore.  The line between tactical and technical team blurred in the mist, they were here not on some Kevlar-clad SWAT mission of extraction but on a rescue mission nonetheless, made more urgent by the steady rise of sea level. Assembled by the City of San Leandro to come up with a plan to save the eroding landscape, some that day were new to the job and some so seasoned that as soon as the mist cleared they saw something much more alarming than the sandspit breach. … ”  Read more from Knee Deep Times.

Valley Water: Investing in the future of water

“Since 1929, Valley Water has been dedicated to providing Santa Clara County with safe, clean water, flood protection and stewardship of streams. While our county’s landscape may look different than it did nearly 100 years ago, our mission remains the same. We continue to invest in infrastructure, develop new programs and expand existing ones to ensure this mission is achieved year after year.  On May 16, the Valley Water Board of Directors adopted new water rates for the fiscal year 2023 after listening to public comments and staff recommendations through the rate-setting process. A vast majority of the county will see a rate increase of 14.5% ($8.61 a month for an average household). This increase helps ensure we continue to achieve our mission for the residents and businesses in Santa Clara County. … ”  Read more from Valley Water News.


When the levee breaks: Oceano residents, county officials walk a tightrope of regulations to manage Arroyo Grande Creek, which some say led to the levee’s failure in January

“Oceano native Linda Austin scanned the rapidly flowing Arroyo Grande Creek as it met the Pacific Ocean after a fresh set of rainstorms on March 25.  The silty water powered through, taking out large chunks of sand from the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area beach, impervious to the raised clusters of knotted wood, rock, and other debris.  “The creek hasn’t flowed this fast and steady in the last 25 years,” Austin said. … “The more you clean a creek, the more you keep it flowing,” Austin explained. “It’s much better for the wildlife, for everything. If you’re not allowed to clean it, the sediment builds up, then nothing survives, and you have a disaster like this.” … ”  Read the full story at New Times SLO.

Pacific Pipeline appeals county Planning Commission’s denial of safety valve proposal

“A project to install safety valves on the pipeline that caused the 2015 Refugio oil spill will make its way to the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors after Pacific Pipeline Company filed an appeal to a recent Planning Commission decision.  County planning staff initially approved the project in August 2022, giving previous pipeline owner Plains Pipeline L.P. the go-ahead to install 16 new safety valves on pipelines 901 and 903. The pipes run from the Gaviota Coast to the Los Padres National Forest, and Plains said the project would help it comply with a state mandate (AB 864) requiring oil operators to install the best available technology on pipelines in the coastal zone, according to previous Sun reporting. … ”  Read more from the Santa Maria Sun.

Montecito’s groundwater sustainability plan up for adoption

“The Montecito Groundwater Basin supplies water for numerous public and private wells and the Montecito Groundwater Basin Groundwater Sustainability Agency (Montecito GSA) is the local agency responsible for developing a Groundwater Sustainability Plan to provide for long-term health of the basin. Groundwater is a very important local source of water that is heavily relied on for residential, commercial and agricultural use— particularly during periods of drought.  The Montecito GSA was founded in 2018 pursuant to California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) which took effect in 2015. Around the State, more than 260 local government agencies have been tasked with responsibility for this important water source. … ”  Read more from EdHat.

SEE ALSO: Montecito Groundwater Sustainability Agency to Consider Adopting Management Plan, from Noozhawk


SSJID, OID may sell water to nearby Banta area district

“The South San Joaquin and Oakdale irrigation districts may sell upwards of 10,000 acre feet of water to the Banta-Carbona Irrigation District.  The district — wedged between the San Joaquin River and Tracy — irrigates 17,500 acres in South San Joaquin County.  Crops grown within the district include almonds, walnuts, cherries, grapes, alfalfa, corn, tomatoes, bean, and sunflowers.  Banta-Carbona’s primary source of water are rights tied to the San Joaquin  River as well as the Central Valley Project. … ” Read more from the Manteca Bulletin.

Authorities brace for severe flooding as heat arrives

“State and local authorities are preparing for massive flooding of the Tulare Lake Basin.  Record amounts of snow blanket the watershed, and now a record spring runoff is being driven by a wave of unseasonably high temperatures. Officials – bearing the worst-case scenarios in mind – are imagining valley cities around the lake flooding, and distant mountain communities becoming further isolated as the spring waters rise. Here is a look at what we can expect. … ”  Read more from Valley Voice.

New rules say where Tulare Lake floodwater can be diverted

“Governor Gavin Newsom issued an emergency Executive Order on Wednesday following the recent record winter storms and flooding that will allow flood preparation in the San Joaquin River Basins and the Tulare Lake to avoid future inundations.  The Executive Order N-7-23 will affect the areas connected to Tulare Lake Basin, the San Joaquin River, and the Kern River, which would include some portions of Fresno, Kings, Tulare, and Kern counties.  The Executive Order explains that any floodwater should not be diverted to any barns, ponds, or land to which manure – or waste from an animal facility that generates waste from the feeding and housing of animals – for more than 45 days per year in a confined area that is not vegetated. … ”  Read more from Your Central Valley.

Kern River headed to intertie Saturday after brief delay

“Kern River water is expected to go into the intertie, which connects the river to the California Aqueduct, starting Saturday morning.  The goal is to keep more flood water from reaching the already flooded Tulare Lake bed in Kings County.  The plan had been to begin dumping Kern River water at 500 cubic feet per second through the intertie starting Monday, May 15 and go up from there to 1,000 cfs. But that was delayed by several days as various government entities conferred about protocol and a possible need for water rights permits.  An executive order issued by Gov. Newsom’s office Wednesday evening cleared the way, exempting the move from permits. … ”  Read more from SJV Water.

Farmers seeing crop delays, other disruption from year’s bumpy weather

“Stormy weather earlier this year continues to affect Kern County farm operations after it set back planting and other farm work while limiting pollination activity critical to the local almond crop. People in the industry say a nearly two-week delay caused by unusually wet and cold weather in late winter and early spring will defer the harvest for a variety of crops, ultimately pushing back the timetable for how soon fruit and vegetables reach retailers. “You will see some commodities that will have significant impacts,” said President Ian LeMay of the California Fresh Fruit Association. He added that crops he deals with nevertheless avoided storm-related damage and are still expected to turn out healthy and marketable despite delays of at least 10 days relative to last season. … ”  Read more from the Bakersfield Californian.


Claremonters can now water lawns three times per week

“This week Claremont residents received more good news about the easing of last year’s drought restrictions when Golden State Water Company announced that ratepayers could now water outdoor landscaping three days per week.  Following three of the driest years on record, California received massive rainfall this season across the state, including 35.5 inches in Claremont. As a result, the California Department of Water Resources signaled it would deliver 100% of water supplies requested by service providers like Golden State.  Last spring, facing dwindling supplies, the Department of Water Resources allocated just 5% of water requested by these same agencies, resulting in the strict one-day-per-week outdoor watering restrictions in Claremont. … ”  Read more from the Claremont Courier.

Water deal ‘significantly increases’ Pass area supplies

“A 20-year water transfer agreement announced Wednesday is expected to “significantly increase supplies” for Pass Area communities, according to officials. The agreement — which means access to 10,000 acre-feet of city Ventura water starting this year — brings SGPWA’s State Water Project allocation to as much as 27,300 acre-feet annually. It’s enough to supply about 81,900 families yearly, according to a news release from SGPWA. The deal between the San Gorgonio Pass Water Agency and the city of Ventura was approved by the California Department of Water Resources on December 29. … ”  Read more from The Patch.

High tides leave parts of Seal Beach under inches of water, with more flooding expected

“Crews in Seal Beach worked to clear pools of water from the beachfront Thursday morning as parts of Southern California’s coastline braced for another round of potential flooding from the evening’s next high tide.  A “strong southern swell and high tide” on Wednesday night led to flooding of beach parking lots and areas around the boardwalk, the Seal Beach Police Department said. Water reached the streets and parking areas of housing complexes near the beach, but no major damage was reported.  A high tide advisory was in place in Old Town Seal Beach between 10th and 12th streets. … ”  Read more from the LA Times.


Video: Rainbow, Fallbrook considering split from San Diego County Water Authority

“NBC 7’s Brooke Martell explains how a split could impact residents in Rainbow and Fallbrook, as well as their neighbors in other communities.”  Watch video from NBC 7.

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Along the Colorado River …

Editorial: Colorado River water fight that pit California against the West may evaporate — for now

The San Diego Union-Tribune editorial board writes, “When California and six other Western states failed to meet a Jan. 31 federal deadline for deciding how to allocate water from the drought-ravaged Colorado River that supplies drinking water to 40 million people — 1 in 8 Americans — it was the Golden State that called the others all wet. Citing the labyrinthine world of vested water rights, which guarantees it the most water from the 1,450-mile-long river, California objected to a plan backed by the other states — Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico and Utah — on the grounds it should not have to bear an equal share of the federal government’s call for an annual reduction in Colorado River water of at least 15 percent. … A looming water war threatened to wreak havoc on Southern California farmers and residents overall because the Biden administration stressed it had the authority to disregard water compacts that were more than a century old — and because two states hurt by California’s resistance would be the 2024 presidential campaign swing states of Arizona and Nevada.  Now, nearly four months later, common ground seems possible. … ”  Read the full editorial at the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Inside Las Vegas’ legislative push for tools to reduce water before any big cuts come

“In 2021, at a Colorado River conference in Las Vegas, the Southern Nevada Water Authority laid out an ambitious and detailed plan to lower per capita water use through conservation. The presentation quantified why deep municipal conservation — limits on decorative grass, pool sizes, golf courses, septic tanks and landscaping — was necessary to adapt to a far drier future.  It was a signal that Las Vegas planned to go all-in on conservation. Part of this was necessity. Of the seven states that rely on the Colorado River, Nevada has by far the smallest allocation. It is also one of the urban centers most reliant on the river, the source of 90 percent of its water supply. … ”  Read more from the Nevada Independent.

Consider This: Arizona’s farms are running out of water, forcing farmers to confront climate change

“Voters in rural America are a key part of the Republican base, and that part of the country is also heavily affected by climate change. NPR’s Ximena Bustillo reports that for farmers in the political battleground state of Arizona, concerns over the environment transcend party lines.  Craig Alameda has been farming cotton, dates and leafy greens in the Yuma Valley since the early ’90s. To grow crops in the southwest desert, Alameda and farmers throughout the region rely on water from the Colorado River. … ”  Read more or listen to radio show from NPR.

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In national water news today …

Hotter-than-normal temperatures possible for much of US this summer, NOAA says

“Americans can likely expect summer temperatures to be even more sweltering than usual, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  Hotter-than-normal temperatures are possible for much of the U.S., with all of the East Coast, the South, the West Coast and Rockies forecast to sustain scorching conditions, according to the NOAA’s Summer Outlook, released on Thursday.  Overall, 2023 is likely to fall under the top 10 warmest years on record, perhaps even the top five, Karin Gleason, monitoring section chief for the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, told reporters during a call on Thursday. … ”  Read more from ABC News.

Climate change is drying out lakes faster than scientists thought

“Water loss in large lakes around the world was more widespread during the past three decades than previously thought, according to a study of nearly 2,000 such lakes published in the journal Science on Thursday. A warming climate and human water consumption drove at least half of the decline in natural lakes, the study found. Reservoirs, or artificial lakes, also showed substantial drops. The drying of lakes and reservoirs around the world is increasingly stressing water supplies for drinking and agriculture, endangering habitats for plants and fish, reducing the capacity to generate hydropower, and threatening marine recreation and tourism. The study said accurate tracking of lake water trends and identification of factors contributing to water loss can help guide water-management strategies affecting up to 2 billion people. … ”  Read more from the Washington Post.

SEE ALSOIncredible shrinking lakes: Humans, climate change, diversion costs trillions of gallons annually, from ABC News

El Niños are far costlier than once thought, in the trillions, study says — and one’s brewing now

“The natural burst of El Niño warming that changes weather worldwide is far costlier with longer-lasting expenses than experts had thought, averaging trillions of dollars in damage, a new study found.  An El Niño is brewing now and it might be a big — and therefore costly — one, scientists said. El Nino is a temporary and natural warming of parts of the equatorial Pacific, that causes droughts, floods and heat waves in different parts of the world. It also adds an extra boost to human-caused warming.  The study in Thursday’s journal Science totals global damage with an emphasis on lasting economic scars. It runs counter to previous research that found, at least in the United States, that El Niños overall aren’t too costly and can even be beneficial. And some — but not all — outside economists have issues with the new research out of Dartmouth College, saying its damage estimates are too big. … ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service.

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National water and climate update …

The Natural Resources Conservation Service produces this weekly report using data and products from the National Water and Climate Center and other agencies. The report focuses on seasonal snowpack, precipitation, temperature, and drought conditions in the U.S.


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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

NOTICE: Delta ISB seeks public comments on draft prospectus: Decision-Making Under Deep Uncertainty

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About the Daily Digest: The Daily Digest is a collection of selected news articles, commentaries and editorials appearing in the mainstream press. Items are generally selected to follow the focus of the Notebook blog. The Daily Digest is published every weekday with a weekend edition posting on Sundays.


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