California Coast by Peter Thoeny

DAILY DIGEST, weekend edition: Newsom’s plan to fast-track water and other infrastructure projects; El Nino likely returning; Floodwaters to be diverted into California Aqueduct; Salmon fishing to close for rest of 2023; and more …

Newsom’s infrastructure plan …

Gavin Newsom wants to make it easier to build roads, dams and more. What’s in his plan?

“Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to make it easier for California to build big things. Today, he unveiled a plan to make it happen.  At an 1,100 acre solar farm near Patterson in Stanislaus County, Newsom announced a package of legislative proposals and signed an executive order aimed at speeding big infrastructure projects. He aims to limit the time opponents can jam projects up in court with challenges under the California Environmental Quality Act, the law known as CEQA (and pronounced see-kwa). … In the executive order, Newsom called out a few spending areas specifically: “transportation, energy, hydrogen, environmental remediation, broadband, water, the CHIPS and Science Act (for semiconductor development), and zero-emission vehicles.”   Newsom named two major water proposals as examples of the kinds of projects that could benefit from the package: the Sites Reservoir in the Sacramento Valley and a tunnel that would funnel water under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.  … ”  Read more from Cal Matters.

Newsom looks to spend $180 billion on infrastructure, speed through lawsuits

“Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday announced plans to accelerate the construction of $180 billion worth of infrastructure for transportation, water, green energy and broadband internet over the next decade by cutting red tape and slashing the time opponents can fight the government in court.  Newsom promised that the work would create more than 400,000 jobs and assist the state in achieving its climate-protection goals. The infrastructure investments, using federal and state funds, would eclipse those of the 1950s and ’60s “that helped build the great middle class in the state of California and America,” Newsom said.  His massive spending plan comes as the state faces a projected $32 billion deficit in its operating budget, mostly separate from capital project spending.  “We’ve got to do more, and we’ve got to do better,” Newsom said, surrounded by union leaders and workers at a news conference in Stanislaus County. “The question is, ‘Are we going to screw it up by being consumed by paralysis and process?’ … The governor’s plans to expedite certain projects drew immediate blowback, including from the Sierra Club, which said they wouldn’t solve California’s persistent water-management issues.” … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News (gift article).

California’s Newsom says state needs infrastructure boom bigger than any in decades

“California Governor Gavin Newsom unveiled legislation Friday to speed up construction of power lines, water works, bridges and other big infrastructure projects in a place notorious for delays, saying the state needed a building boom larger than any since the 1960s.  At the construction site of a solar power plant in Stanislaus County, Newsom said California was poised to invest as much as $180 billion in new infrastructure over the next decade, as it overhauls its aging water and transportation systems and shifts to clean energy. Permitting delays, many of them tied to environmental studies and voluminous paperwork, threaten that drive, he said.  “The question is, are we going to screw it up by being consumed by paralysis and process,” said Newsom, a Democrat widely seen as holding nationwide ambitions. His announcement came even as the state is grappling with a projected $32 billion deficit for the fiscal year starting July 1. … ”  Read more from Bloomberg (gift article).

Governor guts landmark state environmental law to expedite salmon-killing Delta tunnel

At the site of a future solar farm in the Central Valley, Governor Gavin Newsom today announced a legislative package and signed an executive order that would gut the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to expedite the construction of the salmon-killing Delta Tunnel and other infrastructure projects, drawing condemnation from environmental groups. … Advocates for fish, water and the environment responded with outrage over Newsom’s infrastructure plan.  “Governor Newsom does not respect the people in communities that need environmental protection,” said Restore the Delta’s Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla. “During the drought he used emergency rules to destroy Delta water quality and fisheries for tribes and fishing communities. He has now proposed in the May revised budget to subvert rules during flood further weakening water quality protections.” … ”  Read more from Dan Bacher at the Daily Kos.



In alphabetical order by organization name

Dave Eggerton, Association of California Water Agencies

“ACWA applauds the Governor’s leadership today in announcing actions aimed at streamlining the delivery of infrastructure projects – actions which will help ensure critical water infrastructure projects are built at the pace and scale needed to respond to the growing impacts of climate change.  ACWA members have been on the front lines of preparing for a changing climate through continued investments in critical water infrastructure. That’s why ACWA has made permit streamlining a priority issue. Permit decisions can and must be made more efficiently, while protecting the environment.”

Barbara Barrigan-Parilla, Restore the Delta

“Governor Newsom does not respect the people in communities that need environmental protection. During the drought he used emergency rules to destroy Delta water quality and fisheries for tribes and fishing communities. He has now proposed in the May revised budget to subvert rules during flood further weakening water quality protections.  He raided funding from the San Joaquin Valley drinking water program budget to pay for needed flood protections, pitting region against region, disadvantaged community against disadvantaged community, as he did during the drought, pitting drinking water solutions against tribal and Delta environmental justice community needs for freshwater flows. He has pitted powerful special interest senior water rights holders against the needs of millions of Californians with the voluntary agreement process.  Now he wants to do away with standard environmental protections to build the Delta tunnel. …

Click here to continue reading this statement from Restore the Delta.

“We have never been more disappointed in a California Governor than we are with Governor Newsom. We have repeatedly given him the benefit of the doubt. But sadly, he has no real water management plan to deal with extended drought and flood extremes to meet our climate reality, but instead is choosing to continue with failed ideas from the past to appease his big dollar agriculture donors, like Stewart Resnick.

“How is perpetuating environmental injustice, which harms public and environmental health, really any different than red state governors perpetuating social injustice in their states, which Governor Newsom likes to criticize vigorously. It is time for him to walk the talk in California. Environmental justice is social justice. It is not flowery photo-ops with cool language, while doing the opposite by destroying protective standards by executive order and legislative fiat, while leaving everyday Californians to live with the destructive and polluting impacts.”

Jennifer Pierre, State Water Contractors

“Water infrastructure is climate adaptation, and with his announcement today, Governor Newsom has placed California on higher ground. Completing the projects that will ensure our ability to responsibly capture, store, release, deliver, recycle and desalinate water throughout California isn’t just smart planning, it is a climate change imperative — one the Governor is tackling head on.  California is not just any other state, we are the largest and most populous state in the nation. If we were our own country, we would be the fourth largest economy in the world. That kind of success wouldn’t be possible without our water infrastructure. Too often, critical water infrastructure projects that are crucial to California’s climate resiliency plan face unnecessary hurdles and delays, leaving everyone at risk of the next drought or natural disaster. Cutting through the green tape to get these projects done for California is the right decision at the right time.

Click here to continue reading this statement from the State Water Contractors.

Whether we are talking about the Delta Conveyance Project that, in one form or another, has been considered for the last twenty years, repairing subsidence damage to our canals that threaten our ability to move water throughout the state, or building local water supply projects like recycling and desalination — California needs to stop talking and start building.  We are also pleased that the Governor’s actions today will help California tap into much-needed federal funding to ensure continued water affordability for residents, farms, businesses, communities and the environment. The time to get these projects done was yesterday, and we appreciate the Governor reinforcing that important and timely message in the actions he took today.”

Charley Wilson, Southern California Water Coalition

“I’m thrilled to see Governor Newsom prioritizing essential infrastructure projects, especially when it comes to water initiatives. This proposal to streamline the environmental impact review process for vital water projects such as Delta Conveyance, storage, water recycling and desalination is a game-changer that will help California address the brunt of climate change.  We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and work with the administration to make this happen!”

In other California water news this weekend …

El Niño is likely returning, bringing danger for California and the world. ‘We need to be prepared’

“El Niño is “the most important global form of climate variability, just given how much of the Earth it affects,” said Justin Mankin, a climate scientist at Dartmouth College. “The sloshing of sea surface temperatures totally reorganizes weather and climate around the world, and its tendency is to kind of amplify a lot of the kinds of impacts that we expect with something like global warming.”   It’s Earth’s original disrupter — a recurring climate pattern so powerful that it can drive global average temperature to record highs, and generate both cliff-crumbling storms and crop-destroying droughts across the planet.  Now, after a long hiatus, El Niño is showing signs of a strong return in 2023.  This week, federal forecasters said there was a 55% chance that a strong El Niño would occur, effectively flooding the surface of the Equatorial Pacific with water so unusually warm that it can alter weather patterns and devastate some ocean fisheries. … ”  Read more from the LA Times. | Read via Yahoo News.

California to trigger rarely used relief valve on Kern River, diverting flows to state aqueduct

“The Kern River is swollen with so much runoff from the epic Sierra Nevada snowpack that state water officials have decided to open a rarely used relief valve, diverting floodwaters into the California Aqueduct to be used as drinking water in Southern California.  Opening this flow relief valve, known as the Kern River Intertie, is intended to prevent floodwaters from reaching Tulare Lake, which in recent weeks has reemerged, replenished by powerful winter storms and now heavy spring runoff. In the early 20th century, the lake was systematically drained and channeled, allowing farmers to transform this arid swath of the San Joaquin Valley into a center of industrial agriculture.  Now, the phantom lake’s reappearance has swallowed thousands of acres of farmland and is encroaching on low-lying towns such as Corcoran. … ”  Read more from the LA Times.

California to deal with some snowmelt flooding by diverting water

“The California Department of Water Resources is dealing with an issue it hasn’t faced for decades – where to put all the water from a historic snowpack season in the Sierra Nevada.  California Gov. Gavin Newsom extended an executive order Wednesday that allows more water to be diverted from waterways for groundwater recharge efforts statewide.  One of the impacted streams is the Kern River which officials expected to increase its flow into the California Aqueduct to reduce the flooding threat along the Tulare Lake Basin.  The region is home to some of the largest agricultural productions in the state, with grapes, cotton, corn, alfalfa, almonds and pistachios being important crops in the southern San Joaquin Valley. … ”  Read more from Fox Weather.

Latest flood-related executive order expands diversion flexibilities

“Governor Gavin Newsom has issued another flood-related executive order to address impacts in the Central Valley. Runoff forecasts and flood models indicate that flood conditions in the area will likely persist. The latest action will extend flood diversion flexibilities enacted for the Tulare Lake Basin, to the San Joaquin River Basin. “With flooding impacts expected to continue into the summer, California is committed to supporting robust preparation, response and recovery efforts in this hard-hit region, and to using floodwaters to recharge our critical groundwater supplies where it’s safe to do so,” Newsom said in a press release. … ”  Read more from Ag Net West.

Whitewater rafting is roaring back to life in California after years of drought

“The deluge from torrents of water surging down the Sierra Nevada mountains has caused billions of dollars in damages to farms and communities in parts of central California.  But the whitewater rafting industry is thriving.  After years of drought, rapids are roaring back to life on the upper Kern River, where flows are topping 50-year highs.  The snowpack in the southern Sierra is 300% of average.  “And when that starts melting, we have high water,” Volpert explains. “People love highwater. Think of the best powder day you’ve ever had.”  But the highwater also brings risk. Authorities have been urging people to be extra safe on surging, freezing rivers. … ”  Read the full story at KVPR.

Recreational ocean, in-river salmon fisheries in California to close for remainder of 2023

“The California Fish and Game Commission acted unanimously to enact a full closure of California’s recreational salmon fishing season in the Klamath River Basin and Central Valley rivers through its annual process for adjusting seasons and bag limits on Wednesday, May 17, 2023.  In a separate emergency action, the Commission voted to close recreational salmon fisheries in the Smith River and Eel River, and the summer season in the Klamath and Trinity rivers. Additionally, in the same emergency action, the Commission voted to allow federally recognized tribes that currently or historically used the river segments affected by the recreational fishing closures, to continue fishing under existing inland sport fishing regulations. The regulations are expected to take effect no later than July 1, 2023, following approval by the Office of Administrative Law. … ” Read more from the Department of Fish & Wildlife.

Increased rattlesnake danger this year due to higher water levels, rangers warn

“As the weather gets warmer, more people are staying active on the trails, but park rangers warn of a busier rattlesnake season following a wet winter. “As the water levels rise, there’s more rattlesnakes,” said Sgt. Eric Dales, with the California State Department of Parks and Recreation. More mice and other food sources are out for reptiles to hunt. Also, thick vegetation has grown for them to hide near the places athletes run or bike.  “We advise the public and the kids don’t put your hand in a hole that you don’t know,” Dales said. “We do have rattlesnake bites out here all the time.” … ”  Read more from Channel 10.

Nation’s first wheelchair-accessible nature trail was built from Gold Rush-era flume

“Access to nature and natural spaces is easy for most people in Northern California, but Independence Trail in Nevada County is a trail truly accessible for all.  When it was opened in the 1970s, Independence Trail was the first ADA-approved wheelchair-accessible nature trail in the United States, after naturalist John Olmsted fulfilled the wishes of his wheelchair-bound friend.  Olmsted, a docent at the Oakland Museum, was exploring California to look for a cross-state nature trail that would educate and showcase the ecological zones of the state. During his explorations, Olmsted rediscovered the Excelsior Ditch in the 1970s, in the South Yuba River Canyon, after it had been abandoned in 1961. … ”  Read more from Fox 40.

California could lose two-thirds of its beaches by the end of the century. Here’s which ones are at risk

“Rising seas and hammering waves could radically transform California beaches by the end of the century, pushing the coastline straight through homes in Stinson Beach and right near a wastewater treatment plant in San Francisco. In Half Moon Bay, a beach beloved by surfers would lose all its sand.  These are some of the worst-case scenarios in a new report projecting that a majority of California beaches could disappear by 2100 if more isn’t done to curb greenhouse emissions and take measures to protect the coast. The dire outlook, which foresees a range of 25% to 70% of the state’s beaches eroding completely, is based on models that incorporate historic rates of coastal erosion and projections for sea level rise and future wave heights. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle.

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In commentary this weekend …

Dangerous water rights policies put the interests of the few over the interests of the many

Pat Wirz writes, “Dangerous water rights policies are moving through the California Legislature that put the interests of the few over the interests of the many. Family farmers like me depend on our long-held water rights to feed Californians but three bills seek to upend more than a hundred years of California’s most fundamental economic foundation over the next few weeks at our expense.  The Cienega Valley, near Hollister, has been a wine-growing region since the 1850s. My family has deep roots in the area – we bought our first piece of ground in the 1940s and the land for Wirz Vineyards, which we still operate, in 1983. We sell our grapes to small wineries across the state. While our vines are typically dry farmed, meaning we rely on the soil’s residual moisture from rain rather than artificial irrigation, water management and supply reliability has been critical to how I operate my business particularly during dry years. … ”  Read more from Benito Link.

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In people news this weekend …

Promotions, passings, profiles – submit people news items to

Byron Bethany Irrigation District mourns loss of longtime general manager Rick Gilmore

“Rick Gilmore, age 61, of Stockton, passed away on May 14th, 2023, of natural causes.  Rick was born June 25, 1961 in Paragould, Arkansas, one of two boys, his brother David passed in 1997. He is fondly remembered for his kindness and fierce loyalty, his wry sense of humor and for his willingness to stand up and fight for what he believed in. He is survived by his mother, Shirley Schultz.  Rick was as a titan of California’s water industry. His steadfast tenacity and devotion to protect agriculture and multi-generational farmers made a significant, lasting impact not only in the Tracy area, but across the state. … ”  Read more from the Byron Bethany Irrigation District.

Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial writer Tom Philp will rejoin The Sacramento Bee

“The Sacramento Bee Editorial Board is a century-old institution, and, in that time, it has been awarded two Pulitzer Prizes. Jack Ohman won a Pulitzer for editorial cartooning in 2017. The other Pulitzer Prize, the most prestigious award given in American journalism, was won by Tom Philp in 2005. We are delighted to announce that Philp will rejoin The Bee Editorial Board as a columnist and editorial writer on May 22. Opinion Aside from his stellar qualifications, Philp’s knowledge of Sacramento, his professional relationships with newsmakers throughout the region and the state — and his reputation as a wonderful colleague — will make us better at what we do. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee. | Read more via Yahoo News.

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Podcasts …

WATER TALK: Sierra Snowpack

A conversation with Dr. Safeeq Khan (UC Merced) about the Sierra Nevada Snowpack, snow-vegetation-fire interactions, and snow futures.

RIPPLE EFFECT: Klamath Drainage District

This week we are revisiting an earlier episode that is still highly relevant to today’s water discussion. We are looking back on the momentous episode 100: Klamath Drainage District.Reagan Desmond walks us through the complicated and complex world of the Klamath Basin. From Endangered Species actions, to water quality issues, to drought, the Klamath is a microcosm of the larger water world.

SUNRISE FM: Johnny Amaral of Friant Water Authority

As California spent much of the winter battered by storm after storm, water officials faced new challenges unlike recent years: an overabundance over water. Friant Water Authority chief operating officer Johnny Amaral joins Sunrise FM to talk about the ever-changing battle over control of California’s water resources, the difficulties in securing water supplies, and how water agencies are preparing for the “Big Melt” of incredible Sierra snowpack.

WATER IS A MANY SPLENDOR’ED THING: Helping Communities Help Themselves 

A new form of governance structure regarding water has actually been pioneered in Walla Walla, Washington. Collaboration by everyone involved was necessary. Even the Governor participated in recognizing this novel approach and the inclusion of native tribes in Washington. Trading water use instead of money raises prosperity and new business opportunities. Water is a Many Splendor’ed Thing brings you another water relationship that has a personally significant impact to your life.   Produced by Steven Baker, Bringing People Together to Solve Water Problems, 530-205-6388

ECONEWS REPORT: Protecting 30% of California by 2030

California has set a bold conservation goal to protect 30% of its lands and coastal waters by 2030. This “30×30” goal aligns with a global 30×30 movement to protect nature all around the world to avoid an extinction crisis.  The Power in Nature Coalition brings together environmental organizations, activists, and tribal nations to collectively push Sacramento to meet its 30×30 target. Advocates are urging the state to fund and protect key strategic lands and waters that will protect biodiversity, allow for better public access to the outdoors, and help to naturally sequester carbon. Josefina Barrantes of the Power in Nature Coalition joins Dan Sealy of the NEC and Matt Simmons of EPIC to chart a path forward for conservation.”  Listen at the Lost Coast Outpost.

THE CONVERSATION: The solutions needed to address climate change already exist

One of the key findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Synthesis Report is that there are solutions available right now, across all sectors of the economy, that could at least halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. “The problem is getting worse,” explains Greg Nemet, a Canadian renewable policy expert and IPCC author. “But we’ve got solutions now that are so much more affordable than they were.”Fear & Wonder is a new podcast from The Conversation that takes you inside the UN’s era-defining climate report via the hearts and minds of the scientists who wrote it. In this episode, we’re delving into one of the major shifts in the public communication of climate change – the attribution of extreme weather events to climate change.

WATER LOOP PODCAST: Dissecting distrust in the tap

Over the past 20 years, trust in public institutions has plummeted and sales of bottled water have skyrocketed. A new book titled Profits Of Distrust explores how these trends are related and the correlation between distrust of tap water and government agencies such as utilities. The analysis is discussed in this episode with Manny Teodoro, one of the book’s authors and a Professor of Public Affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In addition to outlining the problem, the book presents a series of reforms that could rebuild public trust in the water coming out of the tap. Manny talks about several of them including consolidation of utilities, enforcement of the Safe Drinking Water Act, improving Consumer Confidence Reports, paying attention to the taste of tap water, and providing universal service across America.

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In regional water news this weekend …


Reclamation increases Klamath Project 2023 water supply allocations

“Today, the Bureau of Reclamation announced a boost in water supply for Klamath Project contractors, and confirmed higher lake levels for endangered sucker fish as well as larger releases from Upper Klamath Lake to benefit salmon. Initial water supply allocations for Klamath Project contractors along with a total of $13 million for drought resiliency, ecosystem enhancement, technical assistance to Tribal Nations, and groundwater monitoring in the Klamath project were announced on April 13.   Based on improved spring hydrology and updated forecasts, water supply allocations from the Upper Klamath Lake increased from 215,000 acre-feet to 260,000 acre-feet. Allocations from Gerber Reservoir and Clear Lake Reservoir remain at 35,000 acre-feet from each reservoir. The updated 2023 allocations are based on analysis of existing hydrologic conditions and inflow forecasts from the California Nevada River Forecast Center and the Natural Resources Conservation Service. … ”  Read more from the Bureau of Reclamation.


Tahoe on flood watch as snow melts down

“Warm temperatures at Lake Tahoe have prompted officials to issue a flood warning for a rapidly melting snowpack.  The National Weather Service in Reno issued a flood watch for the region that went into effect Thursday, May 18, and lasts through 8 p.m., Monday, May 22, for excessive runoff that may result in flooding of rivers, creeks, streams and other low-lying and flood-prone locations. Creeks and streams may rise out of their banks and low-water crossings may be flooded, the advisory warned. … ”  Read more from the Mountain Democrat.


Shasta Lake sitting just shy of full ahead of a promising summer

“Recent rain is making its way into local reservoirs, including Shasta Lake, where the pool is almost full. Late season storms like those seen over the weekend and on Monday have brought Shasta Lake to just 3.2 feet from capacity, the highest level in years.  “Well, I always say we like more water than less water for our season. We have more water this year than we need, but that’s a great example of what Shasta can do for us,” explained Don Bader, who serves as the Northern California Area Manager for the Bureau of Reclamation. … ”  Read more from Channel 10.

Butte County Public Health issues warning of harmful algal bloom at Table Mountain

“Butte County Public Health is urging the public to exercise caution due to a suspected algae bloom that occurred at the North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve.  According to officials, the BCPH’s Division of Environmental Health received notification from the California Department of Water Resources of potentially toxic cyanobacteria at Table Mountain.  Out of an abundance of caution, residents, recreational users, and dog owners are urged to avoid contact with the water at Table Mountain. … ”  Read more from Action News Now.

Yuba River project aims to rejuvenate salmon population

“It’s been a tough year for California salmon. Despite the record rainfall this winter, the ongoing drought throughout the state has impacted the Chinook salmon population. This year’s salmon fishing season was cut short last month for the first time since 2008 due to the depleted numbers, sending ripple effects through the industry that thousands statewide rely on for their income. Now, state and local officials have launched a new million-dollar effort to address the issue by restoring the Yuba River — reopening the waterway to both salmon and sturgeon for the first time in more than a century. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Examiner.

The view from under the bus: Newsom administration and fish agencies sell out Yuba River flow for fish passage

“With nary a mention that the center of the prospective deal is no flow increases on the Yuba River, two fish agencies, a water agency, and the Newsom Administration used glowing words to announce on May 16, 2023 “a restoration plan” for the Yuba River.  The rollout at a press conference featured the Director of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), the California Assistant Regional Administrator for the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), the General Manager of Yuba Water Agency (YWA), the California Resources Secretary, and Governor Newsom himself.  Later in the day came the price sticker for fish.  The “non-binding” “Term Sheet” that summarizes the plan negotiated solely by CDFW, NMFS, and YWA announced among its “Guiding Principles” … ” Read more from the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance.

Yuba Water Agency OKs millions in community impact grants

“On Tuesday, the Yuba Water Agency Board of Directors approved $3.6 million in community impact grants, which will support efforts to reduce catastrophic flood risk, improve water supply reliability, education and public safety in Yuba County.  The funds were awarded as part of the Agency’s Community Impact Grant and Loan Program, which provides up to $10 million annually to community projects that align with the agency’s mission areas. “Our agency’s community grant and loan program not only supports local community programs and projects, but it also provides initial funding that allows many of our partners to leverage additional funds through state and federal grant programs,” Vice Chairman Don Blaser said in a statement. “It’s really a win-win for all.” … ”  Read more from the Appeal Democrat.

Major statefunded Sacramento project to provide environmental, water recycling benefits

Celebrating one of the largest public works projects in Sacramento’s history, the State Water Resources Control Board and Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board joined the Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District today to mark completion of the EchoWater Project, a $1.7 billion upgrade to the Sacramento Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant to achieve new water quality standards.  The upgrade equips the treatment plant to carry out new, tertiary treatment processes that remove 99% of ammonia and 89% of nitrogen from wastewater. The result is cleaner wastewater for discharge to the Sacramento River and water that meets recycling standards for nonpotable reuses, such as irrigating landscapes and crops.  This major project was in part made possible by $1 billion in State Water Board low
interest loans
from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund. … ”  Read more from the State Water Board.



Storms replenished California’s reservoirs. So why are Bay Area water bills about to soar?

“All that rain and snow captured in California’s reservoirs this year means plenty of water to go around. But it isn’t doing anything to reduce your household water bill.  The Bay Area’s largest water suppliers, including the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission and the East Bay Municipal Utility District, are planning new rate hikes for water and sewer service, starting this summer. Many of these increases will be the biggest in years.  San Francisco residents can expect to see an average 8.3% annual jump in their combined water-sewer bill over the next three years, or a cumulative 27% increase. EBMUD customers can anticipate an 8.5% increase in each of the next two years, or a roughly 18% total hike. Actual bills depend on the amount of water consumed. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Belvedere forges ahead with levee project environmental study

“Belvedere is aiming to complete an environmental review of its levee upgrade project this summer.  The City Council unanimously approved a resolution this month to authorize a budget amendment in the amount of $97,800 for the completion of an environmental impact report for the project, which will make seismic upgrades to San Rafael Avenue and Beach Road.  The Protect Belvedere Project is intended to strengthen the city against the threat of natural disaster. The effort is estimated to cost about $20 million.  The draft EIR was released in October. It was prepared by Amy Skewes-Cox, an environmental planning consultant. The city is preparing to finalize the document for presentation to the council in the next two to three months. … ”  Read more from the Marin Independent Journal.


Santa Cruz commentary: Progress on regional water resource collaboration

Bruce McPherson, Santa Cruz County Supervisor; Fred Keeley, Santa Cruz Mayor; and Mark Smolley, San Lorenzo Valley Water District Board Chair, write, “In Santa Cruz County there are seven separate water agencies that serve our community, each with different sources of water, customer demographics and infrastructure ages. As a result, each agency has different needs and approaches to operations and, until recently, operated largely independently of each other.  However, challenges posed by climate change, including persistent drought, flooding and wildfires, as well as new state mandates for managing groundwater resources, have prompted agencies to work more collaboratively in recent years.  We believe this new, more regional approach to using community water resources is a big plus for water customers, as it provides an opportunity to use our precious water resources more efficiently while producing more reliable supplies and resilient infrastructure. … ”  Read more from the Press Banner.

Montecito Groundwater Sustainability Agency adopts management plan

“The Montecito Water District’s Groundwater Sustainability Agency unanimously adopted its Groundwater Sustainability Plan on Friday that it will now submit to the California Department of Water Resources.  The Groundwater Sustainability Plan is a long-term management plan for the groundwater basin, as required by the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. According to a staff presentation, Montecito’s GSA has been developing the Groundwater Sustainability Plan since 2020.  “Groundwater is an important local source of water that is heavily relied upon by our entire community, particularly during drought,” GSA board president Brian Goebel said in the foreword of the plan, which can be viewed in full here. … ”  Read more from Noozhawk.


Gavin Newsom signs executive order supporting Central Valley flood responses

“In an effort to support ongoing Central Valley flooding responses, Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order on Wed, May 17.  California is expected to extend flood preparation and response activities in the Tulare Lake and San Joaquin river basins as high temperatures increase the risk of flooding. That includes diversion flexibilities, debris removal, levee repairs, and other efforts.  The order also allows the diversion of water into the Kern River. … ”  Read more from Channel 23.

Hanford water users may see bigger bill due to meter malfunction

“Of 18,000 water meters in Hanford, approximately 2,500 are producing inaccurate readings that will likely leave residents with unexpected bills for months of underreported usage, according to Public Works Director Jim Ross. “The typical pattern is that water use will be reported normally when the equipment is working properly, followed by a few months of increasing underreporting of usage, then a consistent reporting of ‘no usage,'” Ross said in a written statement. “When the metering equipment is replaced, a manual read is taken. This manual read identifies the true amount used, and since several months have passed where the usage was underreported, the ‘true-up’ bill is higher, oftentimes significantly higher than normal.” … ”  Read more from the Hanford Sentinel.


Santa Monica: Watershed committee reminds region of Southern steelhead trout’s critically endangered status

“The North Santa Monica Bay Watershed Steering Committee held an inaugural State of the Watershed 2023 meeting last Thursday to address its efforts in improving local water quality and the danger of Steelhead trout, also known as the Oncorhynchus mykiss irideus, becoming extinct.  In 1997, National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) listed Southern steelhead as endangered. In 2012, NMFS designated Malibu Creek as a high-priority recovery river in the Southern California Steelhead Recovery Plan. Malibu Creek is one of the last remaining streams in Southern California where steelheads can be found. … ”  Read more from the Malibu Times.

Lake Elsinore hydroelectric project again denied license application

“A federal agency has again denied a permit for a proposed $2 billion, 500-megawatt hydroelectric plant at Lake Elsinore that has been the target of fierce community opposition.  Vista-based Nevada Hydro Corp.’s request for a preliminary permit was rejected Thursday, May 18, by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which cited the company’s continued failure to provide documentation to the U.S. Forest Service, including recreation, groundwater, seismic and geotechnical studies and a roadless area construction plan. … Nevada Hydro has been trying to get its former Lake Elsinore Advanced Pumped Storage Project, referred to as LEAPS but now called the Bluewater Renewable Energy Storage Project, off the ground since 2004. But all efforts to obtain licenses or permits for the project have been rejected by the FERC for various reasons. … ”  Read more from the Riverside Press-Enterprise.

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Along the Colorado River …

Here’s how questions about water impact business attraction to Arizona

“After the Great Recession, leaders in Arizona made a concerted effort to diversify the state’s economy — one that had previously relied heavily on homebuilding and tourism. That initiative has resulted in a deluge of new businesses coming to the Grand Canyon State, from semiconductor manufacturers to electric vehicle (EV) factories, along with their suppliers. But how does Arizona’s need for smart water management intersect with that status of Arizona as an ideal place to live and conduct business? Chris Camacho, president and CEO of Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC), says that his discussions with organizations regarding locating in the region has shifted in recent years. … ”  Read more from Arizona Big Media.

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In national water news this weekend …

Will EPA’s PFAS rule spur other water regs?

“EPA brandished its powers to regulate new drinking water contaminants earlier this year, but many question whether the agency will apply the same approach to other chemicals.  While substances linked to health risks from kidney disease to cancer have cropped up in drinking water systems for decades, the agency has not issued a drinking water standard for a new contaminant on its own initiative since 1996. Other drinking water regulations since then have been mandated by Congress.  But EPA in March took the dramatic step of escalating a crackdown on a handful of “forever chemicals,” with a proposal to regulate those notorious substances at very low levels.   On the heels of that rare move, advocates remain largely skeptical of future drinking water regulatory developments and note impediments EPA faces in doing so. … ”  Read more from E&E News.

New water treatment technology could help recycle even super salty waters

“Now, in a new study published in Desalination, members of the National Alliance for Water Innovation (NAWI) research consortium analyzed an emerging form of reverse osmosis, called low-salt-rejection reverse osmosis. These novel systems could treat even highly salty water. But the design is so new it is still theoretical.  So, to learn how these technologies might compete with other water treatment options, the NAWI research team developed a mathematical model that could, with help from a supercomputer, quickly evaluate the cost, clean water output, and energy consumption of more than 130,000 potential system designs. Their results show that, in many cases, low-salt-rejection reverse osmosis could be the most cost-effective choice, potentially reducing the overall cost of producing clean water by up to 63%. … ”  Read more from Clean Technica.

Rice gets reimagined, from the Mississippi to the Mekong

“Rice is in trouble as the Earth heats up, threatening the food and livelihood of billions of people. Sometimes there’s not enough rain when seedlings need water, or too much when the plants need to keep their heads above water. As the sea intrudes, salt ruins the crop. As nights warm, yields go down.  These hazards are forcing the world to find new ways to grow one of its most important crops. Rice farmers are shifting their planting calendars. Plant breeders are working on seeds to withstand high temperatures or salty soils. Hardy heirloom varieties are being resurrected.  And where water is running low, as it is in so many parts of the world, farmers are letting their fields dry out on purpose, a strategy that also reduces methane, a potent greenhouse gas that rises from paddy fields. … ”  Read more from the New York Times.

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Also on Maven’s Notebook this weekend …

NOTICE of proposed emergency rulemaking to ban decorative grass watering

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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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