DAILY DIGEST, 6/2: New research offers clarity on actual water use by agriculture; Dramatic weather swings are headed to CA; High-tech mapping of Central Valley’s underground blazes path to drought resilience; State Water Board readopts decorative grass watering ban; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • Defending the Golden State: Safeguarding Californians from Invasive Species from 12pm to 1:30pm.  Invasive species harm California’s environment, agriculture and the economy, and are linked to many of our environmental challenges. From nutria damaging wetlands to invasive plants increasing fuel for wildfires, invasive species impact natural resources across the state. Join us for a discussion highlighting the connections between invasive species and other environmental issues.  Click here to register.

On the calendar tomorrow …

  • SATURDAY: EVENT: Dutch Slough Special Trail Opening from 9am to 1pm.  The public is invited to access the Dutch Slough restoration project from the Marsh Creek Trail. A one-mile segment of the trail will be open to pedestrians only (sorry, no dogs). To take advantage of this opportunity, meet at the old pedestrian bridge across Marsh Creek at the intersection of the Marsh Creek and Big Break Shoreline. River Partners and CA Dept. of Water Resources staff will be stationed along the trail for questions.  Cyclist will not be permitted to access the site on June 3 but are welcome to park their bikes at the meeting point and join others accessing the site on foot. If you are a cyclist or a member of a cycling club who would like to ride through the Dutch Slough site in the future, please email jcain@riverpartners.org with your contact information.

In California water news today …

New research offers clarity on actual water use by agriculture

A lush agricultural scene in San Luis Obispo County in Central California. Photo by John Chacon / DWR

“Recent scientific work by the California Bountiful Foundation, the 501(c)(3) science and research arm of the California Farm Bureau, has found that California farmers and ranchers use only 15% of the total water the state receives.  These findings, now available on the California Bountiful Foundation website under Research and Studies, offers a data-based analysis of water use of California agriculture, the largest food producing sector in the U.S. The data contradicts stereotypes often repeated on the share of water used for agriculture.  A policy brief and peer-reviewed scientific publications will follow to memorialize this work, said Dr. Amrith Gunasekara, director of science and research for the California Farm Bureau. … ”  Read more from Valley Voice.

Dramatic weather swings are headed to California. Here’s what to expect in June

“The curling of the jet stream — an atmospheric stream of fast-moving air with speeds over 100 mph that travels thousands of miles — over the Pacific Ocean has triggered recent shifts in California’s spring weather patterns. Californians have seen leaps from snowmelt-inducing heat waves in the Sierra Nevada to marine layer clouds that stretch from the Bay Area to Sacramento.  Temperature and humidity swings should become more dramatic across the Bay Area and most of California in June as the transition to El Niño continues to shift the balance of wind patterns in the atmosphere. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle (gift article).

California drought update: How dry is the state ahead of summer’s scorching temps?

“Meteorologists forecast that June will bring above-normal temperatures to California, which could worsen the state’s remaining drought. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, there’s a 33% to 50% chance weather in California will be hotter than usual for this time of the year. NOAA outlooks show “equal” chances of above-normal, near-normal or below-normal rainfall for June. Meaning, according to the National Weather Service, there’s no clear indication of how much rain the state could receive. One thing is for certain: parts of California will scorch this summer. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee.

California Snowpack: Here’s how much Sierra snow melted in May

“The snowpack in the Sierra peaked during the second week of April, but cooler-than-average weather held off any major melting until May.  On May 1, the Central Sierra, which includes the Lake Tahoe basin, had 49.3 inches of water within the snow. On May 31, that snowpack water content was down to 25.5 inches.  That is 330% of the average snow water content for that region on May 31. Snowpack measurements at the end of May were closer to what would be expected on April 1, the anticipated annual peak of the snowpack. … ”  Read more from KCRA.

High-tech mapping of Central Valley’s underground blazes path to drought resilience

“A new underground mapping technology that reveals the best spots for storing surplus water in California’s Central Valley is providing a big boost to the state’s most groundwater-dependent communities.  The maps provided by the California Department of Water Resources for the first time pinpoint paleo valleys and similar prime underground storage zones traditionally found with some guesswork by drilling exploratory wells and other more time-consuming manual methods. The new maps are drawn from data on the composition of underlying rock and soil gathered by low-flying helicopters towing giant magnets. … ”  Read more from Western Water.

Storing California’s water in the ground

“Groundwater depletion has been an acknowledged fact in California for decades, but for a long time it was stuffed into a thick file labeled “Something Somebody Oughta Do Something About Sometime.”  That changed forever in 2014, when the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act was passed by the state government. SGMA (pronounced sigma) has a goal of groundwater sustainability by 2040.  That means less water pumped out of the ground, and in many parts of state, that will mean less agriculture. Estimates of the amount of land that will have to be fallowed range up to 900,000 or 1 million acres.  I had a conversation with Caitlyn Peterson, associate director and research fellow of the Water Policy Center of the Public Policy Institute of California, that threw some new light on the groundwater situation. … ”  Read more from Growing Produce.

DWR uses genetic technology to help identify endangered fish

“The Department of Water Resources (DWR) is using the latest genetic technologies to more accurately identify endangered fish at the State Water Project pumps in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Along with improved accuracy to quickly determine whether a fish is endangered, the new technology has the additional benefit of preventing unnecessary reduction in water capture which makes that water supply available for Californians.  “DWR is using the best available science to improve our operations to balance both environmental and community water needs,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth. “As we adapt to climate extremes with more uncertainty about how much water will be available, it is critical to use these innovative approaches in our water management practices.” … ”  Read more from DWR News.

California Invasive Species Week June 3-11: Here’s how you can get involved

Invasive species are non-native organisms (plants, animals, or microbes) that establish, quickly reproduce, and can negatively affect our water, health, native plants and animals, agriculture, and economy.   The San Francisco Bay-Delta ecosystem is recognized as one of the world’s most-invaded estuaries. Prevention is the most effective strategy in managing invasive species. However, hundreds of invasive plants and animals have already been established in California and are spreading each year.  Join others across the state to help stop the spread of invasive species! From June 3 through June 11, state and local agencies will be hosting discussions, activities, and volunteer opportunities as part of California Invasive Species Action Week.”  Click here for more information on how you can get involved.

Lots of water in state likely to mean a big mosquito season on the way

“It’s a sound that can send shivers up anyone’s spine, the high-pitched buzz of a mosquito.  For Rocklin Pest Control general manager Rich Sartain and his team, that same sound is a call to action. And the first thing Sartain said they look for when treating a home is standing water residents don’t even realize is there.  “Underneath your grass, there could be a puddle of water that you can’t see, that the mosquitos are actually harboring in and giving birth in,” Sartain said.  This year, due to heavy rains, the experts report we may be in for a bumper season because more water sources mean more breeding opportunities.  Sartain noted that some mosquitos only need the tiniest amount to start breeding. … ”  Read more from Spectrum 1.

State Water Board readopts decorative grass watering ban on business and government properties

The State Water Resources Control Board has readopted an emergency regulation that bans using drinking water for watering decorative grass (also referred to as nonfunctional turf) in commercial, industrial and institutional areas throughout the state.
The State Water Board’s readoption of this regulation signals the real need fo
r Californians to continue using water wisely, and it aligns with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s March 2023 executive order affirming that the multiyear drought continues to have significant, immediate impacts on communities with vulnerable water supplies across California. Although conditions have improved, they have not abated severe drought conditions that remain in some parts of the state, including those with groundwater basins that are depleted. … ”  Read more from the State Water Resources Control Board.

Salton Sea restoration legislation passes CA senate floor

“The California State Senate passed Senate Bill 583, Wednesday, May 31, authored by Senator Steve Padilla (D-San Diego). The bill creates the Salton Sea Conservancy to unify the state’s efforts to expedite preservation project delivery, protect residents’ health, and foster ecological recovery in the area, according to a recent Padilla press release.  “The environmental calamity at the Salton Sea is decades in the making,” said Senator Padilla in the release. “It is going to take unprecedented collaboration at all levels of governmental to adequately address this challenge. A conservancy would strengthen that necessary coordination and give local voices greater control in how limited state resources are spent addressing this crisis.” … ”  Read more from the Desert Review.

Amid debt ceiling vote, California Senator pushing for increased water funding

“As the United States Senate will soon vote to suspend the debt ceiling, U.S. Senator Alex Padilla, D-California, is pushing for the federal government to spend more on water.  Padilla serves as Chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife.  He hosted a hearing this week entitled “Water Affordability and Small Water Systems Assistance” which looked at, “rising water rates, aging infrastructure, and extreme weather events are increasing water affordability challenges for communities across the country,” according to a press release from his office. … ”  Read more from the Center Square.

Supreme Court ends protection for most wetlands in the U.S.—but not in California

“In a sweeping decision, the Supreme Court last week eliminated federal protection for more than half the wetlands in the United States. (Sackett v. EPA, 566 U.S. 120 (2023)).  Under the Clean Water Act, EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers have for decades been charged with regulating and permitting discharges into “waters of the United States.” Since 1986 (with a brief interruption from 2020 to 2021), those waters have been broadly defined to include traditional navigable waters; tributaries to those waters; and wetlands adjacent to those waters and tributaries. The term “adjacent” did not mean directly connected; rather, it meant nearby or “in reasonable proximity.”  This definition of “waters of the United States” gave EPA and the Army Corps jurisdiction over virtually all wetlands in the United States. … ”  Read more from the National Law Review.

‘Prove it or lose it.’ How tribes are forced to fight to secure senior water rights

“The Colorado River is a vital water resource for millions of people across the American West. States, municipalities and industry all rely on water from this basin. With required cuts being negotiated among the seven states within the Basin, there is one group whose concerns are seemingly being washed away: tribes.  The issue – and debate – surrounding water rights in the West is not new. Of all the stakeholders relying on these strained water resources, tribal communities have senior water rights. Yet, they are the only group legally required to define their water usage by quantifying the amount of water they need in a “prove it or lose it” type of arrangement.  In recent years, however, the Native Waters on Arid Lands project has cultivated a network of relationships that can help tribes leverage this controversial, century-old ruling to honor its basic promise: ensuring tribal communities have access to water. … ”  Read more from the Sierra Nevada Ally.

Forests & fire have a long relationship, what’s the balance?

“Fire has long been part of California’s ecosystem, but a century of fire suppression has largely divorced our connection to its important ecological role – as well as its cultural importance to native communities.  Brock Dolman is a restoration biologist and co-founder of the Occidental Arts & Ecology Center.  “I really think about fire as a verb,” Dolman said.  For Dolman, the question around fire is the balance between frequency and intensity.  “There are good reasons to put fires out when we don’t want them,” Dolman said. “I’m not dissing on fire suppression per se, but the reality of having focused on that so much is that we have these low frequency fires, which have a significantly high intensity to those fires.” … ”  Read more from Northern California Public Radio.

Sierra Nevada Conservancy approves $22.5 million to build resilience, boost recreation, and conserve land

“On Thursday, June 1, Sierra Nevada Conservancy’s (SNC) Governing Board approved roughly $22.5 million in new grants for 24 different projects that will help with wildfire recovery and forest resilience, expand recreation opportunities, and conserve strategic land throughout California’s Sierra-Cascade region.  “I’m proud of how the Sierra Nevada Conservancy is partnering with California tribes and local entities, like irrigation and resource conservation districts, land trusts, and conservation organizations, to find nature-based solutions to some of our region’s most pressing concerns,” said Sierra Nevada Conservancy’s Executive Officer Angela Avery. “Together we are advancing shared goals, such as wildfire and climate resilience, conserving special places, and returning ancestral homelands to tribal stewardship, all while expanding outdoor access for all in the Sierra-Cascade.” … ”  Read more from the Sierra Nevada Conservancy.

Is extreme weather linked to climate change? Poll shows what Californians think

“Nearly a third of Californians were personally impacted by this year’s unusually wet weather, finds a new poll by the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies.  The vast majority of those polled expect that extremely heavy rains and snowstorms, sandwiching severe droughts, will become even more commonplace in the near future. “Nearly 7 in 10 Californians think this is now going to be the norm,” said Mark DiCamillo, director of the Berkeley IGS Poll. The new poll was conducted in May 2023 and online responses were collected from nearly 7,600 registered voters across the state. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle.

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In commentary today …

How the game is played in Sacramento

Columnist Susan Shelley writes, “The California Legislature is a waste of money and space.  Every year, the Legislature goes through the motions of passing laws through its regular process, appearing to be a deliberative body. Actually, it’s a dead body. The real decisions are made in back rooms and regulatory agencies, where the public is excluded or ignored.  One aspect of this decayed process is on display in Sacramento right now. Gov. Gavin Newsom recently announced a package of legislation to streamline infrastructure projects. “Streamline” is a word used in Sacramento when government officials want to override their own strangling mess of regulations and requirements, but only for certain people or projects, not for everything and everybody.  It’s best understood as a fundraising technique. It’s quite streamlined in that regard. … ”  Continue reading at the OC Register.

Flood notes

Trudy Wischemann, a land/water note-taker, writes, “In a phone conversation with Tulare Lake Basin geographer Bill Preston last month, I found myself saying “I wonder how long the poor are going to take being flooded out.”  “What do you mean?” he challenged, something he often has to do in our conversations.  I’d been reading the flood stories from Planada in Merced County, Cutler-Orosi, Allensworth and Alpaugh in our watersheds. Corcoran, out in Kings County, Boswell’s company town, was fortifying itself, protected by high berms monitored by armed guards at night. These other small communities, homes to people with fewer resources, were caught by floodwaters breaking through weak places in aging levees, most without warning. Many people lost everything they had: their homes, furniture, clothing and food; their cars, their means of making a living. … ”  Continue reading at the Foothills Sun-Gazette.

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Today’s featured article …


This past month has seen the much-anticipated ablation of this year’s record-breaking snowpack.  The big resulting news was that it did not translate into the Statewide record-breaking flood that many in the media were predicting, at least not yet.

No, what has happened is that many Sierra watersheds, particularly in the central and northern parts of the State have simply used the natural storage reservoirs of the landscape to buffet this year’s historic spring freshet.  The surface depressions, shallow perched aquifers, moisture-rich mosses/wetlands, bogs, as well as deep seepage losses, etc., all contributed to both store and attenuate this year’s runoff pulse.

Click here to continue reading the Reservoir Report.

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In regional water news and commentary today …


Commentary: Same Old Sad and Selfish: Scott Valley Ag Folks don’t want to do their part to help Coho survive

Felice Pace writes, “Drought Emergency Water Regulations, enacted in the midst of an historic drought and intended to give those Coho Salmon which spawn and rear in the Scott River Basin a chance to survive, are not needed by the Coho and will needlessly devastate Scott Valley farmers and ranchers if implemented. That is the message of the Scott Valley Agriculture Water Alliance, a new organization which, according to its website, formed to “be a unified voice communicating on behalf of local farmers and ranchers, spreading accurate information about Scott Valley’s agricultural producers, the Scott River, and its fish.” Their vision is to “debunk the myths that are driving the state’s severe water regulations.”  So far the organization has published what it calls a “white paper” titled “WHY THE STATE WATER BOARD’S 2021-2022 FLOW REGULATION IS NOT NEEDED FOR COHO SALMON IN THE SCOTT RIVER.” The organization’s “mission’ and “vision” are driven by the white paper’s assertion that providing emergency flows to help Scott River Coho is an “existential threat” to farmers and ranchers in Scott Valley. … ”  Continue reading at the KlamBlog.


Popular section of Truckee River in California closes for surprising reason

“There will be no commercial rafting on a popular California section of the Truckee River near Lake Tahoe in coming months, and the reason may surprise you.  The flow on the 5-mile stretch of river running between Tahoe City and Alpine Meadows is too low for rafting — so low that rocks are jutting out of the water. It’s not what you would expect after an unusually wet winter that recharged reservoirs and piled up an epic snowpack. Here’s the deal: The U.S. District Court Water Master, which manages water supplies in Lake Tahoe and on the Truckee River, is not releasing water from Lake Tahoe at the Lake Tahoe Dam. This avoids flooding the reservoirs, such as Pyramid Lake and Boca Reservoir, downstream, Truckee River Rafting, the largest rafting company on the river, said. … ”  Read more from SF Gate..

Deep Debate | Poisons tested at Lake Tahoe

“Locals and environmental groups are split over a plan to respond to one of the most serious environmental problems in Lake Tahoe with a controversial solution: poison. Similar to using chemotherapy to kill cancer cells, authorities approved a test of chemical herbicides to kill underwater weeds threatening to ruin Tahoe’s shoreline if left unchecked.  Herbicides triclopyr and endothall were applied last year to developed lagoons connected to the lake in a subdivision known as the Tahoe Keys. The test could lead to a larger-scale application of herbicides.“This was wrong,” said Tobi Tyler, a volunteer with the Sierra Club, which sued the Lahontan Water Board for approving the test. “This was very wrong, this project.” … ”  Read more from Channel 10.

The Supreme Court’s decision on Sackett and what that means for the Yuba Watershed

“In a significant ruling on May 25, 2023, the Supreme Court delivered a decision that carries profound implications for the Clean Water Act, the landmark water pollution law. The Court concluded that the property owned by an Idaho couple does not fall within the scope of wetlands that are subject to federal oversight under the law. “The basis for the decision is that because the wetlands do not have a continuous surface connection to waters of the United States, the Clean Water Act does not apply. This is especially damaging because we know wetlands, rivers, streams, lakes, and the ocean are all inextricably connected. Sometimes that connection is through surface water, sometimes groundwater. Pollution in a temporarily disconnected wetland will inevitably makes its way into waters of the United States which are protected under the Clean Water Act.” said Aaron Zettler-Mann, SYRCL’s interim Director and Watershed Science Director. … ”  Read more from the South Yuba River Citizen’s League.


Improved fish passage planned for Dye Creek near Los Molinos

“In collaboration with project partners, the Resource Conservation District of Tehama County is facilitating the planning process and construction of an improved fish passage and vehicle crossing at the Dye Creek and Shasta Boulevard Weir Crossing north of Los Molinos.  One hundred percent of designs are complete, with permits currently underway, according to a press release issued by Wednesday RCDTC. An environmental impact analysis has begun.  The existing culverts at the crossing are undersized and plugged with stream sediment during high-flow periods. In addition, the trenches are too high for upstream fish passage under most flow conditions. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife determined that the weir crossing impedes fish passage during low or receding flows. During these events, it acts as a barrier and separates upstream from downstream fish habitat and the larger Sacramento River watershed. … ”  Read more from the Red Bluff Daily News.

Rising Lake Oroville puts boat ramps and parking lot under water

“With a recent increase of a few feet in water elevation, Lake Oroville’s Nelson Bar boat ramp and parking lot are closed because they are underwater.  The lot’s elevation ranges between 891 and 895 feet and is impacted by higher lake levels, according to an email from DWR Public Information Officer Raquel Borrayo.  On Wednesday, Lake Orville’s elevation was 894 feet and the parking lot entrance was closed.  While the parking lot by the boat launch is closed, a small lot is open just uphill from the main parking lot from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News.


State approves Sonoma Water’s request for temporary changes in Russian River flows

“The State Water Resources Control Board (State Board) recently approved a request by the Sonoma County Water Agency (Sonoma Water) to modify Russian River instream flows.  The Temporary Urgency Change Petition (TUCP) filed by Sonoma Water in April, and approved by the State Board on May 19, amends Sonoma Water’s water rights permits and State Board Decision 1610 in order to comply with the 2008 Russian River Biological Opinion and to enhance salmonid habitat in Dry Creek and the mainstem Russian River. … “The Russian River watershed is recovering from three years of consecutive drought and these changes are a key tool in managing the water supply for more than 600,000 people and the environment in Sonoma and Marin counties.” said Sonoma Water Director Chris Coursey. … ”  Read more from the County of Sonoma.

The Russian River paradox: A deep dive into flow reduction and its ecological implications

“The Russian River, a lifeline for Sonoma County’s diverse ecosystem and a source of water for over 600,000 residents, is at the center of a controversial decision that has sparked a heated debate about water management, ecological preservation, and economic vitality.  The State Water Resources Control Board (State Board) recently approved a request by the Sonoma County Water Agency (Sonoma Water) to reduce the river’s instream flows. This decision, coming after a period of record rainfall, has raised eyebrows and sparked concerns among environmentalists, local communities, and skeptics who question the logic behind reducing the flow of a river to benefit its ecosystem. … ”  Read more from the Sonoma Gazette.

Is the Dutra asphalt plant still coming to Petaluma?

“Just south of Petaluma’s city limit, bordering the Petaluma River and its sensitive wetlands, lies the 38-acre Haystack Landing property, focus of a long and bitter fight over whether a company called Dutra Materials should be allowed to build an asphalt plant there.  For many local residents, who adamantly opposed the proposal and spent years organizing against it, the project has since faded away, with little to no action taken at the property. Facebook groups dissolved, community meetings ceased, and the once-ubiquitous “No Dutra” lawn signs were tossed out or stowed away.  But for the Dutra Group, the San Rafael parent company of the asphalt maker and aggregate supplier Dutra Materials, the plan to build an asphalt plant there is still a go. … ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.


Dutch Slough restoration project sees progress

The Dutch Slough Tidal Marsh Restoration Project site, located in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta near Oakley, California. Jonathan Wong / DWR

“John Cain got into his car, drove all the way up Sellers Avenue, crossed through E. Cypress Road, and arrived at a locked fence. Behind that fence was a land-use project that he has been working on since 1998.  Now, 25 years later, with some digging, patience, and with a little bit of help from some friends, that project is starting to show progress.  The restoration project includes creating public access to the Delta shoreline – general public access for hiking, biking, and recreational and educational opportunities – along with restoration for fish and wildlife, and improving the science of ecosystem restoration. … ”  Read more from The Press.

Editorial: Pleasanton wells reinstatement

The Livermore Independent editorial board writes, “We urge the city council to reaffirm its commitment to safe drinking water by reconsidering its authorization to use groundwater Wells 5 and 6 during peak-demand periods this summer. An April 18 staff report submitted by Director of Operations and Water Utilities Tamara Baptista described the decision last fall to turn off Wells 5 and 6 as a result of “PFAS-related health advisory level concentrations given that (the) city’s priority is the provision of safe drinking water.” Neither the PFAS advisory levels, the city’s treatment capabilities, nor its safe drinking-water priorities have changed since November. Wells 5 and 6 are out of service due to PFAS. Why then bring them back online?. … ”  Continue reading at the Livermore Independent.

These San Jose residents’ water bills could jump big time in July

“Over a tenth of San Jose’s population may soon see their water bills significantly jump if councilmembers approve an increase on Tuesday, making it one of the largest rate hikes in the Bay Area this coming year.  Customers of the city-operated San Jose Municipal Water System (SJMWS), which serves approximately 140,000 city residents, could see a 14% rise in their monthly water bills — roughly $16 extra per month. Price increases will go into effect July 1 if the San Jose City Council gives the thumbs up.  Officials blame the cost bump on increasing charges by third-party groups who dispense the water, drought-related impacts on supply and usage, and infrastructure improvements that need to be completed. The city-run system serves customers in North San Jose, Alviso, Evergreen, Edenvale and Coyote Valley. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News.


160,000 juvenile salmon released into Monterey Bay

“Over 100 supporters of the Monterey Bay Salmon and Trout Project gathered at the end of Santa Cruz Wharf on Wednesday night as the Project released 160,000 juvenile Chinook (King) salmon into the Pacific Ocean.  “These fish are raised at the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Mokelumne Hatchery,” MBSTP Executive Director Ben Harris said. “We release them directly from the Wharf with the intention that they can grow to adulthood at sea and eventually be caught right here in Monterey Bay.”  Harris said this method helps them avoid poor habitat conditions and invasive predators in the San Francisco Bay and California Delta, helping to boost ocean salmon populations when they need it most.  An additional 160,000 fish are scheduled for a Thursday evening release at the Monterey Harbor. … ”  Read more from the Santa Cruz Sentinel.

Project aims to bolster Ventura’s water supply

“Ventura city leaders say an injection of $173 million in federal funding will help make the city’s water supply more resilient to future droughts and also protect the sensitive environment of the Santa Clara River estuary.  The VenturaWaterPure project will divert effluent from the city’s wastewater treatment plant that currently flows into the estuary. A new advanced water purification facility will be built near the wastewater plant to create water that’s safe to drink, and will be injected into underground aquifers for later use as part of the city’s water supply.  A main goal of the VenturaWaterPure program is eliminating the need to discharge treated wastewater into the estuary. Officials said the California State Water Resources Control Board is pushing cities to phase out discharges into bays and estuaries. City officials also agreed to stop the discharges to settle a lawsuit by environmental groups about 11 years ago. … ” Read more from the Ventura County Reporter.

Emergency dredging project trying to prevent a salt marsh from flooding the Carpinteria area

“It’s a lush nature preserve which sits on the west side of Carpinteria.  The Carpinteria Salt Marsh is home to more than 190 species of birds, 37 types of fish, and 11 kinds of mammals.  But, this year’s storms have created a major problem with the marsh which not only threatens nearby property, but the habitat that’s so important for wildlife.  “In the January storms, the high sediment load coming into the salt marsh completely filled the marsh channels,” said Andrew Raff, who is the is Environmental Manager for the Santa Barbara County Flood Control District. … ”  Read more from KCLU.


Water Whiplash: Losses — and ironies — add up for Valley agriculture after flooding

“Perhaps one of the greatest ironies of the San Joaquin Valley’s floods is that agriculture, so long parched by extreme drought, is now assessing the damages from too much water.  This installment of Water Whiplash features a panel event hosted by KVPR and 1A on May 30 about the effects of flooding on ag. Watch the full conversation in the video player or read below for a few highlights.  The discussion began by chronicling those first hours of extreme flooding in the southern Valley back in mid-March. Here’s panelist Tricia Stever Blattler, executive director of the Tulare County Farm Bureau, on the particular challenges of moving cattle from flooded dairy farms. … ”  Read more from KVPR.


Santa Clarita: State Water Board to reopen Cemex case

“State Water Resources Control Board officials announced Thursday that Cemex’s permit seeking water from the Santa Clara River — one of a number the company needs in order to fulfill its contracts to mine 56 million tons of gravel in Soledad Canyon — is being re-noticed.  The Mexican-based international mining conglomerate did not immediately respond to a request for comment regarding what this means for its plans in the area.  State Sen. Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, who created legislation in 2021 trying to compel the water board to give the public a chance to weigh in on the project, was “ecstatic” about the news Thursday, but also said now there is important work to do.  “We just got another at-bat,” Wilk said, adding that he’s already been on the phone with environmentalist groups and city officials to try to recoalesce forces that have worked on fighting the mine for decades. … ”  Read more from The Signal.

Yes, we have more water … but some regulations have been extended

“The State Water Resources Control Board extended a drought rule that bans commercial businesses — including homeowners associations and rental properties — as well as government, industrial and institutional properties from using drinkable water to irrigate decorative grass.  The rule doesn’t apply to grass used regularly for recreation or spaces that use recycled water. As for single-family homes, the rules depend on where you live, so check with your local water agency.  The statewide rule will be extended for another year, unless the board votes to change it before then. … ”  Read more from LAist.


Salton Sea environment detrimental to respiratory health of local children

“In the United States, low-income immigrant and minority children often live in environments that have highly polluted air. A study led by researchers at the University of California, Riverside, demonstrates this among the Latinx and Purépecha immigrant children and caregivers living along Inland Southern California’s Salton Sea, a highly saline drying lake bed surrounded by agricultural fields. The Purépecha community is an Indigenous group from the Mexican state of Michoacán.  “Children of Latinx and Indigenous Mexican immigrant families living near the Salton Sea are especially vulnerable to the sea’s environmental impact on chronic health conditions,” said Ann Marie Cheney, an associate professor of social medicine, population, and public health in the School of Medicine and lead author of the study. “Our study uniquely focuses on caregivers’ understanding of the Salton Sea’s impact on the health of children diagnosed with asthma or chronic respiratory health problems.” … ”  Read more from UC Riverside.


Lake Hodges reopens after extensive repair to Hodges Reservoir Dam

“San Diego’s infamous Lake Hodges was reopened to the community after being closed since mid-2022 due to critical repair work of the Hodges Reservoir Dam. The City of San Diego officials announced that Lake Hodges would reopen on Wednesday, May 31, but only on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays from sunrise to sunset. Kayaking, canoeing, shore fishing, rental boat fishing, and float tubing were some of the only activities allowed, according to the City of San Diego. … ”  Read more from Channel 8.

Algae bloom prompts water contact advisory at Lower Otay Reservoir

“An algae bloom prompted city officials to post caution signs at its Lower Otay Reservoir.  The City of San Diego advises the public to not expose their skin to the water while the cautionary alert is in effect.  However, the algae bloom does not impact the safety or quality of the City’s drinking water, officials said. The water is treated using several processes prior to being delivered to homes and businesses, according to the City. … ”  Read more from Fox 5.

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Along the Colorado River …

Arizona will halt new home approvals in parts of metro Phoenix as water supplies tighten

“The groundwater aquifers currently serving 4.6 million people across metro Phoenix are lagging behind growth on a trajectory that would run just short of projected needs in 100 years, according to a new state groundwater model released Thursday by Gov. Katie Hobbs. As a result, the state’s water agency will stop approving new development that relies solely on groundwater.  The model estimates future supply and demand for the Phoenix Active Management Area, a zone that includes most of the metro area, where the state’s groundwater law requires the Department of Water Resources to certify that new homes have a safe 100-year water supply before they can be built. Based on the new model, some potential developments would fail that test. … ”  Read more from Arizona Central.


Mayor Gallego, city council votes to leave Phoenix’s Colorado River entitlement in Lake Mead

“Mayor Kate Gallego and the Phoenix City Council unanimously voted Wednesday to leave up to 150,000 acre-feet of the city’s Colorado River entitlement in Lake Mead over the next three years.  The reduced water deliveries are in addition to the reductions in deliveries Arizona agreed to in the Drought Contingency Plan, according to a press release. It will also contribute to the Lower Basin Consensus Plan that commits to conserving at least 3 million-acre-feet of water through the end of 2026. … ”  Read more from KTAR.

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In national water news today …

Bills would protect utilities from Superfund PFAS liability

“In September 2022, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed listing certain perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl compounds as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act — the law governing the federal contamination remediation program commonly known as Superfund. The move heightened concerns among municipalities and utilities that they could be held liable for CERCLA cleanups other entities have to undertake as a result of PFAS that they have passively received from upstream sources that were discharged as part of normal operations.  Responding to these concerns, Sen. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., introduced several bills in early May that would protect drinking water, wastewater treatment, solid waste, recycling, and compost facilities, as well as agricultural producers, from CERCLA liability pertaining to PFAS. … ”  Read more from Civil Engineering Source.

Millions in federal funding set to restore public lands across western states

“The Bureau of Land Management announced on Wednesday that it is receiving $161 million in federal funding to restore several landscapes across the western United States, an effort the agency says will create jobs and recreational opportunities while improving water quality and critical habitats.  “Restoration Landscapes,” as the project is called, is part of the Biden administration’s Investing in America agenda and will receive funding through the Inflation Reduction Act — a health care and tax bill focused on reducing drug prices and combating climate change.  Bureau representatives said the project would rely on local and state partnerships to restore 21 landscapes across 11 western states, including Alaska — all of which were chosen based on ecological need and their importance to local communities. … ”  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 of availability of a draft order denying petitions for reconsideration of SWRCB approval of the 2022 Sacramento River Temperature Mangement Plan

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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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