DAILY DIGEST, 5/26: State Auditor: DWR’s forecasts do not adequately account for climate change; Democrats sideline Newsom’s infrastructure plan; State Water Board statement on Supreme Court WOTUS ruling; Mexico pays price for Colorado River deal; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • MEETING: Central Valley Flood Protection Board beginning at 9am. Agenda items include an update from DWR on multibenefit projects; the Sacramento River East Levee Trail Project; Board’s Enforcement Program Informational Briefing; and an update on 2023 Tulare Basin Hydrology and Flooding. Click here for the full agenda and remote access instructions.

In California water news today …

State Auditor: DWR’s forecasts do not adequately account for climate change and its reasons for some reservoir releases are unclear

“As directed by the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, my office conducted an audit of the Department of Water Resources and the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB). Our assessment focused on DWR’s water supply forecasting and surface water management, and we determined that DWR has made only limited progress in accounting for the effects of climate change in its forecasts of the water supply and in its planning for the operation of the State Water Project. Until it makes more progress, DWR will be less prepared than it could be to effectively manage the State’s water resources in the face of more extreme climate conditions.  DWR is responsible for developing water supply forecasts that are important to both state and local efforts in managing California’s finite water resources. Despite acknowledging more than a decade ago that it needed to adopt a new forecasting method that better accounts for the effects of climate change, DWR has continued to rely heavily on historical climate data when developing its forecasts. In fact, in water year 2021, DWR significantly overestimated the State’s water supply—an error that DWR attributed to severe conditions due to climate change. … ”  Continue reading at the California State Auditor’s website.

California water manager ripped over poor climate change planning

“The California state auditor blasted the Department of Water Resources for failing to properly plan for climate change, and for a lack of transparency around water management decisions.  California has experienced increasingly extreme conditions including multiple droughts and floods. During drought emergencies, the state sometimes curtails water allocations due to forecasts that the water supply is too low to meet all water demands. State law requires the department to develop annual forecasts of seasonal water supply, including surface water from rain and snowfall runoff, which local agencies can rely on to determine the supply within a water year.   But State Auditor Grants Parks said in a report Thursday that the agency’s forecasts are unreliable due to outdated models, causing errors. Such errors can potentially lead to projects releasing more water from reservoirs or exporting less from the Sacramento Delta. … ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service.

SEE ALSO: California Overestimates Water Supply by Ignoring Climate Change, from BNN Bloomberg

State Water Project operations continue to adapt to climate change

“As California experiences more extreme swings between wet and dry periods, DWR continues to deploy innovative forecasting and water management strategies for the State Water Project (SWP) to adapt to California’s changing climate.  The SWP delivers an average of 2.4 million acre-feet of water to more than 27 million Californians and 750,000 acres of farmland while providing multiple benefits, such as flood control, hydropower generation, fish and wildlife protections, drinking water quality, and recreational opportunities. Releases from Lake Oroville, the largest SWP reservoir, also keep salt water from intruding into the Delta and contaminating drinking water or water used to irrigate crops. … ”  Read more from DWR News.

California Democrats sideline Gavin Newsom’s plan to build big things, faster

“Dealing a blow to Gov. Gavin Newsom, Democratic legislators today shot down his ambitious attempt to reform state environmental law and make it easier to build big infrastructure projects in California.  In a 3-0 vote, a Senate budget committee found Newsom’s package was too complex for last-minute consideration under legislative deadlines. The cutoff for bills to pass out of their house of origin is June 2, just two weeks after the governor rolled out his proposal to adjust the landmark California Environmental Quality Act.  The 10 bills include measures to streamline water, transportation and clean energy projects with an eye toward helping the state meet its climate goals. The proposals also took aim at an environmental law commonly referred to by the acronym CEQA that critics have long decried as a tool to bog down housing and other projects. … ”  Read more from Cal Matters.

Shasta dam sits at the center of California’s water wars. So will they raise it?

“The water levels of Shasta Lake currently sit at the highest they’ve been in four years. Photos circulating the internet show a lake brimming with water, and comment section warriors continue to point at how the government will waste the surplus of water instead of saving it for the inevitable droughts California will see in the future.  “Too bad Newsom will send all this water to the ocean,” said a commenter on a photo of the lake posted on our social media pages.  Of course, this comment is misguided since it’s actually the federal government, not state officials, who control the water flows of Shasta Dam. But it does bring local water frustrations to the forefront – how is California investing in legitimate water storage programs to help mitigate future drought? … ”  Read more from Active NorCal.

California’s epic melting snowpack means cold, deadly torrents ahead of Memorial Day weekend

“California rivers fed by this winter’s massive Sierra Nevada snowpack have been turned into deadly torrents, drawing warnings from public safety officials ahead of the Memorial Day weekend’s traditional start of outdoor summer recreation.  At least seven people, including two children, have died or gone missing this spring in the grasp of powerful rivers plunging down from California’s towering mountain range, and there have been numerous rescues.  “This year we’re seeing higher water, faster water and colder water,” said Capt. Justin Sylvia, a fire spokesperson in Sacramento, which is crossed by the American River.  Sacramento has already had 20 water rescues this year, nearly as many as all of 2022, Sylvia said Tuesday as crews practiced swift-water rescues on the lower American River near its confluence with the Sacramento River. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News.

How high California reservoir levels are posing a threat to holiday travelers

“High water levels at California reservoirs and other waterways could pose a threat to outdoor recreation this Memorial Day weekend, prompting officials to warn against swimming or boating in rivers teeming from winter’s heavy rainfall.  “This year’s spring runoff is the highest in about 40 years,” Auburn State Recreation Area superintendent Mike Howard said. Holiday travelers are being asked to avoid waterways overflowing with melted snow from this year’s record-breaking storm season. Adding to the risk, water managers have begun diverting water from major reservoirs as they approach capacity, and sending it  into rivers across the state. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle.

‘Be careful’: Caution outdoors is urged as California wildlife surges

“After months of stormy devastation, or at least close calls, the restorative nature of this winter’s series of storms is now playing out in California’s wildlands.  In the same state that has been going through a seemingly constant existential threat that comes with years upon years of drought and fire danger, wildlife officials and scientists now report that this summer and fall should be a time of reprieve and renewal.  “Storms resulted in a boost of native plant and wildlife species,” Ken Paglia, a spokesperson for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, told SFGATE.  But in the same breath, Paglia cautioned that what’s good for the ecosystem can also pose dangers and threats to those who are getting ready to explore nature again. … ”  Read more from SF Gate.

CDFW announces $20.4 million in grant funding to protect salmon habitat and other California fish and wildlife species statewide

Big Chico Creek. Photo by Cal Trout.

“The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is pleased to announce $20.4 million in awards to 15 projects to improve salmon habitat and support climate resiliency, wildlife corridors and wetlands restoration. This is the third round of grant awards made in 2023 with funding made available last year under Drought, Climate and Nature-Based Solutions Initiatives, bringing the total grant funding awarded to nearly $80 million.  “As climate driven challenges to California’s biodiversity continue to grow and shift, our own strategies for new projects must adapt,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. “Saving salmon and rebuilding their populations for Californians is the goal and we are meeting these challenges head on.”  CDFW has developed a single set of General Grant Program Guidelines to get restoration completed faster. CDFW continues to accept applications for new projects and make awards on an ongoing basis. An overview of eligible project types, priorities and information is available at www.wildlife.ca.gov/grants. … ”  Read more from the Department of Fish & Wildlife.

Duarte pitches bipartisan bill to fund water technology grants

“Last week, Rep. John Duarte (R – Modesto) introduced the bipartisan Water Infrastructure Modernization Act to create federal grant programs aimed at increasing the use of smart water technologies.   Duarte teamed up with Arizona Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego to author the bill.  The big picture: The Water Infrastructure Modernization Act would provide $50 million in new EPA funding for grants which water utilities can use to purchase and implement new technology.  Such technology includes identifying water loss, examining pipe integrity, detecting leaks, preparing for severe weather and innovating water storage systems, among others. … ”  Read more from the San Joaquin Valley Sun.

Department of Water Resources releases approved determination for the Cuyama Basin

On March 2, 2023, the California Department of Water Resources (Department) determined the Cuyama Basin be Recommended for Approval. Today, the Department released the Approved Determination for the Cuyama Basin. The determination can be found on the Department’s SGMA Portal.

The busiest place under the Earth: How runoff impacts soil

“Sidewalks, parking lots, construction sites, building roofs are all typical sources of runoff that contribute pollutants and sediment to our water. But your lawn? In fact, yes, it just very well might be says soil expert Dr. Rattan Lal, distinguished university professor and director of the Rattan Lal Center for Carbon Management and Sequestration at The Ohio State University. Aside from managing runoff, he explains, the intricacies of soil management are essential to sustaining life itself. And topsoil is of special concern. “Any time you disturb soil, and you interrupt the natural processes taking place in the first two inches of soil, the invitation to disruption of natural processes is wide open,” Dr. Lal said.  He describes topsoil as geoderma, literally, the skin of the earth with near amazing properties that most take for granted. As a soil specialist, Lal cites topsoil as playing a crucial role in multiple environmental activities. … ”  Continue reading at Stormwater Solutions.

Can tires turn green?

“Tires’ substantial environmental footprint is set to drop as producers increase their use of renewable materials and efficient technologies emerge for chemically recycling them. Currently, most tires are incinerated or landfilled, at a high environmental price. While the sector’s footprint may be shrinking, millions of metric tons of rubber particles get released annually as tires wear down on roads. And independent scientists say this pollution is a cause for concern. The tire industry says it is trying to understand the impacts of these particles. Until issues around them are addressed, however, the sustainable tire will remain out of reach.”  Read the full story at Chemical & Engineering News.

California becomes the first state to phase out toxic hexavalent chromium

“There’s a toxic history to the shiny decorative finishes so ubiquitous on the wheels and bumpers of classic cars.  Chrome plating is important to a variety of consumer products from vintage automobiles to aerospace components to plumbing fixtures.  But hexavalent chromium—a highly hazardous substance emitted by chrome-plating businesses—is 500 times more carcinogenic than diesel exhaust, putting it in the cross hair of regulators for decades.  The California Air Resources Board today approved a landmark ban on use of the substance by the chrome plating industry. The ban requires companies, who opposed the action, to use alternative materials.  The ban came after more than two hours of debate and public comment. Board members, while signaling their empathy for the potentially impacted vintage car platers, said public health was paramount. … ” Read more from Cal Matters.

California’s blistering heat sparked power shortages last summer. Here’s this year’s forecast

“Torrential rainfall and massive dumps of snow wreaked havoc across California last winter. But the wild weather brought an upside: Water-storage reservoirs now have abundant supplies of H2O to run the state’s hydropower electricity generators this summer.  That fact, combined with record expansion of utility-scale solar power and battery storage, has energy forecasters confident that the state can avoid the potentially dangerous electricity shortfalls of the sort that came with last September’s 10-day heat wave, according to state officials at a press briefing Wednesday. … ”  Read more from the LA Times.

Snowpack predicted to retreat in California’s mountains due to climate change

“This winter’s major storms laid down one of the largest snowpacks recorded in California’s Sierra Nevada, along with an unusual amount of snow at low mountain elevations.  But such prolific snowfall at lower elevations is set to become increasingly rare in coming years as climate change drives temperatures higher, according to new research.  In a study published this week, scientists found that mountain snowlines in California have already crept higher, and could rise significantly more if nothing is done to slow the pace of global warming. Researchers projected that from the 2050s to 2100, rising temperatures could push average snowlines 1,300 feet to 1,600 feet higher across the Sierra Nevada and the southern Cascades mountain ranges compared to a century earlier. … ”  Read more from the LA Times.

High-resolution western drought forecasts could be on the horizon

“A new computer modeling technique developed by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) offers the potential to generate months-ahead summertime drought forecasts across the Western United States with the capability of differentiating between dry conditions at locations just a couple of miles apart.  The technique uses statistical methods and machine learning to analyze key drought indicators during the winter and spring and correlate them with the likelihood of dryness throughout the landscape the following summer. The scientists say this approach, if adapted for use by forecasters, could provide important information for such priorities as management of water resources, wildland fire and fuels, and agriculture.  “This approach forecasts drought conditions before they have the largest impact,” said NCAR scientist Ronnie Abolafia-Rosenzweig, the lead author of a new paper describing the technique.  “It gives managers an additional tool that they can use to prepare and guide the decisions they are making.” … ”  Read more from NIDIS.

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Supreme Court ruling on Waters of the US (WOTUS)

How Supreme Court’s EPA ruling will affect U.S. wetlands, clean water

“Bogs. Marshes. Swamps. Fens. All are examples of wetlands. But the type of wetland that gets protection under federal law is a matter of wide dispute, one reset by a sweeping ruling Thursday from the U.S. Supreme Court.  At issue is the reach of the 51-year-old Clean Water Act and how courts should determine what count as “waters of the United States” under that law. Nearly two decades ago, the court ruled that wetlands are protected by the Clean Water Act if they have a “significant nexus” to regulated waters.  The Supreme Court decided that rule no longer applies and said the Environmental Protection Agency’s interpretation of its powers went too far, giving it regulatory power beyond what Congress had authorized. Here’s what you need to know about the ruling. … ”  Read more from the Washington Post (gift article).

Supreme Court narrows definition of WOTUS in win for farmers

“A Thursday unanimous ruling by the United States Supreme Court has restored a bounty of property rights to ranchers and farmers, curtailing the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ability to regulate certain wetlands as qualifying as “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act.  In the Court’s opinion, Justice Samuel Alito found that the agency’s interpretation of the wetlands covered by the Clean Water Act is “inconsistent” with the law’s text and structure, and the law extends only to “wetlands with a continuous surface connection to bodies of water that are ‘waters of the United States’ in their own right.” … ”  Read more from the San Joaquin Valley Sun.

State Water Board Statement: U.S. Supreme Court decision decreases federal wetlands protection

“The U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision today that significantly reduces the scope of the Clean Water Act and diminishes the federal government’s ability to protect thousands of miles of rivers, streams, creeks and adjacent wetlands throughout the Western U.S.  Though the State Water Resources Control Board is extremely disappointed in the decision and the adverse impacts it will have nationally, it only narrows the scope of federal jurisdiction and does not weaken California’s more stringent wetlands protections. Under the Clean Water Act and the state’s Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act, the State Water Board retains regulatory authority for protecting the water quality of nearly 1.6 million acres of lakes, 1.3 million acres of bays and estuaries, 211,000 miles of rivers and streams and 1,100 miles of coastline. … ”

Click here to read the full statement from the State Water Board.


Governor Gavin Newsom

“As much of the United States is experiencing weather extremes from historic droughts to flooding to wildfires — all caused by climate change — the Supreme Court is hellbent on stripping the federal Environmental Protection Agency of its ability to literally protect the environment. Last year it was protections for clean air, and this year it’s clean water. With today’s decision, the court is going to cause more people to suffer from the ills of polluted water across the country. California has adopted some of the strongest laws in this country to protect our waters and the environment, and we will continue enforcing our own laws vigorously.”

California Attorney General Rob Bonta

“Despite today’s disappointing decision, California will continue to do all we can to protect our waterways and the communities and biodiversity they sustain,” said Attorney General Bonta. “The Supreme Court’s decision today narrowed federal protections under the Clean Water Act, making it all the more critical for states to use their authority to increase water quality protections. We urge Congress to broaden the scope of the Clean Water Act in light of today’s ruling, but in the meantime, we will continue to use every tool available to us under the law to protect our precious waterways and the people and ecosystems that depend on them.”

California Farm Bureau Federation president Jamie Johansson

“California Farm Bureau appreciates the Supreme Court’s decision,” Johansson said. “Our farmers and ranchers have faced years of confusion over what waters are regulated by the federal government. Today’s decision brings greater clarity.  Agriculture is intrinsically tied to the earth.   Our farmers and ranchers have a strong interest in effective, efficient and reasonable rules for the protection and management of the nation’s water and land resources.”

Eric Buescher, SF Baykeeper managing attorney

“The Waters of the United States need strong and uniform protections in order to create and maintain a healthy network of waterways. That’s what Congress intended with the Clean Water Act, yet today the Supreme Court ripped those protections apart with its ruling in Sackett v. EPA, dramatically eliminating protections for wetlands under federal law.  By shattering water quality protections for wetlands across countless state and local jurisdictions, the Supreme Court’s ruling will lead to a nationwide patchwork of sacrifice zones, and invite regulatory chaos. It could also remove protections for wetlands connected to seasonal streams around San Francisco Bay, which the Bay needs to remain healthy. …

Click here to continue reading this statement.

“Today’s decision continues the court’s pattern of making up new law in order to consolidate power for itself and an increasingly activist judiciary. As Justice Kagan says in her dissent, we ‘have seen this move before.’ The Court rejects the plain text of the Clean Water Act, rejects current and long-standing expert regulatory interpretations of that text, and instead, creates a new standard to achieve its desired regulatory outcome.

“The EPA just last year issued an exhaustive, science-based guideline for which wetlands are protected by the Clean Water Act. The decision the conservative activists on the Supreme Court delivered today masquerades as law, ignores established science, and will cause regulatory chaos and harm to waters and communities nationwide.”


In commentary today …

Senior water rights in California are endangered by bad legislation in Sacramento

The Modesto Bee editorial board writes, “A dangerous trio of bills winding through the Legislature would greatly expand the power of unelected water officials and bureaucrats by stripping authority from holders of senior water rights, most of whom have exercised these rights for more than a century. They include the Modesto, Turlock and Fresno irrigation districts, the city of Sacramento and the city and county of San Francisco. Usurping these agencies’ control over water, and shifting authority instead to the appointed State Water Resources Control Board, represents an unwise and unnecessary power shift.  Arguments favoring Assembly Bills 460 and 1337 and Senate Bill 389 generalize the existing water rights system as antiquated and broken. This is a narrative promulgated often by those who think they don’t have enough water and want to take it from those who do. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee. | Read via Yahoo News.

United water community key to answering bills on water rights

Dave Eggerton, Executive Director of ACWA, writes, “If enacted, water rights legislation pending in the Legislature could put water management in chaos and hobble future progress toward a more reliable and resilient water future.  Bills in the Assembly and Senate threaten to undermine the basic foundation of water management and water delivery in California by drastically changing the longstanding legal framework governing the right to use water in this state. Stopping these bills is a top priority for ACWA, which is leading a broad coalition that extends beyond the water community. Vital to all our work is the water community remaining united, because this may well become the most consequential legislative session of our careers.  It’s easy to see why. … ”  Continue reading at ACWA.

Water policies focused on the future are needed today

Ted Sheely, farmer in the San Joaquin Valley, writes, “The public policy of California is to flush away our water, as if the snow in our mountains and the runoff in our rivers were nothing more than the expulsions of a giant toilet bowl.  Wasting so much water makes it hard for farmers like me to grow the crops that everyone needs.  There’s no good reason for this, especially right now. Following several years of drought, during which farmers received little or no water for crop irrigation, the snowpack recorded last month in the Sierra Nevada was the deepest in 70 years. It’s like the snow from two or three winters fell in a single season.  That’s great news for me and farmers across the California Central Valley. I expect to receive a full allotment of surface water this year, which will be invested to grow pistachios, tomatoes, onions, and wine grapes—crops that work well with irrigation systems. … ”  Read more from Ag Web.

We’ve seen the flooding in California. Will we move to higher ground?

Author Tim Palmer writes, “The slow-motion rebirth of Tulare Lake has inundated farm fields and threatened levees, homes and whole towns. On Monday, the state projected the lake would reach its peak in the next week or so, but the floodwaters will linger for perhaps two years.  The return of what used to be the largest lake west of the Mississippi has captured our attention as one of the most dramatic climatic events of 2023. Yet the flooded crops and tenuous levees at Tulare Lake represent only a fraction of the statewide and nationwide landscape now subject to greater floods of the global warming era. … The failure to effectively address this reality is an important part of the backstory of Tulare Lake’s reemergence. … ”  Read the full commentary at the LA Times.

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In regional water news and commentary today …


Three million in grants awarded to the Mendocino coast

“The Coastal Commission has awarded over 3 million in grants so far to assist Mendocino County and the cities of Point Arena and Fort Bragg to update planning documents and account for changes in sea level rise. The Grass Roots Institute hosted a community meeting on May 17th that included representatives from the Coastal Commission, the county, and both cities. There were approximately 40 participants in the meeting from communities up and down the coast. … ”  Read more from the Mendocino Beacon.


Thunderstorms, showers possible through holiday weekend at Tahoe

“Mostly sunny skies and warm temperatures are expected over the Memorial Day holiday weekend, but anyone planning to camp or recreate in the Sierra Nevada should keep a heightened awareness for all thunderstorm threats including, lightning, heavy rainfall, flash flooding, hail and strong wind gusts.  “Having a ‘Plan B that allows a quick relocation away from flood-prone areas is highly recommended,” the National Weather Service in Reno said. “Although high temperatures are projected near late May averages (70s in lower elevations, 60s for Sierra communities) for the next several days, areas receiving rain can expect quick temperature drops of 15-25 degrees, so be sure to pack plenty of warm and waterproof clothing.” … ”  Read more from the Tahoe Daily Tribune.

Tuolumne Utilities District continues to pursue contract for New Melones water

“Tuolumne Utilities District took another step toward securing a long-sought contract with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation for water out of New Melones Reservoir. The TUD Board of Directors voted 5-0 at a public meeting Tuesday to approve hiring consultants to study the potential impacts of taking up to 6,000 acre-feet of water per year from New Melones, the fourth-largest reservoir in California at a maximum capacity of 2.4 million acre-feet. It’s a necessary step under both the National Environmental Protection Act and California Environmental Quality Act before such a contract with the bureau could be approved. … ”  Read more from the Union Democrat.

Sequoia/Kings Canyon parks report damage to Woods Creek, San Joaquin bridges

“Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks have identified significant damage to two crucial wilderness trail bridges, the Woods Creek Bridge and the San Joaquin Bridge, according to the National Parks Service.  The bridges, both located in the Kings Canyon Wilderness, were discovered to be damaged as parks staff goes through the early stages of assessing damage to infrastructure in wilderness areas from this winter’s storms. Both bridges are critical for John Muir Trail and Pacific Crest Trail backpackers, while the Woods Creek Bridge is also critical for the Rae Lakes Loop. Neither bridge is usable at this time, and timeframes for repair haven’t been determined. It is not possible to safely ford the river at either of these locations, according to officials. … ”  Read more from the Hanford Sentinel.


Toxic algae at table mountain impacting holiday weekend plans

“Toxic Algae was found at Table Mountain earlier this month. With Memorial Day weekend and the summer recreation season just around the corner, public health officials are asking people to avoid playing in the water.  The toxic algae found is commonly formed after a season of heavy rainfall, followed by warm weather. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says nutrients such as phosphorus, nitrogen, and carbon flows through creeks and streams from farmland and lawns. These nutrients can pool up, overfeed the algae, allowing it to grow. Experts say to look for stuff that resembles Scum, floating paint, foam, or mats in the water. … ”  Read more from Action News Now.


New map exposes critical gaps in Bay Area’s readiness for sea level rise

“About half of the shoreline running along the lip of San Francisco Bay has no plans in place to protect against future rising seas. That’s in terms of the cost of preparing the region for the climate effect by 2050, according to regional agencies’ analysis and a map released this week.  “The big story is that there’s obviously still a lot of work to be done,” said Todd Hallenbeck, lead geographic information systems (GIS) specialist at the Bay Conservation and Development Commission, or BCDC.  For the first time, this map gives Bay Area residents a visual presentation of the region’s progress in adapting to rising sea levels brought about by anthropogenic climate change. … ”  Read more from KQED.


Monterey County continues to tally flood damage

“The summer vegetable crop in California’s Salinas Valley may be a little shorter than normal as farmers work through issues surrounding this winter’s floods.  Not all the early-season leafy greens typically planted in the Salinas Valley could be, because of the significant flooding that took place on the Salinas and Pajaro rivers. Monterey County’s strawberry crop was also significantly impacted from the winter rain and floods, according to Norm Groot, executive director, Monterey County Farm Bureau. … ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press.

San Luis Obispo airport area residents demand cleanup of ‘forever chemicals’ in groundwater

“More than 40 people packed a meeting room near the San Luis Obispo County Airport on May 22 to ask a panel of county officials for one thing: clean water.  “Forever chemicals” known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) have been detected at high levels in the groundwater near the SLO Airport, impacting dozens of residential wells and properties in the area.  “I would like a show of hands on how many people feel that because 100 percent of our water has been contaminated, we’ll not settle unless 100 percent of our water is going to be clean again,” landowner Paul Rys said, which sent a sea of hands into the air. … ”  Read more from New Times SLO.


Coalinga, hit hard by drought crisis, remains concerned over water supply despite wet winter

“Despite California’s historic wet weather this year that brought relief to drought-stricken regions, one small city in the San Joaquin Valley continues to suffer.  No place has suffered more from the state’s recent stretch of dry weather than Coalinga in Fresno County. “This has got to be ground zero – you’re not going to see so many cities that have run out of water like we have done, where we ran out of our allotment and we had to go to the open market and buy from private industry,” Coalinga City Councilman Adam Adkisson said.  And pay they did – almost 10 times what the city would normally pay for its water. … ”  Continue reading at ABC 7


SCV Water releases annual report on water quality

“The Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency released its annual report on consumer confidence this week in conjunction with L.A. County Water Works District No. 36, touting a supply to SCV faucets and taps that meets or surpasses state and federal standards.  The report updates the community on the local water agency’s efforts to reduce contaminants found locally, known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, which have been targeted by projects and other solutions to keep the local water supply in compliance with regulations.  “Over the last year, we have completed our second state-of-the-art PFAS treatment facility and started construction on a third, with more treatment projects on the way,” said SCV Water General Manager Matt Stone. “We remain committed to our customers, ensuring the community always has access to clean, safe, and reliable water. We invite our valued customers to read the report to learn more about the quality of our water.” … ”  Read more from The Signal.

Long Beach water bills are expected to increase—but how much has not been decided

“The cost of water is expected to go up next year for Long Beach utility customers, as the department says customers’ conservation efforts have cut into revenues, which has made it difficult to replenish its reserves.  While rates for sewer and natural gas services are expected to stay the same, water service is almost certainly headed for an increase.  The Utilities Commission was presented with three options Thursday during one of the budget workshops it’s hosting before adopting a budget for the next fiscal year in June. … ”  Read more from the Long Beach Post.


New River improvement project set to break ground

“On Friday, May 26, Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia and the City of Calexico will welcome California Secretary for Environmental Protection Yana Garcia, California Natural Resources Agency Secretary Wade Crowfoot, community leaders and other state officials to celebrate the groundbreaking of the New River Improvement Project with the community. Local leaders and partners will highlight the significance of this project.  Garcia said in a news release that the New River groundbreaking reflects years of collaborative advocacy, and over $47.9 million in investments from the State of California: $19.9 million from the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) and $28 million from the Department of Water Resources (DWR) in funding secured through legislative and budget victories. … ”  Read more from the Calexico Chronicle.


The boundary referees deciding San Diego’s water district divorce

“Two small farming communities want to divorce the ­­San Diego County Water Authority and buy cheaper water from Eastern Municipal Water District in Riverside County.  The Water Authority’s rates are some of the highest in the country, especially for agricultural regions that Fallbrook Public Utility District and Rainbow Municipal Water District serve. That’s why those districts are trying to leave. The Water Authority’s rates have been growing for years, but they’re actually selling a lot less water.  Mostly to blame are the rising costs of transporting Colorado River water or making it new by desalting ocean water.  The Water Authority is staring down billions in debt and will lose a large portion of their sales once the city of San Diego, the Water Authority’s biggest customer, launches its wastewater-to-drinking water recycling program called Pure Water. Most recently, the Water Authority proposed a 14 percent rate hike for 2024, a much higher spike than years prior. If the detachers joined Eastern, they could avoid some of these mounting transportation costs. … ”  Read more from the Voice of San Diego.

How much lead is in your child’s drinking water? Some San Diego day care centers have dangerously high levels, report finds

“Pediatricians stress no amount of lead is safe for children, but new data released by the state Department of Social Services revealed hundreds of California childcare centers, including some in San Diego, had lead levels in drinking water well above the legal limit.  “The numbers were very alarming,” said Susan Little.  Little is a senior advocate with the nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG,) which sponsored the 2018 legislation that lead to required testing at childcare centers.  Her group ranked the schools with the highest levels of lead. Several of the ones on their list are located in San Diego, including La Petit Academy in Rancho Peñasquitos, which recorded the highest level of lead found in the state. … ”  Read more from NBC 7.

These San Diego areas among ‘bluest waterways’ in US: analysis

“When thinking of blue waters, does San Diego come to mind? It should.  According to a new analysis by mobility platform SIXT, there are two areas in the region that are considered among the bluest waterways in the nation.  “The world is full of stunning natural wonders, but there’s something unique about recharging while enjoying blue waters,” said David Woody, country development and travel expert at SIXT. “Studies have shown that when we’re near water, the sights and sounds kickstart neurochemicals in our body that stimulate wellness, increasing blood flow to the brain and heart and helping us relax.”  The good news for San Diegans — some of the most mesmerizing shades of blue can be viewed and enjoyed right here in Southern California. … ”  Read more from Fox 5.

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Along the Colorado River …

Graphics: Mapping Colorado River water: How California, Arizona and Nevada plan to use less

“California, Arizona and Nevada, three of seven states that depend on the shrinking Colorado River for water and hydropower, plan to temporarily reduce the amount of river water they use by 13% over the next three years, federal officials have announced.  Will it be enough to alleviate the river’s decline? It will help, but more measures will be needed, officials say.  River levels have fallen over the past 20 years with an extended drought and persistent overuse of river water. Climate change has hastened the reduction. And while this year’s heavy snowpack is improving the river’s flow, it won’t be enough to overcome the effects of the drought. … ”  Read more from USA Today.

Mexico pays price for Colorado River deal

“After 20 years of drought, the Colorado River, whose water built the Western US, is in serious trouble. Its flows have dropped by one-third, forcing lawmakers in California, Arizona, and Nevada to agree to a collective 13% reduction in river water use on Monday.  The Colorado River supplies drinking water to 40 million Americans across seven states and helps irrigate 5.5 million acres of farmland. Negotiations were a difficult, months-long process, with states fighting for their cities, farmers, households, and industries to not pay the biggest price for the river’s shrinking water supply. They finally found common ground to avoid federal intervention, which would’ve doubled reductions.  But one party that was not at the negotiating table this week was Mexico, even though the river irrigates farmland in the Mexicali Valley. … ”  Read more from Gzero.


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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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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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