DAILY DIGEST, weekend edition: Surging CA rivers become a deadly threat, months after storms; Sites Reservoir water right application moves forward; Legislation to curb water use for irrigation clears Assembly; and more …

In California water news this weekend …

Surging California rivers become a deadly threat, months after storms

“The waters below No Hands Bridge’s concrete arches usually make for a picturesque and popular northern California swimming hole, appearing inviting enough for Victor Nguyen to jump in on a late April visit. But fast-moving currents were too much for the 22-year-old. He was among the victims of what authorities warn are heightened dangers on the state’s rivers this year.  Waters are flowing off the Sierra Nevada at volumes rarely seen in decades as record-high mountain snowfall melts. Rivers up and down California’s Central Valley are coursing with such might, and at such frigid temperatures, that authorities warn few people could survive in them. The powerful water is adding a new layer of consequences and concerns resulting from an onslaught of winter storms that unleashed paralyzing amounts of snow, widespread flooding and destruction across the long-drought-stricken state. … ”  Read more from the Washington Post (gift article).

Sites Reservoir water right application moves forward

“The Sites Project Authority (Authority) received notification from the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) that the Sites Reservoir water right application has been deemed complete. Accordingly, the Sites Reservoir Project is moving forward to the next step in the process toward issuing a new water right permit for the project. A water right permit will provide the Authority legal authorization to divert water within certain conditions, for a specific purpose, and for use within a specified area. The Authority will be the State designated steward of the water right for the Sites Reservoir Project.  “We are excited to move into this next phase of the permitting process, which builds on the momentum we’ve had this past year,” said Jerry Brown, Executive Director of the Authority. “We welcome the public review of our work, and we are confident in our analysis that the Sites Reservoir Project can safely and reliably serve as a key component of new infrastructure to manage California’s water in light of our changing climate.”  Read more from the Sites JPA.


Legislation to curb water use for irrigation clears California Assembly

“A pair of California bills aimed at curbing water use for landscaping has cleared the California State Assembly.  On Wednesday, AB 1573, which requires the use of California native plants, and AB 1572, banning the use of potable water for irrigation on non-functional turf, passed onto the Senate.  “Landscaping has so much potential to support California’s important goals to conserve water, support biodiversity and connect more people to nature,” Assembly member Laura Friedman, D-Burbank, said in a statement.  Friedman is the author of both bills. … ”  Read more from Spectrum 1.

State auditor points out inadequacies with California water management

“A recent report highlights a multitude of shortfalls in California water management. An audit was conducted on the Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the State Water Resources Control Board in its administration of water supplies. Several areas were highlighted as needing improvement. State Auditor Grant Parks said DWR’s forecasting models inadequacies have already resulted in miscalculations of water supplies during drought periods.  “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,” Parks explained in the report. “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.” … ”  Read more from Ag Net West.

There’s a mess under that dense snow that shut California passes. See heavy task ahead

“While Caltrans crews continue to plow dense and heavy snow from impassable Highway 108 across Sonora Pass into Tuolumne County, they are uncovering mangled signs, experiencing flooding and face the daunting task of clearing massive boulders in the roadway. Road maintenance workers have worked their way nearly a mile into Tuolumne County after reaching the summit last week, Caltrans District 9 reported. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee.

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In commentary this weekend …

Which is it California – a flood emergency or a drought emergency?

Katy Grimes, editor of the California Globe, writes, ““Meteorologists forecast that June will bring above-normal temperatures to California, which could worsen the state’s remaining drought,” the Sacramento Bee reports today.  Ah. This is from the same meteorologists who could not or would not forecast the record rain and snowpack we had this past winter – statewide snowpack averages came in at 237% of average.  “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.”  Well, that would fit in with their climate change propaganda goals. .. It’s hot. It’s cold. It’s raining. It’s dry. Nowhere does The Sacramento Bee ever say that it’s normal. … ”  Continue reading at the California Globe.

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In people news this weekend …

Promotions, passings, profiles – submit people news items to maven@mavensnotebook.com.

Finding his calling: Nick Stanley’s journey to leadership

“During his childhood summers in Fort Worth, Texas, Nicholas Stanley would regularly get woken up by his grandmother for full days of fishing. She would strap down five long cane poles on top of her minivan and drive them to wherever the fish were biting, and she and Nick would sit along the riverbank for hours until they had caught their limit before heading home to have themselves a delicious fish fry. He fondly credits his grandmother for inspiring him to fish, chase bugs, and embrace the landscapes and wildlife around him at an early age.  Following these warm memories, Nicholas, who goes by Nick, attended Grambling State University, a historically Black university in Louisiana to pursue a career working with animals. After learning about the university’s wildlife program and being taken under the wings of dedicated mentors, Stanley soared into a wildlife conservation career. This trajectory would eventually bring him into various leadership roles national wildlife refuges across the U.S. The National Wildlife Refuge System is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and provides habitat for wildlife and public recreation opportunities for visitors far and wide. … ”  Continue reading from US Fish & Wildlife Service.

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Podcasts …

WATER TALK: Water Advocacy and Implementation

A conversation with Laurel Firestone (State Water Resources Control Board) about water governance, leadership, and policy implementation in CA.


There are a lot of places to hide if you are a fish in Lake Tahoe. This lake has an average depth of 1,000 feet and is nearly 200 square miles in size. I’ll bet there is a fish tale just waiting to be told. 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, water@operationunite.co 530-205-6388

PARCHED: Flush with opportunity

Americans flush toilets with water that’s good enough to drink. We could cut how much water cities need if we reused that water, or flushed without sapping our fresh mountain supplies. From at-home solutions to citywide scale, wastewater reuse and recycling are gaining momentum, and could be on the verge of a breakthrough.

Sunday video

8 News Now Special: California water hogs

Are California’s water hogs being wasteful with our most precious resource? 8 News Now (Las Vegas) investigates in this special report.

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In regional water news this weekend …


Why is A.C.I.D. canal still leaking? Half of water supply lost due to leaks, officials say

“We now have the reasons why the Anderson-Cottonwood Irrigation District canal (A.C.I.D.) continues to leak, now more than ever.  A.C.I.D. Vice President James Rickert appeared before Shasta County Supervisors this week, where he called the $14 million the district was in reserve, ironically, “a drop in the bucket,” and asking for any possible help.  The 35-mile long canal starts in Redding and, he says, half the water is lost to leakage by the time it gets to Cottonwood. It’s flooding more, and longer, than it ever has. But, why? … ”  Read more from KRCR.


Save the sugar pines: Reviving Tahoe’s struggling forests is a group effort

Sugar Pine Point, Lake Tahoe

“In 1859, a deposit of silver was discovered in a peak of the Virginia Range, the first major silver discovery in the United States, kicking off a silver rush that brought thousands of prospectors to the area. Mining camps began cropping up, leading to buzzing commercial centers like Virginia City and Gold Hil. Named after the miner who made the discovery, the Comstock Lode created fortunes and shaped the communities in Northern Nevada. But, as one Virginia City journalist correctly concluded in the 1890s, “The Comstock Lode was the tomb of the forests of Tahoe.”  Mature sugar, jeffrey and yellow pine trees were clear cut from the Tahoe Basin — the standard logging practice at the time — to sustain mining and development in the region, which only became more economically important as the Civil War erupted. Nevada’s silver was crucial in funding the Union army. From 1859 to 1900, hundreds of thousands of trees were felled and floated across the lake to mills in Glenbrook and Incline Village. The milled wood was transported by train and trams, then floated down water flumes to the railroad yards in Carson City. … ”  Read more from the Sierra Sun.


Coldest spring in Sonoma County? Not quite as officials say low temps didn’t set records

“The cooler weather that has lasted well into mid-year has many on social media wondering if this has been the coldest spring on record in the region.  A Reddit user identified as Bleezington posted this week that they were eagerly awaiting warmer weather in April following bouts of freezing temperatures and rain in the early part of the year, but their hopes were quickly dashed.  “Here we are knocking on June’s door, and it’s still looking like this. Weird, foggy, frigid all day weather,” the Reddit user wrote Wednesday.  While historical weather data shows it was the coldest spring in more than a decade, it didn’t set a record. … ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.


Marin utility gets $6.4M grant for water main replacements

“Significant upgrades to aging and leak-prone water pipes are coming to parts of Marin County through a $6.4 million state grant.  The Marin Municipal Water District plans to use the grant to replace half of the water mains in Marin City and about 17% of those in the Canal neighborhood of San Rafael.  “This is one of the larger grants that the district has received,” said Elysha Irish, the district engineering manager. “This is a result of a very collaborative effort with our community partners.” … ”  Read more from the Marin Independent Journal.


Levee rupture floods Highway 99

“A levee breach at a temporary water storage facility north of Bakersfield closed all lanes of northbound Highway 99 for about two hours Friday morning, forcing frustrated commuters onto 7th Standard Road while authorities cleared the roadway.  A Caltrans spokesman said the rupture drained water from the North Kern Water Storage District’s temporary groundwater recharge pond or ponds. He added that the release flooded some areas near the highway up to 3 feet deep in water.  “The shoulders were pretty bad,” spokesman Christian Lukens said. “Those were fully loaded with water.” … ”  Continue reading from the Bakersfield Californian.


UCSB research shows brine flies in decline at Mono Lake, threatening shorebirds’ food source

“In the summertime, Mono Lake, a natural salt lake east of Yosemite National Park, hosts thousands of migrating birds. They visit the area to feast on tiny brine flies that swarm along the shore.  Biologist David Herbst from UC Santa Barbara’s Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Lab says the flies’ health tells us a lot about the lake’s health.  “The brine fly is a little bit smaller than a house fly. They are insects that occur in or next to saltwater environments, mostly inland salt lakes,” he said.  He said natural salt lakes are also known as terminal lakes because there’s no outlet for the water except evaporation. … ”  Read more from KCBX.


Southern California’s historic rivers offer wildlife habitat, recreation

“The rivers in Southern California are an enigma, and by some observer’s standards, their meager, seasonal flows wouldn’t even qualify as a “real river.” But few places in the world have captured, managed, channeled, and fought over their water resources with more necessity and ingenuity than the cities of Southern California.  Southern California rivers are unique for several reasons; they are short by normal standards, their flows are comparatively low, their origins can reach lofty alpine elevations over 9,000 feet, and the area they collect their water from, or “watershed,” is small in comparison to other major rivers.  As an example, the Sacramento River in Northern California is four times longer and has a watershed 10 times larger than the Santa Ana River, which is the largest river in Southern California. … ”  Read more from the Daily Bulletin.


What San Diego’s water divorce might cost you

“Two small farming communities want to bail on buying water in San Diego because it’s too expensive, but that means everyone else would have to pick up part of their tab.  Water in San Diego is expensive because it costs a lot to import from the Colorado River and the Sierra Nevada mountains – the transportation of which is managed by the San Diego County Water Authority. San Diegans support that cost by paying their water bills every month to 24 different water districts and the price of water varies between them.  So, if two of these 24 water districts want to leave the Water Authority and buy their water somewhere else, the remaining water districts still have to pay for this massive system of pipes and pumps plus whatever the defectors were chipping in. … ”  Read more from the Voice of San Diego.

Lake Hodges reopens to San Diego community after yearlong closure

“The Lake Hodges dam is old — over 100 years old, in fact. It opened in 1918, so it has dealt with some wear and tear over the years, and recently needed critical repair work to keep it up and running.  Now, it has been reopened to the community.  “It opened yesterday and will remain open through October. We’re open for recreation Wednesday, Saturdays and Sundays, sunrise to sunset,” the San Diego Public Utilities Department’s Drew Kleis said on Friday. … ”  Read more from KPBS.

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Along the Colorado River …

Editorial: No time to waste for government to protect drought-stricken West

The Las Vegas Sun editorial board writes, “For decades, Western cities like Las Vegas and Tucson, Ariz., have embraced water conservation and recycling as a means of preparing for a multidecade drought like the one we’re currently experiencing. Despite our best efforts, our neighbors in Southern California, Northern Arizona and Utah have not always followed our lead. Cities like Phoenix, Los Angeles and St. George have been allowed to grow at an explosive pace with little planning for where water would come from or how long the supply would last.  But now, the combination of long-term climate change and the megadrought parching the Southwest for the past two decades may have finally dried up the West’s explosive growth.  Arizona officials put developers in the country’s fastest-growing metropolitan area, Phoenix, on alert last week after determining that there is not enough groundwater available to support existing permits for residential development, let alone new applications. … ”  Read more from the Las Vegas Sun.

Commentary: Colorado River would be in better shape if we followed these old Spanish rules

Elizabeth Black, who runs the Citizen Science Soil Health Project and farms Christmas trees in Boulder, Colorado, writes, “The water rule that governs the current division of Colorado River waters is called prior appropriation, or “first-in-time, first-in-right.” This rule originated in the California and Colorado gold fields, where fortune-seekers needed water to extract gold ore from rock. … Over the last 175 years, prior appropriation has become the water law of the West.  But long before the Anglos settled the West, the Hispanos brought their own water rules to settlements in New Mexico, Colorado, California and Arizona.  Hispanic water rules come from the arid Arab world and govern acequias (irrigation ditches) in New Mexico today. Rather than treating water as something to extract the earth’s resources with, the acequia tradition sees water as life, a community asset upon which everyone depends. … ”  Read more from Arizona Central.

Phoenix homebuilders will scramble to find water

“Homebuilding around Phoenix just got trickier.  Arizona will not approve new housing construction on the fast-growing edges of the nation’s fifth-largest city where groundwater is now in short supply thanks to years of overuse and a multi-decade drought.  A state projection shows that over the next 100 years, demand in metro Phoenix for almost 4.9 million acre-feet of groundwater would be unmet without further action. An acre-foot of water is roughly enough for two to three U.S. households per year.  Despite the move, the Gov. Katie Hobbs said “nobody who has water is going to lose their water.” … ”  Read more from the San Bernardino Sun.

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In national water news this weekend …

Companies reach $1.18 billion deal to resolve claims from ‘forever chemicals’ water contamination

“Three chemical companies said Friday they had reached a $1.18 billion deal to resolve complaints of polluting many U.S. drinking water systems with potentially harmful compounds known as PFAS.  DuPont de Nemours Inc., The Chemours Co. and Corteva Inc. said they would establish a fund to compensate water providers for contamination with the chemicals used widely in nonstick, water- and grease-resistant products, as well as some firefighting foams.  Described as “forever chemicals” because they don’t degrade naturally in the environment, PFAS have been linked to a variety of health problems, including liver and immune-system damage and some cancers. … ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service.

The Supreme Court just made it easier to destroy wetlands and streams

“Like icebergs and human beings, waterways are made up of more than what’s visible on the surface. Take Lapwai Creek, near Lewiston, Idaho: At a casual glance, it’s a ribbon of cool water, shaded by cottonwood trees and alive with steelhead and sculpin, mayfly and stonefly larvae. An adult could wade across it in a few strides without getting their knees wet. But that’s just the part people can see. Beneath the surface channel, coursing through the rounded cobbles below, is what scientists call the hyporheic zone: water flowing along underground, which can be a few inches deep, or 10 yards or more, mixing with both surface water and groundwater. Microbes that purify water live down there, and aquatic insects — food for fish and other animals — can use it as a sort of underground highway, traveling more than a mile away from a river.  A creek, in other words, is more than just the water in its channel; it’s also the water underground, and it’s connected to everything else in its watershed, including wetlands and channels upstream that might dry up during some years, or perhaps go years between getting wet. Whatever happens there — pollution or protection — happens to the entire creek. … But those ecological realities are strikingly absent from last week’s U.S. Supreme Court decision in Sackett v. EPA.  … ”  Read more from High Country News.

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NASA SWE Report for May 30 …


Also on Maven’s Notebook this weekend …

NOTICE of Water Right Permit Application A025517X01 of Sites Project Authority – Colusa, Glenn, and Tehama Counties

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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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